Digital Control, Analog Freedom: Pro Tools | S6 Reconnects Mixer with Music

By in Music Creation, Pro Mixing

Fast approaching its 30th anniversary in 2017, RoastingHouse AB is a music company with a global reach that encompasses publishing, labels, productions and recording/mix/mastering interests. It operates a number of studio facilities, including a major 12 studio complex located in its home town of Malmö, in the south of Sweden.

Anders ‘Theo’ Theander started out as a professional drummer before moving into production and engineering – in the process racking up more than 140 album credits. Today he is the owner of RoastingHouse AB but remains active in the studio – not least in its flagship room, Studio 1. Set within a 19th century building, Studio 1 has been the subject of a substantial upgrade over the last few years that has seen it adopt a workflow based around Avid’s Pro Tools and a Pro Tools | S6 M40 Control Surface – the currently largest Pro Tools | S6 console in Scandinavia.

As well as delivering a boost for music recording and mixing applications, the Pro Tools | S6 has enhanced Studio 1’s post-production capabilities, which also include 5.1 surround (Genelec), Joystick Module, Post Production Module and a 40” 4K screen. The need to support multiple projects – and project types – is an ongoing preoccupation for Theo and colleague’s Simon Hansson (Studio Manager & Engineer) and Micko Twedberg (Engineer), but in truth the mixing set-up had been in flux for several years.

“We had had the ability to sync our 24-track 2” Studer A80, Mac 3, tape machine to Pro Tools while still using our old analogue desk, although over time I had become more and more enamoured of the freedom of working mainly in the digital domain,” he says. “But what I didn’t like about digitally-oriented recording was the tendency to work primarily with the keyboard and mouse/track pad – in fact, I found that it hindered my ability to focus on the music. I was simply not connecting with music in the way I had done when we used only analogue gear.”

The acquisition of an Avid C|24 control surface (which is largely an analogue device) helped to address Theo’s “need for faders”, but when he heard about the S6 he quickly realised that this was another way to go. “It has that combination of the feel of an analogue console with all the digital benefits, so we knew it would be a fantastic addition to the studio,” he says.

 

All set for surround

Designed for optimum flexibility, the S6 is based around the Master Touch Module, which provides touchscreen access and control. Customers may then choose from the S6 M40 or S6 M10 control surfaces, which both feature a tilting 12.1-inch multipoint touchscreen, eight adjacent rotary encoders, and dedicated knobs and keys.

At RoastingHouse Studio 1, the S6 M40 has evolved in response to the studio’s changing requirements. In the nearly two years since it was acquired, the fader count has been increased to 40 while a host of additional modules have been added. Of particular note are the modules to support surround sound, with immersive audio expected to make a significant impact on production workflows over the next few years.

“Swedish Television and the Royal Opera House in Malmö are among those to have expressed an interest in surround sound, so it’s important that we have the capacity to support immersive work,” says Theo.

But it is the ability of the S6’s Master Touch Module and Master Modules to be programmed to meet specific user requirements that is proving most critical to Theo. In fact, they are not only enhancing his day-to-day working life – they have also reignited his personal connection with music itself.

“By programming the S6 to behave in the way we want it to behave, I have found that we are using the keyboard and trackpad less and less – and I hope that we really won’t use them much at all at some point in the near-future,” he says. “As a producer and mixing engineer, this has had massive benefits for my work. For a while back there I felt like I was more of a computer engineer, but now I am back to focusing on the music again and being a music worker once more!”

Although the experience of switching to the S6 has been distinctly challenging at times, necessitating intensive support from Gothenburg-based Avid partner Meta4, it is clear that Theo has no regrets.

“The S6 has helped me to find my way back to working with music in a creative way to capture and convey the right energy. My mixes have become more ‘alive’ and ‘musical’ again, thanks to the S6,” he says. “Moreover, I am glad to report that the positive feeling about the system is shared by the other engineers and producers who have passed through RoastingHouse recently.”

 

Photos by Roger Jensen

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As a Sales and Marketing Specialist in the Nordics, I have an amazing opportunity to work closely with some of the best and most interesting artists, content creators and audio and video professionals from Northern Europe. Follow me on Avid Blogs to learn industry news from Scandinavia, Benelux and Russia.