Blackbird Studio, Nashville’s premier recording studio complex, held a gala event the evening before the start of Summer NAMM, Wednesday, July 17, 2019, to mark the official launch of the facility’s new Dolby Atmos 9.1.6 reference room (Studio C).
On hand were members of the team that made studio owner John McBride’s vision a reality, including personnel from Dolby, TransAudio Group (ATC speakers), AVID and Sound Construction, as well as Blackbird chief technical engineer Richard Ealey and Blackbird studio operations manager Paul Simmons.
Attendees were treated to a listening session with a wide variety of tracks in Dolby Atmos including Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” Beck’s “Seventh Heaven,” and, for the first time ever, Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” newly mixed by multi-Grammy Award-winning engineer David Leonard, who was on hand to discuss this latest mix of the legendary track.
The equipment in Blackbird’s 9.1.6 Dolby Atmos reference room includes ATC SCM300ASL Pro speakers (L-C-R), ATC SCM100ASL Pro speakers (six top and six side) and ATC SCM1-15ASL Sub subs (four front, two rear/side); AVID Pro Tools | MTRX audio interfaces (two); Antelope Audio 10MX rubidium atomic master clock; and AVID Pro Tools | SYNC HD.
The Blackbird Studio C has been described as among the finest Dolby Atmos mix and playback environments in the world. The open floor plan concept room for Studio C was originally designed by multiple Grammy and TEC Award-winner, producer, engineer and inventor George Massenburg and Dr. Peter D’Antonio, founder of RPG Diffusor Systems, Inc. The design of the room was created from a 10,000-page Excel spreadsheet and is based on acoustic diffusion algorithms. The result is a mix of art and function: 138,646 individual sticks of formaldehyde-free MDF wood in four-foot-by-eight-foot sheets, with no two being the same size or length. The room contains slightly more than 100,000 lbs. of wood on the walls.
“Blackbird has always had an extremely high bar that doesn’t allow us to cut any corners in anything we do,” said studio owner John McBride. “So when it came time to create this unique mixing/listening space, we reached out to the companies I know and have worked with, whom I trust based on their knowledge, their products and their track record for getting the job done.
“I love what we created in Studio C with Dolby Atmos. Because of the design and acoustics of that room, and of course the Dolby Atmos system, I have a new energy about mixing and can’t wait to spend more and more time in ‘C.’ It was nice to hear from so many people who attended our event how great they thought the audio sounded – to get that kind of acknowledgement from leading industry pros means a lot. We have already had tremendous interest in booking the room, and I’m excited to hear what comes out of those sessions.”