“Trusting your monitors is paramount. It gives you the confidence that what you hear is what you really get,” says Justin Douglas. Justin, a Berklee College of Music graduate, made his first steps in recording while still at the high-school in Jakarta, Indonesia. Being involved in music production throughout most of his life, doing what he loves doing, he says; “I’ve never had a real job, just making music!” The thing that moves him forward in his career is the belief that music is an energy, that needs to be captured by the producer and transferred to the listener. This is why his King Electric Recording studio in Austin, Texas is designed in a way that allows energy to flourish before being captured in it’s truest and rawest form. The large room, where musicians record together, along with the 24-track Neve V51 console and the 3M M79 2” analog multitrack recorder make the energy flow seamless.
Typically working in Indie rock, Folk, and Americana genres, Justin says he particularly enjoys experimental music supported by good songwriting, regardless of genre. In order to provoke the artist’s creativity, he often takes unconventional approaches in the recording. In his latest project with a local artist Jana Horn, Justin frames the whole album around her voice by recording a keeper guitar and the vocal first and then stacking all the instruments. “I like to be adaptable,” says Justin, “and for the most part I feel making great recordings comes from understanding the music and the artist’s intent.”
Justin says he likes gear with character and color that inspires people to perform differently than they normally would. Some old tube PA heads and a couple effects pedals he had built himself are among the unique tools he is using. “Apart from that, I rely heavily on having a system that works flawlessly and a monitoring rig that I can trust emphatically.” In the search for new monitors he went through a deep research and read various reviews when finally purchased a pair of Amphion One15 studio monitors and got “genuinely shocked by the three-dimensionality and detail.”
Right after installing the One15s in King Electric Recording studio, Justin auditioned some of his best works so far and sadly discovered that other Amphion users were right – “great mixes sound great, but mixes I’ve done that had flaws in them became readily apparent.” Listening to the vocal he immediately noticed a missed resonance in the 400 range. “And even if it’s little things like that you don’t necessarily hear on other systems, those little things add up quickly and can have a serious impact on your mix,” says Justin. For him, the most important aspect is that now he is able to trust what he’s hearing. “Knowing that what I hear in my studio is what I’m going to hear everywhere else is the ideal. Their ability to sound like what I’m recording and not color the sound in any way is what makes them unique.”
Adding further to his impressions Justin says: “The detail and clarity of the One15s are certainly what makes them special, but the stereo imaging is something I keep finding myself drawn to. The center image is like a pinpoint or the bulls-eye on a dartboard.” Another thing that keeps surprising him is the performance of his monitors at low listening levels. “With the One15s, as I turn the volume down, everything stays the same, just quieter. This is something I really love about these speakers,” adds Justin.
Beginning his career in the mid 90’s, Justin has experienced a diverse range of studio work-environments and subsequent recording equipment. Nonetheless, he willingly admits: “No piece of gear has changed my game more than these monitors. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not. Hearing everything and trusting what I hear has improved my mixes and my business. There isn’t a day that goes by that I take that for granted.”