Thursday, September 13, 2012

Argosy G22 Workstation Does Double Duty At South Florida Production Studio

New facility produces DVD content for the deaf and music for multi-genre record label

Brian Campbell, managing director of Accessible Communication for the Deaf (ACD), has installed an Argosy G Series workstation as the centerpiece of a new production facility in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

The studio serves double duty as a content creation facility for the sign language interpreting agency, which Campbell co-owns with his wife, Lisa, and as a recording and mix room for A4 Productions, a record label that he operates with his musical partner, Razi Ben-Ezzer.

The new Argosy G22 desk, the third Argosy product that Campbell has owned, houses the studio’s Avid Artist Series Mix work surfaces. “I’m using that in conjunction with my Universal Audio Apollo interface and Pro Tools 10 and I’ve got every plug-in known to man,” says Campbell, who was previously an instructor at the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale.

The Argosy desk and its built-in 19-inch racks provide space for a Dangerous Music D-Box, patchbay and other outboard equipment, including a UA 610 mic preamp. “We’re going to be expanding our business, so I’ll put some mastering gear in the other side once I get the chance,” he adds.

Campbell previously used a Mackie D8B digital mixing console. “I used to have it on a little table that I built. I remember when Argosy first came out; I ended up getting a desk for the D8B, and I loved the way it looked. The minute we decided to build this studio and put in the Avid Artist Series controllers, Argosy was my only choice,” he says. “I talked with a dealer who told me about another desk company, which he said was ‘much cheaper.’ I think he meant to say ‘inexpensive’—but you could tell it was much cheaper.”

ACD, which was established in south Florida by the Campbells in 2003, with Brian handling administration and Lisa interpreting and doing door-to-door sales, now includes a second office in Tampa and a roster of approximately 55 American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters subcontracting for the company throughout the state and in Georgia.

ACD specializes in community work, dispatching sign language interpreters to work at locations such as courthouses, schools and medical facilities with clients who are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The company also offers video remote interpreting (VRI) services via videophone or webcam.

ACD is also the go-to sign language interpreting agency when the White House visits south Florida, according to Campbell. “There’s a photo on our web site of my wife interpreting for Mr. Obama when he was campaigning to be president,” he says. “Earlier this year, President Obama spoke at The University of Miami and we handled that event as well.”

The facility, which incorporates a green screen stage for video production, is also used to generate content for ACD’s growing DVD catalog, which includes titles with ASL interpretation, voiceovers and subtitles.

The company has also released a series of DVD titles that provide instruction in ASL for words and names with which interpreters may be less familiar.

“One of the DVDs is on how to interpret the names of Disney characters and another DVD we did was of city and state names,” explains Campbell, who notes that ASL, which encompasses facial and body movements as well as hand gestures, also varies regionally.

On the music side, Campbell and Ben-Ezzer, working as The Stepbrothers, have produced remixes for artists such as Michael Zager, Jennifer Holliday, Foster the People, Beyoncé and the Baha Men. The partners also operate a multi-genre record label, collected under the A4 Music Group umbrella, releasing urban, world, pop and electronic music.


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/13 at 04:08 PM
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Sennheiser Introduces MKH 8090 Wide Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Tailored for orchestral recording applications

Sennheiser is expanding its MKH studio microphone series with the addition of the MKH 8090, offering a wide cardioid pick-up pattern makes it a good choice for orchestral recordings. 

An optional screw-on module can be used to convert it into a digital AES42 microphone.

“The MKH 8090 combines omnidirectional and cardioid pick-up patterns to produce an impressive orchestral microphone,” explains Kai Lange, product manager for wired microphones at Sennheiser. “Used as a main microphone, it picks up the entire sound body and a healthy proportion of room acoustics, while as a spot microphone it has sufficient directivity to screen out other sound sources without making the recording sound too ‘narrow’.”

One of those responsible for fine-tuning the microphone was tonmeister Gregor Zielinsky, international recording applications manager at Sennheiser: “During the development of the MKH 8090, we focused on ensuring that the sound perception of the microphone is precisely between that of the omni-directional MKH 8020 and the cardioid MKH 8040. Through further fine-tuning, we succeeded in creating a microphone with a sound that seems to ‘shine’, and which has great presence and musicality.”

The MKH 8090 benefits from the wide range of accessories available for the 8000 series, such as microphone stands with different heights, various microphone clips, a shock mount, remote cables with different lengths, windshields and accessories for ceiling mounting.

Also available as an accessory is the MZD 8000 digital module, which converts the audio signal of the MKH 8090 into a digital signal according to the AES42 standard (Mode 2) directly at the microphone head, thus ensuring a lifelike, natural sound entirely without cable losses or interference from other sources.

Sennheiser’s MKH series works according to the RF principle, which Sennheiser has been using for more than 50 years and has developed to absolute perfection, for example through the use of symmetrical transducers.

The MKH 8090 will be available in October at a price of $1,199.95.


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/13 at 03:24 PM
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Waves Audio Introduces New NS1 Noise Suppressor Plugin (Includes Video)

Brings the foreground into focus as it eliminates unnecessary background noise

Waves Audio has introduced the NS1 Noise Suppressor, a new plugin designed to intuitively and intelligently differentiate between dialog and unwanted noise.

The NS1 instantly analyzes and adapts to a signal in real-time, bringing the foreground into focus as it eliminates unnecessary background noise.

Controlled by a simple single fader, NS1 also features an attenuation meter that shows just how much overall energy is being removed from an input signal.

The NS1 is intended for music, dialog, voiceover, broadcast, and other applications. It is SoundGrid and MultiRack Native compatible.

Native – U.S. MSRP $200, with a special introductory price of $99
TDM – U.S. MSRP $300, with a special introductory price of $149

Waves Audio

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/13 at 10:57 AM
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shure Named One Of Chicago’s 101 Best And Brightest Companies To Work For

Award honors companies that recognize associates as their greatest asset

For the fifth time, Shure Incorporated has been named one of “Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies To Work For” by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR).

The award was established to honor companies that recognize associates as their greatest asset.

As the only audio company to be honored on the list, Shure was selected because of its commitment to excellence across human resources practices and employee enrichment programs. The company won the same award in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011.

“Sidney N. Shure often said he was building an organization of people, not an organization that built products,” states Sandy LaMantia, president and CEO of Shure Incorporated. “Thanks to his philosophy, our company has dedicated and creative Associates across the globe.

“Today we are celebrating an award that honors companies that recognize employees as their greatest asset.”

In May 2012, Shure Associates were chosen at random and invited to complete an online survey through a website administered by the NABR. The survey covered various areas of employer excellence and included companies whose programs and policies are considered best practices.

The evaluation included ten categories that Associates value in a company: communication and shared vision, community initiatives, compensation and benefits, diversity and inclusion, employee education and development, recruitment and selection, strategic company performance, employee achievement and recognition, employee enrichment and retention, and work/life balance.

“I am especially pleased that we have received this recognition so many times,” said Paul Applebaum, executive vice president, human resources, and general counsel. “It reflects the hard work and devotion of many Associates, including our Human Resources professionals, who work tirelessly to ensure that our Company remains a great and rewarding place to work.”


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/12 at 01:30 PM
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In The Studio: The Effect Of Technology On The Role Of Session Drummer

Is software really a suitable alternative?
This article is provided by Home Studio Corner.


I got the following questions from Ed, who’s working on his dissertation at the London College of Music.

These are great questions, so I thought I’d post my answers here.

1) How has your work recording drums and percussion been affected by the advent of good quality “virtual” sampled drum tracks?

Since I primarily work out of a home studio, the advent of really good-sounding drum samplers has been a great tool for me. My studio is not an ideal environment for recording drums, so drum software provides a great alternative.

2) Do you believe drum track creation by virtual instruments, sample collections, etc. (“software”) is a threat to the traditional role of the session drummer? How does the quality of the software tracks compare overall in your opinion and are there specific scenarios where the quality is good enough in one project but not in another?

Is it a threat to the role of a session drummer? I’d say possibly. However, the bigger picture here is how recording technology as a whole is changing the game for big studios. It’s no longer a requirement for you to record your album at a high-end professional facility. The technology has evolved, and so should the industry.

Drum software is phenomenal for recording demos. You can easily put together a fairly realistic drum track to go along with your tracks. For pop music, I think you can, with a lot of work, make a virtual drum part that works well for the song.

However, for something like jazz or really anything that’s not mainstream, I don’t think the session drummer is going anywhere.

3) To what extent is drum track creation software suitable for creating high-profile commercial releases, in terms of quality, functionality and ability? Does the suitability differ in different applications, i.e., projects where simulating a human drummer is essential compared to projects where realizing more creative percussive tracks is required?

I touched on this in #2. Straight out of the box, no, drum software can’t match a human drummer being recorded in a good studio with good equipment.

However, with much patience, it’s possible to re-create a large percentage of a good drum performance with MIDI editing. This would take exponentially longer than it would to simply record the drummer, but there are obviously other factors involved.

4) To what extent do budgetary requirements influence the decision to go with/avoid drum track creation technology, over and above issues of sound quality and realism of articulation? (For example, employing a composer/technician to create the tracks, more/less time required over standard drum recording, etc.)

I think budget is the biggest deciding factor for most home studio engineers. Would I rather record drums or program them? Of course I’d rather record them.

Do I have all the gear needed to record them at home? Nope. Do I have a great room for recording drums at home? Nope. Can I afford to book a studio every time I want to record drums? Nope.

This is where drum software comes to the rescue. It provides realistic drum sounds for those of us who can’t get into a studio whenever we want.

5) In your experience, does drum track creation technology offer a positive compositional (rather than production) tool in a studio context?

Sure. Playing along with a real-sounding drum groove always helps me think up new parts for a song.

6) Do you feel there has been a movement in emphasis amongst music publishers in recent years to the actual production aspects required to realise the artist’s work, rather than the work itself? E.g. the budgetary/time requirements of producing an album of orchestral music using samplers over a live 40-piece orchestra – has this resulted in music being published today that would never have been possible or considered 20 years ago?

There have definitely been changes. The whole evolution of recording technology has caused what almost seems like a flip-flop of roles. Now an average musician can buy a laptop and recording software and record an album.

So yes, the advancement of technology has somewhat leveled the playing field. Someone like me, with the aid of software, can produce a very good-sounding album, for a fraction of what it would have cost 20 years ago.

7) Where do you see music creation technology and its impact on the studio recording setup in the future? Should budding producers and engineers still be given a grounding in microphone techniques, acoustics, outboard gear etc. or should they concentrate on programming realistic MIDI tracks, working VSTs/VSTis “inside the box,” Pro Tools techniques, etc.?

Both. I think most people will focus on learning software, when that’s still only half of the equation. If you can’t get a good vocal sound with a microphone, or if you can’t use an EQ properly, then it doesn’t really matter how well you know the software.

My advice for budding producers and engineers is to go out there and do it yourself. Take the gear you own RIGHT NOW and start working with musicians. As you get paid, buy the extra gear you need.

As you get better, you can charge more. Be entrepreneurial. Take it upon yourself to make it happen.

A passive producer or engineer (or even drummer) will never see much success.

Be sure to join Joe for his upcoming live Recording Electric Guitar class.

Joe Gilder is a Nashville based engineer, musician, and producer who also provides training and advice at the Home Studio Corner.

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/12 at 08:24 AM
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In The Studio: An Interview With Mix Engineer Dave Pensado

"I’m not selling my engineering, I’m selling my taste"
This article is provided by the Pro Audio Files.


Dave Pensado is a man who requires minimal introduction. He’s a world class mix engineer who’s worked on countless hit records. He’s also a teacher and mentor to an entire generation of successful mix engineers (including Jaycen Joshua, Ethan Willoughby, Ariel Chobaz and more).

Dave was kind enough to take time out of busy schedule to join us and answer some questions. Enjoy.

I went to bed at 3 am last night. When did you go to bed? What does your average week look like?

I’m still awake, I didn’t go to bed. I work about 105 hours a week, every day is 14 hours to around the clock. When I get on a roll I don’t like to stop. It’s not unusual after two weeks to slow down for a day or two though.

Let’s do the quick bio thing. Did you grow up in a musical family? Start playing early? See yourself as a mixer?

I was involved with music very early on. My mom was a gifted musician, and I learned a lot from her. I don’t know if I was particularly predisposed to mixing – really, I don’t even look at myself as a mixer, I look at myself as a guy who makes records. I just don’t participate in the entire process. I usually come in at the later part.

But I don’t separate the different categories of engineering – it’s all just the process of making the record. For me, I enjoy every part of the process, but I tend to find myself at the mixing stage. For a while I thought I’d be playing on the records. Going from playing to engineering is not that big of a step though.

A number of engineers started this way. We were broke musicians, we couldn’t hire an engineer.

Cool. Let’s talk “Pensado’s Place.” You’re making accomplished individuals very accessible. You’re exposing tons of great information. Why is it that you seem to have no qualms about revealing so many of your techniques?

Dave Pensado at work in the studio. (click to enlarge)

It’s good to reiterate the point: I’m not selling my engineering, I’m selling my taste.

Even though Jaycen learned some engineering from me, he came to me with incredible taste. Dylan also has taste. I pick them because of their taste. They absorbed their engineering skills over time.

The unique thing is that none of my assistants sound like me. We work together so much, and I hear little things in their mixes – but they’re their own people, and should be. If we were painters, and we decided to study art at a college, one of the problems is that artists sometimes come out third rate copy of their teachers.

Some teachers grade from the perspective of what they feel is good. But it’s really about aesthetic.

This is a good time to let the readers know, if you have two hours available, the best use of your time is to listen to as many records as possible instead of just learning techniques. That time comes after immersing yourself in records you enjoy. Create a set of references.

There’s an old myth that says whenever you buy an acoustic guitar, set it in front of your speakers and play the best music you know and let the guitar absorb it, and the wood will retain that sound. Mixers need that same sort of thing. Get your own taste and then study.

It really can’t be said enough. So, where do you see the show going? It seems to be gaining popularity – it’s a fantastic show. What’s the goal?

I don’t want every Pensado’s Place episode perfect for every human – I want each one for certain things. I want each episode to have a timeless appeal – I don’t want them to be irrelevant in a year. It’s not just about mixing, but everything around the profession. One of the concepts behind the show is the question: once you make a mix, what the heck do you do with it?

I’m going to have A&Rs on the show, people on the business side. Even an art professor from UCLA because the brain has the same components; creativity is creativity, and I want different perspectives. I might have a show on successful mix engineer’s hobbies, and how those hobbies can make you a better engineer. I hope the entertainment makes it accessible to everyone, but not every episode is aimed at everyone.

I cook. Little known fact. What’s your hobby?

Photography. I use a lot of visual metaphors for mixing.

What is the future of “Pensado’s Place.” Do you have a definite plan, an indefinite plan?

I see it having a definite future. I may hand it off to someone else, but as long as people care, it’ll still be on. It’s all about hanging with my friends. I’ve always envisioned the show having an importance – it might morph, it might change just like our industry changes and our profession of mixing has changed.

Mixing in 2011 is 60 percent different than mixing in the 90s. I’ll have people on the show to help us feel into the future – it’s how to make a living – it’s how to learn – it’s a broad, almost impossible task, but it’s fun.

What people don’t know is that I don’t allow the show to be edited. It’s live because that’s who we [my guest’s and I] are. Only time there would be an edit is if a guest said something that he later thought was uncomfortable.

Pensado’s Place is really much more than Dave Pensado. You have a great team. Herb is fantastic.

I’ve known Herb 20 years, just being in his presence is fun for me. I think if you look at the guests and the interaction with Herb and I – they all start out a little nervous and then settle in. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished starting out with nothing.

Now the show takes 20 people. If you add up all the views on YouTube, and all the episodes everywhere they’re viewed, we’re probably going to hit – well, a lot of views.  I couldn’t put it together without Will and Herb, and Ryan, Ben and Ian. I get the glory but they do the real leg work. My wife filters through the questions.

I’m sure you get a lot of emails and comments.

I get about 300 emails – I don’t have time to respond every time someone contacts me. So, to everyone reading this, know that even if I don’t respond, I read every single email.

You were once quoted saying that mixing R&B is more challenging than rock. The sound of rock seems to have adopted a lot of pop trends, influenced by hip-hop. Do you feel rock mixing has changed? How so? Is it still easier?

I still stand by that statement. However, when I first made the statement, I assumed that people would print the rest of what I said! To clarify, the difference is that in the rock world, all of the effort to get quality is in the tracking.

In the R&B world, everything is left for mixing. Tracking for R&B is just “get it to tape” – it’s a fix-in-the-mix philosophy, but in a lot of Pop, mixing is an integral part of the production. What I mean, is the producer is creating sounds, he’s mixing as he goes. When I get an R&B or Pop record in, the session has plugins on every track; he mixed as he went. Then I have to sort through all of that and pick it apart.

On the rock side, it’s rare that I get plugins on the tracks because the information is in the live capture. An incredible skill and talent has gone into getting the tracking right on the way in. I personally think the most intricate skill is required for tracking, a good tracking engineer can rival the best mixing engineer.

Having said that, as to which is harder, I’m totally capable of screwing up either; they require different skill sets. The one thing that I’ve always maintained a great mixer should do is find the energy, the emotion, and what makes the song unique. Manny kind of went into that a bit, and I was mesmerized listening to his answers. At the end of the day mixing is not manipulation of sound – it’s emotion.

Very early in my career, I think I’d been engineering for three weeks, I did a bagpipe album for the top bagpiper in the world – it sounded like someone stomping through a field of cats. It was difficult to wrap my head around because when I EQ’d it (to smooth out the sound) the whole sound went away.

So I accepted it and just turned to the playing. The album was well received – turns out that figuring out the emotion is what made it successful.

Our job is to ease the pain a bit in our culture. Even not so esoterically, what people remember is the emotion and the feeling they get from a song. Therein lies the secret to selling records, and perhaps why we’re not selling records now.

At what point do you say “I’m done” with a mix? What’s the feel?

I started mixing 35 years ago and I’m still waiting to finish a couple of those mixes. You don’t finish, you just run out of time. In classical and jazz, it may be possible to finish a mix. Currently with the internet, by the time you finish, by the end of the night, it’s obsolete.

I enjoy staying ahead of trends, and contributing to the advancement of trends. But these trends always change. And really, you can hear a song a million different ways. I’ve actually recently gone and redone some mixes from a few months ago.

What trends have you stayed on the cutting edge of?

Two years ago I was predicting a shift and trend toward euro dance invading hip hop.

Another trend, rock – just to stir the pot – I don’t think there is any rock anymore, at least not that’s easily accessible. Rock is now pop music with turned down guitars and sweet effects. The last great rock record was Queens of The Stone Age. Rock is now pop with guitars instead of synthesizers. The drums aren’t even live.

Do you see more sample replacement or programming in rock?

What’s the difference? When you change out the drums and make the drum timing so perfect, all you’ve done is create a programmed part. With live drums, you get the drummer, and you don’t dick with it. Maybe a couple nudges – but perfectly timed drum tracks is an anathema to Rock.

With R&B you have a steady drum track. We don’t rely on the drums to create the rhythm, we play against the perfect rhythm. You have things that move around it, that make it pocket.

In rock, the drum track should move. The drums on the Rolling Stones music, everybody’s following Keith – and that works. Had you quantized Charlies’ drums, then, Keith would have been out of time. The argument is not live or programmed, it’s perfect or emotional.

I once got the idea that ambiance is about one third of a mix. I have yet to feel otherwise. To me, room, reverb, delay makes or breaks a mix. Where does it fall along your scale? How long do you spend crafting ambiance?

I spend an inordinate amount of time making ambiances. There’s two pan pots, there’s left and right and front to rear. The front to rear is imaginary – a person is at the other end of a gymnasium, and they yell – the initial sound hits my ear and my brain calculates where they are, 50-100 ms. I get that early reflection, which cues my ear to the location and size of the space. With careful manipulation of reverb, echo, pre-delay, early reflections, you can place things pretty accurately.

In the world of recordings – the sound is already fictitious in a sense. How important is accuracy when designing ambience?

Accuracy is important to a mix. If everything is in the same audio plane, it’s hard to distinguish things. You can’t really hear two sounds at the same time, so process is to direct the listener’s ear where and when you want it. Sometimes you want the groove, sometimes the singer.

Much like a great painting, the artist directs your eye around the canvas, you don’t see the whole thing at the same time. Ambiance allows me to do things like place the singer up front, or the bass behind the kick.

You need the singer up front to make her commanding like we did for Christina Aguilera in Beautiful. Through the production, performance, and my mixing, we crafted something that takes your ear where we wanted it to go – which in this case was the vocal. That vocal was usually the first take. I would put that up against everything – and I needed it to absorb the listener’s attention.

How in the universe did you get the kick drum on Rick Ross ‘Deeper Than Rap’ so prominent, and maintain it through the mastering process? What do you do to prepare for the brickwall?

Philosophical answer – I don’t think in terms of volumes. There’s different elements available to us as mixers: power comes from low end, the speaker that creates low end is ten times the surface, the amp that controls low end is huge, the tweeter is 60 watts. What that tells you is that all that energy gives you the impression of power.

In rock music, credibility is guitars. Rock engineers will add low end to the guitar for power – Andy Wallace does it with drums – Chris Lord-Alge does it with guitars.

In Chris’s case, he’s a genius at making the vocal sit on top, but not compete. He crafts a spot where the vocals can convey their energy. It’s something I study all the time. CLA and I have been on the same album, I’ve learned a lot. Sometimes if I’m doing R&B, I’ll use the vocal as a fill with a rhythmic delay at bars 8 or 16 – it’s the ‘here comes the chorus’ cue.

I’m not actually thinking about the kick drum, I’m thinking about power and credibility. We might have more high end in a pop mix, because the high end gives the feeling of expensiveness. What’s most important though is the concept.

Going back to the idea of ambience, Allen Mireson used nonlinear delays on vocals to lay the vocalist in the pocket. Reverb plays a very important timing role. Silence, the holes where there’s no music – can be as precious as the moments where there is music – if you fill all of the silence with reverb, it becomes monotonous.

I’ll take a reverb and put a gate after it, and I’ll side chain the reverb to the vocal – so the reverb turns off when the vocalist stops singing. I’ve been known to draw it out even [automate the reverb return level]. Another thing, on a verse if you’re not quite getting that excitement, rather than rolling the low end off of the reverb, use a harmonizer before the reverb, and kick it up an octave.

Chris Athens turned me on to a technique of tucking pitch shifted clones of the lead track in at the end of lines to re-emphasize the harmonic moments.

Sure, nothing is sacred if you’re working on feel.

Double mic techniques? Vocals?

I might use more than one mic if I have to capture a singer and I’ve only got one take. I have two mics to maybe have some options later.

How about splitting a guitar to different amps?

On a guitar, I might split the signal to an amp that gives different information. Some amps have a good treble sound, making the upper strings for lead parts sound good – others have a good bass sound for rhythm parts. It’s just getting different parts of the sound, and the creativity is picking and choosing how to use it.

Do you think this kind of stuff can be overkill sometimes?

I get tracks where the producer couldn’t make up his mind. 250 tracks, I could mix that, but it takes forever. I’m a believer in commitment – the trade off of not having something you want to change later is not as important as capturing the moment as is. Sometimes you miss out, but the commitment is more. Mixing is a couple of thousand commitments – I don’t do five mixes, I do the one I want to hear.

Tracking is an environment where you are capturing a moment in time, that moment contains sonic information – it contains everything like a snapshot. Sometimes you get a snapshot where your eyes are closed, sometimes you get one peeing behind a bush – but when you see the whole album you get the feel for that moment in time.

Most mixes I have one day to do. I could spend a day repairing or I can spend time mixing. If I do three hours of repair and 15 hours of mixing, that will be better than three hours of mixing and fifteen hours of repair. Tracking isn’t about perfect or imperfect – its about giving the mixer the best material for the end results.

You’ve taken a lot of your time to share your techniques with everyone – I wanted to share a few of mine. I’ll get a lot of sequenced hi-hats, that just hit dead on the beat and it’s the same sample again and again – no change in texture, so I’ll use subtle flanging and panning to add some movement to them.

I like that – you can use the pencil tool to draw in subtle panning too. We used to do a similar thing back in the day using a Marshall Time Bucket Brigade delay. Anything that enhances the groove is great. Trying to put motion into something static.

For club music, sometimes I’m sending the entire mix minus the kick drum to it’s own bus – and putting bus compression on the whole mix minus the kick.

Another way to solve that is a dance technique, side chain the competitive elements to the kick, and compresses them more when the kick hits. I’ll put all the keyboards on an aux and sidechain from the kick. Especially with 4 on the floor Hip Hop.

Here’s a weird one. In good 808 sounds I hear what sounds like a “wind” sound coming off of the release. I think its the result of passing broadband noise through the 808 filters – it’s the ring the filters produce.

I make two duplicates of the 808, and put SPL De-Verb on one of the duplicates, and flip the other duplicate out of phase. This leaves the ring behind. Then I can EQ, compress or delay that wind tone and mix it back into the original sound.

With 808s and simple wave shape sounds, the first thing I teach my assistants is don’t reach for an EQ if it’s a simple wave form – just do it with loudness. Put it where you want and take out what you don’t like.

I do some phase manipulation tricks, but I’m hesitant to share them because they’re pretty advanced and can get you in a lot of trouble. Take the same signal, mult it and pan one hard left, one hard right, and feed that to an aux. Then flip one side out of phase – and then put a pan on it that pans so fast you can’t hear it.

A lot of times if I get a drum loop, I’ll isolate a sound that’s too loud and flip it out of phase and blend it back in. Any time I’m working with samples that are blended or layered, I’ll check the phase.

You’re famously quoted saying “It’s better to sound new than to sound good.” I remember being at AES with Tony Maserati playing a recent mix, and a bunch of engineers vibed him for the amount of compression on the lead vocals, but at the same time he had 200 tracks of audio working – it was a modern sounding mix and he needed to make the vocals present.

“It’s better to sound new, than to sound good. But the great ones do both.” is the actual statement. To beat a dead horse – Which would you rather have, the world’s greatest mix that sells three copies, or the world’s worst that sells five million. Audio engineers only make a small part of the audience. But if you can, why not try to do both?

Now, as for the compression – if I have 200 tracks, the first thing I reach for is not a compressor. It’s the mute button. It’s also rare that I’ll keep stereo basses as stereo.

I once did a mix that had 12 shaker parts, I muted 10 of them, the producer came in and said “Holy cow how did you get all those shakers to work? Now they’re all clear.” He hadn’t realized ten of them were muted!

Let’s say I’m an artist and I have the resources to hire any mixing engineer. Why should I hire Dave Pensado?

Any mixer that has had success will tell you that a big part of the process is having the arrogance (confidence) to think that your taste is always right. If you don’t have that, don’t join this profession. Once you feel what you do is right, it produces the answer of “because I’m the best.”

The proper forum is to ask other engineers why I’m good. I can’t give the answer without sounding conceited and arrogant. With artists, we as engineers have their career and well being in our hands, if you don’t have the confidence to assure them, they’re not going to work with you. Ultimately, your job is to make them a shit load of a money.

Matthew Weiss is the head engineer for Studio E, located in Philadelphia. Recent credits include Ronnie Spector, Uri Caine, Royce Da 5’9” and Philadelphia Slick.

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 09/11 at 12:54 PM
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AKG Unveils Revamped D12 VR Bass Microphone

Encompasses vintage D12 performance, style and quality

Developed more than six decades ago, AKG achieved a breakthrough in recording and broadcast technology with the introduction of its first dynamic microphone, the D12.

Today, AKG has introduced the newly designed D12 VR large-diaphragm cardioid microphone intended specifically for kick drum live and recording applications.

D12 VR (vintage sound re-issue) offers a thin diaphragm within its newly designed capsule, which enhances low-frequency performance. 

With phantom power disabled, the D12 delivers accurate, pure character from the sound source. 

With phantom power enabled, one of three switchable active-filter presets can be used to quickly adapt the mic’s response to suit the user’s desired kick drum sound.

The vintage-style premium bass microphone offers three active sound shapes for recording: open kick drum, closed kick drum and vintage sound. 

The D12 is manufactured with the original AKG C414 transformer from the 1970s.

AKG’s patented implementation of an active electronic filter within a dynamic microphone continues to provide the audio industry with perfected sound. 

Internally, AKG’s dynamic microphones process frequencies within the filter circuit and connect the audio signal in the mic’s transformer.  The impedance differences between the mic and tandem audio equipment are cancelled out, enabling the unit to showcase the ultimate sound, regardless of its connected device. 

AKG’s transformers enhance the audio signal significantly, especially at high signal levels.

“With the reputation AKG’s D12 brought to the recording and broadcast industry, the latest D12 VR embodies its predecessor with the quality and reliability AKG has been providing the audio industry for 65 years,” stated Thomas Umbauer, product manager, PPA, AKG.  “The relaunched D12 VR will give tracked drums a vintage, yet crisp and modern sound, sure to make percussion tracks shine for professionals or casual artists around the world.”


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/11 at 10:54 AM
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Hal Leonard Publishes Mixing & Mastering With Cubase

Make your Cubase projects sound polished and professional

Hal Leonard Books has published Mixing & Mastering with Cubase ($16.99) by Matthew Loel T. Hepworth.

Cubase provides the user with many more tracks than bands from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s ever had at their disposal. Many iconic records were produced on 2-, 3-, and 4-track recorders, whereas the track count of Cubase 6 is limited only by the power of the host computer.

After the tracks have been recorded, they must be mixed and mastered to sound polished and professional. But for the new user, the processes of editing, adding effects, EQ, mixing, and mastering can be challenging.

Mixing and Mastering with Cubase was written with the new user in mind. It starts by teaching you how to manipulate all the tracks and events in the Cubase Event Window.

You’ll learn how to use volume and pan controls to create depth and audibility, add EQ to help every track sit in the mix, and add effects such as compression and reverb to produce smooth and polished results. Finally, you’ll learn how to add mastering treatments for a punchy, shiny, and loud mix that will compete with the pros. In the end, you might know the project was mixed and mastered in your home, but no one else has to.

Cubase has been used to create countless hit records. With what you learn in this book and a little luck and hard work, yours could certainly be next.

Hal Leonard Books

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/11 at 09:45 AM

Guerrilla Recording: Adding More Dynamic Range To Your Mixes

Managing the "area" between the two extremes of dynamic range is a critical skill, with expanders being very important in this effort.

This article is excerpted from Karl Coryat’s Guerrilla Home Recording - 2nd Edition.

Even with today’s inexpensive recording systems, it’s possible to achieve a dynamic range of over 90 dB—in other words, the loudest sounds you record can be over 90 decibels louder than the background noise.

Managing all of the “area” between these two extremes, for each and every sound you record, is a skill that’s critical to making a good-sounding recording.

Fortunately, there are expanders, compressors, and limiters (collectively called dynamics processors) that help in this task. We’ll start here with expanders, and in a subsequent article, move along to the others.

Using An Expander
Of the three types of dynamics processors, compressors are probably the most familiar—but let’s begin with expanders, because they’re a bit easier to understand. A lot of people record without using an expander in the signal chain, and I think that’s a shame, because effective use of an expander can do an awful lot to clean up the tracks that you record.

Expansion refers to the process of increasing a signal’s dynamic range—making it bigger. Isn’t 90 dB a large enough dynamic range, you ask? Certainly—but that number refers to a system’s potential dynamic range, not necessarily the range you’ll get if you plug in a mic and start recording.

An expander is important in optimizing the actual dynamic range you get out of a system.

An expander operates at the low end of the dynamic range, where signals are at their quietest, or perhaps nonexistent. In other words, when audio is coming through the signal chain, the expander may be doing nothing at all.

But when that audio stops coming through, the expander goes to work by lowering the signal further, expanding the background noise fl oor downward so that there’s a larger dynamic range overall (see Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Without expansion (left), the noise level in the signal chain can far exceed a stage’s background noise. With expansion (right), the noise is brought down to the noise floor, without affecting the signal itself. (click to enlarge)

Not surprisingly, this is called downward expansion. There is such thing as upward expansion, but you don’t really need to know about it.

To understand this better, consider what happens when you plug a microphone into a mixing board and crank up the gain. If you talk or sing into the mic, you’ll hear yourself coming through the headphones loudly. (Careful—you might also get a feedback shriek if it’s too loud.)

But if you stop singing, odds are you won’t hear silence—especially in a bedroom or den Guerrilla studio. You’ll hear the heating or air-conditioning system, planes going overhead, street traffi c, or your kid brother’s video game down the hall. This is all stuff that doesn’t belong on your recording!

Sure, domestic sounds are charming—if it’s 1970 and you’re Paul McCartney recording your first solo album. But we Guerrilla recordists are going after a slick, clean sound, and part of “clean” means not having anything on your tracks that you don’t want there.

Here’s where expansion comes in. You may have encountered a device called a noise gate, which is a crude form of an expander. In a noise gate, once the signal falls below a certain threshold, an electronic gate closes and no sound is allowed to pass through (noise or otherwise).

However, when the signal begins to rise above that same threshold again, the gate opens up, allowing the signal to pass through once more.

Naturally, this also allows unwanted noise to pass through along with the signal, but the idea is that noise is less troublesome when signal is present to mask it. Like faint starlight in the night sky, noise is most noticeable when it’s by itself. Mix in a little signal (or sunlight in this analogy) and you’re less likely to notice the faint background stuff.

An expander works on the same principle as a noise gate, but an expander is a bit more subtle: it’s not as obvious to the ear when it’s doing its thing.

Here are the parameters that you’re likely to find on an expander, or the expander component of a compressor/expander:

Threshold: This control sets the level at which the expansion effect begins to set in. Imagine a cymbal crash that begins at 0dB (the top of the dynamic range) and slowly decays to –_dB.

Fig. 2 As the sound of a crash cymbal decays, it eventually falls below the noise floor and becomes inaudible. (click to enlarge)

At a certain point in its decay, the sound of the cymbal will get so quiet that you’ll hear background noise mixed in with the cymbal, and at a still-later point you’ll hear only background noise, as the noise masks what’s left of the crash (see Fig. 2).

If you were miking this cymbal by itself (perhaps to sample it for a collection of drum sounds), you might want an expander to kick in toward the tail end of the decay in order to take the background noise out of the sonic picture (see Fig. 3).

The threshold control determines when this happens.

Fig. 3 When you run the crash-cymbal sound through an expander, the threshold level determines how much of the cymbal’s decay makes it through before the expander closes down the noise. (click to enlarge)

If you were to set the expander’s threshold to –30 dB, the expander would begin to shut down the signal when the cymbal decayed 30 dB below its initial peak. In this case you could get away with a lot more noise happening in or outside your studio without worrying about these sounds making it onto your cymbal sample.

But if you wanted to make a long, realistic sample of the cymbal and capture a lot of its decay, you’d probably want to set the control lower—perhaps –60 dB—and record it at a time when your studio is at its quietest, such as late at night. (Bummer for your sleeping housemates!)

Since the expander is set to a low threshold, the signal chain will be more susceptible to noise coming into the mic or created by the mic preamp.

To learn how to set the threshold control, here’s an exercise. Pretend you’re about to record a fairly loud electric-guitar part using a miked amp. Set up your signal chain, with your mic in front of the amp, and gain-stage the chain so you’re exploiting the full dynamic range of all the stages without unwanted distortion.

Next, put the expander into the signal chain, ideally by way of your mixer channel’s insert jack. If the expander has compressor or limiter sections, bypass them by pressing the appropriate bypass switches or turning those sections’ threshold controls all the way up.

Turn the expander’s ratio knob (which I’ll discuss in a moment) all the way up, turn the threshold knob all the way down, and let your guitar sit on a stand with the amp running and the mic picking up the amp’s background noise.

Now put on the headphones, slowly turn up the expander’s threshold knob, and listen to what happens. At a certain point in the knob’s travel, the sound of the idling guitar amp will cut out—this is the point you’re looking for. Set the threshold slightly above this point.

Now, if you so much as touch the guitar’s strings, you should hear the gate open up, with the amp sound (and perhaps some string noise) coming through.

That’s what you want—the expander is gating out the noise, unless some signal is present as well (you touching the strings), at which point the gate opens to let both signal and noise pass through. The expander’s threshold is properly set, at least for now.

Ratio: In the exercise above, you probably noticed that when the expander’s gate closes, no sound is let through—the gate closes completely. That’s okay, but it isn’t ideal.

Setting an expander’s ratio control properly allows the circuit to close more gradually as a sound decays, and it allows the expander to stay slightly open after the sound has decayed below the noise floor.

It’s a bit like leaving a bedroom door open a little when you sleep: doing this lets in some of the light from the hall (similar to the background noise in this analogy) so you aren’t in complete darkness (total silence).

Fig. 4 Below the expansion threshold, the level coming out of an expander’s output is much less than it would be if the expander weren’t in the circuit. (click to enlarge)

Fig. 4 is a graph showing how an expander reduces the level at the output when the input level is below the threshold.

Depending on the recording situation, setting up an expander to work like a noise gate—where it slams shut, resulting in sudden silence—can sound unnatural. This is particularly true with a gently decaying sound such as a crash cymbal, which would be abruptly cut off by noise-gate-like expander action (see Fig. 5).

A hard-closing gate can mess with the sound in even worse ways, for instance chopping off consonants at the ends of vocal phrases.

Fig. 5 Recording a crash cymbal through an expander set to a high threshold and high ratio (left) can cut off the cymbal’s natural decay. Lowering the ratio and threshold (right) can result in a more natural sound. (click to enlarge)

We need to set the ratio control to avoid these problems, while still allowing the expander to clean up the sound.

With the guitar from the previous exercise still on its stand and the threshold control properly set, start turning down the ratio control and listen to what happens.

At a certain point, you’ll start to hear the sound of the idling guitar amp coming through—that’s the gate opening up slightly. When the ratio control is all the way down, the amp noise should be exactly as loud as if the expander weren’t in the signal chain at all; in other words, the gate is all the way open.

When you record a track, look for a happy medium between these points. When the signal chain is idling, the gate should be closed enough to quiet the track signifi cantly, but not closed so much that passages with no playing sound unnaturally silent next to played passages (unless, of course, that’s the effect you’re going for).

You also shouldn’t be able to hear the gate noticeably opening or closing when you start or stop playing. As much as possible, it should simply sound like your system is a lot quieter.

The trick to using an expander effectively is to find suitable threshold and ratio settings based on the sound you’re about to record, as well as the song you’re recording.

You want the expander to be responsive to any sound you make during the performance—in other words, to anything that you actually want recorded on your track—but not necessarily anything else.

Play lightly and let some notes or chords decay. Think about the performance you’re about to record: Will you be playing full-out through the whole track? Is there a point where you’ll need to hold a chord for several seconds? Will you be playing any passages very quietly?

Test out any such critical performance moments and listen to how the expander reacts. If the expander seems to be too sensitive to what you’re doing, turn up the threshold control a little.

Adjust the controls one at a time until the expander is doing its job cleaning up your signal chain, without calling attention to itself. You may need to compromise—one pair of settings may be good for one part of the song while another is good for a different passage.

Try to find settings that work as well as possible across the whole performance. If necessary, you can always punch in certain sections that require very different expander settings.

Attack & Decay: Most (if not all) expanders have these controls. You’ll recognize these terms if you have experience programming synthesizers: attack specifies how fast something rises, and decay specifies how fast it falls afterward.

In the case of an expander, attack determines how fast the gate opens when its threshold is suddenly exceeded, and decay determines how fast it closes again when the signal suddenly goes away. You can usually set these knobs and forget them.

Normally you want a very quick attack (so as not to cut off the beginnings of sounds) and a medium decay—perhaps around 200 milliseconds—to make sure the ends of sounds don’t get truncated.

The two sections of an integrated compressor/expander unit may have only one set of attack and decay controls but separate ratio and threshold; that’s okay. Having the same settings for both sides usually works fine.

Indicator LED: This is a handy visual element that you can use in conjunction with your ears. One LED, or a series of LEDs indicating a range of levels, may light to show that the device is actively expanding the noise downward.

When the gate begins opening, the LED may go dark, or a series of LEDs may progressively turn off as the gate opens wider. Indicator LEDs aren’t really that necessary on the expander side—they’re much more useful in compression—but they’re nice to have anyway.

Next time out, I’ll talk about the opposite end of the dynamic range spectrum: compression.

Editor’s Note: This article is excerpted from Karl Coryat’s Guerrilla Home Recording - 2nd Edition. To acquire this book, click over to the ProSoundWeb Book Store. NOTE: ProSoundWeb readers receive free shipping when entering promotional code PSW at checkout. (offer valid to U.S. residents, applies only to media mail shipping, additional charges may apply for expedited mailing services).

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/11 at 07:35 AM
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Monday, September 10, 2012

RE/P Files: Carole King, Lou Adler, And Hank Cicalo In Session At A&M Records

From the archives of the late, great Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, this feature is an interesting look at the studio approach for a legendary artist. This article dates back to the September/October 1971 issue.

From the archives of the late, great Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, this feature is an interesting look at the studio approach for a legendary artist. This article dates back to the September/October 1971 issue.

The door of Studio B at A&M in Hollywood sports a sign which reads, “CLOSED SESSION - NO ADMITTANCE PLEASE.”

Inside, Carole King, looking much more like a friend that the superstar she is these days, is recording her third album.

At this writing her last album, “Tapestry,” has been #1 on the charts for twenty weeks.

The sign on the door is indicative of a refreshing professionalism going on in the studio. The people in there are working. Doing what they enjoy, but working nonetheless.

There is little of the temperament that often acts as an excuse for lack of skill. In the first two days of these sessions, eight tracks were cut for the album.

The pace obviously is very quick. It is quick not because the people involved are rushing, but because they are not fooling around. They don’t need ten takes to get a vocal part or a guitar lick right. They know what they’re after, and they get it.

There are no secret techniques being used here. The success of the albums is based on a combination of experience and openness.

“You have to be open to new ideas. I’ve been around this business for seventeen years, and I could be set in my ways. But that’s wrong. I’ll try anything. I learn something every day.” - Hank Cicalo.

Left to right, Hank Cicalo, Carole King and Lou Adler at work in A&M Studio B. (click to enlarge)

Hank is the engineer on this session, as he was on “Tapestry.”

His words are confirmed by Lou Adler, the producer: “I’ve only worked with two complete engineers. A lot of engineers are complete electronically but more important, there’s a disposition, a compatibility, and a knowledge and feeling for the kind of music we’re doing that’s necessary. Bones Howe and Hank are the only two complete engineers I know.”

What distinguishes Hank? His use of microphones, although not terribly strange, is certainly creative. He mikes the piano with a Sennheiser 421 D, inside and with the lid closed.

The piano is then enveloped with two covers. This is done for isolation’s sake, as Carol sings for the band during recording.

The bottom end of the piano is rolled off slightly to compensate for the boominess, caused by the piano being closed and covered.

On Carole’s vocal is an AKG 202 E. Although most of her vocals are done in their final version after the instrument tracks are down, some of the cuts on her last album were actually vocals she sang to the band while doing the instrument tracks.

Two AKG C 12s are used on the drums, one for both the toms and ride cymbal, and one overhead. An Electro-Voice RE-15 picks up the hi-hat, and another the snare.

The bass drum also uses an RE-15, placed deep inside near the head. The head is deadened by two heavy sandbags placed against it, giving a “tight” sound to the drum.

A lot of instruments and overdubs are used in this session, robbing the engineer of the luxury of several tracks for drums. But Hank is not that enamored with multi-track drum sounds anyway: “A lot of times I’m against that sort of thing. I’ve seen guys mix drums across 5 tracks of a 16-track, and the stereo effect was horrible.

“The guy got so wrapped up on the effect that it sounds like an 18-foot set of drums. Who has an 18-foot set of drums? I would rather work to a tighter sound.”

That tighter sound happens on two tracks, one for a complete drum mix, and the other for bass drum alone.

The studio set-up for this Carole King project. (click to enlarge)

This allows the bass guitar and the bass drum to be mixed against each other, independent of the total drum mix.

When the drums are limited, it is often just the tom. A touch of echo is sometimes added, especially if the part requires a slow rolling sound.

Bass guitar is taken both direct and with a microphone (Neumann U 87), with a ratio between the two of about 85/15. The direct feed is limited 2 to 5 dB. Electric guitar also employs a U 87, and acoustic guitar a Sony C-22.

Percussion and conga come though a U 87 feeding an Allison Gain Brain, resulting in a tight sound with a great deal of presence, as well as an even ratio between the high and low conga. Such a ratio is often quite difficult to obtain.

A Fender Rhodes utilizes an RE-15, and a Wurlitzer Electric Piano is taken direct.

The Wurlitzer seems to have some electrical noise problems through its own amplifier, but when taken direct and EQ’d properly, it produces a very warm sound.

The Rhodes sounds quite good through its own amplifier, resulting in its being miked and not taken direct.

Inside the control room, the producer has at his disposal a “playback panel” that allows him to mix independent of the engineer, and without affecting the recording.

Thus the producer can begin getting a perspective on a final mix while the recording is still in progress.

Lou, as producer, takes full advantage of this, a fact which certainly contributes to the success of his work. In his words: “From the time I start an album, I’m mixing. Every day and every night I’m always thinking about a mix. Sometimes in my sleep I’ll hear the machines rewinding.

But I’m always sure what I’m after. I’m always mixing for myself, but taking into consideration the likes and dislikes of the artist, which I’ve picked up during the session.

“If Carole says, ‘Can you turn the bongos down?’ while she’s listening to a playback, I remember it when I get to the mixdown. All those things are programmed in my head.

Piano miking and muffling. (click to enlarge)

“Recording is important. I do that more than anything else in my life. I work more than I sleep. I work more than I socialize. But it’s a complete enjoyment when I do it.

“I like to get the best sound out of an artist. I don’t have my own sound. I think it’s entirely possible that a person could play all of my albums and not identify them as mine.”

Lou is in control of the session from the time it starts. He feels that as long as his is open-minded, and the artist knows he can be communicated with, his control is both accepted and appreciated.

The sessions are closed for several reasons. The fewer people there are around, the more work gets down. And the fewer people are around, the less confusion there is for the artist.

Lou does not like anyone standing behind the console: “An artist should always have one person to look to when they have a question. If they say, ‘What do you think’‘, and there are four different expressions, they have no idea where they are.

“They should look to me… but if there’s a person in the booth, and he’s happy just to be there, and the artist comes into the room, sees the person beaming, and I say, ‘We’d like to do it again,’ it’s confusing.”

The music ranges from ballads to rollicking rock and roll. The musicians and the atmosphere are cheerful. The musicians are not sidemen; they come with Carole. They have to be interested and involved in the music. Otherwise, they are not on the next date.

The arrangements are written by Carole, as well as being made up as the session rolls along.

Every number seems to “cook,” in large part due to the closeness of the people involved, and the fact that Carole sings during the recording of instrument tracks.

The cheerfulness is in part maintained by the unwillingness of the engineer, Hank, to put equipment problems on the shoulders of the musicians.

Rather than tell a bass player that his amp sounds bad, or that there is something wrong with his sound, he’ll explore every avenue open to him and try to solve the problem for the musician before even mentioning it.

Hank dislikes “button freaks” who feel the need to constantly prove that they are aware of everything happening in the studio.

Usually, if a musician plays a bad note, he’s more than aware of it. Jumping on him immediately and telling him so destroys the atmosphere. He feels it’s wiser to let the track run and retake that instrument later.

Sweetening is Lou Adler’s responsibility, but his decisions in that realm are a result of the artist’s music, rather than his own likes and dislikes. The sound of the final product is the artist’s.

Still, these things seem mostly to go unspoken. “There are no confrontations as far as sweetening goes,” he says. “If that happened, it would be time for us to go our separate ways.”

The vocal mike set-up. (click to enlarge)

Overdubbing goes just as swiftly as the basic tracks. Once again, experience and openness seem to be the key.

Lou works like he knows a lot about it, and his track record certainly confirms this conclusion: “I was at the beginning of independent production, where most of the rules just came out of trying. I’ve learned a lot about overdubbing, especially when it comes to vocals. The training I had with The Mamas & the Papas you can’t buy. There hadn’t ever been any vocal groups with the amount of counter melodies that John Phillips had running through his head.”

Mixing requires as much, if not more, skill than overdubbing. It is interesting to note that in the midst of all the discussions these days about proper monitoring, using several systems for listening, and several mixes before choosing a final one, Lou Adler is remarkably unconcerned with the difficulties pointed out by many others.

“I mix by the speaker I’m listening to,” he notes. “If I listened to more than one speaker system, I’d go crazy. Whatever speaker it is, I’m mixing off of that speaker. I mixed Carole’s albums on small speakers.

“Mixes are very personal things, the most personal part of a producer’s role in recording. How could I do several final mixes, and choose one? You can only mix your best possible mix. It’s like saying, “now I’ll make a bad mix’.”

A good mix only comes from good tracks. In Hank’s words, “I have that saying, we’ll fix it later’. You can’t fix it later. You can touch up, but the basic stuff you have to get up front, or it’s never going to sound right.

“I never like to do things that really lock me in. If I compress, limit, or whatever, I’m always careful about doing it to a degree.

“You have to be open to new ideas. Some engineers aren’t, and that’s a hassle. Some guys have got one set up and they’re not going to change it. They’ve got to be insecure.

“For instance, we don’t have many leakage problems so we don’t need a Kepex for that, but we do use it for effects. You can get a tremolo sound off of it by keying it with an oscillator. Have the oscillator at five cycles, which is inaudible. By putting an organ though it, and beating the music against it, you get a very unusual tremolo effect.”

In making those good tracks, the choice of mikes is up to Hank. Limiting and compressing usually happens without even a request from Lou.

All of these things give testimony to an easy rapport which exists during these sessions.


This triangle is more than just Hank’s words. It is working.

There are a lot of pros in this business, and a lot of perfectionists. Carole King, Lou Adler, and Hank Cicalo are certainly among them. But they have the added beauty of not only being good, but being easy about it as well.

A sign on the console reads, “Anything that is not quite right, is wrong.”

The philosophy is not wholly unique. What is more unique is the lack of anxiety and tension that normally accompanies so absolute an approach. If something is not quite right, nobody gets upset. They just change it and make it better.

Maybe they’ve got something there.

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

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

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

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

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/10 at 05:23 PM
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Tony Del Gianni To Lead LOUD Technologies Global Operations

LOUD Technologies has announced Tony Del Gianni’s appointment to the role of vice president of operations. He joins the company from his most-recent position at Harman Professional.

Del Gianni will lead the evolution of LOUD’s manufacturing and operations function into a dynamic procurement, service, and support team designed to further enable the company’s product innovation and market expansion strategies.

“LOUD’s brands are generating some amazing market attention and sales for our channel partners thanks to innovative new products like the Martin Audio MLA Compact, Mackie DLM [owered Loudspeaker and EAW Avalon dance club system,” states LOUD Technologies CEO Mark Graham. “As we set our sights on even greater success at an even faster pace, I’m thrilled to have Tony take the reigns of our purchasing, procurement and support functions.

“I am confident that he will very quickly improve our time-to-market on new products and customer order fill rates, while at the same time increasing quality across our entire supply chain.”

Del Gianni will report to Alex Nelson, president of LOUD’s Mackie and Ampeg brands, and be based out of the organization’s corporate headquarters in Woodinville, WA.

He and his newly integrated team will manage all operations support functions, from new product procurement and sourcing, all the way through full lifecycle service and support.

“Tony has the ideal mix of engineering chops, sourcing and procurement experience, quality management, and broad pro-audio supply base contacts,” explains Nelson. “He will have a commensurately significant and immediate impact on both the availability and reliability of our products, and enable us to deliver on our promise of being the most valued provider of pro audio products on the planet.”

LOUD Technologies

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/10 at 04:41 PM
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In The Studio: Here Comes Hyperaudio

A technology in its infancy, but it holds much promise
This article is provided by Bobby Owsinski.


There’s something new on the horizon that anyone involved in audio should be interested in and it’s called Hyperaudio.

Hyperaudio is a way to take audio to another level by integrating some common sense things that haven’t been possible until now, like search, subtitles, versions and translations, and all sorts of additional text info.

In other words, it’s a way of adding into audio all the features that we’ve been using with hypertext for years.

All this is now made possible in the new HTML5 platform that is thankfully replacing Flash as the media platform of choice on the Web.

This is a technology in its infancy, but it holds much promise.

Those that think that Hyperaudio will be the next big thing (maybe only A big thing), hope that it will:

—make audio searchable

—make audio linkable

—make audio navigable

—dynamically generate audio

—convert speech to text

—represent audio visually

OK, some of these we can do already, but require a separate app to do so. The hope is that this will all be built into HTML5 at some point.

An early example of how it works has been done by WNYC’s famous RadioLab program (the link to the example is presently down—we will provide it as soon as it is restored).

Remember, you heard about it here first!

Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. For more information be sure to check out his website and blog.

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/10 at 03:48 PM
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Up 4 Loud Upgrades To Pro Tools 10 With HDX Hardware

HHB Communications has installed new Pro Tools 10 software, HDX hardware and a 24-fader D-Command console at Up 4 Loud Productions.

HHB Communications has installed new Pro Tools 10 software, HDX hardware and a 24-fader D-Command console at Up 4 Loud Productions.

Founded in 2004 by well-respected audio engineer Alan Snelling, Up 4 Loud Productions is a two-studio audio post production facility specializing in premixing, Foley and final mixing for TV Drama, Cartoons and film.

With credits including Star Wars, Silence of the Lambs and Trainspotting, alongside TV programmes such as Sherlock, Dr, Who and Robin Hood, plus music recording expertise gained at Abbey Road and George Martin’s Air Studios, Snelling has a wealth of experience behind him. And being located just 30 minutes from London makes Up 4 Loud Productions a welcomed escape from the city for London clients.

Snelling was initially a little hesitant to upgrade to Pro Tools 10 and HDX, but after hearing how happy his colleagues at Soho’s The Farm Group were with their multi-studio upgrade he took the decision to go ahead. He has subsequently found PT 10 to be more intuitive than earlier versions.

“Pro Tools 10 brings back an analogue feel to the software, especially the Channel Strip plug-in,” he says. “You can have all the EQs, filters and dynamics in one block and it’s very visual. Overall, Pro Tools 10 is a dramatically improved platform, especially from a recording perspective.”

Replacing his Control 24 desk with the 24-fader D-Command has improved efficiency and speed by bringing a wider selection of key control parameters to his finger-tips and the added benefit of a flexible 5.1 monitoring panel.

The Pro Tools 10 software and extra power delivered by the new HDX DSP engine enables larger sessions and wider use of the Audio Ease Altiverb plug-in he relies on heavily for sound design. Most of his outboard equipment now finds itself in storage as he explores new plugins which are faster to use and return great sonic results.

“I contacted HHB without much knowledge of what I needed for my Pro Tools HDX and v10 upgrade and they were very helpful by developing a straight course of action,” Alan explains. “HHB is a great and friendly company that I trust and know.”

HHB Director of Sales Martin O’Donnell comments: “It is always a pleasure working with Alan and Sarah, who are a very professional team. They have clear objectives moving forward and this latest upgrade to Pro Tools 10 and HDX puts them in a perfect position to attract new custom and develop their business.”

HHB Communications
Up 4 Loud

Posted by Keith Clark on 09/10 at 08:59 AM

Studer Appoints Mark Hosking To Position Of Sales Director, Middle East & Africa

Will support Studer’s expansion in these markets

Studer has appointed Mark Hosking to the position of sales director, Middle East and Africa.

In his position, Hosking will be responsible for overseeing all sales activities in the regions, supporting Studer’s expansion in these markets.

Hosking brings more than 15 years of experience in the professional audio industry, having begun his career with AMS Neve in 1997.

He has also worked with DSP Media (forerunner of Smart AV and manufacturer of integrated audio post-production systems), the Arbiter Group PLC (UK audio distributor), and Euphonix, where he managed sales in the film, TV post, music and broadcast markets across the UK, Ireland, Middle East, India and Africa territories, before moving up to the position of director of sales, EMEA.

“Studer has a reputation for excellent products and innovation and clearly understands the evolving requirements of the broadcast market,” Hosking says. “I’m really excited to be part of a company with a focused approach while continually innovating.

“In joining the team at Studer and the wider Harman group, I’m pleased to be working with some of the best and most renowned people in the pro audio business and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

“We are proud to announce the addition of Mark to the Studer team, as we anticipate his experience in the broadcast market will have an immediate, beneficial impact for our customers and on sales in the Middle East and Africa,” said Adrian Curtis, senior director sales, Harman Mixing Group.


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/10 at 07:48 AM
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Earthworks PianoMic Captures Piano at Asat Studios

The Earthworks PM40 piano mic has solved all spillover issues while recording piano during jazz sessions.

When it comes to recording piano for jazz ensembles, producer Andy Ross knows a thing or two. He recorded the highly acclaimed Mercury Prize nominated album ‘Golden’ by the Kit Downes Trio and has produced all five albums in the ‘Yamaha New Jazz Sessions’ CD series that has shifted 80,000 copies from the cover of the UK’s best-selling jazz magazine, ‘Jazzwise’, since its inception.

Ross owns Astar Studios, based in Heywood, Lancashire where the live room acoustics are among the very best in the UK. Many musicians choose to play and interact there when recording jazz.

One of Ross’s biggest challenges has been determining how to how to minimize sound spill from other instruments onto the piano during recording.

Ross explains, “Although we have the facility to hire in any piano to suit a specific project, for recording small jazz ensembles I really like Yamaha’s C3 Grand. It was the piano we used for ‘Golden’. In fact Yamaha pianos are my preferred choice every time. So having the opportunity to record a fantastic piano with some of the most talented pianists in the country it’s important to capture the true sound characteristics of the piano and performer.”

“In the past, despite extensively using screens and baffles, it has been very difficult to bring spill down to an acceptable level.  Although I have plenty of post-production tools at my disposal, it usually results in a compromise. So when I heard about the Earthworks PM40 and read the reviews I wondered if this was the solution I was looking for. and instructed my studio manager to locate one. 

“This led us to the great guys at Unity Audio from whom we hired a PM40 for this year’s Yamaha New Jazz Sessions recordings—boy are we impressed.

“Set up was simple – no more awkward positioning of mic stands or the need to use the old school trick of covering the piano with a duvet. The Earthworks PM40 with its unique design allows for the piano lid to be closed completely and once shut, the amount of spill was minimal.”

Andy said, “The fantastic tone of the Yamaha C3 Grand was beautifully captured by the PM40, it did everything I could have hoped for and more. Even closing the lid on the piano which can often affect the quality of the sound when recording, did not happen here at all. I just wish I had known about this mic sooner.”


Posted by Keith Clark on 09/10 at 06:42 AM
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