Larrabee Studios, the legendary and prestigious Los Angeles recording facility, has installed a Meyer Sound monitoring system in Studio 3 for creating mixes in the Atmos Music format. Anchored in the front LCR channels by Meyer Sound’s revolutionary Bluehorn® System full-bandwidth monitoring, the new immersive environment has been used exclusively by studio owner Manny Marroquin for — in his estimation — more than 200 Atmos mixes of songs from artists including Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, Fitz and the Tantrums, Portugal. The Man and Lizzo, notably her “About Damn Time,” recipient of the 2023 Grammy for Record of the Year.
The recipient of 17 Grammy Awards, Marroquin is widely hailed as the music industry’s premier mixing engineer, with credits on dozens of hit recordings by artists ranging from Kanye West and Alicia Keys to John Mayer, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran. When the Dolby Atmos Music format was introduced, Marroquin saw it as an opportunity for music creators to move forward into, literally, a new dimension.
“The idea of immersive music had always been intriguing to me, but it never was executed correctly to my mind,” says Marroquin. “When Dolby started reaching out to creators like me, and shortly after that Apple put it on their platform, it was clear this would be a real progression in audio technology. So, we went all-in on Atmos.”
At about that time, Marroquin was building VERSE, an adjoining restaurant and bar, that morphs nightly into a live music recording venue, which integrates a Constellation® acoustic system by Meyer Sound.
“I flew up to Berkeley a couple of times regarding Constellation, and on one trip John Meyer took me to the Bear’s Lab studio and introduced me to Bluehorn. He played a Michael Jackson track, and I heard things in that song I had never heard before. I thought it would be amazing if somehow I could get Bluehorn into one of my rooms at Larrabee. Now it’s here, and it just sounds incredible.”
A seamlessly integrated system comprising three drivers in two cabinets along with proprietary digital processing, Bluehorn is uniquely capable of high acoustic output coupled with flat amplitude and phase response across the entire audible spectrum. The complete Meyer Sound installation in Studio 3 also comprises three X-400C™ cinema subwoofers, six ULTRA-X20XP™ and four ULTRA-X23XP™ loudspeakers for lateral and overhead surrounds, and four USW-112XP™ compact subwoofers for surround bass management.
To describe how he feels working with the Bluehorn System, Marroquin uses a car analogy. “You can drive a new Honda and it will reliably get you from point A to point B just fine. But if you move up to a Mercedes S Class, you get there in luxury and you almost feel safer. With Meyer Sound, I have the Mercedes — maybe the Ferrari — of monitors. Whenever I play something, I can adapt to it immediately because the monitors give me exactly what I want to hear. I had that confidence from the moment I first heard them.”
A high level of confidence is critical, says Marroquin, when working on the low-frequency content that is so critical in contemporary music. “Today you have so much information in the deep bass, and with other speakers too often I have to work down there, I have to carve sounds, do this and that. But with Bluehorn I know what to do right off. I know exactly what I have to touch.”
Marroquin restricts his Atmos mixing to projects for which he already has done the stereo mix. “I’ve already spent hours working with the tracks, and talking to the producer and artist, so I already have insight into the recording. For me, with Atmos, it’s almost like less is more. I just want to take the stereo mix and fully immerse you in it. It’s an enhancement rather than a new mix. The last thing I want to do is pull apart that subtle glue that holds a great song together.”
The original Larrabee Studios was a small recording facility on Larrabee Street in West Hollywood, owned by legendary pop songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Subsequent owners expanded to incorporate Larrabee North in 1991 at the current location of Larrabee Studios. The first project at the newly rechristened studio was Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. Today’s facility provides five main rooms, two tracking rooms, a production suite, and a mastering room.
The adjoining VERSE restaurant and bar, also owned by Marroquin, is a one-of-a-kind restaurant, supper club, live music venue, and state-of-the-art recording facility. A Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system creates the optimum acoustical ambiance for the time of day, the music style, and the desired energy level. A separate Meyer Sound reinforcement system is driven by an SSL Live L300 console, which for live recordings is directly linked to the digital hub next door at Larrabee Studios.
About Meyer Sound
Founded by John and Helen Meyer in 1979, Meyer Sound is a global leader in providing integrated solutions for sound reinforcement, spatial sound, acoustic systems, studio monitoring and high-end residential systems. Recognized as an audio technology pioneer, Meyer Sound was the first to introduce dedicated loudspeaker processors, source independent measurement, large-scale self-powered loudspeakers, and cardioid subwoofers, among other innovations. The premium professional brand maintains rigorous quality control in its design and manufacturing of sustainable solutions for concert touring and festivals, houses of worship, cinema, education, corporate offices and residential. Scientific research and innovative product development have earned more than 100 US and international patents along with numerous industry awards. Headquartered in Berkeley, California with operations globally, Meyer Sound is a company where employees are innovators and diversity, equity and inclusion are embraced in the workplace and the community.