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Composer Tyler Bates ★ Jenny Lewis ‘On the Line’ ★ Raconteurs Live ★ Solar-Powered Recording September 2019 \\ mixonline.com \\ $6.99

>REVIEWED AVANTONE PRO CLA-10 MONITORS STEINBERG NUENDO VERSION 10 MUSIC PRODUCTION • LIVE SOUND • SOUND FOR PICTURE

H C , E C T U , T L T N U E R L E A T SONY PICTURES STUDIOS ADDS STAGES, MIXERS AND A NEW WAY OF WORKING


9.19 Contents Volume 43, Number 9

32 FEATURES 28 On the Cover: Talent, Tech, Culture— Sony Pictures Studios and the Future of Audio Post-Production BY TOM KENNY

32 Hold, Please, Jenny Lewis Is “On the Line”: An All-Star Cast for Singer-Songwriter’s Stellar Album Project Blue: 100% Cyan, 25% M

BY MATT HURWITZ

38 Mix Presents Sound for Film & Television 2019: Keynote by Wylie Stateman; Program and Panels 39 Tyler Bates: A Composer for All Mediums BY ROBYN FLANS

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MUSIC

TECH

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42 New Products: Studio and Live 46 Review: Steinberg Nuendo, Version 10 BY MIKE LEVINE

48 Review: Avantone The Return of Ride BY LILY MOAYERI

16 The Eco-Friendly, Solar-Powered L.A. GOODVIBE: Recording in Nature, With Pro-Level Access BY LILY MOAYERI

20 Classic Tracks: Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” BY ROBYN FLANS

24 Live Sound: The Raconteurs, Live From Seattle

DEPARTMENTS

10 From the Editor 12 Current: Ringo Joins Paul at Dodger Stadium

49 Classifieds

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Pro CLA-10 Passive Studio Monitors BY BARRY RUDOLPH

50 Back Page Blog:

Left-Right Separation Anxiety, and No Excuses BY MIKE LEVINE AND STEVE LA CERRA

On the Cover: The talent and the culture of Sony Pictures PostProduction Services, at the world’s largest Avid S6 console in the country’s premier recording stage, the Cary Grant Theater. Back row, from left: Andrew DeCristofaro (Supervising Sound Editor), Geoff Rubay (Supervising Sound Editor, Re-recording Mixer), Becky Sullivan (Supervising Sound Editor), Will Files (Supervising Sound Editor/Re-recording Mixer), Tony Lamberti (Supervising Sound Editor/Re-recording Mixer), Greg Orloff (Re-recording Mixer), Mandell Winter (Supervising Sound Editor), Julian Slater (Supervising Sound Editor, Re-recording Mixer), Tateum Kohut (Re-recording Mixer), Steven Tichnor (Supervising Sound Editor, Re-recording Mixer). Front row (L-R): Kevin O’Connell (Creative Director, Re-recording Mixer), Tom McCarthy (EVP, Post Sound Facilities), Diana Rogers (VP Motion Picture and Television Sound Editorial). Photo: Joe Hall. Mix, Volume 43, Number 9 (ISSN 0164-9957) is published monthly by Future US, Inc., 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036. Periodical Postage Paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mix, PO Box 8518, Lowell, MA 01853. One-year (12 issues) subscription is $35. Canada is $40. All other international is $50. Printed in the USA. Canadian Post Publications Mail agreement No. 40612608. Canada return address: BleuChip International, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2.


Vol. 43 No. 9

September 2019

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The ArTisTs, insTrumenTs, And Techniques of An erA

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CONTENT VP/Content Creation Anthony Savona Content Director Tom Kenny, thomas.kenny@futurenet.com Content Manager Anthony Savona, anthony.savona@futurenet.com Technology Editor, Studio Mike Levine, techeditormike@gmail.com Technology Editor, Live Steve La Cerra, stevelacerra@verizon.net Sound Reinforcement Editor Steve La Cerra Contributors: Strother Bullins, Eddie Ciletti, Michael Cooper, Gary Eskow, Matt Hurwitz, Steve Jennings (photography), Sarah Jones, Barry Rudolph Production Manager Nicole Schilling Managing Design Director Nicole Cobban Design Director Walter Makarucha, Jr.

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All contents ©2019 Future US, Inc. or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Future and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions.


Current From the Editor

The Right Person for the Job Culture is the intangible. In the vastly simplified triumvirate of what it takes to create a successful business in the modern world—talent, technology and culture—the latter is the hardest to quantify. It’s also the hardest to create. This is true in corporate America, and it’s true at Fred’s Corner Market. It’s true in established, traditional businesses and it’s true for last month’s VC-fueled startup looking to cash in on an IPO. In the world of professional audio, any rich kid can build a world-class studio, and any rich kid can offer enough money to attract top talent. But culture is tough to manufacture. And without the right culture, one that provides an environment where the talent wants to come to work each day and wants to contribute to the whole, even those companies, or facilities, with the latest, greatest technology and a team full of all-stars will eventually close shop. So how does any one person, or any particular company, “establish” the right culture? Where do you begin? What does that even mean, “the right culture”? I confess, I don’t know the answer. But I know it when I see it, and I’ve seen it (or heard enough over the years to feel that I know it) a handful of times in the recording industry. Record Plant L.A. in the 1970s and ’80s, under the direction of Rose Mann Cherney. Hit Factory in the 1980s and ’90s, when recording budgets were big and the Germanos sat at the top the NYC recording food chain. Likewise, Hit Factory Criteria in Miami, led by Trevor Fletcher these past 25 years or so and still going strong more than 60 years after it opened. Or what about Universal Audio, now comfortably ensconced in Santa Cruz, Calif., but built by Bill Putnam long ago in Chicago, then moving to Los Angeles, all the while helping to usher in the birth of the modern recording industry? In the corporate world the equivalents might be Lee Iacocca at Chrysler in the late 1970s or Richard Branson at Virgin in the 1980s. Politically, you have John F. Kennedy and the youth transformation, Ronald Reagan and the re-emergence of the conservative foundation, or Nelson Mandela, who transformed the fundamental ideals of an entire nation, from a prison cell, while the world watched. The point is, the root of any cultural movement, whether on a grand scale or within the floors, walls and ceilings of a local business, can almost always be traced to an individual. That individual may or not be aware

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of the effort or the changes taking place. The desire to make change is simply a part of who they are. At Sony Pictures Studios Post-Production Services, one of the world’s leading audio facilities, with a legacy dating back to MGM and the early days of film, there have no doubt been multiple cultural shifts. Michael Kohut comes to mind, from the go-go ’80s and ’90s. But for the past six years as the boss, and for the previous 22 years as an editor/mixer on the lot, that person has been Tommy McCarthy, seated bottom row center in the Cary Grant Theater, on this month’s cover. Full disclosure: On September 28, for the sixth straight year, Sony Pictures Studios will serve as Host Partner for the Mix Presents Sound for Film & Television event, opening up their facilities for 600-plus sound professionals. But that’s not why the Sony team is on the cover. They’re on the cover because of Tommy McCarthy and his vision of a company culture based on teamwork, transparency and support. I’ve had the privilege of seeing first-hand the shift in identity, the changes in technology, and the addition of talented, creative sound editors and mixers who all want to be part of the process. While the rest of the industry zigs, Sony seems to be zagging, building more stages and upgrading the others. But Tommy doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about the Avid S6 consoles or Dolby Atmos upgrades. He knows that technology is important, in that it helps attract the talent. And he knows that the talent is important because it helps attract the client. But he also knows that none of that matters if there isn’t a sense of shared purpose and a group of people who truly want to come to work each day because they enjoy it and want to be a part of something bigger, part of the change taking place. The valet parker matters, client services matter, mix techs matter, engineering matters. So does booking and operations. Everybody involved matters. In the end, I guess that is as good definition of the “right culture” as anything I might come up with: Simply create the place where people want to be. Create your own culture.

Tom Kenny Editor, Mix


Current // news & notes Ringo Joins Paul at Dodger Stadium Mixers and Drum Techs Scramble To Help Create History By Matt Hurwitz

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he last time Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr played at L.A.’s Dodger Stadium was August 28, 1966, the day before The Beatles’ final show. But on July 13 of this year, McCartney brought out a special guest to close his recent “Freshen Up Tour” at the venue—Starr, along with the drummer’s brother-in-law, Joe Walsh. Ringo played during the show’s encore, “Sgt. Pepper (Reprise)” and “Helter Skelter,” two songs he had never performed live, last playing them during the songs’ original recording sessions 50 years prior. (Walsh followed, without Starr, on Abbey Road’s “The End”). A few days before, when McCartney and band were about to perform in San Jose, Starr’s longtime drum using a Randall May internal miking system mount, tech, Jeff Chonis, received a call. “Paul Davies, who’s which Boothroyd augmented with a Shure Beta 91A [McCartney drummer] Abe Laboriel, Jr.’s tech, called condenser boundary microphone. and told me, ‘Ringo is playing,’” Chonis tells Mix. “So The whole set was connected via an umbilical I called Ringo the next morning and said, ‘I heard you cable, which, after a 2:00 p.m. line check/tapgot a little gig on Saturday.’ Then he asked me, ‘What through by Chonis, was piled up on the rolling songs am I doing?’ I said, ‘You don’t know?’ That’s riser. “Why use RF if there’s no need?” the engineer something we always joke about, when Paul will say, says. “We put it on an umbilical cord, and it’s never ‘Okay, Ringo, we’re gonna do this song.’ He’ll ask, disconnected. That way, you’ve got less chance of ‘Okay. How does it go?’” errors when you go to use it, ‘cause there’s been no Special guests are not new to McCartney’s longtime break in the connection.” FOH mixer Paul Boothroyd, even when it’s Ringo. Starr and his wife spent most of the show seated “Usually,” he says, “we’re lucky if we get a day or so The author, Matt Hurwitz, left, with FOH in the VIP area, just behind Boothroyd’s workstation. heads-up beforehand. In this case, we got a little nub mixer Paul “Fab” Boothroyd. At the encore, Chonis helped roll out the riser up in San Jose something might happen. We were just, ‘Okay, we’ve done this before.’ Ringo had joined Paul onstage at the O2 containing the drums and mics, “And then I just made sure he was on the Arena in London before Christmas,” joining Ronnie Wood with his former kit and he was okay,” he states. “I just stood there for, like, 10 seconds. And I kinda know. If he needs to, he’s gonna look at me right away. But he didn’t, bandmate on “Get Back.” For the Dodger Stadium gig, Starr had Chonis bring his newest kit, so I walked off and just watched from the wings on stage right.” Because he’s mixed Starr live with his boss before, for mixing, Boothroyd dubbed “The Lotus Kit,” named for the lotus decoration Chonis placed on the kick drum head, over the requisite star, in honor of Starr and his wife says, “That’s the beautiful thing about a digital desk, I have libraries, even Ringo’s mic-up kits I’ve used before, say, from the O2, that I can drop in. I Barbara’s charitable organization, The Lotus Foundation. Starr’s drums were loaded in at 10:00 a.m., along with the rest of was a little concerned because both he and Abe were playing in sync, and I McCartney’s backline. The drums were placed on a locally ordered, wanted to make sure the audience could hear Ringo. With 50,000 people, wheeled riser, which could quickly be wheeled into place, similar to one you’re trying to hear whether the hi-hat’s loud enough. But it just sounded rented for him at the O2 show, Boothroyd says. “Once we heard it might huge, nice, big and meaty, which I thoroughly enjoyed.” Watching Starr play with his old bandmate couldn’t have been more of a happen, we don’t wait to get it,” he notes. “We get everything ready, just joy to see, the two say. “Paul and Ringo are very close, they’re like brothers,” in case it’s confirmed.” The kit was miked exactly the same as Laboriel’s, with Audix D4s on the Chonis says. “I know Ringo was just loving it, being there, hanging out two toms, Audix i5s on the snare, top and bottom, AKG C460B on the left- with Paul and being able to play onstage with him. They have this amazing hand hi-hat, and DPA Core 4099 instrument mics attached to the drums, connection, this amazing bond. It’s just a positive, inspiring, uplifting to act as overheads. The kick drum was miked inside with a Shure Beta 52a experience.” Adds Boothroyd, “I know Paul loved it. He loves Ringo. It was supercardioid kick drum mic, which Chonis keeps mounted in the drum a great, great moment for him.” n

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Music Continuing the Ride Nineties Hitmakers Ride Re-form to Appease Fans and Create New, Relevant Music By Lily Moayeri

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t is not all over for a band whose career high hasn’t taken place in the current decade. If its initial traction was strong enough, the band can carry on touring the casino circuit and playing its aging fans’ favorite songs. If that band does make new music, it’s more for artistic reasons, as its faithful followers are not

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interested in hearing anything not nostalgic. None of the above applies to Ride. The foursome broke through from their hometown of Oxford, England, in 1990 as part of the shoegazer scene. Releasing four albums in quick succession with diminishing returns in terms of reception, the group disintegrated in 1996.

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Since then, the question the individual members have consistently been asked by their constantly multiplying fans is, “Will Ride ever play again?” In 2015, Ride performed at Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain. That experience went so well that the idea of “let’s get the band together again” was inevitable. What was not expected

Photo by Steve Gullick

Ride disbanded in 1996, but reformed in 2015 and has since released two career-defining albums.


was that they would release any new music. What was even less expected was that it would be any good. 2017’s Weather Diaries is a tour de force for Ride. An album that recaptures everything that was great about their early work without sounding like a pastiche. In 2019, Ride does it again with This Is Not A Safe Place, basically what the Moody Blues would sound like if they were an indie rock band. “This album was definitely treated as a second album,” says Erol Alkan, the producer of both of Ride’s albums post-reformation. “Second albums need to have your most important single on them. That’s when you have the most attention on you as a band. You take everything that’s been invested in the work you’ve done to get to that point and you put it in three-and-a-half minutes and give it back for validation. When I first heard ‘Future Love’ as a demo, I knew we had that song.” Alkan is referring to the first single from This Is Not A Safe Place, which he feels not only holds all of Ride’s greatest hallmarks, but is also goes beyond their audience. When Ride came to Alkan at the time of Weather Diaries, they had demos and completed the album in 17 days. This time, Alkan spent a lot more time in pre-production and in developing the demos. He booked the band into a room at Flood’s and Alan Moulder’s Assault & Battery 1 for pre-production. The purpose of this room was to capture live-sounding drums from drummer Loz Colbert, similar to what is heard on Ride’s debut album, the incomparable Nowhere. The drum tracks for 14 songs were recorded in four-and-a-half days. Says Alkan, “Sometimes the drums are very live and brash like on ‘Kill Switch,’ and sometimes they’re super-mechanical, like if the song was built around a drum machine. There’s a place for it to explode in the live sense, and there’s also a place for that amazing balance of man and machine. That’s why the songs sound different and wide. The drum approach is different on each one, like when [Colbert] is drumming at 140 BPM and I slow it down to 125 BPM just to get it sounding looser.” Alkan has employed this method with bassist Steve Queralt as well, recording his bass at a tempo where the string resonates in an odd way when a low note is played, making it sound more like a synthesizer. Then on “Repetition,” a Juno

6 is used for the bassline; Alkan’s idea to go for more of an art rock approach. The rest of the band also performed the songs at Assault & Battery 1 in order to guide Colbert and to get the tempo right with Alkan recording everything into Pro Tools. “Sometimes when you have everything going down at the same time you get something you can’t get through multi-tracking,” he says. “But I didn’t want to put the pressure on the band and say, ‘This is going to be the take.’ I got everyone into that frame of mind to just be relaxed and playing, to be inside the music.”

Much of what was recorded at Assault & Battery 1 is heard on This Is Not A Safe Place, with overdubs happening at Vale Studios, where the band did the formal recording of the album. Here, Alkan tried a variety of recording approaches. On “Future Love,” for instance, where he was going for a janglier guitar sound, he split out of Andy Bell’s guitar DI before it hit the pedals and put it through a Roland RE-501 with a clean signal but with a chorus and a bit of reverb. This meant there was no need to double-track guitars, but the signal remains crystalline and melodic, which is Bell’s signature way of playing. On a song like “Shadows,” Bell and fellow guitarist/vocalist Mark Gardener are playing the same chord all the way through the song, perfectly in time. In contrast, on “In This Room” there are multiple guitar parts, including an acoustic one from Bell that is played freeform

that Alkan ran through a plate reverb. Then on “Jump Jet,” which changed key after Queralt pointed it out to the rest of the band, is the first time Alkan is using UAD’s Apollo. Natural amps with overlays of digital amps provide different permutations of how Gardener or Bell record guitars. “My preferred position for [Bell] is in front of the monitors with a click track, loud and present, for a super tight guitar part,” says Alkan. “But on ‘15 Minutes,’ where there is some insane feedback right in the middle, he was playing in the control room without headphones, with the amps in a different room. I had to have the door open just the right amount to create that loud screech feedback loop.” The control room is also where backing vocals were recorded using a Shure SM7B—good for its directional nature and its precision—with the monitors up, no headphones again. Some accidental bleed, in Alkan’s opinion, added depth to the type of dense sounds Ride was creating. Going a step further, on “End Game,” Alkan went for a tank mike, that is, a microphone previously used inside a tank. “Because of the lyric, it sounds like a call to arms—very aggressive and very resentful,” says Alkan. “It sounded shrill and crazy. It was not pretty, but that’s what I wanted. I wanted the source audio to sound difficult, but then made palatable, which is what the song is about. It’s about a relationship that has gone wrong, so the nucleus is harsh and uncontainable anger, but there being a sense of sadness about it, which was the soft aspect.” The conceptual ideas behind songs like “End Game” or “Repetition” aided Alkan in the production process as it allowed him to draw a shape around it and fill it in, making the album more than just a collection of songs that rely on the commitment of fans rather than a band who is at the peak of its musicianship and ready to push further. “You can’t just make an album as an experiment,” says Alkan. “You’ve got to aim for it to be better than what’s come before. It’s really hard to do that when you love what came before. For me, it’s about how we capture the essence of who and what Ride are, and make the album sound as timeless as their previous albums have been.” n

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Music // news & notes

The Eco-Friendly LAGOODVIBE Producer Joachim Garraud Builds Solar-Powered Studio in an RV By Lily Moayeri

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n-the-box production on a laptop seems almost a default in music these days, and has been for some time. Even when producers book a major recording studio, they often plug their laptop into two channels of the mixing board and continue working in portable fashion. Joachim Garraud has taken the on-the-go recording and production concept to the next level with LAGOODVIBE. The longtime French producer and songwriter (Beyoncé, David Bowie) has converted every inch of an RV into a mobile recording studio. Gone are the original gorgeous wood panels; instead, Kilomat Sound Deadening lines the walls. There is not a stray cable in sight, as they are well-hidden and incorporated into the walls.

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A powerful Mac and a Midas XR-18 analog/digital hub are at the ready for tracking, and a Pioneer 707 reel-to-reel tape machine at the front of the RV provides both visual and aural atmosphere. The entire thing is powered by tip-to-tail solar panels that Garraud has installed on the roof of the RV. These end-to-end panels generate nonstop energy with such high wattage that Garraud can not only entertain a professional recording setup for a four-piece band, but also blast two residential-style air conditioners at the same time. This is a relief, as Garraud keeps LAGOODVIBE limited to the generally warm states of California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, all of which are conducive to gathering solar energy. “I’m not trying to compete with Paramount or The Village,” says


Garraud. “It’s about bringing the artists to a different experience. Every time an artist comes to work with me, after three or four days they want to use two days to explore places like the Grand Canyon or Death Valley. My idea was to combine these activities. Anytime you see something that inspires you, stop and make music. “Mammoth, Joshua, Yosemite, Vegas, Phoenix, Zion,” he points out the custom license plates with the names of these scenic sites that decorate a wall in the back part of the sleek RV. These are only a handful of the destinations that Garraud can take his musician clients. Tapping into the Bureau of Land Management’s 250 million acres of public land in the United States, Garraud has brought LAGOODVIBE to 39 locations so far, testing them out for music recording purposes. As Garraud puts it, “Location is inspiration.” Granted, musicians could take themselves to an inspirational destination on their own, but they won’t have the benefit of a self-generating luxury RV equipped with state-of-the-art soundproofing and an acoustically treated space, or the option for outdoor recording, plus satellite wi-fi with no dead zones. LAGOODVIBE also offers creature comforts such as six fluffy bedding bunks and a full designer kitchen and dinette that doubles as a writing area, stocked with organic food supplies. And they also won’t have the expertise of Garraud, whose years of studio experience are incomparable, and if you’re very lucky, he might treat you to a homecooked meal. “The farther we can go from civilization, the better it is,” he says. “We’ve recorded a guitar in the Grand Canyon from a cave. With unlimited energy, we can have a 12-hour recording session, nonstop. The RV is producing more energy on a daily basis than we can use. There is no need to ever be connected to the grid. It’s a bold view of the future.” You can hit the road with Garraud for as little as one day or for as long as his schedule permits—just make sure to book far in advance. There will be enough water and food storage for six people on board for five days at a stretch. Garraud maps out restocking and dumping points along the way. For the environmentally conscious, LAGOODVIBE has partnered with Clear Sky Climate Solutions to mitigate its carbon footprint. With LAGOODVIBE’s energy being solar, when you are far out in nature, it can be completely silent and very conducive to capturing sound. Garraud is able to set up a full band outside and patch them into the control area inside the RV. Alternatively, he is able to set up a full drum kit in the back, guitar and bass lined up along the walkway inside, and a vocal booth, as well. Another setup is with some musicians outside and others inside. These configurations were recently tested out with the recording of “Je Veux Danser Tout L’ete” by the French group Yard of Blondes. Garraud can just as easily provide LAGOODVIBE services in the middle of a bustling, noisy city. That is what he is doing with Steve Aoki. Setting up in Downton L.A., instead of recording outside, they are getting the vibe of their surroundings and pushing the sound from the inside of the RV. In another case, Garraud is taking Jean-Michel Jarre to San Francisco and parking the RV in front of a vocalist’s home whose schedule has been too hectic to collaborate with Jarre and inviting her in to record. No matter what the location, the content captured (Garraud also offers drone footage) is priceless. “Because there is only of these RVs, it’s something unique,” says Garraud of LAGOODVIBE. “It makes everything strong in terms of collaboration. My goal is not to have a fleet of 20 of them. The main goal is to enjoy this one.” n

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Classic Tracks “Total Eclipse of the Heart” Behind the Scenes of Bonnie Tyler’s Classic Earworm By Robyn Flans

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eil Dorfsman laughs as he declares Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” an example of all the excesses of ’80s audio. During the mix in studio B of New York’s Power Station, he joked, they had run out of reverb. Looking at the board, every reverb send on every fader was as far up as it could go—on everything but the kick drum and bass guitar. And while initially it seemed funny, the team—engineers Dorfsman and John Jansen, along with producer Jim Steinman—stopped laughing about 12 hours into the mix when they realized it was no joke. This was serious. After all, this was a Jim Steinman production, where “production” meant two things—he was the producer and it was a “mega” production. Those who worked with him say he created his recordings like mini Broadway productions. (No surprise that Steinman ended up writing the musical Bat Out of Hell based on the Meat Loaf album.) Dorfsman recalls Steinman wasn’t really that experienced at the time. He says he is grateful that Jansen was there to “talk Jim down from an idea like, ‘We need more cannons in the bridge.’ ‘Jim, we can’t have any more cannons,’” Dorfsman recounts, adding they were created on the synth. The track was cut live in studio A of Power Station with, as Dorfsman describes, Steinman’s “go-to” rhythm section at the time—Max Weinberg on drums, Roy Bittan on piano in the piano booth, Steve Buslowe on bass in the rhythm room—and Tyler singing live with Rory Dodd (singing the “turn around bright eyes” part) in separate iso booths. Dorfsman recalls that Rick Derringer’s guitar part and Larry Fast’s synthesizer parts were overdubs. Two AKG 451s were miked close to what Dorfsman recalls as a “very bright” Yamaha piano. The mics on the drums were SM57s on

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the top and bottom of the snare, an AKG D12 and Neumann U47 fet on the kick drum, 421s on the tops and bottoms of the toms, AKG 451s on the hi-hat and overheads, and the room mics were U87s. Dorfsman believes he also set up a SM7 as a room mic. “We didn’t have a whole lot of esoteric microphones. It was pretty basic,” he says. “Ambience recording wasn’t a fine art then like it’s become now. So it was pretty minimal.” He says they probably ran about 20 takes of the track, which included the live lead vocals. Vocal mics would have probably been a U67 or Telefunken 251, Dorfsman says. While some of the vocal recording is hazy in memory, what is clear is that the leads were at Power Station and Frank Filipetti, who calls this track a “vocal tour de force,” was in charge of recording at least the majority of the background vocals at Right Track Studios with Rory Dodd and Eric Troyer. “As far as I’m concerned, Jim is one of the greatest songwriters and producers of our era,” Filipetti says. “Jim wasn’t as interested in adhering to traditional ways of doing things. He was always looking for something a little different. He was more interested in the emotional arc that the song was taking rather than going by the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge formula. In doing so, his music took you on a journey.” The way it translated in the audio recording, Filipetti says, was to determine the emotional center Steinman was trying to achieve; sifting through the multitude of takes to choose the right one. At that time, he says he usually used a Neumann 269—the German version of the Neumann U67 with a Telefunken tube—and probably did because of Tyler’s voice and the others on the project. But he also liked using the AKG C12 on vocals as well.

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Filipetti’s Right Track Studios studio B had an SSL4000 console and what he says were the standard LA2As and UREI 1176s. “I believe at that time we had a Massenburg EQ,” he says. “We probably had a couple of Pultecs, both the EQPs and the MEQs, but I also had my own limiter compressor at the time, which was a TubeTech 1A, which I still have. I used that for vocals all the time then, and of course back then everyone had two or three EMT plates. And we had a bathroom or two where we would occasionally throw vocals in and use as a chamber. They weren’t anywhere near the chambers at Capitol, but, hey, you did what you did and you certainly used all of your tools at hand. We didn’t have plug-ins, so if you wanted to do something, you found a way to do it.” Filipetti says while the vocal sessions were difficult, the results were worth it. Explaining the arduous vocal stacking process, Filipetti says Eric and Rory would sing a vocal line for the chorus, perhaps a harmony part. Then they would double them doing the same line again. “Then they would sing the next step in the harmonic sequence and they would probably do the tonic note first, then the third, then the fifth and we’d double each of those. Then we’d probably add an octave over the original and that would vary somewhat, but that was the basic idea,” Filipetti recalls, reminding that there was no Autotune back in those days. “Then we would go back and do the same thing again, but this time Eric and Rory would sing in harmony instead of in unison, and then when we did the double, they would switch the parts, so if Rory was on the top and Eric was on the bottom on the first pass, Rory would be on the bottom and Eric would be on the top on the second pass and we’d do the whole thing that way.” “It was 2:00 am when we finished a 10-hour session doing the backgrounds,” recalls Dodd.


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Photo by CBS via Getty Images

“I thought we were done when Jim piped in, ‘Hey Icy [Dodd’s industry nickname, short for Ice Head, as he was Canadian], you want to sing the duet parts now?’ ‘I wanna go home Jim,’ but I acquiesced.” Filipetti says these long days could have gone on for five to seven days! But the good news was there were no drugs on Steinman’s sessions and after about four or five hours, he ordered gobs of great Indian food and sushi. “Jim really treated everyone first class, so it made all the hard work something you wanted to do,” Filipetti says. Back at Power Station B, the 12-hour mix process occurred on the evening of July 4, 1982 as Dorfsman recalls taking a break to go out on the roof of the studio to watch the fireworks. He says they worked until about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and then returned the next day to address changes Steinman had. “You can tell from the final mix that Jim wanted the biggest drum sound to ever have been recorded,” Dorfsman says. “In the ’80s there was a competition to see who could have the loudest snare drum.” Dorfsman remarks that, as he prepared to speak about the track, he listened to the song on his computer and the snare didn’t sound as loud as he remembered, yet the kick drum sounded loud. “Which was funny to me because Jim never personally liked the sound of the kick drum. He called it, ‘that horrible thumping noise,’ he recalls with a chuckle. “When I was in a restaurant about six months ago, I heard the song and the snare drum was incredibly loud, but for some reason on my computer it didn’t translate that way, but I remember the snare drum was huge with tons of reverb.” Dorfsman says, laughing, rather than a race to the bottom, the mix was a race to the top—to get the snare drum louder than everything else, while competing with the kick drum and the vocals. “I just remember all the faders just creeping, creeping, creeping, creeping…,” he says. “I discovered parallel compression on the drums at that point, so I would mult out the snare drum, and squash it with a UREI 1176. The hallmark of that record is the sound of reverb. I think that is the record where we had tried mixing it on the SSL in studio C, but Jim noticed we couldn’t get the same sound as the rough mix. That was really one of the first examples to me of trying to beat the rough, and we could never get some

Bonnie Tyler at the 26th Annual Grammy Awards, presented at Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles. Broadcast on CBS Television on February 28, 1984.

inexplicable sound, tone, vibe that we had gotten in the mix in studio A. “We stopped mixing in studio C and waited until studio B was open, which still had a Neve 8068, and John Jansen and I mixed it manually. We just used as much reverb as we could humanly find. There was a live chamber at Power Station, which is an iconic sound—a multi-floor stairwell—which is all over that record as well as two or possibly three EMT plates, and I remember joking with Jim about halfway through the mix. He said it sounded dry and I said, ‘It sounds dry because there is so much reverb on everything that has become the new normal.’ I’m amazed that when you listen to it now you can actually hear discrete reverb on things.” “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for four weeks in 1983, while

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Steinman’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” hit No.2 simultaneously and remained there for three weeks, giving him a rare consecutive mega hit duo. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” has enjoyed resurgence in popularity during every solar eclipse as well. “I remember very clearly the first time they ran ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ down, turning to Jim and saying, ‘This is going to be the biggest song you’ve ever recorded,’” Dorfsman says. “I knew it halfway through the recording. I thought it was quite brilliantly put together. I mean it’s super cartoonish with the explosions and synth solo; a very iconic Jim Steinman production—more is better; more of everything is better. But I just knew from the structure of it, and Bonnie was singing great on the live vocal—clearly she gave it her all. I just knew. “And I was right.” n


Live // news & notes

By Todd Berkowitz

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hen I first mentioned the idea of covering The Raconteurs in this space to Tom Kenny, Mix’s Content Director, he couldn’t help from gushing over how he’d caught them in San Francisco on the 2008 tour for their second studio album, Consolers of the Lonely. “I saw them at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco, years ago, about 800 people,” he said. “It was a frickin’ great show, was sold out in two minutes. Thank goodness John McBride knows Jack [White]; I would have never gotten in.” That about sums up what this band is and the kind of star-power it brings. It’s loud and feisty, five friends doing what sounds good. Eleven years after that tour, their approach hasn’t changed, playing everything from 100-person capacity record stores to 8,000-seat amphitheaters. Each member took some time between 2010-2018 to focus on other projects, but found themselves together again to record their third studio album, Help Us Stranger, tracked at Third Man Studios and mixed at Blackbird Studio, both in Nashville. Mix caught up with them at their Seattle stop in July. “It’s rock and roll,” says FOH engineer Taylor Nyquist. “It’s good to see rock and roll alive and well! We have a great rhythm section [Patrick Keeler and Little Jack Lawrence] and two front men [Brendan Benson and Jack White], plus our amazing utility man [Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Dead Weather]. Everyone is very accomplished on their own, but the uniqueness comes with the cohesive unit.  This also means that anyone on stage could be featured at any time and we have to be ready for it. I don’t want to compromise the band’s sound and what they need to hear on stage, so I have to find the balance of the volume of guitars coming off stage with what is in the P.A. Sometimes that involves delaying the P.A. or flipping the phase to work in our favor. “One of the most unique things, especially these

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The Raconteurs performed in Seattle in late July.

days, about this tour is that there are no tracks, no timecode, and no set list,” Nyquist continues. “It’s just five guys playing real instruments. They also never play the same show twice. Even more so, they rarely even play the songs the same way twice.  Jack will often pick up someone  else’s instrument and solo on it before turning it back over to them and continuing on his guitar.  You have to keep your eyes on the stage!  “Another unique thing is that the band loves to play ALL-size venues. This leads to challenging audio systems, from P.A.s on sticks to full K1 or GSL rigs. This also means we carry five consoles on tour, three just for FOH.  There’s the Midas XL4 for most days, and the DiGiCo SD12, which we use for support as well as a backup for me in case the XL4 doesn’t fit—typically festivals where we have the penultimate slot. The DiGiCo was also selected for its wide availability on worldwide fly dates. Finally, we carry a Yamaha QL1 for “B Shows” at record stores or bars or wherever the band decides on a whim to play. On those days I do FOH, monitors, multitrack, and two-track all from that tiny desk.” Jack White is well-known for his unique sound

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and style, and this represents a big change from his previous solo tour. What was Jack White and four side musicians is now a band with chemistry (not to mention two singers switching off) and completely different dynamics. That, and, well, it’s LOUD on stage. Not loud enough, however, to lose sight of the nuances. They need to cut through no matter the venue, and they do it without losing the frenetic energy of a Jack White rock and roll show. “I’m happy to say that we have quite a few crewmembers back from Jack’s solo tour last year,” adds Nyquist. “It’s been good to build on the work we did last year, both sonically and as a crew. It’s been fun to see the dynamic between Jack and Brendan, because they really couldn’t be more yin and yang. It also frees Jack up to just play guitar on songs and Brendan to play slide or harmonica.  Other songs have more of a duet feel with two lead vocals.  Dean and Little Jack provide background and group vocals.  Listeners can also hear the difference between what sounds like a White Stripes or Jack White song versus a Raconteurs song.  It’s definitely the band element.” n

Photo: David James Swanson

The Raconteurs Break Out Old-School Rock ‘n’ Roll


on the cover

TALENT, , Y G O L O N H C TE CULTURE Sony Pictures Studios and the Future of Audio Post-Production Kevin O’Connell, Creative Director & Re-recording Mixer, in the Cary Grant Theater, the crown jewel of the Sony Pictures Studios sound facilities, now fully equipped for Dolby Atmos. Photo: Sumiko Braun

By Tom Kenny

T

here is a strong sense of tradition running through Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City, Calif. A rainbow greets visitors at the Madison Gate, as a lasting tribute to The Wizard of Oz from the days when MGM reigned supreme. The Thalberg Building to the left recalls, at least architecturally, that Golden Age when executives smoked big cigars while making big deals, riding up to the big corner suite in a private elevator. Straight ahead, to the left and right, shooting stages, sound stages and crafts facilities line Main Street for blocks and blocks. People hurry by in golf carts. The Commissary is packed. Guided public tours wind their way daily through the rich and vibrant history of stars and showbiz. The place just screams “Hollywood!” It’s a vision of moviemaking that the entire world shares, and, for the most part, it’s entirely real. Tradition is important. But so is staying current, and behind the scenes there is a whole other story going on at the Sony lot, one that involves technology and people and a new way of working. Nowhere is

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this more apparent than in post-production audio for film and television, where over the past five years Tommy McCarthy, now executive VP of post-production facilities, has led the charge to adapt to shrinking post-audio budgets and the rapid changes in technology and workflow on the one hand, along with the rise of immersive audio and multiple new formats for distribution on the other. That’s not easy for a small, nimble, groundup facility. It’s even more difficult at a huge multinational. And yet by all accounts Sony Pictures Post Production Services is thriving, with the flagship Cary Grant Theater—recently upgraded with Dolby Atmos capability—booked solid for the next two years. It’s pretty much the same for the rest of the re-recording stages, both film and television. The demand is there. “I’ve now been with Sony Pictures for 28 years, and about five years ago when I first started running the audio post facilities, we had 10 mix stages and were wondering whether we needed all 10,” McCarthy says. “We were a very

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traditional facility, with mixing and editorial separate. First we started migrating to the Avid S6 and other technologies and knocked down the walls between editorial and mixing. Then we knocked down the walls between TV stages and feature stages. “Then once we changed our technology and philosophy and became the leading force on the west side, we added four mix stages,” he continues. “Right now we have 14 mix stages, and within the next two years 11 of them will be outfitted for Dolby Atmos, with five of those set up for IMAX delivery, as well. The streaming networks out there are producing so much content that I don’t know how there are enough facilities and talent in town to handle the work that comes through the pipe. It’s astronomical how much is being produced today, and believe me, we’re all thankful.” A NEW WAY TO WORK It’s hard to overstate the impact of the technological disruption in audio post-


Photo: Joe Hall

prior. The need for a flexible, midsize immersive room, one that could pull double duty as a sound design suite for the newly arrived talent or serve as a mix suite for episodic television or feature films that didn’t require a big stage. Theater 1, the first to be built, was designed with supervising sound editor/sound designer/ re-recording engineer Will Files in mind. “The plan going to it was to build a room equally suited to mixing and sound design,” Files says. “That’s necessary today, and these midsize rooms are the future. I don’t want to see the big rooms go away of course, because they need to

production for film and television over the past decade. Few could have foretold how rapidly immersive audio was accepted, both out in public and at home. The rise of streaming services certainly helped fuel that change with a demand for deliverables, while simultaneously creating a boom in content. Finally, tighter budgets have led to smaller crews and shorter schedules. It developed into a perfect storm, one that demanded a reaction. McCarthy and his team responded in a couple of ways. First, as mentioned, they broke down the barriers between sound editorial and mixing, a delineation long established in Hollywood but no longer viable. Many others had embraced the change; when Sony Pictures Studios changed, they changed quickly, starting with the William Holden Theater five years ago, followed by the Kim Novak Theater and others, then ramping up significantly over the past 18 months with the addition of the all-new Theaters 1 and 3—as combination mixing/sound design suites—and a massive Dolby Atmos upgrade to the Cary Grant Theater, pictured on this month’s cover. The Cary Grant Theater is something of an anachronism in today’s world. It’s huge, containing the largest Avid S6 in the world, and the upgrade to Dolby Atmos required 42 more JBL speakers, with all associated amplification. It wasn’t cheap. Who does that today, when the industrywide trend is toward flexible, mid-size immersive rooms? Sony Pictures did. And when they made the decision, they had five weeks to complete it. Two pictures were clamoring to get in. Now there are two years of bookings. “The industry trend is that they seem to be closing big rooms, with or without Atmos, and we’re revamping ours,” says Lane Burch, head of engineering and project manager for the

Photo: Sumiko Braun

Seated in the Dolby Atmos-equipped Theater 1, the core of the Sony Pictures Studios Post Production Services creative team, from left: Julian Slater (supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer), Kevin O’Connell (creative director, re-recording mixer), Will Files (supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer).

In the Jimmy Stewart Theater, a dual-purpose stage for IMAX and Dolby Atmos post-production audio, from left: Nick Offord (re-recording mixer), Kimberly Jimenez (VP, post sound operations), Ryan Collins (re-recording mixer).

recent revamps of the Grant, the Jimmy Stewart and Theaters 1 and 3. “The main build-out for the room was mostly about putting in a full dance floor of scaffolding and applying adaptive bracketing for the new speakers. Westlake was the contractor for the Grant, Modern Interiors peeled back the fabric, and Streamline Systems Design did the rigging and put all the speakers up. The whole project was about five weeks, and the next day a film came in. “We also did some upgrades to a four-way JBL speaker system behind the screen with the D2 compression drivers,” Burch continues, “and we changed to dual-18 subwoofers to modernize it a bit and give it an industry feel.” But before upgrading the Cary Grant, Burch and his engineering team cut their teeth on Theater 1, one of three former color correction suites McCarthy picked up when Deluxe left the main post-production audio building three years

be there. But you can do a lot of the prep work in these rooms, and there’s something about the intimacy that is good for the creative process. It still sounds like a high-quality dubbing stage, but it has a more cozy, intimate vibe for the client. The thing that’s so good about the Atmos system is that it’s designed to be scalable to size and dimension—equally suited to working in smaller spaces while translating to the big stage. But my favorite thing about the room is the sound of it. Lane Burch and the engineers here at Sony Pictures really put the effort into it.” Theater 3 followed a year later, completed this past May, after the upgrade to the Cary Grant, with sound designer/re-recording mixer Julian Slater in mind. It shares an identical footprint to Theater 1, and again, Audio Intervisual Design (AID) supplied the JBL speakers and full B-chain. And again, Streamline Systems Design provided integration, with Westlake as contractor. As with

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Files in Theater 1, it’s not “his” room, though he usually gets dibs when a mix isn’t booked. It’s all part of the philosophy of “no set crews, no set stages.” The model is working; the talent has bought in, often working comfortably in multiple rooms throughout any one project.

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Supervising sound editor/re-recording Mixer Tony Lamberti in the Thalberg Building B Stage, optimized for Dolby Atmos Home.

supervise, sound design and mix TriStar Pictures' Baby Driver, he was associated with Technicolor. By the time he returned to London, he had made a commitment to Sony Pictures. The following Monday, he was working on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. “I think there is definitely a renaissance going on here,” Slater says. “A lot of movies going on, a lot of great talent across the board—and not just mixers or sound design, but the mix techs and the engineers and the administration. Kim Jimenez in booking and operations. And without sounding cliché, it’s been great to work with Kevin. Nothing makes me happier than sitting in the Cary Grant and mixing with Kevin. When I packed my bags six years ago to move to L.A., that’s exactly what I envisioned. Kevin has been very astute, and he understood earlier than a lot of his peers how things are shifting and how ‘important’ it is for the re-recording mixer to be part of the process early on.” Tony Lamberti, a stellar sound designer/mixer, has a similar story, as do Geoffrey Rubay, Ryan Collins, Nick Offord, Becky Sullivan, Mandell Winter, Steven Ticknor, Andrew DeCristofaro and many others. Except for O’Connell, who was recently named Director of Creative Services, none of them are employees or under lucrative contracts. Those days are gone in Hollywood. They have simply committed to Sony Pictures as a home base, and they are happy to be there. “Tommy was the best thing that could have happened to this department,” O’Connell says. “He was handed the reins during a huge

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transitional period and he’s done a fantastic job of steering the facility in the right direction. He’s very big on having great talent, the right talent, and the best technology, but he’s more focused on the culture. I’ve always believed that when you can surround yourself with great people, it makes the whole facility stronger. My goal in coming back was to bring back as many talented people as we can who want to embrace the culture. It helps that we have one boss to report to and that’s Tommy McCarthy.” “I don’t believe in overly large editorial or mix teams,” McCarthy adds. “I want extremely talented people who have connections with filmmakers. But more important to me, and what I’ve really been working on these past five years, is the culture of this facility. Starting with the valet parker! That’s the filmmaker’s first impression. Then in administration we have Kim Jimenez, Diana Rogers, Kevin Wahrman, Betsy Solorzano and Sumiko Braun—they all work closely with our talent. And they all are part of the experience. “Then when we get to the stages, to me it’s more important to have talent on the mix and editorial sides who work well together, where everyone is aware of what’s going on throughout the facility, with no politics involved. When you have that type of environment, you have a place that people are happy to come to. We all have enough stress on the creative side, so building a positive, collaborative culture can help relieve that stress. We want the job to be fun. We want to be the best in town, sure, but we also want to have a good time while we’re doing that.” n

Photo: Joe Hall

TALENT AND CULTURE While Tommy McCarthy has provided the drive and vision for the transformation of audio post at Sony Pictures, any discussion of the recent drive to attract talent begins with Kevin O’Connell. From 1993 to 2008, O’Connell mixed at Sony Pictures, under contract, primarily in the Cary Grant Theater and most often on big movies, the tentpole pictures and the action-fueled blockbusters. In 2008 he went independent and discovered the advantages of flexibility on the stage and mixing in the box. In 2014 he returned, right at the start of the changes taking place on the lot. “When I came back to Sony Pictures, I came back from the independent world, where you need to work on every console, every surface and you need to be mixing in the box,” says O’Connell. “I think Tommy wasn’t sure whether I was stuck in a traditional way of working—I’ve been doing this nearly 40 years—so I told him that I was all about the new technology. He was happy to hear that, and since then we have embraced the new workflow together. “For a lot of films we do, you’re predubbing in one studio, temp dubbing in another, finaling in another, doing the M&E and Chinese version in another, and they all have to be in Atmos,” he continues. “You have to have that flexibility within the rooms and within the facility. That’s one of the great ways Tommy is expanding the facility. We can do anything.” Since returning in 2014, O’Connell has led the effort to both attract new editors and mixers and develop talent in-house, pulling from the pool of mix techs, whose jobs have moved from the machine room to the Pro Tools station on the dub stage. Files was first approached by McCarthy about four years ago, with the idea of building Theater 1 for his use. A year went by, projects had been committed, then O’Connell called with encouragement. McCarthy called again. Files found a home. Likewise, Julian Slater went through a courtship. He had come to L.A. from London about six years ago, first mixing at Sony Pictures on Columbia Pictures' The Brothers Grimsby about four years ago. When he flew in from London to


Please Hold, Jenny Lewis Is

On the Line

Artist Explores Her Own Self, Surrounded By a Few Music Legends By Matt Hurwitz

I

t’s July 7, and Jenny Lewis has just come inside Capitol Studios after joining Ringo Starr and his pals onstage out front of the Capitol Tower to wish him a happy 79th birthday. So where was that piano she used on her most recent album, the critically acclaimed On the Line? “Oh, let me show you,” she says, walking around the corner into Studio B, where, inside the room’s iso booth sits the Steinway grand she played; 48 years earlier Carole King recorded the same piano for Tapestry. “That one.” Fifteen feet away stands Starr, embracing bassist Don Was with a birthday hug, and across the room are keyboardist Benmont Tench and another legendary drummer, Jim Keltner. The band’s all here, in the very room where On the Line was born. After fronting indie rock fave Rilo Kiley for 15 years, singer-songwriter Lewis released her third solo album, The Voyager, in 2014, and, five years later, this past February, issued its long-awaited follow-up. On the Line debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Alternative Album chart (Number 4 on Top Rock Albums), and has already made several notable “Top Albums of 2019 So Far” lists. Eight of the 11 tracks were co-produced by Lewis and Ryan Adams, and feature the above-mentioned classic talents (Starr on two tracks, including the hit single, “Red Bull & Hennessy”), with three other songs produced by Beck Hansen. The openly personal songs for the album, much of which focus on the aftermath of the breakup of a relationship, as well as, later, the death of her mother, were written over several years. “I’m always writing; I never stop,” Lewis tells Mix. The process always involves recording demos, and always on her iPhone. “I’m a Voice

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Notes addict,” she confesses. “And I’m a Garage Band enthusiast.” The Voyager originally started out, in 2013, as a Beck-produced album, but continued production with Adams. “She was looking for someone who could give it an old school ‘tapey’ vibe, so someone suggested Ryan,” says Adams’ then-engineer, Charlie Stavish, who, in Spring 2018, moved on to focus on his projects at his studio in Joshua Tree. In early December 2016, Lewis met up with Adams once again at Pax-AM to record new demos of her songs over several days, with musicians Nate Lotz (drums), Todd Wisenbaker (guitar) and Stavish on bass, developing parts on the go. A total of nine songs were demoed. Several months later, Lewis, Adams and Stavish reconvened at Capitol calls it, with legendary Studios, Studio B, to session drummer Jim formally record the tracks. Keltner. “She’s an amazingly Five days’ worth of sessions great songwriter, and these were booked for the week songs were so much fun of March 20, 2017, though to play—and to listen to,” the efficient recording band he says. Once Keltner was was able to complete the onboard, Lewis asked former process of basic tracking in The album art for On the Line. Heartbreakers keyboardist just four. “It’s a big deal to go to Capitol,” Lewis says. “That room just Benmont Tench. “We used to have ‘music night’ at my house on Sunday nights,” Tench, who resonates. It really informed the feeling.” It also offered recording to tape. “That’s always also played on The Voyager, recalls. “Her songs the plan, with all Ryan Adams-related anything,” aren’t empty; they really feel like they’re about Stavish says. The team recorded through the something, and about something personal to studio’s classic Neve 8068 56-input console, to a her.” Adams played all guitars, and Was rounded Studer A827 tape machine onto ATR Magnetics out the band. “Don just comes up with these wonderful parts and wonderful tones on all of 2-inch tape stock at 15 ips. For her recording band, Lewis began these songs,” Keltner says. The studio was set up with (viewed from assembling her “fantasy football team,” as she

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Jenny Lewis in the Studio B Control Room at Capitol Studios, March 2017.

the control room window) Keltner in the far right corner (the “sweet spot” for drums in that studio), Tench to his right, against the center of the back wall, Was to Keltner’s left, along the right wall, and Adams to Was’ left, just to the right of the control room window. Lewis herself, it was decided, would shift from guitar, as she was on The Voyager, to piano, and both play and sing live with the band. The Steinway piano was placed in B’s roomy iso both—which Lewis subsequently decorated with candles and other trinkets—to allow for the most separation, as she would be singing live. The piano was turned to allow sight lines between Lewis and Keltner, across the room, something that would prove invaluable. Stavish miked the piano with an AEA R88 stereo ribbon mic. “I love that mic,” he says. “I have a couple.” Another AEA, a KU4

supercardioid ribbon mic, was placed in front of Lewis to capture her vocals and keep out the piano as much as possible. “That mic is pretty directional. It was pretty surprising how easy it was to get the separation,” Stavish adds. “There’s a little bit of bleed here or there. We had to play a bit with the positioning of the piano mic to get the null point toward her voice. But given the amount of moving parts to it, there’s surprisingly little bleed.” Keltner offers a rare view into his unique drum kit setup for recording, one which offers him the greatest flexibility. “If it’s a session that I think is going to be fun, and I don’t know that much about it exactly, I will have Ross [Garfield, L.A.’s famous Drum Doctor] bring all my gear and just set up everything.” All has been custommade for Keltner by DW Drums. For recording, Keltner will have two kick

drums—his primary bass drum, and to his left, a smaller 14-inch. He also uses two different snares, as well as a second hi-hat. “I play multiple hi-hats, and I play multiple snares. If I have it in front of me, I can listen to the song and make a music change right there. What I liked about Jenny’s songs is they were calling out for low tones, to me. Charlie has ears that can hear what I was going for.” Keltner’s kick drums were covered with E-V RE20s, bused together to a single track; the snares, each with Beyer 201s, top and bottom, and bused to one track, and, again, his favorite AEA R88 stereo ribbon for overhead pickup, making a total of just four tracks. Mixed into that stereo pair was also an AKG 414 covering the floor tom, and one each for the two hi hats, which Stavish panned hard left/hard right. An AEA R84 was also placed five feet out front of

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Photos: Charlie Stavish

Capitol Studio B layout for the Ryan Adams-produced sessions, as seen from Lewis’ piano iso booth: Keltner’s drums are set up in the far right corner, Was’ basses to his left, Adams’ guitars to Was’ left, and Tench’s rigs to Keltner’s right, against back wall. Inset: Ringo Starr’s Ludwig “Crystal Kit,” with Keltner’s DW drum rig beyond, with its multiple kick drums. Tench’s keyboard rig to the left

Keltner’s kit, making a fifth drum track. For compression, Stavish employed either a LA2A or a UA 1176 on the snare, and a GML EQ into a Fairchild limiter for the overheads. He then put the whole stereo pair bus through the GML and then a Fairchild 670 compressor. Don Was’ old Ampeg bass amp was set up in the upstairs lounge, which overlooks the live room from atop the iso booth; it was miked with a Sennheiser U47 and connected via DI (and bused to a single track on tape). Tench brought his entire arsenal, though most of his playing centered around his classic Hammond C3 (unknowingly referred to by the rest of the gang as the more common B3). “I’ve owned that since around 1977 or ’78,” he says. “It went on every Heartbreakers tour, and I’ve played it on 99 percent of the sessions I’ve played.” He introduces a distortion pedal in line with his Leslie 147, modified long ago by legendary Hammond tech Bill Beer, a trick he learned from Jimmy Iovine and Shelly Yakus early in his Heartbreaker history. He also brought a digital Mellotron and his Vox Continental organ, as well as a Wurlitzer electric piano. Tench’s Leslie cabinet was goboed and miked with a pair of 414s on top and an RE20 on the bottom, typically bused all together to a single track (though tracked to an additional pair for stereo for his solo on “Red Bull and Hennessy”). All of his other instruments, the engineer says, were DI’d to a single track, “so that, at any

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moment, he could play anything while we were tracking, and we’d get it.” Adams had recently come off the road, so his entire arsenal of guitars were shipped directly to Capitol, along with his pedal boards. His amp, a Benson Chimera, was isolated in a small iso booth built around it, and was miked with an AEA R92. While tracking, Adams always played an electric. Any acoustic guitars were recorded as overdubs, miked with a U47. TRACKING AT CAPITOL The Adams-produced tracks were recorded live as an ensemble—his preferred method, when possible—during the first four days of the week of March 20, 2017, the first being “Wasted Youth,” the album’s third single. The song features a cool signature Mellotron part by Tench on the choruses, supplemented by what Stavish calls “Ryan doing a pedal dance,” producing a variety of guitar sounds. The second song of the day, “Hollywood Lawn,” features two key components, including a sliding Keltner drum groove, which “is the thing that sets Keltner apart,” says Beck tracking engineer Darrell Thorp. “He’s not your traditional pocket drummer. His timing… it sways. And when it sways in the right way, it’s just so cool. And very unique.” The second key component to the recording was the addition of live strings, courtesy of The Section Quartet (several members of which

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tour with Lewis). “We always wanted to cut strings live; that was always part of the plan,” Lewis states. “We wanted the whole sound in the room.” The ensemble was set up a little left of center of the room, toward the sliding doors leading to Studio A, contained in a makeshift iso booth. Stavish miked them, once again, with his favorite R88 stereo ribbon, though bused the two inputs to a single tape track, repeating the process for however many overdubs were required to fill out the sound. “We knew we were going to doubletrack or triple-track, so there was no sense in eating up four or six tracks. So each was recorded in mono on a single track.” Lewis had always wanted Starr to play on the album’s moving opening track, “Heads Gonna Roll,” something likely suggested by Was initially, but certainly not Keltner. “I don’t suggest anything for Ringo anymore. I get in trouble when I do that!” he laughs. Starr’s kit set up in the center of the studio, facing to the right, toward Was. His kit, says his longtime drum tech, was “what we call the ‘Crystal Kit,’” a Ludwig set covered in Swarovski crystals. The shells are Ludwig’s Legacy Classic shells, a reissue of the classic shells made by the company in the ‘60s, which were a combo of maple and poplar plies, with a reinforcement ring on top and bottom, he describes. “That was Ringo’s sound back then. Now they’re made with today’s technology, and a little more


Photo: Allister Ann

Photo: Allister Ann

Lewis chats with bassist Don Was in Capitol’s Studio B Control Room.

craftsmanship. The new ones are put together a lot more precisely, and the bearing edges are better. So they still have that sound.” The kick drums is 16x24 inches, and the snare, 6.5x14, is Ludwig’s Chrome over Brass, instead of a wood shell. The single rack tom is a 9x13, and the floor tom is 16x16. The tuning, like Keltner’s, is low, but for different reasons. “For Ringo, I tune them in something of a combination of Ringo and John Bonham sound,” Chonis describes, mainly focused on the kick and snare. “The chromeover-brass snare is something Bonham used on a lot of live shows and recordings. And the 24-inch bass drum is tuned pretty wide open, and it’s just got a little bit of muffling, down in the bottom of the drum. So they’re kind of John Bonham drums, but I tune them for Ringo. So his sound is big, and lots of low end, and very open.” Stavish miked the kick with an AKG D20, through an opening in the front skin, the snare with a Sennheiser MD-441-U, and his AEA R88 recording the overhead in stereo – making a total of four tracks to tape. Keltner’s 5th mic was dropped, to allow space. “That gave us one back for Ringo, and then we budgeted in three more,” the engineer notes. Ringo played alone with the band on the album opener, “Heads Gonna Roll,” his colleague and old friend, Keltner, watching from the lounge above. “It’s always a thrill to watch Ringo play —it’s friggin’ Ringo Starr!—one of my favorite drummers in the whole wide world,” he says. “You’re listening to him interpret this song He made history interpreting people’s songs.” Lewis was having difficulty with the adjustment of her headphone mix during the recording of the track. “I was just playing to my voice, piano and Ringo’s drums. That’s all I

Engineer Charlie Stavish at the Capitol Studio B Neve 8068 console, March 2017.

could hear,” she recalls. “Then I looked out and said, ‘Oh, my gosh, does this sound terrible?’ And Ringo said, ‘Oh, don’t worry, love, I’m just playing to the vocals. That’s all I need.” Once completed, Keltner came downstairs and joined his pal for what would become the album’s biggest hit single, “Red Bull and Hennessy,” double drumming as they had in their heyday recording together. “It was one of the coolest things to be able to be in the room and snoop around and check out their gear,” Lewis says. Of his and Starr’s double-drumming experience, Keltner says, “We do have a very, very similar heartbeat,” Keltner explains. THE BECK SESSIONS For the remainder of the year, Lewis took a break, spending her time “writing and floating,” as she says, moving about from New York to Nashville, and eventually back to L.A., where her mother passed away in late October 2017. She realized that the album was still short several songs, and, having worked with Beck at the beginning of The Voyager, she did what one does when trying to reach the producer. “I sent him a ‘Bext.’ That’s what you send Beck!” And not long after, she forwarded her iPhone demos of the three tracks. “She had already pretty much recorded the record, but she needed help finishing it,” the producer says. “I just knew, ‘This one’s an important one.’” Upon hearing the three demos, Beck notes, “They had this otherworldly sound, the kind of thing you would hear on some record long ago, where they discovered some demos from a lost band that were never released. But they had a ghostly, spooky quality to them that I really

liked. And I used it as a guide and a compass on the feeling I wanted the songs to have.” Beck’s approach was quite different from that of Adams. “Beck is very meticulous,” Lewis notes. “He got into the structure and chords of the songs. He really gets into the arrangement, which I was open to.” The team returned once again to Capitol Studio B, something Lewis was adamant about, and, with one exception—Jason Faulkner—this time she didn’t play an instrument. Recording sessions took place on February 6-7, 2018. As is his usual practice, Beck worked with tracking engineer Darrell Thorp, while another engineering partner, David Greenbaum, worked on the back end to manipulate and craft the tracks. Thorp recorded to Pro Tools, instead of tape, to allow Beck and Greenbaum to perform whatever manipulation they would be pursuing “in post.” Thorp set the room up the same as the sessions the year before. Keltner returned for the Beck sessions. “He has a really distinct feel, a kind of iconoclastic looseness. His instincts go places that not a lot of people know to go,” Beck states. Beck’s approach to tracking often involves two different sets of drums: Keltner’s own kit, in the live room with the other players, in the same far-right corner as before, and another “lighter, funkier kit,” says Thorp, “in the iso booth, with no room mics, no reverb on it—just dead dry.” Beck would do several passes with the band, with Keltner in the live room, and another pass with the drummer in the iso booth, playing to a click, his other pass muted. “There are a lot of great takes and versions of these three songs,” Beck explains. “And for all the tracking I ‘ve done over the years, the little room always wins, for the drums.”

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Thorp miked Keltner’s own kit with a U47 FET on the kick, SM57s (top and bottom) on the snare, an AKG C451 on the hi-hat, and an AKG C12A on his toms, with a single U47 covering the overhead. Faulkner, positioned to Keltner’s left, where Was had been set up, would always track playing bass, immediately recording his guitar parts afterward. Though he does bring a Fender Precision, on these recordings he played a more diminutive Fender Mustang with flatwound strings, through an Ampex Portaflex B-15 amp. “Jason’s not a big dude, so he doesn’t like playing a long-necked bass,” Thorp explains. “But that Mustang delivers deep, rich bass tones.” Adds Beck, “It has a rickety sound, especially with those flatwound strings. It just instantly sounds like a cool old record.” For guitar, Faulkner plays a black ‘70s Fender Telecaster or a mid-‘60s pink Fender Jazzmaster, though he tends to favor the Telecaster, Beck says. While a guitar station was also set up for Beck, he tended to stay in the control room and focus on structuring the song, recording any parts he wished to add later. Tench played his Hammond C3 again, though Thorp applied his own technique to the Leslie cabinet. “I don’t do the traditional two mics on the high rotor, in the little cave, and then a mic on the low rotor,” he explains. “I learned from an engineer long ago to place a pair of largediaphragm condenser mics, like U87s, pointing toward the edges on opposite sides, so that you get that left and right image.” Lewis was set up in a goboed vocal booth, singing live into a tube U47—a favorite of Beck’s. “It’s something I always go back to,” he says. “I’ve tried modern mics, but, in a shootout, the U47 always wins.” Three songs were recorded over the two days at Capitol, “Little White Dove” perhaps the most personal and moving, even with its hip groove. “It’s probably the funkiest song about losing a family member,” Lewis states. “I wrote that visiting my mom in the hospital every day, trying to get up the courage to go in there. And this bass line was just in my head as I would walk down the hall.” She would stand beside her mother “and she would harmonize with me. I don’t know if she was conscious or if she understood the song, but she was still present—harmonically very present. And her harmonies were perfect. She was out, but the music was still in her.” Once the basic tracking was completed, Beck

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and Greenbaum began crafting the songs the producer had been hearing in his head since the beginning. “We’d essentially record the song in a basic way, true to her demo,” Beck explains. “Then I could go off and pull it apart and throw a bunch of different ideas on it, different keyboard melodies.” MIXING IT UP As Beck was continuing his work with Greenbaum, remix engineer Shawn Everett started on the Adams-produced tracks. Everett’s process typically—and unbeknownst to Lewis— involves his own first pass at mixes, based simply on his own instincts “His first pass scared the shit out of me,” Lewis says. “When I got it back, I cried! I didn’t understand his process. His first pass is completely out, and then you have to kind of bring it back to center with him. This was fresh, and it was new, and it wasn’t something I had heard before, in the context of my songs. So with a little support from Lenny [Waronker] and Beck, I understood what Shawn was going for. And I trusted him from that point forward.” Lewis started coming to Everett’s studio, and the two began working together. “Shawn and I just

Darrell Thorp

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started carving,” she says. Everett’s process began with Keltner’s drums, targeting the kinds of low frequencies present in Roland 808-type samples. He might re-amp the recorded kick drum in his cavernous studio live room, while placing another kick drum in front of the loudspeaker. “And I don’t mike that drum—I mike the room,” he adds. “This allows me to single out a particular drum mic, and do it only with that.” The double-drumming on “Red Bull and Hennessy,” he says, was “a different situation than most of the record. As soon as you have two drums, you have to treat it in a different way. Plus, it’s a rocker. Normally, on a track like that, you’d have the drums really punchy and pushing, which is something you can’t quite do in the same way when there’s two drum sets. It has to feel punching and aggressive, but with more of an orchestral image.” For Beck’s tracks, Greenbaum would provide a new Pro Tools session to Everett, incorporating their changes as if they were live, including effects and EQ. “We’d do that for his clarity, so that you can’t even see that something was muted on our end,” he explains. “It’s just a completely remade session. It’s very different than what we got from Darrell.” Making those tracks fit in nicely against the songs Adams produced took a special touch, Everett says. “They were recorded in such a different way. So the approach, in my mind, was just a matter of bridging it a little bit.” He completely avoided his re-amping technique on Keltner’s drums for the Beck tracks “because the approach of the drums on his recordings are so different, a much more punchy, close, dry sound.” One thing he was certain to include, on “Little White Dove,” was one of Keltner’s trademark count-ins, heard throughout history on important rock and roll recordings. “His count-ins are kind of legendary,” Everett says. “If I ever find them on a track, I never want to get rid of them.” Of Everett’s work, Lewis notes, “Shawn is a modern master. The record sounds the way it does because of a group effort, but he really changed it into what you hear. It’s incredible. I started out as an artist, as a child, just trying to be perfect. Trying to be someone else. That’s a training I’ve been fighting against ever since— being fucking perfect and playing characters. And it’s taken me about 20 years to get back to myself. And thanks to these amazing people, that is what you hear.” n


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Mix Presents

Sound For Film & TV Keynote Speaker: Wylie Stateman

Wylie Stateman is a sound designer and post production media entrepreneur. He has supervised more than 150 sound projects, and his work has been recognized in the industry with over 40 nominations spanning every decade of his 40-year career. His industry recognitions include eight Oscar nominations, six BAFTA nominations, two Emmy nominations and 30-plus MPSE Golden Reel nominations. In 1994 he received, with Lon Bender and Kim Waugh, an Academy Scientific and Technical Award for an innovation that contributed to the advancement of digital audio postproduction workflows. Stateman has worked extensively with every major studio in Hollywood, along with some of the most prolific writer/directors in the motion picture and television industries. His creative sound work has included multiple collaborations with Oliver Stone, John Hughes, Quentin Tarantino, Wolfgang Petersen, Cameron Crowe, Scott Frank and Rob Marshall, among others. Stateman was a co-founder of the post production sound services company Soundelux, where he served in a senior executive management capacity involved in overall operations. He also served as chairman for the Soundelux Entertainment Group, a holding company that oversaw 11 entities, including The Hollywood Edge (sound effects libraries), Modern Music (music editorial for feature films and television), DMG (computer game design) and Mind’s Eye/Jabberwocky (books on tape), as well as Soundelux Systems and Showorks (both focused on location-based entertainment and show control). A few years ago, Stateman established 247SND, centered around a Dolby Atmos design studio, in Topanga. His most recent work, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, is Wylie’s seventh collaboration with Quentin Tarantino. During this project, he and his team applied a rapid prototyping process, an approach that they have been refining over the past five years. By continually incorporating new and refined sound design, dialog and music elements directly into the Avid track, Stateman and his crew enable the editor and director to take sound contributions into consideration throughout the editorial assembly process. Always in service to the director’s needs and vision, the process makes it easier to approve sonic elements in progressive stages, rather than forcing all of the decisions into the final weeks of post. Stateman sees the rapid prototyping of sound as part of a bigger transition in sound editorial, where there are no longer predefined boundaries between the crafts. New technologies are turning upside-down the traditional sound editing and final mixing processes in content creation. In addition, artists working with the latest audio technologies around the world are publishing an enormous quantity of high-quality, multichannel recordings, which is changing how designers source materials to create new works.

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Hosted by

Mix Expert Panel Series Immersive Audio Workflow: Concept, Editorial, Design and Mix Presented by MPSE Our panel of experts will discuss a how-to plan for creating and delivering audio through the post-production process for the best use of immersive sound technology. Moderated by: Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter Panelists: Steve Ticknor, Sony; Benjamin Cook, 424 Post; Tony Lamberti, Sony; Keith Rogers, Universal; Caleb Hollenback, Formosa Group; Cheryl Ottenritter, Ott House Audio; Scott Kramer, Netflix Follow the Tracks Presented by Cinema Audio Society A panel of experts discusses where our dialog tracks come from, where they go and what happens to them along the way, from set to screen. Moderated by: Bob Bronow, CAS Panelists: Gary Bourgeois, Re-recording Mixer; Adam Carl, Recordist; Smokey Cloud, Assistant Editor; Chris Jacobsen, Re-recording Mixer; Anna Mackenzie, Dialog Editor; Ben Patrick, Production Mixer The Networked Studio: Building a Near-Field Immersive Room With Audio-Over-IP Chief engineers, designers and integrators discuss the ins and outs of building a near-field immersive audio studio using advanced AudioOver-IP networking technologies and tools. Moderated by: Phil Wagner Panelists: Brian Armstrong, Streamline System Design; Lane Burch, Sony Pictures Studios; Bill Johnston, Formosa Group; Ron Romano, Belmont University; Scott Kramer, Netflix All-New! Dante Audio-Over-IP Theatre Sponsored by Audinate, Presented by Focusrite • Repurposing Your 5.1/7.1 Room for Networked Immersive Sound • 3 Studios, 1 Soundtrack: Immersive Sound Collaboration with Effects, Dialog, Music • Plus! Networked Audio Product Presentations by Focusrite, Streamline System Design, ProCo Sound, Audinate and more Plus! • The Composers Lounge • Production Sound Pavilion, Featuring the CAS Parade of Carts & Bags • Presentation Studio, Featuring Hands-On Product Demos • Sponsor Programming From Dolby, Shure, Avid, Yamaha/ Steinberg, DTS, AID, Meyer Sound and many more!


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Composer Tyler Bates Can’t Sit Still John Wick, Fast & Furious, Cirque du Soleil and an Upcoming Tour Photo: Piero F. Giunti

By Robyn Flans

T

here’s no pigeonholing composer/ producer Tyler Bates. In the morning he might be working on composing music for Cirque Du Soleil’s first-ever live action thriller, R.U.N., set to debut at the Luxor in Las Vegas this November. And in the afternoon he may be writing with his co-producer Gavin Rossdale for the Bush album, also due out in November. Or perhaps he’ll be working on the music for the second season of “Purge” for the USA Network, or composing music for a hot new video game. One thing is certain, he won’t be resting on his laurels, basking in the glory of the music he scored for the recent box office hits John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. Seated in his home studio in Studio City, Calif., talking first about the importance of people and relationships, Bates is strikingly unpretentious. In the studio, it’s all about trust, he says. The interpersonal connection is crucial and the process must be organic. He says while Marilyn Manson (with whom he co-wrote and produced two records) might be talking about his day, Bates could be composing something relevant to the topic. “I make it so there are no stakes,” Bates says. “I mean, the only stake is finding that connection to why we began doing what we did, becoming who we are. There was no business to working with Manson. That was never a concern. It was a matter of, ‘Do we have a chemistry together that will allow for me to bring something out in him that is new, that will not only be interesting for his fans to get to know another dimension of who he is and the same for himself?’ The process I try to foster in the studio is a conversation that results in music.” Bates lives for music, his passion evident since childhood. His mother, a huge music fan, had bona fide audio gear and turned him on to a smorgasbord of music—Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, Kansas and Yes, among many, many others. Before he could read, his mother was reading liner notes to him, and he became curious about the production and the process.

Composer Tyler Bates picked up the scoring bug when he first picked up a guitar.

He started off in school bands as an alto sax player, which he later realized provided immense value in his scoring work, but it was really when his mother got him a guitar at age 12 that the creative switch turned on. “That was it,” Bates recalls, noting that as soon as he began playing guitar, he began to write and record. “I felt like I was able to communicate my thoughts and emotions very articulately. I was daisy-chaining cassette recorders together to multitrack, to make it more fun to play if I wasn’t playing to records.” Right after high school, because of extenuating circumstances, Bates took a detour and worked in the options market in Chicago for a few years. Not for naught, he says, for it definitely provided him with a keen business acumen. He returned to Los Angeles in the early ‘90s, painted houses and did whatever it took to keep himself alive while writing music, experimenting with different ways of recording, and diving into Tascam and Alesis ADAT recorders, which he says totally opened up his life. Almost immediately after arriving in L.A., Bates was asked to score a low-budget film. At the same time, and in a manner that would repeat throughout his career, he formed the band Pet, which signed a deal with Atlantic

Records. They toured for a while in support of their first album, which featured the track “Lil’ Boots.” That song was featured on the soundtrack album for The Crow 2—City of Angels, merging his musical worlds. Pet broke up soon after that one album, but the soundtrack went platinum, which inspired Bates to write songs for movies, as well as score them.  “I learned the craft of film scoring through directors, editors, producers, re-recording mixers, everyone else on a movie,” Bates says. “I had never met another composer until I had completed 18 movies, which is strange.” His work in film and television scoring quickly flourished and by 2004 he scored Dawn of the Dead, where he says the Kurzweil K2500 opened up a new portal of experimentation of sound properties for him. He says: “I thought, ‘Okay, let’s not pretend that we can scare people, because nothing scares me in a movie, so let’s make them uncomfortable.’” Some of what comes out with in that discomfort is based on a period when Bates and engineer Wolfgang Matthes studied auditory research conducted on live subjects by a German scientist back in 1969. It examined how conflicting frequencies would affect people emotionally and what impulses would fire in

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Photo: Piero F. Giunti

Now that’s a pedal board! Tyler Bates’ compositional “feel” and tones begins with guitar.

the brain. “When you have tempos start to pull apart, you grow nervous, and it can be completely disconcerting,” Bates says, explaining how it increases your adrenalin and heart rate. In 2007, he scored the remake of John Carpenter’s horror flick Halloween and its sequel two years later. Between 2007 and 2014, Bates worked on the hit TV show “Californication,” and in 2013 he began work on the Guardians of the Galaxy and John Wick franchises, both of which had 2014 release dates. Today Bates works primarily in Pro Tools, although he uses Logic and Cubase on the composition side, as well, along with samples from Vienna Symphonic Library. On Guardians of the Galaxy, for some of the principal themes, director James Gunn had Bates compose the music first so he could shoot the scenes to the track, a process Gunn began on Rainn Wilson’s epilogue in the film Super. “Rainn’s dialog served the purpose of a vocalist for me, and that’s the interesting thing about film,” Bates explains. “The dialog is the singer. So I would make a specific instrument choice for a scene with Chris Pratt as Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy, as opposed to what instrument I would choose for Keanu Reeves as John Wick. “In order to make the music not seem to fight his voice,” Bates continues, “I try not to use anything with sharp edges in the sound when there’s dialog with Keanu, as opposed to Chris Pratt, where I can definitely put some more aggressive midrange-driven percussion behind his voice and it won’t really interfere with his diction whatsoever.” Speaking of John Wick, the song “Bullet Holes” from Bush’s forthcoming album ended up in the closing credits of the most recent installment. Because of the last-minute insanity

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of the film world, it ended up being a rough mix. Thankfully, Bates mixes while he goes along, but “the most important thing is the performance,” he reminds us. He doesn’t use vocal booths; the vocalist is right there in the room with him. And he doesn’t like much in the way of effects while tracking. He used a Neumann M49 on Rossdale and a Manley Reference cardioid mic on everything he did with Marilyn Manson. “I don’t compress on the way in because sometimes the music can be a bit dense, and with a compressed vocal it can be difficult to find a space later for it to sit organically in the song,” he says. Another crazy time crunch on the recent blockbuster Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw presented Bates with the challenge of overdubbing 500 guitar tracks himself in twoand-a-half weeks, with the picture changing daily and in the midst of writing additional cues for the film. He describes that type of situation as “triage mode,” not suggesting that it’s disastrous, but that “it builds muscle.” “That’s where this Kemper comes into play,” he notes. “I’ll find a sound that is going to be a medium sound for the action music, and probably record every guitar part in 4s. It’s very thick and it can at least cut through enough to not sound distracting. I don’t like the sound of thin guitars in a film score, so I have a tendency to just mult things a bunch so that they’ll not seem like they’re sticking out where they shouldn’t. That’s also tricky because it’s one thing to type crazy stuff into a computer on your keyboard with the help of MIDI and quantization and then have the best musicians in the world perform the orchestral score, but when you’re done and you have to match it, whether your reading chops are good or not, it’s still very difficult to do it on

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a guitar where that’s the call. That was the fun challenge in Hobbs & Shaw. “You have to make considerations for all of those frequency ranges of the elements that are going to be featured in any frame of film,” he continues. “If you know there is an explosion happening or a gun that is going to be shot, you need to get out of the way of that frequency so you’re not going to be competing and you end up with sneakers in the dryer. I’m not a big fan of flamming.” Bates seems to welcome the challenges, though. Currently he is psyched about the variety of projects on his plate, including music for the television shows “The Purge,” “The Creep Show,” the animated show “Primal” (sans dialog), and the live-action show R.U.N. at the Luxor. He describes the Cirque Du Soleil show as “one made up of chapters.” “Each of [the chapters] has a distinct approach,” Bates explains. “The score is oftentimes a harddriving mash-up of rock and electro. There are ‘score’ moments, but the show is propulsive, to say the least. “Once a cue is in play, I then collaborate with all departments via the director, Michael Schwandt, to support the artistic objective of the lighting designer, the choreographer, and down the line,” Bates explains. “It’s a very intense process because it requires daily adjustments to tempos once we know the pacing of the performers’ movements when fighting or running, etc. I literally asked the choreographer to beat-box a voice memo to me to clearly illustrate rhythmic events he needed to support the dancers and trickers in a sequence of the show. Like stunt work, this is a true team effort.” Bates thrives on the diversity of his work. What they all have in common is storytelling. “I have loved the entire process of songwriting and recording since I first multitracked by daisychaining cassette recorders together in my bedroom when I was 14 years old,” he says. “I feel that making music in every medium inspires me to be creative always.” Don’t be surprised if Bates adds performing again to his curriculum vitae. He actually toured with Manson on his 2015 “The Hell Not Hallelujah” tour, but this time it would be a return to his own entity, a la his first L.A. band, Pet, with the inclusion of edgy multimedia and sound. One thing is certain: expect the unexpected and all envelopes pushed. Perhaps with a bit of discomfort. n


Tech

new products

Sound for Film Gear

Grace Design m908 Monitor Controller The new Grace Design m908 Monitor Controller is designed for monitoring audio in 7.1, 5.1, stereo, mono and higher-channel count playback systems such as Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D and DTS-X. Speaker systems up to 24 channel can be controlled. The m908 system consists of a mainframe audio control unit, remote control unit and a power supply that contains dual redundant universal input power modules. The remote control is based on the m905 stereo monitor controller, but scaled up to accommodate added features and playback channel count. A DSP section allows for room correction EQ on every channel, bass management features and individual channel delay. The m908 standard features include a total of 68 digital input channels via AES3, Toslink, S/PDIF and USB2. Outputs include16 balanced analog output channels and 24 digital output channels. Up to 16 channels of analog inputs are available with the addition of Grace’s optional 8-channel ADC modules, and an additional option I/O module slot provides up to 32 additional digital inputs and outputs via Dante or DigiLink. Up to 24 input channels can be received simultaneously and routed to the 24-channel processor, and the m908 supports sample rates of up to 192 kHz at 24 bits.

Audeze Mobius Headphones Made for the demands of gaming, the Audeze Mobius headphones are powered by Audeze Planar Magnetic drivers. The company has partnered with Waves to fuse its NX technology into Mobius. Able to process 5.1 and

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7.1 surround sound audio with head tracking and room emulation, Mobius provides a fully immersive surround sound listening experience without the need for additional software or hardware.

Krotos Sound Design Bundle 2 The Krotos Sound Design Bundle 2 combines its four flagship products with three large sound effects libraries bundled together into one package. The Sound Design Bundle 2 enables you to design creatures, animals, weapons, vehicles, footsteps, Foley and other unique sound effects and includes the full Krotos product line: Dehumaniser 2, Reformer Pro, Weaponiser Fully Loaded, Igniter Full Tank, Krotos Bundle 1, Battle Bundle and the Footsteps Bundle. Igniter can be used to create real-world or sci-fi vehicle and engine sound effects. Whether you work in audio post or game audio, Igniter


enables you to design, perform and automate any complex vehicle behavior directly in your DAW — from sports cars, motorbikes, planes, helicopters, spacecraft and other engine sounds to moving ambiences, textures, Foley or whatever sparks your imagination. Igniter comes with over 20 performable vehicles and 1943 audio assets from vehicles such as Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, Tesla, Harley Davidson, Huey UH-1H, Agusta Westland 119x, CH-47D Chinook, Bombardier Challenger, Cessna 560XL, skids, sweeteners and much more. Recordings come from Watson Wu, The Recordist, Sounding Sweet, George Vlad, Echo Peak and Flysound.  

the company’s new line of premium subminiature (5 mm) omnidirectional lavalier and headset microphones. The new patent-pending dual-omni capsule technology yields off-axis consistency and low self-noise, creating lifelike vocal clarity and warmth, especially in the low frequencies. The easy-to-conceal package is designed for quick costume changes or discreetly placed under wardrobe. TwinPlex consists of four lavaliers (TL45, TL46, TL47, TL48) and a fully-adjustable headset microphone (TH53) in multiple colors with extensive accessories and options. The TwinPlex cable is available in 1.1mm and 1.6mm options.

NUGEN Audio Loudness Toolkit’s Netflix-Ready Workflows NUGEN Audio’s Netflix compliance is making quite a splash with postproduction audio teams across the globe. Among the many Netflix-focused solutions is its Loudness Toolkit 2.8. NUGEN’s Loudness Toolkit 2.8 includes support of Netflix’s Audio Mix Specifications and Best Practices document, allowing users to create Netflix-ready mixes. A combination of three plug-ins, the Loudness Toolkit includes the VisLM loudness meter, ISL limiter and LM-Correct quick-fix tool, as well as supporting native 7.1.2 audio processing and loudness parameters for advanced loudness control and dialog consistency. The toolkit also now includes the DynApt extension, which offers immediate correction of LRA and dynamics while preserving dialog intelligibility and correctly identifying and respecting intentional dramatic transitions. It also provides an updated loudness parameter, Dialog LRA, as well as an added flexibility to simultaneously monitor multiple integrated measures.

Audinate Dante Updater Audinate has announced the availability Dante Controller 4.2.3 with Dante Updater. Dante Updater is a new feature that makes it easy to update firmware in Dante devices. Firmware files are hosted by Audinate so they are always up-to-date. Dante Updater allows product manufacturers to more easily bring critical updates to customers by making them available directly in Dante Controller with one-click installation. Now customers can take full advantage of new Dante features and capabilities without hunting for product-specific installers and can deploy updates to an entire system at once. Dante Controller with Dante Updater is free for all users and is available now at http://www.audinate.com/dc.

Steinberg Nuendo 10

ProCo Sound Dante AoDDP Wallplates, AoDST Dropboxes

Steinberg Nuendo 10 offers creative tools designed specifically for sound designers. Included is a brand-new Doppler effect that virtually simulates the changing perception of a sound as its source passes. VoiceDesigner is designed for modifying voices, with parameters such as Detune, Formant, Preserve (for pitch shifting while preserving formants), Robot, Morph and FX. ADM files can be directly imported into a new or existing project. Further functionality to Direct Offline Processing has been added, such as drag-and-drop of insert plug-ins into the process and a loudness normalizer. Other technological highlights in Nuendo 10 are the support of the dearVR Spatial Connect 3D audio production tool for mixing within the VR world as well as further advances with the AmbiDecoder to create an immersive experience. Nuendo 10 will be available through resellers and the Steinberg Online Shop in Q2 2019. [See the review on page 46.]

The AoDDP wall– plates provide one RJ45 Dante input and four Neutrik connectors for either inputs or outputs. Using its aluminum extrusion, this ProCo AoD wallplate can provide connection of analog equipment to a Dante network and provide studio-quality, low-latency audio via the XLR connectors. It is compatible with any Dante ecosystem and provides line level analog audio signal to output devices. It is also AES67 compliant. The enclosure fits inside a standard two-gang-deep well J-Box for retrofit installations. The AoDST dropboxes provide one RJ45 Dante input and four Neutrik XLR connectors for inputs or our outputs.

Shure TwinPlex Subminiature Lavalier, Headset Mics It’s been seven years in the making, and at NAB Shure unveiled TwinPlex,

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Auburn Sounds Panagement 2 Plug-In Auburn Sounds Panage– ment 2 is a spatialization plug-in that integrates binaural positioning, reverb, and delay (VST 2.4/ VST3/AU/AAX). Panagement comes with a Free Edition that can be used without time-limit. Features include binaural panning and distance modelling; reverb (automatic early and late reflections) with five room models; binaural Delay (Full Edition only); LFO that modulates pan/ distance/gain/tilt and can duck reverb; stereo width control; tilt filter for broad mix changes; and alternative processing unit with the PGMT-400 mod (Full Edition only).

Tectonic Audio Labs New Loudspeaker and Subwoofer

path faders and cuts; monitor path faders and cuts; channel insert in/out switching; reverb return levels and in/out switching; aux master in/out switching; main mix fader and cut/insert in/out switching; IMR (Insert Mix Return/parallel processing) in/out switching; and 8-track faders/cuts/ insert in/out switching. The names shown by the alpha-numeric displays can also be renamed using the plug-in. The GenesysControl plugin automatically recognizes the fitted Genesys analog processing hardware and all parameter changes are written as standard DAW automation. Supported DAWs are Pro Tools (AAX) and Cubase/Nuendo (VST), with Logic support to follow later in 2019 (some automation features are restricted within Logic).

XTA MX36 Console Switching System

Tectonic Audio Labs has unveiled the latest speaker in its Distributed Mode line, the DML500, and the launch of its first front firing passive subwoofer, the LS-118. The DML500 is designed to deliver highly intelligible and immersive audio performance in even the most challenging architectural environments. Bending wave technology provides diffuse loudspeaker behavior that generates 165-degree dispersion coverage. The evolution of Tectonic’s PL Series of loudspeakers, the DML500 is lighter, slimmer and provides significant cost savings over previous offerings. Complementing the new loudspeaker offering, the LS-118 subwoofer is a front loaded single 18-inch woofer featuring a bent bass flex port. It can be ground stacked or hung in multiples of two, three or four units. The subwoofer is rated to handle 2400 watts of program power and 3600 watts of peak power. This new model is compatible with Tectonic Distributed Mode Loudspeakers and other mid- to high-frequency speaker systems.

Designed to offer a solution to the longstanding problem of routing multiple mixing console outputs to a system processor and/or loudspeaker system, the dual-rack-space MX36 DSP enabled console switching system can potentially accommodate as many as nine consoles via 36 inputs across analog, AES and Dante networks. Inputs are arranged in sets of four to support standard left, right, front-fill and sub feeds from each individual console. All AES inputs have sample-rate conversion, and there is one set of four outputs, available simultaneously across analog, AES and Dante networks, with word clock output sync available on AES. All switching takes place in the digital domain with soft crossfades, primarily to switch up to three consoles, each with up to three levels of redundancy. The primary and secondary sources may be selected depending on the availability of support on each console—so AES or Dante, or even just analog—and the MX36 constantly monitors signal integrity and will auto-select the selected highest priority secondary source seamlessly should the primary fail. If failover with redundancy is not required, the MX36 can handle up to nine consoles, accommodating three each on analog, AES and Dante. Furthermore, the Dante buss allows for units to operate in either cascade or parallel modes to extend the input set sizes or number of consoles that may be simultaneously switched.

Neve GenesysControl Plug-In

Røde’s Wireless Go Lavalier Mic

AMS Neve’s Neve Genesys– Control plug-in provides the final link to total integration between the iconic Neve Genesys Black and modern DAW workflows, as well as extending the feature set of the Genesys Black. The GenesysControl plugin can be applied in the DAW to a mono, stereo or master track and can be assigned to control selected channels on the console, allowing powerful automation without sacrificing the instant recall of in-the-box workflows. This enables the user to mix traditionally using the console, to work in-the-box or a unique combination of both approaches to get the power and speed of working in-the-box, yet still have the sonic benefits of using a real Neve analog console. The elements which can be controlled and automated are: all EQ and dynamics parameters and in/out switching; aux in/out switching; channel

Røde Microphones’ Lavalier Go is a lavalier microphone intended for use with the company’s Wireless Go and other recording devices with a 3.5mm TRS microphone input. The Wireless Go is a small wireless microphone system, comprised of a transmitter and receiver each weighing 31g each. While the Wireless Go has an omnidirectional mic built into the transmitter, the Lavalier Go is aimed at users who want a lapel mic for the system. The Lavalier Go plugs into the transmitter, can be clipped on to a shirt and the transmitter can be kept in a nearby pocket or clipped to a belt. The Lavalier Go sports a 3.5 mm TRS jack and 4.5 mm omnidirectional condenser capsule, as well as a Kevlar reinforced cable, pop shield, mounting clip and carry pouch. n

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Tech // reviews Steinberg Nuendo 10.1 Latest Version of This Post-Friendly DAW Is Loaded with New Features By Mike Levine

D

AWs, by their nature, are extremely deep applications, but it’s hard to imagine one with a more comprehensive feature set than Steinberg Nuendo. It’s a robust platform for production and post-production in film, video, game, VR and music. With the advent of version 10, Steinberg’s top-of-the-line DAW has upped its game even more, offering a massive number of new features and capabilities. This review is inclusive of the new features in Nuendo 10 and 10.1. The latter was released during the research period for this review and added some additional features. Because Nuendo is such a deep program, we’ll concentrate here on what’s new since the last major update, Nuendo 8. In Nuendo 10, Steinberg updated the user interface’s look and functions. The windows have some subtle design changes that give the program an even more modern vibe, including a slightly darker interface. Steinberg has also revamped the controls for colorizing tracks and events and now offers up to 128 color choices. Nuendo now supports high DPI output. If you have a 4K monitor, the GUI looks amazingly sharp. Nuendo’s design and its music-production feature set are the same as Steinberg’s Cubase Pro 10, though Nuendo adds significant capabilities for audio post-production for film, TV and interactive media. (Steinberg recently announced that when it releases Nuendo 10.2, it will include video rendering, which is a critical feature that has been missing from the program before.) FIELD OF METADATA One of the most noteworthy additions in Nuendo 10 is called Field Recorder Audio Import. It allows you to search a connected field recorder with user-selected criteria to find and match audio in your project, making it easy to locate recordings from different mics or sources. The Field Recorder Audio Import window gives you multiple options for filtering searches. You can set it to find metadata or run searches based on Duration, Scene, Take, Tape, Date Recorded, Origin Time and Prefix in the file name. From the window, you can preview both the events from your Nuendo project and replacements from the connected field recorder. When you choose a replacement file, you get the choice of adding it to the Pool or inserting it on a new track. Either way, it comes in automatically trimmed to the length of the original file. You can also use Nuendo’s Audio Alignment feature (more on that later) if you need

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One of Nuendo 10’s highlighted new features is Video Cut Detection.

to line up several versions of the same take from different mics. Being able to search and replace in this manner should be a real time-saver. A CUT ABOVE Another addition to Nuendo 10 is Video Cut Detection, which puts a marker at every edit in a video. You start by selecting your video, opening the Video Cut Detection Panel, then pressing the Analyze Video button. It examines your video and finds all the cuts. Then, if you press Add Markers, it will populate a Marker Track (new or existing) with them. You can tell Nuendo to create Position Markers or Cycle Markers and whether you want them colorized or not. You can also change the default word (“Cut”) for the marker’s label. If you open the Marker window to show the cut markers, each will have its start and endpoints listed in timecode, or whichever time reference you choose. One of the ways that Video Cut Detection should be quite handy is for film/video composers who are calculating tempos that will hit as many cuts as possible. NEAR AND DEAR If you work on immersive projects using DearVR, Nuendo can now interface directly with its Spatial Connect mixer through a network. Nuendo tracks show up in Spatial Connect, and you can


PRODUCT SUMMARY COMPANY: Steinberg PRODUCT: Nuendo 10.1 WEBSITE: steinberg.net PRICE: $999.99 (boxed version) PROS: New plug-ins: VoiceDesigner, Distroyer and Doppler; Field Recorder Audio Import; ARA2 support; Compatible with DearVR Spatial Connect; Video Cut Detection; Groove Agent SE5; Channel Strip GUI improved; AmbiDecoder improved; VariAudio 3 Smart Controls; Audio Alignment Panel; ADM support for object-based audio; Streamlined look. CONS: Manual needs more visuals; Video rendering not supported until 10.2 release. adjust levels—and solo and mute them—from within it. Nuendo 10 also added support for ADM BWF files, which are Broadcast Wave files with metadata for object-based audio. ADM support will allow users to edit 3D-positioning data for Dolby Atmos and RMU projects from inside of Nuendo. Nuendo splits each ADM audio channel into a separate mono file for editing. If a track has object audio, Nuendo opens its VST Multipanner and preserves the panning automation. ARA IS AOK The recent Nuendo 10.1 release brought with it support for ARA2 (Audio Random Access), which can really speed up the workflow with plug-ins like Celemony Melodyne and Synchro Arts Revoice Pro or Vocalign. For example, if you work in Melodyne with an ARA-supporting DAW, you don’t have to transfer in the audio in real-time. Instead, it appears automatically when you open the Melodyne track. However, with the latest version of Nuendo’s built-in pitch correction, VariAudio 3, you may not need Melodyne or other third-party pitch correctors. VariAudio 3 includes some significant workflow enhancements. The new Multi-Tool lets you access various functions of VariAudio right from the note or note segment that you’re editing by way of small control points that you drag vertically or horizontally. From these Smart Controls, you can manipulate such parameters as volume, pitch and formant control, among many others. You can set a range for the correction on a segment, making it possible to leave the transitions at the beginning and end of a note uncorrected. Doing so can help keep it sounding more natural. Also, you can Warp the beginning and end of segments to change their length.

Three new plug-ins, from left, Voice Designer, Distroyer and Doppler

The Smart Controls also let you adjust the pitch curve, split segments with a scissor tool that shows up when the mouse is over the bottom of a segment and glue segments with a glue tool. If you’d prefer not to have all the Smart Controls available at all times, you can switch to Default mode, which shows you only the four most commonly used controls. PLUG-INS AND PROCESSING Another vocal-manipulation tool in Nuendo 10 is a plug-in called VoiceDesigner. It makes it easy to create robot, alien and monster voices. You can turn on a Robot voice at the press of a button, add Delay, detune it (with or without formant preservation), morph between the input signal and that of the built-in signal generator, and more. Just using the presets, you can turn a voice into a wide variety of sci-fi and horror voices. Creating your own settings is easy and intuitive. For films, videos and podcasts that need extreme voices, VoiceDesigner will be a huge help. Doppler is another new plug-in; it simulates the Doppler effect and adds realism to moving sounds that go with picture. It works either as a Direct Offline Process or as an Insert. The former automatically creates the effect, whereas the latter requires you to automate the movement from the effect. For vehicle and siren drive-bys, it’s impressive and sounds realistic in a 2-channel environment. Also new is Distroyer, a harmonic distortion plug-in that’s pretty versatile. You can use it for everything from subtle warming to complete destruction. It not only allows you to turn up or down the Drive and Boost, but you also get a range of filtering options. Groove Agent SE5, the latest incarnation of Steinberg’s virtual drummer plug-in, is yet another addition. Besides an infusion of new kits, it also doubles the number of velocity layers per

pad to 32 and increases the outputs to host to 32. A new XY pad lets you change the complexity and intensity of patterns on the fly in a feature reminiscent of Logic Pro X’s Drummer. It comes with a vast collection of kits and patterns and gives you everything from acoustic drum to drum machine-style sounds. ON THE STRIP Nuendo’s built-in channel strip, which you can access from any audio track, has been spiffed up and made more flexible. You can now open an integrated “rack” and load any of the channel strip modules, which include three types of compressors, a limiter, an envelope shaper, noise gate, 4-band parametric EQ, and three types of saturation. You can move the effects around in the signal order by dragging and dropping. With a compressor open, you can push a button and open the Details View, which is an expanded GUI with additional parameters. In terms of both quality and flexibility, the Channel Strip is on par with third-party plug-in channel strips and is yet another manifestation of the comprehensiveness of Nuendo’s toolset. UNEQUALED POWER Nuendo 10 has so many new features that space doesn’t even allow me to mention all of them. One relatively minor complaint is that the user guide has very few screenshots, which are crucial in a DAW manual. Many of the features are complex and need more than just text to describe how to use them. Overall, though, Nuendo 10 (and 10.1) adds a great deal of new power to an already featurerich program and is more than capable of handling a wide range of audio production and post-production tasks. For many pro audio situations, it could very well be the DAW with the best combination of pro-audio features and price. n

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Tech // reviews Avantone Pro CLA-10 Passive Studio Monitors Update to the Yamaha NS-10M Proves More Than Worthy of the Original By Barry Rudolph

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amaha Nippon Gakki Co. Ltd. released the NS-10M in 1978 as a domestic hi-fi speaker. Designed by Akira Nakamura, the original model was a sealed cabinet, vertically oriented (tweeter over the woofer), and came with a snap-on, cloth grille that hid the drivers. While they were a failure as a hi-fi speaker, by the 1980s they became popular in recording studio control rooms, usually residing on top of the console’s meter bridge. The NS10M was an immediate hit as an alternate, near-field monitoring loudspeaker and a welcome replacement for the smaller Auratone 5C Sound Cube. Like the Auratone and certain other consumer-grade speakers, the NS-10M became a valuable tool that offered a “second look”—a reality check of mix balances to make sure they would “translate” well when played on a consumer stereo outside of the recording studio. Like the 5C, the NS-10M focuses like a microscope on the midrange frequencies and instantly reveals problems in an analytical and clinical way. Because of this ability, their compact size (382 x 215 x 199 mm) and their distinctively stylish black lacquer cabinets and contrasting white cone woofers, they became essential kit in the offices of record company executives and managers. Your music had to sound great on them during your office meeting. The inescapable logic was: If your mix sounds good on these monitors, then it should sound great on any playback system. More than 200,000 pairs were sold throughout the world, and over the years many variants were produced. By 2001, Yamaha stopped manufacturing them altogether, citing problems sourcing the wood pulp used for the drivers’ cones. Many engineers are so familiar with their sound and shortcomings, they track and mix solely on NS-10M monitors—a speaker that originally sold for $300 a pair (1978 dollars). Nowadays, a used pair, in various states of working order, can sell for several times that amount. ENTER THE CLA-10 Avantone Pro, along with mixer Chris Lord Alge, have produced the CLA-10 studio monitor to be a careful and modern rendition of the horizontal version of the Yamaha NS-10M studio monitor introduced in 1980. Like that version, the CLA-10 handles more power and has a slightly reduced high-frequency response. I found the fit and finish of the new CLA-10 to be superior to the old monitors, with the rear of the cabinet also finished (the NS-10M is not), making them attractive from all angles. The CLA-

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10 and NS-10 cabinets are both made from non-layered 18mm thick medium-density fiberboard (MDF) covered with a gloss-black veneer; however, the CLA-10s uses a real wood veneer. Avantone changed the original NS-10M’s puny push terminals recessed in the back of the speaker over to large, quality binding posts flush-mounted on the back of the speaker—it is much easier to attach heavy-gauge speaker wires to them. These posts accept good-size speaker cable spade connectors, so I made a pair of short jumpers using #12 zip cord, “audiophile” gold spade lugs, and Neutrik Speakon inline connectors to interface my power amp rack. I opened up one of my CLA-10 speakers sent for review and found the interior of the cabinet filled with absorptive poly-fill polyester instead of the noxious, low-density fiberglass found in the old monitors. The woofer and tweeter are mounted using regular wood screws, whereas the originals used machine screws that screw into captive T-nuts inside the cabinet. For my own CLA-10s, I plan to check the tightness of these wood screws over time. The crossover network copies the NS-10M Studio version; it is a second-order filter that uses the same value capacitors, inductors with the original’s DC resistance, winding dimensions and inductance values. Also exactly matching the Studio version is the 2 kHz crossover frequency and the monitor’s operating range of 60 Hz to 20 kHz. The CLA-10 will handle 60 watts of music program and up to 120 watts peak. The monitor is rated at 8-ohm input impedance, and sensitivity is measured at 90 dB SPL at 1 meter/1 watt. The 3.5cm AV10-MHF dome tweeter uses the exact phenolic resin doping to match the original’s performance curve. The tweeters


PRODUCT SUMMARY COMPANY: Avantone Pro PRODUCT: Avantone CLA-10 Passive Studio Monitor System WEB: www.avantonepro.com PRICE: $699 MSRP per pair PROS: A beautiful rendition of the NS-10M studio monitor. CONS: They sound close but not exactly like your favorite pair of originals. have the flat metal grilles just like the later-model tweeters. The 18cm AV10-MLF woofer cone is made to match the original’s stiffness and weight. The CLA-10 uses a pressed cone instead of a folded and lapped seam paper cone for the woofer. It comes from the same supplier as the old Yamahas. Avantone Pro says that using a pressed cone allows for tighter control over stiffness and weight, allowing for matching pairs—in fact, replacements for both woofers and tweeters can be purchased separately and will retrofit any vintage NS-10 monitor. MIXING WITH THE CLA-10S I use a Crane Song Avocet II monitor controller so I can switch instantly between three different sets of monitors. In addition, I can preset or calibrate them all to approximately the same volume level (given their differing frequency responses). But before I got into serious evaluation/mixing, I wanted to “run in” these new monitors. The manual suggests various time periods to “normalize” the driver’s surrounds and loosen them up. I ran bass-heavy music CDs at loud volume for a total of 15 hours during a three-day period. I tried two different power amps with the CLA-10s: Hafler P1500 (75 watts into 8 ohms) and a Bryston 4B SST (300 watts into 8 ohms). The sonic differences were subtle at quietto-medium volume levels, but at louder levels, the Bryston prevailed with better bass transients and a lower noise floor. If you use a powerful amp during tracking sessions, you should add in-line, fast-blow fuses as is the practice in commercial studios. Fusing speakers is controversial: some (correctly) claim it changes the sound, but I say a blown driver changes the sound more! All of my sonic appraisals were done without fuses and using the Bryston amp. THE A/B? With so many various models produced since 1978, the different power amplifier combinations used and the elderly status of the various crossovers still inside those old speakers, it is impossible to do a proper and fair A/B comparison. Purist Alert: The CLA-10s will probably not sound EXACTLY like that favorite old pair of your trusty and nearly 40-year old Yamahas. Generally speaking, and using this amp, the CLA-10s were louder with more and tighter bass above about 100 Hz. You cannot hear deep bass well on them—that is normal and to be expected. They were bright, as expected, but I’ve found that is mellowing out a bit as they break in. I can notice a difference between when I first hooked them up and 15 hours later; I now have about 24 hours on them and they sound great.

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Using either amp, the first thing that hit me was that the CLA-10 seemed to be more efficient at the same volume level setting on the Avocet. I am well aware of which 1 dB step on the green volume control produces a certain loudness from a mastered Pop mix I did or a commercial CD playing via the Avocet’s digital input. I work in an acoustically treated mix room, and my typical workflow is to switch to these monitors after working a while on my full-range main monitors. When playing them at medium-to-quiet volume, vocals, keyboards, guitars, strings and the attack portion of the sound of a drum kit all occupy the midrange and are “pushed out” from the rest of the mix. Just like the Yamahas, I’m finding small changes in the level of these individual instruments and vocals are easily discerned listening on the CLA-10s. Monitoring at quiet volumes, I get through vocal rides faster and more accurately now, and mixing mistakes, noises, sibilant peaks, excessive reverb and occasional overloud cymbal crashes (that were not obvious on the mains) are now very obvious once I start drilling down into the details with automation and EQ tweaks. This is the job and purpose of these monitors, and probably the reason most music mixers rarely have sets of NS-10Ms for home stereo speakers! MY FAVORITE SETUP Since the CLA-10s replaced my old Yamaha NS-10Ms, I thought to try them vertically— tweeter over woofer. The CLA-10s’ individual serial numbers include “R” and “L” for right and left horizontal positioning so that the tweeters are on the outside for the best stereo imaging. Mixer Chris Lord-Alge recommends the speakers be placed 3 to 4 feet from you at ear level and to separate the left and right monitors by about 42 inches. If you do not have that width available on your monitor shelf or atop your console because of other monitors, you should use them vertically—old school style. Besides allowing for more distance between them, the tweeter is higher up and it projects sound more inline with the woofer’s projection for a clearer stereo image. Personally, I prefer using them vertically with the tweeters hard left and right and so you will have to use the “L” speaker on the right side and “R” speaker on the right. SO HAPPY! Yes, I am so happy to have proper, new and better monitors! Whether you like them in the horizontal position or vertically, the new Avantone Pro CLA-10 passive monitors are an excellent tool to own and use in your mixing space. Recommended. I use them every day! n

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Advertise here! Zahra Majma zahra.majma@futurenet.com


Tech // back page blog Keep ‘Em Separated; Rental Gear Blues Mike Levine: Mix Technology Editor, Studio

Steve La Cerra: Mix Technology Editor, Live

Separation Anxiety: I have a modular music system in my house that has speakers in three different rooms. It’s super-convenient, allowing me to listen to the same thing—or different things—in separate rooms. It even plays the audio from my TV. It plays the songs from my own music library and streams audio from Spotify and Amazon and other online sources. Adding to the convenience, everything in the system can be controlled from a mobile app. Yet I often find myself thinking back nostalgically to the days when I had a “real” stereo system—one with discrete left and right speakers and a sweet spot between them. To listen with any real separation at home, I have to go into my studio and fire up my monitors. But if I want to get away from work, sitting in my studio—where I work all day—is not a great solution. So I end up listening to a lot of music on my modular home speaker system. Yes, the speakers do sound good and have impressive frequency response for their size, but they’re self-contained stereo speakers, so there’s almost no separation between left and right. Ironically, we’re in a situation now where a lot of people listen to music on speakers with virtually no separation, while at the same time another considerable swath of the audience is listening on earbuds, with total separation. Having such disparate listening formats certainly makes a mixer’s task more challenging. But that’s an issue for another column. Here, I’m lamenting how onepiece, self-contained speakers make listening to stereo audio a different, and less pleasing, experience. I wonder if there’s research available that breaks down people’s listening habits, in terms of the type of speaker systems they use? I’d be curious to know the percentages. As for my situation, despite the conveniences of my integrated speaker system, I am seriously considering going back to a good-old component setup, at least in one room. I miss the separation.

No Excuses: I almost never have the luxury of touring with production, so on any given show there are a ton of variables in the P.A. system I’m using. Most of the gear is well-maintained, though occasionally I encounter a P.A. with some very tired drivers that should have been replaced during the last off-season. I can usually coax fatigued drivers into sounding okay with a bit of EQ, but when mixing desks aren’t functioning properly, problems become a bit more concerning. Two weeks ago, I mixed on an unnamed digital console that is getting long in the tooth—the most recent software update was almost six years ago. I understand that with the competitive nature and revolving door of equipment in the live sound field, vendors need to get as much out of their investment as possible, so there are plenty of older consoles still in the field. I get that. There is, however, no excuse for sending gear out on a show if it’s not working properly. This particular desk had a faulty fader on the surface: fader 1 was “sticky” and “jumpy,” and that’s not uncommon for desks that don’t get any TLC. That fader was being used to control channel 1 on bank A (kick drum) and channel 25 on bank B (a background vocal). When I changed banks, the physical position of the fader wouldn’t update. Bottom line: My kick drum level was changing by itself. Other times it jittered up and down, which was really fun—like running a kick drum through a Vibrolux Reverb (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The on-the-fly work-around was to soft-patch the backing vocal to another channel and set fader 1 to the same position for all of the fader banks—which settled things down for the most part. At front-of-house this issue was a pain in the arse, but what if that same console was used for our IEM mixes? What if the monitor engineer switched banks and a kick or snare channel jumped up 10 to 15 dB in someone’s ear mix. That would be harmful to someone’s hearing. Not cool.

Product of the Month: Sonible smart:comp. Sonible’s new smart:comp plug-in is billed as a “spectro-dynamic” compressor, and is the latest in a product line that includes smart:EQ and smart:EQ Live, among other plug-ins. Smart:comp features Sonible’s smart:engine, which the developer describes as, “an A.I.-based, content-aware system,” meaning it analyzes your music and comes up with appropriate parameters. Once it has done its analysis, the Spectral Compression feature comes on automatically. It looks at your audio in real time and performs what’s essentially automatic multiband compression (with 2000 bands!) to preserve tonal balance. Smart:comp’s compression is transparent, for the most part; it’s not designed to be a “character compressor.”

Product of the Month: Drawmer 1974 Stereo Parametric EQ. Hot off the assembly line from Drawmer (distributed in North America by TransAudio Group) is the 1974 stereo parametric equalizer, a vintage-style, 4-band parametric EQ inspired by 1970s-era gear and designed for adding depth and space, and for subtle tonal shaping of the mix bus. Dualchannel potentiometers provide control over Low, Low-Mid, High-Mid and High EQ bands. The Low-Mid and High-Mid bands allow adjustment of frequency, bandwidth and boost/cut, while the Low and High bands allow adjustment of frequency, boost/cut and slope. Boost and cut range for all bands is ±12 dB. Rear-panel audio I/O is via balanced XLR connectors. n

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9000

Profile for Future PLC

MIX 513 - September 2019  

MIX 513 - September 2019

MIX 513 - September 2019  

MIX 513 - September 2019