Thursday, June 27, 2013
Manley Labs Names TechRep Marketing For South And Midwest
Manley sees this as first step in growing the nationwide sales force
Manley Labs announced that they have signed TechRep Marketing to sell Manley products.
TechRep Marketing is a pro audio manufacturers’ rep firm serving music stores and sound contractors in territories covering sections of the midwest and southeastern United States—13 states in total.
“When I joined Manley this spring, one of my objectives was to expand the sales force and Techrep was the obvious first choice,” commented Rick McClendon, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Manley Labs. “I’ve known Jeff Mac and Ted Bahas for many years and their firm has an unrivaled reputation for selling the best products and providing unequaled product knowledge and service.
“We’re glad to have them represent us and know they will be an integral part of Manley’s future growth.”
“With close to three decades of success in the US pro-audio marketplace, Manley has never compromised quality or excellence,” said Jeff Mac, President of Techrep Marketing. “We look forward to building on that practice and hope to further spread their philosophy regarding high-end audio gear by bringing it to a wider consumer base.”
Posted by Julie Clark on 06/27 at 10:25 AM
Symetrix Names Mary Marshall CEO
Symetrix announces the appointment of Mary Marshall to the position of CEO.
Symetrix announces the appointment of Mary Marshall to the position of CEO.
Marshall has worked in an advisory role with Symetrix for many years and has been an integral part of the management team. As CEO she will be able to bring her experience as a leader and strategic driver to the forefront of the Symetrix story.
Marshall’s experience includes growing companies from the ground up, owning and operating multiple businesses, orchestrating corporate financial planning, and designing and executing business development strategies.
Recently, Marshall ran the U.S. Western Division of Vistage International, running business development programs, leadership development programs, and working with hundreds of companies and their leaders through Visage’s network of partners.
“Symetrix is perfectly positioned to move to the next level with our strong product line and the most dynamic team in the industry. After decades of building our brand we are excited to include Mary’s successful track record as a change agent and a builder of companies,” said Dane Butcher, Symetrix Chairman.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
In The Studio: Recording The Bass Amp
Many times miking a bass amp is completely overlooked
Today everyone is conditioned to go direct with the bass guitar that many times miking a bass amp is completely overlooked.
That’s too bad because it can bring something to the track that you just can’t get any other way.
Here’s an excerpt from my Audio Recording Basic Training book that provides an exercise for bass amp miking.
Back in the 60s and 70s, the way engineers recorded the electric bass was by miking the bass amp. As direct boxes became more and more available, the trend eventually swung the other way, with most bass recording done direct.
Today it’s very common to record a bass using a combination of both an amp and direct, which provides the best of both worlds. While the bass will sound full and warm with a direct box, the amp can add just enough edge to help the bass punch through a mix.
When using a direct box, be aware that they’re not all created equal in that some will not give you the low fundamental of the bass that you expect when recording this way.
Active DIs do a better job at this than passive, although some passive boxes (like the ones made by Radial) do an excellent job because of the large Jensen transformer used in the circuit.
Depending on the sound that fits the track best, mix the amp track with a DI track. The sound will change substantially depending upon the balance of the DI and miked amplifier.
ALWAYS check the phase relationship between the amp and DI to make sure there’s no cancellation of the low end. Flip the polarity switch to the position that has the most bottom. Also remember that there’s no rule that says that you have to use both tracks, so don’t hesitate to use just a single track if it sounds best in the mix.
Miking The Bass Amp
A) Listen closely to the amp as the bass player plays. If there are multiple speakers, find the one that sounds the best.
B) Place a large diaphragm dynamic mic like (AKG) D-112, (Electro-Voice) RE20 or (Shure) Beta 52 a little off-center and a couple of inches away from a cone of the best sounding speaker in the bass cabinet.
C) Move the mic across the cone. Is there a spot where it sounds particularly good? Keep the mic at that spot. Is the sound balanced frequency response-wise? Can you hear any of the room reflections?
D) Move the mic towards the end of the cone? Is there more low end? Is it more distinct sounding?
E) Move the mic towards the center of the speaker? Is there more low end? Is it more distinct sounding?
F) Move the mic about a feet away from the speaker. Is there more low end? Is it more distinct sounding?
G) Move the mic about 2 feet away from the speaker. Is there more low end? Is it more distinct sounding? Can you hear more of the room? Does it work with the rest of the instruments?
H) Raise the cabinet about a foot off the floor. Is there more low end? Is it more distinct sounding?
I) Place the mic where it gives you the best balance of body and definition, and balance between the direct and ambient room sound.
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.
Cubase Elements 7 Now Available
Steinberg releases Cubase Elements 7, the entry-level music production system for sound recording, editing and mixing, with many new features and enhancements that greatly expand on proven Cubase functionality
Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH has released Cubase Elements 7, the newest addition to the Cubase 7 line-up. Cubase Elements 7 is feature-rich, moderately priced music production software that throws open the doors to the world of Cubase.
“Cubase Elements 7 is the choice for aspiring producers and musicians looking for a complete package which doesn’t break the bank while offering a whole lot of features right out of the box,” said Carlos Mendoza Rohde, product marketing manager at Steinberg.
After unveiling Cubase 7 and Cubase Artist 7 at the end of last year, Cubase Elements 7 now completes the latest Cubase range, offering new sounds, new effects and many other features that easily turn any Mac or Windows computer into a music production system.
The new mixing facilities feature the MixConsole including scalability plus uncompromising 192 kHz audio quality and routing flexibility. The newly developed channel strip comes with high and low-pass filters, noise gate, four-band EQ with spectrum analyzer, three compressors, Envelope Shaper, tape and tube saturation as well as brickwall limiter and maximizer modules. The Channel Settings window is redesigned to provide easy access to all channel parameters, including metering and routing assignments. The Remote Control Editor facilitates customized mapping of plug-in parameters to external controllers.
Musical highlights in Cubase Elements 7 include Chord Track, dedicated to providing chord and scale information to the project. All MIDI tracks can automatically follow any harmonic adjustments made in Chord Track in real time. Hermode tuning provides pristine tuning when compared to traditional tunings, while remaining aligned with well-tempered scales. The VST Amp Rack guitar tone suite has been added as well and features seven different amp models, 16 stomp boxes and a collection of 73 signature presets. The three-band DJ-EQ and MorphFilter provide great filter effects and smooth transitions.
More features and enhancements focus around the performance of Cubase. ASIO-Guard improves stability and prevents data dropouts, while the-start mode disables user preferences temporarily. Finding effects and instruments is expedited through the keyword-oriented search engine. MemZap stores positions and zoom factors within the project at any particular time. Easy Audio Driver Setup assistance is provided to users connecting Cubase Elements 7 with audio hardware. The Steinberg Hub comprises an enhanced Project Assistant plus additional information services, such as news and a regularly updated list of video tutorials. ReWire 64-bit compatibility, SoundCloud connectivity, FLAC compression and over two hours of high-definition online video tutorials round out the outstanding feature set in Cubase Elements 7.
Availability and pricing
The full retail version of Cubase Elements 7 is available through authorized Steinberg resellers and the Steinberg Online Shop. The suggested retail price is $99.99.
The Cubase Elements 7 update from Cubase Elements 6 is available through authorized Steinberg resellers and the Steinberg Online Shop. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $130.99.
Customers who purchased a copy of Cubase Elements 6 from April 15, 2013, are entitled to the free Grace Period update to Cubase Elements 7.
Features at a glance
• Supports 64 MIDI and 48 simultaneous audio tracks with up to 24-bit/192 kHz
• Award-winning 32-bit floating-point Steinberg audio engine with flexible routing and fully automatic delay compensation
• Includes outstanding instruments: HALion Sonic SE workstation, MPC-style Groove Agent ONE drum machine, Prologue synthesizer
• Comes ready with 44 audio effects, including Pitch Correct for vocal intonation correction, MorphFilter and the extraordinary VST Amp Rack guitar tone suite.
• All-new MixConsole provides the stellar mixing experience with full flexibility and integrated EQ/Dynamics channel strip modules for epic pro-console sound
• Chord Track for easy chord management and re-harmonizing within project context
• Real-time pitch-shifting and time-stretching
• Project Assistant with dozens of common templates
• 2 hours of online HD video tutorials
• Cross-platform 32-/64-bit for Windows and OS X Intel
Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH
Posted by Julie Clark on 06/25 at 12:51 PM
Monday, June 24, 2013
API 1608 Ventures Into The Canadian North
An API 1608 console found its home in an interesting place in the far north when singer-songwriter Florent Vollant updated his studio.
A 32-channel API 1608 console found its home in an interesting place in the far north when singer-songwriter Florent Vollant updated his studio.
Established in 1997, Vollant’s Studio Makusham is located in Mani-Utenam, Quebec, Canada, a part of the Innu Reserve, where over 3,000 indigenous people reside.
Florent Vollant’s music history runs deep. He has released three albums in his Innu-language and is well-known in the Inuit community. His Christmas album, Nipaiamianan, received a blessing from Pope John Paul II and the Juno Award for Aboriginal Recording of the Year in 2001.
Throughout the years, Studio Makusham was very interested in API gear and finally, in December 2012, they made a major upgrade to the facility, acquiring an automated 1608 console through API’s dealer Studio Economik in Montréal.
“The Makusham home – it is the traditional dance, this is a gathering, a feast, a celebration of the rhythms Teuaikan,” said Vollant. “I am pleased to invite you to this place of creation to live an experience of freedom, sharing, exchange and respect for the music of the world.”
The first endeavor on the console was Vollant’s upcoming album, but the 1608 has also lent its capabilities to Quebec recording artists such as Richard Seguin and many others.
“The sound is very pleasant and surprising and the build quality is undeniable,” said Volant. “Thanks to Marc-Andre at Studio Economik for consulting on the deal. We are extremely happy customers!”
Posted by Julie Clark on 06/24 at 02:32 PM
Friday, June 21, 2013
Avid Announces Availability of Pro Tools 11; Now Shipping
Redesigned audio and video engines, 64-bit architecture, expanded metering, and more
New Avid Pro Tools 11 is now shipping. Pro Tools 11 offers a major upgrade of Avid’s digital audio workstation that provides users with new, high-powered audio and video engines, 64-bit architecture, expanded metering, and direct HD video workflows.
“Pro Tools 11 represents a quantum leap in creative power,” states Chris Gahagan, senior vice president of products and services at Avid. “The newly designed architecture turbo-charges production with more plug-in processing, the ability to run more virtual instruments—and a host of new features—letting users create ambitiously, without holding anything back.”
Key benefits and features of Pro Tools 11 include:
Redesigned Audio Engine & 64-Bit Architecture
New Avid audio engine — Delivers multiple times the processing power of Pro Tools 10 on the same hardware configurations.
64-bit architecture — Exponentially increases the number of simultaneous virtual instruments and the performance to handle the most sophisticated sessions.
Offline bounce — Delivers mixes up to 150 times faster than real time.
Low-latency input buffer — Ensures ultra-low latency record monitoring without sacrificing plug-in performance.
Dynamic host processing — Maximizes plug-in count by reallocating processing resources as needed.
Extended standards support — Features a broad range of built-in metering standards, from peak and average to VU and PPM, to maintain adherence to regional broadcast requirements.
Gain reduction — Shows gain reduction for all dynamics plug-ins on each channel.
Direct HD Video Workflows
Built-in Avid video engine — Enables audio post professionals to play and edit a wide range of HD video formats including Avid DNxHD, directly in the Pro Tools timeline without transcoding, using the same core engine as in Media Composer.
Video interface support — Enables monitoring of DNxHD and QuickTime media through Avid Nitris DX, Avid Mojo DX, and other video interfaces.
“In the world of professional mixing, I constantly need more processing power, and the extra power in Pro Tools 11 is exactly what I need,” says Tim Palmer, mixer and engineer for U2, Robert Plant, Ozzy Osbourne, The Cure, and INXS. “I love the new metering and the new sends view is excellent. It is really impressive. Pro Tools 11 is a big leap forward.”
Pro Tools 11 and Pro Tools HD 11 are available in the online Avid Store and at Avid resellers worldwide. For more information, click here.
Pro Tools 11 software (full version)— $699 USD
Pro Tools 10 to 11 upgrade— $299 USD
Pro Tools 9 to 11 upgrade— $399 USD
Pro Tools Express to Pro Tools 11 cross grade— $499 USD
Pro Tools HD 10 to 11 upgrade— $599 USD
Pro Tools HD 9 to 11 upgrade— $999 USD
DPA Helps LazyTown Make Entertainment That Inspires
Award-winning children’s TV programme LazyTown is using DPA miniature microphones to capture the show’s dialogue.
LazyTown Entertainment in Iceland is using DPA miniature microphones to capture the audio for the multi-award winning LazyTown pre-school television show, which is now shooting its fourth series in Iceland.
LazyTown is a leading and highly respected children’s entertainment brand comprising an award-winning TV series, live stage shows, sports events, publishing, and more.
The LazyTown concept is entertainment for children and the whole family, dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle in a fun and engaging way.
The TV show has become an international success since it was first launched in 2004 and has been broadcast in over 170 countries, reaching over 500 million homes and dubbed in over 30 languages.
LazyTown’s sound supervisor, Gunnar Arnason, who also owns a recording and post production company called Upptekid, is responsible for selecting all of the audio equipment used by LazyTown Entertainment at its state of the art studio in Gardabaer, Iceland.
“My task is to create the entire audio workflow for each LazyTown series, from studio recording through to the final sound mixes,” he explains. “Over the past two years we have relied on DPA microphones for dialogue recording, using them on the live actors and also to record the puppeteers.
“We chose DPA microphones because they have an excellent signal to noise ratio and because they are extremely well-built, which means that they last a long time and are very durable.”
DPA’s Icelandic distributor Exton has supplied LazyTown Entertainment with 12 DPA 4061 miniature microphones.
“The puppeteers have the miniature microphones mounted in sweatbands on their foreheads, while the live actors have them hidden in their clothes,” Arnason explains. “This works well, especially for the puppeteers who have to work with their hands above their heads, so they need a microphone that will stay firmly in place and won’t get knocked when they move around.
“Also, when the microphone is tight on the forehead you get some resonance from the skull, which makes the sound even better.”
Currently shooting its fourth series, LazyTown is an Icelandic production with an international cast from Iceland, the UK, and the USA. The series was created by former aerobics champion Magnus Scheving, who also plays the lead character Sportacus in the show, to motivate children to get active and make healthy lifestyle choices.
Cleverly mixing live characters, puppets and CGI, LazyTown creates engaging storylines that have a healthy message – delivering entertainment that inspires, and raising the bar for children’s television.
Scrub Supplies Molinare With Avid Console & Pro Tools Upgrades
Scrub, a division of HHB, has supplied Molinare’s Film and TV Post Production facilities with a 32-Fader Avid S5 Fusion Control Surface and Pro Tools upgrades for its newly revamped Dubbing Theatre A in Soho, London.
Scrub, a division of HHB Communications, has supplied Molinare’s Film and TV Post Production facilities with a 32-Fader Avid S5 Fusion Control Surface and Pro Tools upgrades for its newly revamped Dubbing Theatre A in Soho, London.
The refurbishment of Molinare’s Dubbing Theatre A makes it Soho’s only audio post production facility to offer a Pro Tools-based Euphonix DSP system. In addition to the S5 control surface, the theatre has been upgraded to Avid’s powerful Pro Tools HDX and version 10 software.
The Dolby-approved theatre now features a JBL Screen Array Surround Sound System, also supplied by Scrub. Molinare’s Dubbing Theatre B has been equipped with an upgrade to Pro Tools HDX and an identical JBL surround system.
Scrub sales and technical staff worked closely with Molinare General Manager – Technology Richard Wilding to specify the new Pro Tools infrastructure and the surround sound systems. They played an integral role in the project by configuring and testing the S5-Fusion Control Surface and Pro Tools systems at their HQ before installing them onsite with system design and installation specialist Absolute CAD.
Richard Wilding commented: “From the initial planning advice, through sales and installation support, Scrub’s service was outstanding. This was a major project for Molinare and needed to run to a very tight schedule – Scrub proved extremely helpful and flexible in the support they gave, enabling us to keep everything on track.
“They ably demonstrated the benefit that a dedicated, knowledgeable, experienced sales company can offer and the very real added value that they bring.”
The S5 Fusion offers a powerful, dedicated Digital Signal Processing engine and EUCON Hybrid control to record and mix EUCON-enabled Digital Audio Workstation projects. The console accelerates the overall mixing process, giving users complete control and flexibility and providing instant visual feedback on metering, track info, routing and more through high-resolution screens.
Users can save the position of sources on the surface at any given time and recall them at a later time. They can also control any number of faders from a single strip through Control Groups.
Scrub Head of Sales Ben Scully explains: “Molinare’s revamped Dubbing Theatre A is a world-class studio and a one-of-a-kind room in London. Not only does it look and sound great, but the advanced features, power and speed provided by the S5 console puts it in a class of its own. We have worked with Molinare for many years, and it is exciting to consult them on this new venture and state-of-the-art facilities.“
Electra Partners Announce Acquisition Of Allen & Heath
Electra Partners is pleased to announce the acquisition of mixing console manufacturer, Allen & Heath
, from D&M Holdings. £43 million of equity and debt has been provided by Electra Private Equity PLC and Allen & Heath’s management.
Electra Partners is pleased to announce the acquisition of mixing console manufacturer, Allen & Heath, from D&M Holdings. £43 million of equity and debt has been provided by Electra Private Equity PLC and Allen & Heath’s management.
Founded in 1969, Allen & Heath designs and manufactures audio mixing consoles for live sound, such as concerts, theatres and houses of worship. With an experienced management team and an extensive global distribution network, the company holds a leading market position and has consistently achieved strong revenue growth for over twenty years. Allen & Heath’s existing team and distribution networks will remain in place.
Commenting on this acquisition, Alex Fortescue, Chief Investment Partner at Electra Partners said: “The ability to invest across the capital structure, in this case funding both the equity and debt instruments, is a great example of Electra’s flexible investment mandate being put to work to ensure a swift completion for the vendor and a straightforward structure for the business to capitalize on both organic and acquisitive growth opportunities.”
Charles Elkington, Investment Partner at Electra Partners adds: “Allen & Heath is a leader in a niche market with an excellent track record of year-on-year growth. We believe that the company has a bright future and we will be looking to work with Glenn Rogers and his team to grow the business through further investment in new product development, improved marketing and distribution, and through acquisition.”
Glenn Rogers, Managing Director at Allen & Heath, says: “We are very excited about working with Electra Partners and the opportunities it presents for the next phase of Allen & Heath’s growth. We have an excellent catalogue of existing products and a number of exciting prospects in development. We see opportunity for expansion into new areas and look forward to building Allen & Heath’s long-term future alongside Electra Partners.”
The Electra Partners deal team for this transaction included Charles Elkington, Ian Wood and Shakira Adigun-Boaye.
This is the fourth investment Electra Partners has announced this year, following the previously announced co-investment in CALA Group and the acquisitions of AXIO Data Group and the EP I Secondary Portfolio.
Electra Partners was advised by Taylor Wessing LLP. Allen & Heath and D&M Holdings were advised by Houlihan Lokey and Ropes & Gray International LLP.
Electra Partners refers to Electra Partners LLP acting on behalf of its client Electra Private Equity PLC.
Allen & Heath
Thursday, June 20, 2013
In The Studio: DIY Building A Simple But Useful Diffusor From Salvaged Wood
Putting used (and free) boards to effective use
This week one of my neighbors left his unwanted Ikea bed frame in the alley. Among the parts of the bed was a set of SULTAN LADE slatted base.
In other words: 20 3/4-in pine boards for free. Keep an eye out for these because they can be used for a ton of simple DIY projects.
With these, I decided to make some super simple diffusors to cover up the bare wall around the closet at the back of my studio. The goal was to use the least amount of materials, hardware and effort. This design accomplished that and I didn’t even need to use a saw.
Each diffusor is made of five boards in a wide V shape. I used extra boards to get the spacing right, then held it firm with a pair of C-clamps while hammering. The clamps were a huge help to prevent the boards from shifting around.
I had just enough nails of the right length to build two diffusors, I would have built four if I had more nails. These aren’t very heavy so for now I have them mounted with a single drywall screw and picture hanger.
I’m sure an expert will disagree with the design as an effective diffusor. QRDs these are not. However, just holding it to the wall I could hear it was doing something far better than a bare wall.
Unpainted soft wood like pine is porous and I could hear it softening the highs a little. Not sure if it scatters the sound at all but surely it is doing something more than the drywall was. QRDs are complicated, heavy and extremely labor intensive to DIY.
(click to enlarge)
There are two downsides to building with free/salvaged wood like this:
1) Needing to remove staples, screws or nails before you can build.
2) Sometimes the wood is warped, which is hard to fix.
These don’t sit as flush on the wall as I’d like because of some warping.
I’m undecided whether I will leave these natural or stain them. If you’re looking for a simple wood stain, vinegar and steel wool left in a jar for a few days will give you a nice grey aged fence/barn wood look. Toss coffee grinds in the jar too and you can get a pretty dark almost chocolate brown stain.
Teas, cocoa or spices can give you different colors. Steep longer and apply repeatedly for darker color. Again, super simple and practically free, but also it doesn’t stink up your house for days with toxic fumes.
I have some more ideas for diffusors which I will explore at a later date. One idea is to use the curved SULTAN LUROY bed slats and symmetrically staggering them at a few different heights and depths. Would probably look really nice and modern in a live room especially behind a drum kit.
Jon Tidey is a producer/engineer who runs his own studio, EPIC Sounds, and enjoys writing about audio on his blog AudioGeekZine.com.
Posted by Keith Clark on 06/20 at 04:08 PM
Transform Your Mind: Chapter 2 Of White Paper Series On Transformers In Audio Now Available
The best measures to prevent ground loops and other problems that commonly occur in feeding multiple loads
Chapter 2 of PSW’s ongoing free white paper series, entitled “Transformers - Insurance Against Show-Stopping Problems,” is now available for free download. (Get it here.)
The white paper series is presented by Lundahl, a world leader in the design and production of transformers. The new chapter goes in-depth on the best measures to prevent ground loops and other problems that commonly occur in feeding multiple loads, including the use of transformers to effectively solve the problem.
The series of papers is authored by Ken DeLoria, senior technical editor of ProSoundWeb and Live Sound International.
Note that Chapter 1: An Introduction to Transformers in Audio Devices is also still available for free download. Several more free white papers on transformers and related audio topics will be posted here on PSW and available on a regular basis.
Again, download your free copy of chapter 2 of the white paper series here.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
In The Studio: Six Steps To Your Best Mix Ever
We’re manipulating emotional cues in the form of sound
Audio engineering is a surprisingly competitive arena. Us meek and mild mixers often find ourselves in head-to-head competition — or even tougher — competing against some imaginary beacon of greatness.
But this ain’t basketball. We don’t know who wins based on points. In fact, the only people who really keep score are other engineers — the kick in that song is a 9.2 out of 10, but the vocal reverb is only a 7 out of 10. Most people don’t really think or judge this way.
What makes a great mix? Well, most producers will tell you a great performance and great arrangement mixes itself. There’s a reason for this. A great mix isn’t really separate from a great production, and a great production isn’t really separate from a great song. The mix isn’t really the balancing of the production elements. The mix is facilitating the song on record.
This facilitation comes through the balancing of elements, the manipulation of tone and dynamics and the orchestration of space. But the whole goal is to make the listener hear, and feel, a song in the artist’s intended way. We aren’t really manipulating sounds, we’re manipulating emotional cues in the form of sound.
Let’s break it down:
1. Figure out the emotions of the song. This is the sum of the parts. When you listen to the song, the lyrics and the performance, there are feelings and intentions. Now, some of them will be clear, others will be ambiguous, and some will be contrasting. But we’ll get to that. For now, the question is what should the end listener be feeling when they are listening to the song.
This may vary section to section. Or the feeling might come from the difference between sections. The point is: figure out how the song is meant to hit the listener. The more you can figure this out, the stronger of a foundation you have for your mix.
2. Figure out how each element supports the emotions. Emotions are complex. You might have a “sad” sounding piano riff. If the whole effect were sadness, you might have a sparse, dragging, and/or lightly played drum part (or maybe no drums). But, you might have the sad piano riff contrasted with driving drums. This might create the feeling of fighting through something, or feeling distressed, or a host of other emotions.
Figuring out how each part interacts gives you context for your mix. If the parts contrast in feel, perhaps they should contrast tonally or dynamically as well? Is the piano supposed to be sad — as in depressed — or sad as in haunting? Perhaps emphasizing lower tones in the former and higher tones in the latter will help convey that intention. I can’t prescribe any kind of formula for this, that’s the beauty and subjectivity of mixing.
3. Figure out what’s important.
Once you have an idea of what and how everything is contributing to the song, you can start figuring out what’s most important to the feeling and when. This way, if you are say, EQ’ing to separate elements, you know which element is bowing out of the way to the other.
If the bass has all the inside groove, you don’t want to EQ the bass to make room for the kick. Or, if you do, you want to do it because you’re turning the bass louder than the kick.
Similarly, if the piano is expressing the feeling you want featured, and the bass is really just there for support, you probably want the piano to dominate in the record. In fact, it might even be good if the piano is masking the bass a bit in that scenario.
4. Scrutinize your vocals. As humans, there is nothing we understand more clearly than the human voice. Even if the song is in a different language we hear joy, pain, anger and love fairly clearly.
There is some degree of universal language that supersedes words. Find the parts of the performance that conveys the feeling, and bring those out. Check the entrance and exits of words, notes and phrases. A lot of interesting stuff tends to live in the entrances and exits.
5. Think of associations. Literal meaning tends to be underwhelming in a song. A literal meaning in a song would be when the performer tells the listener what to feel. It can be useful to a degree, but ultimately you want the listener to find their own emotions in the song.
One way to do this is to think of associations. An association is when something makes the listener think/feel something else. In this regard, the listener digs the emotional response out from within.
An easy example: putting an echo on something. Echoes are often associated with loneliness because we tend to hear echos in empty places. If the context is right, the listener will pull that association up themselves.
6. Focus on transitions and variation. I asked on my Facebook page which main elements make for a great song. Almost everyone mentioned “contrast.”
We are meant to detect contrast. We have a built in kinetic sense that we naturally use to focus our attention on whatever is changing. And we enjoy change. Making sure these changes are well orchestrated is paramount to an effective song — primarily to keeping the song engaging (at the very least).
And that’s how you make the best mix. Things like compression, EQ, choosing reverbs — these are all a technical means to an end. The end is the artistic intention, emotion, and how well it translates over the listener’s playback system.
Matthew Weiss engineers from his private facility in Philadelphia, PA. A list of clients and credits are available at Weiss-Sound.com.
Be sure to visit the Pro Audio Files for more great recording content. To comment or ask questions about this article go here.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Harman Pro Licenses Oxford Digital Filter Technology For Pro Audio Applications
Unique filter and EQ feature sets which will augment the capabilities of Harman products
Harman Professional has announced a comprehensive technology licensing agreement with Oxford Digital Limited, granting the rights to use Oxford Digital’s proprietary filter technologies in AKG, BSS, Crown, dbx, JBL, Lexicon, Soundcraft, and Studer professional audio products.
“Internationally recognized as a DSP technology leader and innovation powerhouse, Oxford Digital brings many unique filter and EQ feature sets which will augment the capabilities of products across our portfolio. The user interfaces they have developed for these complex processing algorithms are remarkably intuitive to use,” notes Mark Ureda, vice president, strategy and technology for Harman Pro. “We are very pleased to be working with Oxford Digital to provide our customers with new filter and EQ options for the installation, broadcast, cinema and tour sound markets.”
John Richards, CEO of Oxford Digital Limited, adds, “We are delighted to enter into this agreement with Harman and look forward to working with their team as we help them integrate these technologies across their professional audio product platforms.”
“Harman’s determination to provide audio professionals with professional-grade tools that couple excellent sound and improved productivity drives us to partner with category leaders like Oxford Digital. We are pleased and proud to announce this exclusive licensing agreement in the professional audio marketplace,” Ureda concludes.
Oxford Digital Limited spun out of Sony Corporation’s Pro Audio Lab, Oxford in 2006 as a technology company, specializing in digital audio signal processing for the mobile and consumer equipment sectors including a complete end-to-end solution for audio processing for semiconductor manufacturers.
Recent awards include the British Engineering Excellence Award for Product of the Year and the National Microelectronics Institute Award for Innovation.
Oxford Digital Limited
Steinberg Announces WaveLab 8 Audio Editing & Mastering Software
Update offers new loudspeaker management, loudness metering and processing, and more
Steinberg Media Technologies announced the release of its acclaimed audio editing and mastering suite, WaveLab 8, alongside the smaller derivative, WaveLab Elements 8.
WaveLab 8 offes a new loudspeaker management system, loudness metering and processing, single-window plug-in management, a master control panel, iZotope MBIT+ master dither, Voxengo CurveEQ, brickwall limiter and tube compressor, SuperClips, metadata support and over 150 improvements to its user interface and comprehensive tool set.
“The eighth generation of WaveLab clearly shows that we continue to invest in providing the highest level of quality, reflected in the wealth of enhancements to existing features while bringing new, advanced mastering and restoration tools by Steinberg, iZotope, Voxengo and Sonnox to mastering studios around the world,” says Timo Wildenhain, product marketing manager at Steinberg. “I think it’s safe to say that WaveLab is the number-one mastering software for Mac and PC on the market today.”
WaveLab 8 introduces a new speaker management system to its many indispensable features, providing maximum flexibility with up to eight-loudspeaker configurations.
Observing EBU R-128 compliance, WaveLab includes loudness metering for momentary, short-term and integrated values, true peak support and enhanced loudness and batch processing tools that meet EBU standards.
With the MBIT+ master dither developed by the engineers at iZotope, WaveLab now features a sophisticated set of word-length reduction algorithms for dithering and noise shaping. The second plug-in highlight is Voxengo’s linear-phase spline equalizer, CurveEQ, which matches and transfers a spectrum’s shape from one recording to another. More plug-ins newly introduced to WaveLab 8 are Steinberg’s Brickwall Limiter and Tube Compressor for extra punch and rich tone.
Workflow improvements see a polished user interface for easy operation, a new master transport panel to expedite navigating through the project, single-window plug-in management that allows users to sort plug-ins by manufacturer, category or preference. Audio Montage now offers a new Master Plug-in Section for local storing of plug-in chains alongside SuperClip capability to combine multiple clips.
WaveLab 8 delivers professional editing tools that facilitate the audio editing in many ways: volume clip handles with raise selection adjust levels of individual selections conveniently, Track Lock to prevent accidental modifications, new trim and split options, auto-replay, improved processing via key commands and much more.
Many other improvements include extensive metadata support for creating and exposing valuable information on audio files, 16-bit floating-point zoom resolution for precise waveform display, refined marker handling and batch processing plus an overhauled in-app help system.
Steinberg will also be releasing WaveLab Elements 8, a smaller version of WaveLab, with its studio-grade Brickwall Limiter, Tube Compressor, a new transport panel, enhanced editing tools and track effects. Quality waveform resolution, an enhanced Audio Montage, metadata support and many other great improvements make WaveLab Elements 8 a powerful, and very affordable, audio editing application.
WaveLab 8 and WaveLab Elements 8 are now available and sold through authorized resellers and the Steinberg online shop. Suggested retail price of WaveLab 8 is $599.99, and suggested retail price of WaveLab Elements 8 is $129.99. WaveLab 8 Trial will be available as download through the Steinberg website and requires the USB-eLicenser.
In The Studio: The Glory Days Of Muscle Shoals
Muscle Shoals from 1967-1980, one of the most fascinating and perhaps unbelievable stories in the history of pop music recording.
“Working at Muscle Shoals was by far the best period for me, from the middle sixties through the seventies. I think my understanding was broadened and deepened so much by watching records being made from scratch, rather than deductively from written arrangements.
Oh, man, it changed my life! There was never such an interaction between me and the musicians, and there was never anything like it in New York or LA.” — Jerry Wexler, quoted in Richard Buskin’s Inside Tracks
The whole Muscle Shoals phenomenon easily ranks as one of the most fascinating-and perhaps downright unbelievable-stories in the history of pop music recording.
How did this sleepy, small-town backwater on the Tennessee River become hotbed of soul music hit-making in the sixties, and then in the seventies a recording Mecca for a dazzling roster of rock superstars including The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Traffic, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others?
It defies credibility. Muscle Shoals certainly lacked great hotels, fine restaurants, fast-paced night-life (make that any night-life), or miles of sun-drenched tropical beaches. No, instead Muscle Shoals’ sole drawing card to rock’s elite was a peculiar musical culture that somehow bred musicians gifted with funky chops, steely determination, an open musical mind, and a rare commodity called 100 proof Alabama honky soul.
I made two pilgrimages to Muscle Shoals, one in October of 1979 and again in January of 1980. The first trip resulted in a Mix article entitled “The Strange But True Muscle Shoals Story,” published in the December issue. The second trip was for a followup story, tentatively slated for M.I. magazine, that was never published.
What follows is the guts of that second story, with some additions, deletions and updates.
With the first string of R&B hits, nobody really knew where they came from. They emerged incognito from this unknown corner of Alabama, spread to the cities of the south, soon were picked up and promoted nationwide, with some crossing over onto the pop charts.
The first wave launched Arthur Alexander, Jimmy Hughes, Joe Tex and white teeny-popper Tommy Roe. The records sold in the millions, but only a few insiders knew of the source.
But hit records have a way of attracting industry attention. Soon some well-connected outsiders started making the rural Alabama pilgrimage.
First over the Tennessee line was Jerry Wexler of Atlantic, moving down from Memphis following a spat with Jim Stewart of Stax. In tow, he brought Aretha and Wilson Pickett.
Within months, this isolated community on the back porch of Dixie was challenging Detroit and Memphis as the R&B capital of the planet. Percy Sledge. James and Bobby Purify. Arthur Conley. The music of black America was moving into the mainstream, yet few realized that the musicians propelling the tracks were white.
Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, the situation became increasingly complicated-and trends in black music had changed as well.
Though the R&B heyday hit a social roadblack, the now-legendary ex-casket factory on Jackson Highway soon became a magnet for a who’s-who of rock superstars. Paul Simon. Boz Scaggs.
Joe Cocker. Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Rolling Stones. Leon Russell. Traffic. Bob Dylan. The studio and its musicans received some notoriety as rock journalists made the pilgrimage alongside the artists.
The fog of mystery lifted and the Muscle Shoals story became fully documented.
The “Secret” Sessions
Well, not quite. A few curious tidbits of information have yet to escape the Tennessee River swamplands.
For example, did you know that Boz Scaggs, before cutting his classic Atlantic solo debut (featuring Duane Allman on slide) came to Muscle Shoals posing as a reporter for The Rolling Stone?
Also little known: Before hooking up with Keith Godchaux, ex-Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Godchaux (nee Thatcher) worked as a secretary and sometime backup vocalist at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.
Most Jimmy Cliff fans would assume “Sitting in Limbo” from The Harder They Come soundtrack was recorded in Kingston. Nope. Like other “secret” Shoals sessions, it was never officially credited on liner notes because Cliff was not properly papered to “work” (i.e. record) while visiting the USA.
These and other revelations emerged from hours of conversation with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section: Barry Beckett, Jimmy Johnson, Roger Hawkins and David Hood.
Although these four played on the vast majority of Muscle Shoals hits from 1967 through 1980, they were actually the second generation of hit-record pickers. It all began nearly five years before, with Rick Hall and Fame Studios.
Hall started the original Fame in a couple of small rooms over a downtown drugstore.
In 1961, he discovered a singing bellhop in a local hotel, and brought him into the makeshift studio with a rhythm section culled from a local band called Dan Penn and the Pallbearers, and cut “You’d Better Move On.”
It was a minor hit the following year. But momentum built slowly, as he cut more hits with Jimmy Hughes and Tommy Roe before the original rhythm section—bassist Norbert Putnam, keyboardist David Briggs and drummer Jerry Carrigan-were lured away by more lucrative session rates in Nashville.
MSRS: The Next Generation
Their departure opened the way for a second generation of pickers to coalesce around Hall’s studio.
This new blood, which eventually included the core quartet of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, became the propelling force behind a succession of hits by Wilson Pickett (“Land of 1000 Dances” and “Mustang Sally”), Arthur Conley (“Sweet Soul Music”) and Percy Sledge (“When a Man Loves a Woman”). But it was the Aretha Franklin sessions that finally brought fame to Muscle Shoals’and got the rhythm section out of town.
Although Aretha’s only trip to Alabama produced two of her most memorable recordings (“I Never Loved a Man” and “Do Right Woman”), some frictions involving members of her entourage made the experience upsetting. Wexler, not wanting to break up the winning combination, decided to bring the rhythm section to New York.
“I was really kind of scared by the whole trip,” says Roger Hawkins. “I was just a kid at the time, from the rural South, and here I was going to play in a studio on Broadway with Aretha Franklin. I was barely twenty at the time, and I had butterflies in my stomach.”
Jimmy Johnson found the experience both rewarding and intimidating. “Every time we went up to New York, I thought it would be the last time. But we were crossing our fingers, eyes, legs and toes hoping it wouldn’t be.”
It was a challenge for Alabama players. Accustomed to spontaneous “head arrangements”, they suddenly had to contend with a sophisticated, uptown approach.
“Arif Mardin was working with Jerry and [engineer] Tom Dowd on most of those session,” recalls Johnson. “He was so much more aware in musical terms. It also got complicated because he had just come from Turkey and didn’t speak very good English, while we, being Southern, were trying to figure things out by reading his lips.”
Somehow, the messages got through. For the next two years, the Muscle Shoals musicians were traveling regularly to New York and later Miami for sessions with King Curtis and Solomon Burke as well as Aretha. It was the close ties to Atlantic that gave them the courage to make a bold move in 1968: they bought their own studio.
Project Studio Soul: The Casket Factory
Fred Bevis, who had converted an old casket factory at 3614 Jackson Highway into a four-track studio, was ready to sell. The four musicians pooled their assets and bought it. With a promise or steady work from Wexler, they immediately upgraded to eight track.
Their first project for Atlantic was Cher, and although that project was reasonably successful, it was the next visitor who would firmly establish the studio’s FM album rock credentials.
At the time, only bassist David Hood had even heard of the Steve Miller Band, and he had not looked closely enough at the album jackets to remember the face of Boz Scaggs. He eased into town, introducing himself (backed by co-producer/publisher Jann Wenner) as a reporter for the Rolling Stone.
He hung out for two or three days, left, and came back several weeks later to cut a milestone record-an underground classic that marked the only collaboration between Scaggs and the studios lead guitarist at the time, Duane Allman.
“We had fun playing on that one,” recalls Beckett. “We enjoyed it because we could loosen up and play what we wanted to play. We were dying to shake off the tight discipline of some of the New York sessions.”
It wouldn’t be long before the Muscle Shoals musicians had a chance to loosen up even more. In the next installment to appear next week, we’ll look back at sessions with Paul Simon, Traffic, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Seger.
After signing Cliff to Island Records in 1971, label owner and producer Chris Blackwell was determined to introduce Cliff to wider audiences both in America and Europe. Deciding it might help to cut some songs with more of an R&B flavor, Blackwell brought gun to Muscle Shoals where, according to Hawkins, “we cut six, eight, maybe even ten songs.”
Several cuts, including “Sitting in Limbo,” ended up on the soundtrack of the cult reggae film, “The Harder They Come.”
Says David Hood: “Jimmy brought a bunch of Jamaican records with him-old ska singles, by the Upsetters and groups like that. We were amazed by that sound, and it showed us a few things, like the ways to turn the beat around. It planted a seed with us.”
That seed came to fruition quickly with the Staple Singers hit, “Respect Yourself,” a lively blend of American R&B and classic reggae rhythm.
Cliff’s hits were sleepers, but Blackwell soon came back for another round. He had the English supergroup Traffic under his wing, a brilliant but unstable aggregation that seemed to be falling apart from the outset.
By that time, drummer Jim Capaldi had decided to move from behind the drums to front man, and the group had never really filled the bass player slot. Blackwell recruited the reluctant duo of Hood and Hawkins, booking the studio solid for the duration of the 1972 summer tour to ensure their cooperation. Jimmy Johnson came along to mix FOH, while Barry Beckett took an excursion to L.A.
After U.S. and European tour legs, they all returned to Muscle Shoals to record “Shootout at the Fantasy Factory”-a quickie that the Alabama contingent found unsatisfying.
“We had never seen anything like them,” says Hood. “Chris Wood was freaking out in one direction, Reebop was freaking out in another, Winwood was becoming a recluse and Capaldi was determined to play the rock star role.
Roger and I struggled to keep things together. We tried to build a solid foundation that they could go crazy over.”
Simon South, Simon North
Despite the frenetic pace of the Traffic tours, the experience helped Hood and Hawkins hone their chops for their next superstar sessions. When Paul Simon ventured into Muscle Shoals, he had four seasoned pickers ready to pounce on him.
“When he come down here to our turf, we jumped right in and knocked his hat in the creek,” says Johnson. “This wasn’t his usual style of recording, where he gets to call all the shots.”
Recalls Hawkins, “He had heard ‘I’ll Take You There’ by the Staples, and thinking it was Jamaican backing, he called Stax to find out where it was done. Then he called us, planning to come down for just one tune, ‘Take Me to the Mardi Gras.’ Well, we knocked that out in two takes, and he was just amazed.
“He started playing some other songs, we told him which ones we liked, and we cut them,” Hawkins continues. “That’s why we got co-production credits.”
Those sessions also produced “Kodachrome” and “Loves Me Like a Rock.” But when he invited the rhythm section to come to New York for “Still Crazy After All These Years,” the magic dissolved. Simon reverted to total control mode, and progress on the tracks slowed to a crawl.
“He made us so paranoid that we were afraid to play,” laments Hood.
Heartland Platinum Rock
If Paul Simon seemed a bit intellectually aloof, Bob Seger connected on a gut level. His association with the ‘Bama boys stretches back to 1972, and the Detroit rocker recorded many of his top hits in Muscle Shoals, including “Mainstreet,” “Old Time Rock & Roll,” “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Katmandu.”
“He’s a real nice guy but he’s not going to make it big,” was David Hood’s first impression. But he soon changed his mind.
“By the time of “Katmandu” he was getting the point across about what kind of records he wanted to make. Before that, we were throwing in R&B licks. Everybody wasn’t thinking in the same direction.”
But that blistering, stuttering rocker turned things around. “I remember on that song we just kept going and going,” recalls Barry Beckett. “I had blisters coming up on my fingers, and Roger had bleeding blisters on his. But we kept on going until we knew it was right. It was hard gut rock and roll.”
In later years, according to Hawkins, Seger’s surging success began to affect his behavior in the studio.
On occasion, during the session for “Against the Wind,” his easygoing demeanor would be frozen by moments of crisis. “He would have trouble making up his mind,” says Hawkins. “He called it ‘platinum paranoia.’”
Turn Toward Production
In the late ‘70s and into the early 1980s, the rhythm section members became increasingly involved in production, most notably Beckett who by 1980 already had credits on projects by Dire Straits, Bob Dylan, Stephen Stills, John Prine and Delbert McClinton.
Engineer Steve Melton at Neve 8068 in 1980.
But since he often plays on the albums he is producing (or co-producing), Beckett confesses he often treads on the border of musical schizophrenia.
“It’s discipline,” he maintains, “that’s all it is. One way you turn the switch, you’re a musician, the other way, you’re a producer. But as a producer, you have to look back at yourself as a musician-but also as a producer, too. So, it’s weird. When I’m producing, I try not to build around what I’m playing. I’ll build around something else, then add in what I can.”
Asked for his advice to aspiring studio keyboard players, Beckett took a long, thoughtful pull on a cigarette before answering. “When I first came up here, I threw in every lick I could think of. I was going against rule number one, which is you only play what you need to support the artist. (Note: For an example, listen to the astonishing interplay between Beckett’s piano and Dylan’s voice on “Slow Train Coming.”)
Beckett continues, “So I was going against the artist, playing right on top-which is all wrong. It’s not time to show off unless the producer pushes the button and says, ‘Okay, now show off.’ You have to feel the intensity level of the artist, and support that, and also anticipate when the artist is going to change.”
Working together for so long, says Beckett, has helped the Muscle Shoals section achieve an intuitive “feel” for each artist. “Working as a section, we have the time to learn how the other guys think. But we have to watch out.”
“The better we get, the more we’re in danger of becoming mechanical about it. If we get dead on perfect every time, it could be a problem.”
Of course, other rhythm sections-in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Memphis and Nashville-also developed this close camaraderie, and made superb records.
But likely no other group can claim such diversity of styles, and such a high percentage of mega-hit records—scores of which are still selling and getting steady airplay decades later.
What’s the secret here?
The isolation and small town atmosphere could be a factor. “Through the years we’ve been able to draw energy from our roots,” says Hawkins. “And we’ve been able to keep it all moving in a positive direction. If we were in New York, we’d be expending most of our energy just trying to get in the door. Here, we put that energy into making hit records.”
Surrounded by walls laden with gold and platinum records, Barry Beckett echoes Hawkins’ sentiments, then adds a final note of personal conviction.
“Trust is a big part of it. We have a family here, instead of going it alone. Of course, we were lucky to have the right teachers in people like Rick Hall, and people to help along with way like Jerry Wexler. But mostly we made it because we stuck together as a unit and trusted each other.”
He pauses, looks away, then looks back straight in and says quietly: “Also, we wanted it bad, real bad.”
Muscle Shoals Studios Equipment List
Console: Universal Audio 10-channel tube, later upgraded to Flickenger 16-channel and then MCI 24-channel with automation
Multitrack recorders: Scully 8-track, eventually upgraded to MCI 24-track
Mastering recorders: Ampex mono and Scully 2-track
New Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, 1978 – 80 era
Neve 8068 (32 input) console
JH114 24-track recorder
Ampex ATR-102 2-track recorder
Audiocon room monitors (JBL loaded)
BGW and Crown monitor amplifiers
MDM-4 near field monitors
Lexicon Prime Time digital delay
Urei 1176 and dbx 160 compressor/limiters
Neve 8088 (40 input) console
JH114 24-track recorder
Studer A80 and B67 2-track recorders
Audiocon room monitors (JBL loaded)
BGW and Crown monitor amplifiers
MDM-4 near field monitors
Lexicon 224 digital reverb
EMT (4) and Audion (1) plate reverbs
Live echo chamber (17x12x8)
“Floating” Effects Rack
ADR sweep equalizer
Orban Parasound parametric EQ
ADR Vocal Stressor
Eventide Instant Flanger
Kepex (6) and Gain Brain (4)
Marshall Time Modulator
Lang EQHe called it
Bruce Borgerson is a long-time audio writer and journalist.
Posted by Keith Clark on 06/17 at 03:39 PM