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December 2019

Lauren Deakin Davies Up close and personal with one of the UK's most exciting engineers and producers

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uring my interview with our December cover star, award-winning engineer and producer Lauren Deakin Davies, we talked at length about some of the defining features of the past 12 months, both on a personal level and with regard to the industry in general. A major point of discussion was mental health and the sector’s understanding of how to deal with those in need of support. It’s a subject that has featured prominently in the mainstream and music media this year - and rightly so - but doesn’t appear to have been given the same level of attention within the world of pro audio. For every artist or performer speaking out on the subject, there are numerous people behind the scenes, from engineers and touring crew through to business owners and executives - who do not necessarily have the same platform upon which to air their concerns on the matter. In the case of Davies, as she details in our interview on p17, she still feels her mental health has, and continues, to pay a high price on account of the intense pressure to say yes to every job that comes her way. It’s not an uncommon story. I, and no

doubt most of our readers, have experienced these pressures on some level. And if not, then we certainly know of others who have. Sadly, it’s still an issue that not just this industry but society in general continues to brush under the carpet. As Davies rightly points out, awareness of a subject is one thing, acceptance is something else. No matter how positive the messages are, very few will feel they can turn down a job or take a day off in order to manage their mental health - the stigma that suggests weakness or an inability to deal with the job will almost always dictate that people are forced to put on a brave face and suffer alone. There are positive signs of change, though. Music Support, a mental health charity for the music industry, has been doing great work not only in raising awareness but also helping train professionals in mental health first aid. It’s vital we are able to talk with our peers and employers without fear of this harmful and outdated stigma. If 2019 was the year in which awareness of the subject was taken to a new level, let’s hope 2020 is the year when attitudes and positive action really start to change the conversation. 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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In this issue... People P11 KV2 We head to the firm’s Czech Republic HQ for a catch up on this year’s business and what’s to come in 2020 P14 JoeCo The company’s founder, Joe Bull, updates us on two new distribution deals for Europe P17 Lauren Deakin Davies An in-depth and personal interview with one of the most exciting studio talents


Report P24 Women In Music Find out who won what at the 2019 Music Week Women In Music Awards P28 Christmas markets Tara Lepore finds out whether or not Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year for pro audio brands



P39 Andy Jackson The Pink Floyd engineer takes us inside the making of a brand new, remastered box set

P54 Katie Tavini The mastering engineer and PSNEurope columnist reflects on her 2020 MPG nomination and looks back on an eventful 2019



ADVANCE BR Phil Ward meets the team now driving Britannia Row for an exclusive look at its next phase of global operation…


ou know you’re at the heart of a truly global community if just a small crosssection of senior management is comprised of two Kiwis, a Sable and an Italian. Why, it must get quite rowdy during the Rugby World Cup. But for Mike Lowe, who hails from Merseyside, there would be no Brits at all in the very top positions, and if you then add in the American influence following the company's acquisition by Clair Global, Britannia Row is effectively the ANZAC-meets-NATO of rental and installation. The complex dynamics of the Clair legacy just got simpler. Lancaster Online, the Lancaster County news source based in Pennsylvania, reports that “the Clair audio businesses, divided into separate companies 12 years ago, are being reunited in ownership and location”, meaning that Clair Global, Clair Solutions and Clair Brothers are together again. It doesn’t change the ownership of Britannia Row, acquired by Clair Global in 2017, but it does add to the potential resources available for wider contract and installation work in which Clair Solutions is a specialist. Careful with those acts, Eugene

And if it’s legacy you’re after, that’s what the current thinking is all about. Like a monarchy, but with less ermine, succession in business is a big and sensitive thing that needs careful preparation to avoid Civil War. Unlike monarchy, thankfully, you don’t have to wait for a state funeral to welcome the newcomers and, while the new team can bed in nicely, the Old Guard can hang around for a bit like The House of Lords: wise, experienced, making sure the Commons doesn’t louse up the legislation. Lez Dwight, for example, is now sales director. Dwight was previously mixing shows in London’s West End, and had trained in electronics, so when Bryan Grant offered him a position at Britannia Row in 2010 it was an opportunity to blend his understanding of audio, technology and the live platform in the service of Brit Row’s ever-expanding roster of accounts. Naturally, these have been growing from the core touring bands and artists into venues, locations and all kinds of businesses seeking top-drawer sound reinforcement. Prior to the acquisition by Clair Global, Grant and Lowe had already started laying plans for a new generation of management that could occupy senior roles, Dwight among them. Clair honoured all of these commitment following the sale, so by 2018 he had joined the board of directors along with managing director Nicola Amoruso and financial director Christina Bosch. “People like Bryan and Mike pioneered this industry,” comments Dwight. “There was no audio rental in

Europe in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, and it was the same in the US when Clair started in the late ‘60s. Often with the acquisition of a company the top-level people move on and a new broom sweeps everything away, but it doesn’t really work like that in our business. Clair did the smart thing, I think, and recognised that the Britannia Row brand is valuable and needs to be protected.” Clair’s domination of the US market and beyond had been a constant fixture of international touring, but now the balance of power has altered. Crucially, it’s a shift that suits both parties. “Getting to know them as a family and a business has revealed how similar they are to us,” continues Dwight, “and although they are the biggest it’s still family-run and there is a humility and a passion at the heart of it. I do feel it’s a different relationship to the kind of consolidation typical of the venture capitalist deals. It’s a close-knit group of people.” The amount of stock available is now huge, as Britannia Row services not only its own accounts but also supports many of Clair’s. These now include venues as well as production companies, says Dwight. “Venue business models are changing,” he says. “Theatres and small concert spaces are looking at contract rental rather than purchasing outright, because the costs of owning are going up. Fortunately we have a reputation for multiband shows and events, and that transfers to venues who look to us for their solutions. It’s budget-driven, but the standard of equipment and its maintenance are paramount. Even 300-800 capacity venues have proper riders now, with the top brands on them.”


RITANNIA Stadium business is booming too, of course, another field where Britannia Row’s particular reputation for deploying L-Acoustics inventory goes before it. The roots are deep in production touring, and the loyalty strong among professionals who move around an increasingly fluid market. Elsewhere, some of the relationships with specific acts are of 30 years standing or more, and these are the clients who will be especially reassured as they travel to the States and beyond secure in the knowledge that Brit Row’s presence is now as much a home gig as away. “In the last two years we’ve done arena tours in North and South America for acts like Def Leppard and Mumford & Sons,” adds Dwight, “which simply wouldn’t have been available to our business before. We’ve also taken over the global account for Foo Fighters, as a result of the changes. It’s managed from here but we can use Clair’s warehousing and infrastructure.” Money, it’s a gas Managing director, Nicola Amoruso, was a system tech in Italy, and came to the UK for adventure and English evening classes before joining Brit Row as warehouse manager. “It wasn’t just about SMAART Live, or L-Acoustics, or Meyer Sound, you had to learn English,” he recalls of his formative years in Rome, Milan and Bologna. “And Britannia Row was always the standardsetter. It was in the warehouse that I ‘graduated’ from one show at a time, as a freelancer, to preparing multiple events simultaneously. It was a new way to do things –

and it was the English way to do things.” Originally from Zimbabwe, financial director Christina Bosch received a useful grounding in handling this kind of wildlife by growing up on her parents’ safari camp, and today she’s part of a new generation of accounting professional charged with safeguarding endangered species of rock and roll entrepreneur while allowing them to survive in their natural habitat. “There’s a lot of collaboration with Clair as the whole finance model is changing,” she says, “and it’s a learning curve for both sides. Decisions are more global, and therefore complex – who buys exactly what, where and how, for example – but one thing that hasn’t changed, and something that I’ve never seen anywhere else, is the extraordinary passion inside each company for what they do. We have apprentices in the warehouse who came to this country specifically to work at Britannia Row. I didn’t realise what a big deal it was when I first got the job, but I do now! It’s a privilege.” Where once it was traffic on the Caledonian Road that exercised the purse strings at Britannia Row, or perhaps the sales of a Pink Floyd album, now it stretches to such exotica as trade relations between the US and China, or between the UK and Europe. But everybody has to do it, and at least Shaun Clair – business development, Clair Global and the grandson of co-founder Gene Clair – is full of confidence and absolutely certain about what Britannia Row brings to the Pennsylvania party. “It’s the people,” he states, “the leadership. As we move into our third generation we are truly blessed to be

L-R: Mike Lowe, Nicola Amoroso, Christina Bosch, Lez Dwight and Bryan Grant

working with Bryan, Mike, Nico, Lez and Christina, as well as the amazing teams around them – not just what they do for Britannia Row, but the contribution they make to the whole company globally. We are very much a team-based business, all of us working together to set goals and direction. It’s less about the equipment these days. Everybody has warehousing, everybody has gear. It’s all about the talent, and Britannia Row’s leadership is exceptional. “We want the people on our team to have opportunities, and you create those opportunities through growth. The world is flat for our clients, and wherever they go in the world we want to be able to provide them with the best service possible. Having players inside those markets helps us to achieve that, because we are not a company that runs off somewhere, hangs up a shingle and tries to have a group of Americans run a depot. We’d rather find people in those territories who share our culture.” As an actual family, Clair is clearly handing from one generation to another quite literally. Britannia Row, meanwhile, is doing something similar as a great big metaphor – and, without the geographical ties that blood families have, is able to scout the globe for the most fitfor-purpose DNA. “We’re like a microcosm of London, in all its diversity,” points out Bryan Grant. And scouting the globe is what top rental companies do with the gear nowadays, too, so a worldwide frame of mind has to run right through the bush telegraph. Act of Succession: tick. My Lords, all rise. n


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

PRS For Music appoints two new members to executive leadership team ROGER JAMES has recently joined PRS For Music as chief commercial officer as well as general counsel, and Mark Krajewski has taken on the role of chief information officer. James was previously worldwide international general counsel at Viacom from 2009 to 2016 and more recently, head of business affairs for Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment. In his new role, he will manage the company's Legal and Public Affairs team and steer PRS for Music’s licensing negotiations. As chief information officer, Krajewski will lead the IT and Transformation team.

L-R: Roger James and Mark Krajewski

James commented on the opportunity of his new position: “We are in a golden age for content creation, with ever new business models and offerings coming to market. Music is – and always will be – the biggest emotional driver for content consumption and I am looking forward to making our members music more accessible using the unique assets we have available to us in a truly compelling way.” Krajewski said: “I’m delighted to be joining the PRS for Music team at such an exciting time and look forward to leveraging our data assets to help deliver an exceptional member experience.”


Generation AV hires

QSC appoints Ian Freer as

Shure appoints new Integrated

Sanak Pandit as

cinema field sales engineer

Systems market development

applications engineer

for the APAC region

manager for Italy

SINGAPORE-BASED start-up Generation AV, which represents Martin Audio in the APAC countries, has appointed Sanak Pandit as applications engineer. Based in Bangalore, India, Pandit has worked in the pro audio industry since he was 14. He trained at Bangalore School of Audio under Vishnu Pandit, one of the most respected technical experts in the touring and rental market in India. Pandit has worked with his family’s companies V&P Sound and SD Audio and has served as a freelance sound engineer for a variety of Indian artists. Generation AV founder David McKinney commented: “I am very excited to have Sanak in the team; he has the technical abilities to support all the brands in Generation AV and I believe will be a great asset to our business in Asia. With his strong background in the touring market, he is able to hit the ground running.”

IAN FREER will be primarily responsible for product support in the Asia Pacific region in his new role. He brings with him over 20 years of experience in the cinema industry, spending the last few years as an audiovideo technician at Connect NZ, providing technical support, writing instructional technical documentation, and assisting with project management. Freer has also served as a technical consultant and representative for multiple international film festivals. He is based in New Zealand and will report to Andy Pearce. “I am excited to have Ian Freer join the Cinema team,” said Barry Ferrell, vice president, cinema product development. “With his extensive technical experience, Ian Freer brings hands-on expertise with a demonstrated history of customer success. He will be essential in providing around-the-clock support on a global scale.”

IN this new role, which becomes effective December 1, Luongo will concentrate on the Italian Integrated Systems market, working closely with Shure distributor Prase Media Technologies. His office will be located in Milan. Luongo has an experienced professional audio background, particularly in sound engineering, acoustics, and wireless audio. His areas of expertise include sales, product management, business development, technical training, and sound reinforcement design. “We are pleased to appoint Emanuele Luongo to this key position,” commented Rob Smith, senior director, Integrated Systems Sales Western Europe, at Shure. “As Shure continues to expand globally, adding Emanuele will be essential in building customer relationships and providing solutions to meet the needs of the important Integrated Systems market.”


THE ROUTE TO BETTER SOUND Czech loudspeaker developer and manufacturer KV2 is noted for taking a different approach from the majority of companies in this competitive market. Kevin Hilton journeyed to the Czech Republic to see its factory and talk to co-founder and chief engineer George Krampera about his philosophies of audio...


he loudspeaker has not changed much in concept since its earliest days. Improvements have been made and new configurations developed, most significantly the line array in recent years. But developers and engineers still strive to find the next move forward. Among them is George Krampera, who, over a long career in pro audio at several big name companies, continues to pursue the best possible sound. This quest led to him establishing KV2 Audio, which has eschewed the line array trend to produce single-point source cabinets. Based in the small Czech Republic town of Milevsko, in southern Bohemia approximately an hour and a half 's drive from Prague, the company is based on chief engineer Krampera's philosophies of sound. It began in the early 2000s with the ES Series, which was followed by the smaller ESD and EX ranges, the K-RIG, the large-scale SL and the high performance VHD touring and installation series. Further evolution came this year through the VHD5.0 constant power point source array and the ESD Cube ultra compact passive loudspeaker. Krampera says it was his ambition to have his systems, particularly the VHD5.0, sound like tube technology. His fascination with this old tech goes back to his youth, when his father worked as a technician. "I was born around tubes," Krampera explains. By the age of 10 he had built his own radio set and at 14 made power amps for local Prague bands. While Krampera enjoyed a successful career designing audio equipment in Czechoslovakia (as it was then), the political situation there led him to leave the country with his family in 1983. After a short time in Austria they moved to Canada, where Krampera worked at Yorkville Sound, designing not only guitar and keyboard amps but also processed loudspeaker systems. Later he ran his own company, Rexx, but returned to Europe in the early 1990s and took up a job at Italian loudspeaker manufacturer RCF. From 1991 to 1998, Krampera worked to improve RCF's transducer design and also conceived the ART series of active speakers. When the company was bought by Mackie, he left to join fellow Italian manufacturer B&C Speakers, where he continued his work on transducers. At the end of the '90s, Krampera returned to what had become the Czech Republic and set up audio design firm Class A. Later he and former RCF colleague Marcelo Vercelli established a new company, FUSSION. The company's large-scale speaker system then came to the attention of Greg Mackie, who invited Krampera to rejoin

RCF. During his second period there Krampera continued to work on the FUSSION range and designed loudspeakers for Mackie. Staying with RCF until 2001, Krampera teamed up again with Vercelli to launch KV2 (the 'K' standing for Krampera, the 'V' for Vercelli and the '2' signifying it was their second venture together) in 2002. Working in a small cottage in Milevsko, he began designing what would become the ES Series. Vercelli left the new company in 2005, after which Krampera's son, George Junior, became chief executive. Part of his brief was to expand KV2's market reach. A significant element in this was moving to a new factory in 2009, which allowed for more centralised design, manufacture, testing and administration. Originally a shirt sewing factory during the Soviet days , the cottage has been fitted out in an ongoing, staggered programme over the years. Dedicated areas include the paint shop, a sample workshop and mechanical and software design departments. The cabinets are handmade from Baltic birch, although routers and CNC machines are used. Toroid coils are wound on the premises, which Krampera Junior says "has a massive effect on the sound." Components and finished cabinets are tested in a special area containing acoustic treatments and a microphone to measure frequency performance. "It's all about the testing and we have very strict tolerances," explains Krampera Junior. This applies equally to the electronics for the amplifiers, with test equipment designed in-house and dedicated burn testing areas. Electronics assembly is again by hand, although a wave soldering machine is used for the circuit boards and is the only mechanised part of the process. There is an in-house R&D department but George Krampera Senior has his own lab, which his son describes as his father's "play room". This features a selection of technologies, including old reel-to-reel tape machines and CD players, plus a full selection of KV2 systems, doubling as a demo area until a permanent area is built. Next to this is the top of the company's anechoic chamber, which, at 10x10x10 metres, is claimed to be the biggest in Europe. All of this embodies what KV2 director of sales David Croxton calls a "unique approach" to loudspeaker technologies. Croxton is a 30-year veteran of pro audio and helped establish an international distribution network in Europe and the Americas. Leading sound designers - including Bobby Aitken, Richard Brooker and John Shivers

KV2 director of sales David Croxton (left) listens to George Krampera (right)

- have specified KV2 systems on major productions such as Cirque du Soleil, Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia! and Fiddler on the Roof. KV2 is also seeing uptake in territories outside traditional territories. "We've been very successful in the third world and developing countries," Croxton explains. Croxton comments that live sound has largely been based on the idea of "more is more", resulting in ever bigger rigs. In general, it is KV2's aim to have fewer boxes making up a rig, regardless of the venue size. "Because we're doing point source type systems, less equipment is required to cover an audience area," says Croxton. "That leads to a lower capital outlay, which is a better return on investment. One of the reasons we've grown so dramatically in the theatre market is that we can provide a high quality production at a considerably lower price point than our competitors. Not because of using cheap components or electronics but because we do it with less equipment." KV2 sees this as helping lower installation costs, while its rejection of DSP for tuning systems results in shorter set-up times. This is a major difference between KV2's approach and that of line array companies, which use DSP programmes to tune their equipment. Among Krampera's criticisms of line array technology is that the time-shifts involved in a multi-point source results in the sound from the different elements arriving at different time. (Although line array developers have always maintained this is controlled by 'coupling' the cabinets to produce a single output). "Line arrays did improve the sound but introduced destructive interference between the sources," Krampera says. "The biggest problem is the movement of air, which is a fluid medium. Point source systems are more resistant to changes in air movement." Krampera and Croxton are equally critical of the systems that went before line arrays; stacks of different cabinets that were put together to throw out as much sound as possible. Looking at the VHD5 in particular, there is the thought that point source is a different way of doing what had been done in the past with bin and horn systems. Krampera stresses these are two different things: "They were multi-point sources and had problems with air movement with acoustic pressure turning to heat, which loses the high frequencies. Our horns are very shallow and do not suffer losses like that." Another element that KV2 sees as an improvement over other types of loudspeakers is its use of trans-coil technology - or active impedance control - for its


transducers. "Transducers increase the force of the speakers and the sensitivity," says Krampera. "And because there is only one source, it cannot be cancelled out." The transducers play a key role in what KV2 claims is a new standard for live sound: SLA (Super Live Audio). This comprises: Super Digital (based on the Super Audio Compact Disc - SACD - format developed by Sony and Philips as an audiophile version of conventional CD), which has 20MHz sampling for extreme resolution, more than 120dB dynamic range and low non-harmonic distortion; Super Analogue, with super fast circuitry (including a settling time of 1Âľ) and an ultimate headroom of 200kHz; and Super Acoustic to offer a true point source with active impedance control and low distortion. One of the aims behind SLA is to reproduce high sound pressure levels in large areas, while maintaining dynamic range and source representation. Another is to deal with what Krampera sees as the limitations in source material, including the mixing console, which he feels has not benefited from the move to digital. SLA utilises the Direct Stream Digital (DSD) technology in SACD as its conversion process to increase the sampling rate (encoding at 2,822,400 samples per second), thereby improving the audio quality. "I don't hate digital," Krampera concludes, "but mixing desks really stopped developing in the 1970s, apart from just adding faders. With all the technologies we're using we have ended up with a system that is loud and sounds like a tube, although it is solid state." Whether or not KV2 can turn the tide against line arrays, Krampera can certainly say he has stayed true to his audio and technological roots. n



ack in September amidst the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam’s IBC show, JoeCo, the manufacturer behind the renowned Blackbox Recorder, put pen to paper on two new distribution agreements for Europe. Tonspur AG was recruited to represent the brand in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, while ABSIS agreed to take on distribution for JoeCo in Belgium. The new deals followed the announcement that Beirut’s Boujikian Bros has taken on JoeCo distribution in the Middle East, marking yet another step in the expansion of JoeCo’s global presence. Here, PSNEurope editor Daniel Gumble finds out what the new appointments mean for JoeCo’s international business…

EURO VISION Last month, pro audio manufacturer JoeCo announced the appointment of two new distribution deals in Europe. Daniel Gumble hears from JoeCo’s managing director Joe Bull and business development manager Graham Murray to find out what opportunities the company’s new partnerships will open up…

Joe Bull

How did the two new distribution deals with Tonspur and ABSIS come about? Graham Murray: We have been looking for some time for a reseller in Switzerland. After email exchanges and face-to-face meetings with Tonspur AG at IBC we were encouraged to take them on for the region. ABSIS is a relatively new entrant to the Belgian market, having been formed by audio engineers Frederic Jakus and Gaëtan Crenier at the start of 2019. We have previously worked with Gaëten on numerous projects so we are familiar with their capabilities. When ABSIS was launched we took the opportunity to re-engage with that relationship. What makes them such a good fit for JoeCo? GM: Tonspur have impressive technical experience and know how, are well respected in the region and carry other premium brands aimed at common target markets. In the end it was an easy choice to work with them and we’re very excited about the opportunities. Likewise, we are familiar with how Gaëtan has established himself as a strong player in the market due to his knowledge and experience. The deals were both agreed at IBC 2019. Do trade shows like this still play a vital role in generating new business and partnerships within the pro audio market? GM: Most definitely. These kinds of high quality trade shows provide a venue where manufacturers can catch up with existing partners and scope the market for additional partners. They are great meeting places. Joe Bull: B2B shows such as IBC and ISE are great places to discuss business with like-minded companies. Consumer shows are changing much more rapidly as more and more purchases take place online but if you are trying to find partner companies, there’s nothing quite like sitting down and talking through the issues they face, having the opportunity to fully explain your solutions to them.

L-R: Tonspur team: Hansjürg Meier, CEO, Eddy Broquet, product manager and support, Carita Mulle, finances and back office

What can you tell us about business in Switzerland and Liechtenstein? JB: We’ve always had a strong presence in the broadcast sector in the territory, but increasingly the other areas of audio capture and playback are waking up to the need for bullet-proof reliability. This is important for us as our reputation is built on that key feature. Broadcasters have always understood the concept of mission critical recordings but themed entertainment and music are coming round to the same realisation – if you’re being paid to capture or supplement a performance the audience expect the results to be perfect every time. As we prepare to enter a new decade, what can you tell us about the biggest market trends you’ve observed during the 2010s, and what are your prediction for where the market is headed in the 2020s? JB: Many of the technologies that JoeCo pioneered early on have become mainstream now. We were in the first 10 companies to adopt Dante as a multichannel interface – now Dante is ubiquitous. We still sell MADI and analogue systems but Dante has become much more important. Audio over IP is bound to become increasingly important in the 2020s, but which of the standards will rise to the top is always difficult to predict. I hope that in general customers remember the importance of audio in all application areas. Amazing light shows and video effects are strong draws for the audience but without good audio the overall effect will always be disappointing. Look at how popular silent

films are nowadays... What are the biggest opportunities in the market for a brand like JoeCo? GM: We are finding more and more regions where we can improve our presence. The quality of resellers is getting better all the time and as these resellers become more technically capable they fit well with the core JoeCo philosophy of delivering rock-solid reliability. And what are the biggest challenges? GM: The challenges continue to be staying ahead with innovation, continuing to manufacture solutions at competitive prices and of course finding the right partners to work with to promote JoeCo products effectively. We’re delighted to have added Tonspur and ABSIS to our network of partners around the world.

Graham Murray



Record breaker, award winner, trailblazer - Lauren Deakin Davies is all of these and more, having established herself as one of the UK’s most exciting studio talents. Daniel Gumble finds her in a raw and reflective mood, as the engineer and producer reflects on an eventful 12 months...

Photography by Alexa Mullins




o you know how I got the Gary Barlow job?” It’s a dark, damp evening in London and Lauren Deakin Davies is filling us in on what she’s been up to since our last correspondence, the wind and rain failing to register even the faintest dent on her excitement as we navigate rush hour in the capital in search of somewhere to eat. As anyone who has met her will attest, time in the company of the multiaward winning producer, artist and engineer is time well spent. Conversation tends to flow at breakneck speed, with stories detailing her latest projects delivered via a flurry of giddy laughter and an overflowing sense of joy at what she gets to do for a living. As has been the case throughout her career so far, keeping track of what she’s doing from one moment to the next can be a challenge. From the age of 17 she has been accumulating credits with the likes of Laura Marling, Emma McGrath and Kate Dimbleby and breaking all manner of records, from being the youngest female producer to have tracks played on Radio 2, to becoming

the youngest ever MPG member. As well as appearing on the Top 100 alt power list in 2018 and 2019, she was also the first winner of the Breakthrough Engineer Award at PSNEurope’s Pro Sound Awards in 2018, which took place almost a year to the day prior to our meeting. Twelve months is a long time in the career of Davies. Unsurprisingly she has much to report. “The Pro Sounds Awards was the catalyst for the next series of events that happened in my life,” she says when we put this to her, as we duck into a restaurant for some dinner and much needed shelter from the conditions outside. “That night literally changed my life.” Which brings us back to Barlow. “I met Fraser T Smith [Best Producer award winner] and he said he really liked my speech because, typically at techy audio awards, people don’t give emotional speeches,” she explains. “He invited me to his studio to meet his engineer Manon Grandjean. They were looking for someone to run Pro Tools on an album they were working on. I gave it my best shot but I don’t know how


to use Pro Tools especially well. I can pretty much do anything in Logic but Pro Tools isn’t really my bag at the moment. “When it came to crunch time I didn’t get the job, which made perfect sense. Manon said she’d let me know if anything else came up, but I thought there’s no way I’d hear from her again. Three weeks later, she gets in touch saying that Gary Barlow was looking for a production assistant to work in his private studio in London who writes songs, plays guitar and uses Logic, and did I mind that she put my name forward. I didn’t know what to say! I got an email from his assistant, had an interview on the Friday and was offered the job on the Monday. I’ve been working there since May.” Unsurprisingly, working day-to-day alongside an artist of Barlow’s stature presented Davies with a learning curve quite unlike any other. “The role encompasses a lot of different things,” she elaborates. “Gary is absolutely amazing to work for and in the past six months I've been challenged and stretched in ways that are invaluable to the future of my career. I have learned stuff that I never knew I needed to know. It’s been absolutely incredible, and it has opened up other doors of opportunity, because when you have that stamp of approval to your name other things become a lot easier.” As the man responsible for some of the biggest and most memorable pop of the past quarter of a century, did Davies have any preconceptions about working with the Take That star prior to taking the job? “I didn’t know just how good a producer he was,” she says. "He’s so talented - a brilliant producer and a brilliant writer. You know this stuff about him, but when you see it with your own eyes…he’s unbelievable.” When discussing her rapid ascent through the ranks of teenage bedroom producer to one of the country’s most sought after studio talents, it’s easy to


forget that, staggeringly, she is still only 24 years old. Her breezy exuberance presents an image of someone completely at ease with the pressures of freelancing and working with some of the biggest names in the business. So how does she cope with the stresses that come with being self-employed in such a fiercely competitive industry? “I’ve lived on the fly my entire life,” she reflects with a slight but detectable hint of unease creeping into her tone. “Whether being in bands, being a session player, living in random places, I’m just used to living that way. I’ve been a freelancer since I was 17, but as you work on bigger and bigger projects you feel that pressure of messing up someone else’s work. That’s a pressure you feel as a producer anyway because someone is trusting you with their project. But I’m terrified all the time, regardless of who I’m working for or what the project is. I’m trying to learn to take that in my stride and to understand that it’s OK to feel that way.” It’s a rare glimpse at an underlying and seldom seen vulnerability that will reveal itself further later on, but for now we return to the opportunities that have presented themselves over the past 12 months. For the most part, details are still under wraps, although she can shed a little light on an upcoming project the likes of which she’s never worked before. “There is this other major project I’m working on that involves me writing and producing tracks in a genre I have never worked in before - it’s a musical,” she says, laughing, “but I don’t like musicals! Or at least I don’t think I’d had the right exposure to musicals. Once I signed up for the project I went to see Hamilton and I couldn’t believe how arrogant and naive I'd been! But it’s a challenge I’m really excited for.” Fully briefed on Davies’s recent and impending work commitments, her thoughts turn to more general changes across the industry from the past year. Chief among them is the increased focus on gender diversity and, more specifically, someone she believes has been instrumental in increasing awareness of the subject, and perhaps most importantly, increasing visibility of women and non-binary people in recording studios. “Brendon Harding becoming the studio manager at Strongroom has been huge,” she exclaims. “He previously ran Red Bull Studios’ Normal Not Novelty campaign, and now, becasue he knows so many amazing women and nonbinary people, has started hiring lots of them. It’s so nice to see that kind of solidarity. I always used to find that you’d go to a studio knowing you were only going to see men, but there seems to be so much more variety now.” She also highlights the appointment of Olga Fitzroy and Rhiannon Mair to the executive board of the MPG as a key moment for the industry, as well as noting the influence of engineers and producers including Katie Tavini, Mariana Lopez, Sophie Ackroyd, Francine Perry, Catherine Marks, Steph Marziano, Kminor, Marta Salogni, Isabel Gracefield-Grundy, Penny Churchill, Kimberly Anne and Emma Marks. “I remember maybe a year and a half ago I was sitting at a PRS Foundation board meeting and all the top female producers were talking about what we needed to do to increase gender diversity,” she continues. “The general conclusion was that we need more role models. Very few of us had had role models, but now they are becoming more visible. That’s what’s so exciting, and it shows that these kinds of initiatives are working.” Among the biggest barriers to the industry, Davies believes, is class prejudice. While trade bodies, the media, artists and audio professionals have become increasingly and justifiably vocal on the subject of gender diversity, the spotlight is arguably being swept all too briefly over the obstacles faced by people from lower-income, working class backgrounds. “I would say that [class prejudice] is single-handedly the biggest thing stopping people from getting into the industry,” Davies says, now in full,


Photo by Ryan Carline

impassioned flow. “Ageism is also a problem, especially for women and BAME people. If it’s taken you longer to get to the point where you are able to seriously pursue this as a career, initiatives and funding may not be available to you because of your age. And then you have young people, who were lucky enough to receive financial assistance from their parents, now able to access even more money through these funds, whereas those who have had to work really hard for a long period of time to get to the same stage are denied access and assistance. That can apply to any demographic." She is quick to acknowledge the emotional and financial support she received during her formative years. “I’ve been very lucky,” she notes. “I’ve been doing this from such a young age because my mum helped me, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to reach this point in my career so young. And I was encouraged, whereas some people don’t get that from their parents. It’s allowed me to be present at all kinds of networking events and conferences from the ages of 17-21 I would be out at these events all the time. Because I was living with my mum I had low expenses, and I lived close to London. Other people might have to work other jobs restricting them from attending. And being active in the pro audio community is fundamental - networking events are the reason I even have a job.” As our conversation turns to the vast array of work Davies has come by via such networking and social gatherings, we veer once again into the subject of coping with the pressures of the job; of feeling obliged to say yes to each and every project she’s presented with, particularly when they come with big names and punishing schedules attached. “I don’t think you realise the scale of what you are working on sometimes,” she ponders, her quickfire manner becoming more pensive. “You think, ‘it’s only me working on this so it can’t be that big a deal. But now I’m seeing things more from the perspective of others looking at my life. When you put it in a certain context… I can honestly say I’m dealing really badly with it. Not specifically with the job in hand or the environment, but generally over the past few years I’ve struggled with the pressure, and I sometimes find it hard to understand how other people, at least outwardly, seem to be dealing perfectly well with the job.” While mental health has been a major talking point in both the mainstream and music media of late, she clearly feels that support for the mental health of those in the pro audio sector is seriously lacking. “I don’t think the mental health of engineers or producers is considered enough at all,” she says. “The whole mental health movement has a faux face to it. It’s like ‘it’s OK to have bad days, as long as you’re doing your job and getting absolutely everything I want done’. People want to be seen as having sympathetic attitudes towards mental health issues, but you can’t have any time off, and if you do there will be big consequences. There’s a link missing - awareness is fantastic, but it needs to go that one step further to acceptance; the fact you might be feeling so overwhelmed needs to be accepted as a legitimate reason not to come into work when things get too much.” There is a distinct change in atmosphere at this point in the interview. A chill in Davies’s usually light, bright demeanour begins to cut through her responses. The various meetings we’ve had in recent years have always been

typified by her joyous, carefree disposition. The sadness now etched across her face is disconcertingly unfamiliar. “I have Fibromyalgia,” she says, suddenly, matter-of-factly. “It’s a chronic physical pain condition caused by a few elements, primarily anxiety.” A long pause. “I’ve had it for years and never spoken about it before, and I’m in two minds to talk about it now. Part of me thinks I should because more people will know it’s OK to admit you have a condition like this. But I don’t feel like I have the right because I don’t take time off to deal with it. If I’m in serious physical pain at work I carry on anyway because I have to; because of the pressure associated with the job.” Visibly upset and wiping tears from her eyes, she continues. “That’s why sometimes I feel like I can’t say anything, because people might think ‘if we need her at a crunch time we won’t be able to rely on her’. It’s a really big pressure.” After a short break, Davies, determined to continue with the interview, picks up the topic again. She’s aware of her bubbly, enthusiastic reputation and is keen to make sure others in the industry know that no one is immune from the psychological toll the job can take. “I feel I need to talk about this because people might see me and think, wow, she’s coping with everything so well, whereas in reality I’m having real problems,” she considers. “But I don’t want to discredit other people with Fibromyalgia who have it worse than me and absolutely cannot make it to work. I’d hate to misrepresent it, like, Lauren can still go to work every day so it can’t be that bad. I guess if more people talk about these things the more people will, hopefully, be more accepting. And maybe give people a break. Which makes people better at their job, too. If you let people have a break when things are getting too much they will deal with work better.” The uncertainty Davies felt about discussing her condition appears to have dissipated, replaced with a welcome air of relief at having brought her condition into the open. The decision to share her experiences publicly was evidently a difficult one, not least for a young star like Davies, for whom the pressures of establishing herself in the industry are still very real, despite the stellar client list she’s built up. For that, the industry and others in her position should be thankful for her courage. Without these shared stories, the stigma surrounding them persists. As we head back out into the rain, a now recharged Davies leaves us on a typically excitable note. “Oh, I forgot to mention, I co-wrote the title track for the film How To

Build A Girl (based on the book by Caitlin Moran) with Kaity Rae (who produced the track) and GIRLI (who is the featured artist),” she beams. “The film won an award at the Toronto Film Festival, but it is not out just yet. It was so much fun to do. We were just hanging out in the studio and ended up writing this song!” The dropping in of such a remarkable feat as though it were merely a footnote allows us to depart on refreshingly familiar terms. We’ve glimpsed a different side to Davies tonight. For much of her career, she’s been regarded as a producer and engineer possessed of talent and skills beyond her years. This evening, she revealed an emotional maturity to match. n


Double digit growth for pro audio sector Last month, PLASA released a new market report showing significant growth for the pro audio industry over the past 12 months. Managing director Peter Heath talks us through its findings…


he UK entertainment industry has grown by five per cent in the past 12 months, with the pro audio sector specifically up 12 per cent year-on-year, according to a new report released by PLASA. The full report, which offers some key insights into market sectors, investment in marketing and R&D, industry workforce, trends over time and future predictions, valued the UK entertainment technology industry at £1.36bn in 2018/19. Sectors that reported the most significant growth include architectural, broadcasting and corporate events, which are valued at £250m, £220m and £160m respectively. “The PLASA Industry Research estimates that the UK entertainment technology sector has grown by five per cent in the last year - that figure varies by technology,” PLASA managing director told PSNEurope. “Growth was sluggish for AV products and services, but the pro audio market is estimated to have grown by 12 per cent. “A total of 37 per cent of respondents claimed that their revenue in the architectural and commercial sector had grown in the last year, and none of them reported a decline in sales in that sector (the remainder either reported no change or were not active in the sector). Also, 34 per cent reported growth in sales in the corporate events sector (six per cent reporting a decline) and 34 per cent confirmed growth in the broadcast events sector (with only 11 per cent reporting a decline). With these sectors accounting for almost half of market value, reported net growth in the sectors is a significant factor behind overall industry growth. Having said that, net growth was also reported in the concert and touring and performing arts sectors.” However, alongside the robust results from the past year, the report also highlights industry concerns for the coming year, with only a third of businesses surveyed expecting the industry to grow in 2020. The main concerns, unsurprisingly, are concerned with how and when the UK will exit the European Union. “The report highlights considerable uncertainty about the future,” Heath continues. “Overall our forecast is that the industry will grow in the next year, but only by

'The pro audio market is estimated to have grown by 12 per cent': Peter Heath

a modest 2.2 per cent. A number of reasons have been given for the slow down in market growth, including a decline in public sector spending on the arts, a squeeze in budgets across nearly all sectors and suppliers being asked to do ‘more work for less or the same money’, but it’s no surprise that economic uncertainty associated with Brexit is their biggest concern. “Some economists say that it takes between two and two and a half years for shock-factors to appear in the market, inferring that decisions made two years ago are still impacting growth. This suggests that there was more optimism in the market just after the 2016

referendum and since then this has faded.” As for what the future holds regarding Brexit, Heath is calling for clarity. “We recently hosted two Brexit forums for our members and the wider community to meet with experts to help navigate the Brexit landscape,” Heath said. “What was clear is that we all want clarity on what, when, and how Brexit will happen. The sooner we have these answers, the faster we can all move on.” PLASA’s 2019 Industry Research Report is available to download free of charge for PLASA members at https:// n



THE WINNERS A raft of industry talent, from pioneering artists to music business executives, were honoured at the annual Music Week event, which took place at The Brewery in London last month…

Above: MPG executive director Olga Fitzroy Right: Glastonbury Festival organiser Emily Eavis


ward winning engineer, campaigner and MPG executive board member Olga Fitzroy and Glastonbury Festival organiser Emily Eavis were among the big winners at the 2019 Music Week Women In Music Awards, which took place before hundreds of industry outliers at The Brewery, London. Held on November 9 in partnership with UK Music and AIM (Association of Independent Music), the sixth edition of the annual event marked its biggest outing to date, as a glittering array of artists, producers, engineers and executives turned up to celebrate the remarkable work being done by women across the sector. Fitzroy, who has worked with the likes of Coldplay and recently became a Labour candidate for the Croydon South constituency in the December general election, was awarded the Campaigner title for driving forward the #SelfieLeave campaign, which is lobbying government to update existing shared parental leave and pay rules to include self-employed parents. Former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson presented Fitzroy with the award, saying: “We call her Super Olga." Meanwhile, some of the biggest names in music paid tribute to Eavis, who was the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Contribution award. DJ Annie Mac, who was also recognised at this year’s event with the Music Champion award, said: “Emily, congratulations on being a trailblazer, you’re an absolutely huge inspiration for all of us women who work within the festival business, and just within the music business full stop. You have broken so many boundaries in terms of how festivals are booked. You have had to show a lot of men that women are as capable, if not maybe better than men, when it comes to booking balanced and thoughtful line-ups.” A star-studded line-up of industry leaders paid tribute to Eavis’ contribution to music by video. Glastonbury 2019 headliner Stormzy said: “Massive congratulations on your award. Artists like myself owe you so much. Thank you for changing my life.” Her father, Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis, added: “She’s always way ahead of the game on the bands. She richly deserves this award.” Other winners included BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra Rap Show presenter Tiffany Calver (Rising Star), Freya Ridings (New Artist), Radha Medar of Metallic

Management (Businesswoman Of The Year), Camille ‘Kamille’ Purcell (Music Creative), Partisan Records MD Zena White (International Woman Of The Year), and Sleeper’s Louise Wener (Inspirational Artist). The Company Award For Diversity In The Workplace was awarded to Universal Music UK. Commenting on the success of this year's event, Music Week editor, Mark Sutherland, told PSNEurope: "2019 was the biggest Women In Music Awards so far, with a record-breaking crowd in the room. It's been amazing to watch the event grow and it's now a really powerful platform to celebrate female achievement across the industry. Over 100 female executives and artists have now been honoured at the awards and this year's winners were a particularly brilliant bunch, representing all sectors of the business, while the awards now have the support of every noteworthy music company. " In addition to the 10 awards, 12 executives were inducted into the Women In Music Roll Of Honour. The full list of award winners and inductees are as follows:

PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Harries

Top: L-R: Louise Wener, Olga Fitzroy, Annie Mac, Tiffany Calver, Camille Purcell, Gee Davy, Remi Harris MBE, Colleen Maloney, Heulwen Keyte, and Lucy Noble. Bottom: L-R: Zena White, Nicola Spokes, Rahda Medar, Lorna Clarke,and Emily Eavis.

The winners

Roll Of Honour

Outstanding Contribution —Emily Eavis, Glastonbury Businesswoman Of The Year — Radha Medar, Metallic Management Inspirational Artist — Louise Wener, Sleeper Campaigner — Olga FitzRoy, SelfieLeave Music Creative — Camille ‘Kamille’ Purcell Rising Star — Tiffany Calver, BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra Music Champion — Annie Mac, BBC Radio 1 New Artist Award — Freya Ridings International Woman Of The Year —Zena White, Partisan Records MD The Company Award: Diversity In The Workplace — Universal Music UK

Kate Alderton, UK finance director, Warner Chappell Music Lorna Clarke, controller, BBC Pop Polly Comber, creator/director, Black Fox Management Ltd Gee Davy, head of legal and business affairs, AIM Remi Harris MBE, creative business trainer and consultant, Remi Harris Consulting Dorothy Hui, VP, digital & audience development, 4th Floor Creative, Sony Music UK Heulwen Keyte, agent, UTA Semera Khan, creative director, Polydor Colleen Maloney, director of communications, Domino Frances Moore, CEO, IFPI Lucy Noble, artistic & commercial director, Royal Albert Hall Nicola Spokes, UK label head, Caroline International



MONTH 2019

Behind the scenes of Cosmos Within Us

Award-winning virtual reality production Cosmos Within Us is pushing the boundaries of what can be done with sound by combining headphones and speakers. Kevin Hilton spoke to its director, Tupac Martir, and sound designers Gareth Llewellyn and Jon Olive‌


irtual reality and immersive technologies have the potential to place people inside a story. Spatial or 3D audio provides much of the sensory information and sensations that are crucial for enveloping a person in a VR environment, as shown by the recent 'live cinema' production, Cosmos Within Us. Described by its director as "75 per cent sound", this critically acclaimed presentation combines film with live performance as it explores the nature of memory and loss. First presented at the Venice Film Festival in August, Cosmos Within Us was next seen at the Raindance Festival in London during September. This has become a major showcase for immersive storytelling and the piece was presented with the competition's top prize, the 'Spirit of Raindance' award. Last month the 360-degree experience was staged at Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, where it was presented on a larger scale than before. Described as a multi-sensory film that is shown in a live environment with actors and musicians, the story of Cosmos Within Us is told from the perspective of Aiken, a 60-year old man with Alzheimer's disease. The audience, which started as only four people on the show's first performance and grew to over 100 for the Amsterdam staging, is able to see on a big screen the visuals as experienced by an 'inter-actor' wearing a VR headset. Differing elements of the sound are fed through a loudspeaker system and binaural headphones to create an immersive whole. Cosmos Within Us was created by director Tupac Martir, founder of creative studio and technology developer Satore, in collaboration with the documentary and VR production company a_BAHN. "What we're interested in with VR and augmented reality is to make it a performantive art," comments Martir. "From the beginning we wanted Cosmos to have as many live aspects as we could as a way of extending it as an experience." Martir says the sound carries a large proportion of this and is divided into two sides: the audience and the inter-actor hear the voice-over and many sound effects through open headphones, while an 'environmental layer', comprising music and additional sounds, play through a surround sound system in the auditorium. "Some sounds can start on the environmental layer, say to the left, and then move to the left headphone," Martir explains. "For example, the opening scene has about 24 different sounds but it isn't until people approach where they are supposed to be happening that they are triggered." The sound design for the VR experience was created by Gareth Llewellyn and Jon Olive of specialist audio immersive system Magic Beans. Co-founder and chief executive Llewellyn started his career in film sound post-production, after which he joined Galaxy Studios in Belgium, where he was involved with the Auro-3D spatial audio format. Olive, also a co-founder as well as chief technology officer, started out in classical music recording before moving into the film sector, where he worked in sales and product development. Satore and Magic Beans have been working together for around two and half years. Olive says the brief for Cosmos Within Us, which he describes as "one of the nicest" Magic Beans has received, was to make "something that sounds cool" but which was also great audio. "It was about much more than cinema and making a realistic space," adds Gareth Llewellyn. The sound for the experience is based on the combination of a 3D loudspeaker array, usually in 11.1, and binaural headphones worn by the

audience. In this way, explains Llewellyn, it is possible to create an overall sonic environment while at the same time having people in a "bubble of sound". The system for the Raindance show included 12 Genelec 8010A studio monitors with 7050B subs. The presentation at the Eye Filmmuseum relied on the venue's in-house rig, which was the first time it was not possible to have a height element to the loudspeaker configuration. "We had to fold the periphonic mix down into 7.1," says Llewellyn. "We missed the height slightly but it worked for the audience at large." Audience members wore Sennheiser binaural headphones, which Llewellyn says provided the right balance between cost and quality. "We wanted to make sure we didn't lose anything, particularly on the low end," he comments. "We also want people to hear the rest of the room, including the person next to them. The aim is to make the audience feel they are in the room with the character, hearing the rain pouring down and thunder outside." The headphones were fed from Sennheiser G3 wireless transmitters and "broadcast" to over 100 G3 receiver packs. "We did explore the best way to feed the audience headphones and realised that to cable everything, particularly in the time available, wouldn't work," says Olive. Several aspects are involved in producing the overall sound for both the speaker array and the headphones. The Unreal Engine, used to generate the VR visuals, sends triggers to the musicians, who are playing live but also have pre-recorded instruments and a click track on an Ableton workstation. Llewellyn and Olive designed their own audio engine to work in conjunction with a Unity 3D sound system running custom tools, with the two components communicating over the OSC (Open Sound Control) protocol. All audio outputs were then sent to an Avid Pro Tools system, which is used for mixing and then distributing the various sounds to either the loudspeakers or the headphones. Monitor mixes and communications were mixed by Hugh Fielding through a Dante-enabled Yamaha console. The whole audio set-up ran over a Dante network, which Olive explains avoids a large amount of cabling. Tupac Martir is enthusiastic about the role sound plays in the realisation of his story: "We could almost make a podcast out of it and still get the chills, because you don't have to see the visuals to understand what is happening. You just hear the voice and the music and sound effects." n

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Tupac Martir

CHRISTMAS With the festive season very much upon us, Tara Lepore finds out if Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year as she speaks to some of pro audio’s leading manufacturers about their seasonal sales strategies and what this time of year means for business…


rofessional audio is not just for Christmas. But for newcomers to the industry, the combination of seasonal discounts and generous gift-givers might make it the time of year where one can get their hands on a coveted piece of equipment that’s been in their online shopping basket for the majority of the year. The season of consumerism is the time of year when big-ticket items are most frequently bought, meaning that Q4 is an important quarter for many pro audio firms, particularly those that branch out into the consumer market with premium offerings. From a retail perspective, Black Friday - the discount-heavy shopping holiday exported from the US - is a big opportunity to drive sales in this period, with promotions popping up everywhere over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, and technology often being the biggest pull for consumers looking for the best deal. Audio plugin retailer Waves is one such company

capitalising on the holiday, offering its “lowest prices of the year” during its Black Friday sale and pre-sale. While deals can be found with the manufacturers directly, distributors are even more likely to lower their prices around this holiday - US musical instrument and pro audio distributor Sweetwater is offering $300 off AKG Microphones this Black Friday (that is, the fourth Friday of November). But just how big is this spike in sales for the manufacturer? And is this something the industry can capitalise on further? Fresh ears For a promising young audio producer, a premium piece of audio technology is likely to be high on their Christmas wish list. When PSNEurope contacted a list of manufacturers for this feature, an important factor that came up for multiple firms was the chance to capture a new market - that is, someone who might be purchasing

Christmas shopping in full swing


MARKETS a piece of studio equipment for the first time (or a generous parent or family member who might be doing the purchasing instead). From Focusrite’s communications department, Simon Poulter said: “It’s certainly an important period [for us], however possibly for a different reason than some might think. It seems to be a time of year where we see more ‘new music makers’, or people who have never made music before, taking their first steps into that world, perhaps after a nudge from a loved one. So it’s certainly important from the point of view of welcoming new music makers into our industry.” Alex Lepges, marketing director EMEA at AudioTechnica, commented: “Because our company has such a wide offering of products, the Christmas period is very important for us. While on the one hand AudioTechnica offers conference systems and products for large-scale fixed installations, we also have Bluetooth headphones, affordable project studio mics and turntables in our line-up. The latter are perfect for festive gifts of course, so there will generally be a marketing focus on these products in the run up to Christmas.” When PSNEurope enquired about different marketing techniques in this quarter, the response was mostly ‘business as usual’. But by sticking to the status quo, are manufacturers missing a trick? DPA Microphones’ sales director told us the difference in sales between quarters was “limited”, adding that the Christmas period sees no huge spike for the firm. For studio monitor manufacturer Genelec, Q4 sales are “traditionally always strong”, according to its international sales director, Ole Jensen. “We’re not generally a company that is driven by seasonal promotions,” Jensen told PSNEurope. “Our focus is much more on achieving consistent sustainable growth throughout the year, and as most of our customers are professional users, you won’t find that many Genelec loudspeakers sitting underneath the Christmas tree.” Ho-ho home studios As we move into 2020, the ‘bedroom producer’ that was popularised in the past decade is no longer entirely amateur. The rise of freelance audio producers means that an increasing number of professional users are choosing to build an environment at home to work from day-to-day. These home studio owners are a demographic that some manufacturers are tapping into,

particularly around the festive period. This year, Audio-Technica launched a cashback campaign for selected products at some of its European retailers. Products covered by the promotion included the AT2035 large diaphragm studio condenser mic (which is popular for podcasters, vloggers and home and project recording set-ups - i.e. individual customers looking to buy expensive products who would benefit from cash incentives), and the AT-LP140XP turntable, a more affordable option for budding DJs and vinyl fans. In 2017, Audio-Technica collaborated with Audient to create a specialist product bundle, the Essential Studio Kit. Featuring an AT2035 large diaphragm cardioid condenser mic, ATH-M40x studio monitor headphones and an Audient iD4 Black USB audio interface, the bundle proved especially popular in Q4, as Tim Page, former marketing manager Audio-Technica, previously told PSNEurope: “The response to that has been great uptake from retailers has been very strong, particularly in the run up to the Christmas buying period.” For the 2019 Christmas period, global pro audio brand Shure has just launched a collection of Holiday Bundles: the Portable Videography Kit, Digital Recording Kit and Mobile Recording Kit. Jay Walpole, Shure’s musician and consumer audio sales director, said: “These bundles are aimed at making it easy for consumers to choose a gift for the musician or content creator in their life.” He added: “At this time of year, our ever popular SM7B, studio, broadcast and recording microphone, continues to sell really well - there will be a lot of these microphones filling peoples stockings during December. We do also see an increase in entry level wireless sales during this busy period. And, as always, our SE range of products - both the pro line and the consumer line - sell really well over Christmas.” Marketing techniques For many brands, seasonal promotions don’t make up part of the marketing strategy. DPA Microphones told PSNEurope that the firm considers itself to be a premium brand so it doesn’t roll out any seasonal discounts. For Genelec, when it comes to liaising with distributors on end-of-year sales, avoiding a last-minute rush is important, as Jensen comments: “The uplift in Q4 sales is to a certain extent linked to our professional customers’ fiscal year ends, where there is an emphasis on customers closing their books and making sure that outstanding


Audio-Technica LP140XP turntable

equipment purchases are fulfilled before year end. “Distributors may decide to stretch their purchases a little further if they wish to hit a yearly target, but again we like to monitor these situations throughout the year to avoid a rush of last minute orders. It’s not in our interest - or the distributors - if they start to build up excessive year-end inventories.” While corporate sales may remain fairly steady, the popularity of audio products in the home - such as voice activation systems and soundbars - will likely see another strong Christmas period. Lepges at Audio-Technica said: “Our headphones and turntables are ideal gifts for anyone who likes to enjoy good audio quality and these tend to be strong sellers at this time of year. But studio microphones do very well at this time of year too.” In the past, Genelec released a seasonal snow-white version of its monitors, as Jensen explains: “While we often produce a Yuletide-coloured limited edition run of some popular models around Christmas period, this is more of a light-hearted ‘thank you’ to our customers rather than a big revenue-generating exercise.” Last year, the Finnish firm adopted a marketing strategy for its social media followers in the form of an advent calendar giveaway. Every day of the month of December, the company’s social media accounts ran caption competitions, product quizzes and other interactive techniques to boost online traffic and generate revenue. This year, it’s “business as usual”, according to Jensen: “This has been a particularly successful year and we’re sitting on an extremely full order book right now.” So while the spike in sales may not be hugely obvious across the board, clearly - for some firms targeting the home user particularly - the season of giving is a good time to inject a little more money into the marketing budget, and spread some seasonal goodwill to your customers, in the hope for an even more prosperous New Year. n


Another rebirth of cinema


With content streaming’s inexorable rise showing no sign of slowing, there is a major opportunity for audio and AV brands to revitalise the cinematic experience, writes Mark Mayfield, directory, global cinema marketing for US pro audio manufacturer QSC...


he demise of cinema has been predicted since its inception. In 1895, Louis Lumière said that cinema is “an invention without a future”. 125 years later, that future continues to evolve and even thrive, as cinema continues to redefine itself. The movie theatre, as a place to experience cinema, also continues to evolve and adapt, becoming an entertainment destination – that also happens to show movies. Despite (or possibly due to) perceived threats such as television, VCR, DVD, and now streaming, the cinema industry remains alive and well. There’s something compellingly human about experiencing larger than life images and sound in a darkened room with a group of people. The experience simply cannot be replicated at home. Sure, you can access the same content, either on Blu-ray disc, cable or satellite TV or via streaming. And, if you have the resources, you could build a large room with luxury recliner seats. You might even have a popcorn machine to add to the full sensory experience. But it won’t be the same as going out to your local Cineplex and communally experiencing that same content with a roomful of like-minded moviegoers. Content may be King, but content alone is not enough. The resilience of theatrical exhibition as an entertainment option is in large part due to the venue itself. Like any mature industry, there is a cyclical nature to cinema’s moderately steady growth. In the early part of the 20th century, cinema was the undisputed king. In 1930, about 80 million people in the US (or about 65 per cent of the population) visited movie theatres per week. In the modern era of cinema, admissions have fluctuated periodically, but have generally been on a steady rise. In recent years, with so many more entertainment options, that number now hovers around 25 million per week. Still, movie theatres regularly draw more than twice as many people as all theme parks and major US sports combined, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Catalysts for new peaks in attendance tend to be driven by the quality of films, technology breakthroughs (such as sound-on-film, widescreen formats, digital sound, digital projection, 3D), or socio-economic

Mark Mayfield

factors. As AV professionals, we can only influence the technologies. Even more fundamentally, AV professionals have the expertise to influence the environment itself. And it’s not rocket science: the basic details of room acoustics, sightlines, and picture quality are well defined by cinema industry best practices established by organisations like SMPTE, Dolby, and standards programmes such as THX, IMAX, and QSC’s Certified Theatre Programme. Although reliable statistics on box office admissions in countries other than the US are difficult to find, it’s clear that cinema is truly a global industry. For example, more movies are produced in India than any other country in the world, and box office admissions are often double that of the US. Theatrical exhibition, too, has become a global business, with theatre chains based in one country, for example, owning movie theatres in many different ones. So are the doomsayers, right? Is this global industry

at risk of extinction at the hands of newer technologies like streaming? Far from an actual threat, streaming may instead be the next technology catalyst for another resurgence in cinema attendance. Streaming is, after all, just another method of delivering content in the digital era. Frequent moviegoers are doing it already. A recent study by the National Association of Theatre Owners and Ernst & Young found that people who stream a lot at home also attend the movies in the cinema more often than those who stream less or not at all. In other words, people who consume content do so across multiple platforms. It doesn’t matter whether endpoint is a television in someone’s home or a media server in a digital projector at the local cinema. And most movie theatres are already streaming on a daily basis. In fact, streaming technology is opening doors to new revenue streams for movie theatre operators. Event Cinema, using the cinema as a venue to deliver live theatre, music, and sports events, is a growing trend, especially in the UK and Europe. Renting a cinema for groups for business or worship gatherings is becoming more commonplace, as cinemas explore ways to maximise their investment in sound and image technology. As this trend grows, so too do opportunities for pro audio manufacturers. Almost 40 years ago, cinema owners began to adopt QSC power amplifiers. Over the last 35 years, the QSC cinema catalogue has expanded beyond cinema amplifiers, and now includes a wide range of cinema signal processors, loudspeakers, accessibility products, and most recently, cinema media servers. As cinemas are evolving beyond just places to see movies, QSC cinema now includes the Q-SYS Ecosystem, which provides cinema operators with limitless possibilities for audio, video, and control of many types of systems within a cinema complex. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, “the report of Cinema’s death has been grossly exaggerated”. In fact, the opposite may be true. We could be looking at the next upcycle in the long history of the world’s most popular form of entertainment. But it depends on the careful guidance of knowledgeable professionals who understand AV technologies and how to properly apply them to create the ultimate movie-going experience. n

Never stop Marking a full year since submitting her first PSNEurope column, mastering engineer Katie Tavini ruminates on the importance of always testing oneself and diving into the unknown...

PHOTO: Dom Sigalas


ey friends, guess what? This is my 12th article for PSNEurope! A whole year of writing each month. That seems like such a tiny thing, and who am I to be typing about this insignificant achievement *eye roll*. Well actually, for me, it’s a huge achievement, and it’s taught me a bloody lot of stuff along the way. Honestly, if someone had told me that there’d come a time when I was going to be asked to write monthly articles for an actual printed magazine, then I’d have told them to get lost. I can’t even write. I’m just an engineer, what do I know? So when PSNEurope asked me to write for them, every month, my own column, with my actual face next to it I was like “No, what wait? Are you joking?” You see, I’m dyslexic, and in school English was never my ‘thing’ (nothing was really my ‘thing’, to be honest). When you’re told you’re not good at something enough times, it tends to stick. Even writing emails to mastering clients was somewhat of a stress. But, you really never know what’s ahead and how an opportunity is going to present itself. So, out of all the things I’ve learnt this year, I’d like to encourage you all to say yes to something that you wouldn’t normally be comfortable with. I’m not talking any weird shit, but career opportunities. Definitely don’t say yes to a ride with a stranger. But definitely do say yes to the thing that someone asks of you that you think you can’t do. I was so close to saying 'Thank you very much but no thanks’ when I got asked to write this monthly column, but it’s actually been one of the best things I’ve ever done. How is that relevant to being a mastering engineer though? It’s been so empowering to have an excuse to think about what really matters to me, and to have a platform to express those things. I’ve also learnt so much about other areas of the music world from going out and interviewing colleagues and friends about their work. It’s helped me understand my work as an engineer more by giving me a free pass to be curious, to ask questions, and to rant a little. What I really wasn’t expecting to happen though was to develop a new hobby. It’s quite rare for music types to talk about the hobbies they have outside of music. Plus, as a freelancer, who even has time? Well, that’s the second major



thing that writing on a monthly basis has taught me; you have to bloody well make time. The music world is a fast one, and it’s so easy to get caught up in this little bubble. But taking half a day to write some thoughts, ask some questions, and absolutely be out of my comfort zone has increased my concentration when I am working, and made me question and re-think some of my workflow, tastes, and the way I approach certain things. Before this year, I literally never switched off, and I never self reflected. I was becoming a workaholic recluse who was perma-stressed. So please, learn from my mistake and take a god-damn break. Breathe a little, switch off and reflect. You’ll come back to your work with a clarity and enthusiasm which probably wasn’t there before. And the third major thing I’ve learnt from writing monthly for PSNEurope is deadlines. Fuck. I thought I knew about deadlines already from my work as a mastering engineer; artists having super short windows to complete mastering before their release. If you don’t do the work on time, people get pissed off. But for some reason, writing for a printed magazine makes that all the more real. And so it’s made me rethink the way I approach deadlines for mastering too. You kinda think that when you’re done with uni, you’ll never have any deadlines again and your life will be wonderful and stress-free with kittens everywhere. So, so wrong. But you can prevent the stress by implementing ways to stay organised, and managing others' expectations. A well organised diary can transform your life from all-nighters and caffeine to actual manageable workloads. Obviously there’s the odd exception, because you never know what’s around the corner, but planning and good communication really are the two golden rules of not having to get your greys coloured as often. I’m so, so grateful to PSNEurope for giving me this incredible opportunity and the platform to express my opinions, and I really hope that some of the topics I’ve covered this year have been useful / inspiring / infuriating / insert feeling word of your choice here. And I really hope that my being honest will be of some benefit. We never stop learning, and I’m thankful to be on this journey with you all. If there’s something I’ve not covered this year that you think could be a cool or interesting topic, feel free to email me at Hope you all have a wonderful New Year! n

P36 P34 DECEMBER 2019

Strictly Come Dancing is among the most elaborate and complex live productions on television today. Produced by BBC Studios, it draws vast audiences and creates ever more impressive spectacles year after year. Daniel Gumble paid a visit to BBC Studioworks’ facilities at Elstree Studios for a look behind the scenes at a TV phenomenon…


etting foot on to the set of Strictly Come Dancing is like stepping into a rainbow. Dozens of multi-coloured spotlights swirl and fizz in every direction, while LED displays and video screens bathe the room in a bubbling froth of luminescent pinks, purples, greens, blues and oranges. As PSNEurope arrives to check out the rehearsals we find a beaming Anton Du Beke laughing and mopping his brow as he departs the dance floor following a run through of his routine, soundtracked by a loud, brassy circus tune that’s being prepped for the next couple. It all stands in stark contrast to the oppressive, slate grey drizzle lurching over Borehamwood’s Elstree Studios on the day of our visit. It’s a Friday, which means we are 24 hours away from the live Saturday night broadcast. BBC Studioworks, the studio and post production provider for Strictly, has kindly invited us into the fray for a look behind the scenes and a chat with some of the key members of the sound department, including Andy Tapley, sound supervisor, BBC Studioworks, who has worked on the show for the best part of a decade. He takes us on a comprehensive tour of the studio where we see and hear first hand precisely what goes into the making of an episode of Strictly. The collective

effort of the production team is phenomenal, as they create an audiovisual spectacular that dazzles and sparkles like the contestants’ outfits, working to a schedule almost as tight. “We divvy up the mixing because it’s such a big show,” says Tapley, referring to his broadcast mix partner and co-sound supervisor Richard Sillitto, as PSNEurope sits down with the pair in a bustling mixing room. “We have lots of circuits coming from the studio floor… it’s a busy show and it takes two of us to mix it. We use a system that has developed over the years as the production requirements have become bigger and bigger with each series. If you were to look back at the early days of the show you’d see it looks very different. It’s evolved a lot.” It certainly has. Now in its 17th series, Strictly has fought off stiff competition from numerous Saturday night prime time contenders to remain one of the most popular fixtures on the TV calendar. With each series the stakes are raised, and as the visual elements of the show are elevated, so too are the challenges placed on its sound team. “We work closely with the visuals,” says Tapley. “It’s become more demanding in terms of the content we’re covering. From a music perspective it’s very challenging. The music is incredibly diverse and has got more and


more varied over the years.” Sillitto elaborates: “There has been an ambition to incorporate more modern-produced tracks. It’s moved away from the band just doing a cover to much more often trying to recreate the track and getting it as close to the original as possible, albeit with a pit band.” “The calibre of the musicians is a huge part of that,” Tapley continues. “Headed by Dave Arch, the 18 session musicians seamlessly switch between orchestral scores to produced pop. They are an amazing team, as are the sound team members working in the background; organising the radio mics, band, monitors and PA. It’s the professionalism of this team, and all teams on the show that make it possible.’’ To help us understand what a weekly cycle of Strictly from one Saturday to the next looks like, Sillitto provides a breakdown of his and Tapley’s schedule. “Principally it starts for us on a Thursday when we have a planning meeting, where we’ll discuss what’s happening the following week,” he explains. “That’ll incorporate sound, lighting, props, everyone. Then Friday is spent with Howard Hopkins, deputy sound supervisor playing in commercial tracks, cameras can rehearse and it’s a good time for me and Andy to have a listen to the tracks. Later this evening, all the cameras


will go home and the rhythm section of the band will arrive, and we’ll run through all the tracks, building up snapshots and then we’ll come in on Saturday, have 15 minutes with the band to add the front line and start rehearsing with the couples. So then the couples will dance for the cameras with the live band, which gives us another two hits with them. Later on in the day we’ll do a dress rehearsal, then it’s live to air. Then we forget all about that and start again!” Presumably, as the show rolls on and couples are eliminated, the process becomes easier. Not so says Tapley. “You’d believe that was the case, but you have to factor in that every week there might be another group dance or some special event, like Halloween,” he tells us. “In theory it should get easier but it never actually does because there are always additional challenges. And in a couple of weeks we’re off to Blackpool. We pack up everything and rebuild it in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. It’s a big show to take on the road. Then it’s back here, where we rebuild everything again and then it’s the Christmas show. It’s a juggernaut production that starts at the end of August and goes through to Christmas and it’s only then that you take a breath.” “Most of the people who work on the show across all departments have been with it for many years, so it’s built quite a nice family feel,” Sillitto adds. “Everyone is very supportive of one another and we’re always



discussing things with other departments to see how we can help each other or get through problems. That’s what makes it work.” As for the process of mixing the show, Tapley and Sillitto have become accustomed to the studio’s Studer Vista X console, which, they tell us, is vital in bringing the show to life for the audience at home. “The desk enables you to very dynamically position faders where you want them and to allocate on an ad-hoc basis,” says Tapley. “We actually have six stage boxes in the studio, which are feeding back about 180 circuits from the studio, so that’s about 80 inputs from the band, 50-60 radio mics, audience mics, then there’s all the tracks for visiting bands, etc. All of that comes into the desk and we divide it into sections. At one end I have different layers, so I have the drum kit on one layer, guitars, keyboards, percussion, trumpets, sax, it’s set up in a way that I’m very familiar with so I can switch between them. I’m actually using half of the physical surface to mix the band and then, when the music’s over, I jump to another layer with couples’ mics and Rich will be across the main presenters’ mics at his end of the desk.” Sillitto picks up: “At my end of the desk I’ve got the fader that is the audience, a couple of VT replay lines, the presenters and the four judges, so my hands are already pretty full with that. Then I’ve got all live vocals, so four vocal mics, various sends to effects units, guest mics. I also have a few standby things because it’s a live show we have to prepare for things that could go wrong, so we have these standbys that we call our ‘ultimates’. They are a couple of mics on a bit of copper cable straight into the desk, so if all the RF and stage boxes fall over, we have something to go to!’’ “On the layers below, I have all the couples’ mics, so if for some reason Andy can’t get to them I have them all grouped together. I also manage things like the Timecode. So the Timecode can come in from various sources - from grams, from the band, from the QLab playback system we have for guest acts. Snapshots are a vital feature and Timecode switching is one of the things that gets switched with the Snapshots, so when we pull back a particular track it chooses where the Timecode comes from and sends it off to everyone who needs it all from one point.” Equal to the challenge of mixing for the audience at home is mixing FOH for the live studio audience. For the past nine years, the task has been handled by audio solution provider Plus 4 Audio, and at the helm Nick Cook. During his time on the show he has seen production values grow consistently, often forcing speaker placement further and further to the periphery to accommodate increasingly elaborate staging and use of props. “Nine years is a long time and things grow and change,” Cook says as we join him at the mixing desk overlooking the dancefloor. “The band by and large has pretty much stayed the same, but the amount of inputs and complexity of the performances has grown. We go from dance tracks to skiffle tracks to charleston, to rave… things need to be flexible. For each guitarist we’ve got an acoustic line, an electric line and a banjo line. This keeps things as separated as possible and gives us optimum control over it – it is similar to many parts of the band and the channel count keeps growing! “This is our seventh year at Elstree and it’s a bigger room here, so the set is slightly higher so our box count went up slightly,” he continues, discussing the more challenging aspects of his role. The PA has to go higher than we would usually like but it has to clear all of the camera shots and we also work closely with lighting to clear any follow spot shots. It’s a challenge, but at Plus 4 we’re all very aware of the environment we’re working in and need to be sympathetic to it. “There’s lots of zoning - where the judges are sitting we split the hangs to give us maximum flexibility for those mics. We have to keep it nice and clean but it can be challenging due to time constraints. We don’t see the band until Friday night, so before we do it live on TV we might cram in five or six passes of each

song. Also, the costumes change every week, so unlike theatre where the mics are always in the same position, they’ll change week-on-week or day by day.” So what’s the setup? “I use a Digico SD7,” he says. “It has in excess of 160 inputs and I do all of the system work on this as well - I send out to multiple matrices to give myself maximum control. This means that when things are thrown at me at the last minute, as they often are, the system has the flexibility to adjust certain elements of the PA and get plenty of level whilst keeping a clean sound for Richard and Andy in broadcast. "The PA, which is an almost ‘in the round’ system, features L-Acoustics Kiva II boxes, which are perfect for the environment, and I have APG UL118 subs to give us a nice bit of warmth and energy.” He continues: “Ultimately, my job is to make sure the audience are getting a show experience whilst being very aware of the broadcast requirements. If they can’t hear the presenters they can’t react; if they can’t hear the jokes they can’t laugh etc, it’s very important that everybody can hear the dialogue so that Andy and Richard can capture that room environment for TV. If everyone’s having a good time here, everyone at home will hear and feel it. At the end of the day, sound matters.” Like Tapley and Sillitto, Cook is also keen to address the ‘family feel’ that has been cultivated throughout Strictly’s various production departments. “We’re always sharing ideas and working together, from band mic positions to foldback mixes and levels to PA EQ and content. It sounds cheesy but we’re a proper family and we work really closely together.” Before departing the warm, candy store glow of the studio for the gloom that

The Studer desk Tapley (below) and Sillitto mix the show on

awaits outside, we run into one of the show’s RF specialists, Adam Waller, an employee of RF provider Terry Tew, which looks after all of Strictly’s radio mics and IEMs. It’s an incredibly complex and challenging aspect of the show, made all the more difficult by Ofcom’s clearing of 700MHz spectrum. “Obviously there is a lot of stuff going on onsite,” Waller says. “From an RF perspective, the challenges come in available spectrum onsite, as well as RF generated by other stuff, like LED walls, lighting kit, anything that emits RF can cause us a problem. It’s getting better as kit gets better, but obviously Ofcom has gotten rid of a load of spectrum this year, which has presented huge challenges on this show. The current plan, having invested heavily in new kit, is to shift into DME spectrum (900MHz upwards), which is currently clean spectrum. The plan is that the next series will be fully digital.” Despite the highly technical nature of Waller’s job, some of the most taxing tasks he faces stem from a far simpler place. “The biggest challenge with this show, RF aside, is pack position, size of pack and battery life,” he tells us. “The pack gets sewn into costumes in the morning and has to last out the record, so battery life is a huge consideration. And on this show, dancers can’t wear packs, where you would usually expect a pack to be worn. Some are worn on the back, but some are worn in other places… “As for the gear we use, for quite a few years now it’s been Sennheiser 1046s,” he continues. “They hold on for dear life and are very easy to manage. In a live show when you’re on air you can look across the rack and you can see very quickly if there is a problem. And we use the little 5212 packs. They are obviously very small so work for the positioning on a dancer.” Throughout our visit, the team are welcoming, happy to chat about their work and seem thoroughly relaxed despite the vastness of the job in hand. There’s still plenty of work to be done ahead of the Saturday night show but, predictably, it goes off without a hitch. For the Strictly team it’s business as usual. “It’s hard work, but it’s such a fun show to work on,” Tapley reiterates as we say goodbye. “We wouldn’t have it any other way.” n


FINGERS ON THE PULSE Pink Floyd release a new box set this month, remastered by the legendary band's favoured engineer Andy Jackson. He talks to Phil Ward…


ube Mastering is my house,” says Andy Jackson, the founder of Tube Mastering, revealing exactly what has happened to the studio market. “Everything is internet delivery.” Maybe so, but the arrival of another mouth-watering box set of discs issued by Pink Floyd – the original psychedelic architects, not a tribute band – provides the exception to that rule, with Jackson once again in charge of the remastering of Floyd history. And exceptional it is. Some of the project is beyond remastering and extends to remixing and even rerecording, raising tantalising questions about how creative choices made in the analogue era can be made all over again in the digital era, given the right set of circumstances. Later… with jewels honed Out this month, The Later Years 1987–2019 is comprised of five CDs, six Blu-rays and five DVDs and is a sequel, quite naturally enough, to The Early Years 1965–1972 – although the world awaits news of a ‘Middle Years’ equivalent. So, this set covers the period after Roger Waters had left the band and its chronological centrepieces are the studio albums A Momentary Lapse of Reason from 1987, The Division Bell from 1994 and 2014’s The Endless River. In addition, there are remastered and expanded live sets, concert film and 5.1 mixes for those who mourn Super Audio CD. The revisionism mentioned specifically refers to A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, for which Nick Mason’s drum parts and Richard Wright’s keyboard parts have been substituted. The process began a good ten years ago, but sadly – RIP Richard Wright – the keyboards could not be completed as planned. In the end – and in a way that keeps the sonic skin grafts in as much context as possible – they were transplanted from contemporary live recordings of the material, a process that Jackson acknowledges is a combination of digital facility and aesthetic necessity. “There was a crisis of direction after Roger [Waters] left,” explains Jackson, “and Bob Ezrin was brought in to co-produce the original album. He had a mission statement: it had to sound like this newfangled invention, the Compact Disc, and he said this brandishing Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits. There were all these other new toys, too, like MIDI, sequencing and the DX7. It sounded really new but, in retrospect, less like Pink Floyd. Being innovative is one thing, but the band has never been interested in being fashionable, which is how it sounded. When we did the next album, The Division Bell, we said, let’s not do that again.” Pro Tools only took root as the 1990s progressed, and The Division Bell was more typical of Floyd in relying on printing musicians onto analogue multitrack. “It sounds like it could have been made five minutes after Dark Side Of The Moon,” as Jackson puts it. “Even the most recent material – David [Gilmour]’s solo album Rattle That Lock – is by and large human beings,” he continues. “There’s a bit of fun with loops and recording bits on iPhone, but it’s basically very traditional. So to combat


the sense that Momentary Lapse was constructed around a MIDI backbone, which it was, we decided to rebuild the drums and keyboards.” The drums were re-recorded in a more air-tight mode, avoiding the bombastic gated reverb of the ‘80s original, a goal achieved during fresh sessions on board guitarist Dave Gilmour's Astoria houseboat and studio on the River Thames. Drums completed, the loss of Rick Wright demanded a re-think. “We combed through hours of recorded shows,” reveals Jackson, “obviously using material for the Delicate Sound Of Thunder live album release but there’s loads more, and picked out the best keyboard parts. They were playing to click so they all fitted well, and where they didn’t quite slot in we tinkered until they did. In truth, Rick’s playing onstage was more ‘off the leash’ and lively than in the pressure of the red studio light, so it was actually a really good move. “One of my only regrets from making all these albums with the band is that we never got to make them in the Pro Tools era, because the freedom it provides could have made both Nick and Rick relax a lot more and, I think, some of it could have been better. Endless River is Pro Tools but it’s the only one, and there’s no new Rick.” Division of labour Tube Mastering grew out of Grammy-nominated


'The industry crossed a line when UAD came out': Andy Jackson

Jackson’s impeccable attention to detail over many years of Floyd sessions, notably at the Astoria, where the bar of hi-fi geekiness was raised to the level of giving the mains power itself a thorough MOT. But whereas in the past he’s turned to rarefied outboard – including Tim de Paravacini’s Esoteric Audio Research EQ and compressor and Leif Mases’ Maselec EQ and limiter – as well as cabling that would, in a few metres, match the price of a car – he has by his own admission been converted to working almost exclusively ‘in the box’. Take a deep breath. This has only been made possible by the advent of Universal Audio’s UAD range of plugins. “That’s what did it for me,” he says, “and it’s only a recent decision. "The industry crossed a line when UAD came out, because it sounds as good as the outboard. The logistics and the ergonomics are a bonus, and it also means making 5.1 from stereo is not a big deal. It’s a not a big deal, anyway, as that market has never really taken off.” The Later Years has involved more edited and remixing than The Early Years, but all of these projects call for curating decisions that strike a balance between audience expectations and the band’s best interests. “There’s always a conflict between what the diehard fans will want to hear and what the band will want anyone to hear,” admits Jackson, “but thankfully it’s not my choice. I advise the management on what’s available, what

would be suitable for various formats and so on, and this box set has some material that hasn’t been heard before. But David will say ‘yeah, I’m fine with that’ or ‘God, no...” Floyd material, even up to 1994, has to be transferred from stereo or multitrack tape to a DAW for remastering, in this case the industry-standard SADiE platform. Once inside this domain, the UAD comes into its own. “I once took a ‘classic album’ Floyd multitrack and did an analogue-domain static mix – no fader movements – with all the external APIs, 1176s and everything else connected, before then converting,” Jackson recounts. “Then I slavishly recreated all of that in the box, using the UAD plugins. In each case there was just one stage of digitisation. "Finally, we did a blind shoot-out," he explains, "switching randomly, all of the tricks. It came down to ‘swings and roundabouts’ or, actually, the digital was better. Now, the Neve console has a big plank on it just to hold the monitors.” Those who remember Primrose Hill’s Utopia Studios will identify Jackson’s workaday 24-track training, where one day could throw you Judas Priest and the next Roger Whittaker. “You just had to get on with it,” he says. Floyd work began in 1980 and the live recording of The Wall at Earls Court tour, followed by the movie soundtrack and then the 1983 album The Final Cut. Since then

they’ve done virtually nothing in the studio without him, including solo projects for both Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters, and for the last album – perhaps the last album – he was producer. The Rubicon was crossed to the FOH position for Floyd’s 1994 world tour, although he had already mixed a Waters solo tour 10 years earlier. Today the foot is somewhat off the accelerator, with Tube Mastering projects falling into place around a similarly relaxed role as senior engineer for David Gilmour’s many studios, including one now called Medina in Brighton. “By sheer chance there was a building for sale at the back of his house there that had been a small theatre,” explains Jackson, “so it was soon obvious what he was going to do with it. In fact, that’s where we recorded Rattle That Lock.” Who knows what future formats await for new Pink Floyd remasters – perhaps a 360° headphone solution – but it seems likely that Andy Jackson will be there, shepherding some of the late 20th century’s most crucial music into it with a disarming sense of modesty. He concludes: “I learned a very important lesson a long time ago, and that was always to remember that it’s not my name on the cover. If you develop the wrong sense of ownership it will come back to bite you. Fortunately, we have a very good working relationship established over a long time, so I can make suggestions. And in the end, it’s their baby – not mine.” n


BBC INTRODUCING PSNEurope’s Fiona Hope made her way down to Tobacco Dock to attend BBC Introducing Live, an annual threeday music and audio event involving masterclasses, panel talks and live music from some of the biggest names in the industry. Here, we give a rundown of the highlights...


L-R: Nicki Lambert, chief marketing officer, MelodyVR, Karim Fanous, innovation manager, Abbey Road Red and Bobby Friction, DJ and radio presenter



rom October 31 to November 2, PSNEurope headed down to East London's Tobacco Dock where BBC Introducing was hosting a three-day music extravaganza geared towards professional and aspiring musicians, audio engineers and those in the music business or looking to make a start. There were many exciting sessions featuring big names in the industry, with live music permeating every corner of the expansive Tobacco Dock warehouse. Attendees could also test out industry-leading gear at the Shure and Yamaha booths. The event embraced the future of music, showcasing the exciting technological advancements in VR and AI that are starting to shape the way we make music, as well as providing insider knowledge on how to get the most out of songwriting and recording sessions or a live FOH mix. Here, we take a look at some of the most significant information we gathered for those who are either looking to get their foot in the door, expand on the skills and knowledge they already have, or try their hand at another part of the audio industry... SONGWRITING On the first day, artists/producers and songwriters Novelist, Maverick Sabre and Rachel Furner participated in a songwriting masterclass hosted by Abbey Road Studios. They all agreed that it’s important to “always record”, no matter what it is, whether you’re just “talking gibberish to yourself ”, as Novelist remarked, jamming by yourself as home, or in the studio – you could be capturing something really special. Furner stated that in every professional songwriting session she does, she’ll hit record as soon as they walk into the room. Although she said she can find her own voice annoying, Sabre chimed in that “it can be quite interesting to pick up all the conversations” on the recording. They also highlighted the importance of writing everything down – thoughts, conversations, anything that you find inspiring – and taking in what’s around you, like what you see and hear on public transport. Sabre said: "I write down every idea, so nothing’s ever wasted, even if I'm sat on a train or I wake up in the middle of the night. You might be out one day and a friend might say something to you that's beautiful. I'm sure we all have conversations with family or friends or hear something on TV or a movie, something that stands out as a poignant moment." Ultimately, a songwriting session is most successful when you “get a great chorus”, so Furner said that she only starts with choruses now. Everyone was unanimous on that point. In terms of songwriting methods or techniques, Novelist has some interesting approaches. “Sometimes it's just getting into the groove,” he said, “you say things, say things, say things, you might even come up with some sentences that, grammatically, make sense, but they're just in the wrong order. Just throw it out there, Picasso kind of vibes. Sometimes I just say a sentence, then I write in the syncopation of that sentence. Then I've got the flow and I'll switch it up. Or I might just say random words that rhyme and formulate the sentences backwards based on those random words. Sometimes it's so smooth that it can go over people's heads. Things can mean more than one thing, but the art in it is you're not telling them exactly what it means." Furner has two separate processes, one for writing on her own, which is “very mood-driven” and based on what makes her feel something. “I don’t usually go in with a full concept, I just feel the music,” she reflected. In her professional songwriting work, the approach is much more structured. “I cater for the artist and what the sound is. I'm not so set in what I have to do, but I do like to get clear in a session on 'what is being said' in the song and I will have a title and concept. The best thing ever is if you type in on Google 'beautiful phrases' or 'phrases from 1942' – I'll copy and paste those and have it in my notes. If I'm writing for pitch and there's no artist in the room, we just go a bit crazy with quite out-there songs. But, the success rate of pitch songs is much lower than if I'm writing with the artist.” The musicians also touched on the issue of writer’s block. Sabre posed the selfreflective question: “When I get writer’s block, is it because I'm too happy in life, that

The historic East London Tobacco Dock set the scene for the three-day event

things are going too well? When I do have writer's block,” he continued, “it's normally summer. How much of a rut do you end up getting in if you need pain to always be inspired by?” Novelist tries to avoid writer’s block himself. “I'm 22" he stated, “so I convince myself I've got 22 years worth of things to talk about. So if I ever get in a place that I can’t talk about what I want to, I might just stop and do something else, and when I come back I always have something else I wanna talk about. Explore different sides of yourself; bring up whatever wants to come up.' We also heard from professional musician and songwriter Johnny Lloyd, who used to play in the band Tribes. Lloyd recalled: “I don’t know anyone that writes everyday successfully […] apart from Blaine from Mystery Jets”. In terms of trying to emulate current trends, he affirmed that “as soon as you focus on what’s current and what’s happening, you lose yourself […] it’s a dead end.” Lloyd also advised the young musicians in the room to look into songwriting professionally for music libraries as an extra way to make money. WHERE IS MUSIC TAKING TECH? After that, we sat down to listen to a chat about where music is taking tech hosted by DJ and radio presenter Bobby Friction, with Nicki Lambert, chief marketing officer of Melody VR, and Karim Fanous, innovation manager at Abbey Road Red. Melody VR ( is a VR experience that enables users to witness a concert live in the comfort of their own home, giving those that perhaps don’t like being in a large crowd or can’t make it to the gig the chance to be a part of a great live show. There is a MelodyVR app that can be downloaded on the App store or you can use a VR headset. Lambert gave us some more insight: “The experience takes a few different forms - on our app you'll see a wide range of artists' gigs that are happening anyway,” she said. “We put our VR cameras at various positions around the venue where we think you'd get an interesting view. And if you have a VR headset, you can look around and experience it as if you're standing right there. We’ve also created some unique made-for-VR experiences. We've just done some stuff with Lewis Capaldi where we followed him around LA to various places that are meaningful to him. We got him to tell the story behind his music and journey in an intimate and personal way. The magic of VR is that generally after 15 seconds you forget that you look like a bit of a wallie and you're just in that moment and it feels really personal.”


First off, he said to “always say ‘yes, probably'” to a gig, because “you never know what’s going to be a good fun tour”. Then, when on the job at FOH, “you always need to be able to hear the words, it’s the only complaint you’ll ever get” and because of that, he always starts a sound check with the vocals. “It’s the most important thing,” he explained. “No one comes up to you and says ‘Couldn't hear any of the words, but the bass was amazing!’” Not only does he recommend to start with the vocals, but to leave them on the whole time, as "there’s always going to be spill in your lead vocal microphone. You can’t get away from that.” Indeed, he points out that you should remember the “stupidity of microphones” and place them where they sound good, definitely not directly in front of the drums. Next up, Burton will sound check the drums, getting the drummer to play as they would during the actual gig. “When it comes to the gig, they hit it really quietly, never as loud as they did in the sound check.” He also emphasised that you should always go up on stage to hear the sound for yourself. “I hate engineers who just stand right at the back, it sounds completely different there,” he said. Ultimately, Burton stressed the importance of “keep[ing] sound checks focused” as “the worst thing is when it turns into a rehearsal”. As for the gig itself, Burton hammered home that "loud is easy. Loud is not interesting. The most important thing is to have the dynamic. Don't use all the 60,000 watts until the last song. Then everyone walks out saying 'That was the loudest and most impressive gig I've seen', hopefully. It's like with musicians, you've got to have the light and shade, because that's why live music is so exciting."

Ultimately, technology is benefitting the music industry, according to Fanous, who said “the industry is on a rebound, revenues are growing”. He elaborated on what Abbey Road Red does, the name of which is drawn from Abbey Road Studios' old ‘red department’, which created the blueprint for the modern mixing console – the Red 17 – used by The Beatles and many others. It is this innovation in technology that Abbey Road Red encapsulates, pioneering in the field of music technology. Abbey Road Red's Incubation programme “helps people create and launch technological products into the music business. One of our start-ups called Broomx Technologies ( has made this amazing immersive projection device, taking VR out of the headset and projecting it on walls and ceilings. They had just one active speaker in the device, so we thought we'd help them develop their sound imaging. We partnered with MelodyVR, we mixed some Imagine Dragons content in fully spatialised audio, and teamed up with Sennheiser to use their AMBEO soundbar, creating this experience where you're projecting into a room, turning the viewpoint with your phone, seeing the stage circle around and hearing the music change. “Another one of our current startups, Audoo (, is making a smart meter that listens to music being played at bars and small to large establishments, records it and reports it to the collection society so they can pay the artist accurately.” Talking the use of AI, Fanous continued: “A lot of people are scared about what AI might mean for music and creativity, but we’re exploring the positive way it'll help us make music. Think of it as just another layer. We have a great intelligent microphone called Vochlea (, which hears what you're doing and translates it in real-time to an output. That frees up your creativity; Novelist used it and loved it. Another example is LifeScore ( - an adaptive music platform. Imagine a piece of music that evolves with your journey through your day. As you're walking around, it can track your movements and give you different sounds. You're turning right, it changes, you're turning left, it changes.” FRONT OF HOUSE We then got a chance to hear from The Prodigy’s ex-FOH engineer and current University of Derby professor, Jon Burton, who gave us a rundown of his top tips as a live sound engineer. He worked with The Prodigy for 15 years, pointing out that “it’s unusual to work for an artist for that amount of time".

IN THE STUDIO On day two, Abbey Road Studios again hosted a jam-packed session on recording and mixing with Abbey Road’s senior recordist, Paul Pritchard, who took us through his methods in making the most out of a recording session. Pritchard took the standpoint that recording and mixing methods all depend on what you’re recording, what you’re recording on, and what your skill level is. “Make sure you’re serving the music in whatever way that is,” he advised. “For me, there’s too much talk about sample rates and convergers. There’s differences, but I’m not worried. I’ve done sessions with engineers who bring their own clock or spend ages testing the microphones and ends up not making things better because the artist has to wait around.” He continued: “No two sessions are ever the same, you have to approach them differently." He emphasised that it’s important not to get too bogged down with the little details, for example, he “isn’t bothered about mic pres” or specific types of gear – obviously he can't find many faults with the treasure trove of equipment he has access to at Abbey Road – and just to focus on recording your music. Ultimately, he said, “people always say ‘that microphone sounds good’, but if a microphone is making a sound it’s broken, singers should be making the sound”. However, he did have some pointers for artists and producers doing it themselves. He advised, when recording, to “go until you’ve reached your peak – compare it to the previous recording and if it’s still better, keep going. If it’s worse, you’ve reached your peak”. He also said to tune vocals yourself and that he avoids autotune, although he does use Melodyne. “I’d rather something to be slightly out of tune than sound like it’s been tuned,” he remarked. And why would he say it is still relevant to record at a recording studio as opposed to at home? “Well if you’re recording an orchestra you can’t do it at home. If you’re recording drums, maybe you can’t. I think it’s good if you are an artist to have someone else there. You can record the vocals yourself, that’s great if you’re into that, but if you just want to focus on singing, you can get someone else to do it and it takes all of that away. That self-doubt that sometimes singers have about whether it sounds good or not, you have someone to bounce opinions off and to do all the legwork and the editing. The main reason I'd say to go to a big studio is if you're recording something big." In some respects, he welcomes the democratisation of music for solo artists, and acknowledges Abbey Road has nothing to worry about as the world's most famous studio in a Grade II listed building. n


PSNEurope made its way to Spitfire Audio’s swanky HQ this month, where Saffron was hosting a special event geared towards aspiring femaleidentifying audio professionals. Here is some of the industry insight we gained...


SNEurope took a trip down to Spitfire Audio’s London HQ for an exciting womxn in audio event last month dubbed Tech Dissect and organised by Saffron Records. The event was filled with workshops and panels from a variety of female-identifying audio engineers, composers and music professionals at the height of their careers. Some of the highlights included hearing from Abbey Road Studios’ managing director Isabel Garvey about her journey from finance to heading the most iconic studio of all time, and a talk about making it as a woman in the music and audio industries featuring the highly successful composer Nainita Desai, Connie Edwards, music supervisor and composer manager at We Are Golden, and Sarah Guerin, head of rights management at ITV Studios. We also had a play around with Native Instruments’ magical Maschine and listened to singer and performer Bishi detail her incredible musical journey. What's more, attendees in the masses were cramming into the studio rooms to witness workshops from PSNEurope columnist and mastering engineer Katie Tavini, freelance engineer Fiona Cruickshank, Young Padawan, K-Minor and many more. Here is a round-up of the most significant insights we garnered from the experts... CLIMBING THE RUNGS The stats show that although there is a 50/50 split of males and females currently coming out of Music Technology courses, this newfound equality doesn’t carry through to the industry itself, with only seven

per cent of UK engineers and producers actually being female. Desai gave her take on the subject: “If anything is a barrier I think it's yourself holding yourself back, but I also think technology has, up until recently, held women back." Desai acknowledged that events like this one are great as they encourage women to take that step further after pursuing music technology courses by applying for jobs and submitting their work. “It's wonderful to see things are changing, thanks to Spitfire Audio and other organisations, Facebook groups and social media. Up until four or five years ago, I was on my own. It’s so important when women come together and support each other.” Desai pursued a degree in Mathematics to begin with after experiencing peer and social pressures not to go into the audio industry, as well as a lack of educational options in music technology. “There were no music production courses during my late teens/early 20s; we’re so lucky that we have such a fantastic music education now.” After that, she ended up doing a postgraduate degree in Music Information Technology, and then attained a scholarship to go to the National Film School and edit sound for films. She was introduced to singer/songwriter and producer Peter Gabriel during her course and ended up landing an internship with him after university. That experience, she said, opened many doors. Abbey Road’s Garvey started out in finance, which she dubbed her ‘dark past’, but ended up in music after landing a job at EMI to help them prepare for the digital world. This led to work at Warner Bros and finally she

was picked up by Universal after it acquired Abbey Road. Her job, as managing director, was to ensure that Abbey Road Studios is still relevant 85 years from now. How did she go about doing this? “[This involved] really investing in the core. The recording studio is the gold dust we have to look after, but we've also built ancillary businesses, an education brand, and the music tech incubator. We digitised the mixing and mastering services so you can access them outside of the studio and we built a retail business for all the tourists on the zebra crossing. All of that has bolstered the financial health of Abbey Road - the studios themselves are thriving, and will continue to.” Guerin described a few different paths she could’ve taken, doing a degree in Biology, working at ITV for a spell initially, then contemplating doing another course in Nutrition after being made redundant. Finally, she made it back to ITV Studios where she’s been working for an “eye-watering 22 years - I worked my way up from entry-level to head of department.” Edwards studied music and has found that helpful in her role at We Are Golden, working and communicating with composers: "That's the part I really love, because you're working with really talented composers and you feel like you're part of their creation.”

Young Padawan presenting a workshop on Moog synthesisers

DECONSTRUCTING BARRIERS Desai remembers being the only woman in the room when she started out, but highlighted that now “people are actively searching for female composers, it’s not just all talk” and all three women agreed unanimously that it isn’t the case that female engineers and composers aren’t wanted, but that there is a lack of submissions from them. Edwards recalled her experience with the issue: "I'm seeing a lot more female composers on credit lists, which is excellent. But when I worked at Major Tom, a supervision agency, I actually cannot recall when we had a composer submission from a woman." She emphasised that you should always send in submissions, “hustle and share your talent”, as she makes a point of listening to every single one she’s sent. “I often meet female composers at events like these,” she pointed out, “but I'd love to see women composers at the standard events as well. There seems to be a barrier where I’m not finding you, or you’re not finding me.” Guerin hammered home that you should “just let all your passion out, don’t ever hide that” in interviews, as that is what’ll get you the job. She also advised: “Don’t be put off by something that seems like a sideways step, because that could be an opportunity to meet people you

wouldn’t normally meet. Don’t shut any doors.” Edwards chimed a similar tune, emphasising that “if you really believe in and love what you’re doing, that’ll come across and connect with people.” Garvey stated that as a woman in the music industry you should “find someone to sponsor you, male or female”. Having a good role model and someone to support your growth is key. Desai experienced a similar positive support structure from some of her male peers despite being the only woman in her field at the time, for instance being given the opportunity to be Gabriel’s assistant engineer. Desai explained: “I never looked at myself as a woman. When I worked in sound design it was also very male-dominated, but I aligned myself with men who gave me a few lucky breaks. I see the colour of my skin and that Asian stereotype, so I have even more against me, but I never looked at it as a barrier. I see myself from the inside out, not the outside in. “You just have to go for your passion, your dreams, your ambitions,” she advised. “My career has taken longer to take off than male counterparts, that I would say. There are so many obstacles, but don’t give up. Get out there and meet people - you could be the next Beyonce or Mozart, but not if people don’t know you!”

your ambitions", she advised. "My career has taken longer to take off than male counterparts, that I would say. There are so many obstacles, but don’t give up. Get out there and meet people - you could be the next Beyoncé or Mozart, but not if people don’t know you!” Garvey hasn’t found being a woman in the industry as a barrier or an issue, but she did notice, as did Desai, that there weren’t any female role models to look up to. Thankfully though, Garvey reassured us that this is changing with her positive outlook on the matter. She spoke of her experience as a woman in her senior role: “I felt for the first time that I was myself and that it was a huge advantage to be a woman. I've made a career because the industry went through such a disruption, they needed new talent, they had to break the existing mould. There was no idea of who should be sitting in that job, so you could kind of waltz into it. It was very rapid how the industry declined and there was a state of panic for a while. "Actually, being a woman and being almost nonthreatening really helped because you could cut through the, quite frankly, male ego crap and get things happening,” she asserted. In a call to men in the industry, as she herself has had “great male mentors”, she stated: “Where there are women with talent, really help sponsor them and understand the barriers that they’re facing. Understand that we have this imposter syndrome we shouldn’t have and help us a bit. “There’s a whole generation coming now of super talented women that have more visibility and a few role models ahead of them and they’re gunna kick ass. It’s going to be great,” she beamed. “For the first time, when I look at my own network of peers, there are a lot of other senior women and we all help each other. We’ve passed that point when we were like ‘we’re going to have to learn golf.’” Finally, Garvey tells us how she’s been working at Abbey Road Studios to make it more hospitable for women. The diversity problem isn’t so much in the artists, it seems, but in the engineers. “We’ve built two smaller studios specifically to get younger talent in the building; people earlier in their careers. It’s not just this old mecca for old rock stars. In terms of talent coming in, we’re pretty diverse. Where we’re not great is that our engineer base is 95 per cent male, which is a problem. It’s a generational thing and I don’t think girls are made aware of the engineering route into music at school. And it’s not that we are getting 50/50 applications from men and women and not picking the women, it’s that there are no female applicants. “But that has changed,” she continued, “we’ve got two young female engineers with us now and I hope that starts to push through the system really quickly. However, there’s still a huge amount of work to do. We’ve also got a group of women that meets every quarter at the studio, and we talk about how to elevate younger people starting out and how to profile the women that are amazing at their jobs.” n

2019:IN REVIEW As we come to the end of another eventful year, PSNEurope has created a rundown of the biggest stories from the past 12 months, covering all reaches of the audio industry...

IT'S been a busy 12 months for the industry, with bigtime acquisitions, company developments and venue installations in abundance, and of course, the inevitable weight of Brexit on many an audio professional’s shoulders. There have been some big changes for some big companies, with this year seeing Capital Sound leave its South London HQ to join SSE Audio Group in Northwest London and co-founder of EAW Kenton Forsythe returning to the company after a long break. Big name brands made defining acquisitions, with Focusrite investing in monitor manufacturer ADAM Audio to expand its reach in the monitor realm and

L-Acoustics taking on DeltaLive UK after the two brands developed an effective working relationship. As for installations, Royal Albert Hall saw a ground-breaking revamp of its sound system with the implementation of 465 d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers. Meanwhile, in the sports sector, Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur finally opened its new stadium with a sound system designed and implemeted by Harman, SSE and Brit Row. In chronological order, we've put together a list of some of the defining news stories of 2019 before we turn a new leaf in 2020...

Chinese factory raid revealed counterfeit Shure, Sennheiser, Harman and Yamaha audio products

HMV brought back stores EAW co-founder Kenton Forsythe returned to the company Eastern Acoustic Works reclaimed its co-founder and former vice president of strategic engineering, Kenton Forsythe, in January 2019. “When I left three years ago, I took a year off, and my wife and I worked on our ‘honey do’ list – and we’re still working on that,” said Forsythe. “But I want to make more speakers. A couple of years ago I started looking around but I didn’t find the right situation. Then EAW president TJ Smith gave me a call. EAW is pursuing some advanced product development, and TJ asked me to contribute.” Forsythe is returning to work part-time: “I kind of reclaimed my role as the transducer guru. Our head of engineering, Geoff McKinnon, is excellent, and he provides the leadership and vision. "I collaborate with suppliers on component designs as well as new product development concepts, working with and under Geoff and director of product management, Jeremy Forsythe.”

After the process of administration that led to the shut down of 27 stores in February 2019, including its flagship store on Oxford Street, HMV struck deals with landlords and brought back nine shuttered stores the very same month. Part of this had to do with the acquisition by Sunrise Records, as after that HMV reopened a third of the stores that had been closed down when the company went into administration. Back in February, five stores had been reopened in the locations of Merry Hill, Tunbridge Wells, Plymouth, Reading and Meadowhall. Since then, nine more have been saved, including Uxbridge and Westfield, London. On an even more positive note, Birmingham opened what is called the ‘HMV Vault’, home to over 25,000 records and 80,000 CDs, becoming one of the largest record stores in the world. That said, it’s also been confirmed that three branches – Crawley, Kingston and Portsmouth – have since closed. Commenting on the reopening in Plymouth, Neil Taylor, HMV managing director, said: “It is extremely gratifying to see this store open again and I am extremely proud of our staff. I greatly appreciated the support of all our customers and the landlord which made re-opening this store possible.”

This was PSNEurope’s most widely read online story of the year; I guess you could say it made audiophiles across the globe very angry. On March 19, 2019, Shure announced that a police raid on a factory in China, Enping Soundpu Electronics Equipment, uncovered the manufacturing of counterfeit audio products. The factory was a known counterfeiter to the Enping enforcement authorities. Soundpu was fined in August 2018 when counterfeit Shure microphones were found at its factory during a routine market investigation in April 2018. Other leading audio companies were also impacted by the counterfeit operation, including Sennheiser, Yamaha, and Harman. Among the goods seized were wireless microphones and receivers, consoles, amplifiers, and processors. As a result, the companies launched a criminal prosecution against Soundpu. There has been no further news of the progress.

‘We’ve changed stadium tech, ours is the best in the world’: Inside Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium and sound system On April 3, 2019, the new home of Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur officially opened for business, after an extended development period of nearly two years. PSNEurope editor and lifelong Spurs fan Daniel Gumble was given a tour of the venue to check out its vast and complex audio specification. When construction started on the club’s new home back in the summer of 2017, a temporary stay at London’s Wembley Stadium was mooted to last until approximately September 2018. A series of technical issues and problems arising from the new stadium’s critical safety system, however, triggered numerous setbacks, resulting in a far longer than expected spell away from the Tottenham faithful’s home territory (a subject that the club refused to elaborate on, although a Harman spokesperson did confirm to PSNEurope in January that the delay to its opening “was not connected to the audio installation”). In July 2018 it was revealed that Harman Professional Audio Solutions would be the official audio supplier for the stadium. Harman’s Ryan Penny, senior business development

manager, large venue, EMEA, said the company was always confident it could deliver on the astronomically high expectations set by the club. “The fantastic design team had the vision and design expertise to see the opportunities to maximise the use of the technology; to pull ideas from other industries, venues and other types of building and deliver them into this stadium,” he told PSNEurope. The system in question is comprised of 156 JBL VLA-C2100 loudspeakers and 72 JBL VLA-C125S subwoofers, all powered by Crown DCi Multi-channel Dante amplification. SSE Audio Group was appointed to design and integrate the comprehensive audio and PAVA systems throughout the stadium, while Britannia Row was asked to supply engineers and a control package for the arena’s grand opening. SSE's VP of special projects, Eddie Thomas, commented: "Spurs can now boast an audio system to match the excellence of the whole stadium, with audio quality and high SPL 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." Brit Row client liason, Tom Brown, said: “Taking a gig in and out of a football or rugby stadium is difficult and requires some precise logistical management, obviously nothing can get in the way of the game. With an event like this, there’s simply no room for glitches."


d&b provided world’s largest single-room speaker system for Royal Albert Hall In early April 2019, the Royal Albert Hall installed the world’s largest single room audio system, which includes 465 individual loudspeakers from the d&b audiotechnik product portfolio. Costing over £2 million, the project took 693 days of labour, using 15,291m of cable and 465 individual speakers for the world’s largest loudspeaker install in a single room. As a Grade I listed building, the sound system required special building consent and had to work within the fabric of the famous Victorian venue. “Previously, our control over the audio experience was limited and often didn’t meet our high standards,” explained Ollie Jeffery, HoD production and technical at the RAH. “What we wanted was to bring sound inhouse with a properly implemented system, and make it so good that the majority of productions would feel comfortable using it. Naturally, everyone who has ever played here wants to get it right; some audio teams would spend five or six hours on the day taking speakers up and down, up and down, trying to achieve that end, but it was always a compromise. It wasn’t that our service providers were doing anything wrong, but we felt the difficult challenge of delivering world class audio within the extremely demanding geometry of the room could only be met with a different approach.”


L-Acoustics acquired DeltaLive UK Loudspeaker giant L-Acoustics acquired a majority stake in DeltaLive UK (Delta Sound Incorporated (UK) Ltd.), a specialist in audiovisual services and rental, in early April 2019. For DeltaLive UK founders Paul Keating and Mark Bonner, the deal coincided with the sale of its Dubaibased operations, Delta Sound LLC to PRG. For the L-Acoustics Group, the acquisition of DeltaLive UK will bolster its expertise in all areas of professional audio, from conception through to manufacturing and operation in the field. DeltaLive UK has been a long-standing customer of L-Acoustics as a member of the L-Acoustics Certified Provider Network. The relationship between the two had recently been strengthened by the introduction of L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound, which DeltaLive UK deployed in high-profile events such as the awardwinning production of the BBC Proms 2018 at Royal Albert Hall. Christian Heil, president and co-founder of L-Acoustics, commented on the acquisition: “DeltaLive UK brings a wide range of opportunities, and its geographical proximity to our UK offices in London will allow us to fulfill this mission.” L-R: Paul Keating, co-founder of DeltaLive UK and Christian Heil , president and founder of L-Acoustics

Focusrite invested in Adam Audio The Focusrite Group, which comprises the Focusrite, Focusrite Pro, Novation and Ampify Music brands, acquired monitor manufacturer, ADAM Audio, on July 16, 2019. This acquisition marked its first acquisition since going public in 2014, which the company described as representing ‘a clear demonstration of its careful consideration around which brands should join in the Group’s mission to­­­­­remove barriers to creativity’. Focusrite founder and chairman, Phil Dudderidge, said of the deal: “I am delighted that we have an important new addition to our family of brands. With a vision to create the most holistic creative experience for recording professionals and musicians alike, choosing the right high-precision studio monitor brand is key. Together with ADAM Audio we can achieve so much more, removing the technical barriers that frustrate artists seeking to record and reveal their true sound.” Initial focus is to ensure Adam Audio has "all the necessary freedom and autonomy it needs."

L-R: Focusrite CEO Tim Carroll and ADAM Audio CEO Christian Hellinger

PSNEurope took a journey to Iceland, one of the world’s most unique recording locations In September this year, PSNEurope editor Daniel Gumble donned his winter coat and made his way to Iceland to check out a plethora of recording studios as part of its Record In Iceland initiative. Though its entire population totals a mere 340,000 (according to Eurostat figures), the variety of top class recording facilities in Iceland’s possession could rival that of cities and countries 10 times as densely populated – a message the nation’s Ministry of Industry and Innovation is keen to spread. In order to achieve this, it has released funding for export office Iceland Music and its Record In Iceland initiative, which offers artists a 25 per cent discount on the cost of recording at any of its participating studios, many of which we’ll be visiting over the coming days. For the past decade or so, Iceland’s studio sector has been in good health – a number of new facilities have opened up, while pre-existing studios have seen demand for their services rise. Yet there is a sense that it remains something of a hidden gem as a recording destination – a reputation that the Ministry is seeking to change. Not to dilute any of its mystical allure, but to raise its profile as a hub of musical excellence that extends beyond the

likes of Björk and Sigur Rós. Central to this mission, aside from promoting its fabulous recording services, is reframing the commonly held perception of Iceland as being too expensive a place to make music. To dig into the finer details of the initiative, the Ministry’s Erna Jónsdóttir agreed to meet us for coffee at Reykjavik’s iconic Harpa concert hall. “The thought process behind Record In Iceland came out of lobbying from people from the music industry, especially because we have a similar system for the movie business,” she explained. “They had argued for years that something similar should be done for music.” Essentially, the 25 per cent reimbursement is open to both domestic and international artists and can be applied to the combined costs of both studio fees and travel to Iceland. According to Jónsdóttir, it’s a straightforward enough process, and while the benefits for artists are substantial, the initiative also presents a lucrative prospect for the studios in question. “The application is quite simple and people need to understand that it isn’t too much work to apply, considering the money you can save,” she adds. “And it’s a business opportunity for the studios. They have advantages over a lot of other studios in the world [with the natural beauty and proximity to the city and the country]. Plus, the studio rates in Iceland are relatively low. It’s all about getting the word out.”

Oscar-winning Markéta Irglová in her essence at Iceland's Masterkey Studios

Capital Sound left South London

MPTS took over BVE The annual BVE (Broadcast Video Expo) was cancelled in late August this year, with its key assets acquired by MPTS (Media Production and Technology Show). Taking place on May 13-14 2020 at London Olympia, MPTS will now become the biggest UK event for the broadcast production and technology industry, with MBI (Media Business Insight – publisher of Broadcast magazine) acquiring the rights to BVE’s intellectual property, marketing data, and marketing channels. Charlotte Wheeler, MPTS event director, commented:

“After reviewing the market, ITE Group decided they were not going to go ahead with their BVE show and approached us in a collaborative way to make sure the closure of their event led to one strong show for the broadcast production and technology industry. They wanted to do the right thing for the market and their former customers. "That meant we could acquire both their customer data and intellectual property. It all happened quite quickly once it became clear that the industry was better served with one show.”

As of November 18, Capital Sound moved on from its South London headquarters, basing its operations at SSE Audio Group’s newly refurbished and expanded facility in north west London. The company will maintain its existing telephone number 020 8944 6777; the new postal address will be: Unit 3 Cumberland Avenue, Park Royal, London, NW10 7RX. “Our location in South London has served us incredibly well over the past 14 years, but we have outgrown the facility on several fronts,” explained Paul Timmins, Capital Sound’s head of operations and sales. "The new warehouse doubles our operational capacity in terms of storage and prep space, plus we will have significantly increased our shared resources in terms of tech and warehouse support, which I think will be of great benefit for our clients. Since joining SSE Audio Group in July 2018, our business has continued to grow. Our objective is to carry on working with our clients in the same way, with with the support of a wider network."


THIS MONTH we chat with Jonathan Reece, managing director of KV2 Audio, about his life in the industry, and take a look at Music Support’s new Mental Health First Aid training initiative. We’ve also curated a run down of the most exciting industry events coming up...


JONATHAN REECE Managing director, KV2 Audio UK

What first sparked your interest in the industry? I grew up studying music to quite a high level and then electronics. The two just went together and I found that having perfect pitch was an incredibly useful tool in setting up sound systems, not wasting time sweeping frequencies, but hearing and identifying problem areas straight away. What was your first job? Whilst at school I got offered the chance to DJ at a local nightclub; this quickly became a residency at age 16, which I then precariously balanced alongside my academic studies. The owner later became a friend and admitted that he had never thought to ask my age, just presuming I was over 18. The police occasionally came in looking for underage drinkers, but fortunately never asked how old the DJ was.

In the UK especially, the two can very easily become one. I am perhaps fortunate that our office is based less than a mile from my home which, whilst making it a bit too easy to sneak into work on a weekend, negates the many hours of commuting to the office during the week. I am also lucky that my hobby is music, so taking my work home might just involve finding a large KV2 home cinema system in my lounge every night. I enjoy my time writing on ProTools and used to produce some white label dance tracks years ago, including a cheesy version of Auld Lang Syne, which was used for Radio 1’s midnight on-air celebrations.

What is an average day like at work for you? I have quite a diverse job as both the UK distributor of KV2, but also part owner of the main manufacturing company in Czech. Most weeks I get involved in some head office work, but alongside that I could be in the UK warehouse helping with a large order, meeting our UK clients, or commissioning an installation. In between I also run the accounts side of the business.

What’s the biggest challenge of the industry? For me, the general acceptance of a declining audio quality, caused in many cases by the over-application of DSP. Many of the songs you hear on the radio have that typical buzzing sound, like insects around the voice. It is a shame that many of the new era of engineers coming through will only ever experience that as their foundation and introduction to the pro audio industry. The art and need for equipment that can create sonic space, airiness and openness in a mix has largely gone and seems not to be a priority as long as you can mix the band on your iPad or tell what temperature an amplifier is on your phone.

What has been your favourite project? Pre-KV2 I had my own installation and events company, so we undertook a lot of prestigious work within the industry. We had some great fun travelling around with the Mondiale team putting on the Theme Awards as well as supplying all the sound and lighting for PLASA’s big 25th anniversary party in London. With KV2, it was an installation at Hammersmith Palais for a famous TV music awards show. We were very proud of that - it sounded great.

What do you like most about the industry? The people, or should I say the characters. You only need to walk round PLASA or Frankfurt Messe at home time to realise what a great sitcom our industry could make. But seriously, despite the global corporations now dominating, or the accountants making decisions about how good they can afford a product to be, there are still many inspirational legends and a genuine sense of fun around the industry gatherings.

What is the most ambitious project you’ve worked on? I think the Winter Olympics in Italy. Ambitious because it was the early days of KV2 and we committed to supplying a new system called VHD. George [Krampera] and I set off in the car across Europe not really knowing what to expect, but having been promised an amplifier room it turned out that the system, including amplifiers, needed to simply sit outside on the snow in temperatures of -20 to -25 degrees for over two weeks. It was a nerve-wracking experience but the system performed flawlessly.

Who/what is your inspiration? I have to say my colleague George Krampera. Inspiration isn’t always a comfortable thing and once you get used to the definition and detail in George’s products it can affect your enjoyment of even the most simple things, such as going to the cinema, listening to the radio in your car, or the recording of your favourite artists. Striving for that definition becomes a goal on almost every level and it’s no coincidence that the majority of KV2’s team have been with us for many years, knowing they may struggle to find contentment in a more ordinary audio environment I certainly would.

How do you balance work and life?


EVENTS LAWO PROFESSIONAL AUDIO WORKSHOP December 3 Lawo (UK) Ltd - Bicentennial Building 10:30am - 5:30pm Located at Lawo’s UK headquarters, these workshops offer a hands-on educational opportunity to learn how to make the most out of the mc²56 mkIII audio production console. It is restricted to professional audio and sound engineers only. Attendees will get to mix alongside experienced Lawo audio engineers; update their familiarity with earlier Lawo surfaces; explore other consoles on the market; or simply share tips and tricks. Agenda (subject to change or alteration): • Introduction to system components • Overview of the control surface • Navigating the surface • Building a configuration • Executing common tasks

Find out what pro audio and tech events are happening in the coming months… Over the course of the day, attendees will learn about the features and functions of RIVAGE, including a focused discussion on software operation, an overview of the new plugins, a listening demo, and mixing time. The day will cover the RIVAGE PM10 and the RIVAGE PM7, which is the newer addition to the RIVAGE PM series. To register for the event, follow this link: THE 2020 NAMM SHOW 16 - 19 January, 2020 Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA

Visit this URL to register:

The NAMM Show is fundamental for the pro audio industry, uniting over 115,000 registrants from 130 countries and regions that all gather to experience the future of music and sound. Attend to hear from the industry’s experts, to witness the latest sound innovations with access to over 7,000 brands and more than 400 educational sessions.

SSE AUDIO GROUP YAMAHA RIVAGE PM TRAINING DAY December 10 SSE Audio, Redditch, B98 9PA 10:30am - 4:30pm

All members of NAMM are invited to the NAMM Show, while industry professionals can register for a General Attendee badge. You can register here: badges

CHARITY CORNER MUSIC SUPPORT PARTNERS WITH INDUSTRY ORGANISATIONS TO TRAIN IN MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID Music Support, the peer-led music industry charity that provides confidential

a community of live events businesses and studios; Backstage Academy,

mental health and addiction services to the music industry, has partnered

a higher education provider specialising in the live events industry; The

with 10 UK companies and organisations to train music industry professionals

Production Services Association (PSA) and its benevolent fund, Stage Hand;

in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). Music Support began investing in Mental

and Thrive: MentalWellbeing, a new, NHS-endorsed, clinically effective app

Health First Aid training in 2018, and the value of it in providing people with a

designed to help people combat stress.

basic understanding of mental health quickly became clear.

There will be various courses available including ‘First Aider’ (two-day course),

Music Support will collaborate with The Event Safety Shop (TESS), a live event

‘Champion’ (one-day course) and ‘Aware’ (four-hour course).

production safety service; industry charities Help Musicians and The BRIT

Trust – the charitable arm of BPI; PLASA, the Professional Lighting and Sound Association; The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF); Production Park,

If you are suffering, contact 08000306789 or


Master mind Mastering engineer and PSNEurope columnist Katie Tavini on her MPG Awards nomination, the best of 2019 and what she hopes to see from the industry in 2020…


ast month, Katie Tavini was nominated for the 2020 MPG Awards Mastering Engineer of the Year award, capping off an eventful 2019 that, in addition to her acclaimed work with a diverse array of artists such as Rookes and Stone Jets, has also seen her become a hit on the pages of PSNEurope with her monthly columns. Here, we catch up with her to discuss the year’s highlights and what she’s hoping for from the coming 12 months and beyond… Firstly, congratulations on your MPG Awards nomination! How does it feel to be nominated? Thank you! It feels so surreal to be nominated. I still can't believe it. I'm super grateful for the support I've had though, and to the wonderful artists who've trusted me to work on their music this past year. How important is it that mastering engineers are recognised at awards ceremonies like this? I think it's super important that mastering engineers are recognised - it's an important part of the production process, with a large emphasis on quality checking, creating formats, writing metadata, etc. As most people have probably seen, there's been a rise in 'automated mastering' tools, and having awards like this shows that there's much more to mastering than audio processing.

Mastering is still seen by some as quite a mysterious art form. Do you think that's why mastering engineers aren't as widely recognised as producers/engineers? To be honest, I think one of the reasons that mastering engineers aren't as widely recognised is due to selfimposed secrecy. When I started out in mastering, I found it very hard to talk to mastering engineers, and the majority I approached were not willing to share skills and knowledge. I think that some people like the fact that mastering seems mysterious. However, I prefer a much more open approach as it's enabled me to skill share with some truly brilliant people. Plus, mastering is a very quick process; producing an album can take months, whereas an album can be mastered in a day. That means you work with way more people but for a much shorter amount of time. So it can take more projects for a mastering engineer to build a strong relationship with an artist. What projects are you currently working on? Well, now is the time to conform to the mysterious mastering engineer! I'm not sure I'm able to talk about projects I'm currently working on. However, some upcoming releases that I'm really excited about is a very cool single by McBaise and ‘Hitting Skins and Pulling Strings’ by Too Piste, who I also really love. And recently, Rookes released her Liminal EP, which is just glorious. And one of my absolute favourites is the Telling Lies

game soundtrack, which Nainita Desai composed. This was performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra and it was an absolute dream to master. What have been some of the standout moments of 2019 for the recording industry? I think this year has been so good. So many of my friends are smashing it right now - shout out to Olga Fitzroy and Rhiannon Mair who are now directors of the MPG, and Lauren Deakin Davies and Sophie Ackroyd on their fab new studio jobs. It's been so empowering to see so many talented women doing so well. What are you hoping to see from the industry in 2020? This is such a tricky question. The standard of music created this year has been mind-blowingly good, so more of that. But I'd also like to see studio managers, bookers, labels, etc. taking some responsibility for bullying and harassment. I hear way too often about this stuff going on, and it happened to me when I was a freelance studio engineer. There's no HR department in the music industry, so I'd really like to see people in charge of the bookings at studios take some accountability for these things. Sorry to end on a downer, but this is the most common subject that younger engineers ask me about. If we don't look out for them, there's going to be a skills shortage down the line. n