null Immersive Talk with Salpot Studios

Immersive Talk with Salpot Studios

Genelec recently caught up with skilled immersive engineer and producer Andnew at his professional creative space in South Korea, Salpot Studios, to find out how he does things and what he's been up to lately.

Can you tell our readers a little more about yourself?

Sure! I’m currently a CEO and mix engineer at Salpot Studios. Here, we refer to ourselves as “the designers of music”. We do this by offering all sorts of useful services – with highly-desired professionals who are the best in their fields. In all honesty, my journey started because I wanted to become a K-POP producer. When I was 20 years old, I met my very first music tech teacher, who only taught me how to use a compressor and EQ, nothing about using synths or anything. Later, I realised he was a famous columnist who writes about the studio industry and sound theory in Korea! As I kept doing more mixing, I found myself enjoying it, and here I am, six years later, in my own studio.

Salpot Studios Andnew

What can you tell us about the space at Salpot Studios?

We're located in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, which is right in the heart of the city. Even Mr. President lives nearby! Anyway, it’s a two-story building that was originally a kindergarden before it became this studio. Now, it has four studio rooms: two for the producers and two for the engineers.

What are your key pieces of equipment at Salpot?

First of all, I use Ableton Live and Pro Tools for mixing. Actually, I link those DAWs and use them together. I use an Antelope Audio Orion 32 for my word clock, a Dangerous Music 2BUS+ for summing and a MOTU 112d for my main interface. And I also use lots of headphones and earphones for additional monitoring.

What type of work do you do in your studio?

We provide all sorts of services needed for music, not only for making music for commercials, film and TV, but also vocal editing, recording and mixing for music artists. I’m personally working as a general director for our screen music and as our main mixing engineer. Currently we work on both stereo and Dolby Atmos Mixing. For immersive productions, we specialise in Atmos. Our studio has all the programs and systems required to work with the format, utilising a 7.1.4 Genelec monitoring system.

How and when did you become interested in immersive audio?

We’ve watched new technologies getting applied to many different fields of arts. Due to the birth of 3D movies and rise of 4D movies, the use of AR technology arising from the development of XR technology, modern art using many different devices, and machines like Meta Quest, we are now able to enjoy very realistic games. However, even as little as four years ago, there was no real reaction in the music industry. Somehow, new ways to enjoy music, like using new technologies when making albums or utilising new instruments for the first time, were not being suggested. Instead, the analogue way of playing music, like listening to LPs, became the trend. That got me thinking about why there isn't so much modernisation in music, and that was when I encountered the technologies of Sony 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos. I was waiting for this technology to be popularised and, with a push from Apple, many albums are now being released in the Atmos format.

Salpot Studios web image 1

What made you finally equip your studio for immersive?

As I watched the reaction of the overseas music market and the rise of technology for binaurally playing immersive audio, for example Apple Airpods, I made my mind up to start studying immersive mixing. Ever since I started to design our studio, I took the use of a 7.1.4 immersive system into consideration. For that reason, I chose this two-story building with its perfectly high ceiling. And here I am now, running a studio that provides a great sense of space.

How do you approach immersive mixing compared to stereo?

When I do stereo mixing, I'm very calculative. I analyse the energy of all the frequencies, trying to keep a good frequency balance, and I use sharp EQs a lot. I have a different way of doing things when it comes to immersive mixing. Then, I concentrate mostly on making all the instruments exist in one single sense of space. Unfortunately, I sense multiple different spaces in 70% of the Atmos music being released right now. I think this is because there are not many reverbs or other plug-ins supporting more than the 7.1.4 standard, but also because the style of creating a single whole space has not been necessary in stereo mixing. Also, many engineers pan a lot of elements to the back and upper areas, trying to use all the panning possibilities that immersive offers. Myself, I prefer not to work in such a way, instead positioning the main elements in the L,C,R monitors and mostly only panning the additional factors like percussion, FX, etc. away from there.

Can you tell us about your Genelec monitoring system?

Our studio has a 7.1.4 system with eight 8330s, two 8341s, one 8331 and a 7370. To be honest, I was worried about the budget when I opened the studio. I wasn’t sure whether I could build an Atmos studio with the budget I had, because not only did I need a monitor controller to control 12 monitors and a converter to support 12 analogue outputs, but also needed a working, simple solution for calibration. For me, there were only 3 conditions for the monitoring solution. One, does it support AES input? Two, is it easy to process calibration? And three, does it have a monitor controller to help with this? The monitoring solution that fit all three conditions was Genelec Smart Active Monitoring (SAM), and even before I thought of a 7.1.4 system, I was thinking of using the 8351 model to do stereo mixing. I didn’t hesitate to buy the monitors and do the construction by myself.

You must have used GLM (Genelec Loudspeaker Manager) then?

If there was no GLM software, it’s not exaggerating for me to say that there was no reason for me to buy Genelec. Even though there are some differences in adjusting values according to the location of the Measurement Microphone, I’m quite certain that it makes a near-perfect sound in any type of room. Especially for an immersive system, I think it’s even more important than for a stereo system, as it not only corrects the frequency balance but also supports with delay adjustment and the adjustment of phase with the LFE channel. In order for me to have the best and the most accurate sound, GLM was a must-have.

Salpot Studios web image 2

What have you been working on, and how has business been with immersive?

My own song 'Runaway', which was the song I worked on as a test when building this system, is out now in Atmos, and there are some other songs I’ve been working on. As the K-POP scene is kind of sensitive to leaks, please forgive me, I cannot reveal any details right now. The layout of the studio was ready some months ago, but as it took quite a long time to get approved as an Official Atmos Music Studio by Dolby, our studio is just recently listed as a Dolby studio, meaning work has just recently started in earnest. Simply because there are not many studios equipped with immersive systems in South Korea, I believe it's been a good commercial decision. I’m often surprised, as we also get filming inquires made due to our studio’s fancy interior, totally separate from the mixing inquiries.

How do you see the future of immersive audio over the next few years?

As far as I know, many Korean cars are now made with a Dolby Atmos system. I believe that with the supply of these cars and the modernisation of earphones and headphones like Airpods, such technologies will keep on developing and more and more people will be fascinated by them. Of course, I don’t mean that immersive will be totally popularised in the immediate future, as it's a cold fact that it needs more time and effort to do that. However, I believe that for those who are working in this part of the music industry and those who are interested in K-POP, they will soon have heard about Atmos and immersive here and there. And when their curiosity has been aroused, I think it’s up to the engineers like me to make them fall for the charm of immersive music. I believe that keeping up with my hard work and making good music will help power the growth of this market locally.

To find out more about the Salpot Studios, click here.

Do you want to be featured in our ‘Immersive Talk’ series? If so, just post some pictures of your setup on Instagram using the #GenelecImmersive hashtag. We’ll be keeping a look out for the most interesting setups, so who knows? We may be in touch with you!

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