Sound studio

Mastering for Atmos, hand in hand with stereo

David Henszey has made waves mastering Dolby Atmos tracks for clients like Sting, among others.

Posted: 05/12/2022 ⋅ Updated: 05/13/2022

David Henszey in Henszey Sound

Los Angeles, CA (May 12, 2022) – When David Henszey started assembling his Dolby Atmos room with sales, design and integration company Westlake Pro in 2018, he asked what other immersive studios were doing when it came to of music mastering. “You don’t master Atmos,” was the reply. “I said, ‘Oh yeah, you do,'” he recalled. “I will do it by myself.”

Fast forward nearly four years, and Henszey, whose Henszey Sound was the first Dolby-certified Atmos for Home small music venue in Los Angeles, has indeed figured it out. Working with Gene Grimaldi of Oasis Mastering in Burbank, Calif., who is finalizing the stereo versions, Henszey has mastered quite a bit of Atmos music lately, including Sting’s new singles “The Bridge” and “Por Su Amor.” .

Opened in January 2019, Henszey Sound on Cahuenga Pass across from Universal City is equipped with Pro Tools, a dual-screen Slate Raven MTI workstation, and an ADAM 7.1.4 audio monitor system. There is a small iso room for overdubs and vocals.

Henszey has been mixing client projects for binaural presentation on YouTube for some time. Now that other platforms are offering immersive streaming, its client list has grown. “Sometimes I get stems and I have to do a little bit of mixing to make it an Atmos mix. Sometimes they give me leads and we do a whole new mix,” he reports.

Grimaldi approached Henszey to master Dolby Atmos tracks, having no interest in improving his own room, after receiving requests from clients. “David was already settled and he has so much experience,” Grimaldi says.

Henszey launches Dolby Atmos suite

Indeed, Henszey has a deep and varied resume after working more than 40 years at the company. He began working on big band and classical projects in his native Wisconsin before opening his own studio, AD Productions, in 1988. Moving to Los Angeles in the 1990s, he continued to work at Cherokee Studios. and also mixed various major artists on arena tours. and for late night television.

The key to their Dolby Atmos music mastering process, says Henszey, is that nothing really changes. The mixer doesn’t have to do anything special, and Grimaldi can master the stereo track just like it always has. “Then I take it and do the exact same thing in the Atmos mix,” he says.

There is trust between the two engineers. “I take screenshots of my settings. David pops them up on his screen, launches his plug-ins and starts doing his thing,” says Grimaldi.

“We have to be very careful that the numbers, in terms of gain reduction and things of that nature, are exactly the same as they were with Gene,” Henszey points out, to make sure the balances of level and tone are identical between the stereo and immersive versions. The pair use the same complement of plug-ins, he says, which for Atmos projects must be linked between buses and objects: “Everything must work at the same time because there are several streams.”

There are usually plenty of plug-ins in a row, including multiband compressors and limiters, and, according to Henszey, “some plug-ins don’t do anything, just to give a certain sound.” Overall, he says, “it takes a lot of computing power.”

He adds: “To make it worthwhile, you have to be able to do it in a reasonable time. We have a very smooth process, and it’s very fast.

“Workflow is the most important thing,” Grimaldi acknowledges. “When you hit it regularly, it saves you a lot of time.”

“It’s about clients getting the same thing they’re used to getting from a stereo mastering engineer,” says Henszey.