Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Renkus-Heinz IC Live System Selected For University of Wisconsin’s Young Auditorium
The system includes two ICL-R triple stacks and an additional dual ICL-R system, as well as four PN212 subwoofers which provide low frequency coverage.
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Irvin L. Young Auditorium recently received an audio makeover that included the very first installation of an IC Live system utilizing the new ICL-R three-tall “triple” arrays.
As Scott Leonard of Wauwatosa, WI-based Professional Audio Designs explains, audio for the 1300-seat hall offered some unique design challenges.
“The balcony is steeply raked, giving it quite a bit of height to the seats at the rear wall,” he says.
“We needed to design a system with a balcony delay but also provide a reference to the stage for localization.”
Having previously worked with the IC Live system at Iowa’s Luther College Center for Faith and Life, Leonard knew what the system was capable of in terms of fidelity, power and control.
It didn’t take much to convince David Nees, the Young Auditorium’s Technical Director. “I brought David to the NAMM Show in Anaheim,” he says.
“Renkus-Heinz had an IC Live system installed on a live performance stage in the Convention Center lobby, and at an outdoor stage. David was able to listen to a variety of different bands performing through the systems in diametrically different acoustic environments.”
“He was really impressed with the amount of sound coming from such a small system. We even were able to ride up an escalator outside and listen to the smooth vertical coverage control.”
To address the Young Auditorium’s coverage requirements, Leonard contacted Ralph Heinz, Renkus-Heinz Senior Vice President.
“I called Ralph and asked him if there was a way to configure the IC Live with a third ICL-R array for both increased output and low frequency control,” he explains, “this would also increase artist acceptance and reduce the amount of rental systems needed.”
The full system includes two ICL-R triple stacks mounted left and right of the proscenium, along with an additional dual ICL-R system mounted behind a lighting catwalk for over-balcony delay. Four PN212 subwoofers provide low frequency coverage.
“I decided to leave the high frequency section in the top box and flip it around so that the high frequency section would be its own controllable element at the top, and not part of the main steerable array. “
The IC Live’s compact size proved to be a major asset for the hall’s wide and varied program.
“The hall has quite a narrow proscenium opening and they had originally been considering a traditional line array,” says Leonard, “but that would mean that any time a major touring act came through with their own system, they’d have to take down the existing arrays first.”
“With the IC Live, they can leave the system in place. It saves a lot of time and labor, not to mention wear and tear on the system. Another advantage is that it gives them a wider stage to work with and improves sightlines for the audience”
Leonard was also particularly pleased with the opportunity to present Renkus-Heinz with an untried challenge, and the responsiveness of the company’s engineers.
“I love the fact that Renkus-Heinz, as an American company, is so accessible,” he says. “I can call them and speak directly to Ralph with an idea for a product or an improvement, and they have the passion to try and make it work.”
“How many companies can you call and get through to one of the guys whose name is on the speakers? I like that kind of support.”
iLive Adopted By Multiple Russian Sound Engineers
The iLive has been adopted by multiple Russian engineers for their recent touring and broadcast projects.
The iLive from Allen & Heath was recently deployed for two large scale concerts organized by the Russian-Cuban cultural project, Havana Calling, founded by Russian singer and composer, Leonid Agutin, and Cuban flutist, Orlando “Maraca” Valle.
The first concert was held on Cathedral Square in Havana and the second at the prestigious Kremlin Concert Hall in Moscow.
Sound engineer, Robert Boim, utilized an iLive system at both events for FOH, monitors, and live recording of the full 62 channels via a MADI plug-in card.
Two iDR-32 MixRacks were positioned on stage - one for drums, percussion, bass and guitar inputs, and a second managing keys and vocals - digitally split for separate FOH and monitor mixing.
Boim used his tablet PC running iLive Editor control software to manage the Havana concert, and a combination of an iLive-T112 surface and Editor at the Moscow concert.
“iLive provides mobility and robust construction, an ‘analogue-like’ user friendly interface and sound of the highest quality,” said Boim. “The sound was perfect due to iLive’s high quality preamps and EQ.”
Boim also recently selected an iLive system, consisting an iDR-32 MixRack and iLive-T80 Control Surface, for the bands Guru Groove Foundation and KOOQLA, who appeared on TV Show, Parny Progon.
The weekly music show features key artists and bands, and is broadcast on Russia’s A-ONE TV channel. iLive managed live mixing and multi-track recording for both artists.
iLive has also been adopted by several other key Russian sound engineers who have selected the system for many of their recent touring projects.
Yury Astafiev, sound engineer for famous Russian pop singer, Dima Bilan, chose iLive for the artist’s recent national tour. Bilan was the winner of Eurovision 2008 and is multiple winner of MTV Russia’s ‘Best Singer’ award. The iLive system, comprising an iDR-32 MixRack and iLive-T80 Control Surface, managed both FOH and monitor mixing.
Additionally, sound engineer, Vladimir Gubatov, used an iLive system for a major concert of iconic artist, Inna Zhelannaya, held in the hall of The Central House of Artist museum in Moscow. Comprising an iDR-48 MixRack and iLive-T80 Surface, Gubatov managed FOH and monitor mixes from the system.
Allen & Heath Website
George Strait Tour Utilizes L-Acoustics KUDO & SB28
The system for Straight’s latest tour was provided by Onstage Systems.
Country Music Hall of Famer George Strait is back out on the road with Reba and Lee Ann Womack for their second sweep of the US this year.
Dallas-based Onstage Systems is again providing concert sound reinforcement.
For this leg of the tour, George Olson, Strait’s FOH engineer and lead system tech, chose to upgrade the in-the-round setup with the addition of 48 KUDO loudspeaker enclosures and 16 SB28 subs from L-Acoustics.
The KUDO are divided into two pairs of 12-box hangs that address the steeply raked seating sections to the near left and right of the stage – areas that proved a bit challenging for the out-fill arrays deployed on the previous trek.
“KUDO’s ability to be splayed up to 10 degrees has allowed us to cover the full range of side seats – from the front row to the top row – much more smoothly and easily,” says Olson.
“The adjustable directivity of the box has come in handy, too. Our square stage is oriented at 45 degrees like a diamond, so when George, Reba or Lee Ann are out on the point, the PA is actually behind them.”
“I’m using the K-Louvers on the very bottom boxes to bring the audio right up to the barricade, which has been a nice little trick.”
According to Olson, the KUDO are all housed in custom-built “chariots” that simplify their transport and setup.
In addition to riding four-high on a truck between venues, these carts – each containing four KUDO – are hooked together on stage in groups of three and very quickly flown.
The FOH engineer also swapped out Onstage’s legacy L-Acoustics subwoofers with 16 new SB28 subs, which are positioned four per corner in a stereo cardioid configuration.
“With this sub setup, I’ve totally nulled all of the low-end energy in the middle of the stage that used to give my background singers and other players fits throughout the years,” he says.
“The other cool thing about it is that it provides a nice little ‘bounce’ of solid low end there at the point, right behind the subwoofers, which reinforces what the artists are hearing in their in-ears.
“We’re definitely getting more output from the SB28s. Even though I lost some SPL by going with a stereo cardioid setup, the new sub has so much more output to begin with.”
“We find ourselves turning the sub aux send down a bit and still getting more low end than we’ve had before. The sound is much tighter and deeper. Bass guitars, kick drums and other low-frequency elements all sound so nice and full now.”
Onstage also added two more LA-RAK touring racks to the tour’s inventory, bringing the total up to 18. “The entire tour is now exclusively driven by LA8 amplified controllers, which I’m really enjoying,” Olson notes.
The tour will take a two-month hiatus during November and December, then head back out for at least three more months starting in January.
The engineer expects that the current equipment complement will remain unchanged for the duration of the tour.
“However,” he adds, “I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire rig got changed out to KUDO someday because they’re performing so well where we’re using them.”
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Blue Microphones Announce The Spark Recording Microphone
Spark is a condenser microphone with a Focus control for versatile sound capture capabilities.
Blue Microphones has announced Spark, a cardioid, solid-state condenser microphone, with high-quality, fully discrete components and an innovative Focus control offering two sonic signatures.
Along with its new design and ability to capture a wide range of recording situations, Spark also comes with a custom shockmount and pop filter in a professional wooden case.
“With Spark, we are excited to offer our proprietary capsule technology to a wider audience in an exceptionally versatile microphone,” said John Maier, CEO of Blue Microphones.
“Spark is a high-quality recording tool that comes with everything needed for a truly professional recording experience at an affordable price.”
“Even our new Focus control technology is designed to make it easy to record and get professional results right out of the box without requiring processing.”
Spark features Blue’s premium condenser capsule, delivering low noise, high efficiency, and rapid response in any recording situation. Out of the box, the sonic signature of Spark is crisp and powerful with an enhanced low end.
To achieve a more present sound, Blue introduces the Focus control, which when selected results in a tighter, more direct and focused sound. Spark utilizes custom-matched circuitry with the same professional-quality, Class-A discrete components found in Blue’s extensive line of professional microphones.
The circuit design also pairs Spark’s condenser capsule with a phantom-powered outboard amplifier to drive the capsule with linear control and accuracy.
To complete the experience, Spark comes inside a high-quality wooden box, with a custom shockmount and metal pop filter. This all-inclusive professional microphone package also provides a detailed recording guide showing complete setup and recording tips for a variety of instruments and vocal sounds. Spark comes with a three year manufacturer’s warranty.
Spark, MSRP $199, will be available in November at authorized Blue Microphones dealers.
Blue Microphone Website
Swank AV Provides Renaissance Hollywood With A NEXO & Yamaha System
The GEO S was chosen because it is a system tailored to medium-sized corporate events, the venue's most common client.
In-house AV company Swank Audio Visuals recently added a NEXO GEO S8 system and Yamaha M7CL-32 digital audio console to their production arsenal for the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel’s Grand Ballroom.
Located in the Hollywood and Highlands complex that also houses the Kodak Theatre, Hard Rock Cafe, (and soon-to-be opened Rolling Stones venue), the 25,000 square foot Grand Ballroom and sole hotel on the property seats 2,000 theatre-style.
Since 1937, Swank Audio Visuals has been providing event technology services within the hotel, resort, meeting and conference center industries.
The in-house team located at the Hollywood property, provides top-level production using the NEXO/Yamaha system for all events.
The Ballroom hosted the 2010 ASCAP Conference and performances by Flo-Rida, Patti Smith and her band, with panels featuring Quincy Jones, Ludacris, Justin Timberlake, Bill Withers and John Mayer.
The Grand Ballroom was also recently the site of the Cirque Du Soleil “Iris” preview which will open in the Kodak Theatre, and is the location for the 2011 Oscars press event.
The 16-box NEXO GEO S8 system is hung in the Ballroom on a case-by-case basis dependent upon the individual show’s design to be staged in the flexible function space.
“We chose the GEO S because we needed a system that was tailored to what we do the most, which is medium-sized corporate events,” states Ryan Gollner, Assistant Director of Audio Visual Services, Swank AV.
“Our Technical Director, Maurice Sams, showed us what the system could do when we first moved in here last year, and we’ve been hooked ever since.”
The rig consists of seven GEO S805’s and one GEO S830 with two C-12 subs per side, powered by four Yamaha PC9501N amps and two NX242 processors. “They sound great in the Grand Ballroom and provide excellent coverage. Our clients always comment on how clear the audio is.”
“We use the Yamaha M7CL-32 with Stage Manager as well as an iPad for our different, high-profile events, says Gollner. When Swank moved into the Renaissance Hollywood, we knew we were going to need something flexible enough to accommodate the various levels of business throughout the year.”
“The M7CL-32 is THAT board, hands down. Its ease of use and programmability enables us to respond rapidly to our clients’ needs, and its on-board DSP eliminates the need for a lot of excess gear, which simplifies our jobs and reduces the footprint area. It’s just a win-win, and we absolutely love it.”
One of Swank AV’s company trademarks is training. In their Los Angeles area properties, they have several technicians who are trained on the Yamaha M7CL console, and have gone on to teach up-and-coming audio enthusiasts within the company.
“The great thing about the M7CL, Gollner notes, is that its workflow is so streamlined, most technicians can pick it up and be effective in real-life situations within a day or even within a few hours!”
TC Electronic To Participate In Three Panels At The 129th AES Conference
Leading authorities Lund and Strassberg to offer expert advice on loudness and 5.1 audio.
Industry veterans from TC Electronic will be sharing with attendees at this year’s AES 2010 their vast knowledge of loudness and 5.1 audio during three separate panels.
Thomas Lund, HD Development Manager, will be offering his expert advice on loudness during two panel discussions at AES 2010.
The first of these will be “Loudness Metadata, Concerns for DTV,” taking place Friday, November 5 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. As part of this discussion, Lund will be offering his personal take on current and future audio standards and how these factor into conventional audio workflows.
A related seminar that Lund will be participating in is “Keep Turning it Down! Developing an Exit Strategy for the Loudness Wars,” also on Friday, November 5 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.
Here Lund will present his thoughts on the progress towards ending the loudness war and returning dynamic range to audio engineers. The workshop will focus on mastering techniques, gain normalization algorithms and standards to help attain loudness control. Attendees will also have the opportunity to have an open dialogue with Lund and the rest of the panel on this issue.
“With loudness being a hot topic for professionals in all areas of the audio and broadcast industry, I’m happy to be a part of these panels to help bring this issue to light and give those working in the trenches some practical solutions,” says Lund.
“The issue of loudness is something I’m dealing with in my professional life every day and is a topic I’m very passionate about.”
From his hands-on work in the area of audio, combined with his product and standards knowledge, Lund can tackle this issue from all angles. Lund received practical knowledge in the field of audio originally as a musician and recording engineer.
He has been with TC Electronic for more than 15 years and in his current position as HD Development Manager, Lund has been responsible for the development of audio equipment such as the TC System 6000 Audio Mastering System, DB8 Loudness Radar Meter and LM5 Loudness Radar Meter Plug-in, and Reverb 4000 Stereo Reverb.
In addition, he has published an estimate of 30 different scientific papers on the topics of loudness, distortion in digital audio and spatialization for such professional organizations as AES, NAB, SMPTE, EBU, and BCA. He has also taken part in international audio standardization work within AES, ITU and EBU.
Steve Strassberg, Vice President of Sales, HD & Broadcast for TC Electronic, will also be presenting at the Surround Live Eight Symposium, a special event being held prior to AES on Wednesday November 3 at The Metreon, 101 Fourth St. in San Francisco. This symposium brings together the leading authorities in surround sound for a candid and informative discussion with today’s audio professionals about issues relating to the capture, broadcast and monitoring of surround.
Strassberg will be presenting on issues associated with Upmixing and Downmixing 5.1 audio for broadcast as part of a technology showcase session entitled, “Upmix-Down Mix — The Current State Of The Art,” during the afternoon portion of Surround Live Eight from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. As part of the presentation he will be showcasing TC Electronic’s System 6000 MKII Reverb and Signal Processor, and discussing how it can be used for post production and mastering of audio specifically for television and film.
He will highlight the different challenges audio engineers face getting audio from the microphone all the way to the viewers at home and how System 6000 can be an integral part of the process. Strassberg will also be demonstrating the system’s capabilities for Upmixing and Downmixing, which is compatible with all home audio decoders.
An industry veteran, having worked with various broadcast and sales organizations as well as gaining real world experience in product application for broadcast, post production, and music recording, Strassberg is able to provide users with true insight to how this product can aid them in the field.
TC Electronic Website
The List Will Never Be Complete
Do your best, then go home at night knowing you’ve still got something to work on tomorrow. Consider it job security.
It seems I’ve been having the same conversation with a variety of Technical Directors lately.
The conversation always generally revolves around the seemingly endless list of projects and tasks that we need to work on, and the pressure we feel (either internal or external) to get them done; preferably right now.
I too am one of those TDs.
Just over a year ago I walked into a building that needs every single system updated, upgraded or replaced.
In every room. It’s a long list.
I know many of you are in similar situations. I started thinking that if I worked really hard just for the next few months, I could get it all done.
But I’ve come to realize that’s a fallacy. The truth is, the list will never be complete. That realization can either be frustrating or liberating, depending on how you choose to deal with it.
So, I’ve decided to consider the situation liberating.
What do I mean?
Now that I know the list will never be done, much of the pressure to get it all done right now is removed. I can learn to be content knowing there is a nearly endless list of tasks to accomplish, and getting them done will be a matter of prioritizing and allocating budget.
It’s really that simple. When someone tells me something needs to be done, I either respond with, “It’s on the list,” or “I’ll add it to the list.” Depending on who has made the suggestion, it gets put near the top or near the bottom.
There was a point in time when I felt the need to be some kind of super-TD. You know, the guys who have all their systems completely dialed in, nothing on the repair bench, all processed totally worked out and who spend all their time working with volunteers and perfecting their mixes with virtual soundcheck.
What I’ve found is that those guys don’t really exist–or at least I’ve never met any. And I know a lot of TDs.
I know TDs of big churches who have tech arts staffs bigger than my church staff, and I know TDs of small churches who are also the IT / Communications / Office Manager guy.
The interesting thing is that no matter the size of the church and its staff all seem to universally face the same issues. When I visit them at their churches, they all say, “Yeah, we’ve got to work on this or that…”
I recently spend half a day with a great TD who moved into a brand new building recently. As we walked the facility, I learned his list of things to be done is longer than mine. And that’s in a brand new building!
Even in a new facility, things didn’t go quite as planned, they ran short of time and had to jury-rig a few things just to get it working for opening weekend. And now they have a list; just like the rest of us.
So if you find yourself feeling inadequate because your to-do list is seemingly endless, relax. You’re part of a large group of us who also have a long list of projects to work on.
Chances are, regardless of how hard you work at it, that list will still be there.
Do your best, then go home at night knowing you’ve still got something to work on tomorrow. And the next day.
Consider it job security.
Do you have a seemingly endless to do list at your church? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike Sessler is the Technical Director at Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo, CA. He has been involved in live production for over 20 years and is the author of the blog, Church Tech Arts . He also hosts a weekly podcast called Church Tech Weekly on the TechArtsNetwork.
Virginia State University Chooses ENTASYS To Revive Auditorium
Since the hall's reopening it has been extremely busy and has received numerous positive comments about improved sound quality.
Virginia State University boasts a long history dating back to the period following the American Civil War.
Founded as the nation’s first state-supported institution of higher learning for blacks, VSU counts among its distinguished alumni names like Reginald Lewis, entrepreneur and first Black CEO of Beatrice Foods, The Honorable James Coleman, the first African American to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court, actor James Avery and jazz hall-of-fame musician Billy Taylor.
The school’s Colson Auditorium was recently updated with a powerful new audio system centered around a pair of Community Professional Loudspeakers’ ENTASYS high-performance three-way column line arrays.
As Michael Kidd of Richmond-based CCS Presentation Systems explained, the ENTASYS systems have solved the hall’s long-standing audio issues.
“It’s a multi-purpose room that’s primarily used for lectures and other spoken word presentations,” says Kidd. “It’s not all that large - it seats around 250 - but it’s a rectangular space that’s fairly reflective, and it’s always had problems with intelligibility.”
The building’s flat roof had sustained some water damage during the recent storms, and the needed repairs brought with them the opportunity to upgrade some of the auditorium’s infrastructure.
“They were looking at ways to improve the existing system, a distributed configuration of older in-ceiling speakers,” says Kidd. “It was noisy, coverage had always been spotty, and the more we talked with them, the more it became clear that it made more sense to upgrade the whole system.”
Kidd had attended an ENTASYS presentation some months earlier, and recognized the auditorium as an ideal opportunity. “When I saw the ENTASYS system, I loved the concept and thought, it would be great to have the right application to implement it.”
“When the Colson Auditorium project came along, it really seemed like the ideal scenario.”
The rest of the system is simple and straightforward. Crown amplification powers the system, and an AMX touch panel selects between DVD, computer, mic mixer and other sources.
Kidd reports the system has scored high marks with students and administration alike. “The hall’s been pretty busy since it’s reopened, and we’ve had lots of great comments on the sound,” he says.
“I felt really good about it, because we were kind of sticking our necks out by recommending a new product we hadn’t tried before. Not that I had any doubts, but the truth is the ENTASYS system really exceeded our expectations. We were all pleasantly surprised.”
Community Professional Loudspeakers Website
Tech Tip Of The Day: Battery Shelf Life
How long can I store batteries? Do they lose power?
Q:I help out at my church with the audio, and recently got to wondering how long we can store batteries? Do they lose power?
A: Most battery types lose up to 8-20 percent of their charge per year, depending on the temperature they’re stored at and the battery type. This is due to non-electricity producing chemical “side” reactions that take place within the battery’s cells over time.
It’s possible to extend the life of alkaline batteries through an alternative storage method. However, no matter how you chose to store your batteries, it might be wise to take the advice of Gary Zandstra and invest in a battery tester, which can help you prevent the preventable.
For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com
Grand Ole Opry Installs PhantomFocus System By Carl Tatz Design Using Genelec 8050A Monitors
The new tuned monitor system has received praise from FOH and broadcast engineers alike.
Recently, the legendary Nashville venue the Grand Ole Opry House upgraded its control room sound with the installation of a PhantomFocus System from Carl Tatz Design (CTD).
Grand Ole Opry Head of Music Operations Steve Gibson contacted CTD to correct a control room window resonance problem that they were experiencing, and Gibson requested the implementation of a PhantomFocus System using their existing Genelec 8050A monitors.
“The thing that is the most fun for me is how the center ‘channel’ feels like a physical presence; as well, I know that our mixes are translating much better out of the building than they ever have.”
“We’ve got two systems and we love listening to them both!” noted King Williams, Chief Broadcast Engineer, Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium.
“The project went extremely well and I have received several phone calls out of the blue from some GRAMMY-winning engineers commenting on how smooth and accurate the monitors now sound,” says Tatz.
Once the basic acoustic treatment has been accomplished, Carl Tatz Design’s proprietary PhantomFocus Monitor System offers clients a unique opportunity to have a world-class monitoring experience despite the quality of their room.
The PhantomFocus System allows their monitors of choice to perform accurately at a full 20Hz-to-20KHz frequency response with pinpoint imaging in an almost holographic sweet spot — this enables their mixes to travel anywhere with a new level of sonic accuracy.
There are approximately fifty steps in the proprietary PhantomFocus System implementation protocol, some of which may include phase and laser alignment, damping, isolation mounts, careful assessment of engineer/speaker placement relative to their room’s primary axial modes, proprietary speaker distance and angle, crossover points for pass filtering, and finally parametric equalization.
Hardware can include monitor stands, concrete, sorbothane and other isolation materials, custom floating plenum mounts, subwoofer system, custom crossover, parametric equalizers and the monitors themselves (passive or active). The evaluation and implementation is a full two-day process and can be applied to near-fields, mid-fields, and large soffit mounted monitors, regardless of manufacturer.
Carl Tatz Design Website
Monday, October 18, 2010
Why Audio Engineers Need To Know Video
Video is everywhere and if you're properly prepared, it can create an additional revenue stream for you studio as you provide the complete media package.
Over the past months I’ve had the unique experience of dealing with quite a bit of video.
I’ve always created short little videos for my website Home Studio Corner, but those were rudimentary at best.
Recently I’ve been branching out creating weekly video content and I’ve become heavily immersed in creating videos.
In addition, I’ve had the opportunity in the last few months to record several live bands, capturing both multi-track audio and multi-camera video footage – all while still putting on a live concert.
I have a new respect for video guys. There is so much involved with video that goes way over my head, but I’m grasping it more and more, and I plan to continue to grow my video expertise.
Why not just focus on the audio? Why concern myself with video? I have a few reasons.
HD Video is Everywhere
Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably noticed that the entire world is obsessed with HD video.
YouTube offers videos in HD (all of my tutorial videos on YouTube are in HD, and they look quite nice).
Flat-screen high-definition TV’s are a hot item.
Every cable company has a super-duper HD package that costs an arm and a leg, but it looks amazing.
All the major networks are competing to have the best and most show in HD.
BlueRay discs are gaining popularity.
The XBox360 and PS3 are setting the standard for HD video and gaming.
What do you not see here? I’ll tell you. You don’t see people obsessing over high-definition audio.
The people who rushed out each year on Black Friday at 5am to grab up those $600 Sony HD TVs at Sears are the same people who listened to mp3s on their iPods in the car on the way to and from the store.
People simply don’t care about SACDs and 1-bit High Definition recorders. They don’t really care if the mp3 codec used to encode their mp3s adds lots of artifacts.
Most people can see the difference between standard definition video and HD video much more easily than they can hear the difference between a crappy mp3 and a 24-bit wave file.
My point? The world has voted for HD video. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put any effort into your music. A bad mix will still be a bad mix on a 64-kbps mp3. A good mix will still have people bobbing their heads, whether the quality of the actual file itself has been degraded.
What this does mean is that you should seriously consider adding video to your portfolio.
Video Experience = More Jobs
Whether you do audio as your full-time job or just a side gig, you will have more job/project opportunities if you can do video.
If I’m the hiring director at a marketing company, and I need an audio guy to come in and record commercials, etc., I’m much more likely to hire the guy who has audio and video experience over the guy who just does audio.
Likewise, if I’m a band looking to record my next record, I would be much more drawn to the guy who could record and mix the album, but also produce a music video for one of the songs.
The list goes on and on.
Be a Complete Media Package
Being an amazing audio engineer is a wonderful thing. You should always be expanding your skills and becoming a better one.
However, the industry is changing, and if you want more creative opportunities, you need to expand your creative portfolio.
If you can become a one-stop shop for anything media-related – audio, video, even web design – you will have an amazing leg up on the competition.
The Counterpoint - You Don’t Need to Know Video
I’ve talked about how video is a great opportunity for audio engineers and can lead to new jobs.
However, what about the arguement that audio engineers should just focus on audio rather than expanding into the world of video.
This is a valid point, so here are a few things to think about.
Know Your Goals
What are your goals for your opperation? What are you wanting to accomplish in your studio?
Are you wanting to attract new clients? Do you want better paying jobs? Do you want more editing jobs?
If you don’t really know the answers to these questions, I would challenge you to take some time to think through and write down your goals for the remainder of the year.
If your goals involve getting more clients and paid jobs, it may still be worth your while to learn more about video.
However, if you’re looking to just improve your mixes, focusing on video might be a waste of time.
Don’t Be Spread Too Thin
Perhaps you’re at the beginning of your career and still trying to improve as an audio engineer.
You’re working on more and more music, and you’re excited about the fact that you could start producing videos, which could open up all sorts of opportunities for you.
In all the excitement, you may start learning and practicing your video skills…at the expense of your audio work.
You don’t want to look back a year from now and realize that instead of being a better audio engineer, you’re just a mediocre audio engineer AND a mediocre video guy.
Only focus on video if you have time to do both audio and video well.
Partner Up with a Video Expert
Businesses do this kind of thing all the time. Rather than taking on a new skill themselves, they’ll hire (or buy out) another company to do the task for them.
The second company specializes in the new skill, so rather than wasting time learning a new skill, the first company partners up with the second company to get the job done.
You could do the same thing with your studio. If it doesn’t make sense for you to learn video yourself, find someone else who knows video but could use your audio expertise.
You can then refer clientele to one another and even work on projects together. This way you can still access a lot of new opportunities without needing to invest the time and money into learning video yourself.
What do you think? What are your plans/goals? Do you plan on tackling (or have you tackled) video in your business?
Joe Gilder is a Nashville based engineer, musician, and producer who also provides training and advice at the Home Studio Corner.
Telefunken Microphone Name Contest Voting Now Open
The person who suggested the winning name will be rewarded with a pair of the R-F-T mics in a custom flight case!
In September TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik fans were encouraged to submit suggested names for the company’s new tube microphone that will be introduced at AES in San Francisco on November 4.
The response was overwhelming, with thousands of individual suggestions coming from across the globe and from dozens of countries, including Morocco, Greenland, New Zealand, Denmark, and Thailand.
Below is a list of names in alpha-numeric order that have been chosen as the best suited for TELEFUNKEN’s new R-F-T microphone.
Voters will only be allowed one vote, and the polls close at 6pm EDT October 21st. The winner will be announced on Friday, October 22nd at 12 Noon PDT.
“We always like to be responsive to our friends and supporters,” explained company founder Toni Fishman. “So for this very cool new mic design, we thought we’d reach out to our fans and have a contest to name the new microphone.”
Traditionally, the microphones in TELEFUNKEN’s R-F-T line have been based on famous powerful munitions, such as the AK-47 and the M16.
“But we’re not limited in that respect,” added Fishman. “I thought of the ‘Bolt,’ which refers to the company’s lightning bolt logo. Let’s see what the public comes up with.”
Names for consideration are:
AF-29; COPPERHEAD; CU-29; EP-1C; M1C; M29; MP-5; TALOS; U-21; V1C
In development for 18 months, the newest mic in the company’s ] R-F-T line was designed by the company’s in-house engineering team, with outside consultation from some of the world’s top amplifier designers.
The microphone is based around a unique circuit that features a New Old Stock (NOS) TELEFUNKEN vacuum tube, custom audio transformer and a fixed cardioid large diaphragm capsule.
Sonically, the microphone carries similar characteristics found in its R-F-T line counterparts, the AR-51 and the AK-47 MkII.
Featuring a custom antique copper finish, the new microphone has an open top end, smooth midrange, and a detailed low end.
The amplifier design and frequency response are tailored for vocals, however the microphone works exceptionally well on many signal sources including acoustic guitars, amps and percussion.
The contest ends at 18:00 (EDT) October 21. The winning name will be announced at Noon (EDT) on October 22nd. The person who suggested the winning name will be rewarded with a pair of the R-F-T mics in a custom flight case. The 2nd and 3rd place names will win an M80 Dynamic microphone.
The street price of the new R-F-T mic will be $1295, making it the first large diaphragm tube microphone offered from TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik available below the $1500 price range.
Each microphone system comes complete with power supply, 20’ mic-to-power supply cable, shockmount and wooden box. New custom flight cases are available for an additional $99.
To vote visit the TELEFUNKEN website.
Gary Hebert Of THAT Corporation To Present Microphone Preamplifier Design Tutorial At AES
The session is part of the Product Design Track of the 129th AES convention.
THAT Corporation’s Chief Technology Officer, Gary Hebert, aims to unlock the secrets of designing cost effective, high-performance microphone preamplifiers at a tutorial during the 129th Audio Engineering Society Convention in San Francisco.
Mr. Hebert’s tutorial, “Designing Microphone Preamplifiers”, addresses many of the challenges faced in this critical, largely analog part of the audio signal chain.
Hebert will present a sampling of amplifier topologies and circuit details, and discuss design tradeoffs among cost, size, power consumption, noise, distortion, and other factors.
The session, part of the Product Design Track within the AES convention, is scheduled for November 6th from 4:45 to 6:15pm,
“Preferences and opinions on preamplifiers are nearly a religion within the professional audio community where the microphone preamp often defines the signature sound of a piece of equipment or even a recording studio,” stated Mr. Hebert.
“Working in harmony with the microphone, the preamp often sets the performance of the entire system.”
“In addition, as the first line of defense to the outside world, it must withstand hostile conditions such as 48V phantom power faults or erroneously patched hot signals.”
THAT Corporation will sponsor the Product Design Track at the 129th AES Convention, which includes Hebert’s tutorial and 19 other events.
THAT Corporation’s Website
Tech Tip Of The Day: What’s That Buzzing?
Advice on how to eliminate interference from lighting dimmers in your studio.
Q: I just finished building my project, complete with some swanky dimmable lighting, and I’m all set to start mixing.
However, there’s a buzz in my signal chain I just can’t chase down. Any advice?
A: Anyone who has ever played a gig at the hotel ballroom has probably fought this battle at one time or another, but it’s really frustrating when it happens in your own studio.
There are several problems that cause this, and usually when it becomes noticeable it’s because more than one of them are active.
The variables are the quality and type of lighting dimmers, the amount of lighting being dimmed (is it one 100 watt bulb or 20 kilowatts of ballroom lighting?), the nature of the electrical wiring, and the nature and quality of the audio wiring.
Lighting dimmers that use big, inductive coils can cause hum to be induced in audio equipment just by being in close proximity.
Dimmers that use potentiometers or solid-state circuits (as many inexpensive home dimmers do) will cause hash noise and other garbage to be induced.
In both cases the induction often occurs through the electrical wiring. Basically, they feed a bunch of garbage back up the AC line (and ground line) and it finds its way into your gear.
Similarly, however, they radiate electromagnetic energy through the air, which means your poor guitar is going to pick it up.
Without getting into an entire electrician’s course on lighting circuits, suffice it to say that the quality of the dimmer and the way in which they are wired is an important variable.
If lighting dimmers put enough garbage into the air and back on to the electrical lines you may be stuck with some of it getting into your audio, but there are some precautions you can take to better your chances. Make absolutely sure you have no ground loops.
A ground loop acts as a big antenna for electromagnetic radiation so your best bet is to not have an antenna.
A power conditioner with isolated outlets will also help, both in preventing ground loops and in preventing general garbage on the AC line from getting to your delicate audio equipment.
Balanced wiring (both audio and electrical) will better be able to prevent problems than unbalanced wiring.
If you solve enough of these problems you should be able to bring the noise under control. If you can’t - and sometimes you just can’t - we suggest not dimming the lights.
After all, it’s not a perfect world folks.
As always, we welcome input from the PSW community and would love to know how you would (or have) handle lighting levels in the studio. Feel free to let us know in the comments below.
For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com
DPA 4099 Clip On Microphones Amplify The String Section Of Sting
The 4099 is a new favorite of FOH Engineer Howard Page who is a fan of the absolute separation provided by the microphone.
Sting’s front of house engineer Howard Page is using a large quantity of DPA 4099 clip mics across the string section for Sting’s Symphonicity word tour.
Accompanied by a full symphonic orchestra, Symphonicity sees Sting performing new arrangements of his greatest hits as well as more unknown work.
Page, senior director of engineering at Clair Brothers, was approached to handle FOH for the tour due to his extensive orchestral experience.
Familiar with DPA microphones from Sting’s cathedral concerts last winter, Page was delighted with the 4099s purchased by Clair Brothers for the tour.
The entire string section - nine first violins, seven second violins, seven violas, five celli and three basses - is miked with 4099s, with several more on radio packs for clarinet and trumpet soloists.
Page has veered away from the traditional area miking method of amplifying an orchestra, where mics were shared between two chairs or desks.
“The problem with that is the moment you add even a semi-rock group to a symphony orchestra, the inherent dynamics between the two are so out of balance; the natural volume that a violin puts out compared to what a guitar or a drum puts out is so wildly different,” explains Page.
“The DPAs are the best mics I’ve ever, ever found - and I’ve been doing this a long time with orchestras. They give me absolute separation: when I turn on a DPA 4099 on one violin I get one violin and barely anything else, which gives me incredible signal to noise.”
“I also get more headroom on an overall string session than I’ve ever had on an orchestra before; traditionally you’re up against a feedback threshold, and your show is compromised by how loud you can go.”
“But the DPAs are so immediate that by clever use of overall reverb, I can move sections forward to get more presence for certain songs, or more natural reverb across them all.”
Over time, the show has evolved to become more rhythmic. “Sting’s getting the percussionist to play more back beat, and If I didn’t have the DPAs I’d frankly be dead in the water by now,” says Page.
“We’ve done all sorts of venues on this tour, including 40,000-capacity outdoor stadiums, the notoriously tricky Albert Hall and the reverberant Metropolitan Opera which is not designed to have microphones, and I couldn’t have done them with area miking, it doesn’t work.
“The beautiful thing about using the DPA 4099 is you turn it up and it sounds like a violin. The old contact mics didn’t give you the true texture of the violin sound, it gave you an edgy, screechy sound that you had to murder with EQ.”
“I place the 4099s on the F hole on the top side of the violin, turn them up with no EQ, and they sound exactly like listening to the instrument. One of the most difficult challenges of doing this is instantly removed.”
“Word about the DPA 4099 is, believe me, getting around,” he says. “Everyone raves about how the strings sound on this show, and the reviews all mention how rich the orchestra sounds.”