Monday, October 20, 2014

Meyer Sound D-Mitri Drives Anne Frank Stage Production In Theater Amsterdam

System facilitates actors interacting simultaneously across acoustically isolated “rooms” using wireless microphones

Award-winning sound designer Jeroen ten Brinke has chosen the Meyer Sound D-Mitri digital audio platform as the backbone of his design in ANNE, a dramatic presentation of the Anne Frank story in the 1,100-capacity Theater Amsterdam.

With a CueConsole control surface, D-Mitri drives the play’s audio mixing, matrixing, and loudspeaker processing.

“Choosing D-Mitri as the foundation of the system was a no-brainer,” says ten Brinke, who is a design parter at Audio Design International. “The audio quality is second-to-none, which is critical to bring out all the subtleties of the dialogue. It also works beautifully with both the orchestration and the sound effects, which range from whisper-quiet to wartime bombing scenes.”

Compared to most theatrical plays, the sound design in ANNE is extraordinarily intricate. Actors interact simultaneously across acoustically isolated “rooms” using wireless microphones. The room interior sets rotate on and off stage using sophisticated mechanics. As two of the acoustically isolated rooms are often on stage and active at once, hidden monitoring systems are needed for actors to hear each other on each set.

In addition, dozens of loudspeakers are embedded in the sets to localize actors’ voices, as much of the dialogue is spoken in soft voices or whispers. Consequently, 24 microphone inputs are programmed in D-Mitri for balance, mixed with the original orchestral score and effects, and routed to the constantly changing outputs. Everything is then reproduced in 8.1 surround sound.

“D-Mitri coupled with CueStation is clearly the result of many years of experience in complex theatrical automation,” says ten Brinke. “It gives me endless flexibility during the design process. There’s never a ‘no can do’ response, no matter how demanding the request.”

The D-Mitri platform for ANNE comprises two digital I/O frames and three analog output frames, plus one DCP core processor, one general purpose I/O frame, and one analog input frame. D-Mitri is controlled via CueStation software and a CueConsole, and uses 48 input channels and 72 discrete outputs.

The audio production team also includes Chris Blaauw, assistant programmer, and Igor Milosavijevic, resident sound mixer. The system was supplied by Amsterdam-based Focus/Rent-All, with Meyer Sound distributor Audio Electronics Mattijsen facilitating the sale.

A three-time winner of the John Kraaijkamp Musical Award for Best Achievement in Design, ten Brinke also used D-Mitri in the Soldier of Orange production (Soldaat van Oranje), where a circular audience platform revolves inside a surrounding ring of expansive stage sets.

Go here to read a Q&A with ANNE sound designer Jeroen ten Brinke “Pushing the Sound Envelope—Adapting the Anne Frank Story on Stage.”

Meyer Sound

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/20 at 10:28 AM
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Grand Ole Opry Makes The Switch To Studer Vista 9 & Vista 5 M2 Digital Consoles

Vista 5 M2 replaces last piece of analog audio equipment remaining at the historic venue

The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, an institution of American music that has presented countless top artists for almost 90 years, recently switched to a Harman’s Studer Vista 9 digital console for broadcast services and a Studer Vista 5 M2 as its new front of house console.

With shows on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House (including occasional back-to-back shows on Fridays and Saturdays), the Opry’s technical staff operates at a hectic pace. For its broadcast and post-production work, the Opry chose a Studer Vista 9 digital console.

“We have been digital for a long time on the broadcast side, but we went with the Vista 9 because it was purpose-built for live broadcast and post,” says King Williams, broadcast engineer, who mixes the live radio broadcasts and handles the post-production work, while also remixing performances for the Opry’s marketing department to utilize. “Having the automation capability for both broadcast and post is important.”

The new Studer Vista 5 M2 at front of console provides a TFT metering system capable of displaying signal levels from mono through to 5.1 channels on each input, with a configurable lower area which can be used to display bus assignments, surround images or the unique History Mode.

Metering for “layer 2” signals can also be viewed, while the Control Bay screen can be used to provide configurable user pages with up to 40 meters.

“We’re working with 96 inputs and the Vista 5 M2 is set up on four banks of 10 on the top and six layers deep,” notes Tommy Hensley, front of house engineer for the Opry. “I use three of those banks for inputs and a VCA in the middle. The console is very easy for me to navigate and I love the meter board. Being able to see the history right in front of me is a huge advantage. It’s a great console and easy to operate.”

Until the Opry upgraded to the Vista 5 M2, the front of house console was the last piece of analog audio equipment remaining. However, the new board has provided all the benefits of digital technology while retaining the warm sound and tactile operation of an analog desk. “The recall on the analog board was just faders and soft keys—none of the mic pres, EQs, or limiters were recallable,” Hensley says. “Needless to say, the Vista 5 M2 has made my life way, way easier.”

“I love the comps and gates on the M2 as well,” he adds. “The Lexicon reverbs sound great, and we have that feature on both Vista consoles here.”

For the in-house and broadcast elements, built-in cue lists were priorities when deciding on both Vista consoles.

“Considering the number of artists we work with every week, we have tons of snapshots that we need to save to be able to recall the settings for each artist,” says Kevin McGinty, audio engineer at the Grand Ole Opry. “Lots of consoles are not able to handle the cue lists that we require. We have several hundred snapshots for both consoles, and the Vista boards are able to store the tons of information we have in a very efficient way.”

“The Vista 9 is set up to where I run down the cue list, recall the snapshots and fire away,” Williams adds. “It’s important that I take a full snapshot of every artist, including mic preamp settings, because I am responsible for the multitrack recordings.”

According to Hensley, it’s not just the depth of the cue lists that make a difference; the ability to organize the lists alphabetically is an often-overlooked but crucial feature.

“It’s something that a lot of consoles don’t have,” he notes. “Having those alphabetized cue lists helps us access those snapshots right away, which is important because most of the artists only play one or two songs, then you have a few commercials and you have to adjust to the next artist right away. It’s really convenient to easily find the snapshots, quickly review them and lock them in.”

Other Harman equipment at the Grand Ole Opry includes a Soundcraft Si Expression 2 in the video department and an Si Expression 3 that is used as a sidecar to the Vista 9, via a MADI interface. “We run radio commercials and other content on the Expression 3 and sometimes we’ll get some playback from the video department that goes from the Expression 2 to the Vista 9 and Expression 3,” Williams explains.

In addition to the Si Expression consoles, the Opry features JBL VerTec line arrays for its main PA system and BSS Soundweb London DSP for the venue’s 70-volt system.

In addition, Studer’s commitment to customer support and hands-on service has stretched the value of the Opry’s investment in the Vista consoles. “Working with Rob Lewis [Studer’s US Sales Director] and James Tunnicliffe [Soundcraft Studer Field Support and Applications Engineer] has been an absolute pleasure,” states Jon Mire, technical services manager for the Grand Ole Opry. “They have been there for us whenever we’ve needed them and provide the best support I could ask for. That kind of attention to detail makes a huge difference.”

“When it comes to music venues, few can match the prestige of the Grand Ole Opry, so when it comes to technology, there can be no sacrifice in performance,” says Mike Franklin, senior US sales manager, Studer. “This is a tremendous showcase for the capabilities of Studer digital consoles in live and broadcast environments and it’s a pleasure working with the team of true professionals at the Opry.”

Grand Ole Opry
Harman Professional

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/17 at 01:38 PM
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Cymatic Audio Introduces uTrack 24 Universal Hardware Recorder/Player/Interface

A solution for high-quality recordings without the need of a computer

Cymatic Audio has introduced the uTrack 24, a universal hardware recorder/player/interface in 19-inch format that provides high-quality recordings without the need of a computer.

The uTrack 24 records directly onto USB media plugged into the front panel, while a three-color LED displays the level of all channels. The LEDs can also be used as a 24-segment level meter for individual channels.

A large LCD shows all other important information and allows a fast and intuitive editing of parameters with an endless push encoder.

In order to make recordings hassle-free even in dark or hectic environments, the Cymatic Audio hardware recorder is outfitted with big illuminated transport controls directly on the front panel.

With a size of only 1RU, the uTrack 24 accepts up to 24 input and output signals via D-Sub multi-pin connectors, allowing large live events to be recorded smoothly. A BNC WordClock input and output allows the device to integrate seamlessly into other digital recording environments.

The uTrack 24 can record 24 channels with a sampling rate of 48 kHz and up to 24 bits, and, it can record up to 8eightchannels with a sampling rate of 96 kHz at 24 bits. The possibility to loop-record endlessly is unique: there is no limit to the maximum recording time, the only limitation is the capacity of the recording medium.

Recordings can be managed and converted into other formats with a free WaveTool software for Mac and PC. Upcoming hardware module add-ons will allow the use of other formats.

Due to the internal DSP mixer, a stereo mix of the 24 tracks can be taken directly from the headphone output on the front panel. It further provides level, pan mute, and solo controls for all 24 inputs, making an external mixer redundant.

Besides its use as a recorder, the uTrack 24 can also play back up to 24 tracks, making it a very good virtual sound provider for live applications. The Playlist mode is useful in such cases because it supports uninterrupted playback.

When used under OS X, Windows and iOS, the uTrack 24 is a powerful audio interface with 24 inputs and outputs, as well as dedicated control room and headphone outputs, each with its individual level control.

Firmware updates from Cymatic Audio will bring additional features to the uTrack 24, including:

- Cascading of two uTrack 24 units to create a perfectly synced 48-track system.
- Software remote control via the RJ-45 connector.
- Direct playback of standard MIDI data, for the benefit of entertainers.




Cymatic Audio

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/17 at 11:14 AM
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

RE/P Files: Wally Heider Recording Sammy Davis, Jr. LIVE at the “NOW Grove”

From the archives of the late, great Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, this feature is an amazing look back at a Los Angeles live recording with a legendary artist, circa September 1970. (Volume 1, Number 3). The text is presented unaltered, along with all original graphics. A pdf for a print-out of the original article is located on page 3.

10:30 PM . . . the ‘NOW GROVE’. . . the comedy team has slipped back behind the curtain . . . the room is hushed . . . expectant. . . apprehensively darkened . . . unaware that tonight’s performance is to be, too, a live taping of material for Sammy Davis’ new Motown album . . . SAMMY DAVIS JR LIVE AT THE GROVE.

Connected umbilically to the GROVE by some 400 yards of audio and coax cable, in a strangely unmarked, workman-like panel truck, a big man, in reputation for this sort of thing, as well as in physique, WALLY HEIDER easily swivels left, then right from his position full in front of the complete 16-track console, ‘punching-in’ both 16-track recorders.

For the next hour and thirty minutes, as the two-inch 3M 206 tape winds, Wally operates in his acknowledged specialty: CAPTURING THE LIVE PERFORMANCE

At odd times during that day, as time occurred during the set-up, we talked with WALLY HEIDER about Remote Recording, and particularly how he intended to work this date.

“This job started,” said he, “last night, (the opening night of Sam’s four-day engagement), when we saw the show completely and began to work out the basic planning and strategy.

We got a pretty good idea of the things Sam wanted to record; sound levels, and how the band was used.” The best ‘Remotes,’ we were to learn, happened when the performers were as nearly unaware of the recording process as that is possible.

We watched as Wally and his set-up crew took every possible precaution so that Sammy and the 23-piece George Rhodes band, on the 30’ x 12’ stage would in no way be impeded. The essence of Wally’s secret, if it is a secret, is that the twenty-seven (27) mikes, many boxes, and yards and yards of cable in no way detracted from the flow of the performance.

Earlier on the day of the ‘taping,’ Wally prepared a sketch of the stage, as well as the instrument placement of the band, and the house Public Address systems. An inventory of the mikes he wanted to use followed. The set-up crew working from these plans wired the stage and hung the mikes accordingly.

Microphone and Stage Layout

Although no special problems occurred, a good bit of time was spent at the heart of the band, the very tightly-grouped rhythm section at the center of the stand. So that the drums were not obscured, the piano lid had been completely removed.

The decision, thus, was to ‘close-mike’ the piano, top and bottom, with two Sony C-37’s multed together before they reached the console input. Normally, Wally would have preferred to mike the piano with a single mike a couple of feet above and away from the piano, to effect a better blend of highs and lows. A second alternative, if a woody, funky sound was desired, would have been to place a mike directly into one of the sound holes.

Having heard the repertoire the night before, Wally decided to go with the ‘above and below’ close-miking which, as it happened, gave remarkable tone. Separation was distinct even from the double bass drums located directly behind the piano.

Wally preferred to mike the drums very much the same as they would have been, had they been recorded in a studio. He used two Sony C-37’s over head. The snare was close-miked with a Shure 546, as well as two more 546’s close-miked on the bass drums.

Still in the rhythm section, the bass amp was close-miked with a Shure 546 multed with a ‘direct- box’ on the electric bass. The guitar amp, likewise, made use of the highly directional qualities of the 546.

The Leslie tone cabinet, directly to the drummer’s right, was miked, too, using the Shure 546 on both top and bottom, multed into one input. Suspended above the total percussion section was an overhead Sony C-37 for blend.

Especially in the Big’ Band context, miking the strings is always critical.

While strings easily hold their own during soft or moderate passages, they tend to lose their identity or are completely drowned out in passages which feature brass and woodwinds. This is so even when the sections are on opposite sides of the stage.

Wally’s decision was to mike the strings with Altec M-49’s. Characteristically the M-49’s have good ability to capture brilliance and lend themselves to “Riding” which Wally planned for the heavy parts.

The complement of-mikes used on the section was three M-49’s multed into one input on the six strings.

Two Sony C-37’s close-miked the two celli.

The horns and woodwinds were seated in three tiers; the five saxophones down front, the four trombones behind and above, with the trumpets on the third tier. As he related, Wally is very high on the U-87 as one of the finest all-around condenser microphones.

He used three U-87’s to really absorb the tone and blend of the woodwinds. Two U-47’s easily handled the dynamic range of the strong four-piece trombone section. RCA 77’s, two of them, captured the four trumpets to complete the miking of the band stand’s left side.

As has probably long been known, Sammy Davis possesses a ‘golden’ Shure SM 58, which he regularly uses for appearances. Wally had planned for Sam to use a standard SM-53 with a newly-developed, larger ‘pop-filter.’

The Artist, however, was reluctant to switch without some rehearsal with the new mike resulting in the decision to go with the golden ‘58 for the performance that night, and to switch to the ‘53 with the enlarged pop-filter for the following night after some rehearsal with it.

The audience mikes used were U-47’s because of their broad, flat response curves. They were placed at each side of the stage facing in, at an angle, toward the center of the room.

‘Levels’ were pretty much set during the two dance sets prior to show-time. The only unforeseen problem encountered was an A/C signal on a couple of the mikes attributable to the stage lights. This was easily taken care of.

Davis’ show opened with “Spinning Wheel.” The tune with its rich horn parts, solid rhythm, and good volume, was a good one with which to finally measure and establish settings and balance for peaks.

With everything running smoothly, and all instrument channels balanced, Heider was free to devote most of his attention to the ‘tracking’ of the vocal.

He did not, at this point, elect to use a Limiter. His feeling was that if he used a Limiter, it would have allowed a good bit of the band sound to get on to the vocal track over the limited signal.

By keeping the vocal level up, really watching for peaks, limiting later in the mix-down would provide all the control needed. If he had had a track to spare, Wally might have used an alternative method he likes very much for doing vocal remotes without using Limiters. This involves paralleling the vocal signal into two channels at once.

One of the channels is set-back, perhaps, 3-5 dB from ‘0.’ In his words, “it provides a safety in the event of sudden peaks and eliminates the need for limiting, while accomplishing the same objective.”

Recording Track Layout

As diagrammed, the remote facility Wally has been using is built around the shell of an ALTEC console with Universal Audio equalizer and pre-amp. The eight buses are supplemented by eight auxiliary buses which are in reality the echo buses. Each of the 16 channels has its own mute control for easy monitoring. The first sixteen (16) input positions are switch- able to any of the first eight buses.

Positions 17-24 are permanently wired into the eight auxiliary buses. The monitor system consists of four (4) ALTEC 604 E’s in narrow cabinets. The monitor system is powered by MC 275 power amps. An essential part of his monitoring system is the closed circuit TV monitor located just to the left of the console.

Truck Layout

As this issue of Re/p goes to press, let’s call it “WALLY ON WHEELS ‘II”’ is about to be christened. The new enlarged remote facility will be reported on in the next issue.


About the author:
With this, his first article, Chris Huston adds the title ‘Author’ to the many others which describe his current occupations as well as former activities: producer, engineer, mixer, session-man, studio-owner/ manager, graphic artist, etc., etc. Re/p is delighted to publish this story by Chris at about the same time that he is receiving more recognition for having just engineered the Eric Burdon/War —I single “SPILL THE WINE”. . . as well as the album. A Huston produced/engineered group “SWEETWATER” releases an album on Warner’s in October.

Downloadable Media
Original Article (pdf)
Issue Cover (pdf)
Stage Layout (jpeg)

Take the PSW Photo Gallery Tour of audio equipment ads appearing in RE/P magazine, circa 1970.

Editor’s Note: This is one of a growing series of articles from Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, which began publishing in 1970 under the direction of Publisher/Editor Martin Gallay. After a great run, RE/P ceased publishing in the early 1990s, yet its content is still much revered in the professional audio community. RE/P also published the first issues of Live Sound International magazine as a quarterly supplement, beginning in the late 1980s, and LSI has grown to a monthly publication that continues to thrive to this day.

Our sincere thanks to Mark Gander of JBL Professional for his considerable support on this archive project.

Please send all questions and comments to ProSoundWeb Editor .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Posted by Keith Clark on 10/16 at 12:09 PM
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Recording Live: Capturing An Acoustic Band For Podcast

“Let’s record our gigs and make podcasts from them.”

Some members of an acoustic band recently asked me to record their shows while mixing live sound.

It was an ongoing series of experiments at four gigs in the same venue. We used the venue’s house gear, so there were added challenges.

We also tried several different recording methods and microphone techniques, trying to improve the house sound and the recording each time.

I learned a lot, and by sharing my successes and mistakes here, hopefully others will too.

You’ll find audio samples of the recordings later in this article. Also included is a brief review of the JamHub Tracker MT16, which offers a simple way to record live gigs in multitrack.

Gig 1: Starting Simple
The band had two to three singers who alternated on guitar, mandolin, and upright bass. A fiddler sat in occasionally, too.

What was the simplest, easiest way to make some good audio for this band? Often, bluegrass and “old-time” groups utilize just one or two large-diaphragm condenser (LDC) mics. I wanted to try that first, and if it worked well, we could quickly capture a stereo recording of each concert, ready to convert to a podcast.

During a sound check in a restaurant, we began with two LDCs for house and recording, and no floor monitors because two LDCs feed back easily. Each mic must be about a foot from the performers to pick up both the vocals and the instruments, so the mic gain must be high – which tends to cause feedback if you try to get a loud sound in the house. By the way, we used Shure SM27 cardioid condensers on stands (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Shure SM27 on a mic stand.

Typical dynamic mics, like the Shure SM57 or SM58, have an intentional bass roll-off and presence peak that sounds good with close miking. But it can tend to sound thin and colored when used at a distance (1 to 2 feet). In contrast, most LDCs have a wide-range, fairly flat response that sounds natural with distant miking.

It took a lot of tweaking of mic positions to get a good balance between voices and instruments. For example, raising the mic high on its stand picked up more vocal and less guitar, and vice versa. The goal was finding the right height to get a good balance.

Another complicating factor is that one singer is taller than the other. But once we decided on a miking distance, we found that putting each mic at chin level worked well.

Also, we followed the 3:1 rule to prevent phase interference between the two mics. They were placed apart at least three times the distance from mic to source. If each singer is a foot from the mic, the two mics need to be three or more feet apart, creating enough separation to prevent comb filtering if the mics are mixed to mono.

The band members preferred to sing closer together, facing each other, so we put the mic stands two feet apart and angled the mics (with cardioid patterns) about 90 degrees apart to increase separation. Eventually this arrangement sounded natural with a good balance.

Here’s a sample of the two-mic recording: Two mics board mix

In my DAW I did some “remixing” of the stereo recording, tweaking the balance between singers using the pan controls and bringing up the guitar with EQ. Some compression held down the notes that were sung very loudly.

Back to the live gig. The venue’s bartender asked us to keep the volume fairly low so that customers could talk. But when the audience came in, they were so loud that the band couldn’t hear themselves, and they weren’t happy with their recorded performance. So for the next time, we planned to use multiple close up mics to get more gain-before-feedback.

Gig 2: Close Miking With Six Mics
For vocals we used three Crown CM-200A mics with foam pop filters. The musicians sang with lips touching the foam.

For instruments, the choice was two Crown CM-700 cardioid condensers, each mic clipped to a mic stand using Mic-Eze clamps (Figure 2). Those two mics captured whatever instrument was being played at the moment. Also, the bass was miked with a mini mic inserted into an f-hole, with an EQ boost at 2 kHz for clarity.

Using just two mics for the first gig, I didn’t need to mix the sound for the show—it was “set and forget.” But this time, because we were changing to several close up mics to get a louder sound, I’d need to mix.

Setting up the mixer out front in the venue would be too intrusive, so I located off stage and mixed the show live with headphones (AKG K271 MK II). My wife let me know how the mix sounded out front so I could make adjustments.

The venue’s small mixer had no direct outs or insert jacks, so I just recorded the stereo mix off the mixer’s “Record Out” jacks into a Zoom H4n recorder.

How did it work? The sound in the headphones was excellent, and so was the recording. The closed-back headphones provided enough isolation to allow a good recording mix.

Figure 2: Instrument mics were attached to mic stands.

But mixing a show with headphones works well only if their sound matches that of the house loudspeakers. In other words, the perceived frequency response of the headphones and loudspeakers must match, otherwise the audience hears a different tonal balance than the mixer operator hears.

That proved to be the case here. Compared to the headphone sound, the house sound was weak in the highs. Why? The installed loudspeakers were woofer-horn units aimed downward at a point about 15 feet from the stage. Since the highs radiate from the horn in a narrow vertical angle, the sound was natural on-axis to the horn (close to the stage) but dark or muffled off-axis to the horn (far from the stage – where most of the audience sat).

Still, the mix balance sounded very good in the audience, but the highs were missing due to the mis-aimed house loudspeakers. They were portable PA boxes with hand grips chained to the ceiling, which created the downward tilt. (It’s best if you can bring your own portable loudspeakers to these types of gigs, if possible.)

The moral of this story: check out the venue’s loudspeakers in advance with some reference CDs.

Regardless, we ended up with a good recording. Because of the close miking it sounded dry, lacking room acoustics. So in my DAW I added reverb with a decay time of 0.7 sec, which simulated the venue’s acoustics. Some compression held down the loud yells of the performers, and an EQ cut around 2.5 kHz reduced some harshness in the fiddle sound.

Here’s a sample of the board mix with no reverb added: Six mics board mix with no reverb

Here’s the same mix with reverb added. Now it sounds like a live gig: Six mics board mix with reverb

Gig 3: Close Miking With Eight Mics
For their third gig, the duo added a couple of sidemen on lap steel and electric guitar.

The venue’s mixer had only six mic inputs, so I patched a small 4-input mixer into two line inputs in the venue’s mixer. The combination created enough inputs to handle all of the instruments and vocals.

Here’s an audio sample of the board mix: Eight mics board mix

Mixers are amazingly affordable these days, so I bought a mixer with eight mic inputs to handle future gigs.

Gig 4: Multitracking With JamHub Tracker
One drawback of a board recording is that you can’t remix it—except slightly with panning and EQ. We wanted to try multitrack recording for the next gig.

Here are some options we considered:

• Split the mics to the PA mixer and to an audio interface plugged into a laptop. Use recording software (Reaper, Pro Tools, Sonar, etc.) to capture the tracks.

• Connect an audio interface and laptop to the mixer’s insert jacks.

• Connect a multitrack hard-drive recorder to the mixer’s insert jacks.

• Use a recorder-mixer to record the show and mix the house sound. In other words, record the tracks while sending the monitor mix to the house loudspeakers.

In perusing the web, I came across the recently introduced JamHub Tracker MT16 (Figure 3). It’s a 16-channel multitrack recorder the size of a stomp box, and records up to 24/96 wave files onto an SD card or USB flash drive and costs only $399. It seemed like an easy way to record multitrack off the band’s mixer. (More about the Tracker MT16 here.) 

Figure 3: JamHub Tracker MT16 connected to insert jacks in a mixer.

The Tracker has eight 1/4-inch jacks that allow recording from eight mixer inserts. JamHub also offers a 16-plug breakout cable as well. The user can choose how many tracks to record simultaneously.

After the multiple wave files are recorded, they can be transferred to a studio DAW from the SD card and then can be mixed. Another option is to upload the files to Bandlab, the shared Cloud recording studio.

I think it’s a brilliant concept—it’s all you need for live multitrack recording, and no more, so it’s very affordable. Compared to a multitrack hard-drive recorder, the Tracker is much easier to carry and has no moving parts to fail.

We used it to record the fourth gig. I plugged TRS phone-to-phone cables between the mixer’s insert jacks and the Tracker’s line inputs.

Then I set recording levels using the mixer’s gain trim knobs. This also resulted in correct gain staging in the mixer.

The Tracker lacks meters but it does have a clip LED for setting levels. If any of the inputs is clipping, that single LED flashes, so during the gig, you need to watch the mixer to indentify any clipping channels.

I simply tapped five buttons to arm the tracks, then hit record. It recorded the show flawlessly.

Back in the studio, I inserted the SD card in my computer and copied the wave files to the hard drive for mixing in a DAW.

How did it sound?

Here is a sample of the finished mix: Multitrack mix

Here are the soloed tracks: Guitar soloed

Mandolin soloed

Bass soloed (there is some compression on this track to make the attack more punchy): 

And, here’s an A-B comparison between a PreSonus Studio Project audio interface and a Behringer UB2222FX-Pro mixer insert into the JamHub Tracker M16. I recorded a guitar with one Neumann KM-184 mic, Y’d into both devices.

These are 16-bit/44.1kHz wave files:





We learned a lot from this process. Generally the sound improves as the miking and recording techniques become more complex. When we went from two mics at a distance to six mics close-up, the recorded background noise dropped, the gain-before-feedback increased, and the mix balance improved.

When we went from a stereo board mix to a multitrack recording and mixdown, the mix balance improved again. Also the EQ for each instrument was better because the monitoring was done in a quiet studio with loudspeakers instead of in a noisy venue with headphones.

The moral of the story: get all of the equipment you need to do the job right.

Bruce Bartlett is a recording engineer, live sound engineer, audio journalist and microphone engineer (www.bartlettaudio.com). His latest books are Practical Recording Techniques 6th Edition and Recording Music On Location 2nd Edition.

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/15 at 05:21 PM
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Mackie Launches All-New DL32R 32-Channel Wireless Digital Mixer With iPad Control (Video)

Incorporates new Onyx+ preamps; mixer is completely controlled wirelessly -- including full DSP and multi-track recording/playback -- from the Master Fader iPad app

Mackie has introduced the DL32R, a new 32-channel digital mixing system completely controlled wirelessly—including full DSP and multi-track recording/playback—from Mackie’s Master Fader iPad app.

The DL32R presents a mix of flexible, professional I/O in a compact 3U rack-mount design. Each of the 32 inputs (24 XLR, 8 XLR/TRS combo) has Mackie’s all-new Onyx+ recallable mic preamps, with remote control over preamp gain and phantom power. The new Onyx+ preamps outperform the orignal Onyx design, which itself garnered rave reviews.

“You get frequency response that goes all the way down to 20 Hz within 1 dB at all gain settings,” adds Ben Olswang, Mackie senior product manager. “Noise is minimized at every gain setting, not just minimum and maximum like other mixers. Designed for the rigid standards of professional live sound, DL32R’s gain changes are completely silent.”

Fully-assignable using the Master Fader control app, there are 14 XLR outputs great for anything from stage monitors to matrix outputs. The front panel also includes a stereo AES digital output for connecting gear like loudspeaker processors. A dedicated stereo monitor output is ideal for connecting an in-ear monitor system for detailed listening from anywhere in the venue.

“Early on, Mackie believed that we can bring the user incredible benefits if we just let go of old conventions,” Olswang states. “By ensuring that each and every feature can be controlled wirelessly without compromise, we are delivering benefits to users that were simply not possible before now.”

Complete wireless control of the system using the Master Fader iPad app eliminates the need for a fixed front of house position. The mixer can be placed wherever desired—next to the stage, backstage or even in a utility closet. It can also eliminate the need for a bulky analog snake. Users can tune the system from problem spots and get on stage to ring out monitors or work with the band to dial in monitor mixes.

In addition, multiple engineers can work wirelessly from a single DL32R mixer using their own iOS device, including monitor engineers and performers who wish to control their own monitor mixes. The lead engineer can apply access limiting to additional control devices, keeping the user from making unwanted changes.

The DL32R also provides two flexible methods for multi-track recording and playback. The first is direct to USB hard drive, which is currently a 48 kHz, 24-bit, 24 input by 24 output platform that will be expanded soon to 32 x 32 via a free firmware update.

“Just connect a USB hard drive loaded with your media directly to the DL32R and you can control it all from anywhere in the venue,” notes Olswang. “It’s an amazing way to control things like backing tracks and intermission music all while recording the show. Plus, who wants to run back and forth to a separate recording rig?”

An additional USB 2.0 computer audio interface is available for 32 x 32 recording and playback that can directly connect with any DAW, particularly useful for studio applications and rehearsal spaces. Both methods provide the ability to record the band and perform a virtual sound check at the next show.

A larger look at the new DL32R wireless digital mixer with iPad control.

The DL32R is loaded with DSP that eliminates the need for racks of outboard processing. Each of the 32 inputs has a 4-band parametric EQ with a separate high-pass filter plus gating and compression. Four return channels offer dedicated EQ and compression.

Each of the 14 aux sends, six matrix buses and main L/R buses feature a 4-band parametric EQ, 31-band GEQ, a compressor limiter and alignment delay. Six subgroups offer EQ and compression.

Each processor provides Modern and Vintage voicing options. Three separate effects processors with dedicated sends allow for two reverbs and one delay with tap control. Six VCAs and six Mute Groups round out the processing.

“Only the DL32R delivers professional mixing tools like VCAs, subgroups and matrix buses at this price point,” says Olswang. “And there’s no configuration or trade-offs. Every input and output has all the processing you need for your professional application.”

Finally, Mackie’s Master Fader iPad app delivers total wireless control, providing fast navigation and powerful tools for mixing 32 channels of audio.

“One of the most powerful features of Master Fader is our user-definable view groups,” remarks Olswang. “Simply select the channels for each of the six view groups to easily switch between things like drums, guitars or vocals. This means no swiping and no remembering what bank to select. Just go right to what you need.”

Master Fader is loaded with an array of factory presets that are well-suited for novice users and a solid starting point for any professional, requiring little to no tweaking depending on the application.

Users can also create their own custom presets, simplifying and minimizing setup when working with common and familiar sources. (The Master Fader app is available for free download from the App Store here, while the My Fader app is available through iTunes here.)

A screenshot of the Master Fader control app.

There’s also the ability to share presets via email or Dropbox. In addition, with frequent and simple App Store updates, Master Fader will steadily be upgraded in the future.

“With the Mackie DL32R, you control everything from anywhere. You get the freedom to mix how you want, where you want and get results that truly benefit the audience,” concludes Olswang.

The new Mackie DL32R will be available worldwide in Q4, 2014 at a U.S. MSRP of $2499.99.


Posted by Keith Clark on 10/15 at 11:33 AM
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Main North & South Stages At Creamfields 2014 Outfitted With SSL Live Consoles

Front of house engineer Wayne “Rabbit” Sargeant for DJ/remix artist Avicii discusses his use of SSL Live.L500 console at huge EDM festival

Since its modest beginnings in 1998, the Creamfields dance festival (Darebury, England) has grown to become one of the largest electronic music events in the world, with the recent 2014 edition featuring multiple stages catering to crowds in excess of 60,000 daily.

Swedish DJ, remix artist and producer Avicii headlined the South Stage at the peak of Creamfields 2014, while his front of house engineer, Wayne “Rabbit” Sargeant, ran the show using an Solid State Logic SSL Live.L500 console.

The main North and South Stages both were outfitted with large-scale PA systems, supplied by Britannia Row Productions, with SSL Live consoles at front of house that kept fans happy for the three-day-long end-of-summer party.

“Avicii has a simple setup, with Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS players feeding a DJM-900NXS DJ mixer,” explains Sargeant. “Unlike other engineers, I’d rather keep everything in the digital domain and avoid doing unnecessary A/D and D/A conversions, so I use the SPDIF digital output of the DJM and convert it to the AES digital format (which is accepted by most PA systems). The XLR analog outputs on the mixer have limited headroom so when a DJ hits them hard the outputs will distort.

“Using an SSL Live digital stagebox employed with the console gave me the exact capability that I needed, with an AES digital input to accept the mixer’s output at the stage. Patching the digital signal into the L500 gave me plenty of headroom on the output of the mixer and a cleaner signal path. I’ve found that in large venues where the bottom end is hard to control I’ll get a much tighter bottom at a 96 kHz sample rate, which of course is what I get with the SSL Live.”

Since Avicii does not have a set list and is always performing off the cuff, Sargeant describes his FOH duties akin to on-the-fly, live mastering.

“Obviously, there’s a big industry for mastering and what I am really doing during the show is tuning the system and mastering the tracks that Avicii is sending to me,” he explains. “I used the L500 onboard multiband compression and dynamic EQ to enhance the tracks, make them sound consistent, and fine-tune the bass for the venue. I’m also using the Waves MAXX BCL processors as an AES insert to the console, and this is the best I’ve heard it. For EQ, I’m mainly using L500’s dynamic EQ, adjusting it to suit the different types of tracks. If it’s a techno track, you need a driving high-mid to keep the snare going.

“Some of the vocal tracks tend to be harsher, so I need to compress them and I find that the dynamic EQ works better for that application because it’s more subtle than just tweaking the parametric EQ. When mixing on other consoles, I generally find some of the high frequencies to be quite harsh. I’d have to EQ that out, but the SSL Live has this warmth and depth of the solid lo-mid response that balances the high frequencies so I did not have to do that.”
Added to the unique requirements of an Avicii performance is the fact that the DJ does not use standard instruments for his performances. As such, Sargeant has had to develop an engineering style unlike that of a traditional FOH engineer.

“I constantly have to adjust the EQ on the left and right signal path as you would do when you’re in a mastering suite, which makes sense because a lot of Avicci’s tracks have varying degrees of mastering,” adds Sargeant. “He also had 11 new songs in the set that haven’t yet been mastered, so I used a lot of those mastering techniques to make the levels correspond with his other tracks.” 

Given Sargeant did not have a lot of time to become accustomed to the L500, he notes it was most helpful to have the dynamic EQ on the large screen and the standard parametric EQ on the Channel Control Tile. “That setup allowed me to do two things at one time that would normally be done separately on an analog surface,” he says. “The interesting thing about the SSL is that there’s many different ways of working, so when you’re in the heat of the action you can keep it simple and straightforward. I was able to use the physical knobs and the touch screen controls for quick access to the EQ parameters.”

As Creamfields was Sargeant’s first experience using the SSL Live, he didn’t have time to do a full sound check, which is often the case with multi-act festivals. “Thankfully, I had an opportunity to A/B the L500 against another popular digital desk before Avicii’s performance and the results blew my mind,” he continues. “I thought to myself ‘I have just got to use the SSL. It’s the best sounding desk I’ve heard in years.’ It was like listening to a high-quality, 180-gram vinyl pressing being played on a beautiful Linn Sondek turntable, then amplified with amazing speakers. The sound was so analog through the SSL, with creamy, thick low-mids and warmth. I think that part of the spectrum has largely been ignored in the digital desks, but through the SSL it was thick, warm and huge.

“I started in 1987, so I went through the analog period. Then suddenly it turned around and we ended up with digital consoles that have not been particularly impressive. The SSL Live has picked up live audio after the market was sort of dormant for years. It’s an exciting prospect for live sound.”

Solid State Logic

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/14 at 05:48 PM
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Yamaha NUAGE Filling Key Production Roles At Undercurrent Labs In Atlanta

Software and content developer upgrades studio capabilities with advanced DAW production system

John Penn is an independent film/music composer, 3D sound designer, producer, media-tech entrepreneur, and owner of Undercurrent Labs, the company he founded in 2011.

Part of the Atlanta tech community, the company is focused on virtual and augmented reality and content development for web and mobile applications. Working with several companies that are pushing the boundaries of immersive surround, a networked infrastructure is key to the company’s development. 

As a software and content developer, it’s focused on enterprise mobile apps for the MedTech and streaming video markets, and is also currently developing augmented reality and location aware technology for mobile devices to help medical device manufacturers and hospitals reduce the risk of accidents, complications, and costs of operating complex medical equipment.

“I believe music is an important form of medicine and I’ve been researching the application of 3D sound and music as a more natural application to improve medical conditions that affect the brain, nervous system, and chronic pain conditions. Harnessing song, sound frequencies, and rhythm as another tool in treating physical ailments is an emerging field,” states Penn. “Fundamentally, our biological existence is closely tied to vibrational energy, and tapping into 3D space and other dimensions that is hard for us to consciously perceive, but our core being understands, can ultimately render medically beneficial outcomes previously not thought possible. There is a connection between dimensional sound vibration, m-theory physics, and medicine that we have barely scratched the surface on.”

Penn says the company’s strategy to provide full-service and on-time delivery is built on the best network infrastructure available for audio and video that helps to scale dynamically to each project with post-production talent, workflow, and equipment. For that reason, Undercurrent Labs has added Yamaha Commercial Audio NUAGE production DAW system.

“I was sharing my studio upgrade plans with my brother Mark, also a Nuendo user, and had just seen the Yamaha announcement for NUAGE,” Penn notes. “For years, we waited for the right control surface for Nuendo, so when we saw the pictures and specs for NUAGE, we knew the wait was over.”

NUAGE dealer RSPE recommended a demo, and so Penn reached out to Yamaha’s Chris Hinson for that purpose. “You don’t have a real appreciation of the presence and feel of NUAGE just by looking at pictures until you see it in person, touching the surface and realizing the freedom of not being confined to a box of semiconductors,” Penn says. “Sitting at the NUAGE console and looking at the new Nuendo 6, I actually felt at home again, in a musical sense. The design is that good.”

The collaboration of Yamaha and Steinberg to harmonize the workflow of an established DAW like Cubase/Nuendo and Yamaha’s portfolio of digital mixers and their combined design and engineering philosophy helped Penn to affirm the benefits of NUAGE, since he was already comfortable with Nuendo since Version 2 and the Yamaha 01V and 01V96 mixers. “It’s kind of like mixing peanut butter and chocolate, for most folks, you’re going to get something great,” he says.

Penn put NUAGE to the challenge on its maiden voyage in his surround mix room where he served as supervising sound mixer for Hollywood veteran actor and director Tommy Ford (Martin on Fox; New York Undercover, UPN; The Parkers), editor Kevin Christopher, producer Shannon Nash and executive producer Bryant Scott of Tyscot Films, for a new film being released this year titled “Switching Lanes.”

“Nuendo’s ADR mode enables me to accomplish more in vocal and Foley sessions by allowing multiple takes in one batch for scenes, providing more freedom for greater spontaneity in performance by the artist and guidelines from the director or producer,” says Penn. “I’m currently test driving Yamaha’s Rio 32-channel I/O box to remotely control the head amplifiers from either the NUAGE Master and Fader control surfaces, by-passing my analog patch bay and cable snakes.

“Touch is everything to me when I’m in a creative vibe, a real break from flat glass,” he continues. “I love the natural texture of the hand rest, stainless steel jog wheel and the frame accurate precision it provides as I nudge video or audio tracks. Designing in 3D space in real-time on a Sci-Fi Q-Bik Muz soundtrack ‘PsychoPlasmic’ was nearly impossible without JL Cooper’s Surround Panner, enabling three axis of control and automation manipulating audio objects around nine monitors.

“The integration of NUAGE to manage 3D audio for real-time 3D motion graphics for live video production, animation, and content branding, using virtual sets, and augmented reality, brings a level of creative collaboration to Georgia usually exclusive to LA and UK studios,” Penn adds.

“One of my film dialog editors, Elliot Glenn, a Pro Tools user said he never thought he’d be able to learn a new DAW using a control surface specifically created for that DAW,” he concludes. “The integrated approach Yamaha has perfected not only sped up the learning curve but revealed many features of Nuendo sometimes hidden in software. Believe me when I say that the NUAGE integration with Nuendo is truly seamless.”

Undercurrent Labs
Yamaha Commercial Audio

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/14 at 01:47 PM
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Waves Audio & DiGiCo Debut DiGiGrid Audio Interfaces With DLS/DLI/IOS

Adds power to existing DAW systems, leverages plug-ins, and with very low latency

Waves Audio and DiGiCo have expanded their offerings with DiGiGrid Advanced Audio Interfaces featuring DLS/DLI/IOS functionality.

DiGiGrid DLS is an all-in-one processing and networking hub that enhances a Pro Tools system. With its built-in SoundGrid DSP server, network switch, and two DigiLink ports providing as many as 64 digital inputs and outputs, DiGiGrid DLS provides more processing power and lets users take full advantage of their existing Pro Tools system.

With full plug-in integration inside the DAW, users can track, monitor and mix while running hundreds of SoundGrid-compatible Waves and third-party plug-ins in real time – all with very low latency of only 0.8 milliseconds. The result is more power to the plug-ins by adding more DSP power to the system.

DiGiGrid DLI is a networking hub that bridges Pro Tools and SoundGrid. With two DigiLink ports providing as many as 64 digital inputs and outputs, DiGiGrid DLI also helps users get the most out of an existing Pro Tools system. Adding a SoundGrid DSP server to a DLI provides far more processing power, as well as more options for recording, monitoring and mixing in real time.

DiGiGrid IOS is a comprehensive audio interface with a built-in SoundGrid DSP server that also adds more plug-in processing power to an existing system. Designed for professional and personal production environments alike, IOS is an all-in-one solution for Native DAW users (Logic, Cubase, Nuendo, Ableton, Pro Tools Native, etc.).

Together with the SoundGrid Studio System, IOS enables users to mix and monitor in real time using hundreds of SoundGrid-compatible Waves and third-party plug-ins, with latency of only 0.8 milliseconds.

Note that DiGiGrid DLS and DLI both come with the complete SoundGrid Studio System software: the SoundGrid ASIO/Core Audio driver, the SoundGrid Studio Application, StudioRack, and the eMotion ST Mixer.

Waves Audio

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/13 at 01:30 PM
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On The Edge: New Directions For Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

There’s leading edge, and there’s bleeding edge. The difficulty is striving for the first while avoiding the second, often a very fine line, and one that was straddled with great success by the sound team in deploying a new main system for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers on the Hypnotic Eye concert tour of North America, which wraps up in mid-October with dates at the Forum in Los Angeles.

The tour visited a variety of venues, including sheds, arenas, the Gorge and Red Rocks amphitheaters and even venerable Fenway Park in Boston, and as usual with TP & HB, enjoyed great success in packing the house in whatever form it happened to be.

Still going full throttle after almost 40 years, the group has attained icon status, continuing to create compelling new music with dozens of past hits remaining in heavy rotation on rock radio, appealing to both long-time loyalists as well as a growing younger generation of fans.

The music is largely straight-up classic rock ‘n’ roll, sometimes with interesting deviations, always served up by a cohesive, talented group in garage band style. Petty’s unique vocal timbre fits perfectly within a tapestry created by Mike Campbell (lead guitar), Benmont Tench (keyboards), Ron Blair (bass), Scott Thurston (guitar, keys, multi instruments), and Steve Ferrone (drums).

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers performing on the Hypnotic Eye tour. (Credit: Alan Newman)

Hypnotic Eye marks front of house engineer Robert Scovill’s 20th year with TP & HB, first taking the helm for the Wildflowers tour in 1994. Long noted for his ability to present concert sound marked by textured mixes perfectly fitting the material, delivered with seamless coverage, this time out he was backed up by systems engineer Andrew Dowling, who despite his relative youth has racked up service with an impressive list of top tours.

“When I first moved into this gig, I was already a big fan of the production quality of the records,” Scovill notes. “But it wasn’t until I moved behind the console that I ‘got it’ as far as who they truly are from a musical standpoint. I was able to clearly see where the music they make really comes from, and that’s informed how we support them in the concert realm.”

Robert Scovill at front of house prior to the Fenway Park show, leaning on his Avid VENUE D-Show console.

A great deal of mutual respect has been established in successfully collaborating over two decades, and it’s borne out on Hypnotic Eye, with Scovill choosing to utilize a new EAW Anya system—the very first tour to do so, and a high-profile one at that, to say the least. “It’s a bit of a risk, no doubt,” he confirms. “There has to be a lot of trust there for them to be OK with it. But we see eye to eye on so many things after working so closely over the years.”

Doing The Homework
I first got word that the tour would be traveling with Anya at the InfoComm show last July in Las Vegas, hearing it directly from Scovill in person prior to a press conference making it official. “Anya is a game-changer,” he stated emphatically. “I haven’t been this excited about a new approach to PA technology in a couple of decades now. It’s a leap forward in the quality and the way in which audio can be presented to a large audience.”

A unique Fenway welcome via the manual scoreboard at the base of the “Green Monster.”

The decision wasn’t made lightly. He first spent a great deal of time with a demo system—looking it over, flying it, mixing on it, performing extensive FFT measurements with arrays in the air, and so on. It was a process far beyond the scope of normal due diligence, and only after that did he speak with Dave Shadoan and the team at Sound Image (Escondido, CA and Nashville), the tour’s long-time sound company, about adding the system to their inventory.

Shadoan notes, “We analyze, watch and develop evolving technology closely, and strive to remain at the technological forefront in the touring industry. When we see a product that has the potential to cut a new path, we will certainly get involved. So when Robert came to us with the concept of using Anya for Tom Petty, we knew that it was time to pay attention, as we’d been monitoring the Anya system as well.”

EAW Anya arrays flying left, center and right at the stage erected in the outfield of Fenway Park.

Briefly, Anya is based on a concept that EAW calls Adaptive Performance, designed to generate virtually any three-dimensional wavefront surface. The loudspeaker modules incorporate 22 transducers, each independently driven by its own amplifier and DSP channel. The array columns hang straight down, allowing out fill arrays to hang directly adjacent to the mains.

Input to the system’s Resolution software interface generates DSP parameters to simultaneously adapt the wavefront surface and optimize the system’s frequency response to match the specific requirements of the venue. (Go here for more about Anya.)

Prior to the launch of the tour, I traveled to Sony Studios in Los Angeles to get a sense of the system in action, and then caught up with the tour at Fenway Park for what surely would be one of the most difficult venues on the itinerary—plenty of asymmetrical angles, throw distances approaching 400 feet, and an audience of more than 35,000 distributed from the front of the stage to the highest portions of the grandstand, fanning out at about 180 degrees horizontally.

“If you’re a fan of baseball, you know that the name Fenway is Latin for odd geometries,” Scovill notes with a laugh. “We had this date circled on the itinerary as one that would need special attention, but the story of the day is that we did the show with the same rig as the others, in a somewhat modified configuration, with an exceptional result.”

Thinking Differently
Deployed under the direction of crew chief Marcus Douglas and systems tech Chris Houston, the loudspeaker configuration for most dates had three columns per side (left and right), with 12 modules in the main column, 6 modules in the middle, and 6 more on the sides. It may seem like a lot, but the narrow span of the boxes (about 45 inches wide), arranged in a straight vertical line (no “J” in the array) makes for a relatively trim footprint.

One of the main Anya array sets at Fenway.

“A way to understand this system is to think of an array just hanging there. It really has no coverage pattern, and for all intents and purposes, it’s just audio in space,” Scovill says. “So it needs to have data input into it. What you’re providing, via the software, are directivity coordinates. Enter a seating plan and all of the elements to cover, and the software back-maps that into the system—phase, amplitude, EQ, and so on for every component, optimized for that seating geometry.

“Several people have asked what’s the difference between this approach and just aiming the boxes,” he continues. “The difference is that the polar is completely optimized for every seat in the building, for both SPL and for frequency response. Think about it this way: we could use four cabinets on one side of the stage and cover the entire geometry of Fenway Park if we wanted to do it, in terms of frequency response. Obviously that’s going to eat up all of the energy, trying to get the throw to the longest part of the venue, so that’s why we add more cabinets, to attain a more even distribution of energy and headroom.

The loudspeaker set in place for production rehearsals at Sony Studios Stage 30 prior to the tour.

“It requires us to think about what coverage really means. A good example is when data is entered incorrectly, which has happened a couple of times. We’ll be taking measurement traces and find an amplitude jump at a certain area, and it turns out that we entered a longer throw for that zone, so the computer is doing exactly what it’s been told to do. We simply enter the right coordinate and the system re-levels out, exactly the way it’s supposed to be.”

This capability proved handy at Fenway Park in attaining the desired imaging despite the numerous odd angles, as well as at the Gorge amphitheater, which presents a different and perhaps even more difficult coverage puzzle. “The bottom line is that it sounds incredible too, and that’s a function of all of this really good, well-executed math that is going in this system,” Scovill says. “We’ve been able to achieve a level of coverage and detail on this tour that I don’t even know that I dreamed about—it was simply not possible before.”

Andrew Dowling taking care of some interconnect at front of house.

Scovill is also operating the Anya system without flown or grounded subwoofer support. “For Fenway I had an additional 16 (L-Acoustics) K1SB subs just in case I would have needed them, but once we fired up the system, I knew I wasn’t going to need them. I ended up using them in two very specific places for effect in the show, but we have yet to use them in earnest, and after the Fenway show, we shipped them back to Sound Image. We do have a series of dV-DOSC subwoofers on the ground but they’re very low level and in balance with the KARA enclosures we use for front fill, not in support of Anya.

Center Of Attention
A staple of Scovill’s designs for years has been a center loudspeaker array, accomplished on this tour with a column of six flown Anya modules.

The left-center-right (LCR) array approach came about in the late 90s, when the line array system he was using at the time couldn’t deliver primary coverage to portions of seating on the far sides, particularly a problem in wide venues like sheds.

“The choices were to fly smaller format boxes on the side to try to get energy there, or heaven forbid, try to hang another long line source that’s not terribly displaced from the main array, which would create all kinds of interaction problems that would happen, at least too much for my taste,” he notes.

His solution was to turn the main arrays outward about 10 to 15 degrees, and add an array in the center to enhance the horizontal coverage there, which would make the displacement distance within the bounds of what he wanted to achieve. It also improves the overall low-frequency phase of the PA by eliminating the need for displaced side arrays trying to cover small sections of seats.

Dowling raising the center array into place.

“Another advantage to this design is that people who are off-center of the room don’t get into that weird thing where they’re looking at someone sing on stage and hearing the sound of the voice coming from a completely different direction,” he adds. “One of the things I really love about that center array is that it keeps attention focused on the center of the stage for the things that should be there, yet you can still do stereo and place instruments out in the stereo field where they should be. It’s the best of both worlds.”

One challenge to LCR designs is that there’s currently not a console available to do the divergence correctly if the engineer subscribes to using audio sub groups, which are often deployed in digital consoles to assist in getting input resolution signal correct as well as to facilitate things like parallel compression.

Above, a coverage map rendering from the EAW Resolution software working with Anya on the TP & HB tour. Below, a transfer function composite measured prior to sound check with Smaart v7.

So it takes some compromise to develop a panning scenario where if something is panned center, it is presented at equal energy goes to all three arrays—left, center and right. This must be maintained due to propagation differences between any two arrays.

Another challenge is that with traditional line sources, it takes a long line to attain sufficient control, but an extended center array isn’t desirable, to say the least, for aesthetic reasons and sonic reasons. Output from all three arrays needs to be in phase (time coherent) throughout the projected coverage area, and without interfering with front fill.

Further, a really long center line source with the goal of improved low-frequency control results in poor coherence at the far center of the room. If you’re on-axis with the center array where the left, right and center are all converging, the result can be poor phase response in the vocal range. So it’s a balancing of trade-offs to get it acceptable for the target listeners.

Scovill at work during sound check at Fenway.

“Anya helps overcome this challenge because you have so much control over the directivity that it doesn’t matter how many of them you fly,” he says. “You can tell the system (via the software), ‘I want you to start coverage 15 feet from the barricade, and to go just past the mix position, and then I don’t want any more audio up in the bowl from that center array.’

“And it does exactly that. It’s breathtaking how well it can be done, to have so much control. It makes for a very strong center image on the floor, and further, it’s really fun to mix because you get really impactful drums and bass guitar, all of those things sound really good. It really helps out with the low-mids overall.”

Keeping It Simple
Monitor engineer Greg Looper, who first joined TP & HB in 2005 as front of house tech before moving to his current role, does his mixing on an Avid VENUE D-Show, as does Scovill, who has an affiliation with the company.

Looper, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, is coming up on 25 years in pro audio, getting his start working with some friends in a punk rock band in San Antonio, and since that time he’s worked every sound team role in stints with dB Sound in Chicago and Sound Services in Arkansas, among others, and a wide assortment of top artists, including The Allman Brothers.

Assisted by monitor systems technician Chuck Smith, Looper strives to keep things simple on stage, which is the way the band likes it. “The guys are such professional musicians and have played so long together that I’m basically just helping them along,” he notes. “They play great together and don’t have huge requirements, in some ways a throw-back garage band. I give them the support they need and stay out of the way.”

The microphone approach leans to old school. “The band has a very straightforward philosophy: If it doesn’t sound good with a (Shure) SM57 on it, change the source,” he says. “They’re all about having proper sources. Change the guitar and/or change the amplifier, rather than changing the mic or throwing a foot pedal into things to change the sound.”

Tom Petty and the Telefunken M80 vocal mic that’s also a change this time out. (Credit: Alan Newman)

So the band has heavy influence on mic choices. Looper says that he’s experimented with things like ribbon mics, and they notice any changes right away: “The response is always ‘where did my ‘57 go? They keep us honest.”

That said, there are mic changes from time to time, with Looper, Scovill and studio engineer/producer Ryan Ulyate, who’s also on the tour, working together on these decisions. Case in point is a switch to Telefunken M80 supercardioid dynamics for all vocals. Scovill favored the M80 in helping to get Petty’s vocal on top of the mix, and it’s proven to work out well for all parties.

There have also been some mic evaluations with Steve Ferrone’s drum kit. Four mics were applied to the kick at one point, owing to the preferences of each engineer, but that’s been standardized with a Shure Beta 91A condenser and Beta 52A dynamic. Shure Beta 98 condensers on snare and tom transitioned to Sennheiser e904 dynamics, and then another candidate went through a tryout but wouldn’t mount properly, so it was back to the e904s.

A view of some of the miking approach on Ferrone’s drum kit. (Credit: Alan Newman)

For overheads, Scovill has devised a scheme to use a split pair of AKG C414s in conjunction with a RØDE NT4 stereo condenser XY. He puts in a considerable amount of effort using (Rational Acoustics) Smaart and a custom snare drum with a powered loudspeaker in it to ensure that the snare’s arrival time is equal out to 12 kHz.

Mixing A Mix
Looper delivers his mixes to wedges and in-ear monitors, with some of the musicians opting for both. Mike Campbell and Ron Blair currently prefer to work without IEM, and Looper’s been tweaking Benmont Tench’s IEM mix, placing more vocals in his wedges.

One of the Electrotec TD112 wedges; all monitors are driven by Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers.

Petty likes a full IEM mix, with his wedges getting only some vocal and acoustic guitar. “The wedges balance with the IEM so he’s not ‘lopsided’ with the vocal and acoustic, but he wants the full band in IEM so that when he wanders off center stage, he’s still got a mix in his ears, along with ambience of the band and the room.”

Future Sonics MG6PRO earbuds with 13 mm drivers are the long-time choice of the musicians who wear them, fed by Shure PSM 900 wireless personal monitoring systems that Looper notes are “solid, stable, and with great sound quality.” The Electrotec TD112 wedges are a long-time staple, driven by Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers located adjacent to Looper’s mix position. “The TD112s are compact, work great and fit where we need them to,” he says. “Other monitors with equivalent performance are too large for some of the tight spaces we have available on stage.”

Looper has been mixing TP & HB on Avid consoles since taking the monitor engineer role, and has a pretty deep understanding of the VENUE line. His personal preference is the Profile, which provides more general purpose interface (GPI) facilities working in tandem with Events pages. However, the D-Show is equipped with two rows of encoders that he’s found quite useful.

“Whatever the model, it’s great to walk up to a console I know so well and do my job, without having to come up to speed on different workflows and feature sets,” he says. “The integration of our consoles is a real advantage, as is the integration of Pro Tools, which is handy for virtual sound checks as well as for tracking. Every single thing that’s played on this tour is tracked.”

Full Circle
The other big change this time out is a switch to complete MADI distribution of line level signals, with each single going directly from its console preamp to the digital realm.

“As with going with a new house system, this approach is a bit risky but has really paid off,” Scovill says. “Ryan indicates we’re getting the best-sounding tracks recorded to date, and that quality is also making a different at front of house. Simply, there couldn’t be a more pure signal path.”

A diagram showing the system’s MADI signal distribution. For a better look, click here (pdf): MADI_Distribution.pdf

A good deal of assessment was undertaken before this direction was determined. Scovill looked at alternative approaches as well as tested a variety of preamps to deliver the audio via MADI to the consoles.

“At the end of the day, the VENUE preamps did quite well, and then there were advantages of being able to interface the VENUE systems as the MADI delivery mechanism,” he says. “It kind of become a no-brainer at some point, stick with VENUE, we know what this is, the last three records have been recorded with VENUE preamps and mixed completely ‘in the box’.”

It’s an extension of the studio recording process, which centers around The Clubhouse, the band’s long-time Los Angeles recording space. The way they record at the facility mirrors the way they work live, with the band arranged in the same places they occupy on stage, except with Petty facing them and provided with added isolation. The console is the same, so are the microphones, wedges and IEMs, as on the concert stage.

“People at a show see and hear the band just as they are in the studio,” says Looper, who does the live monitor mixes for these sessions, with VENUE providing pre-amp and digitally converted to Ulyate’s Pro Tools recording system. “There aren’t many bands that are this old school about it. It’s all about the vibe, and staying fresh. When Tom brings a new song in, they work on it for up to an hour or so, and that’s it. Time to track it.”

Still going strong after 40 years, Tom Petty performing on Hypnotic Eye.

Ulyate’s live recording efforts have paid off in numerous ways over the course of several tours, including the tracks for the Live Anthology album that came out a few years ago, numerous special releases, capturing fresh takes on older favorites, and more. As a result, the catalog is both wide and deep, managed and archived by Ulyate.

And it’s at this point where the circle is complete, with Scovill’s original respect for the band’s recordings being a primary reason for signing on with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers more than two decades ago. That special sound is shared with audiences of tens of thousands in the live realm, and then captured again with unique, exciting musical twists. And the band played on…

Check out our Photo Gallery for a wide range of images from the tour, and the Fenway Park show in particular.

Keith Clark is editor in chief of ProSoundWeb and Live Sound International.

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/13 at 11:40 AM
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Avid Unveils Compact Pro Tools | S3 Desktop Control Surface

Offers open integration with Pro Tools | Software and other EUCON-enabled digital audio workstations like Logic Pro, Cubase, and more

Avid has introduced the compact Pro Tools | S3 desktop control surface, a streamlined mixing solution. Based on the Pro Tools | S6 control surface, the S3 offers open integration with Pro Tools | Software and other EUCON-enabled digital audio workstations like Logic Pro, Cubase, and more.

By combining traditional console layout with the advancements of the S6, Pro Tools | S3 delivers intuitive recording, editing, and mixing control, along with the power and efficiency to meet fast turnaround times.

The compact form factor fits into any space, making Pro Tools | S3 well-suited for small project studios or on-the-go music and post mixing.

Users can customize the surface to their unique needs by creating custom channel layouts, all recallable at any time. Pro Tools | S3 can switch between two applications with ease, giving users the choice to work however they want.

Pro Tools | S3 easily integrates with solutions across the Avid MediaCentral Platform, as well as a studio’s existing systems and workflows to deliver deep hardware/software integration and control.

Hardware controls include:

—16 channel strips, each with a touch-sensitive, motorized fader and 10-segment signal level meter (supports up to 6 fader banks)

—32 touch-sensitive, push-button rotary encoders for panning, gain control, plug-in parameter adjustments, and more (16 channel control, 16 assignable), each with a tricolor LED function indicator

—32 high-resolution OLED displays for viewing track names/numbers, detailed metering data (from mono to 5.1 surround), parameter names/values, current automation mode, and more

—Solo, mute, channel select, and record/automation-enable keys on every channel

—Touch strip provides easy access to transport controls

—Dozens of dedicated buttons and switches for navigation, automation, control assignment, and software control

—Built-in 4 x 6 AVB Core Audio interface includes 2 XLR mic/line inputs, 2 TRS line inputs, 2 XLR line outputs, 2 TRS line outputs, and a stereo headphone output

“In today’s competitive post and music mixing environment, shrinking budgets and tighter schedules are commonplace,” says Chris Gahagan, senior vice president of Products and Technology at Avid. “To succeed, audio professionals need to streamline and accelerate their workflow, as well as broaden the scope and capabilities of their mixing solutions to handle the most sophisticated projects. The affordable Pro Tools | S3 delivers the power, efficiency, and versatility engineers need to deliver fast turnarounds in the most demanding environments.”

Avid Pro Tools | S3 will be available November 2014 through Avid resellers worldwide.


Posted by Keith Clark on 10/13 at 04:49 AM
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Church Sound: The Dynamics Of Dynamics

This article is provided by Gary Zandstra.com.

Sitting in the tech booth during a service on a recent Sunday, I had an “a-ha” moment. Not a big one, but still a good lesson.

We had traded worship bands for the day with our sister church. Our band was playing at their place, and vice versa.

One of our front of house people, Justin, traveled with the band to do the mixing. Just as our service began, I received a text from Justin that simply said, “Running a service at 85 dBA. A new record!” I glanced over at the Smaart app running on my iPad, and our levels were hovering around 88 dBA.

This was during a mellow song; moments later we were doing 90 to 95 dBA. Just then, Justin texted me again: “Update. I was able to get it to 80 dBA. It seems to have pleased the masses.”

This “conversation” (via text) got me thinking about the “how loud is too loud” conversation that’s a constant among church tech folks, and I found myself watching our Smaart app meter a little more than usual. In fact, I rarely look at it in terms of overall SPL, but rather for monitoring overall frequency response.

Watching the SPL readings, I noticed a couple of things:

1) Since we’ve installed a new loudspeaker system and acoustical treatment, we’ve been running a bit louder yet haven’t received a single complaint (or for that matter, even a “suggestion” to turn it down).

2) Dynamics really play into perceived level.

We all know that if the sound is pleasing, we tolerate more level. Think of your morning alarm clock at 90 dBA versus your favorite song on the car radio at 90 dBA—it’s a BIG difference in how you react to those sounds.

Watching as our meter hit 97 dBA, I thought “wow, it just doesn’t seem that loud.” Clearly, it was a combination of a good mix, excellent system, and the acoustical tightness of the room. (Lends credence to getting the the best system you can and mixing it loud!)

But the “a-ha” moment occurred when the band played a familiar song in a very different way. It usually starts out loud with a big guitar riff and big drums. However, this band began it with acoustic guitar only. I glanced at the meter and it read 72 dBA, and the sound was good and the level “felt” appropriate.

Then without warning came a huge downbeat, with everyone hitting it hard and then taking off. But the meter read just 86 dBA. What?! It had to be wrong, because it sure sounded like 92 to 95 dB.

The answer is obvious, however. The contrast was so great that the perceived change in volume was greater than the actual change. Kind of like when you walk out of a dark space directly into sunlight—once your eyes adjust, it’s not usually painfully bright.

The band used this type of dynamic very effectively throughout the service, bringing it way down for the quiet parts and then jumping on louder passages. They were quite skilled at it, and the new system was able to reproduce it very well.

When things got quiet, it still sounded full and rich, and when things got louder, the system responded accurately and without compressing or distorting. I watched the front of house mixer, Trevor, keep his right hand on the control group that we call program (basically everything but vocals). He wasn’t shy about riding the control group to also help accentuate the band’s change in dynamics.

So the lesson is clear: give dynamics more credence to add power and emotion to the mix.

I realize these observations aren’t earth shattering, but it’s a valuable reminder to mix to the appropriate level for the sound system. Don’t push it if the system can’t handle it. Also make sure that the system has enough headroom so that it can respond to these types of changes in level.

It’s also vital for us to bear in mind how we can best help accentuate the dynamics that a band is already producing on stage, to take advantage of that while resisting the temptation to overmix and overprocess.

Loud where it should be, soft where it should be—use the dynamics to make it all the more powerful.

Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 30 years. Read more from Gary at garyzandstra.com.

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/10 at 12:53 PM
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TASCAM Introduces US-16x08 Multichannel Audio Interface

Includes DSP mixer for low-latency digital mixingm and each channel has 4-band EQ and compression

TASCAM has announced the new US-16x08 audio interface, offering 16 mic and line inputs and advanced features to help manage larger sessions.

Eight Ultra-HDDA microphone preamps are clean and quiet while delivering up to 56 dB of gain. An additional eight line inputs are provided, two of them switchable to instrument level for direct guitar or bass recording. Eight balanced line outputs are also available, two with a level control on the front panel for monitoring. 

Built into the US-16x08 is a DSP mixer for low-latency digital mixing. Each channel has 4-band EQ and compression for polishing monitor mixes.

In addition to interface mode, the US-16x08 can be used as a stand-alone mic preamp. Mac and Windows drivers are provided, as well as USB Audio Compliance 2.0 drivers for iOS compatibility. MIDI input and output are also available on the rear panel.

The solid metal case was designed by designbox studio in Germany, and includes a pair of removable “bio-cell” side panels that angle the interface towards the user, making the switches and knobs easier to read. Rack ears are also included.
Whether using the ergonomically-designed angled desktop stand or mounting with the included rack ears, the US-16x08 includes enough I/O for almost any music recording application.

• Eight Ultra-HDDA microphone preamps with 56 dB of gain
• 16-in/8-out interface with up to 96 kHz/24-bit resolution
• Eight 1/4-inch balanced line inputs, two switchable to instrument level
• DSP mixer for low-latency monitoring with EQ and compression
• High-quality audio components for 125 dBu EIN and 105 dB S/N ratio
• USB Audio Compliant 2.0 drivers for iOS compatibility
• Independent line out and headphone level controls
• MIDI Input and Output
• Metal body with angled design for better desktop visibility
• Rack-mount adapter included

The new US-16x08 will be available in November for an estimated street price of $299.99.




Posted by Keith Clark on 10/10 at 09:22 AM
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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Multifaceted Integration: Reinforcing & Recording (Live) Gino Vannelli In LA

A concert hosted late last year at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles was actually much more than it appeared. Featuring singer/songwriter Gino Vannelli, who’s sold more than 10 million records over the span of a dynamic career, the performance was also mixed and recorded for broadcast on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) as well as a new DVD/CD entitled Live in LA, released in May.

Working in tandem with recording/mastering engineer Nick Moon of Tone Proper Audio and monitor engineer Matt Greco, Ross Vannelli (Gino’s brother) produced the event, with the lead performer backed by his veteran band. Vannelli, who also handles front of house mix duties and management for Gino through his company, COA Productions, considered several options to meet the needs of the project before going with a turnkey approach from Roland Systems Group.

Vannelli already had familiarity, as an early adopter of the M-480 digital console, flagship of the Roland V-Mixing series. “I’ve used it in many venues,” he notes, adding that what first strikes people about the console is its compact footprint. “Sometimes a venue will have a huge in-house console. I’ll set up, get my sound check going, and they can’t believe not only how small the unit is, but how good the EQ and compression sound. At the Saban Theatre event, I only had to kill (occupy) maybe eight seats total to handle our whole rig.”

Greco, meanwhile, utilized a M-380 V-Mixing digital console for his mixes. “When we set it up, and everyone’s wearing their in-ear monitors, we’re ready to go in 10 minutes,” he says. “When I have the M-380 in ‘Sends On’ fader mode, all I have to do is hit one of the guy’s mixes, find the fader where his input is, and turn it up. It’s literally a 2-step process, so if a band member needs adjustments in their mix, they’re very easy to dial in.”

Greco also likes the console’s onboard FX, specifically the built-in Lexicon reverb plug-in for Gino’s vocals. The entire band runs direct with no instrument amplifiers on stage. While the result is an extremely clean source for FOH and monitors, he adds: “I do have to be more conscious and careful about adding space back in (with reverb), I’ve also worked a lot with our guitar player (Jay Koder) and our bassist (Damian Erskine) to get some solid amp simulators to add in ‘air,’ so it’s not just a straight DI signal going into the IEMs.”

Ross Vannelli at a Roland M-480, mixing his brother Gino and band at the Saban Theatre.

Cohesive Package
Audio for the show was distributed using a Roland 3208 (32-input/8-output modular rack) in tandem with S-4000 modular digital snakes and two S-1608 compact digital snakes, with all key components on Roland’s proprietary REAC (Roland Ethernet Audio Communication) network that supplies low-latency, high-quality digital audio transfer. This included dual Roland R-1000 48-track recorders/players (one served as backup) that Moon deployed to capture the show, to be mixed and mastered in stereo and 5.1 surround sound.

The R-1000s integrated seamlessly via a REAC MADI Bridge into the rest of the rig, providing the reliability and redundancy he was seeking. Another benefit of the R-1000, Moon says, is its lack of complexity. “I’ve got Pro Tools HD and could have used that, but with a stand-alone recorder, the operating system’s only purpose is to run that unit,” he says. “It’s stable, you don’t feel like you have to monitor it at all times and it’s compact – just four rack spaces. We basically had R4 distribution for the REAC, and split it so both recorders were getting the same input stream.”

He adds that a laptop/software solution may have provided more flexibility, but notes: “I can literally plug in the R-1000, put the snake heads wherever I want, arm the tracks, hit record and there you go. I wanted stability and I wanted to capture the show as efficiently and reliably as possible.”

The integrated approach provided further advantages. The drummer (Reinhardt Melz) is usually outfitted with a Roland M-48 personal mixer, allowing him to tailor his mix; the same with two backup singers who normally don’t tour with the band.

“Reinhardt has that near him so he can do a bit of a blend himself,” Greco says. “On the M-380 there are enough auxes to set up for everybody, and that never changes, but for some time we’ve struggled with Reinhardt’s mix. We used to bring a little Mackie mixer along for him, to which I’d stem out a stereo drum mix, a stereo band mix, count-ins and click, but the M-48 is a better solution.”

In addition, a Roland R-88 recorder/mixer (8 channels) was synched to the R1000s for ambient audience capture. It was fed by a stereo pair of Audix M1280 miniature cardioid condenser microphones in front of the audience and two AKG C 414 condensers at the rear of the theater for a “near and far” blend of ambience and audience reaction.

“Because we were going to mix this in 5.1 as well, I wanted a separate system, and the mic setup allowed us to get a lot of clarity in terms of audience reaction instead of just the wash of the room,” Moon says.

Monitor engineer Matt Greco’s compact M-380 mixer, stage side next to digital snake components.

To Carry Or Not…
In terms of other gear taken on tour, Ross Vannelli prefers to travel light, carrying an M-380 and specifying an M-480 as a preferred choice at each stop. As was the case at the Saban Theatre, the house PA is utilized at most stops, supplemented when needed to account for dead spots. He adds that the Roland gear assimilated quite well with the system at the Saban.

Preferences on the group’s tour rider include Radial DIs for guitars and keys, and Shure PSM 900, PSM 1000 or Sennheiser ew G3 wireless monitoring systems (working with carried 1964 Ears 8-driver earpieces). Gino, however, travels with his own system, an AKG WMS4500, in tandem with his Ultimate Ears UE 7 earpieces.

For microphones, Vannelli and Greco bring the bare minimum. For drums at the Saban it was a Shure Beta 52A for kick out and Beta 91A for kick in, although Ross has recently taken to subbing out the “kick in” Beta with a Sennheiser e 901 boundary condenser. Snare top, bottom and toms all get beyerdynamic TG D58c condensers.

On horns it was Beta 98s across the board, the same with SM58s on backing vocals. All mics are hardwired except for those used by the sax player, who goes wireless with a Shure Beta 98 on his tenor and an Applied Microphone Technology (AMT) TA 2 on his soprano sax.

Gino has now switched to a Shure KSM9 condenser for his lead vocals, after hearing the bleed encountered with his previous mic on the Saban recordings. The KSM9’s hypercardioid pattern helps in eliminating that problem.

Ultimately, the use of the Roland package, Moon says, proved to make the biggest difference during the show and later in the studio. “From a production standpoint, it’s pretty seamless integration between monitors, FOH and recording. That’s one of the reasons Ross always tries to get an M-480 for front of house. We already have that investment in monitor world. The band always has long sound checks because the show is complex, and spending hours trying to get a 15-year-old console working just uses up so much time.”

Ross Vannelli summarizes, succinctly:  “It streamlines everything.”

Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/09 at 01:15 PM
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St. Louis Symphony Optimizes Capabilities With Studer Vista 5 Console

Offering 128 channels at a 96 kHz sample rate, it provides versatility, redundancy and top audio quality

Looking for a digital console to meet its needs for high-resolution recordings and live radio broadcasts, the St. Louis Symphony selected Harman’s Studer Vista 5 console. Offering 128 channels at a 96 kHz sample rate, it provides versatility, redundancy and top audio quality.

The St. Louis Symphony is currently in its fifth season of broadcasting, where each of its Saturday evening orchestral series performances are aired live on St. Louis Public Radio 90.7-KWMU.

“It’s truly a live broadcast, nothing is pre-taped,” says Paul Hennerich, lead engineer for the St. Louis Symphony and owner of the Pan Galactic Company. “The Vista 5’s redundancy and flexibility have really made a difference this season. And the board also enables us to work with multiple streams during the performances.”

In addition, the symphony’s concerts are also recorded in 96k, with some of them being used in releases of John Adams’ music by subscription through Nonesuch Records. “For our recordings with Nonesuch, the Vista 5 was one of the few consoles that had the ability to do high-resolution recordings that we need to track,” Hennerick notes. “And, of course, the sound quality is phenomenal, so the console hit all the requirements we had.”

Hennerich adds that the Vista 5’s speed in live situations has enabled him to work efficiently and quickly. “The Vistonics interface is just incredible. Having the touchscreen built in with the physical controller is a huge difference from other consoles. Other consoles might have the touchscreen feature, but it isn’t integrated with a physical controller.”

In addition, the Vista 5’s EQ capabilities also made the console a good fit for the application. “With classical music you need a phase-accurate EQ to really bring out the subtleties of the orchestral performances,” Hennerich says. “We also have the Vista FX feature with the built-in Lexicon effects. Having the ability to adjust multiple reverb sends at the same time makes the workflow that much faster. Also, being able to have two engineers work on their own control surface has been a nice feature.”

Looking ahead, the St. Louis Symphony will be adding the new Infinity Core processing engine to its Vista 5. “The current DSP core we have is pretty great, but I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do with the Infinity Core,” Hennerich concludes.

Pan Galactic Company
Harman Professional   

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/09 at 12:03 PM
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