NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA—At the end of 2016, Dolby Laboratories announced that Dolby Atmos capabilities are now available at 150 post production facilities and in 60 countries. Adding to its list of milestones, the company’s statement noted that those embracing the immersive format include 15 Academy Award-winning directors and 28 Academy Award-winning sound mixers, and that 18 films with Dolby Atmos soundtracks have been Oscar-nominated, with eight of them winning in the sound categories.
Responding to the growing interest among owners and operators of smaller post-production facilities to implement the technology, Westlake Pro is about to open a demonstration Dolby Atmos mix stage. Formerly located on the second floor above the famed Westlake Recording Studios, the pro audio retailer now has two locations in N. Hollywood, CA, one of which houses the soundstage where Pensado’s Place is shot, plus a warehouse facility in Burbank.
The new mix stage occupies approximately 800 square feet at Westlake’s main Lankershim Blvd. sales location, a former post-production facility and photography studio and, before that, Indian curry house. The building already houses a couple of fully-equipped demo mix rooms, but as Westlake Pro CEO George Adjieff notes, “Those are music rooms and most of our business is post production.” The new room will enable Westlake to now fully address that market segment.
“We do a tremendous amount of work with Universal, Warners and even Sony,” continues Adjieff, who is co-owner and business partner with company president Joe Taupier. “Although they have the expertise to build [an Atmos room], a lot of the mid-line post production facilities don’t have the manpower or the know-how to put something like this together.”
Westlake collaborated with several organizations to build out the mx stage. “Avid and JBL are partnering with us on this,” he says.
Since Westlake offers acoustic and wall finishes in addition to AV gear, the Atmos room also provides a showcase for the company’s standard and custom treatments. “We did most of the acoustic treatment, but we also worked with Jerry Steckling of JSX, who used to work at Skywalker. We’re doing the integration and a lot of the construction work.”
The room features a double-wide Avid S6 console and Pro Tools with a JBL Pro speaker set-up: M2 Master Reference Monitors at LCR, LSR 708i 8-inch 7 Series monitors for surrounds and rears plus LSR 705i speakers for the overhead channels. Three new JBL 118 subs handle low frequency extension.
“We’ll have Atmos, 7.1, 5.1 and stereo, and we’re going to support DTS also,” Adjieff says. Crown amps drive the speakers with BSS processing providing configuration switching and room optimization.
As Dolby Atmos adoption spreads from the major movie mix facilities to smaller post houses, Westlake is keen to be the go-to place for design and integration. “Our big thing is, let’s figure it out on our dime so that we’re not necessarily winging it. We’ve done a few of these and we didn’t figure it out on our dime. Dolby has been over here a few times, as have JBL and Avid, so once we get done, we’ll have a really comprehensive idea what is going on with this room.”
The room has also been outfitted with a short-throw Panasonic projector and screen, and plenty of lighting fixtures. “We’re going to do a lot of product promos in here. We’re getting ready to shoot a series of six S6 videos with Avid, showing how to configure and do different things on the console,” says Adjieff.
One of the music rooms will be re-equipped to handle broadcast and streaming, he says. “When we livestream events in here, we’ll stream it through the store and nationally, and be able to control it from in there. And we’re going to have the mix rooms all networked together through Dante—we’re going to use Focusrite RedNet—so you’ll be able to see the workflow through the machine room that hooks all of that together.”
At press time, the room was expected to launch at the end of January. “We’ve had a surprising number of people ask us if we want to make it available for mixes. We’re not really into competing with our clients; we just want to get people to buy equipment,” says Adjieff.
“The plan is to have a Super Bowl party here, and we’ll do something for the Oscars and the Grammys; industry stuff, so not overtly sales-oriented. It’ll be a cool way to show people the store.”
This article appeared in the February, 2017 issue of Pro Sound News as "LA’s Westlake Audio Readies Dolby Atmos Demo Mix Stage"