Grammy-winning engineer and producer, Frank Filipetti, continues to use HARMAN’s JBL LSR6300 studio monitors for his projects including his 5.1 mix of An Evening With: Dave Grusin which has seen him nominated for another Grammy in 2012 for “Best Surround Sound”.
Filipetti has worked in the industry since the 1980s and reached legendary status after working wwith top artists including Foreigner, KISS, Luciano Pavarotti, James Taylor, Andrea Bocelli, Billy Joel, Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Korn, Barbra Streisand and innumerable others.
Naturally, with such experience Filipetti knows exactly what is required for a top notch recording.
“You can’t record, engineer, produce or mix anything well without an accurate sonic reference,” explained Filipetti. “If you can’t trust what your monitors are giving you, you’re always going to be working against yourself and everything you do will be a crap shoot. I know I can depend on the JBL LSR6300 Series studio monitors. They’ve proven themselves to me time and time again.”
It is this consistent accuracy that left Filipetti in no doubt which studio monitors he would use for his most recent Grammy nominated role with the An Evening With: Dave Grusin project.
An Evening With: Dave Grusin saw Filipetti working with the legendary composer, Dave Grusin, during a live recording incorporating a 75-piece orchestra and guest artists including Joe Secada, Patti Austin, Gary Burton and more.
Grusin, who has scored many films including the classic Oscar-winning 1967 film The Graduate, performed a collection of 12 songs. These included ones penned by himself as well as by George Gershwin, Henry Mancini and Leonard Bernstein.
“Producer Phil Ramone and engineer Eric Schilling recorded the concert and I did the mixing and mastering,” added Filipetti, “and here the challenge was to take this large ensemble of instruments and performers and bring clarity and focus to all those open mics in a 5.1 sound field.”
This challenging recording environment clearly needed an unusual response.
“Trashing a prime directive of recording, I knew from the start that I was going to need to pan the instruments in a way totally at odds with the stage setup,” continued Filipetti. “But to do that and keep things from smearing, I needed to be absolutely sure I heard every element of the mix accurately. Accurate monitors are even more important in mixing for 5.1 than they are in stereo—any inaccuracy is now tripled! And the JBL LSR6300 monitors deliver accuracy in spades.”
The JBL LSR6300 series incorporates a number of useful bits of tech to ensure that the reference is accurate. The LSR6300, as with all of JBL’s range, was designed with JBL’s Linear Spatial Reference design criteria. This ensures that not only the direct sound but also the reflected sound arriving at the mix position is neutral.
What is more, the JBL LSR6300’s include the JBL RMC (Room Mode Correction). This compensates for low-frequency inaccuracies caused by rooms that can dramatically affect the impression of low-frequency content in the mix.
It is the high quality of audio reference received from the JBL LSR6300’s that has meant that Filipetti has used them for his other recent projects. One such example, was his recording of the album for the hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon with the original cast.
“Recording The Book of Mormon was very challenging because of the number of open microphones in close quarters (especially the singers), which magnified phase issues and other sonic difficulties,” explained Filipetti. “In a situation like this, having accurate, high-resolution monitors like the LSR6300’s was absolutely critical. We needed to be able to hear every nuance of what the mics were picking up both on and off axis before ever hitting ‘record,’ as there would be no time to fix it in the mix.”
Different challenges faced Filipetti and his JBL kit whilst recording Andrea Bocelli’s Concerto: One Night in Central Park. Outdoor live concerts are always amongst the most challenging projects. However, the Bocelli gig was in a class of its own.
“We were recording this in 5.1 and stereo for Blu-ray,” explained Filipetti, “and it was a one-off performance—so we had to get the entire concert in one evening, no second chance.”
As if that was not enough, the pressure was piled on further. Filipetti continued: “Talk about high stakes—we had Alan Gilbert and The New York Philharmonic, along with Andrea; guest artists including Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, Bryn Terfel and Chris Botti. The program consisted of opera, pop, jazz, movie soundtracks and even traditional Americana. There were as many as four opera singers onstage at one time, along with a full orchestra, a pop rhythm section, assorted soloists, a 100-voice choir, and 10 audience mics for a total of 160 mics traveling through nearly a quarter-mile of fiber optic cable into our truck. On top of it all, it was raining.”
As in most cases, the post-production for this performance was a herculean undertaking.
“We had two rooms doing the editing, audio processing and general track cleanup at Sync Sound, and two more rooms here at the ‘Living Room’ in West Nyack running full-tilt, mixing the audio in Studio A, and processing the hell out of the overhead mics for noise reduction in Studio B, both using JBL LSR monitors,” added Filipetti. “Even though we were working in two very different environments, we were able to achieve, in my honest opinion, exceptional-sounding 5.1 and stereo mixes because of the consistency of the sound the LSR monitors provided.”
When Filipetti was charged to record George Michael’s European Symphonica tour in 2011 the JBL’s once again followed.
“The tour features a number of Michael’s hits as well as rock and pop classics, and it is a massive and amazing concert,” explained Filipetti. “We’ve been recording all of the shows and we’re mixing everything as it comes in with producer Phil Ramone, who is selecting the takes for future release. The sonic consistency of the JBL LSR6300 monitors and the ability of the Room Mode Correction feature to smooth out the bass response in any listening room are critically important here, as the recordings come in from dozens of different venues all over Europe and my job is to make them all sound as if from one performance.”
Overall, Filipetti continues to be impressed by the JBL LSP6300’s performances under a number of intense and difficult circumstances.
“I’ve used the JBL LSR6300 monitors in hundreds of situations over nearly 10 years now,” Filipetti concluded. “With other studio monitors I find that I’m always wondering how things are going to sound on other systems, and mentally compensating. I don’t have to make those mental adjustments with the LSR6300s, and having that confidence gives me the ability to do what I feel is best because I know my productions are going to sound the way I heard them. What you hear is what you get! If you don’t like the way my mixes sound, I can’t blame the monitors!”