Fox Post Production Services upgrades
to Meyer Sound “Bluehorn” Speakers
A privileged few people have had the opportunity to enter the historic Newman Scoring Stage on the Fox Studio Lot in Century City, Calif. The premier Hollywood stage has hosted some of the world’s most iconic legends including Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Temple, Elvis Presley, film composer John Williams, and was the home to creating the score for popular movies including TheSound of Music, the original Planet of the Apes, The Matrix, Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek In to Darkness, and countless others.
Outside the stage, the hallways are lined with archival photos of iconic sessions that took place on the stage. When stepping into the room, you are met with the smell of fresh wood and a lingering essence of the composers and musicians who have worked there. The vibrant architectural design and unique acoustics create a different universe for all those who are lucky enough to enter.
Fox Newman Scoring Stage
History and Legacy
Originally built in 1928 for filming, the stage transformed into Los Angeles’s first scoring stage in the early 30s under the head of the music department at that time, composer Alfred Newman. After shutting down for a few years, the historic scoring stage reopened its doors in 1997 and took back its place as one of the unrivaled, large-scale scoring facilities in the world.
A significant number of scores for film, television, video games, commercial, and private records have been created in the west side location. The stage is even more special as there are very few scoring facilities left in the world. Currently, there are only two large scoring stages left in Los Angeles, and Fox holds the biggest and most epic sounding room in the industry.
As one of the oldest and largest recording studio in the world, the Newman Scoring Stage upholds its state-of-the-art reputation by consistently upgrading its equipment to stay technologically advanced.
Maintaining the Highest Standard in the Industry
Since its remodel in 1997, the spacious control room has often been updated to keep up with the latest industry standards. The most recent upgrade includes the latest and most advanced Meyer Sound Bluehorn Speakers as the control room main left, center, right channels with four “Endfire” arranged X-400 sub-woofers for the LFE channel.
The Scoring Control Room new Meyer Sound Bluehorn Speakers
Using the sub-woofers in an “Endfire” arrangement creates a cardioid pattern to maximize performance in the control room while reducing low end leakage to the stage. The three main front speakers are a complement of the Bluehorn speakers, mounted in an inverted fashion, and topped with Bluehorn subwoofers. The Fox technicians also added two rear surround Meyer Sound HMS 12 speakers and replaced the previous two side surrounds with HMS 12s. This expanded the control room monitoring capabilities from 5.1 to 7.1. As the last essential ingredient, all the speakers are fed by a pair of Galaxy Bluehorn and Galaxy 816 processors resulting in an exceptional phase response and sound of the entire Meyer Sound Bluehorn system.
Chief Engineer, Marc Gebauer,
and Journeyman Supervising Engineer, Erin Rettig
According to Marc Gebauer, Chief Engineer, and Erin Rettig, Journeyman Supervising Engineer, “The new system is fantastic! Meyer brings to the table time alignment throughout the frequency spectrum. It's not just time alignment from each speaker cabinet, but it's the time/phase alignment between all the individual Bluehorn transducers that make up the Bluehorn speaker with Bluehorn sub combination, which results in a very smooth overall response.” The new system tracks together very well resulting in improved transparency, accuracy, imaging, and audio clarity.
“When people come to record at Fox, they are thoroughly impressed to hear the Bluehorn system,” said Rettig. Bluehorn is not yet available everywhere, so Fox is staying ahead of the industry by upgrading its scoring stage. “We can see that the sound clarity has increased people's confidence in their work because of the improved fidelity in the booth to the sound being played on the scoring stage, and a better match to the sound that will be heard in theaters,” added Gebauer.
Although the installation was a bit challenging, the results are well worth it. The two-piece speakers were installed as one unit. Additionally, the head of facilities construction, Brian McEvoy, made the equipment earthquake compliant. Special metalwork was built in order to securely fasten the speakers into the wall. The front wall is also covered in Almute material making it acoustically inert.
Mixers who come to the facility will notice the exceptional low noise of the speakers at rest. The Bluehorn speaker system doesn’t add any extraneous noise, resulting in a very clean and quiet monitoring path. “People are very comfortable trusting our choice of speakers,” said Rettig. The clarity and transparency between the live room and the control room during the recording session is amazing. “The speakers make it sound like you're in the room with the instruments,” he added.
Fox is the first scoring stage to install the Bluehorn system. Meyers commissioned the speakers and performed full acceptance testing to comply with SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) standard headroom requirements and SPL level requirements. Meyer Sound also performed the speakers' room voicing to comply with Fox’ standards for translation.
Amenities and Benefits
Fox employs some of the most knowledgeable staff in the industry. The floor managers, Damon Tedesco and Peter Nelson, are highly proficient with microphone handling and placement, highlighting Fox’s world class vintage and modern microphone collection. The stage recordists, Tim Lauber and Christine Sirois, are experts in configuring the room. The facility is highly maintained, and clients rest assured that they can fully rely on high-functioning equipment and top-of-the-line crews.
The Fox Scoring Team:
Erin Rettig, Tim Lauber, Peter Nelson, Damon Tedesco
The control room is equipped with the enterprise-class AMS-Neve 88RS recording console with 96 channels, and 10 groupers/master faders, for a total of 106 faders. “One of our main goals is for all the technology to disappear and not interfere with the creative process,” stated Rettig. The equipment does not impose itself on the creative process, it is a complement of the creative process. The board is capable of creating six multi-channel stem mix outputs simultaneously which gives the music mixer more control and accommodates individual mixes and separates sections of the orchestra for delivery to the dubbing stage.
As part of trying to maintain the highest quality standards, Fox recently upgraded to the Encore 3 Automation system, and added 16 usable terabytes of TrueNAS online storage to allow clients to hold the files of the recording sessions online. TrueNAS is also connected to the recorders at 10 gigabits making it 10 times faster and can be used on the ethernet network for audio recording. Lastly, Fox offers a full complement of Pro Tools machines with four systems allowing clients to record 112 inputs while playing back 768 tracks (at 48 KHz) per machine.