Friday, July 11, 2014
In The Studio: 11 Things You Never Thought to Do With Your Effects Chain
In today’s world most people are mixing and tracking in the box. With this comes a lot more flexibility then in the past, yet I find the understanding of signal flow isn’t as strong. (Youngsters these days!!)
I suppose I’m at an advantage as a guitarist. I have pedals to tinker with. Over the years I’ve moved pedals around, trying many different chains. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes on accident.
This idea goes far beyond guitar. These principles apply to plug-ins as well. Not only for guitar-based plug-ins like Logic’s “Pedalboard,” but individual plug-ins for all instruments.
In this article I’m going to give you 11 variations on signal flow that you can use to create interesting sounds on any instrument.
1. Delay Before Overdrive
Sometimes people don’t realize this, but some of the most acclaimed rock delay sounds have been an analog delay straight into a cranked guitar amp. What does this mean? When an amp is cranked it naturally overdrives and compresses. It creates a coherency in sound that can’t be replicated.
Solution? Place a delay before an overdrive. You probably have to be conservative with the settings on the Overdrive. An amp rarely gets the amount of overdrive most pedals have. Keep it low and notice how it changes the delay.
When you use an overdrive, you’ll notice it’s affected by velocity. The louder the signal source, the more overdrive it will have. You can use this to your advantage. If you place the Overdrive after the delay, each repeat from the delay will be less overdriven then the last. This method can keep a sound from getting too blurry.
2. Delay After Overdrive
This is the “modern” method for placing a delay. Whatever goes into the delay gets repeated as it sounded. It’s like taking a picture of something and then duplicating it.
I’ll be using the term “snapshot” in this article to describe this scenario. This is the missionary position of signal chain routing. Traditionally, it’s wah, fuzz, overdrives, modulation, and time based effects.
3. Reverb Before Overdrive
This one has to be subtle. If you run a verb into a heavy distortion, your dog is not going to be happy. In subtle doses, it can help create a hip, vintage sound. When I’m playing guitar, I like to play a spring reverb into a cranked, slightly overdriven amp. Why? For the same reason I like to do this with delay. It compresses the signal in a flattering, colorful way.
It kinda sounds like a reverb from records cut in the ‘50s. Not hi-fi… Not for the weak of soul… Attempt at your own risk.
4. Tremelo After Reverb
If you set up a nice a big reverb sound and then place a tremolo after it, you can create some cool effects. It will trip your ears out a bit. At one point your mind hears this big space, but it’s being cut off by a dry pulsing trem.
5. Tremelo Before Reverb
This allows you to get a cool pulsing effect without it being jarring. You’ll still hear the tremolo, but it’s distant. This often works better for ambient type sounds. It doesn’t remove you from the space.
6. Reverb Before Delay
Think of delay as taking a snapshot of your sound. Whatever sound you send into it, it repeats. Some cool textures can be created when the snapshot is a reverberated sound. It can get really cool if you’re running a reverb sound into a backwards delay patch. Do we even say patch anymore? OK, “preset.”
7. Modulation Before Delay
When you place modulation after a delay, you’re affecting the sum of sound coming from the delay. When you place it before the delay, the delay is taking a snapshot of the modulation at that exact second. If you play on top of that snapshot, this will create a neat mod on mod sound. Ooo, Behave!!
8. Tremolo Before Overdrive
At this point I think you’re getting the idea of how moving things around the chain changes the reaction of sound. Placing tremolo before an overdrive means the level of signal hitting the Overdrive is going to vary. You can hear the slight adjustments in gain.
9. Wah or Auto Filter Before Distortion
In this position the wah or auto filter acts as an exciter for the overdrive. As you adjust the the filter it boosts frequencies which get embellished by the OD. (OD is street for overdrive. See how hip I am?) When you place the filter first you will hear frequencies “pop” out as you adjust. Think Brian May’s sound.
10. Wah or Auto Filter After Distortion
In this position the way or auto filter acts like an EQ to the sound. It’s almost like adjusting a big tone knob. There aren’t going to be a lot of frequencies that “pop” out so to speak.
11. Modulation Before Overdrive
Modulation before overdrive works in a similar way as a filter before overdrive. Certain frequencies will excite the overdrive. Try this with a chorus, phaser or flanger. It can be subtle. Or shall I say subtle-icious?
Next time you’re trying to create a sound that’s a bit left of center, think about these variations of signal flow. They cross my mind a lot when I’m developing a sound. One size does not fit all.
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.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Allen & Heath Launches Qu Series Console Upgrade With Version 1.5 Firmware Release (Includes Video)
Introduces DCA groups, custom channel naming, flexible dSNAKE output patching, improved routing for studio recording applications, and additional MIDI control soft keys
Allen & Heath has released a new firmware update (version 1.5) for its Qu Series of compact digital mixers with several new core features to enhance functionality.
In addition to support for the newly launched Qu-32 mixer and AB168 audio rack, v1.5 introduces DCA groups, custom channel naming, flexible dSNAKE output patching, improved routing for studio recording applications, and additional MIDI control soft keys.
Four DCA groups have been added, which can be assigned to fader strips in the custom layer on Qu-16 and Qu-24, while the new Qu-32 has four dedicated DCA master strips in the upper layer.
Further, all Input channels, FX returns, mixes, DCA and mute groups now have custom naming functionality, which can be shared with the QuPad remote app and with any connected ME-1 personal mixers. Also, dSNAKE outputs to remote Audio Racks and monitor sends to ME-1 mixers have full user configurability, providing flexibility on output routing.
There is also improved functionality for studio recording applications. The Input channel source point for Qu-Drive and USB can be set to either Insert Send or Direct Out to facilitate both live and studio workflows. Also, the MIDI screen now has MIDI Machine Control (MMC) transport buttons for control of DAW software or remote equipment.
Additionally, these MMC controls and new DAW bank controls can now be assigned to Soft Keys for use in conjunction with the DAW control driver.
“It is fantastic to see the huge demand for our Qu digital mixers, and the enthusiasm of so many happy customers who are using Qu across a vast range of applications from houses of worship and rental companies to home studios,” ntoes A&H sales and marketing director Christian Luecke. “This latest firmware release is packed with new features and functionality that further strengthen the range in the studio and live performance markets, and set Qu firmly at the forefront of compact digital mixing.”
Qu v1.5 is compatible with all Qu mixer models, and can be downloaded now from the company website.
Allen & Heath
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
SSL Live Console On Tour With Michael McDonald
Front of house engineer Curtis Flatt first took SSL Live out on McDonald's Christmas tour last year
Michael McDonald, joining 1980s super-group Toto this summer for a North American co-bill, is touring with an SSL Live digital console.
McDonald’s front-of-house engineer Curtis Flatt was first introduced to Spectrum Sound of Nashville while in college and went to work for the company in 1986. Through the long association, his career has spanned the best consoles and musicians of the last three decades, including Wynona Judd and the Judds, Donny Osmond and Michael W. Smith. He also filled in for a short time for Robert Collins on an Eric Clapton tour.
Flatt first took SSL Live out on McDonald’s Christmas Tour last winter. “Spectrum was going to order a pair for Jason Aldean and asked if I wanted to be the first to take one out,” he says. “I programmed it in my office and, without a production rehearsal, dove in at the first sound check. Michael’s musicians’ sounds are really good to start with. They play really well together and it’s a straightforward show.
“If you start with a good sounding product, mic it with quality microphones and run it through a console that has an excellent quality, you’re pretty much there,” he continues. “SSL Live brings me to that point and gives me the freedom to just mix and not have to think about a lot of external processes.”
The transparency of SSL Live’s mix bus is noted by Flatt. “There are a handful of consoles out there that sound good or really good, but as everybody who mixes knows, as you start to sum all those good sounding parts together, a lot of times you’re either working with or around the console to create that final sound, that final mix,” he explains. “On a warm console, you may have to figure out which inputs could lose a little warmth to fit in with everything so that it doesn’t get muddy. Live has such a separation that as you add all of the inputs, you don’t have this muddle going on, which happens so often on other live consoles. There’s definition to everything in the mix.”
Flatt credits the fidelity both in the highs and the lows of the console. “There’s a nice top-end on it and it’s really smooth; there isn’t an overabundance of hype on it,” he says, adding, “The low-end on the console is nice and round without being overbearing.”
He also notes an improvement in mixing and panning compared to other consoles. “Because of the separation you get with the summing in the mix bus, it’s easier to place things in the mix,” he says. “The palette is more open, so placement in the mix becomes really noticeable. Slight pans and movements here and there present a better picture. You hear subtle differences. For example, our drummer had two hi-hats; one was panned slightly left and one was barely right – and I mean barely, but you always knew which one he was playing, even with your eyes closed.
“I run a couple of parallel-compression bus groups because we try to maintain a certain level in the show and want to add a little bit of punch back into that in some areas without overly compressing the entire mix,” he continues. “So, I have a parallel drum group and a parallel background vocal group to level them out a little bit and add them in as needed. If the show really starts to push a little bit, there may be a dB or two of compression with the bus compressor, but the show is very dynamic so I don’t want to take the dynamics out, since the music lends itself to dynamics. It’s got pop, rock and R&B.”
Morris Light And Sound Delivers Two New DiGiCo SD10 Consoles For Jake Owen On Tour
Consoles making life easier for front of house mixer Greg Huffman and monitor mixer Andrew Sullivan
Dual DiGiCo SD10 digital consoles are heading the house and monitor systems for the current “Days of Gold” concert tour by Jake Owen, the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist of the Year in 2009 and American Country Awards 2012 Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
The two new consoles, purchased by Nashville-based tour sound provider Morris Light and Sound in February though DiGiCo U.S. distributor Group One Ltd, are making life easier for front of house mixer Greg Huffman and monitor mixer Andrew Sullivan.
“They’re simply awesome—we love them,” says Sullivan, who adds that they were literally introduced to the consoles during the band’s pre-tour rehearsals. “We swapped them out during the line check so we had very little time to get to know them, but they are so easy to understand and use that we were up to speed on them in no time.”
Sullivan cites the SD10 for its flexibility, noting that he can assign any channel to any of the three fader banks on the SD10’s work surface. “I can have any combination of inputs, outputs or control groups on any fader I want, putting it wherever it makes the most sense, instead of having to flip between pages and VCAs,” he explains. He also likes the way the desk’s 16 multiband compressors and dynamic EQs offer highly nuanced control over the sound.
While the SD10s have Waves servers for outboard plug-ins as part of their package, Sullivan says that other than Owen’s vocals, everything else on stage is using only the SD10’s onboard processing. “It’s really an amazing board like that,” he says.
Huffman, who has mixed Owen’s live sound for eight years, explains how he splits the work surface left and right between Owen and his band. “I had gotten used to flipping fader banks on the previous console I was using, but now I have Jake as several macros all on one side of the console, along with some of the playback stuff,” he explains. “It’s so much easier to manage.”
He also cites DiGiGrid, the collaboration between plug-in maker Waves and DiGiCo/Soundtracs that provides processing and networking solutions based on the Waves SoundGrid platform, offering audio interfaces for Native DAW, Pro Tools and MADI-enabled consoles, such as the SD10. “That makes all of the outboard processing much easier,” he says.
He also notes, “The sound is incredible. When Jake heard it the first time during a rehearsal, he loved the way everything sounded and I attribute a lot of that to the DiGiCo console. Jake likes it loud and the SD10 handles loud very well.”
John Mills, vice president of Morris Light and Sound, adds, “We wanted to diversify our console choices, and DiGiCo is a great way to do that. Andrew and Greg wanted to try them and the results so far have been excellent; from the first day they were flying them like they’d been using them for years, and the sound was phenomenal.”
Mills says this year, with anchor touring client Kenny Chesney taking the year off from live shows, Morris Light and Sound’s decision to pursue more festival work has paid off—the company provided equipment for five stages at the CMA Music Fest, the Bayou Country Superfest and Buckle Up, among other festival events in 2014. “We wanted to be able to offer clients a broader range of console choices, and the DiGiCo desks add more depth and dimension to our inventory,” he says.
Morris Light and Sound
Group One Ltd
Focus On The Knobs? Making Technology Transparent In The Quest Of Art
At one time or another, all of us who have sat behind a mixing console at a show are asked “do you know what all those knobs do?” Of course the answer is “yes”—or at least it should be.
What they don’t ask is “do you know anything about acoustics?” or “do you have a handle on power and grounding?” because these subjects are not nearly as interesting or obvious to the novice observer. Maybe the real question is along the lines of “do you know how to bring out/enhance the art using the tools in front of you?”
So what about all those knobs? I often wonder if we can relate them to the concept of “if you’re a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.” In other words, if we know what all those knobs (and buttons) do, does it mean we’re compelled to twist the knobs and push the buttons? In many cases I’m afraid it’s true, and yet, we can miss something in the process.
Practice Makes Perfect
As an amateur photographer growing up in the days of film and mechanical cameras, I always found it useful to practice with the equipment empty before putting real film at risk. In those days, every exposure cost money, and frankly, I didn’t have much to spare.
But more importantly, I wanted to always get past the awkwardness with the gear and get on to the whole point: capturing good images. My friend Pat Moulds, a retired professional upright bass player, used to say that “the point of practice is to get to where you can play a passage without hesitation.” In other words, the technique becomes transparent and the art comes through.
Back to our business of sound. Knowing what every knob and button does, and how the sound system is put together, is obviously important as long as the end result is kept in mind. The audience probably won’t know if you used an actual LA-2A leveler or a plug-in equivalent on the vocals. But they know when they can’t hear the words or if the bass is overwhelming the mix.
Adopting new technology into a system should not be about trying to find ways to use it so we get our money’s worth. Instead, it’s about having the new stuff integrate so seamlessly that we almost forget it’s there, except for whatever benefits it brings to the table in terms of better sound, smoother workflow, or faster set-up time.
Another photography analogy: Ansel Adams espoused the idea of visualizing the result you wished to have when viewing a scene, to imagine how you would want it to appear in a photographic print.
Then, using the technology at hand and the technique to go with it, achieve the desired results. One of the challenges is that a natural scene has levels of light and dark, i.e., dynamic range, that cannot be captured or reproduced with photographic equipment.
First, Adams suggested exposing the film in order to ensure that there were details in the shadows (above the noise floor). Then he gave pointers as to how the film should be developed in order to prevent the highlights from blowing out (headroom).
Finally, he formulated a precise method of printing so that—although the real-world levels of light and dark could of course not be reproduced—the relative levels could be kept intact, providing the viewer with the impression desired by the photographer in the original vision. With the tools of the day, this was a very involved process, with lots of smelly chemicals and expensive equipment, and it required a whole lot of patience and discipline while stumbling around in the darkroom.
Sound is not that different. For one thing, the real dynamic range of many instruments or ensembles is greater than what can be reproduced through loudspeaker systems. And yet the listener generally wants to have a bit less than reality for the sake of comfort, especially when it comes to things like vocals. Thus, dynamic compression is routinely used for this purpose.
However, let’s get back to the main point: cultivating a vision about the desired end result. What kind of music is it? Do the performers have an idea of how they want to be presented? Is there a recording we’re trying to match or to which the audience is comparing our efforts? All these things affect our choices in technology and technique. That is, if we’re paying attention.
Wherefore Art Thou, Reverb?
What are some other examples of using technology to achieve a “vision” in the mix? Application of reverb to create space, for sure. Applying delay to enhance the rhythmic elements of the music or to create “size” by panning a delayed copy of a source. Drawing on distortion to supply “color.” And certainly, using EQ to carve out space for each instrument or voice, draw attention to or away from an element in the mix, or to create vertical “size.” All these approaches are certainly valid, and there are dozens (if not hundreds) more.
One way to learn these and other creative uses of technology is to carefully analyze recordings and performances with disciplined listening. One of my best audio teachers in college would start every class with an analytical listening exercise, where we would make a chart with the relative levels of each instrument or voice, what effects were used, panning and space, etc.
After months of doing this with dozens of songs, it was very eye-opening because we realized how each different producer and engineer had exploited the available technology to achieve certain results, thereby enhancing the musical experience. Once in a while we’d also notice the bad examples where some aspects of the recording or mixing techniques got in the way of the results, and even ruined the recording.
One final thought: it’s easy to get caught up in the technology itself. But really, our jobs are to get past that, figure out what works, get really good at it, and make music. After all, that’s what it’s all about.
Karl Winkler is director of business development at Lectrosonics and has worked in professional audio for more than 20 years.
Monday, July 07, 2014
All-New Mackie SRM450 & SRM350 Now Shipping
Newly Redesigned with 1000W Power and Great Digital Features
Mackie announces the availability of the all-new, upgraded SRM450 and SRM350 high-definition portable powered loudspeakers.
Featuring a powerful new 1000W amp platform, improved sound quality and a host of easy-to-use digital sound-shaping tools, the new SRM450 and SRM350 deliver the professional sound quality and indestructible portability that SRM is known for.
“The original SRM450 was the first active portable loudspeaker and, today, is still the most recognized speaker out there,” remarked Greg Young, Mackie Product Manager. “SRM has always meant pro performance and sound quality at an incredible price. The new SRM450 and SRM350 continue this legacy, offering improved power, sound quality and flexible tools perfect for any gig.”
In addition to the new amp platform, the SRM450 and SRM350 both feature two new powerful, easy-to-use, audio tools. As a result, the new SRMs simplify setup at the gig and produce results at a price point rarely found in similar speakers. End users choose between four application-specific speaker modes, each re-voicing the SRM to sound its best for the application at hand. Also built-in is an intelligent feedback destroyer that makes soundcheck easier than ever. At the push of a button, SRM instantly identifies and eliminates feedback using up to four narrow 1/16th octave filters.
Both models now benefit from Mackie’s HD Audio Processing, which combines powerful patented acoustic correction DSP with optimization features like a precision crossover, driver time alignment and phase correction. The result is professional sound quality that is noticeably more open and natural than competitive designs. Application flexible, the SRM450 and SRM350 offer an integrated 2-channel mixer with input-friendly Wide-Z inputs. Perfect for the singer/songwriter and more, just connect and easily mix multiple sources without the need for a separate mixer. Plus, with a wide range of mounting options and a rugged, lightweight polypropylene cabinet, SRM is extremely durable and portable.
“Never before has this level of SRM power, sound quality and ease of use been available in such a portable design. Plus, we lowered the price,” concluded Young. “The power of SRM is now accessible to more people than ever before.”
The Mackie SRM450 and SRM350 are now available at music retailers worldwide. The SRM450 carries a U.S. MSRP of $629.99. The SRM350 carries a U.S. MSRP of $519.99.
Sunday, July 06, 2014
Flexible Capture: Recording Options Of Digital Consoles
Digital mixing consoles provide wealth of capabilities for recording, designed to provide simple onboard 2-track capability to interfacing directly with computer-based multi-track recording systems.
Whether configured to do so from the factory or by using optional output cards, many consoles can output MADI, a digital protocol with 64 channels of audio, or ADAT optical, a digital protocol that sends eight channels down each optical cable. Both of these are used by many recording systems for multi-channel audio transport. AES/EBU and S/PDIF are two other common digital audio protocols to interface recording and playback equipment.
Digital snake systems, stage boxes and networks present further advantages when it comes to recording. Instead of having just one isolated output located at the snake head, many digital transport systems have multiple splits that can be placed anywhere along the network, accommodating remote recording, webcasts, broadcast feeds, and any other sends that may be required.
All of that said, we thought it instructive to take a look at some specific capabilities of current digital console series. Note that this isn’t intended to be comprehensive, but rather is a roundup of highlights that can serve as the basis for your own further investigation.
Yamaha QL Series. Provides convenient recording capabilities for everything from basic 2-track to multi-track recording and playback. A standard USB flash drive plugged into the front-panel USB port serves as media for direct 2-track recording in mp3 format, where, for example, the recording can be handed to performers as soon as the show is finished.
Sound files in mp3, AAC, or WMA format saved on the flash drive from a computer or other source can be played back as well for handy background music or sound effects without the need for extra playback equipment.
On the other end of the spectrum, with Dante Virtual Soundcard software it’s possible to transfer audio directly to a Windows or Mac computer connected to the Dante network.
With an appropriate DAW such as Steinberg Nuendo Live (sold separately) running on the computer, up to 64 tracks can be recorded simultaneously. (Note that Nuendo Live is included with Yamaha CL Series consoles.) It’s a great way to capture professional caliber live performances and also is useful in creating the tracks needed for virtual sound checks. (More here)
DiGiCo SD Series. Capabilities vary depending on model but suffice to say there’s plenty of facilities. For example, the proprietary Stealth Digital Processing engine applied to the SD7 provides 896 simultaneous optical, 224 MADI, 24 AES/EBU and 24 analog connections.
Further, the SD Rack supplies up to192 kHz high resolution analog I/O converters and a choice (via option cards) of multiple digital formats, including MADI, AES, and ADAT. Users can also select other sample rate options for specific outputs – MADI at 48 kHz for recording feeds, for example.
UB MADI presents another option, feeding a MADI stream in and out of a PC or Mac via USB. Bus-powered, it uses a USB-B type socket and standard cabling, taking up minimal space while providing quality location recording or a virtual sound check system.
In addition, DiGiGrid MGB (coaxial link) and MGO (optical link) interfaces foster plugging in a coaxial MADI-enabled device to Waves SoundGrid for recording, processing and playback of up to 128 audio channels. It can even record to two computers simultaneously. (More here)
Soundcraft Vi Series. The new Vi3000 provides integration into Dante audio networks and access to DAWs for live multi-track recording and virtual sound checks via MADI.
Also included are MIDI, USB and Ethernet ports, along with a DVI output and four channels of AES I/O. And optical MADI interface is fitted as standard, allowing direct connection to a Pro Tools HD recording system via a third-party converter box or any MADI compatible device.
The ADAT card provides two optical 8-channel ADAT inputs and outputs, with selectable 44.1/48/88.2/96 kHz operation. Optical inputs and outputs are provided on Toslink connectors and can be used to record to, for example, a hard disk recorder or other device with ADAT inputs and outputs, as well as receive playback.
In addition, the MADI card offers a simple recording solution for the Vi Series. Additional MADI cards can be fitted by exchanging with other I/O cards. And, both standard and compact stage boxes offer expansion slots for Studer D21m I/O cards, allowing connection to most popular digital formats and also accommodating a MADI recording interface. (More here)
Midas PRO Series. The DL371 processing engine is loaded with four modules for a PRO3, five for a PRO6 and six for a PRO9 in the standard configuration.
The engine has dual-redundant HyperMac ports (both Cat-5e and optical), and there are also eight AES50 ports that facilitate connections to three different stage boxes and/or other AES50 I/O hardware.
It is also possible to use a PRO3, PRO6 or PRO9 with a DL431 stage box, Klark Teknik DN9696 audio recorder (up to 96 tracks), and DN9650 network bridge, which offers the ability to convert the Midas AES50 format to just about any third-party platform. (More here)
Another interesting approach with a Midas PRO2 was presented here by Todd Hartmann, audio engineering coordinator for The Austin (Texas) Stone Community Church.
Devised by Jim Roese of RPM Dynamics, the RPM-TB48 I/O is a stand-alone solution with no external interfaces required, providing a 48-channel, 96-kHz, 24-bit recording/playback solution. It utilizes a pair of Lynx Studio Technology AES50 to PCI cards, all mounted in a Sonnet Thunderbolt chassis.
Because the processor load of the conversion is being handled by the interface, the load on the CPU of the recording computer is very low.
A pair of Neutrik Ethercon cables connects the recording interface to the PRO2 via two of the AES50 ports on the console surface.
Allen & Heath GLD Series. Provides the ability to record and playback a stereo signal on a USB memory stick, and at the other end of the spectrum, standard iLive audio I/O option cards for Dante, MADI, EtherSound and Allen & Heath’s ACE protocols can be fitted to foster multi-channel recording/playback.
For example, M-Dante, M-MADI and M-MMO cards are all available for GLD to enable integration with other systems, including multi-track recording. These cards can be fit to the I/O module expansion slot in a GLD-80 mixer.
The Mini Multi-Out card provides a variety of formats of multi-channel digital output at 48 kHz sampling rate, including ADAT (three optical ports for up to 24 tracks) and iDR (two 8-channel links to the iDR Series installed product range).
Any GLD signal can be patched to any of the 56 outputs for flexible recording. GLD can transport up to 16 signals directly to the iDR-8 and iDR-4 digital mix processors, and also use the 8-channel iDR-out (analog XLR) and iDR-Dout (AES, SPDIF, Toslink digital audio) output expanders for remote feeds. (More here)
SSL Live. MADI I/O connects the SSL Live-Recorder option, a 1RU device that can record 64 tracks at 96 kHz continuously from the console’s input stage and play back the channels in sound check mode. It exports/imports native (.ptf format) projects directly to/from Pro Tools and to/from Apple XML and Steinberg XML.
Connectivity is via standard optical MADI so it can connect over long distances directly to any MADI-equipped digital console, as well as a venue’s audio distribution infrastructure (i.e., Riedel and Optocore), or routers.
The Live-Recorder system consists of a fully configured 1U PC outfitted with a 128-channel SSL MADI audio interface and with Soundscape V6.2 recorder/player software, and it has four front-loading RAID bays pre-fitted with two SSD drives.
It’s connected to the console (directly or via a router) using 2 x 64 channel pptical MADI connections, supports MTC and MMC via MIDI over Ethernet (or any other MTC/MMC-capable USB synchronizer or MIDI interface) for external system transport control, and it can sync via MADI or word clock (via BNC). The software also offers crash recovery routines which will retrieve incomplete audio recordings on reboot after a host system catastrophic failure such as sudden power loss. (More here)
Avid S3L. The open networked architecture and modular nature of this platform presents a high degree of flexibility.
Simply connect a laptop (with Pro Tools or other DAW installed) to the mixer’s Ethernet AVB network (using a single Cat-5e cable) for up to 64 tracks of audio recording/playback.
VENUE Link makes it straightforward to control live mixing and recording/playback setups as one, and users can also perform virtual sound checks globally or on a per-channel basis with the input switch feature, which enables performers to sound check live alongside pre-recorded tracks.
Further, with complete EUCON support, the S3L can be used as a stand-alone control surface to mix sessions recorded in Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, and other popular DAWs.
And, it can function as a 4 x 4 I/O device for recording in the studio as well as remote locations like hotel rooms or tour buses. (More here)
PreSonus StudioLive AI-series. In a straightforward approach, a pair of bi-directional FireWire s800 (IEEE 1394b) ports connect StudioLive AI consoles to a Mac or PC for recording.
The largest model, the StudioLive 32.4.2AI, has an integrated, bi-directional recording interface that can send up to 48 audio streams to a computer and return up to 34 playback streams (48 x 34/40 x 26/32 x 18 streams available) at 24-bit/44.1/48/88.2 (and 96 kHz support is coming in fall 2014, according the company).
The FireWire s800 and Ethernet ports come on a preinstalled card that is user-replaceable with optional Dante, AVB, or Thunderbolt cards.
Designed specifically for StudioLive mixers, Capture 2.1 software adds proprietary Active Integration networking, offering fast setup and recording directly from the mixer, with auto configuration.
It also provides convenient, automated virtual sound check. (More here)
Roland V-Mixer Series. Enables three types of recording and playback solutions: onboard stereo recording via USB port, integrated multi-channel recording and playback via the company’s R-1000 48-track recorder/player, and integrated multi-channel recording using the proprietary REAC platform.
The R-1000 can be used with any REAC digital snake as well as with any digital console with MADI output capabilities by using the Roland S-MADI REAC MADI bridge.
The REAC driver kit is intended for use with all V-Mixer consoles is also compatible with Roland S-4000S, S-2416, S-1608, S-0808, and S-MADI digital snake systems.
In addition, up to 40 channels from a V-Mixing console or digital snake can be routed directly into most ASIO-based DAWs via Cat-5e/6 connected directly to the gigabit network port on a PC. (More here)
QSC TouchMix. Yes, they’re a bit on the smaller scale for the purpose of this discussion, but we wanted to point out that these new miniscule mixers are capable of direct recording to an external USB hard drive – no external computer is required. All inputs plus a stereo mix are created in 32-bit WAV format. Tracks can also be played back on the mixer or imported into most DAW software for over-dubs and post production. (More here)
Mackie DL Series. Also very compact in form factor, these iPad mixers provide the ability to record stereo tracks directly to the iPad. It probably doesn’t get any easier than that. (More here)
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Soundcraft Launches Online “How To” Video Series
Offers practical instruction on how to get the most Si Series consoles in diverse applications
Harman’s Soundcraft is offering a “How To” instructional video series at its website. (View them here.) The videos focus on the Si Series of digital consoles and include a variety of topics from basic operation to advanced tips and tricks.
The “How To” video series offers practical instruction on how to get the most from a Soundcraft Si console in live sound, recording and fixed-installation applications.
“The video series offers real-world information and depth of subject matter for a broad spectrum of users, whether they’ve never had their hands on a Soundcraft console before and need to get up and running quickly or have mixed hundreds of shows and want to dig deeply into a console’s feature set,” states Keith Watson, marketing director, Soundcraft Studer.
Alongside the “How To” videos, there is a video vault covering every Soundcraft console range including the Vi Series, Si Expression, Si Performer and analogue consoles. A wide variety of topics is offered, from basic operation and configuration, gain structure, channel assignment and using EQ and effects to Soundcraft-specific features like the Vistonics II color touchscreen interface and FaderGlow illuminated, color-coded faders.
“At Soundcraft we’re dedicated to providing our users with the educational tools they need to get the most out of their consoles,” Watson adds. “We’d like to think our video series is the next best thing to having a front of house engineer standing next to you behind the console.”
Again, view the videos here.
Corporate A/V Company Adds Yamaha QL1 Console For Fortune 100 Clients
Will use the new QL1 on the road as the primary audio console for smaller corporate events that require large event features
Sardis Media of Grayslake, IL recently took delivery of a new QL1 digital console from Yamaha Commercial Audio for use on a range of corporate A/V projects.
For more than 30 years, Sardis Media has produced videos, meetings, and special events for Fortune 100 corporations, non-profits, and A-list associations. Clients include Advisors Excel, Motorola Solutions, Baxter, MorphoTrak, RustOleum, & RZIM. The company purchased its QL1 from Reach Communications of Brooklyn Park, MN.
Sardis Media, which also owns a Yamaha M7CL console, will use the new QL1 on the road as the primary audio console for smaller corporate events that require large event features.
“We needed a console that had a lot of power and features but in a much smaller footprint for front of house for our production truck, explains company spokesperson Nate Aguilar. “Clients are always happy when we save space at FOH so they can fit more attendees in the room. As operators, we love that we don’t have to sacrifice quality when going to a small console like the QL1.”
Aguilar adds that being in the corporate events business, Sardis Media regularly deploys numerous lavalier microphones that are open at one time on stage, with the built-in Dugan auto mixer feature of the QL1 helping to manage levels.
“We knew we wanted a touch screen for quick adjustments and graphic feedback on changes being made,” he adds. “Most of us on staff at Sardis have a background in graphics or video, so being able to actually see what the console is outputting is important. Also, the built-in Dante network gives us the flexibility to add channels and outputs when needed in small increments, and having the ability to record every input separately is vital.”
Since Sardis already owns an M7CL and likes its operating parameters, Aguilar notes, “it was a no brainer to add the Yamaha QL1 with its minimal learning curve to our inventory.”
Yamaha Commerical Audio
Posted by Keith Clark on 07/02 at 05:28 PM
TiMax SoundHub Spatialization Highlight Of Atlantis Shuttle Experience
This exhibit utilizes the two TiMax SoundHubs to provide enhanced audio spatialization throughout the display.
The last in the line of a legendary dynasty: Space Shuttle Atlantis, is now housed at the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Center, forming the centerpiece of its own 90,000 square foot, $100 million exhibit.
The attraction was designed by PGAV Destinations, installed by Electrosonic and incorporates a pair of TiMax SoundHub audio show control matrix systems to add immersive 3D spatialization to a high-end multimedia history charting 33 missions of Atlantis, including maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope and the building of the International Space Station.
Visitors enter through a full-scale vertical replica of Atlantis’s external tank and two solid rocket boosters, which tower 15-stories above the three-story exhibit building. Visitors are corralled through a learning area to wait for the start of the pre-show which describes the role Atlantis played in the Space Shuttle Program and how the program paved the way for NASA’s next generation of manned space flight.
The pre-show theatre features a vast cinema screen which surrounds the standing visitors with panoramic and overhead video-mapping to fully envelop them in the visual feast. The first sixteen-channel TiMax SoundHub is installed here and applies delay-matrixed Image Definitions to the static 7.1 ProTools mix created by sound designer Jon Baker to spatially enhance his immersive soundscape via the 18 speakers including four subwoofers distributed around the theatre. Triggered by a timecode link from the video servers, a number of special spot effects are also played directly from the TiMax hard-drive and dynamically delay-panned across the space for added impact.
From the pre-show, visitors are delivered into the reveal of the Atlantis orbiter itself. The shuttle is housed in the main exhibition space and is supported by numerous artefacts as well as interactive and simulation exhibits and two further theatres.
The Hubble Space Telescope is also a huge draw and a life size model is on view with its own movie wall giving a close-up account of the telescope including some of its stunning images which are displayed via two high- definition projectors.
This exhibit utilizes the second TiMax SoundHub to provide enhanced audio spatialization across the eight speakers distributed around the screen.
Posted by Julie Clark on 07/02 at 06:44 AM
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
POLARaudio Provides Mackie Mixer With iPad Control To Premiership Football Club
The DL806 provides announcer Steve Buxton to mix much closer to the action.
The Britannia Stadium is the home of Premiership Football Club Stoke City. The grounds, which cost £15 million, opened in 1997 by Sir Stanley Matthews.
As a top-flight arena with a capacity of 28,000 spectators, the need to clearly deliver information throughout the venue is of great importance. From safety announcements and music, to team changes and minutes of added time, stadium announcer Steve Buxton is a busy man.
Until recently, Buxton mixed output received via walkie-talkie behind glass—a less than ideal mixing atmosphere. In order to better cater to the needs of a top sports stadium, Stoke City called in Paul Heath director at HSL Entertainment to consult about the best way to remedy the situation. Heath, in turn, contacted POLARaudio who supplied a Mackie DL806 iPad Control Wireless Mixer to allow Buxton to mix from the center of the action.
The DL806 allows its user to combine using a full-featured digital mixer with the ease and mobility of an iPad. Supplying exceptional sound quality with 8 Onyx mic preamps and the performance of 24bit Cirrus Logic AD/DA converters, the DL806, with seamless wired to wireless iPad control, now allows Buxton the freedom to mix from anywhere in the stadium. The power to deliver his choice of content is now instantaneous and quite literally, at his fingertips.
Buxton, who is also head of PR, event and media management at Stoke City, is relishing his new-found mobility:
“Being in every way so much closer to the action makes a huge difference. I’m now physically at the center of things and that allows me to respond to events and convey information without the previous to-ing and fro-ing via the walkie-talkie,” he adds. “Part of my job is also to help build the atmosphere before kick-off, so to be pitch-side rather than high up behind glass really helps me to feel properly part of what’s going on.”
“This was a relatively small scale solution to a major headache and it serves as a good illustrator of how choosing the right technology is the key to a successful outcome,” adds Heath. “The Mackie DL806 is a versatile piece of kit and has more than proved its worth at the Brittania Stadium. Steve can now concentrate on the job in hand from the thick of the action without all the previous hassles.”
GC Pro Works With Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada To Help Aspiring Young DJs
Assembles and provides full rigs for youngsters suffering from debilitating conditions
Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on professional users, has been regularly collaborating with Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada, a chapter of the national organization that grants the wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions in the United States and its territories, to provide access to musical instruments and professional audio equipment for children in the program.
Most recently, the GC Pro office in Las Vegas worked with the southern Nevada chapter to make the dreams of two young DJs come true. In the cases of Kyle and Diego, two youngsters suffering from debilitating conditions, GC Pro fulfilled their wish list.
The new rigs for each DJ now include a Numark NS7II DJ Controller with case and stand, QSC K12 powered loudspeakers and KW181 powered subwoofer, an Apple MacBook Pro laptop computer, Pioneer HDJ2000 professional headphones, Ableton Live 9 software, a Sennheiser E835 microphone and an Akai Professional EIE PRO 24-bit Audio/MIDI interface with USB hub. All of this equipment was provided fully assembled, configured and installed by Michael “Mickey” Lomboy, a member of the GC Pro Affiliates Program, with training also provided by GC Pro personnel.
“These kids are amazing,” says John Stevens, the account manager at GC Pro’s Las Vegas office who acted as the liaison for the project and for other similar collaborations since June of 2013. “They’re up against some serious illnesses — Kyle is permanently in a wheelchair and Diego has a serious neurological condition. But they are both really focused on becoming DJs. We wanted them to have the tools to achieve those dreams.”
Miriam Ceballos, Wish Granting Coordinator at Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada, states, “We work with many vendors on these projects, and I can say that every time we’ve worked with GC Pro it’s been a pleasant and fulfilling experience, for us and for the kids. DJ wishes have become very popular lately, and GC Pro knows exactly what the kids want and need, and it’s always right there when you need it. Sometimes the kids know what they want, and whatever it is, you know GC Pro has it in stock. And if the kids aren’t sure, GC Pro is there to help them figure out what works best for them.”
Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro)
Monday, June 30, 2014
First Fairlight EVO.Live Mixing Console Installed At The CatholicTV Network
True split configuration with a main control surface located in the audio production suite and a second, smaller surface positioned in the video control room
The CatholicTV Network, which broadcasts local national and international religious programming including live coverage of Pope Francis from production facilities in the Greater Boston area, has been equipped with the first Fairlight EVO.Live digital mixing console.
Based on Fairlight’s Crystal Core technology, EVO.Live offers integrated HD video and multitrack audio recording designed for live production and broadcast studio applications that can be quickly reconfigured to operate as a post production system.
Fairlight’s first production mixing console, EVO.Live can be used in a dual-operator configuration with each engineer having independent fader sets. The console delivered to The CatholicTV Network is a true split configuration with a main control surface located in the audio production suite and a second, smaller surface positioned in the video control room.
Both surfaces access the same I/O and EVO.Live FPGA core processor but operate independently of each other. Either surface can control the audio going to air while the other is being used for a rehearsal or getting set for the next production.
According to Mark Quella, director of engineering and operations for The CatholicTV Network, “Only Fairlight could meet the wide range of capabilities we required from our audio production system in the timeframe we needed it. EVO.Live meets all of our needs and then some, from easy integration with the communications of the newsroom to the beautiful musical horsepower to do symphonic recordings. Plus, of course, Fairlight’s world-class post production mix-to-picture capability is second to none.”
Steve Sasso, CatholicTV assistant chief engineer, adds, “Fairlight has hit this one out of the park. The design of this desk is really well thought out. When I’m in front of it, it’s ‘in my face.’ That’s what I like, not to have to search for controls, especially in a live situation. And, I can still record all my tracks for use in post later on. I would recommend this console to any broadcaster that wants ease of operation and full control in any live situation—as well as in post. Plus, Steve Rance and the guys at Fairlight are just a text away when it comes to support, with in-depth knowledge of every aspect of the desk.”
The EVO.Live is being used at the CatholicTV Network facility to mix live and pre-recorded HD programming, including “This is the Day,” a live chat show that features interviews with Catholic artists, authors, musicians, organizers and ministers from around the world; “WOW: The CatholicTV Challenge,” a long-running children’s game show; and “Catholic Newsbreak,” an update ofdaily news for Catholics. The network also broadcasts coverage of the Pontiff’s world travels, devotional and educational programs as well as live religious services, including daily Mass, and events from the Vatican.
EVO.Live provides 104 inputs into 128 bus elements; one main and 24 subgroup outputs configurable as mono, stereo or 5.1; 24 auxiliary outputs; 16 mix-minus buses; a 128-track digital audio disk recorder and a HD video recorder. The system supports 6-band EQ on every channel, main, sub and aux bus and dynamics processing on every channel and bus. It also has an integrated cart machine that may be controlled from the console surface or from a PC or tablet anywhere on the facility network.
CatholicTV began broadcasting from Boston on January 1, 1955 and currently operates out of HD production studios in Watertown, MA. Known as “America’s Catholic Television Network,” The CatholicTV Network is available in nearly 14 million homes via various broadcast stations and cable systems, including Comcast, RCN and Verizon FiOS, many regional carriers throughout the U.S. along with ROKU and to countless others over the Internet at CatholicTV.com.
New RCF L-Pad Compact Mixer Series Now Shipping
Seven models in series kick off company's new mixer division
The new RCF L-PAD Series of compact mixers, intially introduced at the NAMM 2014 show in January, are now shipping. The series represents the first result of a strategic decision by RCF to create a mixer division, supported by an investment in R&D with a dedicated team of engineers.
Further, RCF recently acquired Rome, Italy-based ZP Engineering, a design company that brings additional expertise and experience with digital audio networks, DSP, voice processing, and design. Future plans for the division call for the development of several new digital products.
With the L-PAD Series, considerable attention was devoted to the design of warm-sounding, transparent mic preamps. The compressors on the microphone channels are intuitive, with a single knob that controls the threshold and compression ratio at the same time. The compressors also offer a very soft but effective action.
Mono channels include 3-band EQ on mono channels, with 2-band EQ on stereo channels. Smaller models have 45 mm faders, while larger models have 60 mm faders.
Accessories include an add-on board for recording and playback of mp3 audio files. Files can be collected on a USB stick (up to 32 GB) and managed by a dedicated transport panel. A further optional Bluetooth card allows connection of devices such as smartphones or tablets to enable music to be played directly via the L-PAD mixer.
L-PAD 12CX and 12C
Offers six mic inputs, four stereo line inputs and 2-track I/O. Four single-control compressors are included on mic channels. The CX model provides 99-preset, internal FX DSP effects capability. When not in use for effects, the FX send and aux sends can be used for monitors.
Offers four mic inputs, four stereo line inputs and 2-track I/O. Two single-control compressors help in handling more dynamic, complex signals. The 10C can be installed on a mic stand or in a rack with optional accessories.
L-PAD 8CX and 8C
Offers four mic inputs, three stereo line inputs, 2-track I/O, and two single-control compressors on mic channels. The CX model provides 99-preset, internal FX DSP effects capability.
L-PAD 6X and 6
Offers two mic inputs, two stereo line inputs and 2-track I/O.The CX model provides 16-preset, internal FX DSP effects capability.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Berklee College of Music Embraces Avid In Groundbreaking New Music Studio Complex
Enables real-time collaboration on projects between new facility in Boston and campus in Valencia, Spain
Berklee College of Music, the world’s largest independent contemporary music college, has deployed Avid professional audio production solutions to help enable real-time, high-definition collaborative workflows between its newly unveiled 16-story tower in Boston and its campus in Valencia, Spain.
An ultra-high speed internet connection links Berklee’s 10-studio audio production complex in Boston, which is among the largest of its kind in the United States, to the campus in Valencia, enabling real-time collaboration on a global level – now a standard practice in many professional project workflows. For example, musicians playing on one campus can be recorded and mixed by students at the other campus.
“One of our founding philosophies is that students need practical, professional skills for successful, sustainable music careers,” states David Mash, senior vice president for innovation, strategy and technology at Berklee College of Music, and chairman of the executive board of directors for the Avid Customer Association. ”With Avid audio solutions, we can provide access to industry-standard tools that will enable them to excel in the professional world. The Avid Everywhere vision complements our commitment to giving students real-world experience with collaborative workflows on a global scale.”
For both campuses, Berklee has chosen audio solutions that are integrated with the new Avid MediaCentral Platform, giving students access to an even wider range of tools and experts, from music creation to distribution. These include Pro Tools|Software, Pro Tools|HD systems with Avid analog and digital HD interfaces, Sibelius music notation software, and two System 5 digital audio mixing consoles.
Berklee has also selected Pro Tools as the official digital audio workstation (DAW) on all laptops distributed to every incoming student as part of its Berklee Bundle Licensing Program (BBLP), fulfilling its commitment to giving students unlimited access to industry-standard tools.
“As the world’s premier music learning lab, Berklee plays a critical role in the industry by developing the music professionals of tomorrow,” states Jennifer Smith, senior vice president and CMO, Avid. “By embracing change, anticipating trends, advancing its curriculum, and adopting cutting-edge technology, Berklee sets a new standard for music education, and gives students hands-on experience with the same tools that audio professionals use to create award-winning music.”