PMC fact fenestria - The Choice Of Grammy Nominated Mastering Engineers

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Darcy Proper, renowned mastering engineer, 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, engineer Elliot Scheiner and the musicians,” Darcy comments.  

Darcy Proper is a mastering engineer and the first female 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 artists such as 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 for use in a studio demonstrates perfectly 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 adds his thoughts “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 home audio speakers, the fenestria, is the strongest possible reinforcement of the ‘studio to home’ approach we have always taken.”

Darcy takes up the theme “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.  Also, I can’t fix issues that I can’t hear. So resolution and accuracy are important, not just enjoyment. That being said, my goal as a mastering engineer is to give the end listener the best possible listening 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.”

Prior to her role at Valhalla, Darcy was part of the team, including her world-renowned recording-engineer husband, Ronald Prent, 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 and also auditioned the fenestrias.

Upon moving to New York and joining the team at Valhalla alongside Ronald Prent, the fenestrias were one piece of equipment that were a ‘must-have’ for the mastering room to give Darcy the tools she needs. “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.  Without that reliable point of reference, any adjustments I make would simply be guesswork.”

Located directly in the centre of in Upstate New York, between Syracuse and Niagara Falls, Valhalla Studios is owned by Joey DeMaio, founder of multi-million record selling rock/metal legends Manowar and was previously exclusively used by the band and their label mates on Magic Circle Entertainment. The main studio is equipped with PMC’s flagship QB1 XBD-A active monitors as part of a multi-channel immersive audio mixing system that also includes MB3 XBD-A, plus result6s and slimline PMCs for the surround and height channels.

The album, “Mutt Slang II – A Wake of Sorrows Engulfed in Rage”, is available now on all major streaming platforms.

For more information about the fenestria click here.

Darcy Prope