Facebook Pixel Only

Please Wait...

Black Sun Empire chooses Trinnov as their monitoring solution

14 November 2023
Case Studies

Formed in the 90s by the brothers Milan and Micha Heyboer and Rene Verdult, Black Sun Empire has achieved legendary status on the drum and bass scene and beyond.

After ADE this year, we visited their state-of-the-art studio in Utrecht to discuss their obsession with sound and monitoring, particularly when it comes to low-end, and how it transfers onto the stage from the studio.

All three rooms feature ATC monitors and ST2 Pro provided by our Dutch partners, Helios and Amptec.

Can you tell us a bit about this place?

We were moving from studio to studio all the time and were always in temporary places. At some point we didn’t want to move anymore and started searching for a studio that’s our own. Then, this place became available, so we bought these rooms and built these studios in them. 

When did you become aware of how crucial monitors and rooms are?

In the beginning, you don't know what you're doing, you just want loud noise. Then we started measuring our room and started getting into it more. We found out that you only have good bass response when you stand all the way in the corner but not where we needed it. So that's when we really got into it. We had all sorts of combinations, subwoofer, speakers and always tried to get the right sound.

We went to this final plant who used to master our stuff, they had the big ChannelX speakers. You could actually hear what was going on and we thought maybe we should get better speakers. That’s what we did but then the room was terrible. We then moved to a different place and slowly started improving the room with bass traps. The problem is that all those rooms we used to have were not ours, it was always temporary. You don't want to spend a lot of money on making a room perfect if you have to move out.


What was your original take on room correction solutions?

We started looking into it when we got here, because we always had one subwoofer, two speakers. In this room, we expected more as everything was so perfect. But we couldn't get the phase right. We did measurements but we were still not getting it. Then we got really hardcore into software, which didn't work for us to be honest. It didn't really feel natural or there was a big latency involved, and it never really felt right.

What was your first experience with Trinnov’s Optimizer?

It was actually the guys from Amptec who were around the corner. We were working with another product which did room correction, which wasn't quite as good. And they said: “what you really need to hear is Trinnov”. The good thing is you don't need to do 50 measurements, you only do one with the nice microphone. The minute you switch it on, we knew this is what we needed. Our problematic area was especially between the subwoofers and the satellite speakers. We could never get it right, even if we tried with all the phases and all the filtering, it just didn't work. So the minute we got it, it was like everything seemed to be as one coming from the wall. That's exactly what we wanted.

Just the instance of the sub being aligned with the speakers made such a big difference. We use it only up until like 300-400 Hz. Everything else, we keep the characters of the speakers, but especially for the low end in the dance industry, it's so important to have that right, because if your low end is right, there's a lot of room for anything else. 

What was your experience from the calibration on?

It's really easy to set it up and to calibrate it. At first, we just tried it and it already sounded pretty good. But then we were like, maybe it can sound better still. So I think we contacted you via email and then over the internet, Trinnov can log into your system and help you calibrate your room better. That's really great. Afterwards, you can try and play with it yourself a bit and figured out what setting works for us.

Has it improved your workflow ?

Before, a lot of mixing was involved as well as many AB tests. Everyone knows this “final version 2”, “final version 100”... We have a lot less of that now, even though we are still perfectionists. Trying to get to the final stages of the mix takes a lot of time, but it's quicker now. What we hear here is also translated. So the AB is actually not listening to your room but actually comparing the tracks.

My life became a lot easier with this system. There is less guessing, less surprises when you're in a club and your sub is all of a sudden way too loud because it was phasing out in your room.

Does Trinnov Optimizer contribute to improving your skills as a producer?

I hope it's one of many things that make you a better producer and obviously your experience with it. The fact that you know all your stuff better and that you can trust the mixes that you make…Definitely, it's a very bad feeling to be unsure of what you're doing because you're guessing and it makes you feel very insecure. You think it sounds great, but does it really sound great? So that's what for me is the biggest impact, that when you make something, you actually know that it's good or you know, it's crap. But that also helps.

Looking back, do you think it was a great investment ?

The top improvement is always going to be more expensive, it's the diminished returns. You spend a lot and you only get a 1% improvement, but you realize that as you're getting better, you need to reach that level. Of course the toys become more expensive, but also what you're doing with them becomes worth more to you. 

I think it's a good expense. I would have bought it earlier in my career if I knew what it was capable of. If you build a whole studio like this, what a Trinnov costs compared to anything else? When you're an upcoming producer, it's quite a lot of money but it's worth it, for sure.

Sign up For Trinnov News

Sign up for our newsletter here. See our Privacy Policy