Thursday, June 20, 2013
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
Waves Audio & Abbey Road Studios Unveil RS56 Passive EQ Plug-In
Faithfully recreates the RS56 Universal Tone Control, used for years at Abbey Road Studios
Waves Audio and long-term collaborators, London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios, have introduced the new RS56 passive EQ plug-in, based on the original RS56 Universal Tone Control utilized on a multitude of classic recordings.
A passive equalizer with powerful sound-shaping capabilities, the RS56 Universal Tone Control was originally introduced in the early 1950s and used at Abbey Road Studios to prepare recordings for the record-lathe, as part of the process we now know as “mastering.”
Later, Abbey Road’s pop engineers began using the RS56 for studio recordings because of its abilities to dramatically manipulate sound – unlike the basic treble and bass EQs found on the mixing consoles at the time. This earned it the nickname “The Curve Bender.”
Waves and Abbey Road Studios have faithfully recreated the unique magic of the RS56, using advanced circuit modeling techniques based on the original schematics.
Like its hardware predecessor, the Waves Abbey Road RS56 passive EQ plug-in features three bands with four selectable center frequencies for each and six different filter types, plus independent or linked control over the left and right channels.
Abbey Road Studios director of engineering Peter Cobbin says, “The RS56 plug-in has already joined the ranks of my go-to list, as it delivers an inviting sonic character along with a logical functionality. I would encourage any engineer to get creative with some lovely old-time curve bending, and tap into this fabulous piece of Abbey Road heritage.”
—Bass decibels sets the amount of low frequency boost or cut
—Bass width sets the shape of the filter
—Bass frequency sets the low frequency cutoff point
—Bass on/off deactivates low frequency processing
—Treble decibels sets the amount of midrange frequency boost or cut
—Treble width sets the shape of the filter
—Treble frequency sets the midrange frequency cutoff point
—Top on/off deactivates high frequency processing
—In Stereo and Duo modes: Controls the left and right channel levels
—In MS mode: The left knob controls the Mid channel; the right knob controls the Sides channel level.
—Phase inverts the phase of the signal
EQ Mode selects stereo processing mode (stereo component only):
—Stereo relatively links the channels and applies the same processing to both.
—Duo unlinks the channels and offers the option of applying different processing to each.
—MS applies an MS encoding matrix on the input to the plugin
—Graph Range sets the range of the EQ graph
—VU Meters display output VU readings
—VU Level Calibration sets the dBFS level which appears as 0 VU
The Waves Abbey Road RS56 passive EQ plug-in is Native and SoundGrid compatible. It is not included in any Waves bundle, and is only available separately.
It is now available with a U.S. MSRP of Native $200, with a special introductory price of $99, and SoundGrid $300, with a special introductory price of $149.
Radial Introduces PreMax Combination Preamp And EQ Channel Strip For 500 Series
Includes a low-noise op-amp input coupled with Radial's unique Accustate gain control
Radial Engineering has announced the PreMax channel strip, a combination preamp and 3-band equalizer module for the popular 500 series format.
The PreMax begins with a low-noise op-amp input coupled with Radial’s unique Accustate gain control that simultaneously sets the input sensitivity and signal gain to deliver ultra-quiet performance at all levels. Visual monitoring is supported with LEDS for signal and overload.
The preamp then feeds a traditional 3-band shelving EQ for tone shaping. A front panel switch enables the user to bypass the EQ to compare the pre-post effect. This is augmented with a high-pass filter to eliminate low-end resonance that can cause a recorded track to sound muddy.
A 180-degree polarity reverse works double duty to either help align stereo mic placement or to help tame acoustic hot spots when using the PreMax in a live stage setting.
For safety, the 48-volt phantom power switch is recessed to prevent accidental turn-on which could damage tweeters or vintage ribbon microphones.
When used with a Radial Workhorse power rack, the Omniport jack is configured as an instrument input and activated using the front panel switch. When not connected, the switch acts like a microphone mute.
The thick front panel is supported with a 16-gauge L-frame and the circuit is encased in galvalume to minimize noise caused by outside electromagnetic fields.
Switches are also encased in steel and the sealed potentiometers employ steel shafts for extra durability. Connection to the frame features double sided gold contacts for optimal signal flow.
According to Radial sales manager Roc Bubel: “When we started building 500 series products our primary goal was to solidify the standard so that we would create a bunch of useful modules.
“We started with the Workhorse and mixer, a preamp, compressor and a Reamper. We now offer close to 20 different modules, each of which address a different market niche or price point. The latest in our series is the PreMax, designed to bring greater density and affordability to the 500 series format by combining a preamp and EQ into a single space module.
“And at a retail of $350, we are confident that the PreMax will provide certain segments of the market with the performance and price point to suit their needs.”
PreMax won a Best of Show Award at NAMM this past January. It starts shipping June 17, 2013 and retails for $350 USD.
Posted by Keith Clark on 06/17 at 01:15 PM
In The Studio: Four Vocal Microphone Placement Techniques
Plus an exercise to lead you through different ways of vocal miking
The vocals are almost always in the spotlight of a song, yet sometimes they receive far less attention during setup than other instruments like the drums.
In this excerpt from Audio Recording Basic Training, you’ll not only get a few great tips, but an exercise that will lead you through the different ways of vocal miking that will show you their pros and cons.
Just like with a great sounding instrument, many times with a good singer you’ll get the “sound” automatically just by putting him/her in front of the right microphone. On the other hand, with a bad or inexperienced singer even a high priced microphone or signal processing won’t add the polish you’re looking for.
That said, if you start with the correct technique, you’re halfway there.
There are a number of things to remember before you begin to place the mic:
— The best mic in the house won’t necessarily get the best vocal sounds, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different mics.
— Decoupling of the stand from the floor will help get rid of many unwanted low-frequency rumbles that occur from truck traffic, machinery being used down the street, footsteps, and things that are even lower in frequency than normal hearing. Just place the stand on a couple of mouse pads or a rug for an inexpensive solution.
—One of the main things that you’re trying to do with mic placement is eliminate pops, lip smacks, and breath blasts.
—An easy way to have a vocalist gauge the distance from the mic is by hand lengths. An open hand is approximately eight inches while a fist is about four inches. By saying, “Stay a hand away”, the vocalist can easily judge his distance and usually doesn’t forget (see image at right).
Exercise: Recording The Lead Vocal
A) Place the mic even with the vocalist’s lips about one hand away (see the figure on the left) and have him or her sing the verse of a song. Did you hear any pops or breath blasts?
B) Move the vocalist back to about two hands away and sing the same part of the song. Turn up the gain so it’s the same as before. Did you hear any pops or breath blasts now?
C) Move the vocalist back to one hand away and readjust the gain. Place the mic even with the vocalist’s nose and have the him sing the verse of a song. Did you hear any pops or breath blasts? Did the sound of the vocal change? Is it more or less defined?
D) Now place the mic even with the vocalist’s eyes and point it down towards the lips. Have him sing the verse of a song. Did you hear any pops or breath blasts? Did the sound of the vocal change? Is it more or less defined?
E) Now place the mic even with the vocalist’s lips about one hand away again. Either change the pickup pattern to omnidirectional or change the mic to one with an omni pattern. Have him sing the verse of a song again. Did you hear any pops or breath blasts? Did the sound of the vocal change? Is it more or less defined?
F) Place the mic so there’s no breath blasts or pops.
Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. For more information be sure to check out his website and blog.
Posted by Keith Clark on 06/17 at 12:22 PM
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Manhattan Center Studios Extends Its Riedel Intercom System To Seamlessly Connect All Venues
One of the largest Riedel intercom integrations in the America
Manhattan Center Studios is extending its Riedel Communications intercom system to tie together all of its studios and performance halls, as well as a new client news network, Al Jazeera America, that will be completed this summer. Manhattan Center Studios is one of the largest Riedel intercom integrations in the Americas.
“We believe that the Riedel intercom is on another level from its competition, and with every software release, it becomes both more powerful and easier to program,” says Marvin Williams, director of engineering and operations at Manhattan Center Studios. “There is no request a production or client can make that we cannot accommodate.
“Now that we are completely Riedel — Artist matrix and keypanels, Performer digital party lines, and Acrobat wireless — the whole system is a pleasure to use. Investing in Riedel is one of the best decisions we ever made.”
The Manhattan Center is known for hosting performances and special events in which media and entertainment come together. With its unique location in the heart of midtown Manhattan, the facility is a premier mid-size venue for corporate galas, charity fundraisers, award shows, rock concerts, and fashion shows.
The Manhattan Center is home to the Hammerstein Ballroom, originally created as an opera house, as well as a full ballroom, two full TV studios, the Log Cabin and Studio 7 audio studios, and 20 plus edit suites, all of which are connected with Riedel intercom systems.
The new installation includes 64-port and 32-port Artist digital matrix intercom mainframes, both equipped with redundant power supplies and CPU cards and featuring fiber connectivity. MADI Client cards allow the transparent transport of up to 64 MADI signals through the Artist infrastructure. For accessing the intercom matrix, a combination of new OLED rack-mount (RCP-1112) and desktop (DCP-1116) key panels have been distributed across the facility.
In addition, their Acrobat wireless system was expanded with a new CC-60 system controller, ten new beltpacks, and additional antennas to enhance coverage. The Manhattan Center Studios also added two commentary control panels (CCP-1116) that can each support two commentators, for use during live events or voiceovers.
“Manhattan Center Studios was one of our first U.S. customers, and today it continues to be one of our greatest partners,” says Patti Gunnell, entertainment solutions manager, North America, Riedel Communications. “Customers like Manhattan Center Studios, who demand products that are both flexible and reliable, have made our Artist product the best digital matrix intercom platform available today.”
Monday, June 10, 2013
Universal Audio Now Shipping Flagship Apollo 16 Interface & New Apollo Software
New software delivers multi-unit cascading, virtual I/O, and more
Universal Audio (UA) is now shipping the new Apollo 16 audio interface and new UAD software v.7.0, which provides multi-unit cascading, Virtual I/O, and other enhancements to both the Apollo 16 and Apollo audio interfaces.
Apollo 16 is Universal Audio’s flagship 24-bit/192 kHz audio interface, delivering world-class conversion with 16 x 16 analog I/O.
The FireWire/Thunderbolt-ready interface combines superior sound and flexible routing with onboard UAD-2 QUAD processing, allowing the tracking of audio in real time through the full range of classic UAD analog emulation plug-ins — from Neve, Studer, Manley, Lexicon and more — on both Mac and Windows 7. (*Requires Windows 7 64-bit edition operating system and a qualified PCIe-to-FireWire adaptor. Thunderbolt option is Mac-only.)
Apollo 16 offers meticulous analog circuit design, top-end converters, and DC-coupled outputs. Two Apollo 16 units can be cascaded over MADI for an expanded system with eight UAD processors and 32 x 32 simultaneous analog I/O, capable of handling large professional mixes.
Apollo 16 also offers compatibility with Intel’s high-bandwidth Thunderbolt technology on Macs via a user-installable dual-port Thunderbolt Option Card (sold separately). Thunderbolt provides greater UAD plug-in instances, improved performance at high sample rates, and reduced UAD plug-in latency in the DAW versus Apollo’s standard FireWire connection.
Now shipping, Apollo 16 carries an estimated street price of $2,999 US. Apollo’s Thunderbolt Option Card is also now available for an estimated street price of $499 US.
UAD Software v7.0 provides significant enhancements to Apollo’s workflow and expandability and adds the new Ocean Way Studios, SPL TwinTube, and Sonnox Inflator plug-ins to the UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform.
Among these enhancements is multi-unit cascading, which allows for combining two Apollo 16 interfaces (for 32 x 32 analog I/O) or two Apollo interfaces (for 16 x 16 analog I/O, with eight Apollo mic preamps) into a single elegant system via FireWire or Thunderbolt.
The boost in Apollo connectivity is navigated via a redesigned Console application, offering better visual feedback, a new PT Mode which simplifies outboard hardware integration with Pro Tools, and a new Virtual I/O feature that allows for Realtime UAD Processing of DAW tracks and virtual instruments.
Download UAD Software v7.0 here.
DPA Microphones Appoints Niels Jørgen Øhrgaard
Øhrgaard joins the company as Executive VP for Sales.
In a move that will significantly strengthen its market position, DPA Microphones has appointed Niels Jørgen Øhrgaard as its new Executive VP for Sales.
Øhrgaard joins DPA Microphones from Reson where he was Executive VP Global Sales and Marketing. He has also held similar positions at other high tech companies including Hasselblad A/S and ScanView A/S – Purup Eskofot A/S.
“Niels Jørgen has spent the last 20 years developing and growing sales globally for a range of companies and we are delighted that DPA will now benefit from this extensive experience,” says Christian Poulsen, CEO of DPA Microphones. “His appointment comes at an exciting time for DPA.
“We have recently introduced the new d:facto Vocal Microphone, which has been well received by the audio industry, and we are also introducing other new product ranges that will appeal to a wide variety of industry sectors. Having Niels Jørgen on board will allow us to capitalize on existing business channels and extend into new business areas.”
After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, Jørgen Øhrgaard moved into R&D and then sales where his negotiation skills and ability to motivate staff produced outstanding results for the companies he worked for.
Now based in Copenhagen, he has travelled extensively and has lived in various countries including the Philippines, Chile and Kenya.
“DPA’s microphone products have an international reputation for audio accuracy, reliability and superb engineering and this heritage offers enormous potential for the company to grow its global business,” concludes Øhrgaard. “There are numerous applications for DPA’s technology and this gives us plenty of scope to develop new business channels.
“I hope that my experience in dealing with strategic sales will ensure the profitability of the company and extend that profitability to DPA’s partners around the world.”
In The Studio: Mastering As Another Mix Layer
As important and meaningful as any other process one might undergo with audio
I often hear the question (especially from non-engineers), “why do I need mastering?”
This question is puzzling on many layers, but let’s break it down philosophically:
—Does your mix sound radio-ready after you’re done mixing?
—Does your mix fit harmonically and dynamically with the other mixes (on an album)?
—Have you thought about how your audience is going to respond to the mix (especially as compared to the other mixes on an album)?
—Are you prepared to backup, store, and save all relevant masters and archives needed for replication and long-term storage?
These are all very important things to consider about commercial releases and if you are in any way unsure about the answers to any of these questions, those are the areas you should focus on.
Mastering is often seen as a daunting process, full of mystery and ambiguity as to how it actually contributes to the recording process. Once one actually becomes acquainted with the finer details of the mastering process, it becomes abundantly clear that it is as important and meaningful as any other process one might undergo with audio (it just isn’t as immediately recognizable).
In my experiences, my signal flow for a mastering project usually ends up as follows:
—Initial Low-End EQ – This should be a stereo EQ that most likely has sweepable parameters and control, provides a lot of options for “leveling” the low-end of a mix.
—Initial Low-End Compression – This should be a stereo compressor that you know and trust, especially for slow attack and release times (for dealing with long waveforms – low end).
—Initial High-End Compression – This should be a stereo compressor that you know and trust, and that has reliable low compression ratios, reliable fast-attack/release times and most often a PDR option for varying release times.
—High-End EQ/ Low-End Management – This should be a stereo EQ that is specifically “sharp” sounding (able to cut or boost tight bandwidths efficiently) and should also have a fairly large frequency range.
—Limiting – In my process, this is most often the L1+Maximizer plug-in due to its built in dither and easy accessibility. This can be any stereo limiter that you really trust to polish the final tone of the album (as well as achieve absolute level).
All of these steps in the signal-chain are open and flexible in terms preference. They can be rearranged or substituted with other things. The pre-masters (prints of the EQ and Compression without limiting at the original session bit depths and samples rates) are usually separated from the final Masters (16-bit, 44.1 kHz bounces of the pre-mastered tracks with limiting), which are radio-ready.
Here is why I have chosen this particular signal-chain:
—The Low-End EQ (1) allows you to manage and control the bass frequencies in a track before they encounter any kind of compression. I often find myself working with a bell between 150-400 Hz and a low shelf at 300 Hz. This allows me to find the fundamental of the bass (with the bell) and control its overall pre-compression level and harmonic character. Then, I will use the shelf to control the broad level of the whole low end in relation to the forefront of the low-end, the bass (or equivalent).
—The Low-End Compression (2) allows you to then manage and control the overall tonal character of the low end. Depending upon the release and attack times used, you can target specific frequencies and the overall rhythm (pump–push and pull) of the low end. You are in control of how the low-end rhythm of the song feels! That’s amazing control.
—The High-End Compression (3) (immediately following the low-end compression) isolates a specific part of the chain as compression. The fast attack and release times (possibly PDR) with a low ratio (1:1, 1.5:1) allow the low end compression to be little affected, much as the high end is not affected by the low-end compression. This gives you finer control over the high-end tonal character of the mix immediately following the low-end compression. This compressor gives the same control over the rhythm and envelope of the higher frequencies as the Low-End Compression (2) did for the lower frequencies.
—The High-End EQ (4) is more like a final post-compression EQ, meaning it can not only focus on the higher frequencies in the mix, but as a broadband fine-tuner (with narrow Q-widths and distinct, phase-coherent stereo frequency isolation). This polishes the overall mix and gives it a character “bite,” at which point it becomes your discretion as to how “sharp” or aggressive you want to be with certain frequencies.
The combination of these elements constitutes my pre-mastering process. The way these components are approached, combined, and varied will give each mastering engineer his or her characteristic sound.
The Limiter should be placed on the buss-master during the pre-mastering process to monitor the tonal character of the limiter processing and its overall affect on the tonal character of the pre-masters.
Although Limiting (5) seems rather harmless, it can be devastating to a master in seemingly slight ways. It is very important to consider apparent loudness versus actual loudness and what the audience would expect. Also, consider the harmonic and rhythmic effects of limiting. Even if you’re not sure exactly what you’re doing, listen for rhythmic, harmonic, and loudness changes as a result of what you’re doing. When broken down into these simpler components it becomes easier to digest and assess. These are simple concepts that the audience will listening for, so it is best to consider them anyway.
Samuel O’Sullivan has been playing various instruments and composing within the bounds and mixtures of multiple genres for more than 10 years. He first established as a drummer/percussionist, has made his mark as a guitarist, vocalist, pianist, violinist, composer, and recording engineer. In addition to producing albums for various bands, O’Sullivan produces his own music under the name “A Mess of a Mind.”
Be sure to visit the Pro Audio Files for more great recording content, and go here to comment on this article.
Friday, June 07, 2013
In The Studio: Successfully Dealing With A Dead Room
Attaining better recording results in an acoustically "dead" space
Many studios built in the 1970’s were designed not to have any acoustic influence on the recorded sound produced in them.
This was accomplished by over-deadening walls, floors and ceilings so no sound waves (leakage) would reflect and add (or subtract) from the instrument’s original sound waves.
Bass traps were purpose-built for controlling sound from electric bass amps, small isolated (and dead sounding) drum booths were mandatory and heavy gobos or baffles were used around all musicians separating them and their instrument’s sound.
Even before 16-track tape recorders became standard, engineers and producers were overly concerned with maximum separation of each instrument for ultimate mixing control.
I can remember throwing extra rugs on the floor, laying moving blankets on top of pianos, and using a beach umbrella over the drum kit to contain and control sound emanation.
After a few years of this approach, some musicians began to complain that they couldn’t hear themselves, and more importantly, couldn’t hear the other musicians.
Their instruments didn’t sound or feel right in these dead spaces. Any time I happen to record in older rooms, built before the ‘70’s dead zone era, musicians are much happier, especially brass sections and drummers.
I had occasion to record a brass session recently in a private-use studio that was built in the ‘70’s, and I was immediately confronted with a disgruntled group of horn players very upset to be stuck playing there.
The producer and I wanted good performances from these guys, yet all we initially heard was complaining about the room and the poor sound of their horns. I needed to liven the room up now!
Short of ripping up all the wall-to-wall carpeting and pulling down all the acoustic treatments, what could I do?
Horn players usually wear single-sided headphones so they can hear the track in one ear and pitch their instrument, blend and hear one another with the other ear.
So just putting reverb in the phones is no good; they’ll just tell me to take it off so they can hear the track’s rhythm better. (These phones have to be loud; try standing next to a trumpet player who’s really blowing!)
That’s when it hit me. What if I create a bigger sounding room by adding ambience to the room itself rather than with a cheesy effect to the recording?
I took a mix of the horn mics using an aux send from the microphone input faders and sent it to a digital reverb. I think it was a Lexicon PCM 90 set to “large room”.
I patched the PCM 90’s 100-percent “wet” output directly to the power amplifier feeding the studio loudspeakers out in the room where the players were. I kept the 25ms of pre-delay in the preset to represent about 25 feet of distance to my “imaginary” room’s nearest wall.
While the players were warming up and rehearsing the chart, I slowly brought up the level to the speakers until someone noticed. (Obviously, you can’t use a lot of this or you’ll feed back.)
At first the leader of section said: “what the hell is that?” But when he figured it out, he asked for more!
We started overdubbing and when I solo’d the horns, I could hear a little of that “enhanced room” also getting recorded, and it sounded great.
The players were all smiling and playing their butts off. Hearing that added ambience in the same room as the rest of the section gave each of them the feeling of playing in a livelier, bigger room.
We got better performances, good sound and less hassle.
Barry Rudolph is a veteran L.A.-based recording engineer as well as a noted writer on recording topics. Be sure to visit his website
PreSonus StudioLive Comes To Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts
The school is well equipped with several tracking and mixdown rooms, and it recently added a PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 digital console to its arsenal.
Since opening its doors in 1996, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) has become one of the leading performing arts schools in the UK.
Founded by Mark Featherstone-Witty and Sir Paul McCartney, the school emphasizes a multifaceted and holistic approach to training in the arts.
“Our view is that every student should attain some knowledge of all the individual disciplines that make a performance possible,” explains Jon Thornton, Director of LIPA’s School of Sound Technology. “While they study their chosen major in depth, including management, stage design, lighting, and sound engineering, they also have to develop a working vocabulary in each of these areas.”
This integrated approach does much to prepare LIPA students for real-world situations, says Thornton. “We create an environment that’s as professional as possible. It’s all about interdisciplinary collaboration; it’s as important for a sound engineer to understand what it’s like to stand on stage as it is for an actor or musician to understand what it is like to mix at front of house.”
The school is well equipped with several tracking and mixdown rooms, and it recently added a PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 digital console to its arsenal.
“We’ve got a fair amount of studio equipment, and a fair amount of live sound equipment,” Thornton says. “But the StudioLive filled a perfect niche for us. First, it gave us something with a small footprint, which was great for lectures and events where a large desk is overkill.
“But more importantly, it blows away the boundary between a live desk and a recording console. The way you can quickly and easily plug in a laptop and capture multitrack audio for all kinds of gigs is great for us.”
The school has a number of high-end recording rooms but Thornton says the StudioLive fills a different role. “We’ve got six studios with consoles ranging from SSLs to Icons,” he observes. “But if a musician or an engineer says ‘we don’t want to sit in a studio, we want to track in, say, this vibe-y church we found somewhere,’ it’s really, really easy to just take the StudioLive and a small laptop rig to do tracking almost anywhere.”
For live performance, the console is equally useful. “We do a lot of one-off shows: intimate cantina gigs for around 100 people. The StudioLive is perfect for those, and we’re now able to record every gig. And we’ll be taking it along for a ten-day music festival we’ve got coming up as well.”
“The user interface on the StudioLive is great,” Thornton adds. “It’s a very intuitive, visual and tactile approach, with hands-on faders and a simple workflow that’s easy for students to grasp. And the Capture application is clean and simple and doesn’t get in the way of the spontaneity of the live mixing process.”
Thornton concludes, “the StudioLive may not be the solution for everything we do, but it’s a great solution for a lot of things we weren’t able to do easily before.”
Posted by Julie Clark on 06/07 at 06:44 AM
Thursday, June 06, 2013
Max Gilkes Upgrades Mastering Facility With SADiE 6 And Prism Sound
Using new tools on a variety of projects, including mastering an album for French artist Mayra Andrade
Producer Max Gilkes has upgraded his Brighton, England-based mastering and post production facility 1 Sonic with SADiE 6 software for mastering and a Prism Sound Orpheus FireWire audio interface.
Gilkes, who founded 1 Sonic eight years ago, says the support offered by Prism Sound was a key factor in his decision to invest in the company’s products.
“I was previously using Peak as a playlist editor and doing most other things on Pro Tools,” he explains. “But as it was time for an upgrade I decided to go with a company that I knew I could have a good working relationship with, and one that was also based in the UK.”
With a client list that includes Ninja Tune, Big Dada, Sony (France), Smart Move Productions, Mr. Bongo, Keep Up, Silverland and Mission, Gilkes is rarely out of the studio. His recent credits have included Fink, Dobie, Roots Manuva, The Skints, Deco Child, Raffertie, Eliza Carthy and Prince Fatty.
The facility itself is mainly used for mastering and mixing, but it also has a live room with eight tie-lines that is large enough to record drums.
“The outboard in the studio is primarily for tracking, so there are some nice pres and compressors,” Gilkes says. “I also have a master section by Audient, PMC and Yamaha monitors, Pro Tools, various classic guitar and bass amps and a range of microphones – not to mention an over-used tea pot!”
Moving from one software platform to another can be intimidating, but Gilkes says he has found the transition to SADiE 6 far less painful than he anticipated.
“It’s always hard work making the transition from one system that you are particularly well versed with to a whole new environment, but SADiE 6 is very intuitive and easy to use,” he says. “I’m really enjoying the facilities it provides. The editing facilities, in particular, are great and I like the PQ and DDP tools. However, the sound quality is the most outstanding feature and I am really impressed by that.”
Sound quality also played a part in Gilkes’ decision to buy a Prism Sound Orpheus FireWire audio interface.
“It was a no brainer, really,” he says. “The studio needed to make a significant step up in convertor quality and Orpheus delivered the transparency and clarity I was looking for, both as an A/D and a D/A converter. It has great sounding pre’s and I like the interface features for multi-tracking in Pro Tools.”
Gilkes is now using SADiE 6 and Orpheus on a variety of projects, including mastering an album for French artist Mayra Andrade on Sony (France), recording tracks for Congo Natty, completing a debut album for Chevron, recording drums for the next Grasscut (Ninja Tune) album, finishing backline tracking for a band called Bentcousin, which is releasing a three-track single through Team-Love NY and completing an album for a local brighton band called the Meow Meows.
And if that work schedule isn’t intensive enough, Gilkes is also producing and co-writing with the legendary Russell Stone of R&J Stone fame.
“The Russell Stone project is very interesting as all tracks are vocal/non-verbal and based on free improvisations,” he says. “The album, which is called HUMU, is very nearly finished and should be out in September.”