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

September 2016

A PERFECT TEN We talk to the team at Bang Post Production about their successful ďŹ rst decade p24

FEATURE

REVIEW

INTERVIEW

Four expert sound recordists discuss location recording p20

A look at the new LYD 7 monitors from Dynaudio p32

Jason Graves on tackling VR game sound p42


MONITORING ESSENTIALS

X8, LIVE MONITOR - L-ACOUSTICS X SERIES In creating the X Series, we brought all of the experience gained in designing the K2 to bear on a new series of reference coaxials. Optimized design, ergonomics, acoustical performance and weight make the X Series the most advanced coaxials on the market. Four distinct enclosures with format, bandwidth, SPL and coverage angles perfectly adapted to short throw rental or install applications, the X Series offers studio monitor sound quality, compact design, consistent tonal balance, no minimum listening distance and exceptional feedback rejection. www.l-acoustics.com


WELCOME EDITOR Adam Savage asavage@nbmedia.com

Experts in the issue

BACK TO BUSINESS

MANAGING EDITOR Jo Ruddock jruddock@nbmedia.com STAFF WRITER Colby Ramsey cramsey@nbmedia.com

James ‘Brew’ Breward is a freelance sound engineer who works across a wide range of sectors, including musical theatre, corporate events and rock ‘n’ roll shows.

ADVERTISING MANAGER Ryan O’Donnell rodonnell@nbmedia.com ACCOUNT MANAGER Rian Zoll-Khan rzoll-khan@nbmedia.com HEAD OF DESIGN Jat Garcha jgarcha@nbmedia.com DESIGNER Tom Carpenter tcarpenter@nbmedia.com PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Warren Kelly wkelly@nbmedia.com CONTENT DIRECTOR James McKeown jmckeown@nbmedia.com

Press releases to: ukpressreleases@nbmedia.com

Jason Graves is an award-winning composer best known for his soundtracks for games such as Dead Space, Tomb Raider, Far Cry Primal and Farlands.

Audio Media International is published by NewBay, The Emerson Building, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU, 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@c-cms.com Printed by Pensord Press Ltd Front Cover: Bang Post Production

© NewBay 2016. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owners.

Enno Littmann is managing director of IHSE, a developer and manufacturer of advanced Keyboard, Video, Mouse (KVM) devices with more than 30 years of experience.

ou know summer’s nearly over in pro-audio when it hits you that the upcoming trio of trade shows – IBC, PLASA and BPM | PRO – are not as far away as you first thought. September may not be the cheeriest time of year for some, as it marks the end of pretty much everyone’s favourite season, but let’s not forget that it does also bring with it a number of excellent opportunities to catch up with old contacts and meet new faces, whether it be in Birmingham, London or Amsterdam – or all three if you’re lucky like us. IBC is up first, and with no major changes planned for 2016, we can all head to the RAI on the 9th knowing more or less what to expect, but the other two events – both taking place in new venues – are sure to offer more than a few surprises, and I’m certainly looking forward to finding out what’s in store for visitors at Olympia and the Genting Arena in a couple of weeks time. You’ll find previews on all of these shows starting on page 12.

Y

Remote Speaker Station

Adam Savage Editor Audio Media International

Master Station serves up to 24 remote stations

Connection of User Stations via LAN with PoE switches or via powered daisy chain lines Full color high-resolution displays 48 kHz / 16 bit uncompressed audio 4 Master Stations may be linked

And with it being IBC month, there has deliberately been more of a focus on broadcast and post-production in this edition. As well as an interview with the co-founders of Cardiff’s Bang Post looking at their first ten years in business, we’ve got a Profile on a facility that’s just opened in Boston that’s dedicated to podcasting, and a Q&A with the MD of IHSE on a new product designed for use with the hugely successful Avid S6. We’ve also been busy asking a number of experienced production sound mixers and sound recordists about their choice of microphones for location work and some of the tricks they’ve learnt over the years when they find themselves in difficult situations. Another expert we’ve managed to track down is award-winning composer Jason Graves – best known for his soundtracks for games such as Dead Space, Tomb Raider and more recently Far Cry Primal. His latest project was a different test altogether though, as it was his first attempt at preparing game audio for a VR title – pretty good timing with the Oculus Rift due to hit stores in a matter of weeks as we go to press. Finally, our Reviews section highlights a plethora of recording options, with some fine examples of nearfield monitors, analogue outboard and plugins under the microscope this month.

DIGITAL INTERCOM - CUE LIGHT CONTROL - GPO TRIGGER

Channels for Cue Light Control, GPO Trigger or Listen Only Full duplex intercom channels Program audio feeds over network

4-ch Master Speaker Station

2-ch Beltpack

FLEXUS is designed & manufactured by: ASL Intercom BV, Utrecht, The Netherlands www.asl-inter.com September 2016

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CONTENTS

www.audiomediainternational.com

620 PRODUCT NEWS 6

Yamaha unveils Nuage v1.8

8

Allen & Heath expands dLive ecosystem

PEOPLE 16

OPINION David Bowles explains why there will always be challenges to overcome despite constantly improving equipment and technology

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Producer Matt North ponders how professional sound work is perceived outside the industry

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TECH TALK Enno Littman reveals how the new Draco tera | S6 KVM switch integrates with Avid’s Pro Tools | S6 control surface

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INTERVIEW Colby Ramsey chats to composer Jason Graves about working with Oculus on Farlands, his first VR title

ALSO INSIDE 10

Pro Sound Awards Rising Star shortlist announced

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SHOW PREVIEWS: PLASA London, BPM |PRO

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IBC2016

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FEATURES 20

LOCATION RECORDING: Four experienced sound professionals, and representatives from a trio of manufacturers, discuss options for when working out in the field

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STUDIO PROFILE: Colby Ramsey speaks to the men in charge at Cardiff-based Bang Post Production, which celebrates its tenth birthday this year

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BROADCAST PROFILE: Adam Savage discovers a brand new Boston-based facility dedicated to producing content for podcasting

TECHNOLOGY 28

HOW TO James ‘Brew’ Breward shares a solution for when a high number of users means a straightforward comms setup simply won’t suffice

42 REVIEWS 32 34 36 38 40

Dynaudio LYD 7 Sonic Farm Creamliner II Tegeler Crème Waves Infected Mushroom Pusher dbx goRack


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PRODUCT NEWS

JTS ANNOUNCES REPLACEMENT CAPSULE FOR WIRELESS SYSTEMS JTS has launched its TC-22 replacement condenser capsule for professional wireless microphone systems. Available in two models – one to fit JTS and Shure wireless systems, the other designed for Sennheiser products – the TC-22 offers a wide dynamic range and very low touch noise, making it suitable for stage applications where high-quality reproduction is required. The company believes that with its “characteristic crystal clear mid and high response, it is a notable improvement over dynamic equivalents”. The TC-22 offers a frequency response of 50-18,000Hz and a

sensitivity of -68±3 dB* (0.4mV) *0dB=1V /μbar. It weighs 143g and also comes with a gold-plated PC board connector. The JTS TC-22 is available immediately throughout the UK via distributor FBT Audio. www.jts.com.tw

POWERSOFT RELEASES EXTENSIVE ARMONÍA SOFTWARE UPGRADE The latest software release for Powersoft’s Armonía Pro Audio Suite brings substantial enhancements for fixed installation customers looking to remote manage and monitor a network audio system, with features including Operator View, which allows the user to customise a new window tab depending on needs. Users can choose from a range of pre-configured objects with the following functionalities: Mute, Gain, Delay, Scene Recall, Magnifier to EQ Window, VU Meter of a selected channel, Status LED, Background Image and Notes. Each object can be imported into the window as many times as necessary, and then be resized and organised depending on project

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design and whether the final application is an installation or a touring situation. They can then be linked to any Advanced Group already present in the main workspace tab in order to expedite the customisation process of the layout. The Powersoft X Series is now fully integrated with diagnostic alarms that will show up in Armonía in real time, giving the user a more accurate overview of their system. Those alarms are linked to channel/ hardware faults, power supply faults, fan faults, channel temperature, limiter activity and output load detection, as well as input pilot tone detection on the Ottoncanali series. Powersoft has also introduced additional categories into which the presets are divided, allowing users to select from presets emanating from different sources, such as communityor Powersoft-approved presets. The X Series speaker preset library has also been expanded. www.powersoft-audio.com

www.audiomediainternational.com

YAMAHA UNVEILS NUAGE V1.8 WITH DOLBY ATMOS SUPPORT Yamaha has revealed v1.8 software for Nuage, its ‘state-of-the art’ DAW system designed in collaboration with Steinberg for commercial applications ranging from audio postproduction to music recording and mixing. Version 1.8 offers full support for the VST MultiPanner 3D surround plug-in included with Steinberg’s Nuendo 7.1 digital audio workstation, faithfully reproducing the VST MultiPanner interface on the Nuage master touch screen. The result is an ‘ideal environment for Dolby Atmos surround production’, bringing Nuage up to speed with today’s fastest-growing immersive surround format, Yamaha says. VST MultiPanner makes it possible to work on a 9.1 channel bed mix and

an object mix with up to 118 audio objects via a single display. As a project progresses the operator can switch between bed and object modes without having to redo the panning. Top View and Rear View displays make it easy to visualise the positions of audio images within the sound stage in three dimensions as well. A comprehensive selection of panning trajectory presets is also provided. The Nuage version 1.8 software can be downloaded from the Yamaha Pro Audio website free of charge. www.yamahaproaudio.com

QSC REVEALS TUNING UPDATES FOR E SERIES QSC has introduced new software and firmware for the GXD and PLD amplifiers to support its E Series range of passive loudspeakers. Amplifier Navigator 2.2.5 and GXD Firmware Updater offer the advantages of ‘next generation’ advanced DSP settings, providing an optimum level of performance as part of a complete E Series Entertainment System. Amplifier Navigator 2.2.5 adds the E Series range of loudspeakers to its library of speaker profiles. In addition to loudspeaker tunings, the software enables a user to remotely control and monitor all functions of GXD and PLD amplifiers, including the on-board DSP functionality and amplifier configuration. Amplifier Navigator also provides a mechanism to create, store and recall presets and loudspeaker profiles to and from the PC or Mac. Users can upload specific profiles to connected

amplifiers and enable amplifier cloning – ideal for multi-function racks with duplicate amps. It also provides for firmware management – if the user connects one or more amplifiers to a computer running Amplifier Navigator, the firmware will be updated to the latest release. The new GXD Firmware Updater software adds new E Series presets to the GXD operating system, with various settings for each of the four models. QSC has also mentioned that a software release for the TouchMix Series digital compact mixer featuring DSP settings for the E Series will be available in the future. www.qsc.com


PRODUCT NEWS

NEW URSA STRAPS CONCEAL RADIO MIC TRANSMITTERS Sound recordist Simon Bysshe and costumier Laura Smith have combined their knowledge and expertise to create URSA Straps, a new range of low-profile body worn straps designed to conceal radio microphone transmitters. Available now in the UK and mainland Europe, URSA Straps are made from a specially developed bonded fabric that is ultra-slim and provides stretch, comfort and breathability. Each strap incorporates a pouch to keep the transmitter locked in place and a cable pocket for managing excess microphone cable. Straps are available in black, beige and brown skin tone colours and can be worn around the ankle, thigh or waist. “It was obvious that a better way of discreetly securing transmitters was required,” Bysshe explained. “After many months of research we decided to

create our own unique hybrid fabric by fusing two stretch fabrics together. Bysshe tested the new straps while working on the second series of Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel. Lead actress Clémence Poésy was an immediate convert and provided valuable feedback to help develop the product. URSA Straps are suitable for a variety of wireless transmitters including Lectrosonics, Zaxcom, Wisycom MTP40 and Sennheiser 5212. Two different pouch sizes are available to ensure optimum fit, while three waist sizes are available. www.ursastraps.com

LAUTEN AUDIO ADDS TO SERIES BLACK MICROPHONE RANGE Lauten Audio has made two additions to its new line of microphones aimed at recordists, dubbed Series Black. The LA-220 is a solid-state, large diaphragm true-condenser studio vocal microphone, while the LA-120 is a pair of professional, solid-state, small diaphragm FET instrument condensers. Inspired by classic designs, both new models will start shipping in the US in August and internationally in October. At its core the LA-220 features an ultra-low-noise JFET amplifier, a 1in pressure gradient, large diaphragm and a true-condenser capsule with cardioid polar pattern. It features independent 120Hz low-cut and

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12kHz high-cut filters, a transformer balanced output, and includes a spiderstyle shock mount. The LA-120 mic package comes as a pair, and features interchangeable 17mm pressure gradient condenser cardioid and omni-directional capsules, ultra-low-noise JFET amplifiers, 50 and 150Hz low-cut filters, 10 and 15kHz high-cut filters, and a transformer balanced output. This dual mic package ships with a wooden box and hard mounts. Both models feature two independent filters located on the microphone with easy to engage switches. The LA-220 has a suggested retail price of $499 and an estimated street price of $249, while the LA-120 has a suggested retail price of $599 and an estimated street price of $349. www.lautenaudio.com

www.audiomediainternational.com

ALLEN & HEATH EXPANDS DLIVE ECOSYSTEM Allen & Heath has strengthened its flagship dLive digital mixing system with the launch of the IP6 and IP8 fullyconfigurable and networkable remote controllers, along with the Waves V3 and gigaACE audio networking cards. The IP6 and IP8 are designed to widen the dLive’s flexibility in installation and live sound applications. They interface with dLive via standard TCP/IP connections and can be networked with other controllers, computers and third-party devices using a standard Ethernet infrastructure. The IP6 features six push ‘n’ turn rotary encoders and colour LCD displays, 19 programmable soft keys, and mic stand mounting options. The IP8 comes with eight motorised faders and colour LCD displays, as well as 23 programmable soft keys. Both can be configured with up to six layers for access to a large number of channels. They

support PoE and PoE+ respectively, providing installers and users with a single Cat5 for control and power. The Waves V3 audio networking card takes full advantage of the dLive I/O port architecture, delivering a 128x128-channel, 48/96kHz interface to the Waves SoundGrid platform. Alongside plug-in processing and audio distribution, it offers a convenient way of recording 128 tracks of 96kHz audio to a Windows or Mac computer, over a single Cat cable. The gigaACE card provides a 128x128 channel 96kHz point-to-point redundant link to another dLive mixing system. With no PC required, it is ‘a truly plug and play solution for digital split applications’, according to the manufacturer. www.allen-heath.com

JBL INTRODUCES PRX800W PA SYSTEM WITH WIRELESS CONTROL JBL Professional’s PRX800W portable PA system features wireless control and sophisticated DSP, designed to allow live sound professionals and musicians to quickly set up and configure a system from a tablet.. PRX800W is said to be the first PA system in its class to offer complete wireless control. The PRX Connect app for iOS and Android connects wirelessly to each unit in the system simultaneously, providing full control over the DSP built in to each speaker. PRX Connect gives users control over eight-band parametric EQ, speaker delay, mute, gain and more, while also making it easy to configure shows offline and save presets for fast future setup. The system features integrated 1,500W Class D power amplification, with JBL

Differential Drive woofer technology that reduces magnet mass while increasing power handling. Updated tuning delivers flat frequency response and smooth off-axis behaviour. The redesigned Crown input panel on PRX800W offers XLR, 0.25in and RCA inputs plus XLR loop-through and professional outputs to provide plenty of options for input sources and routing. dbx Type IV limiting eases the system back to a safe level when any frequency band is in limit, ensuring that the sound is accurate and uncompressed, even at very high volumes over long periods of time. uk.jbl.com


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RISING STAR

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ROAD TO GLORY

Rising Star sponsor:

The Pro Sound Awards returns to London’s Ministry of Sound on 22 September, and Audio Media International has once again been busy encouraging nominations for the annual Rising Star Award. Here, we reveal this year’s shortlist.

Join us!

Matt Haslam

Jack Langfeld

Dan Langridge George Murphy

Tickets are now available for the Pro Sound Awards for just £55. Visit www.prosoundawards.com/buytickets or contact James Reay on jreay@nbmedia.com.

Get involved Joe Masters he Pro Sound Awards aims to recognise excellence across the entire pro-audio industry. One highlight of the night is the Rising Star Award, sponsored by Harman, which is presented to an up-and-coming figure currently working within the world of pro audio who is worthy of recognition. The AMI team has worked through the nominations to compile a shortlist of potential winners. Find out who picks up the award on 22 September 2016.

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Matt Haslam Having completed a degree in Music Technology with a theatre placement three years ago, Haslam got a full-time job in a performing arts college looking after sound and lighting. Since then, he has been slowly building up his Nottingham-based business, mhaslamtech, to supply events all over the country with sound, lighting and audio engineering services. As founder and owner, Haslam has within the last year provided sound engineering and equipment for a number of events both locally and further afield. Mhaslamtech also offers service, support, maintenance and upgrades for existing AV systems in churches as well 10

September 2016

Jack McKenna as fully managed, cloud-based digital signage for reception areas, conference centres and other venues. Jack Langfeld Langfeld came into his own on Public Enemy’s UK and European tour last year when he looked after FOH for the band for two nights at Wembley. He left SSR in Manchester after touring extensively with The Prodigy, ultimately proving his worth as a full-time crew member. He is now in his second summer as the third man on a festival crew and has already been on tour to China, Mexico and the US this year. When not on tour, Langfeld is a full-time warehouse technician at Wigwam. Dan Langridge After graduating from LIPA with a degree in Sound Technology and working a few contracts at sea on cruise ships, Langridge joined ChristChurch London as head of sound in March last year while freelancing for various events and sound companies. He has had a busy year purchasing and managing equipment for the church’s three new venues and continues to manage the multitude of volunteers required to put on large productions.

Dan fills up the rest of his time by freelancing in London for various events and shows, including mixing FOH and monitors at Henley Festival, building a 5.1 surround sound system for Samsung’s virtual reality headset and the Queens 90th Birthday celebration at Windsor Castle, to name a few. Joe Masters After making good ground in tech support at one of Clear-Com’s resellers, Masters joined the company last September as an applications engineer responsible for commissioning, troubleshooting, customer training, demonstrations, quotes/tender/RFI preparation as well as general pre- and post-sales tech support. At the time of writing, Masters is supporting the Brazilian national broadcaster and others for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Having studied sound and worked at various theatres in previous roles, he is now studying for his masters PhD in Physics part time with the Open University. Jack McKenna After graduating from Leeds College of Music, McKenna spent a year learning

There are still a number of sponsorship opportunities available for the event, contact Rian Zoll-Khan on rzoll-khan@nbmedia. com for more information. from numerous producers and racking up assistant credits at Artillery Studios with the likes of U2 and Jessie Ware. After leaving Artillery, McKenna took over the engineering position for Last. fm’s Lightship95 sessions and has had some of his proudest works released this year including albums with Melt Yourself Down, Teeth of The Sea and Eden Royals. George Murphy Murphy began his pro-audio life as a freelance assistant at a few different London studios, before being offered a full-time position at Eastcote Studios. Described as “the fastest Pro Tools operator in the West”, Murphy has worked on a wide range of projects at Eastcote with artists including Mumford & Sons, Johnny Borrel, Adele, Ellie Goulding, Mark Ronson and Gary Husband to name but a few. He has more recently been working with bands Happy Meal LTD and Palma Violets on their latest albums. www.prosoundawards.com


MAGDALENA | BERLIN

GS-WAVE SERIES Bringing energy back to a former power plant in Berlin, the phenomenal sound system at techno club Magdalena comprises eight 3-metre GS-WAVE stacks plus extra subs and lenses, and eight tweeter pods above the dance oor. This huge installation, driven by Powersoft’s K Series amps with built-in DSP, provides total coverage of a modestly sized 800-capacity room. Keeping most of its power in reserve, the system can run effortlessly when the club is open for days at a time.

Pioneerproaudio | pioneerproaudio.com | #madeintheuk


SHOW NEWS

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PLASA’S OLYMPIAN EFFORT

The 39th edition of the annual sound and lighting show sees it return to the heart of West London after three years at ExCeL and, after popular demand, moving back to mid-September. esigned to bring a wide range of global experts together to share insight and experience, the seminar programme will once again be a key feature of the 2016 PLASA Show – taking place from 18-20 September at London’s Olympia centre. The show has a new refocused format, covering live demo opportunities for the audio and lighting sectors, product shoot-outs, technical workshops, training and networking sessions, conferences and topical seminars hosted by over 100 industry leading speakers. The social element of the show also returns with new networking areas for increased business generation and the PLASA Show party. Visitors can also expect an increased emphasis on product innovation – pre-show and onsite –

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including the return of the Innovation Gallery. Multiple seminar sessions have been added to the lineup since PLASA appointed Peter Heath as managing director back in April, including IPS chairman Simon Bishop’s ‘Good Sound – What is it, and how can we get it right?’ and ‘Is It Time To Say Goodbye To Analogue?’ with Soulsound’s

Jon Burton. Zoe Milton from the Association of Sound Designers is a returning presenter, with a session titled ‘Pin The Mic On The Actor’. A further session hosted by Soulsound will look at fundamental issues of a different kind, as Justin Grealy presents his thoughts on ‘Roadie Etiquette’, while actress and arts marketing specialist Samantha

Baines will be running a masterclass on the most effective use of social media for freelancers. Soulsound has also revealed plans for an intriguing new show feature in the form of The Exploratorium, an interactive maze that allows companies to demo products and share expertise in an unusual and entertaining way. Additionally, the show will host a Eurovision Song Contest production masterclass by Eurovision’s technical director Ola Melzig and lighting designer Fredrik Jonsson. Then there is the revival of proaudio journalist Phil Ward’s popular panel sessions, featuring topics such as immersive sound technologies, managing perimeter sound and mixing on tablet computers. www.plasashow.com

TIME FOR A CHANGE

The BPM show will celebrate a landmark tenth anniversary this year with a venue switch, a new SundayTuesday dateline and a closer alliance with sister event, PRO. ollowing the teaser #changeiscoming in 2015, September will see BPM and PRO properly fused together to create one event: BPM | PRO. As a result, visitors will be able to seamlessly enjoy two distinct areas focused on DJ & Studio and Sound & Lighting. Organisers believe this change reflects the exhibitors’ needs to showcase their cross-market lines and visitors’ desires to see a wide range of products. The decision has also been made to move the event further into the working week, striking a balance between the needs of consumers and trade professionals. The DJ & Studio

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hall will run for two days, Sunday 11 and Monday 12 September, while the Sound & Lighting Halls will open for an additional day – Tuesday 13 September. Another significant change for BPM | PRO is the venue – the Genting Arena at Birmingham’s NEC, directly opposite the newly opened Resorts World complex. According to organiser Marked Events, the space will offer an improved visitor experience as well as indoor and outdoor exhibiting opportunities, additional educational areas and B2B hospitality packages. The new venue also allows for improved sound separation between areas, and separate halls for popular

returning features such as the PRO Audio Demo area and the PA Experience. Event director Mark Walsh said: “Even from day one we have never been afraid to stick our necks out and challenge the way the industry thinks about events. BPM has been a raging success and is one of the few

shows globally that has grown and survived the recession. There is such a good feeling in the industry right now and I feel the changes we are implementing will offer a fresh show that appeals to our audiences.”

www.visitbpm.co.uk


SHOW NEWS: IBC

HOT DAM!

www.audiomediainternational.com

As the RAI prepares to open its doors for IBC once again, we highlight some of the key product debuts that pro-audio professionals can look forward to at the Amsterdam event this year.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ugen Audio will introduce the AMB (Audio Management Batch) processor, a powerful new solution built on the concept of the company’s award-winning Loudness Management Batch (LMB) processor. Through new features such as threaded algorithm processing and multiple processing threads that are addressable for simultaneous parallel handling of files and queues, AMB is designed to enable post facilities to speed workflows significantly and reduce delivery times. With AMB, Nugen has added several customer-driven enhancements and capabilities that promise greater flexibility, operational scalability and enhanced processing speed to the core system. It includes new customisation features and numerous optional extensions that will allow users to carry out a greater range of audio processing tasks, such as a

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new upmix/downmix capability, an extension for the company’s DynApt technology for loudness range targeting and content repurposing, and loudness management support for MXF or ProRes files. Calrec is using IBC2016 to debut its RP1 remote production unit, a live-broadcast product that, according to the firm, addresses the increasing need for high-quality content from remote locations where the time or expense of sending out an OB truck cannot be justified. The RP1, with its FPGA-based DSP, enables a console surface at another facility to control all mixing functionality, while managing all of the processing for IFB routing and remote monitor mixes locally with no latency. The company will also demonstrate the newest, smallest console in its Bluefin2 family – the dual-layer, 36-fader Brio control surface. With the entirely self-contained Brio, additional expansion I/O slots allow

for further I/O integration, while fitting an available Hydra2 module makes it possible to connect to and share audio over a Hydra2 network. Fairlight will also remain active throughout IBC, albeit in a different manner. The Australian tech development company recently announced that it is actively seeking a buyer for its pro-audio technology and will undoubtedly be looking to enter into discussions with organisations that wish to augment their offerings and enhance their competitive positions through leveraging Fairlight’s products at the show. Once again exhibiting at IBC in conjunction with its Dutch distributor Amptec this year, DPA Microphones is showcasing a range of models on its stand in Hall 8 (#D70). An example of the mics on display are the bodyworn d:fine Headset Microphones, which are able to get very close to the sound source, ensuring high speechintelligibility. Some variants of the

d:fine mics also come with integrated in-ear monitors. A full range of D*AP products that can deliver a Smart Audio experience are being introduced in Hall 10 (#A49) by Jünger Audio. The Smart Audio concept is about investing in simple, reliable and predictable equipment that can automatically deliver audio content while maintaining high quality, according to the manufacturer, and it has already been adopted by a number of broadcasters in Germany and the UK. Alongside intelligent and adaptive processing algorithms, the introduction of Smart Audio allows broadcasters to choose devices that are fully interoperable with others in the broadcast environment and can seamlessly integrate with both playout automation systems and logging and monitoring processes. For the first time in Europe, Lawo will be showing its new R LAY Virtual Radio Mixer. R LAY is a softwaredefined radio mixer, meaning a user can easily add to its capabilities. Plug-ins are available for features such as voice processing, declipping, IP remotes, multi-line VoIP and more. Mixing and additional tools are all controlled within a multi-touch onscreen GUI. Thanks to technology adapted from the IT industry, Lawo claims the R LAY Virtual Radio Mixer to be highly portable and spaceefficient and thus perfect for graband-go remote kits, field journalists, fast setup of on-location studios, webcasting, and a replacement for ageing studio hardware. Meanwhile, Genelec will display its new 8430A studio monitor on its stand in Hall 8 (#D61) – a product that features Directivity Control Waveguide (DCW) technology, a flow optimised reflex port, high SPL, low noise and wide uncolored response in a compact enclosure. The Genelec Loudspeaker Manager (GLM 2.0) software allows adjustments of all aspects of monitor settings and full system control, while AutoCal enables the automatic alignment of every monitor on the network for


SHOW NEWS: IBC

level, timing, and equalisation of room response anomalies. One of several co-exhibitors hosting products on the HHB Communications stand, RØDE Microphones is showcasing its wide selection of broadcast microphones. The i-XLR is a broadcast quality XLR to Lightning interface for iOS devices, allowing reporters, correspondents and audio professionals to capture

professional interview dialogue to a smartphone or tablet. A three metre shielded cable lets the operator store the phone in a pocket or bag, and a headphone output with adjustable level on the body makes it easy to monitor audio during an interview. For dynamic microphones, the i-XLR features a +20dB level boost, giving these mics a high level of clean gain, RØDE says.

Riedel will explain how its scalable infrastructure systems are being used to ‘redefine’ the live sports and entertainment experience at France’s new Parc Olympique Lyonnais Stadium. Together, the Riedel MediorNet real-time media network, RockNet digital audio network, Artist digital matrix intercom system, Acrobat wireless intercom system, and Performer digital partyline system are providing a decentralised fibre-based network for flexible signal transport, routing and processing, as well as communications, throughout the building, including the technical facilities for Olympique Lyonnais TV. Wohler’s latest monitoring technologies are being demonstrated, including new IP-based solutions such as the iAM-MIX multichannel audio monitor and mixer and iAMAUDIO audio monitor. A simple yet full-featured platform for eight- or 16-level control out-of-the-box, audioonly monitoring, iAM-MIX integrates

with popular AV router solutions to push and pull channel-name data. The iAM-AUDIO introduces touchpanel interfaces to allow ‘intuitive’ command and control of the unit and new I/O options, including Dante and Ravenna combined, with rich data displays and Wohler’s established audio monitoring. Avid recently revamped its storage line with the introduction of Nexis, a software-defined storage platform specifically designed for storing and managing media, which enables fully virtualised storage so media organisations can adjust storage capacity mid-project, without disrupting workflows. The system, which relies on the Avid MediaCentral platform, will be featured at IBC. It can be used with Avid-based and thirdparty workflows, both for small and large projects. www.ibc.org

A winning combination

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September 2016

15


OPINION

www.audiomediainternational.com

THE EVOLUTION OF GEAR AND THE ENGINEER Although modern equipment continues to help simplify the role of the recording professional, there will always be challenges to overcome, as David Bowles explains.

DAVID BOWLES

ecording in 2016 is much easier than in 1976, not to mention 1936. What used to cost studios and record labels hundreds of thousands of pounds is now within reach of individual audio engineers. While other parts of the signal chain have been made simpler (digital interfaces, laptop recording and post-production), there are some issues to consider. Let’s start with a recording rig during the ‘golden age’ of recording: the 1930s. A cutting machine for 78RPM wax masters was heavy, fragile and had to be positioned level for it to work correctly. Music compositions had to be adapted to fit the 10in and 12in discs, even if this meant inserting additional cadences when the timing ran past one side. A second cutter was often needed for using studio time more efficiently. If recorded outside a record company’s studio, ‘finished’ wax masters had to be transported in cool conditions, otherwise the grooves would degrade. Once the mothers and stampers were created, grooved portions of the wax block were shaved off so the wax could be used again and again. However, this meant there was no ‘original master’, only a third-generation copy. A decade later, reels of tape offered much more recording time and vast improvements in bandwidth and signal quality alike. These machines were less heavy, but more difficult to maintain and operate correctly. Analogue tape was mass-produced, master tapes could be archived and copied – but stray

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magnetic fields could degrade or erase that information. Unlike the wax master era, tape recording machines decreased in price; both the machines and tape improved greatly throughout years of use. Consider that line amplifiers, EQ units and mixing desks were designed and assembled in studios of major labels. Offthe-shelf components were developed in response to the demand of smaller studios (and labels) in the 1950s. Within a few years, it was possible to choose from several types of mic pres, compressors and EQ units. These were expensive, but several models are still used – and emulated – today. Fast-forward to 2016, and high-end audio equipment has increased in quality and decreased in cost since its introduction in the late 1970s. There are high-end digital audio interfaces with high channel counts, which output multiple recording formats simultaneously for recording in parallel. Even medium-end interfaces offer sufficient quality to make good recordings. Laptops are faster and cooler every year, storage costs have decreased, and the adoption of SSD technology has meant greatly increased disc performance. Finally, rank-and-file ancillary gear has also increased in quality: cables, shock mounts, mic stands and even road cases for all that gear! At the same time, low-end gear has also increased in quality and scope of use. When the first ‘prosumer’ digital recording devices were introduced, their quality was clearly lower than that of high-end studios. Today’s low-end market not only has interfaces for laptops, but the iPad and microphones for smartphones as well. These represent a paradigm shift in home recording similar to the creation of the Hi-Fi market (in conjunction with the introduction of the LP) in 1948.

Persisting practises What has remained the same is the process of recording itself. One of my mentors stated – often – that “the advent of digital audio has not changed the laws of sound propagation!” Theory and practise – some of which was developed

in the 1930s – remain as important as ever, and need to be applied to actual recordings, not just learned as a book chapter in a classroom course. That magic combination of performance, acoustic space and signal chain is just as difficult to capture as ever, whether recording in stereo, surround or 3D audio (even with today’s fad of ‘retro mono’ LPs). In a way, making a good recording is more challenging with today’s increased resolution of DXD and DSD recordings. This increased resolution magnifies both the positive and negative aspects of recordings. We hear more of the acoustic space and performer, but also more room tone, mains hum, buzzing light fixtures and street noises. In addition, we’re competing with the past – sometimes a “great recording of the century”, and sometimes a self-produced release which just happened to get everything right. The original mastering engineer was responsible for cutting an LP master in real time from an analogue tape. This required a high amount of skill, but in the end it was that one task he/she was responsible for. Today’s mastering engineer has to wear many hats: adapt dynamic and frequency range and/or imaging (sometimes for each track of a recording), and prepare masters for physical, download and streaming formats. Recording, mix and mastering engineers alike also have to deal with noise reduction, formerly a highly specialised field developed to reduce analogue tape hiss. Our clients expect us to clean up room tone, undesirable instrument and

performer noises, in addition to delivering a perfect edit and mix. A turnkey Sonic Solutions NoNoise system cost nearly £80,000 when it was introduced in 1987! Today one can buy a high-end plug-in suite for around £1,000, though some software still costs about £12,000. Another major change is how recordings are distributed and publicised. Consolidation of the major labels and the demise of retail outlets have resulted in more boutique point-to-point labels, often owned by an arts organisation or even an individual performer. With so many more recordings issued year-to-year, is there less quality control? With the demise of music magazines and loss of column space in newspapers for reviews, is the consumer adequately informed which are the highly recommended recordings? Finally, historical reissues compete with current releases more than ever. Last but not least, distribution paradigms are shifting quickly with the adoption of streaming, digital downloads and subscription-based services. While shopping over the internet makes obtaining recordings easier than ever, how can potential customers be reached effectively? David Bowles is a freelance audio engineer specialising in recordings of acoustic music in surround-sound and 3D audio. He guest lectures at New York University’s Steinhardt School Tonmeister seminar, resides near San Francisco, and likes good wine and bad puns.


OPINION

www.audiomediainternational.com

IS IT REALLY “JUST AUDIO?”

Producer Matt North reacts to a recent controversial comment regarding TV and radio production in Scotland, and ponders how professional sound work is perceived outside the industry.

MATT NORTH

that there are fundamental differences in the approaches to producing content for television and radio as platforms, which is very much true. Rather it was his choice of words that I feel caused the controversy over the implied technical shortcomings. But the whole debate got me thinking not only about the differences between the audio and visual production processes for both television and radio, but also the public’s perception and awareness of them.

Easier said than done ast month, you may have stumbled upon the online furore caused by an interview with journalist David Torrance, relating to the ongoing debate over the potential production of a BBC ‘Scottish Six’ news programme that would be edited and broadcast from Scotland to its audiences. When asked why a similar service to the one that is currently broadcast on radio cannot be delivered in parallel on TV, Torrance stated that it is because “radio is much easier to deliver because it’s just audio. You’re not dealing with pictures, you’re not dealing with camera equipment and so on.” Predictably, Torrance’s commentary enraged many online with his choice of words single-handedly implying a national incapability of producing and delivering such a television broadcast and thus offering grounds for offence to every Scottish camera operator, assistant and technician in the industry. He received so much abuse and trolling that he announced his retirement from Twitter. In the light of how his comments were received, what I find most interesting is that the reaction has focused on the implied inability of Scottish camera operators; no one seems to have questioned Torrance’s severe over-simplification and disregard for audio professionals and the sound industry as a whole. I firmly believe it wasn’t Torrance’s intention to cause offence or indeed imply what many have taken from the interview. In fact, he was simply trying to explain

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Torrance’s underlying argument is that the lack of a visual makes radio a “much easier” medium to deliver. This is far from the truth. You could argue that the lack of a picture enables us as audio professionals to achieve better quality soundtracks and recordings; no camera on location means the recordist would not be bound by a frame line, allowing the selected microphone to be positioned as close to contributors as desired and indeed zero camera fan noise to enter battle with (RED, I’m looking at you). Although this is true, the very absence of any visual enforcement means that audiences are forced to listen for other details and subtleties to allow them to build the visual (and the story) in their minds. For example, I’m sure any radio drama recordist, editor and mixer in the industry will agree that creating a visuallysuggestive and stimulating narrative using solely audio is an extremely creative and powerful, yet subtle and intricate art form. While in this case Torrance is referring to news broadcasting, the same is true, just to a lesser extent. The omission of a visual aid requires a detailed and thorough description from the presenter or contributor in an attempt to assist the audience in envisaging their own visual – something that would not be nearly as necessary on television. The key word that Torrance used that formed the foundation of the backlash against him was “equipment”. The use of this word, especially in its context, suggests that audio production is not nearly as technically complex as its visual counterpart. Any professional would not

expect the public to fully appreciate the technical challenges and expertise behind quality broadcasting, after all that is what makes them a professional in the first place. But do the public really think that producing great sound is just shoving any old microphone in someone’s face? I found myself paying a lot of thought to this, trying to understand a viewer at home’s mindset and perception of this process. Obviously no one (except possibly fellow audio enthusiasts) is going to marvel over a carefully thought through multi-microphone, phase coherent set-up with creative use of the proximity effect to enhance the audience’s connection to a character. But do all audiences feel as though the noise coming from the speakers is “just audio?” After much deliberation, it became obvious that maybe this is actually a positive. As audio professionals it is our role to remain anonymous in the immersion of an audience in a story, leaving no evidence that could lead to them ever knowing we were there. In fact, a measurement of our success is how invisible we can make ourselves and our work to the audience. If a viewer can watch a film, news broadcast or drama and not mention the soundtrack, then we have truly accomplished our goal. This means there were no errors or inaudible dialogue and they were so engaged with the material that the soundtrack perfectly matched and advanced their experience with the narrative. This was confirmed recently when I left a cinema and heard a fellow movie-goer exclaim his awe and

appreciation for the camerawork and visual effects, but no mention of the soundtrack, despite it contributing to half of the experience. He was just unaware of its effect in the accompaniment to the visuals he was so fond of. The unfortunate result of this anonymity is an under-appreciation of our craft, making it hardly surprising that Torrance chose the words he did. The apathy surrounding the artistic and technical achievements of great sound can often be a demotivating truth for us as professionals. However, I think that our position is critical in that we possess the subliminal power to enhance narratives, while consistently remaining unknown to the viewer and toying with their sonic subconscious. It’s in this invisibility that we can use our skills to advance and add sonic value to a story, be it for consumption on radio or in conjunction with a visual. When it comes to uninformed comments about our craft (such as Torrance’s), I think all we can do is take comfort in the fact that our creativity and expertise fits the story or narrative so precisely and fluently, that it passes to audiences as “just audio”. Matt North is a freelance audio producer, specialising in high-end corporate and branded content. Based in Norwich, UK, he primarily offers post-production sound mixing, design and restoration services to clients internationally, but also has professional experience in location sound recording for film and TV. www.mattnorthaudio.co.uk Twitter: @mattnorthaudio


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FEATURE: RECORDING

www.audiomediainternational.com

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Fed up of microphone issues in challenging recording environments? Four experienced sound professionals, and representatives from a trio of manufacturers, discuss options for when working out in the field. or a professional sound recordist, capturing quality audio is a feat that often depends on factors that are difficult or sometimes impossible to control, meaning reliable equipment is crucial. With this in mind, we spoke to four accomplished engineers about their personal microphone preferences for when it really matters: production sound mixer Nigel Albermaniche, (Under the Skin, The Bad Education Movie); Grant Bridgeman, twice BAFTA-nominated sound recordist (Jericho); Academy Award winning sound designer Ben Osmo (Mad Max: Fury Road); and London-based sound mixer Rudi Buckle (Saving Mr. Banks, Fortitude).

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What microphone would you say you rely on the most? Do you have a favourite? Albermaniche: For me, mics are designed for different situations, so my main dialogue mic would be the Schoeps CMC6 with MK41 capsule, as I love the sound of it. The Schoeps SuperCMIT 20

September 2016

takes with little phase problems. On exteriors I use Schoeps CMITs.

Nigel Albermaniche

is incredible to get you out of some challenging situations and it’s one of my favourites to use if I can’t get my main mic on. Bridgeman: Being a location sound recordist, I don’t rely on any one particular microphone; I choose the best microphones out of my selection to suit the scene, the location and the camera coverage. I have three [Sennheiser] MKH50’s that are my ‘goto’ microphones for interior dialogue

scenes. As for a favourite, it would probably be a MKH30/MKH50 MS rig. For atmospheres and location music recording I find the MS array just a little bit special. Osmo: I mostly use the Schoeps CMIT 5 and DPA 4061/4063. Buckle: We have quite an arsenal of microphones for different conditions but for interiors I use MKH50’s, which are quite small with low noise and you are able to crossfade seamlessly during

What are the most important factors to consider when choosing a microphone for your main area of work? Albermaniche: For me, if all elements are great then the Schoeps CMC6/ MK41 wins with its fantastic sound, but if you end up in a reverb challenge or if you need to go ‘deader’ on the dialogue I head towards the Schoeps SuperCMIT, which is incredible in churches, kitchens and bathrooms. If the headroom is tight then I go for Schoeps CCM41 or the CMC6/MK41 but with a GVC Swivel to allow for the headroom. I stick with Schoeps as I love the sound of the mics and I find they work well for me in any combo. Bridgeman: The sound quality is obviously key, but my mics have to be reliable, durable and resistant to harsh conditions – especially moisture, as we are regularly filming outside. I predominantly use the Sennheiser MKH range of microphones (30, 50, 60, 70), as


FEATURE: RECORDING What have been the main changes that you've noticed in user demand in this sector of the market over the past 5-10 years?

they are all RF condensers. Osmo: The most important factors to consider are quality of sound, transparency, smoothness of top end response and realistic low-end response. For boom mics it again comes down to quality of sound, reach and even rejection from back of axis, lack of self-noise and minimal wind and boom rumble. Buckle: My primary consideration is reliability in multiple conditions. There’s no point in having a beautiful sounding mic if it cannot cope with the odd bump, or dust and humidity. What is the most challenging miking situation you have encountered and how did the difficulty arise? Albermaniche: In terms of challenging locations, we did a series where the ceilings were low and half the actors were very tall. For this we kept the CCM41 on as our main mic in that location and it did wonders in ensuring everyone was on mic and more

Sennheiser: One of the main changes with regard to microphones, and in particular shotgun microphones, is that production companies are usually selecting more compact models. With miniaturisation, the size of camera systems has been decreasing continuously, hence the gun microphone needed to become shorter too. For example, the Sennheiser MKH 8060 shotgun microphone is almost half the size of the all-time classic MKH 416, which was developed more than three decades earlier. importantly all on the boom. I always aim to get every piece of dialogue I can on the pole, as it sounds so much nicer. Osmo: One of the most challenging situations was recording the

Audio-Technica: Location recording obviously covers a wide range of situations and Sennheiser’s MKH 8060

applications, but there are several trends that have been noticeable over the last five or ten years. The interest in stereo recording has grown, and mics like the Audio-Technica BP4027 and BP4029 have been developed specifically to cater to the needs of dialogue of actors/surfers behind the breaks. We had our boom person resting on a floating device next to a camera operator who was using an underwater housing.

broadcasters who need very highperforming stereo shotgun mics in the field. These two models are based on microphones developed for use at the Sydney Games in 2000 – and in fact many of Audio-Technica’s Broadcast & Production mics have been designed in response to user feedback and direct involvement at the world’s largest sporting events. Buckle: Wind is our big enemy – on a shoot in Iceland for Fortitude extremely windy days were common. Couple that with quietly delivered dialogues and it’s game on.

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September 2016

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FEATURE: RECORDING

www.audiomediainternational.com

Grant Bridgeman Do you have a wide variety of microphone options available for different projects or do you tend to use just a small selection? Albermaniche: I started off having loads of shotgun mics to play with and what I realised is that I love my dialogue so much on my CMC6/MK41 that it regularly became the go-to mic for getting dialogue scenes. I do try to get as many FX as I can and I find using it for that works really well. For my atmos shotgun mics I like using something more open like a MKH50 or MKH416 to get a clean atmos of various things. I found having the MKH50 for claps in an audience with a mixture of CCM41 worked a treat, for

Ben Osmo example. For exteriors, nothing beats the SuperCMIT and my other favourite, the MKH70, which is an underestimated but superb mic to have in the arsenal. Bridgeman: On a drama set I try to limit what I carry, purely because of the practicality of having to constantly carry the equipment wherever we are, but I still have a wide variety: two MKH 70, two MKH60, three MKH50, one MKH30, one MKH 416, one CCM41, one Sanken Cub, a beyerdynamic M58, Shure SM57 and SM58beta, and then a host of lavalier microphones. Buckle: We have a wide variety of open microphones for different situations inside and outside as well as

Sanken Cubs and mics for hiding on set, plus full range of lavalier mics in various colours to fit on actors. Are there any particular microphone accessories that you tend to use – if so, which ones? Albermaniche: Yes, all my mounts are Cinela as I think they are the lightest and best I have personally used. My boom ops always love using them so I have them on everything I can!

What are the most important factors to consider when choosing a microphone for location recording? DPA: The microphone must be trustworthy! It must work the way it was intented to every time, no matter what environment you bring it to. If you have a selection of microphones, it is also essential that there is a kind of spectral match. That makes editing – for which there is always too little time – much easier. Audio-Technica: Matching the correct microphones to the situation is probably

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Bridgeman: The Rycote wind covers are an essential part of my location recording setups – they are such a responsive company to deal with when you talk to them about any issues with kit. The Cyclones offer better wind protection and sound that bit better than the original modular wind covers, but I still regularly use the older covers too. For lavaliers, the Rycote overcovers work very well – but we’ve also

A-T’s BP4071L

the biggest consideration. Filming sports at a distance, for example, will be impossible without long shotguns, but these are completely unsuitable for interior dialogue in small rooms. And while cameramount microphones are ideal for fast-moving documentary work, a good handheld microphone will be a better option for news presenters

on location. Working to educate end users as to the benefits of various microphone options and the technological advancements they offer is an ongoing task.


FEATURE: RECORDING recently started using the Bubblebee windshields and they have proved to be very effective in high wind conditions and still discrete enough to hide under clothing. Buckle: Good mic accessories are essential. We use Cinela mic suspensions and piano windshields as well as some Rycote suspensions; there are lots of options also for fitting lav mics, like DPA concealers and Bubblebee invisibles. Do you have any tips on using microphones effectively that you’d like to share? Using certain setups in specific recording environments for example? Albermaniche: Everyone has their own way of doing things and as long as you love what you hear that’s what matters at the end of the day. Car rigs, for example, are the perfect example of how every sound mixer you ask about would have a different way of doing things. For me, getting one mic

on dialogue on a pole really well beats all the other ways. Of course you can radio mic someone really well and it’s incredible but getting the pole on the edge, accurate and on point really well always sounds beautiful. Osmo: I recommend Rycote high wind covers for boom mics along with the DPA furry covers for hidden lapel use in windy conditions – both work well. I am about to try the French Cinela products soon for extreme conditions. Buckle: I always say to my boom operators that hitting the sweet spot with a mic is usually more important than how close the mic is. Certain mics are good in certain situations. The important thing is to capture the performance of a scene. We always fit lav mics as well as use open boom mics – sometimes a combination of the two can help dig out the dialogue. www.audio-technica.com www.dpamicrophones.com www.sennheiser.com

Do you have any tips or advice on using microphones in challenging situations? DPA: In stormy weather consider that the wind speed basically is lower at ground level compared to other positions above. Another thing is that omnidirectional microphones are less sensitive to wind compared to directional microphones. If the challenge is unexpected SPLs, you may use two microphones with different gain-settings. When using bodyworn microphones for film and TV, they preferably should be easy to mount, and invisible. This has, for instance, led to the development of the DPA d:screet Slim, with accessories that

make the microphone completely disappear in a buttonhole. Sennheiser: Shotgun microphones that work according to the RF condenser principle like the Sennheiser MKH microphones are extremely insensitive to moisture and tough climatic conditions in general. They will work reliably even outside their given maximum temperature limits. To eliminate wind noise in field recording, simply wrap them in a basket windshield with a hairy cover. MKH microphones have been used successfully in locations that range from damp, hot rainforest to the coldest inhabited place on earth. The DPA d:screet Slim

September 2016

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STUDIO PROFILE

www.audiomediainternational.com

BANG ON THE MONEY

Cardiff’s Bang Post Production has been handling audio for a number of feature films and high-end TV dramas since its inception. As the studio celebrates its tenth birthday, Colby Ramsey speaks to the men in charge about their achievements over the last decade and their visions for the future.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// omething quite remarkable about Bang Post Production is that it is a company born out of comradery and loyalty. Over the past ten years the business has evolved from just two – albeit experienced – sound editors into a full post facility, and it has added two national BAFTAs, an Emmy, two Welsh BAFTAs and an RTS Award to its list of accolades. Doug Sinclair and Paul McFadden, who have been working together since the late ’80s, secured their reputations in the TV industry while collaborating on the BBC’s Doctor Who in 2005. In a bid to facilitate their growing workload on the popular TV series and further their own ambitions, the pair formed Bang, and moved into their current premises in Cardiff, Wales in 2007.

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Today, both men hold a very active supervisory role within the firm; Sinclair, along with sound editing, deals with more of the business side while McFadden has recently been responsible for a lot more mixing on feature films and network dramas, as well as ADR. “It was brilliant working on Doctor Who,” explains Sinclair, “but we wanted people to know that we were available for independent work.” “We now have a strong core team here,” McFadden adds. “It’s more of a family and because we’re quite small, we provide a personal, boutique touch to marry up with our creativity.” A studio that prides itself on its attention to detail and storytelling, Bang is able to handle all elements of a project, “although we do have clients

who will only require one aspect – either the sound or picture – and the picture side of the business is growing as we speak,” notes Sinclair.

Elementary Operations Bang’s most notable credit of late, and perhaps one that has gleaned it the most industry recognition, is its work on the well-known TV drama Sherlock, which was shot on location in Wales. The Bang team had already established a relationship with writer and producer Stephen Moffat from their time working on Doctor Who, so this was where the venture began. “A producer/director friend of mine, Philippa Collie Cousins, went to head up Hartswood Films West in Cardiff, so that was my way in,” explains McFadden. “Through that we managed to get in

contact with Sue and Beryl Vertue, who came to see our facilities on one cold rainy night in Cardiff.” According to Sinclair, the guys at Bang have since built up an incredible relationship with Sherlock’s production team over the last three series, and are extremely proud to be a part of such a massive global hit from the very beginning. “Sherlock is a show that lends itself to complex and detailed soundwork because it is so visually rich as well,” says Sinclair. “I would hope that, as a result, people identify with the quality of our work and it has brought some wider recognition to the area. I think Doctor Who really showed that the creative sector in Wales can handle big shows like this.” McFadden explains that while there


STUDIO PROFILE L-R: Paul McFadden and Doug Sinclair

//////////////////////// are sound facilities in Cardiff that take care of other markets, Bang focuses primarily on high-end TV dramas and feature films, and is always looking to bring new work to the local area. Travelling to and from London over the years means Bang has forged and maintained a plethora of contacts in the capital, aiding in its mission to canvas business from new markets and transform Cardiff into a centre of excellence for BBC TV dramas like Torchwood, which it had also worked on. The added through-fill of work in the area has undoubtedly sped up this evolution, partly influencing Bang’s decision to add the picture department to the business, which is growing steadily as a result. “We had a lot of clients who enjoyed working with us on sound who felt that if

they could complete the whole thing at one facility, it would be a big bonus for them,” Sinclair continues. “Most recently we worked with TV director Euros Lyn on his first feature film, for which we did all of the sound and the picture.” Yet the guys at Bang are keen to expand their scope further into game sound design, which has become the most recent element of the business in the last few months. “Two of our staff, Jon Joyce and Jamie Talbutt, are leading the expansion into game audio and have already completed some exciting projects,” Sinclair adds. With such an already wellestablished, well-equipped base of operations, it comes as no surprise that the guys at Bang are looking to branch out further into the industry. “We made the decision very early on not to go down the large-format console route because of our freelance background, and to mix everything in the box,” explains McFadden. Pro Tools HDX2 is Bang’s system of choice, with a 32-fader D-Control, JBL 4000 series monitors, Yamaha P7000 power amps, and a vast array of plugins in the main 5.1 Dolby Digital theatre, along with an Avid Media Composer for pictures using Video Satellite mode. Bang’s Theatre 2 also runs HDX2 albeit this time with a 24-fader D-Command, with an almost identical software package to Theatre 1. “This

allows us to do mixes within their own right in this room on Dynaudio Air 15 monitors,” remarks Sinclair. “It also allows us to premix and do deliverables for shows that are in and out of the main theatre.” Also in this second theatre is a Dolby Atmos domestic setup – using a local renderer software to monitor and premix Atmos – which Bang used on the Blu-ray DVD version of the Sherlock: The Abominable Bride special episode. Additionally, Bang’s picture deparment - headed up by Steph Lynch can handle all online, offline and grading elements of a project. They also have a fully equipped foley stage. “In ten years I think we’ve achieved a lot,” says Sinclair. “We’ve done tracklaying and Foley in this room for a lot of big network dramas where we just supply that as a subcontracted element.”

On Target The pair believe that, over the last decade, they have really transformed Bang into what they originally aimed to achieve in terms of client relationships and workflow. And as Dolby Atmos becomes more accepted in the domestic market, the guys at Bang are hopeful that more projects, particularly the high-end dramas that they specialise in, will head in that direction. “It’s been a wide pallet of work; with

more dramas increasingly being shot in Wales it’s an interesting dynamic for us going forward,” McFadden comments. “We envisage getting more Dolby Atmos mixing through the theatres, and believe this is the next big thing so we are really trying to push the production companies in TV to go down that route.” “There’s a lot of theatrical Dolby Atmos mixing out there but we want to go for more the TV market here,” adds McFadden. “We have lots of potential feature films coming in so the future’s looking great. I think it’s the most positive we’ve been in our ten years.” In terms of upcoming work on network dramas, the pair at Bang are looking forward to starting on Decline and Fall for Tiger Aspect and Euros Lyn’s Our Loved Boy for Minnow films about the tragic tale of Damilola Taylor. “The second half of the year has really kicked off,” remarks Sinclair. “It’s been an incredible journey and we look forward to another ten years.” McFadden concludes: “Having strong ties with the Welsh government and working with them in their bid to develop Wales as a filming location to not only shoot here but to post here as well, is extremely important. It’s a very exciting time in general for the TV industry down in Wales and we’re privilaged to be at the forefront of it.” www.bangpostproduction.com

September 2016

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BROADCAST PROFILE

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CASTING THE NET

A brand new Boston-based facility built to attract budding and seasoned podcasters with quality audio equipment and studio space opened its doors last month. Adam Savage discovers how a centre dedicated to producing content for this particular digital medium makes perfect sense… ver here in little old England, many of us have been aware of the ‘podcasting boom’ on the other side of The Atlantic for some time, but it wasn’t until new research emerged that it became clear just how big this ‘boom’ really is. It is estimated that around 21% of the entire US population – approximately 57 million people – now listens to podcasts monthly, and it’s not just the demand for this kind of content that has skyrocketed in recent years; the number of individuals looking to record and produce material for podcasts has also risen dramatically. The trouble is, it’s not always easy to find a place to record and produce a good podcast. Certain home setups may be enough to satisfy basic requirements, and many professional recording studios will offer booths fit for this purpose, but what a lot of podcasters would prefer in an ideal world is a dedicated local spot where the work can be done affordably, with the right gear and layout, where they can be surrounded by like-minded people. This was the thinking behind the PRX Podcast Garage, a new audio and media arts training facility in Boston, Massachusetts, built for this very purpose. At the Garage, owned and operated by public media company PRX and acquired with help from the nearby Harvard University, emerging and experienced podcasters are given access to recording studios, free co-working space and educational and networking events. The arrangement consists of a larger studio that can record up to four people, plus a smaller sound booth for vocal tracking, and producers are welcome to bring an engineer or self-operate the control room. Giving users the ability to drop in and work on projects as and when it suits them – potentially learning new skills during their visit – was very much part of the main objective, according to Chris Kalafarski of PRX. “We have a lot of experience making audio. We produce a ton of shows and have

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a lot of expertise on the production side, but we didn’t really have a place on the ground where you could walk into a studio and make stuff,” he explains. “Harvard said they have this spot that they could get us a great deal on if we built something community focused, make it exciting and get people in there, and so when we heard about that opportunity we said ‘this is the kind of thing we’ve always wanted’ – somewhere to take all that expertise that we’ve built up over the past ten years and find a way to give it back to the producers and the people out there who need that kind of help – or even just the space, if they already know what they’re doing.” PRX also thought about those who aren’t strictly podcasters, but would still benefit from having somewhere like the Garage close by. “There are a ton of independent radio producers and people producing audio content for broadcast public radio and we’re trying to meet their needs too,” Kalafarski continues. “They might want to do tape syncs or bring someone in for an interview with no intention of it ever turning into a podcast, and because they’re independent they don’t have a studio or

an office that can go into everyday. For people like them, the combo of a studio and co-working space is a really good fit.” As for the gear choices that were made by the team, it seems that many of the decisions were not easy, even though a kit list for putting together a podcast tends to be a lot shorter and more straightforward than for most other studio-based activities. “There are Shure SM7B’s for the microphones, which have a good sound and you don’t really need to know how to use them. Most people who come in don’t have the best microphone technique so we wanted something that was fairly forgiving but gave you good presence,” reveals Kalafarski. “The one thing that was a big decision was the mixing board. We talked to a bunch of people on the broadcast side and the podcast side, and the question was do you go with something that’s more like a broadcast board, so if somebody brings in an engineer who’s used to that kind of setup they would be more familiar with it; or do you go with something a little simpler, so a home podcaster wouldn’t be too intimidated by all the knobs and features?

“What we ended up going with was an Allen & Heath Qu16. One of the big questions was ‘how frequently are people going to be bringing in an engineer?’ In the radio world there’s always an engineer but in podcasting that’s not really common. We wanted to make sure we had something that would work in both situations.” Other highlights include Sennheiser HD280 headphones throughout, AudioBox iTwo USB 2.0 interfaces and HP-4 headphone distribution amplifiers from PreSonus and Genelec 8010 studio monitors, along with Pro Tools and Hindenburg software. The Podcast Garage only got up and running in the first week of August, but “the response has been great” so far, according to Kalafarski, who calls it a case of “perfect timing” with the podcast craze showing no sign of slowing down any time soon. “There were so many things that were aligning over the six months that we were working on this that it felt like a great decision and the right thing to do, and why we spent so much time and resources getting it right.” www.podcastgarage.org


C R E ATI V E M A STE R I N G. R E I N V E NTE D. WaveLab is today’s leading mastering and audio editing platform, favored by mastering facilities, music studios, sound designers, journalists and broadcasters. Its comprehensive set of features, customizability and outstanding audio quality are the reasons WaveLab became the world’s most popular professional platform for audio reďŹ nement. WaveLab Pro 9 reinvents creative mastering once again by providing a revolutionary new user interface, full M/S mastering support including editing and processing, the superior MasterRig plug-in suite as well as direct exchange with Steinberg DAWs, such as Cubase, among many other features.

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TECHNOLOGY: HOW TO

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UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX COMMS SYSTEMS

Freelance sound engineer James ‘Brew’ Breward shares a solution for when an unusually high number of users means a straightforward setup simply won’t suffice. our analogue two-wire party-line beltpack system is very easy to set up. It is also very easy to operate – headset on, press to talk and off you go. You have the sound, graphics, lighting, playback operators, stage manager and show caller all catered for, and if the show is a bit bigger and more complicated there might be some private channels for the follow spots or camera operators; the spot caller and camera director would have two-channel packs so they can talk to the correct ring or party-line if needed. I’ve never had a reason for the follow spots to talk to cameras or vice versa, but you can extend your first party-line onto some wireless kit if required. There you have it, then – your standard system fit for corporate awards events, small theatre productions or rock ‘n’ roll shows. All the key people can hear what is being said and all bar our spot and camera ops can talk to everyone else. What happens when you add in a few more people, camera engineering, A2’s for radio mics, video playback, social media integration, maybe some set automation and stage carpenters is that while still perfectly capable, our original two-wire system has almost run out of headroom. There are so many people there is not enough free space on the comms to have your conversation, or worse still the show caller keeps getting interrupted by conversations about resetting lighting fixtures or batteries in radio mics. The obvious step is to segregate the users into departments, effectively giving each one a private party-line or conference. This can still be achieved with your analogue two-wire system, it just requires some hardware knitting – basically y-splitting the power from the audio to generate multiple private partylines. A matrix solution or some of the digital party-line systems now available allow you to achieve this is in a slightly more elegant way but there is the added cost and complexity.

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a large matrix system with lots of links

There is a risk, because as your number of users increases, it’s likely that the distance between them will too. The danger in a live production environment is when things are moving and changing or elements are complex, requiring many departments working in sync. How do you retain the ease of information distribution you had with the singlechannel two-wire system now with multiple private conversations? These days an intercom system is seldom an island to itself; there is likely to be a wireless element, maybe some links to other locations or things like OB trucks or event show control.

trimming the mic gains on the packs to compensate for someone who always speaks softly to someone who regularly overdrives the mic; or the more obvious job of making sure the mic is consistently in front of the user’s mouth and not pointing towards the air conditioning; right through to working

to other systems and dealing with all that I/O. As the intercom engineer it’s imperative that the system be put together in such a way that you can easily monitor these. The last thing you want is someone coming in from the truck or over from event production saying they have been trying to get hold of you for an hour and nobody is listening. Intercom systems are proving their worth when all the users can work like they are all sat around the same table yet are actually scattered across a large area with no direct line of sight. In a practical sense, what I always try to ensure is that I have the ability to audibly monitor all the sources on my intercom system and, irrespective of the particular hardware on that project, try to monitor as much as possible all the time. It’s not enough just to see a signal

Never forget comms It’s important to be able to listen to what is going on, and that’s what we as intercom engineers are doing in a nutshell: allowing people to communicate. I liken a comms engineer to a monitor engineer – what you are doing is monitoring lots of sources, be it belt packs on your two-wire system;

Figure 1


TECHNOLOGY: HOWXXX TO

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present light, a meter bubbling away or an active cross point map – while this is reassuring it’s just another tool.

Figure 2

For example... The main image and Figure 1 show the setup for an event I was doing in a ballroom environment where I had a number of wired and wireless belt packs and a four-wire link to the streaming output team. I could have just linked the four-wire ports of these units together and been done with it, however, by adding an inexpensive mixing console I was able to actively monitor all the inputs and outputs directly and attenuate them if needed. Whenever I’m providing a four-wire link to another system – say, for the event lighting designer to talk to camera engineering in the broadcast truck – I will make that link a conference or party-line and I will have the ability to monitor it. So this conference would be with the user needing to talk to it and also available at my position, meaning I can monitor that

link and also react if there is a problem with it, such as the destination person being away from their post. Over the years it has been invaluable to be able to assist if one is trying to get hold of the other and getting no answer or simply balancing the levels to make them sound the same.

I’m just back from another project (Figure 2) where I was looking after a remote site connecting back to the central hub. Again, I had a small console that fed the local presenter’s IEM, and I was able to monitor our outgoing programme, the main programme from the hub and the talkback, and attenuate.

Let us not forget that generally we are just dealing with audio, so there is not a clear divide between analogue two-wire, digital party-line and matrix systems. Quite often a huge amount of control and monitoring can be achieved by just using a small audio desk across the four-wire I/O of your two-wire system rather than going straight in. Each production, venue and event will have its own unique qualities, restraints and aspirations but it is important to retain the ability for the communication to flow in the right directions. I aspire to deliver device-agnostic comms, so the users can freely communicate with the other users irrespective of the hardware device in front of them. This is done by listening as much as possible and aiding where necessary. James ‘Brew’ Breward is a freelance sound engineer who works across a wide range of sectors, including musical theatre, corporate events and rock ‘n’ roll shows.

Reinventing the large sound system

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INTERVIEW – TECH TALK

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MATRIX RELOADED

Enno Littmann, managing director of IHSE, reveals how the new Draco tera | S6 KVM switch integrates with Avid’s Pro Tools | S6 control surface and streamlines the production workflow.

What is the Draco tera | S6 and how exactly does it fit into the audio production environment? The Draco tera | S6 is a special version of the Draco tera KVM matrix switch. KVM switches allow operator workstations that consist simply of a keyboard, video and mouse to connect to a distant computer or computer-based editing tool. The special feature about them is that every workstation can connect to every computer through a simple command on the keyboard or control application – under administratorcontrolled conditions, of course. The key benefit to the audio industry is that operators can instantly switch between source devices. This is a task that they have to do regularly during an edit session as they move between tasks and need to access different digital audio workstations. One minute they’ll be working on a particular soundtrack on one Pro Tools system, the next they will be working on another soundtrack on another system. It is the switching between the two that the tera | S6 handles. It also provides the added benefit in that all the source equipment can be located in a central, environmentallycontrolled and secure equipment room far away from the users, with the obvious advantages of a quieter, cooler and less cluttered – and therefore more comfortable – environment. Media assets are more securely held as there 30

September 2016

is no physical access to USB ports on the computer.

options that the standard tera switch has.

How does the Draco tera | S6 version differ to your standard devices? It is very similar. The tera | S6 came about because one of our major users in Hollywood had installed full KVM systems in some large post studios and felt that a switching solution that integrated into the Pro Tools | S6 surface would provide their client with immense benefits. Our engineers worked with Avid technical specialists to extend the API and create the direct interface between the S6 surface and the Draco tera. So the switch performs exactly the same as any other Draco tera switch; it’s just the interface to the Pro Tools | S6 that is different.

Is it suited to all studios? The tera | S6 supports as many DAWs as the studio has installed. Every Pro Tools | S6 installation with more than one DAW, or every facility with multiple editing rooms will benefit from it. There are several versions ranging from eight ports to 80 ports and one that has parallel HDSDI switching for video preview streams. A single switch is capable of handling all the source systems and all S6 consoles within a facility. So it can all be shared. Editing and mix sessions can be seamlessly moved between stages with minimal setup and turnover times. This is proving to be invaluable to audio facilities. They can assign rooms to meet the workflow, rather than dedicate individual tasks, with the work instantly recalled when a different room is used.

What are its specific features? Switching between sources is instantaneous and accomplished by a single soft- or hard-key button press on the S6 Master Touch Module. The console-mounted screens and USB devices follow whichever Pro Tools workstation is selected by the operator. Along with a significant time saving, the switching operation is simple: there are no complicated commands and the process is achieved by the operator whenever they need to. The latest feature is fader-based switching, which gives even greater control and ease of use to operators. Of course it retains all the administrator control to limit unauthorised accesses, third-party controller integration and redundancy

Is there scope for this type of switch beyond the Pro Tools | S6 application? Yes, absolutely. In fact, this device came about because of a larger Draco tera KVM switch installation. There are numerous examples of the tera switch throughout the broadcast environment around the world, not just in post production facilities, but in TV and radio studios, outside broadcast vans and even in the broadcast centres of large venues, like the Han Show Theatre in China and at Hong Kong Jockey Club’s racetracks. We have installed our largest switches, with 576 non-blocking ports in a single chassis, in major broadcast facilities in the US and UK, providing

critical communications throughout the buildings on 24/7 operational status. Wildfire Sonic Magic in Hollywood has based its whole operation on a fully-centralised production networking around a single 128-port KVM switch. All its mixing, ADR/Foley stages and editing rooms are connected through a fibre backbone and can access over 250 Terabytes of storage and any of the vast range of audio systems. The central KVM switch allows any room to be dynamically assigned to any task. Wildfire found that one of the significant advantages is the speed of switching: with nine or ten systems in use in just one room available to several operators, even a switching latency of 2-3 seconds can be too great over the course of a day. The instant switching and quality of the Draco tera overcame this, which was also an impressive feature in front of customers. What has the interest in the market for this device been like? Aside from the support from Avid, whose sales people and support engineers are actively demonstrating it, as they will be at IBC this year, the response is extremely good. Dealers appreciate the benefits and actively promote it to their customers. And finally, what’s next for it? We are continuing to work with Avid and our dealers and customers to add additional features. We have a policy of continuous development and will add features as they are developed. www.ihse.com


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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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DYNAUDIO LYD 7

Nigel Palmer takes a look at this mid-level model from the Danish company’s new range of nearfields.

STUDIO MONITORS

ince 1977, Danish loudspeaker manufacturer Dynaudio has carved an enviable reputation in the pro-audio world – its BM series has become the nearfield monitor of choice in studios around the globe, and larger speakers such as the M3 have also proved a success. Noted for using its own drivers, the company has branched out into car systems for Volvo, Volkswagen and Bugatti and has a domestic Hi-Fi range. Introduced earlier this year, the new LYD speakers are intended as successors to the BM line. Billed as ‘low volume precision monitors’, there are three models: LYD 5, 7 and 8 (with 5in, 7in and 8in low-frequency drivers respectively) each with clever but unfussy DSP control to tailor performance to your room. The LYD range may be paired with the company’s BM9S II (10in woofer) or BM14S II (12in) subs for extension to 29 and 18Hz respectively, although for the purpose of this review I put an ‘unsubbed’ pair of LYD 7’s through their paces.

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Overview The LYD 7 presents an almost ‘lifestyle’ face to the world with a neat white front baffle on a black MDF-style enclosure. The baffle’s edges are bevelled to reduce audio coloration from sharp angles – the usual solution to this is to round the edges off at the front of the speaker, but bevelling appears effective in this case and is no doubt straightforward to implement. The speaker weighs in at a console bridge-friendly 8kg and measures 186 x 320 x 296mm; the driver complement in this two-way, rear-ported design consists of a 7in Magnesium Silicate Polymer (MSP) coned woofer 32

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Key Features „ Nearfield monitor with 7in woofer „ Two different tunings: Free and Wall „ Two 50W Class D amplifiers – one for each driver „ 45Hz–21kHz frequency response „ Bass Extension RRP: €599 per speaker www.dynaudio.com


TECHNOLOGY REVIEW Bright, Neutral and Dark. I regularly use this kind of processing when EQing in mastering, and it works by taking a central point at around 1kHz and rotating the higher and lower frequencies around it so that as you increase brightness you simultaneously reduce anything below the rotation point, and vice versa. Although according to the frequency plots provided the LYD 7’s tilt filter only moves spectral content about a dB either way at the extremes, this is sufficient to help adjust the speaker’s response to suit the room or the listener’s preference better with a brighter or darker sound where required. After some experimenting I stayed at the Neutral position, but the power of the feature is undeniable and should win friends for the LYD 7. The last DSP switch is Position. Its two options, Wall and Free, tailor the frequency response based on how close to a wall it is, as the closer you go the more the low frequency response will rise. At Lowland Masters, because of the size and design of the mastering room, things generally sound best with speakers within 50cm of the back wall. Once the LYD 7’s were positioned, engaging Wall brought the sound into focus at the low end in a simple but effective way. – a material that Dynaudio often uses, and which, according to its website, “combines low mass, high rigidity and ideal internal damping properties” and a 28mm soft dome tweeter. Two 50W Class D amplifiers – one for each driver – provide amplification; Class D is currently a popular choice in active loudspeakers due to its neutrality of sound, efficiency and low heat output – the LYD 7’s rear panel doesn’t need a finned heatsink, for example, and remained just above room temperature throughout the review period. Talking of the rear panel, this is where the DSP control is accessed, together with input and power status. To the right of the analogue XLR and phono inputs are a group of five switches – two above (either side of a power LED) and three below. At top left is Sensitivity, which determines input gain in three positions: +6, 0 and -6dB. I left this at 0 as it conformed to my usual setup, but the range available should cope with any

typical signal. Next up is Standby Mode. When set to On, power is controlled from the mains switch below in the usual way; engaging Auto shuts the speaker down unless a signal is sensed at the input. Then there are the three DSP switches, the first of which is Bass Extension, marked +10, 0 and -10Hz. The idea is that if you typically work at a volume level between the early ‘70s and mid ‘80sdB as many do, engaging the -10 position extends bass response to its widest, enabling the full published 45Hz to 21kHz (-6dB) range of the LYD 7; if you want to go louder before overdriving the speaker, the other two positions offer progressively rolled off bass to 55 and 65Hz so you can choose your trade-off accordingly. The next switch is Sound Balance, a feature whose implementation I haven’t come across in a loudspeaker before, but one I think we might see more of in the future. It’s a tilt or Niveau filter with three positions: B, N and D for

In Use Dynaudio suggests that these speakers should be used in a listening triangle not larger than 2m in order not to push them harder than intended, and the review pair were duly placed on stands about 1.9m apart. Playback sounded a little ‘pinched’ to begin with, so I ran them in for some hours with a range of music towards the top of their comfortable volume range, and was rewarded with a clearer sound and greater bass extension. The crossover frequency of the LYD 7 is quite high for a two-way at 4.3kHz (I would typically expect something up to an octave lower), so the woofer is working harder than usual to cover the critical vocal range. This it did with aplomb – female and male voices alike coming through with commendable clarity, including Alison Krauss on Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us; Tony Lewis’ stratospheric tenor on The Outfield’s Voices Of Babylon; and the gruffer tones of ZZ Top’s La Grange.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that more than a few current loudspeakers are voiced on the bright side, and I regularly find myself adjusting accordingly when doing speaker reviews. Not so with the LYD 7 – sporting a refined high frequency performance with no hint of the splashiness that troubles some designs, the soft dome tweeter tops off the overall balance very well. It certainly helped on The Mavericks’ Dance The Night Away, which has a notably brightand-subby mix capable off taking your ears off on an over-shiny sounding system. Listening on, it was clear that in spite of the necessarily restricted low frequency handling without a sub of these bookshelf-size speakers, they still did a pretty good job of telling you what’s ‘down there’ – I didn’t notice any obvious vices such as peaky boominess or one-note bass from the rear-firing flared port, and listening to Jamie Cullum’s These Are The Days, which has a well recorded and deep-sounding double bass, gave a balanced and musical account on the Dynaudios in spite of not being able to cover all the fundamentals.

Conclusion Although showing a slight tendency towards congestion on more complex musical signals, I thought the LYD 7 performed well – bearing in mind its design parameters and price point – and it put a smile on my face with its lively and informative presentation, which I’d have no difficulty recording and mixing effectively with. Small two-way active monitors are an area where there’s no lack of choice for the audio professional these days. That said, with the LYD 7 Dynaudio has clearly leant on long experience and also knowledge of how to build to a price point, and produced something that demands listening to against the competition if you’re currently buying.

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

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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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SONIC FARM CREAMLINER II SIGNAL PROCESSING HARDWARE Simon Allen test drives the Canadian company’s new creation, which it calls a ‘stereo line signal conditioner’. ere we have an updated version of a unit that perhaps not everyone has heard about. Is it an EQ, dynamics or effect processor, you’re wondering? Well no, not really. The Sonic Farm Creamliner II is a unit for making the digital world sound ‘betterer’ apparently. You could call it an enhancer, or as the firm describes it, a stereo line signal conditioner. While digital audio is designed to be clear and accurate, assuming the resolution is high enough of course, there’s a certain ‘analogue’ vibe which we still strive for. Can this vibe be added with one simple device? If there isn’t a notable effect to speak of, then why go to the trouble and the expense of using a Creamliner II?

H Overview

It’s as if the Creamliner II offers a unique notion for analogue hardware’s role in modern pro-audio. With digital audio being so advanced these days, we seem to have a plug-in for nearly any task. For example, it’s quite possible and acceptable to produce content entirely in the digital domain, but can these ‘plug-ins’ really offer that true analogue vibe? Sonic Farm is almost suggesting that although we may no longer need hardware for processing reasons, we do need the vibe, which can be applied with just this single piece of outboard. At its heart, the Creamliner II is a pentode-based hardware unit with input and output transformers. Besides some subtle features, the overall concept is to simply pass your audio through the unit for ‘that sound’. The output transformer can be switched to a solid state balanced driver, providing a different sonic result. 34

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The Creamliner II offers a surprising amount of user control, considering it is only for adding some of that analogue loveliness. There’s the usual bypass switch and output level control, but not an input level control. The unit is designed to be driven by any proceeding equipment in your signal chain, and can be driven almost as hard as you like depending on the sound you’re after. This was done on purpose, so that the only gain stage was the pentode itself. The output attenuation follows the tube so you can choose how hard you’re hitting the output stage, whether that be the transformer or balanced solid state driver. There’s also a select switch to run the tube in pentode or triode mode. The pentode mode is designed to have as much coloration as possible from the EF86 tube, adding as many even-order harmonics as possible, with as much as 1% harmonic distortion. The unit also features a variation of EQ-style settings, adding to the enhancement. This isn’t strictly an EQ though, coming in the form of AIR and FAT three-way switches. These add low and high shelving boosts in the tube’s gain stage, rather than a separate stage of the signal processing. I like to think of these two settings as side-chain filters. The low shelving operates from 400Hz or 600Hz, and the high shelving from 2.2kHz or 7kHz. At 6dB/octave these can only be attenuated with a screwdriver on the front panel. With this new version of the Creamliner, there are a couple of changes and one very important addition. Firstly, the output stage and bypass switches have been moved over to the right channel. I don’t think it’s the clearest layout and would prefer settings that apply to both channels to be located together elsewhere, but this has, however, allowed the left channel to host the input selection and a new input attenuation feature for both

channels. The input attenuation switch lowers each tube’s drive by 6dB, and simultaneously raises the output. This simple but clever feature retains the same loudness, but hopefully a cleaner signal path is achieved.

For Mastering I spent some time running varied mix files through the Creamliner II, trying to use it on as many genres as possible and mixes that were either done in the box or with analogue equipment. The results were immediately more colored than expected. For heavier tracks with rich content, the Creamliner II was quite open at being driven relatively hot on the way in. However, I found the saturation that occurred to be very smooth and rounded, with some tracks benefiting from additional clipping-style saturation. I particularly like the AIR and FAT controls, which sound like a gentle Baxandall-style shelving EQ. I felt that the Creamliner II was best placed near the end of the processing chain, adding that final ‘glue’ and polish, but perhaps enabled before I applied any EQ. The unit also added to softer material, including classical tracks. It equally manages to cater for a more clinical sound with the new input attenuation feature, while still offering the slight EQ and transformer output that’s available.

For Live Sound For me, it was all about headroom. I only used the Creamliner II on two shows in the period that I had the unit, but interestingly one was a relatively small PA, and the other much larger. On the smaller system it was less noticeable as I wasn’t sure how much the system itself was adding ‘color’. On the larger system, which was being driven by an older digital console, I left the Creamliner II in bypass during the soundcheck. Once live, it highlighted

Key Features „ Pentode and triode tube modes „ Output mode: Transformer or solid state balanced driver „ Frequency response: 10Hz-50kHz +/-3dB „ Maximum gain: 20dB „ Available with Ni-Fe alloy or pure steel output transformers RRP: $2,350 (CAD) www.sonicfarm.com exactly what we miss with some digital mixers today. I wouldn’t change digital mixing in the live world, unless it was for a particular show, because of the many benefits it brings. However, what the Creamliner II presented so well was the effect on dynamics. I don’t mean compression because in that respect it’s beautifully transparent, but it softens those spiky edges that can occur when summing digitally.

Conclusion This unit might seem to offer a simple concept of adding true analogue color, but there’s much more on offer here. In fact, the longer I spend with it, the more I seem to discover. This is a brilliant tool for adding vibe and depth to your mixes, complementing the typical workflows of today. The addition of the -6dB input attenuation delivers another tone, which also multiplies the possible preset combinations available from this unit.

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


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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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TEGELER CRÈME COMPRESSOR/EQ

Wes Maebe gets his hands on this tasty new tool, which offers a combination of a Pultec-style EQ and bus compressor. here’s something comforting and reassuring about German-built things. Growing up in Belgium and spending a lot of time in Germany, I learnt a saying that’s always stuck with me: Deutsche gründlichkeit – German efficiency. The units made by Tegeler Audio Manufaktur just ooze that sentiment. In his early years, Michael Krusch was tinkering with synth modules in order to improve his old home computer and analogue drum machine. This inevitably led to him catching what he calls the “electronics bug” and he set out to recreate some of the all-time classics, not in software but hardware format. After his buddies and studio colleagues asked him to build boxes for them, he decided to turn it into a business and Tegeler Audio Manufaktur was born. The company is located north of Berlin, in Tegel, which you may know because of the airport or AEG’s Borsig locomotive factory. Before we have a closer look at what I think is one of the best compressor/EQ combos around, I’d like to point out that all Tegeler Audio Manufaktur units are hand-built with top quality components.

T

The Crème of the crop So let’s have a look at the Crème’s front panel. Starting at the top left there’s the unit bypass, followed by the EQ section. Tegeler has obviously done its research and it has become clear that what engineers want from a unit they strap across a bus is a killer compressor and a simple EQ with low end for that fat and round sound and top end to deliver the air and sheen in the higher register of the 36

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mix. Therefore the EQ is very stripped back. But don’t let its simplicity fool you – this EQ gives you exactly that warmth and defined shimmery top end of the famous Pultec we’ve all come to love. Both low and high boosts are stepped in 1dB clicks, giving you 5dB each of boost. The low frequencies range from 20Hz to 200Hz and the high set goes from 10kHz up to a lovely open 24kHz. The lower half of this 2U stereo channel houses the compressor. You can choose to put the EQ pre or post the compressor and an additional three-way switch (60Hz - 120Hz – full range) allows for high pass side chain filtering to remedy any unwanted LF pumping. Next along is the Threshold, the Attack ranging from 0.1 to 30ms, Release times from 0.1ms to 1.2 seconds and an Auto setting, followed by the Ratio pot, giving you 1.5:1 to 10:1. Finally, there’s another pot for the make-up gain. To top it all off there’s a very familiar looking backlit Gain Reduction meter, a nice and chunky power switch and warm yellow power light which complements the blue colour of the whole unit very nicely indeed. I’m not going to spend a section on the back panel. I love units that are simple and old school. The Crème has two male input XLRs, two female output XLRs and an IEC. Plug and play!

Would you like some Crème with your mix? The answer is a resounding YES. I’ve used the Crème on a vast variety of material now and it works across the board, be it full-on rock, hip-hop or pure classical. The biggest ‘wow’ moment happened on a mix session I did for Elliott Randall. We’d rescued a 2in multi-track from his lock-up in New York containing a track

with the one and only John Belushi on lead vocals. Elliott had always wanted to replace the band performances so we re-tracked everything to John’s stellar vocals and proceeded to mix what is now known as Honey Do. The Crème had just been delivered and had already made its big sound heard on several mastering jobs. So, I suggested we use it on the master mix bus of this new old track. Mixing was done, everything was in place, minus a few tiny automation tweaks. In keeping with the whole analogue character of the tune, we strapped the Crème across my main mix insert. I used a little low end at 30Hz, a bump of 24kHz to add some air and the compressor was tickling the signal with a slow attack, fast release and a subtle 1.5:1 ratio. The result was absolutely stunning. The mix we were already very happy with suddenly came to life and everything just ended up sounding glued together. To quote the producer and artist: “It’s like mixing to tape!” Simply put, this was the mastering and blues/rock mixing material comfortably nailed. Now I had to try it on some other stuff. I went into RAK Studios to record and balance a classical piano record for Parker – another analogue-only affair with a gorgeous Steinway and RAK’s Neve VRP Legend. Once again the unit brought some extra character to the mix, without coloring anything too much. And for all the heavy beat programmers and hip-hoppers out there, this box is going to blow you away! Put the Crème across the drum bus and those hits will jump right out of your monitors. The bottom end will sound super tight and ballsy, the high-end crisp and open and the compressor will make the whole section groove.

Key Features „ All-in-one Pultec-style EQ and bus compressor „ EQ switchable before and after the compressor „ Lowcut filter in side chain „ Dimensions: 88.4mm (H) x 483mm (W) x 250mm (D) „ Hand-built in Germany RRP: € 1,699 www.tegeler-audio-manufaktur.de

Conclusion Let’s face it, we all have our favourite go-to units. For certain applications some boxes do a better job than others. So far, the Tegeler Audio Manufaktur Crème has proven to excel in most tasks I’ve given it. It is, in my opinion, one of the best compressors I’ve heard in a long time. Manufacturers release new equipment on the market at lightning speed and I generally struggle to justify the expense to add another piece of gear to the list. They’re usually as good as what I have, so there’s not really any point in acquiring it. This compressor/EQ combo has won me over. It feels like it treats your hard recording and mix work with the greatest of respect and musicality and I am convinced that over time Tegeler Audio Manufaktur will find itself in the list of all-time classics. Time for me to go and Crèmefy another mix.

The Reviewer Wes Maebe is a UK-based recording, mixing, mastering and live sound engineer.


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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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WAVES INFECTED MUSHROOM PUSHER Key Features

PLUG-IN

„ Low – Enhance low frequencies and choose where the processing begins based on note or frequency „ Body and High – Enhance the mid and high frequencies „ Magic – Excite and boost the dynamics of all frequencies at once „ Stereo Image – Widen the stereo image of higher frequencies „ Push – ‘Push the mix to the max’ by clipping or limiting.

It may be more geared towards relative beginners, but this allin-one multiband sonic enhancer and limiter/ clipper has plenty to offer professionals too, as Stephen Bennett discovers. keuomorphism is all the rage in the world of the virtual plug-in. Ergonomically speaking, there’s no reason why any virtual processor – even emulations of classic devices – should look just like their hardware counterparts. In fact, slavishly recreating the frontpanel of a control-ridden hardware processor can make a plug-in harder to use by a mouse or finger. So why do some companies’ emulated 1176 compressors look exactly like their hardware counterpart? Could it have something to do with our placebolike expectations that if it looks like hardware it must sound like hardware? The plug-ins that made Israeli company Waves’ reputation were not recreations of existing classic processors and were easy to use with the computer’s mouse and keyboard. One could go further and attempt to improve the ease of use of a complex audio processor by concentrating as much on the ergonomic design and the user interface as its underlying sonic qualities and this is precisely what Waves is attempting with the colourfully bedecked Infected Mushroom Pusher – eponymously named and created in conjunction with the band Infected Mushroom. Waves has history here, with its simple–to-use OneKnob series of processors, and the Infected Mushroom Pusher – herein referred to as the IMP – also attempts to combine high-quality signal processing in an easy-to-use interface. The IMP combines a multiband sonic

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RRP: $49 www.waves.com

enhancer, digital clipper and limiter and may, at first glance, appear to be aimed squarely at non-professionals. But what professional would turn their nose up at a plug-in that could speed up their working practice while offering the impeccable sonic credentials that any soft ware coded by Waves offers? The interface is simple and intuitive, rendering the slim manual almost redundant, while the traditional Waves facilities for saving and loading presets and comparing settings are comfortingly present. Designed to sit on the master stereo bus, all you need to do to get ‘pushing’ is to set the input level so it glows yellow and start turning the knobs. The plug-in’s output never exceeds –0.1dBFS whatever the settings of the other controls are, so you can twiddle to your heart’s content without fear of creating unwanted distortion. The High control adds upper frequencies to the signal, while the Low control boosts the bass while adding harmonics. The note – rather than frequency – where bass boost begins is adjustable and this is a really simple way to control the low frequencies and works well on individual tracks too. The Stereo knob widens the image at higher frequencies, while the Body control adds both dynamic and frequency processing in the mid-range. The Push control is the plug-in’s loudness maximiser and

can be set to limit or clip the output in a musical way – if you like that sort of thing. It’s simple to use, too – just turn up the knob and the apparent loudness of the signal is increased. Sorted.

Packs a punch The Magic control is the most complex part of the plug-in and when turned up, both excites and boosts the signal with some additional controls for the amount of mid-range dynamic and frequency processing and the degree of ‘punch and crispness’. A gain reduction meter and output level control completes the interface and all of the different sections can be individually taken out of the signal path to see what effect they are having on the audio. The only real criticism here is that the input meter could be more informative regarding the level of the signal coming into the plug-in. The manual is short on technical explanation of how these controls work, so I did what I am always urging engineering students to do and used my ears to test the sonic abilities of the plug-in. For comparison, I set up a couple of typical mastering chains using both Waves and Universal Audio plug-ins consisting of some of the same types of processor that make up the building blocks of the IMP, namely a multiband compressor, exciter, stereo spread processor and limiter.

The IMP itself is simple to use and it’s prett y easy to dial-in an increase in loudness and ‘density’ without it sounding overly harsh at extreme settings. Having all the controls in a single interface made gauging the effect of each section of the IMP a doddle compared with a screen full of open plug-in windows. I soon started thinking that I may have wasted all the money I’ve spent on dedicated processers but, occasionally, the extra control offered by the separate plugins helped me out with more difficult material in ways the IMP could not. But in most cases, the sonic performance of the IMP was perfectly acceptable and I had no complaints from colleagues after using it on demo mixes. The Infected Mushroom Pusher is ridiculously good value and even if you have an extensive toolkit of mastering plug-ins, it would make a valuable addition to any sonic arsenal as it’s so quick to get louder, wider, brighter mixes and time – especially for the professional – is money, after all.

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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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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DBX GORACK LOUDSPEAKER MANAGEMENT PROCESSOR

Strother Bullins finds out whether this really is ‘the easiest way to optimise your PA.’ aving previously reviewed dbx’s DriveRack PA2 ($399 street), a comprehensive loudspeaker management system that is both intuitive and affordable for the sum of its wellperforming parts, I was elated to try its little brother, the $99 goRack, built for streamlined portable PA and selfengineered performance applications. In use, I found goRack additionally purposeful for small to mid-sized houses-of-worship and similar institutions where extremely simplified speaker levelling/tuning plus quick and effective feedback suppression is needed. The introduction of goRack illustrates that dbx Professional grasps well the needs of modern audio wranglers of all types, effectively cramming what used to require stacks of comparably pricey outboard processors into a stomp box-sized enclosure while adding other attractive portable PA features to the mix. Featuring dbx’s DriveRack technology, dual dbx microphone preamps and five distinct points of I/O on its back panel, the goRack must be as simple as such a useful live sound processor can get. Its top panelmounted controls consist of input signal rotary knobs, a partially backlit press/hold button per parameter (five in total) and a data wheel shared between these parameters: Mute, Anti-Feedback, Compressor, Sub Synth and EQ. Especially useful in portable PA applications, goRack’s anti-feedback system features dbx’s patented AFS (Advanced Feedback Suppression) technology with three selectable

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modes. These range from narrow bandwidth frequency removal, ideal for live music where quite specific offending frequencies are found and removed; a middle-ground Q for speaking events along with prerecorded background music (DJ/KJ applications, for example); and a broad Q setting, for frequency removal in purely speech driven events. Evolved from dbx’s 163, the compressor section features easy press/hold parameter engagement and level adjustment via the rotary knob. Makeup gain is handily included.

Covering the basses Next, goRack’s Sub Synth is a handy feature indeed. It analyses any program material or input’s bottom end, synthesizing frequencies an octave below for powerfully enhanced bass; this is truly ideal for DJ applications. The EQ section features 16 preselected frequency landscapes to best shape input sources or program material for the venue. For example, distinct acoustic instrument presets as well as sculpted options for harsh environments are included – varying

from one another significantly – and provide a broad range of EQ choices. Crucial setup details are provided on the bottom of the unit; here, three modes are presented as Mono, Stereo and Advanced. Mono sums all inputs to mono, making it ideal for singersongwriters desiring both vocal and instrument (or instrument microphone) inputs to be represented equally in both left and right output channels. Stereo maintains stereo imaging and is the chosen mode when goRack is used purely as a live stereo processor, à la its big brother, dbx’s DriveRack PA2. Advanced splits the processing in a useful way for DJ types and those running stereo program material plus vocal mics for amalgamated spoken word/presentation purposes. It translates the Aux In material as stereo, microphone inputs as mono (equally to both outputs), with anti-feedback, compressor and EQ parameters dedicated to the microphones as well as sub synth and EQ parameters to the aux input. As such, program material can be enhanced, fuller and more powerful, while mic inputs can be sculpted and compressed with feedback eliminated.

Key Features „ Anti-feedback processing based on the AFS algorithm „ Dual dbx mic preamp/line inputs „ Selectable mic/line input settings „ Stereo inputs and outputs „ Combination mic/line input jacks and XLR outputs RRP: $99.95 www.dbxpro.com In all, the dbx goRack may be the best $100 tool in the portable PA marketplace today. Add in the fact that it’s a superb DI, and every savvy musician, audio professional and AV environment could use one on hand for whatever processing challenges may arise. I personally plan on having at least one.

The Reviewer Strother Bullins is reviews editor for NewBay’s AV/Pro Audio Group. sbullins@nbmedia.com www.prosoundnetwork.com


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INTERVIEW

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NEW DIMENSIONS

Known for creating the soundtracks to a number of top-selling video games, composer Jason Graves chats to Colby Ramsey about working with Oculus on Farlands, his first VR title. and it gives it that sci-fi edge. I pretty much did a song a day for the Farlands soundtrack.

How did the opportunity to work with Oculus first come about? The audio director for Oculus, a guy called Tom Smurdon, was formerly the audio director for another game I worked on about three years ago called Murdered Soul Suspect, and from what I understand defaulted to calling me when he required music for Farlands. Oculus was doing a lot of demos at conventions and I did some music for those first, probably around a year and a half before this game came about, so I’ve also been working with them in a smaller capacity to this extent. Something I love the most about the games industry is the comradery and relationships that you form with these folk. How did you approach the Farlands soundtrack and how did it differ from previous projects? Farlands was unlike anything I’ve scored before. It’s more of an observational sort of game, where the player explores different locations and takes pictures on this otherworldly planet. There was no combat compared to some of my previous projects like FarCry Primal 42

September 2016

and Dead Space, so it was more of a straightforward, linear version of the music instead of something stacked up vertically. What we really wanted to focus on was the consistency of the soundtrack as opposed to the way it changes if you interact with something. With VR you’re entering so many new dimensions and spaces in terms of the visuals and the sound, so right now it’s like the wild wild west of games all over again. It was important that Farlands’ music did not call a lot of attention to itself. It is still interactive – changing depending on the time of day and as things happen in the game – but takes a lot more of a backseat role. The 3D audio is slightly spatialised but it’s also done subtly and tastefully. What particular techniques/processes did you use to achieve your objective? A lot of it was being able to do the opposite of what I normally concern myself with. I was able to write a piece of music that was maybe five, seven or eight minutes long, and have it ebb and flow naturally. Usually if there

is a combat track combined with an exploration track there are points where it gets louder and quieter, but this was basically all exploration, and so I had a lot of freedom to create layers that would come in and out. The idea is that you can then play them all together to get the soundtrack; however, I delivered all the instruments separately to Oculus, so they had the control over when instruments would play and more importantly where they were coming from. This comes back to the spatialisation that Tom Smurdon and the Oculus guys worked on to make it sound 3D, but also very natural. Being a percussionist, I love different kinds of sounds. With Farlands, it’s in the future in space with aliens so it needed to have a sci-fi-esque, yet organic sound to it. A lot of the instruments you hear are things I played here in the studio – guitars, steel drums and some other crazy things – which were then either layered on top of each other into these swirling clouds or given a lot of delay and reverb to create this space aspect. You have this analogue organic source that’s been treated with some fun processing

Could you tell us about your personal studio and some of the kit you have in there? I built my own standalone recording studio about five years ago, full of microphones set up ready to record along with multiple amps for guitars and drums. I have about eight to ten mics in my main room – some small tubes, some large diaphragm tubes including the M149 from Neumann, and lots of ribbons. I like recording as much as I can live, which then goes into a tube mic and through an outboard EQ and compressor. I also have many preamps at hand to use. Analogue goes in, I treat it digitally as needed, and then analogue comes back out – to me that’s the best of both worlds. I use Pro Tools, Cubase, Digital Performer and Ableton depending on what I need. I’m in a big treated space with some giant Dynaudio M3 speakers and Bryston amps. I also have plenty of outboard synths and I love the Push 2 controller from Ableton. What do you feel is responsible for the increasingly important focus being placed on game audio and game soundtracks? A large part of it is that every year the industry is maturing. Music falls in line with graphics capabilities, so it comes down to the hardware and what it can support. Originally, it couldn’t support big orchestras – it had to be 8-bit sounds. We’re now in a kind of renaissance of game hardware where audio directors are trying to push the envelope creatively in the same way that hardware has allowed us to push it from a physical standpoint. It’s one of the things I love most about working in games besides the relationships you build – all these creative opportunities.


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