British singer Rebecca Ferguson’s third album, Lady Sings the Blues, is the first in the world to be recorded, mixed and mastered on PMC’s QB1 Active (QB1-A) reference loudspeakers. The QB1-A was launched at the 137th AES Convention in Los Angeles in October (see British invasion at AES 137 as PMC and Solid State Logic plan new launches).
Ferguson, who rose to fame in the seventh series of the UK The X Factor in 2010, recorded the album of Billie Holiday covers at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. The facility had recently upgraded its world-famous studios A and B to incorporate the monitors – a high-end system designed by PMC “to give medium-to-large-scale recording facilities all the accuracy, dynamics, resolution and headroom they need from their main monitoring”.
Producer Troy Miller chose to record at Capitol Studios because it is “one of the few remaining studios that was around in the 1950s when Billie Holiday was recording”. Holiday herself recorded there, as did Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole.
“The studio has changed a lot since then, having been done up by Les Paul, but it still retains its charm and history,” Miller (pictured with Ferguson) says. “It also still uses some of the original gear and microphones. The [Neumann] U47 we used had Frank [Sinatra]’s name written on it!” In addition to the QB1-As, studio B (where Lady Sings the Blues was recorded) is equipped with a Neve 88R console.
“Capitol has had lots of gear thrown at it over the years, but Steve Genewick, who engineered the session for me, didn’t hide the fact that they had rejected all other offers of monitoring,” continues Miller, “and assured me that the PMC QB1-A’s were the one!’
“Al Schmitt, who is also one of the chief engineers, walked onto my session like he owned the room – he practically does – at which point I turned the PMCs up 20db (we had been working fairly quietly up until that point). What struck me was that the PMC QB1-As sounded exactly the same when I cranked them up; they still the same level of detail and depth. Sometimes I feel you lose that detail when you pump it up on other speakers. I often had the overwhelming feeling that the speakers were not there and I was listening to the ‘feeling’ I got from them. That’s a great sign, I think!”
Rebecca Ferguson’s Lady Sings the Blues was released on 9 March on Sony Music.