Mastering engineer Matt Colton has installed a pair of ATC SCM150ASL Pro three-way active loudspeakers for critical listening in his room at Alchemy Mastering in west London.
For Colton there’s more to mastering than simply having access to the latest and greatest analogue and digital technologies: “The thing about kit is that the things that are really important are the acoustics, speakers, amps, convertors, power supplies, and the wiring that connects them all together – anything that affects the sound in the room. You cannot get around that. So I would rather have a great-sounding room and a workstation with a couple of plug-ins than every piece of hardware ever made and a poor-sounding room, because – no matter how much you say you understand the room – we all react to what’s coming out of the speakers and make our judgements based on how it sounds in the room. If the room is too bassy then the recording is going to be bass light – even if we know the room is too bassy, so that’s fundamental.
“Having worked at AIR on a really lovely pair of hi-fi speakers, I felt I wanted to go back to studio monitoring and have something that maybe sounded a bit less polished in terms of the actual sound that’s coming out of the speaker. So I’m working on a pair of SCM150ASL Pros. I’d previously worked on a pair of SCM200s many years ago, which I loved, but I think the 150 is a great speaker.”
An unconventional demonstration convinced Colton that the SCM150ASL Pro met his critical listening criteria: “I did a lecture at Westminster University in Harrow to over 100 people in a really big lecture hall with a massive ceiling height of 50ft or so. Ben Lilly of ATC brought along a pair of SCM150s and I played some James Blake records with really low sub-bass – down at around 35Hz, and they just sounded glorious. It was a wonderful experience to hear those records played in that room only on a pair of speakers. So, on that basis, I’ve got the 150s in my mastering room – sadly, not quite as big as that lecture hall!
“They’re a direct and honest pair of speakers. If the mix sounds good, then it sounds good here; if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. There’s no flattery on the part of the speakers, though they can be wonderful to listen to when you get it right. I’m enjoying working on them. They encourage me to work in a way that I like, and I’m very happy to be supporting ATC – a British company that works hard to make good speakers.”