Dave Malekpour interview: “Working with top artists is inspiring!” PAD founder on the creative process
Dave Malekpour hasn’t just helped define the sound of hip hop, he’s had a profound impact on the design of modern recording studios. His approach to workflow and loudspeaker technology has been a seminal influence on recording engineers and producers alike, and his speaker brand Augspurger counts Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Coldplay and Alicia Keys amongst its users.
Based out of Massachusetts, Malekpour runs both Pro Audio Design (PAD), purveyors of studio equipment and design support, and loudspeaker specialist Augspurger Monitors. Calling on his experience as a musician and engineer, his ability to fine tune his systems is legendary, and so is his work ethic. He starts the day with an hour of Crossfit. “Then it seems work is easier and it benefits my health and stress!” he tell us.
Malekpour founded Pro Audio Design in 1993, with the aim of fully integrating studio design and equipment retail. In 2000, he launched Augspurger Monitors, after demand surged for his own custom made enclosures.
More recently he’s added Studio Float to his portfolio. Studio Float sells Iso Raft, a dedicated construction isolator for use in recording studios, music venues, theatres and nightclubs. Iso Raft blocks utilises a novel sandwich construction joined by a silicon de-coupler, and prevent noise escape.
Audio Media International caught up with Dave Malekpour in Los Angeles, as he completed a few days reviewing a site for a project PAD are designing for Top Dawg Entertainment’s new HQ.
“I’ve also been looking at a new Dolby Atmos mixing suite for a client in a nice Downtown location, and tuned a couple of studios,” he confides, “Studio City Sound’s Augspurger Duo15-Sub18s in their classic SSL 4K room, and (film and TV) composer Tony Anderson’s private studio which is quite a nice spot in an outbuilding behind his residence…”
Malekpour clearly likes to make a difference: “I think one of the things that brings me satisfaction is helping our clients achieve their goals, and being part of their successes using the rooms we create and speakers we build.”
Making a deeper connection
Dave Malekpour says motivation comes from being able to create a product that inspires artists, while giving producers and engineers the information they need to make sure their work sounds as good out of the studio as it does in the room.
Dave Malekpour: “When we got to build Jay-Z’s first home base in NYC Baseline studios, that gave him and his team a place that they could really create and push the envelope. When Young Guru first heard the Augspurger’s we put in, he said it changed everything for him as an engineer, but also for the artists and producers working there.
“The early days of hip hop were a formative time and bringing in huge power amps and 18-inch subs wasn’t the norm. Today we have full range systems in every installation.”
“I think when you can hear the music like a performance in a sound stage around you in your own studio, this allows a deeper connection to the creative process. Today we can record down below 20 hertz with today’s DAW if your converters are up to it.
“We need to hear the entire range of low end to get the balance right, to get the vibe right, to get the top end and mid-range to highlight to vocals, and we aim to make that limitless, where you can create any sound and the systems and rooms do not prevent you from reaching new heights in music.”
“Teddy Riley, Rodney Jerkins, The Weekend, Coldplay, and mix engineers like Jaycen Joshua, Jean Marie Horvat, Rich Keller, Dave Pensado, Rafa Sardina, Jose ‘Hyde’ Cotto, Bob Horn, and many others all use their systems in different ways, make different music and craft their sound on our systems.
The business of inspiration
While PAD and Augspurger Monitors are in the business of inspiring artists and recording engineers, Malekpour himself was famously inspired when he first heard Dynaudio Acoustics M1 monitors on a visit to Abbey Road back in the 1990s. Have any brands, or equipment, made him catch his breath since?
“Well, that was a magic moment for many reasons, just being in Abbey Road at that time was something special,” he recalls. “Geoff Emerick gave me a tour and we went to the mic locker, and had lunch with the engineers in the cafeteria. Wow! But yes, hearing the Dynaudio M1 that Andy Munro created was really eye opening at the time when there weren’t too many high-end nearfield or mains at the time.”
There are only so many Eureka moments in this business, says Malekpour. “But there are some standout moments. Listening to the Augspurger Duo8’s with Sub12’s we designed and created in a shootout Vintage King arranged in Malibu at Woodshed studios against all the top brands in our business was one of them. We wowed a room full of top engineers and were chosen by Woodshed on the spot. I knew we had created something special.
“We had been working on it for about 2 years and the goal was to create a smaller speaker with a new horn that would couple with an 8-inch driver and get the speaker closer to the listener and to fit smaller rooms. But we had never had the chance to AB against the other top brands. When we got that chance the night before the shootout when setting up, it was a clear winner, and that was without the sub woofers which when added really changed the game for us.”
Working for top artists is inspiring, he adds. “We have to push ourselves to make the best products, design the best rooms and that technology is making things easier, more fun and incredible sounding.
“For Snoop’s studio, he wanted to have his equivalent of the Starship Enterprise, complete with wraparound console system and his command throne in the centre!”
“Each one is unique and individual, though one thing is common to all, and I think it’s connecting with their music. When you feel the music, you can put that into your performance, writing and create a connection for the listener to experience. I think our speakers do that in a way that’s really emotive yet very accurate, and detailed, so you are getting the truth and can really feel when it’s right.”
Technology Vs Art
Technology can sometimes stifle creativity, concedes Malekpour, either by offering too many choices or inviting creatives to chase a sound instead of a great song or vocal performance.
The ultimate artist experience is when technology is not part of the creative process, he insists. “You aren’t thinking about if the speaker or room or if the microphone is doing something, you just create and feel you have no bounds. We aim to provide a feeling of being unlimited except by your own creativity, not the room, system or technology. At least that’s my ideal vision of what we are trying to create with our work.”
“Really, what makes a great recording starts with a great song, which, let’s be honest, can be captured on an iPhone without the complications of a studio,” says Malekpour. “What we aim to do is seamlessly integrate the required technology for today’s high-end recording processes, while allowing the artist to focus on the music and the creative process.”
Augspurger monitors provide signature sound for the world’s best artists and producers
For over 20 years, Augspurger® has set the industry standard in studio monitoring thanks to their incredible sonic precision and powerful punch. From smooth, detailed highs to throbbing sub bass (down to 20Hz and below), Augspurger’s unparalleled performance make them regarded as the ultimate studio monitor.
Loud and clear
Augspurger monitors are synonymous with some of the world’s most iconic music studios, including Quad Studio in NYC and Snoop Dogg’s Beach City Music Complex in LA. Rap icons Jay-Z and Dr. Dre as well as other music luminaries, including Coldplay and Alicia Keys, turn to Augspurger for their transparency and bottom end “feel factor.”
Augspurger monitors are well-known for their ability to reproduce the sound of a club (or concert venue) inside the studio. As a result, they have long been a favorite of the industry’s finest engineers and producers including Young Guru, Dave Pensado and Paul Epworth.
The Augspurger mission is to provide the most technologically advanced, fully active, DSP smart monitors that are not only exciting and inspiring to listen to, but also empower artists and engineers to produce music as they intend it to be heard.
Augspurger systems are built-to-order and custom-configured for their intended destination, considering room volume, listening distance, placement, acoustic treatments and more to ensure the most accurate and exciting full-range sound reproduction.
Once installed, systems can be tuned remotely or onsite by Augspurger engineers, providing a reference standard listening environment where creative decisions can be made with absolute confidence. What’s more, Augspurger systems not only sound amazing, but limitless tuning power is at your fingertips with software-controlled, storable and recallable settings.
The entire product series can be custom designed in a range of colour options and bespoke finishes to ensure seamless aesthetic integration into any studio environment.
NEW: TREO Massiv Series – from $44,900 | £ Price on request
The newest addition to the Augspurger monitor series, these systems include double the number of SUB and MF drivers (found in the Treo range) in a single cabinet to deliver systems ranging from Dual 12″LF/Dual 8″MF to Dual 15″LF/Dual 12″MF to the largest Dual 18″LF/Dual 15″MF systems. By marrying the Subs to the Mains in one cabinet, Augspurger produce either flush-mount or free-standing systems that are visually impressive yet sonically refined. In short: MASSIV.
- TREO Massiv Mini 208-212 offers 2 x12″ LF drivers, 2 x 8″ MF drivers and an MF horn in a delightfully compact footprint.
- TREO Massiv 212-215 offers 2 x 15″ LF drivers, 2 x 12″ MF drivers and either an MF horn (for shorter listening distances in smaller rooms) or full-sized horn for larger rooms.
- TREO Massiv XL 215-218 offers 2 x 18″ LF drivers, 2 x 15″ MF drivers matched to Augspurger’s full-sized horn that is one of the most specified driver complements in the lineup.
SOLO Series – from $12,995/pair | £11,990
This 2-way monitor system uses a single 8″, 12″ or 15″ LF/MF driver in a single cabinet with either a standard (large) solid maple horn or the 33% smaller MF “MidFocus” solid maple horn. SOLO systems may be used as a pair or combined with two suitable subwoofers, matched to the main system under consideration. Addition of the subwoofer creates true 3-way full range monitoring systems with details and dynamics. All systems are tuned to the listening environment via the on-board DSP in Augspurger SXE Series amplification, which is included in the system price.
DUO Series – from $17,500/pair | £16,490
The DUO 2-way monitor system uses a pair of 8″, 12″ or 15″ LF/MF drivers in a single cabinet with either the standard (large) solid maple horn or 33% smaller MF “MidFocus” solid maple horn. DUO systems may be used as a pair or combined with two suitable subwoofers, matched to the main system under consideration. Addition of the subwoofer creates true 3-way full range monitoring systems with details and dynamics.
TREO Series – from $19,500 | £17,990
The TREO systems take a different approach. The 3-way cabinets incorporate the subwoofer into the main cabinet. With all 3 drivers perfectly time-aligned in the same cabinet, phase coherence is startlingly precise and delivers a clean, clear, yet powerful performance, which when combined with Augspurger’s clean, low distortion and powerful SXE Series amps with built-in DSP, the system can be perfectly and personally tuned to the listening environment.
- TREO 812CFM is a mid-field system that brings the subwoofer up off the floor and places it in your face, along with the MF and HF content. Despite its compact size, it can produce startling results in terms of dynamic capability. Despite listening distances of as short as 4 ft., the TREO CFM with its 3500W/Chl SXE Series amps provide an exhilarating listening experience in small-to-medium sized rooms.
- TREO 812-V uses the same driver complement as the CFM version but delivers it in a column tower format (available with custom Treo Riser Stands to bring the horn to proper listening height). These elegant cabinets with their subtle radiussed tops would be welcome in any production studio, or at home in a record label playback conference room, a mastering room of 5.1 or other immersive audio environments.
- TREO 1015-V takes us up to the “next level” with a 15″ LF driver matched to a 10″ MF driver and large format solid maple horn. Like the 812-V, the 1015-V is a tower with a radiussed top that delivers both an elegant presence and a powerful (almost intimidating) dynamic capability that surprises and delights listeners.
QUATTRO Series – from $37,000 | £30,990
When large is not large enough, the QUATTRO systems offer a dazzling array of options to service even the largest of rooms with highly dynamic and precise sound reproduction. As the name suggests, these 2–way main monitor cabinets utilise four MF drivers (either 10″. 12″ or 15″) in a single cabinet that may be used alone or combined with double 15″, double 18″ or two double 18″ sub cabinets, with up to four SXE Series amplifiers, capable of over 3500W RMS each – that’s over 14,000 Watts – with DSP on every input and output to tune these systems into trustworthy sound reproduction for critical production environments.
CLASSIC Series – from $30,900 | £28,500
The Augspurger CLASSIC 215H is an updated take on the original system designed by George Augspurger and found in studios since the 1970s. Taking the original designs, the team at Augspurger enhanced its proportions while incorporating advanced CNC construction for increased cabinet stiffness and refining every edge and seam to provide a smooth visual flow to the system face. The CLASSIC is designed to be flush-mounted in a well designed control room front wall. Other improvements include the latest driver technology featuring low-distortion, high power handling and extended low end response. As with all Augspurger systems, the solid maple horn delivers a controlled 70 x 100 degree dispersion and is fed by a 99.94% pure beryllium diaphragm in a compression driver, making for a very low distortion and uncolored sound reproduction across 4-1/2 octaves. The CLASSIC may be complemented with a single or double 18″ subwoofer, or for very large rooms two double 18″ subs. The SXE-3D amps deliver over 3500W/Chl, are networkable with on-board DSP for complete system setup and control.
TOWER Series – from $37,900 | £35,990
Like the TREO Series, the TOWER Series bring Augspurger 15″ and 18″ drivers into an elegant and slim tower. The vertical array offers excellent time alignment of all frequencies, which translates to seamless transition from Lows to Mids to Highs. These 3-way systems deliver a compact footprint that allows for generous decorating options in professional conferencing rooms as well as tight control rooms, without losing the powerful delivery Augspurger is known for. Single or double 15″ MF, combined with an 18″ Sub driver and full-sized horn, bring theatrical dynamics and precise details into a wide variety of listening environments – even immersive spaces.
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Augspurger Launches MinimaX, Delivering New Depths of Immersive Sound at Summer NAMM
July 12th 2021: Augspurger, the studio monitor specialist, announces its new 2-way near-field monitoring solution, the MX-65 ‘MinimaX’, at Summer NAMM. Featuring many of the same high-end features as seen in its iconic SOLO and DUO series, the MX-series brings legendary Augspurger sound and immersive capabilities to new audiences in a compact and portable package.
The first in a new MX-series from Augspurger, MinimaX is built-in mirror-image pairs allowing for a wide variety of placement and applications. They can be positioned either horizontally or vertically thanks to the unique and rotatable solid maple horn (patent-pending) which operates across more than an impressive four octaves – perfect for classic audio recording and post-production rooms.
Enhanced Immersive Sound
Suitable for a vast array of listening environments, the MinimaX brings theatrical dynamics and precise details into a wide variety of spaces.
With Atmos-enabled facilities on the rise, the new MX-series meets the needs of the most discerning listener, delivering a super-focused and accurate sonic experience. It does this by enhancing the immersive features of Atmos, delivering 70 x 110 degree dispersion for extremely controlled, highly accurate directivity of the sound.
Equally at home on a console or desktop, MinimaX has been designed to provide a main monitor experience in a near-field position and is expandable to a full-range 3-way system with the addition of Augspurger subwoofers. For larger playback theatres where sound needs to travel further, MinimaX can be complemented with Augspurger’s SOLO range.
MinimaX also boasts a 99.97% pure beryllium diaphragm, a signature feature carried through the entire Augspurger product line, delivering all the sonic clarity and punch you’d expect from the brand’s larger speakers.
Ultimate Control, Flexibility and Portability
The DSP inside MinimaX’s onboard SXE Series amplifiers is accessed via Augspurger’s own DSPtunesoftware (available for Mac and Win PC), providing complete setup and control of all parameters, including crossover, phase, group delay, limiting, and EQ to personally and perfectly tune MinimaX to the working and listening environment – so travelling engineers and artists can benefit from MX-series portability, without compromise.
MinimaX loudspeakers feature an attractive, modern design. The enclosures come in a variety of colours and finishes to blend seamlessly with any décor and can be positioned vertically or horizontally, on stands or wall-mounted to suit your needs.
The MX-series MinimaX makes its debut at Summer NAMM on the Augspurger booth #212.
Pricing and Availability
The MX-65 is shipping in Q4 2021. USD 10,995.00/pair, including Augspurger SXE Series amplification, exclusively from Pro Audio Design Inc (US only). Pre-orders can be placed immediately at Augspurger.com.
For international sales enquiries, please contact email@example.com
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GRAMMY® Award-winning Hyde El Quimico Relies on the Power of Augspurger Monitors for Mixing New Ozuna Record
Hanover, Mass – September 2021 – Augspurger has defined the industry standard in studio monitoring for the last twenty years. From hip hop to pop and EDM, the biggest names in music such as Snoop Dogg, Coldplay, and Above & Beyond rely on Augspurger’s incredible power and precision to create their signature sound. That’s why it should be of no surprise that Augspurger is highly esteemed by the music-makers behind one of the biggest and fastest-growing genres in the world: reggaeton.
Since the early 2000s, Puerto Rican producer and mix engineer Hyde El Quimico has played an essential role in crafting the hip-shaking dembo rhythms of reggaeton. Hyde’s credits read like a who’s who of multi-platinum Latin superstars from reggaeton pioneers Daddy Yankee, Wisin Y Yandel to chart-breaking newcomer artists Ozuna and Reik. La Base is the name of his studio, record label and management company he co-founded with his partner Wisin (Grammy award-winning reggaeton artist & producer) to develop and manage artists and producers.
When Hyde is mixing a reggaeton record, it’s essential that he hear every nuance in the mix with absolute clarity and feel how the bass hits – which is why his monitoring system of choice is always Augspurger. Hyde credits Augspurger monitors for allowing him to fit more musical information in the mix and hit high levels of volume without the harsh effects of limiting. As chief engineer at La Base, Hyde uses the Augspurger Duo 12MF-Sub18 to create his signature sound.
When it came to Hyde’s latest project – mixing Ozuna’s new record at the legendary Quad Studios in Time Square, NYC – he immediately turned to the team at Augspurger to provide the tools he needed to forge his masterpiece. Quad’s Studio Q1 already houses beasty Augspurger Duo 15V main monitors, but Hyde requested to try out the brand’s new MX-65 near-field monitors, fresh from their launch at Summer NAMM 2021. The team at Augspurger set up the MX-65 as a third reference option next to the Duo 15Vs and the Yamaha NS10s already in situ, and Hyde was blown away.
“There is no small speaker that can give you this level of clarity and power. I can feel the air of the bass when it hits just like a big speaker.”
He continued, “Translation-wise, they are the same. I can go back and forth, and my drums feel like they are in the same place. But also, you don’t have to run them up. If you are at low level, they sound like true near-field speakers, and you can hear everything. But when you need the power, it’s there!”
Delivering all the clarity and punch you’d expect from the brand’s more prominent speakers, the MX-65 brings the unmistakable Augspurger sound to new audiences who need compact near-field monitors, providing the perfect solution for music-makers and audiophiles who don’t have the space or budget for a large studio system.
Augspurger is also renowned for its exceptional customer service and attention to detail, and each MX-65 system comes complete with a personalized, remote studio tuning session with Augspurger engineers. Presets can be created, stored, and recalled to suit individual tastes and preferences, which helps studio engineers and music creators work quickly and efficiently. These presets are especially useful when an engineer is mixing away from their usual environment – they can recall their preferred settings wherever they’re recording and hear their mix exactly as they would in their own studio, taking their signature sound (and the portable MX-65s) with them at all times.
For Hyde’s Ozuna mix, Dave Malekpour – President and CEO of Augspurger – was able to take the curve from La Base and tune that into the Q1 system at Quad, which allowed Hyde to open up his mix files and get to work faster.
Hyde noted, “I’m so much quicker at getting where I want to get to sonically. Something that used to take me a few hours or maybe half a day to get right now takes me one or two hours. The mixes translate perfectly, and I think that’s a good thing about working with Augspurgers. Once Dave tuned them with my curve, I felt like I was in my studio in Puerto Rico.”
As the studio monitor of choice for sub-heavy music styles like trap and EDM, it’s only natural that Augspurger is also a perfect fit for reggaeton and beloved by the genre’s leading artists. Augspurger was already making waves in the genre before reggaeton gained the mainstream recognition it has today. Back in 2002, Daddy Yankee installed Augspurger Classic 215H and Sub18s in his private studio in Puerto Rico. Shortly after, Lunay Tunes ordered the same speakers for his studio. These two artists and studios fueled the local Puerto Rican music scene from the start, paving the way for emerging reggaeton artists over the following two decades – conquering the mainstream music industry – with a bit of help from Augspurger.
Malekpour offered his thoughts on why the Augspurger sound fits reggaeton so well; “Puerto Rico has its own vibe, there’s a warmth to the interactions with people there, it’s a very feeling-based environment. I think Augspurger speakers connect the music to the feeling.”
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Augspurger Nation: Top Studios Continue to Choose Augspurger
DOGGSpurgers! Snoop and the Augspurger Quattro 10K system at Beach City.Elsewhere in LA, Mega-producer Rafa Sardina, winner of 12 Grammy’s and counting, arranged for the Grammy Award voting committee (of which he is a member) to use an Augspurger Duo 8 system with 1X12 subs to listen to, evaluate and judge all the nominated tracks for this past year’s Grammy Awards. Sardina wanted to insure that the judges experienced the music with full clarity, dynamics and depth. The listening sessions took place at Village Recorders in Hollywood in the fall of 2015. After the Grammy committee was done (and impressed) with them, Sardina insisted that the monitors move permanently to his beautiful home studio near LA. He is now using the Augspurger system to mix everything from film music to rock to latin pop. Mali-Beauty! Gibbs Duo 8 with 1X12 subs finished in a hand-rubbed cherry. High atop Malibu, veteran film composer Richard Gibbs has upgraded his stunning Woodshed Studio with a Duo 8 MiniMain 3-way system. Among the many artists who tracked with the Gibb’s Augspurgers was Coldplay and their engineer Rik Simpson, who used his very own set of Duo 8s to mix the chart-topping 2015 album, “A Head Full of Dreams.” Cobb at the Console: RCA Studio A now rocks Augspurger Duo 12′s Speaking of Grammys, Nashville-based roots producer Dave Cobb has been pulling in Golden Gramophones by the handful for his work with breakout artist Chris Stapleton and alt-country veteran Jason Isbell. In a world of formulated Nashville pop, Cobb is the producing power behind the new gang of Outlaws, including Sturgill Simpson and Shooter Jennings, who are dedicated to bringing the twang back in to Country. Cobb was recently granted “Producer in Residence” status at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, originally designed in the 1960s by Chet Atkins. Cobb’s first act upon moving in to the studio was to install a pair of Augspurger Duo 12 Mains with 1X18 subs. The purchase was made through Chad Evans at Vintage King Nashville. Because he does the majority of his work with Atlantic Records, Cobb had used the Duo 12s in various Atlantic rooms around the country, and has come to rely on them. Atlantic now owns SEVEN Augspurger systems in NY, Atlanta and Nashville. In another neighborhood of Music City, rock-pop studio owner and producer Brandon Metcalf worked through Vintage King to outfit his South X Sea Studios with TWO Duo 8 MiniMain systems. The A room system had 1X12 subs and the B room uses the Duo 8 Mains without subs, pointing to the fact that even as a two way system, the Duo 8′s low end is capable of producing 30hz.
Augspurger Solo 12MF Up for 32nd NAMM TEC Award
The MF horn has opened up a whole new range of monitor solutions for engineers with limited space. They may have thought they couldn’t have a true main monitor due to lack of distance between the front wall and mix position. The 30% smaller horn enables free standing monitors in the midfield area, as close as 5ft from the mixer.~Dave Malekpour, president of Augspurger and designer of the Solo 12. Solo 12 MF pricing starts at $13,000 for a stereo two-way system. The 32nd Annual TEC awards ceremony will be January 21, 2017 during the NAMM convention in Anaheim, CA.