International TECHNOLOGY AND TRENDS FOR THE PRO-AUDIO PROFESSIONAL www.audiomediainternational.com
T U C D L O C ws AMI intervie , Matt Black of co-founder and Ninja Tune British pioneering music electronic t duo Coldcu
Behind the scenes at the BBCâ€™s Late Night Scott Walker Prom
Console special: Inside the market for hybrid mixing systems
We test products from Townsend Labs and Genelec
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10 PEOPLE 8
Opinion Mastering engineer Katie Tavini on the need for support in pro audio
REPORT 10 BBC PROMS Behind the scenes at The Songs of Scott Walker BBC Prom
14 Coldcut Matt Black of Coldcut on the duoâ€™s 30th anniversary AV show and Ableton Live plugin MidiVolve
FEATURES 25 Consoles Simon Allen investigates the current market for hybrid mixing systems
END USER FOCUS 29 Live console plugins
REVIEWS 32 Townsend Labs Sphere L22
SECOND ISSUE THOUGHTS...
Experts in the issue
Katie Tavini is a professional mastering engineer who started her career in 2009. She has been a regular participant at Red Bull Studios’ #NormalNotNovelty workshop series.
Stephen Bennett has been involved in music production for over 30 years. Based in Norwich, he splits his time between writing books and articles on music technology, recording and touring, and lecturing at the University of East Anglia.
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.
Cover pic credit: Hayley Louisa Brown
ou’ve deﬁnitely heard of diﬃcult second album syndrome. The sophomore slump that many artists have found themselves in when expectation exceeds reception. While this, my second issue as editor of AMI, was no Stone Roses’ Second Coming, it was certainly challenging to improve on the previous issue. Featuring legendary studio designer John Storyk on that October cover and various cosmetic and thematic changes to improve the overall look and feel of the publication, the AMI team are all proud of the end product and the positive feedback we’ve received from you, the reader, so far has been incredibly encouraging. So encouraging in fact, that we’ve been hard at work since our previous print day to make Audio Media International better than ever. The wider theme of this month’s issue is consoles, and we’ve enlisted the expertise of our friends Simon Allen and Andy Coules to explore the current market for hybrid mixing systems and to profile live console end users on pages 25-27 and 21-23 respectively. We’ve also got a special live console plugin end user focus on p29.
And speaking of plugins, if you turn to p14 you can read our interview with Matt Black, Ninja Tune co-founder and one half of pioneering electronic music poduction duo Coldcut, who have launched a top-selling Ableton Live plugin this year called MidiVolve and have also been celebrating their 30th anniversary with an AV show, which they’ve been touring around Europe. Following on from the previous issue, we’ve made a few more changes elsewhere in the magazine, which we hope you’ll like. If you turn to the back page, you’ll find a new section devoted to some of the top tweets from the pro audio world over the previous month, as well as the Pro Spotlight, a new monthly section showcasing a talented pro audio professional from a range of disciplines in the industry. Lastly, in what might be a NewBay Media first, you will also notice a few Spotify codes scattered around on various pages of the magazine. Audio, and music in particular, are the root of many of the things discussed within these pages, so where we can we’d like to make our content more interactive and give you the option to hear what you’re reading about, instantly. Just open Spotify on your phone, hit search, and in the top right hand corner you’ll find a camera symbol that will open a scanner. Use this feature to scan the codes and enjoy the audio. As you know, next month is December, which of course means we’re already very busy making the final issue of 2017. Until then, feel free to get in touch with any complaints, suggestions or (hopefully) compliments.
Murray Stassen Editor Audio Media International
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TOTALLY WIRED: SOLENT UNI TURNS TO VAN DAMME CABLE FOR STUDIO UPGRADES The university’s recording facilities have been redeveloped as part of a £100 million investment programme outhampton Solent University has upgraded the rooms in its TV, Film and Media Technology department as part of a £100 million programme of investment running up to 2020. The uni boasts a number of professional-standard facilities including 4K-ready broadcast studios, radio suites and newsrooms. Following the success of Studio 1’s refurbishment in 2016, the team once again turned to VDC Trading when a further two studios were upgraded this summer. VDC supplied three patchbays in Studio 1 with a custom wiring solution. “It all comes out to a 25-way D sub plate connectors and then, off-the-shelf from VDC, I purchased D sub trailing leadstails to connect all the equipment up,” explained technical instructor Jon Wills. “It just meant it was flexible for me.” The centrepiece of the studio is a large-format Avid S6 M40 control surface, as the university is an Avid learning partner. Studio 2 is being billed as the Neve Room as it features a Neve R6 Lunchbox with six units in it as well as a
Portico Channel & Master Bus Processor, while Studio 93 has been set up as a smaller version of Studio 1 and is used by first year students. All rooms have Logic and Pro Tools along with McDSP, Sonnox and Native Instruments plugins. The summer upgrade also saw new drum kits, guitar amplifiers as well as desks, distressors and pre-amps being purchased; the studios now feature kit from brands
including Dynaudio, Focusrite, Sennheiser and Yamaha. Despite the tight timeframe, the project was completed in time for the new academic year. “The reaction from students returning after the summer has been extremely positive and the academic staff have been very complimentary about what we’ve done,” Wills concluded. www.vdctrading.com
EXCLUSIVE: APG COMPLETES MAJOR INSTALL AT THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY A number of units from the company’s Uniline Compact range solve acoustic challenges in the RGS’ lecture theatre n extensive haul of APG loudspeakers was recently installed at the Royal Geographical Society’s lecture theatre in the heart of London. The sound design for the theatre presented a number of challenges which were solved with the new, highly-scalable Uniline Compact range. A total of 16 UC206N units were speciﬁed for narrow coverage while two UC206W speakers were chosen for their wider dispersion. Meanwhile, four UC115B subs were installed along with 14 DX5 coaxial bass reﬂex speakers, all powered by the company’s DA:50 and DA:15 DSP ampliﬁers for monitoring and installation. “The lecture theatre at the Royal Geographic Society was quite a challenge acoustically,” said Stewart Chaney, MD at Plus4Audio, who speciﬁed and integrated the whole system for the RGS. “Because of the large areas
of wood panelling and an upstage PA position, there was a need for an accurate and highly coherent system.” The whole system is controlled by a DiGiCo SD9 console and two 32:16 D Racks. The RGS also boosted its coms capabilities by investing in 10 of Sennheiser’s 2000 series radio mics and a Tascam SS-CDR200 solid state recorder. “We selected APG’s UC206N from the Uniline Compact series due to its tight (70 degree horizontal) but even high-frequency pattern control, enabling full coverage of the space with minimal wall reﬂections and excellent gain before feedback,” added Chaney. “On top of that, we speciﬁed and added the UC115B subwoofers, which allowed for a well-balanced and powerful system suitable for all of the venue’s requirements from speech presentations to live music. The system has been well received by all at the RGS and visiting productions alike.” www.apg.audio
A HELPING HAND Engineer Katie Tavini has been a regular speaker at Red Bull Studios’ #NormalNotNovelty sessions since its launch earlier this year. Here, she shares her views on the importance of supporting other members of the pro audio community
KATIE TAVINI Credit: Rianna Tamara
hen Audio Media International asked me to write an opinion piece, I laughed. You see, although I have many opinions, from my favourite colour of cat and how to make the best cup of tea, to current social and political aﬀairs, the length I’m used to expressing any of these opinions is usually around 140 characters. My most popular tweet in the past year came out of frustration of the industry that all of us work in - pro audio. Speciﬁcally, engineers. If you’re an engineer too, you might well have noticed this: say you’re at a networking event; things are going well, and you’ve made some potentially useful contacts. Then, you get introduced to another engineer. You can see the other engineer sizing you up, hoping that they got to speak to more bands, artists and label reps rather than any of the other engineers in the room. You both smile politely, and the conversation immediately leads on to an uncomfortable discussion about gear; who has the best, oldest, most expensive equipment. No talk of the reason we’re all doing this passion for music. My tweet: “Engineers need to stick together and stop seeing other engineers as competition. Be happy when others do something amazing!”, got retweeted 13 times and liked 60 times. This is a lot more interaction than my (fairly bland) tweets usually get, and the replies were all in agreement. So if people agree, why do we still feel threatened by other engineers?
Musicians go and watch other musician’s gigs. It’s the foundation of any local music scene. Athletes cheer each other on from the sidelines, and the runner who came third gives the first place winner a hug. They use competition positively to progress. Yet, other engineers have treated me with suspicion when I’ve cheered them on or complimented their work. The reluctance for workers in the pro audio industry to recognise their peers successes and achievements is making the industry feel incredibly stagnant. It can also feel pretty isolating as the majority of us are ‘gasp’ freelance. There is also a culture of engineers trying to ‘out engineer’ each other on forums when someone asks for help or advice, and so there are many people who feel they simply cannot ask. I know I’ve been there! No one wants to read through 20 replies from people claiming to have the biggest d*** and shooting everyone else down. No one wants to be made to feel ashamed for asking a question, no matter how simple the answer may seem to another. But how are we supposed to learn if we feel we cannot ask? We all want to be the best at what we do, of course. But this will only come with being challenged and learning from others. We are passionate about the audio we work on, and so we should continuously be developing our skills to get each job sounding better than the last. Instead of treating other engineers as competition, we should be treating them as the skilled individuals they are, and be interested in what they
have to say. Without this, we will fail to pick up the new skills, techniques and drive that continue to further our professional development. If you’ve continued reading this far, I’d like to make a suggestion: try and help one other person working in this industry each month, regardless of where they’re at with their career, and ask someone new for advice each month. Sounds easy? Sounds like very little eﬀort? Good! It shouldn’t feel like a lot of work, but help in the form of small gestures such as oﬀering advice, a hook-up with a contact, teaching someone a technique that will beneﬁt their work, or simply listening to work they post on social media and letting them know if you thought they did a great job will start to create a much more communal and vibrant industry where everyone feels supported and able to ask questions to further their career growth. Being open minded and listening to advice from anyone will surely quicken your progression, even if you feel you’re at the top of your game. Our jobs will be so much more rewarding if we are progressing, learning, helping and developing, and that in turn, will surely create a much nicer industry to work in. Katie Tavini is a professional mastering engineer who started her career in 2009. She has been a regular participant at Red Bull Studios’ #NormalNotNovelty sessions www.katietavini.co.uk
Compromise is not an option when everyone is counting on you.
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REPORT: BBC PROMS
Hall or nothing
(c) Mark Allan
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// The Royal Albert Hall played host to a special Late Night Prom in July dedicated to the career of legendary artist Scott Walker. Murray Stassen spoke to Huw Robinson, operations manager, Classical Music at BBC Radio and senior studio manager Marvin Ware about what happened behind the scenes of this extraordinary broadcast event… rom teen pop heartthrob to experimental orchestral composer, Scott Walker has built up a substantial and vastly inﬂuential body of work in a career spanning ﬁve decades. Some of his most signiﬁcant work was arguably released on his solo albums Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4 between 1967 and 1970, with iconic tracks such as Plastic Palace People (Scott 2) and The Old Man’s Back Again (Scott 4) released during this time. In July, the Royal Albert Hall played host to a special Late Night Prom paying tribute to this period of Walker’s life and music as part of its annual Proms series of classical performances.
Conductor Jules Buckley and The Heritage Orchestra performed tracks from the four self-titled albums with vocals delivered by special guests Jarvis Cocker, John Grant, Richard Hawley and Susanne Sundfør. The event saw some of these tracks performed in full for the very ﬁrst time and the event was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and recorded for TV. “It was an unusual project because a lot of it has not been performed before,” says senior studio manager Marvin Ware, who headed up the engineering duties behind a Stage Tec Aurus in the BBC’s OB truck Sound Three, which was present at the Royal Albert Hall for the entire Proms season. “The albums Scott to Scott
4 was the period post the Walker Brothers and many regard it as his wilderness years, but it was the orchestrations of the music that were absolutely crucial to the sound that he was creating on those albums,” he continues. “A lot of care and attention had gone into the mixes and into the arrangements of that. That had to be reflected in the mixes that you could hear on air. There was also an affinity with Scott Walker for all four solo artists and it was an important project for the BBC to get right. It’s one of those things that will end up in an archive somewhere. It’s a one off event.”
REPORT: BBC PROMS
A BBC Radio 3 engineer sets up microphones for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall (c) Sim Canetty-Clarke
(c) Sim Canetty-Clarke
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// First steps Getting the broadcast element of an event of this scale and signiﬁcance right obviously involves a lot of planning and requires an expert level of skill, which operations manager Huw Robinson says is “characteristic” of BBC engineers. “If you look at the Proms scenario dealing with a full classical orchestra, you might sometimes get a 30 minute rehearsal,” he explains. “It’s experience that means you’re still getting it right so that it sounds great on air. BBC engineers are known for getting stuﬀ down in a few minutes really, because that’s the job.” Robinson emphasises that the Proms are not like any
standard date on a tour “when a group is coming into a broadcast infrastructure,” and what they are able to achieve “in the Royal Albert Hall has taken several years to turn into a well-oiled machine”. Ware tells AMI that the ﬁrst step in the process was meeting with the Heritage Orchestra, Jules Buckley and PA company Delta Live. “From that point we start to plan it and piece it together,” he continues. “It’s basically about trying to understand the orchestrations and what the pitfalls are along the way. Then I’ll produce an extensive mic list.” Once the initial mic list has been drawn up, the team went away to work out how to patch that all together. This event required about 170 mics to be patched up in about an hour. “There were a lot of AKGs, DPAs and various other dynamics,” says Ware. “There were also an awful
lot of condenser mics out there, which is possibly unusual,” he says. “I do have the luxury of being able to use a lot of mics that are quite expensive, which wouldn’t necessarily ﬁt if you were a touring band in a rock and roll world. There would be a lot of dynamics out there and an awful lot of DIs just to cut down on that spill. “Sometimes, I do think about how many thousands of pounds worth of mics there are on that stage and often engineers will say to me, Wow, this is incredible - we never get this opportunity to use this calibre of mic on a show.”
House rules One of the biggest complexities of this project was the way in which Ware and his team in the OB truck had to work with the FOH engineer to get the mixes right. November 2017
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REPORT: BBC PROMS
L-R: John Grant, Jarvis Cocker, Jules Buckley, Susanne Sundfør and Richard Hawley. The PA company appointed for the Proms is Delta Live (who has been the preferred audio supplier to the Royal Albert Hall for around 20 years) with FOH duties handled by Stephen Hughes and monitors handled by Elaine Duﬀy. “We’ve worked with them for several years and have a close working relationship and understanding,” says Ware. “It’s a broadcast festival, so it’s crucial to have that understanding between the two parties.” He adds that one of the biggest issues with this particular show is that with 170 mics on the stage, he needed to work out the acceptable level of colouration and how much colouration could be removed from his personal mix. “There is inevitable colouration from monitor speakers, the PA and the cavernous size of the Albert Hall which has quite a lot of reverb of it’s own in there,” he says. The key to achieving the correct balance here was the choice of microphones. “The choices of microphones are absolutely crucial and Delta Live were quite happy for me to lead that,” says Ware. “I guess that’s just my 30 years of experience working in that hall with a limited amount of time.” In preparation for the show, the broadcast team, orchestra and solo artists had pre rehearsals in Maida Vale. “The PA company turned up and did a full mic up,” continues Ware. “Then we took the whole thing into the Royal Albert Hall, rehearsed it and
(c) Mark Allan
then took it all down. Because it was a Late Night Prom, we had a rehearsal in the morning. “We’ll have taken everything out, hidden it in every nook and cranny backstage in the Albert Hall and then at the end of the evening concert at 9:15, everything came back on and it would have been re-rigged. About 170 mics had to be patched up in about an hour. It’s quite a complex project.”
NETWORKING SKILLS “We’ve been running MADI between trucks and between different areas of the Royal Albert Hall for some years now with great success. Of course it does mean that you hand over FOH gains to the FOH engineer and that is another reason why it’s absolutely crucial that you have someone that you have total trust with. I should be able to sit down at my desk and within 15 minutes have locked off gains from FOH and then I work on trims from then on. On this particular show we actually had three different sets of MADI running.” - Marvin Ware, senior studio manager at the BBC.
PROCESSING POWER “Within the desk I was doing a lot of processing, so a lot of EQ and quite a lot of compression. I ran ﬁve reverbs on this one. So I ran the four Lexicon reverbs and the Bricasti M7 was the main body in the strip. Actually within my processing path I parallel compressed the mix output and parallel compressed the drums and then ran some outboard as well, so some of the soloists would have been through various other bits and pieces. Adding to that, each mic, depending on where it is will have had its own problems that will need enhancing. I usually work quite hard on notching out troublesome frequencies.” - Marvin Ware, senior studio manager at the BBC.
A cut above
the rest Coldcut performing live
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Electronic music pioneers and Ninja Tune founders Coldcut celebrate their 30th anniversary this year. Here, one half of the duo, Matt Black, tells Audio Media International about their anniversary AV show and their Ableton Live plugin MidiVolve… fter making music for 30 years, inﬂuencing countless artists and producers and earning iconic status amongst peers and fans alike, some might expect your average veteran act to be content with just reissuing a deluxe version of their debut record to celebrate three decades in the music business. But Coldcut are not your average artists. The legendary British production duo (Matt Black and Jonathan More) have celebrated their 30th birthday year in typical Coldcut style, demonstrating an unrivalled work ethic that has seen them release Abelton’s best-selling plugin of 2017, two albums (one as Coldcut and one as Bogus Order) as well as embarking on a European anniversary tour, in which they’ve been performing their new AV show. The two albums released this year include Coldcut’s Outside The Echo Chamber and Bogus Order ‘s Zen Brakes Vol.2. The former was made with producer Adrian Sherwood and features tracks such as Vitals with Roots Munuva (scan Spotify code, above) and Make Up Your Mind with Ce’Cile and Toddla T. The latter is the sequel to Zen Brakes Vol. 1, the very first release on the label they started 27 years ago. Ninja Tune has since become one of the most respected independent music companies in the world, boasting 5.5
million followers on SoundCloud alone and artists signed to it, and its subsidiary labels, ranging from Bonobo to Roots Munuva, Wiley, Kate Tempest and 2014 Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers. Coldcut have been at the forefront of electronic music production and sampling culture since their debut release Say Kids - What Time Is It? (scan Spotify code, above) in 1987.
Madness remix of Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid In Full, which achieved chart success in several countries. “In that time there were quite some limits with what we could do with the existing technology,” says Coldcut’s Matt Black, over Skype from Ninja Tune’s HQ in south London the evening before the duo set oﬀ for the Swiss leg of their tour.
“We were always trying to do something hard because it’s healthy” The word ‘pioneering’ is often thrown around to describe artists or producers who reach a certain milestone in their career, but Coldcut’s use of sampling in the ‘80s without the use of the pro audio hardware and software now available to bedroom producers was the epitome of the word. Say Kids - What Time Is It? was the ﬁrst Coldcut 12” white label and is credited as one of the ﬁrst tracks ever to be made completely using samples. They can also claim to have had one of the ﬁrst commercially successful remixes, with their 1988, Seven Minutes of
“In the late ‘80s and ‘90s, particularly working with sound was demanding and working with visuals was [also] demanding,” he continues. “It takes ten, to a hundred times more resources to work with visuals and [the equipment] didn’t exist that could do it and if it did it was limited. So we took it and adapted it and built extra bits on so that we could fulfil our vision of audio-visual hip hop.” There were of course samplers available at that time, with the likes of the Fairlight CMI having been launched by its creators in 1979, but as pointed out by Black, their severalthousand-pound price tag meant that they were reserved
Coldcut: Jonathan More (left) and Matt Black (right)
Matt Black: ‘I’m surprised more artists haven’t jumped onto games and VR’
/////////////////////////////// for somewhat more established producers. “There was a big barrier to people like us being able to use them,” he adds. “You had to borrow a lot of money to do that or go into partnership with a bigger company or something. When technology made those things cheaper it democratised that process of making music. “We were doing stuﬀ when not many other people were doing it because it was hard. That was good, because we got a bit of a name for it and established it and kept our interest going. We were always trying to do something hard, because its healthy.”
Sights and Sounds Experts at marrying audio, visual, music, art and technology, Coldcut have released music making apps like Ninja Jamm, a track (Robbery, with Rholin X) from Outside The Echo Chamber in the form of a 3D virtual ‘surreality’ game and a free app called Pixi Player (released alongside Zen Brakes Vol 2), which they use live to automatically make abstract art whilst they play. The anniversary concerts have also seen Coldcut launch new AI technology called Style Transfer, which has arisen from a collaboration with the Deepart team from the University of Tubingen. It utilises AI to interpose the visual
“I got into VR a bit in the ‘90s and that was the ﬁrst sort of wave,” says Matt Black. “Now it’s returned and it’s a lot better technically. It’s a major new art form and we are working on the VR experience. I do think there’s a bit of a question mark about if people are really going to get into wearing these massive, crazy helmets which seal them oﬀ from the outside world. I’m more into the William Gibson idea that you might just have a plug that jacks straight into your nervous system that plugs in behind your ear. “I’m waiting for that one. I’m surprised really that more musicians and electronic artists havent jumped onto games and VR as an artform because the possibilities are immense. It’s kind of like ﬁlm. Film is the top art form because it includes all the other ones. But arguably games and VR even include ﬁlm and make it interactive and non linear, so it could be a very interesting area, so let’s see what happens. But yeah, I’d like to do more in that.” tone of one image over another and this was the official launch of this AI tech in a live environment. “Audio and video, like our ears and our eyes, are separate but they join up in the brain,” says Black. “When we do an audio visual show, it’s about audio and visual, two separate things, but then we connect them by various ways. There’s many ways we can do that, so in a way we’ve been investigating that relationship or those sets of relationships.” Coldcut are using Jamm Pro, an updated beta version of their Ninja Jamm app in their live shows. “It sends MIDI triggers to a programme called Resolume, which has a set of clips that match up with the audio clips from Ninja Jamm or Jamm Pro,” he explains. “Each audio clip is assigned a visual clip, which makes sense with it. I like to say that VJing is the art of making pictures dance, so in a way that’s what we are trying to do.” This year has also seen Coldcut launch MidiVolve, a Max For Live Ableton plugin inspired by Music for 18 Musicians by US composer Steve Reich. The pack (Abeleton’s best-selling one in 2017 at the time of writing) is a riﬀ generator and pattern sequencer that automatically ‘evolves’ live or imported MIDI patterns into new “riﬀs, melodies and grooves”. “I’m pleased to say that it’s become my first software
invention to actually make any money,” jokes Black. “I think that’s probably down to having Ableton as a partner who are an established business in this area.” Black is keen to emphasise that Coldcut have also been involved in the devlopment of various other bits of software since the ‘80s and ‘90s. “We developed our own software in the ‘90s to do digital loop manipulation. It was called DJamm, but we didn’t have the resources to ﬁnish it. Then Ableton came out so we jumped onto that,” he says. Having used Ableton since it was first launched, Black says that he “always wanted to do something with the company,” and when they had the idea for MidiVolve, they realised that it could “actually be a commercial product”. “With all our software, we are never quite sure whether it’s research and development for ourselves for fun, something we are just going to give away, or something we are going to make into a commercial product,” he explains. “I used it in a jam session the other day with Martin ‘Youth’ Glover from Killing Joke, Nik Turner from Hawkwind and East Bay Ray from the Dead Kennedys and a bunch of other people at Youth’s [Space Mountain] festival in Spain. I pulled out MidiVolve and did some fucked up rhythms on that, which everyone seemed to like. It’s a good improvisation tool.” November 2017
DRUMMING UP BUSINESS
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Drum recording specialist Rubix Group is not just your average studio. Colby Ramsey meets group co-founder and director Alexandre Monnier to find out what this premier facility in London’s Park Royal has to offer hile a number of London’s biggest recording facilities struggle with the tough industry climate, the team at Rubix have decided to diversify their oﬀerings and do
things diﬀerently. Serving as a self-proclaimed private members club for professional musicians, Rubix oﬀers everything from live event production services and artist relations, to education workshops and of course, recording services. Although primarily a tracking studio, Rubix specialises in recording drums, as well as looking after professional artists, servicing their kits, and providing them with everything they need for their tours or productions, oﬀering an unprecedented selection of drums and cymbals to choose from. While it is possible to produce a half-decent recording of any instrument “using a laptop, some speakers and some common sense,” says Rubix Group co-founder and director Alexandre Monnier, “it is an art to record drums properly and there are a lot of things that can go wrong”.
Less is more The design of a drum studio is essentially a room inside a room inside a room, with an abundance of acoustic treatment to create a certain harmonic richness. Instead of investing heavily in vintage pro audio equipment, the team at Rubix decided to do away with all the outboard gear, streamlining their setup with a Focusrite RedNet interface, which Monnier says was picked for the quality of its sound and the advantages it brings to their workﬂow. Gear-crazy audiophiles might be disheartened, but the way the room’s acoustics, microphones and drum kits are tuned and utilised depending on the project makes for great quality sound right from the start, according to Monnier, who handles Rubix’ events and strategy operations. “You barely need to put the faders up and it sounds like its been mixed already because it’s been well recorded,” he says. “The idea is that when clients arrive, we’re ready to record by the time they have a coﬀee in hand.” The setup in Rubix’ drum room is also very simple to look at, with racks of gear concealed behind makeshift walls and custom ceiling-mounted microphone bars
on rails. “We can’t use normal mic stands with the drum kits always going in and out, so like with the bars, everything is done to save time,” explains engineer Arvydas Gazarian, who currently handles most of the sessions. “It’s a basic framework but it means anyone can come here with their kit and setup if they don’t have a preference.” The most important part of the room’s design was, as is often the case, the ceiling. The whole room itself – which is diamond shaped – weighs nine-and-ahalf-tons and was designed by studio designer Manu Ventura, who designed the room especially for drum frequencies and often frequents its spaces to record. “There were some issues because of the shape of the room though,” explains Rubix co-founder and director Bence Bolygo, who along with Monnier and partner Peter Ward makes up the company’s board of directors. “The corner pieces in the angles of the walls alone took a month. We make use of wooden joists to make the room one and a half times bigger acoustically.”
Variety is the spice of life With over 500 cymbals alone on stock and 60 full drum November 2017
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kits, Rubix oﬀers a staggering 117,000 combinations of drum sounds, and prides itself as having the biggest vintage collection of drums in the whole of London. “We’re like the drum doctors of LA but we do everything in-house,” remarks Bolygo (pictured, above left). “The pure essence is that you’ve got every possibility of sounds since the 1940s here, from James
such as Jamiroquai, Harvey Mason and Jeff Beck, as well as producing drum recording videos for the likes of Yamaha, with the studio equipped to shoot such material. Additionally, the guys at Rubix have recently been heavily involved in the education side of the industry, working with universities around Europe – as well
about educating in sustainability for the future.” Artist relations is also a big part of what Rubix Group do on a day-today basis, matching up brands with artists who will come to the studio to create videos, host masterclasses, or involve themselves in other kinds of endorsement deals. “It’s a lot more of a natural, eﬃcient and less costly way to get people to know about good
Brown’s kit to Buddy Rich.” The idea here is that the setup stays the same and it’s just the drums that change: “First you put the kit into the room to get the sound the client wants,” Bolygo continues. “Then it’s about the mics and the room; we’re endorsed by AKG and we also work with a company called Violet Designs. The room is neutral and controlled, and our approach was to eliminate as many variables as possible.” While the drum room lies at the core of Rubix’ offering, they also work with many famous artists
as secondary schools – to give students an in-depth experience while garnering marketing exposure for their associated brands. “The reason why we got involved in the education side is because we see a growing demand in universities for these drum masters to go in there and teach the students,” explains Bolygo, who is mainly focused on the education and brand relations side of the business. “We’re doing an education event with Ronnie Scott’s as an online streaming event - the last one pulled in an audience of 88,000 watching it. It’s all
products,” says Monnier (pictured, above right). “All these singer-songwriters will have a project but might not have a drummer so we can supply that too, from a talented unknown to a famous superstar. “We always just wanted to make a high end place that would be great value for clients. It’s hard to boil down what we do to one unique selling point so to speak, but I think the range of our drum options deﬁnitely holds the best value.” www.therubixgroup.co.uk
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REPORT: LIVE CONSOLES
LIVE AND KICKING
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Andy Coules speaks to live sound engineers Laurent Dupuy, Rich Burt, Wes Maebe and Justin Grealy about their opinions on the challenges presented by modern live sound consoles and what they’d like to see with future updates hen it comes to live sound the mixing console is mission control, grand central station, where the magic happens, the hub of all activity. It’s the place where inputs and outputs collide in a precisely choreographed ballet of cascading audio overseen by engineers adept in responding to multi channel musical performances in real time. So what better way to look at live consoles than speaking to four skilled practitioners in the ﬁeld of live sound? For this report I individually canvassed Wes Maebe (Rock Goddess, They Call Me Max, UB40 and Leo Stannard), Laurent Dupuy (Alpha Blondy, Angelique Kidjo, Ben l’Oncle Soul and Julia Biel), Rich Burt (Anna Calvi, Johnny Flynn and Blaenavon) and Justin Grealy (The Libertines, Anna von Hausswolﬀ, The London Palladium and The Hammersmith Apollo). When I asked for everyone’s opinion on the current state of the art in live consoles, the dominance of digital consoles quickly become a key topic. Laurent: “The digital desk has deﬁnitely - and I think permanently - sent analogue ones packing! The quality of sound in the digital world has improved so much in the past 10 years that it’s hard to ﬁnd a good reason to go through the hassle of installing analogue desks. Their small size also encourages a lot of small
production companies to take them on tour, when before they were reserved for companies who could aﬀord more staﬀ.” Burt : “The solidifying of digital consoles as the norm is allowing people to mix with a great level of reﬁnement and control - at pretty much every level from pubs to stadiums” Grealy: “There are many good products in the marketplace, particularly in the cheap end of the market. For a few thousand pounds it’s now possible to purchase a very powerful and versatile tool. In the higher end of the market there are some really fantastic bits of kit. I regret, however that I no longer have the choice between digital and analogue as most
tools and the smaller real estate means it’s easier to travel with your touring console. However in my opinion this all comes at a price. Having grown up on analogue consoles, I’m used to mixing dynamically, making small adjustments to a snare on the one hand and riding eﬀects sends on the vocal on the other. On the modern day digital consoles that is virtually impossible. To me it makes mixing live sound a lot more static and a lot less creative.”
So what’s your favourite console? Maebe: “My all time favourite console has always been the Midas Heritage 3000, it always delivered a fat and punchy sound and is extremely well laid
“For a few thousand pounds it is now possible to purchase a very powerful tool” hire companies neither stock or support large format analogue consoles.” Maebe: “This is a double edged sword really. Everything has gone totally digital, with manufacturers trying to cram more and more features into a smaller footprint. Of course there are positives to this situation, recalls and scene snapshots are amazing
out, making mixing a fun and creative job. In the digital domain I really like the Yamaha CL5. When I was touring with Sting, I got very familiar with the M7CL, but I was never a fan of the mic pre-amps, which meant dragging around a rack full of Summit mic pre-amps. Yamaha listened to its user group and vastly improved the pre-amps on the CL5. Knowing November 2017
REPORT: LIVE CONSOLES
Wes Maebe Justin Grealy
the M7 allowed me to jump right in with the CL5. I also like the CADAC CDC7 - I love the pre-amps and the dual screens which allows you to approach the mixing process a little more analogue style.” Dupuy: “I really like the Yamaha CL5. It sounds great, it’s very ﬂexible and it’s easily available everywhere for a world tour. Also the Yamaha interface is well designed. Any engineer can start using it and ﬁnd most of what they want in no time. The sound has improved
apparent whenever you use other people’s show files. It can be difficult getting your head around their workflow. Another thing is the temptation to over use all the features - just because there are hundreds of compressors and lots of nice plugins doesn’t mean they all need to be used. This can easily distract from the fundamentals of mixing a good show.” Grealy: “Learning all the different operating systems. Watching the stage and the screen at the same time.”
“When it comes to live sound, the mixing console is misson control” a lot since the PM5D or M7CL - better pre-amps, better summing, better processing, etc.” Burt: “I really like the Soundcraft Vi series. They sound marvellous and the layout is super visual and intuitive and they’re the only consoles that come with Lexicons inside.” Grealy: “The Midas Pro series, because they sound great and I know them really well. The design ethos of the Midas boards was historically driven by their vast experience of analogue console manufacture, them being one of the market leaders for over twenty years. I still have a lot of love for the old PM5D too.”
What are the key challenges of modern live sound consoles? Burt: “With the huge amount of flexibility in most digital desks, it can be a challenge getting your workflow right - and then sticking to it. The many options available become
Maebe: “Allowing the operator to work in an analogue fashion, doing multiple actions at the same time. We’re still dealing with computers/operating systems and those tend to crash. Another key challenge for me is that everything is now visually represented. And even though I try not to look, when there’s a big bright screen screaming in your face in a dark venue, you can’t help but cast a glance. It’s usually a total shock horror moment when you see the graph of the EQ you’re applying. Your knee jerk reaction is, wow that’s way too much cut or boost and then you step back, listen and realise, that’s exactly what’s needed. It’s just one of those digital processes that gets in the way of the ears.” Dupuy : “Apart from the Avid S6L, none of the other desks can handle latency issues. So every time I want to use parallel compression I have to use busses for the main signal and the compressed signal. I end up
with a pretty massive routing. For example, on my CL5 routing for Alpha Blondy I have no free busses when only using eight eﬀects. All the other busses are used to avoid latency problems.”
What features would you like to see on future consoles? Grealy: “Pre/post insert option on channel auxiliary sends. 360 degrees of real variable phase on all inputs and outputs.” Dupuy: “Being a recording and live engineer I would love to be able to use my Universal Audio plug-ins on each desk. That would change my workflow! At the moment most of the desks force you to use a particular set of pre-amp racks from the same brand but hopefully the day will come when Dante protocols will be installed on all racks and we’ll have the choice to pick the remote pre-amp racks you like most.” Burt : “I’m enjoying SSL’s idea of Stem Channels and the flexibility they provide, allowing groups to be fed into groups would be very useful for drums, it would be great to see something like this on other consoles. I also look forward to better virtual soundcheck and recording integration going forward.” Maebe: “Obviously a lot more compatibility between the various brands. An increase in multifunctionality, as in allowing for more than one or two user actions to take place at the same time. On most mid and even high end digital consoles that are out now, all the faders, encoders and switches just feel cheap and wobbly. It would be nice to feel a sturdy console under my fingers.” November 2017
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FEATURE: HYBRID MIXING
HYBRID THEORY Engineer Simon Allen takes Audio Media International inside the current market for hybrid audio mixing systems t doesn’t matter what area of the pro audio world you come from, we all share a level of innergeek. Just thinking about routing some analogue electronics in a signal ﬂow leaves us all struggling to contain the excitement. We will of course, each hold diﬀerent views about how, what, where and why, but as a community, there’s a lot of love when the old school meets the new school. Digital is good. In fact, digital has become very good indeed. In this article however, I’m not going to start discussing the science or any philosophies around analogue vs digital. I’m going to look at how our digital and analogue worlds have come together, in light of hybrid product oﬀerings and developments. Speciﬁcally, let’s focus on the console market and what manufactures have been doing to tempt us into their camp.
to home garages; the project studios, are continuing to develop exciting and interesting combinations of hardware and software. There are enthusiasts hidden everywhere, building setups that might just include one or two choice pieces of hardware across the master bus, right through to some of the largest analogue setups. We all know someone who’s spent a lifetime collecting everything needed for an analogue setup, probably with a Pro Tools rig bolted on the side.There’s a lot of choice out there too.
If you’re thinking about building a hybrid setup in a home or commercial studio, broadcast studio or even for a live tour, then budget is really the only limit. There are cheaper solutions around, including some sensibly priced 500-series units and the odd DIY kit
While the car world is pulling its hair out over losing fossil fuels, thankfully we already have some outstanding digital equipment. Some of which sounds just like a V8 with twin turbos. However, our equivalent
which sound great. Keeping hybrid solutions in mind though, products such as the very cool Tegelar Audio Schwerkraftmaschine, make these dreams realistic around workﬂows of today. With all this going on, what are the console manufacturers doing to harness this obvious love aﬀair we have with digital and analogue combinations? Sure enough, anyone can take an analogue desk and throw an AD/DA converter at it, along with whatever outboard they choose. This method could be the source of an article by itself.
“Hybrid mixing systems hold their place in the market where modern workflow is vital ” For some people, it’s as much about the look and feel of a console as it is the sound. For this however, several manufacturers are of course producing DAW controllers, so we can avoid turning a virtual dial with a mouse and keyboard. This too could be an entire November 2017
FEATURE: HYBRID MIXING
article. Here however, I want to focus on the products that combine all of these aspects into a truly ‘hybrid mixing system’. Interestingly, this seems to immediately cut live sound and broadcast solutions from the picture. There are modern digital live and broadcast consoles that support a number of features that could be considered hybrid. These would include multi-track recording connections via MADI, USB or AoIP, as well as some surfaces having a DAW control mode. While analogue outboard equipment can be used with a digital console, there isn’t an oﬀ-theshelf solution that also incorporates analogue electronics in the live or broadcast worlds. It should be mentioned however, that some recording facilities are starting to use digital consoles as the hub of their operation more than ever before. This is probably because the sound quality is so good now and they provide economically sensible complete toolkits.
From The Top Starting at the high-end and therefore the expensive side to the market, there’s actually a lot to choose from. This does of course naturally bring us to two manufacturers; AMS Neve and Solid State Logic. Although these companies have their routes ﬁrmly planted in the analogue domain, they are the pioneers of this hybrid market. Engineers have always aspired to use their consoles, often only leaving personal taste or loyalty to choose between the two. To learn more about their oﬀerings and the vision of each company, I spoke to a specialist from each camp. Flying the SSL ﬂag is none other than Paul Mac, who many will know from his many years as AMI’s editor. He started oﬀ by telling me that SSL have been manufacturing analogue equipment for 40 years, and digital for 30 years. This might be a surprise for those who aren’t aware of their broadcast solutions, but leaves SSL with the tools and 26
lessons learnt to combine analogue and digital workﬂows. SSL combine their digital audio knowledge and analogue pedigree in nearly all of their modern studio consoles. At the top is their ﬂagship; Duality, which is essentially an analogue board with their Delta Control. This permits DAW control, analogue automation from your DAW and of course total recall. While SSL are always going to manufacture and sell many of these consoles, they are out of most peoples budgets. More reasonably priced is their AWS 948, which Mac told me continues to be extremely popular. The AWS is a desk I’ve been fortunate to spend a few years with and continue to come across. I’m not surprised that this is one of SSL’s best sellers. Its small format manages to oﬀer so many features, and most importantly the sound of SSL’s larger desks, alongside several modern workﬂow tools. These include the DAW control, total recall and now with the delta control software upgrade, analogue fader automation from within your DAW too. The total recall that SSL oﬀer was quite a remarkable move forward when we think about hybrid mixing systems. The ability to accurately and reasonably quickly recall a mix onto an analogue board is a signiﬁcant improvement compared to marking down settings or taking pictures of the desk. The new delta control, which is now available across SSL’s product line, is the latest leap forward in true hybrid mixing. Automation drawn in Pro Tools can now be converted to analogue automation, for that true SSL analogue mix. Most signiﬁcantly the 948 with it’s dual input channel strips oﬀers an environment that suits modern production techniques with stereo stemming, as well as some clever in-line mixing and tracking tricks. All these features of the AWS have meant it’s hugely popular with EDM producers as well as small to medium sized studios. Mac mentioned Nicky Romero as an example of a producer who uses their AWS simply for mix-down rather than as a recording tool.
SSL believe the AWS is priced well, oﬀering something to those who are moving “out of the bedroom”. SSL also oﬀer a few alternative options in the hybrid market too. The Matrix2 is a very clever product that oﬀers SSL’s console architecture and analogue summing, combined with a smart method of managing insert points. The inserts can be mapped anywhere on the desk via software, saving you from patching any hardware in your studio for each mix. While this desk is the perfect option for many project studio installations and oﬀers several hybrid style features, it’s almost in a product band by itself. It could be argued that it isn’t strictly a hybrid mixing system, as there aren’t any on-board analogue processors besides the summing. Their Sigma almost falls in the same category as the Matrix, being a rack-mountable summing mixer with digital control. This obviously isn’t a console, but worth a mention for anyone who’s tight on space or budget, but is looking for some intelligent analogue summing. For those that are considering the slightly more bespoke hybrid solutions, but want to recall settings easily, then SSL’s X-Rack compliment both the Sigma and Matrix2 for a complete solution. Finally, SSL have the recently re-vamped Nucleus2. This is perhaps the most compact and aﬀordable hybrid solution available from SSL. Again however, I’m discarding it from our true hybrid mixing solutions as it doesn’t contain any analogue processors or any analogue summing. SSL have also entered the hybrid market from the other side. By licensing certain plugin manufactures, and developing plugin emulations themselves, nearly everyone has access to the SSL sound in some form or another. Interestingly, this hasn’t diluted the market and SSL is still producing a lot of hardware. Mac’s closing comment was; “if you’re trying to chose between a plugin or an analogue console, just come and have a listen - we are conﬁdent you’ll hear the diﬀerence”.
FEATURE: HYBRID MIXING I then spoke with AMS Neve’s David Walton, who discussed their various hybrid mixing systems. At the top end of, well, nearly anyone’s budget, is their ﬂagship 88RS analogue console. This is an analogue console and doesn’t really compare to a Duality in the same way. However, there’s a new feature out this year. You can now have built into the speciﬁcation, a control feature allowing a DAW to control the analogue faders, pans and mutes. Does this qualify the 88RS as a hybrid mixing system? I’ll let you decide. There are two products that deﬁnitely do qualify as hybrid mixing systems though. There’s the Genesys and the Genesys Black. First came the Genesys which is essentially a smaller format analogue Neve console, but with DAW control. Then in 2013 came the Genesys Black, which is arguably the AWS’ biggest rival. This console takes hybrid mixing to an impressive level. The concept for the Genesys Black was to wrap an analogue console around a digital audio workstation. They’ve done exactly that with the centre section featuring a computer monitor and work surface for the often-forgotten keyboard and mouse. Walton informed me that the 16 or 24 pre-amp variants are their most popular, often going into private, or small to medium sized commercial studios. The Genesys Black oﬀers many features within its surprisingly small form factor. It has three operating modes; either fully analogue, fully DAW control or part DAW control and part analogue. Just as with the AWS 948, AMS Neve are ﬁnding many EDM producers are using the console as their workstation of choice. Thanks to the built-in converters, it’s even easier to get mixing on a Genesys Black as you only need a MADI connection from your computer. No need for troublesome wiring and/or patch-bays. Walton explained that the electronics inside the Genesys Black sound the same as their ﬂagship 88RS, even harbouring the same bussing architecture. The diﬀerence with the electronics however, are some digitally controlled parameters such as the EQ’s. Due to the digitally controlled hardware, the complete state of the desk can be recalled in only 2 - 3 minutes. There are a handful of controls that have to be manually moved into place, but the majority recall automatically. The snapshot information includes the position of all the controls, providing a visual representation of those that need to be moved by hand.
Anyone else? Well, there are a handful of near-misses in my opinion. Audient came close with the ASP 2802, which Focusrite then bought and re-labeled as the Control 2802. This has to be the smallest product I can think of that ﬁts our deﬁnition of hybrid mixing consoles. However, I’m not sure how successful they were, or are now. Buying one new or second hand might prove diﬃcult. It’s a shame really as I think there are many project studios that would work well around a modern version of this desk. The routing of audio in and out of the console wasn’t the most logical, which probably puts many customers oﬀ at this level.
famous 1608. The 1608 is the desk of choice if you’re after a hybrid solution with the API sound. Ultimately it could be considered an analogue console, but has a P-Mix Automation optional extra. This can be speciﬁed at the time of purchasing the console, or ﬁeld-ﬁtted afterwards. The P-Mix Automation is like any analogue console automation but with the signiﬁcant diﬀerence that it can be driven from your DAW. This also permits the 1608 to act as a DAW controller. Lastly, but certainly not least, is Audient’s new Heritage Edition of the ASP8024. This latest revision is based on the same console and circuit design which they’ve employed for the last 20 years.
“One of the biggest attractions to building a hybrid facility is the return on investment” There are of course several analogue desks that have built-in converters, but I’m not sure if they’re really deserving of being labeled hybrid mixing solutions. There’s no interaction with the digital domain except the passing of audio. Presonus market their recent consoles as hybrid solutions, which they are to a point. They process audio internally, but where digital control is introduced, the processing is digital. Their eﬀorts should be appreciated for compiling single channel strip processing, into a standard. This standard that they call a “Fat channel”, has allowed them to mirror processing from desk to desk, and desk to workstation. However, this processing is digital. The closest they’ve come to a hybrid mixing solution which incorporates analogue electronics are their smaller AR consoles. However these lack any recall or DAW control. Moving up the price bracket very slightly, is Allen & Heath’s GS-R24. This is a truly hybrid mixing console that can be ﬁtted with AD/DA converters and supports DAW control. I’ve recorded an album with one of these consoles and it functions extremely well. I wasn’t enamoured with the built-in converters, but otherwise it provides a great working environment. I’m not sure how quickly I would rush to process a mix-down on one of these desks though, as the audio quality doesn’t hit high enough against the loss of any recall feature. There are two more products however, which I believe will continue to be as successful as the AWS and Genesys Black. In the API camp of course, there’s the
These consoles have a recognised sound, earning much respect throughout the industry. The ASP8024-HE is still an analogue console at heart, but several new features result in this being a fantastic hybrid option. The desk can be speciﬁed in a number of sizes and layouts which include a patch-bay and producers desk as options. There isn’t any method to recall the analogue controls, but DAW remote control is possible via it’s “Dual Layer Control”.
Conclusion There’s a surprisingly short list of hybrid mixing systems developed as off-the-shelf products. I believe this is partly due to the customisable nature of working in this fashion, with each producer/mix engineer choosing a different tool set. A different tool set can even be used for different projects, with some magic coming from the various adaptations. The rarity of these all-in-one consoles simply has to be down to supply and demand. Successful hybrid mixing systems, in the sense we have discussed them here, tend to be relatively expensive. Whatever your views are around analogue vs digital, in-the-box mixing has become highly refined. If you’re going to indulge in a project with some analogue loveliness, it already assumes a level of commitment and budget. While the likes of SSL and Neve are proof these systems are highly successful, it seems unlikely there will be a successful budget option. A Soundcraft Ghost version 2 with built-in converters, DAW control and automatic recall could be interesting. Hybrid mixing systems hold their place in the market where modern workﬂow is vital. Mixing in analogue is fast, perhaps faster than with plugins. However, couple it with modern technology and workﬂows, and you can be presented with a list of issues. Thanks to the developments from manufacturers in this ﬁeld, we have some very smart solutions. Perhaps one of the biggest attractions for anyone building their own hybrid facility is the return on investment. Not only are you setting a precedent as ‘hopefully’ someone that knows what they’re doing, but the depreciation of the equipment is less than, or even not applicable, compared to digital hardware or software. November 2017
END USER FOCUS LIVE PLUGINS
PLUGGING AWAY Choosing the right plugin or software for the job can prove to be a diﬃcult decision, especially in a high-pressure live environment. Here, we speak to a number of live sound specialists about their top picks for when the going gets tough
Waves Audio X-FDBK
Yamil Martinez Waves’ X-FDBK is the “first plugin ever” to provide a complete automatic feedback suppression solution. It dramatically improves the ‘ringing out’ process and shortens it to a matter of seconds, identifying feedback frequencies quickly and precisely, and cuts them with a narrow notch, preserving the fidelity
of the wedge or PA and enabling users to maximise the gain without getting feedback. Simply turn up the levels on the wedges and PA until they start to feedback, then activate the plugin and wait a few seconds until the feedback disappears. X-FDBK’s graphic frequency spectrum displays all feedback frequencies and the degree to which they were cut, letting users tweak them manually if they so wish. FOH, studio engineer and producer Yamil Martínez (Alex Campos, Ana Gabriel, Ricky Martin, Tommy Torres) uses Waves X-FDBK on vocal microphones and acoustic guitar, “in order to generate presets of the usual bothering frequencies of specific microphones or instruments”. “It is particularly useful for when acoustic guitars’ feedback frequencies change when a Capo is used or moved around,” explains Martínez. “X-FDBK solves this issue, and it can also adjust itself, when an unlisted song suddenly shows up and you were not prepared for it.”
While not actually a plugin, but a plugin host, the LiveProfessor platform from Norwegian firm Audioström is designed to let audio engineers use their favorite plugins for live performances. It uses the same technology as DAWs found in studios, but instead of focusing on a timeline, it has signal chains, designed to be used with a hardware mixer. LiveProfessor has extensive snapshot automation and cue lists, enabling the user to programme changes during
Automatically cuts the frequencies that cause feedback Clearer, louder, feedback-free sound from monitors and PA ‘Set it and forget it’ functionality Dramatic improvement to live sound and workflow
shows. Along with a host of features geared towards live performances, LiveProfessor offers extensive MIDI and OSC functionality to control the setup, all wrapped up in a fast and easy-to-employ user interface. Live sound engineer Romain Tocanne has been using LP in live situations with an RME audio card connected in ADAT on several Yamaha digital consoles, with zero latency plugins. Very easy to configure and use on the go with a good MacBook Pro and a high end audio card, it is a musthave when using plugins, according to Tocanne. “A lot of improvements have been made to the overall functions of the software because the developer is very close to the users, and he is always listening to our requests,” he says. “I work on an electronic music festival – Les Nuits Sonores in Lyon, France – it is 10 hours of live acts, and I use LiveProfessor from the start till the end, always connected as insert on the master of the console. “I have never experienced any glitches or audio drops, DSP is stable and CPU usage is very low. I have
Key Features Signal chains Snapshot automation Extensive hardware controllers Cue lists/Midi modifiers used LP for years now and I’ve been involved with many other users in the development of new features.” www.audiostrom.com
C R E ATI V E M A STE R I N G. R E I N V E NTE D. WaveLab is todayâ€™s leading mastering and audio editing platform, favored by mastering facilities, music studios, sound designers, journalists and broadcasters. Its comprehensive set of features, customizability and outstanding audio quality are the reasons WaveLab became the worldâ€™s most popular professional platform for audio reďŹ nement. WaveLab Pro 9 reinvents creative mastering once again by providing a revolutionary new user interface, full M/S mastering support including editing and processing, the superior MasterRig plug-in suite as well as direct exchange with Steinberg DAWs, such as Cubase, among many other features.
END USER FOCUS LIVE PLUGINS
Eventide H3000 Live
Steve Davies H3000 Live brings the sounds from the ‘legendary’ H3000 Harmonizer effects processor to Yamaha’s flagship RIVAGE PM10 digital mixing console. Optimised for live sound applications, H3000 Live provides pitch shift, delay, reverb, modulation, filter and other modules that can be combined as required with an advanced algorithm, delivering organic overall sound. Carefullycrafted presets of the most-requested H3000 sounds make
it easy to achieve “intricate, sonorous effects, adding rich harmonisation or chorus to vocals, or creating big guitar sounds with lush harmonics,” according to the developer. “I’ve been doing a lot of work with string sections in large bands this summer, so I’m always looking for detailed, smooth, and transparent sounding plugins,” explains Steve Davies, managing director at production services firm Subfrantic. “The H3000 helped enormously to establish a strikingly dominant position in the mix for a comparatively small string section in an otherwise very loud band. “Before we decided to take the plunge with PM10 I had spent quite a bit of time contemplating these sorts of toys for my own personal touring rack, but now it’s on the PM10 as a perfectly modeled plugin I don’t have to. What’s more as it’s a plugin, the number of them I can have is determined by the processing power of the PM10, not by what’s in a rack. “The plugin just sounds amazing. It ticks all the boxes and I’m very excited to work more with it as we get to the end of the year.”
Key Features Most sought-after classic sounds from H3000 Harmonizer Integrated seamlessly with Yamaha’s RIVAGE PM10 console
Universal Audio Neve 1073
Michael ’Coach’ Connor Universal Audio’s Neve 1073 plugin for Apollo and UAD-2 models the dualstage ‘Red Knob’ pre-amp, three-band EQ, and post-fader output amplifier, accurately replicating the experience of the original 1970s hardware. Like the hardware, the new Neve 1073 plugin incorporates all 10 clipping points from the preamp and EQ circuitry, delivering “clarity, grit, and harmonically rich class-A saturation,” according to the developer. Harnessing UA’s Unison technology, the Apollo pre-amp changes to the Neve 1073’s physical input impedance, allowing both “Lo” (300 Ω) and “Hi” (1200 Ω) impedance setting options. This provides the 1073’s full gain and tonal range to your favourite mics. Universal Audio’s virtual devices have changed the game for TEC
Award winning FOH engineer Michael ‘Coach’ Connor, who mixes FOH for Paul Simon and Sting. “My setup is primarily based on inserts associated with a stand-alone console and I have a ton of mic pre’s, so using an outside pre clutters up the signal flow in these large systems,” Connor explains. “However, we do ‘fly dates’ or small appearances where I’m able to throw my Apollo Twin in my bag and have a Neve front end for Paul’s vocal and guitar. “The unison modeling is great; the EQ section works just like you think it would; and for the final touch, I’ll add a TLA100 for dynamic control. The Neve 1073 Preamp and EQ provide that consistency I’m looking for and really help the day progress smoothly. Paul’s vocal and guitar require a less aggressive shaping of the sound and that’s what this EQ offers. It also offers repeatable results so you can move forward quickly even if you didn’t save any settings.” www.ams-neve.com www.uaudio.com
Key Features Neve Marinair transformers used on input and output stages Mic input: Gain +80db to +20dB in 5dB steps Inputs and output are transformer balanced and earth free Freq response: ±0.5dB 20Hz to 20kHz, -3dB at 40kHz. EQ Out
TOWNSEND LABS SPHERE L22 Simon Allen tries out this microphone modelling system from Townsend Labs n a world of plugin emulations and computer algorithms for modelling diﬀerent aspects of music production, microphone modelling has been one of the last areas to catch-up. This is probably partly due to the requirement of a very clean and neutral sounding microphone to begin with. This microphone can then be considered your ‘control’, upon which the emulation process can be applied. Designing and manufacturing these ‘base’ microphones obviously comes with its own challenges, but it now seems there are a few players on the market who believe they are able to do it cost eﬀectively. There’s no point trying to emulate a $10k microphone if it costs $10k to build. There’s no hiding away from the fact there are two solutions everyone is raving about. First there was the Slate Digital Virtual Microphone System and this, the Townsend Labs Sphere L22. Slate announced their solution in 2014, which set the precedent in terms of ability and price point. Although the VMS is still highly regarded, it doesn’t reﬂect the diﬀerences in polar pattern and the proximity eﬀect, from mic model to mic model. This was something I pointed out at the time, and was therefore very smug when Townsend Labs dropped the Sphere L22 into the mix only last year. I have been itching to try this truly revolutionary product since it’s launch, and welcomed the opportunity to carry out this review.
The Hardware Unlike the VMS which comprises of a microphone, pre-amp unit and the software plugin, the Sphere L22 mic is the only hardware you need alongside the plugin. One of the Sphere L22’s party pieces, is the dual diaphragm capsule. This is of course how Townsend Labs have been able to re-create diﬀerent polar patterns and the ability to vary the proximity eﬀect and axis shift. They have achieved this by setting the two diaphragms a known distance apart and then the software plugin combines the two signals via a series of algorithms. This can also provide a secondary purpose as a stereo micing option, but with just one mic. Townsend Labs recommend using a Universal Audio Apollo or Quartet interface, or any other digitally controlled pre-amp. The idea is you can easily set the same gain for each side of the capsule. 32
The microphone comes with a cable that splits the connection to two XLR connectors. You can also use the microphone with other pre-amps that aren’t digitally adjusted or have precision analogue stepped gain, by using the systems calibration mode. To do this you simply engage the ‘cal’ button on the side of the mic, which sends the signal from the front capsule down both connections, allowing you to set the gains accordingly. The plugin can ﬁne-tune this automatically too, so it’s as accurate as possible. While this is a very simple and clever solution that permits the use of any pre-amp you wish, it does remove the ability to ride the pre-amp gain during a record pass. You can of course ride the gain with digitally controlled pre-amps that are linked, but if you used two 1073’s for example, you would want to set it and leave it. I think this is a small trade-oﬀ as it’s rather impressive that this system will allow you to use any pre-amp. The Sphere L22 itself comes in a reasonable ﬂight case with a shock mount and a simple mic stand clip included. The build quality of the case isn’t going
Key Features Comes in a rugged flight case with plush dust cover Shock mount and mic stand clip included Ability to model mics for mono and stereo applications Maximum SPL: 140 dB - 149 dB Maximum frequency: 20 - 20.9 kHz RRP: £1,399 ($ 1,854) www.townsendlabs.com single microphone, and a stereo option when you want to use the Sphere L22 side-on for stereo applications. In both cases, Townsend Labs recommend setting up a stereo channel in your DAW with the Sphere plugin loaded at the beginning of the chain. This obviously applies the microphone modelling before any other processing you want to do. The smart part of this arrangement with the mono plugin, is that it will act as a 2-in, 1-out eﬀect process. This allows mono plugins to be applied after it, as you would if using the real deal. The plugin is well laid out and simple to use. You can simply ﬂick your way through the various mic models
“The LEDs that light up inside the capsule add to the impression that this is a scientific tool from the future ” to win any awards but certainly does the job. The microphone however is very well made. It’s quite large in size, but I think that helps it look professional in front of potential sceptics. One feature that might sound like a gimmick until you see one in the ﬂesh, are four white LEDs that light up the inside of the capsule when you apply phantom power to both channels. This actually looks really cool and adds to the impression that this is a scientiﬁc tool from the future.
The Software The plugin which is available in AAX, UAD, VST3 and AU formats, comes in two options. There’s the mono option for when you’re using the microphone as you would any
available, listening to the diﬀerence in real-time. There’s a good selection of microphone models available and although they can’t legally write the model of mic, which is being emulated, it’s pretty obvious. Besides the obvious tonal diﬀerences between the models, the changes in polar pattern between each model is remarkably noticeable. What’s more, the position of the microphone to the source appears apparently diﬀerent between the models. This is exactly what I was hoping the Townsend Labs solution would oﬀer, harking back to the art of using diﬀerent mics, for diﬀerent sources, on diﬀerent records. The plugin then gives way to three stand-out features. Firstly, thanks to the dual diaphragm capsule
and the algorithms Townsend Labs have calculated to simulate diﬀerent polar patterns, via a dial on the plugin you can take any mic model through any standard polar pattern shape. There is everything on oﬀer from omni, through cardioid to ﬁgure-of-8. The known polar patterns for that mic model are highlighted in blue, but you can still simulate an SM57 with a ﬁgure-of-8 pattern if you wish. Incidentally, this proves quite eﬀective on an electric guitar cabinet. Secondly, there is a proximity dial which is worth the investment alone. This has to be the easiest way to achieve that really close vocal sound which is so often desired today. Have your vocalist sing close to the mic and then dial the proximity parameter to 100%; it’s as if they’ve stepped right in between your ears. The secondary use that Townsend Labs describe this parameter useful for, is matching any proximity differences between takes. For example, you might do a drop-in that is artistically perfect, but frustratingly the singer wasn’t in the same place on the mic. The proximity and axis parameters can help match the drop-in to your main take.
This brings me on to the third feature that I believe makes this product so credible. All the processing and adjustment made around the mic modelling can be done in post production. This means you don’t have to choose the correct microphone at the point of recording. Just set-up and start tracking to capture any creativity happening at the time. Then at a later date, go back and choose the right mic for that vocalist on the track in question. A true sense of “fix-it-in-the-mix”. Looking ahead, I would of course love to see some more microphones modelled with this system. There’s a fantastic selection at present which won’t disappoint and I’m sure Townsend Labs are working on some more. Personally, I’d love to see some more dynamic mics modelled, such as an SM7, MD421 and an RE20. I’d also like to see some more small-diaphragm condensers modelled such as DPA’s or a 184. There is an argument for a small diaphragm version of the Sphere L22. This isn’t necessarily due to the physics of small diaphragms as they’ve already proved this dual diaphragm system can simulate smaller capsules, but for the practicality of placing such a large mic in some scenarios.
Conclusion Modelling any sonic device, from guitar cabs through to classic hardware EQ’s and compressors is always going to be subject to personal perception. For example, not one U47 I’ve heard sounds the same as the next. This is apparent with the Sphere L22, but this in itself is testament to how acute this system is. I have discovered some new favourites within the Townsend Labs mic locker, which sound every bit expensive as the originals.
The Reviewer Simon Allen is an internationally recognised freelance engineer/producer and pro audio professional with over 15 years of experience. Working mostly in music, his reputation as a mix engineer continues to reach new heights.
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Alistair McGhee reviews Audio Studio 12, the latest update to this DAW from German-based developer Magix
ound Forge has been around since 16 bit windows stalked the earth, which is a long time. One problem facing such long established software is what to add in a new version. Well, new owners Magix have done the latest version of Sound Forge - Audio Studio 12 - proud by adding 64bit operation and some new edit features that lift the performance of Sound Forge into a new realm of sophistication. And it’s the new edit features we will mostly be concerned with here. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s great to have a variety of tools in our audio toolboxes. Multi track DAWs ready to do heavy lifting in recording and mixing - performance software that majors on real time control, and surgical editing and mastering software that allows us to concentrate all our attention one file at a time. And it’s in that last category that Sound Forge has built a formidable reputation over many years. My main beef about some products in the editing and mastering category is the reliance on range based editing as the only way to make edits. With this approach, if your range edges are not quite right - you can end up in a tweak/listen/undo loop that gets old really quickly. And with no visible indication of where previous edits have been made and a strictly linear undo model editing can be frustrating. If you make edit A then twenty ﬁve other edits to Z - then if you want to adjust edit A - you have to undo 25 other edits to get at it. I’ve always found this a bit strange because DAWs have long since oﬀered a virtual editing model where all edits remain visible and editable as you work through the song. And in Audio Studio 12 Magix have brought their virtual editing chops to Sound Forge, note the Pro version is still on 11 and doesn’t have some of these features. You can
Key Features 64-Bit architecture Record high-resolution audio at 32-bit/384kHz LP and tape digitization, repair and audio conversion Slice Editing, Soft Cut, Crossfade Editing RRP: £49.99 www.magix.com slide your edit back and forward and of course return to it at any time to do so. You have a simple cross fade editor that allows shape selection and position and duration alteration - and if you are a long time Magix user you’ll recognise some of these dialogues from the Samplitude stable. I was pleased to see that if you slice two ends of a clip then Sound Forge allows you to roll either the in point or the out point or both - eﬀectively moving an entire segment within your overall audio. Quite simply this is how editing should be done - it’s not that you can’t achieve the same results in range editing - it just takes much longer and is much less ﬂexible. And if you are completely happy with your edits then you can render all your crossfades with one function. With Slice Editing and Soft Cut - soft cut puts a crossfade by default at every cut point - Audio Studio 12 gives you heavy duty features at a giveaway price. One thing I do miss is the option of a clip based volume handle - it would be nice to be able to reach out and drag the volume of the clip but this feature is rendered rather than applied real time. An additional bonus in Audio Studio 12 is the included licence for Ozone 7 Elements. Ozone 7 is
a heavy duty mastering plugin from iZotope that has a great reputation and a signiﬁcant price tag. Elements is a simpliﬁed version with limited controls but a tonne of presets. You can manually adjust the maximizer limiter, the input gain and there are macro settings for EQ and a wet/dry dynamics mix but that’s it. But on the other hand there are tonnes of presets to get you started and as a free plug in Ozone Elements is a great leg up in mastering if your dipping your toe in for the ﬁrst time. You get level matching bypass mode for checking your processing an undo history that means you never lose ‘that great sound I had ﬁve minutes ago’ and the plug in supports outputs up to 24 bit and 192 kHz. I think the new editing features raise the Sound Forge game to new levels - if stereo editing is your bag then I could recommend Sound Forge Audio Studio 12 as the best place to start and an absolute steal. Ozone 7 Elements is nice to have and the rest of the features like 64 bit operation, VST-3 and CD burning provide a solid working platform. Splice, splice bab y.
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. November 2017
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GENELEC 8331 The 8331s are the smallest in the range of Genelec’s point source monitor range it calls The Ones. Here, Stephen Bennett gives Audio Media International his expert opinon about these small but mighty speakers ou wait forty years for some point-source (sometimes referred to as coaxial or dual-concentric) driver based speakers to come along and what do you know? Some do. Tannoy are, famously, known for their dual concentric speakers, which placed the mid- and high-frequency units in the same driver. The advantages with regard to phase and imaging were palpable, but the engineering challenges meant that, for this author at least, Tannoy’s speakers never quite made the grade. Fast forward to the 21st Century (where I write this from my ﬂying car while dining on a food pill) and the improvements in design and engineering meant that some serious manufacturers are now turning their Sauron-like eye back to the point-source principle. Genelec’s The One range is one (sic) such and the monitors under review are the diminutive 8331. I use the company’s small - and possibly indestructible - 1092A for studio, mobile, installation and surround work, so was keen to see how the new monitors performed in similar applications. Apart from the (these days) novel appearance, these monitors can take advantage of the Genelec Loudspeaker Manager (GLM) control network system that, the company claim, can compensate for many acoustic ills including boundary issues and poor monitor positioning - have they got a secret camera in my new studio space? In these days of soaring rents and unstable leases it’s rare for a freelancer to be able to create a suitable acoustically treated workspace - the popularity of nearﬁeld monitors reﬂects this trend and manufacturers have been quick to meet their needs using various design philosophies. I’ve recently moved to a temporary space where even my reasonably diminutive ATC SCM16 monitors have to be shoved up against a wall. As you can imagine, this plays merry hell with the frequency response and imaging and no amount of tweaking the EQ controls is going to make it easy for me to generate reproducible mixes using these monitors. The 8331s are 285 mm by 189 mm by 212 mm in their cotton socks (305 mm with the neat isopad bases) and you may want to get the tape measure out to see how really small that is. They weigh a hefty 6.7kg and, like most Genelecs, the drivers are impervious to the poking ﬁngers of unwashed media students by means of their metal protective mesh. The coaxial driver comprises a combined mid and high frequency unit and itself forms part of the monitor’s large waveguide - a product of a
Key Features 6.7 kg / 15lb 104 dB 45 Hz - 37 kHz (-6 dB) Woofer 72 W + Midrange 36 W + Tweeter 36 W RRP: £2,039 ($2,685) www.genelec.com November 2017
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PRODUCT REVIEW combination of the driver and the moulded recycled castaluminium cabinet - behind which two low-frequency drivers placed coaxially radiate audio through two ports at the front. I can’t recall having heard a three-way design this small before and I’ve deﬁnitely not come across one that places all the drivers at a point-source. Genelec give it a name and acronym and, I think, the Acoustically Concealed Woofers (ACW) deserves it. All in all, it’s a pretty amazing engineering coup and the speaker feels robust and the black ﬁnish, durable. Another acronym, the Smart Active Monitor (SAM), describes the several parametric notch and shelving ﬁlters that can be tuned manually or automatically using the Genelec Loudspeaker Manager (GLM) software - the company are obviously big on acronyms - or akronyymi as the Finns say. I’ve always found that Genelecs integrate easily into most physical locations and I suspect the
mean little in real-life applications - it’s how the speakers respond during playback, recording and mixing that really counts. Did I say the 8331s were diminutive? Not the smallest Genelecs available, they look a little cartoonish on my ATC stands, but have the advantage of making my recording room appear twice as large. But before I subjected the monitors to such cruel sonic punishment, I moved them to a recently refurbished and acoustically lovely ‘proper’ studio space. Placing the 8331s on stands well away from the wall and without any ﬁlter or DSP processing showed the speakers to generate a well-balanced sound ﬁeld with exceptional imaging. Like most small Genelecs, they sound ‘bigger’ than their size would suggest, but the 8331’s low end was less ‘one note’ than many other small monitors and a few test mixes demonstrated that the frequency balance
from processing of the sweep data in my space were shall we say, a lot more mountainous. You can store these corrections and, as the speakers are so portable, I can see users taking advantage of this feature a lot especially in installation applications. On ﬁrst listening, the processing appeared to have really cleaned up the middle-range of any muﬄe and bloom, while the imaging was, both on and oﬀ axis, as superb as in the studio. The bass appeared to have gone completely - but, of course, this was in comparison to the boundary-enhanced untreated sound. In fact, listening to previous mixes and creating a few new ones demonstrated that the low-end presentation was pretty much ideal for making decisions about these frequencies. I could always tell the Genelecs were ported, but their low end wasn’t as problematic as some and it’s probably a reasonable compromise for speakers this small. Because of the
“Using the 8331s allowed me to do some actual mixing in a space that any engineer worth their salt would have told me was impossible”
8331 will be no exception. XLR inputs can accept analog line and AES/EBU format digital signals and Genelec claim that the monitors can generate 100 dB SPL sound level at 1 meter in free space and that’s plenty for a small studio or as part of a multi-speaker installation. As is usual with small Genelecs, the signal inputs and IEC mains connectors are placed vertically so the speakers can be pressed back ﬂush against a wall. For stand-alone use, access to those aforementioned ﬁlters is via DIP switches which, along with a level selector and Ethernet sockets make up the rear panel. The Intelligent Signal Sensing (ISS) - OK Genelec, you’ve gone too far now places the speakers in stand-by mode when no signal is present after a pre-set time and wakes them up rapidly enough. This can be bypassed if you ﬁnd it annoying or want to contribute more proﬁts to energy companies. The 8331’s speciﬁed low frequency range is under 45Hz and up to 37kHz, with a ± 1.5 dB accuracy over the 58 Hz – 20 kHz range. The low-frequency drivers are powered by a 72W ampliﬁer while twin 36W ampliﬁers handle the mid-range and tweeter. As usual though, speciﬁcations
was eminently suited to creating reproducible mixes. Another advantage of point source monitors is that they can be placed on their sides without any phase-related problems and I can report that the 8331s are sonically unperturbed when placed horizontally. Genelec’s GLM system consists of a USB interface, a measurement microphone, ethernet cables for connecting the speakers to interface and each other, and the software itself. Using a networking system such as this should make multi-speaker setups a doddle. The software asks the user to place the speakers in a simulation of their real-life position in an on-screen room and then generates a sweep to capture the audio from each speaker and to create the required correction curves. The audio purist in me always balks somewhat at this kind of digital trickery-pokery, but I was pleased to hear that in an acoustically treated space the correction required was minimal. The software allows you to bypass the correction, so you can quickly hear the eﬀects of the processing. I then moved the 8331s to my tiny new space and repeated the GLM process. The curves derived
point-source design and the fact the whole speaker front is the waveguide, I could get really close to the Genelecs without compromising the sound—another advantage where space is tight. Genelec state that the minimum listening distance for the 8331s is 0.4m and that’s about right for my room! Using the 8331s allowed me to do some actual mixing in a space that any engineer worth their salt would have told me was impossible - after they’d stopped laughing, that is. They’re not laughing now.
The Reviewer Stephen Bennett has been involved in music production for over 30 years. Based in Norwich, he splits his time between writing books and articles on music technology, recording and touring, and lecturing at the University of East Anglia.
E V E SA H E! T T DA 8th November 2017, Sway Bar, Holborn, London Join us in November for another fascinating evening of lively discourse and discussion with leading lights from the pro-audio spectrum.
Register for your free tickets at www.psnpresents.com Following our hugely successful evening of fat-chewing and beer-drinking in June, PSNEurope announces the sixth PSNPresents in November 2017.
If you have any questions regarding PSNPresents then please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team below Event enquiries Emine Partalci email@example.com +44(0)203 829 2614
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I WISH PLUGIN Freelance engineer Alan Branch plugs in to this new oﬀering from Infected Mushoom and software developer Polyverse
ong creativity, originality and expression are some of the major building blocks we all search for when working on new material. What if you had an instrument or an effect that can keep reinventing it’s sound? The I Wish plugin turns synthesis on it’s head by using side chained audio as it’s core sound, feeding it into it’s granular note freezer allowing us to play, manipulate and morph existing audio into sonic pleasing mashed up goodness! The audio experimental duo Infected Mushoom and software developer Polyverse set about developing a plugin that could recreate their own production technique easier. The plugin is named after their own track release I Wish, this track featured sounds created from micro edited sound sources into synth creation, but the track took several days of manual editing. Hence we now have the I Wish plugin that can recreate this time consuming task instantly. I Wish is loaded like a normal soft instrument but its source sound comes from the side chain input, and that’s where the magic starts, as the audio input can be wide-ranging, a vocal track, an instrument, a sine wave or even beats; it seems limitless. I Wish works by capturing a tiny piece of audio every time a midi note is played, which can then be refined using a granular synthesis algorithm, that can be then be played and manipulated in real-time. As I Wish relies on the side chain input, a constant input signal can be better, vocals with large gaps could be tricky to make a pad sound, but if you know the input you adjust your playing accordingly. A vocal might turn into a vocoder or glitched up vocal effect whereas beats or a rhythm guitar could be a pad or lead solo sound.
Modulate pitch and formant Supports VST / AU / AAX plug-in formats Pitch based micro-editing Real-time polyphonic Wavetable synthesizer
Overview Installing I Wish was a simple process and supports Mac/ PC, VST, AAX, RTAS & AU. The GUI design is straight forward with the emphasis on easy to use adjustments. Two main knobs control Pitch and Formant, with a two octave range and linkable control values including any oﬀset to enable a constant pitch and formant change. Audio is pitched automatically via the midi playback going through I Wish, meaning diﬀerent audio sources are incredibly simple to use! An X-Fade control smooths the captured loop in and outs; loops can be changed from sharp attacks to smooth overlapping notes.
RRP: $99 www.polyversemusic.com
Sound As I Wish can use any audio as input what does it sound like? It’s overall eﬀect is a form of a simple waveform, so you could say a buzzy synth eﬀect enriched with the incoming audio overtones at the same time as the pitched midi note. Therefore, the sound is constantly changing, but it’s real time pitch and envelope controls then take it a step further resulting in a varied range of eﬀects, from a vocoder to a huge pa. But get creative with the modulation or throw in an arpeggiator to drive the MIDI and it could be almost anything, a crazy warble, pitch changing glides to chopped up glitch chaos.
Further to this is an ampliﬁer section, there is a wet/dry mix for combining the synthesis with the audio, while an envelope controls amplitude of both wet and dry loop, as well as attack and release, this results in slow attack long notes to short gated staccato eﬀects. Then there is a modulation section with simple LFO & ENV controls, with six waveforms, Sine, Triangle, Saw, Square, Random and Slew. These modulate the pitch and formant with delay and decay and an LFO with shape and rate control, with additional retrigger and tempo quantise to control when the LFO is triggered and it’s sync rate. The Amp and modulation sections bring creative pitch and sound shaping control, to add bends, pitch glides, slow attack or rises with retriggers or quantisation.
Using I Wish is a great fun aﬀair, it’s small size and quick sounds means creativity is pushed to the forefront as much as possible, this is the kind of good design I like. Meaning although it may be simple to use with a bit of work, I Wish can create complex and extreme robotic type glitch-type eﬀects to huge pad/solo synthesis and no time is wasted like searching through a typical complex GUI trying to ﬁnd the right controller to change something. Your sound is dependent on the incoming audio so I literally threw everything I could through I Wish, from vocoder style stutters, crazy lead buzz synths to vocal inspired synth pads, it’s the randomness that is so often inspiring.
The Reviewer Alan Branch is a freelance engineer/producer. His list of credits include Jamiroquai, Beverley Knight, M People, Simply Red, Depeche Mode, Shed 7, Sinead O’ Connor and Bjork. November 2017
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FROM THE SHOW FLOOR
Here are some of the best tweets from two of Octoberâ€™s key trade shows, AES in New York and BPM | PRO in Birmingham, UK IK Multimedia
Tom Lord-Alge shows off T-RackS 5 to visitors at ,.ÂˇV#AES #AES2017 booth
Womens Audio Mission
When u give up your seat for a guy at a listening session and it turns out to be #StevieWonder - #aes #aupsburger
@womensaudio . Oct 20
Team WAM interview at @aes_org convention #AES
Yamaha Music UK
Nick Arkell richard chycki
Engineers at the #SSL booth at #AES. #ChuckAinlay #ElliotScheiner #EddieKramer #RichardChycki
Great day at @visitbpmpro\HVWHUGD\KHUHÂˇVDVKRW of the Yamaha PM10 powering the DJ stage while @djjazzyjeff215 performed #BPMPRO2017
It was a great pleasure to meet a legend, all the way from West Philadelphia @djjazzyjeff215 #JazzyJeff #DJ #westphiladelphia #BPMPRO2017 â€“ at Genting Arena
Each month AMI features a pro audio professional from a range of disciplines to ďŹ nd out how they got their start in the industry and what theyâ€™ve worked on... What do you do? Iâ€™m a producer, recording and mixing engineer. How did you get into the industry? I started working at the Digidesign dealer in Portugal. What are some of your credits? Recordings by Bryan Adams (pictured and playable, right), KT Tunstall and Pete Brown. What has been your favourite project youâ€™ve worked on and why? Getting to work with Bryan Adams, a childhood hero, has been a highlight.
NUNO FERNANDES 42
What is your favourite item of audio gear and why? My UAD cards.
What industry professional inspired you the most to do what you do? Bob Rock for his work with Metallica and Bon Jovi was very inspiring in wanting to pursue this for a living.
What do you do after you’ve given the performance of a lifetime? You deliver an encore, of course. Introducing the K.2 Series. The next standard in powered loudspeakers.
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Published on Nov 1, 2017