MIX 555 - March 2023

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Welcome to the March 2023 issue of

Dr. Michael Santucci on Hearing Health ★ Craig Anderton: Profiles in Gear Lust ★ Michael Whalen and Guests March 2023 \\ mixonline.com \\ $6.99 >Iron Maiden’s ‘Legacy of the Beast’ Tour >Catching Up with Chris Young >Mental Health on the Road >Social Distortion Goes Digital >Slipknot on Tour THE NEW HOME OF MUSIC PRODUCTION • LIVE SOUND • SOUND FOR PICTURE REVIEWED • Massenburg DesignWorks MDWDRC2 • Audix A127 Omni Mic • PreSonus Studio One 6 • JBL EON One MkII Loudspeaker THE HIT FACTORY REBORN TROY GERMANO REACQUIRES RIGHTS TO LEGENDARY NYC STUDIO NAME
in The Hit Factory Studio 2, from left: Slick Rick, engineer Kenta Yonesaka, Troy Germano, Mark Ronson and Steve Jordan.


16 Michael Whelan’s Our April Tigers BY ROBYN FLANS

18 News & Notes: David Kershenbaum’s Home Studio; Yamil Martinez and Reggaeton


40 New Products: Studio and Live Sound

41 Review: Massenburg DesignWorks

MDWDRC2 Dynamics Range Controller

44 Review: Audix A127 Omnidirectional Microphone BY STEVE

46 Review: PreSonus Studio One 6


On the Cover: In January 2023, after 20 years, Troy Germano reacquired rights to The Hit Factory name, bringing back one of the world’s iconic studio brands and renaming his worldclass Germano Studios in NoHo, New York City. Pictured in Studio 2, from left: Slick Rick, engineer Kenta Yonesaka, Troy Germano, Mark Ronson and Steve Jordan. Photo: Bob Gruen.


20 Catching Up with Chris Young On Tour

23 Maintaining Mental Health on the Road

24 News & Notes: 22Live Debuts in UK; Social Distortion Goes Digital; Adamson CS-Series in School; CMA Honors Top Live Engineers; Slipknot Live; Sweet Sounds at Monitors; Volbeat Tour Takes on Panther

MIX | MARCH 2023 | mixonline com 4
Professional DAW
48 Review:
EON One MK2 Column Speaker BY CLIVE
8 From the Editor: What’s in a Name? 10 View From the Top: Audiomovers BY CLIVE YOUNG 12 Oscar Nominees: MPSE and CAS Honorees 50 Open Channel: Profiles in Gear Lust BY CRAIG ANDERTON 03.23 Contents Volume 47, Number 3 28 The Hit Factory Reborn: Legendary Studio With an AllNew Future BY TOM KENNY 32 Inside Iron Maiden’s ‘Legacy of the Beast’ Tour BY CLIVE YOUNG 36 Dr. Michael Santucci on Hearing Health BY STEVE HARVEY FEATURES PRESENTED BY 20 32 Mix, Volume 47, Number 3 (ISSN 0164-9957) is published monthly by Future US, Inc., 130 West 42nd Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10036. Periodical Postage Paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mix, PO Box 8518, Lowell, MA 01853. One-year (12 issues) subscription is $35. Canada is $40. All other international is $50. Printed in the USA. Canadian Post Publications Mail agreement No. 40612608. Canada return address: BleuChip International, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2.


Vol. 47 Number 3 March 2023


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From the Editor

What’s in a Name?

In a column published on cnn.com a couple of weeks ago, culture critic Gene Seymour wrote about how he was fed up with all the discussion about GOATS. Tom Brady had just retired (for the second time) from the NFL, Lebron James had just passed Kareem Abdul Jabaar as the NBA’s career scoring leader, and Beyoncé had just eclipsed Georg Solti for winning the most Grammy Awards. References to GOATs, and headlines arguing about who is the greatest of all time in whatever field they were covering that day, were everywhere. “Enough!” he shouted, “You’re turning these individuals into brands!”

I paraphrase, I admit, and the column explores his opinion more thoroughly. I even agree with him that the whole GOAT thing is a bit overdone—but I’m a bit surprised that he’s surprised that an individual might become a brand. It’s been going on forever in the world of real celebrity and wannabe celebrity, from long before Elvis to long after the Kardashians, whether the individual has sought it out or had it thrust unwillingly upon them. It’s not anything new, though it’s certainly become more amplified as of late, more here-today-and-gone-tomorrow.

Still, his premise got me thinking: When does a name begin to turn into a brand? Not an individual’s name, necessarily, but a company name, or a product, or a venue. At what point did Kleenex become synonymous with all facial tissues? When did Ferrari turn the corner and become the metric for speed and style? There are a lot of fine watches out there, so how and why did Rolex become the gold standard? When did Carnegie Hall become synonymous with great performance spaces?

We love our brands in the recording industry, and we tend to associate either quality or performance with the mere mention of a name, and 99 percent of the time, it’s probably justified. If someone across the table weaves “SSL” or “Neve” into the conversation, most everyone who came of age in the recording industry of the 1980s and ’90s will think “quality large-format console,” though both companies today offer so much more. Then, in turn, try mentioning Manley or Massenburg, and watch their head nod in agreement. Or Universal Audio, Neumann, JBL, Pultec, Meyer Sound, Millennia, PMC or any one of dozens more, and your tablemate’s first thought is likely to be: “quality.”

Names—and names that have become brands—carry great weight throughout the professional audio industry, from educational programs, to studio designers, to local retailers. It’s perhaps most notable when the discussion turns to recording studios—the Temples of Sound, as authors William Clark and Jim Cogan dubbed them in their 2003 book of the same name.

With all things being equal from a technology and space point of view, what makes one studio a world-class destination while a competitor down the street is closing up shop after five years? Why does Abbey Road remain vital

after more than 60 years while AIR Studios fades into a fond memory? What made Motown so special? It’s simply a boxy room. Why do you still come across people who refer to East/West Studios as Ocean Way, or even take it back to United, after more than a decade? Or call Henson Studios in Los Angeles A&M, as they always will? There are no definitive answers to these questions. Suffice it to say that the most common reason boils down to the intangibles—to things like vibe, service, comfort, confidence and trust. To some, it might simply be memories of a great place to hang, and they made a hit record to boot.

From the late 1970s through the early 2000s, The Hit Factory was about as big as a recording studio brand could get, anywhere, any time. Then, in 2005, it suddenly closed, shuttered over a real-estate deal.

Now, 18 years later, Troy Germano has brought the name back. If this were a story about some music label or outside investor building a new room and trying to capitalize on a legendary name, I would think, “Are you nuts? In 2023?” But it’s not that story, as you can read about inside. This is about the Germano family and the continuation of a legacy world-class studio—not the physical space, but the vibe, the service, the trust.

Troy Germano didn’t sit idly by and wait for the name to return. Fifteen years ago, he opened Germano Studios and turned it into a success by maintaining his music industry relationships, working with artists, developing engineers, and updating his technology backbone into a supercharged, analogdigital, production powerhouse. Most importantly, he brought the vibe and the service that made the original Hit Factory special.

Brands come and go, They can pop up overnight, like a Beanie Baby or a Cabbage Patch Kid. or they can take years to build, like a Chevrolet or the New York Yankees. But a lasting brand is only as good as the people behind it and the feelings associated with it. A bank is not likely to lend $100 million to a developer proposing to build a ground-up, 1920s-style, art deco movie theater in the downtown heart of a major metropolitan area. But if the name Fox or Paramount is attached to the deal, and even better, if it’s a restoration project, then just maybe…

With the Germano and Hit Factory names forever intertwined, and now back in action, I would bet that we’ll be hearing more from the studio at 676 Broadway, #3, New York, NY...the one with the new name.

MIX | MARCH 2023 | mixonline com 8

View from the Top Audiomovers on the Move

Igor Maxymenko, Co-Founder/Head of Product, Audiomovers

There’s nothing like a worldwide pandemic to upend the status quo.

Prior to COVID, Audiomovers was a two-man audio software company with a small but growing following for its Listento remote collaboration plug-in. Once the world entered the lockdown era, however, Listento and its sister application, Omnibus, an audio routing application/virtual patchbay, became crucial software for legions of pros stuck working at home. These days, recordists like Aaron Dessner, Eddie Kramer, Bainz, Future Islands, Dave Fridmann, !llmind, Teezio, Jesse Ray Ernster and George Massenburg count themselves as fans of the company, but now it has an even bigger advocate on its side: Abbey Road Studios, which purchased Audiomovers in 2021. That would be the endgame for most software startups, but cofounder/head of product Igor Maxymenko sees it as merely the prologue to bigger and better things.

Maxymenko has plenty of experience with thinking big—and with the pro-audio industry, too. Getting his start in the 2000s at Waves Audio and then Blue Microphones, he worked as a product designer involved in the creation of popular products like Tracks Live, DiGiGrid, SoundGrid and MultiRack from Waves, and Yeti Nano and Yeti X from Blue.

“By this point, my head was exploding with ideas, so I wanted to develop those ideas into my own products,” he says. “Fortunately, along the way, I met a brilliant software engineer called Yuriy Shevyrov. Yuriy was already an industry veteran and was the most talented audio developer I had ever met. He’d already worked for Avid, Waves Audio and Universal Audio when I met him. We decided to team up and try to build something we felt was missing that sound engineers would appreciate: a remote collaboration plug-in. As a music producer, I always wondered why it was so hard to stream multichannel audio, including

lossless PCM, over the internet. We felt it should be easy.”

Writing code in Kyiv, Ukraine, Shevyrov knocked out a working prototype across three weeks in 2017, and soon Audiomovers was born with Listento as its first product. It was still a side-hustle, however, with both men working full-time for other companies—and that was fine at first. After three years, however, the software had developed a solid user-base in the U.S. and U.K., and its feature set had grown as well. “We’ve worked to cater for this larger audience we’ve found, adding improved functionality like more audio codecs, the ability to receive audio not only in the browser, but directly in the DAW and on mobile devices, and we’ve just launched MIDI streaming,” says Maxymenko, adding that more features and applications are on the way.

With so much happening, it was clear

Audiomovers couldn’t remain as a two-man operation. “We needed help taking it to the next level,” Maxymenko confirms. “As if by magic, we found a home at the most iconic studio in the world: We were acquired by Abbey Road Studios. Yuriy and I now head up the product and technology vision for the business, with the Abbey Road team building the operations surrounding us.” Today, Maxymenko, Shevyrov and Audiomovers are based in London along with the company’s commercial and marketing team, but the rest of the 20-employee company is scattered around the world. “Our developers are based in Ukraine and they create amazing products, against all the odds…. We are growing, with personnel in the UK, Ukraine, France and Canada—and soon in the U.S.”

Recognition for the company is starting to come from around the world as well; Audiomovers recently won a CEDEC Audio Excellence Award in Japan, and Listento is seeing growing adoption by the film and TV industries, as well as educational institutions. That bodes well as the company prepares to take its technologies in new directions: “We’re currently working on new products that will expand our offering into slightly different areas than where we started in audio streaming, which I think will open us to new audiences again,” says Maxymenko. “You can expect to see some very exciting new products from us this year which will further simplify workflows for anyone working with audio.”

No matter how far afield Audiomovers goes, however, it will continue to use the holistic development approach it applied to its first offerings. “Tools for audio should be as easy and reliable as the simplest apps on your iPhone, like booking a cab or getting a delivery,” Maxymenko says. “Technology should not be a barrier. Audiomovers products are removing these barriers; they make things which were difficult or complex easy.” n

MIX | MARCH 2023 | mixonline com 10
Igor Maxymenko, Co-Founder/Head of Product, Audiomovers

Current // news & notes

Audio Engineering Society Receives Technical Grammy Award

The Audio Engineering Society was presented with a Technical Grammy Award during Grammy Week 2023. AES President Bruce Olson and AES President-Elect Leslie Gaston-Bird accepted the Special Merit Award on behalf of the Society during a ceremony held by the Recording Academy at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles.

“The Audio Engineering Society is celebrating its 75th year at the heart of audio innovation,” noted Olson in his acceptance comments. “The AES is honored by this recognition of its ongoing contributions, and on behalf of its more than 10,000 members worldwide, the Society proudly accepts this Technical Grammy Award and thanks the Recording Academy and its Producers & Engineers Wing.”

Gaston-Bird added, “Our work is just beginning. We listen to our members and glean inspiration from women and underrepresented groups in audio who work tirelessly to create a more inclusive industry. We understand the power of networking, role models and mentorship, and we’ll work within the industry to help create lasting, sustainable change. The next 75 years of the AES is already starting to look different from the first 75, and we are so excited about the future.”

This Special Merit Award is presented by vote of the Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees, and ratification by the Recording Academy’s National Trustees to individuals and/or companies/organizations/institutions who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.

Meanwhile, current AES members who won top Grammy Awards at the February 5 ceremony included mastering engineer Bob Ludwig for his contribution to the Best Historical Album winner, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) (Wilco); immersive mix engineer Eric Schilling and immersive producer Herbert Waltl for their roles on the Best Immersive Audio Album winner, Divine Tides (Stewart Copeland & Ricky Kej); and engineers Shawn Murphy and Charlie Post and mastering

engineer Michael Romanowski for their work on the Best Engineered Album Classical winner, Bates: Philharmonia Fantastique—The Making Of The Orchestra (Edwin Outwater & Chicago Symphony Orchestra). n

mixonline.com | MARCH 2023 | MIX
AES President-Elect Leslie Gaston-Bird, left, and President Bruce Olson accept a Technical Grammy Award on behalf of the Audio Engineering Society. PHOTO BY: Getty Images for the Recording Academy

Gwendolyn Yates Whittle Receives MPSE Career Achievement Award

The Motion Picture Sound Editors honored three-time Academy Award-nominated Supervising Sound Editor Gwendolyn Yates Whittle with its 2023 Career Achievement Award, presented at the 70th annual MPSE Golden Reel Awards on February 26 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles..

“This award reminds me of how lucky and grateful I am to have had the opportunities I’ve had,” said Whittle, whose more than 150 film and television credits include Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace, Minority Report, Munich, Iron Man, Cloverfield, Jurassic World and Fight Club. “I have huge support from my family and my colleagues that allows me to thrive in a very competitive industry, still be in the thick of it, and work with the most creative people from all over the planet. Huge thanks to all the people who have mentored, supported and encouraged me through the last 30-plus years. I am eager to see where this takes me next.”

Based at Skywalker Sound in Northern California for more than 30 years, Whittle started as a PA in the art department on the Sundance film Smooth Talk. She later made the leap to sound on The Unbearable Lightness of Being and never looked back. Specializing in production sound and ADR editing, she has collaborated with directors and sound designers from all over the world. She devoted much of 2022 to final mixing on Avatar: The Way of Water in Wellington, New Zealand, for which she recently received her third Oscar nomination.

“An extraordinarily gifted sound artist, Gwen has lent her talents to an amazing diversity of films and television shows,” said MPSE President Mark Lanza. “She has been a true pioneer since her earliest days in the industry and has served as a mentor, role model and inspiration to countless aspiring sound editors. The MPSE takes great pride in presenting her with our annual Career Achievement Award.”

The MPSE Career Achievement Award recognizes sound artists who have distinguished themselves by meritorious works as an individual and fellow contributor to the art of sound for feature film, television and gaming and for setting an example of excellence for others.

“My passion comes from the people I work with,” Whittle said. “The camaraderie between the people on a crew keeps my faith in humanity alive; we can and do create gorgeous soundscapes together. Too often we face daunting deadlines and stress, but we always manage to deliver, and deliver well.” n

Peter J. Devlin, CAS, to Be Honored With CAS Career Achievement Award

Cinema Audio Society will honor multiple Oscar and CAS Award nominee Peter J. Devlin, CAS, with its 2023 Career Achievement Award at the 59th CAS Awards on March 4 at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown.

Upon hearing the news, Devlin said, “I am truly grateful to be included among the stellar group of past recipients of the Career Achievement Award. It’s especially meaningful to me to be recognized by an organization that does such important work on behalf of the sound mixing community. My sincere thanks to the CAS Board for this honor.”

Devlin, recently elected as a Governor of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, has worked on more than 70 films and been nominated for five Oscars, including Black Panther, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, Transformers, Star Trek (2009) and Pearl Harbor. In 2022, he wrapped his work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and was thrilled to have just worked with Chris Pine on his directorial debut with the upcoming film Poolman.

Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Devlin knew that he wanted to work in film after seeing Jaws as a teenager. Though his school principal told him his dreams were “pie in the sky,” he applied for a trainee audio assistant position at the BBC in Belfast in 1981. Initially thinking he might move into the camera department, he quickly realized his true interest was in production sound.

“I had great mentors,” he said, “and I learned about all of the different disciplines of sound there.”

“The Cinema Audio Society is a professional society dedicated to craft and community,” said CAS President Karol Urban. “Peter J. Devlin is not only an extremely accomplished and sought-after production mixer of superlative skill and accolades, but he is also an active citizen of this community. Peter’s continuous commitment and generosity of time to the betterment of our industry and the strengthening of our community make this honor even more special. He is an exemplary member of our sound mixing family.”

Devlin joins an illustrious group of past CAS Career Achievement Honorees, including Anna Behlmer, Willie Burton, Tom Fleischman, Les Fresholtz, Ed Greene, Tomlinson Holman, Doc Kane, William B. Kaplan, David MacMillan, Paul Massey, Scott Millan, Mike Minkler, Walter Murch, Andy Nelson, Chris Newman, Lee Orloff, Richard Portman, John Pritchett, Don Rogers, Gary Rydstrom, Dennis Sands, Randy Thom, Jim Webb, Jeffrey S. Wexler and Charles Wilborn. n

MIX | MARCH 2023 | mixonline com 12 Current // news & notes

Oscars 2023: Best Sound Nominees

Academy members take note! Finals voting for the 95th annual Academy Awards begins on March 2 and runs through March 7, with the ceremony set to take place on Sunday, March 12 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.

While any of the 10 films on this year’s Shortlist would have been a worthy contender, the final five should come as no real surprise. Each

featured stellar tracks from veteran crews, many of which have worked together on multiple projects over the years, often with the same directors. Here, we salute the talent behind the tracks.

To gain far more insight on four of the five films, visit mixonline.com/ blog/2023-oscar-sound-videos to enjoy multiple 30-minute video interviews with members of the nominated sound teams. n

Re-Recording Mixers: Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Michael Hedges

The talent that comes out of Skywalker Sound has been remarkable over the past 40-plus years, creating so many fictional worlds, from Star Wars to Jurassic Park to…Pandora! Listen to the water—it’s varied, it moves and it’s gorgeous And the sounds of the jungle do as much as the stunning visuals to transport the viewer.



Production Sound Mixer: Viktor Prášil

Supervising Sound Editor: Frank Kruse, Markus Stemler

Re-Recording Mixers: Lars Ginzel, Stefan Korte

It’s hard to aurally envision a modern sonic approach to a century-old war, but this allGerman production of the classic anti-war novel feels fresh, with a fluid intermingling between the effects track and composer Volker Bertelmann’s inventive, rhythmic, harmoniumpeppered music track (he was also nominated, for Best Original Score).


(20th Century Studios)

Production Sound Mixer: Julian Howarth

Supervising Sound Editor: Gwendolyn Yates

Whittle, Dick Bernstein


(Warner Bros.)

Production Sound Mixer: David Lee

Supervising Sound Editor: Wayne Pashley

Re-Recording Mixers: Andy Nelson, Michael Keller

If you want to relive a strikingly magnificent sound scene, go back to Elvis’ nighttime return to Beale Street, with period cars, a hoppin’ vibe and “Hound Dog” howling out the window. That’s as good as sound and music gets. This team has won with Baz Luhrman before on Moulin Rouge, and musical biopics tend to do well….


(Warner Bros.)

Production Sound Mixer: Stuart Wilson

Supervising Sound Editor: William Files, Douglas Murray

Re-Recording Mixers: Andy Nelson, Will Files

It can be a challenge when approaching sound for

a film franchise—you have to be somewhat true, yet be all-new. One award-winning sound designer said to Mix, “I couldn’t believe just how good that Batmobile sounded!” When you go back to listen a second time, note Doug Murray’s drones, too, and the cavernous interiors—they’re exceptional.


(Paramount Pictures)

Production Sound Mixer: Mark Weingarten

Supervising Sound Editor: James H. Mather, Al Nelson

Re-Recording Mixers: Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor

After the first 30 minutes, you knew Top Gun: Maverick would be nominated for Best Sound. The engine roars, the vocals inside the flight helmets, the movement of the chase, along with all the interiors, motorcycles and beach scenes—it all works in a dynamic, explosive and cohesive way. n

MIX | MARCH 2023 | mixonline com 14 Current // news & notes

Michael Whalen’s ‘Our April Tigers’ Compositions Evolve With Guest Artists as Co-Writers, Co-Conspirators

Michael Whalen describes the making of Our April Tigers, to be released April 21 by Michael Whalen Music, as “kinda like a dream team, kinda like a blind date.”

This wasn’t like any blind date that most of us ever went on, but he definitely brought in a dream team—one that included Karsh Kale, classical and electronic tabla player, and film and TV composer; bass virtuoso Michael Manring; Michael Brook, guitarist, producer and film composer; and trumpeter Jeff Oster.

It turned out to be a match made in heaven, likely because Whalen, a two-time Emmy Award-

winning film and television composer, chose the musicians himself, even though he had never met any of them except Oster. To this day, he still hasn’t met them all in person, as the music was recorded by each individual remotely. Given their demanding schedules, Whalen knew he’d never get them in a room together.

After Whalen’s previous (and extraordinary) solo musical outing, Imaginary Trains, he decided that he would like the creative input of others. The collaboration that resulted in Our April Tigers is music for the senses.

It’s ear candy. Close-your-eyes-and-take-a-

journey music. A cinematic and phonic voyage made up of both ethereal and gritty offerings. The canvas was pretty wide open and undefined at the get-go, and when Whalen proposed the idea to the other players, he could sense some trepidation. The concept sounded a bit like, “I’m not sure what this is going to be, but I’ll pass it around and we’ll see what happens.”

It sounded a little weird, Whalen knew, but he assured everyone that they would be co-writers and equal partners, and the only reason it appears as a “Michael Whalen” record is because Spotify only permits four featured people in the heading.

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PHOTO: Michael Whalen Michael Whalen in his synth-dominated recording studio.

“It really should be a group record because it was written as a group and it was performed as a group,” Whalen explains. “As the producer, I had final say because I think having a singular vision, especially at the end with the mix, is important. I think what has killed projects in the past by other bands is having everyone in the studio with their hands on a fader. Too many cooks.”

Ultimately, all the co-conspirators took a leap of faith and Whalen began the process by giving each of them creative carte blanche, while setting his own personal boundaries: He restricted himself to one synthesizer and electric piano per song. While in the past he might have laid down up to 80 synth tracks on any given tune, he limited himself to two or three or four or five per song to give his partners room to be expressive. It turned out to be very satisfying.

His concept was to start seven songs with a couple of keyboard parts and a basic structure, and then pass it around with a “go ahead and do anything you want with them” instruction: “Cut it up, throw it out, play if it inspires you, do what you want.”

The songs first went from Whalen in New York to Brook in Los Angeles for guitars, then to Kale in India for his percussive work. Next, the music went to San Francisco, where Manring added bass, and then headed off to Oster, who lives in Mexico half of the year, so he could add trumpets. (Oster, who doesn’t have a home studio, went to New Hampshire, where Tom Eaton recorded his tracks.) After each finished their portion, the tracks were returned to Whalen, who created new stems including their finished parts. Then it was sent

on to the next musician.

Whalen had his work cut out for him as most of the musicians worked on different platforms, so he sent .WAV files to everyone to line up and record to. Whalen is an Apple Logic Pro X user, as is Karsh; Manring uses Pro Tools; Brook uses Cubase; and Eaton recorded Oster on Pro Tools.

“I edited and comped some of the parts, but in most cases, I went into the mix with 100 percent of everyone’s contributions available, and then I made a lot of choices about what stayed and what went,” Whalen says. “In the end, I made choices about retaining space while keeping parts that forwarded the composition of each song. More than a project where great players play a lot of notes and show-off, this project was about five composers coming together and creating music together through listening and musical discipline.”

In fact, many of Brook’s parts were so subtle

the mixes around Brook’s contributions.

“I am so happy I did,” he says. “The textures and inventiveness of Brook’s parts really sets this project apart. He is such a creative and masterful composer and technologist.”

Explaining his approach to the overall mix, Whalen says, “I tried to keep the audio chain as simple and clean as possible. It was very important to me to have each of the musician’s musical ‘voices’ heard. All five of us were contributing equally. Therefore, the mix needed to feel organic and dynamic so it would feel like we were all playing in the same space together. Each of the musicians is someone who listens so deeply that the mix was fairly easy to find a balance.

“I love punchy percussion, but sometimes punchy percussion isn’t appropriate and you want percussion to do other things dynamically,” he continues. “On a record like this, it’s very, very easy for the percussion to take everything over, especially on the faster songs. One of the things I did was make sure that the percussive elements were backed-off. You definitely get the ‘point’ and edge of the parts, but it’s like the percussion is a step back from the other instruments. It makes the space feel bigger without having too much reverb or sonic ‘mud’ that some people have to contend with in their mixes. I like clarity, depth and textural interest in my tracks.”

He used an SSL2+ audio interface on the project and mixed on Dynaudio Core 7 studio monitors, which he loves because they are “very, very true.”

His favored outboard gear includes the SSL Studio Collection apps, “especially the compressors and EQ. Great sound,” he says. He loves the ValhallaDSP plug-ins and says their reverb and delays played a major part in the Our mixes. He also used a lot of the Apple Logic plug-ins, Lexicon reverbs and even some outboard effects like his Moog MoogerFoogers and Mu-tron Bi-Phase reverb, which he says is

The unorthodox recording process took about five months, with approximately two weeks to complete the mix, with revisions and needed breaks. Ultimately, he found the entire

“I loved how well each of the songs came out compositionally,” Whalen states. “The players made some great choices. I knew how talented they all were, but they went beyond what I could

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Whalen at ease, taking a moment away from the keyboards.

Music // news & notes

David Kershenbaum Finds His Sound

Los Angeles, Calif.—Multi-Platinum producer David Kershenbaum has long used Solid State Logic mixing consoles while working with the likes of Tracy Chapman, Duran Duran, Joe Jackson, Bryan Adams and Supertramp to craft their Grammy-winning hits, so when COVID-19 locked everything down and he was unable to work in any commercial facilities, he built out a new private studio, installing a pair of SSL’s BiG SiX SuperAnalogue compact mixing consoles and a Fusion multi-processor.

Kershenbaum, who previously owned a major commercial facility outfitted with largeformat SSL consoles and a pair of the first AWS900 analog desks to be delivered, needed an alternative to his home setup. “I already owned a very extensive home Pro Tools rig, but I was limited to only the ‘in-the-box’ system,” he says.

He initially added a pair of SSL SiX CH 500 Series modules to run his mixes through. “The minute I put a mix through those modules, I thought, ‘Whoa, this sounds great!’ he recalls.

“But then I thought, if that sounds so good, what happens if I’m able to really open everything up and do a lot more, and I had eight channels? So I got my first BiG SiX. Then, what happens if I have 16? So I got the second one.”

Although Kershenbaum uses his BiG SiX consoles primarily to sum, the setup offers more than 8- or 16-channel outboard summing boxes, he explains. “It’s a summing mixer with G Series compressors and EQ, as well as converters and monitoring. It’s an amazing value package, almost like a novel little console.”

Now, he says, “I can work effortlessly in my private home studio, doing online remote productions, sending stems out of Pro Tools, and summing them through my magic boxes— the two BiG SiXes. I set each track at unity gain and print the stereo mix back into the DAW. It’s seamless. The artist or musician can be in Brazil, UK or anywhere in the world while I am directing the sessions from the comfort of my own home.”

He also comments, “The minute you put these BiG SiXes in the circuit, things get glued together and sound great. Everything has its place. It just sounds like a record. Everything sounds so great, so much like the 4000 and 9000 Series consoles I am so accustomed to. I find that very pleasing.” n

Yamil Martinez Captures the King of Reggaetón

Knoxville, Tenn.—Yamil Martinez used a fully digital setup—Waves eMotion LV1 Live Mixer and plug-ins—to record a recent live performance by Puerto Rican reggaetón star Don Omar at The White Palace in Miami, Fla.

Yamil, a mixer, producer and coach, comments, “In 2003, I was hired to track Don Omar’s first live recording of his career, Last Don Live. This time, I was hired to do all the audio production, and I can tell you that the technological advances that occurred in almost 20 years give us the possibility to achieve a very high audio quality, without overdubs, that we once could only have dreamed of.”

For the new El Pulso multitrack recording, Yamil’s LV1 system consisted of one MacBook Pro, two Mac Mini, two DSPRO StageGrid 4000, two DSPRO StageGrid 1000, two Waves Extreme SoundGrid Servers, a Waves Axis Scope and three DAWs. The concert by award-winning singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer and actor Don Omar, popularly known as the King of Reggaetón, was in celebration of his 2.8 billion streamed songs at Pandora. Yamil remarks, “My home base is Puerto Rico, and the LV1 allows me to take it with me anywhere. I can get the job done anywhere without

compromising a bit of sound quality. The eMotion LV1’s sound quality is second to none.”

The most important thing about the LV1 is its scalability and flexibility, he says. “The LV1’s multicasting capacity allows the system to be shared by multiple hosts (software consoles), giving the system the ability of monitoring the different returns from the recorders in real time. For this project, the LV1 was the master console for a reference mix for video. Waves’ SoundGrid Studio was used to monitor the return of two of the three software recorder DAWs.” Everything was tracked unprocessed for the multitrack recording, but Yamil created a real-time reference mix, he reports, using Waves plug-ins such as InPhase, Primary Source Expander, F6 Floating Band Dynamic EQ, Scheps Omni Channel and eMo D5 Dynamics.

“That very same live mix was used by the video director, Marcelo Gama, and the editor during most of the editing process,” he explains. “During post-production, a lot of the reference mix plug-in chains and the settings used during tracking were retained for the final mix, making the postproduction more efficient, no matter which DAW was being used.” n

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David Kershenbaum and his home studio Yamil Martinez

Music // news & notes

Mixer Pedro Calloni at Home

LOS ANGELES, Calif.—It took a village—Village Studios, to be precise—to help set engineer and multi-instrumentalist Pedro Calloni on the road to a successful career in the record business.

A native of Brazil, Calloni was awarded a scholarship in 2014 to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music production and engineering. Relocating to Los Angeles, he signed on as a staff engineer at Village Studios, working on Grammy-nominated and Platinumand Gold-certified hits by the likes of Lil Jay, Cordae and the Dave Matthews Band.

“I have the best memories from working there; I still love it so much,” says Calloni, who left the Village in 2019 and set up a home studio to work as a freelance mixer and engineer. He’s since worked on two albums with Sasha Alex Sloan (he’s playing drums with her at Coachella this year), several tracks with Joy Oladokun, alongside Grammy Award-winning producers Ian Fitchuk and Mike Elizondo, as well as her collaborations with Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow and Maren Morris, plus projects with Finneas, Lexi Jayde and Baby Fisher.

In 2021, as Dolby Atmos Music began surging, Calloni says, “I figured I’d get ahead of it and started messing around with it at home.” His initial Atmos mixes included Gayle’s international chart-topper “abcdefu” and singles by Keith Urban—his Gold-certified “Throw It Back”—and by Breland.

He builds an Atmos mix on headphones at home before moving to one of the Village’s immersive rooms. “I want to focus on the headphones because 99.9 percent of people are going to listen like that,” he says.

Overall, Calloni stays true to the stereo mix: “I don’t want people to hear the mix; I just want them to hear the song. You’re not going to hear some crazy thing in the back.”

The challenge, though, is reproducing what mix bus processing brings to a stereo mix— groove, feel, emotion. He’s working on that, he reports. “I’ve been experimenting with stuff that I mixed in stereo where I’m going to be doing the Atmos mix,” he explains. “I’ll print a version

of my stereo mix minus the things that I want to pan around. I’ll have that version of the mix as an object in front because that has all the cool, gooey, mix bus stuff. Then I spread out the key elements, so I get the best of both worlds.”

mixonline.com | MARCH 2023 | MIX

Catching Up to Chris Young

Chris Young has never been one to sit still; since bursting onto the charts in 2006, the singer/songwriter has amassed a truckload of number-one Country singles and a fervid following that catches him every time he goes on tour. In January this year, the Grand Ole Opry member dropped two new singles, “Looking For You” and “All Dogs Go To Heaven,” to tease his upcoming ninth album, and to underline their release, he headed out on the road for four shows as well—a preamble to a big year ahead that will include a string of spring dates, festivals over the summer and then a fullon arena tour in the fall.

The concerts also served as an opportunity to shake things up a little bit. While the country star and his band still knocked out the hits, they also road-tested a new setlist, the new songs—and a new house engineer, too, with Erik Rogers taking over the FOH mix position. While Rogers spent the last few years mixing heavy acts like Godsmack, Avatar, Breaking Benjamin and Falling in Reverse, he welcomed the chance to dive into country again: “I mixed a country artist, Dustin Lynch, for quite a while, and back in 2017, one of the acts we opened for was Chris Young. The tour manager, Bill Cracknell, remembered me; we had a phone call a few weeks ago and

here I am.”

The short Winter run of sold-out casino arenas gave everyone on and off-stage time to work together and ensure everything was ontarget before the bigger treks later in the year. “The band has been together for a long time, but it’s a predominantly new crew,” Rogers explained. “Everybody knows what they’re doing, but now we have to do it together and present it to a roomful of strangers every night as if we’ve been doing it together for 20 years! We did a week of rehearsals in Nashville, had four shows to dial it in and we’re already a well-oiled machine.”

The shows weren’t a warm-up, however—

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PHOTO: Paris Visone Country star Chris Young kicked off the year with a sold-out run that included the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

they ran red hot from the start, with both the artist and audiences leaning into it. “Even the new songs that were just released, the audience already knows every word,” Rogers marveled, “and then you have the big hits where not only do they know every word, but they scream them! It’s cool to have an audience that engaged.”

While some mixers might pound the volume to get the mix over the crowd, Rogers prefers to keep the SPLs civil. “I let the fans get it out of their system,” he chuckled. “Our show stays right around 100 dBA averaged over 90 minutes. Of course, there are louder and quieter spots, and they contribute to that—I measured the audience the other day at 106!”

Both the house and monitor positions are centered around Yamaha Rivage PM10 consoles, provided by Young’s longtime audio company of choice, Sound Image Nashville. Rogers and John Weaver—Young’s monitor engineer since March, 2020—each get 56 inputs coming from the stage; while the two PM10s are independent systems, they’re also networked together with one taking the other’s outputs, and all talkback and chat loops run through fiber only.

Joining the Chris Young camp marks the first time Rogers has worked with a Rivage desk, barring one night filling in on a Bush tour five years ago. “While there’s a learning curve, that’s the case with any console,” he pointed out. “My

experience so far is that it sounds great, operates well, and once you wrap your head around how you patch, assign DSP for plug-ins and things like that, it’s just like any other desk, except that it sounds really, really good. I know colleagues that take the Rivage out with Shinedown, Luke Bryan and Garth Brooks, and they all swear by these desks; after using it for four shows, I can see why.

“One thing I’ve learned about the Yamaha is to trust the desk,” Rogers added. “I tried to use some outboard plug-ins, and they don’t sound as good. To me, time-aligning everything to go out of the console and back in wasn’t worth the work to make it sound right, because everything on the desk—the Rupert Neve Designs SILK processing, the Portico plug-ins and the other Yamaha features in there? You can’t beat ’em. They sound really good, so I’m just using the desk.”

That said, there were a handful of Waves plug-ins used for mix buss processing, hosted externally on a Mac Studio running Audioström Live Professor software and Audinate’s Dante Virtual Soundcard. “The cool thing about Live Professor is that it can run any plug-in native without a server,” he explained, “so you can have Sonnox, Brainworx, Waves, all of these multiple manufacturers’ plug-ins on the same platform.”

With the crew changing but the band staying

the same, the miking for the seven musicians onstage and their guitars’ ISO cabinets has remained the same as well. “Chris owns all of his mics, and it’s a smorgasbord—Beyerdynamic, Telefunken, Sennheiser; there’s a little something off the buffet for everybody up there right now,” said Rogers. “I’ve started working on mic placement and doing some fine-tuning, but I’m keeping in mind that these guys are very happy with their in-ear mixes. Any changes have to be done in concert with John, our monitor engineer, because things that I might move for nuance at front-of-house could cause drastic changes for in-ears and make life very difficult for the people onstage.”

In the past, the band’s monitor mixes were handled with a mix of sidefills and JH Audio JH11 in-ear monitors, but that’s changing for 2023, said Weaver: “Our artist is moving from using sidefills and only one in-ear monitor, to using both in-ears all through the show, with no sidefills in sight. The Rivage PM10’s EQ and the Portico 5043 compressor with the dynamic EQ really helped with getting the clarity we needed in their in-ears to achieve this massive change.”

While the fall tour will carry full production, the quick casino arena run picked up local stacks and racks, so audiences were treated to line arrays from L-Acoustics, Meyer Sound, RCF and Electro-Voice. Regardless of the P.A., at every stop, fans heard Young and his band freshen up his setlist staples while also adding some new soon-to-be favorites, resulting in concerts that kept things feeling new but also familiar. With that in mind, Rogers kept the mixes true to what was coming off the stage— not replicating the record, but not heading into the great unknown either.

“In conversation with the artist and management, they wanted something that felt live and raw,” said Rogers, “but when you’re mixing an artist that’s got dozens of plaques on their wall for massive hits, you’ve got to keep the tonality of the song relatively close to the original intent, so that all these hits sound like what people have been hearing for 17 years. When you have a fan base that loyal, you don’t want to suddenly change everything. There are elements and melodies that are crucial, and we pay attention to those things. But then there’s also the big closer, ‘Aw Naw,’ which starts off as a country song and ends up with a big rock’n’roll jam for the end of the night. That’s nowhere on the record—that’s the sound of a band having a lot of fun!” ■

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PHOTO: Paris Visone Hitting the road with Chris Young, FOH engineer Erik Rogers has been mixing on a Yamaha Rivage PM10 console for the first time.

Maintaining Mental Health on the Road

2022 was massive for the touring industry as artists and production pros powered through the first full concert season since the peak of the pandemic. There were record ticket sales and audiences thrilled to hear live music again, but there was also hardcore stress and anxiety for crews due to COVID concerns, crazy schedules and many professionals simply not being emotionally ready to return to the road. While some major artists cancelled entire tours, openly citing their mental health as the cause, production personnel were rarely in a position to step away for the same reason, even if they knew they had a problem.

However, recognizing potential mental health issues, their causes and most importantly, ways to overcome them can make your time on tour less difficult and more rewarding. With that in mind, UK psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton has a new book, Touring and Mental Health: The Music Industry Manual (Omnibus Press; $56), that addresses those concerns. The world of live music is one she knows well, having spent 10 years as a venue, festival and event booker, artist manager and tour manager. “I was on the road

in Europe in 2010 when I first figured out that being a therapist in the music industry might be a job I could pursue,” she says. “I was at a postshow dinner with Anna Calvi, Nick Cave and their respective band members—we were on the road with Grinderman—and Nick and I were sharing therapy stories.”

Now a degreed and registered therapist, Embleton began researching the psychological impact of touring in 2016. At the time, there were multiple studies covering musicians’ mental health, but few exploring why so many artists and production staffers suffer ill health as a result of touring. Recognizing a need for insider advice, she began writing a manual that would address the issue head-on.

Six years later, Live Nation is involved as a sponsor (though it had no editorial input) and more than 80 high-profile musicians and veteran tour personnel have shared their insights and recollections for the book, including Event Safety Alliance co-founder Jim Digby; tour managers Trevor Williams and Angie Warner; production managers Jake Berry and Dale ‘Opie’ Skjerseth; artists Nile Rodgers, Justin Hawkins

Lending a Hand…by Listening

WeaskedpsychotherapistTamsinEmbletonwhatproductionproscando whentheyseepeershavingahardtimeontheroad:

“Talk to the person you think might be struggling. Find a confidential space and name what you’ve noticed—a behavioral change, withdrawal, whether they seem low or anxious, perhaps they’re not hanging out in the back lounge anymore, maybe they’re drinking or taking more substances, they’re irritable, angry, etcetera.

“Listen very carefully to what they say is going on for them. Don’t try to disprove it or hijack it with your own experiences. Just listen and empathize. Sometimes listening is enough to alleviate a burden; other times, they might need to adjust something about the way that they’re working or speak to a professional. Think together about what they need and what would help in the short and long term. If they would prefer to work with someone in the music business, organizations like the Music Industry Therapist Collective

(The Darkness), Philip Selway (Radiohead), Katie Melua, Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), Will Young, Taylor Hanson (Hanson), Lauren Mayberry (Chvrches) and Pharoahe Monch; and many more.

“It was great to speak with Marty Hom [tour manager for Barbra Streisand, Fleetwood Mac and others] who gave some brilliant examples of high-stress, high-risk situations he had navigated on the road,” said Embleton. “I could talk to Tina Farris [tour manager for The Roots, Chris Rock, Nicki Minaj and others] literally all day; she had a lot to share and was really open about what she’d learnt being a Black woman in a position of power on the road.”

The touring world is all about networking, so pros that Embleton interviewed often connected her to other top names in their fields. The result is 640 pages of hard-earned lessons and advice shared by peers and mentors. Designed to help both longtime pros and those new to the field, it’s safe to say copies of Touring and Mental Health: The Music Industry Manual will get passed around tour buses and vans this summer, and probably start some frank conversations as well. ■

can pair you with a specialist. The book’s ‘Mental Health Conversations and Crisis Management’ chapter by Whitney O’Malley, a psychotherapist who worked at record labels and with Linkin Park, advises what to do if someone is in crisis—a panic attack, overdose, psychotic episode, manic episode, self-harming, suicidality—and shares how to conduct conversations about mental ill health.

“More broadly, employers can prioritize rest and sleep; offer greater job security; start to shift the culture around excess on the road; reward good health behaviors; provide ‘dry’ dressing rooms and decent alcoholfree beverages; and set time aside to contact family. We are relational creatures—we need meaningful contact to feel safe and whole. Touring can make establishing and maintaining relationships really difficult, which can be destabilizing in and of itself, so there is a whole section in the book dedicated to addressing relationship challenges both on and off the road.”

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& notes // presented by
Tamsin Embleton

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UK Live Sound Provider 22Live Debuts

Redditch, UK—After a soft launch over the last year, Redditch, UK-based 22live officially opened for business in January having already completed two major tours and sent a package to the World Cup.

The new company inadvertently has its roots in UK live audio mainstay SSE Audio Group, as all six directors previously worked under the auspices of the Solotech subsidiary. Hire director Paul Timmins founded 22live in early 2022, taking the company name from the year it was established. By midyear, Stefan Phillips and Simon Gladstone had joined as operations director and technical director, respectively, and Spencer Beard and Alex Penn came onboard in January 2023 as managing director and commercial director. The final member of the board to be appointed was finance director Ian Bidmead.

Phillips noted, “There was much for us to decide quickly; where to operate from, what kit to use, how to sort packaging and infrastructure, and what management software to use. We also wanted to start generating revenue at the earliest opportunity. 22live is a fresh start, so it was great to go back to the drawing board. Without

the legacy of older connectors to integrate, or a mountain of flight cases from different decades, we’ve had complete freedom to start afresh with how we do things and improve operational practices.”

With that in mind, the company has gone all in on Martin Audio systems—going forward, 22live will be both a dealer and rental partner for the loudspeaker manufacturer. As for deciding which Martin Audio front-line systems to go with, 22live opted for all of them, taking on WPL, WPC, WPS, WPM and Torus, supported by SXCF118 and SXHF218 subwoofers, all powered via Martin iK42 amplified controllers and utilizing Dante throughout.

22live fielded Martin Audio systems for the two tours it tackled in 2022, supporting the Sigur Rós global tour with a Wavefront Precision system and Torus scaled for arenas, and the Australian Pink Floyd Show UK, with Wavefront Precision and Torus scaled for theaters up to small arenas.

“The fact that we are able to announce our official launch having already completed two major tours as well as a London O2 Arena show I think is unheard of,” Timmins mused. “We

Social Distortion Goes Digital

Los Angeles, Calif.—Social Distortion has always had an analog kind of sound— so much so that it’s only in the last year that digital has become part of the band’s live package.

Bill Black, Social Distortion’s monitor engineer and a RAT Sound staffer, brought along a DiGiCo SD12 96 and an SD-Rack for Social Distortion’s November to January run, provided by the tour’s SR provider, Eighth Day Sound/Clair Global.

The relatively recent addition of inears—JH Audio IEMs used in conjunction with a Shure PSM 1000 wireless system— have helped the band’s onstage monitoring, but have changed its aural environment.

To compensate, Black assigns particular ambient microphones into leader Mike Ness’ and other band members’ in-ears, using the SD12’s routing and

delivered what I believe to be first-class quality on both tours and all of that without even letting the market know we’d officially arrived. We even sent a package out to Qatar for the World Cup. This is a great start. We’re looking forward to putting more 22live shows out on the road in the coming months and supporting all of those that want to work with us.” ■

snapshots to give them a specific tonality for each song.

“I have one bank for Mike, and I can give him the crunch and sustain he wants to hear onstage as an insert in his monitor channel, along with some great room sound,” says Black. In particular, he says, the DiGiTube emulator on the Channel Setup panel, which allows for the emulation of the non-linearities of a tube guitar amplifier, has been helpful. “I got into this about halfway through the tour and it’s changed my whole approach,” he says. “I can put those on the guitar and bass channels and color the sound any way they want it. We’re doing big rooms and smaller rooms, plus some outdoor shows, but I can give them the analog sound they want in the monitors consistently in any environment.” ■

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Leading 22live are (L-R) Ian Bidmead, Stefan Phillips, Simon Gladstone, Paul Timmins, Spencer Beard and Alex Penn. Social Distortion monitor engineer Bill Black at the DiGiCo SD12 96 desk

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Adamson CS-Series Goes to School

Sydney, Australia—Founded more than 140 years ago, Shore School overlooks Sydney’s North Shore, and many of the school’s activities center around the 600-seat Smith Auditorium, built in the mid-1990s. When it came time to update its audio system, Shore School turned to regional integrator Forefront Productions of Warners Bay New South Wales for a new P.A. solution, and the company in turn eyed an Adamson Systems Engineering line array system as an answer.

Forefront Productions used the auditorium’s annual musical production as an opportunity to field an Adamson CS7 line array system augmented by CS118 subwoofers, enabling the school to evaluate the P.A. with a real-world application. Soon after, the system was approved and permanently installed.

“We had the opportunity to trial the complete

system in our theater for a period of about a month,” relates Nicholas Wright of Shore’s Technology Services. “It was so beneficial to hear the system being used as it is intended rather than just demoing with recorded music. Having our musical mixed by an external contractor also gave us another professional opinion when deciding if CS7 was the right product for us.”

Acting as a combination of school lecture theater, assembly venue and performance space, the venue mainly uses the P.A. to amplify the spoken word. However, regular musical performances, musicals and external hire mean the FOH is system often required to do more.

“Whether it’s through school events, assemblies or musicals, the P.A. fits our purpose

perfectly,” states Nicholas. “The venue is also hired out for external events, which include concerts and dance performances, demanding more low-end and higher SPL, but the CS7 main modules and CS118 subs handle it. The sound quality of the CS7 line array is incredible, especially when it comes to vocal clarity. For such a small system, it covers our 600-seat theater perfectly.” ■

Shore School in Sydney, Australia recently upgraded its auditorium with a new Adamson CS-Series line array.

Live // news & notes // presented by Eighth Day Sound Ties Up Slipknot Tour

Slipknot opts to sleep not, it would appear, as the rockers have been playing far and wide, having completed no less than three different U.S. tours since the peak of the pandemic. Along for the ride has been Eighth Day Sound, supplying an L-Acoustics K Series loudspeaker package.

Wrangling the P.A. for the group are FOH engineer Bob Strakele and system engineer Brian Sankus, who have been deploying ever-evolving loudspeaker setups as the band has moved from sheds to arenas and then back to sheds. “At the beginning of 2022, we were going from amphitheaters into arenas, so on each side, we flew 14 K1 over four K2 for mains, 12 K1-SB subs, and 12 K2 for out-fills,” Sankus said. “In order to adapt and be quick for the rolling stage, we did six carts of three KS28 subs, in cardioid, with an A10 Focus on the top of each for front-fill. That was able to stay strapped together, use the least amount of cable, and be struck at ease. We also had six A15 Wide for auxiliary fills.”

For the most recent leg, which returned to the sheds, Strakele and Sankus opted for K2 for mains instead of the more traditional K1. “We carried a total of 56 K2 and 20 K1-SB, plus our normal 18 KS28, six A10 Focus, and four A15 Wide,” he continues. “To save truck space, we circuited out hangs as three and stuck to 18 LA12X amplified controllers per side, which kept us very flexible in the sheds and two arenas that we did.”

The tour may be over, but the band released a new single, “Bone Church,” in early February and already has a spring and summer run of festival dates lined up, stretching from Indonesia to Luxembourg. No doubt the audio team is ready

to jump back into it, too. “Slipknot is one of those bands that hands you challenges every night,” said Strakele, “and that’s what makes it fun.” ■

CMA Honors Top Live Engineers at Touring Awards

Nashville, Tenn.—After two years of postponement due to the pandemic, the CMA Touring Awards returned in late January to Marathon Music Works in Nashville. The event, hosted by Keith Urban, gave credit where credit was due in the touring world, naming winners in 15 categories, ranging from Coach/ Truck Driver to Talent Agent…to FOH and Monitor Engineers.

Taking home the FOH Engineer of the Year award was Robert Scovill, honored for work on Kenny Chesney’s 2022 “Here and Now” tour. The production, which sold just shy of 1.3 million tickets across 41 shows, marked the first time that Scovill toured with the country legend—and Scovill’s first major tour since the passing of Tom Petty, whom he mixed for decades. The full tale was featured as a cover story in the November 2022 issue of Mix. Also nominated in the category were Aaron Lain (Morgan Wallen), Todd Lewis (Luke Combs), Frank Sgambellone (Luke Bryan) and Trey Smith (Thomas Rhett).

Also honored at the event was Michael Zuehsow, who won Monitor Engineer of the Year for his work for Luke Combs in 2022 which included a string of summer stadium dates, followed by the “Middle of Somewhere” tour in the fall. Zuehsow has mixed monitors for Combs since late 2018. Also nominated in the category were Jimmy Nicholson (Thomas Rhett), Phillip Robinson (Kenny Chesney), Scott Tatter (Dierks Bentley) and Phil Wilkey (Keith Urban). ■

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Winners of the 2022 CMA Touring Awards were honored during an industry celebration at Marathon Music Works in Nashville on Monday, Jan. 30. (L – R, back row): Morgan Pitt and Chrissy Hall (Ryman Auditorium), John Huie, John Stalder, Austin Neal, Chris Kappy, Dan Hochhalter, Robert Scovill, Jill Trunnell and Brian O’Connell. (L – R, front row): Michael Zuehsow, David Farmer, Keith Urban, Stephanie Mundy Self, Tyler Hutcheson and Jerry Slone. PHOTO: Hunter Berry/CMA PHOTO: Hunter Berry/CMA Left to right: Alex Markides, FOH for Killswitch Engage; Jonathan “Twan” Jarrel, FOH for Code Orange; Brian Sankus, System Engineer; and Bob Strakele, FOH for Slipknot with Eighth Day Sound’s L-Acoustics K Series arrays seen in the background.

Live // news & notes //

Volbeat Tour Takes on Panther

Germany—Veteran rockers Volbeat closed out 2022 with a three-month European/UK tour, carrying truckloads of gear provided by POOLgroup of Emsdetten, Germany.

Mixing metal for the masses nightly was FOH mixer Dennie Miller, working on an Avid S6L system and sending sound to a Meyer Sound Panther large-format linear line array system. “We have a directive straight from the band that every fan will have the full impact of the sound, regardless of where they are sitting,” said Miller. “That’s not easy, particularly in light of the stringent maximum level restrictions in Europe, where they measure relative to the loudest point in the venue. That’s why we use delays in all but the smallest venues, because of the level loss due to distance. Fortunately, because Panther is self-powered and relatively lightweight, it is much easier to find optimum rigging points for the delays and scale the system as needed on a daily basis.”

After laying out the tour’s network infrastructure in Meyer Sound’s Nebra system management and monitoring software, and then creating a default snapshot encompassing the

largest system configuration, Miller worked with tour systems tech Samantha Boone to scale the system as needed for each venue.

The maximum system configuration on the tour was deployed at the Netherlands’ GelreDome football stadium, where the main left and right hangs each flew 22 Panther loudspeakers, with 18 Panther loudspeakers flown in the two outfill arrays as well as in each of the four delay arrays. Primary low-frequency coverage was supplied by four hangs each with 12 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements, configured as left and right end-fire arrays. Coverage for the tour’s “Parasite Pit,” a viewing section for 200 fans built inside of the stage, was handled by a single downward-aimed array of six Panther loudspeakers, augmented on the low end by 15 900-LFC compact low-frequency control elements on the floor.

All loudspeakers were networked for monitoring on the Nebra software platform, with audio transported between the 16 Galileo Galaxy 816 Network Platforms using the Milan AVB protocol.

Miller noted that Panther’s light weight

Mixing Sweet Sounds in Monitorworld

Even after 50 years and 35 million albums sold, Sweet continues to lay down the rock and roll live. The band’s longtime fans have been joined by new generations of followers in recent years, thanks to staples like “The Ballroom Blitz” and “Fox on the Run” turning up in Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films. Answering demand, the group still does fly dates internationally, and engineer Daniela Seggewiss has been along for the ride, tackling Sweet’s monitors since 2014.

Seggewiss handles those mix duties on an Allen & Heath SQ-5 console. “The first consideration for me when planning to buy a console was the size and weight, as I needed the setup to be able to fly,” she said. “As a monitor engineer, I also need a good number of outputs, and the SQ5 with a DX168 (stagebox) provides me with 32 in/20 out.” The SQ-5 and DX168 stagebox fit together in her iM2950 Pelican Storm Case, keeping things compact and below the weight limit for most major airlines.

Seggewiss also opted for the SQ in part due to the dedicated Mix buttons in the master section that control which bus the faders send to, as well as the customizable fader layout. “The fact that I can change the surface layout to anything I need is especially important when using a small console,” she said. “I need to be able to have the most important

inadvertently led to better sound for the audience: “We’re finding we can now fly the subwoofers where before we could not because of weight restrictions; this is a huge stride forward. We’re getting more even coverage throughout the venue, the rigging crews are less stressed, and management is happy because we’re not spending money on spreader trusses. Panther is good for the band and good for the fans, as well as for the bottom line.”

Monitor engineer Pat Rowe looked after 20 Meyer Sound MJF-210 stage monitors built into the staging deck, sending mixes to them from a Midas Pro X console. POOLgroup supplied the Meyer Sound house system and monitor loudspeakers, while the front-end FOH and monitor control packages came from UltraSound of Petaluma, Calif. ■

channels always at my fingertips to make quick adjustments without having to look at the console for too long.”

Seggewiss knows that the band is happy with their mixes—simply because no news is good news. “The best feedback I get from the band is nothing at all,” she joked. ■

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Volbeat and its Panther system in Europe. Engineer Daniela Seggewiss mixes Sweet’s monitors on an Allen & Heath SQ-5 console.

Soon after you read this, a new website for the Hit Factory will go live, replacing germanostudios. com. Emails to tgermano@germanostudios. com will begin being forwarded to troy@ thehitfactory.com. And all the new signage, reviving a familiar, decades-old logo, will have been hung, announcing that Germano Studios, located at 676 Broadway in Manhattan’s NoHo District, is now The Hit Factory.

Why change the name? A good question. From the outside—say, to a business school professor, management consultant or consumer goods executive—it would seem to make no sense. Going against the commercial and technological trends of the industry in 2008, when the cost of entry had lowered tenfold and the majority of top-flight studios popping up were for personal use, Troy Germano designed and built—not bought—a brand-new, two-room commercial facility, outfitted it with large-format SSL consoles, an extensive outboard rack and large speakers, combined that with the latest version of Pro Tools and plug-ins, and then filled up the acoustically true tracking spaces with a wide range of instruments, amps, cables, microphones, cue stations and everything a top artist might need—most of it new and

The Hit Factory Reborn

Troy Germano Reacquires Rights to Legendary NYC Studio Name

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on the cover
The spacious Studio 1 control room, featuring an SSL Duality console and loads of outboard gear, at the recently renamed The Hit Factory studios in NoHo, PHOTO: Troy Germano

state of the art. And he has made it work, for 15 years in the same location!

It hasn’t always been easy, as he would be the first to tell you, but over time, Germano Studios developed a client list that includes artists like Joan Jett, Kendrick Lamar, The Rolling Stones, J Balvin, Post Malone, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Joe Bonamassa, A$AP Ferg, Slick Rick, Dove Cameron and so many others across multiple music genres. Many, if not most of them, are repeat visitors. It’s said to be the only place where Keith Richards will record when in the States. Same for Joan Jett. So, again, why change the name?

To anyone working in the professional recording industry, it makes perfect sense. Recording studios aren’t like other spaces or other brands. Why one is successful and another one down the street isn’t, with all things being equal, comes down to words like vibe, comfort, service, confidence, trust, care and, perhaps most importantly, relationships. That’s why studios such as Motown, Abbey Road, Capitol, Record Plant, and today places like Blackbird in Nashville, carry that mystique.

From the late-1970s through the early 2000s, few, if any, studios in the world could match the creative and commercial success coming out of The Hit Factory, and Troy Germano was there

every step of the way. From his perspective, hanging the signs last month announcing the rebirth of The Hit Factory was the equivalent of bringing back the family name—one that should never have been lost in the first place.


By all accounts, Eddie Germano, a producer, singer, entrepreneur and Troy’s father, was a charismatic, welcoming, only-in-New-York, larger-than-life individual. In 1975, while a part owner and day-today manager of the hottest studio in town, Record Plant, he decided to go solo and purchased the two-room Hit Factory studios on 353 W. 48th Street from Jerry Ragavoy. He redesigned the spaces, added a third room, and hosted historic sessions from the likes of Stevie Wonder (Songs in the Key of Life), Paul Simon (One Trick Pony), Talking Heads (Fear of Music) and David Bowie (Station to Station), and many others.

In 1981, The Hit Factory relocated to 237 West 54th Street, across the street from Studio 54, and the talent followed: Graceland by Paul Simon, Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen, Under a Blood Red Sky (U2), Steel Wheels (Rolling Stones), Up Your Alley (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)— the list fills pages. Though Troy Germano had been in and around the studios since age 10, it

was at this time that he became involved on the business side.

“He was always kind of more my older brother than he was my dad, and in that regard, there was a genuine bond,” Germano says. “He really went out of his way to teach me and show me what the music industry was about. I was 12 years old when he bought The Hit Factory, so from constantly being around various musicians and producers, and famous artists and bands, I understood the value of relationships at an early age.

“And that’s the fundamental ingredient that makes studios work,” he continues. “It’s the relationship with not just the engineer or the producer or the songwriter. It’s a relationship with the actual artists in the band, as well as the record labels and the attorneys and the A&R people. It’s a community, it’s an entire ecosystem, and it needs to be maintained constantly. My dad taught me that.”

Eddie and Troy would go on to open a Hit Factory Times Square location, move the main operations to a seven-studio (plus five mastering rooms) complex at 421 W. 54th Street, open Hit Factory London and purchase Criteria Studios in Miami at the dawn of the South Florida boom in hip-hop production. Engineer/producer/record exec Thom Panunzio has worked in them all.

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The Studio 1 live room at The Hit Factory, in the NoHo area of Manhattan. PHOTO: Robert Wright


“Eddie Germano was the manager of the Record Plant in 1974, and he gave me my first job,” Panunzio recalls. “I was a staff engineer at that point, and they would assign artists to Jay Messina or Jack Douglas or me or Jimmy Iovine. All these great producers, like Eddie Kramer and Bob Ezrin, and then Bowie, John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, KISS—every room had some superstar. My goodness, it was so much fun. It was a great time to be in New York City.

“I was actually only at Record Plant for a very short time,” he continues. “I remember Eddie called me into his office on a Friday, and he said, ‘It’s killing me to do this because I think you’re fantastic. I really like you, but I’ve got to let you go. We’re cutting back, and I have guys who have been here three years. You’ve been here for, like, three months.’ And then Monday he called me back and said, ‘You know, I’ve been thinking about you all weekend. I don’t want to lose you. How about you go to work on the remote truck for a while until I can get you back into the studios?’ That was the coolest thing in the world. This was working with David Hewitt, and you go to all the great concerts and you’re onstage with these huge artists. And it’s live, so you learn pretty quickly how to make a mix work.”

Eddie Germano would later offer Panunzio a job as chief engineer at The Hit Factory, though he says that he declined out of loyalty to Roy Cicala at Record Plant. Still, he brought work to The Hit Factory and he has ever since, at every location, including nine out of the last 10 Joan Jett album projects.

“Nobody who ever owned a studio was like Eddie Germano. Nobody,” Panunzio states. “He was like the head of Columbia Records, or head of Universal Records. He was like a record company executive, a mogul, entrepreneur, whatever. He was a big presence and a big shot. And you knew when he was there. Troy was the same. I’ve known Troy since he was a boy. From the time I first met him, he was playing hockey and he had this huge hockey bag that he used to drag into the studio, either coming from school or going to practice. This bag was bigger than him! He would walk in the room and didn’t care who you were with. You could be in there with John Lennon, and it would be like everybody stopped what they were doing to say hello to Troy. He demanded that attention just by being in the room. He was very much like his father.”

Over the ensuing years, Troy Germano’s

role in the business would grow to the point where he was considered something of an equal partner, groomed to one day take over the family business. Despite the rapid advancements in digital technology and rising competition from both mobile production and emerging, lowerpriced studios, business was still humming on W. 54th Street. Life was good.

Then, in 2003, Eddie Germano died unexpectedly following a scheduled surgery. Four months later, Troy walked away from the company. In 2005, the building was sold, the equipment auctioned off, and The Hit Factory studios were shuttered. Though he remained active in consulting roles—from studio design to product manufacturing to record-label business development, it would be five more years before Troy was back in the studio.


“There was a lot of press that was not accurate when the studio on 54th Street closed down,” Germano says, with emphasis. “It had nothing to do with the state of the music industry or people working at home or people having production rooms, or with the studios not being busy. It was simply a real-estate issue between my mother and myself. After my father passed away, she wanted to sell the studio and sell the real estate, and I was adamantly against that.

“The studio was an active studio, the busiest studio in New York for a 20-year period of time,” he continues. “It had nothing to do with the use or the change in technology. Absolutely zero. It was strictly a dispute over a real piece of real estate that I didn’t think should be sold. It’s really about a family thing that just kind of went haywire—but it was always a goal in the back of my mind to get the name back.”

Germano makes no bones about his anger and disappointment at the time, but after settling into his new reality, he channeled that energy into creating Germano Studios at a time when most people would have advised against it. He wasn’t going into it blindly, and he was confident in his approach to running a hybrid analogdigital studio facility in a much-changed studio market. He had learned from his father that it was important to embrace change, while retaining the fundamentals like vibe, service and relationships.

“I still think the analog console that can interface to Pro Tools in a digital domain is the way to go,” he says, “but to be successful in the studio business, it’s about the choice of monitors,

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A couple of close-up views of a typical drum setup in Studio 1. PHOTO: Troy Germano

the arsenal of analog and digital outboard gear, the microphone collection, the sound of the live room, the instruments. It’s not just one or two or three things; it’s seven, eight, nine, ten things that actually make people want to be in the studio. And it’s not always easy. It’s a big investment, with constant capital improvements.” Recent updates include the addition of Dolby ATMOS and Sony 360 Reality Audio immersive mixing, and Germano always has his eye on the horizon for the next change that will maintain the facility’s competitive edge.

“I wasn’t walking in here with the clout of having the Hit Factory brand behind me,” he says. “It was a completely different thing; it was me, re-creating and reinventing what I do. The fact that it’s come full circle and the name has come back to me just proves to me that I made the right decision 15 years ago when I opened this place.”

Still, he is fully aware that it’s mostly about

the talent—the engineers in the room—that make a studio successful; it’s something he learned from his father. “Eddie was all about the guy in the chair, and so is Troy,” Panunzio says.

“I don’t think Eddie knew about the equipment the way Troy does, but he knew that what drew people in were the people in the building. Whenever I go to New York, Kenta [Yonesaka] is my engineer. He’s fantastic.”

“I think we have a great stable of young engineers,” Germano adds, “and my chief engineer, Kenta, is someone I’m very proud of. He’s now the longest-running staff engineer in the history of all the Hit Factories. I really pride myself on trying to help talented young engineers start their careers, on teaching them or their assistants how to hold onto clients—and then cultivate relationships and true friendships that are going to be lasting their whole career, their whole lives. I’m going to put them in the

right situations with the right client, and then they have to understand how to grow that relationship and how to make sure that those clients always want to be here.”


“Here” is now once again The Hit Factory, though to regulars, the Germanos and The Hit Factory are all but one and the same.

“It worked out, but it was a pursuit, there’s no question about it, and it wasn’t an easy task,” Germano says. ”It took a long time to get the trademark and logo and the IP and everything else after my mother passed. There were lawyers and meetings and it cost a lot of money, but there was never a question about doing it. Even though I like the way we’ve built Germano Studios, and I am very proud of the goodwill that me and my staff have created over the last 15 years, switching the name really did make perfect sense.

“It’s something I’m passionate about,” he adds, “and I think you will be seeing more Hit Factory studios popping up in a few interesting places over the next number of years. There are licensing opportunities with the name. I already have Germano Acoustics and the speakers, we have the Waves plug-in that I’m very proud of, and there’ll be new products based around a few things I’ve been working on.

“One of the reasons I named it Germano Studios in 2008 wasn’t from an ego point of view. It was really to let people know that The Hit Factory was still here. It took a long time, but I’m happy it’s worked out so well.”

“He’s got loyal clients,” Panunzio concludes. “He’s a hustler, which he learned from his father— nobody could hustle better than Eddie—and he’ll keep that place running forever. He creates a great vibe, he’s got great talent working with him and he runs a great studio. People love being with him, and that’s that’s ultimately what it’s all about.” ■

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A bit of history: the back wall of Studio 1 at the previous incarnation of The Hit Factory, West 54th Street, circa 2002. Engineer Thom Panunzio mixing at The Hit Factory in the mid-1970s. PHOTO: Dave King PHOTO: Courtesy of Thom Panunzio


After 140 shows in 33 countries for 3 million fans, the metal giants finally finished their latest tour—and are ready for the next one.

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ron Maiden has never let obstacles get in the way, and its epic Legacy of the Beast tour was a perfect example of that. The journey began with a concert in Tallinn, Estonia, way back in May 2018, and finally ended in Tampa, Florida, more than four years, 140 shows and one worldwide pandemic later, closing out even bigger than when it began.

Conceived as a three-year “greatest hits” touring cycle, the production was supposed to wrap up in 2020 with a four-month summer sprint through the stadiums of Europe, followed by the release of the band’s 17th album, Senjutsu. When COVID hit and put touring on hold, however, the group instead released the record, rescheduled for 2022, added a fall U.S. leg for good measure and, incredibly, took that sold-out European stadium run and sold it out even more.

“This phenomenon happened where they added tickets by moving to bigger venues,” says Ken “Pooch” Van Druten, the band’s FOH engineer. “Maybe 30-40,000 people already had tickets to a concert, but then most of the shows became 50,000 and a few were 80,000. We were doing at least two stadiums a week. Logistics were crazy—we were traveling with P.A., but there were at least three times where our rep at Clair Global, Andy Walker, had to provide a complete additional stadium system, prepped and ready to go, ahead of us.”

It made for crazy days, but Pooch has seen more than a few of those across a career that’s found him mixing everyone from Linkin Park to Justin Bieber. He came onboard with the Iron Maiden team in late 2017 as the band switched to Clair Global for its audio requirements—a move that led to Pooch working with two systems engineers: Main SE Mike Hackman and Crew Chief/SE Tim Peeling.

“Mike is an Iron Maiden employee and was here for 10 years before I showed up,” says Pooch. “When I arrived in 2017, they were like, ‘Oh, by the way, here’s your system engineer’—which is very unusual, but I discovered that he is one of the best on the planet; I’m very, very lucky to have him. Meanwhile, Tim has been with Clair for years; when Iron Maiden switched to them, Clair wanted to send out a system guy that was familiar with the Cohesion P.A. system. After he got here, I was like, ‘We’re holding on to him, man; he’s great!’ Mike Hackman is the main design guy—he’ll look at the CAD drawings of venues and do the design—but Tim Peeling

follows through with all the delay tower work. Those two are a godsend; it’s the only reason that we can do stadiums with such limited setup time.”

Scattered throughout the European run were several festival dates as well, which made achieving consistent sound all the more challenging. With the hopscotch nature of the tour, the production’s Clair Cohesion P.A. was used about 40 percent of the time. “It’s my favorite P.A., especially for this band,” says Pooch. “There’s something about the 12-inch speakers in that box that lend themselves to guitars.”

The rest of the European tour leg found the group using promoter-provided systems based around L-Acoustics K1s or d&b audiotechnik line arrays—fine systems, he adds, but the constant changes were sometimes distracting. Pooch explains, “I much prefer working on the same consistent speaker system so I can fine-tune my mix for that P.A. When you are on a different speaker system every day, it becomes a little bit more ‘combat audio.’ Luckily, I have an amazing team behind me, and those guys can take any system and tailor it to the way that I like it.”

The Legacy of the Beast tour was a gamechanger for the Iron Maiden camp, not merely due to the personnel or vendor changes, but also in how the FOH mix position was set up. Pooch opted to tackle the 56 inputs from the stage with a DiGiCo Quantum 7 console and a pair of Waves Extreme-C SoundGrid Servers— one for each engine in the desk.

With the vocal being among the most crucial parts of the mix, Pooch found himself leaning on two plug-ins in particular. The Waves Primary Source Expander was used on Bruce Dickinson’s voice to mitigate the tidal wave of stage bleed and stage noise getting into his Shure Beta 58, raising his gain before feedback without altering the tonality of his singing. Meanwhile, Waves’ F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ was also a go-to: “It’s a secret to my success in my opinion. The main vocal is sent to the key input of an F6 that is across the band bus. I’ve selected ‘mid side,’ which triggers a single filter that ducks about 6 dB of 1k just in the center; it doesn’t affect the outside of the mix. Instead, anytime there’s a vocal, it dips this 1k on the band bus and makes an amazing hole so the vocal pops.”

As might be expected, there were a few nonWaves plug-ins that Pooch put to use, such as Mixing Night Audio’s GreenHAAS, created

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by Grammy-nominated producer Ken Lewis, a friend going back to their Berklee College of Music days. “It’s a Haas Effect-type plug-in that I love on vocals, so I had to figure out how to host that outside of the Waves server,” says Pooch. The solution was to use another computer running Avid Pro Tools as an effects plug-in host. The computer was tied into the same SoundGrid network, and in a bid to avoid latency, it was used almost exclusively for effects, acting as a pre-delay of sorts.

That computer did have a second function, however, as it housed a half-dozen song intro .wav files. “One of the famous Iron Maiden songs, ‘The Number of the Beast,’ starts with ‘Woe to you, oh Earth and sea, for the Devil sends the beast with wrath!’” Pooch recites with verve. “That gets triggered at front of house, and previously, it was on an iPod and someone would push ‘play.’ When I showed up, I brought a Maschine MK2 controller; I can assign any of those intros to a single pad, and the computer has software that can control the .wav files.”

Not everything at FOH was in the digital realm, however. Analog outboard gear onhand—and strapped across the mix buss— included a Sonic Farm Creamliner, a Rupert Neve Designs Master Buss Converter and also an RND Portico II Master Buss Processor. “I’m using that to spread out frequencies and push low frequencies forward—the width of the mix,” he explains. “Meanwhile, I’m using that Creamliner unit to make some warm harmonic distortion and then I’m converting it back to AES—back into my desk—with the Master Buss Converter. Those are magic boxes.”

Bringing all that gear to bear on the mix

meant Pooch could focus in on the details of the songs. “They’re super-nuanced, and that’s what makes this band sound great, so I use the digital console with all its snapshot technology to get into those moments,” he says. “For instance, one of the tough parts about mixing them is that there’s three guitar players that all play Fenders through Marshalls, so there’s somewhat similar tones and they’re certainly in the same frequency range; finding space so that you can pick them out individually in the mix is difficult. My solution was to put them in their own panning spaces based on where they are on stage. Dave Murray is on stage right, so he’s panned stage

right—not panned hard all the way, but he’s over there—while Adrian Smith is near the center, and Janick Gers is on stage left. It’s big, wide, spread out, and you can pick out every single guitar—but then I also had to build snapshots so that whenever one of the guitarists solos, it snaps to the center, they play it, and then the next snapshot gets them back to their spot. It’s those kinds of nuances that make a difference.”

To capture those guitar sounds, each guitar player had three inputs, comprised of usualsuspect microphones like Shure 57s and a Palmer PDI-09 Junction Guitar Direct box, which captured sound after the effects and preamps,

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Pooch uses subtle panning to localize and help define each of the band’s three Fender-wielding guitarists in the house mix. Adrian Smith (left) prefers to use in-ear monitors, while Steve Harris opts to use Turbosound TMS3 sidefills and custom wedges. The band’s longtime mascot, Eddie, is not miked.

plus it picked up the warmth of the guitar amp itself.

Of course, as fans will note, there was another crucial guitar sound that had to be extremely present in the mix: the bass of Steve Harris. “His bass tone is very different than anybody else out there; it’s almost like a fourth guitar, because it doesn’t have a whole lot of low end in it,” Pooch concedes. “If you listen to any Iron Maiden record, vocals are the loudest element, and the next loudest thing is the bass guitar. He has a signature sound that you can’t capture with a DI; we use an SM7 on his cabinet, and that is the sound of Steve Harris.”

Meanwhile, Nicko McBrain’s drum sound was captured with a slew of mics, starting with

a Randall May system inside the kick drum, used to support both a Shure Beta51 and a SM91 boundary mic to get some of the shell sound. Nearby, the snare was heard via a Shure SM57 on bottom and a Telefunken M80-SH on top, chosen in part for its bump in the high-end to better capture the crack of the snare. The hihat cymbal sported a DPA 2011C, while the ride cymbal got a Mojave Audio MA-201fetVG LDC; that same model was used for overheads as well.

Nonetheless, much of the drum kit real estate was taken up by no less than nine toms, each with its own DPA d:vote 4099 CORE mic, except for the 6-inch and 8-inch which shared one. Faced with so many open microphones on the toms, Pooch notes, “I’m triggering gates, but rather than the gate getting its threshold information from the audio signal, it comes from a trigger that is affixed on the side of each drum shell.”

Over in Monitorworld sat a pair of DiGiCo SD desks; there, longtime monitor engineer Steve “Gonzo” Smith looked after Harris’ mix, while the rest of the band was under the watchful eye of Kevin “Tater” McCarthy. While all three guitarists sported in-ear monitors, there was still plenty of sound covering the stage—McBrain had his own giant, custom wedge and sub for monitoring, while both Dickinson and Harris preferred to get their mixes from a vast assortment of speakers. Intriguingly, there were two sets of side fills, with one operated by each monitor engineer; Harris’ sidefills were old-school Turbosound TMS3s, supplemented downstage by three sets of the band’s own custom wedges, dating back to the 1980s. Meanwhile, Dickinson preferred his own L-Acoustics sidefills further upstage closer to the drum kit, and also heard upward of twodozen d&b audiotechnik M2 and M4 wedges around the stage.

With the four-year Legacy of the Beast trek now over, one might expect Iron Maiden to take it easy for a few minutes, but the band will get back on the road in May; the 2023-24 Future Past tour will serve as the proper introduction to the new Senjutsu album while also shining a spotlight on the often-underplayed Somewhere in Time from 1986. Already looking forward to it is Pooch, who is still one of the most-recent additions to a crew where most personnel have logged decades working for the group. “I am the new kid on the block, having been here for five years,” he laughed. “They are an amazing band to work for; I will stay here for as long as they’ll have me.” ■

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Pooch is ready to rock behind his DiGiCo Quantum7 desk in Charlotte, North Carolina. Bruce Dickinson belts into a Shure Beta 58 while brandishing a flamethrower and its 30-pound backpack. Nicko McBrain’s drum kit is captured by Shure, Telefunken, DPA and Mojave Audio mics.

Dr. Michael Santucci

A Lifetime of Researching Hearing Health—for Musicians and Engineers

If you’re reading Mix, you likely owe your livelihood to your ears. Well, here’s a question: When was the last time you had your hearing tested?

For nearly 40 years, audiologist Dr. Michael Santucci, president of customized hearing protection specialist Sensaphonics and ASI Audio in Chicago, has been on a mission to protect musicians—and engineers—from the damaging effects of loud sound. A musician from a family of musicians, Santucci was inspired to found Sensaphonics in 1985, initially researching and evaluating ear filtering products, after the singer quit the band that he was in because her ears were ringing.

“I am all about safety, being an audiologist,” he says.

He developed his first custom product for famed voice-over artist and “word jazz” exponent Ken Nordine. The Grateful Dead’s engineers were recording Nordine’s performance and asked if Santucci could make some ear monitors for the band. “That put me on the map—and then I got referrals to Aerosmith and Poison, and I really got into this thing,” he says.

If you are an audio professional, in the studio or in performance sound, Santucci has a recommendation: “Get an annual hearing test.” That way, he says, you and your audiologist can track changes over time and make informed

decisions about your career and the way that you work, such as monitoring at lower levels or spending less time listening.

Your hearing is not only critical for your job, but also for brain function. It’s complicated, but as neurologists have discovered, there is a link between cognitive abilities and hearing, both for better and for worse. Working as a musician has been found to “foster cognitive strengths such as attention, working memory and creativity,” as Nina Kraus notes in her 2021 book, Of Sound Mind. (Such acuity is shared, she writes, with athletes and those speaking two or more languages.)

Conversely, hearing loss can be an accelerant of

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dementia. “Google ‘untreated hearing loss and early cognitive decline’ and see how many thousands of studies come up showing that it’s the number-one causal relationship,” Santucci suggests.


The best way to protect your hearing is to monitor at a safe level. Film and TV postproduction engineers typically mix to standardized reference levels, while engineers working in music production can follow those recommendations or not, as they wish. In live sound, all bets are off, especially if the screaming crowd overpowers the P.A.

So what exactly is a safe listening level? That, too, is complicated, and subject to evolving science.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration established legal requirements for U.S. workplaces in 1981 that limit exposure to noise. “If you’re at 90 dB, A-weighted, you can be in it for up to eight hours,” explains Santucci, who is a core member of the World Health Organization’s Make Listening Safe Initiative and established a Hearing and Hearing Loss Prevention Technical Committee with the AES in 2005.

“If you’re in over eight hours, you’ve got to wear hearing protection,” he adds. “Every time you go 5 dB louder, you must cut your exposure time in half, so at 95 dB, it’s four hours; at 100 dB, it’s two hours; and so on.”

However, those rules are for industrial settings, he points out, and only about 5 percent of workplaces are even at 95 dB or above. Few sound engineers, if any, are working a 40-hour workweek at that level continuously. Live sound engineers are generally well above 95 dB, but only for a two-hour show (plus soundcheck, of course).

Even with those rules in place, about 28 percent of people have still lost some hearing, Santucci reports, but alternately, “that means 72 percent have maintained their hearing, so that’s good.”

Enter OSHA’s scientific branch, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. “NIOSH said 3 dB is twice the intensity, and we’ve seen hearing loss at 85 dB, so we’re starting at 85 dB, and every time it goes up 3 dB, you have to cut your time in half. By the time we get to 100 dB, one scale says two hours and the other one says 15 minutes,” he observes. “Which one is the right one? I don’t know. We know that those safety criteria work, but I think that sometimes they’re overkill for music. However, being a

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ASI Audio x Sensaphonics 3DME Gen2 Active Ambient Monitoring System

scientist and a hearing-loss prevention doctor, I’ve got to go with the science.”


To help manage your exposure, Santucci says, NIOSH offers a free, Apple-only sound level meter app: “You download it, you put the NIOSH app up and it says you’re this loud and you’ve reached your dose.”

Santucci is also about to release a handheld device, dB Check Pro, that can be inserted into the wired headphone path and includes presets for the major brands and models. “You dial in your headphones, hit Play, and it’ll start telling you how many dB you’re listening to. Then it converts that to allowable time in minutes for both OSHA and NIOSH,” he says. It can simultaneously meter a room mic on either scale.

One way to extend your allowable exposure time is to take breaks. “I have a chart that shows the amount of reduction in dosage with taking a 20-minute break, a half-hour break and so on.” he says. “That means you can listen a lot longer.”

Arguably, most musicians are better protected than their engineers, who typically don’t wear headphones full-time in the studio or during live shows—other than monitor engineers, who frequently wear IEMs these days. That said, musicians playing in traditionally unamplified settings, such as classical music performances, may have endured years of excessive exposure, as

have those rock musicians who tend to pull one ear monitor out. Santucci has a solution for that, too, through the ASI Audio x Sensaphonics brand of 3DME (Three-Dimensional Music Enhancement) products.


ASI’s app-controlled 3DME body pack enables musicians to independently balance between the mics embedded in the earpieces and, in amplified settings, the feed from the monitor engineer. That solves the problem for rockers who miss the onstage ambience and, in unamplified situations, enables musicians to attenuate nearby louder colleagues—or discreetly correct for their own hearing loss.

Wait, is classical music really that loud? In 2012, a professional UK musician sued after

suffering career-ending hearing damage because the brass section that sat behind him generated levels of over 135 dB. Compare that to metal band Manowar’s reading of 129.5 dB in 1984, which was the Guinness Book of World Records’ loudest performance until the category was, for obvious reasons, discontinued.

No surprise, then, that ASI has furnished New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra with 3DME systems. “If you’re a violinist and you want to protect your hearing, you set the limit,” Santucci explains. “Perhaps then your violin doesn’t sound right, so you have seven bands of EQ, but you can also amplify up to 12 dB, in analog. When I do demos for orchestras, I get at least four or five people, and the tears start coming down. They can correct their own hearing loss on their phone. Nobody knows, but suddenly they’re playing better.” ■

MIX | MARCH 2023 | mixonline com 38
Stemming from an August 2021 collective bargaining agreement between the Met and the Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra musicians now have access to hearing protection. Dr. Michael Santucci Recommended times for listening to continuous level, in dB. PHOTO: Courtesy of Michael Santucci

Tech new products

options to lock the aspect ratio, position and dimensions of control widgets; transparency setting for images; and more.

Adamson Fletcher Machine Plug-In & Virtual Edition

Adamson Systems Engineering has augmented its Adamson Fletcher Machine (AFM) with the release of two new software products—a Virtual AFM and a VST Control Plug-in. The Virtual AFM connects with the machine’s remote software,

Grace Design m908 Firmware 2.0

With firmware 2.0, the m908 24-Channel Monitor Controller gets a boost with a new web-based setup and control platform. Using the new platform is as simple as entering the IP address of the m908 into a browser from a device on the same local network. There is nothing to download or install and it works on any operating system, including MAC, PC, iOS and Android. Also included in the update is expanded room correction EQ capability, which now supports 12 bands per channel on all 24 channels at all sample rates, reportedly making Dolby Atmos certification possible in most rooms.

Allen & Heath Custom Control V1.3

Custom Control V1.3 is a major update to the Allen & Heath app for controlling AHM, dLive and Avantis installed audio systems. Multiple AHM, Avantis and dLive units can now be controlled from a single user interface, and users get a host of new widgets, including: date and time; horizontal faders and meters; control of LED bars on the CC-7 and CC-10 touch panels; TCP/UDP messages for control of thirdparty equipment; and new resource packs with custom images for GUI design. A revised GUI offers custom color palettes; object grouping;

allowing users to work with the machine without a hardware engine on-hand; it offers features like Object Trajectories and general mixing functions, but is limited to 24 inputs and 12 outputs, has only two layers, no auxiliary sends, and an extended latency. Meanwhile, the AFM VST Control plugin allows users to directly control certain object parameters like positioning and layer selection from within their DAW. Multiple instances can be activated within the DAW, giving additional objects to control.

Meyer Sound 2100-LFC LowFrequency Control Element

The new 2100-LFC low-frequency control element, which incorporates technology from Meyer Sound’s flagship Panther line array, brings

together a Class D amplifier with a new, single 21-inch driver with four voice coils to reportedly provide an extended frequency response from 30–125 Hz. The 2100-LFC is more than one foot narrower and roughly 20 percent lighter than the preceding 1100-LFC. Like the 1100-LFC, the 2100LFC has symmetrical rigging hardware, allowing users to mix front and rear orientation in cardioid arrays. The 2100-LFC also incorporates the same standard dual input module as Panther, offering both a Milan AVB endpoint for digital audio and monitoring telemetry, plus an analog input for backward compatibility with existing systems. All connections on the module—network, AC power and analog XLR input—are via Neutrik TOP (True Outdoor Protection) connectors with an IP55 rating, making weather protection a standard feature.

Tascam Portacapture X6 Recorder

The new Portacapture X6 32-bit Float Portable Audio Recorder from Tascam features 96 kHz/32bit float recording, a 2.4-inch color touchscreen, two XLR inputs, dual built-in mics and more. The launcher screen offers multiple recording modes, including Field recording, Voice, Music, Podcast and ASMR, in addition to Manual. The handheld recorder can handle six simultaneous tracks (4 tracks, plus 2 mix) of recording and features a pair of Neutrik XLR input terminals with support for both mic and line-level, AuxIn/Camera In and Line Out/Camera Out connections, and compatibility with phantom power (24V/48V). Onboard processing functions include Low Cut and Noise Gate for reducing background noise and frequencies, a Limiter and Compressor for signal level management, and 4-band EQ. n

MIX | MARCH 2023 | mixonline com 40

Tech // reviews

Massenburg DesignWorks MDWDRC2

Dynamics Range Controller Plug-in Modeled After GML 8900

George Massenburg’s quest for the best possible and purest audio processing tools for professional recording engineers is notable, going back to the days he, along with a few others, developed the parametric equalizer subsequently introduced as the ITI ME230.

Later, his GML 8900 hardware stereo limiter/compressor used a VCA (voltage-controlled-amplifier) gain cell with an exponential control law—a log-antilog sensing methodology for measuring and using true RMS (root-mean-square) loudness for detecting level changes to affect precise loudness/level control. Under extreme gain reductions, the typical and objectionable artifacts of compression and limiters, such as “hole-punching,” dulling and low-frequency distortion caused by high compression ratios and/or fast release times, would be mostly eliminated.

After some 15 years of development, the MDWDRC2 was digitally modeled to closely emulate the GML 8900 and strives to react to audio loudness similarly to the way our own human ears react. The DRC2 reacts equally well to both sudden and more sustained transients, as well as evolving changes in loudness over time rather than just the average or peak electrical voltage levels as measured and used by most dynamic processors— hardware or software.

To do this, the first step is to convert linear input audio signals into logarithmic signals over a wider range to increase the accuracy, resolution and processing detail of the control signal itself. This results in better “dynamic tracking” of the exact nuance and expiry of the incoming audio waveforms (including transients of different durations) to produce authentic-sounding and clearer audio processing. This sensing technique works the same over a much wider (80 dB!) dynamic range of the input signal and for nonlinear, short sonic events.

When the MDWDRC2 is properly set, gain reductions of 10 dB to 20 dB can be easily obtained, free from artifacts and (for the most part) transparent-sounding, never sounding squashed.


The MDWDRC2 Dynamics Range Controller plug-in is available in mono and stereo instances for AAX Native, VST3 and AU DAWs for Macs and PCs running at up to 192 kHz sample rates. When first inserting DRC2 into your DAW session, it will load with a collection of default starting parameter settings, which are quite good. With the Threshold set at its default of 0.0 dB, the plug-in will pass audio at unity gain. You can use Option+ click (Mac) on any control to

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reset it to its default value.

The MDWDRC2 aims to be the ultimate dynamic range controller, capable of producing anywhere from pristine and transparent control to vibey and radical-sounding “clamp-downs.”

You can use -80 dB threshold settings down in the system noise floor without excessive artifacts occurring during peak gain reduction. Very soft and broad compression knees can offer continuous control for live audio feeds from classical music concerts, sporting events or realtime news coverage, and everything in between.

Several new ideas, concepts and nomenclatures are introduced with DRC2, and there is a detailed manual to go with an included large graphic of “call outs” that are complete descriptions and explanations of every control’s function. These are also included as (switchable) mouse-over Tool Tips.


For precise, very fast and accurate gain control, the MDWDRC2 uses two detector chains running in parallel (Main and Peak) that both utilize MDW’s patented Variable Exponent Averaging methodology. Each chain has its own Timing, Exponent and Soft Knee controls, while sharing a combined Master Ratio control.

The Timing controls change both the attack and release times together at the same time; they are calibrated in dB/Sec as well as in milliseconds

for attack times. The two Exponent controls default to the recommended settings of 2 (RMS) for the Main detector and 3 (or the cube root of an average of mean-cubes) for the Peak detector, so that it reacts to transients better and closer to the ear’s perception.

Both of the Main and Peak sections’ Exponent controls can be turned to change the attack time(s) separately from the release time(s), but there is the possibility of distortion, which could also prove an opportunity to violently crush peaks if need be.

It is noteworthy that the Variable Exponent Averaging method for both the Main (RMS) and Peak detectors is malleable using these controls. This “under-the-hood” access is unusual and wonderful!


The Main section’s “MAIN” backlights green whenever its RMS detector is active, and the Peak’s section “PEAK” lights up orange when a peak is handled. With the Main section’s fader default at 0.0 dB and Threshold default at 0.0 dB, these are unlikely to ever light up. The Main fader controls compression gain—a single fader that combines makeup gain, compression amount and the range of gain available.

On the left side of the GUI is the color-coded Gain/Loss meter. Moving the Main section fader

up for more Compression Gain will indicate the plug-in’s gain as a line between a dark green vertical bar and background gray; this is the actual instantaneous gain (or loss) of the plugin’s digital control attenuator. Gain reduction is shown as an overlaid bright blue bar for the Main section, while Peak gain reductions are shown as an orange overlay.

In between the Gain/Loss meter and the Main section is Thresh, or the Threshold control fader. Both the Threshold and Main fader default settings make for fast setups. Juggling between these two controls, the plug-in’s Output level fader and keeping the rest of the controls at their defaults will result in a good working compressor at the Rotation Point.


The Rotation Point is defined as a position on a horizontal line graphically representing the output signal where the incoming signal triggers gain reduction. With a 100:1 hard-knee compressor, the straight line “pivots” on the RP where the actual threshold level is the same. Changing to another ratio, such as 2:1, the nearly straight horizontal line representing the compressed output level pivots at that same RP but now continues down to signals lower than the entered threshold level. This makes setting ratio as important as setting threshold on the

MIX | MARCH 2023 | mixonline com 42


A hard-knee compressor has a singular and sharp moment at the RP occurring at the selected threshold setting, whereas with a soft-knee compressor, the RP is the same place but gain reduction has already begun somewhere below threshold and (depending on how soft-knee it is) may range over a broad, rounded curve. Midway and centered on the curve of a -10 dB soft-knee would have a 10 dB difference.

The MDWDRC2’s important Soft-Knee controls on both the Main and Peak sections are expressed as dB gain reduction at the RP. The Soft-Knee control in the Main section adjusts the “shape” of the transition between the Main and Peak detectors. The Soft-Knee control in the Peak section adjusts how smoothly the Peak detector is ignored and overridden—high negative values on this control make for a softer sound.

After I have a basic compression setup, these Soft controls make a huge difference, especially noticeable with lead vocal processing. The large fader in the Peak section is the Peak Override Sensitivity, or threshold, calibrated in dB above the Main detector. I usually set this (visually) to just a little higher than the Main fader’s position.


When the music’s velocity or “speed of change” is fast, the Peak section takes over, governed by the setting of the Peak Override Sensitivity— i.e., the level above the Main detector’s value. Using lower (more sensitive) values of this fader increases peak sensitivity. The “PEAK” indicator lights up more often when the peak detector overrides the Main detector.

Another feature of MDWDRC2 to understand is the Peak Soft Knee control that moves the Rotation Point freely to aid in the arrival of a proper Peak Override Sensitivity setting. The Peak section’s “SOFT” activity indicator lights up blue like the Main’s.

Finally, the master Ratio fader ranges from 1.2:1 to 100:1, with the default at 4:1, which is good until you want “brick wall” limiting.


At the top of the MDWDRC2’s GUI are: Bypass, Settings A and B (and Copying between them), the SC button for enabling side-chain input, and a Key symbol for listening to the external sidechain source. There is the Preference button for selecting one of three GUI sizes, at 100, 125, and 150 percent, and also Tool Tips on/off.

Looking at the bottom of the GUI, there is the BS1770 filter enable/off—a Loudness Normalization filter per EBU BS1770_3 that is only in the side-chain. This is a two-pole 12 dB/ octave @ 80 Hz highpass, plus a 2-pole filter with a 4 dB boost between 2 kHz and 4 kHz. I found this filter most useful on entire stereo mixes with heavy bass.

Next is the Auto-Release on/off switch with a red Active indicator. Auto-Release Sensitivity (in dB) sets how much the signal level has to drop to trigger a faster release time—a way to set how well the release timing better traces the envelope of the audio wave. Auto-Release Override adjusts in dB/sec just how fast this action happens.

hits. I was able to set a -2.3 dB Threshold on the Main section but set a 3.5 dB Peak Override Sensitivity threshold (above the Main) in Peak. With slow attack and release times in Main but much faster times in Peak, I used only -1.5 dB gain reduction at the Main’s Rotation Point and -3.5 dB on the Peak Soft Knee. This is an amazing level of control that produced a consistent and leveled playing drum loop. There were still some compression artifacts, but mixing in the overhead mics rounded it all out.


I wanted an extreme processed female lead vocal effect for a pop track. I wanted her vocal level to remain “dynamically still,” yet sound as clean and clear as possible. I developed eight different versions of a “radvocal” preset on a stereo track with MDWDRC2 inserted after a stereo reverb/ room effect. I found it best to save presets as I explored building this vocal sound because of all the cool accidents that could happen along the way.

I thought the Look Ahead/Delay Comp section was thoughtful for users with DAWs that do not support delay compensation. Up to 63 samples of compensation is available.

Another excellent feature, especially for mastering applications, is called Bypass Gain. Its default is 0.0 dB, which, along with the Output fader default at 0.0 dB, is a way to reconcile MDWDRC2’s makeup gain while working, and then in bypass.


With good success, I used the DRC2 on different individual tracks as well as full mixes and track stems in my music mixing work. It excels in all applications. For full mix mastering, I use Sonnox’s ListenHub as the last plug-in to read LUFS and Peak to Short-Term Loudness Ratio, also known as Crest Factor in the GML 8900.

I had a rescue job to recover a lost top snare drum track. I took a bottom snare drum track and brought up the low-level stick drags and subtle hi-hat openings (leakage), but also compressed down the much louder backbeat

For this effect, I used a 30:1 ratio and started with the Peak Override Sensitivity fader set to 0.0 dB (default is 8.0). With upward of 20 dB of gain reduction, all the controls affect the final sound, most notably in this case the Main Timing and using a very short Auto-Release Sensitivity value (-0.5 dB) and a 20 dB/sec AutoRelease Override Rate (fastest). With up to 20 dB of gain reduction, the lead vocal was “pinned” to the front of the mix, sounded clear and the entire production team loved it!


The Massenburg DesignWorks MDWDRC2 Dynamics Range Controller is revolutionary, and I’m incorporating it in every mix for every use, from natural-sounding and gentle control, to typical pop music treatments, and then for radical sound design and wacky effects. I’m hooked on it and have already started a great collection of presets! n


COMPANY: Massenburg DesignWorks

PRODUCT: MDWDRC2 Dynamics Range Controller

WEB: www.massenburgdesignworks.com


PROS: Superb dynamic control

CONS: Learning curve

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I’m incorporating it in every mix for every use, from natural-sounding and gentle control, to typical pop music treatments, and then for radical sound design and wacky effects. I’m hooked on it.

Audix A127 Microphone

Omnidirectional Metal-Film Condenser for Studio or Stage

Audix microphones need no introduction to Mix readers. Mics such as the D6, i5 and OM5/6 are in regular rotation worldwide as workhorses on stage and in the studio.

The A127, however, marks the company’s first step into the field of premium, high-performance condenser microphones. The A127 is a small-diaphragm, omnidirectional mic designed to deliver accurate, detailed reproduction without any coloration.

The heart of the A127 is a reference-grade, pre-polarized, halfinch capsule employing a 3-micron metal film diaphragm. This capsule is classified as Type 1, according to IEC 61094, a set of

specifying tight tolerances for sensitivity and distortion across a range of temperature, humidity and air pressure. In other words, the A127 was engineered for extremely consistent performance regardless of environmental conditions.

The capsule is coupled to a transformerless, low-noise preamp, which—combined with the capsule—delivers a selfnoise spec of 7 dB(A) and a frequency response from 10 Hz to 20 kHz. The entire package is built into an unassuming tapered black housing that’s machined from solid brass, then nickelplated. The Audix logo, model number and serial number are laser-engraved for longevity.

The A127 ships in a softshell case with a windscreen, mic clip, and frequency response plot/sensitivity chart verifying performance for the serialized capsule. Applications include critical recording of acoustic instruments, ambient room recording and acoustic measurement. Audix with a matched pair of A127s for this review.

The A127 requires 48 VDC phantom power, ±4 VDC. A test using a portable 24 VDC phantom supply verified that the mic can be powered using lower voltages, but the recommended voltage should be used for optimum performance. Operation of the A127 is straightforward: There are no external controls such as a pad or HPF. The U-shaped mic clip is simple but effective, and locks via

I first used the A127s for drum overheads on a live show, set as a spaced pair pointing straight down above the kit, approximately six feet high. The mics were plugged into the stock preamp inputs of an Avid Venue Profile, and even with the preamp gains set to minimum, A127 output levels were only a hair below clipping the preamps. I set a HPF around 350 Hz to roll off the low end, using the A127s to capture the cymbals and “top end” of the kit, with close mics on the toms, snare and kick. Listening to the cymbals through the P.A. system, the A127s sounded smooth and clear without nasty peaks, even from the “trash”-type cymbals that the drummer was using. Hi-hat sounded very natural, lacking the unwanted “spit”

Tech // reviews

that you often hear from lesser condenser mics.

Next up were some studio sessions, the first in Studio A at Mercy College. Aided by Sam Stauff (engineer and Associate Director, Music Studios), we recorded drums using the A127s, initially connecting them to a Neve 1073DPX. The A127s were placed as a spaced pair over the kit, pointing straight down, approximately seven feet high, five feet apart. Unfortunately for the 1073DPX, the A127s overloaded the preamps, even with the preamp pad turned on and the gain turned down all the way. We swapped the 1073DPX for an API 3124V preamp, which required the pads to be turned on, gain controls set to minimum, and output level controls set to 3 o’clock. The moral of the story: If your preamp doesn’t have enough gain to produce sufficient recording level with the A127s, don’t blame the microphones.

Keeping with the Audix theme, we added two close mics: a D6 on kick and an i5 on snare, both routed through Vintech X73i preamps. The results were excellent, with smooth crashes on hi-hat, excellent definition on snare and tom hits, and an overall sound leaning slightly toward the ribbon end of the spectrum. Toms and kick sounded nice but lacked some of the low end we expect these days when using close mics. Presence of the snare through the A127s was great, sounding much the same as if the snare were close-miked.

As we expected, the omni-directional pattern captured a pretty good amount of room ambience, though this can be tweaked by adjusting distance between mics and source. Ride patterns played on a crash cymbal were smooth and even, without any harshness. For this session, Sam and I split the outputs of the 3124V, routing one set straight into Pro Tools and the other through an API 2500 dialed in for some aggressive compression. The A127s took compression well, adding a nice “pffft’ on the

attack of the snare drum, while emphasizing the room sound.


We also tried the A127s on acoustic guitar, first as a stereo spaced pair, then as a close and distant combination. The stereo pair was placed with one mic facing the bridge of the guitar and the other facing the area where the neck meets the body, both set about three feet away. The result was an excellent balance between the attack on the strings and resonance of the body: present, smooth and realistic, with rock-solid imaging.

We then moved the mics so that the mic facing the area where the neck meets the body was closer (now about 10 inches), and the other mic was about 12 feet away from the guitar. The close mic produced a beautiful, intimate sound, again with excellent reproduction of the instrument, and adding the room mic was like walking into the studio, i.e., very realistic. To add a bit of definition to fingerpicking, a touch of EQ did the trick: +4 dB @ 6 kHz, with medium bandwidth. Background noise from the mics was non-existent, a requirement when recording fingerpicked guitar or using a mic for ambient pickup.

Turning to a completely different application, I used the A127s to record a small choir, placing them directly in front of the group, spaced about eight feet apart. Voices were well-defined and articulate, though the spaced arrangement produced a hole in the middle. Closing the distance between the mics would have cured this issue but time did not permit, so I opted for bringing the pan controls to roughly 9 and 3 o’clock during playback. Due to the omni pattern of the A127, the mics also captured some impressive bottom end from the church organ, and I definitely want to return there to record the organ on its own.

At the same facility, I recorded a Steinway grand piano using two distinctly different setups.

The first was with the A127s outside of the piano case, mics spaced about five feet apart, peeking over the rim of the piano body and pointing straight in at the lid. This yielded too many reflections from the lid, causing a multitude of phase issues. I decided to move the mics inside the piano, this time placing them 10 to 12 inches above the strings, pointing toward the hammers, approximately three feet apart and set back from the hammers toward the end of the piano by around eight inches. The result was absolutely gorgeous. The A127s sounded clear and natural, with a perfect balance between the attack of the hammers and the resonance of the piano body, and the low end was full but not overbearing. These mics are not afraid of being used up-close; moving the mics in on the hammers decreased reflections from the lid, increased presence and made the piano sound more coherent—but not at the expense of sounding strident.

The A127s are not forgiving of placement, and the omni pattern means that your room needs to sound as good as the source. At my studio, I had to work harder on placement for drum overheads, and the A127s clearly revealed minor differences in location. For example, moving the mics from directly in front of my drum kit to a point approximately four or five feet away yielded a major difference in the amount of low end from the kick and toms. Lazy engineers will not get along well with the A127s.

Using the A127s was an absolute pleasure. The mic delivers whatever you put in front of it without adding an opinion. It’s transparent, quiet and captures as much detail as the rest of your recording chain will allow. The A127 can reveal subtle nuances overlooked by other microphones, it’s dead quiet and the response is ruler-flat from 10 Hz to 20 kHz. It’s a bit pricey, but make no mistake that the A127 is a top-shelf microphone that stands up to any competition in the price range. n



PRODUCT: A127 Omnidirectional Metal Film

Condenser Microphone

WEBSITE: www.audixusa.com

PRICE: $1999

PROS: Detailed, transparent reproduction; excellent build quality.

CONS: No HPF or pad; output can overload some preamps; expensive (but well worth it).

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PreSonus Studio One 6 Professional

A Versatile DAW Gets a Windfall of New Capabilities

Between its launch in 2009 and today, Studio One has matured into a workstation with an incredibly robust feature set. The latest version, Studio One 6, adds a massive list of new capabilities.

In this review, I’ll cover Studio One 6 Professional, the topof-the-line version and the one you get if you subscribe to the PreSonus Sphere subscription service. Space doesn’t allow me to cover every new feature, but here are the highlights.


Perhaps the most significant and unique addition to Studio One 6 is the Lyrics Track. A Global Track, similar to the Chords, Marker and Arranger Tracks (among others), opens just below the timeline on the Song or Show page.

Click anywhere in the Lyrics Track, and you’ll get a prompt where you can start entering words. Alternatively, you can drag and drop lyrics directly onto the Lyrics Track. To adjust where words or phrases sit on the timeline, you can click and drag them. Lyrics will

even conform to the grid if it’s turned on.

The main area for viewing and editing Lyrics is a separate window called Lyrics Display. Anything entered in the Lyrics Track shows up there (you can also enter and edit lyrics directly in the Lyrics Display). The Lyrics Display is expandable, as is its font size.

The lyrics are synched to the timeline. As a song plays, they get highlighted in blue at the appropriate time, like a “follow-thebouncing-ball” effect. Moreover, the display scrolls, so the right words will always appear, even in long songs.

After some experimentation, I realized that it’s much faster to line up the first word of each line when entering the lyrics for onscreen viewing. When the song plays, each line gets highlighted at the correct time.

You have the option to assign lyrics to a specific (MIDI) Instrument Track. That comes in handy if you want to record or program the melody onto that track and then use it to create a lead sheet to print or export from Studio One’s Score Editor.

Once you have an Instrument Track with the melody, it’s a

MIX | MARCH 2023 | mixonline com 46 Tech // reviews
Lyrics, GUI customization and expanded channel views are some of the new features.

breeze to assign lyrics so that they line up with each note head, which is essential for a lead sheet. Using the Lyrics tool, you select a note for the first syllable and type it in. Next, press the space bar, and the cursor advances to the following note.

It took me some time to figure out how to use the Lyrics Track. Its implementation is complex and needs to be more intuitive in certain aspects, but once you learn its capabilities and commands, it’s powerful and flexible.


The Video Track is another new Global Track in Studio One 6 Professional. It significantly improves on the minimal video capabilities of previous versions. For example, you can load as many video clips as you want into the timeline via drag and drop (Studio One’s support of dragand-drop throughout the application is firstrate). The audio tracks from the video clips show up as separate, editable tracks.

Most notably, the Video Track allows basic cut/ copy/paste editing. No, it won’t replace a dedicated video editor, but it does allow you to quickly assemble video clips or work on adding audio to multiple clips in the same session. When finished, you can export the video in several formats, including MPEG-4, M4V and QuickTime.


Of all the areas in Studio One, the Console got the most enhancements, and Fader Flip is the coolest of these new features. Based on similar functionality in outboard digital mixers, Fader Flip lets you temporarily use the main faders to control the levels of any FX, bus or cue mix send.

For example, say you have a reverb send that you’re using on multiple tracks, and you want to compare and tweak its levels across the mix. Right-click or control-click on a send, select Flip Faders (or press the Fader Flip button on the left side of the Console) and the main faders on all the mixer channels become controls for the send levels. It gives you a comparative view of the send levels on every track, and you can adjust them with greater resolution in Fader Flip mode. When you’ve finished tweaking, flip them back.

Also new and useful are Expandable Send and Pan controls. In previous versions, the Sends were hard to adjust because of the small size of their horizontal sliders. Now, you can double-click on a send or panner and get a much larger version.

You can expand all the controls for a mixer

channel (one channel at a time) by clicking the Mixer Channel Overview button, located on every channel strip and plug-in window. Doing so opens a sizable dedicated window containing the channel controls, including volume, pan, sends and inserts.

Whether you’re in Mixer Channel Overview or just looking at the mixer at its regular size, the Micro View Controls now give you controls for any third-party plug-in for essential parameters from a channel insert, adjustable right in the channel strip (or the Mixer Channel Overview). If you click on an insert in the channel, its Micro View Controls open. They’re quite small in a regular channel strip, but more comfortable when you switch to a Mixer Channel Overview.

PreSonus also added two additional stereo panning modes, adjustable per track. You can now switch any stereo channel from the default Balance panner to either Dual or Binaural mode. A Dual panner lets you control each side separately. The Binaural panner allows side-to-side panning and uses mid-side processing to adjust the perceived width between 0 percent and 200 percent.



PRODUCT: Studio One 6 Professional WEBSITE: presonus.com

PRICE: $399.95; $15.95/month; $199.95/ year

PROS: Lyrics integration. Powerful new video features. New Fader Flip feature and many other mixer enhancements. Customization Editor. Save and recall of Track Presets. Userorganizable browser folders.

CONS: Lyrics implementation could be more intuitive. Sliders in aux sends too small in unexpanded state.


Studio One 6 offers many new ways to customize the GUI and your data. Right-clicking in the Toolbar area brings up the Customize button. Pressing it opens the Customization Editor, a separate window with categories for the Toolbar, Inspector, Transport controls and Browser. In each category, you can remove the controls you don’t want to see, then save your settings as a preset.

The new Track Presets feature lets you save track and channel settings for single or multiple tracks and channels.

The Browser Favorites and Folders feature allows you to organize your effects and instrument plug-ins in the Browser. Any plugin you mark as a Favorite gets automatically deposited in the Favorites folder, and you can create your own folders and arrange your plugins however you want. Especially if you have a lot of third-party plug-ins, custom folders can be quite helpful.

New folder-organizing features were also added to the Start Page for customizing how you view your Studio One Documents before opening them.


Besides all the user interface and mixer enhancements, PreSonus also introduced a couple of plug-ins—De-Esser and Vocoder—and updated the existing PRO EQ.

The De-Esser is simple but effective, with controls for Frequency and S-Reduction, adjusting the filter shape and range, and soloing the filtered signal.

The retro-looking Vocoder makes it easy to create classic robot-voice effects and more. It features a matrix in the center where you can

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The new video window with the Vocoder and PRO EQ3 open.

JBL Eon One MK2

All-In-One Rechargeable Column Speaker

Portable P.A.s have to be a lot of things—powerful enough for a pro, simple enough for a novice, durable enough to travel, and flexible enough to sound good in a bad room. Over the last few months of testing, I’ve found that the JBL Eon One MK2 All-In-One Rechargeable Column Speaker checks off all those boxes.

All Mix Real-World Reviews test gear in working situations where it has to deliver, so I used the Eon One MK2 for two kinds of applications: multiple library lectures, where it had to handle spoken word and laptop audio, and more traditional live-music use, i.e., live and recorded music at a holiday party.

In all these situations, the system was easy to transport and set up. The Eon One MK2 is just under 43 pounds, so it’s not lightweight, but you’re not going to throw your back out before a gig either. It is durable and cleanly designed, too, so it slides into the back of an SUV or a car trunk without snagging on anything.

The heart of the system is the main cabinet, which not only serves up bass but also serves as a base. Supporting a three-part array column, the cabinet itself houses a 10-inch bass-reflex woofer, which provides low end down to 37 Hz.

The column, meanwhile, is home to the system’s rechargeable battery (6 hours of use from 2.5 hours of charging) and a phalanx of eight 2-inch tweeters in a c-shaped array. The tweeter arrangement lets you cover a decent-sized audience while giving you some slack when it comes to placing the system in a room. If you have a less-than-ideal acoustic setting and have to place it off-axis to your audience, the 140-degree horizontal dispersion comes in handy, while the 30-degree vertical dispersion ensures the Eon One MK2 can be heard regardless of whether it’s on the same level as the crowd, above it on a stage, or below it at the bottom of a hall with raked seating.

The back of the cabinet is designed to safely hold the tweeter column’s three segments during transport; when removed from their slots, the tweeter array, a spacer and the battery slide together to assemble the array column, which in turn drops into a socket on the cabinet’s top (because the spacer is hollow, it would be great if it had a small compartment to carry the P.A.’s one loose item—the AC cord).

Removing the segments from the cabinet also reveals the built-in mixer on the back, based around five

channels—three XLR-1⁄4-inch combination connectors, a line input and a 3.5 mm Aux In; channels 1 and 2 offer phantom power if needed. There’s also a pair of USB slots, a bright, color LCD display, and six multifunction knob/button encoders for volume/menu access, gain, bass, mid, treble and reverb. While it is all well-labeled and accessible, the control panel is recessed into the cabinet, which I found made the labels harder to see in low-light settings. Luckily, the system can also be controlled remotely via Bluetooth with the free JBL Pro Connect app.

The app simplifies access to the P.A.’s onboard features, which include some easily found EQ presets for spoken word, male and female vocals, acoustic guitar and bass. For those who want to take a deep dive into the onboard DSP, accessing it via the app is the way to go, as it can quickly get you into the customizable settings of the Lexicon effects (reverb, chorus and delay), dbx Driverack options such as Automatic Feedback Suppression, and a Ducking by Soundcraft feature. Making changes via Bluetooth means there’s a 2- to 3-second lag before hearing the result, but that’s a small price to pay for being able to control the system remotely.

My library lectures, delivered in a small community room, a lecture hall and a former school gymnasium, required a wired mic on Ch 1, and sound from a laptop inputted through the Aux In 3.5 mm input on Ch. 5. In each venue, the Eon One MK2 was more than able to hold its own, providing clarity as it covered the crowds without knocking them over. The system can dish out 123 dB peak when using AC or 119 dB peak when running on battery power; perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn’t need to get that loud in the libraries.

Audio from film clips played back from a laptop retained their power and musicality, and using the spoken word preset gave shape and definition to the speaking voice, which particularly helped in the former gymnasium.

As for playing live music—the Eon One MK2’s raison d’être after all, as it’s mainly aimed at solo performers—it made amateurs at a loud party sound as good as it could, and clearly professional musicians could truly benefit from the

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Tech // reviews

system’s output. I plugged two vocal mics and an electric guitar into it, and each one had a defined relative presence in the resulting sound. The male and female vocal presets brought some charm to the mics, and everyone sounded far better than they deserved (myself included). Meanwhile, modern pop played back via Bluetooth (Taylor Swift’s omnipresent Midnights) sounded solid and grounded without that slightly hollow feel that some speakers have when playing back Bluetooth material.

The JBL Eon One MK2 does a lot of things well, answering the needs of a varied user base that will use it for an equally broad number of applications. Setting up and tearing down is simple and quick, and the design is durable but still stylish. The built-in mixer and DSP options will be relatively intuitive for pros, but novices will want to dig in and get to know their new system before putting it in front of an audience. While using the JBL Pro Connect app is optional, I’d recommend it for the easy access



PRODUCT: Eon One MK2 Column Speaker

WEBSITE: www.jblpro.com

PRICE: $1,249

PROS: Solid sound with nice throw; durable, sleek design; setup/tear-down is quick and simple; lots of DSP settings for pros who want to get in-depth.

CONS: Mixer labels hard to see in low-light situations; system’s many nooks could have provided a place to keep the AC cord.

to deep settings and the ability to make changes remotely.

The most important aspect of a P.A., however, is its sound, and that’s where the Eon One MK2 shines, benefitting from JBL’s decades of experience as it provides clear, enjoyable audio that covers a space well. The JBL Eon line has been a favorite for musicians and pro audio specialists for decades, and the Eon One MK2 is another prime example of why. n


graphically edit the levels and I/O routings of the filters. You can switch to Sidechain mode and then use a MIDI instrument to control the pitch of the vocoded source.

PRO EQ3 adds dynamic EQ functionality to each band of an already stellar plug-in. If you turn on Dynamic mode for a band, you can set Threshold and Range and even trigger it from a sidechain. The sidechain functionality is compelling because you can set another track to trigger the boost or cut. For example, if you have a vocal that’s getting masked by a rhythm guitar part that otherwise sounds great and well-balanced, you could set a gentle but broad attenuation on the guitar that only comes in when the vocal is present.


The new Smart Templates feature gives you starting points for the various Studio One activities (I would have said “projects,” but in Studio One world, that word refers explicitly to mastering).

On the left side of the New Document window, you’ll see a colorful list of Smart Templates such as Record Now, Play Now, Rehearse and Perform, Produce Beats, Master and Release, Create Content Import Files and more. When you open one, it’s populated with tracks, plugins and other features appropriate to its purpose.

For example, Produce Beats opens with electronic drums, synth bass and another synth sound with Step Record selected for each. The Record Now template opens to an audio track ready to record (great for capturing those unexpected song idea inspirations).

Many of the Smart Templates contain dedicated floating help windows aimed at novice users, which provide a step-by-step tutorial of the components and workflow in that template.


Unless you’re working on multichannel audio, which is not supported, Studio One 6 Professional offers everything you’d expect in a DAW and more. With its separate workspaces for recording/mixing, mastering and live performance, it’s incredibly robust and suitable for any music genre.

Thanks to the new Lyrics and Video Tracks, the improvements in the Console, and the customization options, it’s more comprehensive than ever. n

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Open Channel Profiles in Gear Lust

Gear. We love gear! But there are many different ways of loving gear—so let us count the ways.

Collectors have 47 different compressor plugins, but hey, you can never have too many compressors, right? So, it’s no surprise that their Google search history includes “best free compressor plug-ins.” They also have a hardware LA-2A and a legendary stompbox compressor to get that legendary “special legendary sound.” Of course, Collectors only actually use two or three of their compressors. Those dozens of others are on standby, waiting patiently for their chances to lead meaningful lives.

so they instead choose to go to forums and ask why this process they need to do is so difficult—and then throw in a gratuitous insult concerning the competence of the program’s coders. The discussion usually comes to an abrupt halt when some kind soul points out there’s a much simpler way to do what they want, as explained on page 65 of the manual.

The joy of collecting is an end unto itself, and the beauty of being a Collector is that you can never run out of things to collect—only the money needed to collect them. But think about it: No one makes fun of stamp collectors for having too many stamps. I rest my case.

The Smart Shoppers’ budget requires gear triage, so prioritizing is essential. They spare no expense on vitally important items like monitors, mics and preamps. But after that, it’s all about the deals. They never buy software unless it’s on sale, and they comb the Net for free starter programs (e.g., IK’s SampleTank Free, Native Instruments’ Kontakt Player) that come with just enough cool sounds to tempt many users into expanding their systems with pay-asyou-go add-ons. Smart Shoppers know that with enough of these freebies, you can end up with a pretty good collection of sounds without paying a penny.

For hardware, it’s not surprising that the Smart Shoppers have never set foot in a music store—they live for Craigslist, eBay, Gear Exchange and Reverb. Their only shopping trips are to garage sales, and the occasional pawn shop. Oh, and grocery stores. You can’t eat gear.

The Sufferers for Their Art have plenty of gear but are constantly frustrated because it’s never sufficient to express the nuances of their musical genius. Their natural habitat is online forums, where they seek solace from others. (“Why does this program, which is marketed to professionals, not have [this one specific feature that nobody else cares about]? If the manufacturer doesn’t add this to the next update, I’ll punish them by—switching to a different DAW!”)

Nothing ever seems to work properly, and their computers crash constantly. That’s not surprising, because they feel they’re entitled to run a mastering suite plug-in on every track of a 140-track project running at 192 kHz. They’re also too consumed with inspiration to refer to the manual,

Completists crave order in their gear. If they find a Pultec EQP-1, they’ll immediately scour the world for an MEQ-5 to keep it company. If a software suite has “good-better-best” price points, they must have the most comprehensive version. This carries through to all aspects of their lives: if a Completist bought a collection of the four Indiana Jones movies on BluRay, devastation occurs upon finding out there’s going to be a fifth movie that’s not in the collection. Rather than buy a Blu-Ray of the fifth movie, the Completist will wait until a new set of all five is available. Regardless, there’s one undeniable benefit to working in a Completist’s studio: There’s a helluva backline.

Conspicuous Consumers are right out of Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class, which posits that the upper class’s joy in life is flaunting their superior possessions to one-up the lower classes. For example, you backup your data. So do I. But Conspicuous Consumers archive their audio files exclusively in DSD 1024 format, because DSD clearly sounds superior, thanks to their handcrafted Japanese converter with a 700 Volt power supply (“headroom is crucial”). How fortunate that their $15,000 speakers, using unobtainium cables that cost $300/foot, can reproduce these ultra-fine gradations of sound that, tragically, you will never experience. When you mention there are free PCM-to-DSD software converters, their withering gaze drips with pity.

However, be careful not to confuse Audio Fanatics with Conspicuous Consumers. Audio Fanatics will stop at nothing to find gear that gives even a 0.001 percent sonic improvement—but they don’t weaponize high-end gear to lord over others. Here’s an easy test to tell the difference between the two: Ask what they think about recording at 384 kHz. Audio Fanatics will say that they think it sounds better than lower sample rates. Conspicuous Consumers will pause for an uncomfortably long time while staring at you, and then say, “Oh, do some people still record at lower sample rates? How…sad.”

And finally, there’s the Pragmatist, who chooses gear based on needs, learns it thoroughly, and is dedicated to recording and mixing with the best possible audio quality. But no further explanation is required because I suspect that describes most of the people reading this column. ■

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The joy of collecting is an end unto itself, and the beauty of being a Collector is that you can never run out of things to collect—only the money needed to collect them. Unfortunately, sometimes people make fun of Collectors.

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