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The War & Treaty at Blackbird ★ Composer Laura Karpman ★ The Mix Interview: Producer Scott Hendricks November 2020 \\ mixonline.com \\ $6.99

>REVIEWED TRIDENT HI-LO DYNAMIC FILTERS 500 SERIES iZOTOPE RX8 AUDIO REPAIR SUITE MUSIC PRODUCTION • LIVE SOUND • SOUND FOR PICTURE

NYU Swings Into Brooklyn New Studio Hub for Clive Davis Institute, Designed by Fran Manzella

AUDIO EDUCATION Blackbird Academy Ithaca College Delta State Lebanon Peabody Belmont & More!


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11.20 Contents Volume 44, Number 11

MUSIC

AUDIO EDUCATION

FEATURES

14 News & Notes: Blackbird Academy, Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, Ithaca College, Delta State, AES Educational Foundation and more!

10 The War and Treaty in

Hearts Town: Husband and Wife Duo’s Studio Album Feels Like Live BY BARBARA SCHULTZ

12 Book

Review: Can Music Make You Sick?

TECHNOLOGY 34 New Products: Studio and Live Sound

36 Review: iZotope

RX8 Audio Repair Software Suite BY MIKE LEVINE

BY LILY MOAYERI

On the Cover: The main live room at New York Univeristy’s new Brooklyn location for the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, with facility design by the late, great Francis Manzella of FM Design. Photo: Carine Puyo. Mix, Volume 44, Number 11 (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.

38 Review: Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters 500 Series Module

BY BARRY RUDOLPH

42 Back Page Blog: Keeping the Groove; Going Back to Work BY MIKE LEVINE AND STEVE LA CERRA

22 On the Cover: The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University BY BARBARA SCHULTZ

28 The Mix Interview: Producer Scott Hendricks BY SARAH JONES

DEPARTMENTS

32 Composer Laura Karpman BY LILY MOAYERI

8 FROM THE EDITOR:

10 Months In, We're All Teachers and Students

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Vol. 44 No. 11

November 2020

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Current From the Editor

10 Months In, We’re All Teachers and Students I believe in science. Absolutely. And science told us back in March that if we didn’t all take this virus thing seriously, by November there would be more than 200,000 dead in the U.S. alone, heading into flu season. Well, we’re now heading into flu season, and the current models are not at all that rosy. I’ve been locked down pretty hardcore here in Oakland. I believe in science, and I’ve been paying attention. I figured early on that we were in this for the long haul. Still, I willingly admit that I didn’t stop to think that the basic rhythms of everyday life would change this much. And I certainly didn’t stop to think back in March that movie theaters, restaurants, bars, salons, Big 10 football games, rock concerts, club tours and all types of public gatherings would still largely be off limits to much of the country 10 months after this whole damn thing started. Others might have seen it coming; at the time, I didn’t. But on March 16, the night the Bay Area clamped down, I do remember thinking, “Oh, man. This is a disaster for schools. Those poor high school and college seniors.” I’m the son and brother of college professors, with a master’s degree from Indiana University. Campus life is in my blood. Education, in my world, isn’t about the degree or the dollars. It’s about connecting with others, about developing a critical mind and learning how to be cool in group situations. It’s about learning how to think; how to develop skills you didn’t know you had. It’s about discovering who you are. As David Foster Wallace famously said, “A true education is about simply being aware.” Where does all that appear in a menu bar? What effect will the various shutdowns—then gradual, limited, socially distanced reopenings—have on the Classes of 2020 and 2021? I am not a pessimist by any means, and I do think many of the routines in our daily lives will start returning to some limited version of pre-pandemic reality in 2021. I also believe that we need to find ways to get kids and adults back to class soon, for so many reasons. At the same time, I think that the problems encountered and the lessons learned since March will have an impact on how we look at education moving forward—not necessarily in dramatic ways and not necessarily in a bad way. We don’t know what next year holds, but I do believe that some form of the hybrid distance/on-campus learning environment is here to stay, and it’s only going to grow. While nothing, of course, can compete with being in the room as teacher and student—especially if that room is a recording studio—audio recording educators have not been sitting idly by since class was first dismissed. They’ve taken advantage of available technologies and made great leaps in adapting to the hybrid model. Some of the solutions have been admittedly

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stopgap, some have proven educational for student and teacher alike, and some, no doubt, will make their way into future curriculums. I remember back in April when Mix contributor Steve La Cerra wrote his first pandemic piece about finding a workaround to deliver hi-res audio in his initial Zoom sessions with the newly remote classes at Mercy College, where he teaches. He described a patchwork, string-and-tape, dual-system setup that worked! A true teaching moment. It sounded like it would be temporary. Instead, it’s been improved. Professor Jim Anderson recalls in this month’s cover story how he and the students in his Critical Listening class basically had two days notice to wrap things up and go remote back in March. They wrapped, and he immediately set about contacting alumni around the world to talk to his students, from a career perspective, and remind them of “why we do this.” CRAS, Full Sail, EIPMA and others have partnered with my dear friend Karen Dunn and KMD Productions to host all-new Speed Mentoring sessions. It’s a brilliant idea, bringing students into direct (virtual) contact with highlevel industry professionals to discuss all types of topics related to the industry and careers—both one-on-one and in small breakout groups. The industry professionals donate their time and expertise. When they have a little time on their hands, everybody, it seems, wants to give a little something back. The artistic community in pro audio has been most gracious with their time and talents. I certainly learned that first-hand in putting together the Mix Presents Sound for Film & Television virtual event last month. It was considered a near cliché back when I joined Mix that one in every 10 articles would include a quote along the lines of: “You never stop learning in the recording industry. It’s a lifelong education.” Well, that’s certainly true. Audio professionals are problem-solvers; they’re curious people. They’re committed to their craft, and they never stop learning. Perhaps that’s what attracts audio students in the first place—that passion for discovery, that desire to create something new. Science will someday get us out of this mess, and in the meantime art will make things just a little more palatable. The pursuit of knowledge in science and art…that’s about the simplest definition of education I can think of.

Tom Kenny Editor


Music The War and Treaty in Hearts Town Husband and Wife Duo’s Studio Album Feels Like Live By Barbara Schultz

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The War and Treaty: Michael Trotter and Tanya Blount-Trotter

World Entertainment/Thirty Tigers), was produced by Buddy Miller and charted well: Number 11 on Billboard’s Heatseekers and Number 26 on Independent Albums. Hearts Town is the duo’s first record for Rounder, and their first collaboration with the album’s engineer/mixer Gary Paczosa. Work on the record started with a trial run in Blackbird Studios, Nashville, Studio D, in early 2019. “At first we just cut three tracks to see if it was a good match,” Paczosa recalls. “The more

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we talked about the direction of the album, the more the main focus became to try to capture the energy and connection they generate when they play live—not always an easy task. It’s such a different vibe when you’re performing for an audience that you can feed off of, as opposed to standing in a room in front of a microphone. Pulling that off in the studio can be arduous and trying, but everyone was on the same page and willing to work as hard as needed to get vocals that we were all happy with.”

Photo: Bella Mazzola

ne of the lessons the pandemic has taught us is, there’s no replacement for live music. We’re all longing for the time when concerts can happen again. In the meantime, there’s a whole lot of streaming going on, and there are special studio albums like The War and Treaty’s Hearts Town, which joyfully and deliberately takes its production cues from the live experience. “People might think that what we did was a little bit backwards,” says multi-instrumentalist Michael Trotter—who coproduced the new album and fronts The War and Treaty with his wife, Tanya Blount-Trotter. “When I thought about what I wanted this album to sound like, I wanted us to make fans feel the way they do when they hear us live. So my process was, I would write a new song, and then we would perform it live and see how the crowd reacted—a road test. Then we’d go into the studio and produce music based off of the crowd’s reaction to our performances.” The Trotters formed The War and Treaty in 2014. Both are powerhouse vocalists. If you haven’t heard them, imagine Al Green harmonizing with Gladys Knight on original songs that have roots in soul, gospel, R&B and Americana. In 2017 they released an EP called Down to the River (Strong World Entertainment). Their debut album, Healing Tide (2018, Strong


Sounding like a live band means recording as a live band: Sessions in Blackbird began with The War and Treaty’s touring band, as well as the horns, keyboard players and vocalists. One song, “Beautiful,” features Jason Isbell on electric guitar and vocals. “We met Jason Isbell when we were opening for a co-headlining tour that sometimes had Jason going last and some nights Brandi Carlile,” recalls Michael Trotter. “Late, after the shows, we went in Jason’s dressing room and we just talked about music and life. We had conversations that were really deep. I knew I wanted to have Jason on our record in any capacity. It’s such a joy just to watch him work.” Paczosa cut to Blackbird’s 24/96 Pro Tools rig. “I also really tried to lean on the API console in that room as much as possible,” he says. “Blackbird has so many amazing microphones and gear options to play with that sometimes I get caught up in trying to use every piece of gear in the studio. On this record, I tried to keep things simpler and used the API for the bulk of the signal chains.” Paczosa and assistant engineer Lowell Reynolds set up a few different electric guitar stations, one that included Paczosa’s own Fender Vibroverb “for bigger, punchier tone,” as well as one with a Milkman 12 and a Dumble amp. His go-to guitar miking setup includes an RCA BK5B ribbon mic and an Audio-Technica 4050 into a Vintech X73 mic pre and an Empirical Labs Distressor, along with the Retro 176 for a little extra color. The bass ended up being a blend of DI (with different combinations of the SansAmp Bass Driver (and Earthquaker fuzz pedals) and an Ampeg Fliptop bass amp miked with either the EV RE20 or U47, depending on the song. “With so many players cutting live, we really ate up every square inch of Studio D,” Paczosa says. “In addition to cutting a full band during the day, we’d record strings in the evening on tracks we had cut that day, so we left the middle section of the studio always set up for that. It’s such an outstanding live room that I leaned on the room mics as much as I could. I had a pair of Telefunken 251s and B&K 4006s [in the room], and then KM54s on the violins and viola, and a Sony C800G on cello. Those were all recorded through the API.”

The War and Treaty in Blackbird Studio D.

“Blackbird was just an incredible facility to work in,” says Tanya Blount-Trotter. “To have a room where you can set up orchestral strings plus horns plus our band was just really a great experience.” As for the horns, the trumpet was captured with an RCA KU-3A, and the sax was cut with a Neuman U67. Michael Trotter’s keyboards were taken direct, but he also played a Yamaha C7 piano on a lot of tracks where Paczosa placed a pair of Telefunken C12s up near the hammers

and a Coles ribbon mic down low for some added bottom end. “The biggest challenge of this record was capturing the vocals,” Paczosa says. “There’s just so much soul and emotion in both of their voices, and they’re both very dynamic. Trying to capture all of that and maintain great tone was an ongoing challenge all the way through the process. I tried out many different microphones on them, but ultimately settled on a Sony C800G, as well as an RCA 77 for Tanya. “The C800G is a pretty bright mic to begin with, but I love the detail that it captures on some of the quieter stuff,” Paczosa explains. “The RCA gave me something darker and warmer to blend in for the sections that Tanya would be too harsh for the C800G. On Michael, I ended up using the Blue Bottle with the B6 capsule. For both of the singers, the signal path was a Mastering Lab preamp, GML EQ, GML compressor, and the Retro 176 compressor at the end of the chain.” “Gary Paczosa is like a zen master in the studio,” Michael Trotter says. “He always takes the time that’s needed and pays attention to every detail. That’s a wonderful trait, and I learned so much from him.” ■

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Music // news & notes “Can Music Make You Sick?” A Study of the Mental Health Issues Related to Being an Artist Today By Lily Moayeri

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therapeutic, but the pursuit of a musical career is traumatic.” Gross and Musgrave summarize their findings in three “statuses.” The status of work: financial precarity and defining success; the status of value: largely, but not solely, determined by social media; and the status of relationships: personal and professional. Music has shifted from being art to becoming content and data. The book reports staggering numbers of individuals creating and uploading music. There is an array of industries “built around encouraging and training musicians to share…and benefitting from their mental health issues.” Speak to working musicians at any level, no matter how relentless their schedule is, they never express anything less than gratitude for being able to do music. They are the perfect example of a “smile economy” or disguising what you actually feel while you’re working. In the case of musicians, this is all the time. “We use the term ‘techno positivism’ about people being positive about what technology brings into their lives,” says Musgrave. “What our interviewees communicated is almost an injunction to be positive at all times. To the outside world, everything must always appear great. It must look exciting, meritocratic, engaging, liberating. “There is this idea of musicians being entrepreneurial liberal agents who are responsible for anything that happens, the ultimate reflective representation of meritocracy,” he adds. “If the best people rise to the top, what does that say about the people that don’t? ‘That’s on you. Should have worked harder, should have worked longer, should have worked faster.’ It’s really uncomfortable when someone comes along and says, ‘The work musicians are doing is important and meaningful. We need to think about how we can do things differently, because something

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PHOTO: Jackson Ducasse

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he image the public has of musicians is the curated one represented by the those at the top echelon of the profession. This image boasts power, confidence, wealth, health and control. Sally Gross and George Musgrave aren’t fooled. As a 30-year veteran of the music business, Gross, program director of MA Music Business Management at University of Westminster in London, England, and Musgrave, senior lecturer, module leader and an artist in his own right, have lifted the veil on what it is really like to be a musician in the current time in their book, Can Music Make You Sick? “We wanted to represent musicians’ 24/7 working lives in this hyper-competitive, saturated market,” says Gross. “If musicians are following their dream, doing what they love, being fulfilled by what they do, and they are working themselves to death, their relationships are being destroyed, they’re having breakdowns and are in a bad way, what is this telling us?” The book is the latest product of the research that Gross and Musgrave began four years ago. The first part, commissioned by the non-profit Help Musicians UK, was a survey administered to more than 2,000 musicians on how they felt about the working conditions of their chosen career and its impact on their mental well-being. The second part followed up by focusing on case studies to get to the core of the causes for the overwhelming reports of anxiety and depression uncovered by the initial survey. “We’re not looking at the act of music creation, but musical ambition,” says Musgrave. “To unpack musical ambition, you have to understand the economic, the cultural, the social, and the interaction between the three.” “Underlying those three is an emotional attachment that makes musicians feel strongly about music,” adds Gross. “What we find out from our interviews is that making music is

clearly isn’t right here.’” Gross and Musgrave don’t have all the answers. Their intention was to interrupt the neverending positiveness, asking musicians to speak, keeping them anonymous, and listening to what they have to say. From these conversations, the suggestions they have come up with are reasonable starting points. The first of these is having the appropriate mental health professionals on hand who understand musicians and their lifestyles. Second, establishing strong musicians unions and changing public policy which can serve to streamline the number of individuals that are identified as musicians and help stabilize the financial aspects of the job. Third, music companies taking on an active role in the maintenance of their artists’ mental, emotional and physical well-being. Fourth, education helping to develop diverse music practices so there is space and viability for more than just the top artists. “The solutions are complex and multiple and they need to happen simultaneously,” says Gross. “We are talking to people who are working in an environment that is radically changing right in front of them. That’s strange and difficult to live through. You cannot pretend what’s happening is not happening. We’re not turning away. We’re looking at the cold face of music and asking difficult questions. There are real human lives involved. Unless we bring the real human story to the situation, it’s easy to sweep it aside.” ■


Audio Education

// news & notes

By the Mix Staff

Belmont Grad Student Receives AES Audio Visionary Scholarship Braden Carei, a graduate student of Audio Engineering and a track student-athlete, was selected as the recipient of the 2020 Dr. Ilpo Martikainen Audio Visionary Scholarship, a grant that was established in 2018 in honor of Genelec’s late founder Dr. Ilpo Martikainen. Genelec offers this scholarship in association with the Audio Engineering Society Education Foundation to students who have a passion of advancing audio through innovation and technology development. Now in his second year of Belmont’s Masters of Audio Engineering program, Carei studied both audio engineering and computer science at Belmont for his undergrad. He worked closely under the direction of advisor Dr. Eric Tarr to develop a cochlear implant and hearing-aid simulator that runs in real time in a digital audio workstation. The project was later

reconstructed as an iOS application, and Carei and Tarr presented this project at IHCON and the Midwest Conference on Cochlear Implants. Another project of note is Carei’s website created with Dr. Scott Hawley to classify audio samples. In his first year of graduate research, Carei ran a study to find whether or not germanium transistors have a perceptual sonic difference when compared to a silicon transistor. He noted to Genelec, “Utilizing guitar pedals with these transistors, it was found that the there was a perceptual difference at low distortion levels and that there was no preference difference between the tones of the circuits.” Carei told Genelec that his future goal is to be an Audio Digital Signal Processing Engineer. “My degrees in both computer science and audio engineering will help me in this field,” he said. “I would like to help an organization make sure

that the most recent deployments of software are running as efficiently as possible.” ■

USC Deploys Dante Campus-Wide for Hybrid Distance/On-Campus Learning Way and his team developed a templated approach As the foundation for a new hybrid distance/on-campus that can be modified to facilitate varying workflows educational program rolled out this Fall, the University depending on the subject, department and lecturerof Southern California has deployed a vast AV network preferences. The core of the system, however, is a to more than 248 learning environments. According to Crestron Flex UC Engine (the B140-Z or C160-Z, where Joe Way, USC  Director of Learning Environments, the Z stands for Zoom). These allow users to take a Zoom Dante-powered systems enable faculty to simultaneously Virtual Room and make it live—using all NVX352s give lectures on campus, on-stream and also archive for to encode and decode Dante. Dante-enabled Shure future use. networked mics—either MXA 910s or 710s—are used Way says that the system also facilitates classroom for lecture and student capture. Dante AVIO units are overflow—a result of classroom occupancy levels being also widely used as encoders with some handheld mics dropped by up to 70 percent to accommodate social and as output when the team needs to zone the room distancing. In this scenario, the faculty-member will be and cut the speakers near the microphone. present in a classroom with a small group of students, “It’s critical that our system be as cloud-based with additional small groups participating in the same and software-based as possible,” Way said. “By using lecture from adjacent rooms. The overflow rooms are Joe Way, USC Director of Learning Dante Domain Manager we’re able to ensure we have equipped with cameras, microphones, displays/projectors, Environments complete observability, control and security across the and networked sound systems to facilitate interaction. “The system needs to be flexible to change at any time,” Way says, network. And we’re able to utilize it both with the scheduling system acknowledging the dynamic nature of the pandemic. “We are moving we have and with individual instructor preferences. For the most part, to all-network-based AV that will allow us to transmit any signal to faculty will be able to walk in at their scheduled time and the room will any location. Dante is critical in our ability to lecture-capture and be ready for the way they want to teach. With things like Dante’s audio routing at our fingertips, we can set it all up ahead of time.” ■ microphone-share.”

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AUDIO EDUCATION

Peabody’s Tuned-In Program Receives $1.25 Million Gift Legendary investor and former Johns Hopkins philosophy student William H. “Bill” Miller III has committed $1.25 million to the Tuned-In program at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Established in 2007 at the Peabody Preparatory, the Tuned-In program provides Baltimore City Public Schools students with a complete Peabody Preparatory education for free in pursuit of its mission of driving social change through music. “I am delighted to be able to support Peabody’s Tuned-In program and its important work to nurture the next generation of musicians,” noted Miller about his gift. “Music, philosophers have said, is the most profound of all the arts, and I personally have always found both solace and

inspiration in listening to great music. My hope in making this commitment is to help ensure a vibrant future both for promising young musicians in Baltimore and for the art form itself.” Tuned-In uses music as a tool for youth empowerment by teaching life skills that are necessary for music training, including collaboration, leadership, goalsetting, and creativity. Students in the program are predominantly from low-income backgrounds; Tuned-In provides access to introductory and advanced musical study and youth development opportunities, opening doors for success in college and career. (Since the program’s inception, nearly 100% of Tuned-In graduates have completed high school and attended college.)

Miller’s gift will provide needed technology devices and upgrades for students, expand summer programs to provide deeper engagement for students and families, and strengthen the program’s ability to retain enrolled students by increasing investment in those at risk of attrition. “Mr. Miller’s extraordinary support of this program will literally change lives,” noted Peabody Preparatory director Maria Mathieson. “We have seen how Tuned-In helps students discover pathways and possibilities they might never have known were available to them, and we know it helps them develop the skills and confidence to pursue those opportunities. Mr. Miller’s generosity will open up so much more potential for so many more young people in Baltimore.” ■

CRAS/KMD Productions Host Virtual PAMA Mentoring Event

Delta Music Institute Awarded Grant from Mississippi Arts Commission

As a means of continuing to provide students with access to industry professionals during the pandemic, the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences partnered with Karen Dunn of KMD Productions to host a Professional Audio Manufacturers Alliance “Career Opportunities in Pro Audio Product Companies” Zoom panel session for 50 CRAS students. “This was a terrific event and was designed as an informational webinar to help CRAS’ near-graduation students learn about the companies that design and manufacture the gear they will be using as their careers advance,” Dunn said. “There are employment path opportunities inside these companies that can be an excellent complement to a musical career. We were lucky to have senior executives from four of these top-tier brands on our panel. It would ordinarily be very difficult for students, or other early-career stage folks, to access these resources.” This PAMA event included Joe Andrulis, Biamp Executive Vice President of Corporate Development; Greg Beebe, Sennheiser, Director, Professional Audio; Karam Kaul, HARMAN International VP Global Product Line Management Professional Audio; and John Maier, BLUE Microphones CEO. “The PAMA Panel was absolutely incredible,” said David Kohr, CRAS Instructor/Event Coordinator. “CRAS students got solid information about careers at pro audio product companies from professionals that have years of experience in the industry. They explained it in such a great way that they answered many of the questions that anyone might have had before the students even had to ask them. They also cleared up any misconstrued ideas of what someone might have thought working in this field of the industry would be like.” ■

The Delta Music Institute at Delta State University recently received a $4,300 project grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.. The funds will be allocated to a virtual camp for high school students exploring entertainment industry career tracks in audio engineering, singer/songwriting, and instrumental performance. After suspending the annual DMI summer camp due to Covid-19, Richard Tremmel, director of the DMI, and his staff had to devise an alternate plan for interacting with high school students that provided opportunities for them to experience elements of the entertainment industry. “The MAC project grant will help support the finances needed to implement an online version of our camp and introduce campers to audio recording, songwriting, and performance,” said Tremmel. The DMI is an independent center under the College of Arts & Sciences at Delta State, located in the former Whitfield Gym. Its recording facilities include Studio A, featuring a 48-channel SSL Duality Delta console and a pair of Barefoot MicroMain27 and Yamaha NS10 monitors, alongside a large format live room able to accommodate orchestras, concert bands, choirs, and wind ensembles and includes The design for the studios was created by veteran engineer/producer Norbert Putnam, who remarked, “When I first entered the old Whitfield Gym, I was struck by  the amazing reverb being generated by the hard reflective surfaces. It reminded me of Abbey Road’s Studio 2 in London.” Putnam continues, “The symphonic room at DMI may well be the largest studio of this type in the academic world.” ■

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AUDIO EDUCATION

The PEABODY CONSERVATORY prepares you to be at the forefront of music and technology. The unique double major in Performance or Composition and Recording Arts and Sciences combines a conservatory education with recording engineering. The new Music for New Media program develops skills in composition and production for careers in film and TV, games, and AR/VR.

From the founding of The Blackbird Academy, John and Martina McBride considered it important that besides the advanced curriculum in studio and live sound, they wanted to establish a means of introducing high school students to professional music production. Specifically, how to record a song over three days in a summer camp environment. The summer of 2020 proved a bit more challenging. The three-day session in June was canceled due to shutdown protocols, but in July and August, The Blackbird Academy welcomed groups of eager students, under proper safety and hygiene protocols, from both coasts and everywhere in between to learn how to record a song. Six music-loving teens were on hand August 5-7. Day one was an orientation to the studio, a mic shootout, and learning all about outboard gear. Day two was tracking a live band. The campers also had the chance to play live in the studio and see what it’s like to be the engineer/producer. Day three was time for mixing in Blackbird Studios E and F. The professional Nashville artist/songwriter/players the campers recorded included: Folk singer-songwriter John Dennis playing acoustic guitar and singing lead vocals; Adam Fluhrer (road manager and guitarist for multi-platinum country artist Lee Roy Parnell) on guitar; Brian Kilian on drums, and Bryan Clark on bass and steel guitar (and an instructor/engineer). The Blackbird Academy’s High School Summer Recording Camps are held at the world-renowned Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tenn. ■

WILL KIRK

Over the summer, Los Angeles College of Music renovated the Student Recording Studio at its campus in Pasadena and installed a new 32-channel Solid State Logic ORIGIN analog in-line mixing console, completing the project in time for the Fall 2020 semester. Once classes resume, the studio will be used by faculty member Andrew “Mudrock” Murdock, known for his work with Godsmack, Avenged Sevenfold and others, to teach students the fundamentals of audio engineering and production. “At first, I was thinking we should buy something used,” says Murdock, who has been teaching at LACM since 2011. “But Andre Knecht, Music Producing and Recording Department Head, said, ‘Let’s look for something new.’ He showed me the ORIGIN brochure and I said, looks good to me! It looks familiar; it’s got the classic SSL look. And it sounds great.” The newly renovated Student Recording Studio at LACM is equipped with a pair of Dynaudio BM15 nearfield monitors and other items, but the school acquired some new pieces during the studio refurbishment. “We already had a pair of Distressors and A-Designs Pacifica mic preamps. We bought some Warm Audio compressors and a Klark Teknik stereo graphic equalizer,” Murdock adds. “And we’ve also added one of my Lexicon PCM70s, which is an amazing reverb, and a stereo Yamaha delay.” ■

The Blackbird Academy Summer Camps

AMBROSE TANG

LA College of Music Renovation Includes New SSL ORIGIN Console

peabody.jhu.edu 667-208-6600

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CHRISTOPHER MYERS

Thomas Dolby (bottom center) is the head of the Music for New Media program. Scott Metcalfe is the director of the Recording Arts and Sciences program.


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WANTING MORE?

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IN ONLY 11 MONTHS!

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Earning 16 certifications on the latest hardware and software systems.

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CRAS CRAS CONSERVATORY OF RECORDING ARTS & SCIENCES

CONSERVATORY OF RECORDING ARTS & SCIENCES

The Audio Engineering & Music Production School

CRAS.edu | 877.978.2240

Learn all five focuses of the recording arts quickly and without a mountain of debt.

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Every CRAS student receives their own laptop recording package.

2300 E. Broadway, Tempe, AZ 85282

A GRAMMY Museum® Affiliate University in Cleveland, MS Bachelor of Science Degree in Entertainment Industry Studies with concentrations in: Audio Engineering Technology, Entertainment Industry Entrepreneurship, and Multimedia Technology Three Commercial Music Bands Affordable – no out-of-state tuition Scholarships Available dmi.deltastate.edu (662) 846-4579

BECOME AN AUDIO PRACTITIONER:

STUDY MUSIC RECORDING

Experience our state-of-the-art recording equipment and studios. Learn to record, produce, and mix sound from instructors who have worked with some of the biggest names in the music business. Find out more:

FLCC.EDU/MUSICRECORDING

• Renowned School of Music within a thriving Liberal Arts college setting • State-of-the-art performance and recording facilities • Private study with full-time, word-class faculty • Comprehensive four-year audio curriculum culminating with internship and senior capstone • Extensive music coursework prepares musician-engineers for both studio and stage • Paid work-study position with Recording Services for all Sound Recording Technology students B.M. Degrees Offered: • Sound Recording Technology • Music Education • Performance • Music Theory • Jazz Studies • Composition

Application/Pre-Screen Deadline: December 1 Contact Us: music@ithaca.edu ithaca.edu/music mixonline.com | N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 0 | M I X

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AUDIO EDUCATION

AES Educational Foundation Grants 2020 Scholarships The Audio Engineering Society Educational Foundation has announced the recipients of the AES Educational Grants for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Audio Engineering for 2020. The announcement was made by the new AES Educational Foundation president, Jim Anderson, who took office earlier this year. This year’s grant recipients are: • Audio Precision Tom Kite Advancing Audio Scholarship: Hyunjoung Yang, attending University of Miami, Frost School of Music, Coral Gables, Fla. • Dolby Institute Scholarship: Jacob Melchi, attending University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y. • Genelec’s Ilpo Martikainen Audio Visionary Scholarship: Braden Carei, attending Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.

THE FUTURE

of E N T E R T A I N M E N T , M E D I A & M U S I C B U S I N E S S

LIVES HERE

AUDIO ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY • MUSIC BUSINESS CREATIVE & ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY STUDIES SONGWRITING • CINEMA , TELEVISION & MEDIA For over 45 years the Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business has been preparing students to be the future of the entertainment and media industry. Be they performers, songwriters, publishers, agents, managers, promoters, engineers, producers, filmmakers, screenwriters, journalists or executives, Belmont graduates are destined to be headliners in their field. Learn more at BELMONT.EDU/HEADLINERS

• L-Acoustics’ Dr. Christian Heil Future of Sound Scholarship: Dora Filipovic, attending University of Surrey, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Surrey, England • PMC Sound for the Future Scholarship: Ausma Lace, attending McGill University Schulich School of Music, Montreal, Quebec • Emil Torick Award: Andrew Bohman, attending the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. • John Eargle Award: Matthew Cheshire, attending Birmingham City University, Birmingham, England • Bruce Swedien Scholarship: Mie Hirschfield, attending McGill University Schulich School of Music, Montreal, Quebec • Larry Estrin Scholarship: Anthony Hunt, attending University of York, York, England • Mary Lea Simpson Memorial Scholarship: Téa Mottolese, attending Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. • AES Educational Foundation Scholarship: Bartlomiej Chojnacki, attending AGH University of Science and Technology, Krakow, Poland • AES Educational Foundation Scholarship: Alexander Dobson, attending McGill University Schulich School of Music, Montreal, Quebec • AES Educational Foundation Scholarship: Ayla Favati, attending New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York, N.Y. • AES Educational Foundation Scholarship: Claudia Nader Jaime, attending University of York, York, England • AES Educational Foundation Schol arship: Julian Neri, attending McGill University Schulich School of Music, Montreal, Quebec • AES Educational Foundation Scholarship: Ben Payne, attending University of Plymouth, School of Humanities and Performing Arts, Plymouth, England • AES Educational Foundation Scholarship: Daniela Pardo Quintana, attending Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia • AES Educational Foundation Scholarship: Kathleen Zhang, attending McGill University Schulich School of Music, Montreal, Quebec The AES Educational Foundation receives support from individual benefactors and companies that support education in audio. Application forms are available on the Audio Engineering Society website. ■

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LEBANON VALLEY COLLEGE 101 North College Avenue, Annville, PA 17003 (717)-867-6275 • music@lvc.edu • www.lvc.edu/music Contact information: Dr. Barry Hill, Director of Audio & Music Production Program

If you love music, audio, and being creative, our recording and music business programs let you focus on what you really want to do. We offer a fully accredited Bachelor of Music degree that involves studies in music, performance, studio recording, mastering, live sound, record production, game audio, and more. You’ll start immediately as a freshman in our hands-on classes—you can’t learn unless you actually get to engineer lots of stuff. Get involved in Vale Music Group, our student-run College record label, live concert promotion, and publishing company. Complete an internship in an area of your choice. You can go as far in life as you want; our graduates have worked at Disney, Sony, Dreamworks, Insomniac, etc, and they’re doing game audio, live sound, film and post, system design—you name it. We require a music audition, so plan ahead and work with your music instructors.

PEABODY CONSERVATORY OF THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY 1 East Mount Vernon Place Baltimore, MD 21202 667-208-6600 • peabody.jhu.edu/recordingarts Degree/Certification(s) Offered: Bachelor of Arts in Recording Arts, Music for New Media, and Computer Music; Master of Arts in Recording Arts and Sciences; Master of Arts in Acoustics

The Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, in conjunction with the G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering at Hopkins, offers a unique double degree program: the Bachelor of Music in Performance and Recording Arts and Sciences. This rigorous five-year program combines three major components that are essential to success in the audio industry: music performance, recording technology, and the related math, science, and engineering courses. Peabody’s Music for New Media is a cutting-edge new bachelor’s degree program exploring composition for visual media such as film, video games, and VR with world-class faculty artists and experts in the industry. A Master of Arts degree in Audio Sciences with tracks in recording arts and sciences and acoustics is also offered.

THE BLACKBIRD ACADEMY 2806 Azalea Place Nashville, TN 37204 615/385-2423 | 855/385.3251 • theblackbirdacademy.com Degree/Certification Offered: Diploma in either Studio Engineering or Live Sound Engineering. The Blackbird Academy provides post-secondary mentor-based Studio Engineering & Live Sound Engineering Programs where students will be taught by a unique cast of professional instructors and award-winning guest lecturers. Each of the programs being six months in length, with four start dates per year. Our campus is built on the foundation of Blackbird Studio, the Nashville home to a community of engineers, producers, musicians and technical staff who over the years have taken the art of audio recording to new highs. The principles and beliefs that guide the Academy’s program are simple: Challenge and educate students by presenting them with real-life scenarios an engineer would encounter on a regular basis. We believe training should take place in spaces that are not empty, cold classrooms but professionally designed studios and labs where engineers can hone their craft. Realize your potential by taking part in The Blackbird Academy experience!

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on the cover

M

ix received some beautiful photos of this month’s cover facility as part of FM Design’s submission for “The Class of 2020” studio design feature. We selected one photo for that issue (Jun), deciding to feature the impressive new complex more prominently in the magazine’s upcoming audio education issue (November). This decision was made in early March. A lot has happened since early March. The new studios for the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music (Brooklyn, N.Y.) were actually completed last year and went online just in time for the fall 2019 semester. The grand opening

The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music Tisch School of the Arts, New York University By Barbara Schultz

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PHOTO: of Carine Puyo

marked the completion of a five-year process of planning, fundraising, construction and system integration that finally brought all of the program’s scattered facilities together under one roof. “The department kept growing, despite the fact that we were out of space, so we were renting studios and other spaces all around town,” explains producer/engineer/professor Nick Sansano, who wears many hats at the Clive Davis Institute: Associate Chair, Associate Arts Professor, Director of Production Curriculum; and Co-Director of Musicianship & Performance Curriculum.

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PHOTO: of Carine Puyo

“We had two studios on the proper NYU campus on Washington Square, in Greenwich Village, plus we were doing sessions at Oscilloscope Studios [the Beastie Boys’ studio, which became part of the Brooklyn project; see page 26], Studio G in Brooklyn and Shelter Island in Chelsea,” he continues. “We had rehearsal rooms over near the Theater District and relied on outside venues for performance class space and showcases. We had all these great relationships with producers, engineers, venues, artists and studios, but that’s very difficult to manage. We were running around like crazy.” A great deal of flexible studio/classroom space is required for the Clive Davis Institute, as the program includes a broad course of study in music performance, production and business, plus the history and criticism of popular music. “We refer to this important and mandatory area as our Writing, History and Emergent Media curriculum,” says Sansano, whose credits include engineering and production work for Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Sonic Youth, a vast array of international artists and more.

Nick Sansano teaching remote students from Oscilloscope Studio.

of which have associated double-height live rooms. One of the four control rooms also has doubleheight ceilings and direct windows to the exterior. There is also the multichannel critical listening studio, two smaller production suites with iso booths, five edit suites, two computer labs, as well

We had all these great relationships with producers, engineers, venues, artists and studios, but that’s very difficult to manage. We were running around like crazy.” — Nick Sansano Sansano works primarily with sophomores in the program, while longtime professor—and Grammy/multiple Latin Grammy-winner—Jim Anderson does a lot of work with freshmen, including teaching an essential course in Critical Listening. “When we started talking about the Brooklyn studios, that was an important thing that I fought for,” Anderson says. “We needed that space where we can sit down and listen to material with the best possible playback.” EVERYTHING OPEN, THEN SHUT DOWN It was back in 2015 when the department received permission to build their complex. In 2016, they began working with architect Mitchell Giurgola, and in 2017 Francis Manzella’s FM Design was selected as the acoustic/studio design firm for the project. Through close coordination between Clive Davis Institute’s faculty and technical staff, and the architects and designers, a layout was developed that would give the program four control rooms, all

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as rehearsal spaces, faculty offices, multimedia spaces, piano and DJ practice rooms, and breakout/ meeting spaces. The studios were open for about six months before Covid-19 hit and New York shut down. “We found out on a Monday that on Wednesday we’re closing,” Anderson recalls. “My [Critical Listening] class was on Tuesday. I thought, okay, I have two more things to show them—time delay, and adding reverb and decay—and I guess I’m doing it tomorrow. So I told the students what we were going to do that day, ‘You know, just in case we don’t come back.’ And they said, ‘What? Do you think that might be possible?’” Like students all over the U.S., Anderson’s class of freshmen were blindsided when their semester was paused, and when they came back to “class,” it was via Zoom. Anderson knew he needed to do something special to keep his students’ full attention. “Everybody was in such shock,” Anderson says. “I wanted to remind them of why we’re

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Studio designer Francis Manzella on-site during the construction of the Clive Davis Institute studios.

doing this. So, I brought back two of our illustrious alums. One is Cecile Tournesac. She’s a film music editor working in Paris, and she worked on Rocket Man and Mission Impossible. I had her talk about how our program relates to what she does now. She was very articulate about how every day her work relates directly back to this course. Then she played us a sequence from Rocket Man and everyone could watch her Pro Tools file. “Then we had Mike Witzer, the mixer for Seth Meyers’ show,” he continues. “He spoke with the kids about the importance of ear training and how it relates to what he does. All of this helped to re-engage the kids on why we do this, and we were able to go from there.” Having students buy in was crucial, but the technical challenge of teaching critical listening


PHOTO: Carine Puyo

Kyle Alfred , CDI administrative aid, at the reception desk.

on Zoom remained. Anderson developed some exercises where students could A/B original and remastered versions of songs, among other things. They finished off their spring term with a final that required them to dissect a recording to find artifacts. Then, in June, New York started to reopen, and the necessary health and safety planning needed to reopen the still barely used Brooklyn studios began. For the Fall 2020 semester, Clive Davis Institute has been able to employ a hybrid learning approach— with some students attending in-person classes and others opting to attend via Zoom—largely because of the studios’ design. HYBRID REMOTE/ON-SITE EDUCATION “We designed the studios, and the whole facility for that matter, to be very open, and that has been a saving grace for us to have live classes,” explains Sansano. “We’re one of the only departments at NYU who felt we had the space and the ventilation to hold classes safely. The fact that we kept things very open without central credenzas in most studios, the fact that we are in a LEED-certified building with no recirculating air, and we have HEPA filters in every room, a large open lobby with multiple elevators, wide hallways, et cetera—these design details really helped us. “But of course we also have students who opted to be remote, so we also have cameras set up and big Zoom carts, as well, and we’re doing blended classes,” he continues. “For example, I teach a class called Producing the Record with producer and fellow Clive Davis professor Bob Power. We set up three cameras in the control room, and in the live room a fourth camera,

which is actually a large Zoom Cart with a camera and screen. We have a camera on the console, a camera on the lecture position, and a camera that can move to show the outboard gear or what have you. And we have the room miked up so they can hear the lecture. We use Zoom for the video and lecture portion and a plug-in called Listento to share higher-bandwidth audio off our DAWs when necessary. It’s cumbersome, but it’s doable.” The fact that these airy, creative studios are making it possible for the program to hold live classes would undoubtably have been a point of pride for Francis Manzella, who passed away in August. Manzella is remembered by his clients and colleagues as a consummate pro who loved a challenge, always kept the user’s specific needs top of mind, and never lost his sense of humor. “What can I say about Francis?” Anderson says. “It’s like there was never an obstacle. Everything can get done. He would just figure it out.” “We’d say, ‘Fran, we want to break through the concrete slab ceiling. We want natural light in all the rooms, but they all have to be isolated from city noise. Fran, we’ve got to totally rebuild Oscilloscope in a different space,’” recalls Sansano. “There were a lot of major hurdles, and that was on top of all the logistics that he had to deal with because everything had to be approved by the university and NYC’s stringent building codes. But he was always this smiling face. After all that, it was like he was adopted as a full-blown member of our Tisch School of the Arts community. “We all took his death so hard. We are fortunate to have his memory embedded within these studios with us every day.” n


PHOTO: Courtesy of Carine Puyo

The Clive Davis Institute Studios M

att Marinelli of Coral Sound not only collaborated with the late Fran Manzella for more than 20 years on new studio installations but also has used a number of Manzella-designed studios for his own productions Greg Morris met Manzella when Morris was still a college student in the Sound Recording Technology program at UMass Lowell. Morris interned with Manzella in 2012, and joined FM Design as a full-time studio designer during the construction administration phase of the Clive Davis Studios.

DOUBLE-HEIGHT STUDIOS, DOUBLE THE WINDOWS “The four main live rooms were expanded vertically by breaking through the slab floors of rooms above,” says Morris. “Every room is built in a completely decoupled manner, so basically, each room is built on a raised platform, and the platform itself is isolated from the slab below.

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Sansano playing accordion for a CDI student session with junior Maddy Dewalt, in Studio 4

Everything that makes up that room is built off of that platform. We go to great lengths to avoid touching any overhead structure, any overhead mechanicals, things like that. It’s a very detailed exercise in coordination there to actually make that happen so that the studios are isolated from street noise, as well as each other. “Because existing slab-to-slab heights were relatively low for this type of floated construction, we had to make the most of what was available. Finding additional space for HVAC and sprinklers without contacting our isolation ‘shells’ was a challenge.” SIMILAR ROOMS, DIFFERENT GEAR “They didn’t want the studios to be identical,” Marinelli explains. “They wanted to provide a variety of experiences in each room, with different consoles, so the students would have an idea of some of the different scenarios they might walk into in professional situations. We spent almost two years going through the equipment list because it wasn’t as simple as, ‘Let’s come up with one set of equipment and copy-paste it to every room.’ “Studios 2, 3 and 4 have almost identical footprints,” Marinelli says “Studio 1 differs because it’s  in the corner. Studio 1 is  a Dolby

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PHOTO: Carine Puyo

RE-CREATING OSCILLOSCOPE The Clive Davis Institute was given all of the equipment that came out of The Beastie Boys’ studio, with the idea that Oscilloscope would be re-created within one of the new rooms in Brooklyn. Fortunately, Marinelli knew the gear well, as he had worked with Adam Yauch on the original studio. “The original Oscilloscope was a great studio—basically a DIY studio for Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys,” Marinelli says. “In Brooklyn, the complement of equipment is the same, the layout of the equipment is the same, and some of the furniture elements are the same. Those things were just picked up and reinstalled in the same configuration as they were on the original Oscilloscope studio on Canal Street. “The Clive Davis Institute also wanted to make sure there was a continuum between the two spaces feel-wise, and they wanted to set it apart from the other studios in the facility so that students understood the special nature of that room, the history of the equipment and the people who used it. FM Design replicated the color palette and fabrics, or as close as possible, while being careful to use materials that would stand up to student use over time."

Studio 2 live room with a view into the control room

Atmos production room with PMC monitors, but it’s a flexible, multi-use  room that allows for stereo work, as well. It has a hybrid setup with a 16-channel 5088 Robert Neve  Designs console. Studio 2 is Oscilloscope, with its Neve 8078 board and ATC SCM100ASL  monitors.  Studio 3 has a brand-new API [Legacy] AXS Console and JBL M2 monitors. Studio 4 has an SSL 9000K and a 5.1 PMC monitor system.  The other  Atmos space is the Critical Listening Room, which has a monitoring system identical to Studio 1 and is configured for a wide variety of formats, including Atmos.” REMEMBERING FRANCIS MANZELLA “Even when I was consulting elsewhere, we always stayed in touch and we’d do track events together with our cars,” Morris says. “Professionally, Fran was a completely selfless leader who truly cared about educating others. When he came into a room, people paid attention and latched onto what he had to say, but he was always open to other opinions. If he thought I had a good read on something, there was never any ego involved. “It was really the best working relationship that I could have asked for. I don’t have quite the extensive resume that Fran did, but he never made me feel like that mattered.” “Anyone who knew Fran would say the same thing,” Marinelli says. “He never failed to listen to other people’s ideas, even when it came to things that were clearly within his scope. His body of work shows the principles that he relied on— grounded in solid design and acoustics, and clean, ergonomic aesthetics—but he was incredibly open-minded to everyone he worked with, whether they were clients or other members of the design team. I think his clients would say he took on their project and designed it to fulfill the dreams that they were pursuing. That’s why his studios were never cookie-cutter. They’re creative spaces that each client can walk into and feel ownership of that space.” n


The Mix Interview:

Producer Scott Hendricks One of Nashville’s biggest hitmakers talks taking risks, the evolving country music landscape and staying true to the song By Sarah Jones

F

or the past three decades, Scott Hendricks has had an indelible impact on the “sound” of modern country music. Since his first chart topper with Restless Heart’s “That Rock Won’t Roll” in 1985, Hendricks has produced a staggering 78 Number One country singles and more than 120 Top 10 singles.  He’s the producer behind monster hits by  John Michael Montgomery,  Brooks & Dunn,  Trace Adkins,  Alan Jackson,  Faith Hill,  Steve Wariner, Lee Roy Parnell, Jana Kramer,  Dan + Shay, Michael Ray and William Michael Morgan, to name a few. Perhaps most notably, his 12-year partnership with Blake Shelton has spanned seven albums, two EPs and 24 Number One hits (and counting). Hendricks has earned seven awards from the Academy of Country Music, five from the Country Music Association, and an Emmy for his work on the Monday Night Football “All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night” theme with Hank Williams, Jr. When Hendricks isn’t making hits, he’s cultivating emerging country talent: As Executive Vice President of A&R at Warner Nashville, he’s overseen the development of  Hunter Hayes, Brett Eldridge, Michael Ray, Dan + Shay and Morgan Evans, among others. And, he’s guided scores of superstar hopefuls as a mentor on NBC’s The Voice. Hendricks has built a career on taking chances, ever since he left his native Oklahoma in 1978 for the promise of Nashville, armed with a box of demos and a degree in architectural acoustics. Mix sat down with him to learn how that approach has paid off and how he hones in on that elusive hit.

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Let’s start way back. You grew up working on a farm, spending 12 hours a day driving a tractor and listening to the radio. Would you say that’s when you realized the power of a hit song? That was probably where it began subconsciously. Listening to songs over and over all day on the radio while I was plowing fields definitely molded me as I learned what hit songs are supposed to sound like. By definition, a hit song is a song that doesn’t grow old when you listen to it repetitively like I did then. A hit song also has to move the listener in some way, either physically or emotionally. Those early lessons in what makes a hit definitely impact how I think about songs and, now, how I try to identify what is or is not a hit. You knew you wanted to get into music, but you didn’t know exactly how. When did things change? I was at Oklahoma State University. I went with one of my friends who was enrolling in the forestry department; I was just sitting in the waiting room, waiting on him. This was a few days before classes started my freshman year. A gentleman sat down beside me and asked what I wanted to do. I said, “Well, I want to make music, make records.” When he asked me how I was going to do that, I really didn’t have any idea. He said, “You ever thought about working in a recording studio?” I said, “I’ve never seen a recording studio, but that’d be awesome,” and he literally got up and went to a payphone. He made a call, came back, handed me a piece of paper with a name and a number on it and said, “I think I have you a job in a recording studio. Call this guy.” 

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Scott Hendricks


Scott Hendricks, left, with Tim Dubois and Alan Jackson.

Recording with Brooks & Dunn.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Scott Hendricks

Tim (Dubois) and I started writing songs together. We eventually talked Floyd (Loftiss) into getting us a four-track, which changed our world. Going from two tracks to four tracks was monumental! We started making demos that we would take to Nashville to play for publishers, most of which were rejected. I did, and that man’s name was Floyd Loftiss, who ran the audio-visual center that was located in the  main library on campus.  The only thing I really had going for me was enthusiasm, but, for some reason, he hired me to work in that two-track studio,  which was two more tracks than I’d ever had before. We›d mainly record lectures and things that went on around on the campus. Floyd introduced me to Tim DuBois, who also used to work at the audio-visual center years ago but was now teaching accounting at Oklahoma State. Tim and I started writing songs together. We eventually talked Floyd into getting us a four-track, which changed our world. Going from two tracks to four tracks was monumental! We started making demos that we would take to

Nashville to play for publishers, most of which were rejected. Once I graduated with a degree specializing in architectural acoustics, I moved to Nashville full time. I already had a job lined up with a company called Nashville Studio Systems, designing studios and selling studio equipment. While trying to make a sale to Glaser Brothers Studio, I met another Oklahoma State graduate by the name of Ron Treat. Ron was engineering for the biggest producer in country music at that time, Jimmy Bowen, who was also the President of Elektra Records. Ron said, “Why don’t you just come hang out while we record?” I immediately took him up on his offer! As soon as I got off work from Nashville Studio Systems, I would go to the Glaser

Brothers Studio and stay until it closed, which was typically around 1 a.m. I was a sponge— learning everything I could from watching the best musicians in Nashville record iconic albums produced by Jimmy Bowen. Some of the artists making albums during that time were Hank Williams, Jr., Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty and many more. As excited as I was about making $12,000 per year at Nashville Studio Systems, I quickly realized it was going to take more than that to survive. I went to Belmont University and convinced them they needed to add a course in Architectural Acoustics to their curriculum. That started me on a seven-year part-time teaching job there. When did you start engineering records yourself? Once Bowen and Ron decided to move their operation to Sound Stage Studios, Glaser Brothers Studio hired me to replace Ron as one of their staff engineers. Even though I had no formal training, clients evidently liked what I did. I was never very technical. I simply turned knobs until it sounded right to me.

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Scott Hendricks from his early engineering days at Stillwater, Oklahoma.

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PHOTO: Court of Scott Hendricks

What was that transition like? It was really fun in some ways because they did things that I’m not sure I would have done, but I really liked the results. There’s one engineer in particular, a mixing engineer who I’ve now mixed with on countless albums. His name’s Justin Niebank. Justin and I were trained by the same guy. In the mid- to late-’80s and early ’90s, I engineered many projects with Barry Beckett, who was the leader of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Barry had moved to Nashville and auditioned me to become his engineer. I learned

Hendricks, left, with country superstar Blake Shelton.

PHOTO: Courtesy of WMN

Pretty soon you were mixing Number One records. How did you go from sought-after engineer to sought-after producer? I became so busy engineering and teaching college in the mornings, I literally had no time left to write songs. Plus, the songs I recorded every day felt so much better than the ones I had written, so I chose to focus on engineering. Simultaneously, Tim DuBois focused on writing songs. He had a batch of songs that he could not get anyone to record, so we decided to record them for fun with some friends we knew, three of which were also Okies. We went into a studio who gave us spec time on the weekends. The band had no name. We simply had a ball recording tracks that we thought no one else in Nashville would understand. Tim took the final product to Joe Galante at RCA and he signed them to a record deal. Ultimately, they came up with the name Restless Heart, which was as outside of a name for a country band as the songs were at that time for country music. “That Rock Won’t Roll” became our first Number One song at radio. A year later, we released the CMA Song of the Year, “I’ll Still Be Loving You.” Suddenly, I go from an engineer to engineer/ producer. Seven years earlier, I had no idea what a producer was! Once you have one hit as a producer, others tend to want you to produce for them. When Tim opened the Nashville Arista Records office, he wanted me to produce his first act, which was Alan Jackson. A year later, I brought him Ronnie Dunn whom he introduced to Kix Brooks. Within a few months, they became Brooks & Dunn. I ended up producing and engineering several acts on Arista, including Steve Wariner and Lee Roy Parnell, among others.  There was a certain point where I had to give up some of the engineering. So I started hiring engineers to track for me and eventually hiring engineers to mix for me.


Scott Hendricks, left, with his brother and their first guitars.

You worked with such heavy hitters early on. You assisted Jimmy Bowen. Then, Barry Beckett. What have you learned from these greats that you apply today as a producer? I still constantly think to myself, “What would Barry think about this? How would he  have treated  this?” I just had such respect for him. Barry was the definition of “feel.” We worked on two-inch tape, and I can’t count how many times I had to cut out a sliver of 1/32 of an inch of twoinch tape to improve the feel. “Pocket” is another

to show whomever it is that you’re working with that you’re worthy of being there. When I went to run Capitol Records, I was producing a lot of multi-Platinum-selling artists at the time. Somebody said, “You know you can make hit records, but you don’t know about this side of the business.” I was like, “You’re right. I’ve never climbed this mountain. Let me learn about that challenge.” So, I did, and it opened up a lot of new doors in a lot of different areas. Just be open and do your best and hope that it’s good enough. PHOTO: Courtesy of Scott Hendricks

so much from Barry. When I got so busy working on all those artists from Arista, I no longer had enough time to continue engineering for Barry, so Justin Niebank moved from Chicago and took my place with him. Since we both were trained by Barry, when Justin started mixing a lot of these records for me, we both kind of thought the same way because of how similarly we were molded.

three songs at a time, then we wait until we find three more songs. It’s changed a lot, and yes, it’s becoming more singles oriented because if you don’t have the singles to drive the records ... If you play golf, it’s like the driver. You’ve got to get down the fairway, and you’ve got to have a driver to get down along the fairway. If you’re a new artist, it’s getting to the point to where you need to have a few singles before anyone is interested in buying a whole body of work.

That can be a difficult thing to measure. That’s an interesting thing, the psychological part of this industry. It is harder to determine in this industry if you’re good enough to make it or not. If you want to be a pro baseball player, it’s much easier to make that determination, “Can you hit a 95-mile-an-hour fastball or not?”

I still constantly think to myself, “What would Barry (Beckett) think about this? How would he have treated this?” I just had such respect for him. Barry was the definition of “feel.” We worked on two-inch tape, and I can’t count how many times I had to cut out a sliver of 1/32 of an inch of two-inch tape to improve the feel. “Pocket” is another word I would say Barry ingrained in my brain. word I would say Barry ingrained in my brain. Having engineered for so many different producers, I learned how they communicate with artists, what works, what doesn’t work. I just absorbed so much of that, so I was prepared when it was my time to sit in the chair and make the decisions, “Should we cut this track again?  Do I have enough takes I could edit together? Have we nailed the right tempo, key and feel?”  All of those producers that I worked with became a part of my DNA that helps me make those decisions.  In mainstream country, are you operating more in a singles landscape, and how is that different for established artists versus new acts? Yeah, it’s changed a lot over the years. I miss the days where we would go in and record an album all at one time. I engineered seven Hank Junior albums, and every year we would block off the entire week in the studio, camp out and track the entire album. These days, we typically go in for maybe one or two days and we might track

How is Nashville’s evolving identity informing the choices you’re making? Nashville has changed so much since I’ve been here. Nashville is making all kinds of records. It used to be pretty solely mainstream country, and now we have rock records coming out of here. We have a lot of alternative records coming out of here. We have Christian records being made here. There are a lot of musicians who have gotten out of the craziness of the other recording centers and moved to Nashville.  It’s  really a much broader musical landscape than it used to be. It seems like you’ve followed this trajectory where you’ve taken a lot of chances and pivoted to roles you maybe initially didn’t intend to embark on. From where you’re sitting now, what would you tell people aspiring to your career path? Be open to whatever opportunity presents itself and be the very best you can be when you get that opportunity. Go above and beyond

Creative people always wonder, “Do I have what it takes to write a hit song?” Or, “Do I have what it takes to sing one, or play on a record, or engineer a record, or produce a record?” It’s human nature for us to question these things. I tell people all the time: “If what you are doing is not working, pivot and change.” At one time, I thought I was a really good guitar player, until I met one who was 100 times better than me. And at one time, I thought I was a decent songwriter, until I started getting into the studio and making records where every song was like, “Man, that’s better than any song I’ve written.” So, I just kept refracting to figure it out, “Maybe I’m better at engineering. Maybe I’m better at producing. Maybe I’m better at picking songs and identifying what is a hit song? What is not?” No one is 100 percent successful. The best baseball players in the world hit less than four out of 10 pitches. Reality is more about striving to have better percentages. You gain confidence by your experience. n

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Composer Laura Karpman By Lily Moayeri

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PHOTO: Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles Times

he last time Laura Karpman and Raphael Saadiq saw each other in-person was on February 28, 2020, the final date of Saadiq’s “Jimmy Lee Tour.” The two began work on the HBO series Lovecraft Country the very next day, just as much of the world started locking down. Lovecraft Country is the latest of Karpman’s and Saadiq’s collaborations, which include the films Black Nativity and Step and the series Underground, also from Misha Green, creator/producer/writer of Lovecraft Country. They each have extensive studios, Karpman’s multiple-room, acoustically treated space taking up the bottom floor of her Playa del Rey home and Saadiq with his high-end Blakeslee Recording Co. complex. For Lovecraft Country, Saadiq begins most of the cues on his own, with a sound design aesthetic, using both digital and analog gear or acoustic instruments. Karpman takes what he sends her, sometimes manipulating it, sometimes not, which, in turn, informs her writing of the orchestral material for the score. “At the beginning of episode 101 I said, ‘I want you to play a drum solo,’” Karpman gives an example of her working process with Saadiq. “He would not call himself a drummer, but I love the way he plays drums. It’s not quite like anything else you’ve heard. I took what he did and played with it going forward, backward, adding distorted reverbs at times, having it clean at other times. That solo became a huge part of the episode. The way we work together is fluid. After I do all the orchestral score, I might go back and ask him, ‘Can you give me a bass to add to this, or a guitar?’” Trained as a classical and jazz pianist from a young age, as well as a vocalist, the multiple Emmy- and Grammy-winning Karpman has a Ph.D. in composition from The Juilliard School. Her extensive collection of instruments includes her childhood Steinway, various keyboards, as well as collectibles from over the years. As she says, “If you can make a sound out of it, you can bring it into the house.” Karpman—the founding president of the Alliance for Women Film Composers and a governor of the music branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences—is just as comfortable working within Pro Tools and the plug-in sphere as she is on any variety of

instruments. She favors the DAW for its ease in recording sound and later manipulating that sound quickly, which is conducive to the highspeed production of television in particular. There are about 12 settings she returns to with plug-ins. “In television, especially, there’s no time to mess around; you have to go for it fast,” she says. “I love Soundtoys, Valhalla Super Massive, Serato Pitch ‘n Time—not just for putting something in tune, but for creating harmonies or taking something down three octaves and having it sound different. In Lovecraft episode 105, there’s sound that’s heard when people don’t quite connect. It’s a marimba and a vibraphone, but they’re floating in a very custom vintage Valhalla VintageVerb. I like the plug-in mix stuff where you can get a really old-

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school sound. Funny things in Spectrasonics Stylus where you can play with needle scratches. I like stutter edit for certain things.” Lovecraft Country is a multiple-genre anthology series set in 1950s America, which has horror and suspense, plus fantasy and action, in equal parts. Karpman’s 30-plus years of composition experience was put to the test, avoiding any of the formulaic sounds that are characteristic of these genres yet creating a score that is very identifiably belonging to that genre. “There’s three sides to that,” Karpman explains. “One, [Saadiq] brings something unique. Second, there are major themes that run through the show that are essential in tying together episodes. What I love about scoring the show so much is it feels like


Engineer Leslie Ann Jones, left, with Karpman at the Neve console in the Skywalker Sound Scoring Stage.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Laura Karpman

RECORDING A REMOTE ORCHESTRA Two weeks into the pandemic, Karpman had no choice but to start the Unison Orchestra. Coming together with engineer Brad Haehnel and contractor Lisa Liu, they put together a remote global orchestra where every musician recorded themselves at home and Haehnel put the parts together. He was also tasked with training the musicians on how to record themselves and guiding them through physical details of recording, such as the basics of microphone placement. “I did a screen record on my Mac with a highquality microphone,” says Haehnel. “I created I/O settings and track presets all named the way I needed them. The videos show the musicians where to put the files and how to use them. The musician simply creates their pre-named tracks, creates a new playlist and hits Record. If there was still trouble, I use TeamViewer to get on their computer and show them. Sometimes I will actually run the session remotely on their computer. Using Audiomovers software, I can monitor back at my studio at high quality and make sonic and production decisions easily.” With each musician having their own unique home scenario with varying levels of acoustic settings and recording expertise, Haehnel provided a tutorial on acoustics and microphone placement. He didn’t want to impose the cost of new or additional recording gear on the musicians so he tried to work within their parameters. “Many of the musicians are already experts at editing,” he says, “I always want the original edit back because I may need to open things up to make the musical phrase work between all the players. This type of final musical editing I do myself. I have a team of three people coordinating and editing between composer, orchestration, musician, and myself mixing and music editorial. I have to say, I’m quite surprised by the results. So many different instruments, players, mics and pre’s have made for a very authentic sound. It sounds like it should have been a nightmare, but it really sounds great.” Haehnel assured Karpman that with closemiking there wouldn’t be the need for the highestquality microphones, and he was right. “When we

PHOTO: Courtesy of Laura Karpman

me. I am somebody whose aesthetic evolved out of mid-20th century modernism. When I was a kid I was listening to Stravinsky and Bartok, Bernard Herrmann, and Ernst Korngold. Third, and this was not intentional. The way we are recording it gives it a unique sound. It makes me think about orchestration differently. That contributes to the sound of the show and makes it feel like Lovecraft.”

Karpman with Raphael Saadiq

heard the first mixes come back, it sounded like Jerry Goldsmith,” says Karpman. “It sounded like film scores from the ‘50s and ‘60s that were closemiked, that didn’t have that big fullback sound of the scoring stage. Even if they were recorded on a scoring stage, it just wasn’t the aesthetic at the time. I loved it, and it became another element to play with. When did we want it to sound small, and when did we want it to sound big? The score and the sourced music, which could be current, or period, or from another era altogether, play off each other seamlessly—an attribute Lovecraft Country shares with Underground. Karpman credits Green for being “one of the most effective collaborators in terms of using music as a tool in her projects.” Specific in her notes, Green is hands-on with connecting the mood and actions of the scene to the direction she gives Karpman. This carries to the different stories and styles of each episode of the anthology. “The show leans on a lot of different influences” says Karpman. “It leans on jazz and blues and R&B, bringing that into an orchestral setting. It leans on dissonance and aleatory writing to a certain extent. It plays with all of those things and it gives it a sound. But I’m responsive to what’s happening with the needle drops, as well. On Episode 105 a flute was featured, and I made the flute the major instrument of the episode, weaving it through. Being responsive to what I hear makes it feel tighter. “A lot of it is really paying attention to the technical,” she adds. “What key is this in? Let’s push

the score up to the point, keep it in the same key. Maybe introduce a chord progression early in the score so there’s a seamless transition to the song, or layer the score on top of the song for a minute and then come into the song. It’s not like, ‘Oh that’s soundtrack, and now we’re getting to score.’ We’re all concerned with creating the sonic world of Lovecraft, and that encompasses songs and score and spoken word and all of these different elements that work together and everything is on the table.” FINDING SPACE IN DOCUMENTARIES The Steven Spielberg/Alex Gibney-produced six-part Discovery Channel docu-series Why We Hate—for which Karpman is nominated for two Emmys—Main Title Theme and Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special (Original Dramatic Score)—is not dissimilar to Lovecraft in that each episode has a focus, but there are also through-thread themes. The directors’ intention is to have the series feel like one concept, rather than six separate ones, exemplified by Karpman’s main title theme. The core sounds are from a string quartet, piano by Karpman, percussive instruments, woodwinds, solo bass and harp, with an idea of keeping everything handmade. Karpman already had picture to which she was scoring, but as is the case with documentaries, scenes are often shifted to entirely different sections and she had to be ready to adjust accordingly. “It’s what makes documentary filmmaking so vibrant,” says Karpman. “The filmmakers I work with are generally very open to me asking for ‘another 10 seconds to finish a musical thought,.’ or a ‘voiceover or off-camera dialog is in the way of what’s going on dramatically in the picture, can we delay that 10 or 15 frames so I can have this musical moment?’” This was the case for the episode she received the Emmy nomination, “Tools and Tactics,” one of the many instances in Why We Hate where sensitivity to the issue on screen doesn’t need to be pre-amplified and over-amplified by the music. Says Karpman, “Geeta Gandbhir, one of the directors, said she wants to have a neutrality for the moment to resonate, and then for the music to come in to bring it home. Sometimes that has to do with spotting, where the cue starts, but sometimes, it has to do with how you evolve musically so that you might have something that is more neutral, and then it goes to something that comments on what you perceived rather than making the comment on what you perceived.” n

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Tech

new products

Rupert Neve Designs MBC: Master Buss Converter

With the MBC Dual Path A-D Converter and Limiter, Rupert Neve Designs enters the field of analog-to-digital conversion. The MBC includes a fully featured analog limiter, 24-bit/192kHz conversion fed by selectable analog drive paths for tonal versatility, high-resolution metering, word clock I/O, analog XLR inputs and simultaneous AES, S/PDIF, and TOSLINK outputs. The newly developed analog drive circuitry allows the MBC’s converter to

be fed by either a class-A transformerless path for maximum transparency, or by purpose-built interstage audio transformers with the company’s own variable Silk Red and Blue circuitry to control harmonic content and drive saturation for a wide variety of tonal enhancements. The MBC’s Compound Active Release Analog Limiter section has a class-A line amp stage with up to 20dB of gain, adjustable threshold and release controls, and an insertable highpass, side-chain filter fully sweepable from 20 Hz to 250 Hz.

iZotope Neoverb Intelligent Reverb Plug-in Neoverb is a reverb plug-in that combines industryleading Exponential Audio technology with an intuitive, AI-powered workflow to help music producers and mix engineers quickly find the right space for their vocals and instruments. The Reverb Assistant feature lets users get to a starting point quickly in real-time and can also combine three different reverb engines at once. Blend Pad lets users visualize and mix three different types of reverbs at once. The EQ Section helps clean the input signal to keep a reverb tail from overwhelming a mix. Input Smoothing keeps dynamics even and avoids artifacts in the reverb tail. A modulation panel gives even more control over the reverb tail. Neoverb is also part of the newly released Music Production Suite 4.

Cranborne Audio Camden EC1 Preamp This combination preamp, signal processor and headphone amplifier all in a half-rack, desktop friendly design, makes the ideal expansion for those who want to level up their home or project studio. The Camden EC1’s reference-quality headphone amplifier and independent, 4-channel line

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mixer allows for zero-latency monitoring using headphones directly from the front panel. For recording guitars, the Camden EC1 combines a Hi-Z instrument circuit with a dedicated ¼-inch link output. Finally, Camden EC1 also uses Cranborne Audio’s unique C.A.S.T. system for distributing audio around the studio using affordable Cat 5e, Cat 6, or Cat 7 cabling.

Ocean Way Audio S10A Subwoofer The new S10A subwoofer from Allen Sides’ Ocean Way Audio was primarily designed as a low-frequency companion to the company’s HR5 Reference Monitor as a  perfect companion for any high-quality nearfield/ midfield monitoring system.  The S10A features stereo XLR input and output connectors, along with a variety of parameter adjustments, including gain, LF adjust, adjustable crossover and delay, and a 12V trigger input/output for power conservation and other applications. The S10A  covers the low-end spectrum with a frequency range of 20 Hz to 120 Hz. It includes a 300W amplifier that can generate 110dB SPL.

McDSP MC-3 Multi-band Compressor, L-18 Surround Limiter Made for the McDSP APB environment, the all new MC-3 Multi-band Compressor parameters are automatable and can be saved as a preset for instant session recall. The MC-3 supports Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, and other AU/VST3 hosts. The next addition to the APB plug-in line up is the L-18 Surround Limiter. Surround formats from LCR to 7.1.2 are supported. All processing functions are identical to the original L-18 Limiter, with the additions of surround channel link modes, separately enabled LFE


processing and an LFE soft curve mode, and expanded VU metering. All L-18 Surround Limiter parameters are automatable and can be saved as a preset for instant session recall.

Radial PZ-Pro 2-Channel Acoustic Preamp The Radial PZ-Pro is a two-channel instrument preamp, DI, and switcher that enables complete control over tone, EQ settings, and effects. Each channel on the PZPro features a separate equalizer strip complete with a filter section to reduce feedback on stage. The second channel of the PZ-Pro also features a microphone input to allow any dynamic or condenser microphone to be used, including clip-on instrument mics. Three footswitches provide the ability to toggle between each input channel, activate a built-in booster and an effects loop, or mute the signal for silent tuning on stage. Radial’s Acoustic Series line includes a range of preamps including the AC-Driver, PZ-Deluxe, PZ-Pre, and now, the PZ-Pro 2-Channel Acoustic Preamp.

In the new P+ Series, the quick-release Magnelis steel grille can be quickly removed, allowing the horn to be swapped out and changing the standard 100-degree x 100-degree dispersion to a 110-degree x 60-degree alternative. SPL output: 129dB; peak for the P8 and 136dB Peak for the P10. Frequency response is 66Hz to 20kHz for the P8, and 63Hz to 20kHz for the P10. Both P+ Series models are available in touring and installation versions.

Yamaha Rivage PM5, PM3 Mixing Consoles The newest additions to the Yamaha line of professional digital mixing consoles are the Rivage PM5 and Rivage PM3 digital mixing systems. The systems feature new CS-R5 and CS-R3 control surfaces, along with the

Neutrik Features New PoE Injector Ideal for use with Neutrik’s NA2-IO-DLINE and NA2-IO-DPRO Dante interfaces or any network device that requires a rugged, lockable PoE supply, the NPS-30W PoE Injector is the made for harsh stage conditions. It features a lockable powerCON TRUE1 TOP power connector and etherCON network connectors. Its 48 VDC, 30W power output enables it to provide power simultaneously to as many as four NA2-IO-DPROs in daisy-chain mode. The NPS-30W’s data rate is 1 Gbps. It ships with a rugged rubber cover for throwdown applications. Optional mounting devices enable the NPS-30W to be integrated easily into racks, trusses, and podiums and tables.

NEXO Expands P+ Series Loudspeakers NEXO adds two new multi-purpose compact point-source loudspeakers to its P+ Series. The P8 features a coaxial eight-inch LF driver with a 1.5-inch diaphragm HF driver. The P10 has a coaxial 10-inch Neodymium LF driver and 1.7-inch diaphragm HF driver. The horn driver can rotate in both cabinets, a NEXO hallmark since its introduction in the PS Series.

DSP-RX and DSP-RX-EX DSP engines. The new DSP-RX engine provides 120 inputs, 48 mix buses and 24 matrices, while the DSP-RX-EX engine has 288 inputs, 72 mix buses and 36 matrices. The availability of two DSP engines with different mixing capacities, along with the two new control surfaces, offers greatly expanded flexibility for creating systems that are ideally suited to applications of just about any scale.

Meyer Sound ULTRA-X20 Loudspeaker The new ULTRA-X20 compact point source loudspeaker is a juniorsized version of the award-winning ULTRA-X40 loudspeaker, incorporating two five-inch cone drivers, one twoinch diaphragm compression driver and a rotatable 110-degree x 50-degree horn in a coaxial configuration. Power comes from a highly efficient three-channel Class D amplifier with sophisticated DSP, with everything fitted inside a compact cabinet that measures a mere 7.5 inches/19.5 cm wide by 19.04 inches/48.4 cm high by 8.6 inches/21.8 cm deep and weighs only 26 pounds/11.8 kg. Preliminary performance specifications give an operating frequency range of 60 Hz to 18 kHz, phase response of ±45 degrees (100 Hz -16 kHz) and linear peak SPL of 123.5dB measured with M-Noise.

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Tech // reviews iZotope RX8 Even More Power for This Audio-Repair Software Suite By Mike Levine

I

always look forward to version updates of iZotope RX, the company’s moduleRX8 includes a number of new and revamped modules. based audio repair suite, because I know they will include powerful new features. RX8 (Mac and PC) holds true to form, offering several new modules and Hum module. I tried it out on guitar tracks with a lot of amp buzz and found significant revamps of several returning ones. RX comes in three versions, RX8 Advanced and the more affordable that it worked as advertised. You first select a section of noise that’s RX Standard, and the inexpensive RX Elements. The latter has a by itself and click the Learn button so that Amp can calculate the minimal feature set, and I’ll focus here mainly on the Advanced and necessary reduction settings. The only drawback is if you’re not able to find a spot of noise by itself, in which case the Learn function Standard versions. RX Advanced has become a mainstay in audio post-production, and won’t work and you’ll probably have to use one of RX’s other dethe Standard version has found its way into plenty of home studios. In this noising tools instead. For removing finger squeaks, Squeak is a real time-saver. In the review, I’ll look at the many new and improved features, but first a quick past, I would use RX’s Spectral Repair module for that task, but I had overview of RX for those unfamiliar. RX is an audio editor centered around an editable, overlaid spectrogram/ to address each squeak individually, and that could be time-consuming on a song-length, squeak-heavy part. waveform display that lets you control how much of each is visible. With Squeak, you only have to choose whether the Squeaks are It comes with an extensive suite of audio repair and manipulation tools useful for audio editing and repair for film and video, broadcast, short (under 200 ms) or long (up to 1,000 ms) and try different settings podcasts, music, and more. Many of the modules also come in plug-in with the Sensitivity and Reduction sliders, keeping them as low as you can while still reducing or removing the squeaks. Settings too high can form, allowing you to open them inside of your DAW. The modules include various de-noising tools for specific issues make the track sound muffled. I wasn’t always able to remove all squeaks while keeping the such as hum, clicks, bleed, clipping, crackle, plosives and mouth clicks. You also get tools for tasks such as EQing, adjusting gain, leveling settings low enough not to degrade the audio. But even when it didn’t remove them all, it reduced them sufficiently that they were no longer audio, changing pitch and time, and adding dither. RX also includes an AI-based Repair Assistant feature, which problematic. If need be, you can always go in with Spectral Repair after analyzes your audio and suggests several options for cleaning up the fact to fix a troublesome squeak or two. The Pick section is designed to reduce harsh pick transients. In problems that it detects. addition to Sensitivity and Reduction sliders, it also has an adjustment for attack speed. I found it useful for subtly adjusting pick attack and GUITAR-NOISE DESTROYER One of the highlight additions in RX8 is a module called Guitar De- smoothing it out where necessary. Noise (Advanced and Standard). It features three sections: Amp for reducing amp noise; Squeak for getting rid of finger squeaks; and Pick IN RECOVERY Spectral Recovery (Advanced) is a new feature aimed squarely at postto control harsh pick attacks. You can use any combination of the sections and Render their production. Its purpose is to restore upper frequencies to bandwidthprocesses individually or simultaneously. Each section has sliders for limited spoken-word audio, such as interviews or other content recorded adjusting Sensitivity and Reduction (amount), and the presets provide through Skype or Zoom or one of the other VoIP services. The workflow is simple: You press the Learn button, and it analyzes typical settings for each. iZotope designed Amp to reduce static, tonal noises like buzzes your audio and makes settings suggestions for the Cutoff Frequency and hum, and hums that are too harmonically complex for the De- (where the existing audio stops) and Smoothing parameters. The latter

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controls the width of the crossfades between new and existing audio. You can also set the Amount control, which governs the amount of energy added above the cutoff frequency. As with all the other modules, you can preview your settings, and when you’re happy with them, press Render. If you compare the spectrogram before and after you render, you’ll see that the upper frequencies get restored, and the holes in the audio from compression artifacts get filled in. I tried it on several different recordings with limited bandwidths, including Skype interviews, and it always worked as expected, filling up the empty parts of the spectrogram. For post-production, podcast production, corporate audio and other situations, Spectral Recovery seems destined to become a regular part of many workflows. MUSIC REBALANCE MODULE RX8 also brings an improved version of the Music Rebalance module (Advanced and Standard), which iZotope introduced in RX7. Its purpose is to separate the elements of a mix into Voice, Percussion, Bass and Other Instruments, and allow the user to adjust levels independently. You can use it to rebalance an existing mix, strip out elements for remixes, and create instrumental versions. iZotope changed the control set of Music Rebalance. Gone are the individual Sensitivity sliders for each category. In their place is one slider called Separation. The lower it is set, the better the resulting quality, but the more bleed between categories. Another significant change is that you now separate the four components into their own files with one push of the Separate button. The process can take quite a few minutes, depending on the length of your material. Nevertheless, it saves time in the long run because you don’t have to go through the multi-step process to strip out the components that you used to. You still have the option to adjust the individual levels of the four components using the sliders in the Music Rebalance GUI, as well. When you have a balance you like, pressing Render writes your new mix over your original file (in RX but not on disk). iZotope also improved the algorithms in Music Rebalance. I compared the results of separating the same material in RX8 and RX7, and the new ones sounded better and cleaner. Because Music Rebalance is so CPU-intensive, it doesn’t offer full-quality previewing. So, if you want to listen to or adjust the relative levels of the components in the Music Rebalance GUI, you

have to audition the results with a lower-quality preview. It takes a few seconds to compute, and it sometimes stops and starts. I experienced how valuable Music Rebalance can be while mastering a song for streaming. I discovered the vocals in the bridge were too quiet and I didn’t have access to the multitrack session to revise the mix. Instead, I selected the area in question in RX8, raised the vocal level in Music Rebalance, and rendered it with seamless results. [Shortly before this review was completed, iZotope released an update that allows Music Rebalance to be opened as an ARA plug-in in Logic Pro X. It was already available as an AudioSuite plug-in in Pro Tools.] GETTING LOUD The module formerly known as Loudness is now called Loudness Control (Advanced and Standard). It allows you to conform audio levels to your choice of broadcast and other standards. It also has options for target levels for audiobooks, podcasts, music streaming and more. The new version also includes a graph that calculates True Peak, Long Term, Short Term and Momentary LKFS (LUFS), and Loudness Range (LRA) over time. It also provides numerical readouts for all of those measurements. The value of such a tool for broadcast is obvious, but it’s also useful if you’re mastering music for streaming. It gives you an accurate reading of loudness levels on a mix, and you can use it to make your music compliant with streaming services. In the main, it makes its adjustments by

PRODUCT SUMMARY COMPANY: iZotope PRODUCT: RX8 WEBSITE: izotope.com PRICE: RX 8 Advanced: $999 introductory ($1,199 regular); RX 8 Standard: $299 introductory ($399 regular); RX 8 Elements: $99 introductory ($129 regular) PROS: Spectral Recovery for restoring bandwidth-limited recordings. Improved Loudness Control. Guitar De-Noise. Improved Music Rebalance. Wow & Flutter module. Tab limit increased from 16 to 32. New De-Hum capabilities. Batch Processor. CONS: Only lower-quality previews possible in Music Rebalance. Music Rebalance renders adjusted mix over original file. Amp section of Guitar De-Noise requires a noise-only section of the audio.

changing gain, but it will use a post-limiter for certain True Peak adjustments. So, when using it for mastering, make sure your dynamic range hasn’t been affected after you render. Another new module is called Wow & Flutter (Advanced), and iZotope designed it to reduce those wavering pitch issues that plague vinyl, tape and optical transfers. I tried it out on an orchestral recording that had significant wow and flutter that made it unlistenable. The module’s ability to minimize them was quite impressive. Another handy feature is called Center Global Pitch. If you check it, it defaults to 440 Hz, but you can set it for any pitch center you want. It gives RX a pitch to base its corrections on. Otherwise, RX goes by the average pitch. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE RX8 doubles the number of tabs (open files) you can have at any one time from 16 to 32 (Advanced, Standard, Elements). Not only is that more convenient, but because RX includes a feature called Composite View, which consolidates all the open tabs temporarily into one editable file, it could be particularly useful with unmixed multitrack recordings that have common issues that need addressing. You could open all the tracks and use Composite view to consolidate them and apply a single process to all. Then you turn off Composite view and revert to the default view and save each file separately. The Batch Processor (Advanced and Standard) also got a major facelift and now works with Module Chain. It’s easier and faster to use and quite potent. AUDIO SAVANT RX8’s new and revamped features make an already robust application even more comprehensive. For post-production, the Spectral Recovery and Wow & Flutter modules in RX Advanced are powerful new tools for audio restoration. For both Advanced and Standard, Loudness Control, Guitar De-Noise and the improved Music Rebalance are key additions. In the past, iZotope saved most of its top-ofthe-line new features for RX Advanced. But over the last couple of versions, the company has been strengthening RX Standard and positioning it as a version aimed at music production. If you don’t need the dialog-repair tools and other specialized post-production related features, Standard is almost as powerful and less than half the price. Whichever version you choose, you won’t go wrong. ■

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Tech // reviews Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters Incredible Tone Shaping, Special FX, Noise Reduction in a 500 Series Module By Barry Rudolph

P

MI Audio’s Trident Audio Developments Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters is a single-channel 500 Series module that has two separate shelving filter sections: a Hi-Cut (lowpass) and Lo-Cut (highpass). Both filters are based on the dynamic tracking filters in the CLM Dynamics DB500 Expounder—a stereo fourband parametric equalizer that came out in the late 1990s. When I reviewed the DB500 in Mix in 1999, I thought the built-in tracking shelving filters were intriguing and had tremendous potential. However, the DB500 itself never really caught on with audio professionals and soon went out of production. In 2005 Allan Bradford, the designer of the DB500 Expounder for CLM Dynamics, came to work for PMI Audio and soon afterward CLM came up for sale. PMI’s Alan Hyatt bought the company in 2008 and has said: “I was thinking about those tracking filters in the DB500, and decided to resurrect and package them in a modern 500 rack module under the Trident brand.” A TRACKING FILTER? WHY USE ONE? At a selected frequency, a tracking filter develops a control signal for a voltage-controlled amplifier to control the output level of audio passing through the filter. The speed and accuracy at which the filter can follow and trace the audio envelope is key to a good design because it makes the filter’s overall action transparent and effective—except when purposely set for a special effect. Because it is an adaptive process, you are able to set a tracking filter much more aggressively compared to a conventional filter with fixed parameters. I have found better sonic results with less deteriorating side effects using the Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters. A hi-cut tracking filter is used for noise reduction by tracing the audio signal and “closing down” the high frequencies when there are fewer, or none at all, present. Unlike noise gates that work on a fixed threshold level setting, a tracking filter is frequency-dependent. But just like with an opened noise gate, whatever noise floor (hiss, room noise, etc.) is still present is covered by the much louder audio. Both noise gates and tracking filters rely on a psychoacoustic

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effect where the louder (wanted) audio signal “masks” much quieter signals (noise), even when occurring at the same frequencies. A lo-cut tracking filter is useful for subsonic rumble, AC line hum removal or unwanted low-frequency resonances. Removing AC hum (50 or 60 Hz) from a bass guitar will dynamically remove some of its low frequencies and requires a sonic compromise in extreme cases. The addition of an adjustable Resonance control—short for Resonant Peak—on both the Hi-Cut and Lo-Cut sections in the Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters is brilliant! Resonance is usually found on synthesizer filters, and here it is a proportional-Q peaking EQ circuit that is very useful when using a tracking filter. Boosting with a resonant peak at the cutoff frequency will reduce the audible and apparent loss when rolling off the low frequencies in the Lo-Cut section. The amount of boost and Q varies depending on the selected cutoff frequency. At 16 kHz, the Q is 8, with a maximum boost of 15vdB. At 15Hz in the Lo-Cut section, the Q is 2, with up to 10 dB of boost possible. Resonance boost variation increases linearly as frequency is increased in both the Lo-Cut and Hi-Cut sections for a stated specification of 12dB average. Using a resonant peak boost in the Hi-Cut section to compensate for high-frequency loss works, but, because the Q is higher, the added stridency may not be right for some sources. MODERNIZING THE DYNAMIC FILTER The original 3U DB500 Expounder used THAT Corp. VCA chips, and now some are obsolete. A major overhaul of the circuit was required for the newer THAT chips, improved up-to-date


component quality, and getting it all to work within the power requirements and size of a 500 Series module. Surface-mount technology is used throughout on a main board connected to the front panel sub-assembly board with a single ribbon cable. Also on the board are: THAT Corp 2162 (Dual Blackmer VCAs), a THAT 4305 RMS detector, and a THAT 1646 differential line driver output chip in a socket. As the circuit is essentially the same as designer Allan Bradford’s DB500 design, like the original, I found the filters smooth, without ring, full-range and beautiful sounding. With regard to concerns about phase shift, Taz Bhogal, project design engineer for the PMI Audio Group, assures me that “with these types of filters the attenuation slopes and phase response curves are such that phase is linear and phase reversal occurs when attenuation is well below pass band.” The Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters has its two sections arranged so you can enable and adjust them separately. When both are engaged, they are connected in series. The front panel

Slope button and a red-lit Res Enable button switches the Resonance function in/out. At the top of each section is the green-lit Track Signal button to toggle tracking on/off. There are just two control knobs on each section: the black Frequency sweep and the red (0-10) Resonance amount knob. I would like to get a set of metal Trident knobs (with set screws) instead of these plastic ones. It would make it easier to pull out the module from my 500 rack. STEREO AND SERIES OPERATION The Hi-Lo Filters module comes with two internal switches that are switched off when shipped. There is a stereo link push button and a wire jumper to accommodate Radial Engineering’s Workhorse Power Racks. With this jumper in play, the module’s output is paralleled to pin 11 of the module’s edge connector for

parametric filters, and depending on the positions of the frequency knobs, the modules may not pass audio at all! I used the filters on the hardware inserts in my Pro Tools HDX mixer. NOISE REDUCTION, ANALOGSTYLE I received a song to mix that had a stereo sampled orchestral harp glissando recorded from an old Korg keyboard at very low and noisy level. It was a legacy, signature part, and there was no way to replace or play it again. Besides electronic hiss, there was a low-frequency thump at about 200 Hz that actually lit up the peak LEDs on both sections of the Hi-Lo Filters. First, I used just the Lo-Cut filter set to 250 Hz and 24dB/octave. But as a conventional filter, the Lo-Cut

"Having radically different filter settings on channels panned mid-left and -right imparted an animated and wider tonality yet kept mono capability. I loved it, and so did the producer; it was subtle and different." switch and control knob layout and operation copies the original DB500. Starting at the bottom of the module is the sweepable Lo-Cut filter section with a frequency range of 15 Hz to 16 kHz. Above it is the HiCut section with a sweepable range of 75 Hz to 24 kHz. Both of these sections are usable as conventional parametric shelving filters. When in operation, a pair of Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters is an impressive-looking light show of green, red, orange and blue! The lighted (when active) switch buttons and the four knob controls are in the same positions on both filter sections. I found no problems finding a control or switch instantly in my dimly lit studio. There are separate blue-colored Enable (bypass) switches at the bottom of the Lo-Cut and Hi-Cut sections and a red Peak warning LED in each filter. The LEDs light up at +16 dBu or 12 dBU below clip at 27.5 dBU; it reads input peaks in bypass and then output when that section is enabled. You have a choice of either a 12dB and 24dB per octave filter slope using the orange

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use in the mixer section of the Radial. If your particular 500 Series rack supports stereo linkage between adjacent modules, then this switch inside must be pushed down to enable it. I feel like this switch should be on the front panel of the module as I have seen in other units. In stereo mode, the Tracking signal automatically follows the sum of the left and right modules, as it should. For this review, I’m using a Trident Deca-Dent 10-space 500 Series rack, and it supports both stereo linking and series operation between adjacent modules. Both those features have toggle switches on the Deca-Dent’s back panel. By connecting two Hi-Lo Filters in series, you’ll have a choice of 12, 24, 36 and 48dB/octave filter slopes in each filter. The Trident rack makes series operation easy, but it is the same as physically patching one module’s output to the other’s input. When first getting to know Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters, I tried one section at a time, without using Tracking. These are full-range,

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section could not be set any higher than about 40 Hz without the sound thinning out. Using the Tracking button, I was able to set the Lo-Cut frequency as high as 800 Hz, and the overall sound was nearly the same as in bypass, with very minimal loss of lows—amazing! The Hi-Cut section worked well to control the amount of high-frequency noise; first, I set this roll-off at 4 kHz, and, of course, it dulled the sound. Switching in the Tracking function brought it all back to life. I could not hear any filter sweeping at all. I developed an effect for a stereo synth bass track. Stereo? It was the original bass from the song’s demo, and in the chorus an interestingsounding stereo pad mixed in with it on the same stereo track. Originally recorded in Logic X, the track had very little stereophonic (non-correlated) information. In Pro Tools, I split-into-mono the stereo track and panned the two mono tracks mid-left and midright. On the left track, I put module 1’s Lo-Cut filter set at 100 Hz, 24dB slope, Resonance at 8 and


guitars, synths and basses. Up to 48dB/octave is possible, and it is great to be able to have the ability to change between 12, 24, 36 or 48dB/ octave by choosing different combinations of the 12/24dB octave switches on each module. For a low and thick-sounding, drop-tuned guitar, I sent the guitar track out of Pro Tools to my first Hi-Lo module 1 and flipped the “1 into 2” switch on the back of the Deca-Dent rack and then returned module 2’s output back into the Pro Tools mixer. Wow! This is an awesome subtractive EQ guitar amp tone stack—it’s my new secret weapon! And since starting this review, I have wired a pair of Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters in this configuration and leave them connected to the mic preamp output I use for electric guitars. Using this method, you’ll find the first Hi-Lo in the chain does the majority of the subtractive EQ and the second Hi-Lo works well to finetune the effect. I found with low-frequency sound sculpting, the first Lo-Cut section in the chain would be 12dB/octave and without resonance. The second Lo-Cut section in series

Tracking on. On the right channel, I put module 2’s Hi-Cut filter set at 400 Hz, 12dB slope, Resonance at 10 and Tracking on. Having radically different filter settings on channels panned mid-left and -right imparted an animated and wider tonality yet kept mono capability. I loved it, and so did the producer; it was subtle and different. I had a percussive, muted picking guitar part that I ran through one Lo-Cut section only. I pushed all the buttons in—24dB slope, Resonance on, Tracking on and started with all the controls fully CW and got instant auto-wah! You may want to adjust the black Frequency knob for the amount of low frequencies. I got in the habit of putting a Trim plug-in ahead of the Trident module to act as a tracking sensitivity control especially good for this kind of effect. TONAL SHAPER You have a powerful-sounding musical toneshaping tool when patching two Trident Dynamic Hi-Lo modules in series. Seemingly wacky, extreme filter settings sounded good for

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COMPANY: PMI Audio Group WEBSITE: pmiaudio.com/store PRODUCT: Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filter PRICE: $499 MSRP PROS: Great for audio noise repair, special effects, tone shaping. CONS: Could use a front panel stereo link switch.

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could be set at 12dB or 24dB but with Tracking enabled and some Resonance added. There is a lot of room for experimentation here, and there is no wrong or right way. I found the Trident Hi-Lo Dynamic Filters very useful for fixing problems, creating interesting special effects, and accomplishing advanced tonal carving for unique and/or strange guitar tones. The list grows daily, and I usually find it connected in some capacity every day in my studio. This is one the most fun and simple-to-use new tools I’ve found lately. Highly recommended! ■

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Tech // back page blog Keeping the Groove; Going Back to Work Mike Levine: Mix Technology Editor, Studio

Steve La Cerra: Mix Technology Editor, Live

The No-Flow Zone: If you are a musician or music creator, you’ve probably experienced the fantastic feeling of being “in the zone.” You know, that place where you’re totally focused and able to come up with cool song or melody ideas, great riffs and solos, innovative mix moves or other creative musical output. This phenomenon isn’t limited to just music, it can happen in any creative activity. Psychologists and neuroscientists even have a name for it—they call it “flow.” In an article on medium.com, writer Siddhant Chaudhary observes: The flow state differs from our natural state. When someone enters in the flow, his sense of self-consciousness decreases. For example, when the rappers improvise, brain scans revealed [that] brain activities responsible for self-consciousness dropped. In other words, they’ve switched to the flow. Some might think that the solitary nature of a home studio would be conducive to getting into the flow, but, as you’re probably aware, that’s not always the case. Many things occur that can impede your momentum and either keep you from achieving flow or knock you out of it prematurely. To illustrate, check out these endings to the sentence that begins: “I was in the flow, and then... • I opened the session and was told that audio files were missing.” • my next-door neighbor turned on his lawnmower.” • Pro Tools stopped in the middle of recording and said I’d run out of CPU power. • my DAW said it wasn’t authorized, even though I had my iLok plugged in.” • my annoying friend texted me.” Those are just a few of the distractions that get into the way of creativity in the studio. I’m sure any recording musician could add a dozen more to the list.

Business As Unusual: In early October, I did my first fly date in the Covid era—only the second show since being shut down in March. It was apparent that this would not be a “business as usual” trip. Choosing flights with our travel agent was slim pickins due to a serious reduction in scheduled service. The nonstop NYC-to-Pittsburgh route isn’t as well populated as, say, NYC-Chicago, but I figured there’d be at least a few options in each direction. Wrong. I could count on one hand the number of people at the check-in area, which sometimes happens when we’re leaving a small airport at 4:30 AM, but never at LGA. Check-in went fine, and about an hour later we learned that our flight was delayed (more business as usual; what, was there heavy air traffic?). The show was outdoors at the Vinoski Winery (Belle Vernon, Pa.), and props to the promoter and winery personnel for taking good care of us. It was an outdoor show—which is always fun when the showtime temperature is 50 degrees. Not. I froze my butt off. The stage was at the bottom of a natural amphitheater and the audience was invited to bring their own chairs and blankets for the lawn. Lucky for me, they stayed well away from front of house, and it appeared that they mostly stayed away from each other, as well. Normally, I’d walk around the venue to check the mix, but there was no way I was leaving the safe isolation of my sonic sanctuary. I’m happy to say that the gig went well. Backstage was restricted to working personnel only (no guests), as was the dressing room area. The venue provided a large, private dressing room area so that my band and crew weren’t crowded, and meals were distributed in containers with individual portions.

Product of the Month: Plugin Alliance Bettermaker EQ232D Plugin Alliance has just released the Bettermaker EQ232D, a mastering-grade equalizer plug-in that emulates the hardware EQ232P MKII. The plug-in version, which models the circuitry of the EQ232P MKII, features three main sections. The first includes two bands, EQ 1 and EQ 2. The former covers from 45 Hz through 1 kHz, and the latter 650 Hz through 15 kHz. The P EQ section features High- and Low-Frequency bands, each with a Boost and Attenuation knob, just like on a Pultec EQP-1a. The Low band, which has a fixed bandwidth, offers four frequency settings: 20,30, 60 and 100 Hz. The High band includes 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12 and 16 kHz options. ■

Product of the Month: beyerdynamic TG Series Mics beyerdynamic has expanded its Touring Gear (TG) Series with the introduction of two new microphones: the TG D70 and TG 151. The TG D70 is a dynamic mic designed for use on kick drum, but is also suitable for use on other instruments with low-frequency content. It features a pressure-gradient capsule with a hypercardioid pattern, and a frequency response ranging from 20 Hz to 14,000 Hz (40 Hz to 14,000 at 1 meter). The TG 151 also employs a dynamic capsule with a pressuregradient capsule in a cardioid pattern, providing high attenuation of ambient noise and an extremely fast transient response. Frequency range is spec’d as 33 Hz to 19,000 Hz at 2 centimeters, or 80 Hz to 19,000 Hz measured at 1 meter. ■

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