Having originally been inspired by his parent’s eclectic record collection, the adolescent Guy Massey learnt his way around the guitar and then the 4 track tape recorder before graduating to an apprenticeship at London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios. There he worked as an assistant engineer on many seminal albums, including Radiohead’s The Bends, Manic Street Preachers’ Everything Must Go, and Be Here Now by Oasis. After progressing to become a staff engineer at Abbey Road, Massey finally spread his wings and went freelance in 2005.
Soon afterwards Massey was recruited by Allan Rouse to help remaster the entire Beatles back catalogue - a four year labour of love that culminated in 2010 with The Beatles The Complete Studio Recordings earning Massey a Grammy award for ‘Best Historical Album’, followed by the Music Producers Guild coveted ‘Recording Engineer of the Year’ award in 2011.
In 2013 Massey took the plunge and set up his own personal studio in north London, and immediately started work on remixing Paul McCartney’s Rockshow film for DVD and Blu-ray release. The project - something of a baptism of fire for the new and untested studio - involved mixing live tracks from the Wings 1976 world tour, using a 5.1 Smart Active Monitoring (SAM) system based on Genelec 8250A monitors and a 7270A subwoofer. According to Massey, the mixes ‘translated brilliantly’ and required very little tweaking by Abbey Road mastering engineer Simon Gibson, so when Massey got the call last year to mix Ed Sheeran’s Jumpers for Goalposts Wembley Stadium concerts for cinema and DVD release, Genelec was the natural choice.
“The Genelec 8351As had just been released at this point and I was really keen to hear them. I started out by playing some commercially available CDs that I knew well and found the 8351As hugely impressive, revealing things that I just didn’t know were on the tracks. They didn’t sound ‘pushed’ or ‘fake’, they just sounded really detailed - almost shockingly detailed.”
Having liked what he heard, Massey then installed and calibrated a full 5.1 SAM system based on three 8351As positioned left, centre and right, two 8240As working as rears, and a 7270A subwoofer - then hunkered down for an intense period of demanding work on the Sheeran film project. He continues:
“Sometimes when you listen to bigger format monitors they sound impressive, but they’re sort of fatiguing. For this project I was listening to the 8351As constantly for two or three weeks and I never once felt the need to turn them down, or listen to something else.”
With Sheeran’s relatively sparse singer-songwriter instrumentation - and a huge number of ambient audience feeds to integrate - it was a serious task, particularly as Massey hadn’t attended the sell-out Wembley gigs and wasn’t working to picture:
“I found it challenging because there was such a small amount of stuff to play with. With so few elements, everything has to speak volumes – it was a tough one. I’m delighted to say that the mixes translated really well, and like the McCartney film project there was very little adjustment required at the mastering stage. It’s really refreshing to know that stuff in a room of this size can translate pretty swiftly.”
If the real test of the 8351As was in how well the atmosphere of the Wembley concerts was conveyed in the cinema and on the DVD, then Massey is unequivocal:
“The 8351As were so detailed, you could feel exactly where everything was on the night. Sitting right here in my studio, you really could get a sense of that huge Wembley space.”