NEW YORK, New York – To anyone in the pro audio industry, it’s not much of a secret that Bruce Botnick is one of the industry’s most accomplished engineers and producers. He secured his reputation in the 1960s as the producer of the Doors’ classic LA Woman album, engineer of the first two Love albums and co-producer of the band’s masterpiece, Forever Changes. Botnick has worked on records by the Rolling Stones, Eddie Money and many others and as an engineer for film composer Jerry Goldsmith on more than 100 movie soundtracks. Recently, Botnick purchased three JBL M2 Master Reference Monitors for use as Left/Center/Right loudspeakers in his studio. The M2 is a 2-way large-format loudspeaker designed to set new standards for sonic accuracy and dynamic range in professional monitoring environments.
Botnick has always kept an eye on recording technology advancements and first encountered the M2 at the 2012 AES Convention, when it was still in the development stage. “I heard these loudspeakers in a less-than-ideal environment and they still sounded amazing,” said Botnick, who then told JBL’s Peter Chaikin he’d like to try them and judge them in his studio as soon as they were in production. In early 2013, Botnick visited the JBL Professional headquarters in Northridge for a second listen and found the sound exceptional. “At that point I made the decision to simply go ahead and buy them without ever having mixed on them in my studio,” he said. After the M2’s arrived, Botnick immediately began a project to mix the score for the historical drama Parkland. In preparation, his newly installed L,C,R M2 system was tuned by the Dolby staff, accessing the filters in the BSS Soundweb London BLU800 processor which in Botnick’s system, serves as the M2 crossovers and also the system’s room EQ. All parameters in the Soundweb London can be accessed from a laptop using HARMAN London Architect™ software. The M2’s system tune-ability ensures an extremely accurate tonal balance in a broad range of mix environments.
“I loved mixing on the M2 system right off the bat,” Botnick added. “I was able to mix for many hours and not get ear fatigue. The sonic images that came out of the M2 were really big, so when we subsequently went into the main dubbing theater at post-production facility Todd AO in Hollywood and put the music up, it translated incredibly well.” The correlation between the sound heard in Botnick’s studio and the Todd AO sound stage meant he could trust his mixes more than ever before in going from the studio to the cinema.
Another advantage Botnick finds is that he doesn’t have to restrict himself to listening in a narrow sweet spot, thanks to the excellent off-axis response made possible by a new Image Control Waveguide, designed specifically for the M2. The Image Control Waveguide provides a seamless transition between the M2’s newly developed D2 high-frequency driver and the woofer and delivers an accurate tonal balance and superlative imaging and detail to a broad area of the listening room. “I can turn sideways to work on something and still hear the balance. It’s not ‘pointy’ and the speakers don’t buzz on the high end,” Botnick noted.
Botnick can play the M2 at a relatively loud level and still be confident of hearing accurate reproduction. “Film music mixing should be done at an 85dB level and I’m very strict about that,” he said. “The image size of the M2 is just breathtaking, and you don’t’ feel like your hearing the speakers as separate entities in the room—you get the sense that you’re hearing everything in the correct proportions behind the screen as you would in the cinema.”
“The M2 speaks to you effortlessly,” Botnick added. “It’s a much easier loudspeaker to listen to than most and I can get a good balance almost instantly. If it doesn’t sound good on the M2, it doesn’t sound good, period—for me a great speaker also lets me hear if something isn’t working.”
In mixing Parkland, Botnick went into the final mix with 10 5.1 surround sound stems. “Even with 10 stems totaling 60 tracks, the M2 let me hear into the mix, perfectly layered on top of one another no matter how complex the mix became. Hearing that deeply into the score enabled me to tailor all the reverbs and ambient sounds so they translated really well and created the perfect sonic environment for every scene.” Parkland had its theatrical release this month.
Botnick recognizes the engineering effort that went into the JBL M2. “I appreciate the fact that the people who worked on the M2 actually listen to music and know what it’s supposed to sound like, and can trust their ears and not just a measurement graph. They know how a good mix should sound.”
HARMAN (www.HARMAN.com) designs, manufactures, and markets a wide range of infotainment and audio solutions for the automotive, consumer, and professional markets. It is a recognized world leader across its customer segments with premium brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, and Mark Levinson® and leading-edge connectivity, safety and audio technologies. The company is admired by audiophiles across multiple generations and supports leading professional entertainers and the venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of about 14,000 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $4.3 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013.