Francesco Benvenuto is a Dallas-based recording and mixing engineer, music producer, and educator who focuses on urban and Latin music. Normally he works in the multi-million dollar Luminous Sound Studio where he designs and teaches, but when the pandemic hit everything changed, and he had to enlist the help of local integrators and Torus Power to see how to create a home mixing studio.
“During COVID, we had to bring all the equipment home and try to get it working,” says Benvenuto. “We have all this analog equipment that really needs the right electrical power to work properly. When I installed the system in my house, the result was not what I was looking for. It sounded very loud and I was frustrated .
Benvenuto reached out to his colleagues, as well as his dear friend and international music mixing and mastering maestro Luca Pretolesi, an avid Torus Power fan. Luca entrusted Benvenuto with the company, and Benvenuto began talks with Ross Whitney, Technical Sales and Customer Support Specialist, Torus Power.
“Ross told me to install a kilowatt meter and see what kind of electricity I was getting. Right off the bat I really liked that he had a lot of experience and gave me advice before I even that I buy anything, expanding my knowledge of electrical energy,” says Benvenuto.
While Ross’ advice helped him beef up his power, Benvenuto still opted to purchase an AVR 20 unit from Torus Power, which the company delivered to him immediately in order to meet a tight deadline for the Latin Grammys.
“Although we are in the midst of a pandemic, the Latin Grammys opened their portal for submissions and some of my clients, who had been nominated in previous years, rushed to finish their productions on time, to submit them even if it was literally last minute.
“It was a very tight deadline, but I was able to act quickly and make the right decisions for my clients to fit their needs, which made them very happy. Let’s toast to that!” said Benvenuto.
The mixing environment shows the importance of good power management
Under ideal conditions, such as in Benvenuto’s professional studio environments, including Empire Sound (where he previously worked) and now at Luminous Sound, when the supplied power line is stable and reliable, you may not need voltage regulation. In this case, the equipment can operate within normal line voltage tolerance. In reality, however, the power delivered to most areas is less than ideal due to outdated power grids. Power steadily drops or increases beyond the acceptable range.
With that in mind, Benvenuto made sure to check with integrators on how best to outfit their new mixing studio.
“When I put the AVR 20 on I was blown away and I’m not easily impressed. I’ve had years of experience listening to really high quality stuff, and that’s a whole another level,” says Benvenuto. “When I plugged in my studio monitors, all of a sudden they reacted differently. I didn’t hear any of that noise. And the soundstage, the depth, everything just got bigger. There’s a saying in the recording industry that you can’t mix what you can’t here. And now I heard every detail.
This turned out to be a blessing and a curse as it revealed details in previous Benvenuto mixes made before the AVR 20 unit was installed that were not always positive.
“I opened a recent project and found I was way off (thank goodness for overpowering the engineers). The mix was drowning in reverb and all that white noise masked it. When the unit Torus Power was working with the speakers the white noise was gone and all that was left was a huge reverb Sad but good for me to know Now every project I work on with Torus Power I have a much more detailed response.I can hear what is going on and make the right adjustments and make the right decisions.And the clients are very happy with the work.
When Benvenuto plugged in the rest of his gear, he felt like every piece of gear had been upgraded through the AVR unit. “I even had the impression that the bass was deeper. It was full and present. I own a complete Dangerous Music system, which is like the Rolls-Royce of audio equipment. It felt like I had finally fed the power this system was craving. The equipment was now running at a higher capacity, which made my setup look like it had gone from a $30,000 system to a $300,000 system.
The home studio proves the importance of AVRs and chamber treatments
More recently he went into Luminous Sound to play some of the work he had recorded in his makeshift bedroom studio. “I couldn’t believe it was my homework. They have a great club system. I played a chart-topping song and immediately jumped to mine to compare,” says Benvenuto. “My bass was huge and hitting hard, I can’t believe I got these results in a bedroom. I had no idea the power was going to make such a big difference. I’m so confident, it’s hard now to going back to mixing in the studio. It’s unorthodox, but mixing at home works.
Besides the significant boost his recordings got from clean power, Benvenuto recommends home engineers/producers pay attention to the audio in their space, using good speakers for monitors. For reference, he uses Focal Trio 6B monitors, ATC-SEM20s and Yamaha NS10s.
“If your mix can sound great on average speakers and translates accurately between your monitors, it’ll sound great anywhere,” says Francesco.
While monitoring is important, if you’re mixing from home, the challenge really is the room, which obviously isn’t designed for sound. He recommends, among other acoustic treatments, focusing on the back wall to absorb all sound waves coming from the monitors, so they don’t bounce to the front of the room. “If you have the wave coming out of the speakers and they are bouncing around and meeting then you will have dips in your audio. The very thick absorption of the bass traps on your back wall will help the frequencies to stay the low.”
With clean power, great monitor speakers and a bit of acoustic treatment, according to Benvenuto, you can mix from home and get incredible results. And not only can you mix from home, your mixes can also sound better than when performed in the studio!