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International TECHNOLOGY AND TRENDS FOR THE PRO-AUDIO PROFESSIONAL www audiomediainternational com

March 20172016 December


How this broadcast specialist pulled out all the stops for Woody Harrelson’s live film project ‘Lost in London’ p26




We catch up with a trio of Spanish speaker makers p20

Analysing choices in the location recorder market p22

A first look at Allen & Heath’s compact dLive C Class p34

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-Acoustics’ patented DOSC technology enhanced with an L-Fins waveguide for ultimate precise and smooth horizontal directivity. WSTŽ 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.


Experts in the issue


STAFF WRITER Colby Ramsey ADVERTISING MANAGER Ryan O’Donnell ACCOUNT MANAGER Rian Zoll-Khan HEAD OF DESIGN Jat Garcha DESIGNER Tom Carpenter PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Warren Kelly CONTENT DIRECTOR James McKeown PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe to AMI please go to Should you have any questions please email

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Joan Amate is vice president and chief technical officer at Amate Audio, a manufacturer of professional sound systems for live events and fixed installations. Stuart Fowkes is a sound recordist and founder of the global field recording and sound art project Cities and Memory, which involves remixing field recordings and has embarked on its largest and most ambitious collaboration yet. Volker Schmitt is director of customer development and application engineering at Sennheiser. Tim Summerhayes is a broadcast sound engineer and CEO of broadcast sound recording specialist Red TX, who has worked with everyone from The Police to Pavarotti, via Metallica, and everything in between.

f you’re on the lookout for a new piece of recording equipment then you’re in luck as recorders and recording have become something of a recurring theme over the next few pages. For a summary of what’s currently available if you’re going out on location, from highlights in the handheld market right up to some of the top-end units for professional film and TV use, we’ve got a feature starting on page 22 that offers a summary of what some of the major players in this market have been focusing on with their latest launches. There’s one new arrival in particular that has caught the attention of a few well-known sound mixers. We’re also pleased to be able to offer a review of the new top-of-the-range JoeCo BlueBox BBWR24MP workstation interface recorder in this issue, along with the exclusive first test of the Allen & Heath dLive C Class (we managed to get our hands on the most compact of the three new scaled-down versions of the company’s flagship console). I’m also fairly sure that we’re among the first to be offered the chance to try out Genelec’s 8430 Audio-


over-IP SAM studio monitors – the first speakers in the world to support RAVENNA and AES67 – the results of which you’ll also be able to check out this month. Going back to location recording, once you eventually get to our back page Q&A, you’ll find an interview with a chap called Stuart Fowkes, the sound recordist behind Cities and Memory, which is a global field recording and sound art initiative that has been getting a lot of wider press coverage lately due to the launch of its new ‘Sacred Spaces’ project on houses of worship, involving original and ‘reimagined’ sounds. You can see why Fowkes thought of houses of worship when he began thinking of a type of place that could potentially throw up some interesting sounds, and it’s made all the more so by the fact that buildings such as these are not known for being easy to record in, for obvious reasons. But if you want to hear about a really good example of a job whereby recording the immediate environment became almost impossible, head to page 26 for an interview with Tim Summerhayes of Red TX, who tells us how this was just one of his team’s problems when he found himself on the set of Lost in London, a new film from Woody Harrelson that was broadcast live from the city’s streets, using just one camera, in one take, to more than 500 cinemas in both the US and the UK. Yes, you read that right.

Adam Savage Editor Audio Media International

March 2017






L-Acoustics launches Syva system


Clear-Com adds Dante interface card


Shure shows new conferencing solutions


Announcing our 2017 ISE Best of Show winners


GEO FOCUS: SPAIN As the country recovers from the economic crisis, Colby Ramsey finds out where the industry could be heading and why


FEATURE: LOCATION RECORDING Kevin Hilton surveys the current location recorder market, which has welcomed some intriguing new arrivals in recent times, and finds there’s now more choice than ever before


BROADCAST FOCUS Adam Savage talks to Tim Summerhayes of Red TX about providing sound effects for Woody Harrelson’s recent live film project


COMPANY PROFILE We look at how Pirate Studios is setting itself apart in the UK rehearsal studio sector with an innovative new model


OPINION Andy Coules discusses Brexit’s potential impact on the live touring industry


Michael Begg offer his thoughts on the pros and cons of analogue emulations


TECH TALK We ask Sennheiser’s Volker Schmitt to tell us more about the company’s new Digital 6000 system


INTERVIEW Stuart Fowkes, founder of the global field recording and sound art project Cities and Memory, fills us in on its largest and most ambitious collaboration to date

42 4

March 2017

34 REVIEWS 32 34 38

Genelec 8430A Allen & Heath dLive C Class JoeCo BlueBox BBWR24MP

PRODUCT NEWS: LOUDSPEAKERS EM ACOUSTICS INTRODUCES ESP SERIES EM Acoustics used the ISE Show as the launch platform for its new ESP Series of compact, self-powered, multipurpose loudspeakers for live applications. The range currently comprises three models: the ESP-8 and ESP-12 loudspeakers – both with coaxial designs for true pointsource performance – and the ESP-15S compact reflex subwoofer. They are designed for a variety of applications from small FOH duties to speech reinforcement, front fill or compact stage monitoring. The ESP-8 is an 8in, two-way loudspeaker with a coaxial drive unit arrangement, which provides a uniform 100-degree conical dispersion pattern with smooth off-axis response and none of the parallax effects that would be generated with separate HF and LF drive units. The ESP-12 is the bigger brother of the ESP-8, sporting the same coaxial design in a compact, lightweight, multiangle enclosure. Both utilise onboard

class D amplification technology, sophisticated DSP processing and a universal power supply. Four built-in presets are available for different applications: stand-alone use; flat response; use with a subwoofer; and stage monitoring. A number of rigging options are also available for swift and easy setup. Lastly, the ESP-15S compact reflex subwoofer extends the low frequency performance of the ESP Series down to 45Hz. Integral handles, a polemount fixing and optional castors make the ESP-15 easy to deploy in a wide range of applications, while four presets, each with a different low pass filter frequency, enable the user to modify the characteristics of the subwoofer to suit their taste.


RCF showcased a number of new products at this year’s ISE show in Amsterdam, including the HDL6-A Active Line Array Module, which features two 6.5in woofers for a solid bass reproduction plus a high powered 1.7in voice coil compression driver mounted on a 100° x 10° waveguide. Showing alongside this were some new compact additions to the Media Series of passive speakers, including the M1001 and M1201. M1001 (pictured) is a multipurpose two-way


March 2017

full-range speaker system suitable for a wide range of installations, with a 10in woofer and 1in driver on a 90° x 60° CD horn. The M1201 features a 12in woofer and 1in driver mounted on a 90° x 60° CD horn. Mounting accessories allow for either wall or ceiling mounted options. Both boxes, which are also available in White, have a controlled dispersion and deliver undistorted SPL above the value normally expected from such a compact speaker system, RCF says. They also feature high sensitivity thanks to the use of oversized magnets while the LICC crossover design includes HF electronic protection. Another ISE launch for the company was the MZ 8060, a versatile digital mixer/preamplifier designed around a powerful DSP platform, along with its new VSA digitally steerable column speakers.

L-ACOUSTICS LAUNCHES SYVA SYSTEM L-Acoustics unveiled Syva, a new high-power speaker system featuring six medium-frequency and three high-frequency speakers in a J-shaped progressive curvature format, at the 2017 ISE Show in Amsterdam. The ‘groundbreaking’ new transducer arrangement, called segment source, produces an H/V 140° x 26° (+5/-21°) directivity pattern that is optimised for ‘exceptional surface coverage’ and 35 metres of throw, the company says. Syva is ideal for corporate events, fashion and trade shows, as well as sound reinforcement in amphitheatres and performing arts centres. L-Acoustics predicts that the modern,

sleek design will also make it an attractive option for houses of worship and intimate settings such as home cinemas or lounge bars. The speakers can be accompanied by the Syva Low high-power subwoofer or Syva Sub infra extension to achieve a 142 dB max SPL. The Syva Low enclosure offers two K2-grade 12in drivers designed to provide low frequency contour and extended bandwidth down to 40 Hz. Similarly, Syva Sub is equipped with one KS28grade 12in driver to further extend the bandwidth of the system in the infrasound domain down to 27 Hz. One LA4X amplified controller can drive up to four Syva enclosures. Syva can be wall- or pole-mounted, as well as flown or used alone with its baseplate. Alternatively, Syva can be rapidly mounted on top of Syva Low or Syva Sub using the AutoConnect plugand-play audio and physical link. First orders are expected to start shipping in early June 2017.

HARMAN CONNECTED PA’S EUROPEAN DEBUT Harman Professional Solutions used ISE 2017 to mark the first European appearance of the Connected PA – a complete, integrated ecosystem of live sound products from the company’s main pro-audio brands. Connected PA brings together Soundcraft mixing consoles, AKG microphones, dbx stage boxes and JBL loudspeakers that integrate Harman’s ioSYS technology, allowing musicians to create systems that suit their specific needs. At the centre of the Connected PA ecosystem is the new Harman Connected PA mobile app (pictured), which provides a centralised solution for setup, configuration and control, removing the need for multiple apps and GUIs. The app automatically identifies and configures connected equipment, provides setup wizards for quick and easy system configuration, and offers access from a variety of

devices, including iOS, Android, Mac OS and Windows. While Harman plans to add many new products to the Connected PA ecosystem, compatible products at launch include: Soundcraft Ui12, Ui16, and Ui24R Digital Mixers; JBL PRX800W Series loudspeakers; dbx DI1 active direct box and AKG’s P5i microphone. The Connected PA app is expected to be available in Q2 2017 from the Apple App Store, Google Play, and JBL PRX800W speakers are currently available but may require firmware updates to enable Harman Connected PA functionality.

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PRODUCT NEWS: NETWORKED GEAR SSL UNVEILS V3.3 SOFTWARE FOR LIVE CONSOLES Solid State Logic has announced the arrival of its new V3.3 software for the Live L500 (pictured) and L300 consoles, which offers a ‘significant’ feature upgrade. The SSL Live V3.3 software release builds on V3.2 announced in November 2016 with the addition of direct control of the SSL Network I/O range of Dante I/O devices. SSL Network I/O Devices can now be controlled and routed to/from SSL Live consoles directly. This is achieved via a new “Dante Configuration” I/O page that makes routes between the console and Dante devices (both internal console and Dante routes), meaning all routes created from an SSL Live console will be displayed in Dante Controller. SSL Network I/O devices can be added and configured offline, and matched with an online device when one is available for showfile prepping via SOLSA, the SSL Live On/Offline Setup Application. Once devices have been configured, they appear in the routing view and are routed to/from just like any other I/O device.


When multiple SSL Live consoles are present on a Dante network, there are a series of ownership controls to manage which parameters each console can access. Ownership control also extends to Solid State Logic’s new System T broadcast consoles so System T and Live consoles can share Network I/O over a Dante network. In addition, ownership control is also enabled for the SSL Stagebox Remote Control Application, which provides standalone remote control over SSL Network I/O from any suitable PC connected to the Dante network. The Live V3.2 software features are rolled into the V3.3 update. Live V3.3 has been distributed to all existing console owners, and the new SSL TaCo iOS mix application is now available for free from the App Store.

CLEAR-COM ADDS DANTE INTERFACE CARD Clear-Com unveiled a Dante interface card for the Eclipse-HX matrix (E-Dante64-HX) at the 2017 ISE Show. The card, which is compatible with Eclipse HX-Omega, Median, and Delta matrix systems, supports Dante and is AES67 compatible, allowing users to transport up to 64 channels of audio to multiple Dante-enabled devices using standard Ethernet network infrastructure. The E-Dante64-HX Interface Card provides Eclipse HX with 16, 32 or 64 channels of ‘low-latency, high-quality AoIP interconnection.’ It supports all standard sample frequencies for professional use, including a 96kHz/32-channel option, and can be used to route IFB feeds to/from a mixing console to provide instruction to on-air talent. It is also designed to bring clear benefits to various live performance settings where Dante devices are widely used.

Other features include channel quantity, health and sample rate indicators, primary and secondary RJ45 or fibre connections, port label data exchange to intercom panel keys, up to 64 ports per card (maximum of seven cards per frame) and the support of third party AES67 interfaces. John Rechsteiner, vice president of global sales and support at Audinate, said: “Dante now has over 350 licensed manufacturers with over 1,000 different Dante-enabled products now commercially available, so Clear-Com customers will be able to use Dante throughout their entire workflow.”



Allen & Heath has announced support of the AES67 standard through the most recent version of its M-Dante audio networking card, which provides a 64x64 interface to Audinate Dante networks, and is one of several options that can be installed in an A&H GLD, dLive, ME and iLive digital mixing system. AES67 is an interoperability standard created by the Audio Engineering Society, which specifies a common set of protocols to enable audio transport between different Audio-over-IP platforms. Available through a firmware update to the M-Dante module, the Allen & Heath mixing systems can

Symetrix debuted several new products and updates at ISE 2017, including the latest Composer software developments for Symetrix Radius, Prism, Edge, and Solus NX series DSPs and accessories. Adding to Composer’s support for an existing array of third-party products from Clock Audio, Powersoft, Ashly, Attero Tech, and Stewart Audio, recent releases have offered integration of the Shure MXA910 and MXA310 beam-forming array microphones and Audio-Technica’s ATND8734 Dante mic module. In an upcoming Composer release, Symetrix Dante-enabled DSPs will support AES67. In addition, the company has announced a USB interface card for the Radius and Edge DSPs. The optional card supports up to eight input and eight output channels for courtroom, meeting archival, and other multi-channel recording applications.

March 2017

now connect to a growing number of devices and systems that support AES67, including Ravenna, Livewire, and QSC Q-Lan. “AES67 is the latest addition to a number of standards and protocols that we support on our products, including Dante, Waves SoundGrid, MADI, AES3 and EtherSound,” remarked Ian Thomas, Allen & Heath install sector specialist. “This update makes our solutions particularly attractive to an increasing number of consultants, integrators and broadcasters who are looking at AES67 to future-proof their projects or installations.” Allen & Heath has published a white paper on AES67 on its website, while the firmware update itself will also be available from the Allen & Heath website in the near future.

According to Trent Wagner, senior product manager at Symetrix, “Our native software support of select Dante-enabled third-party products reinforces our position as the preeminent DSP provider for Dante-based systems. “Our upcoming support for AES67 adds an unparalleled level of network audio interoperability, enabling Symetrix customers to design systems with greater flexibility and fewer restrictions than ever.”



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PRODUCT NEWS: MICS & CONFERENCING SHURE SHOWS NEW CONFERENCING SOLUTIONS Shure’s new ULXD6 boundary and ULXD8 gooseneck transmitters offer what the company describes as brilliant sound quality with low latency, signal stability, high spectral efficiency, ‘leading’ encryption technology, and are compatible with rechargeable LithiumIon or standard AA batteries. When used with ULX-D receivers in High Density mode, users can achieve high channel counts of 100 or more, while for confidential discussions that require secure transmission, ULX-D features AES-256 encryption. Both new transmitters offer a lowprofile form factor, as well as a long transmission range (up to 330 feet/100 meters) and an extensive selection of antenna distribution components. Also launched at ISE was the IntelliMix P300 Audio Conferencing Processor, a compact solution which offers DSP algorithms to enhance audio quality in video meetings, a variety of connectivity options, plus ‘seamless’ operation with Shure Microflex Advance and Microflex Wireless microphone solutions. The new processor connects up to eight Dante microphone channels to a room video system, USB soft codec, or

mobile device. Each channel supports multiple IntelliMix DSP features, including Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC), Noise Reduction, and Automatic Gain Control, plus automatic mixing. Additionally, the ANIUSB-MATRIX provides flexible routing of up to four Dante audio inputs and one analogue input to a room video conferencing system or a soft codec, making it ideal for accommodating small to medium sized rooms intended for audio and video conferencing, while the ANI22 provides Dante-to-analogue signal routing that enables two audio channels to be routed on and off a Dante network.

BOSE REVEALS CONTROLSPACE EX Bose Professional’s new ControlSpace EX audio conferencing system includes the EX-1280C conferencing signal processor and three new Dantebased ControlSpace under-table endpoints (EX-4ML, EX-8ML and EX-UH). The system features connectivity for various types of audio conferencing, including USB, VoIP, PSTN, analogue, and phone headset audio. All three EX Dante under-table endpoints feature PoE, daisychainable power and networking, multiple mounting options and a slim, high-density form factor that makes them suitable for mounting under conference tables. The two under-table microphone interfaces, the EX-4ML and EX-8ML (four and eight channels respectively), feature 48V phantom power as well as +12V LED power and three logic IO per channel (one in, two out) to interface with most types of analogue conferencing microphones. The EX-UH Dante under-table endpoint extends conferencing versatility for BYOD applications

such as connecting mobile phones, laptops and telephone headsets using the built-in 3.5 mm TRRS analogue jack, stereo-audio USB, and RJ-9 connector. All components are configured and controlled with Bose ControlSpace Designer 5.0 software. ControlSpace Remote 2.1 has been upgraded to support the new EX and includes a dialer for creating a complete tablet-based user interface for conference rooms. Drivers for popular control systems are also available. The ControlSpace EX-1280C processor features 12 routable acoustic echo cancellers (AEC) with adaptable noise cancellation, non-linear processing and comfort noise to enhance clarity and intelligibility of a meeting, along with 64 x 64 Dante audio networking for digital audio connectivity with any Dantebased product, including newer conferencing microphones. The ControlSpace EX system will be available in Autumn 2017.

A-T EXPANDS NETWORK MIC OFFERING Audio-Technica used the ISE Show in Amsterdam to debut two new Danteenabled ceiling-mount microphone solutions, while the company’s ATUC-50 digital discussion system, complete with the recently introduced ATUC-50INT interpretation unit, was also displayed for the first time. The ATND931 Dante six-inch gooseneck microphone and ATND933 Dante hanging microphone are both available in a number of configurations, including black and white colour options and a selection of three polar patterns (cardioid, hypercardioid and MicroLine). All configurations come standard with the new ATND8734 ceilingmount power module with Dante


March 2017

network output, offering a solution for integrating these new microphones with a Dante network without the need for a separate, standalone audio interface. The ATND8734 comes equipped with an 80 Hz low-cut UniSteep filter, selectable for a flat response or low-frequency roll-off, as well as a three-position input gain level selector (+30 dB, +40 dB, and +50 dB) and green/red LEDs. All features may be configured and controlled remotely via third-party software. The ATUC-50INT carries recommended pricing of £295.80/€355 ex VAT.

SENNHEISER STRENGTHENS TEAMCONNECT RANGE TeamConnect Wireless is a portable wireless conference system that provides ‘excellent sound for online meetings’, according to the company. TeamConnect makes it easier and quicker to set up and host a professional-sounding online meeting in any room. The system delivers multiple connectivity options with any laptop, smart device or video conferencing system via Bluetooth, USB, or 3.5mm jack – its connectivity makes it highly flexible and supportive of the user’s

Unified Communications demands. The Tray-M Set comes with two portable satellites and a stationary charging and docking tray for the satellites. It is designed specifically as a solution for dedicated meeting rooms having up to 12 participants.

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ICONYX Gen5 steerable loudspeakers deliver clarity to every seat. It didn’t matter how far back their seats were. Or how cavernous the hall was. All they heard – all they felt – was sound that was warm, intelligible and personal. With clear, precisely-controlled sound from Iconyx Gen5 steerable loudspeakers, their seats were the best in the house. To learn more or for a demo, visit ©2016 Renkus-Heinz


ANNOUNCING OUR 2017 ISE BEST OF SHOW WINNERS Audio Media International can now reveals this year’s ISE Best of Show award winners. With entries spread across numerous NewBay publications, the awards recognise outstanding products exhibited at this year’s show launched since ISE 2016, and were judged according to a number of criteria, including ease of use/maintenance, performance against category standard, richness/relevance of the feature set, value/ROI, versatility and originality. The winners of the 2017 Awards, along with comments from the judges, are as follows:

Yamaha VXS1ML Yamaha’s new VXS1ML for background music use cleverly combines a specially developed large diameter voice coil and 1.5in fullrange driver within what can quite

(from left): Adam Hall’s global marketing director Nikke Blout and product manager, integrated systems Gabriel Alonso Calvillo

Ron Bakker, systems marketing manager for Yamaha Commercial Audio Europe rightly be called an ‘ultra-compact’ enclosure – the whole unit measures just 62 x 62 x 82mm. But it’s not just the size that’s impressive – that diminutive driver also delivers surprising results when it comes to dispersion and overall power.

LD Systems CURV 500 IAMP The LD Systems IAMP from Adam Hall Group is the ideal companion four-channel amplifier for a wide range of installations involving the company’s new range of CURV 500 portable array solutions, providing DSP control, a high-efficiency switch

mode power supply and a 10 Hz – 22 kHz frequency response. It is straightforward to use as well, with its single push encoder and well-presented OLED display. All of this year’s entrants – both winners and nominees – will be featured in an ISE 2017 Best of Show Digital Edition.

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March 2017



Andy Coules has a think about the potential impact of the United Kingdom’s impending withdrawal from the European Union on musicians and his fellow live sound professionals.


s I write this, all factors indicate that the UK government will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of March and officially start the negotiations that will see the UK leave the European Union. There is no doubt that this process will change our relationship with Europe forever (in some ways it already has) but how will it affect the UK touring industry? Travelling to Europe to tour, play festivals or for promotional trips is a key stepping stone for up-and-coming acts and a well-trodden path for established acts. It allows access to nearby foreign markets while providing valuable experience and exposure. The ability to easily hop across the channel is something we currently take for granted, but this is likely to change. Membership of the European Union means that UK nationals can move freely into and around Europe, but when the UK leaves the EU, depending upon what deal is struck, UK nationals may require a visa or work permit to enjoy the same freedom of movement. Requiring work visas is nothing new for touring acts and their crew – they’re currently needed for pretty much every country outside of the EU where no reciprocal visa free agreement exists. The visa requirements differ greatly from country to country – you often need a sponsorship letter (inviting you to perform) and sometimes require an embassy interview as well as proof of capital (i.e. to sustain you while in the visa



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zone) and proof of individual medical / travel insurance. In some cases the hassle and cost of obtaining work visas is the responsibility of the promoter, but that’s unlikely to happen in Europe where promoters will see it as an unwanted additional cost only applicable to UK acts. At the moment a standard Schengen visa costs €60 for a stay of less than 90 days – not a major individual cost but it soon mounts up for larger touring parties. Carnets are currently required if a touring act plans to carry equipment outside of the EU. A carnet is a temporary export document (some people call it a passport for gear) which obviates the need for customs declarations at border points and the deposit of a guarantee or bond in the country of temporary importation (according to the London Chamber of Commerce). The cost of a carnet depends on the value of the gear being transported but processing fees start at about £200 (paid yearly) and quickly escalate into quadruple figures. UK goods and equipment are currently exempt from this requirement while travelling in the EU. The transportation of merchandise also currently presents an issue outside of the EU – something which is painfully familiar to anyone who’s toured Switzerland. When entering Switzerland, touring acts are required to pay VAT on any merchandise they’re carrying before entry is allowed. This is estimated at the point of entry and then calculated at the point of exit; any difference (due to unsold stock) is then refunded. This not only introduces additional costs but can entail significant delays at border crossings. Another key factor is the Pound to Euro exchange rate, which has already experienced a downturn as a result of the referendum vote back in June. If this trend continues it will inevitably increase the running costs of touring in Europe (i.e. fuel, hotels, tolls, etc.) while slightly increasing the value of show fees paid in euros. It’s difficult to predict the net balance but it will certainly require careful and precise accounting.

Would The Cure’s recent tour of the UK and Europe (featuring L-Acoustics K1/K2 supplied by Britannia Row Productions) have been more difficult to plan post-Brexit? So it looks like we’ll have a situation where touring acts at all levels of the industry are likely to encounter additional costs as a result of needing to get visas and carnets as well as an increase in the amount of paperwork and preparation required for a European trip. Higher level acts, who are used to touring the world, will easily be able to swallow these additional costs – they even have it in their power to increase ticket prices, if necessary. Where it will hit hardest is the up-and-coming or less established acts – the ones who are already struggling to break even – for them this could be the final straw that makes European trips untenable. And it’s not just European touring that will be affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. A significant amount of revenue is generated from people travelling to the UK to attend concerts and festivals as well. According to Wish You Were Here 2016, an economic study into the contribution of live music to the UK economy during 2015 by the organisation UK Music, 38% of live music audiences were music tourists and 767,000 travelled from overseas to attend live music events, making a total box office spend of £38 million. Not all of these people came from the EU but a restriction of the free movement of EU

members into the UK is bound to have a negative impact on those figures. When I started talking to people and researching the facts for this article one thing that struck me was that nobody could come up with a single positive impact on touring – it’s only likely to lead to an increase in the costs as well as the required administration. The only potential lifeline I found is a plan proposed by Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator, which will offer UK citizens the chance to individually apply for EU membership and thus retain the right to free movement. This will inevitably involve an additional cost but might be a better long term solution to keep the channel open for acts at all levels. It’s important to remember that we currently have no idea what kind of trade, movement or customs deals the government is going to be able to strike with Europe, so all of this is pure speculation, but whatever happens we are undoubtedly headed for difficult and challenging times. Andy Coules is a sound engineer and audio educator who has toured the world with a diverse array of acts in a wide range of genres.









APRIL 22–27, 2017



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EVALUATING THE VIRTUE OF THE VIRTUAL Michael Begg asks whether the industry is sending out the right messages when it comes to analogue emulations.


iven that the word is so common in our professional vocabulary, the word “virtual” tends, nevertheless, to make me uneasy. I do not have any fundamental problem with the industry that has grown around emulating classic analogue technologies. There is something invigorating about the very suggestion that one could persuasively mimic a cupboard full of classic mics, saturate the signal with the illusion of tape, embed the mix in an emulation of a classic studio room, before bouncing the file to a VST arsenal of mastering tools, faithful in every respect to the original, excepting the smell… and the fact that the interface has shrunk from a 19” rackmount to a 4” long skeuomorphic illustration against which you rub your mouse and imagine you’re turning a pot. But, hey, it’s a pot with no crackle, and you didn’t have to wait for anything to heat up, or rummage for the right lead – the one that hasn’t been crying out for a soldering iron for months. After all that, if you’re still so inclined, you can add the crackle of vinyl to your pristine digital file – because you’ll bend over backwards to simulate authenticity. So no, I have no real issue with the technology, really, but I do think there is a discussion to be had. Much development, arguably, favours emulation over innovation, and draws attention to the capacity for mimicry rather than original contribution and advancement. Further, I am beginning to suspect that there is the real possibility of it impacting on the creative mindset



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of progressive generations of recording creatives and technicians. Of the spectrum of individuals who make use of analogue emulations and self-styled virtual studio software, I suspect that only a fraction of them will ever have been exposed to the hardware original. Nevertheless, human nature being what it is, and backed up with an ongoing critical dialogue that infers adherence to the source, it is reasonable to conclude that we’ll largely buy in to the narrative and gauge our relationship to the software in terms of its fidelity to an unattainable original, rather than take it on its own terms and bend it to do our bidding. I fear that we’ll progressively fall into making AB comparisons between emulations, lending a further obscuring veil of faux authenticity to the rigour of our critical appraisal.

Who really gains from it? One of the great claims behind virtual technology is that it democratises the world of audio production and allows small studios and individual freelancers to play with an approximation of high-end kit only available to the mature professional studio elite. I can’t help but speculate that the ones who actually benefit most from virtual emulations – particularly with regards to microphones and room/space profiles – are the high-end professionals who inhabit these elite spaces. They have the originals to hand, they have the experience, and, critically, they know when time and cost efficiency will be best served by a broad stroke implementation of fast turnaround virtual models. Before moving on from this aspect of the discussion I would ask – how much more inspiring to the experimental and hungry young producer/engineer would it be to be served this astonishing array of equipment sold on the merits of what it is technically capable of doing/providing, rather than pre-emptively focusing engagement on the fidelity to classic equipment? It would be so much more creatively empowering to be sold on what software can do rather than what it can impersonate.

This, for me, is the crux of the issue. The technology is often brilliant, but it frames the users’ engagement in terms of emulation rather than innovation. A generation of engineers and producers whose youthful sense of innovation – making do, working around problems, focusing on the limitations of their space and equipment and pushing against those margins – are being encouraged not to invent, but to ape.

Missing the point No piece of equipment stands up on its own. Whether we are aware of it or not, we engage in a narrative in each stage of the recording process, and beyond the hardware and software there is the reverberant space, there is the character of tone afforded by individual tools and toys, there are all the flaws, faults and foibles of our own signal chains, mis-plugged errors and serendipitous accidents of tone and timbre. There are the subtle mechanisms by which we navigate limitations of CPU power and available RAM. Each small event in the narrative nudges the creative journey because we are tuned to brush back these challenges and chase some goal that we won’t recognise until we hear it. How much more difficult is it to chase that ineffable plateau when we are – whether it be consciously or unconsciously – listening out primarily for a tenuous fidelity to an analogue original of which we may likely have no first hand experience? I am aware – increasingly so as I write this and consider the extent to which my

own studio is dependant upon various flavours of virtual resources – that it may well be possible for me to write a piece of similar length from the opposite position and find favour with the increased profile of virtuality in the recording craft. Such is the nature of proposing alternate, virtuous realities. I also think that a lot more space could be usefully used to address the grey areas bordering analogue emulation, virtual modular set ups, and sample libraries. But for now I will conclude with the observations of an elderly nuclear physicist. He was asked whether he envied the younger generation of physicists’ access to powerful technology and the ability to execute all of their work within the safe simulacrum of computer modelling environments. Not at all, he said. Today’s researchers never get to walk out into the desert and stand in the crater. That was life changing, and it can’t be modelled. Nor is it something that can be passed from one generation to another. That connection will, in time, be entirely lost. So, maybe the message, if there is one, is this: Go to work. Make a noise. And never forget to stand in the crater. 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. Twitter: @michaelbegg










With Sennheiser’s new Digital 6000 now available from this month, we ask Volker Schmitt, director of customer development and application engineering, to tell us more about the new system.

What were your main aims/objectives when coming up with the concept of the Digital 6000? Our main objective was to create a highend wireless microphone system with outstanding audio quality, rock-solid RF wireless transmission and significant amount of flexibility. How does it fit in with the rest of the products in the Professional Wireless Range? And what are the main differences between this and the Digital 9000? With Digital 6000, we have brought the key benefits of our benchmark Digital 9000 system to a two-channel receiver and associated handheld and bodypack transmitters. The 6000 series uses the same long-range mode and proprietary Sennheiser Digital Audio Codec as the Digital 9000, Sennheiser’s top-of-therange wireless series. The Digital 9000 has been meticulously developed for best UHF multi-channel performance – it is technologically the leading system on the market, featuring a High-Definition Mode for transmitting digital audio without any data compression at all, and a Long Range (LR) mode for congested RF environments. Digital 6000 takes the renowned Long Range mode and proprietary audio codec of Digital 9000 to applications that demand smaller, more flexible systems at a lower price point. The system operates with standard UHF antennas and can be used with a range of 17 Sennheiser and Neumann capsules, including 9000 series capsules – hence no additional 18

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investment is needed. This means that, for example, touring and rental companies can make best use of their existing equipment. We had often heard from our customers that they had a project where they needed to provide eight channels for which they could use their existing Digital 9000 but they also wanted to offer two spare channels. In this scenario, Digital 6000 with its interoperability with Digital 9000 is an easy and quick solution. If you had to pick out one standout feature of the new series, what would it be and why? The most significant feature of the new series is the equal distance channel spacing where we use RF spectrum in a highly efficient way. Looking at the fact that we are losing RF spectrum due to the digital dividend – for instance the US where we can only operate in up to 694 MHz; Japan and Europe also have somewhat difficult RF landscapes – one of our key objectives was to get more channels into a given frequency range, which is the key feature in the new Digital 6000. What was the biggest challenge that you faced during the design phase? It must have been a complicated job getting it all to fit in a single rack space unit? To the second point, yes, that’s true. If we are looking into main challenges for Digital 6000, we had to find the right equilibrium between different features. For instance, with a wide array of switching bandwidth how would the

team manage unwanted signals? How would they handle RF dynamic range? These kinds of things were on our mind when thinking about the various requirements of our customers and end users, as we wanted to accommodate as large an audience as possible. Difficult RF environments are becoming more common all over the world. How is the Digital 6000 built to deal with these situations? Spectrum efficiency is the absolute key for that. We will face these situations more and more and so we must ensure spectrum efficiency at all times. Could you give us some examples of some applications that the 6000 would be ideally suited to? Digital 6000 is an ideal choice for touring and rental companies because of its flexibility; theatre and musical productions; broadcasting; houses of worship and high-profile corporate customers. How have you also ensured that its relatively easy to use, as that must have been another important factor to consider? Ease of use is something that was very important to us when designing the system. Therefore, we had involved our customers and end users in the very early stage of the production process through focus groups and round tables in order to really understand their needs. By looking at their requirements, we designed the system accordingly.

And finally, although it is only now becoming available, have you had much of a response from users/customers to the new range so far? The Digital 9000 has been running very successfully since its launch in 2012 with users including broadcasters TV 2 (Norway), WDR (Germany), BskyB (UK), BBC Northern Ireland, Al Jazeera; world-renowned artists like Adele, Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé, Drake, Lady Antebellum; theatres such as the Helsinki City Theatre, the UK’s Royal National Theatre; numerous rental companies and also some corporate customers. With Digital 6000, we are confident we will increase the number of artists, broadcasters, corporate users and houses of worship that rely on Sennheiser RF wireless still further. To date, we have received a very positive response with the first preorders already in place. This is mainly due to keeping a close contact with our customers throughout, sharing early stage prototypes as well as preproduction units in order to gather their initial feedback.


THE FUTURE’S BRIGHT As Spain begins to show real signs of recovery after the economic crisis, pro–audio manufacturers are looking to capitalise on its thriving tourism industry by refining their live and install products. Colby Ramsey speaks to some manufacturers to find out where the market is heading and why.

he state of the pro-audio market in Spain has improved quite a bit when you compare it to the post-recession years, during which the country’s economy suffered momentously. A number of detrimental factors combined together saw the total market value halved in 2008, and the years following proved especially difficult for manufacturers in the domestic space. In 2017 however, things seem to be looking up, with increased wealth in the economy having clear repercussions in the leisure sector. With a large number of big music festivals running from early April through to October, this can only mean good business for the live sound market. According to sound reinforcement system manufacturer D.A.S. Audio’s marketing director,



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Robert Giner, last year was the biggest year in history for the Spanish tourism industry with a total of 75.3 million tourists visiting the country, and 2017 looks just as healthy. “This provides hotels, restaurants and related venues like pubs and bars with the confidence to invest in modernising or upgrading their existing AV equipment, so the install market is active as well,” says Giner. “The situation is substantially better than it was five years ago.” Joan Amate, vice president and CTO at Amate Audio, another maker of professional sound systems, concurs with this belief that the Spanish market is recovering, as new clubs open their doors and rental companies continue to renew their equipment. “The tourism sector increase of the past few years, the presence of the big retail chain headquarters like Inditex

and Mango and our competitive prices make Spain an interesting and growing market,” adds Daniel González, marketing director at install speaker specialist Ecler, “thus promoting more competition, the presence of more brands, changes in distribution and sophisticated demand and requirements from the customers.”

Handling the Heat While there are few factors that truly differentiate Spain from other European pro-audio markets, Giner believes that companies have the consistently good weather to thank for the amount of tourists that it attracts to the country year after year, resulting in strong and stable demand for music related products, be it for live or for install. Furthermore, González observes a developing ‘global stream trend’ - a requirement

for “more integration, more friendly control and a highly specialised setup.” Despite this, Amate reflects that it has not been an easy time for proaudio manufacturers in Spain since it became a member of the EU, with domestic product being all too often compared unfavourably with that of other European manufacturers, making it paramount to have a very good value proposition to convince customers to buy local. “This is a misguided sentiment and one we are actively proving wrong,” Amate remarks. “In current domestic market conditions, within much of the EU, commercial success is dependent on an ability to successfully cultivate extensive export markets. Spain, and the Barcelona area in particular, possesses high levels of modern electrical engineering skills and a highly successful technical education


Population: 47 million

sector, making it a highly competitive centre for technological industries.”

group mentality Yet as manufacturers in the domestic market attempt to stay buoyant, there are a number of more specific, pertinent challenges that some of the bigger players may want to consider further. The main problems, as Giner sees it, are competitor related, as companies become consolidated into large groups offering everything from lighting and video to sound and amplification. “The synergies created by this grouping and the vast knowledge base generated by such diverse technologies poses a real challenge for the typical Spanish or even European pro-audio manufacturer,” he explains. Amate says that the big online retailers continue to have constringent effects on the Spanish market – a problem that is shared with many others on the continent. While this has affected traditional music stores as well as installers, “we have maintained the traditional sales channels, so our dealers are not exposed to the price ‘pressure’ created by those webshops,” he says. Additionally, there have been a number of significant changes to domestic legislation and fiscal

policy in Spain that have affected the pro-audio market there, particularly the live and install sectors. As EN54 rapidly becomes a requirement in all new European venue installations, manufacturers are increasingly investing time and money into offering product compliance. D.A.S. Audio was quick to launch a series of EN 54-24 compliant products including line arrays, which have already been installed in many venues in Europe. González envisages this trend developing further under the regulation, yet Giner sees this requirement “proving difficult for smaller companies however, with some finding it impossible to fund the EN certification, especially if they wish to validate a range of products.” Amate describes how legislators made business even more challenging by increasing the rate of VAT on cultural activities and entertainment from 8% to 21% during the middle of the recession, “so suddenly tickets for concerts, clubs, theatre, and other performances were more expensive – or more usually, prices remained the same but margins were squeezed for promoters, organisers and producers,” he explains. “This meant, in the end, less cash to invest in new PA systems.” While these kinds of factors pose a potential threat to Spanish pro

audio manufacturers’ offerings in the live sound market, many systems continue to be upgraded or expanded. Meanwhile, the public sector is not as active as in the past when local and provincial government budgets were bigger, so most of the business in the install space now tends to come from the private sector. Fortunately for them, however, Spanish manufacturers are successful exporters, meaning that their products are proven in international markets. “This is good for everyone, because it positions our country near the top in terms of pro-audio manufacturing,” says Amate. “In the last five years 90% of our turnover was generated in overseas markets.” “This is a highly specialised market, and the installer is the one that materialises the projects, makes the prescription and develops the installation; therefore alternative channels like e-commerce have a very low incidence in the pro-audio market,” González adds.

Staying Afloat Even after taking all these points into account, it remains difficult to forecast the projected health of the Spanish pro-audio market. The general consensus seems to be that if the economy maintains a growth rate

above 2.5%, then business should be good. González claims that if the economic markers and high activity in the tourism market continue as they have been, then the next five years could prove to be very promising. Although, with so many factors that can change the business climate, this arguably remains nothing more than pure speculation. A more likely observation is that the classical sound reinforcement sector is expected to see moderate growth, as the tourism and entertainment industries continue to gain traction. “New trends, like immersive sound installations and other emerging technologies – which are well established in and around Barcelona – will probably determine whether the sector experiences significant additional growth,” states Amate. So just as Spain comes up for air following the economic crisis, an element of lingering uncertainty remains ever present, and pro-audio manufacturers there will undoubtedly be looking to keep their heads above the surface by bolstering their offerings and attempting to solidify their place in the market as they enter the decade’s final quarter.

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ON THE RECORD Kevin Hilton surveys the current location recorder market, which has welcomed some intriguing new arrivals in recent times, and finds there’s now more choice than ever before.

he idea of making any piece of equipment portable is that it should be lighter than less movable equivalents and easy to carry. In many instances the reality has to be more practical and pragmatic than that. Location recording machines are a good example of where practicalities often outweigh – quite literally – the desire to create equipment that is light and movable. The high-end multi-track recorders used on feature films and television dramas are portable in the sense that they can be transported to where they’re being used. After that they usually have to be mounted on a trolley with other gear – mixer, radio microphone receivers – or loaded into a large carrying bag that itself is propped up by something like the Dedleg shooting stick-like support. Reducing the size and weight of



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a device means losing some of the features, notably inputs and outputs, which reduces its capabilities. In the past this would have been regarded as a trade-off at best and an unacceptable compromise at worst. But improvements in technology and manufacturing processes – notably in the production of circuit boards, A-D/ DA converters and other processors – and higher quality microphone preamplifiers means smaller recorders can deliver good audio and enough tracks for many requirements. This doesn’t mean a cheaper, four- to eight-track machine is going to be able to handle a big cast, big budget feature. But it is a good bet as a back-up or for recording localised dialogue and sound effects. From the days when portable recorders were few, based on reel-toreel tape and very expensive – think of the Nagra II for film work or the Uher

radio reporter’s machine – there is now a wide selection of devices ranging in price from a few hundred pounds/euros to several thousand.

A “New Concept” At €1,500 the Aaton Digital CantarX3 is nearer the top end of the scale, both in terms of cost and features. During February the brand’s parent company, French camera monitor specialist Transvideo, debuted a new stripped down version of the X3 at the BSC (British Society of Cinematographers) expo in London. Transvideo’s chief executive, Jacques Delacoux, describes the Cantar Mini as “very compact” and a “new concept”. The 16-track Mini (compared to the 24-track X3) is, Delacoux says, “half the size, weight and price”, coming in at 259 x 234 x 90mm, 2.8kg (including two batteries) and €700. Other than this the new recorder

features the same software and “almost” the same functionality as the X3. It also offers four mic inputs, mic preamps, limiters, filters, equalisation and two balanced line inputs, with capability for both AES42 microphone and AES3 exchange digital interfaces. Delacoux explains that the Cantar Mini partly came about because many X3 users wanted a machine they could carry on their shoulders. “There’s also a market for people who don’t have €1,500 to spend on an X3 but want similar quality and features,” he says. As well as being a second machine or back-up for professional sound recordists, Delacoux says the Cantar Mini is being aimed at “schools and beginners - it also fits well into the radio business and people in music recording could be interested.” He adds that countries outside Europe and the US, including India and China, are potential target markets.


Tim White is among the few sound recordists to have seen and played with the Cantar Mini so far. White was “heavily involved” in the development of the X3 but only saw the Mini when it was completed. “The whole point behind the Cantar Mini was to have a smaller machine but keep the powerful pre-amps originally designed for the X2 and which also feature on the X3,” he says. A distinctive feature of the CantarX3 is the row of linear faders on top of the machine. A similar layout has been retained for the Mini, which White says makes for better ease of use when performing a cross-fade, as opposed to using rotary faders as found on other machines. He adds that further continuity and familiarity from the X3 is provided by the Mini having the same display screen. “There is also the same firmware, which has been used on the X3 for two years,” White continues. “The Aaton mic pre-amps are boutique on the X3 and are the same on the Mini. So it is great to have a smaller recorder with no compromise on quality. The Cantar Mini is basically an X3, only smaller.” The high-end location recorder market, as represented by Aaton Digital, Nagra, Sound Devices and Zaxcom, is a limited one as far as the number of customers and users who can afford them is concerned. With the Cantar Mini, Aaton/Transvideo is clearly attempting to open up more options for itself, while maintaining its reputation for quality.

In good hands Zoom established its name at the lower end of the market, with handheld recorders for the radio reporting and music sectors. Over the years it has expanded its product range to offer a variety of machines. The H series is aimed at the company’s original target area, with the top of the range H6 sixtrack machine having the capability of four interchange mic capsules - X/Y, MS,

Shotgun, and Dual XLR/TRS. The H1 is a two-track machine but still with X/Y recording. The manufacturer claims it is suitable for band rehearsal recording as well as the more obvious interviews, dictation and effects work. The H series now sits alongside the F4 and F8, which are specifically designed for location recording. The F8 is an eight-input, ten-track device with 24-bit, 192kHz quality. These features, and a

price tag of around £800, has piqued the interest of high-end users as well as those working on tighter budgets. Sound recordist and live cinema event audio mixer Ian Sands says these factors make the F8 “terribly attractive” to people looking for a back-up machine. “It has XLRs, timecode and the mic pres are pretty good,” he comments. The F8 does not compare directly to a top-of-the-range location recorder

And now for something completely different Small handheld recorders are extremely versatile and well featured today but they do have one sizeable practical drawback as far as radio reporters are concerned. They just don’t look the part. It isn’t quite as bad as when smartphones are being used amid a huddle of journalists but the handhelds still lack that professional look. Which is where the microphonerecorder comes in. The earliest example of this integrated combination came out of a joint venture between UK pro-audio distributor HHB and microphone manufacturer Sennheiser. The FlashMic was announced at IBC 2005 and began shipping in the second quarter of 2006. As the name implies it was based on Flash media and soon found users in radio,

although it was also used for sound effects recording. The Flashmic was discontinued in 2012, after which HHB took on distribution of Yellowtec’s iXm mic-recorder. This is based on solid state technology but also has slots for SD and SDHC cards to back-up material. It also features 30 seconds

of ‘pre-roll’ buffering and comes with a choice of capsules: the standard Proline and the Premium, produced by beyerdynamic. “It’s a robust piece of kit and looks more professional than other recorders,” says Steve Angel, HHB’s group sales director. “And it’s a broadcast quality mic and recorder.”

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Jacques Delacoux with the original CantarX3 and a Transvideo StarliteHD monitor

such as the Sound Devices 688, which, as Sands observes, has “an incredible pedigree” and features including 16-tracks, 12 ISOs and a stereo mix track, but the Zoom and products like it have opened the market up for more people who might have previously been excluded on the grounds of cost. “What’s available now is phenomenal,” Sands says. “It really is down to the old bang for your buck. And people can now get a lot more bang for fewer bucks.” As enthusiastic as he is about the greater choice now available to recordists, Sands is cautious because he doesn’t want any production accountants to think they can now spec lower cost machines to work on a big blockbuster or massive event. The higher-end devices, he stresses, are still the right tools for the job. The opportunity offered by a well-speced, lower cost machine like the F8 or the Cantar Mini is for sound recordists to buy them as a back-up or for sound effects work. “Most production mixers wouldn’t want to use a F8 for a whole film but they would have it as a reserve,” Sands comments. “And most productions will not pay for a back-up machine. But the F8 is affordable and because we as sound recordists can be paranoid little bunnies, we will pay out of our own pockets to have that security. This kind of recorder is not as flexible as something high-end but it will get the job done if you need it.” 24

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Sands draws a parallel between lower cost digital recorders and lower cost digital cameras. Many features today are shot on cameras such as the ARRI Alexa but many directors of photography will use a digital SLR camera like the Canon EOS 700D for pick-up shots or B (additional) shooting. Similarly, Sands says, recorders with lower track counts are more than adequate for B-roll and sound effects recording.

Something for everyone Like Zoom, Tascam has a wide range of recorders, from the top-end HS-P82 eight-track desktop machine (main picture) through the four-channel, WiFi-connected DR-44WL and the two-channel DR-100MKIII to the DR-10C series. Director of marketing Eric Larsen observes that the market for portable recorders has opened up considerably in recent years, with people using them for podcasting and even narrating online game play. “Something like the DR-100MKIII has high-end mic pre-amps, operation software, onboard EQ and compression and an on-air/kill switch,” he says. “It also has three hot buttons for playing sound effects.” As well as effects playback, the DR-100MKIII is also used widely for recording different sounds. Larsen gives the example of sound effects specialist Rick Allen, who he says has used the machine to capture everything from crickets chirruping to glass breaking

at 192kHz. Allen has also made use of the DR 10 SG shotgun mic recorder to capture a Remington shotgun at close range, only eight inches from the muzzle. “The kickback broke the mount but the recording was still usable,” Larsen says. Larsen describes the DR 10 series as “very small”. These have built-in XLRs and have been used variously as back-ups as well as for local recording attached to mic booms. The DR 10 C is a wearable unit and can be connected to wireless belt packs. They are also designed to work with lavalier mics worn by actors performing a scene some way from the camera and sound mixer. The DR 10 SG is primarily intended to be used with DSLR cameras, mounted in the hot shoe on top. But it has other applications and, like other recorders in the Tascam portfolio, it features dual recording. This allows the main recording to be made on one track at the desired level while simultaneously making a back-up on the second track at -10dB lower. This means that if a very loud, sudden noise causes the recording to over-modulate, there is still something that can be cut back and used in the final edit. While Tascam claims dual recording to be unique to its products, other firms have built similar failsafe tech into their recorders. The Sony PCM D100 offers limiting as well as the capability to run two recordings, with one at a lower level than the other. Sam Simon-

Norris, business development manager with Sony Pro Audio’s UK distributor Sound Network, says the D100 has a number of potential applications, from radio journalism to recording band rehearsals to location back-ups and sound effects acquisition. Simon-Norris says the D100 is more comparable to Tascam and Zoom handheld models, rather than the Cantar Mini. “But it is capable of the jobs it is designed for, offering PCM and MP3 recording, with two mic pres and compressors,” he comments. Another feature suited to reporting and documentary film making is a five-second recording buffer. “If something happens and you press the record button within five seconds you will get that sound or piece of speech because the machine is always listening,” Simon-Norris explains. While smaller portable recorders may not have all the features of bigger and more expensive machines, they can do many of the same jobs and provide necessary back-up for their more glamorous equivalents. And they certainly are able to take on tasks that no one in their right minds would want to use their primary recorder for.






Adam Savage talks to Tim Summerhayes of Red TX about providing sound effects for a recent Woody Harrelson film project that involved broadcasting live from the streets of London in one take, with no room for error. L-R: Tim Summerhayes and Ollie Nesham in Red 2

s many of you will know all too well, when working on a feature film it can take months to bring all of the various audio elements together. In today’s world, though, post teams are being set ever tighter deadlines to prepare a meticulously crafted final mix, but what if someone was mad enough to suggest shooting a movie, featuring Hollywood actors, in the middle of one of the world’s busiest cities, and do the whole thing as a live broadcast? It seems Woody Harrelson – director, writer and star of the recent ‘Lost in London’ project – is mad enough. With a running time of 100 minutes and filmed entirely on one single digital film camera fitted with a wireless system designed and supplied by Broadcast RF, it was all

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done in one take, across two square miles of central London with a cast of 25, 300 crew and another 300 extras at 2am on 20 January, so it’s easy to see why no one had ever attempted anything like this before. ‘Lost in London’ is a semiautobiographic account of a 2002 London nightclub incident and its aftermath involving Harrelson. Once he’d made his technical plans clear, Harrelson found himself in need of an equally crazy crew to join him, and after what no doubt would’ve been some heavily detailed discussions, an audio team led by head of sound Tim Fraser, audio number two Simon Bishop and Tim Summerhayes of live broadcast specialist Red TX was formed. It’s fair to say that Summerhayes was a little skeptical initially, saying “it really seemed too farfetched to be taken

seriously” when he first heard about it before Christmas, but after being told by Vicki Betihavas, Lost in London’s live producer at Nineteen Fifteen that it was definitely going ahead, and beamed out to more than 500 cinemas across the US as well as London’s Picturehouse Central, his reluctance made way for genuine intrigue. Red TX’s role was to receive the submixed dialogue from Tim Fraser’s unit (you can read more about their responsibilities in the March 2017 issue of PSNEurope), which understandably “took a whole lot of pressure off,” according to Summerhayes, and from within its Red 2 truck combine this with live sound effects, environments and atmospheres, as well as music when needed, to create the final mix using its trusty Studer Vista 8 console, multitracking everything to Pyramix – Red

TX’s standard format. The front half of the vehicle – parked up outside the Central Saint Martins (CSM) art school in Holborn – was where Summerhayes, his colleague Ollie Nesham and recording engineer/ systems tech Steve Massey were based, and in the rear was the music department playing in prerecorded stems.

Environmental factors Coming up with a method of capturing the environments for a film that was being shot in one long take presented the team with its first problem. After more than a little headscratching, the H4 SuperMINI surround sound microphone system, designed to deliver ‘expansive 5.1 audio field capture in a super compact package,’ was put forward as a possible solution first of all.


then sent off to various locations during the rehearsals to capture some of the missing audio as it happened then, before bringing it back to Red 2, where it was then decoded from PL2 and put into QLab, tailored, edited and blended in with the rest of the effects library. This also meant the Holophone mic could be used after all.

Sound of Da Police

Woody Harrelson was director, writer and star of the film “We thought we could mount it on the camera as it’s small enough, we could take the two Dolby Pro-Logic II-encoded channels down the radio link to us, decode it and we’ve got wonderful surround,” Summerhayes explains. “The mic finally arrived, and they said ‘it’s a lovely microphone, but you’re not going to put it on our camera!’” With that plan scuppered, the team went in search of an alternative approach that would not involve camera mounting, but still let them use the Holophone. “Plan B was that [boom op] Rohan Igoe would put it on his pole and basically be looking wherever the camera is looking, so all the perspectives would work for the surround, behind the camera operator,” Summerhayes continues. “That was kicked into touch because there wouldn’t have been enough space in all of the enclosed spaces. In the meantime, the two radio channels that were allocated to us were swallowed up by other things that Tim Fraser wanted so we had no direct link with the set, apart from Tim’s dialogue submix that was coming back to us.” It was then that Nesham decided that it was time to “take the bull by the horns,” as Summerhayes puts it, and take on the role of grams op. He then went about sourcing suitable spot sound effects that

could be used: doors closing, bathroom sounds, police sirens and a list was then compiled that he played in from QLab. A Studer Vista 1 submixer was hired for this purpose, controlled by Nesham. “We also tailored a few of the surround presets on the TC Electronic 6000 and found some that matched really well with where the action was taking place, like corridors and police cells, most of which were made of wood so we had some nice concrete sounds to make them sound realistic,” Summerhayes says. “Ollie played those in on cue and we’d put some of the dialogue through the TC, on which he’d set up presets on certain scenes that fed back through his mixer into the main desk.”

Delaying tactics As you can imagine, there were a lot more problems that had to be dealt with, including one particularly “horrendous” one, as Summerhayes explains: “From the time it took the dialogue and the pictures to get from the set to the mix truck, we knew it would be somewhere in the region of three quarters of a second because of all the processing involved, and we were getting all sorts of figures coming from the camera people and the radio people but it wasn’t until we had everything on site and that we were running alongside the

camera that we managed to work out that the actual delay was 837ms!” There were three scenes where prerecorded music had to be played into the set: the first was a nightclub, the second was a scene where the camera pans past three dancing Jesuses (look, we’re talking about a Woody Harrelson film here) and the third involved starting the playback track to country legend Willie Nelson for his surprise cameo appearance, who then picked it up and started to play along live. Therefore, the Red TX team had to cross over from the prerecord into Nelson, but that had to be played in sync with the action, and then you have to factor in that this needed to be heard and mixed in 837ms after the event. “To make that happen I was basically using snapshot recalls on the console to change from scene to scene, which opened up certain effects feeds to various areas of the set and took the feeds to Ollie, who was sending back all the reverbs and bits and pieces,” says Summerhayes. As boom op, Igoe was a little bit out of the picture at this point because he could no longer go about his original task of recording the environments live. And because it had emerged that not all of the sound effects were of a good enough quality – far from it, in fact – he was

It would take us a dozen more pages to outline all the challenges that the crew faced on this project, but one other example that Summerhayes was keen to mention was how they overcame the issue with one particular sound. The movie features several police chases, but there is one whereby a police car overtakes the vehicle where all the action is taking place, but getting the right siren sound using what they had to hand was proving to be frustratingly difficult. Fortunately there was enough time for another Eureka moment. “Because it involved real police guarding the streets, we thought ‘well they’ve got sirens, let’s ask them!’” recalls Summerhayes. “So we approached them in the canteen: ‘Excuse me chaps, when you’ve finished your tea…’ I told them what we were doing and they were over the moon to help. They gave us three or four different types of siren, different starts and stops and we used those in the show as well.” According to the Evening Standard, Harrelson was asked after filming finished whether he would ever do something like this again, and his response was: “If someone was thinking of doing it then all they would need to do is talk to me and I would talk them out of it. Unless I didn’t like them.” Speaking to Summerhayes, you wonder whether he would also need some convincing to take on a similar project in future, but another part of you feels that he would jump at the chance again.

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PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT Pirate Studios is on a mission to dominate the UK rehearsal studio sector with its innovative selfservice model. The signs are looking positive so far, so we take a look at what it’s doing differently.

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// sk a musician to picture a typical rehearsal studio in his or her mind and that image might not turn out to be a particularly pleasant one. We’ve all heard horror stories of groups entering a practice space for the first time only to be met with tired or broken equipment, questionable soundproofing/room treatment or generally squalid conditions and after a frustrating and rushed session due to being on an hourly rate, they get little more than a grunt from the bored guy manning the place when on the way out. Of course, they’re not all like this, and those that are also part of a wider operation that also offers recording, mixing, mastering or a combination of these services are in most cases very well looked after, but if you were to tell your average budget-conscious band – many of which will have tragic tales of their own – that there’s a UK company looking to revamp the rehearsal scene and bring it into the 21st century then the likelihood is that you’ll catch their attention. Its name is Pirate Studios and if you’re UK-based and haven’t heard of



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it then there’s a good chance that they have a location near you, or will have soon if their plans for rapid expansion in the near future come to fruition. So what makes these spaces different? Well, the first and most immediately noticeable thing is that you won’t have to deal with that bored guy anymore because Pirate Studios are completely self-service, they’re open 24/7, it operates via a straightforward online booking platform and code system for getting in and out, everything is provided apart from your guitar and drumsticks and a flurry of positive reviews in recent months show that it seems to be working. And what’s also interesting is the idea for it came about almost by accident, after co-founder David Borrie’s original plan for a private studio in Bristol to accommodate his own needs didn’t quite pan out in the way he’d originally hoped. “It all started about four years ago when I had a band in Bristol and we started using rehearsal spaces regularly,” he says. “We weren’t impressed by what we’d found. They were so pricey – especially for what we

David Borrie

were paying for – that we decided that it wasn’t really working for us when all the money we were paying then could’ve got us our own studio. “So I went and sourced this space in an abandoned police station in Bristol and the idea initially was that me and my band would use it, but within six weeks of signing the lease for two years the band split up! I was basically lumped with a studio and it was a great studio but because I wasn’t going to use it any more, between me and my business partner Mikey [Hammerton], we built

a series of 14 lockers just outside the rehearsal studio and rented it out on a timeshare arrangement. 14 different bands rented it off us and they had their slot each week, so the studio was completely self-service; we didn’t touch it whatsoever.”

Risky business? At first it might sound like you’re asking for trouble letting groups of young musicians loose in a place filled with gear, but Borrie and Hammerton were willing to take the risk, and so far have

COMPANY PROFILE Open Minded Pirate Studios has also joined forces with OpenLIVE, an Australian Cloud-based hi-res music recording and distribution platform originally designed for live gigs that lets users record their gig/rehearsal through the company’s MasterBuilder hardware installed within the venue/studio. This takes a feed from two compressor mics that are setup in the room, as well as another from the mixing desk. The audio is then sent to the Cloud, where it is automatically not been made to regret making this somewhat brave move. “We’d discovered something whereby musicians who were typically thought of as being rowdy and couldn’t be trusted being in a space of their own actually could,” Borrie explains. “They respected the studio and the kit that we’d put together.” It then became clear that they could be on to something, so a further two studios were built, and after they too were met with a similar response, plans were drawn up to make this into a proper business that would allow them to continue with their self-service model, but avoid the potential pitfalls. “We then sought a bit of money and built the first collection of Pirate Studios rehearsal rooms in one building in Bristol, which launched back in January last year,” Borrie continues. “This was the first time we’d ever built a system where it worked purely on an hourly basis. It was 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and you could book any studio at any time. There was a disposable code system so it would only work for that particular time slot; that also gave us the security with the online booking and payment system.” This approach understandably has its benefits – both for the musicians and the management – but what if something goes wrong during a session, like a piece of the supplied equipment fails? “Any time a band had a problem they could call us any time and we’re always on the end of the phone and can direct them to any locker they needed to pick up spare equipment,” notes Borrie. 30

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mixed and mastered, before the processed audio is then sent to the band’s Pirate account for further editing, if required, or immediate distribution to the various social channels. Although currently only a feature of its Pirate and Pirate XL studios, the company is planning to roll out OpenLIVE across all of its rooms in the future, letting users not just record their rehearsals but also ‘broadcast’ from the space via Facebook Live and other platforms.

Onwards and upwards Available in four variations – Classic, Premium, Pirate and Pirate XL – that vary in terms of equipment, comforts, furniture, whether they are set up for OpenLIVE recording (see box) and of course price, Pirate studios now span across eight UK cities. There are 90 studios in all, spread over Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Nottingham and Sheffield, but the last 12 months haven’t just been about extending their reach; a lot of work has gone into ensuring that the company’s existing locations are as good as they can be. “We’ve been improving the design of our studios to make them better in terms of sound quality and proofing, the equipment we provide and the general ambience in the room. We’ve also been working on the technology and room functionality, adding things like the OpenLIVE recordings, multicolour lighting, heating, air conditioning – all these little things that enhance the studios.” Although rehearsal studios don’t need to be as acoustically sound as recording spaces, a decent level of treatment is still required to ensure a good enough sound for a comfortable practicing environment, so who’s providing this service for Pirate as it continues to set up fresh builds in new territories at a rapid rate? “Mikey is the true genius behind this because he is a joiner, carpenter and also audio engineer, so he can not only build studios but he also designs them, looking after the acoustic treatment as well,” Borrie explains. “He’s got a

Ex-Libertine Carl Barat has been lined up for one of the upcoming Pirate Studios Live gigs, launching this month.

workshop in Bristol and we effectively produce most of what we build the studios with in our workshop, so a lot of the acoustic treatment, panels, bass traps. We effectively send these flatpack solutions up to warehouses where we build the studios. They’re like little pods that we build in.” He might be a genius, but even Hammerton’s skills don’t stretch to instrument and audio equipment manufacturing unfortunately, so in order to source all their gear they decided that finding an established MI retailer to partner with would be a sensible option, especially if it’s one that’s been based on London’s iconic Denmark Street for almost 100 years. “We teamed up with an independent retailer called Rose Morris. We were lucky enough to have an introduction to Paul [Smith] and we were really looking for someone that could partner up with us and help us through the journey really. We could’ve gone to lots of different individual manufacturers but that’s a lot to manage when you’re trying to set up all these studios across the country. Paul and Rose Morris have been amazing.”

Thinking big Expanding into seven cities in just one year already shows surprising progress, but Pirate Studios isn’t looking to take its foot off the gas just yet in its quest for growth. Far from it. “We’ve got buildings coming up in Manchester and North London, Reading and a few other places and we’re going to try different options in each and see what works best for us,” Borrie reveals. “Hopefully we’ll have 30-40

more locations open up this year across the world. We’re looking at buildings in New York; we’ve scouted in Germany and Holland as well. The plan this year is to expand across the UK and also hit America and Europe.” And that’s not the only news from Pirate lately: this month also sees the launch of a new series of intimate Pirate Studios Live gigs across the country, featuring artists such as Dave McCabe from The Zutons and Carl Barat, formerly of The Libertines, in association with the Noel Gallagher and Kasabianendorsed club night This Feeling.

One for the future All in all there’s more to Pirate Studios than just a few neglected units on an industrial estate. Even so, Borrie knows that there will still be those who will need a little more convincing, but for those just starting out, it’s likely to appeal to them. “The self-service model isn’t ideal for everyone and there are always going to be people who prefer the hands-on approach, which is fine, but we tend to find that for the younger generation, getting access to high quality equipment at a relatively affordable price, they find it quite an attractive one,” he says. “It has never been harder for musicians to make a living from their music, so our aim is simple: to make their lives easier. Like pirate radio before us, we are supporting the undiscovered musicians who will form the future of UK music.”

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and post-production goodies, including an impressive all-Genelec Dolby Atmos and stereo speaker rig where a software solution routes multiple sources to any destination in a number of formats. The room, although benefiting from informed use of acoustic treatment, is what I would describe as ‘real-world’ – typical of London audio facilities around the central zone where room shape and size is dictated by the available real estate, and it was fascinating to hear the aplomb with which the speakers’ signal processing coped with such things such as variations in surround and back wall distances, these effectively becoming non-issues. Having been introduced to the affable John ‘JJ’ Johnson, CTO presiding over the demo room, we got down to looking at the 8430A IP’s facilities and performance.



Nigel Palmer heads down to Scrub’s new demo facility to have a play around with this monitoring ‘world first.’ hen a set of loudspeakers is sent to me for review, testing usually takes place in my purposebuilt space at Lowland Masters. In its natural state the room is one of the better ones I’ve heard, but in recent years I’ve been able to improve on that with the addition of a DSP-based Trinnov loudspeaker and room optimiser system. This has resulted in a degree of transparency for mastering work where I don’t think so much of the audio as coming from loudspeakers, but more as a live image laid out in front of me. It was therefore with some interest that in 2015 I reviewed a pair of Genelec 8330A loudspeakers and a 7350A subwoofer for this magazine – that article being quoted here where relevant. My interest stemmed from the fact that the



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speakers form part of Genelec’s SAM or Smart Active Monitor range, and have on-board room correction driven by Genelec Loudspeaker Manager (GLM) software. I was pleasantly surprised at how this relatively small setup was able to go head-to-head with the house monitoring, to the point of generating similar sounding and looking correction curves to that created by the more expensive Trinnov. Clearly there was something going on worthy of further investigation, so when I was asked to review the new 8430A IP monitor, which in addition to SAM and GLM facilities also – so far uniquely – offers RAVENNA audio-over-IP (AoIP) and AES67 capability, I was pleased to take it on. For logistical reasons the evaluation needed to take place at Scrub in central London; although I would be out of my usual space, I had confidence

Key Features „ Based on the Ravenna IP protocol, with full AES67 support „ Minimum Diffraction Enclosure (MDE) „ Directivity Control Waveguide (DCW) „ Compatible with Genelec Loudspeaker Manager (GLM) 2.0 control network and software „ Flow optimised reflex port „ Flexible mounting options RRP: £1,717,20 per pair (including VAT) about the exercise born of previous exposure to a SAM system’s ability to neutralise room effects to taste, and also the similarity of voicing found across Genelec’s current models. I duly presented myself at 69 Wells Street in the Fitzrovia district, home of Scrub’s gleaming new demonstration facility full of all manner of pro-audio

Prior to this review I knew little about audio-over-IP, apart from being aware that at least one digital audio workstation, Pyramix, can use RAVENNA to talk to, for example, networked AD and DA converters. With audio people sometimes being a conservative bunch, I suspect I wasn’t the only one, so here’s a brief introduction: From 1996, CobraNet was the first commercial system to deliver uncompressed, multi-channel, low-latency digital audio over a standard Ethernet network, offering a degradation-free alternative to analogue audio over long cable runs. Later technologies such as Dante, and Genelec’s choice, RAVENNA, have built on the idea with higher channel count and sample rate capability, greater redundancy and lower latency, while focusing on broadcasters and production facilities. In 2013, the Audio Engineering Society published the AES67 open standard, promising “interoperability between previously competing networked audio systems and longterm network interoperation between systems”. Compatibility with the standard means RAVENNA can now talk to other protocols, potentially avoiding format wars such as those plaguing

TECHNOLOGY REVIEW The demo took place at the Genelec Experience Centre within Scrub’s new Wells Street premises

video development in the past. With AoIP’s state of the art now at a relatively advanced stage, manufacturers are getting on board with audio products of all kinds – for example, Focusrite offers an IP headphone and line-level amplifier with integrated DAC, the RedNet AM2, and Audio-Technica has networkable microphones; although at present they’re mostly intended for conference-style applications, I’ve no doubt professional studio mics are not far off.

overview Closely resembling the 8330A, the 8430A IP is a two-way ported design in a smart dark grey finish measuring 299mm (H) x 189mm (W) x 178mm (D) (approximately 12” x 7.5” x 7”). Contributing to the height is an Iso-Pod, a neat rubber foot assembly which helps decouple the speaker from its support and allows a ±15° tilt – a useful solution in locations such as console bridges. The 8430A’s die-cast aluminium enclosure, curved to reduce edge diffraction, has a 130mm (5”) woofer and 19mm (0.75”) metal dome tweeter powered by 50W Class D amplifiers, and weighs in at 5.5kg (12.1lb); a power/status indicator at lower right next to the maker’s badge completes the front view of the unit. At the rear, below the reflex port and mounting points, is a pair of RJ45 sockets for the GLM network; below these and a power/reset switch is a panel containing, from left to right: mains input,

an ethernet port and lastly an analogue input on XLR – note that there’s no AES digital I/O as in the 8330A, this being made redundant by the speaker’s AoIP capability via Ethernet. Setup procedure for the GLM network is straightforward and clearly explained in the accompanying guide: in a stereo or surround system the adapter hub provided is connected to a computer via a USB port, then the adapter is daisy-chained with network cables (also provided) to the satellite speakers and then the sub, where present. Audio connections having been made, the system’s omnidirectional microphone is connected to the adapter and placed pointing upwards at the usual listening position – you can also create profiles for other parts of the room such as a client sofa. After the GLM software – available for both Mac and Windows – has been fired up, the process of calibration can begin: the speakers on the GLM network are identified, the room position of each being confirmed by dragging icons on a graphical grid while the physical unit being placed emits an identifying tone. Having named the group, the microphone’s icon is clicked to start calibrating via a short swept tone from each box, which is analysed and a suitable EQ correction curve generated. Once the calibration settings are saved, the final step, where relevant, is for the software to set the sub’s relative phase with a low frequency tone.

In Use On listening to a pair of 8430A IPs at Scrub in combination with two 7370 subs, I was immediately on familiar ground, thanks at least in part to the SAM/ GLM room correction – presentation was very similar to my memory of the 8330A/7350A combo I’d previously experienced back at base, with the same ease and ‘rightness’ I remembered together with smooth active crossover performance at 2.9kHz. I tried some of my reference CDs and was rewarded with transparency and depth on acoustic material such as Renaissance Suite from Clive Caroll’s acoustic guitar album The Furthest Tree, featuring a guest appearance by Spanish guitarist John Williams; this is fast becoming a speaker test favourite, and not just because I mastered it! Also Ry Cooder and V.M. Bhatt’s A Meeting By The River, which was recorded with a single stereo microphone in a great-sounding location acoustic straight to 1” analogue tape. Not all the tracks I use are necessarily there only as exercises in good sound engineering: for example I often play The Blues from Marcus Miller’s excellent Tales album because it features archive speech recordings of past blues and jazz greats – a useful test of speaker fidelity is how intelligible these are against the music, and suffice it to say the Genelecs passed with flying colours. The Blues also pointed up the effectiveness of the system’s sub integration, plumbing

stygian depths while maintaining a response free from obvious lumpiness or a one-note presentation. Had I switched the subs out of the GLM network I’m confident I would have observed the same graceful and usable low-end rolloff heard with the 8330A – the specification is -6dB at 45Hz, but sounds deeper.

Conclusion I believe I’m witnessing a significant part of professional audio’s future in audio-over-IP, and it seems likely that with the already significant take-up of the technology in the live, broadcast and educational fields, it’s set to become a standard part of new recording studio installations. That being the case, Genelec’s achievement in bringing the first RAVENNA and AES67-compliant speaker to market in the 8430A IP is timely, offering solid audio performance alongside a degree of integration and future-proofing that I believe will serve both the company and users very well. Thanks to HHB, Scrub and to JJ for their help in preparing this review.

The Reviewer Nigel Palmer has been a freelance sound engineer and producer for over 20 years. He runs his CD mastering business Lowland Masters from rural Essex. March 2017




He was one of the first to review the initial system; this month, Alistair McGhee again finds himself at the front of the queue to check out the brand new compact version. But does smaller size mean a step down in quality? Let’s see… n the words of the great Brian Fantana, “60% of the time, it works every time.” I think it must have been the 60% thing that brought the Anchorman quote to mind when describing the new C Class dLive system from Allen & Heath. The new range features all the DSP grunt of the original FPGA-powered S Class dLive, the same preamps, the same converters, the same number of inputs to mix (128) and the the same number of mixes (64) and it all runs at 96kHz, just like big brother. But all this dLive goodness comes with a 40% discount off the S Class price – hence the 60%, you see. For Allen and Heath this is a tried and tested route. Having established their credentials with the iLive system, A&H launched the more affordable iLive T to great and lasting success. So what do you miss out on when opting for a C Class rather than an S Class dLive? Dual, hot swappable power supplies and dual redundant connectivity between surface and mix rack are S class features that big tours and hire guys are looking for, plus the extra I/O slots on the S Class MixRacks and surfaces. Also you get a few less hardware controls on the surface and less connectivity in terms of DX options on the C Class surfaces and MixRacks, and a little less local I/O on the surface. That being said, the touchscreen is as bright and responsive as the S Class and the Harmony user interface is identical.



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One very welcome new feature of the C Class range is a 19in rack-mountable surface in the form of the C1500 (pictured, above), and that is what I had to play with, coupled with the CDM 32 MixRack (pictured, on next page). Above the C1500, which features 12 faders and a single screen, the C2500 has a single screen and 20 faders and the biggest C Class surface, the C 3500, has dual touchscreens and 24 faders, but remember you can plug an external screen into the surface and choose from a range of display options for it. Sharing the same software and showfiles means that new facilities arrive simultaneously on both systems and some of the new features include DCA spills, Virtual Soundchecks and new toys like the Peak Limiter 76 and Dyn8 dynamic engine. I looked at the S Class last year and was knocked out by the sheer power, flexibility and performance. The prospect of a more affordable route into dLive is certainly one that demands attention.

Like the now venerable iLive systems, dLive has the processing in the MixRack and the glamour in the surface. So a MixRack without a surface makes sense, but not a surface without a MixRack. All the Compact MixRacks offer the same DSP power – all will allow 128 channels at mixdown to 64 busses. The onboard grunt powers full processing on all inputs and mixes with up to 5.1 mixing on the main output; you also get 24 DCAs and the ability to route audio in and out of the matrix without processing it. So you have effectively audio tie lines running in and out of your system above and beyond your 128 channels to mix. And of course, control of the MixRack is possible from an iPad app or the more fully featured Director software that allows full mixer setup and recall.

Overview It’s hard to know where to start when describing the riches of dLive so let’s begin with the breadth of the

Key Features „ XCVI 160x64 FPGA core, 96kHz sample rate „ 128 input channels with full processing „ Configurable 64-bus architecture „ DEEP processing – powerful embedded plugins „ Up to 2x 128-channel audio networking ports RRP: From $6,500 for a CDM32 MixRack to $21,500 for a CDM64 and C3500. ecosystem. Any Compact surface or MixRack will work just fine with any S Class surface or MixRack. Also, the existing ME personal mixer system can be plugged into the ME port on a C Class MixRack to provide musicians with local monitor mix control over 40 inputs and the display of input labelling. The sharp-eyed will notice that the ME is a 48kHz system, but all the sample rate conversion is done with no fuss. Similarly, with an adaptor you can plug in most of the iLive or

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GLD networking cards (which run at 48KHz) to your C Class system – each C surface and MixRack feature one expansion slot. This slot will also accept new cards like the FibreAce, which are 128-in and 128-out and run at 96kHz. And now we begin to see the power of the system – you can have 64 inputs from your MixRack plus another 128 inputs over FibreAce and then select which 128 you want to mix down from and of course change that selection when required. However, there’s more. Both the MixRack and the surface can be further expanded via the DX ports. The MixRacks each have two DX ports and there is a further DX port on the surface. At the moment, Allen & Heath offers only the DX 32, which is a 32-channel device that you can configure with four eight-channel cards, and there are analogue or AES options available. The DX 32 is very much part of the S Class range, featuring dual redundant power supplies and dual redundant network ports, but I think we can be sure that simpler options will become available to offer even greater flexibility. And talking of flexibility, while we weren’t looking A&H has added a couple of network controllers to the range of dLive accessories. The IP6 and IP8 are clearly inheritors of the PL controller’s genes but updated for the 21st century. Whereas the PL controllers were point-to-point, the IP6 and 8 work over any standard TCP/IP network. So you could use an IP6 (rotary encoders) for a musician’s 36

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monitor mix or an IP8 (motorised faders) as a sidecar for your masters or for your audience mics – or just to have access to more faders when you have the room to do so. In fact, with a MixRack, a touchscreen PC and a couple of IP8s you can pack your ‘surface’ into your hand luggage while leaving your surface at home. How cool is that? To say nothing of the use of the controllers for installs. And on to those new features: DCA spills will be familiar to anyone who has used pop groups on a Midas console – other implementations abound – and the idea behind spill is simple. You engage DCA spill mode with a softkey and then pressing the Mix button on your chosen DCA populates the fader layer with the channels being controlled by that DCA. There are options to configure how the channels are laid out and on smaller surfaces the feature is particularly welcome as a way of getting easy access to your working channels without wading through layers. The Virtual Sound Check feature is I’m sure another welcome addition, though I didn’t have a network card available to hand to test it. The attraction is that you can build and use your record and playback configurations without resorting to guddling around in Safes and Recall Filters. You can also disable channels from the VSC so you can use the VSC to rehearse ‘to tape’ if you want.

In the DEEP end One of the attractive features of the dLive series is the effects quality. Starting with iLive, A&H have gone for quality over quantity and have continued to add high-quality processing options to the system. On a channel-by-channel and mix-bymix basis you have DEEP processing options – EQs and dynamics with four GEQs and some nicely modelled compressors and limiters. All these can be inserted without using any of your 16 effects processing slots. On dLive these native effects engines cover a wide spectrum of reverb, delay, chorus, flange and there’s a lot of love for emulation of ‘80s classics. But alongside the classics there are more 21st century options like Dynamic EQ and Transient Controller. The C Class range is a well thought out expansion of the dLive system. If you don’t need the touring-grade features then the 40% off will look like a massive bargain. Being in step with the S Class means you already have numerous options in expansion and control and A&H’s background in install is really paying dividends in areas like the IP controllers. The small footprint of the C1500 is particularly attractive and the ability to add I/O

to a C Class system via the DX port rather than having to buy a bigger MixRack means an upgrade path that won’t break the bank. In fact, that might be the system’s most attractive feature – investing in a C Class system buys you a seat at a nice long table. Too often we have spent our hard earned and ended up marooned on an island requiring wholesale resale to get off. Things I would like to see? Well, spills on groups and auxes, a 16-in, 8-out DX box at an attractive price, and for the world’s laziest man fill those libraries with channel settings to make my life even easier. The C Class with great aplomb manages to feel both brand new and exciting and mature and well tested at the same time. So if you can forgive me another Anchorman line: C Class dLive – it’s kind of a big deal!

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.




Simon Allen discovers why this top-of-the range model offers a lot more than just an interface for a Digital Audio Workstation. he audio interface market has become increasingly crowded, resulting in a surprising variety of solutions. There are a number of key areas such as channel count, Audio-over-IP technology, DSP and so on, which the leading manufacturers currently compile in very different packages. Improvements in technology have also given way to recent improvements in latency performance and low-noise mic pre-amps. At the same time, due to economic changes in our industry, interfaces have become the most important piece of hardware in nearly any studio today. Whether you’re a professional or amateur working from home, through to medium-sized facilities, we now expect our interfaces to do everything. They are your mic pre-amps, mixing console, digital converters, DSP engine and much more. Choosing the right one for your scenario can be confusing. If only there was one that made coffee as well.



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While there are some obvious trends, I think it’s quite significant for there to be such a wide choice available. JoeCo are entering this market for the first time, with yet another entirely different background. I was keen to see why the BBWR24MP is so unique and how it stacks up against the competition. The promises are high, but is there enough to convince buyers away from other name brands?

What sets it apart? JoeCo were established in 2007 and are based in Cambridge, UK. Their first BlackBox multi-track recorders and players have seen them offer some unique products. In the studio world we haven’t come across this brand until now, but there’s about a decade of experience here that’s not to be sniffed at. Initially building something unique for the broadcast and live industries, they present some technology which JoeCo hope will corner their own end of the interface market. The BBWR24MP is a dual-purpose device. It can either operate in

standalone mode as a multi-track recorder and player – in a similar way to their BlackBoxes – as well as a USB audio interface. By combining these two functions, JoeCo are providing a unit that can offer a reliable back-up recording. Redundancy in studios today has become almost non-existent. We place so much trust in our DAWs and computers, yet we’ve all got a tale to tell about the one session when it crashed, losing all our hard work. This isn’t a breakthrough idea of course. There are other units that offer direct recording to removable storage, as well as some live sound consoles that either offer this or a built-in recording function. However, there’s something to be said about the platform JoeCo have built, with an emphasis on reliability and stability. A key area where the BBWR24MP steps up the game is the offering of 24 of JoeCo’s mic pre-amps. This does of course significantly impact the price, while the other two models (BBWR08MP and BBWR24B) in the BlueBox range are in more affordable

Key Features „ 24 channels of individually switchable mic/line inputs „ 24bit/96kHz audio both to and from a DAW „ Simultaneous backup of all source recordings „ Fully standalone multi-track field recorder „ Provides three core functions in one 19in rack-mountable unit RRP: £2,995 excluding VAT territory. However, it should be noted that while these might not be the very best pre-amps I’ve ever heard, they are very clean. It’s impressive they’ve managed to squeeze all these and the other electronics in a box that’s only 1U high and not very deep. A final consideration that I think sets the BlueBoxes apart from other interfaces is the 12V power input. This results in there being an external power transformer under normal mains operation, while also permitting the unit to run standalone in the field. I’m not aware of any other solution with this many mic pres that can do that, which can then also be used as an interface.

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In Use Using the BBWR24MP as an interface with my Mac was extremely easy and straightforward. Pro Tools accepted the interface as my playback engine without any hiccups and the unit automatically switched to ‘Workstation’ mode upon connection. There is a JoeCoControl app to remotely control the interface and build your own monitor mixes that also worked well. It isn’t the best looking piece of software, but it’s very clear and functional. It can also be operated remotely via iPad. I really like the operating modes the unit offers when used as an interface: ‘Live’, ‘Studio’ or ‘Mix’. These present three ways in which the software can configure the hardware depending on your scenario. The studio mode provides a combination of the direct low-latency monitoring paths, and four stereo returns from your DAW. These can then be mixed into four stereo outputs to provide different headphone and monitoring mixes. I also appreciate that the app displays an overview of all channel meters, with each section able to expand into its own window. This allows you to make good use of your available

screen area, having the all important talkback button on the screen at all times. There’s nothing more frustrating in today’s recording environment than forever toggling between your DAW and your interface app. It’s just a shame there aren’t more controls on the front panel of the device for tasks such as TB. While the app offers a good level of control over the device, which is much faster and more efficient than on the device itself, I felt there were some limitations. For example, it doesn’t give you the ability to operate any of the onboard recording features besides record and stop. It would seem sensible if you were able to edit channel names, takes and general device settings. However, all these have to be done from the front panel of the device, or you can plug in a keyboard and use that for all menu functions if you prefer. To operate the front panel of the device there are touch sensitive buttons and a ‘data wheel’, which can be thought of in the same way as the classic iPod selection wheels. However, this one isn’t as responsive or accurate as a 15-year-old iPod, which just goes to show how good those devices were. The menu is comprehensive and logical. Once you’ve learnt your way

around, it’s very simple to use. I did find the touch sensitive buttons frustrating, though, which I wouldn’t expect in today’s touchscreen world. Back in interface mode and considering the performance when used as a sound card, the BBWR24MR isn’t going to break any records for

“Using the BBWR24MP as an interface with my Mac was extremely easy and straightforward.” Simon Allen

round-trip latency, being on USB 2.0. JoeCo are quoting a value of 6.5ms when monitoring through a DAW at 96kHz without any plug-ins running. Perhaps a Thunderbolt or USB-C version will be available in the future. Thankfully zero-latency mixes can be created, but this is about the extent of the built-in DSP. There isn’t any DSP power for signal processing which

might be a drawback for some users, especially at this price point. The biggest selling point here is the built-in recording functionality alongside the USB interface capabilities. JoeCo recommends leaving the unit in record for your entire session. That way you are certain you will capture everything. If you need to rescue something from the backup, then you simply follow the time stamp. This is a really attractive feature and I can already imagine that at some high-level classical sessions I have coming up, this would be a great fallback solution. One feature I’d like to see, though, is an internal loop input. It would be really useful to record onto one of the BlueBox’s internal channels – the click generated from the DAW for easy syncing of recovered files.

Conclusion If you need 24 mic pre-amps built into an interface and are attracted by the back up and standalone recording features, then you should consider the BBWR24MP. It’s a very solid unit, which easily matches the modern expectations for sound quality. There are some quirks when it comes to usability with its onboard controls and menu, but you soon find a workflow. There isn’t another device out there with a specification quite like this. If you’re after a more flexible studiobased solution, then there’s a Germanmade equivalent that works more fluidly. However, this JoeCo solution ticks many more boxes and will serve a much more rounded professional.

The Reviewer

At NAMM, a more affordable BBWR24B option was launched, along with a substantial upgrade to the JoeCoControl app (above) 40

March 2017

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.



Colby Ramsey catches up with sound recordist Stuart Fowkes, founder of the global field recording and sound art project Cities and Memory about its largest and most ambitious collaboration yet, which saw scores of contributors provide original and reimagined sounds of ‘Sacred Spaces’ from all over the world.

Could you tell us a little bit about what Cities and Memory is, and where you got the idea for it? My background is a musical one that mainly comes from playing in a number of different bands over a period of ten years, most of which involved taking field recordings and sample sounds and making something new out of them, and putting them back into a musical context, constructing everything out of source material. With one band, everything we did was themed around nautical stuff, so we worked and did field recordings in a few coastal locations (sea, lifeboats, radios etc.) and then put that back into the context of songs. One day I was trying to work out what to do with this huge bank of sound recordings that I’d accumulated, and the idea for Cities and Memory came from there, which is what I completely focus my time on now. So how did it all come together? It was a combination of things at the same time really. I had this big pile of sound recordings, and was also at the time getting into sound mapping – of which there were a few online – but I 42

March 2017

knew if I was to do it myself I would have to bring something new to the party. One of the things I decided to do composition-wise was take field recordings and blend them together to create a place that couldn’t possibly exist, but sounds like a feasible soundscape; like something that is real. I then realised it would be good to tie the two together and came up with this idea of a sound map, where you’ve got the original field recording and this reimagined or remixed version, which takes whatever seems to be the outstanding feature of the field recording and works with that to create something new. How did you get it off the ground and why do you think it is important to get people to collaborate on these community audio projects? It’s hugely important that the project has always been open from the word go, because of course, I can’t get round to 60 different countries myself in that time so I need the input in order to gather these global sounds. In terms of the reimagined side of things, anyone can contribute a recording from their

mobile phone or handheld professional field-recording device and then remix it – it makes the project that much more exciting and it really taps into this opensource culture online. The field recording community is super collaborative and supportive, so as soon as I got involved with the project and did the initial groundwork to get the word out – which wouldn’t have been possible six or seven years ago – the word spread quite organically about it. As well as doing the creative stuff myself, I can also act as a facilitator between people worldwide, which is really nice. Someone in New Delhi might send me an original field recording and then a sound artist who lives in San Francisco can create an entirely new piece of music with it. Sacred Spaces is the biggest Cities and Memory project to date. What made you decide to go down this route? There were a couple of things that inspired me with Sacred Spaces. The Churches Conservation Trust got in touch with me and asked if I’d be interested in going round to some of their properties, as they renovate and

restore churches across England in quite obscure, rural locations. They were willing to let me go ring the bells and play the organs myself, which was a great opportunity and really produced some fantastic sounds. But I didn’t want to just confine it to England – it felt like a much bigger opportunity to me. Then there were the wider contexts, including the element of making people socially conscious about sound. Soundscapes are constantly changing or disappearing, and natural sound habitats are being lost through traffic noise, construction or whatever it may be. We need to be aware of the sounds that surround us and recognise that they’re valuable, and to think about how we can preserve and protect them. Sacred Spaces are everywhere and they should be treasured. It’s a combination of the fact that these sounds are beautiful while it’s also another opportunity to talk about their history and this ongoing battle with intruding sounds. What are your thoughts on the rise of sound mapping? Sound maps have really exploded over the last few years with things like the London Sound Survey. However, there are also much more niche examples where people have challenged themselves with mapping their own city, and there are lots of other nice little takes on things. For me, the role of the sound map comes down to what I mentioned earlier and that is people’s appreciation of sound in the world around them, because it is quite often taken for granted. If a block of flats are built in front of someone’s house or a landmark in the town is knocked down people are going to complain about it. With sound, people often don’t think about the effects that a particular change will have until it’s too late. I think sound maps really help us to listen to the world a bit more closely and cherish what we’ve got before it’s gone.

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AMI March 2017 Digital Edition  
AMI March 2017 Digital Edition