How Merging Technologies helped PDV Records become a certified Dolby Atmos facility

Austria’s PDV Records is a music production and AV services company that specializes in classical music and music for media and motion pictures. Founded in 2007 by Volker Werner, Philipp Treiber and David Menke, the trio’s expertise spans the full audio engineering spectrum, while their two studios – one in Vienna, one in Paris – are kitted out with the most cutting edge technology on the market. Headliner finds out how they have recently upgraded their creative spaces with Merging Technologies’ Horus and Anubis solutions, and why they took the plunge to become a fully certified Dolby Atmos facility.

In PDV’s Paris studio, which is run by Menke and deals predominantly in music for media and film, Atmos mixing was already up and running. Menke, however, was keen to do more in the format, while Werner and Treiber, running the Vienna studio, were keen to harness the power of Atmos mixing in musical productions as well.

Crucial to the firm’s Atmos certification is Merging Technologies, with PDV adding a second Horus AD/DA interface and an Anubis controller to its Vienna facility. The Merging Anubis/Horus combination provides PDV an ideal monitoring solution when using Atmos or any other immersive format on account of its high-end performance audio, easily connected IP networking and cost-effective price point. Furthermore, control of the monitoring setup from Anubis is designed to be powerful, convenient and easy to implement. Indeed, many Atmos recording or mastering facilities already have Merging Hapi or Horus devices.

At the heart of the Vienna studio is a Merging Horus networked audio interface capable of running ultra-high quality DSD/DXD format audio. PDV's initial foray into the Merging universe began six years ago, as Werner, who oversees sound design and picture direction, explains: “We needed extremely high-quality preamps for our recordings. We compared a few systems, and Horus was the one we liked the best from a sonic point of view.

“Initially, some cards needed replacing to integrate it properly within the setup, but those issues were quickly resolved, and since then, the Horus has been functioning really well and is an integral part of our operations - it’s extremely flexible,” he continues. “We use it for onsite recordings where we have a system with 48 preamps and a few outputs. Our main connections are via RAVENNA but we also use MADI if we’re connecting to OB vans, for example. We use the DirectOut mic cards for splits because sometimes we facilitate simultaneous recording and live broadcast at the same time, so this setup allows us to split audio feeds in-the-box, without having to use additional hardware. Also, the numerous AES inputs add to the versatility of production capabilities.”

We're very happy we invested in Atmos, and Merging is a key part of that. Volker Werner, PDV Records

When PDV upgraded its studio and moved into new premises in Vienna, the company added a second Horus to its setup. This time it was deployed primarily for monitoring purposes, external effects and preamps for vocal overdubs and voiceovers. A Merging Anubis controller was also added to offer more tactile control over productions. It comes in a compact, desktop AoIP format, with the option to also control it remotely via web or app.

Furthermore, the integration of Dolby Atmos was seamless, partially due to the fact that PDV already had a significant Geithain 7.1 loudspeaker setup, and also because none of Merging’s interfaces is specifically locked to a DAW, be it Pyramix (Merging’s own DAW) or any other, meaning that its hardware can integrate into virtually any workflow. In the case of PDV, despite owning Pyramix, the trio are historic Pro Tools users and as such opted to stay with it.

However, Merging has specifically pursued the route of compatibility and interoperability, with its widespread adoption of the RAVENNA protocol.

PDV is now one of four music production companies in Vienna that is fully capable of Dolby Atmos. The other companies specialize in pop/rock, music for media and film music, so they segment the market quite democratically, with PDV receiving a plethora of new clients due to the new purchase, including the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) and the Royal Opera in London.

“The amount of business that has come our way thanks to the Dolby Atmos label is astonishing, including a number of productions that we haven’t done ourselves,” says Werner. “We receive stems or multitrack sessions in 5.1 and we’re asked to upmix to Atmos. We’re currently doing upmixes for ORF as they are re-releasing numerous productions for different labels, and we’ve even done some work for the Royal Opera House in London! We’re very happy that we decided to invest in Dolby Atmos, and of course Merging is a key part of that setup.”