Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Audio-Technica Shines At WKSU’s Main Street Studio
Audio-Technica is the microphone manufacturer of choice for the WKSU Akron News Bureau’s newly completed Main Street Studio.
Audio-Technica is the microphone manufacturer of choice for the WKSU Akron News Bureau’s newly completed Main Street Studio.
WKSU news bureaus located in Cleveland, Canton, and Akron, Ohio, along with the station’s main news operations housed at the WKSU Broadcast Center on the main campus of Kent State University, provide in-depth regional news coverage to complement NPR-delivered news reports.
With the Main Street Studio positioned in the shadow of the Federal Building in downtown Akron and around the corner from the county courthouse and government offices, the opportunity for creating news reports of local, national, and international interest is significant.
The extensive Main Street Studio project involved retrofitting and soundproofing a first floor office in the United Building, including the supplementation of a standard street-front window with a custom designed acoustic window created to eliminate street noise from one of Akron’s busiest nearby intersections.
Inspired in part by WGN’s sidewalk studio in Chicago, the project creates an interactive environment bringing WKSU news literally to the public.
A total of five Audio-Technica AT4050/LE Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphones were chosen for the studio’s announcer position and four guest positions.
High SPL capacity, along with the ability to reproduce accurately transparent sound from dual large diaphragms with rock solid element stability, made the microphone a perfect choice for this application. Its omni, cardioid and figure-of-eight patterns add even greater flexibility to the studio’s capacity when the need to record vocals and musical instrumentation arises.
Five Audio-Technica model ATH-M50s/LE Limited Edition Professional Studio Monitor Headphones complement the microphone selection, providing both the production staff and on-air talent with the highest level of sonic accuracy, superior isolation and maximum listening comfort.
The ATH-M50s/LE headphone design, which includes proprietary large-aperture drivers with neodymium magnet systems, delivers highly efficient signal transfer to produce a significant advancement in sound level and quality.
The special 50th anniversary edition silver-colored metallic finish of the microphones and headphones provides a unique artistic complementary appearance to the other equipment in the studio, including the Axia Element digital control surface.
Along with general reporting, the Akron Bureau is enabled to facilitate larger events. On Election Day, WKSU teamed with nearby WCPN to broadcast up-to-the-minute election results. Hosts were joined in the studio by special guests, offering analysis on state and national races.
WKSU Director of Broadcast Engineering Ron Bartlebaugh states that announcers from both stations fell in love with WKSU’s new Main Street Studio and proclaimed it as one of the best they have ever worked in.
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/19 at 01:41 PM
Waves Audio Introduces Manny Marroquin Signature Series Collection
Six hybrid plug-ins that bring Marroquin's unique workflow to users’ studios
Waves Audio announces the availability of the Manny Marroquin Signature Series Collection, custom plug-ins developed in collaboration with renowned mixing engineer Manny Marroquin (Bruno Mars, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Maroon 5, Shakira).
Five-time Grammy award-winner Marroquin adds a new dimension to the Waves Signature Series with six hybrid plug-ins that bring his unique workflow to users’ studios.
Alongside his personalized versions of tried-and-true favorites like EQ, reverb, delay and distortion, Marroquin introduces the new Tone Shaper and Triple D plug-ins.
“For my Signature Series, our goal was to create a set of high-quality professional plugins that were innovative, effective and easy to use,” says Marroquin.
The Waves Signature Series is a line of customized plug-ins created in collaboration with top producers and mixing engineers. Each is precision-crafted to capture the artist’s distinct sound and production style, using custom multi-effect processing chains designed by the artists themselves.
The Waves Signature Series currently includes plug-in collections developed with Eddie Kramer and Grammy award-winners Chris Lord-Alge, Jack Joseph Puig, and Tony Maserati.
The Waves Manny Marroquin Signature Series Collection is now available with U.S. MSRP: $500. Introductory price is $299.
Fairlight Releases Dream Version 4
The new Dream Version 4 software from Fairlight includes new features and options making it more user-friendly with improved workflow and faster output.
Fairlight audio post production systems XYNERGI and EVO now shipping with new Dream Version 4 Software.
The new software includes new features and options making it more user-friendly with improved workflow and faster output.
New features of the Dream Version 4 Software include:
- Mouse based editing enhancements
- Single Screen Interface with comprehensive per-track controls and new Mix Panel choices
- Improved dynamics, side-chain and MaxLinking across groups
- Multi Client ASIO bridge for EVO to host other audio products (e.g. Protools, Nuendo)
- Clip Bin and Clip Store functions to store projects
- Speed increase and new features for the Audiobase sound FX database
To ensure continued software improvements, Fairlight also introduced a 12 month software license subscriptions program. The license subscription provides access to software releases and updates during a 12 month subscription period.
Customers who purchased a XYNERGI or EVO in 2012, will get a 12 month Dream Version 4 software license subscription for free.
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/19 at 12:40 PM
In Tune Partners Publishes Cool Jobs In The Music Business
“This book is a must read for anyone looking to break into the music business.” - Kelly Rowland
In Tune Partners, the renowned music education company, publishes Cool Jobs In The Music Business, a guide for anyone interested in a career in the today’s and tomorrow’s rapidly changing music business.
The book is distributed by Hal Leonard, the musician’s best source of books on the music business, audio technology, instrument history, and more.
Industry veteran and chair of NYU’s Clive Davis Recorded Music program Jeffrey Rabhan explains career options in the music business through the experiences of some of the top DJs, educators, engineers, executives, journalists, managers, music supervisors, producers, promoters, publicists, publishers, and technicians.
Starting from his own experience guiding the careers of such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Lil’ Kim, Michelle Branch, DMX, and Jermaine Dupri, Rabhan outlines the essentials of today’s business while looking into the future.
Cool Jobs In The Music Business will show you how various sectors of the business operate so that you may best determine where your skills are suited.
Jermaine Dupri, who wrote the foreword for this book, says: “You need to know the world you’re bringing your music into. You need to know your industry. This book is monumentally important, because it helps you do just that… Jeff Rabhan knows this industry inside and out and has mastered the challenge of teaching something that can’t be trapped in the classroom.”
Conducting dozens of exclusive interviews, the author draws unique insights and advice specifically targeted at young people from those currently in the business. Rabhan starts with an overview of various categories in the industry, then details all of the jobs within that category, from entry level to top executive. The DVD includes audio and video footage of the author and additional interviews.
Jeffrey Rabhan is an experienced artist manager and music industry executive who has worked across all genres of popular music. His clients have earned more than a dozen GRAMMY Awards and sold over 100 million records. Rabhan has been an executive for Atlantic and Elektra Records, partner at the top entertainment company The Firm, co-founder of innovative music entity Three Ring Projects, and is currently a marketing consultant to Sony Music Japan International, creative director of Trifecta Consulting ltd., and Chair of The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Behringer Ships XENYX CONTROL1USB
Behringer has announced that the XENYX CONTROL1USB is shipping. The CONTROL1USB combines a high-resolution USB Audio Interface with studio-grade switching and control functionality, making it the ideal command center for professional broadcast or recording/project studios.
With the convenient built-in mic, the engineer can easily communicate with artists, plus select between analog sources and USB for ultimate flexibility when routing audio to monitors.
A comfortable, centrally-located large illuminated Volume knob provides fast, high-precision level adjustments, making XENYX CONTROL1USB ideal for audio mastering and AV post production projects.
XENYX CONTROL1USB’s rear panel boasts USB connectivity and I/O including 3 separate monitor outputs; a computer/DAW Stereo output; 2-Track A and B stereo outs; L/R studio outs; 1 stereo out to connect external headphone amplifiers; 4 independent stereo inputs, including one that doubles as a phono Input with high-end RIAA preamp; and a computer/DAW mix input-all with individual level controls/switches.
Constructed from the highest-quality components, the XENYX CONTROL1USB is housed in a rugged steel chassis and covered by Behringer’s 3-Year Warranty Program.
The XENYX CONTROL1USB has an approximate street price of $199.99 (MSRP $399.99).
XENYX CONTROL1USB features:
Premium, ultra-low noise and high headroom studio control and communication center
All-in-one Master Volume controller, Source selector, Monitor switcher and Talkback box
4 stereo inputs with independent level controls plus additional Monitor Mix input for your DAW
3 independent and adjustable Monitor outputs to connect up to 3 sets of studio monitors
Built-in Talkback microphone with Level control for direct communication with musicians
Built-in stereo USB Audio Interface, perfect for computer-based studios
Premium-quality phono preamp for direct turntable connection
2 headphone outputs with independent volume controls
Big, illuminated Volume knob for precise level adjustments
Convenient Mono, Mute and Dim functions right at your fingertips
High-precision dual 12-segment LED meters with input/output source switch
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/19 at 10:08 AM
Monday, March 18, 2013
IK Multimedia Ships First Android App: iRig Recorder Available On Google Play
iRig Recorder for Android is a free app and provides Android phone and tablet users with recording, multiple effects, and sharing features.
IK Multimedia is proud to announce that its first Android app, iRig Recorder, is now available on the Google Play Store.
iRig Recorder is a powerful audio-recording app that turns any mobile Android device into a professional field recorder, and makes it easy to capture interviews, music performances, rehearsals, lectures, and more, with outstanding quality, anywhere.
iRig Recorder for Android is a free app and provides Android phone and tablet users with recording, multiple effects, and sharing features. It’s a powerful yet simple audio-capture app that can be expanded via in-app purchase to include waveform editing and additional effects processing.
iRig Recorder works with the built-in microphone on the device, and for high-quality results, IK offers the widest range of external miking options compatible with Android smartphones and tablets:
iRRecorder-Android Devices iRig MIC is a quality handheld mic designed for both close- and distance-recording applications, and is ideal for field journalists, singers, songwriters or live musicians.
- iRig MIC Cast is an ultra-compact, high-quality mic that attaches to the mobile device, and was developed for podcasting and educational applications.
- iRig PRE is a mobile high-quality mic preamp that allows for the use of professional XLR microphones with Android devices, and which can be used by live musicians, audio engineers and the most demanding audiophiles.
iRig Recorder’s powerful but easy-to-use audio-recording function starts recording immediately when the app is launched, making it the perfect “on the spot” field recorder. The app automatically groups recordings by date, tags them with geographic location information (if your device’s location services are enabled) and saves the original file as a backup.
Recording time is limited only by the available memory on the device. iRig Recorder can be used with the built-in device microphone, or with IK’s microphones and mic accessories — all designed for capturing broadcast quality audio on the go.
Recording is only a part of the story with iRig Recorder. The available in-app purchase also provides a precise waveform editor, which allows for selecting, looping, cutting and cropping of the audio content. Automatic onboard audio-processing options can optimize recording levels and tone, remove background noise, and increase the overall audio quality so that anybody can produce professional quality audio on the go.
The app can also speed up or slow down a recording without changing the timbre, and, with its onboard pro-sounding processing and editing features, it’s possible to produce podcasts or other types of audio productions, all without leaving the app.
Finished recordings can be easily shared by e-mail and FTP, over Bluetooth, through USB cables, to SD internal memory, or via apps installed on the device. Files can be exported as CD-quality WAV files, or as compressed .ogg files that range from 64 to 192 kbps.
iRig Recorder for Android is available now on the Google Play Store for FREE. Editing, and additional effects processing can be added via in-app purchase for only $4.99/€4.49.
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/18 at 07:37 AM
Friday, March 15, 2013
In the Studio: Close-Miking An Acoustic Grand Piano
When and how to use it, and a range of techniques
In a world of sampled instruments and MIDI sequencing, recording an acoustic grand piano is not a task for the faint of heart.
Most engineers can rely on an instrument package, like Garritan’s “Authorized Steinway” or “Ivory” for nice sounds.
However, when a piano needs to be the primary focus of a mix, or when you have a very serious player in the studio, you will need a well-maintained acoustic grand to make the best possible recording.
Miking a grand can be a daunting task, so I hope I can ease your mind by explaining a few techniques and tricks that can help you record a great close-miked piano.
When To Use It
The piano sound you will most often hear in pop music and in jazz is the close-miked sound. Not only does it help eliminate bleed if the piano is recorded in the live room with the rest of a band, but it also gives the mix engineer a wide range of choices to help what usually is the physically largest instrument fit into the mix. There is very little room in the sound, and the room that does exist is most likely faked with a hardware or software reverb.
A variety of miking techniques can be used to achieve different sounds from percussive to balanced, from narrow to wide, and from bright to mellow. The closeness of mics is what makes the sound both the easiest to achieve, and yet also makes choosing an appropriate technique very difficult. As this sound is the most commonly sought after in the studio, it makes a perfect starting place for us.
Brief Anatomy Of A Piano
Before we begin talking about sound and how to record the sound of a piano, we must first understand how that sound is produced and naturally amplified by the instrument. The diagram to at right illustrates a few of the most important parts on the inside of a piano.
Depressing the keys of the piano starts a very complex lever in motion, resulting in the hammer striking the string, which in turn results in the sound we hear. Hammers are located below the dampers, as you can see in the diagram. They are covered in a semi-soft felt that provides a variety of tones depending on the speed at which the hammer hits the strings and also the age and use of the instrument.
(click to enlarge)
In general, the faster a hammer hits a string, the more its felt is depressed upon contact, creating a harder surface and a brighter and louder tone. That tone then resonates through a precisely crafted soundboard, the wooden bed that runs the entire length and width of the instrument.
The bridge, as seen in the diagram, is not just a point at which strings are connected, but on many good instruments, the length of string beyond the bridge is capable of vibrating and can help produce extra overtones and in general a ‘bigger’ sound.
There are plenty of resources to learn about the whole mechanism inside the piano, but I think the above points are the most valid for starters. Now let’s dig into some more meaty information.
As there are quite a few techniques we will cover here, we will organize them by starting with the techniques that are used nearest to the hammers, moving toward the bridge and tail of the piano as we go.
Keep in mind that all of these techniques use microphones “under the lid” of the piano, very close to the strings themselves.
1) The Percussive Rock Piano
This technique highlights the percussive nature of the instrument by placing mics nearly on top of the strings over where the hammers strike. It is useful for very busy rock mixes where the piano needs to be heard but doesn’t need much depth. You can place mics in XY, ORTF, and AB spaced pair (allowing a variety of stereo widths), and you can also feel free to use pretty much any polar pattern, except figure-8.
Always keep in mind that a true omni will accurately hear down to the lowest bass the instrument can produce, while many cardioids have some sort of roll-off. Also, true omnis will not exhibit the proximity effect, while cardioids will.
The distance from the strings that the mics are placed will determine how percussive the sound is: the closer, the more percussive; the further, the more balanced. By “close” I mean as close as just a few inches from the strings, and moving further away from there.
2) The Wide Stereo, Balanced Piano
This technique can provide a warm yet detailed tone, but will always create a wide stereo image. Again using cardioid or omni mics, place one mike over the upper treble section of the instrument and place one mike over the lower bass section of the instrument.
The mic over the high strings will be closer to the keyboard, while the bass mic will be closer to the tail of the instrument. Again, distance can vary from just a few inches to sometimes as much as a foot from the strings.
In this case, the closer the mic, the more detailed the sound, while the further the mic the more accurately you can capture the entire range of the instrument.
3) The Mono, Or Small Stereo, Balanced Piano
Working just inside the crook of the piano, (the place where the curve of the frame makes the piano narrower at the tail than at the keyboard) an XY, M and S, or a simple mono mic can be used to get the most balanced representation of the instrument while maintaining a good sum to mono when necessary.
In this case, you probably won’t want to get too close to the strings so that you can be sure to capture the entire instrument. I suggest using cardioids here to help eliminate unwanted room sound.
Try to aim the mic or array of mics toward the place where the lid connects to the frame while staying at least a good foot or two away from the strings. The sound isn’t quite as detailed, but the stereo choices available during mix make this a good “go-to” technique.
4) The Mellow Piano
The further you move toward the tail of the instrument, the warmer the tone you can capture off the soundboard. Feel free to experiment with distances and miking techniques; there isn’t one I’d necessarily recommend here.
For an extremely warm sound, try miking the underside of the soundboard. You might need at least one mic on the upper side to capture enough detail to make the sound useable.
5) The Most Balanced And Natural Piano
If we move our mic arrays just outside of the frame of the piano, we can still get a close sound and probably the best natural balance of the instrument. For this technique, I like to use an AB pair, spaced only 1 or 2 feet apart, near the crook of the piano but at least two or three feet away from the frame of the instrument. Be sure to get your array high enough that the microphones can “see” all of the strings in the instrument.
As this technique captures the most room, it might not fit a busy rock mix, but instead could be better for solo jazz or similar.
As the mics are moved away from the hammers and toward the tail of the piano, the warmth of tone increases while the percussiveness decreases. Even in this 5th technique, while the crook of the piano might provide the most balanced tone, you may want to move your array toward the keyboard or toward the tail depending on the type of sound you’re going for.
I almost always use omnis to record a piano due to their ability to accurately capture the entire range of the instrument, but don’t be afraid to try and skillfully use the proximity effect of cardioids for some interesting sounds. If you’re recording jazz, microphones like Schoeps, DPA, Earthworks, and Sennheiser MKHs are usually the best. They provide great frequency response and transparency, which is expected in the genre.
With rock and pop material, feel free to use anything you can dream up to achieve the desired sound. Tube mikes, through a tube pre, and to tape can turn a banging pianist into the perfect fit for a track. Yet, transparent can also still be the way to go. Use your ears to help you determine what technique is best.
Internationally awarded and recognized, Charles Szczepanek has enjoyed performing for diverse audiences as well as engineering and producing for many highly-respected artists across multiple genres. Hailed a “whiz” and “genius” by some, he has collaborated with Grammy Award winners. Additional personal achievements include multiple international prizes for piano performance, recognition by Steinway for “Outstanding Piano Performance,” as well as awards in music composition, ensemble direction, and vocal performance.
Be sure to visit the Pro Audio Files for more great recording content. To comment or ask questions about this article go here.
Posted by Keith Clark on 03/15 at 02:20 PM
CRAS Includes Lexicon Processors In Audio Recording Curriculum
Students are immersed in learning how to use a wide range of professional gear, including Lexicon PCM92 Reverb and Effects Processor and MX400 4-In/4-Out Reverb/Effects Processor with USB “Hardware Plug-In” capability.
The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences (CRAS) is a technical school specializing in audio recording, engineering and production education. Its Tempe, Arizona and Gilbert, Arizona facilities train students for entry-level jobs in the recording industry.
Students are immersed in learning how to use a wide range of professional gear, including Lexicon PCM92 Reverb and Effects Processor and MX400 4-In/4-Out Reverb/Effects Processor with USB “Hardware Plug-In” capability.
Four Lexicon MX400 processors are integrated into the school’s analog and digital Pro Tools-based Studio A, B and C facilities, and two PCM92 processors are in the main Studio A rooms on each campus. In addition to being part of each studio’s gear, they’re a fundamental part of the students’ education.
“Our students get exposed to Lexicon early on,” said Tony Nunes, audio recording and production instructor at CRAS. “They start by learning basic chops and how to integrate outboard gear into the total recording setup. Our focus is very much hands-on, and we want students to be familiar with Lexicon as it’s what they’ll be running into in professional record production studios.” In addition to the MX400 and PCM92, CRAS is equipped with legacy Lexicon PCM 80 and PCM 70 reverb and effects processors.
The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences curriculum is organized in cycles, with Lexicon used in a number of programs and clinics in the cycles. Nunes begins by teaching students the basics of time-based processing including getting familiar with the MX400 and PCM92’s effects and parameters, choosing the best reverb for a vocalist or particular instrument, learning proper signal routing, when to use mono or stereo ins and outs and getting familiar with using multiple effects on different tracks.
Students progress to working on getting the best sounds from drums, vocalists, a three-piece band, electric and acoustic guitars and other instruments, using mics, the MX400 and PCM92 and other studio tools. For the eighth cycle, students must engineer a drum clinic where they choose the mics, put up a previously recorded session and overdub new tracks with a live drummer. Part of the assignment is to choose the Lexicon plate reverb that sounds best with the snare and sits well in the mix.
“We are very excited to be a small part of the wonderful work being done at CRAS,” said Noel Larson, Market Manager for Portable PA, Tour and Recording at HARMAN Signal Processing. “Lexicon defines reverb for modern recording and we want to make sure the next generation of top performers, engineers and producers feel the same way the current generation does.”
“Teaching our students how to mix is very much integrated into the curriculum at every step,” Nunes noted, “but we really start getting into time-based processing and advanced techniques for using the MX400 and PCM92 during the last three cycles.”
Here, students learn to fine-tune every aspect of their mix, dig deep into Lexicon’s choice of mono and stereo reverbs, filters and modulation effects and discover how they can be used to enhance the acoustic ambience of a track and add the finishing touches to a recording.
Nunes concluded, “In these sessions the Lexicon 80, 70, MX400 and PCM92 are always on and are always providing a contribution to the mixes.”
Posted by Julie Clark on 03/15 at 02:16 PM
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Matching Microphones & Preamps: A Crucial Combination
John Hardy & George Massenburg weigh in on tubes vs. solid-state.
Microphones and preamplifiers are the “chicken and egg” of audio. Want to start a discussion among audio folk? Ask whether mics or preamps are more important.
Later we’ll look at interviews with George Massenburg and John Hardy to get their take on transformer and transformerless preamps and solid state versus tubes. That’s the the main course.
But before we get to them, here’s a few appetizers.
For the entry-level engineer, getting better sound can be very frustrating. You may not be able to hear how great that new mic sounds until you get a better preamp.
Even then, if the mix bus or monitor section is the weakest link, the improvement won’t get to your ears. Even the cable can matter. Some colleagues and I were pained to find this out a number of years ago when comparing a Gefell mic with a Neumann U 87 and AKG C414.
In one studio, we got predictably different frequency responses, depending on whether we used the “house” cable, or Gotham GAC-3, or EMT 2022. Interesting, though, when we tried a similar test in another studio, the results were not so dramatic.
Why? Probably impedance differences. The first studio had a built-in wall panel and snake. The second didn’t. Was it the way the mics and snake interacted, or the way the snake and the first studio’s API console interacted. Or both?
The first studio used API console mic preamps, the second studio had an original issue Mackie 1604. Maybe the Mackie wasn’t open enough to pass the differences.
`Want a simple way to test how responsive your chain is to improvement? Listen to a “humble” Shure SM58 through your existing chain, and then using the same microphone cable, plug the SM58 into your prospective new preamp and come in at line level to your mixer.
If you can’t hear a world of difference, the prospective preamp isn’t that much of an improvement or—and this is a BIG or—something else in the chain is eating up the improvement.
To Tube or Not to Tube?
Tube circuits are sometimes elevated into mythological status, primarily because they were all we had before solid state came along.
But the truth is that a good solid-state preamp sounds much better than a poorly designed tube preamp, and a good tube preamp sounds better than a poorly designed solid-state preamp.
It’s a pretty simple quality issue.
Having said that, if you’re working with audio that has a lot of transient material—the result of pretty much anything you record where you hit something—a tube circuit can “round off” the peaks of those transients less objectionably than a poorly designed solid state preamp which clips the transients. The plate of the tube absorbs some of the loudest transients.
Of course, that “rounding off” of the transient peaks is part of the coloration of the circuit, and technically, it’s distortion.
Arguably, transformers are a throwback from the early Bell Labs days when the input and output characteristics of amplifiers required specific impedances, and because transformers are a great way to stop the flow of DC from one stage to the next.
In its simplest form, a transformer consists of two coils of wire—a primary and secondary coil, wound around a common core. Even though the primary and secondary wires may touch, their insulation keeps them from being directly connected.
Instead, the electrical energy is induced—picked up literally out of the air—because the two coils are so close. Transformers with metal cores also affect the transfer of the electrical energy.
Now, let’s sit back and let George Massenburg and John Hardy answer a few questions for us all.
Ty Ford: Some microphones have transformers at their outputs. Some are transformerless, some preamps have transformers at their inputs, some don’t.
Are there any rules that determine what happens to the sound when mixing and matching transformer and non-transformer mics and preamps, or are the individual circuits so different that simple guidelines can’t be established?
George Massenburg: Well, it won’t surprise anyone to know that I have different rules. Generally, I want to keep a signal as clean and transparent as possible for as long as possible.
I pretty much prefer mics with good output transformers or no transformers, like the Schoeps design.
I can’t really say that I like input transformers on mic preamps. Frankly, if I want a roll-off and low-frequency distortion I’ll add it to the degree that I want it, most often later in mixing.
John Hardy: Generally, either type of mic can be used with either type of mic preamp. Limiting this discussion to the interface between mic and mic preamp, it is mostly the interaction between the output impedance of the mic and the input impedance of the mic preamp that causes audible differences as the result of an “EQ” effect. If those impedances are the same at all frequencies (linear), there will be no EQ effect.
If the impedances are nonlinear—having some degree of inductance and/or capacitance in addition to the basic resistance—in or near the audio bandwidth, there can be an audible difference.
Equalizers use inductors and/or capacitors to create frequency changes. It is not the presence or absence of a transformer that matters, it is the linearity of the impedance.
It’s easier to have a linear impedance in a transformerless circuit, but a well designed transformer can have a linear impedance too.
Ty Ford: What are the advantages and disadvantages of mics with output transformers?
George Massenburg: I don’t like them for any reason. Even in live situations where one might reason that transformers would reduce interference over long distances, I avoid them where possible.
John Hardy: A transformer at the output of a mic can step the impedance of the mic up or down as required. It also blocks the +48 volt phantom supply from getting into the circuitry or capsule of the mic where damage could occur.
It’s a similar situation at the input of a mic preamp.
If there is no transformer at the input of a mic preamp, capacitors are usually used to keep the +48 volt phantom supply voltage from traveling forward into the active circuitry of the preamp where it could cause damage.
Capacitors can cause phase shift at low frequencies. They can also smear the audio signal because of a problem known as dielectric absorption. Some capacitors are much better than others in this regard.
Transformers have their own potential problems, including phase shift and ringing at high frequencies, and core saturation at high signal levels and/or low frequencies. A well-designed transformer minimizes these problems.
On the positive side, a transformer coupled mic preamp has a much higher common mode impedance and a much higher breakdown voltage than most transformerless mic preamps, which results in the potential for a much higher common mode rejection ratio, and the ability to handle and reject much higher common mode signal levels.
This is extremely important where there are high levels of RF or other interference.
Ty Ford: Are there any ways to make better choices about mics and preamps than “Read the specs, listen, if you like what you hear, buy it?”
George Massenburg: The people who “listen” better do better work. There is no short-cut, nor is there a push-button answer here.
John Hardy: There are some recorded tracks available that demonstrate many mic preamps and mics, but since you were not there to hear the original performance, you do not know all of the details of the signal path, room effects, what the original sound source sounded like from the exact mic position, etc.
You must try things under your own circumstances, listening from the mic position and eliminating as many variables as possible.
Ty Ford: There are now tube mics that are quieter than some FET mics. Other than a tube’s absorptive capabilities as a result of plate saturation, have better components and circuit designs made the tube/solid state argument moot?
George Massenburg: Well, I don’t know anything about tubes, but I can tell you that discrete components haven’t evolved as far or as quickly as other semi technologies.
I would really like to have faster, higher-gain, higher-voltage transistors to use, but it just hasn’t happened.
John Hardy: There is certainly much confusion and misinformation regarding the supposed need for tube circuits to “warm-up” the often cold and harsh sound of digital circuitry. The cold and harsh quality is not the fault of solid-state circuitry. It is the fault of crappy solid-state circuitry that happens to sound cold and harsh because it is crappy.
A well-designed solid-state mic preamp can do wonders to warm things up. Actually, a well-designed solid-state circuit is probably bringing things back to “room temperature,” which I think is what most people really want. A tube circuit may be going beyond room temperature to a colored sound quality.
Radial Appoints Stage Audio Works Dealer For African Region
Radia Engineering is pleased to announce the appointment of Stage Audio Works as their distributor for the African region.
Radia Engineering is pleased to announce the appointment of Stage Audio Works as their distributor for the African region.
Stage Audio Works, based in Southern Africa, is a leading supplier of cutting-edge live event audio and lighting technologies.
“Their philosophy of providing the highest quality products in their distribution lines up perfectly with Radial Engineering’s product brands; Radial Pro Audio, Tonebone guitar pedals and Primacoustic acoustic products,” explains Steve McKay, international sales manager for Radial. “Having well developed service, training and technical support departments further enhances the possibilities for the future.”
“We are excited to increase Radial’s presence across the African region,” adds Gustav Barnard, technical director for Stage Audio Works. “The quality of the construction and audio performance make Radial the perfect fit in our product portfolio of world-leading brands.”
Both companies see the synergy in cooperating and look forward to a long and healthy relationship.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
FutureLight Entertainment Succeeds With Lectrosonics
Lectrosonics wireless microphone technology simplifies a myriad of production tasks
Be it live show concert sound, location sound recording for TV and film, special events such as the NY Film Festival, theatrical projects, etc., FutureLight Entertainment is a management, production, and creative design company specializing in delivering artistic and revolutionary content for all platforms of entertainment media.
With well-known projects such as ABC’s Ugly Betty and concert work for artists such as Pitbull and Carlos Santana to their credit, the ability to deliver the best possible audio quality is a given. That’s precisely why the FutureLight Entertainment team relies on Lectrosonics wireless microphone technology.
Stephanotis ‘Nōtis’ Fulivai is FutureLight Entertainment’s CEO, Head Creative and Field Producer. As an industry trained sound designer, engineer, and music programmer, Nōtis oversees all projects, events, and campaigns the company is involved with.
Over the years, he’s used a lot of Lectrosonics equipment, including the company’s LMa beltpack and WM watertight beltpack transmitters, UCR411a compact receivers, and SRB two-channel slot-mount diversity receivers.
“Lectrosonics’ wired sound quality harnessed in a mobile pack that gives me little or no RF frequency hits makes me call up their gear time and time again,” Nōtis reports. “I’ve used Lectrosonics equipment since 2007 when I was a FOH engineer at the Rio All-Suite Hotel in Las Vegas.
“During my time there, I always requested products like Lectrosonics’ IS400 wireless beltpack instrument system or R400 diversity receivers in the Tech/Production rider for any event or high level production I was involved in that required a reliable wireless pack for a musician-heavy gig.”
“For me, just seeing the words ‘Lectrosonics’ written down on any tech or production rider makes my life easier from the get go,” Nōtis continued. “I just know I’m going to have a reliable piece of equipment that will work flawlessly and seamlessly in my production and work flow. Lectrosonics’ gear inspires confidence, which is great because it’s one less thing to worry about and, for me; this enables the work pace and energy to be focused on other issues.”
For a recent theatrical production, Nōtis and his crew augmented their LMa and WM transmitters with Lectrosonics’ HM172 earset and M152 lavaliere microphones.
“I’ve been really impressed with every Lectrosonics product I’ve encountered,” Nōtis says, “and at some point, I’m going to get my hands on the company’s HH Digital Hybrid handheld transmitter with the interchangeable capsules. I’ve been particularly impressed with the capabilities of that model.”
In addition to the pristine sound quality, drop-out free performance, and RF agility of Lectrosonics’ products, Nōtis is equally impressed with the equipment’s reliability, which has never had fail on him.
“Having Lectrosonics gear on any project—big or small—automatically brings a high level of production value to what we’re working on,” he said. “The company’s gear delivers instant credibility. I am really thankful for Lectrosonics and all that they do to make all of us in this industry deliver and create the best possible art and media we can.”
QSC Presenting Charity Golf Tournament To Benefit Sandy Hook School Support Fund
Corporate sponsors and individuals invited to sign on
In the wake of the tragic elementary school shootings this past December, QSC Audio will present a golf tournament on May 4, 2013 at the Tustin Ranch Golf Club in Tustin, CA to benefit the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.
There are a variety of ways for both companies and individuals to partner with QSC to benefit this worthwhile cause, from corporate sponsorships, banner displays, gift bags, foursomes, contest sponsorships, meal sponsorships, and individual golfer registration and lunch tickets.
“We welcome golf enthusiasts from across the industry in aiding this very worthwhile cause,” states Joe Pham, QSC president and CEO. “Now is the time for those that can to lend their support, whether as sponsor, player, or simply by offering a charitable donation. We are very grateful for participation at any level.”
The event will begin at 7 a.m. with onsite registration, and highlights of the day will include a helicopter ball drop, an awards ceremony for the top golf foursomes, breakfast and lunch buffets, prize drawings, and several contests including a closest-to-the-pin contest, hole-in-one contest, and longest drive contest.
Go here for more information on sponsorship opportunities or to sign-up for the golf event.
Registration and sponsorship deadline is April 15, 2013.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Studio Tip Of The Week: Stereo Mix Compression Tricks
Is it possible to compress the vocals in the stereo mix and leave the drums unaffected?
Q: How can I use compression on my final stereo mix that will affect the vocals and not the drums?
A: Compression on your final mix is an art that many mastering engineers have been able to hang their hat on.
In other words, it’s not the easiest thing to master (pun intended). There’s really no way to do anything to the stereo mix without it having some effect on all the elements.
With that said, you can sometimes manipulate things in ways that can emphasize certain aspects of a recording while not causing too much harm to others. The secret to this with compression comes from understanding the attack and release parameters.
The basic idea is that fast attack compression will usually help to tame drums on stereo masters, while slower attack settings tend to affect vocals and other similar instruments (bass, strings, etc.). Just how fast or slow depends a lot on the specific instruments and how they are mixed.
There’s simply no hard rule on this, to get started you can turn up a pretty extreme amount of compression and play with the attack and release controls. You’ll begin to be able to hear how different elements are changed by the compression.
Once you get close to understanding the attack and release times that change the vocals while not killing the attack of the drums you can dial it back to a more reasonable setting and go from there.
It’s all about experimentation.
For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com
Transform Your Mind: Download Free White Paper On Transformers In Audio
Key principles of transformers and how they shape the scope of pro audio equipment and systems
A new white paper, “An Introduction to Transformers in Audio Devices,” is now available for free download here on PSW. (Download it here.)
Presented by Lundahl, a world leader in the design and production of transformers, the white paper provides a deeper understanding of the history and principles of transformers, an unsung hero of modern audio components and systems.
Author Ken DeLoria, senior technical editor of ProSoundWeb and Live Sound International (and founder of Apogee Sound), also details the key operating principles of transformers and how they shape the scope of professional audio equipment, including mic preamps, DI boxes and many more.
Note that this is just the first of several free white papers on transformers and related audio topics. New installments will be posted here on PSW and available for download on a regular basis.
Again, download your free copy of the white paper here.
Monday, March 11, 2013
In The Studio: Tonal Factors Of An Electric Guitar
A discussion of both the known factors as well as key intangibles
Here’s an excerpt from The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook, available here.
Just like most things in life, something that seems so simple on the outside is very intricate on the inside and a pickup is no exception.
Here are the numerous factors that contribute to a pickup’s sound.
• The number of turns or winding. This is the number of turns of wire around the bobbin of the pickup. The more turns, the louder the pickup, but the worse the high-frequency response becomes.
The number of turns is measured by the electronic resistance of the wire, which is measured in ohms. The higher the ohms value, the hotter the pickup but the less high-frequency response you’ll have.
Humbucking pickups have more resistance than a single coil because there are more turns of wire, which is why they’re hotter and have less high end.
• Type of wire used. The diameter and insulation determines the number of windings that can fit on a bobbin, which will determine the resistance, which determines the output, etc.
• Type of winding method used. Nany of the pickups in the early days of the electric guitar were wound by hand, which meant that there were more or less than the required number of windings on the bobbin, and an uneven wind would also affect the capacitance of the pickup, which can cause a peak in the frequency response.
This problem was virtually eliminated when manufacturers switched to machine winding, but while every pickup was now the same, some of the magic that occasionally came from a hand-wound pickup also disappeared.
• The type of magnets used. Although Alnico (a blend of aluminum, nickel and cobalt) is the alloy of choice for most pickups, occasionally you’ll find pickups made of other materials such as ceramic or neodymium. This will affect the strength of the magnetic field which we’ll cover next.
• The strength of the magnets used. Magnets used for pickups are categorized by strength on a scale of two to five with five being the strongest. A stronger magnet will produce a louder and brighter sound while a weaker one will produce one that’s warmer.
• The magnet height. How close the individual magnets are to the strings will determine how loud that string is. On pickups that have adjustable pole pieces that’s not so much of a problem, but on pickups with fixed pole pieces (like a Fender Strat or Tele) that could cause a slight imbalance in the string output.
As an example, prior to the late 1960s, most guitarists used a wound G string, so the fixed height of the magnets on a Strat were different to compensate.
• Pickup cover. Metal covers on humbuckers can cause a resonance that results in feedback problems at high volumes. That’s why many of the early rockers removed their pickup covers, and why many guitars and pickups are sold that way today.
• Pickup potting. Many pickups are sealed in wax to eliminate vibration induced signals that make a pickup microphonic. The heat from the hot wax can weaken the magnet though, thereby changing the pickup’s sound.
• Potentiometers. Although not exactly a part of the pickup itself, the volume and tone pots are part of the electronic circuit along with the pickup and can affect the sound. The higher the resistance of the pot, the more high end will pass.
Fenders use 250k ohm pots, Gibson uses 500k, and many other manufacturers use 1 Meg pots.
There are other factors such as winding direction, magnetic polarity, and the type of bobbins used, but their contribution to the final sound is subtle at best.
As if the known factors in building a pickup weren’t enough, consider the many intangible factors as well. For instance, most pickups loose their magnetic strength over time because of environment and electrical interference.
Pickups can become weakened or demagnetized completely by leaning your guitar against an amplifier with large transformers, or even from taking your guitar too close to the train motor of a subway (as happened with Andy Summers of the Police).
Another intangible is the fact that tolerances of just about every component were much looser until the 1990s. While the difference was indeed subtle, add enough components at the edge of their tolerances together and you suddenly get a pickup that sounds different even though it’s made the same.
Go here to acquire The Ultimate Guitar Tone Handbook.
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.