Marc Thériault talks Le Lab Mastering Studios and working with Celine Dion

Based in Montreal, Canada, Le Lab Mastering Studio is one of the most sought-after studios of its kind, catering for virtually every style and genre of music. It also features immersive audio mixing capabilities and includes its own vinyl cutting lathe. Headliner caught up with its multi-talented founder Marc Thériault to talk market trends, how he continues to do live sound for Celine Dion when she’s on the road, and the Merging Technologies kit that has shaped his business.

Tell us about your route into the pro audio industry?

I was always interested in audio all the way back to when I was in school. I was in charge of the sound for end of year shows and student radio. My first job in audio was for a rental sound company that provided the equipment to the school. I showed up one day and said I wanted to work for the summer. That’s how I started. I was 16 and I was doing live shows and assisting others.

At age 21, I was mixing the main stages at Montreal Jazz Festival, which was a pretty young age to be doing that. My wish was to design electronics for mixing desks and things like that, so I studied electrical engineering at Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal and got my degree. I kept mixing shows as well and got bigger and bigger offers working with different productions. At 24 I got a job touring with Celine Dion when she was getting bigger and bigger. I started as an assistant and I’m still working for her to this day. I oversee audio onstage for her shows. She knows what she wants, and we have a great relationship.

How did you end up opening a mastering studio?

Doing studio mixing and engineering recordings didn’t appeal to me. Mastering felt similar to live mixing in some ways. But I later studied music composition at UNLV in Las Vegas. In the context of live performances, a show unfolds each day and then concludes, much like the process of mastering. It’s one day after the other. So, I decided to open Le Lab Mastering Studio in 2009 and since then I’ve been doing mastering while also participating in live performances. At the very beginning the studio was fully analog, and then I discovered Merging Technologies and AoIP six or seven years ago.

How did you come into contact with Merging Technologies?

I have a colleague who does a lot of classical work and Merging is pretty significant in that world so that’s how I was introduced. The sound quality of their products has always been amazing. I already knew that, and the way they do things is amazing. They are pioneers.

I jumped into that and when the Anubis interface came out I loved everything about it. I based my studios around it and their technologies. I have a very close relationship with Merging and they always listen if you have a suggestion or an issue. It’s a great relationship.

I based my studios around Merging Technologies

How do Merging products figure in your setup?

The main thing is, because it's AoiP (Ravenna), you can have a lot of channels traveling between the interfaces and the workstation, so I have that big matrix in front me, which means I can do things that no other interface can offer. In my main room, I use the Anubis as a monitor controller and I use the Happi mkII for A to D and D to A. I still have analog gear in the studio, so it allows me to do stem mastering and things like that.

In the Atmos room, I built my own monitor controller that goes to both of those units. It’s a controller on steroids. I like to calibrate everything, and I can do just that with an external computer on the Ravenna network. There were a ton of possibilities that you couldn’t do with regular analog equipment. I’ve tried a lot of products and Merging is the best of the best.

I also have a mobile studio setup that consists of one Anubis, a pair of headphones, a laptop and a mini computer. The Anubis is the key part because it’s the heart of the Ravenna network and it’s the F1 headphone amplifier. From there I have my network and my DAW. That’s all I need! Everything fits in my backpack, so I can do all the work in the box on the go if needed. The Anubis is the central unit for that and I don’t see any other product that can do all this. It sounds amazing and I love it!

What trends have you been seeing in the mastering industry?

We used to do albums but we do a lot more singles now. Rather than mastering and releasing an entire album all at once, there's a focus on producing individual songs, which may be assembled and released collectively later on. Currently, artists emphasize the production of individual songs.

Also, everyone wants vinyl now. So, we cut vinyls here because at the beginning clients would ask me to listen to their test pressings before it goes on the market, and there were always things they didn’t like but there was nothing I could do to fix those issues because it was cut somewhere else. We decided to invest in a cutting lathe to be able to provide higher quality products and be able to control how my masters translate to vinyl. We do a lot of vinyl for projects coming from inside and outside the studio.

What are you working on now?

We are currently remastering the entire Celine Dion catalog in Atmos. It’s a big, big job, and those timeless hits need to sound like people heard them or even better! We must be very close to the original mix and master, but we are expanding and improving them with immersive masters.