Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Audio-Technica AT-MX381 SmartMixer Joins Crestron Integrated Partner Program (IPP)
Contractors and system integrators can now control A-T 8-channel automatic mixer with Crestron products
The Audio-Technica AT-MX381 SmartMixer 8-channel automatic mixer with optional computer control (via RS232) now features full integration with Crestron Electronics control products, through a dedicated AT-MX381 module developed as part of Crestron’s Integrated Parter Program (IPP).
This compatibility allows contractors and system integrators to install the AT-MX381 to operate seamlessly with other hardware in an open-platform Crestron systems environment. Such a system may consist of audio/video, security, HVAC, lighting and other controlled devices that may be incorporated into commercial configurations.
Equipped with optional computer control, the AT-MX381 SmartMixer is the latest addition to Audio-Technica’s family of automatic mixers. This microprocessor-controlled automatic mixer is designed to provide automatic mixing functions for installed sound, house of worship, broadcast and conference applications.
Mark Donovan, Audio-Technica sales engineer – installed sound, states, “Audio-Technica is committed to supporting systems integrators by providing them with the tools necessary to help streamline their projects, saving valuable time in the process. With that in mind, we are proud to join forces with Crestron in order to simplify the process of integrating the AT-MX381 with Crestron’s control systems.”
“Crestron is happy to welcome Audio-Technica to our Integrated Partner Program,” says Dominick Accurso, DMC-D manager - integrated partner program. “We have also just released the AT-MX381 module on our site and it is now available for free download.”
Behind The Glass: Producer/Engineer Joe Chiccarelli On Being A Sonic “Chameleon”
A conversation with Producer/Engineer Joe Chiccarelli, who first landed a job as an assistant engineer at Cherokee Studios and soon found himself engineering Frank Zappa on "Sheik Yerbouti" and "Joe's Garage Acts I, II & III" in 1979, and who has gone on to work with a tremendously diverse group of artists. An excerpt from Howard Massey’s "Behind The Glass Volume II," which features more than 40 all-new, exclusive in-depth interviews with many of the world’s top producers and engineers.
Joe Chiccarelli is a chameleon.
Not literally, of course. But unlike many producers whose sonic stamp is immediately recognizable (a Roy Thomas Baker or a John Shanks, for example), you’d be hard pressed to identify a Joe Chiccarelli “sound.”
It’s hard to believe that the same individual who produced the rough-and-ready White Stripes’ Icky Thump was also responsible for the ephemeral, moody ambience of the Shins’ Wincing the Night Away or the smooth, slick jazz tones of Kurt Elling’s Night Moves.
But not only was it the same guy, it was a body of work that netted him a 2008 Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year.
Chat with the soft-spoken, self-effacing Chiccarelli for just a few minutes and it becomes apparent why artists in so many different genres gravitate to him.
“Honestly, I don’t think I’m confident enough in my abilities to have a sound and a strong direction,” he admits disarmingly. “It’s more important to me to study the song and the artist and figure out what’s strong about them and then help the record be the best it can be.”
Originally from Boston, Chiccarelli relocated to Los Angeles in the late 1970s after playing in a series of rock bands. Always interested in the technical aspects of music-making, he landed a job as an assistant engineer at Cherokee studios, but his big break didn’t come until the day that Frank Zappa’s regular engineer was held up in London with visa difficulties.
As low man on the totem pole, the 20-year-old Chiccarelli was given the assignment to work with the notoriously difficult and demanding artist. Seven albums later, he had a career.
Since then, Chiccarelli has worked with an astonishingly diversified group of artists, including Tori Amos, Oingo Boingo, Black Watch, American Music Club, and My Morning Jacket. And every album he works on, it seems, sounds totally different from every other album he’s ever worked on.
“When people ask me, ‘What’s your approach to producing records?’” Chiccarelli says laughingly, “my answer is, ‘Well, what day is this?’ But on a creative level I think I would be dead if I just made the same record over and over again. The personal challenge for me is to try to make something that’s unique to that artist.” Clearly, he’s succeeding.
What do you think it was that Frank Zappa saw in you that made him want to continue to work with you?
I think it was because I was very much an open book. At the time, my only experience was in making good, clean contemporary pop records, while Frank’s whole thing was to try the most outrageous things possible in order to make the music interesting and dynamic and over the top.
It was a new place for me, but I was very willing to go there. Perhaps he just viewed me as someone who hadn’t done a lot of records and so wouldn’t be as set in his ways or closed to new ideas.
Frank was all about breaking rules and challenging the norm. I learned pretty quickly during my first few days with him that you just didn’t say no. [laughs] He really had a great sense of the big picture.
Before I even had a chance to make a statement or try to do things my way, I realized that this was a guy who could see five steps down the line, so I had to learn to trust him and know that in the end it would be okay.
A lot of producers and engineers I’ve talked to have stressed how important it is to be ready when your big break comes. Looking back with hindsight, what preparations had you made to be ready for that moment?
To be honest, I didn’t know where the Frank thing would lead. I was fortunate in that I fell in with an artist who was a workaholic and went from one album to the next.
But I didn’t know at the time that this was going to be a break; I thought it would be a very transitory thing, that I would work with Frank for however many weeks and then go back to Cherokee and resume my assisting gig.
In terms of preparation, I’m not so sure that I did anything specific, but the one thing I tell people who want to become an engineer or producer is, “learn everything.” Not just engineering and music, but also learn about art, poetry, literature, psychology. The job really involves a lot of things, and it changes from project to project.
As someone who appreciates good sound, do you ever find it frustrating to work with an artist like Jack White, someone who’s into rough edges? Do you ever find yourself thinking, “if only we could work on this mix a little more we could get it sounding so much better?”
Yes, and there are many times where I will say something just like that: “Give me another half hour and let me fix this and fix that.” But the thing that makes rough mixes good is that you just kind of go for it, as opposed to laboring over it and making sure that every corner is polished and every little detail is in place.
That’s why they often find their way onto records, and that’s one of the things I respect about Jack: he’s so much about spontaneity and honesty - the reality of something - that he doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on sounds, on mixes, on anything.
Jack is a big fan of old-school recording; he’s the kind of guy who thinks that nothing’s sounded good since 1972. [laughs]
But if you go back and listen to a lot of the music from the ’60s and ’70s, the thing that it’s got more than anything else is a feel and an emotion. So I actually think Jack is correct in that things sometimes just get polished to death.
With the White Stripes, my basic role is to capture the performance and protect the energy and the magic that Jack and Meg have. And they’re a pretty powerful combination, I have to tell you.
I’ve recorded Jack now with three or four different drummers, but there’s a chemistry between him and Meg that’s unique. They’re so respectful with one another, and they work hard, and they push each other. Whatever people say about her abilities, it’s immaterial, because there’s something that she does that lets him do something very special.
Do you prefer to record digitally or to tape?
It really depends on the project. When I feel confident that the band has got it down in terms of performances and things will probably be just a matter of a few takes, then I’ll do it in analog.
With the White Stripes, we recorded to 16-track analog, which was Jack’s preference. But if it’s a situation where there’s still some uncertainty as to arrangements and structures, then I would choose the digital approach.
Having the Shins project done in Pro Tools was a godsend, because I was able to say to [singer/songwriter] James [Mercer] something like, “You know, it would be wonderful if the chorus happened again at the end,” or “Let’s put a whole new section in the middle with different textures, and let me show you real quickly how it could go.” Working digitally gave him lots of options.
For example, there’s a track on the album called Sea Legs where the chorus only happens twice in the song, and that was slated for release as a single. But for radio, sometimes that doesn’t really work.
So we tried doing the song with a more traditional pop structure, where there are three choruses and it ends on the chorus, and it worked, but we all felt that it was a little too normal-sounding. So we opted to go off on this crazy, quirky, almost Latin jam thing because it sounded really exciting when the song took a big left turn, and that’s the version we used for the album.
But when it came time to prepare the track for a single release, we went back and used the file that had a shortened jam section and a third chorus at the end.
Both analog and digital work fine, and they each have their strengths and weaknesses, and their own distinctive tonality. To me, it’s like having another microphone or compressor to choose from.
But even when I record digitally, my goal is still to get the sounds the way I want them on the way in. I’ve always taken that approach, and everyone I ever learned from back when I was just starting out took that approach.
In those days, you were limited track-wise, so my attitude was, every time you put up the faders to do a rough mix, that was your record, or at least it was 90 percent the way you wanted it. I viewed mixing as a process of balancing and refining, not reinventing, and that’s still my attitude.
What do you think it is that makes a song great?
In any kind of pop song, you want to be able to tune in and tune out at the same time. In other words, you want it to engulf you and captivate you every second of the way, but you also want it to take over your body in the sense that you don’t want to have to work too hard; you want to be able to turn off and just kind of sing along.
I think great songs work that way, in that you can view them from afar or be really inside them, just like a great painting or a great movie.
What do you think is the most important quality in a successful producer?
I think the more you are a fan of the music and are moved by it, the better the job you will do with it. And if you are really in love with the music, you will protect the artist’s integrity at all costs, and that’s all-important.
Of course, you do need to know a little of the technical side of making records as well as the musical side of it, but mostly you need to be well-rounded as a person. I’m always inspired by people that create works that are long-lasting, in any art form.
I think that what we do can sometimes be a very ephemeral thing, and I’m always awestruck by the Bob Ezrins and the George Martins in this business - people who have made records that will indeed last for a long, long time.
But I often try to gain my inspiration from art forms other than pop music - painting, or filmmaking, or novels, or great architecture: something that’s been around a hundred years, created by some guy who really broke all the rules.
If I go to a museum on a Sunday and I get motivated by some new young painter or sculptor, that’s more fuel for me to go into my medium and try to do the best that I can do.
Frank Zappa: Joe’s Garage, Zappa, 1979
My Morning Jacket: Evil Urges, ATO, 2008
The White Stripes: Icky Thump, Warner Bros., 2007
The Shins: Wincing the Night Away, Sub Pop, 2007
Kurt Elling: Night Moves, Concord, 2007
American Music Club: San Francisco, Reprise, 1994
To acquire “Behind The Glass: Volume II” from Backbeat Books, click over to www.musicdispatch.com. NOTE: ProSoundWeb readers can enter promotional code NY9 when checking out to receive an additional 20% off the retail price plus free shipping (offer valid to U.S. residents, applies only to media mail shipping, additional charges may apply for expedited mailing services).
Church Sound: Staying Aware Of What’s Happening With Personal Monitor Mixes
Just because the musician has control it doesn’t necessarily keep monitors from being a problem
With the advent of personal monitor mixing for musicians, the front of house guy is theoretically free from any monitor issues.
However, that’s if:
1) The system is set up properly;
2) The musicians know how to use the stage system;
3) You don’t mess with the channel gain (If direct outs a channel are used).
Remember, though, that just because the musician has control it doesn’t necessarily keep monitors from being a problem.
The church where I mix has personal monitor mixers available on the stage.
Our musicians are top quality, and are there consistently (we don’t have much turnover). So 99 percent of the time monitors are never an issue. However, that remaining 1 percent can be frustrating!
I should note here that we do two distinct services every Sunday - they are very different from each other in terms of program and production elements.
This past Sunday during sound check for the first service, the worship leader stopped mid-song and said very emphatically, “Can’t you hear that!!!!????” I responded, “Hear what?”
He then proceeded to play a note right around A 440. As he played it I could hear feedback wanting to take off.
On stage we had multiple choir microphones, a full rhythm section, a string player, a sax and a clarinet.
I immediately thought the problem must be the choir mics, so I dialed out the general area of 440 Hz on the EQ.
This seemed to help, sort of, but things still sounded “off,” and anything the musicians played in the key of F seemed to exacerbate the problem.
As I sat at the booth a little perplexed, the worship leader accidentally bumped into a microphone that we use for lead singers in our contemporary services.
This mic, sitting to one side of the stage, was folded down on it’s boom so that it sat parallel to the floor, and it was also pointed right at the back of one of the monitors on stage.
When the worship leader nudged this mic, he turned to the booth and asked why it was even on.
Bingo! It immediately occurred to me that someone on stage, probably trying to turn up the vocals in his/her monitor, was turning up that mic by mistake.
I went to mute the channel of the offending microphone - ah, but the direct out on that channel is pre-mute.
So I figured I had a few choices:
1) Turn the gain all the way down (but then I would have to remember where it was and return it back to the right spot);
2) Disconnect the mic from the personal monitoring system (however, same problem as above, I would have to remember…);
3) Shut off the phantom power to this mic (it’s a Shure Beta 87 condenser).
I opted for choice number 3, and also put a large piece of tape on the button to remind me to re-engage it after the first service was done.
Problem solved, but a great reminder of the perils of using personal monitor mixers on stage with open wedges. You never know with musicians…
Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 25 years.
Church Sound Basics: Proper Console Gain Structure, Maximizing Signal-To-Noise Ratio
Getting to the benefits of unity gain while eliminating system "hiss" and lessening the possibility of distortion
On the typical mixing console, each channel strip includes a knob at the top that behaves like a volume control.
Meanwhile, the fader at the bottom of the channel strip also controls volume.
Why are there two controls that appear to do the same thing?
You’ve probably heard sound systems that issue a fairly audible hiss in an otherwise quiet room, as well as distortion when someone speaks loudly or when a singer gets aggressive. Both of these problems are usually caused by improper gain structure at the console.
In typical applications, several different types of microphones (and direct inputs) are used.
For example, at a church a pastor wears a wireless lavalier mic, the pulpit has a condenser mic, the praise team has four dynamic vocal mics, and there is one acoustic guitar pickup with no preamp and one electronic keyboard.
All of these devices send a different signal level to the console. The guitar pickup and the dynamic mics send a relatively weak signal.
The keyboard sends a strong signal because it’s a powered device. And the wireless and the pulpit mics are somewhere between the two.
A Related Idea
All electronic devices have a “noise floor.” Whether it’s a $50 component or a $50,000 component, all produce a certain amount of noise.
Most manufacturers of audio equipment attempt to maximize audio signal while holding noise floor to a minimum. The difference in level is the “signal-to-noise ratio” seen on manufacturer data sheets. (Typically, a 90 dB ratio is considered to be “studio quality.”)
In order to maintain a correct signal-to-noise ratio for each channel, thereby eliminating hiss and lessening the possibility of distortion in the channel, try this:
1) Set the top control on the channel strip (usually called gain or trim) to the fully counter-clockwise (off) position;
2) Set the channel fader at the “0” position, indicated with “+” numbers above it and “=” numbers below it;
3) Set the master output fader at the “0” position. However, be aware that on some consoles, the master output fader has the “0” position at the top of its travel;
4) Have the person talking or performer address the mic the same way as during a performance or worship service. Slowly increase the gain clockwise until it is loud enough for the typical application of the system in the venue;
5) Shut off that channel with the channel fader, and move to the next (and the next and so on) until all channels to be used are optimized.
Two volume settings on each channel. The goal is unity!
Depending upon the level each channel has at the input, you’ll notice that the gain controls are all over the place. Some are high, some are low and some are in between.
But despite the fact that many different signal levels are now coming into the console, as soon as they all pass through their respective gain stages, they’re all at the same level.
Things that once were different are now all the same, hence the term “unity gain.”
Input To Output
A wonderful side benefit of doing this procedure is that now all channels and master faders are set to “0”. The bottom line is that the signal-to-noise ratio is now maintained all the way through the console, from input to output.
Further, the noise floor is low, the audio signal is high, and gain settings are likely lower than they were previously. This decreases the possibility of overdriving the input.
If your input gain settings tend to be near or past the 3 o’clock position on the rotary dial, it’s an indicator to turn up the system’s power amplifiers.
However, be careful not to overpower your loudspeakers, and lower the gain setting a bit.
If left at the higher position, a strong momentary vocal signal may push the input into distortion.
Finally, if power amplifiers are already turned all the way up, use equalization to make additional adjustments.
Just keep in mind that all of the pieces of equipment in the signal path have a relationship to each other. It’s important to maximize signal and headroom while minimizing noise and distortion.
Starting with the proper input gain is a vital first step.
Extron Now Shipping Ten Input Scaling Presentation Switcher
The DVS 510 is HDCP-compliant and features simultaneous DVI and two analog RGB/YUV outputs.
Extron Electronics has announced the immediate availability of the DVS 510, a 10 input, multi-format Presentation Scaling Switcher that accepts and scales standard definition, HDTV, DVI, and RGB signals to a common, high resolution output rate.
The DVS 510 is HDCP-compliant and features simultaneous DVI and two analog RGB/YUV outputs. It is a true presentation switcher for professional environments, with audio switching for all video input sources, an available 50 watt stereo integrated amplifier, picture-in-picture, and glitch-free switching.
The DVS 510 also offers flexible control options including front panel control, Ethernet, RS-232, USB, and IR.
“The DVS 510 is ideal for larger presentation environments where several AV source devices need to be integrated, including HDCP-compliant products such as Blu-ray Disc players and cable or satellite receivers,” says Casey Hall, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Extron.
“It delivers high performance video and graphics processing, plus all the essential features for streamlining integration and delivering professional-quality AV presentations.”
The DVS 510 features a high performance 30-bit scaling engine with the ability to scale standard definition video, HDTV, and RGB signals up or down in resolution.
It accepts computer-video signals up to 1920x1200 and HDTV 1080p/60, and outputs DVI and analog RGB or component video at selectable output rates up to 1920x1200 resolution, as well as HDTV up to 1080p/60.
The DVS 510 is available with two audio output variations, including the standard DVS 510 with fixed and variable line level outputs, and the DVS 510 SA, which adds a stereo integrated amplifier with 25 watts rms output per channel into 4 or 8 ohms.
The DVS 510 SA features an Extron exclusive, highly efficient, advanced Class D amplifier design with patented CDRS™ - Class D Ripple Suppression technology that provides a smooth, clean audio waveform and an improvement in signal fidelity over conventional Class D amplifier designs.
For more effective, professional presentations, the DVS 510 includes glitch-free switching between video and high resolution inputs with selectable cut or fade to black transitions.
The DVS 510 also features a PIP picture-in-picture mode that allows a video source and a high resolution source to be shown on one display. Several PIP presets are available, including side-by-side windows, and the PIP window can be dynamically sized and positioned anywhere in the image.
Metric Halo The Choice Of Paper Street Audio For Production Of Peter Pan
Engineer Paul Kavicky likes that he doesn't have to travel with extra gear, but can accomplish everything inside the Metric Halo box.
As the owner and operator of Paper Street Audio Company, Paul Kavicky has carved a satisfying niche for himself in the world of major theatrical productions, where he serves as production audio engineer and, beyond that, guru of all things audio.
Indeed, his latest appointment with the Threesixty Theater’s production of Peter Pan has placed him at the FOH position for over 350 shows spanning four cities throughout the US in over a year-and-a-half.
Much of Kavicky’s work back at his well-appointed home studio is related to the theater, creating and recording sound effects and voiceovers. After a thorough search of the available solutions, Kavicky leapt at Metric Halo’s FireWire interfaces. Citing superior audio quality, a road-worthy build, and rock-solid driver support, he outfitted Paper Street Audio Company with six Metric Halo interfaces with eight inputs/outputs each: four 2882s, one LIO-8, and one top-of-the-line ULN-8.
A visit to the Paper Street Audio Company will quickly reveal that Kavicky has a pretty serious synthesizer habit, which goes a long way toward explaining why he has forty-eight inputs of Metric Halo conversion.
“Those keyboards gobble up channels pretty quickly,” he said. “To simplify my setup, I did away with my hardware mixer, relying instead on Metric Halo’s MIO Console software and either Logic, Digital Performer, or Pro Tools to do the mixing.”
“Although I was a bit apprehensive, I’m completely happy with how things work now. The Metric Halo converters and preamps sound so good that I’m now in a position to sell off some other outboard gear that doesn’t really get touched anymore.”
Kavicky cites three metrics (his word, no self-reference intended) that are essential in a high-end interface. “It must have superlative audio quality, bullet-proof build quality, and confidence-inspiring driver quality.”
“As for audio quality,” he states, “much has been said about Metric Halo. The ULN-8 is truly unbelievable. Hearing it was an epiphany for me. And I challenge anyone with ears to listen and not be startled by how good it sounds. As for the build quality, the Metric Halo interfaces are built like tanks.”
“I’ve carted them all over the place under rugged road conditions, and they never even pause. Lastly, and this is the part that is often overlooked, Metric Halo builds the most rock-solid drivers in the business. I have used my interfaces for countless hours in high-pressure live situations, and they simply never fail.”
When he travels with shows, Kavicky takes one Metric Halo 2882 with a 2d expansion card and +DSP capabilities. He is frequently asked to record sound effects or voiceovers.
“Aside from a microphone and a computer, the expanded 2882 provides every other tool in my audio recording toolbox,” he said. “That lightens my load, as I don’t have to travel with any ancillary gear. No outboard mic pres or compressors. I can do it all inside the Metric Halo box.”
NAMM To Host Import/Export Task Force Meeting For Lacey Act Compliance
The task force will support education and information on regulatory compliance starting with the Lacey Act.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) has announced that it is forming an Import/Export Task Force regarding compliance requirements for the Lacey Act and other materials regulations, and will hold its first meeting at 2011 Summer NAMM in Nashville, Tenn. Thursday, July 21 followed by a post-meeting reception.
NAMM Members affected by Lacey Act regulations and declaration requirements—along with other regulations that impact the shipment of plant or animal products—are encouraged to join the Import/Export Task Force.
The formation of the task force supports NAMM’s continued dedication to assist NAMM Members in their efforts to comply with regulatory requirements, and will provide the opportunity for the association and its Members to gather best practices, gather case studies to contribute to advocacy efforts, and encourage peer-to-peer interaction and education on the subject.
Enforcement and implementation of the Lacey Act, especially the requirement that imported wood and certain plant materials be accompanied by a declaration, has been a work in progress by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
The first cases of enforcement of the Act have surfaced and more are expected.
“The task force will support education and information on regulatory compliance starting with the Lacey Act,” said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM’s director of public affairs and government relations.
“We hope this group can also share and compile examples of problems with compliance to contribute to ongoing advocacy efforts.”
A previous webinar hosted by NAMM on the subject on May 18, 2011 is available here and the Power Point Presentation “Developments in Compliance and Enforcement Under the Lacey Act,” is available here
Wohler’s Carl Dempsey To Present Session At BroadcastAsia2011
The president and CEO of the company was selected to speak on strategies for loudness monitoring and control.
Wohler Technologies has announced that its President and CEO, Carl Dempsey, will present “Strategies for Loudness Monitoring and Control in Today’s Broadcasting Operations” at the BroadcastAsia2011 International Conference in Singapore.
Dempsey’s session is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. on Friday, June 24.
“Loudness control has become so important for broadcast operations that it is getting the attention of regulators in many countries.”
“The new Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation or CALM Act in the U.S. is one example,” said Dempsey. “Put simply, loudness control mitigates the perceived loudness jumps between channels, programs, and commercials that create a less-than-ideal viewing experience.”
“Fortunately, there are options for integrating loudness control and monitoring with minimal impact on existing operations, whether staffed or unattended.”
In his presentation, Dempsey will explore the complexities of controlling audio volume, including the potential causes and implications of loudness. Attendees will learn cost-effective strategies for instituting convenient, highly automated loudness control solutions across a broadcast operation.
Specific topics will include how to incorporate loudness monitoring into an integrated, facility-wide workflow; how to employ Dolby® signals for loudness control; how new adaptive and level control algorithms are benefiting broadcasters; and the growing regulatory implications and standards for loudness control.
In his tenure as president and CEO, Dempsey has led Wohler Technologies through 15 years of innovation in the development of audio and video monitoring solutions.
Dempsey’s career spans 30 years in the broadcast industry and this experience is reflected in the functionality and convenience designed into every Wohler product. Under Dempsey’s leadership, Wohler was the first to introduce Dolby® support to its monitoring systems and remains among the first to bring 3-Gbps-capable solutions to market.
Pro Partner membership is limited by invitation to those companies that provide products and services deemed worthy of consideration by professionals.
The METAlliance (Music Engineering & Technology Alliance) has announced that Avid has become the newest Pro Partner of the organization.
Pro Partner membership is limited to companies that have shown a capacity and proclivity to manufacture and distribute products that meet the organization’s professional audio qualifications.
The METAlliance consists of a group of globally-recognized, award-winning audio engineers and producers who have been deeply involved in establishing techniques and technical standards that are the foundation of modern music recording.
The METAlliance founders are Chuck Ainlay, Ed Cherney, Frank Filipetti, George Massenburg, Phil Ramone, Elliot Scheiner and Al Schmitt.
The METAlliance’s Chuck Ainlay commented, “With Pro Tools 9, the world’s leading audio workstation enters a whole new world of interoperability and Avid must be commended for this. My life maybe just got a little simpler.”
Frank Filipetti remarked, “Moving to Pro Tools 9 with its open architecture has persuaded me that we are finally realizing the dream that all of us who embraced digital recording had been hoping for.”
Ed Cherney added, “Pro Tools has been the center of my studio. Avid’s new open architecture is now the center of my musical universe.”
Tony Cariddi, Avid Segment Marketing Manager, Pro Audio, stated, “Avid has been dedicated to meeting the needs of the professional audio community for years, and has worked closely with the members of the METAlliance.”
“Our commitment to sound quality, open architectures, and the highest audio production standards perfectly aligns with the mission set by the METAlliance founders, and we’re honored to become a Pro Partner with such talented people.”
METAlliance Pro Partnership is a group of companies that share the founders’ belief that a call for quality is important.
It is limited, by invitation, to those companies that provide products and services deemed worthy of consideration by professionals.
Avid joins other METAlliance Pro Partners: AKG, Audio-Technica, Cakewalk, DPA Microphones, JBL Pro, Lexicon, Manley Laboratories, GML, Millennia Music & Media Systems, Neumann USA, Prism Sound, Royer MIcrophones, Sanken Microphones, Solid State Logic, Sonnox, Steinberg, tc electronic, Universal Audio, and Yamaha.
Kramer Introduces Three New Twisted Pair Products For HDMI Signals Incorporating HDBaseT Technology
The HDBaseT technology ensures high quality long distance signal transmission.
Kramer Electronics has announced the introduction of the TP-581T HDMI line transmitter, the TP-582T HDMI switcher/line transmitter, and the TP-582R HDMI DA/line receiver.
These products employ HDBaseT technology to pass HDMI, IR, RS-232, and Ethernet signals over twisted pair cable.
The TP-581T and TP-582R are a twisted pair transmitter and receiver for HDMI, 100BaseT Ethernet, bidirectional RS-232 and IR signals.
The TP-581T converts HDMI, 100BaseT Ethernet, RS-232 and IR input signals to an HDBaseT twisted pair signal. The TP-582R converts the HDBaseT signal back to HMDI, 100BaseT Ethernet, RS-232 and IR signals and provides dual HDMI outputs.
The TP-582R also de-embeds the audio in the HDMI stream to an S/PDIF and TOSLINK digital audio output. The TP-582T differs from the TP-581T in that it has 2 HDMI inputs and can switch between the two inputs.
These three models employ HDBaseT technology that transmits more data over longer distances than typical twisted pair transmitters and receivers for HDMI signals.
When used in conjunction with the TP-582R receiver, the TP-581T and TP-582T transmitters have a system range of up to 330 feet (100 meters) at the maximum resolution of 1080p.
The units support a maximum bandwidth of 6.75Gbps, or 2.25Gbps per graphics channel. Each product features LED status indicators for input, output, link and power.
These units are HDMI and HDTV compatible, and are HDCP compliant.
The TP-581T, TP-582T, and TP-582R are each housed in a compact MegaTOOLS enclosure. The TP-581T sells in the United States at a list price of $595.00 per unit, the TP-582T is $695.00 per unit, and the TP-582R is $655.00 per unit.
They are currently in stock and available from Kramer Electronics sales companies around the world.
Symetrix Appoints Hock Thang As Technical Sales Engineer For Asia
The newly created position represents a big step forward for Symetrix in Asia.
In response to unprecedented sales growth throughout both the established and the burgeoning Asian countries, Symetrix announces the formation of a new position, Technical Sales Engineer for Asia, and announces the appointment of Singapore-based Hock Thang to the position.
Thang possesses a deep understanding of the Symetrix product line from his prior experience as a technical sales associate in the region, and he will employ that knowledge to assist Asian Symetrix customers with their technical questions both pre- and post-sale.
“Hiring Hock to this newly created position represents a big step forward for Symetrix in Asia,” said Paul Roberts, vice president of sales and marketing at Symetrix.
“It’s clear that our Asian distributors are making substantial contributions to Symetrix’ growth, and we want to support their present and future efforts by creating this dedicated technical sales position for the region. We’re especially excited that Hock Thang has signed on to fill the position.”
“He’s the perfect fit. He combines exceptional customer support skills with a comprehensive understanding of our products and will provide the high level of support that customers have come to expect from Symetrix technical sales engineers.”
In addition to handling all pre- and post-sales technical support for all Symetrix products, Thang will provide Symetrix’ Asian distributors with engaging, practical product training on a regular basis.
A Matter Of Delay: Getting To The Essense Of Effects In Your Church System
Understanding the principles at work with altering sound via the touch of a button in today's digital age
At the heart of what we call “effects” in professional audio is the delaying of sound.
Virtually any audio effect - reverb, flanging, chorusing, phaser, echoing, looping, etc. - uses (and manipulates) delay in one form or another.
You’ve probably heard the repetition of a person’s words in a large canyon.
The first sound is the voice arriving directly to our ears, and then moments later, the voice repeats after the sound wave has traveled across the canyon and back to our ears. There is a delay to that sound caused by the time it takes to travel (at roughly 1,130 feet per second) out to the canyon wall and back.
This same type of delayed echo of a sound occurs in a room as well, and is caused by the sound reflecting off of surfaces in the room and finding its way back to our ears.
We will hear the original sound as a reference, and this is quickly followed by the early reflections (or echoes).
The apparent nature of these echoes is relative to how loud they are, as well as their arrival time. The loudness is a function of the material reflecting the sound, and this can also alter the frequency content because material may reflect certain frequencies quite well and yet absorb others.
The arrival time back at the listener’s ears is a function of how far the sound had to travel through its reflected path to arrive at our ears, and is of course relative to the arrival of the direct sound.
Some reflections may not even be able to be heard, even though they can be measured and proven to be quite loud by comparison.
If the sound is delayed in time less than about 30 milliseconds, our brain will not perceive it as a discreet echo.
So, reflections arriving less than 30 milliseconds after the direct sound arrives might be considered early reflections. Reflections that arrive later will generally be heard as discreet echoes. This effect is typically more noticeable with sounds that have a percussive attack.
When you clap your hands in a large auditorium, you may notice a smoothly decaying sound that lingers for a moment.
This is know as reverberation, and is made up of many hundreds of reflections arriving at the listener’s ears, so closely spaced in time that he cannot perceive them as separate echoes, but rather as a homogeneous mixture of all of them.
Each room has it’s own reverberation “sound,” determined by the acoustics of the room.
That is to say, the manner in which the room is constructed, how large it is, if the surfaces are hard or soft, reflective or absorbent, and even whether it’s painted or not, and so forth, give the room its character.
“Proper” design usually presents a reverberant field that is quite diffuse, with all frequencies decaying smoothly together, with no one frequency louder than another.
With a sound reinforcement system, any of these acoustic properties can be presented at the touch of a button on a digital effects processor.
They offer any of the effects described above, along with a long list of other, more imaginative or not-exactly-natural-on-the-planet-I-know-and-love effects.
Rather inventive techniques to simulate acoustic environments have been available for years.
It’s not my intent to go into the history of these devices, but we should look at some prominent devices and concepts from the past.
Properly built, one of the best room simulators is an echo chamber. And that’s exactly what it is - a room simulator.
Common in recording, it’s a highly reflective or “live” sounding room constructed to provide controlled reverb on demand. This echo chamber room will have one or two loudspeakers placed inside it, and one or two microphones as well.
Simply, the audio signal is fed to the loudspeakers, the sound then washes around the room, reflecting off the many surfaces, and is picked up by the mics. The signal from the mics is then brought back into the recording console.
The loudspeakers and/or mics can be repositioned to “shape” the desired reverb sound. (Notice that the effect obtained is termed “reverb” - not “echo” – which is just an audio terminology quirk.)
The basic design of a digital reverb plate. (click to enlarge)
Another device popular in the past is the reverb plate. Ones of better quality sound so good that they’re still in use today alongside the more flexible digital effects processors.
The theory is similar to the echo chamber - one or two mics (pickups) capture sound from a loudspeaker driver, although this time they’re mounted to a large steel plate. (For more details about plate reverb design, see Bob Buontempo’s fine article here.)
However, with the reverb plate, the “room” is a sheet of metal. The loudspeaker is actually a specially designed transducer virtually attached to the plate near its center.
When an audio signal is fed via an amplifier to this transducer, it causes the plate to vibrate, and two contact microphones attached to the plate in optimum locations pick up these vibrations. The signal from those mics is also carried back to the recording console and inserted into the mix.
Over the years, many different methods have been tried to delay an audio signal for a moment before it is “allowed” it to be heard.
One brute force method was simply attaching a mid-range driver at one end of a long tube (so long it had to be coiled in order to be practical), with a mic placed at the other end to pick up the sound.
Hardly considered flexible, this device found its best use as a signal delay for underbalcony systems, improving intelligibility for those farther away from the output of the main loudspeakers.
Another delay device was the early Echoplex, which simply used a small audio tape recorder and a moveable playback head to alter the length of time before the “delayed” signal was heard.
Analog delay devices also gained popularity by eliminating the tape. These devices use a simple “bucket brigade” technique - the signal is stored very briefly in an analog “memory” and then released.
By chaining several of these memories together, the signal can be held for quite a while.
And by providing different points at which to “tap” the chain, a more complex output signal can be achieved. Many of these devices sound quite good and can still be found in use today. The major drawbacks are increased noise and limited bandwidth.
Believe it or not, but digital effects processors were introduced way back in the mid 1970s, and although these offered simple operation and a unique sound, they were still priced high at $7,000 to $12,000.
As computer technology has marched onward, excellent quality devices that rival and supersede those early ones can be had for a fraction of the price.
The limiting factor on many of the early digital units was bandwidth, going only go as high as 10 kHz to 12 kHz.
Of course, the argument is that natural reverb rarely contains frequencies above those limits due to the natural friction of air, which dissipates the higher frequencies.
Still, the desire lurks inside of every engineer to create some rather extraterrestrial effect, and advances have been made to increase that bandwidth.
Another limiting factor was that sound was often “grainy” - one could easily hear the “stepped” sound of the digital conversion. Again, advancements have been made in sampling rate and smoothing techniques.
Shape & Define
Quite literally, when mixing an album I imagine a place where this performance is taking place, and then use the effects processors to help shape or define that place.
Similarly, doing a sound reinforcement mix (to me, at least) is really just mixing the album in front of an audience instead of in a small control room.
As long as the room is large enough and relatively well behaved acoustically, I approach the use of digital effects processors in exactly the same way as during a mix-down session.
The secret to tasteful use of effects is to listen very closely to your favorite recordings.
Carefully analyze what you hear, and then try to emulate it.
And remember - a little bit of effects can go a long way. Don’t overdo it!
Curt Taipale heads up Church Soundcheck, a thriving community dedicated to helping technical worship personnel, and he also provides expert systems design and consulting services with Taipale Media Systems.
NAMM University Schedule Announced For 2011 Summer NAMM Show
The varied topics range from business basics to learning to play an instrument.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) has announced its NAMM University educational session schedule for the upcoming 2011 Summer NAMM show, which takes place July 21-23 in Nashville.
Kicking the show off each morning will be the popular “Breakfast Session” held in the Grand Ballroom in the Renaissance Nashville hotel adjacent to the Nashville Convention Center.
Each Breakfast Session begins with a free, hot breakfast at 8 a.m. and continues with in-depth presentations and panel discussions on the most important issues and topics that music product retailers face today.
Then each day, educational sessions will be offered in the Idea Center on the trade show floor every half an hour starting at 10:30 a.m., featuring presentations from seasoned professionals in the retail and music products industries.
This year’s lineup offers more sessions on technology, including back-to-back sessions outlining how to use Google to benefit retail businesses with speakers Peter Dods of Easy Music Center and Grant Billings of Steinway Piano Gallery of Madison.
Thursday morning will kick off with a Breakfast Session called “The NAMM Retail Summit,” featuring NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond speaking with Robin Lewis, co-author of “The New Rules of Retail: Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace” and guest panelists.
The session will focus on the critical changes taking place in retail and the vital information retailers need to stay in business and thrive.
Thursday’s Idea Center sessions will include a double session on “The Basics to Valuing Music Stores,” presented by Alan Friedman of Friedman, Kannenberg & Company, PC, and a 90-minute session called “I Love to Buy! Now, I May Need Some Help to Sell Thru!” presented by Danny Rocks of The Company Rocks and Friedman.
Friday’s Breakfast Session will focus on “The Top 10 Web Marketing Trends and How to Use Them,” presented by John Arnold, marketing author and columnist at Entrepreneur.com. Attendees will learn about the top marketing technologies including social media, search marketing, mobile devices and local Internet marketing, and how to invest in only the technologies that will bring their business results.
Friday’s Idea Center sessions will include: “How to Use Facebook to Market Your Business: The Dos and Don’ts” by Greg Billings of Steinway Piano Gallery of Naples and Grant Billings of Steinway Piano Gallery of Madison; “The Top 10 Marketing & Promotion Ideas That Experts Say “Try Now!” by Scott Robertson, APR, director of marketing and communications at NAMM; and a three-part series called “Get Ready for the ‘Next Generation’ of Music Lessons” by Pete Gamber of Alta Loma Music and “The Lesson Room” columnist for Music Inc. magazine.
Saturday’s Breakfast Session will highlight the “Best In Show: This Year’s Hottest Products,” featuring Frank Alkyer, publisher of Music Inc. magazine and a guest panel offering up the hottest products they saw on the show floor at 2011 Summer NAMM.
Saturday’s Idea Center sessions will include a double session covering “What Is Working In My Store Now!” by Danny Rocks and “Successful Lessons Series: Selling Lessons As a Retail Item” by Donovan Bankhead of Springfield Music.
Starting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, show attendees and anyone in the Nashville area who is interested in starting to play an instrument, write songs or learn music-making applications will be invited to the show floor to attend the “Wanna Play Day” clinics and sessions. Topics will include:
Learning the Basics Garage Band Logic Pro Test Drive—a hands-on look at basics of Logic Pro for beginners Home Studio Technology for Songwriters—professional songwriters discuss how they use computers and the latest technology in their home studios Live Sound Basics—tips on how to purchase, rent and set up a live sound system that’s appropriate for your band or group
A complete listing of the NAMM University sessions can be found online.
Tips and tricks for the busy engineer seeking ways to streamline efficiency in their stage setup.
Ideally, a band on tour should wake up to a late brunch, hit the hotel health spa, shower and head over to the hall where everything is plugged in and ready for an extended sound check / jam session.
If this scenario is unfamiliar to you, then more efficient methods of connecting your equipment at the last second may be exactly what you need. It certainly can’t hurt.
Real World 101
When a band on the road is not the mega headliner or is working with different sound systems every night, having a consistent rig that sets up, tears down and works with a minimum of effort can make the difference between a great show and another bummer gig.
The best way to make this happen is to be as self contained as possible.
With the right assortment of cabling, multipin disconnects and direct boxes; the backline, drum kit and keyboard rigs can all be pre-wired.
If the band has a multi-accessorized guitar player or two, that’s another prime target for pre-wiring.
If the fully pre-wired stage rig falls victim to the accountant’s veto, many small time saving projects can be undertaken as the budget allows.
Micing The Throne
Drum kit mic wiring is usually the most time consuming processes during any set change. If the kit is on a rolling riser, a small snake box with a multipin disconnect is the fastest way to plug in the drum mics.
The mics can be set in place and plugged into the snake head and then connected to the PA with a simple twist of the multipin (such as a Whirlwind WI or W2). Short of a multipin, even a simple bundled harness with all the mic cables taped together at the right lengths is a good time saver.
Standard drop snake
It must be said that for snakes in any active stage environment, it’s worth the extra money for those heavy metal “proven military technology” multipin connectors.
Although plastic connectors are often used because of the lower initial cost, they just don’t hold up on the road and have a keen Murphy habit to get damaged just when you don’t have time to be repairing a multipin connector on stage.
If good multipins aren’t currently budgeted, a practical and cost-effective alternative can be an off-the-shelf drop snake.
A six connector stage box feeding back to a fanout at the larger stage box or console itself will provide clean wiring to the drum riser for rapid hookup at show time.
As with keyboard rigs, guitar and bass amplifiers can often be pre-wired with direct boxes built into the rack, so the only cables needing to be plugged in are the power and the one going to the instrument.
In many guitar systems, however, you will have more on the floor to deal with.
Since low signal levels and high impedances are serious issues with guitar systems, we’ve found that the best sonic solution for long multi-line cord runs is not the use of snakes, but bundling together multiple lengths of premium low-capacitance, low-noise guitar cable such as Whirlwind’s Accusonic + 1.
Guitars are just about your most sensitive signal output devices on stage, and the only place a high-quality snake isn’t your best option for clean wire dress.
Guitar cords in general can account for a lot of your mid-show pain.
Per the signal level and impedance issues mentioned above, they are prime sources of induced (beer signs, lighting dimmers, radio signals, etc.) and self-generated (microphonics, crackles & pops) noise.
Plus, in a live performance they get worked more than the other cables and have to survive that on a nightly basis without getting progressively worse in the noise department before failing.
Keys for Guitar Cords That Sound Best & Survive:
1) Braided Copper Shield
Foil shields are significantly stiffer, making them annoying to performers connected to them and they deteriorate with constant flexing, making them fine for the studio or in a snake, but a time bomb for the guitarist on stage. Shields which are simply spiral wrapped will “spread” when you flex the cable, providing openings for those nasty outside sounds to jump into the guitar signal. The braid is a key issue.
2) Conductive Inner Wrap
A conductive inner wrap under the shield will increase shielding and also reduce microphonics. This can be harder to spot, but becomes obvious when you smack the cable around. Some cables make a lot of noise when they get tapped. Good ones don’t.
3) Low Capacitance
This will matter with some guitar/pickup/amp combinations, and not with others. If your guitars all have onboard electronics, it shouldn’t be an issue. For some of the classics, it’s a big deal. So you don’t have to think about it, lower capacitance is better. Try to stay under 50pf a foot if you can get the specs on the cable.
4) Strain Relief
A flexible molded boot protecting the last few inches of the cord before it enters the plug. This is a life-expectancy issue. Most cord fatigue takes place at the point where the nice flexible cable enters the hard inflexible plug.
5) Multiple Copper Stranding
Look for multiple fine copper strands for the inner conductor.
These give you flexibility while keeping resistance low. Esoteric audio people may tell you the extra surface area created by fine stranding also helps high frequencies due to “skin effect”.
They’ll probably add that you should use oxygen free” copper for a better sound (actually, “oxygen free” really means “less oxygen”, with different OF cables giving you different amounts of Oxygen Freeness).
These intriguing possibilities aside, more fine strands for a given inner conductor gauge translates to more suppleness and greater life expectancy on stage.
Get It Together
Done right, a set change is as easy as giving the sound company a set of numbered XLR tails (even if you are the sound company).
At the sound board, prewiring of the effects rack(s) and a short insert snake or wire bundle are the path to a fast, predictable setup. If it will be the same board every night, you may have the luxury of using a multipin disconnect between your rack and the board.
If you are going to be hanging this rack off a different board every night, the most practical solution can be to have your insert snake’s console fanout be TRS stereo phone plugs and carry a bag full of TRS to dual-mono phone adapters for the boards that have separate in and out jacks.
Finally, every sound tech needs a bag of black box goodies to get you through emergency situations that are not usually of your making. A good cable tester, miscellaneous adapters, in-line phase reversers, ground lifters and pads are indispensable. A few emergency 9V batteries never hurt either.
Carl Cornell has been the chief engineer at Whirlwind for over 20 years. He has also mixed performance audio professionally since discovering (much to his dismay) in 1968 that he had no future in front of the mic.
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