Wes Nelson mixer Guy Buss on transforming his studio with Genelec

Headliner recently paid a visit to Broadstairs in East Kent to spend an afternoon studio session with producer, mix and mastering engineer Guy Buss. The aim? To find out how this long-time Genelec user has been getting on with his new 8351B SAM studio monitors and accompanying GLM (Genelec Loudspeaker Manager) 4 software in his workflow.

“I suppose I’m a bit of a Genelec fanboy in some ways,” Guy replies when we start our discussion inside his modern-looking monochrome studio on a rainy Wednesday in February. Unless someone told you, you would really have no idea that you’re in a converted garage at the back of his garden; this space looks and feels of high spec and high comfort, and is quite clearly perfectly suited to his audio needs.

Guy has been a Genelec user ever since the company’s 1029 models, which he muses about nostalgically before our conversation steers onto these newer, much sleeker 8351Bs with their three-way coaxial point source design. But before we do, there’s some further musings about his much loved 8250 models that he used to produce and mix a bunch of ambient chill records around the year 2000. A quick glance over to the slew of triple albums adorning the CD case in the corner of the studio reveals the full picture.

“The 8351Bs are very directional with a much better stereo image, perfect for near-field monitoring,” he says. “I’ve got an older sub – the 7270A – but it integrates into the system with no problems. In fact it was all very easy to set up. I’ve got a digital AES output going straight into the sub and then it splits off to the monitors. It’s an all digital signal path from my sound card to the speakers.”

Since acquiring the new models and carrying out some GRADE reports and calibrations, Guy has completely changed the layout of his room, at least since the last time Headliner paid him a visit.

“Previously I had the desk more centred in the room and the speakers were on stands behind it,” he recalls. “I was told to push everything back closer to the wall. The reports revealed things that I hadn’t picked up on before because I wasn’t looking that hard. Previously I was only using the Genelecs sporadically because I wasn’t really sure about what was going on with my room EQ-wise.”

Guy admits that it was useful to receive these pointers about his room, as it led him to re-engage and start to learn more about the acoustic properties of the space. He rearranged the desk and is now getting much better results.

“I’ve got to a point where I’m settled and happy with it,” he says. “With the GLM kit you’ve got the freedom to calibrate and try different things, and find where there’s a compromise with usability. My room is never going to be perfect, but the system allows you to get it close enough and start thinking deeper about acoustic treatment. When I moved everything back I added another panel above and at the sides to smooth off reflection points.”

GLM is a problem solver, and gives you a really good overview of what’s going on in your room. Guy Buss

As far as the monitors go, Guy believes them to be more accurate, with better phase coherence and a clearer stereo image.

“They’re perfect and can go as loud as I’ll ever need them,” he says. “I quite like the fact that they’ve made me change things in my room a bit. I can’t really complain; they’re just brilliant speakers.”

After initially using the GLM software, it revealed some dips in the lower mids in Guy's room which were causing some issues:

“If I want to do some critical mix work, I use an extra piece of acoustic treatment panelling which I built to sit on the desk in front of the speakers,” he reveals. “When I’m not using that, the GRADE Report usually highlights some early reflections coming off the desk. When I’ve got that on, I’ve got presets set up in GLM which will pick it up. That just gets rid of all the reflections and comb filtering, and tames a bit of the mid-range. When I put that on the desk it cuts the dip at 480Hz by about half. It just gives you a more accurate picture, and then the GLM software takes care of the rest. But that’s me being pretty OCD!”

Guy demonstrates the setup and tuning process of GLM by placing a mic stand in situ, in an equilateral triangle formation with his monitors. He then simply drags and drops the speakers into place on the GLM interface, confirms the layout, gives the speaker group a name, specifies input and output modes, and inputs his room dimensions. The software then calculates the phase relationship between the sub and the speakers and generates a comprehensive GRADE Report.

GRADE (Genelec Room Acoustic Data Evaluation) is a powerful reporting tool in GLM that creates a full analysis of room and monitoring system performance, revealing the information needed to effectively fine tune acoustic treatment, adjust monitor and listener positioning, and optimise bass management.

“That sends your data straight to the cloud server and then sends a report back to you immediately as a nice PDF so you can get a deeper measurement, and tells you where all the problems are in your room,” says Guy. “It puts a filter in to attenuate any big peaks and levels it out nicely with cuts."

That being said, Genelec has added one band of positive gain to GLM, which was introduced with the AutoCal 2 algorithm as part of the GLM 4.1 release.

Guy says that the version he is using is a lot more user friendly than previous versions:

“The beauty of it is that Genelec is obviously receiving tons of data and different results, which they can compare and contrast with other similar sized rooms,” he adds. “I would imagine that then informs product design and improvements to see how they can then make it better. The reports are also very in-depth; you could sit and pore over them for hours if you wanted, which I’m sure some people would want to do because it’s a problem solver, and it gives you a really good overview of what’s going on.

“I’ve used other room calibration softwares and GLM just beats them hands down. It’s so much quicker and simpler to use, and you can store your current group acoustic settings to the memory of the SAM monitors and subwoofers.”

Guy most recently used his new Genelec setup to mix and master Abracadabra, the latest single from ex Love Island star Wes Nelson and Craig David. The pair performed the song in the Love Island villa the same day of our interview.

“It was panic stations, but we got it done,” says Guy with a sigh of relief. “Now I have more confidence in the room, I’ve moved fully onto the Genelecs. I've been working on lots of afro house for an act called Haska, who had a track out during the pandemic called Madan. We've spent the last year building up some great new productions; there's going to be five or six records to come out this year.”

As far as genres go, Guy believes the Genelec system to be well suited right across the board, “especially combined with the sub,” he says. “It’s club music - you need to know what’s going on in the bottom end, which is the most important aspect of what I’m doing production-wise. I can’t see there being anything that these speakers couldn’t handle.”

Guy also recently did some vocal recording sessions with ex reality star Cam Holmes, who has just released a brand new single called Aftertaste.

“My friend runs a label called Decadence Records, which is lots of music from artists coming out of Ghana and Nigeria - lots of afro pop stuff,” he adds. “That’s all mixing and additional production stuff. And then on a completely different tip, I’ve got a local musician round the corner called Thalis who is a classically trained pianist. He comes in and plays beautiful pieces - he’s on a lot of very well used and popular playlists on Spotify for peaceful piano. So lots of different stuff going on at the moment!”

Find out more about Genelec's 8351B SAM studio monitors and GLM software here.