Friday, October 22, 2010
Meyer Sound MICA Upgrades North Point Church Main Auditorium
MICA arrays proved to be the ideal solution for North Point's difficult space.
After installing Meyer Sound reinforcement systems at two newer branch campuses, North Point Community Church has followed suit at its main campus in Alpharetta, Ga.
There they replaced the 12-year-old system in the 2,700-seat East Auditorium with a new system based on Meyer Sound MICA line array loudspeakers.
“We were struggling with coverage in that room,” admits Micah Stevens, director of production for North Point Ministries.
“We needed a system that would fix those issues, and since we’ve been very happy with what we’d heard at the other two campuses, the obvious choice was to continue with Meyer Sound.”
As with the earlier systems at North Point’s Buckhead and Browns Bridge campuses, audio system design and installation was entrusted to Clark (formerly Clark ProMedia), also in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta.
According to the company’s principal designer, George Clark, the time had come to “bring the main campus up to par and conform to the experience at the newer satellite locations.”
To consistent coverage throughout the wide auditorium, Clark built his design around twin hangs of seven each MICA line array loudspeakers.
Main arrays are augmented by four DF-4 loudspeakers as down fill, ten M1D line array loudspeakers as front fill, two MSL-4 loudspeakers and three UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers as side fill, and five UPQ-1P loudspeakers for balcony fill.
System drive and processing is handled by a Galileo loudspeaker management system with three Galileo 616 processors.
Bass reproduction was especially tricky, as North Point has a somewhat newer West Auditorium built back-to-back against the East Auditorium. Services are held in both at the same time, each with its own music teams, with teaching pastor Andy Stanley’s message presented live in one and via HD video in the other.
To eliminate bass bleed back into the West Auditorium, Clark specified ten M3D-Sub directional subwoofers to maintain a cardioid coverage pattern down to 30 Hz.
“It was a remarkable difference, moving from the old system to the new,” observes George Clark. “The low end is now tighter and more defined. Listening to the same genre of music you can hear striking improvements in clarity and balanced tonality.”
For Micah Stevens, the Meyer Sound line arrays at all three campuses help provide a consistent listening experience regardless of where a first-time visitor may attend. “The systems are different sizes and configurations, but they all share a common sonic signature.”
“That makes it easier for us to develop a consistent sound for the music, and for the teaching segment by Andy Stanley—whether he’s there in person or via video from one of the remote campuses.”
North Point’s Browns Bridge campus, opened in late 2006, relies on a system anchored by 26 M’elodie line array loudspeakers to cover the 2,100 seat auditorium. Opened the following year, the ministry’s 3,100-seat Buckhead Church features 33 MICA line array loudspeakers.
An upgrade of the original system in the 2,500-seat West Auditorium in Alpharetta is now in the preliminary planning stage.
Meyer Sound Website
Kaces Introduces Microphone Messenger Bag
Intended to protect up to 6 microphones in a padded case while on the road.
Kaces has announced the introduction of the latest product in their line, the microphone messenger bad.
A total of six (6) microphones will fit safely into the new, slim, messenger-style bag by Kaces.
Heavy foam surrounds each mic and the entire outfit is covered with padded 600D polyester to survive on the road.
A padded panel zips over the top while a second cover flap folds over the entire face of the bag and is secured with two latching straps.
A large, zippered accessory pouch can be found on the front, along with an adjustable shoulder strap to make carrying easier when transporting multiple pieces of equipment.
Audinate Opens European Operations
Audinate has opened their European operations due to a significant portion of their OEM partners and customers being based in Europe.
Audinate has announced the formation of its European operation, Audinate Limited, based in the UK.
A significant portion of Audinate’s OEM partners and customers are based in Europe and this expansion reflects the widespread industry adoption of Audinate’s Dante media networking technology.
As a result of this new expansion, Audinate has offices in Europe, the USA, and in Australia.
David Myers, Audinate’s COO remarks, “Audinate has built a reputation as the best digital media networking solution and we are recognized by our customers and partners for our responsive support.”
“As a result of this expansion, Audinate can provide around the globe support for our OEM Partners.”
As part of Audinate’s direct presence in Europe, Kieran Walsh has joined Audinate as Senior Technical Solutions Manager. Kieran Walsh was formerly with Britannia Row Productions, one of the world’s leading audio rental companies.
While at Brit Row, Kieran was responsible for the Digital and RF Department. Walsh has worked on some of the largest concert and special event projects including Led Zeppelin at the O2 arena, Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday concert in Hyde Park London, the Beijing-London Olympic handover ceremony (London segment) and the National Football league (NFL) international series matches at Wembley Stadium.
“We are pleased to have Kieran help our European expansion“, adds John McMahon, Audinate’s VP of Sales and Support. “Kieran brings a wealth of day-to-day experience of deploying Dante systems for some of the largest events and concert tours over the past few years”.
Walsh worked as a sound engineer and producer for a variety of recording projects for clients including BBC, EBU, Sony BMG and EMI. Walsh holds a degree from the Royal College of Music and has performed on a number of world premieres as an orchestral player as well as appearing as a soloist with a number of Orchestras.
“I am looking forward to the new opportunities that Audinate presents”, says Kieran. “I have always been impressed with Audinate and look forward to helping a larger audience implement the power of Dante’s integrated network solutions”.
Tech Tip Of The Day: Meet The dB Meter
Why a loudness meter is an essential tool for the recording studio, not just live sound.
Q: Not long ago I set out to start my own studio, and so far it’s been going well.
Recently I was reading a list of essential tools for the studio and noticed it included the dB meter.
I understand why these meters are useful for live engineers, but are they really that necessary for studio use?
A: Our ears are finely tuned instruments, capable of perceiving an incredibly wide range of volume levels and frequencies.
But, for our ears to work their best in the studio, we need to manage volume levels…too quiet and the ears’ frequency response changes.
Too loud and not only does response change, but there is danger of permanent hearing damage.
For best results, keep your volume level consistent from session to session, and keep the volume the same as a mix or track changes volume. The tool for doing this?
The level or dB meter. Every studio needs one sitting right there on the desk or console, displaying exactly what’s happening volume-wise and keeping our ears honest and safe!
However, that dB meter (which I’m sure is now sitting there on your desk or console) can be put to other uses as well.
A level meter can be a great tool for level matching two sources for accurate A/B comparisons, particularly when comparing a “commercial” mix off of a CD with a raw mix you may be working on.
Unless the two sources are precisely matched, the louder one will always sound better.
As always, we welcome input from the PSW community and would love to know your thoughts on studio loudness. Feel free to let us know in the comments below.
For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com
Lectrosonics Wireless Technology Utilized By Home Improvement Reality TV Shows
Many "crasher" style shows on the DIY and HGTV Networks rely on the reliability of Lectrosonics when the audio must be perfect.
Reality TV is quite popular these days, especially those shows that offer insightful tips and tricks for do-it-yourself home improvement enthusiasts.
Such is the premise for House Crashers, Bath Crashers, Yard Crashers, and Turf War—all of which are produced by The Idea Factory and aired on the DIY and HGTV Networks.
The premise behind most of these shows is such that the show’s host ambushes homeowners while they’re home improvement shopping.
When the host identifies the ultimate home improvement challenge, he follows the lucky homeowner home and performs a total overhaul. Capturing the host’s remarks or the subjects’ reactions isn’t something that can be rehearsed.
Spontaneity is key to capturing the essence of what takes place—and to insure nothing is missed, Lectrosonics wireless microphone technology is an essential ingredient of the production process.
Location Sound Engineer Palmer Taylor is one of the key sound technicians behind the scenes. With a background in music composition and recording, Taylor got his start in the location sound business by working on a documentary titled Rivers of a Lost Coast, which was narrated by Tom Skerritt.
He was mentored by local sound engineers Jimmy Bell and Rob
Neely—both of whom are also involved in location sound for the ‘Crasher’ shows and were integral parts of pioneering the audio work flow for the shows. Bell and Neely are also enthusiastic Lectrosonics users.
Today, Taylor is an integral part of the location sound crew and his Lectrosonics equipment plays a pivotal role in the shows’ production.
“Presently, I’m using two Lectrosonics UM400a and one UM400 beltpack transmitters for my wireless mics,” states Taylor, “and the receiving end; I have three UCR411a compact receivers. For the camera hop, I use two Lectrosonics SMQV dual battery super-miniature beltpack transmitters and an SRa dual channel slot mount ENG receiver.”
Taylor’s entire 5-channel setup employs Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless technology
“Lectrosonics’ sound quality is first rate—rivaling the quality of a cabled microphone,” said Taylor. “I’ve also been extremely impressed with the equipment’s reliability.”
“The build quality is really solid and it never lets me down. It’s not uncommon for me to have my wireless mics across the yard or behind several walls within a house and yet dropouts are non-existent. The range of this equipment is one of its most impressive traits.”
“Recently, I was on a show where we had more talent than we did wireless receivers,” Taylor explained. “By coordinating frequencies in advance and assigning those frequencies to the various talent, I was able to pre-program those frequencies into my UCR411a receiver and then step through my ‘presets’ using the arrow keys.”
“This is a really useful feature when there are more transmitters than there are receivers. This way, as the various talent came into view, I could quickly change the receiver’s frequency and seamlessly catch the talent’s dialog for the time they were on camera. When someone else entered the picture, I just switched the frequency on the receiver again.”
“I’ve downloaded Lectrosonics’ free RM sound files to my iPhone,” he said, “which can be played back from any MP3 player. In doing so, I have the ability to control lock, unlock, sleep, and unsleep functions on my SMQV transmitter.”
“These features are extremely convenient since I don’t have to physically touch the transmitter to make my changes.”
“I’ve been very impressed with Lectrosonics. Whenever I’ve called in for advice or assistance, the support technicians clearly understood what I’m looking to accomplish and were able to assist quickly and efficiently.”
“Location sound work involves being able to capture your subjects the first and every time. There’s really no margin for error. Thanks to the features and reliability of my Lectrosonics gear, my clients are very happy with the quality of the work I deliver.”
Posted by admin on 10/22 at 07:39 AM
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Renkus-Heinz IC Live Selected By The Netherlands Leiden Theatre
The IC Live system's digital beam steering achieved necessary to cover seats despite difficult acoustics.
TM Audio, a Renkus-Heinz distributor for the Netherlands, recently equipped two auditoriums in the City Concert Hall in Leiden with IC Live digitally beam steerable PA systems, including one system finished in metallic gold paint to match the room’s décor.
The City Concert Hall is an historic building housing several multipurpose rooms, including the 19th century 838-seat Great Hall, the brand-new 349 seat Aalmarkt Hall and the 250 seat Bree Hall.
To coincide with the opening of the Aalmarkt Hall, new audio systems were installed in both the Great Hall and the Aalmarkt.
The objective was to expand the halls’ ability to host a wide range of uses ranging from jazz and classical concerts and stage musicals to corporate presentations and lectures.
TM Audio project manager Reinier Bruijns explains that although the client’s original tender had called for separate speech and music systems in the Aalmarkt Hall, “we felt an even better solution would be to combine the two functions in an IC Live system.”
“After we won the Government tender for that room, the hall management asked us to do something similar for their Great Hall, and we proposed a portable IC Live system, which they could then position on the stage wings when required, along with a pair of fixed IC Live cabinets for the balconies.”
Bruijns aded, “We demonstrated it in the Great Hall, and showed the management how the IC Live system’s digital beam steering could achieve accurate vertical beam angles to cover seats all the way to the back at 30 meters.”
“At the same time the technology allowed us to keep reflections from the hard ceiling and rear wall.
“The other aspect that appealed to them was that, because IC Live was designed as a portable rental system, it’s easy to store for classical shows and then takes just ten minutes to set up whenever sound reinforcement is required.”
“The solution provides excellent acoustic control and high power from a compact system, and avoided the issue of needing to fly main or delay speakers in a room where that would be very undesirable aesthetically.”
Four dual stacked ICL-R cabinets, linked via Ethercon cables, clip into place on top of the matching IC215S-R subwoofers to cover the main seating area, while a single ICL-R is mounted either side at the front of the balcony.
The system is routed via a MediaMatrix NION NX system over CobraNet, with RHAON providing the final link in the chain. This also brought the benefit of minimizing cabling to a single Cat-5 cable and a mains cable to the self-powered and internally processed IC Live arrays.
In both the Great Hall and the Aalmarkt, simple presets on the NION laptop interface allow the balcony loudspeakers to be turned off when not required, and configure the main system for speech or music.
The new Aalmarkt Hall, a luxurious raked auditorium with huge side windows along the stage right wall overlooking a tree-lined canal, is finished in metallic gold, and the IC Live arrays - one either side for the lower auditorium and another either side for the balconies - were finished in gold at the Renkus-Heinz factory in California to match color samples provided by the theatre.
TM Audio also supplied the back-of-house audio network, including an ASL intercom system, a paging and dressing room relay system with a Behringer Eurorack Pro RX1602 rack mixer, and TOA BS-1110 column speakers and PC1864 ceiling speakers, connected via TM Audio’s proprietary Speaker Smart cabling.
Two assistive hearing systems were also supplied - one with user beltpacks comprising a Shure EP2T transmitter and 10 P2R receivers, and a Sennheiser induction loop system with EZT1011 headloops and PX20 headphones.
The microphone package includes a selection of Shure and Sennheiser microphones.
The Music Producers Handbook: The Secret To Overdubs
An excerpt from Bobby Owsinski's book which highlights techniques helpful in the studio when working with artists in the overdub process.
The overdubbing stage can be something as simple as fixing or replacing some of the basic tracks (like the bass, rhythm guitar, solos, and lead vocal) or as complex as adding sophisticated layering of horns and strings, multiple guitars, keyboards, and background vocals.
It’s also the phase of the project during which the most experimenting is done, since even the most meticulously designed parts sometimes don’t work and require some alteration.
The Recording Plan
When budgets get blown out the window and the project begins to fall behind schedule, the overdubbing stage is usually responsible.
If a producer is doing his job correctly, each overdub is finely crafted to complement every other musical part of the song.
This crafting takes a lot of work, since the overdub has to have the right sound and the part has to musically fit like a glove with all the others.
That’s why it’s best to have a list of priorities of which overdubs are the most important and absolutely must be recorded; that way, you can make sure not to fall behind due to experimentation and extra ideas.
The overdub priority list should go song by song and might look something like the following:
“Sunshine of Your Life”
Lead vocal harmony (2nd and 3rd B section)
Keyboard, fix 2nd verse
Keyboard line, 2nd and 3rd verse
Background vocals (choruses)
Background vocals (last verse)
Guitar double (chorus and bridge)
You can see just what overdubs are expected on the song and how they rank in terms of priority, with the last entry (guitar double) being the least important.
Having a list like this will help you plan your overdubs and let you know just what you can eliminate if you start to get behind budget-wise or time-wise.
Make It Better, Not Just Different
Most artists share the common trait of having a creative streak that provides them idea after idea for parts, lines, embellishments, and enhancements. The more creative the artist, the more the ideas spring forth, and that’s the problem.
Sometimes an artist has so many good ideas that it takes a lot of time to try them all, and before you know it, you’re behind schedule. That’s bad enough, but an abundance of ideas can move a song away from its true intention, even detracting from the original inspiration.
An example would be an artist who writes a straight pop song, but then just has to hear how it sounds with a reggae feel. While the song might be great with the new style, it might not contain the essence of the artist’s original inspiration.
It’s up to you as producer to put a hold on the experimentation and focus the energy back to where the artist shines best.
Sometimes an artist will come up with good idea after good idea for new lines and parts during overdubs, and while most of them might work, they just make the song different and not better.
Again, it’s up to you to focus the energy of the artist and musicians back to where it needs to be and make the decision that the original direction is the best one to follow.
Sometimes an artist’s massive creativity can work in your favor, though. For example, if you’re not sure about the original feel of the song, expressing that to the artist will get his creative juices flowing and before you know it, a better idea will appear.
But usually the artist’s first inspiration is the best, and it’s probably the one that attracted you to him in the first place.
Time To Experiment
It always happens at least once in the overdub phase.
A musician plays something during warm-ups or plays something by mistake during recording that lights up the whole studio and the producer says, “Can you play that again, but do something different on the end?”
Or “Can you play it like that in this section instead?”
And then the chase is on to capture that lightening in a bottle and pour it over a part or section that was lacking before.
But things are never as simple as they seem, as the once-brilliant part is changed to fit the new section or tweaked to better serve the song.
A quick pass turns into hours, and before you know it you’ve spent the entire day working up this single part.
That’s usually the way these things go during overdubs. By the time everyone has worked out the perfect part, the player is too tired to perform it in a convincing manner.
During these times when an entirely new part is being worked out, I’ve found that it sometimes takes two sessions to really make things happen.
The first day you take that brilliant seed of an idea and work it out, and the second day is when the idea flowers and you can properly execute it.
Keeping this fact in mind can save you countless extra hours at the end of a long day: leave the idea alone and come back the next day when everyone is fresh. It’ll probably be performed perfectly on the first take.
When Artistic Block Hits
Sometimes you know the song or the part needs something, but no one can come up with a suitable idea. It’s easy enough to leave it for the next day when everyone is fresh, and chances are that a new idea will indeed spring forth.
But in those few times when everyone runs up against a total creative block, there’s always Oblique Strategies (see Fig. 1).
First published in 1975 and now in its fifth edition, Oblique Strategies is a set of cards created by U2 producer Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt that are used by artists of all types to get beyond artistic block or to find a new direction.
Each card contains a phrase or cryptic remark that can be used to break a deadlock or help resolve a dilemmatic situation.
Fig. 1: Oblique Strategies cards.
Here are a few examples of what a card might say:
“State the problem in words as clearly as possible.“
“Only one element of each kind.“
“What would your closest friend do?“
“What to increase? What to reduce?“
“Are there sections? Consider transitions.“
“Try faking it!“
“Honor the error as a hidden intention.“
You can find out more about Oblique Strategies on their website. An online version of the strategy cards is available, as well as an Oblique Strategies iPhone app.
Limit The Attendees
Sometimes overdubs go faster and smoother if band members other than those playing, friends, and entourage are not allowed in the control room.
Too many people can spook a timid performer or, worse yet, sway her to perform for the crowd instead of focusing on the job at hand.
If visitors or band members must come to the studio, keep them out of the control room and have them stay in the lounge until the part is complete.
In general, it’s best that any wives and husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends, friends and associates, and hangers-on and nonessential people not be allowed to come to the sessions except in extraordinary circumstances (like a playback party or delivering a forgotten instrument).
The more people, the more likely the gathering will become a party, and a party is not conducive to recording.
There’s a time and place for a group to gather, but it’s not here. Unless certain people are essential to the task at hand, have them stay at home.
Recording In The Control Room
Regardless of who’s playing and what kind of instrument they’re using, it’s always best if you can get them to record in the control room with you.
This is easy with guitar, bass, electronic keys, and even vocals, but tougher with everything else. Having the immediacy of communication, not to mention the absence of headphones, will usually get a much better performance out of the player.
Most studios are now equipped with the cables and hardware to keep an amp in another room while the musician plays in the control room.
Playing in the control room is usually not an option for more than one player at a time (which probably won’t happen during overdubs anyway, unless it’s a horn, string, or vocal section) or with instruments that are quiet, like some percussion, acoustic guitars, and strings.
Vocals in the Control Room
While it seems like recording blasphemy, many vocalists hate headphones and would much rather sing in the control room with a hand-held stage mic like a Shure SM58 (see Fig. 2).
Fig. 2: Shure SM58 microphone.
This might not win you any high-fidelity awards for vocals sounds, but a great performance will trump audio quality any day.
And the sound of most stage mics, while certainly not as high fidelity as a multi-thousand- dollar vintage Neumann, is better than you might think (as long as it’s in good condition) good enough for just about any recording purpose when routed through a high-quality microphone preamp.
There are several commonly used overdubbing techniques that every producer should be aware of.
Although the following techniques refer to vocals, they can be used for just about any instrument.
Use the Big Part of the Studio
If you’re in the same studio where you tracked your basics, don’t fall into the trap of keeping the exact same instrument setup in the same place in the studio as your basics (unless you’re doing fixes to the basic tracks).
Move the singer or instrument into the big part of the studio. All instruments sound best when there’s some space for the sound to develop.
You can cut down on any unwanted reflections in the room by placing baffles around the mic, the player, or the singer.
The technique of doubling a lead vocal has been used for as long as multitrack recorders have been around.
The Beatles did it way back when they were using only 4-track magnetic tape and really didn’t have a track to spare, which tells you how powerful a tool doubling can be.
Doubling a vocal (having the singer sing the exact same line or phrase twice and playing back both parts) works for two reasons; it makes a vocal sound stronger, and it masks any tuning inconsistencies in the part.
Fig. 3: Move to the big part of the studio for overdubs.
While the doubling technique can work for a great number of vocalists, sometimes it just doesn’t sound good if both vocal tracks are replayed at the same level.
Try adding the second vocal at 6 to 10 dB less than the track you deem the strongest. This will add a bit of support to an otherwise weak vocal without sounding doubled.
An offshoot of doubling is called vocal stacking, a technique normally used on harmony background vocals. Like doubling, stacking can make a harmony vocal part sound stronger while smoothing out any tuning inconsistencies.
An example of vocal stacking would be a three-piece vocal group singing a three-part harmony section.
After their first pass is complete, they double their parts singing them exactly the same way, then triple-track it or more, all in an effort to get a bigger, fuller sound.
One little trick that makes a stack sound bigger is to have the vocalists take a step back from the mic with every vocal pass while the engineer increases the mic gain to compensate for the distance. The increased ambience of the room will naturally enhance the sound without artificial means.
Another trick is to have the vocalists change parts with every pass. In other words, the vocalist singing the highest part of the three-part harmony would move to the lowest, the one singing the mid part would move to the highest, and one singing the lowest part would move to the mid part.
Of course, this assumes that the vocalists are pros and capable of changing vocal parts without too much of a problem, and that their voices are capable of performing the new parts.
Instrument Doubling and Stacking
Instruments can be doubled or stacked the same way that vocals can, and while using the exact same performance twice (doubling) can sound pretty good, you soon reach the point of diminishing returns unless you change something up to make it sound different.
A different mic, mic preamp, room to record in, or distance from the mic will all help to make the sound bigger on subsequent overdubs.
For guitar, using two different guitars (a Les Paul and a Strat, for instance) and two different amplifiers (a Fender and a Marshall is the classic combination), combined with different pickup settings, will allow a multitude of guitar tracks to live together more effectively in the mix.
Many times you’ll find that fewer overdubs are needed if each guitar overdub has a distinctly different sound.
One of the best techniques for obtaining a great vocal is to compile a master vocal track by using bits and pieces from a number of previous passes.
This is known as “comping” and has become a standard method of obtaining a great take of just about any part.
Comping is also a method preferred by a great number of vocalists, since it makes their job fairly easy.
After the vocalist warms up, have her sing her part at least three times (the more the better, since you have more choices later), and then send her home. It’s now up to you and your engineer to comp a master track together.
When we do vocal day, we’re talking about upwards of 20 to 23 passes per song so it takes a long time to put a song like that together. What you get with that many passes is the perfect pass.
Tips for Comping
While you can comp a track from only two passes, the more passes the better—up to a point, that is. Using too many passes can get confusing and take too much time to sort through.
The ideal number of passes is four or five, although many producers will have the vocalist sing the song until he or she gets it almost perfectly before they move on to additional passes for comping.
Regardless of how many passes are made and what the quality of the performances are, if you take good notes during each pass, you’ll find that your comp can be finished in no time.
Make no mistake about it, note taking is the key to this process, and it’s best done while each vocal pass is being recorded rather than during playback later.
While it’s possible to comp individual words or even syllables, comping by phrase is the easiest. Here’s how to do it.
Fig. 4: A Comp sheet
1. Get a copy of the lyrics. Make sure that the song is divided into clear phrases.
2. As the vocalist sings, make the appropriate following marks after every phrase:
“↑” for sharp, “↓” for flat, “G” for good, “VG” for very good, “X” for bad, “?” for if you can’t decide
3. Create a line that’s numbered “1” for “first pass” and make your marks on that line. Do the same for each pass.
4. After each phrase that the vocalist sings, place a mark underneath it (see Fig. 4) to indicate your rating.
By the end of the vocalist’s last pass, you’ll have a pretty good idea of which phrases are the keepers.
You’ll also have an idea of which phrases don’t have an acceptable take, and you can ask the vocalist to just give you that line until you have what you need.
After all the passes, see if you can piece together a vocal of all VG phrases.
If a phrase with a VG mark doesn’t sound as good as you originally thought, go to the G marked vocals and see if one is acceptable.
If you can’t find one that works that’s marked VG or G, go through the other passes to see if a “?” pass works.
If you still can’t find an acceptable take, go through the passes again and listen to the passes that you marked with an X to see if you change your mind about one of the phrases that you considered unacceptable before.
If you still have a phrase that isn’t as good as you need, either comp by word or syllable instead of by phrase, or use Antares Autotune to get what you need.
Comping is standard session procedure these days and is used not only on vocals but also on tracks of all sorts, so it pays to get good at it.
The technique will give you great results and save you a lot of time as well.
Use the big part of the studio for overdubs. Doubling and instrument or vocal can make it sound stronger and mask tuning inconsistencies. Stacking background vocals can make them sound bigger. Obtain a great performance from pieces of previous performances by comping.
One of the most important parts of production in the world of DAWs is editing. Editing means creating a near-perfect performance by moving the timing of a note or phrase either manually or with an app like Beat Detective; replacing a note or phrase (or even the entire track) with one from another take by using cut and paste; or using Autotune, Melodyne, or any of the many other pitch-correction programs to correct the pitch of a note or phrase.
Using these methods, you can make just about any track with shaky timing or tuning almost perfect.
But is perfection what you really want? It’s easy to get carried away and start to edit with your eyes instead of your ears, meaning that everything gets lined up to a grid or quantized, making the track lifeless and sterile sounding.
Sometimes the unevenness of a performance is what makes it exciting, not it’s timing perfection. The real test of a producer is knowing when a part needs to be fixed and when to let it be, and that only comes with experience.
One method I like to use that’s the best of both worlds is to fix only the parts that jump out as having bad timing when played in context with the other tracks.
For instance, if the entrance to the song has the bass hitting before anything else, that would get fixed.
Or if a guitar loses it’s feel for a couple of bars in a verse so that it becomes an obvious timing mistake, then that would get fixed.
Only the timing mistakes that are completely obvious get fixed.
Another method is to make sure that the major hits of the song (any entrances, accents, downbeats, or last notes of a section) have all the instruments lined up and in time, while the other parts of the song are left as they were played.
This keeps a loose feel yet still sounds tight and professional because all the major points of the song are tightened up.
Of course, if anything during the song should feel out of time, that would also get fixed as well, as in the example above.
And if you want everything as tight as possible, do the following:
1. Tighten the timing of the drums up either manually or by using Beat Detective (if you’re using Pro Tools). This doesn’t mean that the drums need to be perfectly quantized, only that they should be moved enough to feel great.
2. Move the kick, snare, and bass tracks so they’re beside one another on the timeline, then solo just these tracks.
3. Listen to the entire song and move the notes or phrases of the bass as needed so it’s tight with the drums.
4. Unsolo the kick, snare and bass and listen to the song with all of the tracks engaged. Make sure that the timing adjustments that you just made work. If not, repeat numbers 2 and 3.
5. Mute the bass and move on to another instrument with shaky timing. Solo the kick, snare, and instrument and repeat numbers 3 and 4.
6. Repeat with other instruments and vocals as needed.
Vocals are frequently overlooked during editing, but they play a big part in how tight a song feels.
A bad entrance (too early or too late) by a vocal can sometimes fool you into thinking that it’s one of the other instruments instead, but by moving the vocal phrase just a little, the whole passage will tighten up.
Be sure to treat the vocal just like the other instruments when editing, because it’s more important to the feel and timing of the song than you think.
The time it takes to edit a project can easily get out of hand if you’re not careful. If a song is executed badly, it’s possible to still make it sound great with editing, but it will ultimately take more time than it would have to just get the performance right in the first place.
That being said, it’s not uncommon to spend as much time editing a project as it did both to track it and do all the overdubs! And editing doesn’t come for free unless you’re doing it yourself (in which case you’re paying for it with your time).
DAW engineers will charge from $25 to $50 and higher per hour, which can add up to some significant money, even with an editor who’s fast. Still, editing is a necessary evil and you should budget for it in terms of both time and money. When that shaky song comes to life with a tight groove, you’ll be glad you did.
Create a near perfect performance by moving the time of a note or phrase. Edit with your ears, not your eyes. Sometimes the unevenness of a performance makes it exciting. A vocal performance can play a big part in how a track feels.
To acquire “The Music Producer’s Handbook” from Backbeat Books, click over to www.musicdispatch.com. NOTE: ProSoundWeb readers can enter promotional code NY9 when checking out to receive an additional 20% off the retail price plus free shipping (offer valid to U.S. residents, applies only to media mail shipping, additional charges may apply for expedited mailing services).
Farm Aid 25 Broadcast Live With the Help Of A Lawo mc²66 Console
According to Senior Audio Operations Engineer Marc Repp the mc²66 was absolutely the right tool for the job.
Geared to increase awareness of the importance of family farms, Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America, took place at Miller Park on Saturday, October 2nd.
Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews performed, as did Kenny Chesney, Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, and several additional high profile artists. The event was broadcast on Willie’s Place, Sirius/XM Radio as well as DIRECTV’s The 101 Network.
Ensuring the best possible audio quality for this event was a huge undertaking—one that was very ably managed by MTV’s Remote Unit 8 truck and its crew, which consisted of Marc Repp and Browning McCollum.
At the center of all this activity, Lawo’s mc²66 digital audio console and Plug-in Server handled the mix.
Marc Repp is the Senior Audio Operations Engineer with Remote Unit 8 and Browning McCollum oversees technical and maintenance operations.
In addition to engineering many of the events that Remote Unit 8 serves, Repp also handles mix assist duties when guest engineers are on on-site.
For Farm Aid 25, Marc was the man behind the board. Seated at the 56-fader Lawo mc²66 console—configured as 48 and 8 faders with eight DSP cards (the maximum number available) for over 500 fully processed DSP channels, Repp was tasked with mixing all music performances.
Interestingly, only half of the acts actually had a sound check prior to the show. This presented several challenges, as Repp explained.
“For this year’s Farm Aid, which I mixed for broadcast in 5.1 surround sound, I only had actual sound checks with half the acts on the roster,” said Repp.
“For those acts, I was able to use the mc²66’s snapshot automation capabilities and simply recall the appropriate mix.”
“The bigger challenge occurred with the remaining acts that never had a sound check. For those eight or so acts, I was advised of the inputs, what lines I could find them on, and we essentially mixed on the fly.”
“One aspect of the mc²66 that really helped me address this situation is its DSP Library feature where you can save favorite DSP setups per channel and they remain with the console until you actually delete them since they’re not project specific,” Repp continued.
“I had saved several favorite kick drum settings, drum settings, guitar settings, voice settings, etc., and I used these as starting points for those acts we never did a sound check with. This way, I didn’t have to completely define EQ, compression, and a host of other parameters for each new act.”
Lawo’s Plug-in Server, which accepts all VST-type audio processing plug-ins without any modification, integrates with the company’s mc² series consoles and has a dramatic impact on the manner in which DSP processing takes place at the mc²66.
The system is integrated with the Lawo HD Core processor, with control of the system originating at the console. This eliminates the all-too-common process of patching external processing equipment into the console and, as Repp points out, is a tremendous time saver.
“We mix a lot of multiple act TV shows and recordings,” said Repp, “and if you’re setting up an outside processor on an act to act basis, somebody has to keep up with all those settings so they can be reset as you move from one act to another.”
“By contrast, if the signal processing is saved as part of the console’s automation—as it is with the Plug-in Server—it gets recalled as part of the snapshot and is ready to go instantaneously. In addition to dynamics processors such as compression and limiting, we can just as easily deploy reverbs, delays, and other effects that, previously, were only available via the outboard gear.”
“The mc²66 was, absolutely, the right tool for the job on this project”
“The fact that it uses the DSP Plug-in server enabled me to have rapid access to a huge amount of DSP capability without ever leaving the console. There’s no patching in of external gear and everything’s extremely fast in terms of its operation.”
“The entire system sounds great and comes together to save you a tremendous amount of time and frustration when you’re scrambling to get a mix up.”
“Those of us working in Remote Unit 8 also work with other manufacturers’ equipment and, frankly, I feel as though the other companies are playing catch-up to Lawo. At the end of the day, it’s all about sound quality—and this is where the Lawo system excels.
Beyma Announces The LX60V2 Subwoofer Family
The new line sees improvements in technology, materials and the manufacturing processes.
Beyma has announced a new iteration if its X60 subwoofer family, well known by many users worldwide.
The new family of products within the LX60V2 family includes the 12LX60V2, 15LX60V2 and 18LX60V2.
This update brings improvements in technology, materials and the manufacturing processes itself to the new line.
The new units deliver the same response and have equivalent parameters as the previous versions (1400 W power capacity).
New features include:
A waterproof treatment for both sides of the cone.
A FEA optimized magnetic circuit which, along with the MMSS suspension system design, provides a controlled, linear and symmetric behaviour of the moving assembly, resulting in lower harmonic distortion.
A new 4” DUO double layer inner/outer voice coil or the new CONEX spiders for higher resistance and consistency.
Tech Tip Of The Day: Rechargeable Batteries In Live Situations
Are rechargeable batteries acceptable for live use? What do I need to know?
Q: I’ve seen several tips and articles here on ProSoundWeb recently about batteries.
I know batteries are expensive, which is something my church is confronted with regularly.
Something I’ve been wondering is if people go to such trouble to store batteries on the fridge to make them last, obviously they have the discipline to use rechargeable batteries.
So, are rechargeable batteries acceptable for live use? What do I need to know?
A: Great question! The short answer is yes, rechargeable batters are absolutely an option, especially if you have the discipline to ensure your batteries are always recharged.
There’s actually a great Church Sound Blog post here on ProSoundWeb that discusses this very topic which is worth a read if you want an opinion from an active worship user.
However, here are the things you should definitely keep in mind if you decide to work with rechargeable batteries.
1. Rechargeable batteries self-discharge faster than disposable batteries. A NiCd rechargeable can lose 10% of its charge in the first 24 hours, and about 10% per month following that.
2. A slow recharge (say, overnight) is better for battery life than fast recharge.
3. Always use a “smart” battery charger that can detect when a rechargeable battery is “full.” Overcharging can damage a battery.
4. NiCd rechargeable batteries should be fully discharged before being recharged, to prevent the possibility of memory effect.
5. NiMH batteries are not as susceptible to memory effect as NiCd types.
6. A rechargeable battery won’t just stop working at the end of its lifespan. It will gradually lose capacity over the end of its life.
As always, we welcome input from the PSW community and would love to know your thoughts on rechargeable batteries for live use, especially if you’re using them right now! Feel free to let us know in the comments below.
For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com
Midas KT Appoints Italo Trading LLC As Latin American Representative
Italo Trading is headed by Daniel Costa Salomao who has a rich history in the pro audio industry, ideal for brand development in such a high growth region.
Midas Klark Teknik has announced the appointment of Miami-based Italo Trading LLC as their Latin America manufacturer represenative.
Headed by founder Daniel Costa Salomao, an industry veteran of thirteen years, Italo Trading LLC was created up in 2008 as a sales and brand development operation for pro audio manufacturers.
Salomao, who previously held international sales management roles at Selemium loudspeakers and the Proel Group said, “I have always had a great admiration for Midas Klark Teknik products, and it’s a major step forward for Italo Trading to be able to include such a celebrated brand as part of our offering.”
“We are very excited about expanding the Midas KT reach across the region.”
Salomao has an extensive experience of Latin America from living or travelling in every country in the area. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
“Latin America is a very important market for Midas and Klark Teknik,” says managing director John Oakley.
“I am delighted that Daniel will be driving our brand development in this high growth region.”
Midas Klark Teknik Website
DiGiCo Training Seminar Held In New York By Autograph A2D
An intensive 3-Day DiGiCo SD7T seminar was recently held at A2D's newly renovated facility. Plans for January sessions are underway.
Autograph A2D held DiGiCo SD7T training seminars for three days October 12, 13, and 14th at A2D’s facility in New York City. Andrew Bruce from Autograph Sound Recording and Zac Duax were the moderators.
Twenty-three attendees, consisting of Broadway designers, engineers and technicians from the various New York shops, attended the sessions held in A2D’s newly renovated demo suite located at 1674 Broadway in the heart of New York’s theatrical district.
Morning sessions were on basic SD7T architecture and history, with in-depth coverage of the desk layout, features and functionality, and DiGiCo’s high-density Stealth digital processor.
Afternoon sessions were devoted specifically to SD7T theater software and cueing.
“With the technologies that have emerged, we see a real need for constant training,” said Autograph partner, Nigel Olliff.
“The hardware may stay the same for a while, but the software is constantly being updated and refined. As a distributor, we see it as our responsibility to offer in-depth training, mentoring and specialist knowledge to the theater community.”
“We had a great group over the three days and were able to take back to DiGiCo software designers many useful ideas for the next software release.”
Plans are underway for the next session in mid-January 2011.
API 1608 Selected By California State University Chico Recording Arts Program
The API 1608 allows CSU Chico to teach signal flow to the students in a way that is tangible.
The Music Industry & Technology program at California State University, Chico gives its students an education that is quite different from the one offered by the mass of competing technical schools.
Rather than focus on technology – either hardware or software – Cal State Chico focuses on the underpinnings of great audio that never change: specifically, building ideal signal flow, listening, understanding music, and inspiring great performances.
Thus, the department’s recent purchase of an API 1608 fully-analog, 32-channel console for the heart of its main recording room is less a statement about gear and more an investment in a tool that will help instructors realize multiple aspects of the department’s mission.
Plenty of prospective students understand the advantages of Cal State Chico’s approach, and the program is officially “impacted,” meaning far more students apply than can be accepted.
“Of course, our students invariably learn to use hardware and software as a means to the deeper messages we instill,” said Prof. Dann Sargent.
“But our students certainly don’t endure PowerPoint presentations on the most effective ways to make a beat splice in software environment X. It’s easy to pick that kind of stuff up.”
“The API 1608 really lets us teach signal flow to the students in a way that is tangible,” said Prof. Keith Seppanen, chair of the music department and veteran sound engineer of Chet Atkins, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, to name a few.
“It is modular at its core, and we can encourage students to patch up what they need. We can arrange things so that it is impossible for them to be lazy in their thinking.”
Professor Joe Alexander who also specializes in the recording arts program and whose independent work with a plethora of international superstar talents running the stylistic gamut for over thirty years added, “I didn’t spend a lifetime in the industry to come here and play academic make believe and neither should students who are serious about their career and the future of audio.”
“We all know that the price of admission to participate in audio has dropped dramatically. Now, most of our students come to us with plenty of experience with entry-level software and hardware. But at the same time, the standards of excellence have also dropped dramatically, given that some people feel an mp3 file now serves as the benchmark of quality.”
“Thanks to API’s long history and continued dedication to all-discrete analog circuitry, our API 1608 will recalibrate our students to a more respectable point of reference—the point of reference that helped capture some of the best recordings of all time.”
“Durability was also a factor in our decision to outfit studio A with the API 1608,” said Seppanen. “Our studio is used twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”
“API has a legacy, so to speak, of building equipment that lasts. Rather than refresh every few years like a lot of programs, we plan to keep this console around for long time.”
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Hose Technology Promotes Sweeney To Director Of Operations & International Sales
Sweeney brings an extensive background in the music products and consumer electronics industries to Hosa.
Hosa Technology has announced the promotion of Ben Sweeney to the position of Director of Operations and International Sales.
Sweeney has an extensive background in the music products and consumer electronics industries, including positions as sales and product manager with several prominent companies, bringing a wealth of experience to his new position at Hosa Technology.
In his new capacity, Sweeney will be charged with overseeing Hosa’s internal systems and processes, which includes maintenance of the company’s website.
He will also serve as the liaison between internal departments and third-party providers—including manufacturer’s representatives.
Further, Sweeney will be responsible for implementing data management and warehouse procedures as well as coordinating with the company’s international distributors in the areas of sales and marketing.
Sweeney possesses an extensive track record in a variety of job capacities that make him well suited for his new responsibilities. A native of Australia, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Media Production from Australia’s Griffith University and also possesses a retail sales and marketing diploma from Monash University of Victoria, Australia.
From 2001 to 2005, he served as National Sales Manager for Intelliware Australia, a distributor of products from Mark of the Unicorn, Sony Media Software, Cakewalk, and Hosa Technology / Zaolla Silverline, among others. From 2005 to 2007, he was the National Retail Sales Manager for Australia’s Sibelius Software.
He moved to the United States and joined Hosa Technology in June of 2007 and has served as the company’s Operations Manager since November 2007.
“I’ve always had a fondness for Hosa and its products,” remarked Sweeney, “and was delighted to join the company after arriving in the States. With my promotion to Director of Operations and International Sales, I have a tremendous opportunity to help take the company to the next level.”
“Hosa enjoys an enviable reputation in the markets we serve and, with an incredibly diverse product line, I believe there is a wealth of sales and marketing opportunity that remains undiscovered. I am honored to be part of the Hosa team that, collectively, will be charged with broadening the company’s reach.”
“With a skill set that perfectly complements the goals and objectives of our company, Ben brings a proven track record and an inexhaustible level of enthusiasm that, I’m confident, will be contagious,” said Jennifer Paquette, Hosa’s General Manager.
“I’m delighted to have Ben working with us as we guide Hosa Technology into a new decade.”
Hosa Technology Website
Don’t Fall Prey To The Volunteer Mentality
How volunteers are treated can be the basis for the success of a ministry within the church.
The argument forever burns on as to whether or not a church should be run like a business.
Regardless of which side you’re on, one thing is for certain, the church is primarily a volunteer-oriented organization.
Unfortunately, that can lead to a poor volunteer mentality.
Let’s overcome that!
Recently I was thinking about all of the negative mind-sets related to volunteer work in audio ministry.
“He’s just a volunteer. He *will* make the band sound like I want.”
“I’m a volunteer, I can do what I want; it’s my time and energy.”
Perhaps you’ve felt similar feelings either as a volunteer or felt “controlled” by someone in leadership.
For the audio volunteer, there is the Negative Volunteer Mentality:
1. I’ll do what I want because they aren’t paying me.
2. When I don’t feel like showing up, someone else can take my place.
3. I will mix the way I want.
4. I can do as little as I want.
5. I can tell musicians what to do.
6. I can say “no” to the pastor.
7. I get keys to the building.
8. I have the position of unchecked authority.
We must not take those views. Instead, should have a Positive Volunteer Mentality:
1. The church leaders trust me; therefore I will do my best.
2. I’m not the only one volunteering and therefore I respect the time and energy of my fellow volunteers.
3. I will produce the best sound for creating an environment for worship (or the mood the worship leader or pastor wants established).
4. The more I do, even coming in mid-week if it calls for it, the more the church body benefits.
5. Musicians are also volunteers and we are on the same team. We support each other.
6. I’m in the position of saying “no” to audio requests from people in leadership and therefore need to take that position seriously and make those decisions appropriately.
7. Keys to the building…to those much is given, much is expected.
8. Authority has been given to me. Just because I’m a volunteer, it doesn’t mean I’m not under church authority myself.
Church leadership can also have a positive or negative volunteer mentality.
How they treat volunteers can be the basis for the success of a ministry within the church.
The church leaders can have this Negative Volunteer Mentality:
1. He/she is a volunteer and should be happy we are “letting them” run sound.
2. They can pay for their own training if they are really interested in what they do.
3. They have no authority.
4. They don’t get keys to the church.
5. We can tell them what to do.
6. They can pay for stuff [cd’s, tapes, batteries, etc] out of their own pocket. That’s part of that ministry.
7. They use the equipment we have - it’s been working for years.
The beautiful Positive Volunteer Mentality:
1. They are volunteering their time and energy and therefore we should treat those gifts with the utmost respect.
2. We can’t afford to pay them but we should use God’s money to properly train them.
3. They are allotted a position of authority because of their God-given talents and skills which they can use to work with other people to create the best audio experience possible.
4. They should have access to the church at all times because their work isn’t limited to the day of the church service.
5. If we treat them like puppets, we deny them the ability to use their God-given talents.
6. A budget is important for all church ministries and the audio ministry is no exception.
7. Technology is constantly producing better audio equipment and therefore the audio ministry should be allowed to upgrade/add-on equipment when it would benefit the quality of sound / the worship experience.
Being a volunteer, it’s easy to think only about myself and how others treat me. The more “I-focused” I become, the less I see how I impact others.
The more “I-focused” I become, the less I am concerned with compassion and pity.
Regardless of how others treat me, if I cannot properly shoulder the responsibilities God has given me, then maybe I need to remember what it means to follow Christ.
I’m fortunate in that my pastor as well as the worship teams support me. But if one day that were to change, I need to be assured that my attitude would not.
How do you actively strive to overcome the volunteer mentality? Let us know in the comments below!
Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.