Mixing and mastering

“My business is blossoming like never before, and in short time they have paid for themselves in multitudes,” says Tor Bach Kristensen about his Amphion Two18 studio monitors.

Tor is a mixing and mastering engineer at King Kong Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark. As with most recording engineers, he got into the business through music – by playing an instrument, and in his case, the drums. He goes on to say, “But the manipulation of sound itself seemed to be what really spoke to me”.

Tor Bach with Amphion studio monitorsTor engages in all aspects of music production, though he focuses on mixing and mastering. While working mainly on Pop, Rock, and Urban, he also enjoys straying from his routine by occasionally mixing some Hard Rock and Metal albums. Tor’s main motivation is the challenge always to convey the raw essence of the music, while still keeping the sound balanced and immersive, regardless of the genre. According to him, knowing your strengths and how you can contribute to the overall project is the key to recording product’s success. “It is ALL about synergy, not about claiming as big a part as possible,” says Tor.

“A piece of gear is only important as long as it fits the job I’m doing,” says Tor and continues: “I don’t need any specific tools other than my monitors and my ears to realize a project. Room, speakers, and ears are essentially the only links in the chain that are not susceptible to change. And naturally, these are the tools that I find the most important.”

A 48 Avid HD I/O and Lynx HILO running on a Mac Pro, with a solid selection of outboard gear for mixing and mastering, all contribute to his signal chain. “While I do like to switch or add some things once in a while, my absolute favorites stay, of course. But as my ears and work evolve, so does my taste in gear,” shares Tor. “As for speakers, that has to be consistent. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to have consistently good sounding results coming out of the studio,” he adds.

Tor says that people are different and each has a unique perception of sound quality, respectively for monitors. “But for me, the Amphions are the end-all solution,” Tor says and admits that after discovering Amphion he has stopped searching for alternatives. Recalling the first time he tested Amphion Two18 studio monitors he says:

“I was just pleased listening to speakers that sounded natural, balanced and convincing!”

Now, the Two18 studio monitors are his preferred tools for his mixing technique taking the playback volume down while maintaining a calibrated listening level. This way the mixes, according to Tor, will “sit well on all systems and have the right impact”.

Tor Bach working with Amphion studio monitorsGetting into more detail about Amphion’s sound quality, Tor states that the transients are unlike anything else he has ever heard. The sound coming from his Two18 feels familiar and comfortable …

“I don’t have to interpret what the speaker is putting out. I just have to listen and work with the music.”

The aspect that strikes him most is that together with the excellent frequency response, the Amphions bring astonishing phase response.

“It makes all other decisions to be made a lot less blurry, because not only do I have the correct frequency information, I also have the time information I need,” says Tor. He adds that now he does not apply so many effects as he used to do, but at the same time achieves “great sounding and powerful mixes.” “The Amphions tell me what I need to make informed decisions and allow me to focus more on creativity.”

Not long after Tor started working with Two18s, he upgraded his monitoring setup with BaseOne25 System. “It takes the Two18 from a perfectly usable mastering-grade monitor to a true full-range setup with ideal phase coherency. For me it is the absolute near-field full range solution,” says Tor. His new setup helped him secure some mastering projects with leading Danish pop label. 

The next in his list is the smaller Amphion One15 loudspeaker. “For mixing, I do love the more limited frequency response. I find it is not always preferred to have the sub information available, especially for the early mixing stages, as they can take up too much attention, and make me mix a little less focused. And for some stuff, it is just better musically to focus the transients and low-end higher up in the spectrum.”

“To be honest, the Amphion monitors make music, as much as they make mixes and masters, and this is what helps me pull ahead and get some of the biggest Danish labels and artists through the studio. I have seen much more expensive monitoring systems in a lot of the studios and mastering suites around, but they lack the emotional impact that the Amphions convey – and which makes my customers appreciate what comes from my studio,” concludes Tor.