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Atmos at The Village

The rise of Kali Audio in the SoCal studio scene By Dave Lockwood
Published August 2023

The Kali Audio monitors were actually designed with data that was gathered at The Village and that system was purpose‑built to go into Studio F.The Kali Audio monitors were actually designed with data that was gathered at The Village and that system was purpose‑built to go into Studio F.

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Kali Audio, based in Burbank, California, was founded at the start of 2018 by some former employees of nearby industry giant JBL, launching with a range of surprisingly affordable USA designed, Far East manufactured studio monitors. “Studio monitors made sense as something for us to start with” says Nate Baglyos, Kali Audio’s Director of Marketing. “Something that isn’t terribly expensive that would help us get our name out there. And studio monitors are really fun! It allows us to be in the studio world, working directly with musicians, engineers and producers. It’s great when your customers come back and say ‘I love your product: it’s really helped me do this’. You don’t get that with an install speaker!”

Nate Baglyos, Kali Audio’s Director of Marketing.Nate Baglyos, Kali Audio’s Director of Marketing.Kali’s Head of Acoustics Charles Sprinkle adds “another reason that we started in this category is that we had extensive experience in it. And if you look at the products that we started with, even going back to products that we did ‘in a different life’, you can see a clear progression of lessons‑learned.“

Kali Audio products have now progressed to what the company calls their ‘2nd Wave’: next‑generation products with a number of enhancements, including a new amplifier platform, upgraded transducers and “more robust DSP, for a smoother high‑frequency response”. New boundary‑EQ tunings also take advantage of the fact that Kali’s IN‑Series monitors, with their concentric mid‑ and high‑frequency drivers, can be placed either horizontally or vertically without adversely affecting their dispersion pattern. “I would particularly draw attention to the work that we’ve done on the amplifier,” says Charles Sprinkle, “where we’ve achieved, at the same voltage sensitivity, about a 12dB reduction in idle noise simply by availing ourselves of the latest technology. This is a one‑chip solution, but it was selected because the signal to noise ratio and distortion are quite significantly better than what was available even just a few years ago. We’ve realized those sorts of improvements at every step that we can.” With many home‑ and project‑studio users working in smaller spaces and quite close to their monitors, a 12dB reduction in amplifier self‑noise represents a really worthwhile upgrade, meaning that you shouldn’t hear any idle noise or hiss at all in the absence of signal, even if the ambient noise level in the room is already very low.

The new world of immersive audio

Kali Audio’s constant searching for improvement and progression has certainly paid off, judging by the stellar reviews of Kali speakers in Sound On Sound and elsewhere. The price/performance ratio of Kali Audio’s IN‑8 and IN‑5 models has seen them become something of a ‘secret weapon’ for a number of Los Angeles‑area producers adapting to the new world of immersive mixing. Record label budgets for immersive audio remixes of back catalogue material have led to many independent engineers and mixers opting to install Dolby Atmos‑compatible speaker systems in their own facilities. Niko Bolas — producer for Neil Young; Melissa Etheridge; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; LeAnn Rimes, and more — built his personal Surf Shack facility inside a warehouse. “Basically, I’ve built a giant sock drawer! I built these soundproof cages with soundstage material so I don’t have any reflections. I’m hearing exactly what the speakers do, and that makes for faster mixes, because it’s really accurate.”

Producer Niko Bolas installed a full 9.1.4 Atmos rig of Kali Audio monitors in his Surf Shack studio.Producer Niko Bolas installed a full 9.1.4 Atmos rig of Kali Audio monitors in his Surf Shack studio.Niko Bolas’s main monitors for stereo mixing are ATC 25s, but for his Atmos rig, he was happy to take a recommendation to audition some new Kali Audio units. “I went to their listening room, and they were just so good! I brought a set back here and did some mixes alongside my ATC 25s, which I live on. I went from one to the other, and I wouldn’t change an EQ or a balance. I wouldn’t add or change any reverbs. The mixes sounded just fine, so I bought the Kalis!

What Niko bought was a full 9.1.4 Atmos rig consisting of nine Kali IN‑8 speakers, four IN‑5s and a single WS‑12 subwoofer. “I really wanted to do 9.1.4, not just 7.1.4, because I wanted to have a complete representation of where it’s going to go, whether it be a theatre or whatever, and you don’t get Surround Wides in a 7.1.4 array. What I love about Atmos is I can quietly ‘consume’ a listener, in the way that I’m consumed when I’m working in a big control room and it’s really loud, like 100 or 110dB loud! In Atmos, at a level that most people will listen at, they too can get consumed: they can have music all around them. That’s what I try to achieve in the immersive balance. If you’ve got rhythm guitars out to the sides a bit, just chunking eighth notes and they’re kind of supporting while the singer’s going ballistic in front of you, then the whole experience feels louder. It’s not too loud. It’s not dangerous, but it allows the listener to be consumed.

“And that’s another reason why I kept the Kalis, because you can run them really loud and they just work. Their Imaging is stupid good. I think I actually kind of prefer the Kalis working loud than the ATCs. The ATCs can be a little bit bright on the top end. The Kalis never make me want to change anything at the top end, and they’re not fatiguing. They’re just very accurate. I use the dip‑switch settings on the back that Charles Sprinkle from Kali recommended, and I don’t touch them.

“In my position, I will buy whatever I need to do a good job. Kalis just happen to be inexpensive, but I chose them because they sound good. Most of the stuff I do now is done here, in my warehouse studio — I’m in the middle of a ten‑album collection for another artist that I’ve got to get done by July.”

Producer Niko Bolas: The Kalis never make me want to change anything at the top end, and they’re not fatiguing. They’re just very accurate.

Atmos at The Village

Even though Atmos mixes, and especially re‑mixes of back‑catalogue material, may often be carried out in independent producer/mix engineer facilities, top‑drawer professional studios are naturally investing in the technology of immersive mixing, too. Clients, whether they be A&R reps or artists, will usually prefer to hear a final mix playback in a confidence‑inspiring ‘pro’ environment, rather than the mix engineer’s personal facility, however ‘pro’ that may be. And for the mix engineer, too, playback on an Atmos rig, accredited and signed off by Dolby, is the ideal final reality check to ensure that the mix is fully in‑spec and will translate well to any approved playback system.

The Village, located just off Santa Monica Boulevard in LA, resides within a 1920s former Masonic Temple and first became a recording studio in 1968.The Village, located just off Santa Monica Boulevard in LA, resides within a 1920s former Masonic Temple and first became a recording studio in 1968.

Most of the big‑name LA studios now have at least one immersive room, including The Village, formerly known as Village Recorders, located at 1616 Butler Avenue, just off Santa Monica Boulevard. Housed within the faded grandeur of a 1920s former Masonic Temple, The Village became a recording studio in 1968 and hosted the recording of a string of classic albums through the ‘70s and ‘80s. When current owner Jeff Greenberg took control in 1995, the business benefited from some much‑needed revitalisation, working with renowned engineer Al Schmitt, expanding the 22,000‑square‑foot facility to comprise studios A, B, D, and F, the Moroccan Ballroom (Village’s main string room and ‘other recording space’), plus the Auditorium, used primarily as a performance space, but with access to recording if needed.

Studio F floorplan.Studio F floorplan.

After some deliberation, and a brief flirtation with the idea of converting Studio D — the largest room — Studio Manager Tina Morris says they settled on designating Studio F as their Atmos room. “Dolby had their eyes on Studio D, but F was the best one for us because it’s the most flexible room with bookings, and when we did the measurements, both Kali and Dolby agreed, that it would work fine in that room.

“We’re big fans of ATC here” Tina continues, “but the Kalis were a less cost‑prohibitive choice, given that we needed to put a massive amount of speakers into one room, because the quality was there for the purpose that we needed. We ran the idea by some of our respected engineers, including Niko Bolas who had already bought his Kali Atmos set before we installed ours. We did listening tests and decided that the Kalis were a good choice. The ratio of the numbers and audio quality was definitely just right. We were also already familiar with them ahead of time since we provided a test‑listening environment for Kali Audio while they were developing the speakers.”

The installation at The Village is a 7.1.4 configuration, employing seven Kali IN‑8s for Left, Centre and Right channels at the front, Left and Right Surrounds, plus Left and Right Rear Surrounds, four Kali IN‑5s used as Left and Right frontal overheads and Left and Right rear overheads, plus three WS‑12 subs. Three subs might seem excessive for the space, but “it’s just the way the nodes behaved in that room that meant that we needed three” explains Tina, “plus they make great coffee tables, with one on each side of the couch in the back!”

The Village: Studio F’s 7.1.4 configuration employs seven Kali IN‑8s for frontal, rear and side channels, with four IN‑5s providing overheads.The Village: Studio F’s 7.1.4 configuration employs seven Kali IN‑8s for frontal, rear and side channels, with four IN‑5s providing overheads.

One aspect of an Atmos installation that often proves challenging in smaller spaces is the need to accommodate the height‑channels’ speakers without compromising, quite literally, the head room for the occupants. Tina recalls: “we originally put the speakers up and it was like, oh, people are just gonna bump their heads on them”. After consulting with world‑renowned acoustician George Augspurger, the studio decided to raise the room’s ceiling by about a foot. Tina explains “we had to cut out an alcove in the top of the ceiling for mounting the speakers, and then put in some extra baffling up top to make up for the extra space, and George also had us put down a hard surface below the console and through the centre of the room — we originally had a carpeted floor. Other than that, we didn’t really have to do much to the acoustics of the room.”

Dolby has their own proprietary measurement software that they use for their final tuning and accreditation of Atmos systems, but the initial acoustic design and setup was done by Kali’s Charles Sprinkle and former Village tech David Andersen, using Room EQ Wizard to measure the space and generate corrective EQ curves, which were then entered into the DADman Pro|Mon software (monitor control app that works with Avid’s MTRX II unit). “We are actually using our Avid S6 console with the DADman software and it works fine” says Tina Morris. “It was certainly a happy coincidence that the Avid S6 we already had in Studio F was going to be useful for monitor control as well.”

Transducer design and system integration

The Kali’s dual‑concentric mid/high driver allows the speakers to be mounted horizontally without adversely affecting their dispersion pattern.The Kali’s dual‑concentric mid/high driver allows the speakers to be mounted horizontally without adversely affecting their dispersion pattern.The height‑channel speakers in an Atmos rig are often mounted with a horizontal orientation, just to help get them out of the way: a placement that favours the use of dual‑concentric drivers whose dispersion remains the same whichever way they are mounted. Kali’s IN‑series speakers are an interesting hybrid, with a dual‑concentric mid‑ and high‑ frequency driver, accompanied by a separate port‑loaded bass driver. This arrangement facilitates convenient sideways mounting in an Atmos rig without compromising dispersion.

Charles Sprinkle Kali’s Head of Acoustics explains: “designing our own transducers takes a little bit more development expense, and it takes time to do, but the value‑add is significant because we can tailor the requirements of the transducer to the entire system integration and make sure that we’re getting the full performance of the driver at the same time as we’re getting the full performance of the amplifier.

“I don’t like to box myself into a corner with any particular driver technology. Each technology has its own advantages and they all have their drawbacks. For our entry‑level line we were using soft‑dome tweeters because, at that price point, they can perform very well for what they are. Moving up in price, different choices could be made, but the drawbacks also have to be addressed. For example, metal‑dome tweeters are known for having a big resonance above 20kHz, but that can be mitigated through careful geometry and optimization.”

Kali Audio’s Head of Acoustics Charles Sprinkle.Kali Audio’s Head of Acoustics Charles Sprinkle.The four‑Inch midrange driver in Kali’s IN‑Series has a particularly important role, not just reproducing midrange frequencies, but also acting as the waveguide for the concentric tweeter, requiring its shape to be precisely engineered to provide the wanted dispersion characteristic. “For midrange diaphragm materials, I am an unashamed paper enthusiast” says Charles. “It’s very stiff, it has good self‑damping characteristics and, to me, the only drawback of paper is that it might not be perceived as exotic, but it is wonderful stuff! The way that directivity transitions can be controlled through appropriate modification of the shape of the diaphragm, and all of those sorts of little details, it gives you a lot of value for the money that you spend.”

Kali’s strategy of optimizing their transducers at the design stage to get as close as possible to the characteristics that they want means that they don’t have to use DSP to try to ‘fix’ any major issues. “When you start trying to fix things with EQ, the actual problem is still there”, says Charles Sprinkle. “You’re just putting some makeup on it and smoothing it over. If you fix the on‑axis sound with EQ, you can’t get it right anywhere else in the room. This is the reason why we design our own drivers. You’ve got to have a strong foundation to build a good, strong system. Our goal isn’t to make a ‘nice‑sounding loudspeaker’ that people are going to put in their living rooms. What we build are tools to be used by professionals to create music. But there’s a trade‑off in everything: the trade‑off with having non‑concentric drivers is the directivity anomaly at crossover, which you can’t avoid, whereas having a point source allows you to have a uniform radiation pattern regardless of the place in the room. It is a circular dispersion pattern, but I would submit that the difference is well worth it and actually I prefer the directivity of the dual‑concentric.”

The movement of the cone surrounding a concentrically‑mounted tweeter can be a source of intermodulation distortion, especially in a two‑way dual‑concentric where the tweeter’s waveguide is also the woofer, which is inevitably in motion to a significant degree in order to produce sound. That issue is inherently mitigated in a three‑way system, because the midrange driver doesn’t have to move as far as a bass driver does. In fact, the midrange cone movement in the Kali IN models is limited to less than a millimetre peak‑to‑peak excursion thereby minimising audible intermodulation distortion. The IN series, with their concentric mid‑ and high‑frequency drivers, paired with a separate bass driver are designed to offer the benefits of both traditional three‑way systems and traditional coaxial speakers, with none of the drawbacks typically associated with either.

Talking Heads in Atmos

Renowned record producer and audio engineer Ed Stasium (the Ramones, Talking Heads, Motorhead, the Smithereens, Living Colour and many more) is another recent convert to both Atmos mixing and Kali monitors. “Rhino (the catalogue division of Warner Music Group) had been ‘threatening me’ for two and a half years or so with Atmos mixing! But in the summer of last year, they called me up and said ‘we have this deal with Apple — we have to do the Talking Heads catalogue in Atmos. All of it… immediately!’

Ed Stasium mixed Talking Heads 77 in The Village Studio F Atmos room.Ed Stasium mixed Talking Heads 77 in The Village Studio F Atmos room.“I called my good friend Niko Bolas and told him what was going on, and he said ‘they’ve just put in that new Atmos room at Village: I can go down there with you’. I knew nothing about immersive mixing. As an engineer, I’ve always just figured things out for myself, but I definitely needed some help with Atmos, even though I was really familiar with the material: I recorded and mixed the first Talking Heads album, and then mixed some of the stuff on the second album, too.

“So, I called Tina Morris, Studio Manager at The Village, and she hooked us up just great. We went in and on the first day started working on Talking Heads 77, and it was just a real comfortable experience. The Kali monitor system is very smooth sounding. I felt like I was just kind of sitting in my living room. Niko came in for the first day and he set me up with a template in Pro Tools, and Nicole Schmidt, an assistant engineer at the Village who is also really well versed in the Atmos system, was there to help out and guide me through the renderer and all that business, and routing, and give me ‘the rules’, like the fact that you have to exactly match the length of original production master with the Atmos mix.

“Although this was my first experience in Atmos, I just jumped right into it. I didn’t try to go any further with the mixes than they already were. I just tried to emulate the original sounds, and within three hours, I had a mix done. Instinctively, I’ve always enjoyed surround sound — I had a 5.1 system, and I even mixed a couple of albums in Quad back very early on. I like being immersed in this stuff, and I finished up my first album in Atmos — Talking Heads 77 — within five days.

“Record companies are saying they can’t afford to pay for both an engineer and for studio time for these Atmos remixes, so I had to get an Atmos rig installed at my place in San Diego. I was only at The Village for a week, but I can’t say enough about their hospitality and I shall always be grateful to them. It was so gracious of Jeff [Greenberg] and Tina to let me go in there and learn. Nicole Schmitt even came down here to my place to help me out as well when my system first got set up.

Kali Audio’s IN‑series monitors feature extensive response tuning options via rear‑panel DIP‑switch settings.Kali Audio’s IN‑series monitors feature extensive response tuning options via rear‑panel DIP‑switch settings.“I have exactly the same speakers as the system at The Village: seven IN‑8s and four IN‑5s for the height channels, plus the subs, and the mixes I did at The Village sound exactly the same here. It really translates. Quite a few people came down from Rhino to check out the listening session and the mixes also translated very well to other Atmos rooms, which gave me a lot of confidence in what I’m doing here at my place. I’d never worked on Kali speakers before. The first I heard of them was from Niko Bolas. They’re very affordable, but you can crank them up and they are very smooth sounding, very even. They don’t hurt! I’m not a technical guy: I’m a ‘feel’ guy, and I just love the way the Kalis sound, and people are blown away when they come in here and I play them stuff I’ve been doing in Atmos. I haven’t had this room tested and accredited — that’s something I plan on doing — but I need to upgrade Pro Tools and the Dolby renderer, so I’ll wait until the upgrade hits, then get it certified by Dolby. I really didn’t have any time when we put the system in — we literally had to finish the Talking Heads catalogue and have it done in two weeks for release. But I love the Kalis. I can’t wait to turn them on when I’m working in Atmos. I really can’t say better than that.”

Atmos as a commercial investment for studios

Labels may be unwilling to pay for both a mix engineer/producer and pro‑studio rates for back‑catalogue Atmos remixes when producers and mixers are able to install satisfactory Atmos mixing systems in their private facilities, but there is still plenty of incentive for top‑line studios to make the necessary capital investment in an Atmos room.

Independent artists and producers will increasingly find themselves required to produce immersive mixes but may not necessarily have the physical space or resources to put together a viable Atmos monitoring system of their own. They will be able to produce an Atmos version on headphones by themselves, but will benefit greatly from being able to check and refine that mix on an approved Atmos speaker setup, giving them the assurance that their immersive mix will translate properly to other playback systems. From the studios’ point of view, these clients are a good investment, firstly, there’s a lot more of them than big‑name mixers working on high‑budget productions, and secondly, they are likely to be repeat customers — the requirement for immersive mixes is likely to be a permanent feature of the audio business from now on.

Successful working engineer/producers like Ed Stasium may well have both a suitable environment and the project budgets and resources to create their own Atmos mixing facility, yet still want to initially experience working with Atmos in a trusted professional environment with some tech guidance on hand. Using a pro facility allows clients like that to immediately get to work on a project, often with a tight deadline, without having to wait for their own system to be setup. They will also have the comfort of knowing that even their first Atmos mixes are format‑compliant and will translate well to other playback systems.

Tina Morris, Studio Manager at The Village: “we didn’t really have to do much to the acoustics of the room.”Tina Morris, Studio Manager at The Village: “we didn’t really have to do much to the acoustics of the room.”“What we’re also finding at The Village” says Tina Morris “is we are doing a lot more listening sessions — QC playback for A&R and artists.” For those clients, the experience is about more than just the sound of the mix. In the case of The Village, a historic, prestige facility with a long track record of success, gives assurance that their production is being treated to the highest of professional standards, with well‑maintained equipment and tech staff available to deal with anything that may arise. And there are also side‑benefits in terms of location and security and other facilities on hand, such as catering.

Good recording spaces are another key differentiator for pro studios versus private facilities, which brings into play the matter of being able to monitor ‘Atmos recordings’ — multi‑mic recordings made with mic positions specifically arranged to exploit Atmos multi‑speaker playback. “Our very first Atmos session” Tina Morris recalls “was with John Kurlander (renowned for his many award‑winning orchestral and film‑score recordings, as well being an assistant engineer on The Beatles Abbey Road album) who came in to do an immersive recording of yoga and meditation music in the Moroccan Ballroom. We had to really quickly figure out how to do live monitoring for Atmos. I think he used about 13 mics for one singing bowl. It was a fun exercise!” Niko Bolas adds “Chuck Ainlay tracks like that now, so his Atmos experience is really delivering you the room that it was done in. He’s recording real ambience off the back wall, and that’s what he uses, rather than synthetic delays: recording the actual environment and balancing that.”

The Atmos installation at The Village has undoubtedly also gained some additional benefit from the studio’s cooperation with the monitor system’s manufacturer. “The Kalis were actually designed with data that was gathered at The Village” says Tina Morris “and that system was purpose‑built to go into our Studio F.” As far as Kali Audio’s Director of Marketing Nate Baglyos is concerned, the integration of the relationships and different roles could not have been more positive in its effect on the outcome of the project: “there are other rooms tuned by George Augspurger, other rooms tuned by Dolby, and other rooms tuned by the speaker manufacturer, but I can’t think of any rooms that will have had sign‑off from all three. Customers and clients can have complete confidence that Studio F at The Village is the ultimate Atmos experience. It’s a ‘gold standard’ that will translate up and down the spectrum of other Atmos playback systems!”

What is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos expands on previous surround‑sound formats to include more discrete surround channels and a real height dimension. This allows the positioning of ‘sound objects’ anywhere within a hemispherical, three‑dimensional soundfield. In a ‘7.1.4 Atmos room’ you’ll have Left, Centre and Right monitor speakers at the front, Left and Right Surrounds, Left and Right Rear Surrounds, Left and Right frontal overheads and Left and Right rear overheads, plus the ‘point‑one’ of the LFE (low‑frequency effects) or sub‑woofer channel. You can have multiple sub‑woofer speakers, but they will all be receiving the same mono source, so they are only represented as ‘one’ in the channel count. A full 9.1.4 Atmos rig will have an additional pair of speakers carrying Left‑ and Right‑Wide channels.

DAW software programs used by artists and producers are increasingly now supporting a form of virtual immersive mixing via headphones. ‘Sound objects’ positioned in a 3D virtual environment, will play back in an equivalent position when the mix is played using a fully immersive speaker system.

Consumer‑level playback systems obviously aren’t all going to include a full studio‑ or cinema‑style installation, so Atmos mixes are able to adapt to different playback configurations, and more domestically appropriate and affordable solutions are available that can take an Atmos‑encoded source and create a similarly immersive listening experience with fewer speakers.

Atmos also works with headphones, using binaural headphone rendering. The latter relies on the phenomenon of ‘head‑related transfer function’ (HRTF) exploiting the way that your brain is able to decode where a sound source is located by the differences in the sound arriving at your two ears. This means users can easily experience Atmos via modern smartphones and tablets, which has helped fuel an ever‑increasing consumer interest in immersive mixes for music. Recent years have seen Atmos tracks become widely available on streaming services thanks to Dolby’s partnership with Universal Music Group and adoption by major players such as Apple and Amazon.

Ed Stasium mixing Talking Heads 77 in Atmos

Producer Ed Stasium with Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison.Producer Ed Stasium with Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison.“I recorded and mixed the original record, 16‑track, 45 years ago, so I knew it well” recalls Ed Stasium. “In the Atmos mix, I kept the drums up front — kick, snare and tom‑toms are always all in the left and right — but I put some overdubs in the back, kept the guitars on the side and ambience in the ceiling and in the back. I’ll check always in mono and listen to the binaural on stereo speakers and on headphones, and try to make sure that the balance is converted properly between those and the Dolby Atmos immersive mix — it’s not always the same but I try to make it as compatible as possible. Things that I’m doing with bringing stuff up on height channels tends to be a little bit louder in the binaural, so I tuck it down a little bit in the Atmos mix so it sounds more like the original mix in the binaural when I A/B them.

“The stuff I’m throwing in the back tends to be subliminal, like the power chords in the chorus of 'Psycho Killer'. I’ll throw those guitars in the back, so it still feels the same except there’s just a little ‘something extra’. The vocals are the front — I don’t tend use the centre speaker for vocals all that much — but I move the vocals a little into the top‑front speakers as well, so it’s right above your head. I’m never throwing stuff around with panning but I have been putting drum overheads in the rears a bit, and up in the height channels, so it feels like you’re surrounded by the drums, almost sitting in the drum seat.

“I’m trying to keep to the original mixes as much as possible. I import the original mix and A/B constantly, and try to make sure that it’s sounding good at different levels. I’m A/B‑ing on the Kalis, the Auratones, my ATCs, on the headphones. I find it’s very important to do that.”

IN‑8 Specification

TKali Audio IN‑8 monitor.ri‑Amped, Class‑D powered monitor with DSP speaker tuning, limiter, crossover, boundary EQ settings.

  • LF Power: 60 Watts
  • Mid‑range Power: 40 Watts
  • HF Power: 40 Watts
  • Total Power: 140 Watts
  • LF Driver: 8‑inch paper
  • Mid‑Range Driver: 4‑inch optimized profile paper
  • HF Driver: 1‑inch textile dome
  • Freq. Response (‑10 dB): 37Hz‑25kHz
  • Freq. Range (±3 dB): 45Hz‑21kHz
  • LF to Mid‑Range Crossover: 280Hz
  • Mid‑Range to HF Crossover: 2.8kHz
  • Recommended Distance: 0.5 to 4 metres
  • Max SPL: 117dB

IN‑5 Specification

Kali Audio IN‑5 monitor.Tri‑Amped, Class‑D powered monitor with DSP speaker tuning, limiter, crossover, boundary EQ settings.

  • LF Power: 80 Watts
  • Mid‑range Power: 40 Watts
  • HF Power: 40 Watts
  • Total Power: 160 Watts
  • LF Driver: 5‑inch paper
  • Mid‑Range Driver: 4‑inch optimized profile paper
  • HF Driver: 1‑inch textile dome
  • Freq. Response (‑10 dB): 39Hz‑25kHz
  • Freq. Range (±3 dB): 47Hz‑21kHz
  • LF to Mid‑Range Crossover: 280Hz
  • Mid‑Range to HF Crossover:2.8kHz
  • Recommended Distance: 0.5 to 3 metres
  • Max SPL: 115dB

WS‑12 Specification

Kali Audio WS‑12 subwoofer.

Self‑powered, class‑D, subwoofer.

  • Continuous Power: 500W
  • Peak Power: 1000 Watts
  • Driver Size: 12 Inches
  • Freq Response (‑10 dB):23Hz‑160Hz
  • Freq Response (+/‑3 dB):30Hz‑160 Hz
  • Crossover: selectable in 20Hz steps between 40Hz and 140Hz
  • Max SPL: 123dB
  • XLR Pass‑Through Noise: 0.09 mV; 99 dB Signal‑to‑Noise
  • THD:<2% (95 dB @1m w/100 Hz crossover)
  • Gain Adjustment: 6dB steps
  • Polarity: reversable to optimise phase response in the room

“You cannot mix the Rolling Stones in Atmos”

“I spend quite a lot of time referencing binaural both in headphones and out” says producer/mixer Niko Bolas. “I’m very much a ‘lowest common denominator’ person. I have my Auratones connected to the binaural outputs because when a punter hits Play on his phone, he just wants to hear the title. Realising that it’s spatial is an afterthought. So, if you don’t mix for that person, they’re going to hear something where the groove isn’t there if you didn’t balance the bottom‑end correctly.

“When I first started doing immersive mixing, I was afraid to use it. I didn’t want anything behind me, but then you start getting into it. The back wall is something that really exists in in the real world: the guy sounding like he’s playing ‘over there’, really happens. In general, my choices are that I will go against the walls with rhythm, like percussion and drums, and sometimes I’ll put percussion behind me, whereas I’ll take the body of the music — guitars and keyboards — and move them in closer to you. My reference is Neil Young. He told me that he would only do Atmos if I could make him feel like he was ‘sitting in the middle of mono’.

Producer Niko Bolas.Producer Niko Bolas.Photo: Antoine Sanfuentes

“You cannot mix the Rolling Stones in Atmos. Period. The early Rolling Stones are a congealed collection of happy accidents. I’ve found records where I’ve had to say ‘you can’t do this in Atmos’ because the guitar players were actually in different keys. Together it worked, but not if you separated them. The worst thing in the world is if you start listening to the individual instruments. A lot of productions are ‘the whole record’, and you can’t — or shouldn’t — take it apart. So, I just don’t do those gigs.

“Some sort of immersive will be the norm by 2025, however, so a lot of ‘classic’ music is going to be re‑released in spatial whether we want it to be or not, because that’s going to make money for the people selling you music. If I don’t take responsibility for my clients and tend to their Atmos delivery — as someone who actually made that version and who will try to stay honest to the production — no one’s going to hear the artist’s intention. It will be lost to future generations. It’s a responsibility: it’s either me or someone who just took stems and ‘put it into Atmos’. Possibly someone that’s never even heard the original record, and unless an artist complains, it’ll never get changed, which means everyone that hears it going forward will never hear what the artist intended. So, if I don’t do it then God knows who will. I lose money on certain projects, but they’re my projects and I want them to be as close as possible to the emotion that they delivered the first time. This is important!”


Text: Dave Lockwood

Photography: Tom Edwards, Nate Baglyos, Antoine Sanfuentes.

Special thanks to: Nate Baglyos, Niko Bolas, Tina Morris, Charles Sprinkle, Ed Stasium.