Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Two SSL Duality Consoles Power The Creative Flow At Tape Studios
Two cnsoles are critical to the sonic success at new Edinburgh recording/mixing facility
Two Solid State Logic Duality SE consoles power the creative flow for Tape Studios in Edinburgh, UK, a facility described by alternative record producer/mixer Stephen A. Watkins as “built to boldly go where no studio has gone before.”
The new two-story recording/mixing facility offers an equipment list and acoustics that match top facilities around the world while being able to deliver the creative experience without excessive cost. The Duality consoles are critical to the sonic success.
“We wanted to put together a studio that was completely over-the-top to match my personal recording/mixing style,” says Watkins. “The setup features an all-guns-blazing, maxed out patchbay handling a multitude of ‘who’s who’ analogue outboard gear. Duality was the perfect choice for Tape Studios because it brings all the elements we use together, while still addressing a DAW workflow. Even when I push them to the limits, which I very often do, the consoles sound incredible.”
Officially opened in February 2014, Watkins and partner, Fiona Mcnab, found an old Victorian whiskey bond building and converted it to a world-class facility with design help from Munro Acoustics. Tape Studios was conceived to provide a no-holds-barred creative environment to support a wide range of clients, including the hot new Scottish band BooHooHoo.
“We wanted to build a studio that was filled with the technology everyone dreams about, and that included the two Duality consoles,” Watkins adds. “I had this sound in my head and I knew how to make it. There is absolutely nowhere in the country that could provide the kind of facility at which I could make the records I wanted to make the way I imagined them.
“A genuine forte of mine is blending a little chaos into the banality of today’s beige multi-track recordings,” he continues. “I thrive on dynamic range manipulation by patching in multiple compressors instead of just one. I love envelope tickling and things that surge toward you from deep within the noise floor. A little Scottish swing, if you will, instead of safe boring everyman grid life. Duality provides the sonic foundation that supports my creative efforts.”
The ground floor of Tape Studios houses Studio 1 with the 48-channel Duality driving a Studer A80 24-track analog machine and a Cubase/SSL Alpha-Link rig. Studio 2 features a 96-channel Duality in a unique, custom built “L” shaped configuration. Everything in the facility is connected together so the resources of Studio 2, for example, can be used for tracking in Studio 1. Duality also offers a “wow” factor for clients coming through the doors.
“Our studio is quite new, but the reaction by the creative community thus far has been nothing short of fantastic,” Watkins explains. “Every single time anybody walks into any room at Tape and sees Duality, nothing more needs to be said. When we first started working, Duality became invisible very quickly, delivering exactly the benchmark sound we needed.
“When I began doing my thing, Duality was absolutely HQ. The line amps pushed hard into the channel dynamics post EQ is just heaven. Plus Duality plugs into the wall direct on only a couple of IEC cables. No machine room. No extra cooling. Duality is a no brainer – end of story. So we bought two.”
Solid State Logic
Posted by Keith Clark on 04/02 at 09:08 AM
Audio-Technica Mics Employed By Recording Veteran Steve Smith For Concert Choir Project
AT5040 vocal microphones on the choir and one on the piano, as well as two AT4047/SV cardioid condenser mics for the brass ensemble
The Concert Choir at Kirkland, Washington’s Northwest University has a reputation as a premier performance ensemble, demonstrating a wide-ranging musicality on pieces from throughout the choral repertory.
For the choir’s recent annual concert at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, engineer Steve Smith recorded and mixed the live performance, utilizing microphones from Audio-Technica. Although the recording will likely be used only for archival purposes and internal circulation rather than commercial release, Smith did not take any shortcuts, carefully miking the 100-plus member choir, nine-piece brass ensemble and grand piano and mixing a stereo recording any classical label would be happy to release.
Smith, who also serves as creative director of Creatio, Northwest University’s innovative music business and recording arts degree track, used five AT5040 studio vocal microphones on the choir and one on the piano. In addition, two AT4047/SV cardioid condenser microphones were provided for the brass ensemble.
“I love the AT5040,” Smith states. “It’s super high quality. I’d put it up against anything. The AT5040 is extraordinarily transparent and beautiful-sounding.”
And Smith’s AT4047/SV’s only scratch the surface of Creatio’s microphone locker, which includes nearly 40 A-T microphones. As Creatio’s creative director, as well as director of the Recording Arts Technology Program, chief engineer of Creatio Studios and a principal instructor, Smith works to impart his students with practical knowledge and nuanced listening skills.
“I believe very strongly that educational institutions and music technology programs have an added importance in this day in age,” he says. “People used to go to music stores to learn and listen – to A-B mics and signal processors and whatnot – but that is happening less frequently these days. Educational institutions are now the place where students learn both the formal science and art of recording, and that practical, real-world perspective. And we feel lucky that Audio-Technica places such a high level of importance on these programs as well.”
Smith continues, “In my classes, we compare microphone models and techniques with meticulous listening tests, and it’s great when a student can make a connection with a microphone. Our mic arsenal is deep and diverse, and Audio-Technica microphones continually impress the students. I have always loved them too. They are very consistent from mic to mic, with great quality control. I feel privileged to share microphones from Audio-Technica with tomorrow’s best engineers, who will be putting A-T mics to use for years to come.”
Posted by Keith Clark on 04/02 at 07:23 AM
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
In The Studio: A Comprehensive Look At Gates & Gating
An excerpt from the Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools by Roey Izhaki, available here.
Following compressors, gates are perhaps the second most common dynamic range processors in mixing. Gates are also called noise-gates – a name that implies their traditional usage as noise eliminators. In the past, tapes and analog equipment were the main contributors to added hiss.
Nowadays, digital technology tends to allow much cleaner recordings. Still, in project studios unwanted noise on a recording might be the outcome of ground-loops, a computer fan, or airborne traffic.
Noise, however, is not the only thing gates are employed to reduce. The rumble produced by the floor tom when the rest of the drum kit is played is often gated. The hi-hats spill on a snare track and the headphone spill on a vocal track are just two more examples.
In addition to their traditional role, gates are also used for more creative tasks, like tightening drums, adding punch or applying dynamic movement.
Inside a gate. The vertical chain shows the main side-chain stages, and the controls link to each stage.
Gates affect signals below the threshold – these are either attenuated or muted. Signals above the threshold pass through unaffected, unless some attack is applied.
A gate only cares whether the signal is above or below the threshold; a gate is said to be closed when the signal is below the threshold and open when the signal is above it.
Figure 1 illustrates the function of a gate on a snare. Threshold settings on a gate might seem straightforward – we set the threshold below the wanted signals and above the unwanted signals. In practice, this affair can be tricky since not always a certain threshold meets both criteria.
Figure 1: Gate threshold function.
For example, the snare in Figure 3 lost some of its attack and much of its decay. We could retain more of both by lowering the threshold, but this would cause false triggering by the hi-hats. Solutions for this common issue are discussed later on. In the meantime we should note:
Lower threshold settings on a gate are often sought after as they help in retaining more of the natural attack and decay. The original signal before gating involves a single snare hit and a few hi-hat spikes we wish to eliminate.
The threshold is set above the hi-hat peaks, so the gate would only open once the snare hits. The gate would close as the snare hit drops below the threshold. After gating, only the loud portion of the snare remains.
To allow quick gate opening once the signal exceeds the threshold, the level detection on most gates is based on peak-sensing.
Level fluctuations are more profound with peak-sensing than with RMS. While fluctuating in level, signals may cross the threshold in both directions many times over a short period of time. This causes rapid opening and closing of the gate, which produces a type of distortion called chattering (see Figure 4a).
One way to overcome this is by having two thresholds – one above which the gate opens, another below which the gate closes. Having two threshold controls would be cumbersome since adjustments to one will call for adjustments to the other. Instead of providing two controls, gates offer a single threshold and a control called hysteresis.
Figure 2 shows hysteresis control. (a) is a gate with single threshold and no hysteresis control. Chattering is introduced due to the rapid opening and closing of the gate, which are triggered by quick level changes. (b) is gate with hysteresis control. The gate only opens as the signal overshoots the opening threshold and only closes as the signal drops below the closing threshold. Level variations between the two thresholds do not cause toggling of the gate state, thus no chattering occurs.
Figure 2: Hysteresis control on a gate.
The threshold is the opening threshold, and the hysteresis determines how many dB below it the closing threshold is set. For example, with the threshold set to −20 dB and hysteresis to 5 dB, the closing threshold would pose at −25 dB. Figure 4b illustrates this.
Many gates do not offer hysteresis as an adjustable control, but have a built-in setting fixed between 4 and 10 dB. When hysteresis control is given, these figures provide a good starting point.
Range, or depth, defines the amount of gain applied on signals below the threshold. A range of −10 dB means that signals below the threshold are attenuated by 10 dB.
Often signals below the threshold are considered muted, although in practice this perceived muting is due to heavy attenuation with the typical range of −80 dB.
Figure 3 shows the transfer function of a gate. (a) is a gate with 0 dB range: both below and above the threshold the input–output ratio is at unity gain, and the gate would have no effect on the signal. (b) is gate with −20 dB range: all signals below the threshold are simply attenuated by 20 dB. For example, an input signal at −40 dB will leave the gate at −60 dB.
Figure 3:The transfer function of a gate.
Meanwhile, (c) is a gate with −80 dB range, which effectively mutes all the signals below the threshold. (d) shows again a −80 dB range, but with an extended output scale that reveals what happens below the limits of the standard scale. We can see clearer here that an input signal at −40 dB will leave the gate at −120 dB.
Figure 4 demonstrates the effect of different range settings. When the range is set to −5 dB, signals below the threshold are attenuated, but still heard. With large range, such as −80 dB, signals below the threshold become inaudible.
Figure 4: The range function of a gate.
The range value can be expressed in either positive or negative values. Depending on the manufacturer, a gain attenuation of 40 dB might be expressed with a range of 40 or −40 dB.
This book uses the negative notation. Small range denotes little effect (e.g., −5 dB), while large range denotes more effect (e.g., −80 dB). Generally speaking, large range settings are more common in mixing. However, sometimes it is only a gentle attenuation we’re after.
One example would be gating vocals to reduce breath noises between phrases – removing breaths altogether is often perceived as artificial, so these are often only attenuated. Another example involves reducing the room reverb captured on a recording.
Attack and Release
Attack controls how quickly the gate opens, release controls how quickly the gate closes.
For example, with the range set to −80 dB, a closed gate would apply −80 dB of gain on the input signal. The attack determines how quickly these −80 dB rise to 0 dB when the gate opens, while the release determines how quickly the gain returns to −80 dB when the gate closes.
The response times on a gate are normally set in milliseconds. Attack times usually span between 0.010 ms and 100 ms. Release times are often within the 5–3000 ms range.
Like with compressors, both the attack and release times determine the rate of gain change. For instance, a gate might define that response times are referenced to 10 dB of gain change. With attack of 1 ms and a range of −10 dB, it will take 1 ms for the gate to fully open; but with −80 dB of range, it will take the gate 8 ms to open.
The practical outcome of this is that the range affects the overall time it takes a gate to open and close – where appropriate, we can achieve faster attack and release times by dialing a smaller range.
In turn, this advocates smaller range settings than a gate might offer – on a busy mix, a range of −40 dB could suffice to make signals below the threshold inaudible. It’s worth noting that both the attack and release controls have an opposite effect on dynamic envelopes from compressors.
A longer attack on a gate means that less of the natural attack is retained, a longer release on a gate means that more of the natural decay is retained.
Figure 5 illustrates this on a gated snare. The top row shows different attack times with no release; the drop in gain reduction is shown as a triangle above the graphs. We can see that the longer the attack is the longer it takes gain reduction to drop and the less of the snare’s original attack is retained. Long attack setting causes gain reduction to drop so slowly that none of the signal is audible before the input drops below the threshold.
Figure 5: The effect of attack and release on a gated snare.
The bottom row shows different release times with no attack; the rise in gain reduction is shown as a triangle above the graphs. We can see that the longer the release is, the slower the gate reduces the signal once it falls below the threshold, so more of the natural decay is audible.
On a gate: longer attack, less of the natural attack; longer release, more of the natural decay. Very short attack and release times can cause audible clicks due to abrupt level changes.
A steep level rise produced by fast attack generates high frequencies, the shorter the attack the higher the frequency. The same applies for release, although the gate operation on the quiet signals below the threshold tends to be slightly less noticeable.
Depending on the gated signal, fast response times might also alter the low and mid frequencies, which essentially means that a gate can affect any part of the frequency spectrum – a side-effect we have to observe.
The attack setting has an extra weight when gating transients, especially those with low-frequency content like kicks. Most of the kick’s character is in its very first cycle, with most of the impact gearing up at the beginning of this cycle. A gate is most likely to reshape this important part of the waveform – either with a short attack that produces sharp level changes or with a longer attack that reshapes the waveform and withholds the kick impact.
One way or another, the kick’s tonality is very likely to change, with the lows, mids and highs all likely to suffer. Ideally, we would like the attack to retain the original shape of the signal’s waveform, which is often only possible with look-ahead (soon discussed).
Figure 6 illustrates this. The top track shows the original kick, and it is hard not to notice the dominant first cycle.
Figure 6: A gated kick. .
The middle track shows the kick after gating with the settings shown on the DigiRack expander/gate on the right. The attack was set as short as possible and the look-ahead was disabled. You can see the partial loss of initial impact and the steep level climb caused by the gate opening, which generates high frequencies.
The bottom track shows original kick after gating with the same settings, but with look-ahead enabled. You can see how the initial attack was not affected
Very short settings can also cause low-frequency distortion due to the gate operation within the cycles of a low-frequency waveform. Longer attack, release or hold can rectify this issue. In the case of percussive performance, we must consider how the release and hold settings, which affect the length of the sound, lock to the rhythmical feel of the track.
In addition, we want the gate to fully close before the next hit arrives, or successive hits will be gated differently (due to variety in gain reduction during the attack phase).
One issue with the principal operation of gates is that we often want short attack, so more of the signal above the threshold passes through, and short release, so the signal below the threshold is attenuated quickly. These typical short settings are more obstructive for the many reasons explained above.
We have to remember that in many cases the attack and release are applied on large-scale gain changes, with a range of −60 dB or more. Compressors, on the other hand, often work on 20 dB or so, and moreover, gain changes are not as steep due to the gradual development of the input signal.
A gate has no such softening mechanism – it is either open or closed, and there is often quite some gain involved in toggling between the two.
Not always short attack and release settings are appropriate though. Longer times are often used when the gated instrument has long natural attack and release, for example, a synthesized pad that rises and falls in a gradual fashion.
Short attack and release will simply trim the parts of the signal that ascend or descend below the threshold. Long settings will keep some gradual sense for both the natural attack and decay, and they might let us lower the threshold by a small extent. The reason for this is that false triggers will not be long enough to become audible.
For example, a long attack in Figure 1 would allow the threshold to be slightly below the hi-hat peaks. Although the top of each hit would trigger the gate opening, the slow attack would mean the gate will not fully open by the time the hit drops below the threshold, potentially leaving these hits inaudible.
Once the signal has dropped below the threshold, the hold time determines for how long the gate’s gain reduction is held unaltered.
For example, if 8 dB of gain reduction is applied as the signal undershoots the threshold, a hold period of 2 seconds would mean 2 seconds with 8 dB of gain reduction. Once the hold period is completed, the release phase starts. Gates typically offer a hold period between 0 and 5 seconds.
Hold often replaces release in the task of retaining the natural decay of an instrument. There are two reasons for this.
First, we can see from Figure 5 that quite a long release setting is needed in order to keep the natural decay. Such a long release is not always practical since it might not end before the next time the signal overshoots the threshold.
Second, having the release starting right as the signal drops below the threshold causes an escalated decay – the natural decay of a snare, for example, will be superimposed by the artificial descent caused by the release function.
Using hold instead of release lets us keep the fall rate of the natural decay. The hold time can be made to match the interval between two hits, while some release is still used in order for the gate to close without audible clicks.
Figure 7 shows the difference between release and hold. With release, the natural decay of the instrument is reshaped, which is not the case with hold. The short release after the hold period is applied to prevent clicks.
Figure 7: The difference between release and hold.
Hold can be used to retain the character of the natural decay. Like with compressors, longer hold periods can reduce low-frequency distortion.
Longer hold time can also reduce chattering, as the gate is held open while the signal rapidly leaps between the two sides of the threshold. In that sense, the hold facility provides a similar function to hysteresis, so when no hysteresis is offered, hold can be used instead.
In addition, hold might be used to compensate for any look-ahead time that might be in force. For instance, if look-ahead is set to 10 ms, the gate will start closing 10 ms before the signal drops below the threshold. Setting hold time of 10 ms will compensate for this early response.
This is perhaps the ultimate problem with gates: short attack results in clicks, long attack softens the natural attack and can even repress the beginning of words.
Lower threshold? Cannot be done or spill will open the gate. Filter the side chain? Done, helps a little. For this ultimate problem there is an ultimate solution: look-ahead.
As with a compressor, look-ahead lets the side chain examine the input signal slightly before processing takes place. This means that we can dial longer attack times, since the attack phase starts sooner. By the time the signal arrives to the gain stage, gain reduction has decreased to a degree that allows the leading edge of the signal to pass through the gate with no clicks or envelope reshaping.
The very same principle applies for release—since the release phase starts shortly before the treated signal drops below the threshold, we can dial longer release times. One of the prime benefits of look-ahead is that it allows longer attack and release times, which make the gate operation less obstructive.
A look-ahead function on an analog gate will introduce output delay. Software gates have no such issue, provided auto plugin delay compensation is active. We will soon see an extremely useful look-ahead trick that results in no delay with both analog and digital gates.
As with compressors, some gates let us equalize the side-chain signal that triggers the gating. A classic example for where this can be extremely handy is when gating a kick track in order to get rid of spillage like the hi-hats or snare. It goes without saying that both the hi-hats and snare have less energy on the lows than the kick.
So we can filter the highs and mids content from the side-chain, leaving mostly the low-level energy of the kick. In turn, this lets us lower the threshold, so more of the original kick attack can be retained.
Gates, just like compressors, let us feed an external signal into the side-chain. On a compressor, the external source input is called external side-chain.
On a gate, the same input is often called key input instead (to prevent confusion when a dynamic range processor offers both a compressor and a gate, and the side-chain of each can be fed from a different external source). We can feed the key input with either a similar signal to the one being gated or a different signal altogether.
In the case of the former, an example would involve a gate microphone – an additional microphone on a specific drum, which is later used in mixdown only to feed a gate’s key input.
A gate microphone has one role – capturing the drum with as little spill as possible. Thus, gate microphones (often dynamic/cardioid) are placed as close as possible to the drum skin and are not concerned with faithfully capturing the timbre of the drum.
When we gate a snare, we feed the snare microphone into the gate input and the snare’s gate-mic into the key input. This way, we can dial lower threshold, achieve more accurate gating and have more freedom with the different control settings.
Gate microphones aside, sometimes a specific track will benefit from being gated in respect to a similar track. For example, a kick-out track is better gated with respect to the kick-in microphone, which would normally capture less spill.
Figure 8 offers a look at gating kick-out with relation to kick-in. This illustration shows a recording setup, although we usually do this during mixdown with the recorded tracks. The kick-in track is likely to incorporate less spill than the kick-out. While gating the kick-out, feeding the kick-in to the gate’s key input is likely to provide more musical gating.
Figure 8: Gating kick-out with relation to kick-in.
Also, the sound arrives to the kick-in microphone slightly before it does to the kick-out microphone, providing a natural look-ahead. A gate-mic can replace the kick-in for other drums like the snare.
Although not often provided, the output level control offers a similar functionality to a compressor’s make-up gain – boosting or attenuating the entire signal by a set amount of dB.
The stereo link function on a gate is similar to that on a compressor. It ensures that both left and right channels are gated identically, so no image shifting occurs.
Some gates provide a gain reduction meter just like compressors. Some have two indicators – one lights up when the gate is open, one when the gate is closed. Some gates add an additional indicator that lights up during the attack, hold and release phases, when the gate is neither fully open nor fully closed.
Noise can be introduced onto a recording in many ways. Tape media, microphones, microphone preamps, any analog component or an A/D converter are just a few examples of systems that superimpose their own inherent noise on the signal.
When a recording is done in a domestic facility, background noise is also often an issue. Essentially, any signal that ever roamed the analog domain includes some noise. Even purely digital signals, e.g., a bass line generated with software instrument, can incorporate either quantization distortion or dither noise.
Luckily, modern technology enables cleaner recordings than in the past, so much of the noise on today’s recordings is inaudible. Generally speaking, if high-quality equipment is used, and used correctly, a gate for noise removal might not be needed at any stage of the mix. If, for example, the signal-to-noise ratio on a digital recording is 60 dB (noise level at −60 dBFS), chances are that the noise will not be a problem.
Even higher noise levels might not be an issue since in many cases the wanted signal masks it. Noise tends to be more noticeable with sparse arrangements and during the quiet sections of a production – in both cases there is less to mask it.
One thing worth considering is that noise can become more noticeable as the mix progresses. For example, after applying make-up gain on a compressor, the noise level would rise as well. Also, by boosting the highs of a specific track, the noise is likely to become more noticeable.
Even when the noise is audible, one must ask: what is wrong with a little bit of noise? Many people associate the synthetic sound of digital systems with the lack of noise and distortion.
In fact, some engineers deliberately add noise or distortion to a digitally clean recording in order to spell some of the familiar analog sensation. The noise in these cases might be similar to a tape hiss or even a crackling vinyl.
Nevertheless, other noises like those generated by hard drives or washing machines are a problem – they are unlikely to remind anyone of the familiar analog sound.
Some judgment has to be made as for what noise needs gating and what noise can tolerably stay.
Another point is that our ears find varying noise levels (breathing) more disturbing than constant noise levels. This fact is taken into account in many noise reduction systems.
We have to take this into account when gating a noisy track – varying noise level after gating might be more noticeable than the constant noise level before gating. Say for example we have a sparse arrangement with a noisy vocal track. The noise is likely to be masked or be less noticeable while the vocals are sung.
The challenge is to make sure that the gate opening and closing does not cause noticeable noise variations. For example, once vocal drops below the threshold and diminishes, a slow release can cause a noticeable descent in noise level. If the vocal is sent to a reverb emulator, this drop might be even more noticeable.
Much of today’s tracking is done in overdubs. Overdubs are less prone to spill, and mostly we deal with headphone leakage and the spill on the various drum tracks. Spill can bring about four main problems:
Impair separation: Ideally we want each track to represent a single instrument or drum (room-mics and overheads are obvious exceptions). A snare track that also contains the hi-hats would make it hard to separate the two.
For example, such a hybrid track would restrict independent panning of each drum and in turn can cause a smeared stereo image to at least one of them.
Comb filtering: The hi-hats on the snare track might not be phase-aligned with the hi-hats track or with the overheads.
When the snare is mixed with either track, combfiltering is likely to impair the timbre of the hi-hats and give it a hollow, metallic or phasing sound. Any instrument might suffer from loss of focus, impact or timbre coloration if its intended track is mixed with its own spill on another track.
Add dirt: Whenever an instrument is not playing, a spill on its track can produce unwanted sounds. Floor toms are notable at producing rumble when the rest of the kit is played. Headphone spill might add unwanted noise during quiet sections.
Interfere with processing: To give one example, a loud kick on a snare track might trigger compression and interfere with the snare compression. Brightening a tom track might also emphasize any hi-hats spill it includes.
This list suggests that spill should be removed whenever possible. It happens sometimes that after removing the spill, we find that bypassing the gate actually has a positive effect on the mix.
The various reasons for this are often unpredictable. Regardless, we must remove the spill first in order to learn whether its removal actually improves the mix. It is also worth remembering that processors added later in the mix, like compressors and equalizers, could also have an effect on this.
With this said, once the mix is in its final stages, it is worth trying to bypass spill gates, and see whether the mix changes for good or bad.
One of the main challenges with gating is keeping the timbre of the gated instrument. It was already mentioned that a lower threshold setting would help doing so. This task is made harder when the wanted signal and the spill are relatively close in levels, especially if they share the same frequency regions.
Snare and hi-hats, kick and toms are potentially problematic pairs, especially if spill was not considered during microphone selection and placement. We may employ any possible gate facility in order to improve our gating.
Side-chain equalization lets us attenuate the spill by attenuating its dominant frequencies, look-ahead lets us retain more of the natural attack, and hysteresis lets us keep more of the instruments’ natural decay. For extremely tricky gating tasks, it would be extremely beneficial to use at least one of these facilities, if not all of them.
One of the main challenges in gating is keeping the timbre of the instrument, mainly its natural attack and decay.
When gating drums, there is often a trade-off between the length of the natural decay and the amount of spill – the longer we retain the natural decay the more spill will escape gating. That spill is often made louder by a compressor succeeding the gate, and its instrument can become louder in the mix for short periods while the gate is open.
For example, the hi-hats spill on a snare track might make the hi-hats louder while the snare decays. One solution to this involves ducking the intended hi-hats track in an opposite fashion to the snare’s gating, so while the open gate adds some hi-hats spill, the actual hi-hats track is attenuated.
Another solution is decay reconstruction – the gate shortens much of the decay so no spill remains, and a reverb is employed to counterfeit the missing decay.
Reshaping dynamic envelopes
Just like compressors, gates are also employed to reshape the dynamic envelope of instruments, mainly of percussive ones.
We can say that a compressor operates on a transient (once it overshoots the threshold) and on what comes shortly after it (due to the release function).
A gate operates on both sides of the transient (essentially the signal portion below the threshold). Yet, a gate might also affect the transient itself due to the attack function.
A part of adding punch is achieved by shortening the length of percussive instruments. Typically, the natural decay that we try to shorten is below the threshold, which makes gates the favorite tool for the task.
It is a very old and common practice – you gate a percussive instrument, and with the gate release (and hold) you determine how punchy you want it. Just like with compressors, we must consider the rhythmical feel of the gating outcome.
As gates constrict the length of each hit, the overall result of gating percussive instruments tends to make them tighter in appearance.
Figure 9: Adding punch to a percussive instrument using a gate.
Figure 9 demonstrates this practice. The threshold is set to the base of the natural attack and the range is set moderate to large. The release together with hold will determine how quickly the natural decay is attenuated and in turn the overall length of the hit.
The range would normally be set moderate to large. The release and hold settings determine how quickly the natural attack is attenuated (with longer settings resulting in longer natural decay).
If we only want to soften the natural decay, not shortening it altogether, we can use smaller range settings. Gates are often employed to add punch to percussive instruments.
We can also accent the natural attack, accent transients, revive transients or recon-struct lost dynamics using a gate. This is normally done by setting the threshold some-where along the transient and dialing a very small range so everything below the threshold is mildly attenuated.
It is also possible to boost the output signal, so the transient is made louder than before, but everything below the threshold returns to its original level.
Figure 10: A gate emphasizing the attack of a snare.
Figure 10 illustrates this, showing a gate emphasizing the attack of a snare. The gate threshold is set halfway through the natural attack. After gating, both sides of the transient have been reduced in level, including the snare’s decay. If we boost the gate output, the material below the threshold returns to its original level, but the snare’s attack ends up louder in level compared to the signal before gating
It is worth noting that the threshold in Figure 10 was set higher than the base of the natural attack. Had the threshold been set lower than that, the gate operation would most likely alter the dynamic envelope of the snare in a drastic, unwanted way.
Figure 11 illustrates this, which essentially demonstrates why this specific application can be somewhat trickier to achieve with a gate than with a compressor. The figure shows a gate reshaping destructively the dynamic envelope of a snare. Due to the low threshold setting, the release function has altered the dynamic envelope in a drastic way, resulting in a new shape that does not resemble the input signal.
Figure 11: A gate reshaping destructively the dynamic envelope of a snare.
We said already that a gate’s attack and release functions tend to be more obstructive due to their typical short settings. While on a gate we would dial both fast attack and release for this application, on a compressor we would dial longer, less obstructive settings.
One outcome of this is that when gates are employed for this task, the results tend to be more jumpy than those of a compressor. For these reasons, the gate’s range is often kept as small as needed, and look-ahead is employed.
Roey Izhaki has been involved with mixing since 1992. He is an academic lecturer in the field of audio engineering and gives mixing seminars across Europe at various schools and exhibitions. Go here to purchase Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Radial Releases Solo & Duo Filler Panels For Its 500 Series Power Racks
Will fit all five Radial racks, along with others made to the 500 series specification
Radial Engineering has announced the availability of the Solo and Duo filler panels for its 500 series power racks.
The Radial Solo fits a single wide space while the Duo covers two slots. Both panels are made from 14-gauge steel and are painted in a black enamel. They will fit all five Radial racks, along with others made to the 500 series specification.
According to Radial Sales Manager Roc Bubel: “With more and more studios getting into the 500 series, folks have been asking us to provide filler panels to keep dust and dirt from finding its way in…while providing a measure of safety by closing up the front of the rack and keeping hands out! These will surely be a nice addition to any studio.”
The R700-9110 Solo retails for $13.50, and the R700-9111 Duo retails for $15.50. Both panels are currently shipping.
Audio-Technica Hosting Livestream “Ask Me Anything,” Mic Presentation Events At NAB 2014
15 Q&A sessions and educational presentations with audio experts
Following successful booth events at other recent trade shows, Audio-Technica is hosting 15 livestream events at its booth (number C1720) at the upcoming NAB 2014 show in Las Vegas.
The events will happen on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (April 7-9) during the show. In the morning, get answers to your questions during 30-minute, Q&A-style “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) forums. Then in the afternoon, attend the company’s educational mic presentations.
All sessions will be livestreamed at www.livestream.com (free registration) and viewable at http://www.audio-technica.com/NAB2014 during and after the show.
“Ask Me Anything” questions are fed to the presenters through a moderator during a 30-minute Q&A session. Questions can be submitted by individuals present at NAB booth C1720, online at Livestream.com, and via Twitter #ATliveNAB.
Monday, April 7
10 am—Ask Me Anything with Dennis Baxter, EMMY Award-winning sports and Olympic sound designer
11 am—Ask Me Anything with Michael Abbott, TV audio mixer & producer; work includes GRAMMY and CMA Award shows
1:30 pm— Mic Presentation with Fred Ginsburg, C.A.S. (Cinema Audio Society), “Rigging Lavalier Microphones for Film/Video Production”
2:30 pm— Mic Presentation with Robert Bigelow, audio mixer/sound editor for film and TV; recent projects include NCIS New Orleans, Star-Crossed and Treme, “Mid-Side/Stereo Miking Demystified”
3:30 pm—Mic Presentation with Dennis Baxter, “Sports Miking Techniques”
Tuesday, April 8
10 am—Ask Me Anything with Maureen Droney, senior executive director, The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing
11 am— Ask Me Anything with Lenise Bent, audio mixer/engineer & producer for music and film, including DreamWorks productions
1:30 pm—Mic Presentation with Fred Ginsburg, “Selection and Use of Boom Microphones”
2:30 pm—Mic Presentation with Robert Bigelow, “Recording Live Music for Broadcast”
3:30 pm—Mic Presentation with Fred Ginsburg, “When and How to Use Planted Microphones”
Wednesday, April 9
10 am—Ask Me Anything with Larry Estrin, audio technology innovator, founder of BEST Audio; work includes presidential debates, the Super Bowl, Olympics and Disney
11 am—Ask Me Anything with Robert Bigelow
1:30 pm—Mic Presentation with Steve Savanyu, “Microphone Techniques for Digital SLR Cameras”
2:30 pm—Mic Presentation with Fred Ginsburg, “Intro to Multi-track Location Dialog Recording”
3:30 pm—Mic Presentation with Fred Ginsburg, “Advanced Workflow for Multi-Track Location Dialog Recording”
Additional details are available at the Audio-Technica booth or at www.audio-technica.com/NAB2014. (Note: this schedule is subject to change; updates will be made on this link.)
In The Studio: Tips For Naming Pro Tools (And Other) Sessions
Steps that will allow you to "idiot-proof" your sessions as much as possible...
When working on a project, organization is going to be more important then you can ever imagine. It’s possible that in the life span of a project, it may end up being transferred several times.
For example: on the new Fife & Drom record, Introducing Fife & Drom, we did a fair amount of mobile recording.
I could have just kept the sessions on the master drive, but carting bulky hard drives around NYC can be a pain. So, I opted for a small portable USB drive. Which meant I would be creating copies of the sessions in several directions:
From my hard drive to the USB drive, from the USB drive to the mobile studio drive, from the mobile studio drive back to USB drive and lastly back onto my studio master drive.
Whew, that’s a lot of steps! If you’re not careful about naming the sessions you can find yourself looking at four versions of the same looking file.
Because of this potential for chaos. it’s great to have a labeling sstem. Not just any system either—a STRICT system!
If you’re too lax, you’ll find yourself making edits on the wrong file.This can be very frustrating and detract from the creativity that should be present in a session. It can also be a real time-suck. There is nothing fun about frantically sifting through eight versions of a song to find the proper drum edit. Pressure is on when the clock is running and the client is paying by the hour.
At The Library
It’s important to streamline the location of your files. Having multiple locations across your drives where folders exist with sessions is…well… A BAD IDEA.
An example: I may copy a session from my master drive to my USB drive. Since it’s a copy they both read as the same titles. If I have both of those drives hooked up to my computer it could easily get confusing which session I open and edit. Don’t keep your transport drives open while working.
But wait, before you do anything… Once the session is moved onto the USB drive or anywhere, open it, hit “save as” and rename it.
The basic rule I use for labeling is: song title, file location, and then version number. I save it as a new version number every day at the beginning of the session.
Example: I worked on a song called “Please, Please, Please” for the Fife & Drom record.
Day 1 would read: Please Please Please_home_1
Home refers to the file being located on our master drive.
Day 2 would read: Please Please Please_home_2
Now, if I move that to my USB drive, I’ll make a revision to the title to keep things clear. For the same song, we tracked strings at our friend Gene Back’s studio. In order to move the files, I did some labeling to prevent confusion.
My file name for the USB session would be: Please Please Please_USB_3
You’ll notice I not only added “USB” to the name but also the version # went up. This is important!
Having two versions ending with _02 is confusing. Even if one of them is on the USB drive.
Do The Evolution
There may be a time that you can’t remember which file has progressed further. Proper labeling will prevent that. In the file name you will not only see the location the files were moved to, but the progress.
When we took the drive over to Gene’s to track strings, we copied my USB file onto his system.
We immediately opened the session and saved as:
Please Please Please_gene_04
Again, notice the location AND version number change. After Gene put down a bed of lovely strings for us, we copied the session to our drive and labeled it:
Please Please Please_USB_05
When we got home, we transferred our session to our master drive before doing any work or editing. (That’s an important step!)
After opening, guess what we did?
Yup, we renamed it: Please Please Please_home_06
Yeah it may seem like overkill, but if you follow these steps you won’t be left scratching your head searching for a session.
When copying back and forth, I have a destination folder on each drive. Name the folder something obvious.
On my master (home) drive I have a folder labeled “Home Sessions.” On my USB drive, I have a folder named “USB Sessions.”
Proper labeling also comes in handy when switching between different DAWs.
I use Pro Tools, Logic and Ableton. Different tools for different jobs. It can get messy, though.
Say I’m working on a session brought to me in PT. I may want to open Logic and use a built-in software instrument. I export a bounce and open up Logic. We’ll use the song “Little Orphan Frannie”as an example.
If the PT session is labeled: Little Orphan Frannie_home_04
When I open it in Logic, I’ll label it: Little Orphan Frannie_home_05
Why? You’re working from a bounce and it’s not a full session, right? True, however it’s important to track the progress in the event you need to hunt something down. I always want to be looking at the current file no matter what program I’m in.
By the time I’m done with Logic and export the tracks to be imported back into PT, the PT session becomes the highest ranking file in version number.
The key here is to make it easy on yourself. These steps will allow you to idiot-proof your sessions as much as possible.
I claim no responsibility if you happen to be “testing out” a small batch rye whiskey prior to labeling. In this case, the only idiot-proofing that is effective is locking the control room door.
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.
Tech Tip Of The Day: Controlling Overhead Microphones
Getting the sound you want while avoiding the sound you don't...
Q: I’ve tried using overhead mics to add depth to my drum recordings, but all they do is make the recording sound washy. Any advice?
A: A well-placed room mic can certainly add depth and space to a recording, especially on drums. But sometimes a room mic ends up picking up too much of a particular instrument and drowning out the source you were hoping would benefit from the room mic.
A gate can be an effective tool for sculpting the room mic sound to emphasize a particular instrument. For example, a room mic can add snap to a snare drum that sometimes isn’t captured by a close mic, but the room mic also picks up the kick, toms, and cymbals.
To isolate the snare sound in the room mic recording, insert a gate on the room mic track and key the input to the snare track. The gate will only open when the snare is hit, effectively eliminating most of the room sound except the snap of the snare. Of course, you will lose any ambient sounds from the other parts of the kit, but if the end result is a huge snare sound, the trade-off may be worth it.
For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com
Posted by Keith Clark on 03/31 at 09:51 AM
Friday, March 28, 2014
Rob Papen Soundware Introduces BLUE-II
The newly introduced BLUE-II is bigger and better than its predecessor.
Virtual instrument and plug-in developer Rob Papen Soundware is proud to announce availability of BLUE-II — an all-new reworking of its BLUE soft synth for Mac (OS X 10.6 or higher) and PC (Windows Vista, 7, and 8).
First released in 2005, the original version of BLUE has stood the test of time remaining a software synthesizer favorite. When it was first released it already reflected Rob Papen’s creative and musical approach towards developing virtual instruments that stand out from the standard soft synth offerings.
By first delivering FM and subtractive synthesis — subsequently adding Phase Distortion and waveshaping synthesis — into the creatively combustible musical mix, BLUE was an immediate success. Rob Papen called it ‘Crossfusion synthesis’ since it covered so much musical ground so effectively.
The newly introduced BLUE-II is bigger and better than its predecessor. BLUE-II offers even more sound dimensions and features to its extended name, starting with six oscillators beating powerfully at its musical heart. These can be connected in various ways, together with two analogue-style modeled stereo filters with no fewer than 27 different filter types, an astounding range of processing and modulation options, serious sequencer, and an amazing arpeggiator.
A new range of specially selected waveforms based on samples have been meticulously fashioned for creating new-fashioned and killer-sounding synth sounds to die for!
But BLUE-II is also easy to use, thanks to its user-friendly user interface with an innovative Easy Edit page for speedy sound changes, while the Bank Manager allows whistle-stop navigation through thousands of inspirational presets and artist sound banks covering a wide range of musical styles.
All told, BLUE-II represents an upgrade to ‘Crossfusion synthesis’. By bringing blue sky thinking to virtual instruments, Rob Papen has succeeded in creating an original and immensely inspirational soft synth fit to follow in its predecessor’s fanciful footsteps.
BLUE-II can be purchased as a boxed version from authorized Rob Papen Soundware dealers worldwide for €149.00 EUR (including VAT/tax)/$179.00 USD or can be purchased and downloaded directly from Rob Papen online.
Upgrades are also available as follows: BLUE owners can upgrade to BLUE-II for €44.00 EUR/$49.00 USD, while eXplorer II bundle owners can upgrade to the still-to-be-released eXplorer III — which will include BLUE-II and also the upcoming Punch-BD virtual instrument — for €44.00 EUR/$49.00 USD. (eXplorer II owners can also request a ‘temporary’ BLUE-II serial number if planning to upgrade to eXplorer III when released, while anyone who purchased eXplorer II in 2014 will qualify for a free Explorer III upgrade and can also request a ‘temporary’ BLUE-II serial number.)
Rob Papen Soundware
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/28 at 08:38 AM
Thursday, March 27, 2014
New Endemol Sport Studios Back Studer Vista 5 Digital Consoles
The new Endemol Sport studios have been equipped with two 42-fader Studer Vista 5 digital mixing consoles as part of an innovative production design, involving three studios and three galleries on the same fiber backbone.
Situated at the MediArena in Amsterdam, the new Endemol Sport studios have been equipped with two 42-fader Harman Studer Vista 5 digital mixing consoles as part of an innovative production design, involving three studios and three galleries on the same fiber backbone.
The consoles were supplied by Heynen, Studer’s Dutch distributors, and installed by system integrator DutchView. These form the audio control of a sophisticated fit-out initiated by Eredivisie Media & Marketing to mark the start of the 2013-2014 Dutch football season.
Three new HD studios and production galleries, dedicated to match-day programming and highlights, have been built and equipped for this purpose.
The project’s primary objectives were to improve both the quality of content contribution across multiple platforms and the overall experience for viewers tuning in to the Fox Sports Eredivisie football pay-TV channels.
Undertaking the conceptual design and specification was a team comprising Victor Winkelhage (head of production Endemol Sport), Jinne Tania (consultant Fox/Eredivisie) and SjaakVreeburg (Resources Manager Endemol). It was Vreeburg who produced the tender document, and later acted as project manager for the construction of the studios.
The aim was to achieve an innovative mix of cutting-edge studio technology and IP-based platforms, with direct access from, and full integration between, technology and editing using Riedel MediorNet media networking.
“We can now handle three different live programes on three different channels, using one video/audio router for the three studios, one intercom system, Virtual studio manager and other software solutions,” said Vreeburg. “The workflow from EVS is directly streamed to the storage facility. We can start editing instantly on up to 12 sets for direct playback in the studio by IP-directory or file transfer to the Fox play-out facility and master control room in Hilversum.”
The conceptual difference of the sports studios is that the content sits right at the center—not only for TV but also for Internet streaming (and C-Cast) of mobile devices and tablets.
“This enables us to deal more with sport and less with technical issues,” Vreeburg added. “The combination of incoming lines and the connection to the Studer mixer and the intercom givers us so much more flexibility.”
The Studer solution was adopted on the recommendation of DutchView, supplier of technical facilities and crew, working with Dutch system integrator D&MS.
“We knew the quality and flexibility of Studer’s Vista series and were deliberating between the Vista 1 or Vista 5. Jinne and I visited the Integrated Systems Europe Show to satisfy questions about the MADI router, number of faders and stage boxes, Input/Output boards, de-embedding and routing. Niels [Mijnlieff, product specialist from distributors, Heynenbv] provided all the answers we needed and DutchView advised us to opt for the Vista 5 in view of the configuration required.”
The Studer platform was recommended for its audio quality, ease of setup, control and operation, the analog approach of the console and the experience DutchView has in working with the consoles.
“We have lots of trained audio engineers who are extremely familiar with Studer Vista consoles and operating systems,” stated DutchView’s Robert Reparon. “There is also the possible expansion of the system with additional Studer preamp stageboxes from our own stock.”
Although DutchView has historically been the house supplier for Endemol, and supplied the facilities for the Eredivisies Studio (Dutch Premier League League channel) it nevertheless had to participate in a 3-way tender process. Having nominated DutchView, Endemol and Fox then addressed the configuration details—namely to build three complete new studios (designated 4, 5, and 6) each with four cameras and LED lighting, while Studio 5 and 6 each have six projectors for background projection in the set.
The two Vista 5 consoles will mix programs in Studio 5 and 6, alongside Grass Valley vision mixers, Vizrt studio and match graphics.
Each Vista 5 is equipped with the SCore Live processor and accompanied by a 6U 19” Input Output Frame, with a Studer D21m 3U I/O Frame, each frame equipped with redundant power supply. This is populated with five SCore Live DSP boards; SCore Live Bridge board; Sync Generator board; GPIO Board; 12 Mic/Line inputs; 16 analog Line inputs; 24 analog Line outputs, eight digital AES/EBU inputs (stereo); eight digital AES/EBU outputs (stereo); MADI I/O board; threeMADI input/output board (Hub) optical with single mode fiber I/O; two HD board for link to DSP core; two 19’’ 1U Fan units and two 19’’ 1U air deflection panels; two19’’ 1U air deflection panels with cable feed-through; Serial Merger Card; Vista 5 System Software; and Configuration Editor software.
All the signals coming from the venues, the master control room and local play out servers are merged into MADI streams via a third-party audio router. Local studio audio sources (such as mics) are patchable directly to the Studer D21 I/O frame.
The configuration was undertaken by DutchView, whose senior engineers also provided operational training, while Heynen commissioned the systems. In addition, the systems integrator also provides two OB vans for covering four soccer matches during a weekend—both equipped with Vista consoles and D21 routing systems.
Summarized Robert Reparon, “All our audio engineers are very satisfied with the Vista setup in the studios. They feel comfortable during the shows and are confident with a system on which they rely.”
And SjaakVreeburg concluded, “There is no comparison between the present configuration and the situation before, with usage of all eight audio channels, the incoming lines, live studio production, commentary positions and playback from EVS via the excellent interface between Riedel and Studer. This has given us greater flexibility, speed, multitasking, fewer faults and a better operation/understanding between directors and audio technicians.”
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/27 at 01:55 PM
AES Releases Program And Event Details For 136th International Convention In Berlin
FREE "Exhibits-Plus" Badge and premium "All Access" Badges are now available for AES136 Berlin Convention
The Audio Engineering Society has just announced details on the Technical Program for the 136th Audio Engineering Society International Convention, being held in Berlin, Germany, on April 26 – 29, 2014, at the Estrel Hotel and Convention Center.
Offering a diverse range of engaging Tutorials, Workshops, Technical Papers, Engineering Briefs, and industry Exhibits spread over four days, AES136 will also see the European debut of the Project Studio Expo (PSE), as well as special events and presentations featuring leading engineers, producers and luminaries of the audio industry.
Additional information on programs, presenters, and registration is available online at the AES136 Convention web page.
AES136 will feature over 25 Engineering Briefs covering diverse topics of audio engineering, including presentations such as: Remixing a Historic Film in HOA 3-D Audio; New Studio Strategies in Music Production — The Disappearing Gap between Engineer and Producer; An Approach to Bass Enhancement in Portable Computers Employing Smart Virtual Bass Synthesis Algorithms; Metadata, Tagging; and Multitrack: The Future of Music Formatting, among others.
As the chief goal of the Audio Engineering Society, audio research and applied techniques remain the top priority at the Berlin Convention, which will feature over 75 paper presentations within the topics of Recording, Audio Education, Signal Processing, Room Acoustics, Applications in Audio, Perception, Spatial Audio, Transducers, Network Audio and Forensics.
Project Studio Expo
The Project Studio Expo, a well-attended hit of recent AES Conventions, offers a venue for specialized discussions on some of the most timely and relevant areas of interest facing today’s recordist. These comprehensive presentations cover topics of note for engineers (whether in a home studio or top commercial facility), such as Basic Microphone Technology; Professional Mixes from Your Project Studio – Common Mistakes, Immediate Solutions; Electronic Dance Music: Live Performance Mixing Techniques; The Business of Being in the Music Business; How Did They Get that Sound?; Advanced Vocal Editing; Mastering Engineering – The Link to Your Audience; and more. Hosted by notable industry engineers, educators, journalists and sponsors, the Project Studio Expo offers a unique, new opportunity for attendees to interact with working industry professionals and to further their knowledge in order to get the most out of their recording experiences. Admission is included with both free “Exhibits-Plus” and premium “All Access” registration options.
A selection of in-depth Tutorials will also take place over the convention’s four days, offering analysis of topics including Tuning Your Studio – Acoustic Analysis of Small Rooms for Music; Dither and Noise Shaping in Digital Audio: Hows and Whys; Audio Forensics — What’s It All About; and The Drum Kit: What a Recordist Ought to Know.
Another popular series of events is the audio Workshops that focus on areas of creative and technical applications and concerns. This year’s Workshops will include, among others, Practical Techniques for Recording Ambience in Surround; Speech Intelligibility; Myth-Busting Microphone Specifications; Applications for Object-Based Audio; and Implementing New Cinema Calibration Standards.
136th Audio Engineering Society International Convention
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/27 at 09:22 AM
Veteran Mix Engineer Tony Maserati Relies On Metric Halo
Veteran mix engineer Tony Maserati utilizes Metric Halo ChannelStrip, HaloVerb, and Multiband Dynamics plug-ins
Veteran mix engineer Tony Maserati has worked with all of the music industry’s biggest and brightest stars, from Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera to Notorious B.I.G. Puff Daddy, and R. Kelly.
The in-demand engineer works with the very best in pro audio equipment for his sessions, both in terms of sound quality and performance, which is why he relies on Metric Halo Labs ChannelStrip, HaloVerb, and Multiband Dynamics plug-ins.
Maserati likes their stellar sound quality, easy and quick interfaces, and rock solid performance.
“The sound quality of Metric Halo’s classic plug-in, ChannelStrip, is what first caught my attention and made me aware of the company,” Maserati said. “I often see ChannelStrip on the sessions I get handed; in fact, several of Beyoncé’s tracks came in with it.
“ChannelStrip is still my go-to plug-in for routine and extreme equalization and dynamics. There’s something psychologically appealing about having six EQ bands at the ready, and the presets get me where I need to be quickly.”
The quality of a plug-in’s interface is very important to Maserati because he has to move fast.
“I don’t have the time or patience to sit around and figure things out,” he said. “Metric Halo’s GUIs are intuitive to understand, and the automation is simple and easy to work with. HaloVerb is a good example of a plug-in that sounds great and is easy to dig into with great results.”
While paying careful attention to the density of his reverb plug-ins and outboard gear, including the delicacy of the tail, Maserati’s busy schedule also demands a very functional interface.
He has used HaloVerb on guitars, vocals, and percussion to great effect. One of his new tricks is to run a dry signal through HaloVerb and then send HaloVerb’s output into a distortion box.
“The stress of that sound is really interesting to me,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll automate the send so that I get that stress only on certain notes. It’s great.”
Maserati also has to pay careful attention to the load he puts on his Pro Tools system.
“Pop sessions get really gigantic,” he said. “They come in with a lot of plug-ins, I add a lot of plug-ins, and I’m also using 32 hardware inserts and two print tracks; one that’s maximized and one that’s not. It’s not just a storage system, and it’s not just an automation system. I’m taxing it, and a lot of math is happening!”
These days, he’s using an HD native card, and the fact that all of Metric Halo’s plug-ins are AAX works well.
“My plug-ins have to be totally solid,” he said. “The code has to be well-written; if something’s broken, I just won’t go near it. Metric Halo has a long history of solid performance that uses surprisingly little DSP resources.
“A testament to Metric Halo’s stability is the fact that I’m now using Metric Halo’s Multiband Dynamics plug-in on my mix bus. That’s unusual for me, and I wouldn’t do that if I wasn’t completely confident.”
Metric Halo Labs
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/27 at 08:58 AM
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
In The Studio: Don’t Record Acoustic Guitars Direct
There’s just no way around it -- in one person's opinion, at least, it will always and forever sound fake...
I listen to a lot of recordings, and one mistake that I find very often in a beginner’s recording is that they don’t record acoustic guitars with microphones.
Now, this is certainly my opinion, but I feel that acoustic guitar was meant to be recorded with a microphone. The direct sound of an acoustic guitar just never sounds good to me.
I am an acoustic guitar player, so I’m certainly biased, and there are certainly situations where it makes sense to go direct for an effect. However, when I record acoustic guitars, I always, always, ALWAYS use a microphone.
What are a couple of reasons why I don’t record acoustic guitar direct? I’ll give you two and a tip:
1. It sounds fake.
There’s just no way around it. Even if you have a very good pickup system that costs you hundreds of dollars, it’s still going to sound like a direct acoustic guitar. There’s just no way around it. It will always and forever sound fake.
Now, that’s not necessarily wrong, but for me, when I hear that in a mix, I immediately can listen to nothing else but that direct acoustic guitar sound. It just bothers me and I don’t like it.
2. A real guitar with a microphone will always sound better.
You may think that you don’t have a good enough microphone or a good enough preamp or a good enough guitar to justify recording it with a microphone, but I can almost guarantee that if you just try and spend some time using a microphone on that guitar, you’ll find a certain combination of mic placement and microphone choice to make it sound amazing.
And if not amazing, you can at least make it sound better than the direct signal.
Tip: Try a dynamic microphone.
A lot of people tell me that the reason they don’t record their guitar with a microphone is because their studio is noisy or it’s not acoustically treated, or there’s a lot of extra noise in the house or outside that keeps them from recording with a nice condenser microphone.
Condenser microphones are great, but they are sensitive and they tend to hear everything.
Using a dynamic microphone might be your solution. Dynamic mics don’t have nearly the detail of a condenser and they can pick up just the sound that you want without picking up a lot of extra noise.
They tend to be a bit darker, and they’re not as bright as a condenser, but I would still take a dynamic mic on an acoustic guitar over the direct sound.
Joe Gilder is a Nashville-based engineer, musician, and producer who also provides training and advice at the Home Studio Corner.Note that Joe also offers highly effective training courses, including Understanding Compression and Understanding EQ.
Positive Grid Launches Final Touch Complete Mastering System For iPad
Final Touch combines seven powerful mastering processors into one integrated app. It offers a balanced, polished and professional sound that exhibit the overshoot response of classic analog hardware.
Positive Grid proudly announces the release of Final Touch - Complete Mastering System for iPad, a professional mastering suite that combines nuanced techniques of mastering with Positive Grid’s expertise on mobile design, offering mastering control, precision and flexibility.
“Final Touch allows musicians, producers and engineers to master audio recording with the industry’s standards: maximizer, pre and post equalizer, multiband dynamics, stereo imaging, reverb and dithering controls are all just one finger tap away”, says Positive Grid Marketing Manager Jaime Ruchman.
“And now they will be able to continue their mastering sessions literally anywhere, with the same sound quality as a top notch professional mastering studio, enhancing productivity to its maximum.”
Final Touch combines seven essential mastering tools into one integrated system, the Pre and Post linear phase EQ modules consist of eight independent bands, each providing a choice of five different types of parametric filters: Hi-Pass, Low-Shelf, Peak, Hi-Shelf and Low-Pass.
The Dynamics module offers a highly flexible stereo/mid-side multiband compressor/limiter. The Stereo Imaging module adjusts the width of your mix, corrects L/R channel imbalances and checks mono compatibility.
The Reverb module offers flattering room, hall and plate algorithms to sweeten overly dry mixes, providing continuously variable controls for independently adjusting Pre-Delay, Decay Time, Early Reflections and Room Size. The Maximizer module limits peaks and raises the average level of your mix, thereby increasing loudness. Comprehensive dither and noise-shaping options are also provided in this module.
Once your master is perfectly dialed, a couple taps are all it takes to share it via email, Dropbox, iTunes and SoundCloud.
“A great mastering app,” says Rafa Sardina, 12-time GRAMMY award winning producer and engineer, whose credits include Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and more.
“Solid, accurate and accessible,” adds German Villacorta, mastering engineer and owner of Dynamic Wave Studios, whose credits include Ozzy Osbourne, The Rolling Stones, Rage Against The Machine, and more.
“Finally the professional mastering app for iPad I have been waiting for! With a clear and intuitive interface, streamlined workflow, powerful effects, and full cloud support this app makes professional mobile mastering a reality!” explains Andrea Pejrolo, Assistant Chair of the Production Department at Berklee College of Music.
“I’m really digging the open top end of the EQ section and how the Maximizer is glueing this mix together. This is a flexible, very cool audio app for modern musicians on the go,” concludes Enrique Gonzalez Muller, GRAMMY award winning producer and engineer, whose credits include Nine Inch Nails, Dave Matthews Band, Tina Turner, and more.
Final Touch retails for $19.99 and is immediately available for download at the iTunes App Store. Designed for iOS7, the app requires an iPad 2 or newer to operate.
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/25 at 04:17 PM
beyerdynamic Headphones Handle 40 Bands Recording At Good Danny’s During SXSW
beyerdynamic provided 20 pairs of Custom Studio headphones for the five-day recording gig.
Located a short walk from the heart of downtown East Austin is a 1600 square foot recording studio known as Good Danny’s.
Good would seem to be an understatement given that the studio and its engineer/producer, Danny Reisch, have been honored as Austin’s best recording studio by his peers at the Austin Music Industry Awards.
Every year during the five-day SXSW music festival 40 bands invade Good Danny’s, courtesy of the Daytrotter Music Service. That’s eight bands; recording two to three live tracks per day, in 45-minute segments every day.
Because some recording set ups can use as many as 40 microphones, to say nothing of all the gear musicians normally travel with, the entire scenario can be a bit of a nightmare for your average recording engineer.
One thing the staff at Danny’s doesn’t have to concern themselves with is their beyerdynamic microphones and headphones.
This year beyer brought in 20 pairs of the new Custom Studio headphones for the Day Trotter series at Danny’s. Because the new Custom Studio headphones from beyer have a four setting adjustment feature specifically designed for a variety of musician’s tastes – they were perfect for the variety of musicians that would be using them.
“One thing I really like about these new phones is the adjustable bass ports, which allows you to smooth out the excessive bottom end,” adds Reisch. “I mean for a Bassist or a drummer its great; they want that big low end. But for a vocalist it can be distracting, they can’t hear themselves the way they want to. The settings right on the headphone fix that instantly.”
An open headphone is often used for mixing due to its inherently flat tuning. The Custom Sound Slider allows for fully closed, fully open and two additional voicing’s in-between.
As Reisch explains: “These headphones are way tougher and can handle a lot more low end, plus they are more comfortable, they have the DT 770 style ear cup. It’s a huge step up in low end and they can really handle signal-you can drive them hard and they can take it.”
“The Custom Studio is literally four headphones in one,” says David Hetrick, American Music & Sound’s beyerdynamic rep at SXSW. “Additionally, the removable coiled cable can be replaced with flat, straight and even iPhone remote cables. The Custom Studio also includes a handy travel bag. “
“The Custom Studio headphones are a perfect match for many different recording situations. Especially since they can be self adjusted on the fly, saving the engineer’s valuable studio time.” he adds.
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/25 at 03:53 PM
Monday, March 24, 2014
Audio-Technica Offers Online Video Series Exploring Mic Techniques In Real-World Applications
Videos illustrate various tips and tricks for using mics
Audio-Technica has posted the first videos in a new series exploring different aspects of microphone technique, placement and more.
Utilizing some of A-T’s most popular products – including 40 Series, Artist Elite, 20 Series and others – the videos illustrate various tips and tricks for using mics in real-world applications.
The first videos focus on recording basics (11 videos, including vocals, guitar and percussion), and drum miking techniques (11 videos) and can be viewed in two playlists on Audio-Technica’s YouTube channel. More videos will be posted covering other topics in the future.
Gary Boss, Audio-Technica marketing director, states, “Audio-Technica wanted to create a series of miking videos that focus on real-world applications of some of our most popular products. We started with recording basics and drum miking techniques. You don’t need to be a beginner to learn something from the ‘basics’ videos – there’s something there for all skill levels.
“And as a drummer myself, I know how difficult it can be to master proper drum miking technique,” he continues, “so it was a natural to explore that topic with its own series of videos. We look forward to creating more content along these lines in the future, so stay tuned to our YouTube channel.”
Here’s one of the new videos, and you can find the rest here.