Hugo Nicolson (Radiohead, Beck, Primal Scream)
An interview with Grammy Award-Winning sound engineer Hugo Nicolson about his thoughts on room correction and how the ST2 Pro has changed the way he works. Hugo has a pretty impressive resume having worked on some of the most groundbreaking records and famous movies of the past 25 years. Having used plugins in the past, Hugo tells about his journey to improve his monitoring and how he switched to an ST2 for the better after our Vintage King LA partner showed him what it can do!
What was your original take on room correction systems?
The first thing you have to get right is your room! if your monitors aren't sounding the way they should then everything you send out of that room is going to be subpar, it's not going to be as good as you intended it to be. So, I started looking around at getting my room kind of tuned and started considering all the possibilities that could help me on a small budget as I could not afford to spend tens of thousands getting the room corrected with physical build-outs and passive correction.
I first tried the simple plugin solutions that you can just put in your DAW... and that worked really well for me for a while, but I found I would make mistakes like forgetting to put it on when I mixed and then send the mix out, and it would sound awful! On the other end, I heard about Trinnov and was a bit worried about the expense first but at the end of the day, I just thought this is the most important thing in my studio: getting the sound right, every other piece of equipment I have every other plugin everything is useless unless I get the sound right in my studio.
What were your first impressions hearing the Optimizer?
What I noticed first was that the transients on the Trinnov were just so much more there more upfront compared to the room correction plug-in who made things a little spongy, obviously, the Trinnov is way more expensive but does it sound more expensive? yes, it does !!!
Has it changed the way you work and listen?
My speakers are relatively inexpensive, and I have a sub and one of the problems with that sub is the crossover isn't that great...so when I plugged the Trinnov in and discovered the bass management functions suddenly that was another dimension. I suddenly had full control over the sub and the speakers and a seamless crossover that didn't damage the speaker's or sub inherent qualities, it was just suddenly so much purer.
I just composed my first movie score and mixed everything in here and while recently at the dub stage and hearing it all at there for the first time I realized that it was top class, as good as anything I've ever done in a proper room!
Has it improved your workflow?
When I get comments from clients that aren't based around like oh there's too much bass or there's not enough bass or there's too much top or sounding a bit honky or whatever it is so those comments have disappeared. And we can really now focus on the creative aspects of the mix, you know what needs to come up or down, and not really worry about the frequency spectrum which makes for more creative interactions with the talents instead of their opinion clouded by major frequency issues that are getting in the mix, so they can then focus on more creative matters.
Looking back do you think it was a great investment?
For home studios, something like the ST2 Pro is invaluable because it clears up all that worry that you just have, in general, you just put up with something you know you're a little bassy, and you just try and work around it. The Trinnov is invisible and seamless in the studio, it's not something you're going to get to use and manipulate every day, but it’s there still, and does its job impeccably! Because I know that what I’m hearing is also what my clients are going to hear.