Friday, June 06, 2014

Butch Vig & Billy Bush Deploy Waves Abbey Road Collection On Garbage’s New Single (Video)

Provides a palette of "mythical bests" of original analog gear

Grammy winner Butch Vig (primary producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist for alt-rock hitmakers Garbage and also noted for his production work with such acts as Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters), along with engineer Billy Bush (Jake Bugg, The Naked and Famous, Neon Trees), recently put the Waves Abbey Road Collection to use in recording the new Garbage single “Girls Talk.”

The single was released as a 10-inch record for Record Store Day 2014, followed by a worldwide digital release, and the project is the most recent example of Vig’s use of Waves plug-ins.

“Waves plug-ins have been an important part of the Garbage recording process since they first came out, and we are very pleased that they have become an integral part of our live performances as well,” Vig says.
The plug-ins included in Waves’ Abbey Road Collection provided Vig and Bush a number of solutions in the creation of the single. Vig reports: “We recorded an acoustic piano, an upright, at my house, and it’s not the greatest-sounding piano, but I put the Waves/Abbey Road REDD plug-in, the REDD 51, on it, along with a little bit of Waves Renaissance Compressor just to bring down the initial attack and bring up some sustain, and it really opened it up. All of a sudden it sounded like a real baby grand.

“I also recorded a couple of soft synth cello parts that interact with each other, and they sounded okay, but as soon as I put the REDD 51 on, it really put this delicious air on top of the mix. You can almost hear the bow going across the instruments. It made them sound real.”

Bush adds: “The original REDD desk is like a mythical beast. So to have the ability [with the Waves/Abbey Road REDD plug-in] to try not one, not two, but three versions is really fun: to hear how each one distorts differently, what the headrooms sounds like, how the EQ sounds and how it colors the sound of what you put it on is great. I like how it makes things recorded in the box sound real.” 

Regarding the Waves/Abbey Road J37 Tape, Bush states: “The J37 is another mythical beast which only a handful of people ever used. [The Waves plug-in] is really unique and does something different than all the other tape plugins out there. You can create sounds that you haven’t heard before. Not only is it an accurate representation of a great machine, it’s also a very cool, creative and useful tool.”

Vig adds: “There is something inherent about the sound of tape that really helps glue performances together. The J37 is so good because it emulates that sound from the ’60s. I’ve never been inside Abbey Road Studios, so to be able to use that now on mixes and individual tracks is really cool, since it really does sound amazing.” 



Posted by Keith Clark on 06/06 at 11:04 AM
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Studer Vista 1 Gets Lexicon Effects With Version 5.1 Upgrade

Enables two engines with up to eight mono effects processors controlled directly from Vistonics interface

Harman’s Studerhas released the version 5.1 upgrade to its Vista 1 console, adding sister company Lexicon effects processing to the Vista 1 digital broadcast console.

Product manager Roger Heiniger explains, “The new software enables the built-in Lexicon FX surround processors [two engines with up to eight mono effects processors] for the Vista 1, controlled directly from the Vistonics U/I, all in one very compact footprint.”

Primary applications for the Vista 1 include theatre, house of worship, live and music production, broadcast production, and OB trucks and vans. It’s available in 32 or 22 motorized fader options, incoprorates patented Vistonics and FaderGlow user interfaces, and is capable of 96 DSP channels including 5.1 surround, true broadcast monitoring, talkback, red light control and GPIO.

Customers are advised to contact their distributors to get the Version 5.1 upgrade.

Harman Professional

Posted by Keith Clark on 06/06 at 09:22 AM
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CADAC US Launching At InfoComm: Showing Router, MADI & Dante Bridge Components

Focusing attention on its MegaCOMMS system network with the introduction of three key infrastructural network components

CADAC is exhibiting at InfoComm (booth C11532) for the first time as CADAC Audio Ltd US & Canada, the company’s new North American sales and distribution arm under the direction of general manager Paul Morini.

The company will be focusing attention on its MegaCOMMS system network with the introduction of three key infrastructural network components – the CDC MC router, CDC MC MADI network bridge and CDC MC Dante network bridge.

MegaCOMMS extends CADAC audio performance across scalable digital audio networks of up to 3,072 channels of 96 kHz/24-bit audio, comprising multiple CDC I/O stage boxes and consoles. The extensive latency management system automatically manages all internal routing and associated processing latency, providing time-aligned, phase-coherent transmission with sub-0.4 millisecond latency, from analog inputs on stage to analog outputs on stage.

The 2RU CDC MC router is the hub of the MegaCOMMS system network, with a single router supporting 128 channels of bi-directional 96 kHz/24-bit audio. The router currently allows up to four MegaCOMMS consoles to be linked to up to eight MegaCOMMS I/O stage boxes or audio network bridges within the same audio network, all on 150-meter (492-foot) runs from the CDC MC router.

Paul Morini, general manager of CADAC Audio Ltd US & Canada.

In addition, the router can be configured to allow a redundant console to run in parallel with the “live” console. Future upgrades will increase the power and expand the flexibility of this unit to take further advantage of the capacity of the MegaCOMMS network.

CADAC CDC MC MADI and CDC MC Dante network bridges allow the seamless integration of MADI and Dante units within a MegaCOMMS network. Both 1RU rackmount units can operate at 96 kHz or 48 kHz, and can handle up to 64 inputs and outputs.

Both are equipped with independent word clocks and come with dual PSUs as standard. Audio connections are co-axial on the CDC MC Dante network bridge (with RJ45 connectivity to Dante network devices), and co-axial and optical on the CDC MC MADI network bridge. As on the CDC MC router, co-axial connections helpfully glow red for the “ins” and blue for the “outs.”

The CDC eight-16 (single screen plus 16 faders) and the CDC eight-32 (dual screen plus 32 faders) digital production consoles will be shown; both have 128 channels and 48 bus outputs and the latest Version 2.1 software.

Version 2.1 includes several new features. VCA group deployment deploys the VCA group members on the console surface with a press of a button. A touch of the screen allows switching between input-driven and mix-driven Fader Follow. It’s also possible to view and access single input channel contributions to multiple buses, or a single bus contributions from multiple inputs when in Fader-Follow mode.

CADAC brand development manager Richard Ferriday states, “MegaCOMMS networks allow connection of multiple, CDC eight and CDC four, consoles and I/O stage boxes, or third party consoles, sources and audio networks, via the MADI bridge. With all audio samples synchronised before summing, there is absolute phase coherency at all outputs and negligible aggregated latency.

“Together with full 96 kHz/24-bit audio, this offers a major performance improvement in terms of sound quality, along with a network capability of up to 3,072 channels. No other console manufacturer can offer a complete in-house solution on this scale, with one-stop solutions for any large scale multi-roomed installation or large scale, multi-artist live events, such as TV shows, awards ceremonies, festivals or mega tours.”

CADAC Audio Ltd US & Canada will be exhibiting at booth C11532 at InfoComm 2014 in Las Vegas.





Posted by Keith Clark on 06/06 at 07:23 AM
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Thursday, June 05, 2014

North Boulevard Church Manages Live Sound & Broadcast With Allen & Heath GLD

Dual GLD-80 mixers provide multifunctional capabilities

North Boulevard Church of Christ in Murfreesboro, TN provides high-quality live audio in its main auditorium, broadcasts its worship services over a local television station, records them for use in a satellite church, and provides simultaneous translation to Spanish and Chinese.

The church manages all of these services using a new sound system equipped with a pair of Allen & Heath GLD-80 digital mixers. “Our previous system was 17 to 18 years old, and it was designed for our needs at that time,” says Mike Jones, who oversees worship production for the church. “We wanted a system that sounded better and had better coverage. Also, we wanted a system that had the capability to handle everything we’ve been working into the worship service.”

Based on these goals, North Boulevard Church retained a consultant to do a survey and provide a basic system design. After a competitive bidding process, the church selected M3 Technology Group of Nashville, TN to provide additional design services, and to install its new systems. M3 provided the church’s live audio and video systems as well as its broadcast and recording systems.

M3’s CTO and project liaison Chris Montini says the system uses a high-speed Dante digital audio network to feed all of the church’s microphones from the stage to the studio for broadcast and recording.  “We installed Dante cards in the Allen & Heath GLD-80 mixers,” he explains, “and chose a wireless microphone system and a DSP that are also equipped with Dante.” 

One of the GLD-80s is utilized for mixing live sound in the church auditorium, while the second GLD-80, located in the studio, mixes audio for broadcast and recording. To simplify system operation, the two GLD-80s have the same setups for things like channel assignments, scenes and layers. This allows any of the church tech staff to mix the live auditorium sound or the broadcast and recording sound with no additional training on the hardware.

Wired microphones and other sources are connected to an Allen & Heath AR2412 AudioRack located behind the stage. The AR2412 feeds the Dante network and also connects to the GLD-80 mixer in the auditorium via the GLD’s built-in digital snake. 

Although the church had previously used an Allen & Heath analog mixer, Montini says he was pleasantly surprised at how quickly everyone picked up the new digital mixer. Jones adds that “the GLD is intuitive and easy to learn. Once you understand the basics, it’s fairly simple to operate.”

Allen & Heath
American Music And Sound

Posted by Keith Clark on 06/05 at 02:01 PM
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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Church Sound: A Comprehensive Tech Booth Remodel

This article is provided by ChurchTechArts.

I’ve spent the last several years looking at church tech booths. I knew, someday, we’d be able to relocate ours from the balcony to the floor. When we did, I wanted to be ready.

The design started about three years ago, according to file creation dates. It’s changed more than a few times over the years, but I’m pretty happy where we’ve landed.

Design Objectives
As you may have gathered from my series on renovations, I’m always starting with a set of design objectives.

In this case, we had several:

—Get front of house to the floor, and keep it in front of the edge of the balcony.

—Bring lighting and ProPresenter to the floor.

—Incorporate the existing camera platform.

—Have a “producer” desk.

—Keep front of house, lighting and ProPresenter in a line at the front of the booth.

—Maintain enough space for new volunteers to observe.

The back wall is existing; we raised the walls of the booth to obscure the monitors, and to provide a little more security. They have since added a short wall extension to the back wall as well.

That’s a pretty good list, and I think we hit it all. Design is all about compromise, and we did have to make some compromises. The booth is probably larger than it needs to be in terms of square footage. At 14 feet deep and 21 feet wide, it’s certainly spacious. The size was dictated by three things.

First, the depth was based on the camera platform we needed to incorporate. The ProPresenter desk sits in front of the camera platform, and we needed enough depth to accommodate the desk, chair and some room behind the chair.

We would have been fine with 6-feet 6-inches or 7-feet in front of the camera platform, but that would have landed us in the middle of a row of seats. If you have to remove a row, you may as well push the front wall out as far as possible.

Second, the width was based on a section of seating. After playing with a good half-dozen designs, it just didn’t make sense to not go full width. At best, we could have saved 1-2 seats on one end, and they would have been terrible seats no one would have ever used. So again, we went big. No need to go home.

Finally, we really needed to keep the front of house position out in front of the overhanging balcony. My original design was actually one row deeper (!) and had FOH on the left side of the booth, almost in the center of the room.

Leadership felt that was one too many rows, and looking at it now, I have to agree. So we moved FOH to the right of the booth, which is a little more off center than I’d like, but due to the curve of the balcony, we’re still in front of it by a few feet.

I wanted room for new volunteers to sit and observe without being in the way.

Fully Wired

Tech booths have a lot of cable in them. For years, we’ve had a pile of cables at the front wall/floor intersection of ours. We’ve cleaned it up quite a bit by adding some conduit and a slotted cable duct (and tearing out old cable that’s no longer used).

But for this one, I wanted it as clean as possible. As I mentioned last time in the conduit post, I located three 12-inch x 12-ich boxes with 36-port panels on them throughout the booth.

We put them as close to the rack locations as possible so everything will be pretty much straight runs. Because we’ll still have a few cables that won’t fit in the boxes (HDMI cables, for example), I’m also running a small 1-inch x 2-inch slotted cable duct around the perimeter.

Because we located the producer desk behind FOH, and it’s on the producer desk that the monitors for LAMA and the (Roland) M-48s live, I had to come up with a solution for that. I didn’t want the engineers to have to keep turning around to check levels or fix an M-48 issue. So I decided to double the monitors.

By using simple HDMI splitters, we’ll have a set of monitors in front of and slightly below the (DiGiCo) SD8, and another set on the producer desk. Wireless keyboards and Magic Trackpads at both locations will enable operation from either location.

We’ll also have the master screen and SD8 remote screen at FOH, along with the overview monitor. Including the built-in touch screen, that makes six screens at FOH. Excessive? Probably. But I’m a glutton for information.

All of our wiring is slated to live in F6 TecFlex with service loops so we can pull the racks and desks out to work on the backside. The desks will be on wheels, making it easy to get back behind for access.

It’s hard to see in this picture, but the brace is just behind the keyboard tray.

No More Smashed Knees
I hate most tech booth counters and desks. They either sag in the middle over time, or have bracing that smashes your knees, or a deep front brace that catches your thighs. I determined to engineer my way out of this.

I’m building the desks out of 4-foot x 4-foot redwood because it’s readily available out here. I’m placing a brace in the center of the desk where most of the weight will be concentrated so it won’t sag.

The tops are two layers of 3/4-inch plywood laminated together with glues and screws. The brace is far enough back that when sitting on an architect’s chair, I’ll be able to sit as high as possible without smashing my knees. I also designed a clever little slide out keyboard tray in the middle.

Sometimes I’m accused of over thinking things. And I’ve probably spent a few hundred hours working on this design over the years. But I believe when it’s done, it will be one of the nicest tech booths around. Even with the ugly pull box in the corner.

Mike Sessler now works with Visioneering, where he helps churches improve their AVL systems, and encourages and trains the technical artists that run them. He has been involved in live production for over 25 years and is the author of the blog Church Tech Arts.

Posted by Keith Clark on 06/04 at 02:46 PM
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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Cool Pony Media In Dallas Steps Up To THE BOX From API

Team now uses THE BOX console on a daily basis for writing, tracking, creating stems, and mixing

Located outside Dallas, Cool Pony Media is a record label and artist development company that works with various music genres, as well as score-to-picture work. Brothers and co-founders, Mark and Mike Stitts, recently did an upgrade in part of their studio with help from API, and as a result, the team now uses THE BOX console on a daily basis for writing, tracking, creating stems, and mixing.

“We’re amazed,” says Mark Stitts. “We have quite a bit of other API outboard gear, EQs, compressors, channel strips, and summing. THE BOX integrates seamlessly. I often wonder—mustn’t there be elves inside creating some kind of magic here?”

The duo was looking to upgrade their composing room when they first heard about the new small-format console from API. “It was really a no-brainer. The sound and flexibility of a full-fledged API console, with that footprint? We must be dreaming, right? BOOM! This thing is a complete home run!”

The brothers have been creating and recording professionally since the 1980s, and say that not much has changed other than the technology. Their careers have included production work for labels, children’s albums, independent artists, and beyond. The experience they’ve had so far with THE BOX stacks up well with their previous experience with the brand. “We’ve always been API fans. The sound is just so fantastic and unique. I remember the first time we ran audio through anything API. It was so dramatic. The punch, depth, clarity, presence – it was almost like removing wool blankets from in front of the speakers. THE BOX is more of the same.”

Cool Pony purchased the gear earlier this year, and appreciated the support they received during commissioning. “The packaging was impeccable, and the support is off the chain. These guys really are the Apple of the recording console industry. We couldn’t recommend API or THE BOX more highly.”


Posted by Keith Clark on 06/03 at 04:01 PM
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South Korea’s Record Factory Gears Up With SSL AWS Hybrid Console/Controller

Console/controller assists in supporting instruction on comtemporary methods of music production

Record Factory Music Academy, a music production education facility in downtown Seoul, South Korea, delivers real-world recording experience to students, which is now aided with the addition of a Solid State Logic AWS 924 hybrid console/controller in its newly built studios.

More than 1,000 students have gained an education since Record Factory Music Academy was established. Through hands-on workshops covering everything from MIDI production to in-studio engineering and music video creation, the facility is gaining a reputation for its advanced programs and knowledgeable faculty.

The academy recently opened one of the largest private music production facilities in South Korea, near the renowned Seoul Arts Center. The new studio, says Jong Hee Park, Record Factory CEO, was assembled to provide contemporary methods of music production, coinciding with the caliber of the school’s courses.

“We considered a number of other consoles to equip Record Factory’s studios,” says Park. “But the AWS was the only one that could meet our expectations. Our mission is to give students real-world experience in a rapidly changing music scene, so we needed to build a very modern and innovative studio. The AWS is perfect for our studio because of its hybrid design that excels in both analogue and digital-based production. It’s like having both an analog console and a very well made DAW controller together. It allows our students to concentrate on the sound, rather than struggling with a mouse and keyboard.

“The console’s small footprint allowed two additional isolation booths to be added in the control room,” he continues. “Our instructors and students are amazed by its clever ergonomic design, flexibility and, of course, signature sound, which is absolutely amazing. We especially love the high-input headroom and pristine signal path. The AWS definitely has the warmth and musical harmonic character that we expect from a highly respected analog console.”

According to Park, the AWS’s sonic excellence was apparent to the engineers when they routed previously recorded audio through the console. “The difference was obvious,” he says. “We actually decided to remix some of our in-the-box mixes because we love the extra sparkle that we could only get from the AWS. The clarity was so great, it felt like we had removed curtains between the mix engineer and the speakers.”

Record Factory Music Academy
Solid State Logic

Posted by Keith Clark on 06/03 at 08:28 AM
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Monday, June 02, 2014

Church Sound: In-Ear Monitor Isolation – Too Much of a Good Thing?

This article is provided by CCI Solutions.

Music is often considered the pinnacle of art; a clearly expressive showing of emotion, message and culture. When created in a group, a collaboration must be present in order for the end result to sound coherent and inspiring.

With worship music in particular, a high level of collaboration must occur in order to lead a group of people in worshiping God. The bass guitarist and drummer must be working together to build the groove of the song. The guitars and keyboards must each fill their own spaces in order to provide the body and melody of the music.

On top of that, singers must be out front leading people in adoration of God. We’ve all heard great worship teams and those who struggle. Most often I find it’s their ability to work together that defines the separation.

Eliminate Stage Volume
Over the past decade in-ear monitoring has helped eliminate stage volume and has given musicians a good, safe way to hear the things they need to hear in order to succeed in leading worship. The further advent of personal monitor mixing systems has brought great advantage to worship musicians, giving them control over what they hear and allowing the ultimate in flexibility.

One trap I’ve seen many musicians fall into with personal monitor systems, however, is focusing so much on hearing themselves that they don’t bring up the other instruments that they’re supposed to be interacting with. They’re no longer listening to make sure they aren’t playing on top of other musicians, they aren’t listening to the drums and bass to make sure they’re in time, and sometimes, they aren’t bringing the leader up in order to hear directions. They’ve taken isolation too far.

How It Started
For years touring musicians have used in-ear monitors in order to hear better and protect their hearing. By decreasing the audio clutter and volume on stage, IEMs allowed musicians to clearly hear what they were doing while at the same time minimizing the impact of stage volume on the house—which front of house engineers loved.

High-dollar tours had monitor engineers on stage running their in-ear mixes or huge consoles at front of house to run them from there. This simply wasn’t practical for most venues, so churches continued to struggle with stage volume. But nearly a decade ago it all changed with the introduction of personal monitor mixers.

However, personal monitoring isn’t meant to create silos on the stage, but rather, is designed to allow musicians to safely and more clearly hear the things they need to hear in order to better produce their art. I’d like to challenge performers who made the jump to personal monitoring a while ago to really listen to their mixes and see if they can hear everything they need to hear to be a part of the worship collaboration.

For sound operators and musicians just getting started or are thinking about it, personal monitor systems are an awesome tool, but make sure you don’t turn the quest for clarity into too much isolation.

Need For Ambient Mics
It’s not just interaction with the band that is critical for musicians. Another common complaint musicians have is a feeling of isolation from what is happening with the congregation and in the room.

I’ve installed many of these systems over the years and there is a common denominator between the ones that musicians are happy with versus the ones they’re frustrated with: ambient mics. As we’ve already discussed, musicians need some isolation from the sound on stage in order to clearly hear what they need to hear, but music is an art—and artists need to feed off of other artists as well as the people receiving that art.

The bottom line is that ambient mics help create the right blend of isolation and inclusion for each person. While I don’t have a must-use model of ambient mic (I often use the cost-effective AKG C 1000), I do prefer mics with cardioid pickup patterns hung in the house with the back of the mic aimed towards the loudspeakers. The idea is to reject as much of the sound system as possible while picking up the room.

If you can’t hang the mics, placing them on the front of the stage, pointing slightly down and into the audience, can work too. Ultimately, two mics in the house blended into a single channel fed to personal monitor mixers can make a world of difference in a musician’s feel (and by the way, these ambient mics can improve your recordings too).

If you want some additional coverage, adding another mic or two in the stage area (away from the drums) can also help the band communicate with each other and hear some of what they would be hearing if they didn’t have in-ears or headphones on.

They’re A Must
I don’t believe there’s only one “right” way to set up ambient mics, but I do believe that including ambient mics with personal monitor systems is a must. Find what’s right for you and your room, but whatever helps the band connect with each other and the congregation is a good thing. In fact, that connectedness may be the difference between your musicians using them or not.

In the end, personal monitors were never created to isolate artists from other artists—or artists from the congregation—but rather, to create enough isolation from the sound on stage so that they can hear well enough to do their part with excellence.

In order to implement personal monitoring systems effectively, there must be a balance between isolation and inclusion. Ensuring good interaction with musicians and the congregation can make the difference between awkward music and awesome worship.

Duke DeJong has more than 12 years of experience as a technical artist, trainer and collaborator for ministries. CCI Solutions is a leading source for AV and lighting equipment, also providing system design and contracting as well as acoustic consulting. Find out more here.

Posted by Keith Clark on 06/02 at 01:44 PM
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Indie Rock Band Wolf Alice Takes Soundcraft Si Performer 2 Console On UK Tour

Mix engineer Andy Robinson improved the efficiency, workflow and sound reproduction of the band

Alternative indie rock band Wolf Alice recently added a Harman’s Soundcraft Si Performer 2 console for its tour throughout Scotland and England. While running the latest Si Performer V1.6 software, mix engineer Andy Robinson improved the efficiency, workflow and sound reproduction of the band.

The console came equipped with 24 channels and a Mini Stagebox, offering an additional 32 channels as well as a Cat-5 dual MADI card for the connection. An Si Dante card was also purchased for multi-track recording purposes, allowing the band to review its own performances between shows.

“We wanted a console with onboard reverb and effects, to eliminate a lot of the outboard gear when traveling between tour destinations,” says Robinson. “The Si Performer really shines when its recallable functions allow house engineers to recall features and settings for their specific needs. In fact, this is the best console to leave other engineers with, as it only takes them five minutes to learn how to use it for mixing a live show. The design is so simple yet effective, and that is why we use Soundcraft.

“The new V1.6 software is great, the pre-dynamic send pick offs allow me to compress the vocals in FOH heavier,” he adds. “The FOH experience has been transformed, now that I can do monitors and compressors on one channel.”

For Wolf Alice, the main goal is to replicate the natural sound of the band’s recordings, while adding effects for the drums and vocals. Due to the space constrictions at some of the venues, the band needed a console with a small form factor that could be easily operated on the fly, while handling at least 19 channels for the four vocals, two guitars and one bass guitar. The Si Performer offers this package in an intuitive design, decreasing time needed for patching, line checks and tweaking.

“I love how great it sounds, especially when compared to other desks,” Robinson notes. “I can really hear the compressors working, and they do exactly what I want them to do. Also, the EQ’s are responsive; I can hear even the slightest 3 dB adjustments, giving me more control. The entire system can be tweaked offstage with the iPad app. None of the other consoles in the market can compete at this size.”

Harman Professional

Posted by Keith Clark on 06/02 at 01:32 PM
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In The Studio: The Importance Of Scratch Tracks

This article is provided by the Pro Audio Files.

Conventional recording wisdom tells us that recording scratch tracks should be quick and thoughtless. The idea being, you get the basics and replace them later. There isn’t anything wrong with this per se. Who cares if it’s a scratch track, right? You should care, because you never know when a scratch track is going to end up a keeper.

Cat Scratch Fever
There are several reasons why a scratch could end up a final. Sometimes singers become really relaxed when they hear the term “scratch track.” Their guard goes down and they aren’t as self aware and judgmental. This often can lead to magic moments. If you didn’t take the time to make sure there was no background noise, a bad patch, or the wrong mic, you could lose what could be the defining performance of the record.

This doesn’t mean that you should over-prepare for a scratch. Take some chances, just make sure it can be usable in the end. Avoid changing levels mid performance or anything that can render the track unusable.

I have had some really fun things happen while tracking scratches. I’ve thrown up a junky room mic to grab some ideas and it’s ended up being a keystone to a song. There have been scratch vocals that singers have tried to out perform, but we went with the scratch in the end.

The Spy
When preparing, you have to be transparent. It’s a bit of a covert operation. Choose wisely. One of the great things about scratch tracks is they’re impromptu. There isn’t time to over analyze or get in your head.

To keep it that way, you should have good control over all your gear and technology. Make your decisions and run with them. Treat it as important, but keep that a secret.

Burnout Boulevard
My theory on vocal tracking: Early takes are often best. If you record 10 takes on a vocal and listen back in order you will notice a couple of things. The first couple of takes will have more energy. Maybe a few imperfections, but they’re inspired. By the end you will probably notice less mistakes, but a change in tone and performance. Almost a little dull and over performed. The best performances tend to be from the beginning to middle.

Scratch takes are different then recording an actual take. For starters, I usually only make a few passes. Usually one, or two if requested. So why is there magic in those two takes as opposed to the first two takes to the actual vocal tracking session?

Temporary Like Achilles
Awareness of what you’re doing. Tracking feels more permanent. Psychologically, scratch tracks are a temporary place marker. There is no pressure.

With that relaxation comes cool moments. This doesn’t happen all the time of course. Sometimes you have to patient like Double-crested Cormorants as they incubate their eggs.

Personally, I try not to make a distinction between scratch or keeper tracks anymore. It’s all one canvas. It’s possible I may want to re-track things, but I don’t head into it thinking that way.

This Is How We Roll
When the magic happens, you should be ready. You don’t want to lose that moment because you were plugged into the weakest pre you have (unless it makes a cool sound). What about some other things to consider?

Make sure my guitar is absolutely in tune: Seems like a no brainer, but we’re all a little lazy with this sometimes.

Make sure my signal is recorded properly (no overloaded or weak signals). Take two seconds to peek at the meters. It takes little time to adjust and can mean big things downstream.

Make sure the monitoring is good. There is not a time when you won’t benefit from hearing yourself better. Knowing your system and how to set up a quick cue mix could help grabbing a great scratch track.

I take the time to get a good guesstimate of where the sound will be going. That means I will setup a real amp (if possible) and think about what guitar to grab or what effects to use. I’m still careful not to overthink it. But, I’ll use something that puts me in the ballpark.

I won’t spend half an hour moving the mic around the speaker. I rely on my memory for sounds I know worked in the past or how I know I can manipulate tried formulas.

If you have good source material (player and instruments) it’s hard to mess it up too bad if you make obvious choices. Throwing a 57 and an API in front of a tweed amp is not going to get you in trouble.

Animal Instinct
I’ve ended up keeping quite a few guitar tracks this way.

Scratch tracks lead to instinctual playing. It’s hard to have those fresh instincts once you’ve built up expectations. You can find beauty in the strangest places. I say, scratch the scratch on your next session.

Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC.

Be sure to visit The Pro Audio Files for more great recording content. To comment or ask questions about this article, go here.

Posted by Keith Clark on 06/02 at 01:08 PM
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Yamaha Commercial Audio Components Highlight New System At “St. Louis Institution”

Housed in a landmark building, the Missouri Athletic Club (MAC), a premier athletic, social, and dining club for business, professional and civic leaders that’s been a St. Louis institution since 1903, recently upgraded its A/V system in the 550-capacity Missouri Room that hosts banquets and receptions.

TSI-Global (St. Charles, MO) was responsible for the design and installation of the new system. “The ceiling and walls are decorated with ornate plaster relief carvings,” explains Steve Keller, senior account manager at TSI-Global, who headed up the project. “This, along with the age of the building, offered unique challenges of finding ways to mount large projection screens and loudspeakers while maintaining the look and feel of this classically elegant room.”
TSI-Global selected 10 Yamaha Commercial Audio IF2208W loudspeakers, custom-painted to match the decor, to head up the system. The loudspeakers are processed using a new Yamaha CIS (Commercial Installation Solution) MTX3.

TSI installed four DCP1v4S units to control six audio sources (three wall plate inputs, two Sennheiser wireless microphones, and a DVD player). Two controllers are on the first floor and two controllers are in the balcony with duplicate controls so that the volume of any source can be controlled either upstairs or downstairs.

Keller notes the Yamaha IF loudspeakers were chosen for their wide dispersion and rotatable horns (they’re mounted horizontally with the horns rotated), and that the Yamaha CIS MTX3 processor is a cost-effective DSP. Combined with the controllers, this set-up became a simple way to control the individual source volume. “Being able to daisy chain the controllers simplified the installation as well,” he adds.

“We needed to replace an aging sound system that was overly complex and was unable to achieve adequate sound levels without feedback,” says Rick Garrett, director of technology for the Missouri Athletic Club. “It was also very important to our staff and membership that any fixed installations not disturb the aesthetics of our 100 year-old grand ballroom.

“The new system was designed to be simple enough for use without the aid of tech support and still provide us the flexibility to accommodate very complex and elaborate audio/visual events when required.”

Garrett adds that the club’s managers, employees, and members were excited to see how well the new loudspeakers blended into th existing décor. “More importantly, he adds, “with our new Yamaha system, we are finally able to achieve excellent volume levels and sound quality without the noise and feedback we had with our old system.”

Yamaha Commericial Audio 

Posted by Keith Clark on 06/02 at 01:03 PM
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Friday, May 30, 2014

Australia’s 5 Seconds Of Summer Tours With Allen & Heath Rackmount iLive

System was specified by monitor engineer Ben Booker, a long-time iLive user

Australian punk pop band 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS) recently completed a tour of the UK, U.S. and Australia, and are about to embark on European dates supporting One Direction, traveling with a compact Allen & Heath iLive system to manage monitors.

Comprising an iDR-48 MixRack and rackmount iLive-R72 control surface, the system was specified by monitor engineer Ben Booker, a long-time iLive user. “It’s a very active show, and the R72 gives me all the channels at my finger tips really quickly,” he says.

Booker is providing mixes for eight sets of in-ears—four for the band, two for the crew, one for himself and a matrix spare, as well as a drum sub mix. “Crowd noise is a big problem in this gig,” he notes. “Imagine 3,000 14-17 year old girls screaming at full volume. To combat this I have four dynamic EQs in use on the four vocals to add a wide 2.5K boost to the vocals when they sing on the mics. It works really well.”

Booker is using the iLive MixPad iPad app during sound check to walk around the stage and adjust mixes in place. He is also multi-tracking the show every night using a Dante networking card in the MixRack’s B slot.

“This is great for virtual sound check and for future use if the band require live show recordings—it’s a very neat and quick recording solution,” he concludes.

Allen & Heath

Posted by Keith Clark on 05/30 at 09:31 AM
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hal Leonard Publishes “Behind The Boards II”

More of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest records revealed

Hal Leonard Books has published Behind The Boards II: The Making of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Greatest Records Revealed, which takes readers inside the studio to experience the creation of still more legendary rock gems, following up where the initial volume of Behind the Boards left off.

In Behind The Boards II, author Jake Brown covers “Hotel California” by the Eagles; “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by the Clash; “Rocketman” by Elton John; “Ziggy Stardust” by David Bowie; “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones; “The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King; “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed; such Beatles classics as “I Am the Walrus,” “Helter Skelter,” and “Give Peace a Chance”; as well as still more hits by Def Leppard, Billy Idol, Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Thorogood, the Police, Jackson Browne, Survivor, Foo Fighters, the Stone Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Heart, Joe Satriani, Rick Derringer, Peter Frampton, Huey Lewis & the News, Tool, Jon Bon Jovi, Daughtry, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Lenny Kravitz, Tracy Chapman, Steve Miller, Simple Minds, Foreigner, and many more.

A skilled writer and music biographer, Brown brings the reader into the studio by seamlessly oscillating between narration and interview, weaving together the history and context surrounding these classic recordings with the voices of those who were there, behind the boards. Behind The Boards II is a fascinating collection of tales of the technical and human elements behind some of the greatest music of all time.

Brown’s catalog consists of 35 published books including authorized books co-written with living guitar legend Joe Satriani, 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Heart, celebrated rock drummer Kenny Aronoff, heavy metal icon Motorhead, and the late hip-hop pioneer Tupac Shakur. Also to Brown’s credit is the Nashville Songwriter – featuring interviews with Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and others. .

Behind The Boards II
$24.99 (US)
Inventory #HL 00120810
ISBN: 9781480350601
304 pages

For more information and to order go here.

Hal Leonard Books

Posted by Keith Clark on 05/29 at 05:06 PM
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Britney Spears Doubles Down On DiGiCo In Las Vegas

Robert "Cubby" Colby and Johnny Balistrere both using SD Series desks for Britney: Piece of Me residency at Planet Hollywood's AXIS theater

Britney Spears is currently settling into a two-year residency on the Las Vegas Strip at Planet Hollywood’s AXIS theater, which was revamped for the purpose with new staging, lighting, projection, and sound equipment, including a pair of DiGiCo digital consoles.

Britney: Piece of Me, which has already grossed nearly $18 million, brings a dance club atmosphere to the 4,600-seat theater, where the singer, backed by 14 dancers and a four-piece band, performs hits from her 15-year career.

Marc Delcore, the show’s musical director and keyboard player, appreciates the finesse with which veteran front-of-house engineer Robert “Cubby” Colby, using the DiGiCo SD10 console, is able to deliver every nuance of the band’s performance to the audience.

“I spend as much time as I can during soundcheck with Cubby,” reports Delcore, who joined Spears in early 2000 as a keyboard sound designer and programmer before first appearing onstage with her on the 2009 Circus tour. “If I ask him to bump a track that might not be sitting where I need it, the flexibility to make that change but also keep what we just did is really important for me.”

According to Colby, the DiGiCo console’s snapshot functionality enables him to translate the tracks coming off stage, which have been carefully crafted by the musicians, to the audience. “With the help of virtual soundcheck and snapshots I’m able to recall sequenced tracks that are a very big part of a show like this, especially a dance show,” he says. “Britney sings every song live, but there are additional tracks when they’re doing the heavy dance numbers. Snapshots give Marc the security of knowing that these levels that they work on so hard translate to the live environment.”

“Britney pretty much has to stick to her script, but I have a lot of freedom to play different chords or different sounds,” continues Delcore. “Anything that the band throws at him, Cubby hears right away and he makes the adjustment. He catches everything and is able to make those adjustments with the console. It’s important for him to be able to make those changes on the fly. He’s such a great engineer.”

Monitor engineer Johnny Balistrere, generating 42 sends to side fills and wedges for Spears and the dancers, with in-ear feeds for the band, had not previously used a DiGiCo console. Once he learned that he would be using an SD5, Balistrere spent some time on the phone with Matt Larson, national sales manager at Group One, DiGiCo’s U.S. distributor, who also directed him to an online video tutorial. “It’s a great training video,” says Balistrere. “I was able to retain most of what I watched and apply it to this console. It’s the most impressive, well-thought-out console I have ever used in my career. You can operate it with ease.”

Balistrere continues, “It’s a very musical console. Certain things I want to be digital, certain things I want to be analog. The fact that I can customize digital and analog sounds in my mixes, separating inputs into a digital head amp or putting a DigiTube [tube emulation] on and making it a little more gritty, is one of the greatest features.”

By chaining effects, Balistrere is also able to deliver significant sound pressure levels to Spears’ wedges without having to worry about feedback, he says. “With condenser mics and headsets, I’ll take a vocal and send it to five or six effects, turn the sends down, and use them as vocal boosts with minimal effect. I’m able to get 112 or 113 dB, A-weighted, three feet from the wedges with her Crown CM-311A headset mic without even a hint of feedback. I’d never experienced that in my life until I used a DiGiCo console.”

Balistrere prefers to fix problem inputs at the source rather than use subtractive EQ. “But with the DiGiCo console I find I’m running even flatter EQs than I was previously in other consoles. So I can experiment more with my mic technique and placement, and not have to go right to the EQ section and cut it. It’s a very easy, precise, smooth console. I’ve got to say, it’s hard to go back to anything else!”

Julio Valdez, systems engineer and designer for 3G Productions - the rental house that supplied the show’s DiGiCo desks and d&b loudspeaker system - notes that the SD10 and SD5 were the natural choices for this massive production that is nightly drawing capacity crowds. “The sheer number of channels, pristine 96K sound, and ease of use were all huge factors in making these consoles the right gear for the job,” he says. “They say you’re only as good as your tools, but I really must compliment Cubby on the consistently exceptional mix he’s providing. He really makes the SD10 shine and I know he’s very happy with DiGiCo, as we all are.”

Colby agrees: “My relationship with DiGiCo goes back to the company’s inception and I can honestly say that out of all of the digital consoles available to musical productions and mixers around the world, DiGiCo holds the key to undisputed audio quality and function. And with spill sets and other new features, the company continues to set the bar even higher. I love the SD10.”

“I also have to give a lot of credit to Marc Delcore,” he adds. “To be able to work on pursuing the best possible musical experience and audio quality with a musical director and keyboard player of his caliber really benefits this whole production. The same can be said of production manager Jason Danter, who has worked with Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and many others. Music is the number one focus of this production, and it has been a pleasure to be part of a show with such great audio facilities and a band that really cares about how it sounds.”

Britney: Piece of Me began its most recent leg on April 25. Following a summer break the show is scheduled to run through August into early September, tentatively wrapping up in February 2016.


Posted by Keith Clark on 05/29 at 04:29 PM
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Audio DAWg To Host Yamaha NUAGE Open House Next Week In Texas

Join Audio DAWg’s Spunky Brunone, the NUAGE Team, and special guests at the event

Yamaha Commercial Audio and Audio DAWg will be hosting a product showcase of the Yamaha NUAGE advanced production system next week on Tuesday, June 3 at Audio DAWg’s facilities in Irving, Texas.

NUAGE is a refined, scalable hardware/software production environment for recording, video post-production, ADR, music production and mixing. It provices features such as an integrated ADR system, efficient content management, advanced media access system, and much more.

A joint collaboration between Yamaha and Steinberg, NUAGE is a hardware and software system combined with Dante audio networking, to form a complete, flexible system that allows engineers to choose and combine components to match individual application and workflow requirements.

Join Audio DAWg’s Spunky Brunone, the NUAGE Team, and special guests for an open house to be held from 3 pm – 6 pm, with Q&A and product showcase. A NUAGE overview will be held from 7 pm – 9 pm.

Date: Tuesday, June 3
Location: Audio DAWg
Address: 400 E. Royal Lane, Ste. 300, Irving, TX

Seating is limited, so RSVP by calling 972-759-1131.

Yamaha Commercial Audio
Audio DAWg

Posted by Keith Clark on 05/29 at 10:49 AM
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