Mixer/Producer Steve Kempster Uses ATC Monitors

May 26, 2004 12:00 PM, Editors


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The list of film credits that scoring mixer/record producer Steve Kempster has worked on continues to expand; current projects include Ghost Soldiers, Exorcist: The Beginning and John Water's indie film, Dirty Shame. Films currently running that credit Kempster as mixer include Brother Bear, The Haunted Mansion, Mean Girls and New York Minute. Kempster has also recently finished producing new songs for the rock band Sky Farm.

Kempster's diverse work as a recording engineer, film score mixer and record producer led him on a quest to find a great mid-field monitor system that would sound great for his film scoring dates, his commercial sessions and also for his record production work. Kempster explains: "For my work I'm a studio on wheels. My racks of gear and I are in a different room from project to project. My dream was a system that could handle a lot of gain with loads of headroom, and could still survive the abuse loudspeakers take during a tracking date. I needed something that was tough and great-sounding. The design and idea behind the ATCs is that they are the gold standard. I can depend on them in any situation." After many auditions, trials and extensive consultations with a number of manufacturers, he purchased an LCR set of ATC SCM100ASL Pro and an CM0.1/15 Pro subwoofer.

Kempster continues, saying, "I produced Sky Farm, mixed three films and a number of commercials all on the ATCs and everything has translated beautifully. So my confidence level is extremely high! With the 100s, I find the imaging is breathtaking. The soundfield is so defined and exactly the way it is on the sound stage. I also find the 'sweet spot' is wide both vertically and horizontally, making it great for my clients and artists to also enjoy the sound equally over a fairly wide area. These speakers somehow maintain the same relationship between low-, mid- and high-frequencies at all volumes better than any speaker I've worked on. If I was mixing a record, the vocal sound, characteristic and position in the mix stays exactly the same-dead on from quiet to earthshaking room volumes."

Another big consideration is the transition from film work to record work. There is a big jump for monitoring because most film score mixing is done through the X Curve, a deliberate roll-off of high frequencies (in the monitor path) to simulate the speaker playback systems in movie theatres. Kempster says: "What ATC is doing now is developing and building multistage X Curve filters for my 100s. Being able to accommodate this change for me, and build a filter to the high standards of ATC was a significant reason for me to go with them."

Mixing for film, with much its bigger dynamic range, a speaker's ability to exhibit detail and resolution are tested. Kempster finds that: "In film work, what's important is the basic resolution of the speaker. How well are you hearing detail? I find the resolution of the ATCs as good as I've ever heard. I can track the detail of the foreground information and still hear the quality of the ambient decay. This is crucial to what I do, but even more important is that the ATCs are so damn much fun to listen to!"

ATC is distributed in the U.S. by the Transamerica Audio Group. For more information, please go to either of their Websites at www.transaudiogroup.com or www.atc.gb.net.

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