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June 2019

A new beginning

Hot Chip talk the making of their new album and reveal why they 'had to be challenged' this time around...

Live depends on us “The PM10 is a surface I know I can walk up to and trust� Ben Clark - Production Sound Engineer, Orbital Sound

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P3 JUNE 2019 • • • EDITORIAL Editor: Daniel Gumble • +44 (0)203 871 7371 Staff Writer: Fiona Hope McDowall • +44 (0)798 3168221


Group Content Director, B2B: James McKeown • +44 (0)207 354 6015 Designer: Sam Richwood • +44 (0)207 354 6030 Managing Design Director: Nicole Cobban Production Executive: Matthew Eglinton • +44 (0)1225 687525



ADVERTISING SALES Head of Advertising and Brand Partnerships - Music: Ryan O’Donnell • +44 (0)203 889 4907 Senior Account Manager: Rian Zoll-Khan MANAGEMENT Managing Director/Senior Vice President Christine Shaw Chief Revenue Officer Luke Edson Chief Content Officer Joe Territo Chief Marketing Officer Wendy Lissau Head of Production US & UK Mark Constance SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to faqs or email ARCHIVES Digital editions of the magazine are available to view on Recent back issues of the printed edition may be available please contact for more information. LICENSING/REPRINTS/PERMISSIONS PSNE is available for licensing. Contact the Licensing team to discuss partnership opportunities. Head of Print Licensing Rachel Shaw Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA ISSN number 0269-4735 (print) © 2018


efore we get into the issue at hand, I’d like to begin with a call to action ahead of our upcoming July/August issue. Long-time readers of PSNEurope will be aware that every summer we publish a dedicated supplement entitled PSNLive, which delves deep into the live sound sector and delivers detailed insights into the key trends, events and innovations dominating the market. Last year, we introduced a new guide to the most exciting emerging talent from across the live events spectrum, with profiles on FOH and monitor engineers, to production managers and sound designers. So, if you, or anyone you know, would be suitable for a spot in this year’s PSNLive Next Generation guide, please contact me at daniel. by June 15. Now, on to June edition that sits before you. For some time now, the live audio sector has been obsessing over immersive/spatial/3D sound (call it what you will) and how such technology is shaping the future of the live events industry. However, it’s vital that the work being done at grassroots level in small to mid-sized venues and clubs is not being lost

in the shadows cast by the mega productions taking place in stadia and arenas the world over. So this month we’ve spoken to some of the live market’s foremost figures as part of a detailed report aimed at identifying the key opportunities and challenges facing this all important corner of the business (p23). Elsewhere this month, we have conducted interviews with a couple of the most exciting selfproducing artists releasing new music this month. First up, our June cover stars, Hot Chip. Over the past 15 years, the electro five-piece have spawned a string of incredible, genre-spanning albums, all produced by the band themselves. Now, for the first time, they have introduced two new producers to the fold, forcing them to completely re-think their approach in the studio, as frontman Alexis Taylor explains on p33. I also had the pleasure of speaking to the wonderful Cate Le Bon (p36), who has taken sole charge of production on her new album Reward - the first time she has done so since the release of her debut record back in 2009. For now, it’s farewell until our July/August issue. So until then, sit tight and enjoy the summer! n

Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne Non-executive chairman Richard Huntingford Chief financial officer Penny Ladkin-Brand Tel +44 (0)1225 442 244

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P4 JUNE 2019

In this issue... People P6

Dom Morley The experienced studio engineer tells us about his new venture The Mix Consultancy

P14 Eddie Thomas SSE Audio Group’s VP of special projects in Europe provides a first hand account of the work that went into the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium


P20 Katie Tavini Mastering engineer and monthly columnist Katie Tavini speaks to Normal Not Novelty founder Brendon Harding about industry diversity

Report P23 Small venues and nightclubs We hear from some of the biggest names in live sound about the key trends taking place in this crucial corner of the market P28 Holoplot Simon Duff catches up with the German pro audio specialist about their cutting edge avdvances in live sound


Interviews P33 Hot Chip This month’s PSNEurope cover stars on how they continue to challenge themselves in the studio P50 Mick Glossop The departing MPG executive director talks life after the organisation and reflects on an illustrious career in audio


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om Morley, a Grammy Award-winning recording engineer, has launched The Mix Consultancy, a service that evolved from helping out some mates into a fully fledged platform that provides advice on mixes. This could include anything from tips on engineering and production to EQ, compression and mix specifics. It is primarily aimed towards those who aren’t in education or have graduated and are finding themselves a little lost in the audio world without one-to-one tutoring – especially with the reduced number of professional studios to work in these days – and who need an extra pair of (experienced) ears. Here, Morley discusses the inspiration behind The Mix Consultancy, how his experience at Metropolis and working with legendary engineers informed his mixing approach, and the future of the new service... Filling the gap Morley explains that the need for this kind of service arose from a gap in the learning experience of some audio engineers, resulting from the increasing pressure from the industry to ‘do it yourself’. As it turns out, while the amount of professional studios has diminished – to roughly a third of what there were, Morley says – audio education has greatly improved from its position in the ‘90s, when there were only a few institutions in the UK offering music production courses. This is certainly a benefit, but education comes with a price and some people aren’t able or willing to go down that route. That’s where The Mix Consultancy comes in. “I'm the MA tutor for Leeds College of Music, Music Production,” he tells PSNEurope. “I try to teach my students as much as possible about production, mixing and the industry so that they are as well prepared as possible when they leave. Once people have left education, they are mostly making music on their own and producing from small studio set-ups. They haven't got the structure around them anymore, and there's no segue from access to a tutor whenever you like, they have to just work it out from there. That's quite a cliff to drop off. “The other side of it is, I started in studios in the late '90s and there were lots of them then. You pretty much had to be in the studio to make a professional record. That’s changed now, and it's really democratising that you can make a professional record in your bedroom, but I think it’s detrimental that people aren't getting the mentorship to make records that I was lucky enough to get. I was at Metropolis for seven years as an in-house engineer, and I got to assist and engineer for some of the biggest engineers and producers in the world, people like Tony Visconti, Phil Spector, etc. You learn so much from working with people that are 20 or 30 years more experienced than you are, which is lost on those that are doing it themselves. The option to leave

Grammy Award-winning engineer Dom Morley, who has worked with the likes of Adele, Sting, and Amy Winehouse, and spent seven years at Metropolis Studios, is bringing his 20 years experience to those who need it more than him, as Fiona Hope discovers…


a course you're doing, get a job and continue to learn off people while you get paid is much reduced. You can watch Youtube videos, join Puremix, and read, but ultimately, none of them are going to listen to your mix. He continues: “When I was learning how to mix, I would play an engineer a mix and say 'Can you tell me three things you'd fix', and from there I would learn so much about what I wasn't hearing that was wrong. What I want to do with The Mix Consultancy is offer that to anyone. So, if you're in your own little studio trying to make a record that sounds good, and you know it doesn't sound as good as what you're hearing on the radio, then send it to me and I'll tell you what I would change and provide you with a few solutions. I'm hoping that's a gap I can fill for people. As for the one-on-one approach, "it really nails down what people are missing in their mixes. If you don't know what it is or what to look for then you can't fix it.” In terms of the modern, DIY, home studio setup, Morley has adjusted just fine. “I work almost entirely

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same gear as professionals, and there's still a difference in quality. The gear you require is minimal, you've just got to get really good at critical listening, it’s the most important skill you can have.” In terms of what makes a good mix, Morley notes: “You're supposed to be delivering the emotion of the song. Whatever the song's about, you need to be supporting that in the mix as much as the production, musicians, and vocal performances have. Hopefully I can get a sense of what the song is about by the way it's been mixed, whether it's aggressive or gentle, brittle or warm.” Describing his own mixing style, Morley says it is vital to feel completely immersed in a project: “I did a lot of work at Metropolis as an assistant and engineer to Chris Potter who worked with the likes of Richard Ashcroft, The Rolling Stones, etc. His style I very much liked and I noticed I'm probably emulating or doing my own version of when I mix. “I like to feel enveloped in a mix, to feel it surrounding me. I like to have a lot of detail going on, little things that you only hear the third or fourth time you've heard it. I try and do something that you can sit in, like a big sofa.”

Man of many mixes: Dom Morley

out of my own studio,” he recalls. “I've built my own place, I've got my own gear, I run ProTools and a whole stack of outboard. I use other studios when I have to record drums but that's the only thing I do elsewhere. I remember thinking in the late '90s that the studio situation was a case of who can hold their breath the longest as there was a need for some, but nowhere near as many as there were. It's a shame, because a lot of really great facilities closed down, but you just have to move with the times. I never wanted to own a studio personally, but that's how it is. If you're a producer or a mixer you kind of need to have your own place.” Despite the multiple benefits of working out of a personalised home studio, much of what Morley learnt came from his time at the legendary Metropolis Studios. It made up the bulk of his audio education. Morley states: “I got to know a lot of different people and equipment [at Metropolis]. It meant I wasn’t afraid of any equipment, as you had to get used to so much. For example, when I started there were three different

SSL desks, an E, G and J, a Neve and a Focusrite. I ended up knowing how desks worked rather than only knowing how an SSL worked. I was open to anything that would come by and finding the best way to use it. I also got to work on a real global scale, which distills a work ethic and a sense that good is the enemy of excellence, and everything has to be excellent.” It’s not the gear, it’s the ears To be excellent, it seems, you need very little in the name of tools. Morley advocates the bare minimum of equipment for up and coming audio engineers, as it’s all about the skill. He explains: “A good DAW, whichever one you work the best with, and a handful of plugins will get you an extremely long way. It was always assumed that the difference between people making music at home and studios was the gear. Professionals kept saying, 'It's not the gear, it’s the ears' – your experience and ability to hear where the problems are and fix them. Now we've got to the stage where people at home can have the

Back to Black Morley has been widely recognised for his work as a recording engineer, particularly with Amy Winehouse winning the Single of the Year Grammy for ‘Rehab’ off of her album Back to Black. Understandably, he is particularly proud of his work on that album. “The thing I'm really pleased with is that I think it really found it's audience,” he recalls, “which is always the most frustrating thing when you work on records – when you know it's a good album, but it didn't manage to get out and happen like you know it should have. Whereas Back to Black deserved an audience and it really got one. It connected with a lot of people.” Considering his approach to making the album, Morley can see where the choices made contributed to its success. “We were aiming for something that sounded like that classic, Spector-y, girl band, you know all those records that Spector made in the '60s. It was rhythm mics, valve mics and the natural ambience of the room to try and capture the sound the way they had in order for it to sound authentic.” To sum up, Morley gives his opinion on audio education, and how The Mix Consultancy can provide the expert advice needed without ‘formal education’, per se. He concludes: “It doesn't have to be formal, but you need some kind of education. It's not like you have to go to college or university, but you have to find some way of dedicating an awful lot of time to getting better and fluent and firing off other people who already know how to do it. You can do that as part of a degree, a job in a studio, or in your spare time while enlisting the help of mix consultants.” n

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Movers and shakers Stay in the loop with the latest job appointments and movements in the professional audio industry...

Sennheiser selects Ron Holtdijk as director business communication Sennheiser has appointed Ron Holtdijk as director of business communication. He will be responsible for driving forward Sennheiser’s strategy and success in business communications, particularly in the field of ceiling array microphones and in the further growing of Sennheiser’s education market. Holtdijk will take on his new role with Sennheiser on June 1, 2019. He will be based at Sennheiser’s headquarters in Wedemark, Germany and report directly to Claussen. An accomplished audio industry executive with 25 years’ experience in the sector, Holtdijk joins Sennheiser from Bang and Olufsen, where he was director of its

global business-to-business division and played a key role in developing the company’s portfolio and go-tomarket strategy in this field. He started his career in audio at Bose Corporation in the Netherlands in 1994, and was promoted to director professional systems division for the Netherlands in 1997. In 2009, he became divisional manager professional systems, Middle East and Africa. From 2010-2014, he assumed the role of business director professional systems, EMEA. “The outstanding breadth, depth and international scope of Ron’s experience is an ideal fit for Sennheiser’s ambitious vision and company culture,” said Claussen, COO at Sennheiser.


EAW promotes Jeremy

Lexie Morgan made head

Community appoints

Forsythe to director of

of marketing of HHB

Rob Davidson for

product management


EMEA sales

Eastern Acoustic Works has promoted Jeremy Forsythe to the position of director of product management. Forsythe joined EAW in March 2017 as business development manager after working as an architect and architecture project manager in New York City, then designing nightclub sound and lighting systems in Los Angeles. "This is a great opportunity for me, and it comes at just the right time," commented Forsythe. "We have a superb group of engineering staff, and our business is strong and growing. We've developed groundbreaking technology that is making a big difference for our customers. And what you see now is just the beginning. We're developing amazing new products, and I'm excited to be a part of it." This promotion comes shortly after the return of Jeremy's father, Kenton Forsythe, to the company.

HHB Communications, a UK supplier of pro audio equipment and services, has selected Lexie Morgan as head of marketing. Morgan brings over nine years of technical marketing experience to HHB and will manage marketing and communication strategies for the company. When asked what she’ll bring to the new role, Morgan said: “As the business continues to grow, it is important for new and current customers, and brands this company serves, to understand the breadth of what we offer, and the depth of our audio expertise, and that is what I plan to do. I have a passion for branding and storytelling, and I will work to tell everyone who and what HHB is today. “The largest challenge I foresee is learning the vast catalogue of products that HHB sells. I want to do the best by HHB, so it is imperative that I learn as much as possible."

Community Professional Loudspeakers has appointed Rob Davidson as EMEA sales manager. With an early career in medical technology sales, Davidson has joined Community from the professional audio export company, PAXT Ltd., where he held the position of senior international sales manager. Davidson commented: “I’m aware of the challenges [pro audio companies] face, and the importance of a strong, close relationship with manufacturers. I had previously worked with Community products so I’m very familiar with the range. The ongoing economic challenges in Europe have become the ‘new normal’ and it takes hard work – Community makes high quality, well priced products and enjoys really strong distributor relationships, which gives us a considerable advantage.” Of his immediate plans, Davidson is going to “meet as many of the distributors as quickly as possible.”

P11 JUNE 2019

Back with a bang

Apocalypse Now has been re-released forty years after it first hit the screens back in 1979 – as the Final Cut version – with the help of Meyer Sound’s Sensual Sound, a new technology that brings cinematic sound to the next level. Fiona Hope caught up with Meyer Sound’s Miles Rogers to find out more…


orty years after its original 1979 release, filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola’s celebrated masterpiece of the Vietnam War era has been restored, remastered and re-released as Apocalypse Now Final Cut. The Final Cut version comes with an introduction of Sensual Sound, developed by Coppola's production company American Zoetrope in partnership with Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc. of Berkeley, California. Under Coppola’s personal supervision, a team from American Zoetrope remastered the film’s visuals in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision from the original negatives, and transferred the soundtrack to high-resolution 96 kHz digital for remixing and remastering in Dolby Atmos. Here, we talk to Meyer Sound’s business development manager, cinema and content creation markets, Mile Rodgers, about the exciting new project… Tell us about Sensual Sound technology and its impact on Apocalypse Now? Francis wanted Apocalypse Now's audiences to “feel” what war was really like by creating a visceral, deep, low frequency impact you could feel before you could hear. When the movie first came out, this could not be fully realised as the technology wasn’t there yet. This is where Sensual Sound comes in. Low frequency sound is not just about explosions. Yes, you can feel explosions in cinema like never before, but Sensual Sound goes way beyond that. It is known that low frequency sounds cause the body to release adrenaline. There are many intense scenes in Apocalypse Now, and the emotional content of those scenes has always been supported by amazing sound design. With this new sonic colour, this film can now dig into those emotions like never before. How does it work? Sensual Sound was made possible with the introduction of the Very Low Frequency Control subwoofer from Meyer Sound. Originally developed to test satellites to make sure they could withstand the stress of launch forces as they were put into orbit, John Meyer suggested that we experiment using these new VLFC subwoofers in cinema. By optimising the response of the VLFC and time aligning them with the standard LFE subwoofers, we found a new sonic territory.

Left to right: John Meyer and Francis Ford Coppola

Sensual Sound is built on a simple loudspeaker design principal of linearity that is the core of every Meyer Sound loudspeaker. With the introduction of the VLFC subwoofers, we can now consistently recreate those most challenging power hungry frequencies on the dub stage and in the theatre. There are many films that have a lot of Low Frequency Effect in their soundtrack, but now sound designers and mixers have the ability to hear and feel frequencies that dip into the infra-sonic range. If you can hear those frequencies you can control them, and if you can control them you can be creative.

This relationship has continued to build with a few major milestones. In 1979, John first introduced the 650 for Apocalypse Now. In 2009 Meyer Sound’s Acheron screen channels, X800c subwoofers for LFE, and UPJunior for the surround channels were installed. In 2018, for the ATMOS pre-mix we expanded the system to include UP-4Slim for the overhead surrounds, and the VLFC subwoofers that would evolve into Sensual Sound. American Zoetrope has put a lot of trust in Meyer Sound. We greatly value this relationship as it has allowed a platform to explore the creative potential of cinema sound that new technologies can offer.

What was Meyer Sound’s involvement? The team from American Zoetrope came to the Meyer Sound Berkeley campus for a demo of this new technology, and Francis immediately saw John Meyer’s vision and the storytelling potential. With the approval of Francis we installed this system on the Rutherford Stage at American Zoetrope in Napa, CA.

How will this impact the future of film sound? Sensual Sound allows sound designers and mixers to hear the entire sound track that is printed and released to the public. There have been many threads on home theatre forums about soundtracks that have low frequencies that go beyond the SMPTE specification for LFE. The challenge was that these frequencies were being printed, but never heard by the filmmakers. With Sensual Sound, filmmakers can now hear those frequencies and use them creatively. The new mix of Apocalypse Now: Final Cut will be released in August on Blu-Ray. n

What is the relationship between Coppola’s production company and Meyer Sound? American Zoetrope was one of the very first locations where Meyer Sound cinema systems were installed.

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Navigating the audioverse Yamaha has launched a series of webinars aimed at pro audio professionals, hosted by Yamaha's own product specialists Andy Cooper and Karl Christmas, who gave PSNEurope some insight into the new initiative...


amaha has introduced a series of webinars that form a part of its new Audioversity training initiative, aimed at professional audio engineers, systems integrators and venue technicians. This new series will cover a wide range of pro-level topics aimed at the live production, hospitality, house of worship, corporate installation and broadcast markets. The first session covered system design using CL and QL series digital mixing consoles. Hosted by Yamaha product specialists and recognised pro audio industry veterans Andy Cooper and Karl Christmas, the new webinar series kicked off on May 1 and will continue monthly. Each webinar will take place twice daily in order to be available to as many participants as possible globally. Participants will need to register in advance for each webinar. Here, we catch up with Christmas and Cooper to find out more about the initiative and what makes it unique...

Left to Right: Karl Christmas and Andy Cooper

Tell us more about the Audioversity training initiative… Yamaha’s Audioversity initiative is aimed at formalising and giving global structure to all our training activities that have, up until now, been handled on a regional basis. By pooling and sharing training material and projects, Yamaha can now offer far more structured and better training content to its customers, no matter where they are located in the world.

What sort of topics will you cover? Topics will be varied. They will include standard ‘how to use and operate’ various equipment types, along with advanced system and networking topics, through to best practice in programming for commercial installations, as well as integration with third party products. The first two webinars will focus on Yamaha’s CL and QL series consoles, and how to get started working with simple Dante networks.

How will this initiative help audio professionals progress? By the very nature of professional audio work, due to schedules and the ever changing technology that engineers use, there is a constant need for personal self-development in order to stay ahead of the game. Our training aims to support this by offering a broad set of training opportunities that will cover many topics either face to face, via webinars or by having access to video and written training material.

What was the motivation behind this initiative? We understand that users and investors need to constantly improve their skill set and maximise their return on investment. The Audioversity framework will allow us to directly ensure that our customers get the most out of Yamaha equipment as well as audio systems in general.

Who is it aimed at? Engineers and technicians in the live touring, theatre, house of worship industries and installers and system integrators in the fixed commercial installation market. However, there is nothing to say that those working in other areas, such as education, broadcast and corporate AV, will not benefit from the varied content.

What makes Yamaha’s teaching approach unique? Yamaha is lucky enough to have a very large, closeknit global team of very experienced technical staff. Cumulatively, they have been presenting to and training end users for decades, amassing a great deal of knowledge on how to clearly explain the subject matter. Also, because the global training team is so interactive, they are able to share insights amongst each other as

well as understand the subjects from the perspective of all parts of the world. What do you make of today’s audio education? Audio education varies from region to region. Some are good and some not so. We find that our classes are particularly in demand in places where the traditional type of education is lacking. We provide a number of tiers of training classes, so we can tailor them to the needs and expectations of the attendees. It’s always better to learn to walk before learning to run. Our main concern would be that some ‘training’ events can turn out to be more of a sales pitch. We try to make our training as non-partisan as possible, given that we are a manufacturer. We are always happy to discuss using Yamaha gear together with a range of third party equipment, taking a system-wide approach. What can audio professionals do to stay up to date with the industry? As we know, audio professionals’ lives are often nomadic, making attendance to training difficult. We would recommend that people take every opportunity to absorb training from manufacturers and professional bodies such as AVIXA or The Association of Sound Designers. If they cannot make it to a specific event, then webinars could be an ideal solution. And if you miss the live broadcast, catch up online later! n

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The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Changing the game After nearly four years in construction, Tottenham Hotspur moved into their new state-of-the art stadium at the beginning of April 2019. SSE Audio Group was appointed to design and integrate the comprehensive audio and PAVA systems throughout the 62,000 seat stadium, including the bowl and hospitality areas, through to the dressing rooms, bars, restaurants and everything else between. The team of SSE project managers and engineers was led by Eddie Thomas, VP special projects in Europe for SSE Audio Group, and this is the audio story in his own words…


SE Audio has a long history in tour and festival sound system rentals and, more recently, installations in venues of all kinds. My area of expertise is in the larger Special Projects, where audio plays a major role in the safety and emergency systems of the site. We have a wealth of experience working in the Public Address and Voice Alarm (PAVA) sector, designing and installing systems in, for example, The O2 Arena, Swansea’s Liberty Stadium and in safety critical workplaces such as road tunnels and nuclear power stations. As the official audio supplier for the stadium, Harman Professional Audio Solutions provided most of the equipment for the installation with over 5,500 JBL loudspeakers on the site, all powered by Crown Amplifiers. After the initial audio consultancy work carried out by Vanguardia, utilising a different manufacturer’s equipment, I began the task of redesigning the audio system at Spurs using the appointed Harman equipment throughout the stadium. At modern sporting facilities our focus is on two distinct functions: providing high quality audio throughout as part of the entertainment package and delivering information, safety and evacuation announcements as part of the venue’s security and emergency procedures. The PA systems at Tottenham can also be split into two separate elements; the main (FOH) system comprises line arrays that are flown from the stadium roof to provide audio inside the bowl; in addition, there are speakers throughout every BOH area, including concourses, private boxes, bars, toilets, car parks etc to ensure coverage for everyone within the complex.

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All around the bowl, you’ll see the distinctive line arrays. These comprise of JBL VLA 2100 Compact cabinets with VLA C125S subwoofers. A total of 154 cabinets and 54 sub bass cabinets make up the 18 line arrays we’ve deployed. Using 3D acoustic modelling we calculated that each array should be between eight and 12 cabinets to ensure coverage to every seat. We then recommended the addition of the sub bass cabinets for each array. These are essential when you take account of Spurs’ plans to use the stadium for more than football, including the demanding audio requirements of the NFL. The sub bass cabinets are configured in cardioid configuration, which cuts down on reflections off the main stadium roof. Each array is contained within a custom flying flame bolted directly to the stadium roof. After liaising with the stadium steelwork supplier Severfield, the frames were designed and manufactured by our in house manufacturing arm, Sigma Fabrications. Each frame was loaded with the JBL VLA 2100s and VLA C125S subs before being shipped to site. We also developed a special cart that allows each array to be carried and hoisted into position. The cart remains here on site for when the arrays are lowered in the future for inspection and maintenance. Jake Miller and Paul Lambert, two of SSE Audio’s most experienced project managers, have been resident on site for the past 18 months as site managers and supervisors overseeing the installation of equipment and cabling. Throughout the concourse areas we have installed JBL pendant and ceiling mount speakers to provide audio and deliver stadium announcements. With over 5,000 speakers required, we sub-contracted the physical BOH cable, containment and loudspeaker installation work to Tyco, before conducting testing and commissioning to bring the systems online. The entire audio system at Tottenham’s stadium is built on a digital network. At the heart of this are a pair of QSC Q-Sys Cores. The cores provide all the digital signal processing (DSP) and signal routing for each of the 5,000 loudspeakers on site. This constitutes one of the largest Q-Sys networks we have ever assembled and we have really pushed the envelope in our exploration of its capabilities. Over the past few years, we’ve developed our knowledge and experience of the technology and it’s now our go-to solution for projects of this type. As the system is a critical element of the fire and evacuation procedures, the network has comprehensive redundancy built in throughout. There are many levels to the redundancy: two cores run simultaneously, one as a primary system, the other as a backup. If the backup detects a failure of the primary it will changeover and take control automatically. The main network is on a fibre optic backbone and there are two separate paths run over different physical routes to every device - in the event of a fire or other failure damaging the network in one place then there’s

still a physical route in place. Adjacent loudspeakers in any area will be on separate channels A and B, fed by different amplifiers. In the event of a failure, be it a critical one where all of one channel goes down throughout the stadium or just a single amplifier channel develops a fault, at least 50 per cent of the loudspeakers in an area will remain in operation. In addition to the digital infrastructure there’s also an analogue backup - ultimately, if the entire network went down we could still put out paging announcements to the entire stadium - it’s incredibly robust in terms of its fault tolerance. AVI, the AV contractor for the project has installed hundreds of screens and local control interfaces throughout the venue, all running on a separate QSC Q-Sys network. SSE worked with AVI to bridge the audio and AV networks together, allowing audio from the screens and local interfaces to be routed to the speakers local to each screen. The system is configured so the PAVA system is always top in the priority hierarchy, so in the event of an emergency or public safety announcement, the external audio is overridden by the PAVA system. One of our key challenges was to integrate the JBL loudspeakers with the Q-Sys platform to provide a system that not only provided flexible audio routing throughout the site, but is also the robust, fault tolerant and monitored system that PAVA requirements dictate. We worked with Harman to develop the software plugin for the Crown amplifiers, essential to provide control and monitoring for the Q-Sys system. All the Audio transport is Dante, so that wasn’t a major issue, but we developed the plugin to provide the system health over the network. For a PAVA application, not only does

your system have to work, you have to be able to see in real time if a failure should occur. Most of the programming for the project has been carried out by SSE's technical specialist Paul Todd. Paul has been instrumental in developing SSE’s knowledge and understanding of the Q-Sys system over recent years. He has developed numerous innovations using the platform across a wide range of projects that means we can deliver really complex solutions on easily understood graphical screens. He was responsible for programming and developing the user interfaces for the system. Touch screen GUIs (graphical user interfaces) present system control in a logical and simple format. The system can be viewed on a map of the stadium, allowing the user to select a zone or zones and then route audio to their selection. Working on a new build project of this scale obviously has its own unique challenges. There are so many different contractors and trades all working on site and you need to coordinate your work schedule with and around them. Much of this coordination was managed by our onsite project manager Jake Miller. There’d be times when we’d be wanting to install a speaker in a ceiling space, only to discover that the ceiling wasn’t built yet, so you have to reschedule your workload. The SSE Audio team has lived and breathed this project for the past two years, so we are really pleased to see the stadium up and running and football return to White Hart Lane. Spurs can now boast an audio system to match the excellence of the whole stadium, with audio quality and high SPLs delivered to every seat. It’s an incredibly flexible system, fit for the variety of applications the stadium requires and is an integral part of the public safety system. n

The stadium's sound system is 'incredibly flexible'

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Producer, DJ, broadcaster, journalist: KG, aka Karen Nyame, is among the audio industry’s most versatile talents. Daniel Gumble spoke to her about her roots in London’s pirate radio circuit and what it takes to achieve longevity…


’m addicted to building things from scratch; that’s where the beauty is,” Karen Nyame, perhaps better known as KG, tells PSNEurope over a latte in the sporadically populated bar area of Shoreditch’s citizenM hotel. The overcast conditions outside on this grey mid-April Monday afternoon are at odds with Nyame’s mood, as she enthuses and eulogises about everything from her love of working with emerging artists, the power of pirate radio and her role with Red Bull Studios and its Normal Not Novelty programme. Each of these topics, along with numerous others, come under discussion over the course of our conversation, as we reflect on pivotal moments from across a career that is as distinguished as it is varied. Her first steps into record production were taken at just eight years old when she developed an obsession with music programming, setting her on a path that would lead not only to a career behind the desk as a producer, but one that would also see her excel in the fields of broadcast and journalism. She has fronted programmes on Westside Radio 89.6 FM and BBC Radio 1Xtra, whilst also securing regular guest spots on NTS, Reprezent Radio and Rinse FM. “I’ve had maybe 13-14 years working on production, sharpening my craft,” she reflects. “It started from a really young age. My parents used to get me these digital workstations for PC that had all these pre-made house loops on them, so the fascination started then. We also had a lot of instruments at home, so it was a natural thing for me to get into music from a young age.” Crucial to Nyame’s development was her engagement with local pirate radio. Hailing from North London, she was already acutely aware of the scene’s ability to help break an artist.

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“My connection to pirate radio in London was vital,” she says. “Culturally it’s centred around very British sounds, so UKG (garage), grime and the house element. A lot of people built their careers around these genres at underground level, so I started sending my stuff to DJs. I was producing a hybrid genre of house called UK funky: very bassy and falling into the Afro beat realm too. “That scene was so influential, it dictated the musical climate,” Nyame continues. “Commercial radio stations were looking at what the underground stations were doing and emulating that. That’s where you’d find talent, from the roots upwards. Pirate radio was very prominent within African Carribean cultures and communities too. A lot of talent was birthed from these platforms that weren’t legal at the time! It provided a voice for talent that was often overlooked. Even as a producer I had access to DJs who would allow for my music to be played out, and that's when the buzz started to build. The mainstream is always going to play catch-up.” Since the days of Nyame’s childhood fascination with programming beats, the title ‘producer’ has not so much shifted as mutated into an ever-changing term imbued with whichever qualities the beholder wishes to apply. For some, the producer is essentially a composer who ‘produces’ beats and lays the foundations for a record, for others they are a sounding board responsible for helping shape the sonic DNA of a body of work. In Nyame’s case, her commitment to educating herself on everything from beat composition to recording, mixing and engineering has enabled her to be whatever producer her clients require. “There’s a stark difference between somebody who makes beats and somebody who can corroborate a real production session,” she explains. “I studied music technology in college and that’s when I decided I wanted to go further with learning how to engineer, how to mix, and how to record. There are different stems of music production but you can be successful in any. I know producers who don’t have an elaborate set up at home but are producing amazing music for mainstream artists. For me, I like to know what I’m doing. I also like to engineer sessions, having that connection to the artist as we build something from scratch.” So, does her extensive knowledge give her an advantage over others lacking her technical acumen? “Absolutely, especially if you want to monetise it,” she says in the affirmative. “That’s the difference between doing something short-term and having longevity in the music industry. It gives you greater scope to work with more people. "All of these skills are beneficial. There will come a point where taking shortcuts may hinder your progression as a producer. However, there are some younger producers out there doing it the quick and easy way, and they are monetising their work, so great.” One of Nyame’s favourite things about producing

Karen 'KG' Nyame

records is helping up and coming artists to define and hone their sound. “I’m selective when it comes to working with artists; it’s like a seasonal thing for me,” she explains. “However, I like working with up and coming artists and coining their sound early on. There's something really beautiful about that process. It can take time, as they are still trying to establish their sound, and you have to have patience, but it’s fruitful when it’s done. Working solo on my own stuff is almost a subconscious thing, but with an artist, you have to work closely on it. “Initially, even with artists that are exceptionally talented, they don’t really have an ear for sound early on,” she continues. “They don’t know what they like yet. 80 per cent of the time I get: ‘Hey Karen, I want an Afro beat and I want some grime elements,’ and I’m like, 'What do you mean?!' It takes time to establish a direction, and you have to let them know what you’re there to do. It’s important that a producer can simplify ideas and make sure the artist can process what’s happening, and also that they are realistic about the process and the time scale. Sometimes they’ll say, ‘We can get this mastered today as well, right?' On a recent project I did, a five track EP, the artist was asking if we’d get all five songs mixed in two days… “My advice to anyone wanting to get into the game now would be to study. Coin a sound, coin a signature. Producers with a signature sound really do have legacy.

It will possibly take you 10 years to become an overnight success, but it’ll be worth it.” Before we part ways, Nyame is keen to discuss her work with Normal Not Novelty – Red Bull Studios’ gender diversity initiative aimed at providing a networking and educational hub for women of all skill levels working in the studio sector – for which she holds and curates production workshops. The project has been lauded across the board, earning high praise from virtually all who have attended or participated, whilst also scooping the first ever Campaign Award at the 2018 Pro Sound Awards. “It’s amazing getting to hang out with all of these incredible producers who also happen to be women,” she concludes. “My alias is KG, which has no gender prefix. Sometimes people would book me and assume I was a guy; when I started it was almost unheard of for a woman to be skilled in this area and doing it well. But now the gates are opening. I came up against a lot of misogyny and condescending attitudes in the studio. I actually had to take some time off from music because emotionally it was just a bit much, trying to create while having to deal with sexism. It can really hurt your confidence. But I’ve seen more and more women now going into studios, being respected and not being patronised. Normal Not Novelty has done so much for women aspiring to be producers and DJs. We have a way to go but the ball is rolling, which is exciting.” n

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Community spirit Mastering engineer and PSNEurope columnist Katie Tavini speaks to Red Bull Studios Normal Not Novelty founder Brendon Harding about the impact of the project and diversity in the pro audio industry...

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No. This is not how it should go. Don’t use me as a get out card for helping someone out. That’s not how community works. And we are the pro audio community. As I said, I am always grateful to be able to have interesting conversations with engineers and producers. However, if someone asks you for help then just either go ahead and help them or say that you don’t have the time, but don’t make this about gender! To find out more about how anyone can be a better ally for women and LGBT+ people in the music industry, I spoke to Brendon Harding, founder of Red Bull Studios' Normal Not Novelty: Hey Brendon! Congratulations on making it on She Said So’s Alt Power list for your work with Church Studios on International Woman’s Day and for founding Red Bull’s Normal Not Novelty! What first made you decide that something needed to be done to help change the gender balance in the music industry? Firstly, thank you. I was honoured to be recognised by an organisation that’s doing so much good work to help women in the music industry. I had been wanting to encourage young engineers at Red Bull pretty much since I started there in 2010 and trialled, unsuccessfully, various assistant/runner programmes.

time. Normal Not Novelty was completely altruistic but also indirectly helping my daughters, should they want to work in music. You’ve been in the studio industry almost 15 years now. How is the gender balance different to when you first started? I, like many men in studios, saw very few female engineers or assistants as I was starting out, often the only female presence in a studio was the studio manager or the artists themselves. I don’t think many men thought that there was a problem with that until fairly recently and the wider conversations around diversity and inclusion have helped the whole scene take a good look at itself. The imbalance is thankfully starting to shift, with recognition coming to the female engineers that have been doing great work for years, like Olga Fitzroy, Mandy Parnell, Catherine Marks in the UK and the likes of Sylvia Massy, Ms. Lago and Dr Susan Rogers internationally. There is also now a new wave of great runners, assistants and engineers that all happen to be female, such as Fi Roberts at Strongroom, Chloe Kraemer at The Church Studios and Emma Marks at RAK, so I’m heartened and excited to think of what the industry will look like in the next five years. How can men be better allies for women and LGBT+ people in the music industry?


ne of the definitions of ‘ally’ in the Oxford English dictionary, when used as a noun, is: ‘A person or organisation that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.’ Let’s remember that for later on. Now, every week I get a good amount of emails from women who are interested in audio engineering, mastering and music production. I LOVE IT. I get asked and answer all sorts of questions that (hopefully) help them on their paths to being kick-ass engineers, and that subsequently make me question myself and what I’m doing, which is amazing. I’m very grateful that such fantastic people decide to get in touch. However, I am very rarely their first port of call as a source of information. I would estimate that around 80 per cent of the emails I receive start a little something like this: “Hi Katie, I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch, but {x engineer} recommended I ask you these questions about working as an engineer because you’re female too.”


As I looked at my two young daughters around 2015, I had the greatest moment of foresight I’ve ever had – if I wanted them to have a more even chance of getting into the audio industry when they started looking for work, I needed to do something about it now and not in 15 years

Firstly you have to want to do it – if you’re only doing it because you think that’s what everyone else is doing, then you’ll probably do it wrong and potentially hurt people in the process. Be realistic about how you can help. What can you commit to doing on a regular, but not necessarily unrealistically frequent basis? Could you mentor someone? Could you do talks or run workshops? Do you have a specific skill set or niche knowledge that you’d be willing to share with others? The most important thing I’ve learnt is to engage with and listen to the people that need help. The easiest and best way to do that is to get involved with existing organisations that are trying to solve the imbalances in the industry. I recently compiled a list of over 50 groups that are making changes in a variety of different ways and they are almost always looking for more help and volunteers – both male and female. If you’re confident in your intentions and are open to learning as well as sharing, then you can be an amazing ally. n

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TALK The small venues/clubs market has endured a challenging time of late, yet it is still a hugely significant sector in the wider pro audio industry. Here, we talk to top pro audio manufacturers about their experiences of the market and how such venues are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of high quality, versatile sound...

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n recent years, the pro audio headlines have largely been dominated by the ongoing developments in immersive sound across large scale productions and theatrical performance. However, there is still plenty of innovative and exciting work being done at grassroots level in small venues and clubs all over the world. Of course, this sector is not without its challenges. To find out more, we spoke to some of the live sound industry’s key players to hear about the current state of the small venue and nightclub market and its significance to their business…

PIONEER PRO AUDIO Jamie Gomez, head of marketing, EMEA and Alex Barrand, technical manager Alex Barrand: In my opinion, some of the best dance venues I've been to are actually the smallest ones. With Ministry of Sound, for example, the main room holds 800 people and in its day, people were going there to see a headline DJ. Although the club's quite big, it's the small room that is the heartbeat of the night. Lately, there's a lot more festivals going on, and this is taking away from the club scene in fixed venues. The smaller venues that are popping up are unique, natural and more intimate. Do you work with many small venues? AB: We work with many different sized venues, and quite a lot of the small venues I've commissioned and installed have been in Japan. Japanese venues are notoriously small and intimate – some are about 150 capacity but have sound systems that can deliver to 1,000 capacity. They're audiophiles over there, they really pay attention to sound. With these types of venues, you've got to keep people in a small space, comfortably, for eight hours, and you can't do that with a full on L/R system. It needs to be more immersive as opposed to just stereo. It’s fun to go back to the raw, old school surround speakers around the dance floor. Jamie Gomez: In the UK, we've done a couple of smaller places, such as China Whites, Aures in Leake St, McQueen in Shoreditch, and Fabric club.

81, I wanted to design a comfortable eight inch two-way speaker that can be used low-level in a restaurant or bar. We now have an extended range – the XY2 and XY3 – and we've managed to fine tune the products to fit what our network installers wanted. Anyone can bring out an eight or 12 inch speaker, but it's the voicing and how it blends into an environment that makes the difference. In terms of what the market wants, the sound has to be good, but the aesthetics must be a consideration. Sometimes people want to see something a bit more techy, and in your face. We’ve kept the XYs as they are with that neutral black look, yet the XY2 and XY3 have a flamboyancy with a gold plug. How important is this market to the brand? AB: Small venues are a core part of our business, they make up our regular orders, such as the small XY 81s and the 115 subwoofers. With the compact stuff, you're selling much bigger volumes and consistently, whereas the bigger ones come along every now and again. Big projects take a lot of time and stock, yet smaller venues are much easier to deal with. However, it’s very much a hands on approach for any sized project. We treat every small venue as if they are the biggest venue we've ever worked on, working closely with installers to make sure the selection of enclosures is right for the space. There are some venues that are small and looking for a cheap solution to sound, but venues having a variety of performances need a reliable system to adapt and change to that schedule. That's where we find ourselves in this environment. Our product is not cheap, but if you're looking for a powerful performance, you have to pay for it. JG: There's a trend with small venues trying to increase revenue by putting on different nights. A sound system is a marketable tool that you can put on your website. Our customer, Aures, uses their Pioneer sound system to market their venue. When they invite clients down to the venue, they always do an audio demo. That's how small venues are looking to stand out from the crowd.

MARTIN AUDIO James King, marketing director

What makes your products ideal for this sector? JG: The product line up we have is very well suited to these small venues, even our larger speaker, the XY 3B. It's also the flexibility of the speakers. One of the reasons McQueen went for the box was its versatility for handling all types of music. AB: In the beginning, we weren't really focusing on large venues. At the time, the biggest product we had was a 15 inch two-way box, but with the introduction of XY3, we've ended up being one of the go-to brands for some larger clubs. The first XY speakers we launched were the XY 81 and XY 122 with XY 118 and XY215 subwoofers. With the XY

Do you see any trends in the small venue/club market? The market for small live and club venues has been under pressure recently, both in terms of local authority rulings and changing consumer habits. While this creates a number of challenges, we are seeing a real opportunity for a different kind of venue that is growing in popularity. There is an emerging trend of multi-use establishments that serve as restaurants, pubs or bars and also offer live music or a nightclub opportunity. This tends to maximise the usage of the spaces and, as a result, its patronage as well. While standalone small live venues and clubs still exist and sometimes upgrade


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their audio, it has been noticeable recently that more have closed down than opened. From Martin Audio’s perspective, that makes it more important than ever to create flexible, adaptable products that deliver excellent sound quality at the right price. How important is this market to the brand? We see the market for live entertainment as a key area for both our heritage and our future. Small venues and clubs sit perfectly within our wider hospitality sector because of the emerging multi-use venue trend. This is an area that Martin Audio has consistently performed well in, particularly over the last four years as our portfolio has grown. Has your focus on the area changed? We want to ensure that the next generation of performers continue to have the pathway to the top that small venues have always provided. We have been looking at how we can work with them by examining trends in the market and understanding how our products can help the venues to better meet requirements. This has involved us exploring product costs, flexibility, ease of deployment as well as solving common issues. What are the biggest challenges of the market? Venues becoming multi-use has meant that loudspeakers need to be flexible and as cost effective as background speakers, but with the capacity to support foreground usage. Different aspects of a venue will require different types of solution, sometimes with varying budget restrictions. However, it’s important that the same signature sound is present to connect the different facets of the space and ensure that patrons experience the same clarity, precision and richness of tone throughout the venue. Equally, with the noise abatement restrictions faced by some venues, technology that allows for the effective control of sound is also a factor. Consistent coverage is a must for every project, but to ensure that these venues continue to support the talent coming through they have to be confident that the sound will stay within the club. Do you have any examples of key projects within this sector? Yes. We recently deployed a Martin Audio WPM loudspeaker system at a local community-owned and operated Festival Drayton Centre in Market Drayton. Martin Audio’s CDD sound system was recently installed in the SX Sky Bar nightclub and lounge that occupies two floors of Hotel Essex across from Chicago’s Grant Park. What makes your products ideal for small venues/clubs? Martin Audio's portfolio offers loudspeakers for the Chicago's SX Sky bar equipped with Martin Audio's CDD sound system

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same application at a variety of price points. This ensures that we can help a venue make the most of its budget while meeting the specific requirements of the given space. Our CDD range delivers as both a background and foreground solution. It provides wide, consistent coverage and ensures cost effective install and maintenance.

MEYER SOUND John Monitto, director of business development Have you noticed any trends in this market? I know the demand for better, more powerful low end headroom is present for clubs, especially those with EDM. We’re seeing the need for powerful subwoofer systems that can blanket an audience with low frequency content of the music being presented. How important is this market to the brand? Very important. Meyer Sound’s UPAs have always sold well in this market, and we now expect that the ULTRA-X40, our new point source loudspeaker, will find the same or greater success. What are the biggest challenges of the market? Budgets can be tight in newer clubs that are just getting off the ground. These clubs recognise that sound is crucial to the success of dance or live performance, but it’s a big investment.

Tape London with d&b system

Do you have any examples of key projects? The Fillmore in San Francisco or the Iridium in New York are great examples of landmark venues with Meyer.

this area, with dedicated segment management, and working with industry associations and artists to further brand awareness and build market understanding.


What are the biggest challenges of working with small venues? The main challenge for smaller venues seems to be to establish themselves and become profitable in an environment that is increasingly dominated by large multi-venue operators. According to the European Venue Association, around 30 per cent of a venue’s income comes from ticket sales, 20 per cent from food and beverage, while up to 35 per cent are subsidies (mainly governmental support programmes). While larger operators have their professional teams available, the smaller grassroot venues often need to rely on volunteers and/or passionate people who work for less. This especially applies to the smaller European live music venues where on average 16 people work full time, approximately 40 per cent of them volunteers. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently released a new environmental noise guideline to the European Union which classed sound coming from live music performances as noise pollution. The guideline is under review by several venue associations. This is another challenge, as in the future smaller venues may

Michael Kinzel, segment manager, live and entertainment venues Are you aware of any trends in the small venue/club market? We’re seeing a trend for high quality audio installs in smaller venues. Among others, this comes from owners/operators who watch the live touring market and want the same products/brands/sound signature in their venues. How significant is this market to business? It is very important to us, as there’s a large number of smaller venues dedicated to top quality entertainment concepts. On top of that, smaller venues are often the homes of upcoming artists and talent: a perfect opportunity for them to see the exceptional quality they can get from great equipment. Has your focus on the area developed? For the last few years, d&b has focused more on

need to take greater measures to avoid noise emissions – which could discourage sound investment. Do you have any key examples of projects within this sector? Tape London, based in Mayfair, recently upgraded with a d&b sound system made up of 24S-D and 10S-D loudspeakers. A d&b sound system of Y and V Series, is installed in East London’s Pickle Factory. The Ukrainian nightclub CHI by Decadence House installed d&b.

EAW TJ Smith, president Do you see any trends in this sector? Small venues and clubs are increasingly fashion focused, meaning that the aesthetics of the product are of key importance and preferences change over time. The design isn't required to draw attention to itself, many venues prefer that the product be as architecturally transparent as possible. The demand for excellent coverage throughout the venue at a cost effective price and ease of install remain paramount. How has your focus on this market developed? Our focus has changed in relation to aesthetics and ease

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of install. EAW has always offered cost effective solutions with excellent coverage. Over the past year, EAW has spent hours conceiving, testing, and refining the look and ease of install of our products. These elements have gone from an afterthought to something clearly defined in our definition and validation documentation. What are the challenges of the market? End users are focused on cost, as audio is not the first thought in a small venue. The value of a professionally designed and installed solution is typically not valued as highly as it ought to be. What makes your products suitable for small venues and nightclubs? This sector has always been a busy one for EAW. The technology found in our large format touring and installation speaker systems tends to find its way into our small format enclosures.

FUNKTION-ONE Ann Andrews, manager How significant is this market to your business? It’s important, of course. Our engineering approach and performance standards are embedded in the design of every loudspeaker we make, and that includes our Compact Series. The smaller speakers, such as F81s or F101s, open up the deployment possibilities, in that venues can create zones and really tailor the sound to the specific layout of a particular venue.

every type of venue, whatever the size, and achieving the best sonic result is paramount.

L-ACOUSTICS David Dohrmann, head of application install Do you see any trends in the market? Live music clubs are trending more in Europe, whereas EDM clubs are traditionally big in Asia. The big Asian markets for premium Karaoke Clubs or gigantic EDM venues, which require surprisingly high specification, don’t really exist elsewhere. It seems one trending design approach does not really exist – clubs are asking for fairly specific requirements and architecture making for a high level of customisation. There is an increasingly extensive use of video and immersive audio technology which leads to more sophisticated audio requirements. This holds true even for smaller clubs. We recently worked with an electronic artist called Molecule who commonly does shows in 300-400 pax venues using our immersive L-ISA technology. As for live clubs, we are currently testing the waters with a fixed L-ISA install in a London

Funktion-One installed in the Leyton Star

Do you see any trends in the small venue/ clubs market? It’s difficult to make too many generalisations when addressing the trends of such a large geographic market, but venues are certainly broadening what they offer to become more multi-purpose. Live venues offer club nights, clubs are putting on gigs, and bars are extending their operating times as alternative late night venues. This can mean that some venues decide to pay more attention to the quality of the sound system, but not always. What are the biggest challenges of the market? Budgets for smaller venues can be a challenge, but we pride ourselves on never over-specifying a job. Our loudspeakers are incredibly efficient and offer performance that surpasses expectation. By focusing on quality rather than quantity, we’re able to be competitive while delivering the highest audio standards. How are your products suited to small venues? Our opinion is that the same audio principles apply to

club called EartH (900 pax), a traditional live venue which hosts bands who typically have never worked with L-ISA before. After testing the system during a quick sound check it turns out that approx. 90 per cent of the bands end up using the system for their show. How important is this market to the brand? It is very important, but also very much dependant on the country. For example, Holland has a tradition of high performance concert stages that tend to spec line source arrays like our K Series. Asia – especially China – has a lot ultra high spec nightclubs and you’ll see a whole panoply of different types of speakers in there. We think this kind of a market is perfect for the new ARCS Series (A15 & A10 with KS21 Sub) which is targeted at these smaller spaces with smaller teams, without leaning too much on the budget. What are the biggest challenges of the market? Smaller clubs do not always procure their sound system with the help of professionals. L-Acoustics is responding to this by constantly adding application resources and scaling the global training activities. n

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Berlin-based audio manufacturer Holoplot is making significant impact on the industry with its beam forming and steering technology, bringing a newfound flexibility to the sonic experience. Simon Duff reports…

oudspeaker manufacturers are increasingly investing in beam steering technology to realise better sonic experiences in difficult acoustic environments. And Berlin-based company Holoplot is taking a radically different approach, introducing what it claims to be an innovative technology with unprecedented flexibility in the creation of sonic experiences. The company develops software and hardware products based on wave field synthesis that enable precise, real-time adjustment of loudspeaker directivity, wavefront synthesis and fully flexible beam steering, both vertically and horizontally. Its technology is pushing the audio industry to rethink existing methods, improving sonic experiences across industry sectors and delivering new levels of speech intelligibility and homogeneous coverage over long distances and unique immersive soundscapes. With advances in DSP technology, Holoplot has successfully embedded many years of research into the company’s proprietary algorithms. The brain behind the technology is German audio engineer, Helmut Oellers. Together with Adrián Lara Moreno, Holoplot’s CTO, and a small team of engineers, he embarked on the mission to find a solution to the authentic reproduction of sound in any environment in 2011. The basis for his research was the Huygens principle of wave field synthesis. Briefly put, wave field synthesis is a spatial audio reproduction procedure which does not depend on psychoacoustic phantom sources. Instead, it creates a physical copy of the original wavefront, using a high number of smaller elementary waves according to the principle. This allows for the recreation of virtually

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Holoplot CEO Roman Sick

all sound sources. Holoplot has transformed this technology into a matrix loudspeaker system that increases flexibility of sound design with numerous benefits for today’s applications. Roman Sick, CEO, who had been involved with the development team, took over the company in 2016 to focus on building, marketing and selling a viable product, currently based around its ORION Series launched in 2018 – consisting of the Io Audio Module, the Eta Processing Core and ORBIT Software. He comments on the business focus for the company: “Our current main markets are in Europe and the United States. However, there are a lot of interesting projects worldwide. In the near future, we are planning to develop more international markets, as the Chinese market has great potential for us. This market stands out especially for its focus on the creation of unique experiences, fast growth in infrastructure and the sheer number of projects. “We are working closely with our local partners to introduce our wave field synthesis technology into a number of projects. In the winter of 2016, we established a partnership with Deutsche Bahn and started first test installations at train stations, with very positive results, by delivering outstanding speech intelligibility over a distance of more than 180m with one centralised loudspeaker array. 2018 was a milestone year for us. Holoplot was awarded with the reputed PLASA Innovation Award. At the same time, Holoplot was awarded the Deutsche Bahn Supplier Innovations Award for being its most innovative supplier.” The ORION Series, manufactured in Berlin, has the Eta Core at the heart of its technology, and processes all audio signals. Each Eta Core is capable of supporting up

to 64 Holoplot Io Audio Modules using Dante. Sick adds: “The decision to go with Dante back then was quite easy, as we wanted to have an industry standard network interface that would allow the user to easily connect to our system. Dante was our preferred choice.” The Orbit software interface allows easy handling of all situations, ranging from simple to complex configurations. Multiple audio wave fronts can be configured, from spherical, planar to focus. Sources can be repositioned with a click of a button to find a perfect fit. Sound field visualisation allows users to witness the formation of the sound field for each virtual source in real time and understand how this will impact the audience or environment. It is also possible to synchronise multiple interfaces and controllers of the same system in real time and manage multiple systems through one or multiple interfaces. The company's technology has been successfully deployed across the conference, retail and transportation hub sectors. In 2018, the company was in charge of audio at a major Berlin HR conference called Hiring Success held at the Glashaus, Berlin, featuring 250 top executives, thought leaders, founders, investors and start ups. The conference is organised by SmartRecruiters, an organisation that helps companies attract, select, and hire talent with their Talent Acquisition Suite. Holoplot was approached by Openers, the event’s organiser, to supply a system for two adjacent stages that would be able to provide high speech intelligibility and constant volume across the entire audience for each stage. These results were realised with the 3D beam forming capabilities of the Holoplot technology.

By focusing the sound energy to each audience area with precision, room reflections and spillover effects to the adjacent stage areas were minimised. Sick adds: “It is our mission to make every seat the best seat. This means that the speech quality should be equal at each listener position in the audience. Our technology, with its capabilities to synthesise various wavefronts whilst freely adjusting the directivity and radiation pattern of the loudspeaker in the space, can increase the direct-toreverberant ratio in precisely defined areas. At the same time, room reflections from the environment will also be minimised.” In the retail sector, Holoplot is also making a significant impact. In early 2018, it became involved with an installation for the global production company satis&fy at a concept store project in Portland, USA, named LIFT, to demonstrate the capabilities of a new type of consumer experience. satis&fy's client for the concept store is a world leader in sports fashion and sports equipment. ORION was chosen to deliver two isolated sonic zones, each providing distinct audio content simultaneously in a single acoustic space. This was augmented with highly localised auditory product promotion at a specific location within the store. With such diverse clients coming from different industries, including architects, conference and experiential designers and event designers, these are exciting times for the company. Sick concludes by looking ahead: “Holoplot will keep improving the ORION series as well as developing new products based on our technology stack. We will further expand our distribution reach to a global span through our network of international partners.” n

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Long-standing audio post-production house Warner Bros De Lane Lea has expanded to be a fullservice facility. But, as its director, Cara Sheppard, tells Kevin Hilton, sound is still as important as ever at a time when the genres of TV, streaming and film are coming closer together‌

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ame and location counts for a lot in business. De Lane Lea is among the best-known names in sound. It has also had, since the early 1970s, one of the best addresses in London, with premises on Soho's Dean Street. The name became grander in 2012 when the audio post-production house was bought by Warner Bros studios, although most people still refer to it by the original moniker. Since becoming Warner Bros De Lane Lea, the facility has broadened its operations beyond its core, historic sound offering. It now has a picture service department, featuring colour grading and dailies processing, with a link to Warner Bros UK's film studios at Leavesden, near Watford in Hertfordshire, most famous as the home of the Harry Potter film franchise. This expansion in services, which has been partly prompted by the increasing demand from film and television productions for a more integrated, digital and

De Lane Lea London headquarters

file-based way of working, will ultimately lead to a major relocation for Warner Bros Lea Lane and the building of what is claimed will be the only purpose-built facility in London. Work is already underway on the Ilona Rose House development, with major sections of the West End area between Tottenham Court Road and Charing Cross Road being rebuilt to create premises for shops, bars and "the creative industries". The next phase in the growth and history of the 72-year old audio facility is being overseen by Cara Sheppard, the director of Warner Bros De Lane Lea. Sheppard took up her post in 2017, joining from Sky TV, where she had been senior manager for advanced postproduction and innovation and then senior manager of post-production operations. Prior to that, Sheppard had worked at another major London facility, Goldcrest Post Production, before which she had been a freelance postproduction supervisor. "One of my goals when I came in to WB De Lane Lea was to see how we could update the facilities to cater for the diversification of the market that we've been seeing, particularly with the development of SVoD [subscription video on demand]," she comments. "It's creating a new genre of post-production, which has moved on from the days of old media, such as film, when everything was done on the movie lot." As Sheppard observes, the film business has evolved beyond the confines of the old studios system, with big name directors forming working relationships with independent facilities. Some, such as George Lucas and Peter Jackson, have even established their own companies (Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic in the case of the former, and Park Road Post for the latter), which work with outside productions as well as on their owners' output. Television has also proved a lucrative and healthy market for outside post houses, particularly as many big national broadcasters – both public and commercial – have cut back their in-house facilities over the last 30 or so years. The advent of subscription on demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video has changed the broadcast landscape and is doing the same for film and TV production as both companies are now producing their own titles. "The film and TV areas used to be very strictly defined," Sheppard says. "Now there is this amazing hybrid where the production values, and sometimes the budgets, are the same. It's not just changed the game of TV but it has created this new genre and raised people's expectations. Because of that other facilities have opened up, including boutique operations, and they are providing the quality while at the same time handling the large volume of material necessary for a 10-part series, which can be up to a petabyte of data." De Lane Lea was originally founded to meet a need for better audio quality and develop a cheaper and quicker way to dub films. The studios were set up in

1947 by Major William de Lane Lea, a former French intelligence attache, to initially work on dubbing Englishlanguage films into French. The company was known initially as De Lane Lea Processes Ltd and operated out of a laboratory in Soho. This developed the De Lane Lea Process for foreign language dubbing, as well as other audio technologies, including loudspeakers. In the 1960s, the studio moved out of the West End and shifted into music recording, with studios first at Kingsway and then Wembley. In 1970 the company moved into its present building on Dean Street, which had previously been a warehouse for the up-market department store, Fortnum and Mason. From then, De Lane Lea shifted back into film and TV re-recording, which remains a core part of the company today. The current building houses three Dolby Atmos dubbing stages, one of which Sheppard says is the biggest in London. There are also two ADR stages, 46 cutting rooms, a preview theatre, transfer bay, grading suites and online editing rooms. Three dailies suites were recently added, which are connected over dark fibre to Leavesden Studios and Dolby's offices in Soho Square. The planned facilities at Ilona House, built on the site of the old Foyles bookshop, will include four dubbing stages, one of which will be the biggest Atmos room in Europe, plus an ADR facility, grading suites and 40 cutting rooms. "It will be the only purpose-built facility in Town," Sheppard comments. "There will be bigger theatres and more grading facilities. The foundations are being built around us as we speak and the idea is to have something on the same scale as in Burbank. With the tax breaks on offer, more Hollywood movies are being made in the UK and big studios are coming over here." Warner Bros bought De Lane Lea in 2012 but Sheppard emphasises that the studio is not merely an in-house facility for the parent group: "People think we are here just to service WB clients but we are a gun for hire, with many different clients and services." As to the company's commitment to audio, she adds, "It is still a very strong focus for us and as part of the expansion into picture we also opened a new Dolby Atmos theatre. Dolby Atmos is becoming more mainstream and we're seeing more television and streaming content request more technologically advanced audio delivery." WB De Lane Lea works on the Avid Pro Tools DAW platform and has a variety of mixing consoles, including Avid S6s and AMS Neve DFC Geminis. Sheppard says the company is starting to think about new equipment. "We have Pro Tools and there might be more S6 desks but that's not to say we wouldn't take products from other vendors," she says. "We have to look at what the market wants and what clients would be expecting us to use. There will be IP networks and we'll be increasing the amount of storage and the speed of connections." Building work is due to be complete in 2021, with the new Warner Bros De Lane Lea set to open either in the fourth quarter of 2021 or quarter one of 2022. n

On June 21, Hot Chip return with their seventh studio album A Bath Full Of Ecstasy – a record which marks a number of firsts for the UK electro pop wizards. Daniel Gumble spoke to frontman Alexis Taylor to find out why the band decided to bring in outside producers for the first time and how they overcame studio tensions to take their biggest creative leap yet‌

Hotting up: Hot Chip (L-R: Al Doyle, Owen Clarke, Joe Goddard, Alexis Taylor and Felix Martin

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n a just world, Hot Chip would have attained national treasure status by now. Ever since founding members Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard decided to break with the homespun minimalism of their 2004 debut Coming On Strong and add multi-instrumentalists Al Doyle, Owen Clarke, and Felix Martin to their ranks, the band have been responsible for some of the most thrilling electro pop this side of the millennium. Their willingness to hop with gleeful abandon between all manner of sounds, styles and genres has seen them frequently cover more musical ground in a single album than most artists could hope to manage in an entire career: take a quick dip into any one of their records and you’ll find everything from wonky, synth heavy pop and R&B, to honey-soaked piano ballads and acid house, all bound together under the group’s unique sonic signature. While Taylor and Goddard could accurately be described as the creative engine at the heart of Hot Chip, all five members have contributed significantly to the band’s sound, particularly over the course of the past few records, each bringing their own considerable songwriting chops to the table. The fact that all five are also skilled producers in their own right means that collaborators outside of the Hot Chip bubble have seldom been required. All of which brings us to their upcoming seventh


studio album A Bath Full Of Ecstasy. Released on June 21, Hot Chip’s latest offering sees the band take something of an unexpected turn. For the first time in their career, the band has called upon the services of not just one but two outside producers in the form of Phillipe Zdar (Cassisus, Phoenix, Beastie Boys) and Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, David Byrne, Sampha). And while the move to bring two distinct new voices to the fold wasn’t without its difficulties, it was a decision both Taylor and Goddard were determined to make. “One of the reasons for me was that I’d just made a solo album (2018’s Beautiful Thing) with Tim Goldsworthy producing and I enjoyed that experience a lot,” Taylor explains to PSNEurope over the phone, as gently spoken in person as he sounds on record. “That was the first time a solo record of mine was produced by someone else, so I felt very open to the idea of a new collaborator. And Joe, who is ostensibly the main producer in Hot Chip (even though we do some co-production), wanted to change how we operate in order to not make the same kind of record again. He wanted to see what would happen if we had an outside producer, or as it turned out, two producers. It was a way to explore new working methods, hoping it would lead to something fresh. And that’s what happened. Both producers were very different in how they operated, so we didn’t get two of the same type of producer. It was an


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interesting experiment, which paid off well.” Inevitably, the process of introducing two very different outlooks in the studio was far from seamless, with both Zdar and McDonald – as was intended – quick to shake up the band’s long held formula. “There was some friction at points with Rodaidh because he was really pushing us to do things differently from before,” Taylor recalls. “I didn’t feel too much friction myself, but some people weren’t always ready for what he was encouraging us to do. We weren’t used to having someone else’s voice in the room and suddenly there is somebody challenging the songwriting approach and being quite forthright about what we could do with the songs, what needed improving, editing or rewriting. He was quite involved and there was a bit of tension at times, but that’s what we’d asked for. There wouldn’t have been much point in getting a producer in and then ignoring their advice, so we were quite open to it.” He continues: “Phillipe was less challenging in those ways, more encouraging and more of a positive force in the room, getting the best out of us. He was strongly recommended to us by Franz Ferdinand, who are on the same record label (Domino) as us. We met him, really liked him and thought he’d be a good fit. We’d heard what an enthusiastic influence he’d been for Franz Ferdinand and I’d seen some footage of him on Instagram leading sessions and dancing in the studio, mixing and just

being very into it. It looked like he’d be really fun to work with. He unified the whole band and provided an environment and space for us to work with him that made it very comfortable for us to all get involved, play simultaneously and improvise. "With Rodaidh, we knew of his work with The xx and David Byrne, so we met with him and he seemed like quite an intense, focused producer who immediately had good ideas as to what he’d like to help us with. He also liked us playing one person at a time, with each dubbing their parts.” As Taylor attests, the influence of McDonald and Zdar on A Bath Full Of Ecstasy has indeed paid off well, but not necessarily in the way some may have predicted. Rather than forcing the band into unfamiliar, potentially uncomfortable territory, their input has had a galvanising effect, producing arguably the band’s most coherent and streamlined body of work yet. Where previous records have veered dramatically in tone from one track to the next (see 2008’s Made In The Dark) this one sees the band’s artistic threads wound in tightly, rather than joyfully unspooled. The result: nine tracks of euphoric, expansive pop to stand alongside anything in their stellar back catalogue. “I don’t want to pretend it’s a radical overhaul of our sound, recorded with acoustic instruments under water or something,” Taylor chuckles. “It’s more a development and a refining of the process. We were jettisoning ideas if they felt familiar or if we thought we were falling into certain musical traps, things we’d tried that hadn’t worked out in the past. The presence of other people in the room helped us structure the songs a bit differently, maybe making the pop elements more pop and the more expansive elements more expansive. "Also, the fact there are only nine songs makes it feel more concise and a bit more brutal in terms of editing. It doesn’t go off in different directions and tangents like some Hot Chip records do. That was deliberate. We could have gone in all different directions with this record. We wrote loads of songs and recorded about another 12 or so that didn’t make the finished record. It was just a case of stepping back at the final stage and saying, ‘What is going to work best as a sequence and what’s going to play to our strengths?’ With Made In The Dark we were embracing the idea of a sprawling double album feel. This time it was key to make something quite tight.” In addition to hiring McDonald and Zdar, the band also spent time in a variety of different settings to record and mix the album, moving between Zdar’s studio in Paris and numerous London locations, all of which, Taylor says, made a tangible impact on the finished record. “We worked very hard at the beginning, demoing lots of material before we were with either of these producers, just getting a bank of good songs together,” he states. “We did that at Joe’s studio in Shoreditch. Then, on the sessions with Rodaidh we were in Konk

Studios (Ray Davies’s studio) where we’ve never worked before. We also did some of it at RAK. We were changing location quite a lot and that changes the music quite a bit. We were getting out of our comfort zone - working in places we weren’t familiar with and with new producers. We were trying to use some equipment we wouldn’t have necessarily used much before, lots of newer modular synths of Felix’s and Joe’s and some software Rodaidh introduced us to for vocal manipulation. "With the song ‘A Bath Full Of Ecstasy’ it feels like there are modern production techniques that help make it relevant as pop music, rather than just referencing classics of the past that are easy to fall in love with. And a song like 'Melody Of Love' began in such a different way from how it sounds on the record. It was about 11 minutes long and was much more of an up tempo disco track. The first time we played it to Rodaidh he suggested just leaving the first five minutes and making it a really epic pop song, rather than a club track as it began. I’m conscious of how it developed with Rodaidh and I’m proud of how it turned out." Zdar also coaxed new sounds and studio techniques out of the band during their stay in Paris. “When we were with Phillipe, just being in Paris was a good change of scene, making us feel refreshed and lively about the music making process," Taylor says. "We felt revitalised by being in his studio, and we used almost all of the equipment he had there, instrument-wise. That was really exciting. ‘Spell’ is a good example of where Phillipe helped create different sounds to anything we’ve done before. For a band like Hot Chip it’s important to be challenged, to be in a situation where you’re going to focus and also have a good time. Access to some of those instruments is a key thing to the sound being developed. We don’t do so well in a studio where there’s not much in the way of equipment for us to enjoy. It’s supposed to be a place of play. That’s where we thrive.” With a tour in support of A Bath Full Of Ecstasy about to get underway, Hot Chip have had little time to discuss future recording strategies, although Taylor suggests it’s likely they will embrace the new once again when it comes to making album number eight. “We haven’t discussed it as a band but I reckon we would work with outside producers again,” he ponders. “I’d like to go into the studio with a producer right from the beginning of the process and let them hear new music as it develops so we can record everything live with that producer from the get go. With this album a lot of preliminary work was done by ourselves before we met with them. That shapes the sound quite a lot; that’s why it still sounds like a Hot Chip record, but it would be interesting to move further away from our blueprint.” As for what the next evolution of Hot Chip brings, who knows? For now, they continue to tread a path all their own; their inimitable, kaleidoscopic sound still standing apart from anything or anyone else. n

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Last year, Cate Le Bon relocated from her current base in LA to a cottage halfway up a mountain in the Lake District to start writing her new, self-produced album Reward. Here, she tells Daniel Gumble about working in isolation and the therapeutic effects of building furniture…


here’s a beguiling ambiguity that flows through Cate Le Bon’s work that few, if any, of her contemporaries could lay claim to. At once disarmingly intimate and confoundingly abstract, her compositions and production techniques are possessed of an experimental edge that’s both complex and childlike; her combination of lilting, melancholy melodies with jagged, intricate instrumentation has become something of a signature. It’s a sound she’s been perfecting for the past decade, with her 2009 debut Me Oh My turning 10 years old this year. Her peerless body of work is now five albums strong and liberally peppered with numerous criticallylauded side projects and extra curricular activities, from her other band Drinks and producing Deerhunter’s latest record Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? to guest appearances with the likes of Gruff Rhys and Manic Street Preachers. And her new record, Reward (out on May 24), arguably represents the purest distillation of her unique style to date. After relocating to Los Angeles from her native Wales

a few years ago, Le Bon decided that a drastic change of scenery was required in order for work to begin on her latest album. And drastic it was, as she waved goodbye to the sunny climes of California for an isolated cottage midway up a mountain in the Lake District, where she was holed up on her own for the best part of a year with a secondhand piano writing what would eventually become Reward. That, and learning how to build her own furniture. “The process of making a piece of furniture mirrored the art of making an album,” Le Bon explains, taking her seat with us in a bustling East London hotel restaurant. “You’re constantly battling with this material to turn it into the thing you imagine it to be. And fortunately I learned the skill of patience at furniture school, otherwise we’d have been dead in the water on this record! Writing the record and attending furniture school… there were a lot of disciplines I learned that helped me navigate the difficulties these songs were throwing up.” The difficulties to which Le Bon refers arose largely

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after the album was written, when a trip back across the Atlantic for recording and mixing sessions at a studio in California’s Stinson Beach proved problematic. “I had [producer and collaborator] Josiah Steinbrick come out to the Lake District to hear the songs in the setting they were written in so he could get a sense of where my head was at, and to try and maintain that sense of solitude that existed in the creation of the songs,” she recalls. “You can’t always be creative and critical at the same time, so for me he was the perfect person to bring onboard. Then we took it all the way to Stinson Beach. “We were hoping to get the record done in a period of two weeks but it became obvious it was going to be a longer process. The songs were just more formed and almost like solid structures, because I’d lived with them and worked on them for so long by myself. “The studio is in the middle of downtown, and it was just the wrong place and time to work on this record; we managed to get some great guitar contributions from Josh Klinghoffer but aside from that it wasn’t a very successful session. There was a little bit of friction and it wasn’t in keeping with the feel of the record, so we spent some time ruminating and took the record to Joshua Tree to finish it. I’d been to Cardiff to record saxophone and guitar lines at some points, but it was really in Joshua Tree that everything started to make sense.” As for why Stinson Beach didn’t yield the intended results, she explains: “Everywhere else we were able to create these little vacuums and bubbles where everyone is focused on the reason for being there, but as soon as you are in a studio where everyone’s leaving to go to different places, or are late to the studio, it takes a long time for you to all be on the same page… it was just too

fractious. And that’s OK, it’s not always going to be an easy process, making a record.” For the first time on one of her own records, Le Bon was credited as producer on Reward, a role she was more than prepared for given her production work with other artists, as well as the forensic attention to detail she applies to each and every aspect of her work. “An artist is always going to be a co-producer of their record, whether their name is on the sleeve or not,” she asserts. “But this record was done in so many different parts and with different configurations… there were many times I was by myself so I guess it’s the first time someone told me I should put my name on there. That said, I’ve worked with the same people for a long time, so there is such a relationship of trust and a really clear vocabulary between us, which is so important in the studio. You’re never really by yourself, and it’s such a nebulous title, producer, so really everyone played a very different part under the umbrella of ‘producer’.” Elaborating on what the producer title means to her, she continues: “All the jobs I’ve done as a producer have been wildly different. Even during the same record, the job can change daily. "For me, a producer should be someone you trust implicitly, you trust their taste and integrity and know that they are there to facilitate anything you want to do. To push you, help you deviate, but knowing they can bring you back to your starting point. To me, it’s not a techy job, it’s about having somebody you trust to be there with you. That’s what I want from a producer. It can

be such a frantic time making a record that you just need that consistency from someone.” The production process behind Reward differed vastly from that of its 2016 predecessor Crab Day. Where the songs that make up Reward were constructed from the rock solid blueprints drawn up by Le Bon during her stay in the Lake District, Crab Day was built on more fluid foundations. “The songs [on Reward] were formed in a way that was uncompromising,” Le Bon picks up. “With Crab Day, there was a lot of spontaneous deviation that those songs could hold, but with this album there was a lot of head-scratching. I had to play guitar differently, I had to enlist someone like Josh to come in and play the parts the songs needed but that I stylistically wasn't able to play myself.” Ultimately, the trials and tribulations overcome during the making of Reward have played a significant part in shaping a towering record that stands out as Le Bon’s most definitive body of work to date. “There is a definite identity to all the songs because they were written in a remote location at a time when everything in my life had changed,” she notes. “It was hard for everyone involved at times, but it probably should be, shouldn’t it, when you’re making a record?” With results like this, who are we to argue? n

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Nice guys Antwerp’s Nice Recordings is currently making waves in the studio world, servicing its thriving local music scene with a world class offering. Building on its growing reputation, it is set to open up a second studio in June. PSNEurope's Marc Maes paid a visit to find out what makes it stand out from the crowd…


ith an API 1608 mixing console, plenty of vintage outboard and backline, Antwerp-based Nice Recordings is rapidly making a name for itself. The facility’s reputation has quickly spread, attracting a healthy mix of musical styles, artists and bands for recording and mixing. The opening of a second studio, set for June, will allow Nice Recordings to cater for artists in search of pre-production, writing sessions or recording vocal tracks. Nice Recordings’s origins are somewhat unorthodox: when owner Damien Smets, a professional electrical engineer with a passion for music, decided to re-focus his career and build his own studio, his first investment was an API 1608 analogue desk. “I took an 18 month sound engineer course and training while the console remained in my attic, because working in the analogue domain was crucial for me – I want to work with the controls and switches myself,” said Smets, convinced that investing in a top quality mixing console would attract clients to the studio.

Starting from scratch Despite the fact that Antwerp has a rich music scene, the city houses only a few professional recording studios. Smets found his working habitat in the lively Southern district close to the city centre, but with easy access to the main highways. He devised the plans for the studio with both US sound engineer/studio builder Ethan Winer and professional audio solutions provider Amptec giving valuable input. “Actually, Damien came to us with a virtually blank page,” says Niels Neven, sales manager of pro audio and acoustics with Amptec. “As APIdistributor, we supplied the mixing desk for the new studio. In addition, we supplied the acoustics and basic gear for the live room, the cabling and some microphones. Damien put everything in place, we assisted in the design.” After a few test sessions, it turned out that the studio’s live room required extra insulation. “Neighbours were complaining about noise hindrance – it turned out that the low frequency spectrum was causing audible

Michael Franck

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vibrations in the upstairs apartments,” explains Smets. “I hired acoustics specialists DOX Acoustics, who made the calculations and choice of materials. A spring suspended ceiling in the live room turned out to be the solution. By decoupling the ceiling from the building structure, the sound vibrations get absorbed, thus reducing the noise hindrance in adjoining spaces.” Nice Recordings’s studio landscape consists of a 65m² live room, an API control room, two separate recording booths, a lounge area and a spacious indoor parking lot, offering options for future expansion of the studio. The core of the studio being the API 1608 desk, Smets soon found that the engine’s 16 channels would not do for his plans, and upgraded the console with a 16-channel API Expander module, adding up to 32 operational channels. When colleague/sound engineer Michael Franck attended a Tape Camp masterclass in Nashville, he returned with two Mara Machines analogue tape recorders, a MCI JH110 1/2" two-track analogue master tape recorder and a MCI JH24 2” 24-track machine. “Michael was on the lookout for a quality analogue mixing console to complete his working environment and that’s how we matched. He brought in the tape machines and has the studio available for his own recording sessions. A win-win for both parties.” For monitoring, Smets initially installed Bryston 4BSST2-powered PMC IB2S midfield monitors and Yamaha NS-10 nearfield speakers. “I decided to add a pair of Neumann KH310A active nearfield monitors, resulting in the perfect set-up with lots of clarity in the vocals and clear low frequencies.” Nice Recordings also offers an extensive microphone inventory, combining vintage models like Neumann U47 FET with various types and brands of ribbon (like the Royer R101 MP Stereo Pair, AEA, and Beyer Dynamics), condenser (Neumann, AKG) and vocal (Schoeps V4 USM) microphones. The live room also houses plenty of vintage backline, including an original 1964 Gretsch jazz drum kit, 1977 Fender Stratocaster and Jazz Bass, and a genuine Schimmel piano alongside a 1977 Fender Rhodes keyboard. As for outboard, Smets opted for UREI LA-2A and UA 1176 compressors and a tandem of ‘70s Eventide Omnipressors (“Abba used them during their recordings and they are ideal for drum processing, they make drums sound really big”), plus Kush Audio (Tweaker compressor, Clariphonic and Electra equalisers), a Manley Vari-Mu compressor, API 2500 and 525 compressors with API 550B and 550A equalisers, among others. “The masterpiece of the control room is a genuine EMT 140 plate reverb,” enthuses Smets. “It came to me through sound engineer/producer Staf Verbeeck, who owned the legendary Jet Studio in Brussels where he used the analogue EMT plate for many years.” Smets admits that, initially, he wanted to build a

studio eyeing the traditional bands as clients. “When engineer/producerJussi De Nys joined the studio as freelance engineer, he brought in his skills and huge business contact network, spreading the word about Nice Recordings,” says Smets. “Also producer/ songwriter Youssef Chellak, general manager at Top Notch Belgium (and A&R manager, Universal Music Group) was immediately convinced and booked sessions for his hip hop artist roster.” At first, acts came in with basic beats on PC, and used the studio just for vocals and horns recording. The next step was when they decided to use live recorded drums instead of percussion software, with analogue sound adding a new dimension to their songs. Major domestic acts like Blackwave, TheColorGrey, Coely and Flemish rapper Tourist LeMc came to record and mix. With the studio agenda being booked up and to cater to new hip hop artists discovering Nice Recordings, Smets decided to build a second studio, consisting of a vocal booth and a compact control room. “I’m thinking of a DIY studio operating without any studio staff, rented at competitive rates.” The studio will open before summer. Post Malone On March 11, US rapper/producer Post Malone decided to make the trip to Antwerp to find out what Nice Recordings had to offer. “Prior to his sell-out show at the 18,000 seat Antwerp Sportpaleis, I received a call from the artist management,” Smets says. “Post Malone brought in producer Brian Lee, DJ Smitty and a 30-strong crew to record three tracks. The studio stood the test.” Nice Recordings also wants to establish itself as a creative playground. Smets had the idea of inviting two artists at a time (recently Belgian band Bazart and Dutch rappers The Opposites) to write songs in the studio. “We have plenty of backline available and a studio works better than a hotel lobby,” he says. “Artists feel at ease, we have a kitchen and lounge plus two b&b’s just around the corner.” Staf Verbeeck of Stiff Studio, a regular client, is attracted by Nice Recordings’s set up. “With a Neve outboard in the racks, extremely good preamps and the API desk, this studio is exactly what I need for most of my recording projects,” he says. “As a studio engineer/ lecturer I regularly invite students to the studio. It’s the perfect environment for masterclasses in studio engineering and mixing.” Antwerp band Fixkes have also become regulars in the studio. “The live room has a great sound and enough room,” comments bass player Sam Valkenborgh. “In terms of mobility, the big advantage is that Nice Recordings is within cycling distance for many artists and studio staffers in Antwerp. Finally, there’s Damien, serving coffee and chocolates, flexible in booking sessions, and with an eye for the tiny details that make working in Nice Recordings great.” n

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ospital Records has been at the cutting edge of drum and bass for over 20 years, both as a highly respected record label and major festival organiser. Label boss Tony Colman co-founded the label with Chris Goss in 1996 and it remains at the forefront of the genre, having released groundbreaking work from the likes of High Contrast, Rawtekk, Logistics, Danny Byrd and London Elektricity, Colman's own project. A move in August 2018 from its South London base to a new headquarters near Brixton included the design and construction of a bespoke recording studio for the label's artists, mix projects and podcasts. The studio is based around Focal SM9 monitors and a Soundcraft Signature 12MTK console, a host of choice Technics, Pioneer CDJ and sound design tools along with Cubase and other software running on Mac. Design and construction of the new studio was handled by The Studio People, one of the UK's leading studio design specialists for commercial, private and educational sectors. Chris Smout, the company's commercial director, led the design and consultancy on the project. "The studio needed to be a top end music studio to be the flagship of their new set up," he comments. "Obviously, with such a big name asking us to undertake the project we were keen to get involved." The design team from The Studio People visited the new building to assess the space available and judge what level of isolation was required. Due to a busy London train route next to the building, and an open office space above, a room in room solution was chosen as the right way forward to provide the airborne and structural isolation needed. Smout decided to put additional mass on the existing ceiling to help with airborne transmission to the office due to the bass heavy music they will be producing. He adds: "The floating floor structure is a compound construction of isolation pads, rockwool and a selection of materials to add mass, allowing the floor to be tuned to below 10hZ. The walls are then built off the floating floor structure, and the ceiling built off the studio walls. This allows the whole structure to be disconnected from the existing structure." Using a varied selection of material for the walls and ceiling construction increased air-borne isolation. This also applied to the acoustic window installed, with a number of densities used to ensure they don't resonate at the same frequency and, essentially, amplify that frequency instead of reducing it. The next area the team had to deal with was the response of the room and how it sounded inside. This was done with three different absorption techniques: porous, panel and Helmholtz resonator. Smout explains: "By applying these three techniques to the wall and ceiling surfaces we were able to produce a nicely balanced space for the room size. To do the final tuning of the room we attended the space to correctly position the speakers and calibrate them to the space,

A clean bill of health Leading drum and bass label Hospital Records recently opened a new recording studio, designed by The Studio People, at the label's Brixton headquarters. Simon Duff caught up with label boss Tony Colman‌

making it sound truly beautiful." The Studio People's on-site construction team handled everything in-house, from stripping out, construction, acoustic treatment, electrics, data and air-conditioning over a six week on-site period. The air-conditioning system runs through the company's own custom designed attenuators, handmade at their workshop based in Wales and achieving a noise rating of NR20 or below, allowing it to be operational while recording on microphone. The furniture was designed and manufactured in house. Smout says: "Overall, we are very satisfied with the project from start to finish. Hospital Records were great to work with and we are happy to put this in our library of flagship studios." The choice of monitors for the new studio was never in doubt, with a pair of Focal SM9s from the old studio used. Colman is a long term fan of Focal. "I believe they

are the best monitors for what we do in drum and bass and beyond. The SM9s have a built-in passive sub and the tweeters on them are amazing. The mid-range detail is superb. It looks like there is a woofer on the top of the speaker but in fact it is a passive radiator and it helps fill the room in a very tight way. I am very familiar with them and they sound fantastic in the new studio. I get spares from SX Pro, and Paul Woodhead is always great to work with." The Soundcraft Signature 12MTK console was chosen by Colman for a number of reasons. "The desk incorporates Soundcraft’s iconic Ghost mic preamps and includes a wide variety of built-in Lexicon studio-grade reverb, chorus, modulation and dbx limiters on the input channels. We also have eight tie lines in our catering area running into the desk if we want to record, say, drums or strings." In terms of mics available, top of the range include

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out high end harmonics on instruments. For bottom end enhancement on drums I use the Brainbox bx boom!" One of the first projects to be mixed at the new studio is London Elektricity's new album, Building Better Worlds, set for release in Autumn 2019. PSNEurope was given exclusive playbacks of some of the album's mixes, and it is a stunning collection of cutting edge songs Colman has been working on for years. The record ranges from new drum and bass, rap and soul to inspired full orchestral opera elctronica with soprano vocals from Cydnei B, arrangements from Steve Pycroft with violins led by Andrew Natus. Mix duties were undertaken by Colman and Dan Gresham from Nu:Tone. The album's launch events are set to utilise a Dolby Atmos mix playback with mixes by Jake Fields and Luke Argilla, done in the Dolby Atmos Production Suite, Soho Square, London.

Hospital Records' Pioneer CDJ

Neumann U 87s, AKG 414, Shure SM 7 and sE Electronics Z5600a MKII Tube Mic. In the DJ line up, included in the Pioneer range, is a XDJ-RX2 as well as a Technics SL 1210 Mk 2 turntable. Cubase runs 32 bit 44.1kHz on a Power Mac, supplied from Create Pro. Colman explains: "In drum and bass, often people either use Logic or Cubase. I did use Ableton Live for a bit and I think it's brilliant, but it's not for me. Something in me thinks that it does not sound quite right. Reason software is brilliant – I wrote my album Billion Dollar Gravy on that." Colman is a highly ambitious and sophisticated songwriter, bass player, DJ and producer in his own right. So what does he favour for plugins? His favourites include the Loopmasters Bass Master, and for vocals, the Overloud Gem Dopamine. "Overloud Gem Dopamine really brings vocals to life, I've been using it on every track recently. Also, I like Noveltech Character to bring

Label founder Tony Colman

Other artists lined up to release notable works in 2019 include the recently signed Kings Of The Rollers debut album and the new EP from Fred V and Polaris, as well as Urbandawn's 'Come Together' Beatles cover. Hospital Records' dnb summer festival offering includes Hospitality on the Beach, Croatia and Hospitality in the Park, London. Great times are ahead for the label, and Colman is highly optimistic about the new possibilities opened up by streaming. He concludes: "Hospital Records was one of the first drum and bass labels to embrace iTunes in 2002; we have embraced all the major platforms and it has worked for us. I am optimistic about streaming as we have a very strong digital department who have spent a lot of time building relationships with the key people at Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer. You can't replace personal relationships with an algorithm. I think you have to have personal relationships – that is where the magic happens." n

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Surround Sound

TVBEurope editor Jenny Priestley meets 1.618 Digital founder, Oliver Kadel...


liver Kadel has worked with some of the world’s best known brands in his career, including the BBC, Discovery Channel, John Lewis, Samsung and Google. After starting out working as an audio engineer and sound recordist, in 2014 he founded 1.618 Digital, which offers immersive and spatial audio solutions for 360-degree video, interactive VR/AR media, mobile applications and intelligent audio branding. Kadel supported himself through college picking up any work he could find within audio, which gave him the opportunity to work in the live sound and music industries, studios and on location. “Towards the end of my degree, I started being involved more and more with film productions, working on location sound, and recording music for film scores. I was gradually building my portfolio, my skills and experience,” he explains. “In the early days of my career I was involved in all kinds of sectors within the audio industry,” says Kadel. “It was all a bit messy and I felt a need to stay organised and give myself a bit of a brand and online presence. I wanted to consolidate all of the things I'd been involved


with, so I decided to put it all under one umbrella.” Thus, 1.618 Digital was born. Based in Hackney Wick in East London, the company works primarily in spatial audio. Kadel describes it as a boutique company embracing the evolution of new digital media. “Our focus is on innovation around immersive audio for new formats, which include virtual reality, augmented reality, 360 video and the whole plethora of experiences that converge in different formats and types of media. “We still work on traditional productions as well, such as short films, documentaries, branded content, advertising, gaming, content for social media and mobile. Occasionally we work on art installations or music projects. There are so many things, it's hard to put us into one category.” Kadel says he expects audio for augmented reality to continue to develop and advance in 2019. “There's a lot to unpack when you talk about audio for augmented reality,” he admits. “If you think about virtual reality you are essentially immersed into some kind of metaverse, so a complete replacement of your actual physical environment. The key difference when you compare that

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with augmented reality is that you are interacting with the real world, a real space. So if you're in the real world and there's lots of noise and buzz where you are, the audio would have to be superimposed on top of what's happening around you. “The majority of augmented reality content is assembled or implemented in a game engine, something like Unity, for example,” Kadel continues. “So, if an augmented reality experience or demo involved a flying object, you would implement something that generates sound live or like a pre-rendered asset into the game engine, and then assign it to the moving object. Then depending on the platform, be it a smart device or an AR headset such as Magic Leap, you have to use headphones, for example AR One by Sennheiser that offer a Transparent Hearing feature. If it has in-built speakers you would hear the sound coming from the small speakers that are placed right next to your ears. There are so many innovative applications of using augmented and mixed reality, using it for training, education, military, medical applications, situational awareness, music, entertainment, gaming, the list goes on. We're just scratching the surface.” One of 1.618’s more recent projects is Common Ground, an immersive journey into the history and legacy of one of the most controversial housing estates in Britain, the Aylesbury Estate in Walworth, South London. The estate is currently undergoing demolition and a regeneration programme. Darren Emmerson from East City Films won a commission through CreativeXR

to fund a film about the concrete monument, and the history of social housing in the UK. “What's unique about this project is that it's a documentary which involves photogrammetry and loads of 360 footage,” explains Kadel. “You have sections of linear film where you essentially just follow the story and listen to interviews, and interactive scenes where you are immersed into a particular location, which was captured through a high number of still images and reconstructed into a 3D model in post. So, you might be able to open a door, push the lift button or pick up a spray can. It’s a new way of storytelling combining the linear with interactive.” The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April and will also be shown at Sheffield Doc/Fest this month. “The reviews we've had so far have been amazing, people have been completely immersed in the story,” says Kadel. The production process for recording the audio for Common Ground was similar to the methodology used for production audio for traditional film. Kadel and his team were working on set with a crew and capturing production audio, and then carrying out traditional post production such as dialogue editing. He used ambisonic microphones and mono microphones like booms or discreet lavalier, assembling the audio in post production. “It's mainly about people and the interviews, capturing the soundscape and conveying it in an authentic way,” he explains. “The difference is that because it's 360, we have to work with ambisonics and that enables us to capture 3D audio, which is essential

for head tracking for 360 videos. Then obviously, we do 3D audio post later on as well. “In terms of the sound design and music for Common Ground, it's non fiction, but it's very stylistic, and in some moments quite hyper-realistic in order to enhance the message and create drama and suspense. When it comes to the interactive scenes, I suppose the method is very similar to what you would typically do for a game. You implement audio assets in the game engine and make them behave and interact in a particular way. The whole project was done in third order ambisonics where we essentially mixed the soundtrack across 16 channels, which adds to the envelopment and spatial audio resolution in general.” Kadel is obviously very passionate about immersive audio and the possibilities it holds for content creators. Asked why, he admits it’s a tough question to answer: “I was really lucky to be involved with spatial audio production at such an early stage of my career. I experienced the difference compared to traditional formats, which are still very relevant and powerful, but what I started to realise was that new age formats can really introduce a whole level of engagement, of immersion, of interactivity. It takes whatever you do, be it storytelling or some kind of practical application, to that extra level and it's exciting, engaging and memorable as a result. The real world is so immersive and visceral as we experience it in everyday life. With digital content, whatever the nature of the content is, the audio needs to enhance it or be as compelling as the actual world.” n

Kel Murray


Role reversal Last month, Kel Murray, former editor of production and entertainment tech publication TPi, announced that she was embarking on a new venture with PR outfit Output Communications. Daniel Gumble caught up with her to find out more…


el Murray will perhaps be most familiar to those in the business of professional audio as the ex-editor of trade publication TPi, where she served the production and entertainment technology sectors for several years. Now, in tandem with her business partner Michael Nicholson, she is leaving the world of journalism behind for a new career in comms in the form of Output Communications, a PR operation aimed at servicing the market she previously reported on. The company’s current client roster already includes the likes of Funktion-One, Production Services Ireland and Britannia Row Productions. Here, PSNEurope editor Daniel Gumble catches up with her to find out why now was the right time to make the switch from journo to PR and what her new venture has to offer the industry… After several years as editor of TPi, you’ve now decided to embark on a new career in PR. What can you tell us about your new role? Well, it’s quickly become my favourite ever job. I had dabbled in PR previously and there’s still a lot of things about PR and marketing that really fascinate me. I love seeing how content is consumed and how stories are re-told. I also wanted to work for myself again (I was a freelance music journalist for the national music press prior to TPi). I’m incredibly lucky to have gone into business with one of my closest friends, Michael Nicholson. He has also been a magazine editor, which is how we met. (He was my mentor back in the day, although he’ll probably laugh that I've said that)! Why now? Everything fell into place. It happened very organically at a point when I wanted to move direction, and some

PHOTO: Rob Heilig Photography

pretty amazing and humbling opportunities couldn’t be resisted. I think it’s important to take what you’ve learnt and evolve with it. By its very nature, this industry doesn’t stand still for very long, and I suppose I’m similar in that way. I’m really enjoying project-based work, while being welcomed into these ‘families’. With our new clients, I feel more part of the production/entertainment tech industry than ever before. We’ve got so much respect for them, and I relish having conversations about how they’re moving the industry forward. What will your years of experience as a journalist in the live events production market bring to the new business? I think truly understanding how the production/ entertainment technology industry works is key, but having relationships built on trust is vital, and I have a lot of solid relationships that have been nurtured over time, as does Michael. Authenticity should not be underestimated. What are the biggest challenges you face in establishing a new PR operation in this industry? How will you overcome them? When we set out to do this, we decided to work with people and companies that we feel are pioneering technology and touring etiquette within the industry. I’d say my biggest challenge is absorbing all there is to learn from some of the greatest thinkers and undoubted legends this ‘world’ has benefitted from. Although, these challenges don’t seem so big when you’re working in a supportive and encouraging environment. PSNEurope understands you’ve also been doing some work in the name of mental health training for touring professionals. What can

you tell us about that? Absolutely, this is something I’m very passionate about, and having the time to undertake charity work was a big driver in this new venture. Output is really proud to be working with Music Support and the Production Services Association’s (PSA) Welfare & Benevolent Fund, Stage Hand. The PSA turns 21 this year and I’m humbled to say they’ve recently let me join the committee as a Trustee. (I believe I’m the first female to do so, too). These are two brilliant charities that were set up by the industry, for the industry, and I would encourage everyone to join up or get involved. I’ve recently completed Music Support’s Safe Hub training for this year’s festival season, and the industry’s Mental Health First Aid course, which the PSA is also striving forward with. There’s so much incredible work going on behind the scenes for road crews and I think it’s imperative to get on board and be part of the positive change. The industry wouldn’t and absolutely couldn’t exist without touring professionals; we have to take care of them as best we can. Their jobs are so demanding and the results can be very complicated to deal with. Sign up to the PSA here: join and find Music Support’s free, 24-hour helpline here: 0800 030 6789 What are your plans and ambitions for the rest of 2019 and beyond? To progress as much as possible… and to make a clear impact for the companies we represent and the industry as a whole. Michael and I are very similar in that we’re programmed to get results, and we care about the longevity and health of the industry. To be able to do that in what we feel is not only one of the most intelligent and creative industries in the world, but also one of the most hard-working career sectors, is an absolute pleasure. n

SOUND BITES THIS MONTH: Here, we chat with Richard Johnstone from Focusrite about his life in the industry, and take a look at some charity highlights within the music and audio worlds. We’ve also curated a run down of the most exciting industry events coming up. To let us know of anything exciting and different you're doing this month, or later on, email


RICHARD JOHNSTONE Focusrite VP of EMEA Retail, and UK sales & marketing manager

What first sparked your interest in the industry? I’ve worked in the industry pretty much all of my working life. Starting out as a sales assistant in a local music store, I fell in love with the industry straight away. Music is an incredible gift, whether you produce it, create it or listen to it. What was your first job? At 18, I started out as a sales assistant at the family owned Westside Music Centre in Yeovil, Somerset. I was fortunate to be surrounded by great teachers, a great boss and a fantastic local community of musicians. Since then, I have worked in many different sales management roles in the industry. What is an average day like at work for you? I have a pretty early start most mornings, therefore my day always starts with an espresso! This is usually followed by clearing up my emails and setting my daily agenda. I prefer to work in an office environment as I feel much more productive; the ability to have conversations with various people from multiple departments throughout the day results in being able to react to situations much quicker. Sometimes the best ideas and inspirations are born from casual conversation over a coffee. I am responsible for the sales and marketing output of our UK and German markets for the Focusrite and Novation product ranges, so my day usually involves working alongside various members of our team as I build and execute a strategic plan for the delivery of our sales and marketing goals. What has been your favourite project to date? Other than the projects I am involved with now, I have a great deal of affection for the Yamaha Tenori-On launch as I was part of the team that bought TenoriOn to the UK market. How do you balance work and life? The always-connected world in which we live makes “switching off” quite hard. However, I do try to maintain the discipline of switching my phone off at weekends and by early evening. It removes the temptation to respond to emails and is part of my routine to keep my work and personal life separate. It also spurs me on to try and be as productive as possible during the day! When at work, I try to deliver

my best to my colleagues and staff. When I am at home, I aim to deliver the best of me to my wife and children. I can’t do this if I allow phone calls and emails to creep in to my home life. A space away from work, to be in the moment, helps re-energise you and enables you to give your best at work. What are the biggest challenges you face in your job? The industry is changing rapidly; staying up to date with consumer behaviour is a constant challenge. The retail landscape is changing beyond all recognition to what it was even just a few years ago, especially the ways in which customers want to evaluate products, and want to be serviced and spoken to. Having great products is no longer enough. Due to the available choice of products in the market and the ways that customers now wish to interact with brands, additional complexity has been added to the thought processes of how we plan and build our strategies. What do you like most about the industry? I enjoy the social aspect. It’s an industry full of great, unique, talented people with a wealth of expertise (and a healthy dose of great stories to tell)! I enjoy the competitiveness, not just the personal challenge of staying relevant, but of being continually innovative. Walking the floors of NAMM and Prolight + Sound, amongst others, is a constant source of inspiration to me. Even after years of being in this industry, I still get those “wow” moments and relish the challenge of wanting to be better. What is your biggest inspiration? I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career to work alongside some genuine legends. Their work ethic, product innovation, creativity, experience and expertise are my constant source of inspiration. Also, getting to see the ways in which people use our Launchpad products to do creative things, and witnessing the cutting-edge technology being deployed across Focusrite ranges that empower people’s creativity. What do you like to do outside of work? Meals out, gigs, football matches (I have the terrible affliction of a long-standing love affair with Aston Villa), photography, listening to music and spending as much quality time as possible with my family and friends.

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Find out what pro audio and tech events are happening in the coming months…

SoundGirls Bay Area Chapter Meeting June 3, 2019, CCSF, Broadcast Electronic Media Department, Arts Extension 165 studio SoundGirls host a Bay Area meeting on every first monday of the month, and allow you to be their virtually by ‘ZOOMing’ in via ZOOM Meeting. Visit the event page for information on how it all works: SoundGirls gives women working in the industry an opportunity to meet and network with other industry professionals, creating a strong support network. Membership and events are open to all genders, as long as you have a desire and drive to succeed in professional audio.

IBC 2019 September 12-17, 2019, RAI Amsterdam Occupying the same venue as ISE, yet later on in the year, IBC is a far-reaching media, entertainment, and technology show. As well as exhibitions and conferences, IBC has developed a series of events and free-to-attend features to enhance the show's experience: theatres hosting demonstrations, presentations and briefings; the technological developments and research from R&D labs; and blockbusters on show at the custom built Big Screen. The show also includes the IBC Awards, for

which entries are now open, recognising notable contributions from organisations and individuals to the industry. In fact, the 2019 show is adding two new Awards to the bill, including the Young Pioneer Award that acknowledges young and emerging talent in the creative, commercial or technical spheres. Also, the Social Impact Award, which will represent achievements in inclusivity, diversity, and the environment. Other Award categories include the Innovation Awards, Outstanding Achievement Awards, and Exhibition Stand Design Awards. AES NEW YORK 2019 October 16-19, 2019, New York This show, the 147th Audio Engineering Society International Convention, is made for those interested in all things pro audio: Studio Recording, Home Recording, Music Production, Live Sound, Broadcast and Streaming, Networked Audio, Audio for Virtual and Augmented Reality, Game Audio, and Sound for Picture or Product Development. As well as exhibits and demos, there will be comprehensive papers, workshops and tutorial programmes. AES New York 2019 will be co-located with the Independent NAB Show New York, and an all access registration to ISE includes access to the NAB show as well.



KartFest, the annual fundraising event organised by entertainment technology charity Backup, is returning for its fifth edition on Independence Day (Thursday, July 4). Organisers expect over 300 industry colleagues and friends to join on Surrey's Sandown Park, where 33 teams will battle it out in a three-hour endurance race. “So, get out your fake tan, your candy floss hair, your alien outfit, or your Mickey Mouse ears. In fact, do whatever gets you in the American mood, but book your place fast – the karts go fast,” says Backup. Besides crowning the new KartFest champions, the day will include the ‘Unusual' Pit Stop Challenge, Medialease’s Fastest Lap, a BBQ lunch and drinks, music, entertainment, an award for the best dressed team, the Backup Sundown bar and a raffle. Each team can enter up to six drivers. Non-racer wristbands will also be available, with food and drinks included.

The Music Support charity began in April 2016, the founders being veterans of the music industry with personal experiences with mental health and addiction issues themselves. After witnessing the sometimes negative impacts of working in the industry on themselves and those around them, they realised a personal and confidential service was needed. The charity’s mission is to make sure nobody in the UK music industry is left to suffer alone. Music Support offers a 24/7 telephone helpline with peer support from volunteers with personal experience of emotional, mental and addiction issues. It also provides “Safe Hubs” backstage at UK music festivals where there is an opportunity to chat with someone. There are also resources are the website and educational events that take place. Helpline: 08000306789 Enquiries:

To sign up, please visit:

To donate or volunteer and for more information, visit the website:

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To The Manor Born

PSNEurope's Phil Ward chats with record producer, recording engineer – most notably for Van Morrison and at Townhouse Studios – departing Music Producers Guild executive director and analogue synth nut Mick Glossop about his career to date and what comes next…


he name Mick Glossop immediately conjures up associations with several industry touchstones, among them: the Music Producers Guild and its reinvention as a nurturing organisation for the 21st Century – with Glossop as one of the executive directors for the last 12 years; Townhouse Studios with Glossop as a key engineer, user and designer; and Van Morrison with Glossop as both his longstanding engineer and producer. As Glossop takes a step back from his dedicated MPG duties and settles into something of a personal analogue synthesiser renaissance in his West London studio, it’s time to look beyond that Phil Collins drum sound and reflect on where production is headed... MPG: job done? You have to step aside from time to time to let other people come in, and recent elections have shown a real upsurge of interest from people who want to get involved. They’re younger than me, for a start! It’s a lot more inclusive, and attractive to new generations of producers and engineers. It was important to drop the average age of executive directors, and happily there’s plenty of new blood. I’m confident that new arrivals Olga [FitzRoy] and Rhiannon Mair will address the priorities – such as gender diversity. Is there a corresponding desire to pursue new musical projects? Yes, there is. As you’ll notice in this studio, I’ve really got

into synthesisers – although it’s the rekindling of a very old passion. I’m building a humungous modular system. I opted for science at school, rather than the arts, and that became electronics. At the same time, my musical interest extended to electronica and musique concrete, as well as playing in bands and singing with choirs and folk clubs, and in the end I left my Electronics degree to do something more creative. There was only one solution really: to become a recording engineer. Not exclusively for electronic acts, obviously… No, it was a whole career path that took up all my time – although recording Tangerine Dream at The Manor combined all of it, naturally. Now, I’m in a position not to worry about where the next gig is coming from and I’ve got time to get back to that initial inspiration at 16. I’m off to Berlin next week for Superbooth, a massive trade fair for electronic music gear. How has recording changed since the early days at Townhouse/The Manor and the rest? The whole workflow has reversed. With tape, you spent ages on getting the sound before capturing it; now you grab the sources a lot quicker – completely flat – and then get to work on the sound. It’s now all about the possibilities, and not about remedial work with EQ and compression to compensate for the mechanical artefacts and other shortcomings of the medium – which is immensely more powerful and creative. But…

something about the restrictions of working with tape made it more fun. Working up sounds with musicians inspires their playing; doing it later means they miss out on that process. The exception is when the artist is also the producer or engineer. It began to happen a little in the ‘70s but now it’s much more common, which is why we created a specific category for it at the MPG Awards. I see no mixing console in your studio… I’ve now got the Slate Media Technology ‘Raven’ MTi-1 multi-touchscreen controller for DAWs, which does have some of that positive haptic feedback. It takes up a lot less space but still provides something of a centrepiece for the workflow, which I think remains important. At least the plugins try to emulate the original interfaces, and the knobs turn as you touch the screen. That’s better than the mouse. But I do try and balance ‘in the box’ and outboard. There’s still plenty of rackmount hardware I can get my hands on, even if there’s no desk as such – plus, there’s also the TLA 8:2 M1 Tubetracker for warm overdrive; the Avid Artist Mix hardware controller; and the PreSonus Central Station passive speaker controller for monitoring. When can we expect your first album of electronic music? Ha! I am mixing for Paul Clark who was in The Bolshoi, whom I mixed in the ‘80s, and that’s very electronic. But, yeah… I could make an album. It’s just another extension of the hobby, really. n


Profile for Future PLC

PSNE 87 June 2019  

A new beginning! Hot Chip talk the making of their new album and reveal why they 'had to be challenged' this time around...

PSNE 87 June 2019  

A new beginning! Hot Chip talk the making of their new album and reveal why they 'had to be challenged' this time around...