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M3 (Music Mix Mobile) Deploys Waves SoundGrid Plugins With Lawo Console For 2019 CMA Awards

"We still rely on the Lawo for its EQ and dynamics but need the nuance of some of the special processing Waves has created." Joel Singer of M3
Joel Singer, M3 co-founder and Engineer-in-Charge, pictured outside the company’s Eclipse truck.

Remote production facilities company M3 (Music Mix Mobile) again chose to use Waves MultiRack, SoundGrid and Waves plugins with a Lawo console for the recent 53rd Annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

The event was broadcast live in 5.1-channel surround sound on the ABC television network, with M3 responsible for the broadcast music mix. Company co-founder and engineer-in-eharge Joel Singer notes, “This is the 10th year we have done this event, and every year we have taken it up a notch, but what’s been consistent for us throughout the years has been our use of Waves.

“Years ago, we used a hybrid platform of D-Control mixing surfaces and Pro Tools engines, and Waves was a prominent feature in that, but things evolved in the years after that, and now we have Lawo consoles. The integration of Lawo with Waves MultiRack is seamless, so it’s the obvious platform for us, and of course it lets us easily use all the fun and wonderful DSP that Waves has created and that we’ve come to rely on over the years.”

Singer continues, “On a show like the CMAs, we’re using a plethora of plugins from Waves, and it’s basically every bit of effects and special dynamics processing that you hear on the show. We still rely on the Lawo for its EQ and dynamics but need the nuance of some of the special processing Waves has created. We build racks full of processing that will take us through any scenario offered during the show. We’re using six or seven different Waves H-Reverb hybrid reverbs, some in surround, some in stereo for different parts of the show and different artists, H-Delay Hybrid Delays for different parts of the show and different artists.

“We use the SSL G-Equalizer, and C6 Multiband Compressor on our special problems channels, where you have the specificness of wanting to reduce an annoying frequency in a vocal, but you don’t want to hack it out with an EQ. We also run Renaissance Vox and the CLA-76 Compressor/Limiter, all with basically zero latency.”

A key part of M3’s workflow is a two-truck setup: the Eclipse truck (“A-truck”) is the primary on-air broadcast truck, and the Horizon truck (“B-truck”) is a remix booth so work can continue while a new act and their technical staff moves to Eclipse. The two trucks are identical, from consoles to monitors to plugins, so the work can toggle between the trucks in the days leading up to the live broadcast.

Singer notes, “Horizon can take over as the main broadcast truck if Eclipse were ever to fail, and we have as much redundancy as possible in terms of servers, cores, fiber paths, and so on. Every detail has been backed up, because this is a high-stakes game we are playing when we are responsible for the live broadcast audio.”

Jay Vicari and John Harris, the show’s mixers, rely on a number of presets to tailor the Waves plugins to their liking. “A lot of the machine presets are a great starting point,” concludes Singer. “We just tweak them for specific personal flavors.”

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