Joe Heaton Product specialist at AMS Neve

AMS Neve: “Post COVID there will always be a place for the larger studios, those with a legacy…”

3D audio, commercial studio upgrades and a boom in home recording, are helping drive a resurgence in pro-audio, says Oscar winning music console and post-production company AMS Neve.

“There’s been a huge growth spike since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic with an increase in home studio set-ups and commercial studios taking the opportunity to upgrade their gear assortment to attract new business,” Joe Heaton, Product Specialist for AMS Neve, told Audio Media International.

“Speaking to numerous people within the industry, we’re confident that the recording business is and will continue to flourish!”

Dolby Atmos and 3D audio production is a significant development, he says.

“3D Atmos facilities are popping up all over the world despite the decline in cinema viewership, and our flagship film console, the AMS Neve DFC-3D, is regularly being installed in many of these facilities. Serious 3D audio needs a serious console!”  

Sound Supervisor Ralph Tae-Young Choi at his console

3D audio functionality is a common request for film consoles: “In fact almost all of our DFC consoles are now sold with the 3D Atmos upgrade. For South Korean film facility Live Tone Studios, which produced the audio for Oscar winning film Parasite, 3D Atmos capability was essential. There are other controllers that can mix 3D Atmos audio, but none that have the ultimate tonality and control of the DFC-3D.” Parasite sound designer Ralph Tae-Young Choi (pictured) says the Neve DFC 3D really came into its own during production.

Of course, when engineers mix for stereo, it’s relatively straightforward to test recordings in the real world, but a Dolby Atmos mix isn’t so clear cut. So where does that leave the art? 

“I think the main listening format will always be stereo because it works well in both consumer Hi-fi and studio environments and has, of course, translated well to how music is consumed in the recent era over headphones. 

“Atmos then takes its place in the film world, but true Dolby Atmos, with multiple speakers is unlikely to ever take off in home listening environments for purely practical reasons. However, this isn’t to dismiss the advances that are being made in 3D audio and Atmos for music mixing. We are very aware that a lot of studios, Capitol included, are moving in this direction and that a growing number of titles are being remixed in this format and made available for streaming through services. If the industry and consumers do adopt this format, we’re perfectly placed to help producers create this content.”

The influence of the pandemic is likely to be with us long after our masks have been consigned to the back of the sock draw, but will it change the fundamentals of studio recording? Joe Heaton isn’t so sure.

“In terms of where you place equipment such as desks and monitors, I don’t think that typical studio design has, or will be, affected because the science of acoustics remains the same despite the pandemic.

Abbey Road Studio One Control Room
“However, those with larger facilities are able to adapt their working methods by using their studio space more effectively to allow for social distancing. For example, larger studios can distribute an ensemble throughout multiple live rooms and use video links to keep everyone in communication with each other. Our friends at Abbey Road (pictured) made use of this style of working during the summer of 2020. In the end, for the mid-large studios, I believe things will return to normal, resulting in the usual studio workflow.” 

Have we reached a point where older, legacy studios – perhaps ones steeped in musical history – can no longer be used because of COVID?   

“There will always be a place for the larger studios, and those with a legacy spanning the past 50 years are much more likely to continue in some form or another. Artists and producers like working in these facilities because they are steeped in musical history – there is something really satisfying about recording your album in the same room as one of your idols. 

“AMS Neve works closely with the world’s premier studios: Abbey Road, Capitol and Air to name a few. Having a large console such as a Neve 88R is very useful if you are recording multiple tracks, so there is always going to be a place for studios with sufficient room to house them. The analogue sound of these big desks is something that many artists and producers love – plus they look very cool!” 

For more, visit AMS Neve online here.