Home » News » Peak Performance – John Paterno Pinpoints Sonic Relationships With Amphion Two18s

Grammy-winning producer/engineer/composer on developing sonic points of view and the all-important midrange


Los Angeles, CA, March 17, 2022 — John Paterno’s career has been driven by his unique ability to dial into the key relationships that define music – between the sonic elements of a track and the performers themselves. As a stalwart of rock and pop production for nearly thirty years, he’s helmed recordings by artists such as Gov’t Mule, Robbie Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Robben Ford, and Los Lobos, among others. His dedication to curating these defining moments on record has also made him a valued guru through his Mix-Therapy series – a one-on-one program designed to mentor up-and-coming engineers on developing the sonic point-of-view necessary to understand these relationships and bring the most out of them on record. Knowing that the key to all of this is trusting what he hears, Paterno has made AmphionTwo18 monitors and the Amp700 power amplifier critical components in his studio monitoring setup.
John Paterno with guitar
"Developing trust with artists and giving them the space to have that emotional engagement is critical." - John Paterno

The spirit of performance

Cutting his teeth under producer/engineer team Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake in the early 1990s, Paterno developed a sensibility towards tight groups of musicians who thrived off of mutual chemistry. His recording methodology evolved to facilitate performances, and to give audible fingerprints to these relationships on record. Developing systems that would capture these moments perfectly is still a top priority for him. “Great performances have always engaged me as a listener – it’s the reason we all go into the studio in the first place,” he explained. “Every session I do I always start with the same question: How do I make the person or people on the other side of the microphone feel comfortable enough that they can deliver a great performance?”

Key to developing that comfort for performers is, according to Paterno, allowing them to ‘disappear’ into the studio in such a way that all of the instrumentation melts away leaving nothing but the music. Carefully staying out of the way is a subtle art that requires building trust on multiple levels and has encouraged Paterno to develop a singular approach to his methods and chosen tools. “Developing trust with artists and giving them the space to have that emotional engagement is critical,” he said. “I still feel very fortunate to be invited into an artist’s world, so it’s important that everything works seamlessly once the performances start developing.”

Key to his seamless approach is Paterno’s choice of monitoring – Amphion Two18s with an Amp700 power amp. The setup gives him all the surgical detail he needs to hear the human nuances in these performances while still providing an enjoyable experience after long hours in the studio. “If you’re going to sit in front of something for 10-12 hours a day and count on it to deliver that level of detail, it better make you feel good,” he said. “From my first time using the Amphions, I immediately had that rare combination where I could listen to them critically and have the sound be musical. They’re everything I need for a session.”

John Paterno at console
"Amphion is a full-range sound, but the midrange detail feels musical and true to me. I get a very accurate picture of what I am hearing." - John Paterno

Listening for a point of view

Paterno is extremely conscious of the fact that the type of records he prefers to make – musicians playing in rooms together with a developed sense of ensemble sound – have become less commonplace given the rise in remote workflows in audio production. Guiding these sometimes disparate elements into a completed track requires a more active hand in production, and more active listening. “Modern records tend to be passed from home studio to home studio, so there is not always a cohesive sonic perspective” he explained. “The challenge in mixing these kinds of records is to take these sometimes disparate elements and get them to not only work together, but to translate to the end listener.”

Paterno’s use of Amphion has been a game-changer for him in the realm of translation, he says. Being able to trust that all of his mix decisions are being heard and understood wherever they are being played has resulted in a faster, more intuitive workflow that has given him more control over his sonic point of view than ever before. “The magic in record-making is in the midrange – that’s what needs to translate above all else,” he said. “Amphion is a full-range sound, but that midrange detail feels musical and true to me. I get a very accurate picture of what I am hearing. It translates everywhere, every time”

“I always steer my Mix-Therapy students back to listening – asking how best can you hear the details that are making this performance special, and bring them forward?,” he said. “With the Amphions, I immediately hear more of those details – and it’s made my work that much more precise.”

For more information about John Paterno, please visit: http://johnpaternomusic.com 

For more information about Amphion, please visit: http://amphion.fi/create/

About Amphion

Amphion Loudspeakers Ltd. was established in 1998. We design and build loudspeakers that are characterized by honest and accurate sound reproduction. Precise driver integration ensures world-class imaging and phase coherency. Controlled dispersion technology helps achieve more stable results in a variety of room acoustics. All products are handmade in Finland (and the Amphion amplifiers are assembled in Finland) to ensure enduring listening quality.

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