Featured Story - The Qemists
Brighton-based three-piece The Qemists began working together in a touring rock band in the late 90s, but developed a taste for drum n bass, touring and playing rock by day, while producing drum n bass and DJing by night. The trio were given their first break when Ninja Tune released their remix of Coldcut's Everything Is Under Control. The raucous blending of rock riffs with drum n bass brought the group to the attention of international DJs such as Laurent Garnier, Andy C and resulted in Pendulum adding the group to their Radio 1 Essential Mix.
From this first release The Qemists have gone on to do further remixes for Coldcut as well as the likes of Roots Manuva, Dr. Octagon and Enter Shikari, who they have also supported on tour. The group’s debut album Join The Q, saw the band hook up with legendary Faith No More frontman Mike Patton, Alabama 3's Zoe Devlin Love, grime MC Wiley and fellow Brighton luminary Beardyman.
Liam Black, one third of The Qemists, has recently added a pair of Genelec 6010A monitors to his home studio setup, along with a 5040A subwoofer: “We've got a complex of two studios, in a big industrial unit, but we're used to having our home setups and I realised I needed something to monitor with at home,” says Liam. “I demo’ed lots of small-spec pairs of speakers – I wanted them to double as a hi-fi for me. I wanted the hi-fidelity sound that was interesting and captivating to me.”
After testing the Genelec 6010As with the 5040A subwoofer, Liam was captivated: “Some brands of studio monitor are very flat to listen to, they're not entertaining. You use them for pure science-based listening, but for sitting at home and listening to someone's album they're not much fun. However, the Genelecs have that Genelec sound about them – they're accurate and entertaining to listen to at the same time. I've been using them at home to test mixes we've done at the studio, trying to gauge how they might sound on somebody's stereo, or on smaller home-entertainment systems, which are becoming commonplace in people’s setups."
As well as testing out mixes on his home setup, Liam will be putting the monitors to use on the upcoming second album. “I do a lot of the vocal comping, and I'm more than confident that these monitors will handle that kind of job beautifully. The upper-highs are smooth and transparent, the imaging is good when they're set up properly and you can tailor them to a room. You don't get any problems with the acoustics of a room – you can very quickly get them to sound good.”
Putting monitors you know well in a new location can take a little getting used to, as you need to learn the sound of the new room. Putting monitors you don't know into a new room can be even tougher to get used to. Thankfully it didn't take Liam long to get to know his new Genelec 6010As:
“The most crucial thing with 2.1 systems is the crossover where the frequencies get sent to the sub or the top speakers. With a lot of systems you get the feeling that there's a gap where the frequencies haven't really joined up properly. With the Genelec system, if you couldn't see the sub you'd just think – wow, these little speakers are amazing. It's not rocket-science to get these speakers to sound good – they just do sound good.”
Another factor which helped Liam get to know his new monitors fast was the similarity the Genelec 6010As have to the monitors in his studio, as well as many other studios around the globe:
“We also use Genelecs in the main studio as our nearfields. We've got a pair of 1030As and I wanted to tie in that Genelec sound at home. The 6010As have that professional Genelec sound, they're not cheap down-market versions – they're just smaller, which gives them limitations in their bass-end and volume. But those are the only differences. Other than that they sound like the larger Genelecs, combined with the sub they offer a powerful compact system.”
Because of their portability, the 6010As probably won't be staying in Liam's house long. “I also got them with a view to taking the 6010As on tour to do writing in hotel rooms. I love the fact that they're very rugged, compact and offer up enough bass to give an impression of the upper-end of the bass. In today’s dance crossover production, people are flying around a lot – it's invaluable to have a reliable pair of speakers that you can take with you. So much stuff gets made on laptops while on the road, having these speakers makes the kind of work you can do on the road more serious.”
And if Liam needs the extra bass, the option is always there from the 5040A subwoofer: “Adding in the sub gives you that low-end experience. It's very powerful and you get a lot of bass out of it, if you need to. I tend not to jack the bass too hard, but it does turn compact speakers into a system that sounds way bigger than it actually is. The sub's got enough adjustment on it that with careful setup you can get good accuracy.”
The Qemists’ as-yet untitled second album will be released later this year, preceded by a DJ tour, which will see the band test out many of the new tracks on dance crowds around the globe, before a full band live tour next year.