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

September 2015

SHOW BUSINESS With more theatres now investing in upgrades to their sound equipment, how are audio companies coping with the problems often presented by these venues? p18

GEO FOCUS

We find out why things are hotting up in the UAE p16

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REVIEW

Putting A-T’s new System 10 PRO through its paces p44

INTERVIEW

Chris Burdon on mixing ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ p54

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WELCOME

www.audiomediainternational.com

EDITOR Adam Savage asavage@nbmedia.com

Experts in the issue

KEEPING IT FRESH

MANAGING EDITOR Jo Ruddock jruddock@nbmedia.com STAFF WRITER Matt Fellows mfellows@nbmedia.com COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Darrell Carter dcarter@nbmedia.com ADVERTISING MANAGER Ryan O’Donnell rodonnell@nbmedia.com ACCOUNT MANAGER Rian Zoll-Khan rzoll-kahn@nbmedia.com HEAD OF DESIGN Jat Garcha jgarcha@nbmedia.com DESIGNER Tom Carpenter tcarpenter@nbmedia.com PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE Warren Kelly wkelly@nbmedia.com Press releases to: ukpressreleases@nbmedia.com © NewBay Media 2015. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owners. Audio Media International is published by NewBay Media, 1st Floor, Suncourt House, 18-26 Essex Road, London N1 8LN, England. Editorial tel: +44 (0)20 7354 6002 Sales tel: +44 (0)20 7354 6000

Audio Media International ISSN number: ISSN 2057-5165 (Print) Circulation & Subscription enquiries Tel: +44 (0)1580 883848 email: audiomedia.subscriptions@ccms.com Printed by Pensord Press Ltd 1 Color - 100 White

Front Cover: L-Acoustics

Iain Betson is a BBC trained engineer with experience ranging from being a station engineer and studio consultant to a presenter and company board member. He has worked in the broadcast industry, both in the UK and internationally, for nearly 30 years. Andy Coules started his career in the industry as a tea boy in a studio, working his way up to studio engineer before developing a taste for live sound. He has toured the world with a diverse array of acts, often in the role of sound engineer/tour manager. Joel Elwar is technical manager at Studiospares, a major UK-based supplier of pro-audio equipment to trade professionals and end users. Paul Nicholson has been a sound engineer and tour manager for 30 years and runs Salisburybased audio production company Midas Prosound.

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onsidering the level of outcry almost every time we let one fall into disrepair, it seems I’m just one of many who think we should be doing all we can to preserve our historic buildings. Maybe it’s because I’m lucky enough to live near one of the world’s top cities, known for its fascinating past and centuries-old tourist attractions, but I’d like to think of myself as one for keeping our oldest structures in good condition for as long as possible, even though it can turn into a costly exercise at times. And that’s where it often leads to an ‘easier said than done’ situation, particularly with theatres and their aging audio installations. Preventing these venues from becoming unfit for purpose or crumbling to dust entirely requires money, and in many cases there isn’t enough to go round to give the place a new lick of paint, let along beef up the sound system – a process that is often far from the top of the priority list. But now that we seem to have come

through the worst of the financial turmoil we’ve been battling for several years, are theatres starting to warm more to the idea of an upgrade? And if so, what are the main challenges suppliers are facing when it comes to introducing new audio technology into these environments? Is it possible to blend the old with the new without causing too much harm? To discover the answer to these questions and more, turn to Page 18 where you’ll find a Feature on this very topic. Staying on the subject of sound systems for theatres and other indoor venues, we’ve got a review of the new LEOPARD line array from Meyer Sound this month as well – our first line array test – which our live sound specialist Andy Coules got the opportunity to try out at this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival. Also, you may have noticed our recent online interview with sound designer and re-recording mixer Paul Hackner on creating creepy material for the new horror flick Sinister 2 – well, in this issue we catch up with another film sound expert, Chris Burdon, to talk about his latest project The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which required crisp, clear dialogue, rather than blood-curdling screams on this occasion, but as you’ll see it was still no easy task. Flip over to the inside back page for that one, but don’t forget to read everything else in between, of course.

Adam Savage Editor Audio Media International

September 2015

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CONTENTS

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PRODUCT NEWS

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Universal Audio unveils BX 20 plug-in

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New Nuendo crossgrade offer

PEOPLE 12

OPINION Paul Nicholson highlights the issues he feels are holding the festival sound sector back

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GearSource Europe’s Keith Dale offers his thoughts on the used gear market

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INTERVIEW Re-recording mixer Chris Burdon discusses his work on ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’

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ALSO INSIDE

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SHOW PREVIEWS: IBC, Game Music Connect, PRO

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Pro Sound Awards Rising Star shortlist announced

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GEO FOCUS: UAE We test the temperature of this growing market

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THEATRE SOUND: Pro-audio suppliers are enjoying something of a boom time in the theatre market but are structural issues and preservation orders hampering progress? We find out

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BROADCAST FOCUS: Rob May of Sitting Duck discusses remote working, audio branding and more

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INSTALLATION FOCUS: AMI takes a trip to the National Gallery’s Soundscapes exhibition

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FEATURES

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TECHNOLOGY

EXPERT WITNESS Studiospares technical manager Joel Elwar provides some tips on getting a classic sound in the studio using valve gear AMI RECOMMENDED IBC – What’s new from RME and Dan Dugan

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REVIEWS

Audio-Technica System 10 PRO Steinberg Nuendo 7 Meyer Sound LEOPARD PreSonus Studio One 3 Sandhill 6011A

September 2015

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PRODUCT NEWS

UA UNVEILS BX 20 PLUG-IN Universal Audio (UA) has released the AKG BX 20 Spring Reverb plug-in for its UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces – an emulation of the AKG BX 20 spring reverb originally introduced by the mic maker in the late 1960s. Universal Audio’s hybrid delay network/convolution design provides the only plug-in representation of this mechanically controllable, acoustic ambience system. To that end, UA emulated a “golden unit” BX 20 from legendary producer, Jon Brion. In addition, the AKG BX 20 plug-in features a range of ‘plug-in only’ controls for modern digital audio workstation workflows, and presets from AKG BX 20 users, including Patrick Carney of The Black Keys; Vance Powell, who is best known for his work with Jack White; Jacquire King of Kings of Leon, and more. Exclusively licensed and endorsed by AKG Acoustics and designed by Universal Audio, the plug-in models the BX 20’s dual tank TTL (Torsion Transmission Line) reverb unit and R20 Decay remote control,

featuring original dual spring tank configuration, plus ‘Mk II’ stereoized A/B Tank Select, Direct signal defeat, and BX 10 Tone controls. The BX 20 promises ‘dark and dense’ spring ambience for reverb busses or individual sources, with ‘Digital Only’ features including Decay, Volume and Pan, Link, Dry/Wet blend, Predelay and Low Cut Filter. www.uaudio.com

RADIAL TURNS UP THE HEAT Radial Engineering has announced that the Space Heater 500, a single-wide tube overdrive module for 500 series racks, is now shipping. The new unit is designed to deliver natural crunch to drums, character to voice, and natural compression to bass and acoustic guitar. The design begins with a single-wide 500 series module in a fully enclosed

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steel enclosure. A three-position HEAT switch enables the user to choose between 35V, 70V or 140V for the desired level of tube distortion. Distortion is further adjusted using the combination of a drive control and a level for make-up gain. The plate voltage is generated by an internal charge pump while the Radial Workhorse or 500 series 16V supply provides the 12AX7 tube with the 12V needed for the heater. A Jensen transformer is employed at the output to bring a more vintage character to the signal path while benefiting from galvanic isolation to reduce hum and buzz caused by ground loops. To further refine the sonic response, the Space Heater 500 is equipped with both high-pass and low-pass filters, while the EQ can also be applied to the signal path either pre- or post-tube for even greater tonal flexibility. www.radialeng.com

www.audiomediainternational.com

PRESONUS PRESENTS NEW DIGIMAX CONVERTER PreSonus has launched the DigiMax DP88 8-channel microphone preamplifier and A/D/A converter. The unit combines eight remotecontrollable, high-headroom mic preamps with remote control features, superior connectivity, and integration with the new Studio 192 audio interface, PreSonus says. Eight digitally controlled XMAX Class A preamps employ true analogue circuitry, with a separate digital volume control circuit. Phantom power is individually switchable for each preamp. Each channel is equipped with an eight-segment LED input meter and phantom power indicator. In addition to offering front-panel control, the DP88’s preamps use simple MIDI CC messages to control level, phantom power and direct ADC

input, making MIDI management from any DAW ‘easy and intuitive.’ When connected via ADAT Optical to a PreSonus Studio 192 audio interface, the DigiMax DP88’s preamp controls are also accessible from PreSonus’ Studio One DAW and UC Surface control software for Mac OS X and Windows. No additional setup is required; the DigiMax DP88 becomes a natural extension of the Studio 192 inputs and outputs. Eight balanced direct outputs are provided on a DB25 connector, as are eight balanced DAC outputs that expand interface outputs for monitor mixes or speaker switching. Also included is MIDI I/O on a multi-pin connector and breakout cable and word clock I/O on BNC connectors. www.presonus.com

QSC BRINGS TOUCHMIX CONTROL TO ANDROID New from QSC is the TouchMix Control Android App for Androidbased tablets and smartphones. Like its iOS predecessor, the Android app offers users comprehensive control of the TouchMix digital mixer, effectively replicating the on-mixer touchscreen interface. The full compliment of features is available to tablet device users on both platforms. On Android smartphones or Apple iPhone and iPod Touch devices, the app operates as a compact, personal stage monitor AUX mixing solution. Up to 12 external devices comprising any combination of Android or Apple iOS smartphones or tablets may be connected at once to a TouchMix mixer. In multiple wireless device operation, the TouchMix operator may allow or restrict access to functions on a per-device basis from the mixer.

“We are very excited about the Android release,” stated Jon Graves, QSC TouchMix product manager. “Wireless mixer control is an extremely important and powerful feature of the TouchMix and now that we offer both iOS and Android apps, customers throughout the world can enjoy the full compliment of TouchMix features and benefits.” The TouchMix Control Android App is initially released as a beta due to the large number of Android-based tablets and smartphones on the market. It is available on Google Play now. www.qsc.com

September 2015

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PRODUCT NEWS

NEW NUENDO CROSSGRADE OFFER Steinberg is giving Avid Pro Tools users the chance to crossgrade to Nuendo 7, the latest version of its dedicated audio post-production software, until 30 November 2015. Owners of Pro Tools HD/HDX version 7-12 can now crossgrade at a special price of €999, while those on Pro Tools Native version 9-12 can do the same for €1,199. Those looking to crossgrade will need to provide proof of ownership of one of the above products, such as a licence card or purchase invoice. Nuendo 7 offers a number of new

features for the rapidly growing game audio sector, along with enhanced facilities for the postproduction industry. One notable new feature for the gaming industry is Game Audio Connect, which allows easy and fast transfer of audio assets from Nuendo 7 to Audiokinetic’s Wwise interactive sound engine, saving hours of manual import/export and file location work. This is complemented by Render In Place and Render Export features, new VCA fader functions tailored to audio post-production workflows, editing enhancements and several new additions to assist with day-today workflow. www.steinberg.net

SYMETRIX DEBUTS TRIO OF EXPANSION DEVICES Symetrix has launched three new products designed to allow integrators to quickly and easily add extra inputs and outputs to their SymNet DSP systems. The first, Symetrix xIn 4, is an audio input expander for SymNet Dantescalable systems featuring four mic/line inputs with +48 VDC phantom power. Likewise, Symetrix xOut 4 is an audio output expander featuring four line outputs, designed to capitalise on the surplus processing power of a SymNet Edge or Radius DSP to bring overall system costs down. The third new device, Symetrix xIO 4x4, is an audio input/output expander for SymNet systems sporting four mic/ line inputs, including +48 DVC phantom power, and four line outputs. All three are configured using SymNet Composer software, thereby eliminating any requirement for hardware DIP switches,

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front panel menus or third-party software. Featuring the performance specifications of SymNet Edge and Radius DSPs, the products come supplied with PoE injectors while rack mount and surface mount kits are sold separately. “The new xIn, xOut and xIO options increase a system’s analogue input and/ or output channel capacity, resulting in a reduction in overall price per channel,” commented Brooke Macomber, managing director, global sales and marketing at Symetrix. www.symetrix.co

September 2015

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SHOW PREVIEW: IBC 2015

www.audiomediainternational.com

LOUD AND CLEAR

With over 50,000 people preparing to descend on the RAI in Amsterdam, we highlight some of the key product launches for the pro-audio professional in attendance.

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alrec will use IBC 2015 to showcase the first technology release developed in conjunction with DiGiCo since the formation of the Audiotonix pro-audio group in August 2014. DiGiCo consoles can now integrate onto the Hydra2 network via a Hydra2-enabled DiGiCo Multichannel Interface (DMI) card. DiGiCo’s range of cards converts audio from one transport protocol to another and can be placed in DiGiCo’s “anything in, anything out” Orange Box, or directly into the back of the company’s newest digital mixing console, the S21. Calrec will also debut two compact aluminium expansion units, its new Fieldbox I/O range and H2Hub switch point, which can be used to expand and distribute a Hydra2 network. Bel-Digital will be unveiling the first Dante audio monitor. The BM-A164DANTE, which provides audible monitoring as well as visual signal strength indication, is designed to provide a simple and effective way of

Riedel’s MicroN 80G media distribution network device 8

monitoring the audio present in Dante networks. It provides a visual indication of signal strength on all 64 selected Dante channels. Each individual channel can also be audibly monitored, or the operator can combine up to 16 channels to provide a unique stereo monitor mix. Housed in a rugged, compact 1U rack chassis, the BM-A1-64DANTE features a redundant power supply as standard and offers full audio redundancy over a Gigabit Ethernet network. Visitors to IBC will also get the chance to explore four ‘audio worlds’ on the joint Sennheiser and Neumann stand in Hall 8 (#D50). ENG (Electronic News Gathering) World is where Sennheiser will preview a brand new wireless product, while there will also be a typical radio station environment, TV broadcast studio and dedicated sports broadcasting set-up to check out – four showcases that together provide a complete overview of the two audio companies’ broadcast offering. Dan Dugan Sound Design will demonstrate three new products for management of live microphones in unscripted talking situations – the Dugan Model M and Model N automatic mix mixers, as well as the Model K tactile control panel. NUGEN Audio will be showing its Halo Upmix tool at IBC 2015. Halo Upmix is designed for creating a stereo-to-5.1/7.1

downmix-compatible upmix with optional dialogue isolation in the centre channel. It will be available in Avid AAX, VST and AU formats. “We’re relentless in making sure that we cover the full gamut of loudness standards, and at IBC we’ll show why NUGEN Audio continues to be the go-to provider of loudness software solutions. In addition, our new Halo Upmix tool will be a radical new approach to upmixing that not only provides the downmix compatibility for TV surround production, but also provides enough creative malleability for film audio professionals. It’s another example of how we use our innovative approach to solve a wide range of audio issues faced by TV and film post-production professionals,” said Jon Schorah, founder and creative director at NUGEN Audio. The DNS 8 Live will be on the CEDAR Audio stand

Taking pride of place on the CEDAR Audio stand is the company’s DNS 8 Live dialogue noise suppressor. Designed for live broadcast and live sound, it offers eight channels of noise suppression, and is quick and simple to use, especially when coupled with CEDAR’s browserbased remote control system. Also new is the CEDAR Studio 7 suite of plug-ins. Never shown before at a major European tradeshow, this now offers no fewer than eight processes including Retouch 7 and DNS One with Learn, which together can greatly reduce or even eliminate all of the common audio problems encountered in film and TV post. The d:facto Interview Microphone will take centre stage on the DPA stand.

It features an omnidirectional 2006V capsule, based on DPA’s original 2006, but with sensitivity adjusted down 12dB to accommodate typical interview mic and wireless handle sensitivities. The manufacturer, in conjunction with its Dutch distributor Amptec, will also be running a daily competition to win a microphone. Visit the DPA stand to find out more. Yamaha’s flagship mixing console, RIVAGE PM10, will be the subject of one-to-one demonstrations by technical staff on stand 8.A69. Visitors will also be able to get their hands on Nuage version 1.7 software, featuring support for Steinberg Nuendo 7. Riedel is set to showcase the latest addition to the MediorNet line of real-time signal networks. MicroN, an 80G media distribution network device, is a high-density signal interface with a complete array of audio, video and data inputs and outputs, including 24 SD/HD/3G-SDI I/Os, two MADI optical digital audio ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, two sync reference I/Os, and eight 10G SFP+ high-speed ports. It offers routing and processing capabilities that can be tailored for productions of all sizes and complexity. A single unit serves as a stand-alone point-to-point router and processor, while multiple interconnected units support scalable decentralised video routing. Roland’s OHRCA M-5000C digital mixing console will make its European debut at IBC. Measuring under 30in in width and weighing 70 pounds, the compact M-5000C offers all the flexibility and power of the M-5000 console but in a smaller footprint – making it suitable for touring, broadcast, theatre and live performance. It also uses the same OHRCA platform as the M-5000 and offers a 96kHz sampling rate, 72-bit summing bus, newly designed, discrete analogue circuitry and redundant power supply. www.ibc.org

September 2015

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SHOW PREVIEWS

www.audiomediainternational.com

GAME ON

Game Music Connect returns to London’s Southbank Centre, bringing with it a day packed with invaluable presentations and discussions for videogame composers and enthusiasts of all levels.

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ow in its third year, the international video game music conference Game Music Connect (GMC) will be held at The Purcell Room at London’s Southbank Centre on 15 September. The event promises a day of informative sessions aimed at composers of all backgrounds and experience levels, each tackling the art, science and business of contemporary video game soundtrack composition.

GMC is hosted by award-winning game and TV composer James Hannigan and game audio director, composer and industry commentator James Broomhall, who have over 100 triple-A game credits between them. The day’s sessions bring together a range of industry figures, from video game composers to the developers who work with them, in a series of keynote speeches, presentations, interviews, Q&As and more.

The day kicks off with a keynote from Sony Computer Entertainment America’s director of music Chuck Doud at 10am. He will address Sony’s current and future vision for videogame scoring as well as the importance of sound in interactive entertainment experiences. ‘Creating Virtual Orchestras’ begins at 10:30am, where the core team at orchestral sample library creators Spitfire Audio provide their insight on best practice in the creation and deployment of sound production and composition tools. Immersive video game audio takes centre stage at 11:45am with ‘Virtual Reality and the Meaning of Music’, where the Sony music team working with the Project Morpheus VR Headset will take an exclusive ‘show and tell’ approach to exhibiting the aesthetics and functionality of sound in virtual reality gaming.

Another session not to miss, ‘The BAFTA Interview: Alien: Isolation’ gets going at 2:30pm, bringing together the in-house sound team at UK developer Creative Assembly and composer team The Flight to discuss their BAFTAaward-winning work on survival horror hit Alien: Isolation. Alistair Lindsay, music production manager at SCE Worldwide Studios, said of the event: “Having a full day event dedicated to video game music with some of the industry’s top composers and audio directors is not to be missed. Lifting the lid on how both composers and developers work together will give a rare insight for anyone wanting to get into the industry or even if they just have an interest in video game music.” www.gamemusicconnect.com

PROFESSIONAL MATTERS

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he second annual PRO show will be hitting Birmingham’s NEC this September for three days of product showcases, insightful seminars and networking opportunities. From 12-14 September, PRO 2015 promises to bring ‘modern, forwardthinking ideas’ to visitors from the across the pro-audio, lighting, video and effects technology industries. Sharing the venue with BPM, labelled as the world’s biggest DJ and electronic music production event, the two shows will together cover 15,000sqm across three halls, and for the first time, visitors can access PRO from a separate dedicated entrance. The event will have a range of industry gear on show from brands including Sennheiser, beyerdynamic, QSC, Audiologic and Polar Audio, giving

visitors a hands-on taste of the latest tech in the entertainment sector. One of the main highlights of the event is sure to be the PRO Audio Demo Space, a large area off the main floor where visitors can hear large-format audio systems at realistic levels in a dedicated audio arena. Each participating brand will have three slots each day to demonstrate their products, while systems will be further grouped into two categories: Live Sound and Install/Club Sound – another first for the event. And if that wasn’t enough, make sure to keep an eye out for the event’s many pro-audio-focused training sessions. First point of interest for audio professionals is Saturday’s ‘Introduction to Live Sound Engineering’ at 2pm, which aims to offer learning opportunities and practical advice for both young and experienced live engineers.

Yamaha presents ‘The Benefits of using Networking Technology for Sound’ on Sunday at 1:30pm, and newly appointed Audio-Technica ambassador, live engineer and studio owner Ben Hammond, will pass on his touring wisdom in the session ‘Tour Essentials’ on Monday at 1:30pm. Set to bring the show to a close is ‘Audio in an Outdoor Environment’,

a panel session discussing outdoor loudness, levelling, positioning and weather issues, with insight from Martin Audio’s Andy Davies, Britannia Row Productions managing director Bryan Grant, SSE Audio Group’s Miles Hillyard and Nitelites’ Andy Magee. www.visitpro.co.uk

September 2015

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RISING STAR SHORTLIST

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ONES TO WATCH

The Pro Sound Awards returns to Ministry of Sound in London for the third year running on 24 September, and Audio Media International has been given the honour of choosing the winner of this year’s Rising Star Award. Here, we reveal the shortlist. graduate Goodison has tackled national and international projects with UK artists, working FOH for New City Kings and recording with The Drink and Dead English Gentlemen.

AMI editor Adam Savage with last year’s Rising Star John Webber

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he Pro Sound Awards aims to recognise excellence across the entire proaudio industry. One highlight of the night is the Rising Star Award, sponsored by Soundcraft, which is presented to an up-and-coming figure currently working within the world of proaudio who is worthy of recognition. The AMI team has worked through the nominations submitted to compile a shortlist of ten potential winners. Find out who picks up the award on 24 September. Stuart Allen-Hynd Allen-Hynd joined Soho-based postproduction facility Jungle at the age of just 18. His work on brands such as Mercedes, FIFA and Acer, featuring stars including Kiefer Sutherland, Pharrell Williams and Brian Cox, earned him the distinction of becoming the first transfer engineer to receive the facility’s Employee of the Year award. Dean Cross Formerly head technician at Bucks Students’ Union where he led a crew of 10

six, Cross now works freelance on a number of projects including FOH at Cowley Road Carnival, Oxford’s Truck Festival and Nocturne Festival with artists such as Van Morrison, Skindred, Newton Faulkner and Andy C. Andy Egerton An alumnus of Glyndwr University, Egerton has blazed a trail on the live scene with his work as a monitor engineer, touring with big name bands like The Wombats and The Maccabees. He currently looks after Mumford & Sons on their arena tours. Stanley Gabriel Prior to his graduation from the University of Surrey, Gabriel worked stints at Strongroom and Abbey Road Studios, later working as a freelance engineer for artists including Kate Bush and Ladyhawke and on TV shows such as Fresh Meat and Poirot. In 2012 he joined Spitfire Audio, where he holds the post of production director. Steve Goodison Operating out of Old Pig Farm recording studio in Sheffield, University of Huddersfield

Jonas Andreas Jensen Winner of a BAFTA and a NFTS Sound Design Award, Danish-native Jensen has worked on a number of award-winning and Oscar-nominated projects, from animations to audio installations. He currently works with Sony Creative Service Group London as a sound designer on its Project Morpheus Virtual Reality headset. Riley MacIntyre Beginning his career in Canada, MacIntyre travelled across the Pacific to become an assistant engineer for producer Paul Epworth at The Church Studios in London, where he has worked on projects with Adele, Lianne La Havas, U2, Thurston Moore and Band Aid. Zoe Martin FOH and monitor sound engineer Zoe Martin currently works nationally and internationally with acts including Bonobo, Maverick Sabre and The Radiophonic Workshop. She also uses her time in between tours to teach at the college where she previously studied: the BIMM Institute in Brighton.

Join us! Tickets are now available for the Pro Sound Awards for just £49. Visit www.prosoundawards.com/buytickets/ or email gblake@nbmedia.com

Get involved Microsite Masthead There are still a number of sponsorship opportunities available for the event, contact rodonnell@ nbmedia.com for more information. Horizontal Logo

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Rising Star sponsor: ®

Eric Milos Following his graduation from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Milos worked his way up to an assistant engineer position at Henson Recording Studios in under two years, before becoming the owner of Clear Lake Recording Studios in North Hollywood, California at the age of just 24 in 2012. Sam Turner One half of audio production partnership SoundQuake in South Wales, Turner helped form the company immediately following graduation and has gone on to tackle advertising projects for Mercedes, Only Boys Aloud, ESTRONS, Paint Happy and Fireroad. www.prosoundawards.com

September 2015

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The Café D’Anvers installation comprises the GS-WAVE series 3-metre dance floor stack with GSA technology, and the XY Series in-fill speakers. All powered by Powersoft’s high performance K Series amps with built-in DSP. This comprehensive line-up guarantees versatile installations that deliver superb sound and complete coverage throughout venues of every shape and size.

cafe d’anvers | antwerp | belgium

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visit www.pioneerproaudio.com to learn more about our GLOBAL installations, venues include Sound Nightclub LA, Sankeys Ibiza, UshuaÏa, Pikes and Bierfabriek

Pioneerproaudio

05/08/2015 10:14:00 04/08/2015 09:29


OPINION

www.audiomediainternational.com

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF FESTIVAL SOUND Sound engineer Paul Nicholson examines the issues that he feels are holding this sector of the industry back.

PAUL NICHOLSON

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here’s no SPL limit, the PA is perfectly tuned, the system tech really knows their stuff and the weather forecast is rain and wind free… then the alarm clock wakes you up. I’ve just got back from my eighth festival of the summer and it was the most problematic so far. I was mixing FOH for the headliner and managed to arrange a quick virtual sound check before the arena opened. Running a multi-track certainly gives you a good idea of what the system can deliver and my immediate reaction was one of disappointment. You can always tell within a couple of seconds what the issues are, but how do you fix them all quickly under ‘revolving door’ festival conditions? Although my mix is very dynamic it peaks at around -3dB on all the songs and this made it easy to gain match my Roland V Mixer output to the system ‘hub’ desk in just a few seconds. ‘Out of the box’ the system EQ was way off, but rather than fix it then and there I just walked the field during the day, listened to all the other bands and put together a curve for our slot. I find this approach works well and I don’t have to bother the system tech while they are busy setting up for the long day ahead. Then came the big question: what’s the noise limit, are there any frequency issues and how long is the Leq? This is where things always start to go pear shaped. 12

Why at the majority of festivals is there always some young guy or girl straight out of college waving their diploma in the air and telling everyone that to all intents and purposes they are in charge of ruining an event for 35,000 paying people and a bunch of experienced sound engineers, who are getting paid to do a great job for their employers? And why do they always blame the festival organisers for having to set the limits unreasonably low? It’s never their fault. I’m not interested in politics and I don’t want to get involved in any blame game, I just want everyone to hear my band and go ‘Wow!’

the Live experience A lot has been said about audience sound expectations and how everyone wants CD quality (which as we all know is not a great standard) wherever they go because that is what they listen to at home, in their cars and through their earbuds. Sorry, but I don’t buy into this. State-of-the-art car sound systems are useless once you add in the road noise and passengers, and as for buds don’t even get me started.

No, what people want from live is to experience a soundscape that they cannot replicate themselves. This is why the industry strives to provide us with the tools to replicate the emotion of being right there with the band, and not an MP3 equivalent. Vast amounts of R&D know-how, buckets of cash and heaps of marketing go into providing systems that will transport everyone to audio nirvana for a few hours, so why can’t we use them effectively? Is there any point in installing 32 FOH line array boxes, 12 outfill cabinets and 16 delay boxes when the college kid says 92dB? Either organisers start to gaffa tape the miscreants to the front of the lighting truss where the audience can show their appreciation while we ramp up the sound a few dB to a workable level, or systems become smaller so we don’t upset a couple of locals for a few hours each year. That’s the stark choice. Why have a system that’s capable of 140dB and run it at a fraction of its capability. Imagine Lewis Hamilton having to race in a Dacia… you get my point.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy festivals so why can’t we make the audio experience better for everyone? Personally, I believe they should be curated more effectively at the technical level. Perhaps having a specialist embedded between the organiser, sound company, local community and environmental fundamentalists would work? Just a final thought for the hardworking PA companies and crew: whenever possible I always bring a self-contained system to festivals and mix FOH and monitors from a very small footprint mixer. All we require is a couple of Cat5s, a few rolling risers and some power. You can then leave the rest to me and my good friend, the college kid. Paul Nicholson has been a sound engineer and tour manager for 30 years and runs Salisbury-based Midas ProSound. He also worked at L-Acoustics UK from 1998 to 2008 and continues to specify and use festival systems on a regular basis.

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INTERVIEW

www.audiomediainternational.com

HOT SOURCE

Keith Dale of GearSource Europe gives us his thoughts on the state of the used gear market at present, and predicts how it could change in the near future.

KEITH DALE

How would you describe the current state of the used gear market, and how is business generally at the moment for GearSource? The used equipment market is buoyant and GearSource Europe continues to thrive in all areas, across all continents. Is there still as much of a demand for used equipment as there was, say, 10 years ago? We’ve only been going since 2007 but demand is greater now than it was back then. The industry has matured tremendously over the past eight years and there is not much difference between the countries we trade in as there once was. It is very discerning; the internet having ensured that everyone is, or strives to be, at the same level. How competitive is the market for selling used equipment? Are there more or less sellers out there these days? There are many more sellers compared to a few years ago so it takes a lot of effort to stay ahead of the others. We know what our strengths are and how to use them. Is it a bit of a challenge to convince people to buy used when there’s always such a steady stream of new gear coming out that claims to be so much better than what came before? A lot of what we sell is due to sellers rationalising their inventories, 14

streamlining the equipment they keep and moving on items that no longer meet their new strategic requirements. The arrival of new gear, especially items like sound desks, causes the market to dispose of the previous model. There comes a point though where there are only so many potential buyers for certain older models and, as the market saturates, the price falls. This is not something we like to see but it is inevitable. Sometimes, though, the performance of new products or technologies from a major brand will invigorate sales of older product – it’s like magic dust! Sometimes we see a resurgence in older technologies, like analogue desks or large wattage film lighting – you can’t knock quality. What about internationally? Have you noticed any trends as to where used gear is most/least popular, and why do you think that is? It’s difficult to really pick a trend as we sell such a wide variety of equipment to so many countries. Continental Europe and the UK are still strong markets; Africa is expanding and the Middle and Far East along with Australasia continues to perform well. If we were a manufacturer of, say, a relatively small range of amps, speakers or desks the picture would probably be clearer. What kinds of products are your customers showing most interest in in terms of audio? (Microphones? Speakers? Mixers?) Our sales portfolio embraces almost everything in sound reinforcement, lighting, video and staging. Speakers continue to sell well as do their lighting equivalent – fixtures. If I was to turn your question around and ask what have our customers been least interested in I’d say sound desks; the fast-paced development of new consoles has left a lot of recent product languishing on the shelves. What are the main things people should look out for when looking for quality used gear? Most used gear is purchased based on

Fast-paced development of new consoles means older models can prove more difficult to sell on

simply the specification and photographs on our website listings, with additional feedback as required. Only very, very occasionally will buyers inspect equipment – regardless of the cost. Because of this I’d say people should only buy from a company that is well versed in moving equipment around the world, recognises that problems do occur from time to time, and has the means to put things right. The overwhelming majority of buyers and sellers in our industry are very honest, but when problems do occur both parties need expertise to resolve potential conflicts for the good outcome of all.

reliability, the product’s history of use and other issues? We always try to convey the condition of the product so there are no surprises; no one wants to be disappointed – buyer, seller or us in the middle. As said previously, selling used equipment is not just about selling ‘old’ equipment, it is also about helping companies re-stock their inventories, so a lot of what we sell might only be a few months old. One additional point we can make – from experience – is that there are many occasions when buying used can be less stressful than buying new, as any bugs have already been ironed out.

Is it difficult to spot kit that should be avoided? I’d say that there isn’t anything that should be avoided as such because most items are sold at price points that reflect their age, usage or current desirability. More importantly is the need to purchase items that are matched to the commercial and technical needs of the buyer’s business. For example, don’t buy inexpensive and older equipment if you don’t have the ability to maintain them – you won’t be saving anything.

Where do you see the market going in the next decade or so? Do you see it changing much? Probably the greatest change on the horizon could be the UK’s position within Europe – in comparison, anything else could be trivial. Other than that, certain new markets will continue to mature, new products will continue to arrive and old ones continue to sell.

What would you say to those who are reluctant to dip into the used market because they’re worried about

Keith Dale was previously founder of Celco, marketing director at Electrosonic and spent time at Kisska Design. He joined GearSource in 2008. www.gearsourceeurope.com

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GEO FOCUS: UAE

HEATING UP The United Arab Emirates is among the world’s hottest locations in more ways than one. Matt Fellows discovers how the vast amount of wealth flowing through the region has affected its pro-audio industry.

Population: 9.4 million

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hub of tourism and business, the United Arab Emirates is famous for many things: its sweltering climate, its flourishing petroleum and natural gas industry, and its intensely cosmopolitan environment; of its estimated 9.4 million residents, almost 8 million are expatriates, leaving just 1.4m indigenous Emirati citizens. However there is one thing the country is less known for, but is, albeit in smaller circles, no less committed to. The UAE’s pro-audio industry is well patronised by a wealth of distributors, rental firms and installation specialists, and these are further supplemented by a range of trade shows and expos held in the region, attracting and consolidating business from further afield. But does such a commitment foster a strong regional industry? And is it supported by a healthy, encouraging economic climate?

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It seems some professionals are remaining cautious: Malek Ghorayeb, general manager at Systech Middle East, attests that “the market in the UAE is still stable” when viewed in light of recent uncertainties in the region and beyond in the wake of the global economic crisis. However, Ryan Burr, technical sales manager at Sennheiser Middle East, argues that the climate is more than just cautiously ‘stable’ and that things have been looking up recently, despite unfavourable economic conditions. “The UAE has seen a spurt in activity over the last 12-18 months,” he begins. “Gone are the remnants of any recession effects that were felt in the country and back are the announcements of mega-projects, most of which have extensive audiovisual requirements.” The UAE was no exception to the downturn experienced by the rest of the economic world, but a combination of the region’s resilience and the grim state of the wider market has allowed

it to regain a position of strength with a promising outlook, according to Burr: “The UAE did suffer from the effects of recession, although not as pronounced as in other parts of the world, but it has bounced back with gusto. This quick recovery has seen an influx of skilled workers, including in both the AV industry and the live events market, which has led to an improved standard of projects and events. The obvious key reason for this is the lack of work in other parts of the world; motivated and skilled people will go where the work is rather than wait for it to come back to them.” Ghorayeb sheds more light on the story, adding that, while the climate is slowly improving, economic complications in the pro-audio industry and beyond have prevented the market from achieving its full potential: “After the 2008 crises, the UAE recovered gradually, but I think many factors related to the situation in the region, as well as the fuel market, adversely affected the

resulting growth which was expected to be remarkable.”

2020 Vision Ahmed Magd, Riedel’s general manager, ME and Turkey, agrees that the economy is on the up, and believes that the future of the UAE pro-audio market is going to enjoy a particularly lucrative period over the next five years as a result of several big upcoming events on the industry calendar. “In the Middle East in general and the UAE especially the market is growing,” he tells us, “and a lot of projects are expected to come in as there will be a lot of big events in the UAE such as the AFC Asian Cup in 2019 and Expo 2020, which is going to drive the growth in spending.” Seen as many to be a beacon on the horizon for the region’s many industries, the UAE fought out the competition to claim the Expo Dubai 2020 and become the first Middle Eastern destination to host the event.

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GEO FOCUS: UAE

www.audiomediainternational.com

How would you say the pro-audio market is currently faring in the UAE?

What’s having the biggest negative effect on the market at the moment? Economic uncertainty

“The pro-audio market here is very competitive because many industries like broadcast, post production, rentals and recording are available in the region. That’s why most of the conferences, like InfoComm, CABSAT and PALME are held here in UAE because it is also accessible to other GCC countries.”

Falling budgets Slow payments Goverment legislation Other

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The show is predicted to galvanise the UAE’s market, generating a projected 277,000 new jobs and an injection of almost $40 billion, and thus represents a tremendous boon for the economy. Ghorayeb acknowledges that for many in the business, expectations are high for the event, but notes that its execution may not be a simple affair due to the UAE’s complicated climate: “In the UAE, there are high hopes for the Expo in 2020 along with the development for the event, but it is a little bit unpredictable in the region because it is related to so many factors.” While its importance is clear, predictions regarding its success remain uncertain; its effects on the industry, while potentially vast, could end up somewhat muted, with the country missing out on the lucrative platform it may need to truly pull itself into economic prosperity.

Broadcasting doubt As a result of advancing technologies outpacing the development of suitable infrastructure in the region, an issue is looming that has the potential to seriously disrupt the work of those who rely on wireless technology, which is particularly problematic in the broadcast sector: “One of the trends that is sure to have an impact on the Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) industry is related to spectrum allocation,” Burr explains. “Currently, in the UAE and most countries across the Middle East, wireless PMSE devices are

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operated in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band. This includes the range of frequencies from 470 to 862MHz and is used for digital and analogue television distribution in addition to PMSE. However, as new technologies emerge, this spectrum is continuing to shrink. “More recently, the allocation of spectrum for 4G mobile broadband services has meant shrinking of the higher end of the UHF spectrum. As less and less bandwidth becomes available for PMSE, the production and coverage of events will become a major challenge.” Looking forward, Burr identifies yet another trend which looks likely to affect the UAE’s pro-audio industry: “One of the key trends that we see emerging for the pro-AV industry is the convergence of audio and IT networks. This is something that is already coming to the forefront with many manufacturers choosing one format or another to transport audio directly out of their products using existing IT infrastructure. “This is going to become a lot more prevalent in 2016 and we believe it will force the integrated systems market into deciding on a universal format to do it,” he continues. “Working with the IT system integrators will become increasingly important and the AV industry will need to adapt to that change – we’re already seeing examples of large IT SIs buying established AV SIs in order to bring that competence within their organisation and we see this as an important trend over the coming years.”

Best Behaviour Despite some predicted shifts that look likely to create bumps in the road, that road is still looking optimistic according to Magd: “I think it will continue its growth, driven by the coming events and the ambitious plans for this sector as the region has more weight in the global market than before. I think this will continue to happen at least until 2022.” Despite some disagreement among industry professionals, the outlook for the UAE pro-audio market seems a stable and promising one. And this is not surprising when the one thing the industry seems unanimous on is the region’s resilience and drive. “The UAE strives to be the best at whatever it does and this generates an environment of innovation and a thirst to improve, whatever the industry,” believes Burr. “The pro-audio market in the country is a benefactor of this with new technologies and products more willingly accepted perhaps than in other parts of the world where there is sometimes a ‘better to stick with what you know’ attitude, particularly in times of austerity.” “The UAE market is known for its desire for the best, latest and state-of-the-art products and solutions,” echoes Magd. “That’s why the UAE leads the charge, in many cases by far; this can be compared to the advanced markets in Europe and US, with the advantage of having allocated budgets to drive growth.” One thing is for certain – the region is ready to fight for the honour of calling itself the best.

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FEATURE: THEATRE SOUND SSE Audio Group was responsible for the L-Acoustics PA installation at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London

UPSTAGED BY AUDIO?

An upturn in projects involving both provincial and major city theatres means that this is generally a productive period for pro-audio suppliers. But are restrictive preservation orders and an over-emphasis on tradition inhibiting the prospect of further progress, asks David Davies?

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espite ever-increasing competition for the public’s attention and income, attendance at theatres throughout the UK and Europe is at a buoyant level. While the economic gloom that pervaded the 2008-2013 period certainly had an impact, a combination of crowd-pleasing comedies, jukebox musicals and inspired revivals of more serious dramatic works – witness, for example, the rapid advance sell-out of the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring production of Hamlet at London’s The Barbican Centre – is helping to keep audiences coming back for more. In particular, recent data suggests that the appetite of younger people for the theatre has undergone a renaissance, with a 2013 report collated by Ticketmaster indicating that 87% of 16-19 year olds were likely to attend a theatrical production – compared with 66% of 45-54 year olds. Initiatives like the Travelex cheaper tickets scheme pioneered by the UK’s National Theatre have undoubtedly played a starring role here. But while there is plentiful evidence that audience profiles are experiencing 18

substantial renewal, the same can’t always be said of the theatres themselves. The UK, in particular, has an aging network of venues, with many sites in London’s West End dating from the Victorian or Edwardian eras. The collapse of a ceiling at Shaftesbury Avenue’s Apollo Theatre during a production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in December 2013 prompted a wider debate about the state of the capital’s theatres – but the reality is that in many cases, preservation orders and/or structural issues limit what can actually be done. Nonetheless, within these parameters, there has been a surge in the number of upgrade projects taking place – and the good news for audio suppliers is that improving sound quality is at the core of many of them.

theatres. During the downturn a venue that was contemplating spending £100K on a technology revamp would be very inclined to wait it out. But now people are starting to re-equip.” In particular, Headlam points to healthy levels of interest from smaller London and provincial theatres – with notable recent projects including audio upgrades at the Battersea Arts Centre and Wolverhampton’s Arena Theatre

“Audio systems must be capable of covering the requirements of many different kinds of performances while still integrating visually in the building design.” Henning Kaltheuner, d&b audiotechnik

Market conditions As the founder and MD of a company with a 20-plus-year specialism in supplying and installing audio systems in theatres, Orbital Sound’s Chris Headlam is ideally placed to observe that “we are emerging from a period of drought in terms of new installations in

– while noting that the traditional heartland of the West End “also continues to do good business for us”. Theatres’ long-running need to accommodate more traditional productions as well as visiting musical acts and more unusual one-offs

means that there needs to be capacity for hired-in systems alongside permanently installed specifications. Not surprisingly, then, this means that a lot of recent projects have revolved around networking and connectivity upgrades with the objective of ensuring that venues remain as flexible as possible.

Cabling challenges Nick Chmara, technical director of cabling and connectivity specialist VDC Trading, confirms the high level of demand for upgrade projects at UK theatres, pointing to recent installations at two landmark venues in London’s Hammersmith – the Lyric [see Box] and, on a supply basis only, the Eventim Apollo. “It would be correct to say that the greatest challenge [in this area] is dealing with the intricacies of the existing infrastructure,” says Chmara. A venue like the Apollo “might have had plenty of work done but it still has its art-deco element inside, and that has to be respected”. Minimising the visual and practical impact of cable runs is one enduring consideration, then, but that isn’t the

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FEATURE: THEATRE SOUND

www.audiomediainternational.com

only aspect in which “you frequently have to get creative. For example, the faceplates will often need to be as unobtrusive as possible, and that can require working very closely with the theatre owner/operator to identify the right solution.” Chmara remarks that accommodating the needs of visiting acts can be another critical factor, as in the case of the SSE Audio Group installation of a new L-Acoustics PA at the Eventim Apollo. To accommodate “a range of options for tying into the installed fibre optic multicores” (in the words of SSE installations director Emma Bigg), SSE engaged the services of VDC Trading to assemble the HMA connectors and opticalCON fibre optic connectors that will enable quick and hassle-free changeovers. “Cosmetics and fascias and so on are one element, but a lot of the driving force for these projects is determined by whether these venues are going to have in-house systems set up continuously, or whether they will be set up for bringing in external systems on a regular basis,” says Chmara. “For example, a venue like the Eventim Apollo is used for everything from theatrical productions to comedy and rock gigs.” Although the company is rarely involved at present with new-builds in the UK – “I would say there is more potential for that overseas” – the current level of interest from existing facilities is “very encouraging”, confirms Chmara.

Making life easier More generally, upgrade projects are often underpinned by a desire to make life easier for system operators – an increasing number of whom, it should be noted, have grown up on a purely digital workflow-based diet. For example, Headlam points to the burgeoning interest in utilising Audinate’s Dante media networking technology. “In all honesty we have been very pleasantly surprised by how strong the demand is for Dante. It makes sense as it’s become pretty much universal across manufacturers, does what it says on the can, and the infrastructure is highly cost-effective.”

Waxing Lyrical Originally established in the 1890s but subsequently demolished before being faithfully recreated during the late 1970s, the Lyric Theatre remains one of London’s most influential theatres, hosting a wide range of dramatic productions as well as comedy performances and live music sets. Accordingly, the theatre is currently in the midst of an expansion and development programme to ensure it serves all these needs and more into the future. One aspect of this work centres on the 550-capacity Main House, where a production of Bugsy Malone was the final cue to invest in a large-format digital console and accompanying fibre optic infrastructure, as head of sound Nick Manning explains: “I had tried out a number of different consoles over previous years, in particular during panto season, but it was the realisation that the cost of hiring [for this long run] was virtually the same as purchasing a desk permanently that provided the prompt to go ahead.” Impressed by his experiences with various DiGiCo consoles, Manning ultimately opted for an SD10 desk and SD Rack, supplied through Some of the same impulses lay behind the now habitual selection of the latest generation of audio consoles and, in particular, their incorporation of userfriendly and accessible interfaces. Allen & Heath’s experience of the market is a case in point. “The customisable surface concept that we offer with the iLive and GLD [digital mixing systems], allowing complete strip layout changes per show, per user log-in and per scene, has gone down particularly well with theatre technicians and operators,” says Allen & Heath brand manager Leon Phillips. More generally, physical size and ease of use are among the key requirements when theatres are selecting new consoles. “Often there are several operators driving the sound, with different levels of experience,” says Allen & Heath product manager Nicola Beretta, who adds that “scene

Autograph Sales and installed with all corresponding infrastructure, tie-lines and so on. “It basically means everything is built into the structure of the theatre so, for example, there is no need to ever run lots of multicore around the place,” he says. Alongside this project, Manning and his team – in conjunction with longterm collaborators VDC Trading – have also been implementing a flexible audio infrastructure in a new building constructed at the back of the existing site. “There are rehearsal rooms, TV/edit suites and more, all geared towards giving opportunities to young people,” he says. Not uncharacteristically in a project of this kind, ongoing work has management is another area where theatres are particularly demanding. [For example] our iLive system offers indepth scene editing and the possibility of partial scenes to store selected parameters only, plus the ability to import scenes from visitors’ showfiles without disturbing the venue’s output patch and configuration.” Loudspeaker selection is also driven by a need for quality, flexibility and mass acceptance. d&b audiotechnik’s head of business development and market intelligent, Henning Kaltheuner, explains: “Audio systems must be capable of covering the requirements of many different kinds of performances while still integrating visually in the building design. This again emphasises the demand for compact systems that provide a high-SPL headroom with an uncompromising sound quality.

revealed “the need to change some things about and bring in additional cabling”. But collaboration with VDC as well as contractors such as Base Build Services and theatre/acoustic consultants Charcoal Blue has made this as smooth a process as possible, says Manning. Next on the agenda for Manning’s team is some work on the other primary space in the older building, the 110-capacity Studio theatre. “We really want to think about improving and upgrading that as some of the cabling is 40 years old – and frankly sounds like it too! But looking at the Lyric as a whole, we have definitely made a lot of improvements,” he concludes. The same trend for more varying programmes in the theatres also means that touring productions are becoming more relevant to the portfolio of a venue. Accordingly, this requires that systems are accepted by the sound designers and engineers of touring or temporary productions.” In terms of microphone capabilities, the primary objectives for theatres can be summarised as durability, consistency, quality and flexibility, says DPA Microphones product manager Mikkel Nymand. “Many multipurpose venues must be able to meet different needs, but the demand for optimal audio experience remains,” he says. “That is why moving microphones closer to performers – and also acoustic instruments – has become more and more common, and the need for high-quality bodyworn and

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FEATURE: THEATRE SOUND Blake Addyson (left) production supervisor at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas alongside Bill Mester of StageTech and an Allen & Heath GLD-112

clip-on mics has grown so much. Earlier you needed to orchestrate the music and ensemble to fit the venue; now more is expected from either smaller ensembles or crossover ensembles.”

Closer collaboration While the specific layout of individual venues might herald significant logistical challenges, there is general agreement that the standard of cooperation between all the stakeholders involved – architects, venue operators, sound suppliers, consultants and so

forth – is now of a more consistently high standard than it was, say, a decade ago. “There is more conversation and at an earlier stage, that is true. Maybe it’s down to too many bad experiences [for theatres] in the past,” suggests Headlam. “Nowadays consultants and architects are generally well aware of audio requirements in new buildings, often working together with the integrator towards a sensible compromise of performance

and intelligibility on one side [and] architectural design on the other,” Beretta continues. Kaltheuner strikes a tone of slightly greater reservation, though: “For the high-end installations it has become easier to have the requirements for acoustics being respected [earlier on] in the planning process. However, many venues are still too lively with very long reverb times. Sometimes this is quite useful for a manufacturer like d&b offering solutions that provide good results under critical conditions with regard to reverb times.”

Listing limitations

d&b is seeing healthy levels of interest among smaller venues such as the Battersea Arts Centre in London

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Although venues are certainly engaging with new technology – and not just on the audio side, since home theatres and gaming are among the factors leading theatregoers to expect an evermore sophisticated visual experience – several interviewees believe that there are some longer-term questions that will need to be addressed if they are to be made fully fit-for-purpose. “Great improvements can be made, but I think there is a balance to be struck between theatres being both monuments of performance as well as

monuments to architecture,” comments Chris Headlam, for whom the primary problem can be traced to too many preservation orders that prevent venues from moving with the times. “And what’s more, it’s a bit of a UK problem; there are fewer limitations in Europe, where as a result they have a greater number of both technically superior and audience-friendly venues.” Debate around the preservation of all manner of post-19 century architecture – in particular, the listings awarded to 1960s Brutalist concrete structures that may or may not be viewed as aesthetically desirable – means that this is only one part of a far wider conversation that needs to take place. For now, theatres can perhaps be grateful that technology suppliers and installers are thinking evermore astutely about subtle but enduring improvements that can be made within sometimes limited parameters. www.allen-heath.com www.dbaudio.com www.digico.biz www.dpamicrophones.com www.l-acoustics.com www.orbitalsound.com www.vdctrading.com

September 2015

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TECHNOLOGY AND TRENDS FOR THE PRO-AUDIO PROFESSIONAL

CONTENTS 26 Q&A – For Your Reference

Welcome to the latest Audio Media International Buyer’s Guide, which sees us switch our attention to the Monitors & Headphones sector. Your headphones and monitors might sit at the end of what is usually a very lengthy signal chain, but many would argue that this category of equipment is the most important of the lot. After all, what’s the point in splashing out on the best microphones, preamps, converters and interfaces, only to end up critically listening to your work through a pair of inferior speakers or cans? Deciding which models to invest it can be difficult though, which is why we’ve assembled this Guide to help make the decision process that little bit easier. As well as a number of promotional articles from manufacturers, we’ve gone back to studio design expert Carl Tatz to tell us more about the best way to set up a pair of monitors in a control room, following his popular contribution to the May issue of Audio Media International. We’ve also found another three experienced pros to explain what they look for in a pair of monitors or headphones and share their top tips: audio engineer Dean McCarthy of the SAE Institute in Oxford; Frank Morrone, a veteran re-recording mixer known for his work on Lost and current hit TV series The Strain, as well as Neil Pickles, owner of mastering house Reveal Sound. Our series of 2015 Guides concludes later in the year with a look at the Consoles market.

28 Opinion – Carl Tatz

Adam Savage, Audio Media International www.audiomediainternational.com

30 Audio-Technica

MEET THE TEAM

32 EVE Audio

> Advertising Manager Ryan O’Donnell rodonnell@nbmedia.com

34 Pioneer 36 Directory

ADVERTISER INDEX 29 Fluid Audio 24 Neumann 35 Pioneer 37 Sennheiser www.audiomediainternational.com

25 Leader & Contents_Final.indd 1

> Editor Adam Savage asavage@nbmedia.com > Managing Editor Jo Ruddock jruddock@intentmedia.co.uk > Head of Design Jat Garcha jgarcha@nbmedia.com > Designer Tom Carpenter tcarpenter@nbmedia.com > Production Assistant Warren Kelly wkelly@nbmedia.com

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September 2015 25

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Q&A

For Your Reference

Neil Pickles PIcture: Mike Banks

Still on the hunt for that perfect set of monitors and/or headphones? Our trio of experts are here to help. As a continuation of AMI’s series of Q&A articles with top audio professionals published in our previous 2015 Buyer’s Guides on Microphones and DAWs & Plug-ins, we requested the assistance of three more audio experts to share their views on headphones and monitoring equipment. Step forward Dean McCarthy, audio engineer and degree programme leader in audio production and music business at the SAE Institute in Oxford; re-recording mixer Frank Morrone (Lost, Sex and the City, The Strain) and mastering engineer Neil Pickles… What do you look for in a set of monitors? McCarthy: Clarity, transparency, punch at low and high levels and a neutral frequency response. I like to work on a range of different monitors during production. Recently I’ve been using a pair of Unity Audio Boulders, which have a wonderful transparency to them. For a few years I worked on PMC IB1s, which can make most things 26 September 2015

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sound fantastic. For near-fields I tend to work a lot on Genelec 8040s and also reference my mixes off Yamaha NS10s. I consider these my ‘warts and all’ monitors, often revealing some of the other gremlins hiding in the mix. Morrone: When I listen to monitors I always audition them with material I know intimately, that has a wide dynamic range and full spectrum material from the low to top end. I test them with film and music mixes. A good monitor will maintain its efficiency at low and high volumes and especially at higher volumes will not alter its flat response and get colored or boosted in the mid range. I’m immediately aware of monitors that boost the top or low end to make them sound punchier. This is a big problem for me when you are mixing because you will adjust your mix to compensate and then it doesn’t translate to the outside world. Pickles: I like speakers that are non fatiguing over a long period of time, that deliver a good sound at all volumes, not just loud – this is

crucial – and are quite neutral, though enjoyable to listen to. And what about headphones? What are the most important factors to consider when picking a pair? McCarthy: Firstly, I prefer to go for open-back units. I find the frequency response and the feel to be more similar to monitors than closed back. I also find I can listen for longer periods and not feel as fatigued. Secondly, I need to consider comfort. Sometimes you might find yourself wearing these units for long periods, so ensuring they fit nicely is important. I’ve found both the Sennheiser HD650 and beyerdynamic DT990 units are very comfortable and they don’t bother me after hours of editing. Morrone: With headphones I look for exactly the same criteria I use for monitors. They need to be a reference monitor on my ears. I also look at the comfort factor. When using them for five to

The International Guide To Monitors and Headphones 2015

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eight hours they need to be light or well padded to not feel them on your ears. Too much pressure and you have to take them off after a couple of hours and give your ears a break. Pickles: A lot of consumer headphones are designed to have a smiley curve-type response. Again, they should be neutral and comfortable for long durations of wearing/listening and closed – not open – for sound isolation, and to avoid spill into microphones. What are your favourite monitors at the moment, and why? McCarthy: The Unity Boulders have been in our main studio for a while and they are very nice. They have a great frequency response with an amazing amount of detail in the high end. They retain a lot of punch and detail when monitoring mixes at low levels. However, I still have a huge fondness for PMC; every unit I have tried from them has been fantastic. I think the IB1s have one of the clearest midranges I’ve heard from any speaker. Morrone: I have been using the Genelec 8250A in a 5.1 configuration with a 7270A subwoofer. I became a fan of these after using them to do a show in LA and had them installed on my stage at Technicolor. I like them as nearfields because of the detail you hear, especially on the dial. Using their GLM calibration software I find them to match really well to the main monitors. As far as the mains I have always preferred the Meyers. The Acheron 100 is a fantastic main reference monitor. Pickles: My current speakers are Focal SM9s. I tried a lot of speakers in my room and these are the ones that suited me. The Focals have a smooth top end that I did not find fatiguing, they extend down to 30Hz accurately and they have an amazing focus mode whereby the bass gets disabled and the mid and high speakers (which are sealed) switch to a new crossover for an atypical bookshelf NS10-like speaker. Which headphones do you use most currently, and what made you choose

Frank Morrone www.audiomediainternational.com

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those? Do you like to have a number of options available for different projects, or do you use the same pair for more or less everything? McCarthy: For critical listening I often use the beyerdynamic DT990s. I find they have a nice frequency response and are really comfortable. Another pair I was very surprised with was the M-Audio Q40s. Although lower budget and closed-back, I tend to check my projects through these a lot. If it sounds good here, it’s likely to sound good on most consumer-grade headphones. Morrone: Currently I’m using the Blue Mo-Fi on the mixing stage. They are well designed and have everything that I need as far as comfort, dynamic range, frequency response etc, and when I switch over to my main monitors they match so there are no surprises. The isolation is incredible. I can be listening to dialogue offline while my mixing partner is on the mains. Pickles: I use Focal Spirit Professional in the studio as they have a very neutral tonal balance and extend quite low. They are great for identifying clicks and pops, detailed editing and ignoring the room when mixing. A lot of people listen with earbuds these days so it’s important to check your mix’s stereo imaging. I use beyerdynamic DT150s for tracking – for musicians and live recordings/location work – as they give the best noise isolation and offer ultimate comfort on very long sessions, but still sound good. How crucial are your headphones/ monitors as part of your set-up? Some consider monitors to be the most important thing of all – do you agree with that? McCarthy: It’s difficult to say what is the one most important thing, but they are certainly very important. There’s no point having great monitors if you have terrible room acoustics, there is no point having great converters if you have terrible monitors, etc. I believe it’s about finding a balance within your budget and within the space you have to work in. Very good monitors tend to have a lot more longevity than many of the other parts of your studio signal path. Computers, converters, software and most other things in the digital domain have a shelf life which could cease when a supplier decides to end support for it. Analogue kit doesn’t have the same issues, so a good set of speakers may last you longer and be a better investment. Pickles: The most important thing is that your room dimensions are acoustically OK, after that find the speakers that fit you and the room – treatment is easier if the room ratios are

Q&A

Dean McCarthy

good. It’s all about the room. If your room has issues that can’t be fixed easily, you may want to consider new technology like the Genelec 8260A with auto calibration or the Trinnov system; these are excellent, but a better room is always the best place to start. The headphones must work for you, if you find yourself fighting them you don’t have the right ones. Everything is important; it’s all part of one very big chain. A weak link lessens the worth of everything else. Do you have any tips on using monitors effectively that you’d like to share? McCarthy: Having a consistent monitoring setup is key, while also making sure to check your mixes against other reference sources like your car and home hi-fi. Don’t listen too loud and for too long – take regular breaks and don’t make big decisions when feeling fatigued. I often listen to mixes at low levels to get another impression of how a mix is balanced. I sometimes also turn it up but take a walk just outside the control room to see if any other warts in the mix appear. Morrone: I think it’s important that you feel totally comfortable with your choices and the only way to do that is by trying them and then taking your mixes to other studios to see how they translate. Also, always have two references – if not three – in the studio to compare your mix against. With music I always go between small, medium and large monitors, with the small being the Auratones. Each gives you a different perspective on how the mix will sound in the real world. Pickles: Yes, if working on full-range speakers you need to check your kick drum and bass on smaller systems, which is why I like the focus mode on the SM9s, which have a limited frequency response of 90Hz to 40kHz. People listen to music these days on laptop speakers and cheap earbuds so your ‘massive’ bass drum could disappear for 90% of your intended listeners as these systems roll off below 90Hz or even higher, and you really need to boost a higher harmonic – not the fundamental – to get it back for these listeners. www.athingcalledmusic.com www.frankmorrone.com www.revealsound.com September 2015 27

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OPINION

Tatz helpful As a follow-up to the ‘How-To’ article in the May issue of AMl, studio designer Carl Tatz explains why his Null Position Ensemble should be adhered to when arranging monitors in a control room. set-up, and is an important element to Carl Tatz There are many elements to consider when Designs’ proprietary monitor tuning protocol, the setting up a control room monitoring system, PhantomFocus System. such as room symmetry, proper placement of The accompanying diagram is fairly selfabsorption panels at the monitor’s first reflection explanatory. You will want to pick up a large points, acoustic treatment to calm down reverberation and ultimately subwoofer integration 60/30º triangle and use some console tape stretched between the outside corners of your and digital processing. speakers while you place the triangle between the However, if I were to be asked what one speakers and tape as you work towards getting ‘desert island’ do-it-yourself piece of advice I your 30º angle. The operative word here is ‘work’ would share with an audio professional, it would because as soon as you change the angle on one unquestionably be what I have coined The Null speaker, the distance between the two tweeters Positioning Ensemble – the acoustic trinity will change and a sort of see-saw effect will have between the speakers, console and listener. you quite busy for a while. It takes my assistant Nothing you do will offer a more impressive ™ The NULL and I an ENSEMBLE entire day to lock them in using a fourresult than applying this concept to your POSITIONING existing

For Near-Field Monitoring

The NULL POSITIONING ENSEMBLE™ For Near-Field Monitoring 30 60

67.5” Tweeter To Tweeter

30 60

MONITOR SET-UP

4’ Null Positioning Ensemble™ 67.5”

67.5”

6”

Console Focus Triangle

Listen More To Music

Listen More To Speakers

60

18”

Apex `

Monitor tweeter height should be approximately at ear level or slightly above – typically between 48in and 50in 28 September 2015

laser system we’ve developed. You should be able to get them reasonably close within a couple of hours or so. Remember it is critical that the tweeters are adjusted to the engineer’s sitting ear height – usually around 48-50in. The apex of your 67.5in triangle should be 18in in front of the console bolster. The listening position is approximately 6in in front of the console bolster as indicated in the diagram. Placing a mic stand at the apex will facilitate getting your distance. Of course, before you start you will want to make sure the console is centred in the width of the room and that your apex is positioned at the centre of the console. Incidentally, I am frequently asked about the specific 67.5in distance from tweeter to tweeter and how I arrived at the measurement. Frankly, this measurement could deviate an inch or two without having the protocol collapse. It was originally distilled from the meter bridge nearfield mounting position on an SSL 400G Plus console. We’ve found that it works quite well with any console or workstation and the reason we keep to the exact measurement is because it allows all our near-field PhantomFocus System installations to be totally consistent all over the US. Most of you will be using speaker stands and you will likely need to have your speakers cantilever over the console or workstation to get them into position. A suggestion here is that you find a way to adhere your monitors to the stands with some sort of no-slip rubber or even two-way tape, otherwise the speakers will be constantly moving around as you pull the tape across them and you will be chasing your tail. Careful adherence to the specifics in the diagram is required to experience the desired results. Ball parking the angles, height and distances won’t render the ‘pop’ that you’re looking for. Like finding the pocket for the vocal or guitar in a mix, you’ll know when you’ve found it. If you have taken into consideration the other elements mentioned earlier – in the May issue of Audio Media International – about your control room acoustics, then the results of your labour will be the best imaging possible because you have obeyed the laws of symmetry and physics. The centre image will be very strong as the speakers will seem to disappear and your recognition of pan positioning will be accentuated. This is the way stereo was intended to be experienced and renders a very useful tool for mixing. Carl Tatz is the award-winning studio designer and principal of Nashville-based Carl Tatz Design. www.carltatzdesign.com

The International Guide To Monitors & Headphones 2015

Monitor tweeter height should be approximately at ear level or slightly above – typically between 48” and 50”. 28 Opinion_Final.indd 1

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AUDIO-TECHNICA

Brand New Flagship Models From Audio-Technica Audio-Technica’s well-respected professional headphone range has been bolstered again in 2015 with the addition of the M70x closed-back and R70x open-back models.

Audio-Technica’s professional monitoring headphones have long enjoyed a reputation for accurate and well balanced tonal response, making them ideal partners in the studio or on location. The M-Series models take cues from the sound and proprietary design of the company’s acclaimed ATH-M50 professional monitor headphones and the new ATH-M20x, ATHM30x and ATH-M40x deliver accurate audio and outstanding comfort, perfect for long recording sessions (wherever they’re taking place) and live sound applications. The M20x, M30x and M40x all feature 40mm drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminium voice coils, as well as a circumaural design that contours around the ears for excellent sound isolation in loud environments. The ATHM50x (featuring 45mm drivers) has the exact same sonic signature as the original ATH-M50 30 September 2015

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and adds refined ear pads and three detachable cables. Pure. Professional. Performance The latest addition to the critically acclaimed M-Series line, the ATH-M70x professional studio monitor headphones feature proprietary 45mm large-aperture drivers and are tuned to accurately reproduce extreme low and high frequencies (5 to 40,000Hz) while maintaining perfect balance. They are ideal for studio mixing and tracking, FOH, DJing, mastering, post-production, audio forensics and personal listening. Crafted for lasting durability, the studio headphones provide excellent sound isolation and are equipped with 90° swivelling ear cups for easy, one-ear monitoring. The ATH-R70x is Audio-Technica’s first pair of open-back reference professional headphones. Together with the ATH-M70x, they stand as a

flagship model in A-T’s line-up of professional studio headphones. Featuring specially designed drivers and acoustically transparent housings fashioned from aluminium honeycomb mesh, these headphones provide an accurate and natural open-back sound. They also incorporate a new, improved design of our popular 3D wing support system to provide even greater comfort during the prolonged use often required in professional settings. Robust yet lightweight, and equipped with a unique, dual-sided detachable cable that automatically maintains proper stereo orientation (no matter how it’s attached), the R70x headphones are built for lasting comfort, convenience and audio purity. The Award-Winning ATH-M50x The original ATH-M50 has been praised by leading audio engineers and journalists worldwide, and the latest ATH-M50x features

The International Guide To Monitors & Headphones 2015

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the exact same coveted sonic signature as the original, with the addition of refined ear pads and three detachable cables (a 1.2m-3m coiled cable, 3m straight cable and 1.2m straight cable). From the large aperture drivers to sound isolating ear cups and robust construction, the M50x provides an unmatched experience for the most critical audio applications, including recording, broadcast, DJ, live sound and personal listening. The ATH-M50x is available in black, white (ATH-M50xWH) and limited-edition dark green (ATH-M50xDG). Seen on the heads of everyone from R&B superstar John Legend (his Live In The Studio video series with The Roots) to live monitor and front of house engineers Pablo McCarte (Aloe Blacc, Deap Vally), Stuart Macaulay (Rudimental) and Ben Hammond (Deaf Havana), the M50x continues the evolution of a studio heavyweight.

Feature-packed M40x The high-performance ATH-M40x professional headphones are tuned flat for incredibly accurate audio monitoring across an extended frequency range. The studio experience is enhanced with superior sound isolation and swivelling ear cups for convenient one-ear monitoring, and professional-grade ear pad and headband material provides exceptional durability and comfort. The collapsible design offers space-saving portability www.audiomediainternational.com

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AUDIO-TECHNICA

and storage, and the headphones come with two detachable cables (a 1.2m-3m coiled cable and 3m straight cable). Engineered with pro-grade materials and robust construction, the M40x excels in professional studio tracking and mixing, as well as DJ monitoring.

Affordable Performance The sonic characteristics of the M40x and M50x are shared even by the less expensive models in the M-Series line-up. The M20x and M30x bring tonal accuracy and comfort to a cost-conscious audience while still delivering exemplary build and wearability. Both sets of headphones combine modern engineering and high-quality materials to deliver a comfortable listening experience, with enhanced audio clarity and sound isolation. Tuned for highly detailed audio, with strong mid-range definition, these versatile monitoring headphones are ideal in a variety of situations. Designed primarily for studio tracking and mixing, the M30x also offers added features for increased portability, making them a great choice for field recording. Both the ATH-M20x and ATHM30x feature a convenient single-side cable exit with a permanently attached 3m cable.

INFORMATION

Audio-Technica Ltd Unit 5 Millennium Way â&#x20AC;¨ Leeds LS11 5AL E: sales@audio-technica.co.uk T: 0113 277 1441

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EVE AUDIO

BeliEVEing in better Satisfied with their foothold in the industry as they continue to go from strength to strength, EVE Audio are now bringing focus onto their latest product offering.

German manufacturer EVE Audio has quickly risen up the ranks and made a name for itself in the monitor market since its first steps in 2011. In just four years, the company has moved from entry level to build a network of over 50 distributors globally, and with an everwidening product range for both broad and niche applications covering studio and home recording, post production and more, the company is keen to draw attention to the new arrivals in its offering. Sales and marketing manager Kerstin Mischke chatted to Audio Media International to reflect on past successes and what 2015 and beyond means for the company and its clientele. How do you feel about how far the company has come since its formation four years ago? 32 September 2015

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The constant growth we are currently experiencing nicely demonstrates that our young brand is receiving more and more attention and is becoming more and more known. One of the reasons we consider EVE to be attractive as a newcomer to the market is that our in-house development is of a very high and innovative level. This is something people find in our products and appreciate. Where does EVE Audio fit into the current market? There are a lot manufacturers in the field and when EVE was officially launched no one was really waiting for another speaker brand. Nevertheless we have managed to establish the brand nicely so far and it has been accepted and welcomed. We believe one of the reasons for this is that EVE Audio is mid-priced; we wanted to

create good-sounding speakers for a reasonable price, and to achieve this we looked at what to focus on and where to invest. How do you ensure the high quality of product that EVE Audio has become known for? Quality control is done entirely in our headquarters in Berlin, Germany; we established a very intense and very detailed quality control procedure where every speaker is tested for at least 30 hours on a non-stop test run. We can connect them to different voltages and while they are connected they are automatically switched on and off. Those on-and-off-switches happen up to 600 times, dependent on the length of the quality control. We also program the DSP here in Berlin in order to keep full control of how our products sound. Before it leaves the Berlin headquarters

The International Guide To Monitors & Headphones 2015

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EVE AUDIO

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SC203 3in Master/Slave System The EVE Audio SC203 is the perfect solution for multimedia application in professional desktops with limited amounts of physical space, as well as for discerning home and gaming users. Each SC203 setup is configured as a two-way master-slave system. It utilises a 3in multilayer woofer and a newly constructed High Resolution µA.M.T. tweeter for astonishing high frequency resolution, combined with extraordinary precision and absolute clarity. Non-detachable loudspeaker grilles protect both woofer and µA.M.T. tweeter against damage, while a dedicated 20W PWM amplifier with separate filter section for precise control completes the system. Passive radiator technology supports the reproduction of low frequencies, allowing the system to go down to a surprisingly low 62Hz (-3dB). All of the frequency response parameters are controlled by high-resolution DSP electronics, supported with a high-quality A/D converter from Cirrus Logic. As the PWM-amplifiers are directly connected to the DSP section, no additional conversion is necessary, which ensures extreme reliability. For optimal connectivity, the SC203 houses three inputs – analogue RCA, digital optical and USB – which will allow you to conveniently connect a wide range of sources. A volume controlled subwoofer output lets you connect an additional subwoofer (EVE Audio TS107 or TS108) to the master speaker and create a powerful 2.1 system. To further extend its flexibility, each speaker is provided with the FlexiPad, a v-notch shaped orange rubberised pad to decouple the speaker from its base and angle it precisely at 0°, 7.5° or 15°. each speaker receives careful quality control. On the other hand the assembly of certain products has been outsourced. That means for instance that the assembly of smaller speakers takes place in Asia before we take each speaker to Berlin for quality control and programing. All four-ways and main systems are completely assembled and tested in Berlin. What does EVE Audio offer customers that other manufacturers don’t? Products and innovative technology, and as a young company we also react very quickly to customer requests. With a small hierarchy but a vast knowledge base, we are able to offer solutions very quickly. The products speak for themselves; the team behind them support that with strong sales and marketing and a close connection between R&D and support, which works to our advantage. Although the company is still quite young, our experience in pro-audio and music has grown over more than 20 years; that’s a good fundament to run and maintain a business. We are not only focused on the technical side of studio equipment; our team also has a background in music, instruments and recording. What key products are taking your company forward? www.audiomediainternational.com

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EVE Audio has a wide product range, from small active speakers to medium-sized models for regular studios, up to main monitors to be used in very large professional and broadcast studios. That includes speakers, subwoofers and also accessories such as mounting solutions or our Passive Monitor Router PMR 2.10, which is a modern switching device to switch between up to 10 pairs of studio monitors and connect two sources max. While our 5in two-way speaker SC205 and 6.5in two-way SC207 are the top sellers in our two-way range, the 6.5in double woofer SC307 is a very remarkable speaker and the top seller in our range of three-ways. This year we launched our smallest speaker system – the SC203, which is a master-slavesystem with a 3in woofer, a newly developed small µAMT tweeter and a passive radiator to provide an astonishingly low end for a speaker of that size. This master-slave-principle offers an easy connection to different devices: USB, digital optical and of course analogue connections are possible. The analogue output allows connecting the SC203 to a subwoofer, for those who need even more low end. That new desktop system SC203 will open new markets for us as we see them being used as pure desktop speakers for workplaces such as video post production, for

PMR 2.10 Passive Monitor Router The PMR 2.10 Passive Monitor Router is a modern high-quality 2-in/10-out monitorswitching device designed to be a useful tool wherever there’s the need to connect multiple pairs of speakers. A 19in 1U chassis features two analogue balanced stereo inputs and 10 stereo outputs, all using 6.3mm (0.25in) TRS jack sockets of the highest grade. While the first ones are indicated with green LEDs, orange LEDs display the latter. Speaker selection is made using the included wired-remote via its big and sturdy rotary switch, while the source selection can be made directly at the PMR 2.10’s front panel. An included seven-segment digital display which, with a height of 10cm and two userdefined brightness levels, can be placed in a convenient location to let listeners know immediately what speakers they’re listening to. With its clean and transparent sound characteristics, the included wire-based remote control, and the seven-segment digital display, the PMR 2.10 is a simple but powerful idea. gamers and simply as a speaker for home users who want to connect an active speaker to any mobile device. How do you plan to further establish yourselves? We do a lot of market research and have many ideas for our next steps. This not only means new products but also future upgrades. Besides R&D and the work on actual products, we pay high attention to optimising our CRM so that customers can get information about our monitors and how to use them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And when it comes to new products our CEO Roland Stenz does not run out of ideas, but it’s too early to reveal details!

INFORMATION

EVE Audio Ernst Augustin Str. 1a 12489 Berlin Germany T: +49-30-6704 4180 W: www.eve-audio.com

September 2015 33

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PIONEER

Pioneer Sharpens Studio Sound With New Production Line Pioneer has launched a new line of studio products with the release of the HRM-7 monitor headphones and RM Series monitor speakers. Both lines are firmly focused on delivering sound clarity of the highest order across the broadest spectrum of music production. RM SERIES MONITOR SPEAKERS Drawing on Pioneer’s rich heritage in speaker design, the RM Series of coaxial active reference monitor speakers for professional studios are the ideal companion for near-field studio monitoring of highres sounds. The speaker’s coaxial driver unit from Pioneer pro-audio brand TAD ensures that audio from the tweeter and woofer emanates from the same point to provide crisp sound separation across the frequencies up to 50kHz. Designed to look and sound superb, the rigid die-cast aluminium cabinets are contoured to eliminate resonance and are equipped with a proprietary acoustic tube to reduce standing waves and ensure the delivery of clean low to mid frequencies. A three-band EQ and multiple inputs offer producers great flexibility and simplicity in any environment. The speakers come in two sizes – RM-05 (5” woofer) and RM-07 (6.5” woofer). HRM-7 HEADPHONES Part of a new line of professional studio products, Pioneer DJ’s HRM-7 monitor headphones are designed to deliver accurate, neutral sound to music producers. The HMR-7s feature a newly developed 40mm HD driver unit for a neutral, crystal clear, high-res sound, while dual airflow chambers and a damping structure enhance the bass response. The fully enclosed ear pads deliver optimum sound isolation and are roomy enough inside to enable a wide sound stage and clear audio separation. A freely adjustable headband and memoryfoam cushions with velour covers ensure that as well as delivering superb sound, the HRM-7s offer the ultimate in comfort for long studio sessions. ACCESSORIES INCLUDE: Detachable 1.2m (coiled) and 3m (straight) cables Replacement velour ear pads Gold Plated 6.3mm stereo jack 34 September 2015

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Key Features n n n n n n n n

HD-Coaxial driver unit for accurate point source monitoring and sound isolation 50kHz tweeter for precise high frequencies 1.5” hard dome aluminium 50kHz tweeter Rigid die-cast aluminium cabinet with curved contours for superb sound clarity and a great visual aesthetic Pioneer’s patented AFASTiii acoustic tube reduces standing waves for clear low-mid frequencies Front-loaded bass reflex system with grooves for a smooth, clean bass Low/Mid/High EQ settings for added flexibility and control Wide range of inputs (XLR and RCA)

Key Features n New 40mm HD driver unit with copper-clad aluminium wire faithfully reproduces frequencies of up to 40kHz n Fully enclosed housing improves sound insulation and reduces ambient noise n Large ear chamber for a wider sound stage n Freely adjustable headband and flexible ergonomic design enables both size and angle adjustment for maximum user comfort n Memory foam ear pads with velour covers for comfort and a true sound

INFORMATION

Pioneer DJ Europe Limited Anteros Building 
 Odyssey Business Park West End Road, South Ruislip, HA4 6QQ T: +44 (0)203 761 7220 W: www.pioneerproaudio.com

The International Guide To Monitors & Headphones 2015

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The Café D’Anvers installation comprises the GS-WAVE series 3-metre dance floor stack with GSA technology, and the XY Series in-fill speakers. All powered by Powersoft’s high performance K Series amps with built-in DSP. This comprehensive line-up guarantees versatile installations that deliver superb sound and complete coverage throughout venues of every shape and size.

cafe d’anvers | antwerp | belgium

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visit www.pioneerproaudio.com to learn more about our GLOBAL installations, venues include Sound Nightclub LA, Sankeys Ibiza, UshuaÏa, Pikes and Bierfabriek

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DIRECTORY

+44 1285 654432

FOCAL PROFESSIONAL www.focalprofessional.com

+33 4 77 43 57 00

PELONIS SOUND & ACOUSTICS www.pelonissound.com

ADAM AUDIO www.adam-audio.com

FOSTEX www.fostex.com

PIONEER PRO AUDIO www.pioneerproaudio.com

AKG www.akg.com

GENELEC www.genelec.com

PMC LOUDSPEAKERS www.pmc-speakers.com

ALESIS www.alesis.com

GRADO LABS www.gradolabs.com

PRESONUS www.presonus.com

AMBIANCE ACOUSTICS www.calcube.com

GRIFFIN AUDIO USA www.griffinaudiousa.com

PSI AUDIO www.psiaudio.com

ATC LOUDSPEAKERS www.atcloudspeakers.co.uk

GRIMM AUDIO www.grimmaudio.com

QUESTED www.quested.com

AUDIO-TECHNICA www.audio-technica.com

HARBETH www.harbeth.co.uk

SAMSON TECHNOLOGIES www.samsontech.com

AUDIX www.audixusa.com

JBL www.jbl.com

SE ELECTRONICS www.seelectronics.com

BOWERS & WILKINS www.bowers-wilkins.co.uk

KRK SYSTEMS www.krksys.com

SENNHEISER www.sennheiser.com

BAG END LOUDSPEAKERS www.bagend.com

KS AUDIO www.ksaudio.com

SHURE www.shure.co.uk

BEYERDYNAMIC www.beyerdynamic.com

LEGACY AUDIO www.legacyaudio.com

SONODYNE www.sonodyne.com

BLUE SKY www.abluesky.com

LIPINSKI SOUND www.lipinskisound.com

SOUND PROJECTS www.soundprojects.com

CANFORD www.canford.co.uk

MACKIE www.mackie.com

TANNOY www.tannoystudio.com

DENON www.denon.co.uk

M-AUDIO www.m-audio.com

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DYNAUDIO PROFESSIONAL www.dynaudioprofessional.com

ME GEITHAIN www.me-geithain.de

TRIDENT AUDIO www.trident-audio.com

MEYER SOUND www.meyersound.com

TRUTH AUDIO www.truthaudio.com

MISSION www.mission.co.uk

ULTRASONE www.ultrasone-headphones.com

MK LOUDSPEAKERS www.mkloudspeakers.com

UNITY AUDIO www.unityaudio.co.uk

NADY SYSTEMS www.nady.com

WESTLAKE AUDIO www.westlakeaudio.com

NEUMANN www.neumann.com

YAMAHA www.yamahaproaudio.com

ACOUSTIC ENERGY www.acoustic-energy.co.uk

+49 30/86 30 097 0

+44 03 301 222500

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EMES www.emes.de +49 8222 965954

+1 510 486 1166

ESI www.esi-audio.com +49 7152 398880

+44 1480 452561

EVE AUDIO www.eve-audio.com +49 30 6704 4180

EVENT ELECTRONICS www.eventelectronics.com +61 2 9648 5855

EXIGY www.exigy.co.uk +44 1494 761526

FLUID AUDIO www.fluidaudio.co.uk 36 September 2015

36 Directory_Final.indd 1

+44 845 262 2882

510 652 2411

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+44 1908 366700

The International Guide To Monitors & Headphones 2015

27/08/2015 17:57


Crafted for Perfection

Beyond mere headphones, the HD 800 experience takes you to unprecedented spatial acoustics, clarity, and brilliance in reproduction, the finest materials, and handcraftsmanship “made in Germany.” From the revolutionary idea of its ring-shaped transducer to the principle of the angled sound front to the layered construction of the headband, there was only one criterion: perfection. Beyond headphones begins the world of pure sound – Sennheiser’s world. www.sennheiser.com

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27/08/2015 14:39:49 27/08/2015 14:28


BROADCAST FOCUS

www.audiomediainternational.com

SITTING PRETTY

Having completed a string of high-profile audio projects, bespoke music and sound design specialist Sitting Duck has enjoyed much success in recent years, especially when it comes to audio branding. Matt Fellows reports.

The It Was Alright in the… series provided a new set of challenges for Sitting Duck

I

t’s easy to overlook the power of theme music for TV shows and adverts sometimes, but when all it takes is five little notes to make the mind jump to a global giant like McDonald’s, its effect becomes clear. It’s with this mentality that Sitting Duck has developed an array of content for some big names in British broadcasting, with commissions including ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Loose Women and Lorraine, BBC’s Sunday Morning Live and work for football associations UEFA and FIFA. The firm was co-founded by Rob May and Simon Hill, who first worked together producing backing tracks for Fame Academy in 2003. Since then the pair have remained the only constant personnel at the company, taking what they see as a unique approach when assembling an extended team for each project. “We’ll make sure we bring into each separate job the right people to deliver exactly what clients want,” May remarks. “We’re all based in different places around the world, and it’s a great way of working because you have different studios on the go at the same time, and you’ve all got the same equipment, the same software, so you can be picking up where someone else has left off within minutes.” And this method of collaboration is 38

taken even further between the two co-founders. “I’m based in Northamptonshire and Simon is based in Oxfordshire,” May explains. “Simon and myself have identical systems down to the same plugs, and every day we work with a virtual room; Skype is open the whole time, so he can see me, I can see him, so it’s as if we’re in the same room – we can play ideas to each other or send the actual project that we’re working on straight to each other. “It works so amazingly well. If we need to go bigger we just scoot down to London or across to Prague, where we’ve been on a number of occasions to record.” Sitting Duck prides itself on its open, bespoke pitching method. “We get guys that work with us to pitch ideas into us, and then we run back to the client with three ideas based on their brief,” he explains. “The benefit for the client is that they don’t have to sift through loads of stuff that won’t necessarily work. In the usual situation, if it was two production companies, they would have to pick but we were able to mix them together. We haven’t come across any other production companies that work like that.”

Building the branding The firm offers a range of services including music composition and sound

Rob May design, but one service in particular stands out. “One of the services we offer which is very popular at the moment is audio branding. People don’t realise how powerful it can be. Really good theme tunes have an audio brand that catch people’s ear and draw them into the show. “With Good Morning Britain, we came up with just four notes that are really important for that show, and we use the same four notes for the main theme, for the weather and we did a dance remix which is used for the entertainment section. You create different pieces of music for a show but they all sound as if they’re from the same family.” The studio has recently taken its unique operation to an equally unique project; Channel 4’s It Was Alright in the ‘60s/’70s/’80s/‘90s – a series of shows focusing on each individual decade, demanding a style of production authentic to the various eras. “We’d write a theme that sounded as if it was done in the ‘60s, and then we’d just pretend that the show had lasted for 40 years, and that a commissioning editor came back to us in the ‘70s and said ‘can you just redo this for now?’ And then again in the 80s and 90s,” May explains. “It’s been a load of fun. We

Simon Hill went back to themes of the year that we were trying to recreate and listened to loads of them. To make sure it was authentic we only used sounds that would have been used at the time. We used plug-ins mainly.”

Challenges ahead But the shifting sands of the industry may prove threatening to the niche that the company has carved; with broadcast changing at such a rapid pace, May believes they may have a fight on their hands to stay in the game. “I think there’s a real challenge for new commissioned music because while there’s an explosion of different channels, broadcasters and YouTube, it has meant that budgets have gone down, and sadly music seems to be one of the first things to go. “Library music is seen as a cheap and easy option, and there’s some great library music out there, so that’s the challenge for companies like ours that are trying to offer bespoke services. “Quality must take a hit. But I still believe that, at that top end of those companies, where they’re making good top-quality shows, the quality will stay. The cream always rises to the top.” www.sittingduckmusicandmedia.com

September 2015

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INSTALLATION FOCUS

www.audiomediainternational.com

A CHANGE OF ART

Audio meets art at the new Soundscapes exhibit at London’s National Gallery. Matt Fellows spoke to curator Minna Moore Ede to get the story behind this intriguing fusion of sight and sound.

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new kind of exhibition has opened at the National Gallery in London, combining 3D soundscapes with classic paintings to create immersive experiences. As part of the ‘Soundscapes’ showcase, the institution has commissioned musicians and sound artists to each select an artwork from its vast collection and create a fluid and interactive multilayered audio track – to be played in the gallery together with the piece. Curator of the exhibition, Minna Moore Ede, reveals how this kind of combination was a logical step for the gallery: “Sound and music have a long and intertwined history and it is easy to forget that so many of the paintings on display here were originally intended to be viewed in spaces full of sound and music,” she says. “The intended effect is for the public to be able to experience the paintings, as well as look at them. Sound is a timebased medium that has the effect of guiding you in your looking around the paintings and it encourages the visitor to spend time with the paintings.” Six sound artists were involved in the project – each selecting a portrait from the gallery and constructing a soundscape inspired by, and set to, that work. “We invited a diverse group,” Moore Ede explains. “Two from the contemporary art world who use sound as their medium Chris Watson

[Turner Prize-winner Susan Philipsz OBE and sound art duo Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller] and two from the classical music world [classical composer Nico Muhly and Oscar-winning film composer Gabriel Yared]. “Then we extended the reach,” she adds, “by inviting a natural sound recordist [BAFTA award-winner Chris Watson] and at the other end of the spectrum, a young DJ and remix artist whose sound is very contemporary [Jamie xx].”

Disrupting the Norm The created soundscapes are delivered in the gallery through speakers provided by B&W. Each artist was able to select the speakers they wanted, resulting in a “fantastically high” level of quality. And the immersive nature of the exhibit is not limited to simplistic methods of delivery: ”It varies in each room,” Moore Ede states. “Susan Philipsz has only three channels/ speakers, while Jamie xx has 16! In Gabriel Yared’s room he has speakers embedded within the walls and also arranged in the room, on the floor, at the height of the instruments they represent, which is wonderful because the sound changes according to where you stand.” Watson, who worked on TV epics such as The Life of Birds and Frozen Planet, discussed the methodology of his piece at a session held at the gallery. He recalled how he was driven with his chosen work, All pictures: The National Gallery London

Sound recordist Chris Watson attempted to capture the environment in full 360° in his work in response to ‘Lake Keitele’ Lake Keitele by Akseli Gallen-Kallela – an affecting depiction of a solitary island on a Finnish lake – to attempt to capture the environment in full 360°; a reproduction, he explained, of ‘the way we hear the world’. With this firmly in mind, Watson’s exhibit features a four-channel speaker system to enable aural depth perception, enabling the listener to perceive ‘the relative distance between the source of the sound or image and the listening position’. Watson attempted to capture ‘the sound of the view’ – the sounds GallenKallela would have heard as he painted the piece. Watson could hear birds around him, even though he couldn’t see them. Placing microphones facing behind himself, he captured and created a 360° soundscape, which extended beyond the painting’s frame. This is then reproduced through the exhibit’s immersive audio setup, surrounding the viewer.

‘Like Marmite’ Perhaps unsurprisingly, the exhibition, with its controversial combination of traditional visual art with a contemporary aural medium, has divided critical

opinion; feedback has been ‘like marmite’, according to Moore Ede: “I think things often go in cycles – there is definitely a trend at the moment towards a more immersive type of viewing experience, whether by combining visual art with music or with other disciplines – dance, film and performance,” she says. “And perhaps that is what makes critics of this type of approach so outraged – they believe a collection like the National Gallery’s is sacred and should not be trespassed on – they like to keep their art forms in their distinct categories.” But there have been plenty of positive responses, too. “It has been fascinating to see how much easier the younger generation have found the ‘experiential’ aspect to this exhibition,” Moore Ede concludes. “I think that there is a huge move to this across arts culture – many enjoy being surrounded by and immersed in an artistic experience. All of these exhibitions are ephemeral and it is always good to try something new, in my opinion.” Soundscapes runs at London’s National Gallery until 6 September 2015. www.nationalgallery.org.uk September 2015

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TECHNOLOGY: TUBE PREAMPS

Expert Witness

www.audiomediainternational.com

Studiospares technical manager Joel Elwar offers his tips on getting a classic sound in the studio using valve gear.

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chieving a big budget sound is something of a holy grail for the ‘bedroom producer’. It always seems so tantalisingly close, and yet remains just out of reach. You can work hard to get a great sounding mix in the box, but compare it with your favourite classic recordings and it may well feel like something is missing. So what exactly is the factor which makes that small difference between an ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’ sound, for want of better terminology? Of course it is difficult to quantify, but generally we are talking about the richness and depth of the sound – qualities that old-school analogue studios had in spades, but ones that the clinical nature of digital sampling can never quite achieve. That’s because the sound that we now take for granted in music production was something of a happy accident, a ‘side-effect’ of the technology that was developed for use in recording technology, perhaps most notably that of the vacuum tube, or valve. Vacuum tubes are a type of diode that work by heating a filament, the cathode, surrounded by a positively charged anode, in a sealed glass enclosure. Thermionic emission transfers electrons from cathode to anode, and in this manner current flows through the component in only one direction. Because the anode can only attract a finite number of electrons at any given moment, if there is a sudden swell of current into the cathode, the component will provide a sort of limiting effect, ensuring that energy spike is not transmitted to the rest of the circuit. Therefore the main effect of the tube on the signal is ‘soft-clipping’; primitive audio compression which provides some protection from overload and a degree of ‘smoothing’ to the sound. But there is a side effect as well: they added secondorder harmonics, imparting ‘colour’ to the sound signal and training us all to expect richness, warmth and depth in our music. When the drive for cheaper, 40

more practical devices kicked in, made possible by new innovations in solid state technology in the 1950s, the colouring effects of vacuum tubes were often simulated in new circuit designs, this time with the faster transients and wider range that transistors afforded us.

Work of ART Nowadays, there are a number of choices for tube amps for our studios, and they might just deliver the sound you’re looking for. At the more affordable end of the scale, ART produces some great units that shouldn’t be overlooked in any studio. One of my favourites is the ART Tube MP Studio V3, a smallfootprint preamp designed for use with instruments and microphones, and doubling as a great-sounding DI box. ART uses a technology it calls Variable Valve Voicing to give you some degree of control over how much the characteristics of the valve are applied to the signal. For around £60, the ‘authenticity’ it gives your sound is impressive; and perhaps the best bang for your buck. At around £160, the ART TPS II is another one to check out, giving you two channels in a 1U rackmount enclosure, something you could make the case for re-tracking your stereo bus through for

that vintage valve tone. But the ART unit that is most recommendable is the ART Pro MPA II at around £280, a greatsounding dual-channel unit. In all cases, there are some who argue the ART tube amps are all improved by upgrading the tube inside, and perhaps this represents the best value route to highend valve sound. If you have a little more to spend, the Universal Audio 710 Twin-Finity (pictured) is hard to look past. I have a lot of faith in this US manufacturer – its UAD processing system and range of plug-ins are arguably the beginning of the end of outboard solutions to the digital problem, but Universal Audio still makes great outboard gear itself, and this mic and instrument preamp sounds incredible. By utilising both tube and solid-state amp designs in the same circuit, it is possible to get a wide range of tones out of this unit. At around £650, it’s worth every penny in the studio, and if you’re looking for more channels, its big brother the 4-710D is a great buy at around £1,500. It is a shame that TL Audio is no longer producing its excellent Ivory tube preamp, but I would recommend finding a used unit to audition as they were really fantastic preamps at their price point. Then there’s the SPL Goldmike Mk2, another unit that has its fair share of

supporters. The Avalon VT-737sp, a truly amazing sounding channel strip comprising a tube preamp, equaliser and compressor is the most expensive unit I’m going to recommend at around £1,700. Once you hear this gem, you’ll want a rack full of them in your studio to track everything through. Ultimately then, there are a lot of options at every level for utilising vacuum tube preamps in the modern project studio environment, and they provide a great way to recapture that pleasing ‘analogue tone’ that is so often lost in modern, DAW-bound recording.

Expert Witness Joel Elwar is technical manager at Studiospares, a major UK-based supplier of pro-audio equipment to trade professionals and end users. www.studiospares.com

September 2015

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International

IBC 2015

www.audiomediainternational.com

RME

BABYFACE PRO Crafted with passion.

FACTS & FIGURES 12 input /12 output channels 4 analogue inputs (Mic, Line, Instrument) 4 analogue outputs (2 x XLR, 2 x Phones) 1 ADAT I/O or 1 SPDIF I/O optical 1 MIDI I/O

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he exciting new Babyface Pro once again demonstrates RME’s absolute commitment to superior craftsmanship, not only in audio circuits and driver development, but also in mechanics. Created with the highest precision from a block of aluminium, this high-end yet portable interface incorporates newly designed analogue and digital circuits. Its innovative energy-saving technologies are designed to provide supreme fidelity with no compromise in level, noise or distortion. For the main I/O RME has designed a new XLR socket, which integrates seamlessly into the housing and saves space. The two headphone outputs, offering TRS and mini-jack sockets in parallel, have completely separate driver stages to match low and high impedance headphones. Two digitally controlled preamps provide individually switchable 48V phantom power. These brand new circuits feature a gain range of 76dB, adjustable in 42

1 USB 2.0 (USB 3 compatible) steps of 1dB, including a relay-driven PAD, resulting in exceptional EIN (Equivalent Input Noise) performance as well as line overload protection, and enough gain for even the lowest level microphones. Babyface Pro’s efficient design almost never requires an external power supply – it’s stable on USB 3 bus power, and most USB 2 ports, with no degradation in any technical specification. This makes it perfect for mobile recording, even with a pair of your favourite condenser microphones. The comprehensive feature set continues with an optical TOSLINK I/O; use as either an ADAT port with SMUX support or SPDIF for sessions up to 192kHz. In combination with an external ADAT converter, the Babyface Pro fully supports 12 analogue inputs as well as 12 outputs, making it suitable for both live and studio multi-track applications. Users can plug any instrument, line or high impedance, into Babyface Pro’s jack inputs 3 and 4. Record guitar on the go, with no additional hardware required. MIDI I/O via an included breakout cable completes the package.

Digital gain control on all inputs TotalMix FX (with EQ, Reverb, Delay)

CONTACTS

Address: Audio AG, Am Pfanderling 60 85778, Haimhausen, Germany Tel: +49 08133 918170 Fax: +49 8133 9166 Web: www.audioag.com

September 2015

42 AMI Sept 2015 Recommended_Final.indd 1

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International

IBC 2015

www.audiomediainternational.com

DAN DUGAN SOUND DESIGN

DUGAN MODEL N AUTOMATIC MICROPHONE MIXER An automatic microphone mixer, designed to work in conjunction with standard audio mixing consoles.

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he Dugan Model N provides Dugan automatic microphone mixing with Dante I/O for simple interconnectivity with other Danteenabled products, as well as 32 channels of Dugan auto-mixing at a 96K sample rate or 64 channels at 48K. Dugan Speech System, Music System and Gain Limiting technologies are all supported. In addition, the Model N includes a scene memory that can record and recall all operating settings, either globally or by unit, in a library of named scenes. The Model N has primary and secondary Dante network connectors and is Power over Ethernet (PoE) capable. It may be controlled from its front panel, the Dugan Control Panel for Java (supplied free), the updated Dugan Control Panel for iPad (coming soon) and/or the Dugan Model K Tactile Control Panel. The Model N is networkable and interfaces to all recently developed Dugan products. Dan Dugan Sound Design has been supplying leading automatic mixing technologies for over four decades. Company CEO, Dan Dugan, is the inventor of the automatic microphone mixer and is revered by industry partners, competitors and

FACTS & FIGURES sound engineers everywhere. Three technologies were invented by Dugan: the Dugan Speech System, which automatically manages any number of live microphones in unscripted talking situations; the Dugan Music System, which offers automatic downward expansion to help reduce feedback, noise and off-mic bleed in live performances; and Dugan Gain Limiting, which provides a continuous, stepless, master gain adjusting system. All three technologies provide the best possible mix of live microphones, providing fast, transparent cross-fades without the upcutting, choppy sound or shifts in background noise that can occur with gated systems. Transitions between talkers are smooth and consistent no matter how many microphones are open. Dugan products are used in broadcast news panels, sports commentary, talk shows, corporate meetings, political debates, distance learning, live theatre and other applications. The products are not mixers in themselves; rather, they are accessories to sound mixing consoles. The â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Dugansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; patch into the input insert points of a mixing console, giving the board operator all of the features of the board such as EQ and sends along with automatic mixing.

Primary and secondary Dante network connectors 32 channels of Dugan auto-mixing at a 96K sample rate or 64 channels at 48K PoE capable Networkable and interfaces to all recently developed Dugan products

CONTACTS

Address: 290 Napoleon Street, San Francisco, California, 94124, US Tel: +1 415 821 9776 Email: dan@dandugan.com Web: www.dandugan.com

September 2015

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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

AUDIO-TECHNICA SYSTEM 10 PRO Key Features n Digital 24-bit/48kHz wireless operation n Operates in 2.4GHz range n Up to five chassis (ten receiver units) can be linked n Each receiver can be paired with up to ten transmitters, 20 per chassis n Automatic frequency selection RRP: £759 (ATW-1311 Dual bodypack system) www.audio-technica.com

WIRELESS SYSTEM

Iain Betson pairs up with the latest addition to A-T’s wireless range.

I

n light of the changes that have occurred to the availability of RF spectrum allocated to radio microphone use in the UK, I can see why manufacturers are now producing equipment that operates in the 2.4GHz range. The obvious attraction for the user is that these systems are licence free, immune to audible interference and offer more channels. For the producer, only having to comply with one international standard makes production and distribution far more efficient. The downside is that, while I said free from audible interference, with so many devices using it – all of which are competing for their own bit of spectrum 44

– the chance of failing to obtain a channel in the first place, or the link dropping out when it does, is more than a remote possibility, especially when used in ‘2.4GHz rich environments’, such as hotels or auditoriums. A way to increase your chances of grabbing, and holding onto, a channel is to move the transmitter and receiver close to each other. As higher RF frequencies prefer line-of-sight links, the received signal strength will be the best and as consistent it can be. The problem here is that large venues or productions may not permit such convenient co-siting. An alternative is to locate the reception antenna from the receiver remotely and reduce the distance this way. However, at the

power and frequencies these systems operate on, such a setup will require feeder cable as thick as your arm if losses between antenna and receiver are to be minimised. The Audio-Technica System 10 PRO employs a variation of the remote antenna approach, in that the whole antenna/receiver block can be located remotely from the audio/tuning section. There will be more about this later. Starting with the obvious, it’s called the System 10 as, fully spec’d, it can simultaneously support 10 transmitter/ receivers. And it’s called the Pro as it offers facilities and functionality over that of the ‘prosumer’ System 10 product Audio-Technica introduced a while back.

The base unit is a 1U-high, half rack-width chassis that can house and connect to two receivers. As delivered, you receive all the rack hardware to join two chassis together, to fit 1U of rack space, as well as a half rack-width blank plate to mount just a single device. To rack up a fully spec’d system, you will require 3U of space with one receiver using a blank plate. You will also be left with spare blank plates and joining hardware.

At First Glance My initial impression of the chassis is that it is a solid, well-put-together box. The front panel is fairly clutter-free, comprising a decent quality rocker-style power switch; perhaps this could have been ideally located on the rear, but its surround makes inadvertent operation unlikely. Two flap-covered slots, for the receiver blocks to slide into, sit either side of a display and buttons that are used to operate and check the status of each link. The receiver blocks are about the size of a cigarette packet. Each has two antenna sockets on the front. The

September 2015

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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

www.audiomediainternational.com

supplied 45mm-long antennae screw onto the blocks and can be rotated and angled to improve reception. Inserting the blocks into the chassis is easy: they simply push against the cover, slide in and lock. Releasing them is done via a slide switch under the slot. The base of the block has an RF connector socket, an RJ45 data connector, four pad contacts and a green operation LED. When in the chassis, the block makes use of this RF connector and the four pads to make a connection, but when sited remotely the RJ45 is used. Using a data network connector is an interesting solution to remotely siting the receiver block, since it allows the use of existing structured cabling within a venue, obviously on its own dedicated point-to-point link. As only the four pad connectors are used when the block is chassis mounted, I assume that only two of the pairs of the data cable are used when it is remotely located: one for power and another for signal transfer. Of the latter, I am not sure of the format

used by the System 10 PRO, but AudioTechnica states the receivers should be located no more than 100m away from the base unit, so I assume it is digitally based. During my tests, I ran the link over a cable run by connecting three Cat5e leads together with back-to-back couplers to simulate the signal running through patch panels. The combined length was a little in excess of the 100m, but still I found all worked well.

an easy fix To facilitate their remote mounting, also supplied in the kit are two light grey caddies into which the receiver blocks slide. Screw holes in the caddies allow easy fixing to a surface or, there not being much weight involved, Velcro tape would probably do the job too. I pondered on the colour of these caddies as, against the black background of most stages they might show up, but then again these units may be located in a the public area of a conference venue in which case black may not be best.

The green LED on the rear of the block lights up when the unit is powered, acting as a useful system check. The back end of the chassis frames are quite busy. Both receivers have two outputs: balanced on an XLR and unbalanced on a 6.35mm diameter jack – the signal output of the former connector being at mic level, while the latter is at line level. A single trim control adjusts the level on both connectors. Below this control is a ground lift switch which disconnects pin 1 of the XLR to, as it says in the manual, “avoid hum if a ground loop occurs”. I would say one of the potential causes of hum could be that the chassis is powered by a ‘wall-wart’ plug-top power supply and using such a method is a minor gripe. It would have been nice to see an integral PSU in the case, after all the product is badged as ‘Pro’. This mode of powering also leads onto a refinement that I think A-T could have implemented. I will come onto this later.

Also on the rear panel is an RJ45 connector to facilitate the remote connection of the receiver block. This is a nice touch since it keeps the remote link wiring out of the way. Finally, there is a pair of RJ11 data connectors labelled ‘Link, Out/In’. These are used, along with a supplied lead, to daisy-chain the chassis together to make a 10-channel system. This lead is quite short, so dictates that the chassis are located near each other. Incidentally, the chassis do not generate much heat, meaning an air gap between rackmounted units is unnecessary. Staying with the link cables, a fully appointed 10-channel system will require five power supplies, each requiring a mains socket, as well as the attendant mess of wires. I feel a more elegant solution could have been to use the link lead to power other chassis in the chain. Obviously using five individual power supplies provides an element of power redundancy, but this could have been achieved by using

Tuesday, September 29th l Bafta, London

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The latest conference from Installation will help you make sense of technology trends and steer your business towards profitability and growth. Sessions include: The Shape of Things to Come: Emerging Technologies and Their Likely Impact on Install Markets Which are the major technology and market trends driving change in the AV industry? In this keynote presentation, Futuresource Consulting senior analyst Colin Messenger will draw from a range of research services to answer this question, and provide much-needed context. Transformational Technologies… or Short-Term Solutions? Which technologies have the potential to truly change the industry? Leading industry voices will debate the merits of a cross-section of developing audio, video and networking technologies. Integrator Insight: How Best to Achieve 2020 Vision? End-User Panel: The Way Forward How will your working life to be different in 2020? Two panels – one featuring integrators, the other end-users – will discuss this question. What will need to change in the business environment to bring these changes about, and what will professionals have to do to prepare for them? For the latest information on speakers and sessions visit

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September 2015

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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW only two supplies, plugged into the first and last chassis in the chain and using internal switching to provide a seamless changeover. Of course, a power supply to run five chassis would need to be of a higher rating than the supplied wallwarts but this could be offered by A-T as an up-sell option – something for the Mark 2 version perhaps?

A Right Pair The front panel display and controls are very simple to use. Channel ID selection is made by the repeated pressing of a switch below the indicating display until the desired channel shows. Once selected, the channel number flashes until it is paired with the transmitter. This action is achieved by pressing the ‘Pair’ button on the chassis, followed by an identical button on the transmitter device you wish to pair it to. The display stops flashing and the corresponding pairing number also appear in the display of the transmitter. Once paired, the chassis display shows the conditions of the transmitter’s batteries and the RF signal strength from it. If un-muted, the received audio level from the transmitter is indicated as a simple traffic light LED. A further indication shows whether the chassis has been linked to another. Linking chassis will also affect the available channel pairings that can be selected. A point to remember is that when pairing multiple transmitters, once a transmitter and receiver are paired, the former must be temporarily switched off while the pairing process is carried out on a further device. The chassis knows what devices, and thus channels, have already been paired so will only offer unpaired channels for selection.

Belting Up The review system was two ATW1311/L systems with dual belt-pack transmitters. The differences between the products in the System 10 PRO range are the combinations of handheld microphone and belt-packs (known by A-T as UniPaks). The belt-packs are solidly built items and, although I didn’t get to see the hand-held microphone, I assume it is of the same construction. It may seem a small point but I particularly liked the slide-on/slide-off battery cover. I have used other radio 46

microphone systems, at both ends of the price range, that use hinges and clips to secure this part and it’s quite common for these to break off early in their life. The operating frequency necessitates small antennae and this is used as an advantage in the pack design. UHF and VHF systems sometimes have trailing string-like antennae hanging from them but the System 10 PRO UniPaks feature a small stub antenna that is very robust. Connecting microphones or other devices is via a locking Hirose (HRS) connector – much better than the mini-jacks used on some other products. The display shows the channel number but this is only briefly shown as a means, I assume, of conserving battery life and ensuring the transmitter is less visible. Other controls include an audio mute switch and, internally, the previously mentioned pairing switch and audio level trim control. A handy trim tool fits inside the case to facilitate the trim adjustment. Both the UniPak and the handheld microphone use a pair of AA batteries to power them. Although I didn’t conduct a battery life test, in one UniPak I deliberately inserted two used batteries. After 90 minutes of use, these batteries still showed no sign of expiring, so I would expect the stated seven hours battery life to be a very good estimate.

In Use I will take as read the published audio specs of 109dB dynamic range, 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response and a harmonic distortion of less than .05% because, frankly, it is very difficult nowadays to design kit that falls short in audio quality. I was more interested in how the link performed. I have already mentioned my crude simulation of a structured network cabling system and how the receivers communicated with the chassis while the cable length was above the recommended 100m, so I next wanted to find out how well the RF path stood up to working over more than the specified 60m maximum operating range, through some obstructions and when competing for spectrum space with other devices.

My ‘quick and dirty’ tests comprised going out for a walk, once with the receiver inside the building and a second time with it separated from the chassis and simply dangled out of the window. These tests found that in both cases I could exceed the stated 60m, although not by much. As expected, I also found that the range was reduced if my body was in the path of the link, meaning where a belt-pack is positioned on the user’s body is crucial, especially if they are working more than 50m away from the receiver. For my RF interference test, I paired all four devices to the two chassis and set up two 2.4GHz WiFi routers and the WiFi connections on two laptops,

a tablet and two mobile phones – all in close proximity to the System 10 receivers. In addition, a quick scan of internet routers picked up a further six SSIDs from some neighbouring devices. Using a WiFi scan app showed the spectrum to be fairly crowded in one section of the available bandwidth, and I could also see the spectrum being grabbed as each device was switched on or connected. In spite of this spectrum grab, the System 10 PRO performed well, with no noticeable drop-outs of the received audio when working within the stated operational range. In practice, 60m is more than adequate to cover the majority of venues and if you need to extend further you have the 100m cabled link distance to resort to. The supplied AT889cW tie-clip microphones performed well. These sub-miniature products sit in the upper part of the tie-clip offerings from Audio-Technica and come with a variety of fixing accessories, from standard tie-clips to button-holes. In spite of trying, under normal use, I could not get them to distort. Overall, I was impressed with the System 10 PRO, especially the method of remote siting the receiver. Some multiple channel systems offer a software solution to setting up and monitoring the connected devices and spectrum, but I don’t really think this product is aimed at that sector of the market. The simplicity of setup and operation more than compensates for a minor lack of functionality and it would have pushed the price up anyway. Recommended as a simple-touse multi-user system especially for conference or presentation use, just make sure there aren’t too many wireless doorbells, baby monitors or routers around – it will make pairing-up much easier!

The Reviewer Iain Betson is owner of studio installation and maintenance company, AV Resilience: www.avresilience.co.uk He can be contacted on info@avresilience.co.uk

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th

AUDIO ENGINEERING SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION

New York City, New York J acob J avits C enter Conference: Oct 29 – Nov 1, 2015 Exhibits: Oct 30 – Nov 1, 2015

If It’s About LIVE SOUND, It’s At AES139! LIVE SOUND EXPO comes to New York City this fall at the 139th AES Convention. Whether you are in the hot seat as FOH engineer mixing to a crowd of thousands, in an intimate local club mixing your favorite band, or handling the audio for a house-of-worship facility, the upcoming AES139 Convention in New York City is your one source for all things audio. With three days of exhibits, the Live Sound Track, and the Live Sound Expo, plus four days of workshops, technical papers and program content tailored to the current audio and communications landscape, once again, the AES Convention will be THE audio event of the year and cannot be missed. Our Live Sound Expo at the 139th Convention offers expert advice for the broad spectrum of live sound engineers (some 25% of Convention attendees) with an emphasis on the practical, bringing professionals with decades of experience to the stage to inspire and educate attendees.

AES139 Live Sound Expo itinerary and areas of focus:

• Friday, October 30 – Broadway/Theater • Saturday, October 31 – Worship & Install • Sunday, November 1 – Touring Admission to the Live Sound Expo is included with your FREE Exhibits-Plus advance registration. The Live Sound Expo sponsors are:

For AES sponsor opportunities contact Graham Kirk: graham.kirk@aes.org

If It’s About AUDIO, It’s At AES! For more information visit our website at:

www.aesconvention.com/139

Photo courtesy of Christian Heilman

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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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STEINBERG NUENDO 7 DAW

Stephen Bennett explains why this new update should be considered an “essential upgrade” by fans of the digital audio workstation.

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uendo, Steinberg’s flagship DAW, has had a makeover and is now at version 7 – the integer increment suggesting that the now venerable piece of software has received some significant additions. For those already familiar with Nuendo, version 7 looks pretty much the same as previous revisions – and this is a good thing. Nuendo has always been pretty quick to get to grips with, and is easy on the eye, so I’m glad Steinberg hasn’t gone for any pointless revamps of the interface. It’s also as stable as ever – not a single crash in three weeks of intensive audio to video work. There are some useful ergonomic changes – the VST instrument rack is now displayed in a ‘Rack Zone’ in the Project space, while Media bay assets can be dragged directly into the Project window. Other changes include an improved Track list and Inspector and the addition of tempo detection; a Plugin manager to sort your VSTs (hooray!); and VST Connect version 3. The latter lets you record audio and MIDI over networks, including the internet, and is now closely connected with Nuendo’s excellent cue and monitoring system that enhances the possibilities of remote collaboration no end. How useful this feature is going to be really depends on your network speeds, but experiments with collaborators over a 100mbs wired system proved encouraging. A rash of new and improved VST effects and instruments are bundled with Nuendo, as well as some other features lifted from Cubase, such as Chord pads and Groove agent – but if you want to use 48

Nuendo extensively for composition it’s probably a good idea to grab the Nuendo Expansion Kit (NEK), which showers the software with other tools lifted from its sibling DAW. Nuendo now features VCA faders, which are something you wonder how you lived without when you start using them. Rendering audio has been mightily improved and you can render to disk tracks and regions, with or without effects and at various sample rates and bit depths. The Render-inplace feature enables you to bounce audio and MIDI tracks to disk, which are then automatically copied back into your Project. The program has undergone some ‘under the hood’ tweaks as well that mean Projects now load faster and CPU performance is improved.

Game Plan The addition of some new features moves Nuendo into new areas that are the main interest in this upgrade. Steinberg has tackled the burgeoning computer games area head on with the inclusion of Game Audio Connect. GAC (as it will be henceforth known) is designed for those working in the field, and has been developed to provide a close integration with Audiokinetic’s Wwise middleware. Wwise is an audio

authoring solution for computer game development and with Nuendo, you can drag-and-drop audio files, including metadata via GACdirectly into Wwise. Nuendo Projects can also be loaded directly from the Wwise application, making archiving and updating much easier. GAC also features a seamless integration with Perforce, the distributed revision-control file management system, so that any changes in shared Nuendo 7 projects are automatically monitored in the background and updated as necessary. Back in more familiar Nuendo territory, the software now features a new re-conforming algorithm that detects picture changes on the basis of comparisons between the updated and original Edit Decision Lists (EDL). This ‘change list’ is then used to perform the re-conform process. You can preview re-conformed audio to check if the material is as you’d expect, and the re-conforming toolset offers a video preview of the resulting picture changes. The system is conceptually quite simple and works extremely well, saving time during those inevitable last-minute video edits. For Nuendo’s main claim to fame – it’s core functions in the video and audio world – the best DAW for sound to picture work has just got better,

with useful features being added while maintaining the program’s ease of use and legendary stability. For existing users of Nuendo, version 7 is an essential upgrade; for those thinking of working in the fields of film, games or who want to collaborate with colleagues over networks, you’d do well to check out the latest version of Steinberg’s behemoth DAW.

Key Features n n n n n

Game Audio Connect interfacing technology Re-conforming for film and TV post projects Render-in-place VCA faders New and improved plug-ins

RRP: €1,799/£1,324 www.steinberg.net

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.

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What’s New at PLASA 2015 What event developments and new initiatives can visitors expect to see at this year’s show? Major show developments for PLASA Show 2015 include focused hubs on the show floor for Audio, Broadcast, Lighting, AV and Staging building on PLASA’s successful focus model and enabling visitors to easily locate the products and brands facilitating business opportunities. The show will also showcase sector specific seminar streams hosting 150+ leading speakers; new facilitated networking for increased business generation and increased emphasis on product innovation pre-show and onsite at the PLASA Awards for Innovation. Visitors can expect a business only focus to the show reflected by extending the opening hours and three day format from Sunday 4 October to Tuesday 6 October.

How does PLASA Show 2015 differ to PLASA Show 2014 - what visitor feedback did you receive last year and how has that influenced this year’s content and format? Visitor feedback from PLASA Show 2014 was critical in addressing the needs of exhibitors and visitors alike, as their collaborative voice prompted new initiatives as well as the return of some popular features. Feedback allowed PLASA Events to focus on developing key areas including more sector specific seminars and demo areas, increased networking opportunities from the sectorfocused areas and the return of the show’s central bar, which will provide the all-important social element on the show floor. Which audio brands can you expect to see at the show?

World renowned business event for the Live Entertainment Technology industry Featuring a brand new format with sector focused hubs for AV, lighting, audio, staging and broadcast; live demonstration zones, new exhibitors and new feature products. All backed up by PLASA’s renowned Professional Development Programme hosting five seminar streams with 150+ industry leading speakers.

Register today at www.plasashow.com /PlasaShow

GLASGOW | 20-21 JANUARY, 2016

@PlasaShow

#PlasaShow

LEEDS | 10-11 MAY, 2016

With PLASA Show being one of the biggest showcase of live entertainment technology, it attracts the biggest brands including d&b audiotechnik, Music Group, Yamaha, Nexo, Digico, FBT, Meyer Sound, L’acoustics, Midas, Avid, Sennheiser, Pioneer and more... Why should audio and live events professionals take time out of their office to visit PLASA Show – what will they learn and how will the show be of benefit? A number of seminar sessions would be of particular interest to the audio community including four panel sessions chaired by industry journalist Phil Ward including: Digital Mixing for the real world; DON’T WORRY, BE IP – Networking for live sound and installation; NOISES OFF! Controlling event sound; MORE MIDI, PLEASE – Mixing monitors for artistic temperaments. The theatre will also host sessions from Justin

Grealy and Jon Burton looking at ‘time aligning inputs and outputs’ and discussing whether ‘mixing is personal’; an afternoon of training from Brit Row Productions Training and keynotes delivered by Tony Andrews of Funktion One, big games audio specialist Scott Willsallen, and Mike Lowe from Brit Row discussing the future of training in the industry. Furthermore, the show floor will be packed with products, innovations and services as well as an audio focused networking zone to facilitate knowledge sharing and enable the audio community to check out cutting edge, contemporary technology solutions and keeping on the pulse of what’s new on the market. PLASA Show, ExCeL London Sunday 4 October 10am – 6pm Monday 5 October 10am- 8pm Tuesday 6 October 10am- 4pm www.plasashow.com

55%

specify or are final decision makers, that is more than 5,000 key buyers

86%

of visitors use exhibitions as a key source to find product/service information

44%

of visitors haven’t visited any other show in the past year


TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

www.audiomediainternational.com

MEYER SOUND LEOPARD LOUDSPEAKER SYSTEM

Andy Coules reports back from this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival, where he had the opportunity to tame the new LEOPARD line array from Meyer Sound for the first time.

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t seems like the time between hearing about a new piece of gear and actually being able to use it is getting shorter and shorter; new products and innovations are making the journey from announcement to available quicker than ever. So I was quite pleased when I had the opportunity to mix a show at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland on the brand new Meyer Sound LEOPARD compact line array loudspeaker. The LEOPARD (together with the 900-LFC sub) debuted at Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt in April, and went on to win the NewBay Media Pro Audio Group’s Best of Show award at the InfoComm show in June. It promises to distil the best the LEO family has to offer into a compact package and has already generated a buzz of anticipation in the live sound industry, so let’s see what all the fuss is about. The LEOPARD is a compact active loudspeaker designed to be used in an array of at least six boxes. Each box is 62.4cm wide by 28.2cm tall and 49.9cm deep (without handles) and weighs just 34kg – to give you an idea of their weight, six boxes plus two 900-LFC subs can be flown using only a 1/2 ton motor. It comprises two 9in long-excursion cone drivers and one 3in compression driver (coupled to a constant directivity horn through a patented REM manifold) and boasts an operating frequency range of 55Hz to 18kHz (dependent on loading conditions and room acoustics). The amp is threechannel, open loop and Class D, which 50

Key Features promises less distortion, less power consumption and less heat generated. The LEOPARD is the smallest member of the LEO family and is designed to either be used alone in small to medium-sized venues or to integrate with LEO or LYON elements as supplemental down or out fill. When used standalone it pairs up with the 900-LFC low frequency control element, which can be hung as part of LEOPARD arrays without transition hardware, and provides low end reinforcement from 31 to 125Hz. The venue was the indoor 2,000-capacity Jazz Lab at Montreux, and the system comprised two hangs of 10 boxes per side complemented by 15 900-LFC subs in a cardioid configuration. The subs were floor mounted, due to the height limit of the venue, and I was warned that this might impact the coherence of the system and sacrifice a little of the ‘punch’ of the bottom end. I wasn’t involved in the rigging or configuring of the system but I was told that it was very straightforward to set up.

In Use So the first thing I did was play a selection of tried and tested sound check tunes to hear what the system could do. It coped admirably with just about any genre I could throw at it –

EDM was tight and crisp, rock music was full and punchy, classical music was detailed and dynamic. I was aware that I was fortunate to be in an acoustically well treated room and a quick wander round revealed a precise sound with an even frequency response, but I could tell that the focus was tight with very little sound being ‘sprayed’ where it wasn’t needed. I was also quite pleasantly surprised at the lack of noticeable reflection from the floor when the room was empty. Once the room filled up there was very little need for any adjustment to compensate for the change in the acoustics caused by the audience. The impression I had gathered from auditioning the system in an empty room was very close to how it sounded when full. When it came to the show itself, the system delivered a full bottom end, a detailed middle and an extremely crisp top end. When compared to the flagship offerings from Martin, L-Acoustics and d&b (all of which I’ve used in recent weeks) I felt it had just a little bit of extra ‘fizz’ in the top end, which gave an enhanced degree of clarity without any noticeable distortion – even at the biggest peaks of the performance it never sounded harsh. It never felt like I was pushing the system close to its limit; I always felt that there was more

n n n n n

Boxes measure 62.4cm (W) x 28.2cm (H) x 49.9cm (D) and weigh just 34kg Speakers comprise two 9in long-excursion cone drivers and one 3in compression driver Operating frequency range of 55Hz to 18kHz Three-channel open-loop Class D amplifier Array of six LEOPARD (with two 900-LFCs) can be flown using a 1/2-ton motor

www.meyersound.com if I needed it. Taking into account the size of the boxes the output powerto-weight ratio is quite astonishing – something I’ve never experienced in such a small line array. After the show a fan came up to FOH to declare that the sound had been “incredible”. He wanted to know if this was a result of the band or me and I immodestly declared that it was a combination of the two – however I should really have acknowledged the role that LEOPARD played in the sound that night.

The Reviewer 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. andycoules.co.uk

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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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PRESONUS STUDIO ONE 3 SOFTWARE

Alistair McGhee picks apart the latest version of the company’s award-winning DAW to see what it has in store for users.

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arder, Better, Faster, Stronger are all great aspirations – ideal for opening Glastonbury or indeed a tag line for the latest incarnation of your killer software. Avoiding of course – Fatter, Flatter, Slower, Harder to Use. So have the PreSonus boffins working on Version 3 of their Studio One digital audio workstation delivered the Daft Punk upgrade or have they fallen foul of mere waistline expansion? Well, the install fairly flies by, a slim-fit 90MB download expands to 167MB uncompressed. And the install flexibly allows you to add your instruments, loops and single shots later – they run to about 24GB in the Pro version, over half of which is made up of new content. These bytes are the loop, sample and instrument muscle mass. So Version 3, what’s in it for me? Well first bear in mind there are three versions – Prime, Artist and Professional. It’s worth checking which suits your need – I’ll be looking at Professional. The headlines are the new Arranger Track and Scratch Pad. The Arranger Track enables you to divide your song into sections – intro, chorus, verse, etc. – and then manipulate those sections en bloc rather than having to select, copy and paste across multiple tracks of your magnum opus. With a single click you can swap verse and chorus, or duplicate the chorus; adding colour to your arranger sections makes seeing the breakdown of your tunes very easy. And as the sections are freely nameable you could apply this trick to any audio, not just music. Studio One Pro works using a single timeline window, with the option to 52

instantly switch between open songs in a drop down menu. The new Scratch Pad feature means that each song timeline can make use of an extra dedicated workspace. Select any or all of your arranger sections, right click and copy to a new Scratch Pad and you now have an additional space to work in. The Scratch Pad appears alongside your existing song timeline and can be named and saved independently. This is ideal for creating alternate mixes or experimenting with different processes and effects, while remaining confident that your original stays unmessed about with. If you like what you’ve done it is a snip to drag the whole part back into the main window in one go. A couple of other workflow improvements: folders are linked to the mixer – packing your tracks into a folder will hide them in the mixer – making unwieldy projects much easier to handle on the limited screen space of a laptop, say. I think I first saw keyboard cursor modifiers on Soundscape and I’m a big fan. Studio One also now offers an alternative tool on the Command or Ctrl key, depending on your OS. You can now draw your automation detail completely in freehand, and in the new tabbed browser section FX plug-ins can be selected to display as thumbnail graphics – a great way to make your favourites stand out from the text list crowd. In fact, the whole tabbed browser

is hugely productive, with content searchable by style and drag-and-drop access everywhere. Studio One has always been a musician’s DAW and Version 3 is firmly rooted in the music camp, with many of the new goodies likely to please those working in electronic music production especially. Which brings us neatly on to Mai Tai, a brand new big ass polyphonic virtual analogue synth featuring two oscillators (each with one sub) and a noise generator. It also packs mulitmode filters, three envelope generators, two LFOs, a 16-way modulation matrix and access to its own effects and a new feature: scalable CPU performance, featuring an ’80s option. Prophet-5 wannabes form an orderly queue. Also new to Version 3 is Presence XT, a sampler that supports EXS, Giga and unrestricted Kontakt files. It also supports the new generic multi-sample format that allows sharing with Bitwig. While on the subject of instruments Version 3 offers multi instruments – the ability to combine, split and layer instruments in ways too numerous to enumerate. It’s just fantastically flexible. This approach can be applied to effects too. Effects can be chained together in an effects map, which allows frequency or channel-based splitting. So if you fancy adding a Leslie-like lilt to the top octave of your guitar track, while independently pumping the bottom end with a big compressor, an effects chain with splitting is just the thing.

Key Features n n n n

Arranger Track for sectioning songs Use Scratch Pad to create extra workspace Extended FX chains Multi Instruments

RRP: £279 (Professional) www.presonus.com And you’ll get that Leslie sound from the new Rotor effect – ideal for spinning your bits, but if you prefer them crushed then make sure you give the new Crusher effect a whirl. All this and much more. If music composition is your bag, Studio One should be in your bag. Now that everything is native producers and composers increasingly rely on a range of tools, I’m sure Version 3 is going to be a part of many, many tool kits. It’s a Stronger DAW.

The Reviewer Alistair McGhee began audio life in Hi-Fi before joining the BBC as an audio engineer. After 10 years in radio and TV, he moved to production. When BBC Choice started, he pioneered personal digital production in television. Most recently, Alistair was assistant editor, BBC Radio Wales and has been helping the UN with broadcast operations in Juba.

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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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SANDHILL 6011A RIBBON MICROPHONE

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ctive ribbons are all the rage and for good reason: the inherent bidirectional quality of a figure-eight polar pattern, typically strong mids, and a pleasant top-end tempered with a touch of useful dynamic smoothing plus higher output, lower noise floor and the increased preamp flexibility of active electronics. If you don’t have an active ribbon microphone (or preferably, a pair-Blumlein, anyone?), I’m afraid you’re really missing out. The microphone marketplace is increasingly populated with ‘more affordable’ models, yet at the top end – as in $7,500 per pair – a new king of ribbons should be crowned: the longmotored, heavy-duty and beautifully voiced Sandhill 6011A. Hand-built in Finland, the 6011A’s flat rectangular shape screams ‘ribbon mic’ at first look. The large ribbon (measuring 60mm x 4.7mm) is actually a composite material – primarily ceramic coated aluminium with other undisclosed, proprietary ingredients – that reportedly retains the sensitivity of corrugated aluminium while increasing strength and durability. As a result, less wind screening is utilised, helping ‘open up’ the sound. The 6011A’s ribbon material is beyond mere academics. Sandhill backs it all up with a three-year warranty and a reported lack of sensitivity to wind blast damage (via forceful vocals, Leslie cabinets, kick drums, etc) with a maximum SPL rating of 160dB (with -6dB pad engaged). Such durability opens the 6011A up to live applications, where active ribbons on guitar cabs is the transducer du jour. And a firm, simple and effective shock mount is included, thank goodness.

In Use With piano, Sandhill’s 6011A matched pair provided an extremely realistic

Rob Tavaglione discovers whether it’s worth forking out on this versatile high-end option from the Scandinavian mic specialist. reproduction of the sound source via Earthworks 1024 mic preamp with +55dB of gain applied and no added EQ or compression. Overall, the pair’s sound is marked by a full bottom end absent of rumble or woofi-ness; accurate mids (a preponderance of 350Hz was from my piano/room combo, not the mics); brighter-thanpassive ribbon top end that is crisp but not at all shrill; and only slightly restricted dynamics. For piano, the 6011A pair offered audible, notably linear, imaging even at high levels. On Hammond organ and Leslie cabinet, I positioned the spaced pair up top, capturing growl and preponderant low-mids quite well, enough top end, a strong but easily usable bottom end, all with no issues from rotating horn wind. For percussion applications, specifically on conga – utilised sideways, with head and side slap – the 6011A provided excellent balance from bottom to top. Fine balance was gained with no EQ on güiro, and it was perfect on clave with a nice ‘pop’ bite. All of this percussion sat well in mixes without much EQ needed. As drum overheads, the 6011A spaced pair sounded very natural with great overall kit balance, strong low-mids, ample top end for rock/ pop (not metal-suitable, but it can be brightened nicely with EQ), and overall nice imaging with no ‘squish’. With a singer-songwriter, I captured performances with simultaneous vox/ guitar as I Blumlein’ed the room about three feet out from the artist. I gained good air and blend and strong but not overpowering mids, but needed some slight EQ and required +60dB gain, just enough to hear a little noise floor. On lead vocal, the 6011A was very sensitive to plosives, perhaps voiced too dark for pop without an HPF/ low-mid dip/high-shelving boost, yet it was ideal for both loud screaming

Key Features n n n n n

Hand-built in Finland NCRT (Nano Composite Ribbon Technology) ribbon transducer Ideal for both live and studio applications High SPL capability Comes with shock mount and case

RRP: $7,500 (pair) www.sandhillaudio.com

metal vocalists or classical applications (especially vocal-only environments). On guitar cabinet, the 6011A reminded me of the Royer R-121. It was too woofy and dark without HPF and brightening EQ, and guitar cab was the only application that required the 6011A’s internal -6dB pad, ultimately providing output level between a SM57 and a large diaphragm condenser (LDC). And finally, on choir: the 6011A gave excellent rejection at side nulls, perfect overall tonal balance, and much nicer low-mids than any LDC – absolutely fantastic! Although its active electronics provide stability, the 6011A responds more like a passive ribbon with a little more output – not the condenser-like hot output and crispy top of many post-modern ribbons. The 6011A does what I expected in translating lots of useful bottom end, with thick, palpable low-mids and naturally smooth mids. It seems to tame rudeness in hi-mid/ high-end heavy sound sources, all while responding politely to EQ.

Yet is a 6011A matched pair worth $7,500? Personally, I’m too frugal and cash-strapped to simply say, ‘yes’. With a better budget, though, absolutely – the 6011A would be very near the top of my studio wish list, I assure you.

The Reviewer Rob Tavaglione has owned and operated Catalyst Recording in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1995. Rob has also dabbled in nearly all forms of proaudio work, including mixing live and taped broadcasts (winning two regional Emmy Awards); mixing concert and club sound. He is a regular contributor to Pro Audio Review. www.prosoundnetwork.com September 2015

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INTERVIEW

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BURD SOUNDS

Turning on the style for the new Guy Ritchie flick The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Chris Burdon has developed into one of the most in-demand re-recording mixers in the movie business. Adam Savage caught up with him after a preview Dolby Atmos screening of the film in Soho, London. He didn’t have as much time on Edge of Tomorrow, but we still needed to make sure his voice sounded good, and make it work with the ADR. The dialogue in that wasn’t too dissimilar to U.N.C.L.E., but there were huge action sequences, aliens, and it was more multi-layered so there was just a lot more going on. Which sequence turned out to be the most complex when mixing The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? Probably the chase across the island with the rock crawler and the motorbike – there wasn’t so much dialogue there, but in terms of the sound effects there needed to be a lot of work done on that.

What would you say was the biggest challenge that you faced with this particular film? The biggest challenge was to maintain that ‘60s style and vibe inherent in the film and embellish it energy-wise. There were lots of story lines going through the film that had to be articulated really clearly and, of course, being a Guy Ritchie film, the music was so important. It was a ‘60s film, but had to be mixed in a modern way – all the old tracks are in stereo, but you’ve got 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos. I also didn’t want it to be too loud; I wanted it to be punchy with the music tracks and sound FX but I was very happy with how it sounded here [at Dolby’s Soho screening room]. And mixing the movie in Dolby Atmos allowed you to be extra creative, I imagine? It was fairly conservative in terms of 54

dialogue panning, and there was subtle use of overheads in Atmos for the music – I quite like using heavy percussion to create some intensity using the overhead speakers as it allows you to get quite a meaty sound. In addition to the fantastic sound FX sequences throughout the film, if you listen to the effects mixing there are also simple little things like in the torture scene there was some nice work done with the spinning bulb, which was subtly panned around the room, but it was never meant to be too flash. You’re a bit of a specialist in dialogue and there was some great use of it in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Did that require a lot of work? Dan Morgan, the dialogue editor, and myself formed a very strong unit during the dialogue pre-mix. The original dialogue was in really good shape, but

we did have lines of ADR, and Guy really does not like that, so we agonised at trying to do our best. There wasn’t a lot of ADR, but what was in there we had to make sure Guy was happy with. My bread and butter, early on, is to get as much as I can out of the dialogue and I have a subtle style to what I do. I just want it to sound even, comfortable and with a reasonably high fidelity sound. How would you compare this project to some of the others you’ve completed recently? An obvious straight comparison, with the same editor (James Herbert), would be Edge of Tomorrow, the Tom Cruise film. Because Tom Cruise can be quite handson with sound, you have to get it right for him. If he has the time he loves coming in to check out a dub at the end – he did that with the new Mission Impossible for a few days.

What are your thoughts on the progress made in the field of immersive sound over the past few years? We’ve been mixing 5.1 and to a lesser extent 7.1 for the best part of 5-10 years and you realise that some cinemas aren’t necessarily able to invest in that technology after a while and the standard of those systems are getting more tired. You work in a rather lovely environment and come to listen to it in a place like this [Dolby Europe] where it sounds great, but you go to some older cinemas where it’s not so good, so the immersive experience is kind of being diminished. But Dolby Atmos is raising the bar in what you can do and how it feels. When you move sound it’s more accurate, fun and articulate, and as you have more state-of-the art gear with Atmos you don’t have to make it so loud. I can put dialogue reverb in the overhead speakers and it’s just a subtle detail and you can just go in new directions. So what’s next for you? I’ve been extremely fortunate to mix so many amazing films in the last few years. It looks like there are some great projects coming up, so fingers crossed I can get involved.

September 2015

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AMI September 2015 Digital Edition  
AMI September 2015 Digital Edition