‘Immersive at the Ranch’ relies on stand-out mixing technology from Merging Technologies and Neumann.
Juxtaposing the rural landscape of Southampton with stentorian tracks from the city’s underground rock and metal scene, dual facility recording studio The Ranch recently introduced ‘Immersive at the Ranch’ - a brand-new Dolby Atmos certified space powered by a solution from Neumann and Merging Technologies.
The immersive concept took shape through a collaboration between Lewis Chapman and Geoff Swan, two mixing engineers who have collectively worked with a roster of gloat-worthy artists including Caroline Polachek, Ed Sheeran and Yungblud. Chapman met Swan when he began working as an intern at The Ranch, which Swan set-up with producer Neil Kennedy.
After leaving the internship and developing his craft across the capital, Chapman kept in touch with Swan in the hope that one day they would work together again. Fast forward to late 2023, and the pair were reunited in a collaborative, state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos mixing facility that they could call their own.
The wider space at The Ranch comprises two recording studios; Studio A - which is largely used for drum tracking and live sessions - and Studio B, where you’ll find the Immersive at the Ranch Dolby Atmos set-up. Combining state-of-the-art mixing technology with intelligent room acoustics, Immersive at the Ranch aims to deliver the vision of artists and musicians who are looking to expand their stereo master into Dolby Atmos and spatial audio.
“The space at Immersive at the Ranch is super flexible enabling us to work on stereo productions and recordings and then switch over to Atmos with a couple of presses on the Anubis,” explains Chapman. “Keeping the space flexible for myself and our clients has been amazing and helped to open up so many more conversations and creative ideas about how things could be recorded and placed in an immersive setting.”
Opting for Merging’s Anubis AD/DA interface was the first step in creating a set-up that musicians would be fighting to use. Chapman was introduced to the excellence of the brand’s networked audio converters at the beginning of his career by pro audio distributors Emerging, and the Anubis ticked all the boxes.
“What I love, apart from the amazing audio quality, is that when I turn the Anubis on in the morning, it will recover the settings and the patching. Being able to store pre-sets has been so useful and nothing feels like a chore. I am just blown away by the Anubis and there is really no comparison to some of the other units we looked at,” explains Chapman.
Anubis offers audio precision and control in a compact, powerful low latency mixing engine. It also has the bonus of being able to seamlessly connect to Merging’s Hapi interface, which allows the user to add additional AD/DA without compromising on quality. The Ranch is primarily mixing tracks remotely and sending files back for approval with some detailed notes on how to listen back. Since launching Immersive at the Ranch, the studio has received tracks from producers and artists based all over the world, enabling them to experience immersive audio and understand the effect it can have on their own music.
“We are mainly mixing and mastering so we are currently using the Monitor Mission on the interface, but we’re excited to experiment with Music Mission and multitrack with the eventual addition of an A/D card for the Hapi,” furthers Swan. “Anubis is super flexible. The Merging mic amps are simply stunning, too, so it seems a shame not to use them.”
“I don’t use Systemwide for my calibration but instead we decided to use Anubis’ built in processing, which has been a joy and is incredibly flexible and simple to work with,” explains Chapman. “The intuitive nature of the interface is so easy to navigate and gives me all the options I need at my fingertips, all of the time. The preamps sound astonishingly good and give me all possibilities and options when tracking. I also use the Anubis’ clever routing to help monitor spatial audio through Logic in real time while mixing in Pro Tools.”
Immersive at the Ranch is also home to three Neumann KH310 loudspeakers, three KH750 models, four KH120s and four KH80s, which have given The Ranch limitless creative capabilities. “There are a few reasons as to why we decided to go with Neumann and their fantastic speakers for Immersive at The Ranch,” notes Chapman.
“I was a long-time user of KH120s with a KH750 sub for my home set-up and I loved the translation, clarity and imaging I got from such a small space. When we had the opportunity to build an Atmos room, we knew that we needed a playback system that sounded beautiful, had exceptional clarity and detail, but would also help clients understand and experience the true potential of immersive audio when bringing their mixes to life in Dolby Atmos. After my experiences of my home set-up and travelling around studios across London, I knew Neumann loudspeakers would give us everything we needed.”
Immersive at the Ranch offers musicians a new way to listen to their work and experiment with their sound. Already known for kickstarting the careers of many Southampton noise makers, Immersive at the Ranch can now offer even more with state-of-the-art technology from Merging and Neumann.
“The immersive audio landscape is constantly changing and adapting, but making it flexible and accessible with multiple streaming platforms offers the opportunity for people to enjoy it at home and on the move with smart speakers, AirPods and headphones,” concludes Chapman. “Awareness of what is possible with immersive audio is huge for artists and producers.”