Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Roland Professional A/V Division Supports Dalai Lama 80th Birthday Celebration

Technical coordinator Kerry Brown and Roland provided products and personnel for front of house, broadcast/streaming and press feeds for this special event

On July 4, 2015, a diverse mix of celebrities, admirers and close friends of the Dalai Lama gathered at Rancho Los Lomas in Silverado, California, at a private event to celebrate the exiled religious leader’s 80th birthday with support from the Roland Professional A/V Division.

Celebrities in attendance included Forest Whitaker, Linda Perry, Sara Gilbert, and Aloe Blacc, who performed an acoustic set.

The event was held by the Peak Mind Foundation, an organization whose mission is to inspire individuals “to achieve peak performance through the power of meditation” and “to offer a hub to unplug, recharge and tap into that space where brilliant ideas are born.”

A key member of the Peak Mind Foundation’s Event Team is Kerry Brown, known as a multi-instrumentalist, artist manager, record producer, engineer and composer; a longtime associate of The Smashing Pumpkins; and a founding member of veteran indie group Catherine, among countless other credits.

Brown has a close ongoing relationship with Roland Corporation U.S., and he was able to involve the Roland Professional A/V Division, to supply a range of products and support for the event.

Brown’s relationship with Roland began earlier this year, after an artist development meeting between Roland and a group he manages, Motobunny. As a user of Roland products since his early music career, Brown was excited to be developing his professional relationship directly with Roland personnel.

He was inspired to integrate Roland’s M.I. and Pro A/V products as a centerpiece of his new project, Sound Lab, a Burbank, CA-based creative space for artists of all disciplines and skill levels, founded with the Six01 artist collective, of which Brown is a key member. Now known as Sound Lab Six01 Studio Powered by Roland, the space is quickly becoming a hub for area musicians and composers, and has formalized the link between Roland and Brown’s varied industry endeavors.

Michael Hebb, multi-discipline intellectual and chef, contacted Brown about a month ago and personally asked him to join the planning team for the Dalai Lama event as technical director, and Brown knew all the right questions to ask: venue size and location, and detailed technical needs. Hebb then put Brown in touch with Michael Trainer, founder of Peak Mind Foundation, who brought Brown into the group.

Brown’s next call was to his new friends at Roland.

Brown notes, “Their response, immediately, was, ‘How can we help?’ We ended up using a ton of Roland gear. The sound at the venue was great, and the stream and recorded tracks were great, too. I couldn’t have done it without Roland’s help, with their gear and the on-site support. Words can’t express the gratitude I have for the company – they went above and beyond, and on a holiday weekend no less.”

Roland supplied the following products: M-5000 OHRCA Live Mixing Console, R-1000 48-Track Recorder/Player, S-2416 24x16 Digital Snake Stage Unit, V-800HD Multi-Format Video Switcher, VC-1-DL Bi-directional SDI/HDMI with Delay and Frame Sync, HT-RX01 HDBaseT Receiver, and HT-TX01 HDBaseT Transmitter.

The M-5000 was used to mix front of house, streaming mix for broadcast and five press feeds. All inputs were recorded to the R-1000 for later editing. The web stream was produced by Roland Corporation U.S.’s video team using V-800HD and VC-300HD. They also used the HT-TX01 and HT-RX01 for long-distance HDMI runs from PTZ cameras. It was broadcast using the LiveStream account to the Peak Mind and Dalai Lama websites. 

Key members of Roland Corporation U.S. were on hand to lend their support, including Christian Delfino, vice president sales & marketing, professional A/V; Chad McCutcheon, video/webcast producer; Marc Esquivel, video production manager; Ruby BC, social media & content curator, and additional support form Brian Alli, vice president, sales and Rebecca Eaddy, marketing communications manager.

The M-5000 performed great and was able to easily produce the three separate audio mixes as well as handle three separate speaker delays. It was Kerry Brown’s first time using the M-5000 for front of house, and he was very happy with the results. “The 5000 and the rest of the gear performed flawlessly, and without their help and support, we never would have been able to broadcast this out to the world,” stated Brown. 

Brian Alli stated, “We were honored to be asked by Kerry Brown of Six01 Studios and Starry Records to help realize the vision Peak Mind had for this event. Our partnership with Kerry and his crew is a very special one. We constantly challenge each other into new and exciting areas of the business and this is a great example. While our focus in the industry on the surface may seem different, with his focus on recording and production and ours on the M.I. product side, we have both learned how through collaborations like these, we accomplish so much more and can reach so many more people. We have plenty more exciting things in the works soon to be a announced so, stay tuned.”

Roland Professional A/V Division

Posted by House Editor on 07/14 at 07:18 AM
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Easy Live Recording With Dante, MADI And More

It’s been said that if it weren’t for the musicians and the audience, concert sound would be a lot more fun. Even if you don’t believe that, virtual sound check allows live sound engineers to hear a previous show before any of those people get there.

While many of today’s analog and digital consoles offer two-track recording to a computer or a USB flash drive, most live engineers understand the dangers of letting others hear a simple stereo board mix that often doesn’t accurately represent how the venue sounded.

On the other hand, archiving shows using multi-track recordings made from individual console preamps is a valuable asset that can provide many benefits from their various uses.

Multi-track recordings of live shows can be mixed down for after-show physical or internet distribution, as well as for future releases of live albums. Playing these tracks back through the same front of house console helps engineers tweak their show file and its scenes, as well as providing a virtual sound check for hearing today’s sound system and room with yesterday’s show.

This allows tuning the PA for the room prior to the band’s arrival or rehearsing without some, if not all, of the band members. It’s also a valuable technique for teaching console operation to less experienced engineers without the pressure of a live event, at a house of worship, in a theater or even on tour.

Modern digital consoles and recording have streamlined the process of multi-tracking live sound, bringing the concept of virtual sound check to life. Talk about the ghost in the machine! One day live consoles will automatically archive and play back signals that passed through every channel going back months, but for now it requires one of several hardware and/or software solutions. Let’s take a look at easy live recording with Dante, MADI and more.

Putting It Together
Virtual sound check is a performance composed of individual inputs from digital desk and a digital path that directs individual preamps to a multi-channel digital recorder and back to the console. Today two common multi-channel digital audio formats, one old and one new, can be found on or added to a wide variety of digital consoles: MADI and Dante.

Thanks to digital multiplexing (interleaving multiple channels of data together), the cabling requirements for digital audio distribution are vastly reduced compared to bulky multi-core analog snakes of old. Both MADI and Dante provide up to 64 channels of 48 kHz digital audio that can transmit over distances of up to 100 meters (about 300 feet). MADI commonly uses either a fiber optic or a coaxial BNC connection, while Dante uses Cat-5e/6 Ethernet cable.

Multi-Channel Digital Audio
MADI (AES10) was developed a quarter-century ago by Neve, SSL, Sony and Mitsubishi to link large mixing consoles to digital multi-track recorders. In 2003, MADI was updated to provide 64 channels at up to 48 kHz, and today 32 channels at 96 kHz is supported. SSL, Studer and Soundcraft provide optical MADI I/O ports on their consoles, while Avid, Allen & Heath and Yamaha provide optional MADI I/O expansion cards.

The Audinate Dante network protocol delivers up to 64 channels of digital audio over a standard Ethernet network. It provides advantages over previous Ethernet audio protocols, such as passing through network routers, lower latency and automatic configuration and has been widely adopted by more than 100 pro audio manufacturers.

Dante is standard on Yamaha CL and QL consoles, where it’s used to connect stage boxes and mixers to each other. The new Yamaha PM10 RIVAGE console supports multi-track recording with an optional HY144-D card that records up to 128 channels at 96 kHz to a computer with a Dante Accelerator PCIe card.

Optional Dante cards are available for the Avid S6L (16-channel), Behringer X32, Mackie DL32R, Midas M32, Roland Pro AV M-5000, plus many Allen & Heath, Soundcraft and Studer consoles. Midas provides a Klark Teknik DN9650 network bridge to convert 24-channel AES50 protocol to either MADI or Dante for their big desks.

Dedicated Multi-Track Recorders
While many engineers run a DAW application on their personal laptops, using a laptop in public at a live show can be risky. Anyone who has incorporated “sweetening” playback tracks in live shows understands that “stuff happens” and that a “show” computer might get broken or stolen.

With that in mind, a dedicated solution that travels with the console can save setup and teardown time, while providing the additional security of being mounted in a rack or console case. Here are a few dedicated hardware-based multi-track recorders that employ easy digital connections.

The Solid State Logic Live-Recorder uses two optical MADI ports to record and play back 128 channels at 48 kHz or 64 channels at 96 kHz using a dedicated 1RU E Machines PC with a RAID array of up to four hot swappable solid state drives (SSDs). The Sound Devices 970 Dante and MADI audio recorder is a 2RU half-rack multi-track recorder that has Ethernet-based Dante connections as well as both optical and coaxial MADI connections to record 64 channels at 48 kHz or 32 channels at 96 kHz.

Some of the dedicated recording devices available, including (top to bottom) the Roland Pro AV R-1000, SSL Live-Recorder, Klark Teknik DN9696, and JoeCo BlackBox BBR64 Dante.

The Roland R-1000 stand-alone, dedicated 48-track recorder uses the company’s proprietary REAC signals from their V-Mixers or, by adding a S-MADI REAC/MADI bridge, any console with a MADI connection. The JoeCo BlackBox Recorder is a popular 1RU dedicated multi-track recording solution that comes in several I/O versions. Besides the 24-channel analog, AES and Lightpipe versions, the BBR64-MADI and BBR64-DANTE versions both record 64 channels and multiple units can be linked together for higher track counts. They can all be controlled using JoeCo Remote iPad software.

The Klark Teknik DN9696 multi-track recorder uses up to four 24-channel AES50 data streams from a Midas digital console to record up to 96 channels at 96 kHz for up to five hours, while the DN9650 network bridge converts up to three 24-channel AES50 data streams to other digital audio protocols, including Dante or optical and coaxial MADI.

Adapters & DAWs
There are many hardware and software combinations that can provide a live sound multi-track recording solution. While there are only a few ways to get multi-track audio into a computer, there are dozens of digital audio workstation (DAW) recording applications.

Some run on Windows, others on Mac and many on both. We’re most interested solutions that are affordable or convenient. MADI computer interfaces are expensive at $1,000 and up, but provide a compact, portable solution.

On the other hand, Audinate and Roland sound drivers allow Dante and REAC to be plugged directly into a computer’s Ethernet port for next to nothing.

The DiGiCo UB MADI USB 2.0 bus-powered interface provides (the first) 48 channels of 48 kHz MADI audio into and out of a Mac or Windows PC.

The RME MADIface USB provides 64 channels of MADI I/O over USB 2.0 for Mac and Windows. Both optical and coaxial inputs can be used for redundancy and includes RME’s TotalMix internal mixer and routing matrix.

Waves DiGiGrid offers two devices for converting dual MADI streams, a total of 128 channels at 48 kHz, MGO for optical MADI and MGB for co-axial (BNC) MADI. The Avid MADI option card provides both optical and co-axial (BNC) I/O, but using MADI with a Pro Tools|HD system also requires a 1RU Avid HD MADI interface. Alternatively, there are other ways to multi-track VENUE consoles.

Clockwise from top/left, MADI interfaces from DiGiCo (UB MADI), RME (MADIface USB), Waves (DiGiGrid MB v2) and Avid (MADI option card).

DAW Software
There are many choices when it comes to DAW software, costing from a couple to several hundred dollars, including Sony ACID Pro ($149), Apple Logic Pro ($199), Propellerhead Reason ($399), PreSonus Studio One Pro ($399), Mark of the Unicorn Digital Performer ($499), Steinberg Cubase ($549) and Avid ProTools ($899). Compared to the multitude of features found in most of these studio-oriented DAWs, tracking and playing back live shows is relatively straightforward. (All prices quoted in this article are MAP, acquired from multiple published sources.)

Live engineers need to accomplish little more than quickly and easily creating a multi-track session for a live performance and then later play those tracks back, so they’re interested in DAWs that are simple, less expensive or provide integration with a live sound console. Here are a few:

—REAPER (Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering, and Recording) is a DAW for Windows XP+ or OSX 10.4+ that is distributed with a free, fully functional 60-day demo version and a discounted ($60) personal license. It’s favored among musicians and houses of worship for its low cost and rich features.

—Waves Tracks Live is available as a free, unsupported download, or $99 for Tracks Live Premium Service with tech support and bundled with Waves MultiRack plug-in host for a limited time. Tracks Live is a simplified DAW designed for easy multi-tracking of live shows. It requires newer 64-bit versions of Windows or Mac OS 10.9.5 (Mavericks).

—PreSonus Capture is a tracking DAW that’s bundled and works exclusively with their StudioLive consoles, designed to make live recording quick and easy, providing instant setup and labeling directly from the mixer with no configuration. Capture version 2 adds a Record Now button to start recording with a single click and a new Virtual Soundcheck button.

—Avid VENUE consoles fitted with optional HDx cards can connect a VENUE console directly to a Pro Tools|HD system. Avid’s ‘VENUE Link’ allows a Pro Tools session to be automatically created, named, and given I/O assignments based on the existing VENUE Show file. VENUE Link also creates ProTools TimeLine markers when snapshots are recalled on the desk.

Clockwise from top/left: screen shots of REAPER, PreSonus Capture, Waves Tracks Live and Steinberg Nuendo.

—Yamaha CL Series consoles are bundled with a license for Steinberg’s Nuendo Live multi-track live recording DAW, a custom version of Nuendo with a 60-second pre-record buffer and integration with Yamaha’s CL digital mixing consoles that creates and names tracks from the console file. QL Series users enjoy the same features but must purchase their license ($349). Nuendo Live is supported by Mac OS 10.7 (Lion) and higher or Windows 7 and 8 and requires Dante Virtual Soundcard ($29, included with CL consoles).

—Dante Virtual Soundcards (DVS) integrate a Mac or Windows computer into a Dante audio network using its Ethernet port, allowing recording and playback of up to 64 channels with any DAW application.

In addition to Nuendo Live, DVS works with most DAWs, including Cubase, REAPER and Logic, as well as consumer applications like iTunes. DVS appears on computers as a Core Audio, ASIO or WDM device.

—The Roland S-RDK driver is a REAC virtual soundcard that allows V-Mixing system users to easily capture up to 40 audio channels from a Roland digital snake directly into most ASIO-based DAWs, including SONAR, Cubase and REAPER, using a single Cat-5e/6 cable to the PC’s Ethernet port.

Hard Drives
Internal hard drives on most computers, especially laptops, are rated 5400 RPM. Not only are external 7200 RPM hard drives recommended for recording 16 or more tracks, tracking digital audio data to an external hard drive reduces the chance of errors.

In fact, for artists that multi-track every show, external hard drives become another consumable, like batteries and gaffers tape.

Solid state drives (SSDs) work on the same flash memory principle as USB thumb drives, are known for their high speed and are recommended for live or location recording due to their lack of moving parts, but they’re a lot more expensive as well as several times faster.

LaCie Rugged Series hard drives with the orange bumper are a favorite and claim to withstand a drop of two meters. They’re found at Apple stores but can be bought reconditioned at LaCie’s outlet store hidden on their web site. Reconditioned 1 terabyte (1 TB = 1000 GB) drives have been $89 in USB 3.0 and $109 in Thunderbolt versions, which are selling new online for $199 and $189. LaCie (owned by hard drive giant Seagate) also makes Rugged in SSD versions, with a 250 GB Rugged SSD selling for $299.

Sound Devices 970 Dante and MADI audio recorder and LaCie Rugged Series hard drive.

How Big?
With digital audio data, like most things audio, there’s math involved. One rule of thumb is to allow 1 GB per track (at 48 kHz) for a two-hour show. This means that a 1 TB (1,000 GB) hard drive can hold 15 two-hour shows of 64 tracks at 48 kHz, which is a full MADI or Dante stream, while recording only 48 tracks (at 48 kHz) allows 20 two-hour shows on a 1TB drive. A smaller 250 GB SSD drive holds only three 64-track two-hour shows or only five 48-track two-hour shows and costs twice as much.

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard for computers and peripherals wasn’t widely used until USB 2.0 in 2000, which upped its transfer rate by 40x to 480 Mbit/s (60 MB/s). Newer and over 10 times faster, USB 3.0 connectors are distinguished by the initials SS and their blue connectors and can transfer data at up to 5 Gbit/s (640 MB/s). USB 3.1 was released in 2013 with the new transfer mode SuperSpeed+, which is twice as fast again.


Back in 2003, FireWire 400 was added to most Macs, but by 2011 Apple began replacing FW 800 with Thunderbolt. At the same time, Windows XP and then Vista only supported FW 400, adding FW 800 support in 2009 with Windows7, but by then the writing was on the wall for FireWire.

Apple replaced FireWire with Thunderbolt with the 2011 MacBook Pro. Using the same connector as Apple’s Mini DisplayPort (MDP), Thunderbolt combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) into one serial signal, and additionally provides DC power in a single cable, with a data-rate of 10 Gbit/s (1.25 GB/s), about the same as USB 3.1.

Veteran mix engineer and pro audio journalist Mark Frink recently presented IEM Fundamentals and Hearing Conservation, a TEC Tracks seminar at Summer NAMM in Nashville. He’s also available for mixing IEMs this summer.

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/13 at 01:12 PM
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Masque Sound Supports Canadian Production Of Kinky Boots

Masque Sound provided a DiGiCo SD7T console along with an L-Acoustics dv-DOSC line arrays for the Toronto show.

When the six-time Tony Award-winning show Kinky Boots recently made its Canadian premiere at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre, Masque Sound provided a custom audio equipment package for the musical.

This marks the third time Masque Sound worked on a production of Kinky Boots with sound designer John Shivers and associate sound designer David Patridge.

The two first worked together for the original Broadway show, for which Shivers won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Sound Design of a Musical.

Having built a strong working relationship with the sound design team, Masque Sound also collaborated with Shivers and Patridge on the national tour in 2014.

Inspired by a true story, Kinky Boots follows Charlie Price, an aspiring young businessman forced to give up his dreams of living in London in order to save his late father’s shoe factory in Northern England. Their story, directed and choreographed by the Tony Award-winning Jerry Mitchell, is brought to life with a score by Grammy Award-winner Cyndi Lauper and a book by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein.

“With the great success we experienced in working with Masque Sound on the previous two productions of Kinky Boots, they were naturally our vendor of choice for the Toronto production,” says Patridge.

“It’s very reassuring to know that with Masque Sound we can bring an audio system to an international location, in this case Canada, and the equipment is going to be well thought out and arrive in full and in excellent working condition. As usual, Masque Sound provided us with the raw materials and support to be successful.”

For Kinky Boots in Toronto, Masque Sound provided a DiGiCo SD7T live digital console, the same desk that the sound designers used for the Broadway production and the U.S. tour. The continuity with the console was a decision made by the sound designers to match the programming across all Kinky Boots productions. However, new to the Toronto production is the fact that the sound designers are running the show at 96 kHz sampling rate in the SD7T, which is different from the Broadway sampling rate of 48 kHz.

“To our ears, there are audible improvements at the 96 kHz sampling rate,” says Patridge. “It feels like a cleaner sound and a better resolution on the sound stage on the high end. The interfacing between some of the equipment proved challenging, but Gary Stocker at Masque Sound came up with a few creative solutions to get around those potential obstacles, and it works extremely well.”

Also new to the Toronto production is the addition of Waves audio signal processing. “Coordinating the DiGiCo theatre software with Waves is very effective and allows us to use plug-ins for analog pre-amps that we use on vocals,” he adds. “With Waves, we have a lot of tools at our disposal and the technology has really improved, so we never have to worry about reliability.”

One challenge faced by the designers on this production was the layout of the theatre. Though the theatre seats approximately 1,500, the architectural challenges required a more in-depth, elaborate PA sound system. Working with three levels, they used three independent sets of main speakers, along with more surround and delays for each level, in order to ensure complete coverage.

The custom speaker system provided by Masque Sound included L-Acoustics dv-DOSC line arrays for the upper and lower balcony, as well as center cluster. An assortment of d&b audiotechnik speakers were used for delays, fills and subs. In addition, a pair of KV2 Audio’s ESR215 loudspeakers were supplied directly from the manufacturer to the sound designers for evaluation. The speakers were used as part the main left/right system at the orchestra level. Masque Sound also provided a custom microphone package featuring a selection of DPA microphones and Sennheiser MKE1s for back up, as well as a Sennheiser wireless package and frequency coordination package for the more than 36 channels of wireless for the show.

“We are thrilled to be able to work again with Masque Sound in bringing Kinky Boots to Toronto,” says Patridge. “The collaboration with Masque Sound and our wonderful team, including Kevin Kennedy, production engineer, allowed us to once again create a wonderful audio package that sounds amazing. It’s a great show in a great theater, and Toronto is a great theatre town.”

Masque Sound

Posted by House Editor on 07/13 at 11:19 AM
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iZotope Offers Free Mastering Presets Designed By Greg Calbi

The presets he has designed are now available to all Ozone users to help elevate their mixes to professional-sounding masters.

iZotope has teamed up with Greg Calbi to offer presets designed by the prolific senior mastering engineer.

Built for users of Ozone, each preset is designed as a starting point for mastering and crafted to achieve a certain sonic goal.

Greg Calbi has mastered over 7,500 albums and worked with artists including The Ramones, The Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and Lady Gaga.

He uses iZotope’s mastering toolkit Ozone on a daily basis.

The presets he has designed for his own projects are now available to all Ozone users to help elevate their mixes to professional-sounding masters.

Calbi’s presets cover such sonic ground as their names suggest: General Clarity, Quick Limiting, Smooth Bass, and Upper Harmonics, as well as several presets for High, Midrange, and Low Detail.

“The presets serve as a window into where a mix can go, an entrance to something you can manipulate further,” he says. “Having Ozone and the availability and the flexibility of the presets makes the job a lot easier.”

More tips for success with the Greg Calbi Mastering Presets for Ozone, including audio examples, can be found in iZotope’s tutorial. Learn more about Ozone on iZotope’s website and learn more about Greg Calbi on iZotope’s blog.

Greg Calbi Mastering Presets for Ozone are now available for free on iZotope’s website along with a free 10-day trial of Ozone.

Ozone 6 and Ozone 6 Advanced are on sale for $199.00 USD (reg. $249) and $574 USD (reg. $999) through July 30, 2015.


Posted by House Editor on 07/13 at 10:00 AM
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Laying The Foundation: Making The Live Mix Work No Matter What

Face it, stuff happens. Sooner or later something stops working during a show.

Front of house engineers must know the absolute essential components of the sound mix that are most vital – in other words, the channels that the band must absolutely have to continue playing. Generally, for a four-piece rock band in a large venue, these channels are kick, bass, guitar, and lead vocal. Just four inputs, everything else is pretty much fluff and spares.

A bit extreme? Perhaps, but hopefully it clarifies the point. 

A good house mix engineer is a prepared one. A well-planned input list allows any input from stage to go bad without adversely affecting the show. If the snare top mic goes down, use the bottom one, and maybe bypass a tom gate. Who cares if you go mono on the guitar, lose the bass mic, or anything else for that matter – nothing is that big of an issue if you’re prepared. 

Two hard-earned observations:
1) No matter how much I yell at the crew, it never makes it sound better.
2) If I act like there is a huge problem, people will know there is a huge problem. 

Say you’re doing a festival gig and the shed sounds terrible (stupid tin roofs), the system is nowhere near what you wanted, the promoter oversold the venue,  half the people can’t hear the PA, band management is on the mix riser… and you’re up. What now? Panic, complain, blame everyone and lay on a big pile of excuses before throwing your arms up?

No matter how bad things seem, freaking out only makes it worse. Step back, sum up the situation, and calmly solve the issues. Setting realistic goals definitely helps. Forget about creating the best sound anyone’s ever heard; rather, ask yourself, “what can I do to create the best sounding show possible with the tools available?”

As a house mix engineer, you are all alone. One of the more difficult concepts of front of house mixing is that the people who know what it should sound like best are on stage and can’t hear the mix. I found mixing monitors was challenging, but at least there was a possibility of a definitive “good” or “bad.”

A house engineer, on the other hand, is left with management, friends of the band, and the emotional expressions of the audience to be the blurry judge of success or failure. The upside is that you can get away with some major goof-ups. The downside is that the most amazing mix is met with being asked “how was it?” by the band. 

My approach to dealing with this quandary is to divide the potential “sound of the show” into these possibilities:
A) The way I think it should sound based on input from the artist(s) and my experience.
B) The sound that the audience tends to respond positively to.
C) The sonic signature and sonic markers of the album.

It’s extremely important to merge and transition between these possibilities at will. As a “sonic politician,” your success and approval rating over time hinges on how well you can bring them into a consistent sonic presentation.

Never forget the bigger picture. Learning to operate the equipment gets your foot in the door and helps in solving (and avoiding) technical issues. Mastering the dynamics of mixing a show increases the emotional connection between the audience and the artist. Refining attitude and perfecting the ability to stay calm in the most stressful situations always helps.

All of this is just the foundation. The true culmination of your efforts is achieving the state where the performers walk on stage knowing “if you‘re mixing, the sound will be awesome!” 

Plus, barring any unforeseen mishaps during the show, you should at least get the gig tomorrow.

Dave Rat heads up Rat Sound, based in Southern California, and has also been a mix engineer for more than 30 years.

Related by Dave Rat:
Is It Really A Great Mix?

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/13 at 06:36 AM
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Italian Musical Project Selects Allen & Heath iLive

Campana & Sonus Percussioni Ketoniche uses iLive to manage front of house and monitor sound for unique project.

An Allen & Heath iLive digital system was recently used to manage front of house and monitor sound for the Campana & Sonus Percussioni Ketoniche, an Italian musical project utilizing synthesizers with traditional and unusual percussion instruments.

Comprising an iLive-T112 surface with iDR-48 MixRack at both front of house and monitor position networked via MADI, the system managed a range of percussion instruments.

The show included 20 church bells, 20 cowbells from Sardinia and Lucanian, an Italian sound sculpture, iron and steel drums, disc brakes, shock absorbers, trusses, pans, bells mounted on bicycle’s wheels, 12 congas, a batà, digeridoo, marimba, 5 pairs of bongos and over 30 drums.

Francesco Apolloni, front of house engineer and technical manager, explains:

“The technical equipment for Campana & Sonus is quite complex as there are nearly 60 sound sources to manage.”

“Musicians are constantly changing position and instruments, so I approach the mixer like a lighting console, with all channels available on the lower layer, and use the upper layer for “live” operating to make continuous, on the fly changes to the mix.”

Allen & Heath

Posted by House Editor on 07/10 at 02:52 PM
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Lectrosonics Introduces Wireless Designer Software v1.1

New version is back ported for use with existing venue receivers and offers detailed spectrum scan and frequency coordination.

Lectrosonics announces the availability of the latest version of its Wireless Designer Software, v1.1.

Originally designed to work with the DSW (encrypted) system, the new version is now back ported to allow use with existing Venue receivers and offers a detailed spectrum scan view and frequency coordination page for improved ease of use.

Wireless Designer is a software package developed to enhance setup and operation of studio and rack receiver systems.

The software provides an overall view of Lectrosonics wireless systems, including all receiver mainframes which are connected.

A summary of each channel is displayed with real time indications for essential levels and settings on each installed module within the system. With multiple receivers, the main display window can be scaled and zoomed for the desired viewing, and several color themes are provided.

The Wireless Designer software includes a spectrum scanner and coordination package for ultra-fast and confident setup. The receiver can be tuned across the available bands (via the modules) and presented in a graphic display. The data from the scan can then be incorporated into the frequency calculations for an accurate, real-world channel coordination.

When individual carriers are moved manually, compatibility is instantly recalculated and displayed, including any warnings for potential intermodulation problems or other conflicts. The powerful spectrum scanning and walk test recorder features make site surveys easy.

Three different user-selectable viewing modes are included for daylight, indoor, and dark conditions. All that is required is a PC or Mac running Silverlight (a free download from Microsoft) and a connection via USB or RS-232.


Posted by House Editor on 07/10 at 08:57 AM

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum Adds API BOX To Studio B

RCA studio B has a long-standing partnership with API—housing everything from a custom 1971 console to a new eight-slot lunchbox.

In the music industry, it’s equally as important to respect the past as it is to look forward into the future.

Perhaps studio manager Justin Croft knows this better than anyone else—he manages the Historic RCA Studio B in Nashville, TN, operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Studio chose API’s newest product, a BOX console, for their control room.

This choice mirrors the dichotomy RCA has struck between preserving the legacy of country music stars, and moving forward with new chart-toppers and record-breakers every year.

Croft spoke with API about RCA’s long-standing tradition of keeping one ear on the past and the other on the future.
Croft says it was important the new console fit in aesthetically with the classic vibe at RCA Studio B: “We wanted the BOX in an enclosure from the famous WSM radio station in Nashville, the station that broadcasts the Grand Ole Opry.”

RCA studio B has a long-standing partnership with API—housing everything from a custom 1971 console “filled with API parts, including 2520 op amps and Melcor 1731 op amps” to a new eight-slot lunchbox.

Croft talks at length about how many different purposes the BOX serves, and how its versatility has changed the way the studio functions. “The BOX has solved so many problems. We had no signal routing going on.” Now, he continues, the BOX “is running the studio loud speakers. We mix on it live to two track, use it for reverb returns, we use its preamps and EQs…we’ve recorded vocalists, choirs, orchestras, jazz bands, and concert bands.”

Croft says even though he expected great things from the BOX, he was still pleasantly surprised by how extensive its abilities are, noting in particular “I love the compressor, that’s something I wouldn’t expect to find on a unit like this. I use it all the time; it’s awesome.”

All of this means Historic RCA Studio B can do an even better job at running the programming for which it has become famous, including educational recording projects “for middle schools, high schools, and colleges. We educate students about studio recording. We also do group tour recording packages, where the public is invited to be a ‘star for a day’ singing along to a hit song that was originally recorded at the studio.”

Of course, “we also record special projects that have historical relevance to the studio.” RCA Studio B’s association with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum means the ties to historic preservation are as crucial to the studio as educating and inspiring future Country stars—and the BOX is an important element in both.
Croft is highly enthusiastic about his new console and API. “We’ve noticed a big jump in audio quality since acquiring the BOX—API rocks.” While the BOX epitomizes variety, Croft’s feelings about it and about API are of a singular nature: “I just love API. The BOX is a great unit. We’re overjoyed with it.” That joy stems in part from the knowledge that API and RCA will continue working together to weave the past, present and future into a wide tapestry of possibility.

Historic RCA Studio B is the Home of 1,000 Hits, where artists like Eddy Arnold, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Elvis Presley, and many others recorded some of American music’s most enduring songs. Preservation of Historic RCA Studio B made possible through a partnership between the Mike Curb Family Foundation and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

RCA Studio B

Posted by House Editor on 07/09 at 12:13 PM

Peavey Electronics Introduces PV AT Series Mixers With Antares Auto-Tune

New mixers are equipped with Antares Auto-Tune pitch correction, Bluetooth and multiple direct outs for recording.

Peavey Electronics introduces the PV 14 AT and PV 10 AT series mixers.

The PV AT series mixers are equipped with Antares Auto-Tune pitch correction, a technology that can literally help anyone sing in key and is used on professional recordings and live performances throughout the world.

Features such as Bluetooth allow connection to almost any “smart” device.

Multiple direct outs per channel allow easy connection to most DAW interfaces for recording.

In addition, these mixers can stream audio directly to a PC. MP3 playback is also available via USB A port and LCD display.

With a slim, low-profile design, PV AT series mixers are ideal in small to mid-size venues.

Key features include 4 channels of Antares Auto-Tune, 8 channels of reference-quality mic preamps, 8 direct outputs for recording, Bluetooth wireless input, and built-in digital effects with LCD display.

PV 14 AT / PV 10 AT Mixer Features:
● 4 Channels of Antares Auto-Tune
● 8 Channels of reference-quality mic preamps
● 8 Direct outputs for recording
● Bluetooth wireless input
● Built-in digital effects with LCD display
● USB to PC for recording and playback
● MP3 playback via USB A input
● KOSMOS audio enhancement
● Global 48 volt phantom power
● Dual selectable control room outputs
● 4 channels of compression
● High impedance guitar preamp
● 3 -band EQ per channel with bypass
● Channel mute buttons
● LED clip, signal, mute indication
● Master level LED meter bridge
● Precision 60mm faders on input channels and stereo master outputs
● New slim, low-profile design
● Convenient tablet cradle

Peavey Electronics

Posted by House Editor on 07/09 at 09:15 AM
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Big Mick Hughes On Mixing Metallica, Low End And LEO Line Array (Video)

In a recently produced video from Meyer Sound, he talks about his role as a front of house engineer and his love of low end.

Front of house engineer “Big Mick” Hughes has mixed more than 1,500 Metallica shows.

In a recently produced video, he talks about everything from his role as a front of house engineer and his love of low end to his experience with the Meyer Sound LEO linear large-scale sound reinforcement system and the 1100-LFC low-frequency control element.

“I’m a bit of a bass monster, and I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a sub like 1100-LFC, ever… It does it all. The spectrum is there. It’s like having a blank canvas now—where before you could only paint on half of it, and now you can paint on the whole thing,” says Hughes.

Meyer Sound

Posted by House Editor on 07/09 at 07:51 AM
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Klaus Hill Remixes “Swing” With Metric Halo

Hill's version of “Swing” was mixed through a Metric Halo 2882 and has achieved 4x-platinum sales in Australia.

Ministry of Sound hired pro audio mercenary Klaus Hill to remix the song “Swing” by rapper Savage, for release on its compilation album, The Annual 2014.

For the latest incarnation of the frequently remixed song, Hill used a Metric Halo 2882 interface to mix the vocal and to perform stem mastering for “Swing”.

This version of “Swing” achieved 4x-platinum sales in Australia and won the 2015 Best Dance Record of the Year award from Australia’s APRA/AMCOS professional society, extending Savage’s legacy.

“Ministry of Sound is one of my regular clients,” Hill explained.

“I’ve been their go-to for mixing and mastering for many years now. Jeff Drake, the label’s head of A+R, asked me to take a look at “Swing” before they released it on their annual compilation album. I mainly worked on the vocal, which was taken a cappella from another Savage song. I used the 2882 to connect to my hardware and – along with MIO Console [Metric Halo’s mixing, routing, and DSP software] – to get everything in the mix sitting just right.”

Released in 2001, the 2882 was Metric Halo’s first interface – and the world’s first FireWire interface. True to its pledge to actually support and future-proof everything it builds, Metric Halo has provided upgrade paths to keep the 2882 as relevant in the world of pro audio today as it was when it was first released.

“The 2882 does all the things I need, and it does them well,” Hill said. “The converters sound great, and Metric Halo’s support is second to none. As usual, I mixed “Swing” through Metric Halo’s MIO Console in combination with Pro Tools and Logic. The summing on MIO Console sounds awesome.”

Hill processed the vocals with Metric Halo’s ChannelStrip, Character, and Precision DeEsser plug-ins.

“I used ChannelStrip’s EQ to clean things up, as the recording wasn’t the best to begin with,” he said. “It also needed a bit more compression. The effects that Joel had added gave the track the right spirit, but they came with a few problems of their own. DeEsser took care of them. Of course, Character [signal path modeling] goes on everything I mix; it’s amazing. All in all, I was able to get the right sound on a tight deadline without any second-guessing. With Metric Halo, I’m confident in my product.”

To achieve contemporary output levels for the final master, Hill boldly clipped the 2882’s inputs. “I love the sound of the 2882 clipped,” he said. “It’s clean and totally transparent. And I’m able to get so much RMS out of it – it’s crazy.”

Metric Halo

Posted by House Editor on 07/09 at 07:17 AM
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TGM Audio Introduces WAVibe Automatic Mastering

New online mastering software and service focuses on the needs of the home and project studio.

TGM Audio has announced the introduction of the WAVibe Automatic Mastering System from the same studio that produced The Audio Mastering Blueprint, free guide to producing better masters.

After many years of development and testing, David S. Eley, owner of TGM Audio, has finally made this service available to the general public.

“The system processes audio through a carefully crafted system involving years of experience mastering thousands of audio files,” says Eley.

Designed to meet the needs of home and project studios on limited budget, WAVibe presents a cost-effective solution for professional mastering.

Building upon the success of TGM Audio’s in-house mastering services, WAVibe opens the door for international access to quality mastering through online uploading of various file types.

Audio files are uploaded into WAVibe, which analyzes it, makes calculated decisions based on the audio file itself and the information input by the user, then renders a finished master; producing two finished masters as mp3 and a 24bit WAV files.

The mp3 reference version is automatically delivered back to the user free of charge after the process is completed. The high-resolution 24bit WAV is sent to secure online storage for purchase and download if the user is satisfied and chooses to purchase the final product.

TGM Audio does not make unrealistic claims about the use or limits of the product or service.

“It can’t repair a bad mix like a human mastering engineer might do, but if your mix is okay, I predict you’ll be quite pleasantly surprised with the results,”  says TGM Audio owner David S.Eley.

“I don’t think a machine could ever trump a human at being an audio mastering engineer, not in our lifetime. But having studied the industry in order to market my tutorials and mastering services, I know there’s a group of people out there who this service is meant for.”

WAVibe Automatic Mastering System
The Audio Mastering Blueprint

Posted by House Editor on 07/09 at 07:06 AM

Digital Evolution

There’s no denying that digital mixing consoles have overtaken old school analog at all levels of the live sound industry; the recent slew of low-priced desks is completing the takeover that started at the highest levels and gradually trickled down.

We’ve certainly come a long way from the earliest digital consoles with their clunky controls, monochrome screens and audio quality which sparked into flame the raging fire that is the analog versus digital debate.

One of the very first commercially available digital mixers was the DMP7 from Yamaha, introduced in 1987 and designed as a recallable mixer for keyboard players. It was soon adopted by sound engineers and pressed into service as a live mixer.

Yamaha proceeded to plow a mostly singular furrow through the 1990s with a succession of digital consoles designed for different purposes while many of the other leading manufacturers looked on, either unwilling or unable to dip their toe into the digital arena. I can only imagine the amount of investment, in time and money, required to build a digital console from the ground up.

Now we’re in what can only be described as a golden age of digital live sound consoles, all of the leading manufacturers have models out, and many others not known for live consoles have also entered the crowded marketplace. This presents a new set of challenges to aspiring engineers.

Distinct Differences
The great thing about analog desks is that once you’ve learned to work one of them, you can pretty much work any of them.

The basic design was established in the early 1970s and has been reasonably consistent ever since, the only difference being scale. Another key feature of analog consoles is that every single function has a dedicated control, which means a quick glance across the control surface tells you everything you need to know about how many inputs and outputs it can handle as well as what degree of control you have on the signal path at every stage.

The Vistonics interface on a Soundcraft Vi Series digital console.

Digital consoles, on the other hand, are essentially powerful audio computers with custom interfaces, and it’s these interfaces that can differ dramatically from model to model as each manufacturer attempts to define the digital paradigm.

Thankfully certain commonalities of design have started to emerge and been adopted as common ways to make sense of the increasingly complex features offered by digital consoles. Most now have a screen (some of which are touch screens), single channel controls, fader banks (in layers) and some sort of master section.

However, if you’re not working at the level where you can either travel with your favorite console or at least specify which model is provided, then you need to be able to adapt on a daily basis to whatever console you are presented with. This can be quite tricky so I’ve got a few tips on how to make this process easier.

All manufacturers are keen for engineers to adopt their products so a lot of them provide some form of free training or access to their consoles.

Soundcraft, Midas, DiGiCo, Allen & Heath and SSL all provide free training in certain regions, Yamaha offers various seminars, and Avid hosts many webinars. So it’s always a good idea to check the manufacturers web sites to see if they do anything in your area. A quick search of YouTube should reveal a host of tutorials and demonstrations from companies such as Mackie, PreSonus, Roland Pro AV, Behringer and others.

If you can’t get near a desk you want to try out, another way to familiarize yourself with a particular console is to install the offline editing software. The software from Soundcraft, Midas, SSL, Avid, DiGiCo and Behringer all closely resembles the console itself so you can get a feel for how it works at home (even though you won’t be able to pass any audio).

The new Yamaha Rivage PM10 provides an idea of just how far digital has come since the company introduced the DMP7 almost 30 years ago.

Yamaha is the main exception here as all of their offline editing software is based on the generic Studio Manager platform that presents a uniform interface which doesn’t resemble the individual desks (but will allow you to edit all parameters). However be aware that the vast majority of offline editing software is Windows only except for the Midas PRO series (which is Mac only) – most manufacturers suggest that Mac users utilize a Windows emulation program such as Parallels or Boot Camp.

The other great thing about offline editing software is the ability to pre-program show files.

I’m a big fan of this functionality as it allows me to save precious time in the venue by configuring the console in advance, often while I’m traveling.

Obviously there’s a limit to what you can pre-program without the inputs and outputs being active but I’ve come up with a simple check list to ensure I cover everything that can be pre-programmed:

1) Channel Name. The first thing I always do is program the channel names. While not all desks have visible scribble strips (particularly the older ones), it can still help when navigating around the offline editor. The number of characters available differs greatly so I’ve gotten in the habit of using standard 4-letter names for all channels to ensure consistent naming across all consoles

2) Patching. Most consoles let you patch inputs and outputs in offline editing mode (assuming you know what stage boxes you’ll be using).

3) Panning/High-Pass Filter. I usually have a clear idea in advance of a show how I want to pan things and where to apply high-pass filters.

4) Polarity Invert. Some microphones will be on the opposite side of the instruments to most of the other mics, so those channels should have the polarity invert switch engaged.

5) EQ. I would never advise equalizing anything without first hearing it, but there are certain EQs I tend to use as starting points on certain mics/sources.

6) EQ Type. Some console manufacturers offer a choice between precise and accurate digital EQ and a more analog algorithm. I generally prefer the latter so will switch all channels (for Yamaha you switch the EQ to Type II and for Avid you engage the “analog” button).

7) Gate/Comp. Again, you can’t really set a gate or comp without hearing the signal, but you can put them in a ready state for specific sources by preselecting range, ratio and attack/hold/release envelopes (and in the case of Midas you can select the compressor type).

The Allen & Heath dLive, just launched at InfoComm, offers plenty of color to serve as a guide.

8) Graphic EQs. Need to be assigned to the relevant outputs.

9) Effects. Not all consoles allow the editing of effects parameters in offline mode but those that do will help you save time on the day of the show.

10) Short-Cut Keys. Don’t forget to assign that all important tap button to delays. I always find it handy to set up instrument/vocal/FX mute groups and create shortcuts to the effects parameter pages.

11) VCA/DCA. We all know that no digital desk has VCAs but the terminology has stuck so that’s what we will call them. I like to put my stems and effects on individual VCAs so that I can (typically) have them on the surface at all times.

12) Custom Layers/Fader Assign. Many desks enable customization of which channels appear on which fader layers, and this can be a really handy way of ensuring the most commonly used channels are always at hand.

13) Store It. Once you’ve done all editing, you invariably need to save it to the virtual console before you can export it to a USB stick. It’s always a good idea to put the band name and show date in the file name, especially if you plan to email it in advance of the show.

Word To The Wise
A couple of warnings about pre-programming.

First, it’s important to ensure you know the exact firmware version of the desk you’re using so you can program the desk on the same version of the offline software.

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to pre-program the desk only to discover your show file is incompatible – and then realizing you have to do it all over again. I’ve yet to see firmware information displayed on a venue tech spec so this is something you will invariably have to chase up with the venue/event production manager.

Second, be aware that some venues/events insist that if you’re to pre-program your show file you must send it to them a certain period in advance of the show.

This not only ensures that you have the correct firmware version but also enables them to integrate it with their system (for instance they might have a complicated output set-up involving matrixes and delays). In this instance, if you turn up on the day of the show with your USB stick you won’t be allowed to insert it anywhere.

With a very few exceptions (most notably the Yamaha M7CL), all digital consoles have more channels than faders. This is an obvious consequence of trying to cram as much processing as possible into smaller boxes, resulting in a condition I like to call “layeritis.” This is an affliction that affects all operators of digital consoles whereby you forget which layer you’re on and start pushing the wrong faders.

Even with a decent complement of faders and a modest number of inputs, you can quickly find yourself having to deal with multiple layers which blur the lines between your input and your outputs – an issue that is greatly exacerbated if you’re running monitors from front of house.

Some consoles, such as those made by Soundcraft, have colored faders that are great for telling you where you are (and what kind of channels you have beneath your fingertips). Most consoles have the ability to color the scribble strip, and some even have the option of using photos to quickly help you identify key channels.

But the key to avoiding layeritis is to organize channels intelligently. Identify which channels you rarely touch during the show and which you are constantly adjusting and assign them to layers accordingly, such that the ones you need most often are always on the surface – this includes the effects returns. If you can’t get the effect returns on the same layer, put them on individual VCAs.

Another trick is to always label sends with lower case letter and returns with capital letters. It’s a simple way of differentiating groups of channels that will invariably have the same names.

Going Mobile
Before concluding, a quick word (actually two words) on one of the great advantages of digital consoles: remote control. When your console is essentially controlling a powerful audio computer it becomes much easier to utilize other methods of control, a tablet computer being one obvious method.

All that’s needed is a wireless router plugged into the Ethernet port of the console, and as long as you have the appropriate software, the desk can be controlled from anywhere that the range of the router will permit. And this is where the pro-Windows/anti-Apple bias of offline editing software is flipped on it’s head, as the vast majority of remote control apps are iPad only.

The new DiGiCo S21 packs a lot into a smaller platform.

Remote control is brilliant for those times when the console is in a less than ideal position as well as enabling engineers to wander around the space and quickly tweak the mix to ensure it works for as much of the audience as possible. It’s also handy when you want to quickly get on stage and EQ the monitors – although be careful when pushing things close to the precipice of feedback as it can be harder to find that all important mute button.

There are even some consoles just entering the market that can only be controlled by an iPad. This is great from a cost point of view but I imagine die-hard engineers will not be happy with the complete lack of those comforting faders.

Whatever your approach to using them, digital consoles have a lot to offer, and they’re certainly here to stay, so it’s important that we all familiarize ourselves with the digital evolution.

Andy Coules is a sound engineer and audio educator who has toured the world with a diverse array of acts in a wide range of genres.

Posted by House Editor on 07/09 at 06:58 AM
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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

In The Studio: Guerilla Recording Is As Simple As One, Two… Eight?

This article is provided by BAMaudioschool.com.

Guerilla = someone who operates in an independent and irregular manner. Often a guerilla is not well funded, and must make do with limited resources without making compromises in quality and effectiveness.

Guerilla Recording = Recording in an independent and irregular manner using limited resources without making compromises in quality and effectiveness.

If you’re a minimalist recording engineer who is capable of capturing good sound from an instrument with only a few microphones, then working on a guerilla budget should not affect the quality of your work that much.

In general there are some things to keep in mind:

—Never be afraid to experiment with a microphone position.

—When in doubt as to where to put a microphone, listen while moving your head around the sound source and put the microphone where the sound is strongest.

—If you notice a particular microphone sounds bright and you are recording a bright sound such as a hi-hat, use the bright sound. Use similar matching logic for other sounds and microphones but keep in mind that some bright sounds (vocal, piano, acoustic guitar) need more bottom than you may realize.

—Be careful not to process any sound too much when recording with compression, gating or EQ unless you really need to. You can always add the effects later but can never remove them.

—Do not compress too much. Use the headroom to capture the dynamics of the instrument or voice, and only use compression to keep the louder sounds under control (for example a 3:1 ration where the gain reduction is set to happen only when the performer is the loudest)—but do not overly compress the sound unless you specifically want a particular effect.

It can be as simple as one, two, eight.

First, I must point out that your songs and arrangements must be well thought out and practiced before you begin. It doesn’t matter if you’re recording on 2 tracks, 4 tracks, 8 or 24…garbage in = garbage out.

The Beatles worked with only 4 tracks by recording onto one machine then bouncing down stereo pairs and adding more tracks on another machine. Their music still stands as complex and full as much larger productions made today because what they recorded was complex and full. Always remember that what you record is more important than how you record it, but if you get both right you can make something great.

In addition, make sure that your room is properly setup for your recording. The musicians should be able to see and hear each other, and amplifiers and instruments should be set in a way that will allow for some microphone isolation. 

For example, two guitar amps that face each other from across a room will allow for better isolation on their individual microphones than if they are placed directly next to each other facing the same direction.

The cheapest option is to use the stereo inputs and outputs on the back of your computer. This will only allow you to record up to two items at a time, so you will be rather limited. 

Granted, you can get your hands on a bunch of microphones and a mixing board and record live to 2-track, but that keeps you from being able to manipulating the individual band elements later when overdubbing or mixing.

Most people who use the cheapest option end up building a rough draft of the song in a computer program and then adding instruments using the two inputs for either 1 mono/stereo recording or 2 mono instruments playing together.

Of course this also applies for USB or FireWire systems with only 2 inputs.

This works very well for music that is built up from a foundation, but is not as flexible as we want for recording many musicians.

The middle option is to use a multiple input A/D converter. Let’s assume you have 8 inputs that make it to 8 separate tracks in your computer when you record.

OK, you have 8 tracks. No matter how simple a song’s instrumentation, you’re still going to have to compromise from the “each mic or plug to it’s own track” approach to recording. You’re going to have to make some commitments, although not as much as if you were recording live to 2-track.

This means you will need to cut down on the number inputs you will need for each instrument you are recording. If you find you’ve finished allocating your instruments and have available tracks left over, then you have the room to make less compromises.

Pre-mixing can mean putting your individual mics or plugs into a mixing board and recording a mono or stereo output from the the board, or it can mean simply using the stereo output jacks of a drum machine rather than the individual drum outputs.

When you are using microphones rather than machines for your sounds, you can reduce the number of inputs you will need by using fewer microphones for each sound.  For example, let’s consider drum micing…

Instead of 11 drum mics, use 4 (kick/snare/overheads), 3 (kick/overheads), 2 (either overheads or near the kick/snare), or 1 (in front slightly above the kick, in front of the kick slightly over the cymbals directed at the snare, directly, over the drummers head, etc).  This requires the drums to be well balanced since you’ll not be able to make as much compensations and “make one louder or brighter” later. 

Yes, you can make the sounds beefier, brighter or even process them to hear more of a particular tom, but you can’t control the individual drums as much as if they were on separate tracks. Your drums must sound even in the room, and you must capture that

Oh, and don’t forget to change the room acoustics when necessary to make the drums sound even (such as by hanging blankets overhead to control an overly splashy cymbal).

If I’m recording a typical-sized band onto 8 channels I would begin by listening to the song to help me decide what inputs to reduce.

If two instruments play at different times, I try to record them on to a single track (intending to split the track later to process the instruments on separate channels).

Otherwise I tend to do the following:

Drums: Record 4 tracks of drums, kick/snare/overheads. The kick, snare and overhead placement is exactly the same as if I’m recording with close mics on separate tracks.

I tend to make an imaginary line from the high tom to the low tom, and then bring that line up at least a foot or so above the cymbals.  Position the microphones along that line, just outside the cymbals, facing in toward the snare.

Now I listen to the sound of the mics in the control room or pair of headphones. Have the drummer play and angle the mics to better pick up any drum not being clearly heard. The phase of these mics relative to the kick and snare, and it may be necessary to raise or lower these mics for optimal warmth when heard with the kick and snare close mics.

Bass: Unless I end up with extra tracks after the other instruments are taken care of, I record the bass mono. I listen to the direct bass sound and the amp sound and decide what to record or combine, bearing in mind I can always send the direct bass sound out into the amp and record that as an overdub. 

Expect the bass amp to leak into the other instrument mics during the performance a little bit. If you anticipate a great amount of bass amp leakage I suggested recording the amp rather than only a direct bass sound.

Guitars: Record guitars mono, trying to keep them separate when possible.

Keyboards: Although it’s possible to record keyboard MIDI information and then record the actual sound as an overdub (saving a track), this should really be practiced and confirmed before the recording. I suggest recording a mono keyboard track as a safety in any case.

Vocals: Lead vocals must be given their own track, but background vocals can be combined (the blend must sound good because it cannot be changed later).

The “official” way to record more than 8 is to use chained and synchronized A/D converters, or larger capacity A/D converters. The unofficial way is to have more than one system, record into every input you have access to, and sync the tracks up by hand later on. 

Of course, you can expect minimal amounts of offset and even drifting, but this can often be dealt with afterwards. Don’t forget to set all of your devices to the same sample rate and bit depth.

In other words: You’re ready to record your band, using 4 tracks for drums, 1 track for bass, 1 track for guitar, 1 track for keyboard, and 1 track for lead vocal. Suddenly in walks Jeff Beck asking to play along (hey, it could happen…).

In a panic, you consider telling your drummer that mono drums is the newest fad—but then notice an old mBox sitting in the corner by a laptop. You fire up the laptop/mBox and record Jeff Beck on to it while the rest of the band is being recorded on the first computer, in 8 channels.

Of course the two computers are not in any way synced together (and you cannot even be sure you start record at the same time on both computers), so you need some sort of reference recorded to both machines so that when you assemble all of the audio tracks into a single session you can line up the parts correctly. 

If your second system has an extra track you can record a split of one of the things being recorded on the first system (for example, the bass can be sent to both track 5 of the first system and also track 1 of the second system). 

Then afterwards all you have to do is line up the two identical bass tracks and you will know where to place the other tracks from the second machine so all of the audio tracks line up and all the recorded parts play together where they should.

If you don’t have the luxury of an extra open track on the second system, you can record a similar sound on both machines at the beginning of the recording and line up those sounds later on. 

In theory,  if the beginnings of the tracks are lined up they tracks should be (for the most part) lined up throughout the entire song. Of course, due to differences in computer clock speed, you may need to move some parts around slightly to compensate for any drift that occurs throughout the song).

One way to record the same sound to both systems is to send a sound (a click or even some music) to both systems through a mixer. If you’re not using a mixer, you can do the same thing by going into record on both systems, removing the plugs going into a track of each system and plugging in both outputs from a iPod, playing a few seconds of music (preferably mono music for accurate lining up later), removing the iPod plugs, replacing the original track input plugs, and then performing the song.

By the way, do not split up stereo pairs or multiple tracks that make a single sound (for example do not record overhead left on the main system and overhead right on the second system…or put the kick mic on the second system). 

Also, if Jeff Beck does walk into your session, put him on the main system with the drums and bass….and then call me immediately.

Once you have your basic tracks recorded, go back and expand where possible.

For example, if you recorded the keyboards mono along with full midi information, play back the midi and record the keyboard sounds separately and (where necessary) in stereo. Or perhaps send a direct bass sound out to the bass amp and record the sound of the amp itself.

You can then record any overdubs and mix as normal, since those operations rarely require more than 2-8 inputs or outputs.

Bruce A. Miller is an acclaimed recording engineer who operates an independent recording studio and the BAM Audio School website.

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/08 at 11:26 AM
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Allen & Heath iLive Installed At Outdoor Theatre In China

The New Yuanming Palace of Zhuhai features an imperial garden, lake, pagodas and a central outdoor theatre to stage performances.

Allen & Heath’s iLive digital system has been installed as the front of house mixer in the central theatre at the New Yuanming Palace of Zhuhai. 

It is a reproduction of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing, which was destroyed in 1860.

The popular tourist attraction includes an imperial garden, lake, pagodas and a new central outdoor theatre to stage theatrical performances.

The theatre is a multi-functional venue with a seating area that can accommodate 6,000 people and hosts regular cultural performances and festival events.

The front of house system comprises an iLive-T112 Control Surface with iDR-48 MixRack, fitted with an M-DANTE network card to support 64 channels of multi-track for live recording and playback.

“iLive provides flexible control and extensive operational capabilities, including live recording, which means our sound system can easily manage the varied and diverse program of activities. The sound quality of the system is extremely high, making every performance very special,” says Mr Huang, project manager at the New Yuanming Palace’s theatre.

Allen & Heath

Posted by House Editor on 07/08 at 09:49 AM
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