Founded in 72 years ago in 1946, Pearl is one of the world’s most respected drum and percussion product manufacturers. Over the years, many of the world’s most highly acclaimed drummers have turned to Pearl for their innovative products. At their US headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, the company made a smart move by building their own recording studio for the purposes of creating audio/video content that helps promote their products. As a musical instrument designer and manufacturer, it was of utmost importance that their promotional audio samples and video demos truly allowed the listener to hear the advantages offered by Pearl’s products, which are so plentiful that it made more economic sense to build their own recording facility than go to outside studios for each recording session.
When the Pearl Drums studio chose an Ocean Way Audio HR3.5 system, we wanted to know why, so we spoke with Mike Ferriss, Pearl Corporation’s Studio Director/Special Projects Manager.
Where did you first hear about the HR3.5?
I heard about the HR3.5’s from Chad over at Vintage King. We had been auditioning different systems at our new studio and nothing seemed to be working. Most larger systems have sub-added packages, and I am not a big fan of the separate sub cabinet. Once we had gone through all the options in Nashville, I suggested that we should attend the A.E.S. show in Los Angeles, thinking most of the manufacturers would be there. After a long day on the floor listening to what must have been 25 different systems, we finally came upon the Ocean Way booth. I was amazed at the clarity and imaging I was hearing in a trade show hall. Allan (Sides, Ocean Way founder) was playing some of his great recordings, and everything was right there. It sounded perfect. Just what I had been looking for.
Had you had previous experiences with Ocean Way monitoring systems?
I had tried out a set of the HR4S that Vintage King had on site. But again, I am not a big fan of the separate sub cabinet. The imaging was very good, but the feel was a little different in our studio. These are very good monitors, but for Pearl Drums we wanted to create an experience for the artist. I wanted to make sure that when they sat down to listen to a session that the raw rough mix was undeniable. That the artist felt great about what they were hearing and excited to create more content. We work with some of the greatest drummers in the world, and I wanted to make sure that the playback was comparable to their talent.
Ocean Way’s Allen Sides (middle) visits the Nashville headquarters and recording studios for Pearl Drums. Joining him is (left) Terry West, President of Pearl Corporation US, and (right) Mike Farriss, Studio Director & Special Projects Manager.
What about the HR3.5 makes it the right choice for the Pearl studio?
Drums are an incredibly exciting instrument to record. You have the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, and every frequency in-between. You have beautiful clean tones coming from the toms, and the white noise of stacked cymbals. When you sit behind a set of Pearl drums, you have between 100 to 180 degrees of percussive components surrounding you. The ability to accurately reproduce the sounds and tones, in space, with the drummer’s prospective in mind, requires a very specific tool. The HR3.5’s reproduce this experience in a way that is accurate and exciting. When working with the best musicians, you need the best products. And we have had many wonderful comments from our artists about the quality of sound reproduction and the incredible imaging of these monitors.
Tell me more about what Pearl does at the studio.
We built the studio at Pearl Drums because of the ever-changing needs of our marketing department. With the Internet and social media demanding more content, it became clear that we needed a facility to create and control our image to the public. The content we create is featured on Pearl’s YouTube channel. This, however, is not its only use. Content is available for dealers, and is a useful tool in the marketing of our products through their stores. Some content is for products that cannot be heard because of packaging. There is also educational content for consumers to help grow additional markets. Some content exists simply for entertainment. We want kids to know how much fun drumming is. The most important aspects of all the above uses is that our products look good and sound good. You get one chance for a first impression, so you better make the best of it.
How did things go with the installation of the HR3.5 and integrating them into your system?
The installation was very easy. It integrated perfectly into our existing system. All that was needed was the standard height and spacing requirements for monitors in any control room setup. In all honesty, the HR3.5’s made obvious a few flaws with our control room, but these were very easily fixed. And that brings up another great feature with the HR3.5’s. These monitors are driven by Ocean Way’s own A-4100 DSP amplifiers. The A-4100’s feature a few factory-installed presets based off of information gathered during the factory testing. This will allow you a few options to help fine-tune to your listening environment. If you should run into problems caused by the design of your control room, the DSP allows for custom tuning options to offset some problems you may encounter. With proper testing and shared information, a custom program can be created for your specific control room environment.