Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Sounding Sweet Post Production Studio Upgrades To Audient
UK studio specializing in audio for video games and television voice-over work finds favorite preamp in ASP880.
Sounding Sweet studios has chosen to upgrade to the Audient ASP880 8-channel mic pre “…because they sound so clean.”
Post production sound engineer and studio co-owner, Ed Walker can’t stress this enough. “It’s difficult to explain, the Audient doesn’t sound clinical. It’s a high-end mic pre which sounds really musical somehow, whilst being incredibly accurate. That’s what I get when I use Audient.”
Sounding Sweet has recently been shortlisted for a Develop Award in the category of ‘Creative Outsourcer – Audio’ for their contribution to racing game Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One, which was released late last year.
Something of a specialist in the genre, with GRID, DiRT and F1 also on his CV, it’s not unusual to find Walker out on runways recording the sound of high-end super cars. “It’s only in recent years that we have had the ability to play back truly cinematic high fidelity sound in games, the future of game audio is incredibly exciting.” explains Walker.
“Things are changing so fast. There is very little compression, we’re running hundreds and hundreds of channels in real time, and it needs to sound as good as a film. Yes, we draw from the creative and technological advances in TV and film, but we’re also doing really very ground-breaking and exciting things with games.”
There are a few things he’s working on right now that are so new, he can’t talk about them. “Suffice to say, all audio that comes through my speakers has been through Audient.” he laughs, indicating the Audient master section monitor controller, Centro that he uses along with the new ASP880.
“I don’t do that much music,” he adds. “Most of my work is audio post production for Computer Games, Film and TV – including ads. I tend to use the Audient mic pres for ADR and Foley. The AS880s are perfect for this type of recording as the signal often needs to be really clean.” Sounding Sweet boasts a 7.1 surround sound dubbing suite with two big voiceover booths, which double as Foley studios and music recording spaces when necessary.
Walker has used the Audient mic pres to record various actors for the RSC’s recent CD and BluRay releases, and in addition to this, the studios’ film and television credits include: Postman Pat: The Movie, American Dad and Family Guy, as well as the #epic Money SuperMarket ads featuring Patrick Stewart on voiceover.
Sounding Sweet’s location is great for work; the studios are just five minutes away from the Royal Shakespeare Company, so as well as high profile actors such as Patrick Stewart and David Tennant, RSC directors have also been in the voiceover booth, commentating on their BluRay DVD releases. “They can come here and work at an industry standard level without having to head all the way down to London,” explains Walker.
Despite all the secrecy surrounding new games developments, he can disclose what he would tell a young Ed Walker just starting out in the business: “Don’t cut corners when it comes to gear and your production values. I strongly believe in getting the best possible signal chain. If you’ve got somebody important in the v/o booth, or you’re trying to capture some Foley to picture, or record a guitarist for a band, you get ONE shot at it. Use the wrong mic, the wrong mic pre or if there’s a problem anywhere in the signal chain, then you’ve lost that opportunity.
“I’ve dabbled with various bits of equipment in the past, and I shouldn’t have messed about. Go for the jugular: get a couple of Neumanns and do the right thing from the start.”
Posted by House Editor on 06/16 at 08:55 AM
Friday, June 12, 2015
BAE Audio Expands 500 Series Product Line With The New B15 EQ
Built with Jensen transformers, gold plated switches and connectors and other unique touches such as a fully discrete gyrator circuit.
The new BAE Audio B15 multi-band equalizer, which ships this month and is priced at $1,000, is designed to deliver sonic attributes of the 312 circuit in an economically efficient and compact 500 series package.
The new B15 EQ is an all-discrete design, outfitted with three bands with five (5) selectable frequencies per band. Created to BAE Audio’s discriminating vintage specifications, the build includes Jensen transformers at the input ande output stage, Elma gold plated rotary switches, and a 15-way gold connector.
“We are very proud of our latest 500 series creation,” states BAE Audio president and founder Mark Loughman. “When people listen to the new B15, they may recognize a ‘punchy’ sound characteristic, reminiscent of the classic 312 circuit. The B15 is built with Jensen transformers, and includes other unique touches such as a fully discrete gyrator circuit. People will not only feel the difference of the B15, but hear it as well.”
The B15 is the latest in BAE Audio’s 500 series. Last month, the company announced its 1073MPL 500 series preamplifier. With the B15, the 1073MPL and its other 500 series units, BAE Audio has maintained a high manufacturing standard, with each of its units hand-wired and assembled in California.
The B15 is available now through BAE Audio’s network of authorized dealers.
Kletch Upgrades With JBL VTX-II Line Arrays To Grow Business In Czech Republic
Kletch has grown from smaller regional events to larger productions, selecting JBL and Crown products to grow its inventory accordingly.
Brno-based production company, Kletch, which specializes in providing sound, lighting, staging and video technology within the Czech Republic, has confirmed an order for JBL’s new VTX V25-II and S25 subs along with three Crown VRack 4x3500 amplification systems, from territorial distributor, AudioMaster CZ.
Kletch has grown from smaller regional events to larger productions, and is taking advantage of JBL and Crown’s scalable product ranges to grow its inventory accordingly.
The V25-II line array loudspeaker features a new waveguide for improved long-throw performance and wavefront control, as well as improved power matching with the Crown I-Tech 4x3500HD 4-channel amplifiers, which have also been purchased by the company as part of the same consignment.
Explaining the company’s decision, Kletch’s founder and ceo, Jakub Klecka, said, “We wanted an unrivaled audio system in the Czech Republic to match our leading projection, large screen and LED technologies … something beyond compare. Thanks to the great support of [AudioMaster CZ sales rep] Tomáš Novák we were able to make the decision even before we knew the price of the system.“
Set up in 2011, Kletch stepped up its interest in Harman Professional components at the beginning of last year when the company bought its first JBL VRX Constant Curvature loudspeaker system, followed shortly after by a Soundcraft Si Performer 2 digital mixing console. Impressed with the performance, a supplementary JBL PRX700 system was also added to Kletch’s existing PRX setup later the same year.
In fact, Kletch has never looked back after switching to JBL’s PRX platform soon after setting up, according to Klecka—whose first business enterprise had coincided with him reaching his 18th birthday. “PRX was very light and powerful, thanks to the construction, and also the price was right. After that everything just progressed smoothly,” he noted.
This helped Kletch boost its work profile in the trade fair, exhibition, corporate event and concert sectors. However, acquisition of V25-II, with the revolutionary D2 Dual-Diaphragm Dual-Voice-Coil Compression Drivers, moves the company to a different league entirely.
Klecka again reinforced his confidence in the system. “The advantage for us is supplementing the small-scale and mid-scale systems with a large-scale system so that now we have a complete menu to offer,” he said. “And with a complete offer of lighting, projection, truss and filming technology added in, we can definitely anticipate that this will lead to more business.”
“As far as VTX is concerned, we expected reliability, quality and ease of use—and all these features have been delivered, while the distributor’s support has been perfect,” Klecka added. He also admitted that JBL HiQnet Performance Manager proved to be a major benefit with system setup.
As for the Crown VRack 4x3500s, Kletch said, “I have found them to be invaluable; without them it would be a completely different system.” The three I-Tech 4x3500HD amplifiers that each VRack comprises, also benefit from the optimized power matching of the new V25-II waveguide.
The first gig with the new system was in Nová Karolína Hall in Ostrava, followed by a spoken-word show at a Velodrom in Brno. But Klecka noted that it is the upcoming open air festival season where the system will really come into its own.
Finally, as the company moves its production values onto a larger scale, Jakub Klecka is confident that this will naturally lead to an investment higher up the Soundcraft chain. “We will certainly need a larger console in the future,” he believes. “As we build demand for the VTX system, the console will be added in due course, according to our customers’ needs.“
Monday, June 01, 2015
Prism Sound Helps Preserve Unique Tanzanian Music Recordings
Digitally archiving Tanzania's musical heritage, from acoustic folk songs to distinctive dance music from the late 1960s and 70s.
The Tanzanian Heritage Project (THP) is using Prism Sound‘s Lyra Audio Interface in a unique bid to rescue and digitize the country’s tape-based music archive, thus preserving a precious musical heritage for future generations.
Rebecca Corey, co-founder and executive director of the Tanzania heritage Project hatched the idea for the digitization project in 2010, with her Tanzanian friend and THP co-founder Benson Rukantabula, while Corey was at home in the US recovering from a motorcycle accident in Dar es Salaam.
“Just before leaving Tanzania, Benson had given me a few CDs of old Tanzanian music,” explains Corey. “The quality of the recordings weren’t great - they sounded as though they had been recorded from the radio on to a cassette and then transferred to CD - but the music was wonderful.” The music became a soundtrack to Corey’s recovery and she spent hours talking with Rukantabula and researching the history of Tanzanian music.
“That’s when I learned about Radio Tanzania, and the fact that pretty much all of the music recorded, from independence in the early 1960s through the mid-1980s, was all stored on reel-to-reel tapes that had never been professionally digitized,” she recalls. Corey was determined that once recovered, she would go back to Tanzania to preserve and digitise those tapes. She also wanted to raise awareness of the country’s wealth of musical heritage. “While West African music has got a fair bit of attention, East African music is virtually unheard of on a global level,” she says.
Finally able to return to Tanzania in early 2012, Corey visited the archives. “That year, we managed to purchase a Tandberg reel-to-reel machine and a Studer was donated by the British Library,” Corey explains. But due to lack of funds, the digitization project effectively stalled for most of 2013 and 2014. “In the end, we weren’t able to negotiate a satisfactory agreement with the government radio station about future access to the digitized material,” she explains. “So we’ve shifted our focus to digitizing the reel-to-reel archives of other radio stations and private collections.”
As well as the Studer A67 and Tandberg TD 20A, Corey has been using Prism Sound’s Lyra Audio Interface, and Ableton Live software. “We bought the Lyra after speaking to several professional archivists and they all recommended the unit as being the best for A/D conversion on the market. We found it to be affordable for our limited budget and a great centrepiece to our DAW.”
Corey says the THP studio setup is kept “relatively simple. The key is achieving the highest quality conversion possible from the analog signal from the reel-to-reel machine, to the digital version on the computer. We’re confident that the Lyra is capturing and converting the signal and making the most faithful copy possible.”
Ease of use has proved crucial on this project, which relies on enthusiasts. “No one on our team is a professional audio engineer or archivist,” says Corey. “We took on this project because we were music lovers who believed that this music needed to be preserved before it was too late, and because no-one else had stepped in to do it. So the fact that the Lyra is easy to use and produces incredible quality sound has made us very satisfied with its performance so far.”
Having just got the project moving again, thus far around four hours of material from 12 tapes have been digitized. Many of the tapes are in poor condition and need to be assessed and cleaned before they can be played and digitized. As Corey explains, it’s a slow, careful process. “We assess the condition of each reel to determine whether it is in good enough condition to digitize. We don’t want to attempt digitization on a reel and end up damaging it further. Once a reel is ready, it sometimes needs to be re-wound so that the ‘pack’ of the tape is even and won’t rub against the reel flange. We minimize the number of times the reel is wound and played as much as possible, to avoid any potential damage to the tape.”
Due to the slow nature of the work, Corey estimates the process will take at least another eight to ten months of full-time work, using one Digital Audio Workstation to preserve and digitize the remaining reels. “We are continuously searching for additional reels to digitize though, so it’s really an ongoing process,” she adds.
The process has already unearthed many cultural gems, with Corey’s favourites being songs dating back to the time of the country’s struggle for independence, and just after. “At that time, the music was all about building unity, promoting peace; gaining (and then celebrating) freedom from colonization,” she explains. “Musically, there’s some wonderful content, ranging from acoustic folk songs to Tanzania’s distinctive dance music from the late 1960s and 70s, with influences encompassing Congolese rumba guitar styles, full horn sections, and beautiful vocal harmonies.”
When the digitization project is eventually complete, Corey plans to make the music “as widely accessible as possible to Tanzanians, particularly music students, through music schools and arts programs. We also hope to release the material internationally, through a record label. Any proceeds from these potential releases would then go to musicians who have never received royalties from their work, and to the musicians’ health insurance scheme, jointly administered by the National Social Security Fund and the Tanzania Musicians’ Network.”
THP’s studio is located in the same compound as the Music Mayday music school, which as she explains, also organizes listening and discussion sessions, seminars and workshops with elder musicians, and studio recording projects. “In this way, the digitization is just a piece of a larger cultural revitalization effort that THP is undertaking.”
Tanzanian Heritage Project
Friday, May 29, 2015
Japanski Recording Studio Scores Neve Console From Capitol Studios
GC Pro’s used gear sales division helps a facility in Athens, Georgia purchase the 24-fader Neve Genesys console from Studio E.
Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro) recently helped a studio source the centerpiece for the facility – a legacy 24-fader Neve Genesys console that previously resided at Studio E at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles.
When Matt Tamisin and his brother Abraham saw the opportunity to acquire a console that had been part of one of the historic studio, they knew they had to have it for their Japanski Recording Studio in Athens, Georgia.
“I knew that if I didn’t get this one, I’d never get a Neve,” says Matt Tamisin, referring to the 24-fader Neve Genesys console. “It was a bit scary,” he continues, talking about what it’s like to buy the most central piece of equipment a studio can have long distance, by phone and Internet. “But I took the plunge because I’ve been buying from GC Pro for years and every experience has been a good one, including this.”
Tamisin cites GC Pro’s 30-day unconditional return policy, pricing, access to classic equipment and customer support for why he didn’t have to think twice about this critical purchase. “I knew GC Pro would have me covered,” he says.
The Neve Genesys had been acquired by GC Pro’s Hollywood office, a result of its relationships with the pro audio community in the Southern California region, including with Capitol Studios. “They were doing some ‘house cleaning,’ upgrading some of their rooms, which is something that we helped them with,” explains Brian Overton, GC Pro account manager. “We purchased several really nice pieces of equipment from them, including a pair of TL Audio mic pre’s. Once we had the console tested, checked out and up on our dedicated pre-owned equipment website, Matt saw it and knew that’s what he wanted. We were able to get it to him cost-effectively, and we’ll be there to back him up when he needs us.”
“The Used Gear website is great because it lets smaller studios access equipment that puts them into a higher tier at prices they can afford,” says Overton. “Our used inventory is constantly being refreshed, and we’re always picky about what we decide to acquire, so buyers have lots of choices but also know that they’re getting the best stuff.”
Tamisin agrees — in fact, he’s chronicled the arrival and commissioning process of the new deck on a detailed blog. “GC Pro has taken good care of me,” he says. “And I love having a piece of history in my studio, and GC Pro made it happen. It may have been in Studio E at Capitol, but it’s our Studio A console now.”
Guitar Center Professional
Japanski Recording Studio
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Flying Lotus Steps Up To SSL XL-Desk Analog Studio Console
Ellison selected the analog XL-Desk for its capabilities, which simply didn’t exist in his previous laptop or in-the-box recording style.
Steven Ellison, a.k.a. the musician, producer, and rapper Flying Lotus, has installed a Solid State Logic XL-Desk, in his personal studio.
Ellison, a great-nephew of the jazz and avant-garde musician Alice Coltrane, has long pushed musical boundaries and defied categorization. His fifth and most recent release, You’re Dead!, includes contributions by Herbie Hancock, Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg. It was named one of Rolling Stone’s top albums of 2014.
Ellison selected the analog XL-Desk for its capabilities, which simply didn’t exist in his previous laptop or in-the-box recording style.
“Before I got the XL-Desk, my biggest issue was always how to make my music more dynamic, with even more space in the sound and defined bass—how to widen the 3D field,” he confides. “That’s something I’ve been battling. I’ve wanted the analogue warmth for so long, and I’ve always wanted the analog depth. I wanted to see how far I could take it. When I hear my music through the XL-Desk, it has a natural sound to it, it sounds real. Once you actually hear your music through the console, you get addicted to it. There’s so much more room now. It makes me feel the openness.”
Contemporaries like the hip-hop producer Daddy Kev, who himself owns an XL-Desk, and producer Dr. Dre nurtured Ellison’s love of SSL’s signature sound. When he decided to add a console to his studio, Ellison knew it had to be an SSL.
“As a producer, Dre was the guy I looked to. He was like my hero growing up,” he says. “It’s funny—I had dinner with him once, and I asked him, ‘Do you still use a mixing desk?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, always.’ I told him I had never used one, he looked at me like I was crazy: ‘Never?’ That was a turning point—ever since then, I’ve become really fascinated with them. It’s how I take my sound to the next level.”
Ellison has equipped the 18-slot 500 format rack, a standard feature of the XL-Desk, with SSL’s E-Series console channel EQs and the Stereo Bus Compressor.
“It’s just blown me away,” he continues. “I can do some really cool stuff that I never did before. I can run these analogue 500-format modules and I’ve been able to get really creative with patching in a way that I never thought I would. I’m able to route things in a really interesting way.”
Working with the XL-Desk, Ellison says, has been revelatory. “The sound is different, man,” he adds. “There’s a lot more space and you get a lot more headroom as well. Using it has also been helpful in ways that I didn’t expect. Having balanced subwoofer control is really good and the iJack has been great, too. It is a lot of little things like those that have been awesome about the desk.”
And when it comes to mixing, Ellison says, “Things happen a lot faster when everything is in the desk. I would toil on the computer forever, but when it’s actually on faders, everything just makes sense a lot quicker. And there’s a more hands-on feel to it—it’s a beautiful thing.”
Solid State Logic
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Automated API Legacy Plus Saves Mixes And Montreal Studio
Owners believe that the tendency for artists to work at home or “in the box” on digital gear is drawing them away from studios that can’t compete.
When Montréal’s Studio 270 brought home a 48-channel automated API Legacy Plus console, co-owners Francois Hamel and Robert Langois agree it was much more than a smart business move.
“I think the API Legacy saved us,” Hamel says. The studio has been in business since 1987, but before they added the Legacy to 270’s collection of outboard gear and microphones, the owners began to notice a slow decline in business. Hamel believes that the tendency for artists to work at home or “in the box” on digital gear is drawing them away from studios that can’t compete. But he also believes the Legacy Plus is what sets Studio 270 apart, and notes that once the Legacy was installed, “Business picked back up and has been sustained.”
Hamel has noticed that the Legacy doesn’t just draw artists into his studio, but it keeps them there as well. “A new client books a few days to track with the intention of taking the tracks home to mix. But we get a rough mix up on the Legacy, and the automation allows us to save that mix.” Once the clients see how fast and efficient the process is – one that may take “twenty hours of clicking the mouse and tapping the keyboard” on a digital mixer, they “almost invariably” decide to keep working on the Legacy. “API delivers the sound they’re desperately – and unsuccessfully – trying to simulate at home.”
Studio 270’s newest efforts include a record label for modern jazz artists, which, together with folk musicians, represent most of the studio’s clientele. The label is called “The 270 Sessions,” and artists work at a rapid-fire pace when producing for it. The artist spends three days tracking, one day editing, and three more days mixing on the Legacy Plus. Hamel says the musicians “go back to the basics. There’s minimal opportunity for studio tricks. It has to be real musicians playing real songs really well. The API Legacy is perfect for it. The sound and the quickness of the workflow are inspiring. The result is more genuine and heartfelt than the same process spread over many months of clicking and dragging.”
Friday, May 22, 2015
Dutch Recording Artist Ilse Delange Gravitates To API’s 1608
After experiencing the 1608 in Nashville's Blackbird Studios, the analog console becomes the center of her producer's studio in Holland.
Dutch recording artist and member of the band “The Common Linnets” Ilse Delange, and her producer JB Meijers, spoke with API recently about their console and the effect it’s had on their work.
Meijers commented: “The 1608 is ruling the Dutch charts. Our room is designed so that if we have a great idea, we can immediately track it. The API makes it possible to skip the laptop/bedroom phase.”
Delange first saw a 1608 in Nashville’s Blackbird Studio, and sold Meijers on it when they decided to start their own studio at the Wisseloord complex in Holland. “All credit to Ilse. I love the API—once she mentioned the 1608 I no longer looked at second-hand consoles.”
Delange has had some digital mixers in the past, but says that choosing API for her newest console was easy. “We fell in love with the API sound because of the records we like and the places we worked, so we gravitated naturally, and we do not regret it because we are now able to recreate those beloved sounds, and find new and inspiring ones.”
The result of that inspiration is that she works on the 1608 so often, “we just write and record, write and record, repeat and repeat. We’re stockpiling songs and we probably already gave birth to a second Common Linnets album.”
The 1608 has brought plenty of success to Delange and Meijers since it was installed in February 2014. Meijers says it has been featured on five #1 albums in Europe, and notes that in addition to The Common Linnets, and Ilse’s solo tracks, “our room has worked with Dutch artists like BlØf, De Deijk, Van Velzen, Paul de Leeuw, Go Back to the Zoo, and Carice van Houten”.
“It really is the control surface of our studio.” he notes. “The EQs are phenomenal. Like nothing else. They add so much taste.”
Posted by House Editor on 05/22 at 08:29 AM
Monday, May 18, 2015
SAE Melbourne Redevelopment Includes Two Audient ASP4816s
SAE Melbourne purchases new Audient analog consoles as part of an expansion at the Antipodean education facility.
Two new Audient ASP4816s have been purchased by SAE Melbourne as part of an expansion at the Antipodean education facility. “It’s all coming together – we have finally finished the installation.” says studio technician Brad Toan, relieved to be coming to the end of the current phase of the redevelopment, and describing the arrival of the compact Audient desks as “…a new, more reliable solution for teaching our Trimester 1 students.
“The Audient desks give commencing students an introduction to signal flow, basic patching, microphone techniques and a good insight into mixing - pan and level.” The new desks are installed in identical studios, each exactly mirroring each other, creating a consistency between the two. “Of course these smaller consoles are a great stepping stone to the ASP8024 as well,” continues Toan, referring to the large format, 48-channel Audient desk with Dual Layer Control previously purchased by SAE Melbourne.
The ASP4816s have all the features of the flagship Audient desk - including the Dearden-designed mic pres - but in a compact and ergonomic form. “The inline design is perfect for teaching signal flow, it gives the tutors the ability to really show the students how the signal is passing through the console,” adds Toan.
He explains more about the enhancement of SAE Melbourne: “We have expanded into the building next door and have fitted it out with a huge new staff area, five new classrooms, a 3067 sq feet/285 sqm sound stage, four new film editing and grading suites and a new studio control room, home to our new 32 channel Avid S6 M40.
“It is all coming together and I couldn’t be happier, or more proud of my team and what we have been able to achieve,” adds Toan.
Posted by House Editor on 05/18 at 10:34 AM
Friday, May 15, 2015
API Vision Attracts Business To 25th Street Recording
Analog 64 channel API Vision console still impressing clients and engineers after six successful years.
Oakland, California’s 25th Street Recording opened their doors with an all-discrete, fully-analog, 64-channel API Vision Console six years ago. Today, the console is still keeping 25th Street booked and busy. Among those who have called the studio home are all-star producer Joe Chiccarelli, when he is in town, ‘80s icon Sheila E., Norteño mega-band Los Tigres Del Norte, and guitar hero Joe Satriani. Twenty-fifth Street draws in high-profile clients with the help of the well-earned reputation and versatile capabilities of the API Vision.
Studio manager John Schimpf says there’s one thing his diverse clients all have in common: “Everyone who comes through here loves the API Vision. In this business, people don’t hesitate to complain, but I never get complaints about the Vision.” Schimpf and studio owner Dave Lichtenstein were drawn to the console in part because of API’s sonic heritage – which appeals to artists and engineers in equal measure.
John Cuniberti, Satriani’s long-time engineer says he has nostalgia for the API sound: “I grew up on vintage API consoles. The Vision is a zero-compromise, full-blooded embodiment of the classic API sound,” a sound which he believes “strikes the perfect balance between ‘organic personality’ and ‘high-fidelity’.” During his time at 25th Street, Cuniberti explains that the Vision was a “critical component” of the overdub process. “The Vision was the tool that effectively told us whether we were done with a song or not.”
Part of Schimpf’s confidence is due to the Vision’s flexibility. Schimpf asserts that the console, “really shines when we have big input sessions,” and believes that flexibility is welcoming to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of their experience level. “Engineers are free to create a custom signal flow, but the default configuration is straightforward and intuitive.” That was put to the test with Los Tigres’ latest recording Realidades.
The band’s Grammy-winning engineer Alfonso Rodenas says “When we recorded at 25th Street Recording, I used its patch bay to move EQs and preamps all over the place. It integrated beautifully with 25th Street’s outboard gear and allowed me to easily print the effects I wanted to print – and to hear, but not print – the effects that I didn’t want to commit to. It helped to create the beautiful sound of Realidades.” Rodenas continues, “I love the easy workflow of the Vision. It contributed to the inspired atmosphere in which the band performed at its best.”
Schimpf is looking forward to many more years with the Vision. “The audio quality is excellent,” he added. “It’s an amazing piece of sonic equipment. In all, the API Vision is an inspiring instrument that fosters creativity and delivers solid-sounding recordings.”
Posted by House Editor on 05/15 at 09:30 AM
Friday, May 08, 2015
In The Studio: The Evolution Of Recording
Once upon a time, there was no recorded music.
To hear music you needed to go to a live performance. Eventually sheet music was printed and available to buy. If you liked the song, you bought the sheet music … if you were lucky enough to have an instrument and could play you could actually hear the song.
The piano (or other musical instrument) was an important part of home entertainment.
In the late 1800s, Thomas Edison developed the idea of moving a piece of tin foil under a needle that was attached to something like a stretched out balloon. When he spoke into the piece of balloon, the attached needle vibrated and those vibrations were stored in the sheet of tin that he moved under the needle. He invented the Phonograph and in 1887 formed the first record label, selling records that were cylinders with sound scratched along the outside, played on a hand-cranked device.
Emile Berliner (who had a hand in the invention of the microphone) patented a flat disk system that was better than the tube, called the Gramophone. His system eventually incorporated a spinning flat disk with sound scratched in a spiral played back on systems with needles connected to stretched-balloon type membranes that were themselves connected to large open flaring horns (like a tuba) to help the sound waves radiate out in a single direction with extra resonance from the horn itself. The system was crank-wound, and elaborate springs and gears would then spin the disc at a constant speed.
Eventually, sound was being captured by microphones and stored magnetically on steel wire magnetic recorders, which used spools of wire that would follow a path from a “supply” spool to a “take up” spool, passing a record head that stored the magnetic sounds onto the wire and a play head that could read the magnetic signals back from the wire. This was accomplished using electro-magnetic transducers rather than early technologies that utilized physical transfer of sound energy.
Steel wire recorders were developed using technology that was first proposed in the late 1870s, and were used at times to send secret messages (for example, in a shipment of piano wire).
In the 1950s, oxide-based magnetic tape replace steel wire as the material to store magnetic signals onto. Tape used magnetically sensitive particles glued to a wide piece of plastic, which allowed for more focused and controllable recording and eventually the ability to record multiple bands (tracks) rather than a single sound.
Magnetic tape recorders utilized many of the same features as steel wire recorders, including supply reel, take-up reel, record head, playback head, and tape path.
Magnetic tape can be saturated, which means that if the tape is overloaded it will compress the sound. Magnetic tape has a “hiss” on playback. Different methods used to reduce the noise include dbx and Dolby, which crank up the hiss while recording and then drop it back down when playing back (reducing the tape hiss along with the “cranked” hiss). “Single-ended noise reduction” devices do not change the recorded sound, but rather will gate the high frequencies on playback.
Les Paul (yes, the Les Paul) created a magnetic tape recorder with a sync head (a record head with limited playback abilities). This was the invention of sound on sound recording. Previously, if you were listening back to something that was playing back and recorded something new, the new would not be at the same physical point along the tape because the playback head and the record head were in two different physical locations. The sync head meant that you could listen back to sound and record new sounds at exactly the same point along the tape.
Suddenly, we have multi-track recording, allowing people to record up to eight different tracks individually and listen to the tracks on newly developed equipment called mixers that controlled the volume of the tracks both going into and out of the machine, and also mixed those sounds together at those controlled volumes.
Suddenly, you could re-perform one part on one instrument rather than be forced to re-perform the entire song with all the musicians. You could even erase and replace small parts of individual tracks rather than have to re-do everything, as long as the sounds were separated enough when you recorded them that each track contained only the sound of one instrument. Replacing small parts involved going into and out of record at specific times, which was called punching in and punching out.
Isolating the instruments, even if it was just using a separate microphone for everyone rather than a single common microphone, had other benefits. By raising or lowering the volume of the microphones it was possible to either enhance or in some cases create dynamic interaction between the instruments.
Tom Dowd used this possibility to further the expressive nature of the music he was recording and mixing, and was the first modern recording engineer.
Engineers used to be only technicians who told musicians and producers what they could not do in order to make sure that records had usable grooves that would allow a needle to properly play without skipping or jumping. There were no moving mics, no riding levels while recording, nothing but documenting whatever happened to happen in the room with the microphones in it.
When a producer was forced to use Tom Dowd because his usual engineer was booked, he was able to make more expressive music as a result of having an engineer that would manipulate the equipment as required by the music, rather than change the music to fit the equipment limitations. This was the beginning of Tom using technology to enhance the creativity of the music he was working on.
He isolated instruments for better control later. He pioneered the fader console, with devices to control sound such as EQs to change tone or limiters to control volume built into the console channels. He was a musician as well as a tech, so everything he did served the music. He was also a nuclear physicist involved in the development of the atomic bomb when he was young (in fact since the work he did was top secret and could not be discussed in schools or industry he did not pursue a physics career after the army as planned but went back into music).
Tom built relationships with the people he worked with, overcoming the typical expectation that an engineer was just a technician without creativity. He was able to do this in different musical styles, and he became instrumental in very important music with pivotal artists throughout the years.
Tom Dowd brought out the best out of the people, the songs, and the sounds.
Overdubbing means adding new parts to pre-recorded ones. This meant that it was no longer necessary for all musicians to play at the same time. A band could record one day and the singer could record the next day. Since the singer was now on a separate track, the singer could continue to re-perform the song and re-record the track until they were satisfied with their performance.
Now that recordings were an artificial combination of sounds rather than capturing a natural music occurrence, you had to mix the sounds together to simulate either a natural sound environment or even to create a new sound environment. Normal dynamics that would take place between people performing music together had to be simulated, because now the people were performing at different times, or even in different locations.
Once music was stored on tape, people started to edit, which means to cut it up and move whole sections or individual parts around. Mono tapes were edited long before multi-tracks, but with multi-track recording it became possible for new tracks to be either newly recorded or flown (played from another tape machine) from other performances.
Things moved on fairly the same for a while, recording and overdubbing microphones and sound generating instruments onto individual tracks of magnetic tape recorders and then mixing those tracks through the separate channels of a mixing board into a cohesive combined sound.
Then came digital.
Digital tape recorders (DTRs) first looked and operated like analog magnetic tape recorders, with a supply reel, tape path, take-up reel, etc. Since DTRs recorded digital information onto the tape rather than actual magnetic signals it was only a matter of time before computer technology allowed you to record without the tape, directly to a computer hard drive.
Pro Tools was the first vitual digital tape recorder (meaning it was tapeless) that existed completely within a computer. Early Pro Tools was very limited in quality and capabilities, but with the introduction of non-destructive editing, music production was changed forever.
Now music could be edited with a click of a mouse instead of a flick of a razor blade. And you now have undo. That’s right, undo in an industry that had always involved permanent decisions with physical tape and razors rather than backed up computer files.
Once digital audio was in a computer rather than a tape machine, it was easy to start to manipulate it. Moving, quantizing, replacing and harmonizing sounds became as easy as clicking on a button. Auto-Tune (a program that fixes out-of-tune vocals) is responsible for many of the “in tune” vocals heard today. Before harmonizers and Auto-Tune, you actually had to be able to sing in order to be a singer. Now you only need to look and dance well and the music part can be fixed automatically. Click.
Original Pro Tools systems cost tens of thousands of dollars. These days you can get much more powerful systems that actually work well in home computers for hundreds.
Now everyone with a home computer is an artist/musician/producer/engineer. The age of the “prosumer” is here.
Bruce A. Miller is an acclaimed recording engineer who operates an independent recording studio and the BAM Audio School website.
Tuesday, May 05, 2015
BAE Audio Announces Latest Member Of 500 Series Family
The BAE 1073 sound is now available in a diminutive package
Building on its tradition of creating vintage preamplifiers faithful to the original design specifications, BAE Audio announces the newest family member among its 1073 series: the 1073MPL.
The 1073MPL is the result of more than two years of research and development, making the sound of the 1073 available in a small package. The new 1073MPL delivers the same class A sound that BAE preamplifiers are known for, all in a compact and cost effective 500 series package.
For equipment manufacturers, designing and building 500 series modules is often ripe with challenges, given the significantly reduced physical space. As a result, compromises are often made with componentry, wiring and circuitry. This is not the case with the 1073MPL, which is hand-wired and assembled in California using the same Carnhill/St Ives transformers that BAE is known for. This module lives up to the reputation of its larger, rackmounted brethren and delivers authenticity down to the last detail, from its original Marconi knobs to its sonic signature across the frequency range.
“Despite its small footprint, this unit is packed with features and delivers an immediately recognizable sound,” commented Mark Loughman, BAE Audio president. “It is also very versatile — its impedance switching capability and high impedance DI make it useful for use with a range of different microphones, as well as guitars, synths and other instruments.”
BAE Audio has been building the 1073 for 15 years. While the company continues to innovate with products like the 1073MPL, it takes a ‘no-compromise’ approach to build and manufacturing, with each of its products meeting the company’s exacting standards of quality and authenticity.
Similar to the rest of the BAE 1073 line, the 1073MPL contains a trinity of core elements helping it produce the ‘vintage’ sound that is associated with classic recordings of the 1960s and 70s. These include the aforementioned Carnhill transformers — imported from England and hand assembled at the company’s plant in North Hollywood. Loughman says that the company strives to educate consumers at every juncture on the importance of insisting on these components, “otherwise, corners have been cut,” he says.
Frequency Response: 10Hz to -3dB at 55kHz
Line Input Impedance: 10k ohms
Output Impedance: 65 ohms
Common Mode Rejection Ratio: 100dB min @ 60Hz
Maximum Output Level: +27.4 dBu @ 600Ω
Gain dB: 0 to 71 dB
The 1073MPL is available now through BAE Audio’s network of authorized dealers, and carries a retail price of $899.
Posted by House Editor on 05/05 at 10:09 AM
Friday, May 01, 2015
In The Studio: Preventing Hum And RFI
A handy guide to greatly reduce the likelihood of hum and radio frequency interference (RFI) in your studio system
You patch in a piece of audio equipment, and there it is: HUM!
This annoying sound is a common occurrence in sound systems. Hum is an unwanted 60 Hz tone—50 Hz in Europe—maybe with harmonics. If the harmonics are especially strong, the hum becomes an edgy buzz.
Your sound system also might be plagued by RFI (Radio Frequency Interference). It’s heard as buzzing, clicks, radio programs, or “hash” in the audio signal.
RFI is caused by CB transmitters, computers, lightning, radar, radio and TV transmitters, industrial machines, cell phones, auto ignitions, stage lighting, and other sources. This article looks at some causes and cures of hum and RFI. Following these suggestions goes a long way in keeping your audio clean.
Hum And Cables
One cause of hum is audio cables picking up magnetic and electrostatic hum fields radiated by power wiring in the walls of a room. Magnetic hum fields can couple by magnetic induction to audio cables, and electrostatic hum fields can couple capacitively to audio cables. Magnetic hum fields are directional and electrostatic hum fields are not.
Most audio cables are made of one or two insulated conductors (wires) surrounded by a fine-wire mesh shield that reduces electrostatically induced hum. The shield drains induced hum signals to ground when the cable is plugged in. Outside the shield is a plastic or rubber insulating jacket.
Cables are either balanced or unbalanced. A balanced line is a cable that uses two conductors to carry the signal, surrounded by a shield (Figure 1). On each end of the cable is an XLR (3-pin pro audio) connector or TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) phone plug.
Figure 1. A 2-conductor shielded, balanced line.
Each conductor has equal impedance to ground, and they are twisted together so they occupy about the same position in space on the average.
Hum fields from power wiring radiate into each conductor equally, generating equal hum signals on the two conductors (more so if they are a twisted pair). Those two hum signals cancel out at the input of your mixer, because it senses the difference in voltage between those two conductors—which is zero volts if the two hum signals are equal. That’s why balanced cables tend to pick up little or no hum.
An unbalanced line has a single conductor surrounded by a shield (Figure 2). At each end of the cable is a phone plug or RCA (phono) plug. The central conductor and the shield both carry the signal.
They are at different impedances to ground, so they pick up different amounts of hum from nearby power wiring. There’s a relatively big hum signal between hot and ground that results in more hum than you get with a balanced line of the same length.
Figure 2. A 1-conductor shielded, unbalanced line.
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid long unbalanced cables, and some cables used between pieces of equipment are unbalanced. An unbalanced line less than 10 feet long usually does not pick up enough hum to be a problem.
Wherever you can, use balanced cables going into balanced equipment. Keep unbalanced cables as short as possible (but long enough so that you can service them). Check inside cable connectors to make sure that the shield and conductors are soldered to the connector terminals. Route mic cables and patch cords away from power cords; separate them vertically where they cross. This prevents the power cords from inducing hum into the mic cables.
Also keep audio equipment and cables away from computer monitors, power amplifiers, lighting dimmers and power transformers.
Another major cause of hum is a ground loop: a circuit made of ground wires.
It can occur when two pieces of equipment are connected to the building’s safety ground through their power cords, and also are connected to each other through a cable shield (Figure 3).
The ground voltage may be slightly different at each piece of equipment, so a 50- or 60-Hz hum signal flows between the components along the cable shield. It becomes audible as hum.
Also, the cable shield/safety ground loops acts like a big antenna, picking up radiated hum fields from power wiring. For example, suppose your mixer’s power cord is plugged into a nearby AC outlet.
The musicians amps are plugged into outlets on stage. So the mixer and amps are probably fed by two different circuit breakers at two different ground voltages.
When you connect an audio cable between the mixer and power amps, you create a ground loop and hear hum. To prevent ground loops, plug all audio equipment into outlet strips powered by the same breaker. (Make sure the breaker can handle the current requirements).
Figure 3. A ground loop.
Run a thick AC extension cord from the stage outlets to the mixer, and plug the mixer’s power cord into that extension cord. That way, the separated equipment chassis will tend to be at the same ground voltage—there will be very little voltage difference between chassis to generate a hum signal in the shield.
Caution: Some people try to prevent ground loops by putting a 3-to-2 safety ground lifter on the AC power cords. Never Do That. It creates a serious safety hazard.
If the chassis of a component becomes accidentally shorted to a hot conductor in its power cord, and someone touches that chassis, the AC current will flow through that person rather than to the safety ground. Lift the shield in the receiving end of the signal cable instead, and plug all equipment into 3-pin grounded AC outlets.
Figure 4. Lifting the shield from the pin-1 ground in a male XLR connector.
Let’s explain the signal ground lift in more detail. The hum current in a ground loop flows in the audio cable shield, and can induce a hum signal in the signal conductors.
You can cut the audio cable shield at one end to stop the flow of hum current. The shield is still grounded at the other end of the cable, and the signal still flows through the two audio leads inside the cable.
So, to break up a ground loop, disconnect the cable shield from pin 1 in line-level balanced cables at the male XLR end (Figure 4). You can either cut the shield, or plug in an inline audio cable ground-lift adapter.
Removing the shield connection at one end of the audio cable makes the connection sensitive to radio-frequency interference (RFI). So solder a 100 pF capacitor between the shield and XLR pin 1 (Figure 5). This effectively shorts RFI to ground, but is an open circuit for hum frequencies.
Figure 5. Supplementing the lifted shield with a capacitor prevents RFI.
Some engineers create a partial ground lift by placing a 100 ohm resistor between the cable shield and male XLR pin 1 (Figure 6. next page). This limits the current passing through the cable shield but still provides a good ground connection.
Label the XLR connector “GND LIFT” so you don’t use the cable where it’s not needed. For example, mic cables must have the shield tied to pin 1 on both ends of the cable. The ground lift is only for line-level cables.
Here’s another way to prevent a ground loop when connecting two balanced or unbalanced devices. Connect between them a 1:1 isolation transformer or hum eliminator.
Even if your system is wired properly, hum or RFI may appear when you make a connection. Follow these tips to stop the problem:
Unplug all equipment from each other. Start by listening just to the output of your studio monitors PA speakers. Connect a component to the system one at a time, and see when the hum starts.
Remove audio cables from your devices and listen to each device by itself. It may be defective.
Partly turn down the volume on the amps, and feed it a higher-level signal from your mixer (0 VU maximum).
Do not wire XLR pin 1 to the connector-shell lug because the shell can cause a ground loop if it touches grounded metal. If you are sure that the shell won’t touch metal, wire XLR pin 1 to the shell lug to prevent RFI.
Try another mic. Some dynamic mics have hum-bucking windings.
If you hear hum or buzz from an electric guitar, have the player move to a different location or aim in a different direction. Magnetic hum fields are directional, and moving or rotating the guitar pickup can reduce the coupling to those fields.
If the hum is coming from a direct box, flip its ground-lift switch.
Figure 6. A ground lift using a 100 ohm resistor and a 100 pF capacitor.
Turn down the high-frequency EQ on a buzzing bass guitar signal.
If you think that a specific cable is picking up RFI, wrap the cable several times around an RFI choke (available at Radio Shack or other electronics supply houses). Put the choke near the device that is receiving audio.
Install high-quality RFI filters in the AC power outlets. The cheap types available from local electronics shops are generally ineffective.
Connect cable shields directly to the equipment chassis instead of to XLR pin 1, or in addition to pin 1. Some equipment is designed this way to prevent the “pin 1 problem”. The cable shield should be grounded directly to the chassis - - not connected instead to a ground terminal on a circuit board inside the chassis.
Periodically clean connector contacts with Caig Labs DeoxIT, or at least unplug and plug them in several times.
By following all these tips, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of hum and RFI in your audio system. Good luck!
AES and SynAudCon member Bruce Bartlett is a recording engineer, microphone engineer and audio journalist. His latest books are Practical Recording Techniques (5th Ed.) and Recording Music On Location.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Bikini Atoll “Inspired” By New API 1608 Console
Brentwood, Tennessee studio already making plans to expand console modules and automation
Grant Goddard is not new to the music industry, but his studio “Bikini Atoll Sound” recently got its first bit of API gear. In addition to owning Bikini Atoll, Goddard is also a professional sound designer. He saw a 1608 installed in his studio this spring, and he’s already looking forward to expanding it.
“The 1608 allows for better recordings, warmer sound, bigger, fuller mixes, and smoother work flow. I’m planning on more modules, another 16-channel chassis, and plan to add automation in the near future.” The 1608 was an easy choice for Goddard to make, but he did have some help from API dealer Robb Zenn at Alto Music in New York.
Goddard explains, “The 16-channel 1608 was the best choice for me as my goal was to start with a very high-quality professional console that offers the ability to expand as my studio, workload and budget increase. I was impressed with the API reputation for longevity and service, and needed a centerpiece for my studio that wouldn’t be outgrown any time soon.”
Goddard’s studio is located in Brentwood, Tennessee, so the 1608 has gotten to cut its teeth on “a handful of promising up-and-coming local Nashville bands such as Sky Temple Blues, Chris Firebaugh y Los Diablos en Fuegos, and Dane & the Aquatic.” While Goddard describes himself as a “lover of all types of music”, he says that the studio tends to record rock and blues the most. In the past, Goddard has worked with major artists across all genres, including Mos Def, Fergie, Slash, Smashing Pumpkins, and Kid Cudi, although he is “confident the 1608 would be instrumental in helping to elevate the overall quality of the productions at Bikini Atoll,” no matter who they have in the studio. The 1608 has its “obvious” advantages, according to Goddard, who defines those as “ease-of-use, reliability, clarity, and headroom, headroom, headroom.” Another hidden advantage he has noticed since the 1608 was installed is that “the console has brought a new energy, which has greatly inspired and enhanced our creativity at the studio.”
Posted by House Editor on 04/30 at 10:11 AM
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
New Compact Powered And Ultra-Compact Mixers From Studiomaster At Prolight + Sound
The portable mixer series is aimed at gigging musicians, sub-mixing, small venue install and corporate and other applications
Studiomaster presented its new VISION series compact analogue mixers – in both powered and passive variants – for the first time in Europe at Prolight + Sound.
Vision is positioned immediately beneath the top of the range Horizon series, offering its larger sibling’s design and construction, operational and audio performance, in an even more compact, price competitive form.
VISION is available in unpowered (VISION 8) and 2x500W powered (VISION 1008) and 2x1000W (VISION 2008) variants, featuring lightweight Class-D amplification. All models feature 8 channels – 6 mic and 2 stereo – the same twin DSP effects as on the Horizon, and 9-band graphic EQ.
Introducing VISION, Studiomaster and Carlsbro assistant general manager / marketing manager, Patrick Almond said: “Like the Horizon series, VISION immediately distinguishes itself from the mass of small-form plastic mixers flooding the market, with superior build quality, design and performance. It comes in at a very attractive price point, well below Horizon but offering the same seriously pro quality, rich analogue sound and robust construction that will provide years of serious touring service.”
Also making its European debut ClubXS, is a price / spec competitive portable mixer series, aimed at gigging musicians, sub-mixing, small venue install, corporate and other enterprise applications is also debuted.
Two models, the XS8 and XS10, feature onboard FX, integrated USB / SD card stereo media player, USB / SD card recording from main mix, Bluetooth connection for playback from mobile or media devices, 60 mm faders, balanced XLR outputs, control room output, two sends and a stereo return. All mic input channels have 3-band EQ, hi-pass filter and built in compressor. Line input channels feature 2-band EQ; all channels feature channel mute and two Aux controls.
The XS8 has four mic and two stereo inputs, and the XS10, six mic and two stereo inputs. An internal switched-mode power supply and phantom power on all mic inputs are also featured.
Posted by House Editor on 04/21 at 07:32 AM