Together with his LA-based collective of producers and engineers Outfit 27, mix engineer Tony Maserati mixed eight tracks on Beyoncé's 'surprise' self-titled album, released in December 2013.
Maserati turned to a pair of PMC's largest speakers, the BB5 XBD Actives, when beginning sessions for Beyoncé’s album at his Mirrorball Studios in Burbank at the request of her long-term A&R representative Teresa Labarbera Whites. "Teresa heard the BB5s while working on another project, loved them, and insisted we have them for Beyoncé," explained Maserati. "All the major work was done in the last eight weeks. I mixed six tracks that didn't even make the album in the end, and of the 14 songs that did make the cut, I had only touched three of those before October."
The Beyoncé project showed the collective wisdom of Outfit 27. "I've been working with, training up, and collaborating with these guys for the last three years. A lot of them are now developing their skills and getting their own clients. In a way, my team has been working towards this exact moment. All of a sudden, we were in deadline mode on the Beyoncé album, the biggest album of the year – but we were able to get on top of it. Beyoncé's recordist Stuart White was mixing with us, I was mixing in my room on the BB5s, my two best guys were engineering in various rooms. No other production outfit could have done that. We were ready, not just in terms of studio skills, but also in terms of being ready to work with the client, communicate with them, and manage their expectations. In a matter of eight weeks, we worked closely with the artists, the producers, the assistant producers, and we made a record."
In addition to the BB5s in Maserati's studio, PMC's nearfield twotwo monitors were installed in all the other rooms as work moved from studio to studio, taking advantage of the twotwos' accuracy and consistency of tone with the BB5s. "Teresa and Stu White were going from room to room, listening to stuff with me, then working on it in other rooms. They relied on the twotwos to give them a consistent bass reference, so that when they were listening to the mastering on tracks, or to overdubs done by other production teams in different places, they were working from the same reference each time. They were invaluable in that respect."
Maserati, however, stuck to using the BB5s in his room – a choice that may surprise those who have followed his career, during which he has favoured mixing on nearfields. "Why? Simple – they're the best large monitors I have ever used," he explained. "I never used large monitors. I've always said most of them are only in studios to impress the clients. Sure, they'll go loud, but more often than not they're painful to listen to, especially over extended periods. But the BB5s are large speakers you can actually mix on, use as a reference, and get work done. I can trust the low end, and the high end isn't so hyped so that it's harsh to listen to. So I get to use a proper audio reference – and my clients get hyped listening to stuff on them!
"They're not like most large monitors I've tried in the past. The PMCs' response is so flat and accurate that unless my mixes are amazing, they just don't stand out on those speakers. Sometimes, I think I've got a good mix on my other nearfields, I'll switch up to the BB5s, and then I realise I've got another three hours' work to do. If your mix sucks, you're going to know about it – but I actually prefer that. If I can get my mixes sounding good on those, I know they'll sound amazing everywhere else!"