We recently got a chance to interview accomplished mastering engineer Brian Lucey at his Magic Garden Mastering studios located in Atwater Village, Los Angeles. With a career spanning over 30 years, Brian has worked with some of the most prestigious names in the industry and won several Grammy Awards for his work with The Black Keys, Michael Bublé and Depeche Mode to name a few.
First introduced to Trinnov with the ST2-Pro, Brian recently converted his studio to Atmos, so we wanted to discuss with him how instrumental the addition of a D-MON 12 has been to the new system in his Magic Garden !
Please tell us more about your studio here at Magic Garden
In the 90s, I was frustrated with the recordings that I could get so I started engineering and recording myself. Eventually, it led from a small budget to a full-blown analog studio.
I didn’t see the need to be in a windowless cave. So what I did here, was something that had the potential for fresh air. It was a bit of a risk because I committed to the space before I had built it !
The low end is being trapped and treated, but it is really going up to the building. My main concern here is highs, mids and a little bit of low ends. I also like to be close to speakers. I like the intimacy of a 7 or 8 ft (2.44 m) triangle. The cost was in the tens of thousands versus hundreds of thousands to get a top class result… So it's as a bit of a bold move but it worked out and I am really happy being here.
What was your first impression of Trinnov’s Optimizer ?
Trinnov came into the picture through my dear friend Jonathan Miller, who is a TV/film composer. He brought a mix over one day and I said: this is definitely the best mix you’ve ever done! So he started telling me about Trinnov. He is a composer, so he likes to work in an untreated and completely organic space. Obviously, what I am doing here at Magic Garden Mastering is not that.
So I went to his place and he turned the Trinnov off. We listen to the same track and it was the worst thing I had ever listened to… and he then turns it on and it turned into a very useful mix with which I could work. I could hear that being a thing.
That was it, I had heard his work for 25 years and here he is, in a terrible space, with what I consider to be terrible speakers making the best thing he has ever done. From there, I started to investigate the product for myself.
What was your experience from the calibration on ?
I took the ST2-Pro and took it to the worst corners of the building. I put different speakers up with the ST2 and spent like two months with different configurations of speakers, amps and settings in different parts of the space. I don’t like to AB test things because when I do I am totally obsessive about it, and I do it until I get to the end of the earth with it. That's what I did with the ST2, I found the right speakers that worked, the right settings, I found solutions that were very easy to set up. It started with me doing some more extreme settings, and then I came back to more natural settings and I figured out what that balance is and how to do all that pretty easily and quickly. So it was an intense couple of months but I got to the bottom of it and I was very pleased.
What is your experience with Trinnov Optimizer in Atmos ?
When things moved into Atmos, I went into the D-MON, from working with ST2. I knew that 5 minutes after turning it on, I would be having a top-level Atmos room. Period, I had no doubt. And it’s what happened, I turned it on and it worked.
The first record I did was The Greatest Showman soundtrack. It’s more into those 5 minutes, which represents all the work you all have done at Trinnov, all the experience in those 5 minutes to set up the Atmos room, that was more than what 2 people would have done with 20 or 50 grand in treatments, because you’re getting into the crossovers, you’re getting into the speakers, into the measuring. You’re not measuring to a quarter inch or millimeter, but on a much tighter scale.
From an Atmos standpoint, it was beautiful. I didn’t need to worry about where everything went, I knew it would just 3D resolve itself.
How do you feel about the statement that « Trinnov is just a PC » ?
That to me is absurd ! We live in a DIY era, so everybody thinks they can do everything themselves. Sure, I get it and I am all for people’s free will and their optimism. Having said that, you have decades of training from people that combine all sorts of disciplines of acoustics into something that allows me to put up this very clever four-headed microphone, press the button and five minutes later I’m making the Greatest Showman in Atmos… You can’t beat that !
I don’t think you should do it yourself, even in stereo. Even if you spend 50 000 dollars, I still don’t think you would get there ! And why would you bother ? You can spend on an ST2 and a microphone, and then in 10 minutes you are using the expertise of people with decades of wisdom you don’t have. I want to use their intelligence for my benefit, I don’t want to learn all that, I don’t have time for it.
How can you describe your experience with Trinnov Optimizer ?
My journey with Trinnov is similar to my journey with Atmos. My initial feeling is scepticism, verging on cynicism. And with some open-mindness and some effort, the result is something really quite amazing. My scepticism with room correction of any sort, has moved into a full embracing of something, because people have spent decades making a product that’s very easy to use. Suddenly, my feeling with Atmos, this corporate thing that I hated, this thing is actually an amazing evolution of the art form that is moving music reproduction forward. So I just want to say thanks the people at Trinnov for making something that has made my life infinitely easier and frankly the Atmos studio configuration wouldn’t be possible in this studio without Trinnov, it just wouldn’t happen. And instead in 5 minutes I was working on The Greatest Showman…so thank you !