International TECHNOLOGY AND TRENDS FOR THE PRO-AUDIO PROFESSIONAL www.audiomediainternational.com www audiomediainternational com
February 2017 December 2016
HAVE IT YOUR WAY We examine the current demand for customised speaker systems p24
As Norway goes fully digital, what of FM’s future? p18
A ﬁrst look at Powersoft’s new Quattrocanali ampliﬁers p22
Remembering Battersea Park Studios with Juan Luis Ayala p42
ULTRA-COMPACT MODULAR LINE SOURCE Packing a 138 dB wallop, Kiva II breaks the SPL record for an ultra-compact 14 kg/31 lb line source. Kiva II features L-Acousticsâ€™ patented DOSC technology enhanced with an L-Fins waveguide for ultimate precise and smooth horizontal directivity. WSTÂŽ gives Kiva II long throw and even SPL, from the front row to the back, making it the perfect choice for venues and special events that require power and clarity with minimal visual obtrusion. Add to that a 16 ohm impedance for maximized amplifier density and a new sturdy IP45 rated cabinet, and you get power, efficiency and ruggedness in the most elegant package. www.l-acoustics.com
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Ariosto Arata is a music producer/ engineer based in London who has for the past ten years recorded and mixed various styles including Metal, Jazz and Classical with a range of successful recording artists. Juan Luis Ayala is a writer, producer, instrumentalist, and former resident of Battersea Park Studios, which recently closed its doors permanently. Michael Begg is a freelance composer, producer and sound designer based in East Lothian, Scotland. He also records and performs with the cult ensemble, Fovea Hex, and writes articles about sound, music and theatre. Tobin Jones is owner and head engineer at The Park Studios, a music recording studio in North West London.
s it just me or did it seem like there was an even bigger buzz about the NAMM Show this year than normal? I know the pro-audio side of the event has been gradually building for a long time now, but having come from an MI background it still surprises me that the pro-audio industry has embraced it as much as the rock n roll enthusiasts that I used to deal with back in the musical instrument world have done for many years. Of course there are a number of reasons for this, and it’s not just because so many companies now decide that the best way to start the year is with a big shouty blowout launch, in the California sunshine – although sadly that wasn’t the case this year – and at a venue where you have every chance of bumping into a guitar legend or a recording icon while navigating the gargantuan halls. No, it’s more than that. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has said that it’s also the vibe of the event that has them coming back every January – it’s that personal, friendly approach that makes the diﬀerence here, and it’s not uncommon to hear visitors commenting
post-show about how other tradeshows around the world can learn a few things from the Americans. But still, let’s not forget the gear. You should turn over to our News pages to get the full rundown, but once again, the manufacturers didn’t disappoint. You had a number of major ﬁrms like ADAM Audio and PreSonus revealing upgraded versions of some of their best-loved lines, and others, such as Allen & Heath and Digico, signiﬁcantly strengthening their ﬂagship ranges with some new console models that would’ve stole the show for some. And there’s so much more to come, as tradeshow season has only just begun. ISE is up next, and we’ve managed to piece together what we know so far from a selection of this year’s exhibitors in our Preview later on, but we’ll make sure to bring all the big news via our website and newsletter once ISE week gets under way. This edition isn’t just about tradeshow news, of course, but staying on the topic of new kit, I advise you to have a read of Michael Begg’s opinion piece on Page 16 for his views on what must be a frustratingly common problem for so many users out there. Ever gone to replace an item in your arsenal and then discovered that you now need to change something else, before slowly realising that you’ve unwillingly set oﬀ a horrifying – and not to mention expensive – chain reaction of upgrades? Then this is for you.
Adam Savage Editor Audio Media International
PRODUCT NEWS 6 8 10 12
Digico celebrates 15 years with SD12 Meyer Sound adds Amie-Sub Adam Audio reveals third-gen S Series New wireless mics from Sennheiser
OPINION Sound designer Michael Begg warns against the creatively detrimental ‘cascade effect’
Jerry Ibbotson discusses the reasons behind the Norwegian FM switch-off
Producer and engineer Ariosto Arata discusses the use of compression in recording
TECH TALK Powersoft’s Marc Kocks provides exclusive information about the company’s new range of four-channel install amps
INTERVIEW Juan Luis Ayala talks about the recent closure of Battersea Park Studios and his efforts to raise awareness of the situation
INSTALLED SOUND David Davies delves into the custom loudspeaker market to ﬁnd out more about this growing contributor to the pro-audio business
STUDIO PROFILE Colby Ramsey heads over to Wembley to ﬁnd out how The Park Studios is setting itself apart within the London recording scene
BROADCAST PROFILE Adam Savage talks to Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) about its work on the live broadcast of the Elbphilharmonie opening concert
15 SHOW NEWS 14 15 4
PREVIEW: ISE PREVIEW: BVE February 2017
END USER FOCUS Broadcast Microphones
34 REVIEWS 34 36 38 40
Audio-Technica AE2300 Ferroﬁsh A32 URSA straps Blue Bottle Mic Locker
THE SMALLEST AND MOST POWERFUL TRI-ELEMENT MICROPHONE AVAILABLE Setting a new standard in tri-element microphone performance and design, the M3 is the only multi-element mic available with studio quality sound, adjustable cable length, rotational positioning, and a UL rated plenum box solution above the ceiling tile. The three phase coherent hypercardioid capsules of the M3 have a tailored frequency response that optimizes speech intelligibility and rejects extraneous noise making it the ideal mic for video conferencing, distance learning, courtroom activities, and surgical procedures. Available in charcoal or white, the TAA-compliant M3 is a stunning addition to the Audix family of conference miking solutions.
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PRODUCT NEWS: CONSOLES DIGICO CELEBRATES 15 YEARS WITH NEW SD12
Digico marked its 15th anniversary at the NAMM Show by launching the new SD12 console. Designed to be both compact and powerful, and utilising the latest generation of the company’s Super FPGA technology, the SD12 features 72 input channels, 36 aux/group busses, a 12 x 8 matrix, LR/LCR buss – all with full processing – along with 12 stereo FX units, 16 Graphic EQs, 119 Dynamic EQs, 119 multiband compressors and 119 DiGi-TuBes,12 Control Groups (VCA) and SD Series Stealth Core 2 software, making it compatible with all other SD Series sessions. The SD12 features dual 15in digital touchscreens that provide 24 channels
in one view, dual operator mode and the ability for the right-hand screen to be the master, as well as advanced connectivity via optional DMI cards. EQ and dynamics controls are aligned next to both the left and right-hand screens, so they sit adjacent to the graphic representation when an EQ is assigned. Digico has also included its Hidden Til Lit (HTL) technology, with two banks of 24 encoders featuring an RGB HTL ring, as well as an SD7-style channel strip with HTL EQ encoders. On the back there are eight local mic/line inputs, eight local line outputs and eight AES/EBU in/out for local digital sources, as well as two MADI ports, plus a UB MADI connection for recording at 48kHz; 48 tracks of recording are possible with the console clocking at 48kHz and 24 tracks if it is clocking at 96kHz. www.digico.biz
PRESONUS INTRODUCES THIRD-GEN STUDIOLIVE LINE PreSonus has released its thirdgeneration StudioLive Series III digital console/recorders. The 16-channel StudioLive 16 has 17 touch-sensitive, motorised faders and 17 recallable XMAX preamps while the StudioLive 32 makes use of 33 faders and 33 recallable XMAX preamps. The new 24 and 40-input consoles improve on ease of use while letting users customise workﬂow and operations to ﬁt the way they work. PreSonus Capture multitrack recording software with virtual soundcheck is installed directly into the consoles. Capture records up to 34 tracks to the onboard SD recorder. When recording is ﬁnished, Capture sessions can be opened in Studio One for Mac and Windows (included), and the entire mix scene will transfer to a Studio One session.
The Fat Channel processing section has received a major overhaul, including a plug-in-style workﬂow that features vintage-style EQ and compression options on every channel, from classic tube limiters to passive EQs. In addition to channel processing, the new consoles also oﬀer six-band, fully parametric EQ on all mix outputs. Third generation StudioLive 32 digital console/recorders are available now, carrying a US MAP of $2,999.95. The StudioLive 16 will ship later in the ﬁrst quarter of 2017 at an anticipated MAP of $1,999.95. www.presonus.com
ALLEN & HEATH UNVEILS DLIVE C CLASS Allen & Heath’s dLive C Class is a new compact range of surfaces and MixRacks that opens up its dLive platform to a wider spectrum of AV, installation and live event applications. dLive C Class is founded on XCVI – the same 96kHz FPGA core that drives Allen & Heath’s ﬂagship dLive S Class mixers – and also shares its DEEP processing architecture, allowing ‘classleading’ compressors and processing emulations to be embedded directly within the inputs and mix channels. The new range includes the ﬁrst 19in rack mountable dLive surface – the ultracompact C1500. There are three new MixRacks in the line: CDM32, CDM48 and CDM64, plus three new control Surfaces: the C1500, C2500 and twin-screen C3500. The MixRacks house the XCVI Core, providing capacity for 128 inputs with full processing and 16 dedicated stereo FX returns, plus a fully conﬁgurable 64 mix bus architecture, with full processing on all mix
channels. Each surface and rack has a 128-channel I/O port, supported by a wide array of networking cards, including Dante, Waves, MADI, ﬁbreACE optical and more. The C Class surfaces employ the dLive Harmony UI, oﬀering gesture touch control via 12in capacitive screens allied to colour-mapped rotary controls, enabling tactile control over key processing functions, working in harmony with the visual feedback displayed on screen. It is also possible to mix ‘surfaceless’ using a MixRack with a laptop or tablet for control. dLive C Class systems range from $6,500 for a CDM32 MixRack up to $21,500 for a CDM64 + C3500. www.allen-heath.com
SOFTUBE UPGRADES CONSOLE 1 The new Console 1 Mk II from plug-in specialist Softube, an upgraded version of its hardware/software mixing system, was introduced at the 2017 NAMM Show. The new console oﬀers support for selected UAD Powered Plug-ins from Universal Audio. There are over 60 plug-ins that can be used from within the system, including those based on units from Chandler Limited, Fairchild, Teletronix, Tube-Tech, Abbey Road Studios, and more. The plug-ins are pre-mapped and easily selectable from the Console 1 software, so no MIDI mapping is necessary. Secondly, the new Console 1 represents an MSRP drop from $849 to $499. Softube says the hardware has the same build quality as the original units, with some minor layout changes such as more visible LED markers. These changes come in addition to the recently
released software update, which added DAW control functions for PreSonus Studio One and Cakewalk SONAR. The new Console 1 Mk II units, and the software update with the UAD Powered Plug-ins compatibility, will be available in Spring 2017. Upon release, existing Console 1 owners can download the updated software from Softube’s website and start using it with their Console 1-ready DAWs or plug-ins. www.softube.com
PRODUCT NEWS: LOUDSPEAKERS QSC EXPANDS E SERIES The new E218SW dual 18in subwoofer and E215 dual 15in full-range cabinet bring the model count of QSC’s E Series to six. Also new, the K Cardioid Subwoofer provides all the beneﬁts of a cardioid subwoofer array but in a single, compact enclosure, while the E218SW sub features two 18in die-cast frame woofers with 4in voice coils designed to meet the high-output, low frequency reproduction requirements of production professionals in larger indoor or outdoor venue applications. Suitable for mobile entertainers, AV production and rental professionals, as well as modestly-sized performance venues, the K Cardioid Subwoofer is able to manage low frequencies on a stage, or any application where undesirable low frequency energy needs to be minimised. Powered by a 1,000W Class D ampliﬁer, processed with the latest DSP technology, and featuring dual 12in
RENKUS-HEINZ ANNOUNCES C AND T SERIES
long excursion drivers, each arranged in a 6th order bandpass chamber – these elements all combine to produce 15 dB more output at the front of the cabinet than at the rear. The K Cardioid subwoofer will have an estimated US street price of $1,399 and is expected to be available in the ﬁrst half of 2017. Additionally, the E218SW will have an estimated US street price of $1,199 while that of the E215 is expected to be $999. Both models will ship in the Spring of 2017. www.qsc.com
Renkus-Heinz has introduced the new C and T Series of professional loudspeakers for installed and live sound applications. A reinvention of the manufacturer’s CF/CFX Series, the C Series is designed for permanent installed applications including theatres and performing arts spaces, houses of worship, multi-use venues and public spaces. C Series models will be available in ampliﬁed (CA Series) and passive (CX Series) models, in a black or white ﬁnish. The CX42 stairstep loudspeaker, an updated version of the company’s CFX41, will only be available in a passive design. Renkus-Heinz has also launched the next generation of its TRX Series which comes in both powered (TA Series) and passive (TX Series) models, with redesigned HF and LF drivers.
T Series loudspeakers (pictured, below) will be built to order with a variety of horn patterns for optimal coverage control, and fully customisable with Renkus-Heinz’ custom colour matching and weather resistant options. Both the C and T Series loudspeakers incorporate the latest generation of complex conic horns, which provide consistent beamwidth over a wider frequency range, using updated drivers to provide clean, natural sound and tighter pattern control. Both the C and T Series will be shipping in Spring 2017. www.renkus-heinz.com
MEYER SOUND ADDS AMIE SUB
NEW B·H SPEAKERS FROM DB TECHNOLOGIES
Meyer Sound has introduced the Amie-Sub compact cinema subwoofer, a self-powered unit speciﬁcally designed as the ideal complement for the company’s Amie Precision studio monitor. Amie-Sub gives sound designers and sound editors working in smaller studios the ability to translate LFE content accurately and seamlessly into the ﬁnal mix, as well as into commercial exhibition and home theatre distribution. The Amie-Sub provides high power output and transient reproduction, with ample headroom for low distortion and a frequency range extending from 125 Hz to 25 Hz.
dB Technologies debuted its new B·H powered speaker series at NAMM 2017. The B·H Series aims to provide a ‘professional yet eﬃcient’ sonic performance to users, combining a Class D ampliﬁer with aggressive sound pressure levels (up to 126.5 dB for the 15in cabinet), while delivering accurate sound reproduction. The family includes four twoway cabinets, all of which have been equipped with premium 1in compression drivers and 8in, 10in, 12in and 15in woofers.
Amplitude and phase response are very much ﬂat, resulting in accurate tonality of both eﬀects and music content. The compact cabinet has an angled corner for connections, allowing placement ﬂat against the wall in smaller production studios. An optional bracket enables mounting Amie-Sub from a ceiling. A complete 7.1 system can be powered from a single electrical outlet using the PowerCON AC loop output on both the Amie-Sub and Amie loudspeakers. The Amie-Sub cabinet incorporates a 15in long-excursion driver and a convection-cooled ampliﬁer in an optimally tuned, vented cabinet. Onboard processing includes driver protection circuitry, low-pass ﬁltering, and correction ﬁlters for phase and frequency response. The PowerCON AC input connector has a loop output for Amie loudspeakers. www.meyersound.com
The speakers feature an asymmetrical horn ensuring a wide and uniform throw pattern, and accurate DSP allows users to choose between two EQ presets: Flat or Boost. The lightweight cabinets (from 14 to 38 lbs) are outﬁtted with a clean and contemporary full grille design, enhancing portability with three handles and multifunctionality. Each cabinet can be used horizontally as a stage monitor (with two angles) and comes with a pole mount cup. www.dbtechnologies.com
PRODUCT NEWS: MONITORS ADAM AUDIO REVEALS NEW S SERIES ADAM Audio’s third generation S Series is a new line of nearﬁeld, midﬁeld and main monitors for audio recording and production professionals. The range features new woofer and mid-range drivers as well as the debut of the S-ART tweeter, a more precise version of ADAM’s X-ART tweeter with accelerated ribbon design. The S Series is comprised of ﬁve models of increasing size: the S2V, S3H, S3V and the larger S5V and S5H. New features that have been created speciﬁcally for the updated S Series include highly eﬃcient long throw Extended Linear Excursion (ELE) woofers; one-piece DCH dome/ cone hybrid mid-range drivers for greater dispersion, low distortion and high power handling; newly designed
waveguides for the tweeter (and the mid-range driver on the largest models); and a high-power DSP engine –based on the latest generation of SHARC chips – which provides crossover optimisation, voicing options, and digital connectivity. The cabinets of the entire S Series line are constructed from thick, vibration-resistant material to reduce unwanted resonance and colouration even at high listening levels. The design also features large-radiused rounded edges, which help to minimise unwanted edge-diﬀraction eﬀects. www.adam-audio.com
DYNAUDIO REINFORCES LYD RANGE
The new LYD 48 from Dynaudio Professional features a three-way speaker design, coupling an 8in and a 4in woofer with a 1in tweeter, making them well suited for nearﬁeld and midﬁeld monitor applications. It will be available in White and Black – same as the original LYD range – but also in a classic All-Black version. Each of the woofers and the tweeter are powered by a Class D ampliﬁer, delivering 80W/50W/50W of power per monitor. The amp features a 96kHz/24bit signal path and selectable input sensitivity, as well as the same Standby Mode as the original LYD speakers.
The new three-way version features Bass Extension, allowing for a choice between the default setting or pushing towards maximum bass or maximum volume. Changes will aﬀect the lowend response, while the linear frequency response remains intact. The Sound Balance option is basically a tilt ﬁlter that tips the tonal balance gently. In short, it emphasises one end of the spectrum while decreasing the opposite end by the same amount. This approach is diﬀerent from typical shelving ﬁlters, as it alters the frequency response, but without interfering with the phase. By default the monitor is set ﬂat, but the Sound Balance toggle switch can go for either ‘Bright’ or ‘Dark’. LYD 48 carries an MSRP of $1,529. www.dynaudio.com/ professional-audio
JBL DEBUTS 7 SERIES MONITORS JBL’s new 7 Series powered studio monitors feature patented driver and waveguide technologies developed for the JBL M2 Master Reference Monitor. The 705P 5in and 708P 8in monitors deliver high output and accuracy for post-production, broadcast and music recording facilities. Both models are equipped with the 2409H high-frequency compression driver, which incorporates a low-mass annular diaphragm to deliver high output and very low distortion, with response beyond 36 kHz. The 725G 5in low-frequency transducer used in the 705P model provides 14mm peak-to-peak excursion with greater linearity, delivering extremely low-frequency output down to 39 Hz. The 728G 8in low-frequency transducer inside the 708P leverages JBL Diﬀerential Drive technology to reduce power compression and provide greater sustained output and extended, linear low-frequency performance to 35 kHz.
The 705P and 708P also oﬀer the JBL Image Control Waveguide that provides an ‘acoustically seamless’ transition between the woofer and transducer, and a wide sweet spot with increased sonic detail. Both models come with analogue and AES/EBU digital inputs, allowing connectivity to a broad range of production hardware, including DAWs, mixing consoles and digital playback hardware with sample rates of up to 192 kHz, while internal sample rate converters can be enabled to allow the monitors to receive digital signals of uncommon sample rates. www.jblpro.com
AMPHION’S NEW MOBILE MONITORING SYSTEM Finnish manufacturer Amphion Loudspeakers has announced the availability of MobileOne12, a new mobile studio monitor system that combines the compact One12 studio monitors along with a pair of Amp100 mono block ampliﬁers and Amphion’s professional grade speaker cables – all housed in a sturdy wooden padded travel case. One12 utilises a 1in titanium dome tweeter set in a Corian waveguide aligned with a 4.5in customdesigned SEAS woofer, delivering tight and even lows for speakers with such a small footprint. This, together with a low crossover (1,600Hz) ensure a solid “phantom” centre image, ‘exceptional’ time and phase coherence, 3D soundstage and imaging, and a wide and deep sweet spot.
The system is ideally suited for home studios, small post production edit bays, mobile trucks or FoH where space is something of a precious commodity. MobileOne12 has been given a price of $2,800/€2,520 and is available at authorised Amphion dealers everywhere. www.amphion.ﬁ
FABRICâ€™s NEW SOUND
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PRODUCT NEWS: MICROPHONES SENNHEISER RELEASES NEW WIRELESS MICS Visitors to Sennheiser’s booth at NAMM 2017 were the first to see the company’s XS Wireless 1 and XS Wireless 2 radio microphone series. XS Wireless 1 is a series of six wireless microphone sets designed for the budget-conscious user seeking ease of use, fast set-up and reliable transmission, who will find themselves ready to go within seconds thanks to automatic frequency management with one-touch synchronisation and intuitive, icon-based controls. The series uses the Sennheiser evolution capsules, and employs antenna-switching diversity for reliable reception. The individual sets provide up to ten compatible, preset channels in eight frequency banks, and are available in a number of
ranges across the UHF spectrum. The receiver provides balanced XLR and unbalanced jack outputs. All XS Wireless 1 sets come complete with receiver, transmitter, microphone (capsule) or instrument cable, power supply unit and batteries. The company also says that XS Wireless 2, which becomes available later in 2017, will ‘take the benefits of XSW 1 further.’ www.sennheiser.com
SHURE ROLLS OUT GLX-D ADVANCED The new GLX-D Advanced Digital Wireless is an enhanced suite of products, which includes the GLX-D Advanced Frequency Manager, rackmount receiver system, remote antennas and accessories. The products are designed to provide a multi-system wireless experience to live and event venues, educational institutions or auditoriums with multiple wireless system requirements. GLX-D Advanced beneﬁts from what the company describes as ‘exceptional’ digital audio, automatic frequency management, and intelligent rechargeable batteries. Using the new Frequency Manager, GLX-D Advanced users can operate up to nine simultaneous systems in typical conditions, and up to 11 channels in optimal conditions.
With a new rack-mountable conﬁguration, GLX-D Advanced allows up to six GLXD4R receivers to be linked to a GLX-D Advanced Frequency Manager via the RF ports. To simplify installation, the Frequency Manager automatically assigns optimal frequencies to all six receivers utilising patented data communication via the existing RF cables. Linking two Frequency Managers together enables the use of additional rack-mount systems. www.shure.com
G E T C LO S E R TO THE POWER OF LIVE When it’s your reputation on the line, choose mics that will provide the most consistently honest sound. DPA Microphones offers a wide range of specially-designed produc ts for your close-miking or ambience-miking needs. No matter what you choose, you can be cer tain that there are no other mics that will deliver a live experience as powerful to your audience. Visit your local audio dealer to learn more about the range of options available.
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SHOW NEWS: ISE 2017 PREVIEW
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// The 14th edition of ISE sees the addition of a new hall and immersive technology zone, along with an expanded education programme. his year, ISE is expected to attract more than 65,000 visitors to more than 1,100 exhibitors, making it even bigger than the last outing. For four days, the newly extended show floor will be home to a community of manufacturers, distributors, integrators, service providers and end-users looking to build their profile and business opportunities in the AV marketplace. ISE 2017 will welcome 135 new exhibitors to over 3,000 square metres of additional showfloor exhibition space compared to ISE 2016. To help cope with the show’s continued year-on-year growth, the RAI Amsterdam has introduced an additional hall and pavilion, a new hall numbering system and increased car parking facilities. The new hall, named Hall 9, will be able to be accessed via Halls 8, 10 and 11, while a new pavilion will be constructed at the Congress Square providing an additional 1,500 net square metres of exhibitor floor space. It will connect with the Exhibitor Foyer, Diamond Lounge and Auditorium, and this combined area will be known as Hall 14. A key feature of Hall 7 is the ISE Audio Solutions Theatre, which showcases expertise and insights from the length and breadth of the audio industry. During ISE 2016, the theatre hosted a range of sessions,
including: ‘Exploring Networked Audio Protocols’, ‘A Revolution in Invisible Audio’, ‘The Impact of Polar Pattern on Sound Behaviour’ and ‘Networked Speakers: Extending the Control Path Beyond the Amplifier.’ One of the reasons for audio’s growing prevalence at ISE is the general increase in live production and stage technologies at the show. This has seen a notable rise in large-format loudspeaker and amplification brands, adding even more weight to the other audio technologies on offer, such as microphones, networking, compact loudspeakers, processing, control and headphones. Along with the usual strong audio presence, ISE 2017 will feature a new Immersive Technology Zone, which will showcase virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies. Produced and managed by Holovis, the new area will be found in the Park Foyer at the rear of Hall 8. ISE 2017 will also see new identities for the show floor theatres and the addition of a fifth theatre. The CEDIA Smart Building Solutions Theatre lines up alongside the InfoComm Commercial Solutions Theatre (sponsored by Crestron), the CEDIA Residential Solutions Theatre, the ISE 2017 Audio Solutions Theatre, and the InfoComm Unified Communications Theatre (sponsored by Crestron). Attendees on the final day of the show will have the opportunity to
experience first-hand one of the world’s leading international business development executives. Daniel Lamarre, the president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, will present the show’s closing keynote speech on Friday 10 February 2017. Lamarre is responsible for the company’s business and creative strateg, and will explore: ‘How unlocking creativity and embracing new technology can grow your business’ at the show.
On the Showfloor Allen & Heath’s dLive C Class, a new compact range of surfaces and MixRacks, will make its European debut at ISE 2017. Exhibiting on stand 7-K175, Allen & Heath will also be showing models from the Qu range of digital mixers, including the new iPad-controlled ultra-compact faderless Qu-SB and ME personal mixing system. Martin Audio will take its new BlacklineX passive series to the RAI – its first journey to mainland Europe. Originally announced in October 2016, BlacklineX represents a reinvention of the original multi-purpose Blackline Series, which was launched in 1999. BlacklineX comprises four two-way systems – from the ultra-compact X8 to the large X15 – and three subwoofers, including an unobtrusive slimline model. Visitors will be able to get a
What? ISE 2017 Where? Amsterdam RAI When? 7-10 February
sneak peek of Renkus-Heinz’ recently released C and T Series loudspeakers for installed and live sound applications. Both new models incorporate the latest generation of complex conic horns, which provide consistent beamwidth over a wider frequency range, using updated drivers to provide clean, natural sound and tighter pattern control. Then there is the D Series from Lab.gruppen, which now consists of six power levels including the new slimline D 40:4L, D 20:4L and D 10:4L. This offers the integrator open interoperability and provides seamless integration with a wide range of digital audio and control protocols. RAVENNA will showcase a demo rack in partnership with the MNA that will be used as part of a larger setup to demonstrate AES67 interoperability between products using other network technologies including LiveWire, QLAN and Dante during the ISE AES67 Interoperability Lab session on Thursday 9 February in room D403. Meanwhile, the new Q-SYS Core 510i processor from QSC leverages the latest Intel platform using a QSCdeveloped Linux realtime operating system (RTOS) to deliver a powerful audio, video and control (AVC) solution. www.iseurope.org
SHOW NEWS: BVE 2017 PREVIEW
COVERING ALL BASES
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ‘Most all-encompassing BVE ever’ will feature four co-located events and six zones dedicated to the various sectors of the entertainment and media tech industries. VE, the UK’s leading event covering the broad spectrum of broadcast, production and post-production will continue to build on its 20-year history when it returns to ExCeL London at the end of February. The event has recently evolved into what is being described as the ‘most allencompassing BVE’, now featuring new show zones including AV, integration & live, production & acquisition, broadcast & connected media, post & workﬂow, audio, creativity and immersive tech. Each year, the show attracts more than 15,000 visitors looking to discover and learn about the latest products, services and trends from more than 300 manufacturers and distributors from across the industry.
A number of notable speakers will take to the stage over the course of the three-day gathering, including British actor, director and writer Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle, Wild Bill) who will deliver the keynote at 3.30pm on the ﬁrst day of the event. Most recently added to the roster of speakers and also an opening day highlight is BAFTA-winning writer/director Amma Asanta, who will discuss ‘Power to the writer – Writing a winning Screenplay’. On the second day at the AV Integration & Live Theatre, chairman of the Institute of Professional Sound, Simon Bishop, will ask the question ‘What is good sound?’, while on the ﬁnal day of the show there will be a much-anticipated keynote interview at The Screen with British-American
documentary ﬁlmmaker and broadcaster Louis Theroux. For the ﬁrst time ever, the BCMA brings an exclusive event to BVE, serving as a unique opportunity for visitors to hear from and connect with the leaders of the Branded Content business. The paid-for event brings together key players in the content business, from all areas of the industry and counts towards the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in Advertising qualiﬁcation. With the explosion of virtual reality in 2016, BVE is also allowing visitors to interact with a number of the most established content creators in the UK ﬁlming VR/360 cinematic content. BVE’s VR Experience is an opportunity to see ﬁrst-hand cutting-
What? BVE 2017 Where? ExCel London When? 28 Feb – 2 March
edge content from the likes of Happy Finish, Rewind and more; with sports, live music and wildlife documentaries all available to experience. Hours of dedicated VR panel discussions, case studies and demonstrations will be available throughout the BVE seminar theatres and brand new technology will be showcased as part of the experience on the main show ﬂoor. Other key themes being covered in the 2017 seminar programme include ‘next generation audio’, audio networking (AoIP), standards, interoperability and scalability, gear reviews, case studies and best practice on the craft of audio. www.bvexpo.com
LET THE BUYER BEWARE
Michael Begg ruminates on how a simple purchase in an accelerated culture of brutal economics and relentless release cycles can lead to a costly, time consuming and creatively detrimental ‘cascade eﬀect.’
ome time ago I began preparing for rehearsals ahead of an all-too-rare live show by pre-assembling my performing rig in the studio. All went well until I plugged in my trusty old controller – an M-Audio O2 – and found one of the keys to be unresponsive. After my default audio hardware repair procedure - comprising YouTube, a cotton bud, pencil lead, and lighter ﬂuid – failed to resolve the problem I accepted that it was time to leave this piece of history behind and move on. This saddened me as I had grown very fond of the O2. I liked it because it was slim on account of half-depth keys, light and compact. It ﬁtted neatly into a carry-on sized case, and there were no sticks and switches waiting to be snapped by the rest of the kit in the same bag. Also, it still looked familiar enough to assure airport security oﬃcials that it was indeed a musical instrument and not some remote control unit to hack into and assume ﬂight control of a 737 – unlike, say, Maschine, which to the untrained eye looks like a piece of kit more at home in Helmand Province than on a stage. A direct replacement for the O2 was immediately ruled out as the model had gone out of production some years previously. This was unfortunate as I had used this controller long enough to develop an instinctive, almost subconscious sense of its capabilities
and functions. Switching, mapping, transposing, cross-assigning and splitting had become as much a matter of muscle memory as conscious intervention. All of that tacit knowledge, that rich unspoken relationship with the equipment was gone. The process would need to begin anew with another model. I settled on Novation’s Touchkey MK2. It was bulkier than the O2 so I’d have to rethink packing and rider requirements, but it came highly recommended, and the automapping to Ableton Live functionality was attractive, especially as I had already lost rehearsal time and didn’t want to spend the remaining period manually mapping the new controller to the software. However, it became quickly clear that this out-the-box mapping between hardware and DAW was only to be fully realised if I updated Ableton Live. Experience had taught me that the upgrade cascade was now in eﬀect. Almost predictably, subsequent to downloading the Ableton update, the suggestion arose that it was time to update my operating system. The new operating system, in turn, would lead me to consider that it was time to update the laptop. Now that my sense of reason had been vaporised by the succession of purchases, back-ups, install screens, etc, I reﬂected on the weight of my Macbook Pro and how it might be better – now that I had acquired a more bulky controller – to invest in a lighter laptop; a Macbook Air, perhaps? Another round of research suggested that the number and format of ports on the intended upgrade would force me to reconsider replacing my ﬁrewire interface, or trusting in a Thunderbolt adapter, or, indeed deferring a decision until such time as Apple let it be known if the Air family is itself to be superseded by some new lightweight iteration of the Macbook Pro. Apple, as ever, elected to give away nothing at all considering future plans. Consequently, advice as to how to plan for the future came, as usual, from the teenage GAP kids on the fringes of Cupertino running breathlessly enthusiastic Mac blogs.
This reporting of an unfortunate chain of events is not merely catharsis on my part. I think that it is only by spelling out each link in this cascade that we begin to see the true picture and gain an insight into some very real concerns. We seem increasingly caught up in a developmental and economic model that on one hand encourages us to become increasingly modular in our approach but on the other makes it damn near impossible to isolate any single component for upgrade without unleashing a chain reaction of only partly foreseeable consequence.
Technological torment I am becoming fatigued with the constant renewal of port configurations, the breathless turnaround of version numbers not incurred through need but the perceived requirement to dominate the annual trade fairs. I feel under constant pressure to renew software and hardware, and it seems increasingly impossible to commit to an isolated change without setting in motion one of these precarious waterfalls. I remember speaking a few years back with a game developer who spoke of the frustrations felt by he and his colleagues when Sony had announced the PS3. He told me that developers were only just getting used to the PS2 development kits. They were only just beginning to realise the potential for the platform at the point where the hardware manufacturer, driven
by an abstracted economic imperative to release a new console, scuppered their work and forced them to begin anew. That conversation sticks with me because it seems that this scenario touches on the common experience of the studio professional. The poignancy of the anecdote is in its revealing of the too often overlooked impact on creativity, veiled by the feel good swagger of innovation. Whatever the root causes may be – economics or renewal cycles and market forces – it seems clear that the one ﬁgure guaranteed to be on the losing end of all this turmoil is the end user in the studio, on the stage or behind the desk. My feeling is that technological innovation and the richness of our relationship with our tools are diverging, and that this is something we should be looking at very closely. Innovation and redundancy should not be two sides of a single process. How much advancement is there really in an ecosystem that constantly destroys its own past? Michael Begg is a freelance composer, producer and sound designer based in East Lothian, Scotland. He also records and performs with the cult ensemble, Fovea Hex, and writes articles about sound, music and theatre. www.omnempathy.com Twitter: @michaelbegg
d&b is 35. Juanma is d&b. Juanma de Casas provides Application and Service Support at d&b Spain. Heâ€™s been on board since 2008. â€œd&b is a family of sound lovers. With our passionate ears we are always looking ahead to the futureâ€Ś for human answers.â€? In 35 years d&b has evolved from a small garage venture to a worldwide standard LQSURIHVVLRQDOVRXQGV\VWHPV,WÂˇVSHRSOHOLNH-XDQPDZKRPDNHWKLVVWRU\SRVVLEOHDQGMXVWWKDWELWGLË HUHQWIURP the rest.
Welcome to System reality.
IS FM RADIO ON ITS WAY OUT?
Jerry Ibbotson looks at the reasons behind Norway’s decision to go fully digital, and asks whether it could be a sign of things to come in other countries such as the UK.
new and easier ways to listen. He spent many years in the BBC, including being a news producer at Radio One and in management at BBC 5Live. Is this move a surprise to you? “We’ve (Radioplayer) worked quite closely with the Norwegian
adio is an industry that is used to change. I can remember sitting in my car (a battered blue Yugo, as I recall) in the early 1990s, listening to FM test transmissions for BBC Radio 1. It had a slightly end-of-days feel to it, as a prerecorded voice rolled on and on, promising something new and exciting. Up until then the only way to listen to the UK’s biggest station was on crackly, whistly (and mono) AM: 1053 to 1089. Crazy days. Now the news has broken that Norway is about to switch oﬀ its FM transmitters altogether in favour of digital. The country has been very successful in persuading the public to adopt DAB – there are thought to be almost four million digital radios in a country with a population of just over ﬁve million people. Now, as part of a yearlong project, the FM frequencies will be killed oﬀ. The plan is to roll it out around the country with the main radio stations – both public service and commercial – leading the charge. It’s a practical move. The geography of Norway (it’s a long, thin, mountainous country) lends itself to the digital system over FM, which needs repeaters to give full coverage. The switchover is state backed but before it could receive government approval, DAB coverage had to be at least as good as analogue, which it achieved. To ﬁnd out more, I spoke to Mike Hill, the MD of Radioplayer, a non-proﬁt partnership between the BBC and commercial radio. Radioplayer is based around radio listening via the web but Mike is also a genuine radio guru, speaking at events around the globe to promote
broadcasters over the past few years, as they’re one of the countries which uses our Radioplayer technology. The FM switchover in Norway has been one of the most carefully planned operations ever carried out in the world of broadcast media. They’ve been preparing for it for years, if not decades.” Does it make sense to you? “It makes sense to them, which is what matters. Norway has a very speciﬁc topography, and a unique set of characteristics, in terms of its media and its economy. I can absolutely see how they ended up deciding to go for a governmentmandated switchover.” What kind of penetration does DAB now have in Norway – is it a genuine replacement for FM? “In Norway, they reached FM equivalence a long time ago in terms of their DAB+ transmission network. DAB+ coverage is now better than FM was. Norway don’t publish any ‘share of listening’ data, but we think it’s about the same as in the UK – that is around 50% of all radio listening hours are currently digital.” Mike’s last point tallies with sales of DAB radios in Norway. It’s been reported that at Christmas 2016, 300,000 Norwegians got a digital radio from Santa. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all listening on digital as most DAB units
have FM as well, but it does signal that the baton is ready to be passed. One area that throws up a challenge is in-car listening. According to Radioplayer’s own research carried out in the UK, France and Germany, 82% of drivers would not consider buying a car with no radio and even in cars with full multimedia systems 75% of listening is to the wireless. And ﬁgures from RAJAR show that, in the UK, a higher proportion of radio listening is done in cars than ever before. But DAB is still a relatively recent arrival on the dashboard and even in 2017, not every new car comes with a digital radio. Plus, of course, not everyone drives a new car – Norway applies a sales tax of 25% to new motors, plus a hefty registration tax. This means a lot of people tend to drive second hand vehicles: there are 2.3 million on the road with only FM. But still, the team behind the FM switch-oﬀ sent advisers into Norwegian car dealerships to educate the motor trade about the strengths of having DAB in-car. So is this likely to happen in other countries? In the UK there are three digital radio multiplexes (the DAB transmission system), with one for the BBC and two for commercial outlets. Mike Hill from Radioplayer thinks a UK radio switch over is possible:
“I think the UK will have a gradual ‘listener-led’ change to digital. 50% of all radio listening will be digital later this year, or early next year. Once analogue is a minority distribution platform, broadcasters will start to ask themselves if the cost of dual transmission is worth it. It’s actually easier to have a digitalonly system than FM. DAB uses a single-frequency network so the more transmitters you build, the better it gets. It’s a self-reinforcing patchwork. On the other hand, FM needs much more careful spectrum-planning, as stations on the same frequency interfere with each other.” According to the BBCs own website, it’s unlikely there will be a Norwegian-style switchover in the UK before 2020. Even then, the analogue system may still be used for local and community stations. This is what the Norwegians are already putting into practise with the aim that every station – big or small – will still be able to reach its audience. So rumours of FM’s death may be a little premature. Jerry Ibbotson has worked in pro-audio for more than 20 years, ﬁrst as a BBC radio journalist and then as a sound designer in the games industry. He’s now a freelance audio producer and writer.
“After months of planning, testing and finding the perfect sound solution for a venue, for me it’s all about that moment when a project truly comes to life.”
THE SOUNDMAKERS > HK Audio is the German pro audio brand offering the easiest way to the best sound. From portable to professional live sound to install solutions for over 30 years, we build PA systems for those who are fascinated by the energy of sound. Giving them a stage. Giving them a home.
TO COMPRESS, OR NOT TO COMPRESS?
London-based producer and engineer Ariosto Arata oﬀers his thoughts on when and how compression should be used during the recording process, and some common mistakes that can be avoided.
uring my ﬁrst recording experiences or ‘experimentals’, as they were called at University, I began to wonder if it was a good idea to put an EQ or compressor in the signal chain to tape. I ﬁrst heard about this from one of my tutors, who said “you can always compress during the mix but you can’t decompress a printed signal afterwards”. EQ-ing was a little diﬀerent as it was clear to me that changing the tone through mic choice or placement was always a better option, and EQ-ing unwanted sounds was an obvious thing to do. Later on, I began doing more ‘classical’ recordings, and became sort of a ‘purist’,
recording as natural as possible. I only used a limiter when I wanted to control signals from peaking. However, when I started working in a professional studio, I noticed that more experienced engineers were using almost every single compressor in the room, and not in the monitor path. I began questioning if what I’d believed all that time was wrong, or if they were just too adventurous and risky by printing all that compression leaving no choice for the mixer but to work with that. After this, I realised that they were using analogue resources that weren’t necessarily going to be available during the mixing process and, most importantly, they knew what sound they were after.
When you overcompress during recording, the obvious outcome is that you won’t be able to undo it because the original analogue signal has already been transformed, but there are other downsides to it. To mention a couple, you could be losing the dynamic range of an artistic performance within a smooth section of a song, when the peaks are limited. You could be, in addition to compression, changing the timbre of a signal by adding ‘colour’ that is a characteristic of the compressor you are
between leaving the sound unprocessed and overcompressing it. Secondly, mixers do appreciate when the sound quality of the tracks is closer to the ﬁnal mix. Thirdly, compression during recording should be about enhancing the sound quality (e.g.: punchiness, warmth, attack control) and not about using it to its full capacity. Lastly and most importantly, if you aren’t sure about compressing a track or not, don’t do it! Frequently when I’m recording a guitar or keyboard part the player would ask me
using. You could be trimming the attack of a bass drum, with a fast compression attack, and losing some of the important beater sound quality. All these and other eﬀects will leave the mixer with no choice but to work with the already processed signals and could make his/her job more diﬃcult when trying to make the tracks sit in the mix.
if we should record a certain processing eﬀect. So I ask the following: Is that eﬀect part of your instrument’s intrinsic sound or the original song arrangement? Or does it ﬁt the original plan for the song? Following the same thinking process, I began asking myself while managing compression during recordings: Will the sound of this track ﬁt the original plan for the song? The amount of compression will help me shape the sound quality I’m going after, and this shouldn’t diﬀer from the producer’s and artist’s idea of the song, or make the mixer’s job more diﬃcult. In conclusion, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to the question “To compress, or not to compress”. It depends on the music and the performance. The number one rule I’ve learnt over time is that everyone has diﬀerent methods and tools, and these don’t matter as long as the ﬁnal results ﬁt the music and meet professional standards, and the artists’ expectations. Listen to the song and make sure you understand the original concept for it, this will give you the correct answer to the dilemma and, if you decide to compress, will let you ﬁnd the amount of compression that will give the right character to the recorded tracks.
Watch and learn As a result of observing other engineers and from my own professional experience, I began to understand that some of the elements that would shape the basis of the sound, like the punchiness of a bass drum or the warmth of a bass, could be accomplished through compression during recording while taking advantage of the gear at the studio. This would result in a more solid sound for the mix and at the same time would leave more mixing time for creative eﬀects and for making production decisions. I ﬁnally came to a couple of conclusions: Firstly, there is a balance
Ariosto Arata is a music producer/engineer based in London. For the past ten years he has recorded and mixed various styles including Metal, Jazz and Classical and has collaborated with the likes of David Byrne, Billy Cobham, Bebel Giberto, John Zorn, Anthony Hamilton and many more.
INTERVIEW – TECH TALK
Marc Kocks, Powersoft’s business development manager for the ﬁxed install market (EMEA), ﬁlls us in on the company’s latest unveiling – a new trio of four-channel amps to complete its installation series.
L-R: Powersoft’s Luca Giorgi with Marc Kocks What can you tell us about your new Quattrocanali and Duecanali 1602 power amps? The ampliﬁer series consist of a fourchannel and two-channel platform. The Quattrocanali and Duecanali oﬀer a very dense power pack with a unique pricing. Oﬀering 2, 4 and 8 ohms as well as 100 and 70 Volt capability per channel the Quattrocanali and Duecanali outperform most of their competitors with their available output power.
Are the new Quattrocanali units available in diﬀerent versions? And what about control options? This series consists of a standard version and a DSP + Dante version. The standard version oﬀers Armonia [software] and third party control for level, mute, group and ampliﬁer status over a standard Ethernet connection while the DSP + Dante version oﬀers the industry standard Powersoft DSP also used in the X Series.
How would you describe the main factors that had to be considered when developing this new range? The new Quattrocanali and Duecanali had to oﬀer the same audio quality and interconnectivity as the Ottocanali and X Series while being able to compete in the market for small to medium-size sound systems for bars, clubs, AV, classrooms and many more.
Could you elaborate a bit on the DSP capabilities and some of the other advanced features, including why they’re important? In the design of the new Quattrocanali and
What was the most challenging part of the design process? Oﬀering the renowned quality of Powersoft in one of the most versatile and competitive ampliﬁers on the market.
Duecanali DSP + Dante version one of the main considerations was that the products should be able to control a full sound system. The DSP oﬀers a full matrix, three levels of the most advanced EQ, FIR and ﬁlters as well as live impedance monitoring and damping control. Those features and advanced remote control options like GPI, Armonia, Operator view and third party control will replace a lot of traditional equipment in
You seem to have been focusing heavily on the install sector with your most recent launches. Is this area of the market becoming more important for you now then? The installation market is a market already served for a long time by Powersoft. With the introduction of installation-dedicated products like Ottocanali in 2012 and now with the new Quattrocanali and Duecanali products
a system. This solution will oﬀer the user better control and most importantly a reduction in system price.
we will be able to oﬀer our solutions and technologies for a wider variety of ﬁxed installation applications.
What other trends have you noticed recently in terms of what your customers are looking for? Interoperability, ﬂexibility and reliability are the key words. Any of the Quattrocanali or Duecanali ampliﬁers can be mixed with the Powersoft Ottocanali and X Series platforms, oﬀering the user the ﬂexibility to scale the system. The ability to decide between a low impedance load or 100/70 Volt distributed line per channel is adding to this desired ﬂexibility. Control and monitoring of the ampliﬁers via Armonia or any third party control device able to script (like Crestron) will give the customer full control and interoperability. Being able to add any Dante-enabled input device is maximising the interoperability. Powersoft is one of the market leaders in the most eﬃcient, single rack space Class D ampliﬁers with DSP. The proven technology will guarantee the desired reliability.
As the Quattrocanali completes your multi-channel installation series, do you feel that you now have a ﬁnished lineup overall, or are there are other gaps in your product oﬀering that you’re looking to ﬁll in the near future? We are very excited to be able to oﬀer lower power multichannel solutions for the ﬁxed installation with the new Quattrocanali and Duecanali. Our R&D team headed by Claudio Lastrucci, our product manager Klas Dalbjorn, sales director Luca Giorgi, the board of Powersoft and me are constantly monitoring the needs and demands of the markets we serve – we see many opportunities to grow our oﬀering for the ﬁxed installation market. What other plans have you got for ISE, other than these product launches? We will show remote control and interoperability featuring the new 2.9 version of Armonia, remote control via GPI- VCA and third party control by various other systems like Crestron, Q-Sys and others. www.powersoft-audio.com
Inspiring Every Moment Audio-Technicaâ€™s In-Ear Monitor Headphones Bringing the worldwide critically acclaimed sonic signature of the M-Series to an in-ear design, the Audio-Technica in-ear monitor headphones have been designed to fully answer the needs of demanding sound professionals and musicians from the studio to the stage and the DJ Booth.
FEATURE: INSTALLED SOUND
YOU CAN GO YOUR OWN WAY…
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ...when it comes to cutomising loudspeakers to meet your precise aesthetic and performance requirements. David Davies ﬁnds out more about the whys and wherefores behind what has become a substantial – and growing – contributor to the professional audio business. Bespoke solutions are becoming a rapidly growing part of the market,” says Pioneer Professional audio manager Alex Barrand in an observation that is echoed by everyone that AMI spoke to for this feature. Whilst customisation might involve the amendment of standard, oﬀthe-shelf product, it is clear that a growing majority of users require some form of adaptation – be it in the form of a special colour or ﬁnish, or an enhanced output. Not surprisingly, it is clubs and other entertainment venues that kickstarted the customisation trend, but recently it has spread to all manner of other applications – from conference centres to gyms. For the smaller manufacturers
who are not managing substantial production lines, customisation will likely present no signiﬁcant issues with regard to logistics. However, it may constitute more of a challenge for those manufacturers used to mass-volume production of a standard product range. Whatever the size or shape of the oﬀer, there is a general consensus that customisation requests are becoming more varied all the time. As Julien Laval, applications engineer – install at L-Acoustics, remarks: “Custom sound systems allow [clients] to diversify their oﬀering, ensuring better revenue streams and a healthy longevity. The outlook for bespoke sound systems has never been better.”
‘Incredibly dynamic’ The customisation trend takes place within the context of an installed sound market that, says Laval, is “incredibly dynamic at the moment, presenting a diversity of challenges. We’re seeing a demand for touring-quality sound in places that previously didn’t feature music, as recognised sound engineers and artists move into venues such as stadiums, clubs or even wedding halls.” Funktion-One’s Ann Andrews concurs that the demand for customised product is “very healthy. Since we started Funktion-One in 1992, we’ve had a strong focus on answering the needs of each individual customer. Our attentiveness and willingness to go beyond the
standard product is often the reason why people come to us. Meeting speciﬁc requirements invariably demands some form of customisation, even if it’s as straightforward as the loudspeakers being a particular colour. It may mean something more substantial, like adapting an existing product, creating something that [is a complete] one-oﬀ, or developing a brand new loudspeaker.” In terms of speciﬁc applications where the call for customisation is strongest, Laval observes that “one of the biggest areas of expansion [is] clubs and sports facilities. We’ve recently installed touring-grade sound systems in high-proﬁle nightclubs like Omnia in Las Vegas or Zero Gravity in Dubai,
FEATURE: INSTALLED SOUND
“The role of customisation in product development has been a constant at Meyer Sound and we expect that to continue in the future.” John McMahon, Meyer Sound
A custom gold Void Air array at Eden Ibiza
//////////////////////// or sports facilities such as the Rupp Arena in Kentucky and the University of Phoenix NFL stadium in Arizona. Both of these markets are being driven by a need to attract the globe’s top talent. To them, installing an L-Acoustics system allows them to ensure artists that they will perform in the best conditions. At the same time, they require a ﬂexible system that can work for a high-proﬁle music event, but also cover their core business (sports or DJs, for example).” Barrand also conﬁrms the current vibrancy of the bar and club sectors, observing that the present creative boom owes something to “the development of licensing laws that allow extended opening hours”. This move, he says, “has blurred to a degree the easy classiﬁcation of venues. Bars, restaurants and clubs obviously still exist in unique form, but many are becoming
hybridised and seeing a diversity of use within a given space. The result of this is that owners and developers pay very close attention to ensuring that their audio systems oﬀer a best ﬁt. What is in essence a restaurant may become a club after service ﬁnishes, and so customising audio provision to cater for diﬀerent demands is vital. Interest from this sphere is very strong.” There is currently “a big appetite for customisation in nightclubs,” agrees Andrews, “particularly in the US, the Middle East and Asia at the moment. These venues are often very large, and with any large installation we’d expect a certain amount of customisation. Club owners are always looking for ways of making their venue stand-out – a customised sound system is a very eﬀective way of doing that.” But sports venues are also making increasingly speciﬁc requests. “We’ve been involved in some very interesting sports venues recently,” she adds. “This market seems to be tuning into sound quality more than it did in the past, and in our experience the solutions often involve some customisation.”
Varied requests The need for manufacturers to have capacity to address speciﬁc customisation requirements is beyond question, then. But how do they go about building this into their operations, ensuring that any tricky requests can be satisﬁed both quickly and completely? “Since ﬂexibility is the key we work both with our team and our products to ensure that we are adapting and adaptable to any challenge,” says Laval. “Our Applications and R&D teams are adding skills that are as diversiﬁed as the installed sound market. [For example]
Zero Gravity in Dubai (photo: Aleksander Pasaric)
"We consider aesthetics at the same level as performance" “At Void Acoustics we are uniquely positioned to be able to oﬀer customisation of our products on a variety of diﬀerent levels. “Having our own in-house manufacturing facilities based in Poole, UK allows us to develop new techniques and ﬁnishes that give us a competitive edge within a variety of diﬀerent pro-audio sectors. “Custom Void products have been used in gyms, dance clubs and the hospitality sector to name just a few, and have given our customers
a unique way to stand out from their competition. The most popular products for customised ﬁnishes are the Air Series and Cyclone Series, which can be produced in a huge variety of diﬀerent colours, textures and in some cases materials. Our ethos as a brand has always been to consider the aesthetics of an audio solution at the same level as its sonic performance, and combing the two at the highest level is what makes our products uniquely Void.” Mike Newman, Void Acoustics
FEATURE: INSTALLED SOUND
Funktion-One’s Ann Andrews
The Meyer Sound MJF-210 was originally made for Metallica (photo: Michael Agel) we’re continually improving the digital features of our ampliﬁed controllers, [such as] adding a load checker, PA/ VA compatibility, AVB compatibility, embedded log ﬁles and more DSP power.” Barrand agrees that responsiveness is crucial. “We are constantly taking careful account of the data that ﬂows to us from customers and installers about their needs and demands,” he says. “This data enables us to respond to each new challenge by always being focused on how things can be improved in the light of past experience. Typically a ‘bespoke’ solution might once have been something that ‘took time’, but in this marketplace we have to respond quickly, moving things from prototype to production in short order.” For Funktion-One, the ability to customise is simply part of the well-established infrastructure of the company. “Our team here in the UK has always been ready to oﬀer support and to adapt to meet customer needs and the demands of our customers’ clients,” says Andrews. “It’s part of the culture at Funktion-One. We’re fully committed to achieving the best possible result, and if that means customising then that’s what we do.” For Meyer Sound’s vice-president of solutions and strategy, John McMahon, 26
“customisation nearly always involves form factor, when a certain loudspeaker meets the performance speciﬁcation but needs to be a slightly diﬀerent size or shape, or requires a diﬀerent type of exterior appearance, such as a grille. There is no one product that is clearly most often customised, but in general demand customisation revolves around smaller installation loudspeakers.” Certainly, the spread of customisation projects mentioned to AMI during the course of interviews for this article is nothing if not extensive. Barrand alludes to a luxurious private boat that saw Pioneer adapt its XY Series of loudspeakers to meet the brief. “The owner, having experienced [the] XY Series at a club in Ibiza, loved the sound of the system and wanted to replicate the experience on his boat,” he says. “It was tricky to say the least, but we met the challenge of integrating the system into the fabric of the boat, including the production of marine-grade components. Although it was a demanding job, we learned a lot [that] we can take forward into further improving our processes.” Funktion-One, meanwhile, has lately turned out some very special items for notable sports events and venues. “We built a bass horn for the Sochi Olympics which is the size of a small house,” says
Andrews. “It’s an impressive sight, but the motivation – as always – was prescribing the best audio solution for the demands and challenges of that particular project. [Also] we recently worked on a customised cabinet for Krasnodar Stadium [in Russia]. The Evo 6EHQ is a specially designed enclosure that houses four Evo 6 waveguides, arrayed two wide and two deep.” McMahon also has no shortage of recent projects to cite, including the development of a custom loudspeaker for La Reve at the Wynn in Las Vegas. “And that became the [Meyer] UP-4,” he says. “[Elsewhere] Metallica liked the MJF-212A stage monitor but wanted something with a lower proﬁle, and so we made the MJF-210 for them. The ﬁrst prototypes of the LEO line array were built speciﬁcally for Cirque du Soleil to meet the demands of ‘Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour’. So the role of customisation in product development has been a constant at Meyer Sound and we expect that to continue in the future.”
“The trends towards venues paying evermore attention to their individuality and ﬂexibility are strong and plain to see. Customised solutions in the areas mentioned have become almost ‘mandatory’. Costs, of course, will always be a determinant. Customisation, by its nature, renders planning diﬃcult and can involve higher labour intensity, so keeping costs under control will inevitably be a challenge. We have to strive to be as streamlined as possible to be competitive and take advantage of the opportunities that the market increasingly aﬀords.” Final word to Ann Andrews, who says “it’s clear that there will always be people who want to achieve something diﬀerent or unique. We certainly expect that line of thinking to continue having an impact on our business.”
Predictions of growth Indeed, everyone who spoke to AMI expects the demand for customised speakers to continue its ascent over the next few years. “The market appears very robust,” says Barrand.
www.funktion-one.com www.l-acoustics.com www.meyersound.com www.pioneerproaudio.com www.voidaudio.com
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A year after it came under new ownership, Colby Ramsey headed over to The Park Studios in Wembley to ﬁnd out how it is building on its identity and setting itself apart within the UK recording scene.
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// s a music production studio based in London, maintaining a competitive edge in such a crowded market can sometimes prove to be an ongoing battle. The Park Studios, based around Wembley Park in North West London, has achieved this and more since a new owner and head engineer relaunched the business just over a year ago, however. Tobin Jones, an experienced sound engineer who had been based
at Metropolis Studios at the time, worked on sessions at The Park for five years prior to taking the reins and assuming responsibility of the studio’s day-to-day running in January last year. Originally from Dorset, Tobin began his audio career with a local PA company and ended up working with live crews on festivals in the West Country. After moving to the capital ten years ago, Jones completed his degree in audio engineering and subsequently worked at Metropolis in a number of capacities.
“It’s been hard work but it’s gone really well and has deﬁnitely been worth it,” says Jones. “There was a lot of support from the music community that I’m involved in when I relaunched the business. Last year was the busiest year I’ve had working in audio.” Jones is proud of the community vibe that he has established at The Park in terms of the artists that record there as well as the studio itself, and while there is quite a bit of competition in terms of other music studios in this part of London, Jones says he makes
sure to maintain very good artistic relationships with everyone he works with, using the studios as an extension of his particular interests and his passion for the industry. “Because of that I work in quite creative, experimental types of music like electronic, rock, psychedelic, and a lot of noise-based music,” he remarks. “People will come here to do pop or hip hop music, but might request something a little bit more experimental or edgy in the sound. We do have a bit of a niche here as
STUDIO PROFILE truly versatile as sometimes he will handle engineering and production, whereas other times someone will come in to produce and he will take more of a backseat role. “I think a big part of this is being approachable and mouldable to whatever the session may be,” he adds.
A Busy Year
//////////////////////// returning clients tend to be from certain labels or independent scenes.” The priority for Jones is to ensure people feel comfortable enough to express their creativity at The Park, and feels that it is important to make sure they do not feel like they are entering an oﬃce or business environment. “Artists have to feel relaxed and inspired to produce the best recordings. I think that’s a big part of the whole ethos of this studio – It’s somewhere people will want to hang out,” he adds.
Jones’ notable projects from last year include a record on XL Recordings for Powell, who he describes as a genrebreaking artist with a very unique sound. After collaborating on a very well received piece of work, Jones will be teaming up with Powell again in 2017. Jones also in November finished working on a ‘psychedelic noise’ record for a band called Swedish Death Candy, for which he tried a few unusual things with some everyday instruments to give a psychedelic edge. Around half of that particular record was recorded downstairs in The Park Studios’ lounge room, which is acoustically very different from the live room, utilising a number of reflective surfaces for a more raw, unrefined sound. “It’s nice to have the ﬂexibility especially when working with artists who are keen to do something slightly diﬀerent to the norm,” Jones explains. “It’s always quite exciting when you do something like that with an artist because it gets everyone quite invigorated and the creative juices ﬂowing.” Jones tries to make sure that he is
In the main control room Jones uses a Solid State Logic AWS 900+ SE desk, which he says integrates very well with his Pro Tools 10 HD and HD 5 rig. For monitoring, there are Dynaudio M3s and Yamaha NS10Ms with a Bryston 3B amp, as well as KRK Rocket 8s for nearfields. Jones also has a whole host of preamps in his arsenal, including Neve 1073s, API 550b EQs and a number of vintage Telefunken pres. Meanwhile, some familiar recording options are available, including Neumann U87s, Coles 4038s, AKG’s C414B XLS, Sennheiser MD421 and a recently acquired Placid Audio Carbonphone, which Jones describes as a carbon granular microphone with a warm, gritty sound. A more unusual piece of kit that can be found in The Park’s main studio is an Analogue Systems RS8500 modular synthesizer (pictured, above left). According to Jones, only four of these conﬁgurations have ever been made, and this particular unit is similar to the one that was originally built for Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. “The person who actually built this studio is from Cornwall and grew up on the same street as the guy who built the synth so that’s how we’ve ended up with it,” Jones recalls. “The beauty of the modular is that I can work my way around it, but it’s never the same. I can leave the patch after a days work and the next day it will sound diﬀerent. I’m deﬁnitely discovering new things every single time I use it. I ﬁnd it quite exciting when a studio has a few quirky unique bits of kit that are hard to ﬁnd elsewhere, so I like the fact that we’ve got a few bits like that.”
foundations, and continue to be engaged with the music community as an active member of the creative scene. He believes that it is vital for the survival of music studios for people to have somewhere to go to be creative rather than just sitting at home mixing, which is gradually becoming a more common occurrence. Despite only being in charge for a year, Jones already has plans to build another production studio at The Park. While two bands use the rear rehearsal room downstairs three or four times a week to write music, Jones is looking to build another space that can be dry hired to someone who could “be included as part of our hub.” “My assistant Lucas is a budding engineer and fantastic musician himself,” Jones remarks. “There’s a music college down the road in Kilburn and I know quite a lot of students there through the local music community. It’s about nurturing and being supportive of local talent. What’s good is that it’s all been natural growth all achieved through word of mouth.” While it remains a rather uncertain time for the music industry, Jones is excited about the constantly evolving landscape. “We’re a big enough studio to attract some fairly big artists but we’re small enough to keep our overheads lower than that of the bigger studios,” he explains. “In this sense we can cater to people whose budgets might be dropping and we can still survive.” In terms of business, Jones sees this as being more sustainable in the long term for studios, and enjoys seeing a lot of young artists who are trying to be really creative with their music come through the door. “As a studio I feel like we really need to continue to build on our identity within the music industry, being progressive within the creative community and maintaining our niche,” concludes Jones. “I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to make music; how you make that work as a living is the difficult part.”
Community Spirit In terms of the studio itself, Jones is keen to build on its already strong
IN PERFECT HARMONIE Hamburg is now home to one of the world’s most impressive music venues, which has just celebrated its opening with a lavish concert broadcast worldwide via a variety of media. Adam Savage went in search of the technical details. Photo: Iwan Baan
Photo: NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk)
t may have taken ten years to complete, but it was worth the wait – last month, the doors ﬁnally opened on Hamburg’s astonishing new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie, which has been hailed as an architectural and acoustical masterpiece inside and out. Perhaps unsurprisingly after such a lengthy construction process there was no small amount of build-up prior to the opening concert on 11 January 2017 from the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) Elbphilharmonie Symphony Orchestra, which was given the honour of delivering the ﬁrst performance in the spectacular Big Concert Hall alongside an 80-person choir, taking the inaugural audience on a musical journey from the Renaissance period to modern times. The concert, which oﬀered a musical programme that included works from Ludwig van Beethoven, Benjamin Britten, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, and Richard Wagner as well as the premiere of a piece by contemporary composer Wolfgang Rihm, was recorded live and broadcast by NDR, a German public broadcaster situated in the North of the country. Sound for both the live transmission and recording was mixed in the NDR audio control room within the venue using a Lawo mc²66 audio production console. This studio forms part of an audio system that networks the mc²66 console with a
further ﬁve Lawo mc²36 consoles – used for the sound mix in the Big and Small Concert Halls along with Hall 3 – as well as DALLIS I/O Systems via a Nova73 router using RAVENNA networking. This infrastructure enables each of the audio consoles to have access to all of the DALLIS units in the building, and provides coordinated access rights management. For parallel live broadcasts from multiple halls, this setup also allows for the linkup of an NDR OB van – currently NDR Ü42 – with the RAVENNA network in the Elbphilharmonie complex. NDR sound engineer Axel Wernecke gives us an insight into some of the challenges he and his co-engineer Katja Zeidler faced, and reveals how the equipment provided helped facilitate the task: “The Lawo digital network provided us with the ability to access relatively easily the diﬀerent spots of the musicians and moderation [commentators/ presenters]. It took a long time to plan all these connections and microphone setups – we used a lot of hanging microphones with extra small cables for TV – but fortunately we had this time as we started in September with the ﬁrst tests.” For the “moderation spots” there was an extra broadcast van on the side of the Elbphilharmonie where the mix of these sources was carried out by NDR production engineer Thomas Herter and
sent to the broadcast studio on the 11th ﬂoor. There, Wernecke and Zeidler mixed the speech sources together with the surround and stereo music and sent it over RAVENNA to the main broadcast point at the NDR central switching point in the north of Hamburg, where it was distributed worldwide. As backup there was an autonomous Dante network beside the LAWO Nova 73 router, which provided the pair’s TV colleagues with all of the splitted microphone signals. “Thus we had their surround and stereo sums and they had our sums, so that in case of a power failure/dysfunction of audio hardware either in the Lawo network or the Dante network we could rely on each other,” explains Wernecke. “In addition, our output signal was sent to the NDR Mobira team for distributing it for the internet stream, the present international press and the Google 360° live video on the third ﬂoor.”
Comming Together The grand opening also saw Riedel provide NDR with a TETRA communications system from Danish manufacturer DAMM, as well as rent out 75 portable TETRA radios from Motorola Solutions. Brought in to ensure close contact between the technical and creative teams on site, the TETRA system was hooked up to
the permanent Riedel solution that was also installed at the venue by integrator AMPTOWN System Company to ensure seamless communication. This is based around a Riedel Artist digital matrix intercom system comprising two Artist 128 mainframes alongside another two smaller Artist 64 frames. Around 50 control panels were supplied in total. One of the main requirements for the comms system was that it would allow any arriving OB vans like the NDR Ü42 to set up easily via plug and play over ﬁbre, and that the various elements of it could be installed within unusually tight spaces for a venue built to hold more than 2,000 visitors at any time. And it certainly does the job, according to Wernecke: “The Riedel Artist is perfect for us as the main communication system. During the opening concert it was the heart of all communications between the inhouse staﬀ, the TV staﬀ and our radio team. We had an extra technician/Riedel expert – Thies Schwichtenberg with our ﬁrst audio technician Dennis Thase – who programmed any connection to any place we wanted, and it worked like a charm.” Although the implementation of the TETRA system required around two days of preparation, the whole network was made fully operational in less than 30 minutes, and NDR – which was already a big customer of Riedel’s – is now planning to use the same conﬁguration for several more upcoming productions at the venue. www.lawo.com www.riedel.net
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END USER FOCUS
THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB T We bring together a trio of successful broadcast professionals to investigate their mic choices. his month, we decided it would be a good idea to introduce a new section that would allow us to talk regularly to an assortment of audio professionals and engineers about their choice of equipment, and exactly how they put their kit to use in their line of work. As a result, we would like to introduce a new addition to the magazine: the End User Focus. The premise is simple, and involves companies putting us in touch with
a pro user who can explain how and why they’ve come to rely on these particular products, and how they’ve been put to use on past or current projects. Our first End User Focus is on broadcast microphones, and for this we were put in touch with Gearhouse Broadcast’s Colin Pearson, Finn Ryan of Rinse FM and production sound mixer Jonathan Wyatt . When urged to talk trends in the market before moving on to his choice of mic, Ryan says he is expecting sustained demand for
radio mics in particular as the emergence of new, dynamic mediums like podcasting continues. Pearson believes the move towards digital radio mics is at the moment hesitant, and that analogue systems will continue to be used in this area of the industry for the foreseeable future. While radio microphones will always be popular in terms of how they allow the user to be flexible and interactive, Pearson expects spectrum contraction – in order to make way for mobile internet usage –
to cause major problems in terms of how many channels can be operated on bigger shows. Although the improved frequency eﬃciency of newer digital radio mics may assist in this particular scenario, it is still of utmost importance that end users pick the right piece of gear that is easy to use while producing the best results. Here we chat to some professionals in the broadcast industry who all have their own reasons for their choice of recording device…
Sennheiser 9000 Series
Colin Pearson The senior sound engineer at Gearhouse Broadcast has been using Sennheiser’s Digital 9000 Series, which includes the SKM9000 handheld mics, SK9000 personal transmitters and EM9046 receivers. For him, reliability and low delay are the most important factors, and in his line of work radio mics need to work correctly without adversely affecting other mics being used in the same space, especially on shows with very large numbers of mics and IEMs in use. “The reasons above are especially valid, though there are other facets of these
Key Features microphones which have proved attractive to our clients, like the ability to encrypt the signal, making it virtually impossible for interested parties to “snoop” on unguarded conversations, when artistes are off set. Their accurate reporting of remaining battery life is very useful too,” explains Pearson.
Pearson has most recently been using the 9000 Series on “The X Factor”, where the RF environment is extremely crowded, and he says the encryption is useful for dissuading anyone trying to gather “gossip” from artistes and presenters. www.sennheiser.com
Large, future-proof bandwidth range Four new mic capsules Compatible with Neumann cardioid capsules Uncompressed sound in a compact transmitter Antennas compensate cable losses of up to 14dB
END USER FOCUS BROADCAST MICROPHONES
Audio-Technica BP40 Key Features
Finn Ryan Audio-Technica’s BP40 large-diaphragm broadcast mic is currently being used at London-based radio station Rinse.fm by its head of radio Finn Ryan. For Ryan’s day-to-day work, he needs something which is sensitive at close proximity but doesn’t pick up too much ambient noise. “We have a huge range of voices on the radio so something flat and with good clarity is also a must,” he says. “Our mics needs to be hard wearing, not sensitive to plosives and because
Large diameter diaphragm with floatingedge construction Humbucking coil Switchable 100Hz high-pass filter Multistage windscreen for ‘superior’ internal pop filtering Optimised capsule placement for ‘commanding’ vocal presence
of the amount of video content coming out of our studio it’s important that they look good.” Ryan and the Rinse.fm team were shown the BP40 mic by Audio-Technica as a potential replacement for what was already in use, and were won over by the character of the mic which was a great fit for what they needed. With its clear vocals and matte black appearance, Ryan is now moving towards using the BP40 as the main mic choice for
studio-based broadcasts and recording. Currently, Ryan uses the mic day-to-day as a presenter mic for both the main radio host and any guests that are on air, as well as a vocal mic for MCs and performers. “This mic really comes alive through our processing and I was really impressed with its response with louder voices
with a lot of dynamic range,” explains Ryan. “I’ve been especially impressed by shows such as ‘The Grime Show’ with Sir Spyro or the ‘UK Rap Show’ with Morgan Keyz where we have a range of artists passing through the studio with a range of different vocal qualities.” www.audio-technica.com
DPA d:screet Slim 4060 and 4061
Jonathan Wyatt Production sound mixer and recordist Jonathan Wyatt has been using a range of DPA’s d:screet 4060 and 4061 miniature omnidirectional microphones on TV dramas for at least the last 15 years in various capacities. For Wyatt, the main thing to bear in mind is sound quality. “It is our calling card and good results only come from something that sounds good, along with good placement,” he says. “We work a lot with booms on set and the DPA mics actually blend in very nicely with the other microphones that we use. The 4061s are attenuated so while there’s
Key Features no real difference in sound quality, they perform slightly differently to the 4060s, as Wyatt explains: “If you’ve got somebody shouting, an attenuated microphone is perhaps better because it’s not going to overload at the front end in certain environments. “Nowadays, we’re expected to wire people as a matter of course on TV dramas, which is something that’s occurred over the last few
years,” he adds. “Because of that, having something that sounds so good is absolutely paramount to us, and the DPAs are absolutely fantastic sounding mics.”
Button-hole mount provides a 90° sound input angle Fits into spaces as small as two millimetres Compatible with all major wireless adapters Available in four colour options High sensitivity 4060 capsule and low sensitivity 4061 capsule
AUDIO-TECHNICA AE2300 MICROPHONE
Alistair McGhee lines this new dynamic all-rounder up against a selection of similar alternatives to see how it compares. s any fool knows, Made in Japan – Deep Purple’s magnum opus – is one of the greatest rock records ever made. Strangely though, at the time the title might even have been ironic – ‘MiJ’ was uncool. But now, ‘Made In Japan’ is something we recognise as an almost guaranteed good thing, which makes me wonder why Audio-Technica are a little coy about it. It’s written in tiny letters on the back of the AE2300 box – the font on the mic itself looks bigger. I would have it proudly in 40pt font all over everywhere. This microphone is made in Japan! Anyway, the AE2300 is a new dynamic instrument mic from Audio-Technica and it’s made in Japan. Beautifully made, it must be said, and dinky enough to be cute – about half the length of a Beyer 201. Not only is the AE2300 a thing of beauty; it’s clip, or more properly clamp, is also ﬁnely engineered and screws down hard enough to ensure your AE2300 doesn’t escape into the wild – even when your Ian Paice wannabe drummer bludgeons it. And of course this is ﬁne because the AE2300 is intended as an instrument mic, Ian Gillan doesn’t get to play with this one. So of course the ﬁrst thing I did was try it on vocals – well, speech rather. But forgive the tease – more of that later. I don’t have a huge number of dynamic mics in the cupboard – mostly Beyerdynamics with the obligatory sprinkling of SM58s or 57s if I take the screen oﬀ. And do you know that’s where I thought I would start. A 57 and the AE2300 on a snare, because – well why wouldn’t you? I’m always conscious when testing gear that new gear has no history – my 58s look pretty tidy but all live mics
Key Features Double diaphragm construction said to improve high frequency and transient response Maintains directionality across the entire frequency range Minimal off-axis coloration Switchable low-pass filter Low-profile design RRP: £220 www.audio-technica.com lead a hard life sooner or later and who knows whether they sound as good as a freshly unwrapped 58 from Mr Shure. With the proviso out of the way, what did they sound like? Well the AudioTechnica is over twice the price and it is over twice as good. The top end of the AE2300 is more extended in a way that brings crispness and deﬁnition – it was chalk and cheese. So are you writing on a blackboard or making a sandwich? I say that because the wider audio window of the A-T will make you work harder when it comes to keeping HF stuﬀ you might not want out of your snare sound. But for me the AE2300 was a bit of a revelation. If you want the hard edges in your snare then the A-T delivers them as sharp as you like.
Fair game Next the Beyer 201 – a much under appreciated mic. And at this point I should say the AE2300 is about the same sensitivity as the 201, meaning that you need a lot of gain if your source is a quiet one and therefore you need a mic amp with good noise performance. On the other hand if you are working with a loud rock kit or stack turned up to 11 then the AE2300 will handle the SPL
TECHNOLOGY REVIEW without any problems. The 201TG is a much better competitor for the AE2300 and indeed closer in price, though a handy chunk cheaper. This is a much tighter battle – the 201 is known for its extended high end in dynamic mic world, but again the AE2300 comes out top. If you excuse the pun. In terms of polar pattern the 201 is a hypercardioid and with the tighter pattern you get signiﬁcantly better rejection with the 201 – maybe as much as 6dB in my ad hoc measurements at 90 degrees incidence. However life is never simple and alongside the amount of rejection we want to be thinking about the tonal quality of the oﬀaxis audio, and here I felt the AE2300 held more of the cards. At the bottom end of the kit I tried the AE2300 alongside the Beyer M99 – another hypercardioid – and probably half as much again in cost. You probably won’t be reaching for the A-T as your ﬁrst choice – because straight
oﬀ you’ll have more spill and that extra top end will need to be dealt with, but with careful positioning and judicious treatment it could work.
“If you are working with a loud rock kit or stack turned up to 11 then the AE2300 will handle the SPL without any problems.” Alistair McGhee
I ought to say something about physicality and here the AE2300 is a joy – the shortness of the barrel makes placement that bit easier and the narrow diameter of the rear section of the mic means that even when firmly screwed down in the
clamp the horizontal dimensions are kept to the minimum. Sadly I didn’t have a brass section to hand – where are they when you need them? – but on a guitar cab the extended top end oﬀers a lot of A, B and C: Attack, Bite and Crispness. In fact, if I had a query about the 2300 it would be whether there is too much zip at the top end. Which brings me back to that speech test I did at the beginning.
Now we’re talking Setting aside dynamics for the moment I dug out an AKG Blueline 391 – that is the 300B ampliﬁer and a CK91 cardioid capsule, which on the street will cost you maybe 10 or 15% more than the Audio-Technica. Side by side on speech it is very easy to tell them apart – the AE2300 has considerably more top end, to the point where I was reaching for if not a de-esser then at least a gentle shelf above 5KHz. But actually having applied the EQ I was impressed by the intrinsic quality of the A-T when really
we would expect it to be out of its comfort zone up against a condenser mic on speech. To bring it all home I think the AE2300 is one of the most exciting prospects in dynamic mics for a long time. In a world where exotic large diaphragm condensers tend to hog the limelight, here is a dynamic workhorse that will probably be more relevant in the day-today search for better sound. Smoke on the Water then.
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. Most recently, Alistair was assistant editor, BBC Radio Wales and has been helping the UN with broadcast operations in Juba.
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While we wait for the arrival of the new Dante version, Simon Allen discovers what the standard unit has to oﬀer.
MADI, ADAT AND ANALOGUE AD/DA CONVERTER
Key Features t ﬁrst glance, the A32 looks like a modern audio interface from another German proaudio manufacturer. Fortunately, the usual German build quality is evident here too, but despite these comparisons, this is a unique piece of kit. To add to the wide array of solutions the A32 already oﬀers, a Dante enabled version was announced recently. Here, we investigate the current model to learn how Ferroﬁsh are presenting an alternative approach to dealing with potentially complicated scenarios. Although the A32 has a lot to shout about, it seems to have escaped the technical spotlight, so perhaps the addition of Dante will secure it a brighter future, both in the studio and on the stage. I looked forward to getting my hands on the A32, to really ﬁnd out what it could do.
What is it? Well there isn’t really another product out there that’s quite like the A32. It isn’t an audio interface as we think of interfaces today. There is no USB, Thunderbolt or Firewire-style connectivity to act as a PC sound card. There’s a USB port on the rear but that’s used for loading new ﬁrmware. It is an interface however, which bridges the analogue audio domain with the digital world via MADI and ADAT connectivity. The A32 has a lot to shout about. For starters there’s the channel count, which totals up to 258 audio paths. This consists of 64 bi-directional channels of MADI, which can be connected via optical or BNC connections. Also there are 32 bi-directional channels of ADAT via four pairs of TOSLINK inputs and outputs. Then there’s the 32 analogue line inputs and 32 analogue line outputs, plus a stereo headphone socket for monitoring. All this in a single 1U rack space.
One thing to bear in mind of course with MADI and ADAT technology is the diﬀering channel counts at various sample rates. Over MADI for example, 64 channels can be transmitted and received up to 48kHz, and 32 channels can be used at 96kHz. This shouldn’t be a problem as you can still use all of the analogue I/O, but something to consider as the live sound world seems to be moving up to 96kHz. Over ADAT, sampling frequencies are supported up to 192kHz with SMUX, but that’s a lot of lightpipe for a reduced channel count. I’m not sure how many audio interfaces have more than two pairs of ADAT ports anyway. The A32 has been designed carefully for use on the stage with a robust and stand-alone form of operation, plus the inclusion of redundancy features. Redundant dual power inputs are available, which utilise a screw thread connector. Redundancy is also there
32 balanced inputs and outputs, 32kHz – 192kHz MADI optical and coaxial 4x ADAT TOSLINK inputs and outputs All 64 channels visible simultaneously USB connection for firmware updates RRP: £1,903 www.ferrofish.de on the MADI side, where the optical and BNC connections can be used simultaneously. I think this is great, making full use of the hardware present. All these features add up to present a unit that could facilitate many jobs. I believe the most common will be for utilising more channels of an analogue console in the studio. MADI expansion of this nature could easily be the most cost eﬀective solution for this number of channels. Sonically, the A32 is thankfully what I expected it to be. Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, I would class the A32 in the same bracket as RME’s later
TECHNOLOGY REVIEW products. The sound is very clean and natural, which you would expect from a device that might be a ‘set and forget’ unit as part of a larger installation. Regarding the installation aspect, one feature I don’t think Ferroﬁsh make a big enough splash about is how quiet the unit is – as the A32 doesn’t have a fan, the whole time I used it there wasn’t even a whisper .
In control If you haven’t seen an A32 in action yet you might be surprised to learn that the whole device is controlled from the front panel. There isn’t any PC software to control the device. This could be something we see released this year, which would be useful for remote control. However, the general operation of the unit doesn’t call for one. The user interface of this device has to be one of it’s selling points. On the front panel there are four beautifully sharp and bright TFT screens, which default to display very accurate and useable metering – something many
“We need products like the A32. It’s an answer to a solution that some might not be aware even exists.” Simon Allen
other modern devices struggle with. To the right of the screens is a simple rotary encoder and push button, which is used to navigate and control all aspects of the A32. The menus are intuitive, complete with help screens so that any user can walk straight up to this device and easily ﬁnd their way around. The user interface via this single encoder and button control is surprisingly eﬃcient too. For example, editing the mix settings for the seven headphone mix presets is relatively easy even with 32 channels. It’s clearly not intended for mixing live, but it does serve its purpose extremely well. It’s refreshing to use a product today that out of the box you can get it up and
running without having to ﬁnd another USB port and install a driver. I can see that remote control for live applications would be useful though.
Moving forward At the time of writing this review, Ferroﬁsh have announced a new A32 being released, with exactly the same spec plus the addition of Dante. This is big news for Ferroﬁsh who will now be able to oﬀer an alternative Dante-MADIAnalogue bridge, particularly to the live sound world. There are currently very few routes to take if you need to bridge MADI to Dante for example, and usually these are expensive. With all the beneﬁts and options that Dante carries, this is sure to open the A32 to a bigger market where it’s uses are countless.
4 – 7. 4. 2017 Frankfurt am Main
Let’s master it.
Conclusion We need products like the A32. It’s an answer to a solution that some might not be aware even exists. If you’re trying to ﬁnd an eﬃcient way to handle high channel counts, in particular bridging digital and analogue domains, then the A32 might be the most eﬃcient answer. The usability of the unit is refreshingly simple in a world where we all need an IT degree to just load a project. I wish them to continue their developments and release more products in the same vein. Mic preamp units or stage splitter systems for bridging between diﬀerent AoIP technologies would be really exciting. For me, the addition of Dante coming this year should raise the proﬁle of this product signiﬁcantly. Live sound has welcomed AoIP technologies with open arms, and now slowly studios are realising it’s pretty clever stuﬀ. With no concern over build quality or reliability from the Germans – or the unit’s sonic performance – if the A32 meets your requirements then you’re in safe hands.
The Reviewer Simon Allen is a freelance, internationally recognised engineer/producer and pro-audio professional with nearly two decades of experience. Working mostly in music, his reputation as a mix engineer continues to reach new heights.
Tickets and information: prolight-sound.com
Media Technology & System Integration This is the industry showcase for perfectly integrated and networked systems comprising an array of individual components from the areas of sound, video and lighting as well as system and network control engineering. Discover the trends of tomorrow, pioneering solutions and fresh ideas at Prolight + Sound 2017. Experience innovation and expertise at the most important date in the event industry calendar. email@example.com Tel. +44 (0) 14 83 48 39 83
URSA STRAPS ACCESSORIES
This new range of radio mic-concealing solutions is quicky becoming popular with sound recordists. Matt Price tells us why he’s now a convert. ver recent years the production ﬁlm sound industry has seen fast development in the world of wireless and radio mics, with packs being made even smaller and easier to conceal. Now, ﬁnally, the microphone straps have caught up with the company URSA Straps. When working in a ﬁlm or TV environment, with more shoots covering a scene from several angles on multiple cameras and a whole range of diﬀerent costumes to contend with, having the ability to hide not only the mic and pack but the actual belt has become essential. URSA hasn’t just made its straps thinner but more ﬂexible and comfortable for the actors. I am going to run you through all of the diﬀerent belts and talk from my own experiences using them on set alongside many other prominent production sound mixers such as Simon Hayes.
The Design The material is made up of two 1mmthick, highly stretchy, breathable sportswear fabrics bonded together. This creates a low proﬁle, ﬂexible material that is not as ridged as elastic or neoprene. For holding the radio microphone packs there is a tight stretchable pocket available in the form of a Small or Big Pouch that can accommodate wireless transmitters of various sizes, and due to their sports fabric 38
nature and being so thin they are more breathable and comfortable for actors to wear. Sometimes in narrative shooting they might have to wear the packs for several hours if hidden underneath a complex costume. URSA has also thought about what you do with the cable for the actual microphone. Typically this would be wrapped and tucked in between a belt strap and the actor’s skin, or taped together. All URSA straps come with a cable pocket right next to the belt pack where you can keep any excess cabling away from the actors skin and reduce rubbing on the cable. As for colours all straps come in Black, Beige and Brown. I am hoping they may soon be able to add White to their collection too. The design for the thigh strap is a game changer thanks to its non-slip plastic coating. Still keeping with the super low proﬁle design, now you can put a mic on an actor’s thigh and not have it slip down during the day or worse, during a take.
Sizing up The URSA range consists of microphone belts for Chest, Ankle, Waist and Thigh mounting. The sizes for the Chest, Thigh and Ankle are one size ﬁts all, but the Waist strap comes in Small (61-84cm/24-32”), Medium (74-107cm/29-42”) and Large (95128cm/37-50”). There is also the option for a dual transmitter belt with two transmitters
on each side of the waist for applications that need two backups like live TV projects.
Conclusion Pros: Low proﬁle, comfortable, easy to hide, non-slip on the thigh. Cons: Unless you’re at a professional level you may be put oﬀ by the cost. Not a white version. I have to say it’s always exciting when an everyday product in your work life gets totally revamped seemingly overnight. It’s not just a product that will beneﬁt the technical aspects of hiding and holding transmitters – which are becoming a necessity – but the comfort for actors is a big part of it as well. Working so closely with the talent you want them to feel like you are doing the best you can to capture their performance as naturally as possible. Since moving to URSA I’ve never had so much positive feedback from actors over something seemingly so trivial as a mic belt not falling down. I highly recommend these and they will (if not already by the time of this article’s release) become the industry standard around the world.
Key Features Made using new 1mm thick bonded fabric technology Available in five versions: Ankle, Thigh and Small/Medium/Large Waist Two pouch sizes: Big and Small Cable Pocket for securing cabling Black, Beige and Brown colour options RRP: £25.50 - £28 each www.ursastraps.com
The Reviewer Matt Price is a freelance production mixer and post supervising editor for feature ﬁlms, creative content and commercials. He also has a passion for making resources for the ﬁlm sound community with apps and YouTube videos. Website: www.soundrolling.com Twitter: @ﬁlmsoundman YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/ ThatWasSound
Save the Date Conference 14 – 18 September 2017 Exhibition 15 – 19 September 2017 RAI, Amsterdam
Where the entertainment, media and technology industry does business Join over 1,800 exhibitors showcasing the latest technological innovations, 400+ speakers delivering the latest industry insights and 55,000 attendees providing unlimited networking opportunities at IBC’s 50th annual conference and exhibition. Add dates to your diary IBC.org/savethedate Follow us on social media for the latest news and updates #IBCShow
BLUE BOTTLE MIC LOCKER MICROPHONE KIT
Key Features Complete tube mic locker in one package Includes four interchangeable mic capsules Custom SKB Hard Shell carry case Power Stream power supply Compatible with all nine existing Blue Bottle caps
Rob Tavaglione takes a look at this new ‘ultimate tube mic collection’ from the American company.
RRP: $5,999 hat would we get if we convinced a top microphone manufacturer to build the ultimate microphone and then surround it with all the proper ﬂexibilities (e.g., multiple capsules, a power supply with adjustable sensitivity and fool-proof cartage)? If Blue were the manufacturer in question, we’d get the Bottle Mic Locker, a comprehensive tube microphone kit. The package is built around the legendary Bottle mic, quite possibly the largest mic I’ve ever seen (16 inches in length and nearly four pounds). This over-sized cylinder houses nocompromise electronics, which take up lots of room even without any circuitry for input attenuation (pad), ﬁltering or polar pattern circuitry. Rather, bottle patterns are changed by selecting the appropriate capsule then attaching it to the Bottle’s shaft via sleeve and locking pin. These capsules – nine available in total – are hot-swappable, or switchable without powering down. Numerous caps are available: large diaphragm cardioids in a variety of frequency responses and ﬂavours as well as omni, ﬁgure-8 and small diaphragm oﬀerings.
more power to you The Bottle Locker’s power supply operates with a slow power-up process that ensures proper operating temperature, with a super-beefy multi-pin cable and variable sensitivity featuring a total of nine settings. The Bottle Locker includes a large Pelican case that very securely houses the mic, 40
power supply, cable and four capsules. For this review, Blue provided its B0, B6, B7 and B8 capsules – all large diaphragm, cardioid caps with varying response. The ﬁrst word that comes to mind for this Locker is “large,” as everything contained here is big and robust. A truly professional-level stand is absolutely necessary for this rig, as is a superlative boom; the Bottle is so very tall that, when placed upon a typical stand, the capsule is too high for singers any shorter than six feet tall. I found that I had to boom the Bottle in from the side, to lower it suﬃciently, thus requiring ample support for its nearly 4 lb heft. Using the Bottle’s multi-pin cable just makes me happy. It is built so thick, well-shielded and heavily jacketed that I can’t imagine how I could damage it. It was actually long enough to run the power supply in the control room where I could adjust sensitivity while the talent stayed in iso. I immediately was impressed by the power supply, too. Yes, its bold look makes clients “ooh” and “ahh,” but the solid feel, heavy weight and slow power-up got my attention. However, its multiple provided sensitivities weren’t terribly useful to me; the Bottle handled both high SPLs and quiet sources quite well in the nominal position. But a little extra ﬂexibility never hurts, so the feature is welcome. At ﬁrst, I was sceptical of the capsule hot-swapping but grew comfortable
with it. They can indeed be hotswapped, but regardless, please mute monitoring as there are loud pops and some hum as you reconnect. Oddly, this mounting shaft swivels and tilts if one applies non-perpendicular force when mounting a capsule, but it swivels back into place with no harm done. The sound, you ask? In a word, it is “pristine.” The Bottle makes many other LDC choices sound “coloured,” possibly slightly distorted and not nearly as sensitive to detail. In using the Bottle, there is purity of detail gained that goes well beyond translating frequency response. It’s as if the Bottle’s electronics are totally neutral, introducing no distortion and no dynamic inﬂuence, all without imparting nonlinearities. Therefore it feels as if the capsules impart all, if any, of the colouring and artistry while the Bottle simply conveys the information. I was provided with four largediaphragm, cardioid caps – Blue’s vocal collection, in my estimation. The B0 (tuned high, like a Blueberry) has big bottom and big top for a big modern sound (according to Blue); I concur and found this cap great to “bring the hype.” The B6 was quite sensitive, but with a little less top and bottom than the B0. The B7 was unique within the lot, with an unmistakably classic sound. Its pronounced mids, warm bottom and comparatively subdued top-end sounded rather close to a Neumann U67 – close enough that an old-school
male vocalist immediately gave me the “thumbs up” through the glass within seconds of donning the cans. Finally, the B8 was my all-round favourite cap. It had a naturally ﬂatter response curve and a more forgiving nature; if I had no idea what to put up before a mystery client arrived, I’d start with the B8 and know that at least I couldn’t go wrong with so much versatility and grace. In all, I applied a nice swath of inputs with the Bottle Locker: male vocals, female vocals, cajon, acoustic guitar, a nine-foot Steinway piano (in a gorgeous room), drum kit (lots of luck trying to get the Bottle in close on a single drum – I tried), congas and some percussion. Basically, the Bottle itself was always a good choice, as clean, open and neutral is nearly always desirable; it was the capsules that were ideal or not for a given job and, given the wide range of caps available, I’d say that the Bottle would be an ideal transducer choice for any input an engineer might encounter. Strong words? Yes. Then again, at $5,999, you should expect nothing less.
The Reviewer Rob Tavaglione has owned and operated Catalyst Recording in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1995. He has also dabbled in nearly all forms of proaudio work including mixing live and taped TV broadcasts (winning two regional Emmy Awards); mixing concert and club sound.
Daniel Lamarre, CEO and president of Cirque du Soleil, live on-stage The Closing Keynote at ISE 2017
Attendees on the ﬁnal day of ISE 2017 will have the opportunity to experience ﬁrst-hand one of the world’s leading international business development executives. Daniel Lamarre, the President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, will present the show’s Closing Keynote speech on Friday 10 February 2017 at 9:00am. Daniel Lamarre will share his vision on how new technologies will have a huge impact on artistic content. For more information and registration, please visit www.iseurope.org
Integra ated Sy ystems Events A joint venture partnership of
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A FOND FAREWELL
Colby Ramsey talks to Juan Luis Ayala, the writer, producer, musician and maker of an upcoming documentary about Battersea Park Studios, which sadly closed down and displaced an entire creative community in September last year.
Can you give us some details about the studios and their closure? Battersea Park Studios was originally Sphere Studios, which opened in 2000 and was commercially run until it relocated to LA in 2013. The building was then sold to private investors and renamed Battersea Park Studios. This was also the point when I arrived there, and for nearly three years I rented one of the large production studios that had previously been privately rented by Duran Duran for 13 years prior, which was perfect for me. Home to a large, vibrant community of 24 producers, composers, songwriters, arrangers, mixing and recording engineers, a music TV show, music video makers, musicians and artists, Battersea Park had three studio rooms and seven production rooms all privately let. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of being part of a thriving creative community like the one we had. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there were high-level projects being worked on and music created behind every door. The new studio owner’s main interest however was to gain planning permission and then sell the building on to the local council to make a proﬁt on the housing market. There was no desire to preserve it as a purpose-built music space, despite the fact that there are so few purpose-built music 42
creative communities left in London, and an increasingly large number of displaced producers, composers, mixing engineers etc. like myself looking for an appropriate working space. Over the years, under both of the studio’s names, many well-known artists and bands recorded in the building including the likes of Adele, Ed Sheeran, Mariah Carey, Simply Red, Simple Minds, Duran Duran, Queen and more. The greatest loss for me is that of the creative community, along with a loss of some work that came from that community, and the fact that I have been physically displaced. Naturally, I expect this to also have a direct negative eﬀect on local businesses in the area. Could you describe the overall reaction when the news was ﬁrst announced? When I ﬁrst came to Battersea Park Studios, I was aware that this might happen, although the timeframe was always very uncertain. As tenants, we all hoped that the council would deny any planning permission and enforce the preservation of the studios. We thought that the lengthy application process and opposing it would at least buy us some more years in the meantime, or at least until building work was ready to be carried out. So although we were aware of what was going on, it was still a surprise when it came.
The whole community was in uproar when we received only 30 days notice on 7 August 2016. Now, six months later, the building lies empty and redundant as I imagine it will be for a long time. It is painful to see such a great place with great facilities and expensive acoustic engineering disappear like that, especially when there is such great demand for these spaces in London. It is sad to me that Battersea
What are the other musicians/ producers who occupied the building doing now since the studios’ closure? I moved my desk and bulkier gear into storage and have spent the last ﬁve months renting other studios on temporary basis for recording, and then editing at home. It’s manageable short term, but when the time and place is right, I would like to move my studio to a new location.
Park Studios, like many others in the capital, could not be protected despite considerable eﬀorts from the musical and recording community as well as the local residential community to preserve the building as a studio and to raise awareness of the problem.
The community however has scattered. Only three or four have found suitable alternatives, some have had to move and work from home, and some are still displaced or in temporary spaces on the wrong side of town. Overall, it will be hard to beat the facilities and lovely community we had at BPS or ﬁnd anything similar.
How will Battersea Park Studios be remembered? Sphere was a well-known name within the London recording industry, and music recorded there will continue to be remembered for years to come. Similarly, those who visited Battersea Park Studios and experienced that buzzing creative hub are sure to have fond memories of its rooms. I was part of a team that birthed a new live music TV show promoting new music internationally called The Ayala Show, the ﬁrst two series of which were shot and recorded in Battersea Park Studios. What kind of relationship did you have personally with the studios and what kind of setup did you have? My workspace included a control room and a small live room with all the relevant patch bays and acoustic treatment – it was my creative and professional home for nearly three years. My gear ﬁtted perfectly, including my Calrec mixing desk, many instruments including a grand piano and drum kit in the live room, and extensive microphone collection. During my time there I worked on many projects, including a Simply Red album through Andy Wright (one of the other producers in the building).
Could you tell us a little about your documentary on the studios, which we understand is due to be launched on YouTube at the end of the month? With the Ayala Show TV production company (Mind Motion Media) we decided that we’d like to document this moment in history from our own experience. We may have lost Battersea Park Studios now, but we haven’t given up the ﬁght to raise awareness for the need for musical creative spaces and communities like this across London. We hope that the documentary will raise some awareness amongst local councils and the government as well as with any potential patrons of the arts. Music is such a rich and important part of our society and culture, and yet with increasing capitalism around it can feel like all other values are being usurped by the desire for just one value: monetary. I will remember it as a great community of professionals, of diﬀerent skills working in diﬀerent sectors of the music industry. It was a diverse community of nationalities and musical backgrounds, and a great representation of London, and how this city attracts people from all over the world.
8-CHANNEL AMPLIFIER PLATFORM
SIMPLIFY YOUR MISSION CRITICAL AUDIO SYSTEM
Redundant Danteâ„¢ and output routing GPO, remote on/off swithc and MAIN/AUX input select In-depth network and remote control Redundant power supply 8x8 Input / Output matrix Highest level DSP with multi-stage signal processing Suitable for mixed lo-Z and 70/100 V loads <W[V>WLYJOHUULS'Â£
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