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International www.audiomediainternational.com

April 2018

SYLVIA MASSY From Tower Records to recording Tool and Johnny Cash - the producer looks back on her storied career

INTERVIEW

Behind the scenes with Björk sound designer Marco Perry

FEATURE

The challenges and opportunities in the installed 3D audio field

REVIEWS

Pro Tools 2018, Marantz PMD-706 and more...


CONTENTS

INTERVIEWS

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15 Marco Perry The sound designer discusses the future of immersive audio formats

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18 David Scheirman AES’s President explains how the organisation is adapting and evolving

FEATURES

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19 Sylvia Massy The producer, engineer, author and artist talks about her music career and new recording studio 25 Geo Focus Colby Ramsey investigates the state of the South American professional audio market 29 Installed Audio We speak to movers and shakers in the installed 3D audio field

PRODUCT FOCUS

34 Power Amplifiers

REVIEWS

36 Pro Tools 2018

April 2018

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WELCOME

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MASSY APPEAL

She also told us about her new recording facility in an old church in Oregon, Studio Divine, which has been operating privately for the last couple of years, but is now available to book for sessions. Elsewhere in this issue we’ve got an interview with sound designer Marco Perry who told us his views on the future of immersive audio and we’ve also got a special report on the South American professional audio market, where we speak to people involved in the live, studio, and fixed install sectors to get a better understanding of the opportunities presented by the wider region. We’ve also reviewed the latest version of Avid’s

CONTENT Editor: Murray Stassen mstassen@nbmedia.com, 0207 354 6035 Senior Staff Writer: Colby Ramsey cramsey@nbmedia.com, 0207 354 6045 Content Director: James McKeown jmckeown@nbmedia.com, 0207 354 6015 Designer: Tom Carpenter tcarpenter@nbmedia.com, 0207 354 6041 Digital Director: Diane Oliver doliver@nbmedia.com, 0207 354 6019 Production Executive: Warren Kelly wkelly@nbmedia.com, 0207 354 6046 ADVERTISING SALES Head of Advertising & Brand Partnerships: Ryan O’Donnell rodonnell@nbmedia.com, 020 7354 6047 Senior Account Manager: Rian Zoll-Khan rzoll-khan@nbmedia.com, 0207 354 6048 SUBSCRIBER CUSTOMER SERVICE To subscribe, change your address, or check on your current account status, go to www.audiomediainternational.com/page/faqs or email subs@audiomediainternational.com ARCHIVES Digital editions of the magazine are available to view on ISSUU.com. Recent back issues of the printed edition may be available please contact lwilkie@nbmedia.com for more information. REPRINTS/PERMISSIONS All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher.

Managing Director: Mark Burton Financial Controller: Ranjit Dhadwal Events and Marketing Director: Caroline Hicks Head of Operations: Stuart Moody HR Director: Lianne Davey Audience Development: Lucy Wilkie

ylvia Massy is a living legend. With a list of credits ranging from Tool to Johnny Cash and the Melvins, she’s seen it all (and produced the audio) and we’re very proud that she’s the coverstar of the April edition of Audio Media International. Her career trajectory is honestly one of the most inspiring stories of determination, raw talent and technical knowledge you’ll ever hear in this business. So, make sure to read our five-page feature on this extraordinary artist, producer, engineer, author and vintage microphone collector to find out how she went from playing in punk and metal bands in the San Francisco music scene of the ‘80s to being Rick Rubin’s go-to engineer for the Johnny Cash Unchained sessions, which saw her working with The Man In Black and his unbelievable arsenal of guns for hire, the backup band of all backup bands, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers.

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mighty DAW, Pro Tools 2018, in addition to IK Multimedia’s ARC (Advanced Room Correction) software, which, writes Stephen Bennett, “provides a more reliable auditioning environment than a bodged acoustically treated space”. Last, friends, but definitely not least - it is with a heavy heart that I announce that this will be Colby Ramsey’s final issue as senior staff writer of AMI. After more than two years under two different editors Colby has been reporting on the professional audio industry’s news and trends with editorial flair and unrivalled enthusiasm. He’ll be taking up a new role at AMI sister title TVBEurope and we wish him the best of luck in this exciting new chapter of his journalism career. As always, please feel free to get in touch and tell us what you love (and what you hate) about what we’re doing with AMI and remember that the next issue will be a combined edition for May and June.

Murray Stassen Editor Audio Media International

Experts in the issue

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April 2018

Sylvia Massy is a world-renowned producer, engineer, author and artist who has worked with some of the world’s biggest recording artists, including Prince and Johnny Cash.

John Delf is the owner of Edge Recording Studios and also a FOH engineer who has mixed acts including James Arthur, Lily Allen, The Script and 5 Seconds of Summer.

Marco Perry is an experienced immersive sound artist and designer who has worked with the likes of Björk and MoFo festival in Australia.


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NEWS

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MPG AWARDS: WE ARE ‘LISTENING AND WATCHING HOW THE INDUSTRY IS EVOLVING’ Developing the event over the last ten years ‘has not been without its challenges,’ says MPG Awards Board. Full List of winners: UK Producer Of The Year, sponsored by Kii Audio Catherine Marks PPL Presents The MPG Award For Outstanding Contribution To UK Music: Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley Recording Engineer Of The Year, sponsored by AMS Neve: Manon Grandjean Mix Engineer Of The Year, sponsored by Solid State Logic: Mark ‘Spike’ Stent Mastering Engineer Of The Year, sponsored by Miloco Studios: Matt Colton UK Album Of The Year, sponsored by Universal Audio: Glass Animals – How To Be A Human UK Single Song Release Of The Year, sponsored by Shure:

he MPG Awards Board has told Audio Media International that “listening and watching how the industry is evolving is a key part of keeping the Awards as a relevant event”. This year’s edition, which was also a celebration of its tenth anniversary, took place at London’s Grosvenor House on 1 March and saw five of the accolades go to women, the most female winners on a single night in the event’s history. The Board added that “developing the awards has not been without its challenges,” over the last ten years and that “it is interesting how we have needed to ‘keep up’ with developments in the industry.” Producer Catherine Marks (pictured) was named UK Producer Of The Year at the ceremony for her work on The Amazons’ self-titled album, Manchester Orchestra’s album A Black Mile To The Surface and The Big Moon’s Love In The 4th Dimension. The other female winners were Manon Grandjean,

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who carried off the Recording Engineer Of The Year Award; Marta Salogni, who won Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year and Jane Third who won the A&R Award. The artists they have worked with include Stormzy, London Grammar, The xx, Kasabian, Feist, Goldfrapp, Frank Ocean and Slaves. “We are delighted with the continuing support we get and the positive response from an ever-widening audience,” continued the statement issued to AMI. “The winners are judged by their peers, entirely on merit from a seriously strong and very competitive list of submitted nominations so we are always pleased with the outcome; producers judging great productions, regardless of commercial success.” Looking to the future, AMI is told that the hopes for the next ten years of the MPG Awards are “continuing support, perhaps a long-term major sponsor, some more memorable performances and yet more widening of the range of worthy winners”.

Royal Blood – Lights Out Re-mixer Of The Year, sponsored by Novation: UNKLE Breakthrough Producer Of The Year, sponsored by Focusrite: Jolyon Thomas Breakthrough Engineer Of The Year, sponsored by Genelec: Marta Salogni International Producer Of The Year, sponsored by British Grove Studios: Garret ‘Jacknife’ Lee Self Producing Artist Of The Year, sponsored by Spitfire Audio: Dave Bayley (Glass Animals) Studio Of The Year, sponsored by RME: Abbey Road The A&R Award, sponsored by The Association of Independent Music (AIM): Jane Third The MPG Special Recognition Award sponsored by Solid State Logic: Colin Sanders The MPG Award For Inspiration, sponsored by Audio Note: Imogen Heap

WIN TWO AUDIO DAY PASSES TO DEVELOP:BRIGHTON Audio Media International has two day passes to give away for the Audio Track of Develop:Brighton and all you need to do to win is follow us on Twitter and look out for further announcements. Develop:Brighton is a leading three-day conference for the game development community, incorporating an expo and networking event. Taking place from Tuesday 10 to Thursday 12 July 2018 at the Hilton Brighton Metropole and organised by Tandem Events, Develop:Brighton has increased the number of ‘tracks’ and sessions on offer to delegates for the 2018 outing.

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April 2018

Evolve, the one-day track curtain raiser to the conference, will now feature across the full three days of Develop:Brighton. Add to this a brand new Discoverability track, dedicated to helping developers get noticed, Develop:Brighton 2018 will consist of eight tracks in total: Design; Art; Audio; Business; Coding; Evolve; Indie and Discoverability across all three days. “By incorporating Evolve into the main conference, this allows us to offer more content and choice across all three days, so it is easier for all those in the development community to focus on the topics that really matter to them,” commented Andy Lane,

managing director, Tandem Events. “Each year, we always strive to deliver a programme that is relevant and insightful to today’s development community. With more developers self-publishing, discoverability is an issue many come across. Our new Discoverability track is aimed at helping those who have great ideas get noticed and nurture their community.” Registration for Develop:Brighton 2018 is now live. For more information visit www.developconference.com.


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SHOW PREVIEW

“AUDIO IS GOING IN A DIRECTION WHERE IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT NEW PRODUCTS, AND IS A LOT ABOUT TECHNIQUE” This year’s Prolight + Sound conference will have a key focus on immersive technologies and the future of sound, with a number of audio exhibitors making a return to the halls of Frankfurt’s Messe from 10-13 April 2018.

Michael Biwer

hile the hall layout of Prolight + Sound remains unchanged, visitors can expect to see a lot of new offerings at this year’s show in Frankfurt. Being integrated into the trade show for the first time is a professional-development programme organised by A3E (Advanced Audio + Application Exchange). As a result, the ‘Future of Audio + Music Technology’ conference will be held in Room Entende on Level 4c of Hall 4 on Friday, 13 April. Meanwhile, Astro Spatial Audio (ASA) will host special presentations highlighting the integration between its SARA II Premium Rendering Engine and third-party systems, including TTA’s Stagetracker II, Alcons Audio loudspeakers, and QLab playback automation software. Also to be held for the first time on Thursday, 12 April during Prolight + Sound is the Immersive Technology Forum, made up of lectures focusing on subjects such as 3D audio, virtual reality, 360° film and holography. Additionally, there will be several special areas where exhibitors can demonstrate immersive hearing experiences. “In the Immersive Technology Forum we will be showing

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some big immersive audio projects, with some interesting demo areas from d&b audiotechnik and Audio-Technica,” said Michael Biwer, group show director of Prolight + Sound’s ‘Entertainment Media & Creative Industries’ business unit, speaking to AMI.

“We’re only ever as strong as the industry itself” “We have two arenas again, where we will showcase concert sound and demo live systems,” Biwer added. “We’ve tried to make every workshop a bit more affordable for everybody and accessible for the industry. Audio is going in a direction where it’s not all about new products, and is a lot about technique.” While there was reportedly a growth in the number of attendees a couple of years ago, visitor numbers now seem to have stabilised and Biwer is pleased, especially with the number of new exhibitors coming to this year’s show.

“There is a lot of pressure coming from the industry, but we are proud that we have a stable offering,” he said . “There are a lot of people coming back to exhibit including HK Audio and Peavey, while we also have a lot more exhibitors on the staging and lighting technologies side.” Despite the usual budgeting struggles, Biwer believes that the show is in good shape: “We have a global sales network, and are using this to try and boost the synergies between Prolight + Sound and Musikmesse, because this relationship is very important for us,” he explained. “We do not copy our competitors, and we are trying to be really unique in taking the show in a different direction for visitors. I hope that those in the industry understand that this is a great platform and realise how much value we can bring to them. “While we continue to develop new ideas for the show, I think we could also see a very good Prolight + Sound for the next five to ten years. We try to be forward thinking, but we’re only ever as strong as the industry itself.” www. pls.messefrankfurt.com April 2018

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OPINION

IMMERSIVE MONITORING: FROM PERCEPTION TO PRACTICE Genelec’s Thomas Lund analyses the need to position sound sources spherically with precision for immersive systems…

THOMAS LUND

earing the world around us is so natural that we often only notice its importance once we lose the ability. Most of the time, a loss is fortunately temporary, for instance caused by a cold, but a one-side hearing loss is more stressful and depressing than we generally tend to believe. Localisation makes use of the most energyconsuming and fast-firing synapses of the brain, so the capability has been important for our survival. One of the first things a baby does is to localise, quickly and automatically turning eyes towards a sound. Until adolescence, we further learn and refine localisation using a system under construction. Ear canals and other structures of the outer ear (“pinnae”) grow and reshape, constantly modifying spherical hearing, as we reach out and experience a fascinating world in return. Pinnae continue to be entirely personal. They are actually under development throughout life, though the rate of change slows in adults. Sound is colored by the pinnae, depending on its direction of arrival (azimuth), which is a highly important feature. Expert listeners constantly use it in combination with head movements; not only when evaluating immersive content but also to distinguish direct sound from room reflections. Personal head related transfer functions (HRTFs) enable localisation, considering frequencies above 700 Hz. That is the frequency range where interaural level difference (ILD) is of primary concern. From 50 Hz to 700 Hz, however, fast-firing synapses in the brainstem are responsible for localisation, employed in a phase-locking structure to determine interaural time difference (ITD).

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Monitor placement and frequency response

The ability to position sound sources with precision spherically is a key benefit of immersive systems. Another is the possibility to influence the sense of space in human listeners. For the latter, the lowest two octaves of the ITD range (i.e. 50-200 Hz) play an essential role; but it may be compromised in multiple ways: Microphones with not enough physical spacing during pick-up, synthesized reverb without the right kind of decorrelation, lossy codecs that collapse channel-differences, loudspeakers with limited LF capability, bass-management etc. So what does perception ask from immersive reference monitoring, besides from enough discrete channels and headroom? Multichannel monitoring standards like ITU-R BS.775 specify using the same model for all channels, but more importantly, each monitor should be adjusted for placement, or frequency responses will be extremely variable. Unpredictable responses disturb localisation and head movements; and fig 1 shows how wildly different identical speakers may behave in an actual room. If left at factory default, the red curves represent the resulting frequency responses. A deviation of 20 dB is clearly not compatible with reference listening conditions, so in-situ compensation per monitor is a first requirement, regardless of which brand is used. The second is well-controlled directivity to avoid off-axis coloration of direct sound, and to prevent coloration of reflections in general. Point source monitors can further improve both properties and may be considered, if not in general, then for the primary channels. The third requirement is consistent listening levels, because subjective differences in frequency

response would otherwise be of the same magnitude as the objective differences created by not correcting monitors for placement, detailed above. Calibrated listening level is therefore a requirement in film, drama and gaming standards, and it also helps ensuring speech intelligibility. The fourth requirement is a frequency response down to at least 50 Hz in all channels, in order to to be able to manipulate the sense of space effectively. Correlated reverb with a high Q ringing at low frequency conveys a small room, while an enormous space can be created with reverb fully decorrelated at low frequency in as many channels as possible. All in all, a well-aligned loudspeaker system in a fine room has the best chance of translating well to a variety of immersive playback situations. The sound engineer can make full use of outer ear features and head movements, with listener fatigue and “cyber sickness” minimised. In case headphone-based monitoring is used for immersive production, it should incorporate precise, personal HRTFs and head tracking around a n-channel virtual reference room. Even so, any static or temporal imperfection can lead to listener fatigue, and head movements in production are unlikely to produce anywhere near the same results as during reproduction across platforms. Thomas Lund is a senior technologist at Genelec. He has extensive experience in pro-audio development, especially in the fields of loudness metering, sound exposure, dose management, true-peak detection, immersive sound and format conversion.

April 2018

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OPINION

www.audiomediainternational.com

ANALOGUE VS. DIGITAL: IS THE WAR OVER YET? John Delf weighs in on one of the greatest debates in the business - what sounds better and can they work together?

JOHN DELF

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April 2018

hen we look at things from our past they generally have a sheen of rose tinted-ness to them as we fondly remember a quieter, less stressful time where bands were better and great songs were made with things like melody and rhythm and meaningful lyrics; where you could pour over album sleeves reading every piece of information and dreaming over the images that were inside the double gatefold sleeves showing some glamorous life that only rock bands knew. Nowadays we just stream individual songs by artists we don’t even know the name of because Spotify happened to pull that one out of the bag, and suddenly album art isn’t even a necessary option for a band either. So what has this got to do with live sound? Well, in the “olden days” we could only use analogue mixing desks going down analogue lines into analogue amps coming out of heavy speakers in even heavier boxes. Today the options are far greater. But do we look back at some of that old gear and think it sounded better, or is that just wishful thinking? I have been mixing live sound for over 20 years and I would say maybe half of that, the last half, has been mainly using digital desks. The first digital desk I got to use was a Yamaha PM5. Since then I have used pretty much every single professional digital console on the market from Midas, Digico, Digidesign, SSL, Allen and Heath, Yamaha and Soundcraft, even crossing paths with digital desks from Roland, Behringer and Presonus. But in the early days I cut my teeth on analogue gear, settling on the Midas sound as my preference. Though I regularly used Yamaha and Soundcraft desks which both did a good job, Midas seemed to dominate when sound quality was assessed. I was able to hone my craft in the digital domain because you have so many options at your finger tips, from multi-band compression to dynamic EQ and infinite level settings, so you can tweak the sound and have a mix that has taken you years to perfect as you save your desk file and play with it at every show. You can have compressors coming out of your ears on every single channel and fiddle with absolutely any single aspect of the signal chain, a luxury we only dreamed about in the good old days. Back then we had to prioritise which channels got the only four compressors in the rig and as for support bands you could maybe share the hi-hat and over head

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OPINION

Midas H2000

channels, but be left with the last nine channels on the end of the desk to mix your band with. As for dynamics, I’m sorry support band engineer, but there’s none left. With all these tools at our finger tips why would anyone go back and try and do a tour with an old analogue set up? Surely the digital desks have come on so far that they sound better than the old analogue ones? Well, at the end of last year I got to find out for myself if this was the case. For years now I have wanted to go back to touring a Midas console with analogue outboard but there have been many reasons that I haven’t been able to including budget restrictions, truck space, FOH footprint, laziness because I can’t just load yesterdays file etc. I’d always joked with production managers or tour managers about it. Wouldn’t it be nice to [tour with an analogue desk] and we laughed and they all said, No. But, for some reason, this time I got the green light. I was about to do an arena tour for James Arthur and the band were going to play fully live without any backing tracks so I thought it made perfect sense to try this. I was so excited, yet worried if it would live up to the past memories of warm fat drum sounds and three dimensional definition in the summed mix or would everyone think I was crazy for wanting to tour such a big board. I spoke to David Shepherd of BCS Audio who were supplying the PA for the tour and asked him how he thought we could work this out. They had a Midas H2000 sat in the warehouse and lots of nice outboard gear getting dusty in shelves. I put a wish list of gear together and between what I wanted and what David had we put together what can only be described as a rack of awesome. 8 x DBX 160’s, Summit DCL 200 and 2

x Summit TLA 100A, 2 x Distressors, BSS Multi Comps, Drawmer gates. Klark Technic Graphics and a set of Yamaha, TC Electronic, Lexicon and Eventide Effects. It was a sight to behold all crammed in to one massive rack, put together beautifully by PA tech Daniel Draper from BCS Audio. In fact it was so big that on the first day of production rehearsals they had to take the door frame off so it would fit through the main door of the rehearsal room. Never had this been a problem with my USB stick. Once we had everything set up and the band miked, the fun began. We were still using a digital monitor board for the band’s in-ears. Monitor engineer Nico Antonietti was using a Digico SD10 with an SD Rack. I took an analogue split to FOH so had 48 channels of analogue multi. Luckily for me this fit the channel count that I needed for the nine piece band on stage. The MD Dan Bingham had decided that the band were not going to be playing to a click so there would be no backing tracks and they would play everything live, so this old school approach seemed to compliment my choice of analogue set up. Having this many musicians on stage I was concerned that we might have exceeded the channel count but that turned out not to be the case. In fact the only issues we had, when adding new channels to the set up, was at the digital end because the SD Rack was being fully utilised for not only the inputs but also the many outputs needed for the in-ears etc. My Midas was loaded with 40 mono channels and eight stereo channels so I had plenty of space to return my Effects units, iPod etc on top of all the channels from stage. I think we finished with only one side of a stereo

return free and one mono channel not being used. So how did it sound? I think it sounded amazing. I absolutely loved using this set up. It was so much fun mixing on the Midas and with the band playing so dynamically with such soul this set up translated it superbly. And just as a double check, we had the opportunity during production rehearsals to run a digital desk side by side with the Midas. Yes, we did set this up to mix the band too and we were able to A-B both desks using the same sources and there wasn’t a single person in the room that thought the digital sounded better. So no, I do not think that digital desks sound better than the old high-end analogue ones which is a shame really as so many young engineers today have never mixed on an analogue desk so may never know the difference. Yes, you can do almost anything with digital desks now and the flexibility to just load up your file and go is great but when it comes to sound quality, I’m sorry, but analogue wins hands down. Hopefully we will get to the stage when we can have the advantages of a digital set up but with the sonic qualities of the analogue desks. John Delf is the owner of Edge Recording Studios in Cheshire, UK and also a live FOH engineer who has mixed for many acts including James Arthur, Lily Allen, The Script, Plan B and 5 Seconds of Summer with 28 years of audio experience. He first started working in recording studios in 1990 and started touring in 1995/6. Since then he has toured the world many times mixing in all types of venues from small clubs to stadiums. www.edgestudio.co.uk

April 2018

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INTERVIEW: MARCO PERRY

DESIGNER AUDIO Immersive sound artist and designer Marco Perry has collaborated on some interesting projects as of late, creating a spatial audio system for Björk at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and an immersive setup for the Dark MoFo festival in Australia last year. Here, he talks to Colby Ramsey about the evolution of immersive sound formats and what he believes the future holds…

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// What are the biggest developments you have seen in the immersive and spatial audio arena over the last few years? When I first decided to devote time to the commercial application of spatial audio formats there were none readily available on the market. There was nothing to simply “buy into” or anything out there that I thought was flexible or adaptable enough to cater for my vision of what we should be aiming for, so we made our own Ambisonic sound systems and using psycho-acoustic techniques we created a palette of spatial audio methods. I designed and built my own production rigs for decoding object and channel-based audio. AES colleagues Dave Hunt, Richard Furse, Bruce Wiggins and Dave Malham amongst others were developing software using Reaper, Max msp, Linux, etc. These were exciting times with artist-led ideas and challenging briefs, using ambitious interfaces, haptic controllers and lots of boxes and wires. In 2012, Dolby bought IM sound Barcelona and eventually entered the 3D audio market with a branded format. They worked hard at putting studios in place

to render the Dolby exclusive file content and put file playback systems in place to convince us all that Dolby Atmos was the way to go. Auro 3D became an excellent spatial sound stage audio format, while Ti-Max and Merging are notable purveyors of sophisticated multi channel surround sound hardware for use in theatres and installations. Boundaries have been pushed in general from all corners of the audio industry, including from manufacturers. The desire for more immersive audio experiences has been very much driving this movement. The gaming market is also a huge driving force, with major players always keen to make the audio in their product as sophisticated and as real as possible for gamers. The large and the emerging VR companies Magic Leap, along with Apple, Microsoft, AMD, Sony, Samsung HTC and all the rest are most likely 90% of the driving force behind the interest in immersive audio because positional audio information in a VR headset is important. For my own part I think a binaural decode for VR is often best derived from an Ambisonic sound field in

either a moving or static experience, and the use of 360 degree convolution reverb is crucial to creating either a static or a real-time moving interactive experience. Other new and established microphone companies are making spatial audio microphones that have gone beyond the confines of the dummy head technique traditionally known for it’s deployment in classical and orchestral recordings. Now we have quad binaural mics, 8 Ball, MH Acoustics, Eigen etc. Spatial audio mic techniques are also becoming available in a variety of hand-held affordable hard disc recorders and of course, directional microphones and highly advanced recording and hearing devices are now being developed for deployment in your phones. How did you go about creating the system for Bjork’s MOMA gig? I have worked with artists all my life and I think because of this I’m able to deal with the rigours of an unexpectedly changing schedule and to cope with the little surprises and demands that will come with this kind of gig. April 2018

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INTERVIEW: MARCO PERRY In my Immersive Audio production studios in London, she said: “I don’t want to hear the bass so much as feel it,” so we went on a journey to find the most appropriate decode of a bass “feeling” to varied frequencies that are seriously low and with long wave lengths. With technical conundrums, you then adapt to make the feeling work every time in different venue locations and on different loudspeaker systems. Plus, you know how she should sound and the balance of the piece. She trusts your judgement to make the immersive audio mix containing her original emotional intent in that content, so whatever piece you work on and on whatever sound system you have, and whatever acoustic you are presented with, you strive to always make the production work best. That is always the challenge. Could you tell us how you went about satisfying the spec for the Dark MoFo Festival? The Dark MoFo sound designs were by invitation from the festival organisers. The outdoor piece was commissioned by the festival to be the headline art installation and ran throughout the festival performance nights up to the winter solstice on 21 June. Built in Melbourne, shipped to Tasmania then assembled on site, three 35 metre high towers were positioned at the points of an equilateral triangle contained in a 45 metre diameter circle painted on the ground. Lasers and sound hardware was positioned within the tripod legs of the towers and masts. 170kgs of our immersive audio control gear was flown from London including macs, PCs, FX boxes, my trusty RME converters, Digico and Midas mixers. Reasoning the dispersion characteristics of the D&B boxes and the coverage required for the main system, I deployed three hangs of full range including flown subs with infra subs on the floor plus six ground stacked full range systems. My team designed and built software for sound control and object based audio panning within the circle area and across the site. The soundtrack for this I created with my long time musical collaborator David Clayton and with Rob Del Naja of Massive Attack. Renowned artist Chris Levine worked with Tyler Le Dent from ER Productions to fine tune the choreography of the laser program to synchronise with the audio map I’d compiled for us in London. I had began in the Immersive Audio London production studio where I have a 43 loudspeaker production and mix rig which I can configure appropriately for any spatial audio production and mixing work. Ultimately, live mixing on site was required to best decode the program to this extraordinary sound system so I set up a temporary studio in a ground floor office overlooking the site and refined the content there on a compact six-point loudspeaker system mounted on stands. When I was confident with the parts and had experimented with my performance effects I built a mobile audio control system and mixed the whole piece live from the centre of the circle.

Marco Perry

I recorded this performance with all the desk and live analogue effects feeds including object pans and levels. This became the basis for the subsequent live playback performances of the work. To what extent are we seeing a move towards more of these live 3D sound installations? The rising popularity of immersive audio experiences is completely unstoppable. Now we have VR in our lives with HMDs and goggles on sale in the high street there is big money available from audio, video gaming and media companies. We have the virtues of spatial broadcast formats being expounded on and explored by the BBC for example, researching into ever more mass consumable live 3D audio and visual broadcast techniques. The live performance scene is changing rapidly and certainly at the top end. If you’re a top end touring production outfit why would you now invest big money in another traditional stereo sound reinforcement or PA system when there are so much more exciting and ever more sophisticated spatial audio options for your buck? Investors, promoters, artists, producers and venues all want to be ahead of the game and to wow audiences with great sounding gigs. Audiences are becoming more discerning. They may not know what it is or how it was achieved but that incredible sound they heard is what they will remember and what they will talk about and what they’ll want to hear again and again. Creative decisions in theatre productions and concert halls also have more scope in immersive audio. What has been your favourite project and what is the most important aspect of creating an immersive mix? If I’m designing a sound field in an installation for an audience in a specific venue I start by thinking backwards. I’ll visualise the finished work audibly and see how close I can get to

doing what’s necessary in the audio content production and in the installation fabrication and the physical delivery of the work to achieve what I see in my minds eye. When I hear sound, I also have a vision of it, often it’s a landscape style picture and often it also has threedimensional form. If you’re producing a sound field for your audience then the final appraisal of it will be the sum of all your efforts. Go on a site visit if possible; understand the fabrication, size and acoustic of a space; memorise it. This will also help in planning any room treatments. When mixing in the installation, traditional skills still apply. First take measurements, make drawings, calculations, loudspeaker characteristics, dispersion angles, coverage, frequency response. Use spectrum analysers, sweep generators, impact response, and room equalisers. My favourite project is one which I’m working on right now. Basically it’s a two part AV experience where we’ve created complimentary installations to run both inside a gallery and outside in the grounds, with sound and visual composition from the AVarts team in both installations. Outside the gallery is a public open space which means anyone can enjoy it and be impacted by the art. Hopefully they will be, and if it doesn’t raise the level of their consciousness and awareness of the space then at least it should raise a smile. Inside the gallery the work is more personal and challenging which should lead to heightened sensitivity, stimulating a reaction to both the audio and visual program content we’ve created. I can virtually guarantee that no one will have ever seen or heard anything like this in their lives before so it should be both provocative and entertaining. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in any of my installation designs; this one should be interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing the feedback. www.immersiveaudio.net April 2018

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INTERVIEW: AES

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AES: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE As the AES approaches its seventieth anniversary, Stephen Bennett speaks to the organisation’s president David Scheirman to find out how it’s staying relevant to a new generation of audio professionals… he Audio Engineering Society (AES) was founded in the United States in 1948 and has grown to become a truly international organisation that unites audio engineers, creative artists, scientists and students worldwide by promoting advances in audio and disseminating new knowledge and research. It’s also closely involved in creating and promoting standards of course - it’s what the AES in AES/EBU stands for. Since the organisation’s founding there has been a sea-change in the way audio engineers do their business and the technology they use to do it. The current president of the AES is David Scheirman, whose background includes commercial experience as an audio equipment developer, live sound reinforcement engineer and audio educator. He’s worked with audio system design, manufacturing and installation and is currently global director of the concert and rental business for Bose Professional. He attended his first Audio Engineering Society Convention in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City over 40 years ago. “The AES is a volunteer association that is primarily comprised of working professionals with individual memberships alongside a loyal group of capable employees, including the staff based at its international headquarters based in New York City,” he says. A board of Governors oversees the direction that the organisation will take. “The society’s legacy, from my point of view, has always been about the dissemination of new knowledge and best practices, while mentoring the next upcoming generation of audio practitioners and researchers,” says Scheirman. “It’s instructive to realise that while the AES was founded in the United States, it is now truly an international organisation. For example, the Board of Governors just approved our first Professional Section in Nigeria in January 2018.” Scheirman says that the professional AES membership in China has also doubled within the last two years. “We currently have over 12,000 members, affiliated with more than 75 AES professional sections and more than 95 AES student sections around the world,” he adds. “Section activities often include guest speakers, technical tours, demonstrations and social functions.” Scheirman himself has seen much change in the industry over his years working with the organisation. “Many of AES’ activities 25 years ago were still linked to major recordlabel-support, recording studio complexes and the large

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AES president David Scheirman

recording equipment developers and vendors who served that industry,” he says. “As the record industry shifted from dominant, centralised organisations to smaller and more diversified regional project-based infrastructure, and as internet-based information services and commercial product sourcing have become ubiquitous, the society has evolved and changed with the professional audio industry.” Scheirman notes that many of the areas that are the bread and butter of audio professionals today did not exist when the AES was first founded, such as digital audio networking, audio for electronic games, automotive audio technology, internet audio and “so many other interesting and exciting disciplines that have come into existence and matured since the founding of the AES.” He adds that “our goal as a professional society continues to be to help create and maintain the ‘connective tissue’ that integrates such diverse segments of our membership through in-person conference and other gatherings, our JAES (Journal of the AES), and other mechanisms.” Scheirman says that the priorities of the AES today are “to create new and compelling benefits for its global membership”, which includes an increasing number of regional and special-topic conferences around the world along with the recent AES Live! series of video tutorials that are available to qualified AES members through the organisation’s website. “We face the same challenges as many other professional organisations that are global in scope,” says Scheirman. “We are constantly refining our communications processes, and implementing new information technology-based systems to help connect our far-flung membership and foster a true sense of community.” The founders of the AES - all working professionals over seventy or so years ago - are now long retired, and a natural generation shift has been in progress in the organisation for some time. “Today’s student members and entry-level job seekers are tomorrow’s industry leaders,” says Scheirman. “I

firmly believe that a clear purpose for AES leadership today is to engage and support the next generation. My colleagues on the Board of Governors and our many innovative and committed participants on the Education, Membership, Regions and Sections and other committees share that vision and commitment.” The AES website is a cornucopia of useful and important information, with technical publications and information on standards sitting alongside an archive of the AES journal and various podcasts, much of it available to non-members. Because of the ever-changing nature of audio production, the AES takes education very seriously, what with it being essential to the future of the industry and all. Students can become special members of the AES, with access to online tutorials, workshops and master classes covering live sound, studio work, music, tracking, mixing, mastering, video post, sound design, game sound, hardware, software, design, marketing, research and development and manufacturing - so pretty much all of the fields a budding audio engineer might want to move into. The AES Educational Foundation encourages talented students and, since its establishment in 1984, grants have been awarded for graduate studies with many of the recipients of these grants going on to have prominent and successful careers in the profession. The AES continues to promote conventions and international conferences - in 2018 the society’s events cover audio restoration and archiving, immersive audio and audio for VR/AR applications, which are all new and exciting areas of audio production and technology. A strong social media presence keeps the AES relevant to younger members and helps keep the global AES community on board. “The very best way to get a first-hand experience of today’s AES, to collaborate with colleagues and meet new friends in the industry, will be to attend our upcoming 144th AES Convention in Milan, Italy 2018,” says Scheirman. “I Hope to see many of you there!”


PRODUCER PROFILE

SYLVIA’S PATH

Having worked with legendary artists from Johnny Cash and Prince, to Tom Petty, The Smashing Pumpkins and Tool, Sylvia Massy has built up a body of work that has secured her place in history as one of the world’s greatest producers and engineers. Here, Massy gives us an insight into how she got started in the music business and what it was like working with some of her clients and collaborators over the years. She also fills us in on her new Oregon recording facility Studio Divine and a book she’s been commissioned to write with Chris Johnson about vintage microphones. By Murray Stassen

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PRODUCER PROFILE ike many Californian music legends, Sylvia Massy’s music business story starts in San Francisco. It was here in the ‘80s where she was involved in the music scene playing in punk, ska and metal bands and learned how to record her own projects. “I knew how to use the equipment from working in a radio production house, but people who heard the work I did for my own band’s projects liked it enough to hire me to work on their stuff too. “Their music seemed to turn out better than mine, so I eventually put aside my own projects and started to do other people’s musical recordings full time, as much as full time was .” With no online retailers at that time, or the abundance of affordable and mobile recording equipment we have access to today, Massy explains that there weren’t really any ‘home studios’ to learn in and the established ones that were in San Francisco were “kind of exclusive”. What this meant however, was that she was learning how to produce and record on high-end equipment right from the start. “There were studios like Different Fur and Russian Hill; several professional studios with gear like API and Sound Workshop consoles,” she says. “I’m very lucky to have learned on Studer machines and API consoles. And I think that has really made a difference today in what I do and the equipment that I choose, because I’m familiar with that sound and maybe that sound is what feels comfortable to me today.” The more production work Massy did for bands in the local music scene, the more work she was offered by the city’s top studios, who would hire her to produce the projects of artists that were coming in to use their facilities. One of those projects was called The Sea Hags, a San Francisco band that was working with an incredibly talented guitarist called Kirk Hammett on co-production duties. Hammett had been playing in another band that Massy had worked with called Exodus and his other project was of course Metallica. “They had just finished recording Master Of Puppets when we co-produced The Sea Hags,” explains Massy. “He was young and we collaborated on ideas for the recording and it came out really good. The album actually did so well for the band that they got a major label deal out of it. “Instead of hiring me or Kirk for the major label recording, they went to LA and hired Mike Clink and I was really disappointed, because I thought this was my big break and this was my first big major label project, but they ran away to LA.” It was at that point that Massy says she decided to move to Los Angeles to try be a producer and within a year had “hit the streets of LA”, where she realised that getting a studio job was not as easy as she thought it was going to be. “I had already been working in studios and had plenty of projects under my belt,” she says. “I met with the managers at Capitol Studios, Ocean Way, A&M Studios and all these big places in LA. “These were all big facilities, but no one really wanted to hire me. You basically start from scratch when you move to LA and I think it’s still true today. It just takes time. I wound up

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///////////////////////////////////////////////////////// working at a retail store called Tower Records and that gave me enough time to study production. “I would listen to music in the store and I actually went through the vinyl and looked at the back of every record and made a database of my own of every producer and the music they made just to get a real understanding of where I wanted to be and who I needed to meet.”

Axl Rose used to work before they hit with Guns & Roses,” she recalls. “And in my store there were several musicians that went on to do big projects.” The big one for Massy was, as she explains “a ridiculously silly band” named Green Jellö from Buffalo, New York, and they hired her to do a recording for them in “someone’s garage”.

“When Rick Rubin arranged for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers to be Johnny Cash’s backup band, as far as engineering goes, I had to be on my best game” Massy cites the stint working at Tower Records as “a really important time” for her, with a number of co-workers going on to become famous music industry figures in their own right. “The Tower Video across the street was where Slash and

The eight-track recording was good enough to get the band a deal with a label called Zoo Entertainment. “When we went to record the Zoo release, they gave us a budget for a studio,” recalls Massy. “I wanted to work at Sound City because I had heard all the good things about it, especially


PRODUCER PROFILE

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// the fact they were really inexpensive. They had great equipment, but it was cheap enough for us noisy rockers to get in and do a good record. “One of the drummers in Green Jellö was in Tool and since we had the drums set up for Green Jellö we thought, Why don’t we just record Tool at the same time and save some money? That’s when we did the original recording for Tool. They had been playing in the local Hollywood scene for about a year and I really liked them. They were exciting and had a new sound and I’d never really heard anything like it, so I was really into what they were doing.” Part of Tool’s debut EP Opiate was recorded at Sound City with Massy, with the other part recorded during a live performance at a Green Jellö New Year’s party, for which they hired a remote truck with an API console. “That [became] the other half of the Tool record, with some embellishments actually,” says Massy. “I had to cut between studio takes and live takes to really make it convincing and to get rid of a few mistakes. They won’t tell you that, but I’ll tell you that!” Although she was recording bands when she could while

she was working at Tower Records, she was still knocking on doors throughout LA trying get a full-time studio job. The hope was to work with one of the top producers she looked up, to like Brian Eno or Steve Lillywhite, or as she calls them, one of “the untouchables”. “That was my goal,” she says. “It happened quickly when I did get that job at a place called Lion Share, where Phil Ramone was recording Barbara Streisand. One day I was working at the customer counter at Tower Records and the next day I was working with Phil Ramone at Lion Share Studios. It was a big shift when I finally got that job.” Not long after that Massy jumped over to Larrabee Sound Studios where she was able to work with “several of her heroes” as an assistant and learned a lot from working with the likes of Prince, Tom Lord-Alge and Rick Rubin. “That was when I connected with Rick on several projects and he helped me make the jump from working at Larrabee to being an independent engineer and producer in Los Angeles,” she explains. “Rick Rubin was very interested in The Sea Hags project that Kirk and I had co-produced. So we had something to talk

about immediately because we both loved that band. Rick had several projects going on, but the first one that I assisted on with David Bianco engineering was a band called Trouble.” Through meeting Rubin, Massy went on to work on projects by the likes of Danzig (Lucifuge II) and The Black Crowes (Shake Your Money Maker), produced by Rubin’s friend George Drakoulias, and released on Rubin’ s Def Amercian label. “As I went independent Rick would hire me to do projects and most of the time we would work at Sound City because we were both really familiar with that room and really loved the sound of the old Neve there,” she explains. “I worked on System Of A Down there and the Johnny Cash Unchained album project was also really special. Rick had arranged to have Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers as Johnny’s backup band, so you can imagine the star power in the room for that. Plus Marty Stuart, who was a great country star came in to be part of the band too. As far as engineering goes, I had to be on my best game.” Massy says that it was at Sound City where she learned how important it is to be as prepared as possible when you April 2018

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PRODUCER PROFILE start a session, even before the artist walks in the room. “If you are working with someone like Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, and they sit down and they plug in and you don’t record that first take or if the recording’s not great, they are only going to play it once,” says Massy. “They might play it a second time, but not because you want them to, they just don’t screw up.” After 15 years in LA and finding success in the studio, Massy says she decided to “do something else for a while outside of the city” and bought a 50-acre ranch in California close to a little town called Weed. “I spent about a year out there with horses and stuff, got extremely bored and at the same time the System Of A Down record was hitting really big. My manager in LA was giving me offers for jobs and the money was really good, and I was sitting there feeding the horses and thinking to myself, What am I doing? “I started commuting to Los Angeles again because I love producing. I love studio life and I missed it, but after living in a hotel for six months, I decided it was time to move my rig up north. I had all the equipment that was in Studio B at Sound City. I had the other Neve console, an 8038, which is basically the same thing that was in the A

room that Dave Grohl bought later.” Massy arranged to have the Neve console moved to Northern California and found a space in the town of Weed where she founded the now-legendary RadioStar Studio. “It was an old theatre and was abandoned at the time. I moved the Neve console straight in. I didn’t do any additional wall treatments. It was just a big open room with a Neve console in it and some great recording equipment. I started recording and the place thrived for 15 years and grew. “It was the strangest thing because the town of Weed only has 3,000 people in it, but these clients were coming from all over the world to work in this tiny California town. I think the name of Weed probably attracted a lot of musicians at the time. We went from the one room in the theatre to five studios in total. “It really was just kicking ass for 15 years, and then I had a divorce and everything kind of had to change so that ended, but for those 15 years RadioStar was in existence, I think we had 300 projects go through there. We had an amazing time and we had some big hits.” Massy has now moved the Neve console up to a new facility in an old church in Ashland Oregon, which has been a private studio for the last couple of years but is officially

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open for bookings this year. “This year my schedule is so busy in Europe that I’m going to be gone for probably nine months out of this entire year, so my partner Chris and I have decided to offer the recording space to other people who might want to use it,” explains Massy. “It’s really great and it’s doing well. So well that we bought a new building and have a new Looptrotter console coming. It will be a hybrid mix studio that we can also track in. “The Looptrotter has 16 channels so it is perfect for hybrid mixing and the Looptrotter limiting and mic-pres are really good. I’m excited about that. So we’ll just continue building on past success with RadioStar. The new studio is called Studio Divine and it’s very cool.” In addition to the new studio, Massy is also working on a new book which she is currently doing research for in Europe. Having co-authored Recording Unhinged (Creative and Unconventional Music Recording Techniques) with Chris Johnson, publisher Hal Leonard has once again commissioned the pair to write a book on The History of Vintage Mics, which will be out next year. “I’m determined to have one of the best mic collections,” concludes Massy. “I will be an expert!”

STUDIO SPECS CONSOLES Q

Q Q Q

Neve 8038 Console with Flying Faders – 34 x 24 - 58 Automated Channels WEM Audiomaster Mixer - 16 channel RCA Broadcast Console Audiogram Broadcast Console

RECORDERS and DAWs Q Q Q Q

DIVINE LOCATION: MASSY ON STUDIO DIVINE “I like putting a bunch of gear in a room and just going for it. It’s worked so well in the past and plus, if you’re working in a large room there are not a lot of reflections to cause problems, so no treatment is [necessary]. It was built for acoustics without amplification or with minimal amplification, so the room is acoustically treated just because it’s a church. It already sounds great, and it’s a big open space. It’s really comfortable and it’s light. The theatre in Weed had no windows - this has windows looking onto a beautiful little park, so it’s a better quality of life. The theatre (and most studios in

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fact) are kind of cave-like and a bit cold and clinical. So this is not bad at all, plus I think there was a lot of love in that church even before we got a hold of it. It’s got a fantastic Neve 8038. There’s a lot of really cool vintage rack gear if you’re tracking and want to use that. It’s also got a killer Pro Tools rig for hybrid mixing and the room, the sanctuary, and the adjacent room are full of a lot of unusual, rare and some eclectic gear, like synthesizers, a nice guitar collection and a great drum collection. I’ve also got a couple hundred guitar pedals. It’s just a big, fun toy box that’s available now.”

ProTools Mix System ProTools Recording System Slate Digital Raven MTi2 Studer A80 1/4” Tape Recorders w/Crystal Electronics (2)

MICROPHONES Q Q Q Q Q Q Q

Telefunken U47 tube mic Telefunken M-80 RFT bottle tube mic Neumann Gefell UMV692 (2) Neumann Gefell PM 750 (2) Soyuz SU-017 tube mic Soyuz SU-011 tube mic

(For extensive gear list, please visit www.sylviamassy.com)


PRODUCER PROFILE

ROYAL FAMILY: ‘PRINCE WAS SUPERHUMAN’ “The Prince project was a really great opportunity, because I was working at Larrabee Sound Studios as an assistant and my boss said, Ok, Prince is coming in, he’s booked four days, you’re on the project. Don’t fuck this up. So Prince came in on day one and I was nervous but I was ready. He came into the room and the first thing he said was, Don’t you have a big chair I can sit in, like a big ‘grandma’s chair with stuffing? All we had were rolling office chairs. Nothing really comfortable, but I said, Of course we have a chair like this, I’ll just go get it now. I ran out of the studio and ran up to the office and said, Someone give me the keys to your truck and I ran down to the nearest antique store and bought an overstuffed chair. I got it back and I think I was gone for about 20 minutes and I had someone help me bring back this chair into the room and Prince sat in it and he nodded his head and he said, Yeah I like this. Ultimately he stayed for the four days and then he was there for the next three years. He also gave me opportunities. I started as an assistant, but eventually I was recording and mixing for him, too. He was so prolific that he would have several studios working at the same time. He had a song going on at every studio, so there was either a mix or a recording happening and he would jump from room to room. I was part of that machine for a while. Of everybody I’ve ever worked with in 30-odd years, he was the most talented musician of all of them. He was superhuman, but not immortal.”

SMASH HITS: MASSY ON THE PUMPKINS “When Rick and I were going to record the Smashing Pumpkins together, I went into Sound City the night before and I actually had some friends come by who were in a band that played covers of Smashing Pumpkin songs. I had them set up and I set up all the mics and I line-checked everything and I got sounds using the surrogate band. When Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins came in the next day, they set up their instruments, I put all the mics up to the drums and the guitars with the settings that I had already prepared and they started playing immediately. We recorded within 20 minutes. It was that quick. There was no time needed for getting sounds other than just start recording and I felt real good about. We worked on a song that I don’t think ever got released, but still, it was a great moment in recording at Sound City.”

UNCHAINED MELODY: ‘WORKING WITH JOHNNY CASH ON UNCHAINED WAS MAGIC’

“Every day with Johnny Cash [working on Unchained] was magic. You think of Johnny Cash as the ‘Man in Black’. He’s kind of a legend, but he was a real guy. He was very tall, very humble, and he was kind of embarrassed about how badly he played the guitar. He was like, Yeah, I don’t sing very good. But you listen to that voice and the way he tells the story. He’s a legend. The music was great. Rick would bring in songs. He’d say, Ok, Here’s the song, it was written by Chris Cornell and Soundgarden, but we’re going to try it with Johnny. You wouldn’t think that it would work, but it worked great. That song was Rusty Cage and Johnny sang it

like a country song and the Heartbreakers played it with a twang, and it was wonderful. Rick then brought in a Beck song and again, I didn’t even know it was a Beck song until we’d finished recording it because it seemed just like such a natural song for Johnny to sing. That song was Rowboat. But then there were also the classic, traditional, old-timy country songs that they did together and June Carter Cash sang on some songs and Carl Perkins came in and sang on some songs, so every day was something special. On Rowboat, Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood came in and played. It was just a magical time.”

ON A RICK ROLL: ‘I THINK THAT RICK RUBIN IS THE BEST PRODUCER OUT THERE’ “Rick is a genius. I think he’s the best producer out there, honestly. It’s not necessarily because he knows the technical side, or that he’s a great musician himself. It’s because, really, what he is, is a fan of the music, so that’s his contribution. He listens as a fan, and he understands what makes a song great. I think there are three types of producers. There’s the engineer-type producer, there’s the musician-type producer and then there’s the fan-type producer. Rick is the fan, so the first thing he wants to hear from a new artist is as much catalogue as possible. For some of his projects like the Chili Peppers record or System Of A Down, he would ask for hundreds of songs before choosing 24 that would be recorded. He’ll want to hear

as much as possible even if they’re just clips of a verse and a chorus, because he’ll know right away by hearing a chorus if it’s got the hook that’s going to draw a listener in. So the first thing you want is material and that may take several months. In rehearsals he’ll spend time to get those songs arranged in a way that he thinks they’re ready for whatever the purpose of the recording is. It’s once you’re in the studio where I think Rick Rubin’s genius lies, in choosing the personnel, the facility and the players to all put into kind of a petri dish to see what happens. He knows what the result would be just by carefully choosing and manipulating the environment. He wins time and time again with his formula, no matter what genre it is.”

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AUDIO

AV

LIGHTING

STAGE TECHNOLOGY

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REPORT: SOUTH AMERICA

GEO FOCUS: SOUTH AMERICA In spite of recent economic struggles, the Latin American pro audio industry has remained steadfast in its offerings and continues to attract big players from all over the globe. In this report, we speak to a few key players in the region and explore the current state of a growing market that is showing no sign of slowing down.

usic and dance has historically played an incredibly important role in South American culture. A strong appetite for live music of all genres has led the Latin American ear for high quality sound to become well developed, meaning that, despite the diverse scope of economies across the continent, most LatAm countries stay ahead of the curve when it comes to activity vs. GDP, including the smaller players. The equipment, implementation, and skills present in the region are undoubtedly world class, meaning that over the years, many Latin American engineers have risen to the same heights as top-level international manufacturers. Berenice Gutiérrez, regional sales manager at Pro Active Latin America, distributor of Martin Audio products in the region, sees the Latin American market punching above its weight for technical abilities as well as in sales, and describes

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it as a very exciting time for Martin Audio and its partners. “Digital, networking, advanced processing and other technologies are well accepted and entrenched,” says Gutiérrez. “We anticipate that acceptance to grow in step with the technology offered by the best manufacturers. For us, the introduction of our WPC optimised line array range has brought state-of-the-art functionality and performance to brand new mid-level festivals and concerts, as well as to theatres, churches and auditoriums on the installation side.” Gutiérrez believes that the rate at which rental companies and venues are investing in new technology will not slow down, and in fact envisages the opposite: “Not only will top tier production companies stay on top of the worldwide trends, but the lowered bar of higher end performance made possible by the WPC range will continue to make a much more sophisticated range of technology available to regional hire

companies and venues,” she observes. Other international manufacturers are also seeing growth, including Funktion-One, which is now supplying its Vero large format line array system to many live tours and festivals in the region via Mexican rental house Loto Audio. “It is a natural market for us - one that grows each year,” says Funktion-One’s Ann Andrews. “Following the sale to Loto Audio in Mexico last year, there is now a Vero system in that part of the world, which opens up even more opportunities in terms of live/touring and festivals.”

LIVE Economically, many South American nations have been through some tough times, yet with the continent’s GDP expected to have grown in Q4 2017 and the likes of major player Brazil heading towards the October election later this April 2018

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REPORT: SOUTH AMERICA

year, it is hoped that the wider region’s economy will react positively. Despite the challenges, the traffic of international headliner shows to Brazil has been intense, according to Edo van Duyn, COO of global festival and event organiser ID&T. “It has been a tough few years for many festivals, except for the established ones like Rock in Rio and Lollapalooza in my view - which has consolidated itself after several years of growing the brand successfully in the market,” van Duyn explains. “I think for the electronic music space it has been tougher, primarily due to exchange rate challenges but also shifts in public taste towards more domestic headliner events. So you see a lot of local festivals doing consistently well, from XXXPerience Festival in São Paulo to Empire Music in Guatemala.” While this is a very positive development for the festival space, the wider music industry in the region remains dynamic yet sturdy due to the growth of online streaming, driving further diversity and consumer access to music. Van Duyn sees the market continuing to flourish, following trends and growth in overall music consumption, especially with streaming services (Brazil and Mexico are amongst the world’s biggest Spotify markets). “I think we will also see a shift away from traditional fixed venues to unique locations and venues for shows,” says van 26

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Duyn. “Local acts are growing into worldwide mainstream stars such as Anitta, J Balvin, Bruno Martini, Illusionize etc. Many of these acts now sell out venues by themselves; many are stronger ticket sellers than traditional international acts and this is a very new shift in the market. “Latin America is a major priority market to artists that understand its strategic importance, so it’s not a surprise that many Latin acts are amongst the best performers on streaming services.”

STUDIO Meanwhile, the market for recording studio design and creation in South America is still experiencing some teething problems, as it remains very different from the construction environments in the US and Europe, with economics often driving the type of acoustic design solutions that are deployed. Historically, the Latin market has been quite reluctant to pay for design, according to WSDG partner and director of business development Sergio Molho. “We believe this is mostly cultural; there is a long tradition in the construction industry for ‘design/build’ solutions – in other words, design being rolled into construction,” he explains. “Additionally, studio installations were

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historically put into effect by the equipment distributors. I would say we were fortunate to identify this distinction and because of this awareness, build into our studio creation process a phase we call ‘client education.’” Pursuant to this sentiment, WSDG recently completed a joint design project with João Diniz architects, culminating in the opening of Sonastério, a residential studio carved into the Minas Gerais mountains. The studio, which houses a SSL SuperAnalogue recording console, is located in a particularly musical area with a healthy jazz community, and supports a local annual jazz festival. Curiously, while there have not been many significant changes to legislation, regulations or laws in South America that have affected the acoustic isolation requirements of live venues, most of the changes that have taken place have been in relation to fire and safety codes, brought on by a number of venue accidents: “What is interesting and even more curious is that there have been very little code changes in noise levels or quality of sound,” says Molho. “This is not the case in Europe, where noise limitation in venues and concerts have been in existence for quite some time. Clients however have made interesting progress in wanting to improve the sound and noise transmission properties of their venues.”


REPORT: SOUTH AMERICA

Sonastério - A new recording studio and production company in the Minas Gerais mountains

Kami Tadayon’s new Funktion-One Evo system at Lost Beach Club, Ecuador

Brazil’s XXXPerience Festival 2017

When asked how he thinks the industry will develop in Latin America over the next five to ten years, Molho believes “it will continue to be price sensitive, but awareness concerning acoustic and electroacoustic consulting will continue to develop as the growth, maturity and education of the developers, clients, architects and ultimately the users grow”. In Brazil, a new committee called The Brazilian Association of Technical Standards has been recently formed to create standards and regulations for sound system design. WSDG partner and director of design Renato Cipriano, who heads up the company’s Brazilian office, is directly involved with the committee. “Our first achievement was a new regulation for speech intelligibility in public spaces,” he reports. “This is a great step towards emphasising the value of engaging acoustical design expertise at the earliest design stage and raising the bar amongst the design companies. “In the end, the user is the ultimate beneficiary of such development,” Cipriano adds.

FIXED INSTALL Despite significant developments and progress being

made in these areas, the club and fixed venue scene is perhaps where the Latin American market falls just short of its neighbours. Club owner and promoter Kami Tadayon, who in 2010 founded Lost Beach Club in the small surfers’ town of Montanita in Ecuador, recently added Funktion-One’s Evo 7 and Evo 6 enclosures to his setup, and looks to be trailblazing the South American nightclub scene with his approach to sound. “I would have to say that top-notch sound and light is so rare in my sector that when you do it right, people really appreciate it and let you know, and also hype it up for you,” Tadayon observes. “I have felt since I’ve owned my FunktionOne sound system that no one can compete with us; it’s even better now we have the Evo 6s and 7s and also feature the Dance Stacks in the cave.” Looking further afield, Tadayon believes that with the current range of products being sold to the South American market, the general quality of club sound is poor: “People feel that clubs just need to be made good enough to open, sell liquor and make money. Chinese brands control the market and 99% of people are more worried about what the place looks like rather than what it sounds like,” he remarks. “Almost everything high-end needs to be imported,” continues Tadayon. “The main challenge in this sector is

importation; not only in terms of getting your equipment imported on time, but also how much you have to pay on duties to get them into the country, raising the price by almost 35 to 50 per cent. We just had a luxury tax placed on items that are over a certain price, making it even more expensive to import.” For Tadayon, investing in a high-quality sound system has brought much attention to his doors and has uniquely positioned him in a market where, despite a robust music business and thriving pro audio community, smaller boutique club venues may still struggle to keep up with the competition. “We are the only beach club in a town of 1,000 people,” says Tadayon. “People come from all over the world to see the best DJs perform here, under the stars in front of the beach. This market is growing all the time and if others want to compete, they need to step up their game and bring more quality gear.” While the continent remains a popular destination for recording artists, party-goers and gear manufacturers alike, particularly countries like Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico, there still seems to be a whole lot more room for pro audio professionals to make their mark in South America. April 2018

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FEATURE: INSTALLED AUDIO

INSTALLED AUDIO: DESIGNING 3D EXPERIENCES

An Amadeus sound reinforcement systemwas used for a dramatisation of the 1938 ‘Xi’an Incident.

A number of new technologies are being developed to support the emerging 3D install industry. Stephen Bennett spoke to some of the movers and shakers in the installed immersive audio field to try and gain some insights as to how individual companies approach the challenges - and opportunities - that this new area of creative practice might offer…

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FEATURE: INSTALLED AUDIO

hilst audio has been a staple component of exhibitions, cinemas, concert halls, places of worship and theatres for many years, there has been a rise of interest in applying ’3D’ or Virtual and Augmented reality (VR and AR) technology to these installations. Germany’s Klang technologies are purveyors of 3D in-ear immersive mixing solutions and their KOS operating system has just been upgraded to version 3, adding workflow and other improvements. The New Life United Pentecostal Church, based in Austin, USA, has recently installed two KLANG:fabrik 3D IEM monitoring systems and two KLANG:quelle headphone amplifiers. The KLANG:fabrik units are fed signals via MADI from the church’s DiGiCo SD9 mixing console one KLANG:fabrik provides eight stereo mixes for use by the musicians on stage during worship services, who then use the two KLANG:quelle headphone amplifiers, connected over a single Dante-networked cable, to

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create their own individual mixes for each performance. The second KLANG:fabrik unit is dedicated to the lead vocal and six backup vocalists, through two separate stereo mixes, leaving more than six additional mixes for other applications, such as guest performers. “I barely have to touch monitors anymore,” says Terry Golden, FOH engineer at the church. “The musicians can create exactly the mixes they want on their own using the KLANG:app, which is phenomenal. The KLANG:fabrik we installed at New Life Austin can be summed up in two words, “Its simple!” Borås, located just east of Göteborg in Sweden, is often compared to Manchester - mainly because of its exceptional rainfall statistics. Sunnier climes are apparent in the town’s Stadsteater, where Klang’s in-ear solutions are making the life of the theatre’s head of sound, Tobias Walka, much easier. “Our mixing system was already fitted with Dante, so we used that to connect to our KLANG:fabrik unit,” says Walka. “The KLANG:app is very intuitive and easy to navigate,

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especially when used on a larger iPad, Apple Mac or Windows computer. We hooked it up, patched it, assigned channels to users, added names and so on and it all worked on the first try.” The outputs from the KLANG system are connected to six Sennheiser EW300 wireless in-ear monitors (IEMs) and the system was premiered at the theatre’s production of the musical Cabaret, with the 4-piece band and the two lead actors using IEMs. “Most of the band members were familiar with working with IEMs, but all were extremely impressed with both the sound quality and the ease of use of the KLANG system,” says Walka. “They all loved being able to adjust their levels on the fly during the gig. Since the band was seated during the whole show they loved the 3D aspect of the system as they could each place the sound of the other instruments where the person playing the instrument was physically situated. They all felt that it also helped greatly with both separation and clarity.” The band commented that this was the first time that in-ears has truly worked for them.


FEATURE: INSTALLED AUDIO Astro Spatial Audio brought object-based immersive audio into the open air for Loreley, by Theater St. Gallen (picture courtesy of Daniel Meyer)

“In the past they felt IEM was a necessary evil, but with KLANG 3D IEM they loved it,” he adds. Astro Spatial Audio in the Netherlands has installed their immersive object-based audio system at Germany’s Folkwang University of the Arts. The installation features the company’s SARA II Premium Rendering Engine at its heart and Bjorn Van Munster, founder and director of Astro Spatial Audio, says that “The SARA II Premium Rendering Engine represents the world’s most advanced implementation of objectbased immersive audio plus powerful tools for the optimisation of room acoustics.” Van Munster says that the system is “entirely brand agnostic” offering sound designers and engineers an entirely new 3D audio toolkit that can be quickly and easily scaled from one venue to the next. The Linuxbased SARA II is a 3U rack-mounted device, offering up to 128 MADI or 128 Dante configurable network pathways at 48kHz/24bit resolution. All paths are assignable to at least 32 audio input channels that can

be rendered to up to 128 independently processed sound source outputs. Astro say that even with full CPU processing, latency is guaranteed to be below 5ms. A browser allows access to an intuitive GUI, and simultaneous control from multiple devices, ranging from mixing consoles and DAWs to tablets and phones running either Android or iOS. SARA II features a 2.8” TFT LCD colour touchscreen with a number of different control options. “To ensure reliability, each SARA II engine hosts several on-board redundancy options, while systems can be linked as required to form massive immersive experiences across vast spaces,” says Munster. “Use of the Open Sound Control (OSC) protocol delivers interoperability with third party systems.” Steven Boardman, part of London-based Jungle Studios’ tech team, a company who specialise in research and development for immersive sound, believes that his choice of equipment and software for installed immersive audio depends on many factors.

“You need to account for the budget, acoustics, size of the space, the amount of speakers needed,” says Boardman. “Each has to be taken into account, along with the time it takes to implement.” Boardman’s personal choice for small-to-medium, full periphonic and horizontal permanent installs, would be point source speakers like Genelec’s The Ones. ”They are better at reconstructing a spatial scene, as all the frequencies are spatially aligned,” he says. “The Ones also have SAM (Smart Active Monitoring) so they can be calibrated for flat frequency response which makes the rendering more accurate. For large temporary installs, I would use L-Acoustics or d&b Audiotechnik. They both provide high output coaxial drivers that sound really good.” Amadeus are a French-based company, specialising in high-end sound reinforcement systems and custom studio speakers. They have been involved in a staged dramatisation of the 1938 ‘Xi’an Incident’—an event which is credited to have created modern China. April 2018

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FEATURE: INSTALLED AUDIO

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KLANG

Amadeus worked with its distributor, Chinese-based Guangzhou Sign King ET Co., Ltd., Swiss-based company Sonic Emotion, and British manufacturer of digital mixing consoles, DiGiCo, to design and install the sound setup, alongside creative input from the Paris-based Théâtre National de Chaillot. Wymen Wong, marketing manager of Guangzhou Sign King says that, “The Amadeus team combined all the technologies that were used based around their speakers. It was a very complex and comprehensive list of gear.” Amadeus’ team set the system up in the theatre, tuned the speakers and trained the Chinese staff. “I believe since my beginnings working in live theater, that inside each sound technician is an electro-acoustic ‘creator’ able to sublimate, reinterpret or magnify a musical project,” says Marc Piera, Chaillot National Theatre’s sound department manager. “These new techniques of diffusion finally offer us the choice, of building our space, with its depths, its images and its relationship with the scenic elements of the stage. These new sonic techniques allow us to be architects of the sound, sound creators, finally freed from the dictates imposed by the ‘acceptable’ or usual physical positions of the loudspeakers in a theatre.” Wong says that the installation itself uses the DAW Reaper with IRCAM’s ToscA plug in. The setup also includes Amadeus’ Wave II sound processor to reproduce sound sources that appear virtually outside the room using Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) technology. Apparently based on Huygens’ Principle of 1678, Gaetan Byk, Amadeus’ marketing manager says that the idea of WFS was developed in the Netherlands in the 1980s by the Delft University of Technology. “The WFS concept 32

April 2018

makes it possible to synthesise ‘sound holograms’ by simulating acoustic waves produced by virtual sound sources,” he says. “They are each controlled with a delay and a gain to form a wave that emanates from the desired location of the virtual source. This process is repeated for each sound source in the sound scene.“ Byk says that the major benefit of the WFS technique is to create a coherent sound field in an extensive area, therefore preserving the fidelity of the spatial image—the position of the sources—even for listeners located at the periphery of the zone or for those moving within the zone. “Wave field synthesis thus provides the listener with consistent spatial localisation cues over an extended listening area,” he adds. Dutch-based Alcons Audio is one of Europe’s leading developers and manufacturers of professional sound systems that are used in theatres around the world. Their latest Pro Ribbon immersive audio system was recently demonstrated at Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2018 and was comprised of a hybrid 9 by 8 immersive surround configuration, featuring an array of Alcons Audio pro-ribbon loudspeakers, driven by 26 channels of Sentinel amplified loudspeaker controllers with “lossless” AES3 digital signal distribution. Alcons Audio demonstrated the system with native and up-mixed Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D and DTS:X content, as well as Astro 3D Spatial Audio material. Alcons’ Pro-ribbon speakers, as their name suggests, are based on ribbon drivers that were devised by the company’s Philip de Haan, the senior research and development engineer. “Since 1983 we’ve been expanding the learning curve and did a lot of research on new materials, techniques and production

processes. We’ve tested every medium-to-large sized ribbon driver on the market, to see and measure for ourselves what the current status of ribbon development is,” says de Haan. ”Now this know-how has led to a new generation of ribbon drivers, with the RBN601 being the first result of that.” Alcons says that the advantage of ribbon drivers is that distortion is low and there is no compression threshold, which helps maintain tonal balance at all sound pressure levels. The aforementioned RBN601 has a peak handling power of 3000W and is, Alcons claims, currently the most powerful ribbon driver on the market. The RBN401 is a scaled-down version of the RBN601, with a power handling of 50W/800W and an efficiency of 100dB. Alcons call it the “baby Hulk”— the smaller brother of the 601 ‘Hulk’. One of the beneficiaries of the Pro Ribbon technology is Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theatre, or Dramaten. In 2015 the theatre installed an Alcons Audio-based system in its main space. “The challenge was to find a physically small system without compromising in sound,” says Dramaten’s technical project manager Johan Bengtsson. “We demand even coverage throughout all four levels of seating and a good stereo image. The available positioning for the system was very limited because the building is historically protected and we have to consider sight lines.” Electrosound AB, a member of the Alcons Global Ribbon Network, installed the system, comprising the L7 speakers—with Pro Ribbon drivers— and LR7B bass units. There are now quite a range of technologies being utilised in providing immersive audio solutions for installed systems. A mixture of software and cutting edge hardware technology is being combined to offer a true immersive experiences to audiences, while at the same time making the technology easily useable by the performers and artists. With competition for consumer’s attention being drawn to the increasing sophistication of in-home entertainment, these new technologies could make the experience of ‘going out’ a much more memorable experience in future.

Alcons Audio


MIPRO partners with Dante™

MIPRO adds Dante technology option to simplify cable management and cost reduction for ACT-72 dual channel & ACT-74 quad channel receivers as well as the digitally encrypted ACT-828 dual channel & ACT-848 quad channel receivers; the latter is a new expansion of ACT 8 Series. The choice of either rechargeable or AA-powered transmitters is available for these models.

ACT-7 Series

ACT-8 Series Exclusive UK & Eire Distributor : CUK Audio Norwood Court, Ibrox Business Park, Glasgow, G51 2JR Tel: (44) 141 440 5333 | sales@cuk-audio.com | www.cuk-audio.com

www.mipro.com.tw | 100% Made in Taiwan


PRODUCT FOCUS

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AMPLIFIERS

POWER PLAYERS

A good set of speakers for an installed system needs good amplification and these manufacturers have got the power…

Powersoft Duecanali Series Perfect for small to medium size fixed installations, retail environments, bars, restaurants and fitness centres, the Duecanali Series offers three models to choose from, all coming with an optional DSP and Dante, making it an ideal answer to system integrators’ needs for a highperformance amplifier solution in leisure and retail spaces. The new Duecanali Series offers low power consumption and heat dissipation. It is able to drive low impedance loads (2/4/8 Ohm) and 70V/100V distributed lines selectable per channel. The Duecanali 4804 provides 2 x 2400W at 4 ohm, a power output suitable to a wide range of projects, making it a good choice for small to medium size installations seeking both clear and reliable sound. The Duecanali 804 offers 2x 400W and represents a lower total power solution for installations in retail, as well as bars and restaurants where a single two-channel

amplifier is the requirement, without the need for additional channels or power. All models can be managed with Powersoft’s Armonía 2.11 Pro Audio Suite software. www.powersoft-audio.com

Dynacord IPX Series Power Amplifier Launched at ISE 2018, the Dynacord IPX series is designed, engineered and manufactured in Germany to deliver “the pinnacle of power amplifier engineering” for mid to large-sized permanent installations. The IPX series comprises three 4-channel models and one 8-channel model, offering a power density of 5 kW, 10 kW and even 20 kW from a single amplifier with all channels driven. Dynacord says that this unit has been built to “ensure outstanding audio performance, user-friendly integration and flawless reliability under the most demanding conditions”. IPX series amplifiers can cover a wide range of fixed install venues, from concert halls, art centres, theatres, and houses of worship to distributed sound systems in stadiums and entertainment centres. The amps offer the highest

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flexibility both for low and high impedance applications with parallel, parallel/bridged power drive modes, and up to 50 per cent less power consumption thanks to Dynacord Eco Rail technology. Fully integrated

96 kHz DSP with FIR-Drive processing and OMNEO IP architecture supports Dante audio networking and OCA protocol. www.dynacord.com


PRODUCT FOCUS AMPLIFIERS

Bose Amplifier Range With AmpLink Bose Professional has introduced four new amplifier models and one new amplifier accessory, integrating Bose AmpLink digital audio transport. The new models include two PowerShare amplifiers, the PS604A (4-channel, 600 watts shared) and the PS404A (4-channel, 400 watts shared), two FreeSpace ZA 2120 amplifiers (2x 120 watts) in both high and low impedance versions, and one PowerMatch AmpLink input card. AmpLink is a new Bose digital audio distribution solution for use between Bose processors and amplifiers. It uses standard CAT 5 cables and RJ-45 connectors to carry up to 24 channels of zero-latency, 48 kHz digital audio from select Bose ControlSpace processors to AmpLinkequipped Bose amplifiers. It’s designed to pipe audio between equipment in racks, with up to 10 m (32 feet) cable lengths between connections. Each AmpLink termination point features a THRU connection for daisy-

chaining up to eight devices. AmpLink debuted in the new ControlSpace EX-1280C conferencing processor, and together with these new AmpLink-equipped amplifiers,

creates a high-quality digital audio option for PowerMatch, PowerShare, and FreeSpace amplifiers. www.pro.bose.com

Crown CDi DriveCore The Crown CDi DriveCore performance amplifiers use Harman’s multi-patented DriveCore technology. The amplifiers offer the power and capabilities of Crown’s popular DriveCore Install (DCi) Series amplifiers with a streamlined set of options targeted to deliver optimal value to small and medium-sized installations such as bars, restaurants, worship facilities and retail spaces. With a front panel interface and lower price point, these amplifiers deliver the performance, reliability, and feature set for the entry level contractor and installer. The front panel interface quickly allows contractors to recall JBL speaker tunings, configure the amplifier inputs and outputs, and modify a number of DSP settings. The front panel interface is also geared for users who either are not as comfortable with network configurations or systems that are not large enough that require computer control and configuration. With 2 and 4 channel models at 300/600/1200 watt output power ratings, all models have network connectivity and

built in digital signal processing. Harman’s digital audio bus, BLU link, is also available as an option. Crown claims that pairing CDi DriveCore amps and other Harman products

with BLU link, such as a BSS Soundweb London BLU-50, “can exceed fidelity expectations while simplifying audio wiring”. www.crownaudio.com

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PRODUCT REVIEW

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PRO TOOLS 2018 Simon Allen delves into the latest update to Avid’s DAW

SOFTWARE

he latest update to Pro Tools introduces a new numbering system. Presumably Pro Tools 2018 is effectively the new version 13, but have Avid included any major changes to their iconic DAW? Since version 12 was released, Avid has been

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updating Pro Tools more regularly than previous versions. New features have trickled through, a select few at a time. This of course is typical of modern software, evolving gradually rather than the major updates previously seen. This was made possible, thanks to the subscription models and update plans that Avid introduced with Pro Tools 12. As new features are written, Avid have been able to release these to their customers far quicker. There are now a host of new features that benefit all walks of its users. Pro Tools 2018 is the first significant

change to the numbering system, but is this really a major update? I dived in to investigate the new features.

New Features The first part to this update is in fact a new iLok license. If you’re updating an earlier version of Pro Tools, or are subscribed to Avid’s update plan, to run Pro Tools 2018 you must first update the license on your iLok. Providing you are upgrading correctly or have a valid update plan, the new license will automatically appear in your iLok account.


PRODUCT REVIEW

Key Features „ Retrospective MIDI record „ New Shortcuts for MIDI editing „ Speed delivery with offline bounce „ Over 60 effects, sound-processing and utility plug-ins RRP: £499.00 ($599.00) www.avid.com

Using the iLok License Manager, you will be asked to “surrender” your current Pro Tools 12 license. This leads me to my first piece of good news for existing users; the new iLok license will allow you to continue to run earlier versions of Pro Tools 12. This is helpful to those that may have the software installed on more than one machine with projects on the go. After I activated the new license, the new version of Pro Tools installed without any hassle. With the new license, Pro Tools 2018 introduces iLok Cloud Support. As the name suggests, with the latest version of iLok License Manager you can choose to move your license to the cloud. This clearly means you can access your license from anywhere, without needing to carry your iLok. This in-turn frees-up a USB port and soon this will include network licenses too. It’s clear to see the benefits of cloud-based licensing; if nothing else you won’t need to worry you’ve forgotten your iLok ever again. Most of us are now connected to the internet continually these days. If however, you’re concerned about a poor connection or are needing to record a band in the middle of the jungle, then you can still use the physical iLok. From hereon, the new features of Pro Tools 2018 have a music production theme about them. However, several of these new features will also benefit the post world too. For example, a simple but welcome addition to the mix window is an EQ curve graph on each channel strip. This display helps provide an overall view of tonal changes within your mix at a glance. It’s great to see that this display works with third party plug-ins as well as Avid’s own, even accumulating multiple EQ changes from a single plug-in chain. Some may wish however, that this display was editable and viewable from the edit window too. For those that are creating music with Pro Tools, Avid have enhanced some MIDI editing aspects. With a host of new keyboard shortcuts, users can now edit MIDI notes with greater ease. Transposing notes, changing durations or altering velocities can all be done via these new shortcuts. Useful tools are also included, such as quickly building chords via duplicating notes within a key, and extracting chord progressions from a MIDI performance. The MIDI side of the job with Pro Tools 2018 now also features Retrospective MIDI recording. This means that any MIDI channel, which is record-enabled, will go into a “listen” state. If while you’re rehearsing a part you play a good performance or a new idea, then Pro Tools can add the MIDI information to the track via a simple shortcut. Playlist comping has also received some of the focus with this update. A combination of new a “Target Playlist” with some new keyboard shortcuts has been implemented to make comping easier and quicker. It can be tiring and confusing to jump through several takes to edit a final part, particularly if you’re dealing with several tracks in a group. Playlist view for example, can require too much screen real estate to be of use. I love these new features, which allow you to quickly and efficiently select the best parts from the Waveform view itself. A major new feature, which many have been waiting

for, is Track Presets. Yes, it’s finally here. Pro Tools has always had a comprehensive method to import session data, which the new track presets follow in a similar style. Several users were implementing macros as a workaround for the lack of track presets. Those days are over however, but what’s more, Avid have implemented this long-awaited feature in a very intelligent fashion. Even I, who isn’t a believer in using the same presets regularly, can see various ways in which the new track presets will speed up some of my workflow. Besides the obvious, track presets can be used to recall a host of partial elements for a track, or group of tracks. Only effects chains can be recalled for example, or even complete routing information with automatic creation of bus processing on the destination of sends or outputs.

Have they done enough? Pro Tools has long been considered the DAW of choice, even being referred to as the “industry standard”. This used to be thanks to several strong reasons, but in recent years Avid have received criticism for thriving off this heritage. We’re now in an era where other DAW’s have stepped up the game so significantly, even long-time Pro Tools users have moved away from the Avid family. Looking at this update alone for example, there aren’t any ground-breaking features here. Several of these features have in fact been available in other DAW s for a while. I know many will jump to the conclusion that Avid are merely trying to “catch up”. Whilst I understand these points, I certainly don’t share this view. We must remember that one of the reasons Pro Tools has typically been the weapon of choice by the professionals, is down to the way features are implemented and the reliability of the application as a whole. Maybe track presets has only just been brought in, but the power Avid has given the user with track presets in Pro Tools 2018 blows the equivalent feature in any other DAW out of the water. Yes, perhaps Avid do need to continue adding features like these to Pro Tools, keeping it in-line with modern expectations. However, I believe it’s great that they are. They are listening to what users want and are delivering well thought through and efficient solutions. I’m still proud to predominantly be a Pro Tools user, and long may it continue.

The Reviewer Simon Allen is an internationally recognised freelance engineer/producer and pro audio professional with over 15 years of experience. Working mostly in music, his reputation as a mix engineer continues to reach new heights.

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PRODUCT REVIEW

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IK MULTIMEDIA ARC 2.5 Stephen Bennett tuned his listening environment with the ‘Advanced Room Correction’ system from IK Multimedia

SOFTWARE

’ve always been the kind of guy who would rather physically remodel a room than use equalisation to try and sort out problems with the acoustics. While colleagues were strapping dirty great third-octave graphics across the outputs of their amplifiers, I’d be knocking down walls and hanging suspended ceilings. So it was with some trepidation that I approached the Genelec DSP-assisted 8331 monitors for review in Audio Media International. Mightily impressed with the ‘Gennies’ in my new workspace, I was keen to see if IK Multimedia’s ARC DSP correction software/microphone combination could help me contain the audio from my monitors in a room that appears at first listen fundamentally beyond help. Now on version 2.5, the ARC (or Advance Room Correction) system - available for OSX, Windows and most DAWs - consists of the patented Audyssey MultEQ XT32 DSP analysis software along with a correction plug-in and a calibrated microphone. The MEMS microphone supplied with ARC

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is an omnidirectional device that uses a chip rather than a diaphragm as a transducer. The technology is used in mobile phones and, because of the ease of reproducibility during manufacture, the microphones should, in theory, be sonically consistent between models. The basic premise of the ARC is simple - use the measurement microphone to capture a test-tone sweep, analyse the resultant waveform and attempt to correct in software for any problems detected in the audio over the useful frequency range. The problem - especially with smaller box-shaped rooms - is that these inconsistencies are not the same wherever the listening position is. In my workspace, quite small movements of the head can bring about large changes in apparent frequency response especially in the bass. Normally, I’d attempt to correct these issues with high and mid frequency absorbers (easy and effective) and bass trapping (more difficult and impossible to fit into a small room) but I’ve not been able to improve the acoustics to any appreciable degree. ARC attempts to overcome these problems by analysing the audio in multiple positions - IK multimedia recommend between seven and sixteen measurements should be taken over the ‘listening area’. Obviously, you need to provide an audio interface with a neutral and high quality

Key Features „ 64-bit native plug-in compatibility „ Based on Audyssey MultEQ XT32 patented technology „ Includes a measurement microphone, software and correction plug-in „ Step by step measurement set-up RRP: £199.00 ($274.00) www.ikmultimedia.com signal path - so all direct monitoring and DSP processing there needs to be switched off. ARC works at 48kHz and the microphone requires 48v phantom power. The analysis software runs in stand-alone mode and is pretty simple to use, leading you through the process step-by-step. You need to adjust the output levels of your monitors to that required by the software, but again the ARC helps you along. The room needs to be in the same condition as you normally work in - so you need to close the doors and draft in your colleagues if you usually collaborate. Once the levels are set, the ARC software walks you through a series of measurements


PRODUCT REVIEW

“The ARC correcton software provides a more reliable auditioning environment than a bodged acoustically treated space”

to capture the frequency response of the room. Multiple measurements can be saved - in my case I measured with one and two people in the room, as that’s how I usually work. Instancing the ARC plug-in on the Master output of your DAW is where the magic happens and loading the previously saved room corrections will display the room nodes and the correction that ARC has imposed upon the output for both channels alongside a definable ‘target’ curve. A peak meter displays the input and output levels passing through the plug-in. One of the nice things about ‘virtualising’ your monitors is that ARC can then emulate several different auditioning systems without going to the faff of getting another boom box off eBay. The laptop speakers setting proved particularly effective in testing mix translation, as did the ‘‘80s (Yamaha NS10) setting. ARC also acts as a software monitor controller whose parameters can be assigned to MIDI-based hardware for a more tactile experience. One of the problems with using this type of correction software is that you must disable the plug-in before bouncing your final mix - something I didn’t do several times during the review period. This is easy to forget when you’re working to tight deadlines - and who isn’t? I use a Mac and although there are some thirdparty solutions that allow you to instance AU plug-ins on the master output of the computer, these are inelegant in use. It would really help if you could load a plug-in directly onto ASIO or CoreAudio drivers themselves. Once the corrections had been performed, I instanced the ARC plug-in on Logic Pro X 10.4’s master bus running

on a 4-core 2010 Mac Pro and proceeded to mix some new material and remix some pieces I’d attempted using that old technology - listening to lots of familiar material and trying to extrapolate how the bass actually sounds. Not surprisingly, when bypassing the plug-in, the unprocessed audio behaved unpredictably, with nodes appearing whenever I moved my head. Probably the most impressive aspect of the ARC was that, when enabled, the low frequency response was pretty consistent over the area I’d calibrated for. It became much easier to hear what the bass was doing during a mix and these translated - with a slight but consistent midrange uplift tweak using ARC’s curve editing facilities - to all of my go-to mix check systems. Because of the size of my room, my ATC SCM 16A monitors are squeezed right against a wall - not ideal at all. I tried moving them to a more ‘natural’ position to see how the software coped and it did so admirably. The nodes generated were different, but the correction was just as effective as with the speakers back against the wall - so I still have space to swing a cat should I choose to do so (and, of course, record the resulting noise). The software has some extra correction facilities to compensate for potential stereo placement and bass issues that may be created when over compensating for the leanness of smaller speakers, so you should be able to get acceptable results whatever the situation. The ARC correction provides a more reliable auditioning environment than a bodged acoustically treated space - I should know, I’ve created a few. It’s rare

these days that I work in a ‘proper’ acoustically treated space, so being able to quickly adjust to any room I find myself in is going to be a godsend. I’m going to carry the MEMS microphone in my portable rig from now on - I can also use it as an extra room mic if I need one! I was impressed with the results of the ARC system in my compromised space and, when I’m back in a ‘proper’ studio, I’m looking forward to seeing how ARC 2.5 might work in those conditions as well.

The Reviewer Stephen Bennett has been involved in music production for over 30 years. Based in Norwich, he splits his time between writing books and articles on music technology, recording and touring, and lecturing at the University of East Anglia. April 2018

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S TA Y C O N N E C T E D


PRODUCT REVIEW

MARANTZ PMD-706

Location audio expert Alistair McGhee reviews this new product from leading location sound manufacturer Marantz

RECORDERS

Key Features e live in a world of unintended consequences. Who would have thought that the Apprentice would be responsible for a US president? And who might have foreseen that adding video to stills cameras would create a whole new market in audio location recorders? But it is true, Donald is president and DSLRs now dominate swathes of the video market and audio manufacturers are piling in to offer solutions to the problems of getting decent sound with your DSLR. The market exists because the DSLR onboard mics are ok for a guide track but not much more, you don’t get proper connectors on a DSLR. You only get stereo recording and your monitoring and control functionality is very basic. So time to go offboard and invest in a location sound recorder. And going that route is increasingly attractive as prices fall and new models arrive offering ever more functionality. And this is where the Marantz PMD-706 comes in. The 706 is a six track SD card based recorder that is less expensive than thick cut deep fried potatoes wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper. The Marantz is billed out of the box as a DSLR product, the top plate has a cold shoe fitted and you can bolt a bracket on the top to attach your DSLR to.

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And on the side panel you get sends to and from ‘Camera’ on minijacks. And probably the best way to evaluate the 706 is to bear in mind the main target market. At 620 grams including four AA batteries (these aren’t included in the box though) the 706 is lightweight - matching most plastic DSLRs. This isn’t designed to sit in a bag getting battered on PSC or documentary shoots, and as most DSLR shooters don’t require time code the 706 doesn’t provide it. What the 706 does provide is six record tracks and six mic inputs. How do they fit six XLRs into such a small chassis? You get four combo XLR/jack sockets

„ 6-channel recording up to 96kHz/24-bit „ SD/SDHC/SDXC recording media „ (4) XLR/TRS combo jacks for mic and line level inputs „ High Definition Discreet microphone preamps RRP: £279.99 ($387.762) www.marantz.co.uk works pretty well. There are a couple of menu system controls, six rotary gain faders, each channel has a red over level warning led - and the transport controls complete the front panel line up. Although you have six mic inputs I guess most

“Marantz enable content makers on a budget to do things they couldn’t do otherwise” for mic/line inputs and inputs five and six are on quarter inch jacks. But they are mic inputs and they do offer phantom power. Additionally, the unit ships with two quarter inch to XLR cables. As you might expect, the front panel is pretty busy. The screen is small and black and white but with good resolution and brightness, it

people attracted to the 706 by the track count will probably be using multiple radio mics. One thing you can do with all those tracks is run dual inputs with a safety track being recorded on the adjacent track at a predefined lower level and with three dual tracks available you could run your boom and two radios in this mode and not have to April 2018

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PRODUCT REVIEW

over worry about the occasional over. The Marantz will run at 96KHz but will drop down to a four track recorder at the higher sample rate. At normal sample rates the Marantz offers limiters on every channel, linkable and has a three band setting. Digital limiters are not without usability but if you overload the front end electronics there’s a limit to how much good they can do. One point - the headphone feed is before the limiters so you might just get lucky - your recording might not be as over as you think it is. Given the complexity of the features on offer (did I mention file encryption?) and the limited front panel real estate - access to features is all on the now classic rotate and press routine. I like the fact that the menu is segmented into areas but when you get to the bottom of a list another rotation takes you straight into the next menu. The 706’s headphone socket is 3.5mm, and this is a very good thing. With two quarter inch jacks on the machine that can carry phantom power -

minimising the chance of sending 48 volts up your headphones is to be welcomed. Using the menus you can select input options - mic/line input, the minijack mic input with the option of plug in power and for channels 5 and 6 the camera return feed. Which you could route to your cans if you wanted. The main mic inputs have four gain stages from Low to High plus, much like the rough gain settings on mixers of old. Talking of mixers you can send channels to the onboard mixer - gain is set in the menu system though not using the front rotaries. You can record the mix on two of your six record channels. And each channel has a delay option, auto level feature and low frequency filter. As you roam the internet you will see a billion comments on affordable gear complaining that it is missing ‘this’ or ‘that’ pro feature. Which of course is missing the point. The 706 doesn’t have the quietest mic amps in the world or on board timecode and the headphone output can be downright noisy. You certainly don’t want

really want to use it as a mixer in any fast moving situation. But if you want a six channel recorder for the price of a decent microphone then you will be prepared for the fact there is no Dante interface. My view is that Marantz enable content makers on a budget to do things they couldn’t do otherwise. Probably the key thing is spending the time getting to know the gear and planning your gig to work round the limitations - do that and you’ll be just fine with the PMD-706 - pass the salt.

The Reviewer Alistair McGhee began audio life in Hi-Fi before joining the BBC as an audio engineer. After 10 years in radio and TV, he moved to production. When BBC Choice started, he pioneered personal digital production in television. April 2018

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PRODUCT REVIEW

PRESONUS STUDIOLIVE 16R

Alistair McGhee gives AMI his expert verdict on this one U rack mixer with 16 mic/line inputs from Presonus

RACK MIXERS

resonus are a big vision outfit. From DAW to desk and beyond, it has a breadth that few other manufacturers can match. And their latest hardware in the mix rack space shows a determination to deliver an even bigger Presonus ecosystem. There are three new Series III rack mixers in the range sporting 16, 24 or 32 inputs. I had the 16R for this review. The 16R is a one U rack mixer with 16 mic/ line inputs on combi XLR/jacks with an option of a stereo RCA phono input for your unbalanced kit on inputs 15 and 16. The main stereo outputs are on XLR alongside six flex mix outputs on quarter inch jacks for Aux, groups or matrixes. There are also two internal FX sends and two independent FX processors. And the jewel in the crown - AVB. The new Presonus mixers have AVB as standard, and Presonus are supporting this functionality with products like the SW5E five port AVB switch with PoE and the ‘coming soon’ EarMix 16M - AVB personal monitor mixer.

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see the SD recorder control until you plug a properly formatted SD card in. Oh, and the GEQ is post the headphone feed on all mixes, which caught me out. I don’t really like trusting my mix to the ethernet so the ability to have a wired network connection to the mixer is a priority for me, but I’m very happy to take advantage of wireless control and have the iPad set to ‘Meters’ mode as a very handy meter bridge or of course as a roaming control surface when required. Mind you install QMix-UC on your iPhone or Android device and you can also offer control of monitor mixes to the talent. The 16R nails processing with Presonus’s latest Fat Channel on every channel and every bus. And there’s eight 32 band GEQs available - one for each output on the 16R and while editing the GEQ you have an RTA display option for that bus. The latest version of Fat Channel has new vintage processing options in compression and EQ and there are new reverb and delay processors available on the two on board FX buses.

“Listening to the Presonus 16R is a rewarding experience” With the market awash with rack mixers, we are pretty familiar with the genre. At first sight the 16R offers pretty standard features. There’s software control of the mixer through the Universal Control or UC app. UC is a flexible beast - I ran it on a Mac connected by USB, I ran it on a Windows 10 machine connected to the 16R on my local network and I ran it on my iPad which was wirelessly connected to the same network. At first glance I found the UC app very clean, in fact simple to the point where I struggled to find some of the features. But invest a little time and the depth of the mixer becomes apparent - all the features are there, you just need to find your way round the presentation of them. Top tip - you won’t

The 16R offers both traditional groups and DCA spill groups. Spill groups give you the opportunity to select a group master - say drums - and instantly the visible channels are reduced to just those on the drums DCA group. This is a great way to mix especially on a screen when you are continually focusing on only the most relevant information. Unlike the DCA groups the subgroups can have processing applied and are routed to a physical output. Aux sends can be pre-fader pre-processing or pre-fader post processing or post fader. One thing that sets the 16R apart from the rash of rack mixers is the AVB networking. With Series III Presonus have implemented the latest AVB standard meaning interoperability with other compliant AVB

Key Features „ Create, save, and edit up to 100 scenes „ Studio-quality converters with 115 dB dynamic range „ Vintage EQ and compressor models available on every input „ Onboard stereo SD recorder RRP: £799.00 ($1,115.00) www.presonus.com gear. Connect it to a Presonus Series III mixer with one Cat 5e and you can use the 16R as a stage box, or a full blown monitor mixer. Or run your AVB into your Mac (Thunderbolt indicates compatibility but High Sierra is currently a problem) and all your 16R ins and outs are available to your DAW. Now your audio interface can be 100m from your computer. Or right next to it if want to use the on board USB 2 connectivity. Use an AVB switch (both Presonus and MOTU have them available) to network together multiple AVB units and share inputs and outputs across big spaces and complex installations, with low latency and guaranteed synchronisation. Listening to the 16R is a rewarding experience - I tried running some expensive mic amps into the line inputs and also recorded through the 16R E to E to get a feel for audio quality and it is certainly no slouch. The build quality of the box is excellent and the software comprehensive. When I look at the price I can’t help feeling this is a bargain.

The Reviewer Alistair McGhee began audio life in Hi-Fi before joining the BBC as an audio engineer. After 10 years in radio and TV, he moved to production. When BBC Choice started, he pioneered personal digital production in television. April 2018

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AMI April 2018 Digital Edition  
AMI April 2018 Digital Edition