Champlain, NY (July 13, 2009)–The first pair of Focal Professional’s new “Grande Utopia EM” monitors targeted for audio mastering have been installed in the mastering suite at the 1340 Mission Street Studio complex in San Francisco, CA.
The Focal Grande Utopia monitors feature a four-way system with a built-in electromagnetic subwoofer, a mid-bass woofer, two mid-range drivers and the Focal beryllium tweeter. All of the Grande Utopia speaker components, crossovers and cabinets are designed and manufactured in France by Focal.
The passive monitors installed at the 1340 Mission Street Studio complex have been paired with Pathos amplifiers and MIT cable. Acoustician and studio designer Bob Hodas supervised the monitor install. Studio owner and engineer Michael Romanowski and mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine are both using the Grande Utopia monitors in the studio’s digital/analog hybrid gear-equipped mastering suite–including Stubblebine’s vinyl record-cutting lathe. The Grande Utopia monitors are Focal’s flagship offering.
Stubblebine has mastered a wide variety of music for audiophile record labels and classic sounds of San Francisco: the Clash, John Lennon, Ry Cooder, Sly Stone, Santana, Patricia Barber, Bill Evans and John Vanderslice, to name a few. “We need a speaker that lets us hear everything about a recording immediately,” he explains. “The Grande Utopia EM, with its seamless integration top to bottom, and excellent resolution, fills the bill for us admirably.”
Hodas adds, “Focal has made this monitor the most versatile and adaptable monitor in its class. For a room tuner like myself, it is a dream come true. Focal has recognized that the room is essentially another piece of gear in the listening chain and has incorporated a variety of adjustments into the speaker to compensate for room issues. Aside from simple driver-level adjustments, there are also bandwidth and filter slope controls. What this translates into is a speaker that not only compensates for certain room anomalies, but also fits a listener’s taste as well.”
“I have been using the Focal Solo6s for several years now as mixing monitors,’ states Romanowski. “I am impressed with their revealing nature as to what is really happening with the individual instruments in the mix. As a result, I make better localization, level and EQ decisions. Mastering, however, requires a different level of detail altogether. The Grande Utopias give me an amazing insight as to the sonic nature of the program material.
“The most important tools a mastering engineer has, besides his or her ears, are the room and the monitors,” he adds. “If you cannot hear what is truly happening with the audio, you shouldn’t be making changes to it. The Grande Utopias do not sugarcoat the results. They do not smooth out the flaws in mixes. What they do is tell me, good or bad, exactly what I am hearing. As a result, I can make precise informed decisions. My clients deserve that.”
Romanowski has mastered releases ranging from rock and jazz to punk and folk, including Badfinger, Pete Ham, Norton Buffalo, Joe Craven, Too Short, E-40, Jacqui Naylor, Mimi Fox, The Samples, Jim Campilongo, Dredg and Daddy.
1340 Mission Street Studio Complex