Renowned mastering engineer Darcy Proper has received her twelfth Grammy Award nomination for the Best Immersive Audio Album, in recognition of her work on artist Alain Mallet’s kaleidoscopic world jazz release Mutt Slang II – A Wake of Sorrows Engulfed in Rage. The album was mastered at Valhalla Studios, New York, using PMC fact fenestria speakers as the main monitors.
“Working on the fenestrias allowed me to feel as well as hear the music and to choose wisely when making the fine adjustments that serve to bring the listener closer to the rich and colourful musical experience so beautifully crafted by Alain,” Darcy comments.
Darcy Proper was the first female mastering engineer to win a Grammy for the Best Surround Album, she has subsequently won a total of four Grammys and merited eight additional nominations. Her discography is as great as any, whether it is production on Toto, Tony Bennett or Dave Brubeck; remixing works by REM or Leonard Bernstein; mastering historical reissues for Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday; or new releases for Steely Dan or Porcupine Tree, she has done it all.
Based in upstate New York at Valhalla Studios, Darcy uses PMC’s flagship home audio loudspeakers, the fact fenestria, in her mastering suite. This choice of loudspeaker perfectly captures the ‘from studio to home’ philosophy of PMC. As Darcy puts it “When I’m mastering, I am listening for a level of detail that is probably more in line with audiophile listening rather than the broader strokes of power and balance often favoured in mixing environments. I also prefer a passive monitor paired with my choice of power amp to get the detailed sound that I’m looking for. I get to know my monitor set-up like a musician gets to know his/her favourite instrument. I then rely on that listening environment for all my creative decision-making so it’s important that my monitors give me what I need. For that combination of detail and accuracy, the fenestrias were the best fit.”
Jeff Willcocks, PMC’s CEO, says: “We have long espoused the notion that there is only one way to design a loudspeaker, and that is the right way. It doesn’t matter whether the speaker is for studio or home use, and that is why audiophiles who want to hear the music sounding just like it did in the studio know PMC will give them that emotional connection to the music, in the way the artist intended. Darcy’s use of our flagship speakers, the fenestria, is the strongest possible reinforcement of the ‘studio to home’ approach we have always taken.”
Darcy adds: “I need to be able to rely on the fact that what I hear in my monitors will sound good only when it actually IS good. That’s how I know when my work is done. My goal is to give the end listener the best possible experience; for the artist’s message to reach the listener in the most engaging and compelling way possible. I am best able to judge that when listening on a well-calibrated, detailed system.”
Darcy Proper, along with her recording engineer husband Ronald Prent, was originally part of the team that rescued and revitalised the famous Wisseloord Studios in The Netherlands. As part of the restoration process, Wisseloord was equipped with PMC monitors in both main studios, and it was here that Darcy first used PMC in an immersive audio environment.
When she joined the team at Valhalla, the fenestrias were one piece of equipment that she considered a ‘must-have’ for the mastering room.
“The fenestrias are a critical part of the accurate and detailed, yet musical, monitoring system which is the basis for the sonic evaluation and decision-making fundamental to my work as a mastering engineer,” she says. “Without that reliable point of reference, any adjustments I make would simply be guesswork.”
Valhalla Studios is owned by Joey DeMaio, founder of multi-million record selling rock/metal legends Manowar. The main studio is also equipped with PMC’s flagship QB1 XBD-A active monitors as part of a multi-channel immersive audio mixing system.
The album Mutt Slang II – A Wake of Sorrows Engulfed in Rage is available now on all major streaming platforms.
PMC is a UK-based, world-leading manufacturer of loudspeaker systems, the tools of choice in all ultra-critical professional monitoring applications, and also for the discerning audiophile at home, where they provide a transparent window into the recording artist’s original intentions. PMC products use the best available materials and design principles, including the company’s proprietary Advanced Transmission Line (ATL™) bass-loading technology, cutting-edge amplification and advanced DSP techniques to create loudspeakers that present sound and music exactly as it was when first created, with the highest possible resolution, and without coloration or distortion. For more information on our clients and products, see www.pmc-speakers.com.