beautifully honest

Amphion monitors at The Brain Recording Studios in Sydney

“Amphions have made a larger impact on my work than any single piece of analogue hardware,” says Clayton Segelov, Head engineer at The Brain.

Mixing and mastering

The Brain Recording Studios is nestled in the heart of the thriving cultural precinct that is St. Peters. Moving from their previous Surry Hills location in 2016, Head Engineer Clayton Segelov and engineer Matt Clarke have made it their business to understand the needs of musicians and artists. Being musicians and artists themselves, their mission is to produce the highest quality recordings and maintain an ideal home for their creative network of freelancers, musicians, and clients.

For over 15 years, the Brain Recording Studios has and continues to work with some of the world’s best musicians including the likes of Daniel Johns (Silverchair), Antagonist A.D. (NZ), Life’s Ill, Underminer, The Lovely Bones (ACT), Columbus (QLD), The Zen Haircuts, Endless Heights, Dear Seattle, Graves are just some of the artists and producers The Brain have worked with.

Chris Stevens from Federal Audio caught up with Clayton and asked a few questions about the operation:

The Brain Recording StudioHow many people do you have working in and out of The Brain Studios?

We have two studio staff – Matt and myself make up the core team. The studios get used by a few other producers in a kind of “Mothership” model, where they have spaces that they work out of and just use The Brain to fill the gaps in their needs. This can range from tracking an entire project at the studio and taking it home to mix, or just using us to track drums or a vocal.

What are the dimensions of the tracking room, and how do you normally lay it out?

Last year we looked to update more than just the equipment at The Brain, we wanted to address any acoustic limitations we had come across in our Surry Hills facility, as well as taking careful consideration toward the current industry and playing to its strengths. Ceiling height was the big must, as well as having the ability to change the character of the room. The new tracking room is 35m2 with a 4m ceiling. Drums sound great almost anywhere in the room, however, we usually have one of the studio’s kits set up facing diagonally across the room which is a great starting point to fine-tuning a drum sound to fit whatever track we are working on.

What would you say is the ‘sonic character’ of the live room?

Smooth, fat, no build-ups of harsh frequencies and very customizable. It can be dry and punchy or have a long and smooth decay making it great for just about anything. But glorious for drums and strings.

In the bio, it says the staff and engineers at Brain are all musicians. There is an impressive array of guitars & amps on call at the studio – is it mainly guitar that you all play?
Not at all! The staff has a lot of experience with all sorts of instruments. I will say that we tend to work a lot with guitar-driven artists and songs because we have a lot to offer in the guitar-centric genres.

There is also a swath of cool mics and preamps at your disposal – are there any favourites or combinations that you like?
The equipment selection has certainly taken a while to settle on, and I’d be lying if I said the state of the industry hasn’t affected our selection here. My go-to vocal chain hasn’t changed in a long time, (Manley Vox Box > Distressor in Opto mode > 1176) but our drum tracking changed when we acquired the Quad Eight. Now we almost exclusively track drums through the Quad Eight, it’s a gorgeous front end. I certainly feel spoiled that we have it here!

How do you find the sound?

It makes me grin ear to ear.

How does it work with the Amphions, and previous speakers?

Well, for a start I can actually hear what it’s doing! I can hear much more subtle differences in saturation and transients are presented in a way that I can get a handle on. I always found that tricky with other monitors.

What was it that led you to choose Amphion monitors over other premium brands?

We actually tried them. We had a large selection of monitors set up over about a month here at The Brain. I won’t mention brand names, but they were in the same price range, or in some cases more expensive than the Amphions. We did mixes and got client feedback. After all, we’re in the business of providing a service. In this case, the choice was made by which set up yielded the best results.

Have the Amphion changed the way you work?

Absolutely, I may sound like a broken record, but Two18 studio monitors and Amp500 allow me to work longer and decisions get made much faster.

Do you keep the NS10s alongside the Amphions?  Love to hear your thoughts here.

I do, I have a “roster” of monitoring solutions that I use that are equally important to my workflow.

Do you master on the Amphions?

I do, I love mastering! And I love what I can achieve with the Amphions. In a strange way, the Amphion’s have made a larger impact on my work than any single piece of analog hardware. I have been able to achieve much better results “in-the-box” and find myself leaning on outboard less and less since working this way.

Whats next for The Brain?

Well, it’s full steam ahead, doing what we love, helping artists turn their vision into reality and connecting with their audience through fantastic sounding records!