Ross Lara's Archipelago Taps Focusrite for Move Into Immersive Audio

Ross Lara grew up part-time in Colorado and has always had an affinity for the state’s mountain lifestyle. Thus, it’s not surprising that after building Archipelago Entertainment into a creative force for music production, film scoring, and game audio (not to mention audio branding and content development for companies such as Red Bull and Meta), he moved the company and its studio to Breckenridge, Colorado, from previous quarters in Atlanta and L.A. The eight-year-old audio-production company was also ready to move to a new technology frontier: immersive audio, in the form of Dolby’s Atmos® format. It’s not a small transition, but Lara and partner and business manager Brian Shenefelt found the path they needed to get there, which included components from Focusrite’s RedNet and Red series of networked audio converters and interfaces.

“Focusrite came on our radars when we were researching getting into Atmos,” says Lara, who has produced, composed, and mixed music for high concept projects including Mythforce (coming out on Epic Games next year), award winning short films, and international chart-topping artists. He now has (at 9,000 feet above sea level) what might be the highest-altitude Atmos-capable studio in the world. He remarks, “I had been using one particular brand of interface for years but discovered that it would not be compatible with Atmos technology. That’s when Focusrite came into the picture. The Red and RedNet products would enable us to seamlessly do both stereo and immersive production. Focusrite also collaborated with us, helping us choose the right components and helping us through the inevitable hiccups of getting started in a complex new format.”

If a computer is the heart of any digital audio facility, Lara describes the Red 8Pre as “the lungs of the studio,” the device through which every bit of audio passes. “The converters are fantastic,” he says. “And the RedNet R1 controller allows us to route and synchronize multiple sources simultaneously, which really creates efficiencies in the studio. It’s an amazing controller. We’re still doing most of our work in stereo but as we move further into immersive, its capabilities will become even more important and useful.”

The RedNet D16R MkII is a 16-channel bi-directional AES3 interface that can work with either Dante® or AES audio formats, options that Lara says were crucial in their decision making. “I prefer to use AES for reliability reasons, and once we had the RedNet D16R in place, any format headaches went away instantly,” he says, noting that it has communications compatibility with the Trinnov D-Mon 12 monitoring controller and room-correction system the studio uses for its 7.1.4 Output Frontier and Genelec subwoofer speaker array.

Finally, Lara says he loves having the ISA One classic Focusrite microphone preamp with its flexible, independent DI channel and optional 192kHz precision A-D conversion available. “I’m using it for analog synths and some microphone recording applications,” he says. “It’s portable, so it can go where I go, and it’s especially great for augmenting the low end on some recordings, down around 50 to 60 Hz.

“All of the Focusrite gear is fantastic!” Lara concludes. “They sound amazing and they keep the sessions and the creativity moving, which is especially important as we move into Atmos. Immersive audio has a language all its own, and Focusrite is helping translate that for us.”