What ASC products are you currently working with?
I have the TubeTraps which make an AttackWall, but I only have two StudioTraps in back of me and they’re not in the mix position. They’re further back. So I guess I have about 3/4s of an AttackWall.
Then I’ve got the Monitor Stacks. So I’ve got my Barefoot MM-27s sitting on the base and then the tops on top of that.
How did you get into using TubeTraps to begin with?
From Carl Tatz, the famous studio designer. And he had a ton of [ASC’s] stuff up. He didn’t have the modular stuff up though. He had permanant stuff up in his control room. So it goes way back to him. This was probably in ’96 or ’97.
I was in [Carl Tatz’s] control room and it was the best sounding control room I’d ever heard in my life. And I’d been in some great control rooms prior to that. When I was on RCA Records, I was making records in the best studios in the world. So, I’m in his control room in Nashville and I’m thinking “This is the best sounding control room I’ve ever heard and what are these weird round things on the wall?”
And then he told me what they were and it just kind of stayed in my brain.
So when it came time for me to do a new studio, I was in a house in Belle Mead in Nashville and I knew I wasn’t going to be in that house forever. So I didn’t want to do a build-out studio. I needed to get back to work and I needed to get back to work fast. And I needed my own place. So I start researching and I remembered that [Tatz] said the name of the company [that did the acoustics in his room] was Acoustic Science [Corporation]. So I looked up you guys up and got the ball rolling.
“For me, it’s the best way to have a completely modular system that is world class. I should say its the only way I could find to have a world class mix environment and have it be modular.”
That’s really our whole mission statement here.
Right. And that’s basically my story. And I’ve never veered away from it.
And quite honestly, I’ve been in some great studios in Nashville and I can’t believe how bad they sound. For tracking or for mixing. I’m confounded by it. I guess I’m so spoiled in having [the AttackWall]. What really perplexes me is why doesn’t everybody else have one?
You know, my first impression of the AttackWall was how visual it makes sound. Like if something was panned a little to the right, I can see exactly where the sound was coming from. The stereo imaging is just incredible.
Yeah, you can hear where everything is and that’s how you can place things. It makes it so much easier.
I did some A-B tests where I’d take away part of [the AttackWall] and the sound just crumbles. I mean, you cannot hear anything. And then you take away all of it and its a joke. Same thing with the speaker tops and bottoms. I A-Bed with those: one side with, one side without. And it was just like “WOW” (laughs).
Here’s another thing. I’m 53 now and I’ve been doing this since I was 17. And once you get to the top level with gear; to make improvements, you’re talking about going up like three or five percentiles. From this mic pre to that mic pre, this converter to that converter. Once you get to the top tier, you’re talking about differences in flavor, not differences in improvement.
But with the Acoustic Sciences stuff, it knocks all of that out of the way. It’s the only way to make something improve that much.
Room treatment? Sure, its great to have it. But room treatment like this is just in another league. People ask me: “Oh, did you make these?” and I just laugh. I tell that I wish I made these.
Do you take the Traps around to record at other studios or just record with them at home?
I have done that. But it’s not easy to do. It’s kind of a pain in the butt. But I have done it.
I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even like to move [the TubeTraps] out of the mix position. I wish I had more. When I first got them though, I used them for everything. And I could hear the difference.
I used to record my electric guitars with the cabs in an iso room- a really small one, large closet sized. I took my traps in there, laid them down on each other and lined them up. So the room was only the cabinet and the mic and the traps. And that was the best guitar sound I ever got. It tuned the room. There was more music going into the mic than I’d ever achieved before that.
What’s your methodology in setting them up?
I wasn’t scientific at all.
You just threw ’em down?
I just threw them down. I had to do sort of a pattern. They were laying down. And I lined them up on the back wall, stacked on each other. And then I made a row in front of that. And that was about it. So I probably had eight traps in there. And I could not believe the difference. This is a room that I had been tracking guitar in for years so I knew its sound.
What record was that on?
That was the Fluid Sol record (*see Links Section for example). You listen to the guitar sound on that record and the StudioTraps had a lot to do with that. I remember talking to Greg Morrow, who’s one of the best drummers in town. He’s world class, a really famous session drummer. I mean he’s played on everything. He heard that record and came up to me at a party and said “How did you get those guitar sounds?”
What is your experience recording drums with the Quick Sound Field?
My experience recording drums with the StudioTraps around the drums is really just ‘More Music into the Mic’”. That’s the simplest way to put it. There’s more tone captured by the mic. Without fail. [StudioTraps] never fail you. You put them around vocals and you get the biggest vocal sound you’ve ever gotten. That’s just the way they work. They make more music and more tone go into the mic.
Everything sounds bigger. I’ve first got my [StudioTraps] in the early 2000s, somewhere around 2002 or 2003. So I’ve been using them for around 13 years. I’m sitting in [my AttackWall] now, in the mix position, mixing a band. And it gives me an advantage that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
Like I said, I really wish I had more.
~Mitch Malloy, 2015