Ed Cherney needs no padding on his resume. A veteran producer and engineer with 35 years logged in the control room, Cherney has worked with the top talent in the industry, including Iggy Pop, Bob Seger, Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Jann Arden, Jackson Browne, Keb’ Mo, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones, to name just a few. His work has earned him six Grammy nominations and three wins, along with seven TEC nominations and five wins. He is a founding member of Producers and Engineers Wing of The Recording Academy and served as the Governor of the L.A. Chapter of The Recording Academy. Until last year, Cherney was also an avid, collector of studio reference monitors, learning to work around the faults of each model before relegating it to the closet when a newer model came through the door. That cycle ended with the arrival of a pair of ATC SCM25A 3-way nearfield monitors. Cherney now uses his ATC SCM25As for almost everything he does because they’re exciting to listen to and because the work he does on them translates flawlessly on any other pro or consumer system.
“I am always looking for speakers because they’re my eyes in the studio, my window to the world,” said Cherney. “I get a lot of inquiries from younger engineers, asking me if I can recommend a good pair of monitors for five-hundred bucks. I can’t. And it’s crazy that they’ll spend thousands on microphones and outboard gear without first giving themselves the one tool they need to actually hear what they’re doing. It’s like an artist buying expensive paints and then turning out the lights. That said I’ve had a hard time finding the ideal speaker at any price. I guess I’m something of a collector now.”
Cherney first heard a pair of ATC SCM25As at a studio in New York, and he liked what he heard. Shortly thereafter, he was working at a studio in his hometown of Chicago that had no good options for monitors. “I spoke to Brad [Lunde] at TransAudio Group [ATC’s U.S. distributor] and he sent out a pair of ATC SCM50ASLs for us to try. They were spectacular as well! We could turn them up loud, and the low end was defined, the midrange was smooth and silky, and the high end was sweet. The sound was thrilling; it could wash over me and punch me in the chest. These were the first mid-size speakers that could give me the experience of the soffit-mounted loudspeakers that the big studios have.”
He continued, “I’ve been dissatisfied with 2-way speakers in the past. The challenge is always to get the right vocal tone and volume, and it often depends on which side of the crossover the vocal is sitting. Sometimes the same singer can be below the crossover in the verse and above it in the chorus. In the past, I always took my mixes around to different systems – different speakers, my house, my car – to make sure the vocals were sitting in the mix correctly. Now that I have the ATC SCM25As, I rarely have to do that anymore. The vocals sit nicely in the midrange driver, and I’m always within a half dB. Every song. For the first time, I really trust the quality of the mixes in the studio. I don’t have to take them out and check them. I nail it and they translate to the rest of the world. That’s a huge improvement.”
Cherney has already used the ATC SCM25As on a number of projects. He produced, recorded, and mixed the main title for the Disney film Planes called “Nothing Can Stop Me Now,” as well as Robben Ford’s Bringing It Back Home and Eric Burdon’s Till Your River Runs Dry. He mixed Love for Levon on DVD, CD, and broadcast using the SCM25As, and he mixed Road to Forever by Don Felder of the Eagles. Currently, he’s working on a debut album from Athena Perez, a rising country artist from Chicago, and a new Bette Midler album.
In addition to how well his mixes translate on the ATC SCM25As, Cherney is also inspired by their clean, fatigue-free volume. “If I’m recording drums, I like to turn it up!” he said. “If the band’s in the control room, I have to turn it up! When I’m doing the final balances, I may be down around 75dB, but getting there, I want to feel it pop, physically! I want to move air in the room! With the 25s, I can. And I can do it all day long and still be as clear-headed and energized at the end of the day as I was at the beginning. My ATC’s make recording and mixing music much more fun.