Serious SoundCTD: Carl Tatz Design

Dynaudio Professional Features Carl Tatz Design's PhantomFocus™ System

— Carl Tatz's award winning studio design, The Blue Grotto is complemented by a Dual PhantomFocus System combining Dynaudio Professional M1 and M3 monitors —

Nashville, TN: When Carl Tatz describes the point at which he knows he's got the tuning right in any given room he tends to avoid 'tech speak' entirely.

"I know I have it when it feels emotional. If I don't get an enveloping, emotional response, I know I'm not there yet," he says.

That was a key driver in his choice of Dynaudio Professional M1 and M3 reference monitors as part the Dual PhantomFocus™ System 4 he recently installed in Nashville's Blue Grotto studio, which was singled out as one hottest new studios of the year in Mix Magazine's 'Class of 2011' Studio Design Issue this past June. "Compared to other speakers their size, they're very revealing and powerful in a PhantomFocus™ System and they provoke that emotional response. That's what I like about them."

In all, the Blue Grotto system is comprised of a pair of Dynaudio M3 mains driven by a pair of Bryston 7B SST mono block amps, and two M1 near-fields driven by a Bryston 4B SST stereo amp. "I've had the Brystons rewired to 220 Volts, which gives me twice the voltage and about thirty percent more wattage, so, effectively, the M1s are being driven with 600 Watts and the M3s with 1200 Watts."

While the choice of reference monitors varies from client to client, Tatz has used more Dynaudio M1s than any other near-field loudspeakers in his PhantomFocus™ Systems. His personal preference for Dynaudio dates back to the system he'd created for his own, world renowned, 'Recording Arts' studio, which he ultimately sold to Sheryl Crow before he began to focus more heavily on designing studios and screening rooms and formed Carl Tatz Design (CTD) in 2001. "That's where I started putting the making of the PhantomFocus™ System together. M3s are my favourite big speakers. There are several near fields that I like, but the M1s are extremely tight, they play very loud and I like the D'appolito array with the tweeter in between the woofers. It's more enveloping and very detailed."

Those are exactly the qualities the PhantomFocus™ system offers any given client. "The beauty of the PhantomFocus™ System is that it provides world-class monitoring, even in a bedroom. It doesn't have to be in a multi-million dollar studio." To achieve that level of quality, Tatz employs a variety of techniques and proprietary protocols, hardware and software; optimizing the speakers and the engineer's position relative to the room's axial modes, then laser aligning the monitors into position. He describes the resulting level of detail as 'almost holographic'. "And the M1s really lend themselves to that," he adds.

Even without its owner in residence, The Blue Grotto is garnering substantial praise from those who have had a chance to hear the system. Among them, Grammy Award winning engineer, David Thoener (AC/DC, Aerosmith, Faith Hill, John Mellencamp, Carlos Santana, Rob Thomas), who booked the studio at first listen to mix tracks for international Guatemalan star, Ricardo Arjona's 2011 release, Independiente. "The PhantomFocus™System at the Blue Grotto is the best monitoring I have ever heard," states Thoener; a view reinforced by the highly respected magazine, Pro Audio Review, which just presented a glowing four-page review of the PFS in their October 2011 issue.

Other CTD clients are also expressing interest, Tatz says; in some instances, changing their initial choice of monitors after visiting The Blue Grotto. "Case in point, we were going to do a PhantomFocus™ System in one client's bedroom and use NS10s. But when he came over to The Blue Grotto and heard the M1s he said, 'that's it', so we used M1s." Another client, upon hearing the system, has also opted for Dynaudio product for their Columbus, Ohio based project.

"I've brought 40-50 people over here. I often joke that it's costing me a fortune to keep Sean over in Africa, because it's ended up being almost my showroom. We've just had an incredible response."Setting up the speakers takes two entire days to accomplish, Tatz explains. "The first day I set them up physically, relative to the axial modes in the room, to get the imaging. The second day it's about processing. I start choosing crossovers and slopes. The trick is to get the drivers of the M1s in the exact same phase as the subs, so it sounds like 20 Hz is coming out of those little drivers. Typically, in a Dual PhantomFocus™ System there's a near and mid-field system and they share the same sub woofer system."

Although designed and built specifically for South African engineer/producer Sean Spence by CTD, Spence hasn't seen, or heard, the finished product in action yet. "He's been out of the country, but I'm thinking he'll be back before Christmas, and when he sees it and hears the PhantomFocus™ System he's going to drop dead."

About Carl Tatz Design
Carl Tatz Design (CTD) offers design and consulting services to homeowners and entertainment industry professionals in areas of: Recording Studios, Monitor Systems, Home Screening Rooms, Dedicated Listening Rooms, Acoustic Analysis, Tuning, and Sound Isolation. Carl Tatz is also the inventor of the industry acclaimed proprietary PhantomFocus™ System (PFS) monitor tuning protocol. CTD’s many resources combine knowledge, experience and expertise in sound, picture and design to serve its clients worldwide. For more information, visit

About the PhantomFocus™ System
Once the basic acoustic treatment has been accomplished, Carl Tatz Design’s proprietary PhantomFocus™ Monitor System offers clients a unique opportunity to have a truly world-class monitoring experience in their room, no matter how modest they may perceive it to be. The PhantomFocus System allows their monitors of choice to perform accurately at a full 20Hz-to-20KHz frequency response with pinpoint imaging in an almost holographic sweet spot — this enables their mixes to travel anywhere with a new level of sonic accuracy. There are approximately fifty steps in the proprietary PhantomFocus System implementation protocol, some of which may include phase and laser alignment, damping, isolation mounts, careful assessment of engineer/speaker placement relative to their room’s primary axial modes, proprietary speaker distance and angle, crossover points for pass filtering, and finally parametric equalization. Hardware can include monitor stands, concrete, sorbothane and other isolation materials, custom floating plenum mounts, subwoofer system, custom crossover, parametric equalizers and the monitors themselves (passive or active). The evaluation and implementation is a full two-day process and can be applied to near-fields, mid-fields, and large soffit mounted monitors, regardless of manufacturer. Carl Tatz Design can install the PhantomFocus System in existing control rooms or in studios that are designed and built from the ground up by CTD. The result is like the aural equivalent of HD TV. Once you experience a PhantomFocus System, you can’t go back.

Serious Sound

Carl Tatz sits at the console in his award winning Blue Grotto studio with the Dual PhantomFocus™ System featuring Dynaudio Professional M1 and M3 monitors

Carl Tatz Design: 6666 Brookmont Terrace, Suite 1109, Nashville, TN 37205, 615.354.6242 /