CARROLLTON, TEXAS: From its humble beginnings in 1994, Dallas Audio Post (DAP) has deftly grown into one of the largest and most enduring post-production facilities not found on one of the American coasts. At the helm from the start, Roy Machado, owner and chief engineer, has expanded his well-respected operation that today staffs the largest and most experienced audio team in the region and boasts an impressive client roster including FOX Sports, Dallas Stars Hockey Club, Travel Channel, Universal, NBC, DreamWorks and Sony Pictures. One of the attributes that has helped gain Dallas Audio Post its stellar industry reputation is how well Machado and his close-knit team stay on the edge of modern technology and seamlessly fold new knowledge into their arsenal of expertise. To that end, the recent installation of the Dolby Atmos system represents the latest, and perhaps the most impressive, advancement to date for DAP.
“It has long been clear that immersive audio is upon us with regards to sound design and mixing,” explains Machado. “After observing that many popular platforms, including Netflix, Facebook, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, just to name a few, were moving beyond 5.1 as a delivery format, we decided to make the move to immersive on our main mixing stage.” With numerous formats to choose from, Machado and team decided to go with Dolby Atmos, both for its scalability and its ubiquity in the TV and film industry. The Atmos system DAP ultimately had installed is an augmentation of the Meyer Sound 7.1 system DAP has been using with great success since 2012 and is capable of supporting a variety of other immersive formats as well. The first step in the process was the contacting of the right folks for the job. In this case, it was Meyer Sound’s Miles Rogers and Ashley Hanson alongside DAP’s architect, Francis Manzella of FM Design. In collaboration, DAP produced drawings and a proposal to present to Dolby that would allow DAP to be commissioned for both theatrical and home theater Atmos mixing on its main stage.
The redesign of the stage was incredibly intensive and required the total removal of fabric walls to expose the underlying frame and sound treatment, then the relocation of all of the speaker boxes. Additional height speakers were also hung from trusses that suspend beneath the acoustic tiling in the ceiling, all this while keeping the speakers out of the path of the projector. The specifics of the process were all spelled out in the proposal sent to Dolby. After its review, Dolby decision-makers suggested an additional modification to the upper soffit, which would allow for a fourth row of height speakers behind the mix position. “That suggestion was spot on!” raves Machado. The final speaker array on the main stage now consists of three screen channels (LCR), twelve surround speakers, eight height speakers, two surround subs and four LFE subs, all from Meyer Sound. The design of the system turned out to be as intensive as the construction of the room. At the heart of the new system is the Avid MTRX for I/O and the DAD SPQ speaker processing card for speaker control.
With everything installed and passing signal, it was time for Dolby and Meyer Sound to pay DAP a visit for the commissioning. During a five day stretch, Miles Rogers from Meyer Sound and Bryan Pennington from Dolby Labs tested, tweaked, calibrated and acutely listened to every nuance of the new system using an array of mic combinations and proprietary software. This led to the creation of stored calibration profiles to be used for a wide variety of formats including Dolby Theatrical Atmos, Dolby Home Theater Atmos, 7.1, 5.1 and Stereo.
Yet, even after all that went into this successful project, with the DAP stage meeting the Dolby specs, both Rogers and Pennington felt that the subwoofers could use more headroom. So, they played back a few mixes that had maxed out the LFE and found that the subs were working a little too hard to reproduce those sounds. On their recommendation, two additional Meyer X800 C subwoofers were installed, bringing the total to four giant subwoofers to power the low end. All calibrations were updated, and DAP’s incredible new room was ready for business. “DAP is perfectly positioned for today’s post-production market,” describes Rogers. “With the ability to instantly switch from 5.1, 7.1, ATMOS HE and ATMOS Theatrical, there are very few facilities in this league. You combine a facility that has near infinite flexibility with amazing talent and you have DAP! With the ability to address every aspect of the sound delivery, Roy and his team can make any project shine. The fact that they have all of this, and are not located on a coast, brings a world-class, post-production facility to all within arm’s reach. As you can tell I’m excited for all that this new chapter can add to an already kick ass facility.” Adds Machado, “It was a long journey to get here, but the additional capability and flexibility will serve us and our clients for a long time to come. I can tell you this for certain, producers are really going to love this room!”
ABOUT DALLAS AUDIO POST Dallas Audio Post is a world-class, full-featured pro audio services company specializing in audio production and post-production for TV, film, live events and radio. They provide location sound mixing services and operate one of the largest pro audio rental firms in the region. Their headquarters is in Carrollton, Texas – a city nestled in the sprawling and quickly expanding international business hub known as the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. For more information please call (214) 350-7678 or email [email protected].