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

September2016 2017 December

TRIPLE THREAT We speak to Pioneer Pro Audio about how its new XY-3 three-way PA system was used at Tomorrowland and Lovebox this summer p28

FEATURE

STUDIO PROFILE

REVIEW

We speak to manufacturers about developments in AoIP p21

Inside orchestral recording studio Alpheton New Maltings p26

Alistair McGhee evaluates the new Zoom F4 p34


ULTRA-COMPACT MODULAR LINE SOURCE Packing a 138 dB wallop, Kiva II breaks the SPL record for an ultra-compact 14 kg/31 lb line source. Kiva II features L-Acoustics’ patented DOSC technology enhanced with an L-Fins waveguide for ultimate precise and smooth horizontal directivity. WSTŽ gives Kiva II long throw and even SPL, from the front row to the back, making it the perfect choice for venues and special events that require power and clarity with minimal visual obtrusion. Add to that a 16 ohm impedance for maximized amplifier density and a new sturdy IP45 rated cabinet, and you get power, efficiency and ruggedness in the most elegant package. www.l-acoustics.com


WELCOME Experts in the issue Dave Rat is a leading audio system designer and was the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ live sound engineer for over 25 years.

A FOND FAREWELL

Aneta Aniszewska, is a support engineer for TSL Systems.

Simon Allen is a freelance, internationally recognised engineer/producer and pro audio professional with over 15 years of experience.

Alex Barrand serves as audio manager for Europe, the US and Asia at Pioneer Pro Audio.

hat’s right, it’s with more than a little sadness that I have to report I’m now moving on, and therefore this issue marks my last contribution to the magazine that I have had an enormous amount of fun putting together over the past two and a half years. It certainly doesn’t feel like 28 issues ago (if I’ve counted right) that I spent far too long thinking of how to begin my first one of these, and it’s weird to think that this is my final attempt to try and squeeze some words of at least moderate wisdom in here. Well actually, instead of trying to sign off in style, I’d mostly like to use this opportunity to show some of my considerable appreciation. It’s been an immense pleasure working with so many fantastic people not just on our immediate team at NewBay but across the industry to fill these pages each month with what I hope has been consistently thoughtprovoking and engaging content, and if it weren’t for all

T

EDITOR Adam Savage asavage@nbmedia.com

HEAD OF DESIGN Jat Garcha jgarcha@nbmedia.com

SENIOR STAFF WRITER Colby Ramsey cramsey@nbmedia.com

DESIGNER Tom Carpenter tcarpenter@nbmedia.com

ADVERTISING MANAGER Ryan O’Donnell rodonnell@nbmedia.com

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Warren Kelly wkelly@nbmedia.com

ACCOUNT MANAGER Rian Zoll-Khan rzoll-khan@nbmedia.com

CONTENT DIRECTOR James McKeown jmckeown@nbmedia.com

the brilliant reviewers and writers both in-house and freelance; designers; sales and production people; as well as our many friends on the PR side that have helped me out of the odd tight spot with a deadline looming, then we wouldn’t have got very far when we set about launching Audio Media International at the start of 2015. Many of you will already know that my next step is taking me outside of the world of pro audio to take on a new challenge, and I will certainly miss it. It’s been a privilege to be part of it and I’m extremely glad that we’ve been able to influence so many of you in such a positive way. Whether it was that review we published that settled a big buying decision or, in one particular case, an article that was so well received by the interviewee’s bosses that it got him a promotion, I’m delighted that we made a difference in so many ways, which is just one of the many reasons why I’ve found this role so rewarding. So from next month onwards there will be a new face at the top of this page, and some of you will recognise him already, particularly if you’re also a Music Week or PSNEurope reader. I’m sure it feels strange for every editor when it’s time to hand over the baton, but it’s comforting to know that I’ll be leaving you all in very capable hands. Thanks again everyone. It’s been a blast!

Adam Savage Editor Audio Media International

PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe to AMI please go to www.audiomediainternational.com/subscribe Should you have any questions please email subs@audiomediainternational.com

is published 10 times a year by NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU Editorial tel: +44 (0)20 7354 6002 Sales tel: +44 (0)20 7354 6000

© Copyright NewBay Media Europe Ltd 2017 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. The contents of Audio Media International are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems.

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Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA Print ISSN: 2057-5165

September 2017

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CONTENTS

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www.audiomediainternational.com

26 FEATURES

PRODUCT NEWS 6

McDSP launches 6034 Ultimate Multi-band plug-in

8

Blue launches Raspberry Studio mobile recording package

10

Merging Technologies releases Pyramix 11

21

AUDIO OVER IP Kevin Hilton speaks to several professional audio manufacturers to find out how the AES67 standard is being embraced to create AoIP-based networks.

26

STUDIO PROFILE Adam Savage profiles Alpheton New Maltings, a brand new Suffolk-based recording facility specialising in orchestral, jazz and world music.

28

LIVE PROFILE Pioneer Pro Audio’s Alex Barrand tells Colby Ramsey about how the company’s XY-3 touring system was used at Lovebox and Tomorrowland.

PEOPLE 16

OPINION The Park Studios’ Tobin Jones on the importance of working to achieve a mix that conveys an artist’s musical intentions.

18

TSL Systems’ support engineer Aneta Aniszewska shares her views on interoperability and open standards.

42

INTERVIEW Colby Ramsey catches up with former Red Hot Chili Peppers live engineer Dave Rat.

21 SHOW NEWS 12

14 4

PLASA AT 40 We find out what’s planned for the 2017 edition and take a look back at the event’s 40-year history. SHOW PREVIEW: IBC 2017 September 2017

TECHNOLOGY 30

TECH FOCUS We ask a few companies how their offerings have reinforced the AES67 standard and how they expect it to develop in the future.

34 REVIEWS 34 36 38 40

Zoom F4 Multitrack Recorder Flares Pro Earphones Sonnox Oxford Dynamic EQ Blue Microphones Essential Series


ED SHEERAN WORLD TOUR 2017 Congratulations to Major Tom on another successful LEO Family Tour We're proud to support you on bringing the highest quality audio to stages around the world.

meyersound.com

Photo: Ralph Larmann


PRODUCT NEWS: SOFTWARE MCDSP LAUNCHES 6034 ULTIMATE MULTI-BAND PLUG-IN The 6034 Ultimate Multi-band is a flexible multiband dynamics processor offering all the compression, expansion, and gating modules from the 6050 Ultimate Channel Strip plug-in, in a four-band crossover network. Like the 6050 modules, the 6034 Ultimate Multi-band modules can be swapped on the fly for quick auditioning while retaining relative settings. The crossover filter slopes can be configured as 6, 12, or 24 dB/Oct. Metering includes gain reduction and output levels on all crossover bands, as well as main input and output levels. The plug-in – with its ultra low latency – is an ideal tool for the master fader and individual instruments and mix sub groups. The number of compressors alone offers a wide selection of processing options, while the additional expander and gate processing provide increased flexibility. The 6034 Ultimate Multi-band HD supports AAX DSP/Native, AU, and VST while the 6034 Ultimate Multi-band Native supports AAX Native, AU and VST. www.mcdsp.com

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MAGIX RELEASES SOUND FORGE AUDIO STUDIO 12 Version 12 lets users digitise, repair, and restore LP records and tapes, create podcasts, master audio, burn CDs, and render to a range of popular audio formats for streaming on the web or playback on portable media players. The updated tool is built on a 64-bit platform to supply more editing power, more processing power, and a more powerful workflow, as well as featuring an updated and redesigned recording window. Slice Edit lets users tweak edits even after the cut. Soft Cut creates automatic, user-adjustable crossfades with each edit to ensure smooth transitions between cuts with no pops or clicks, while Spectral cleaning performs frequency-based noise removal by visually identifying frequencies of an offending noise.

Additionally, Sound Forge Audio Studio 12 includes iZotope’s Ozone Elements 7 mastering plugin with a set of 75 presets, along with macro controls to fine tune the EQ and compression. Sound Forge Audio Studio 12 is now available online and in stores for $59.99, while current users can upgrade from earlier versions for $29.99. www.magix.com

NUGEN AUDIO ADDS 3D IMMERSIVE EXTENSION TO HALO UPMIX

APOGEE ANNOUNCES NEW ENSEMBLE THUNDERBOLT SOFTWARE

Nugen Audio has released another major update for its award-winning Halo Upmix plug-in after previewing the technology at AES Berlin back in May. The new 3D Immersive Extension follows on from the previous Halo 9.1 upgrade, adding further options beyond the existing Dolby Atmos bed track capability. The 3D Immersive Extension now provides Ambisoniccompatible output as an alternative to channel-based output for VR, game and other immersive applications. This makes it possible to upmix, re-purpose or convert channelbased audio for an Ambisonic workflow. In addition, the Halo 3D Immersive Extension makes Halo the first upmixer to fully support Avid’s newly announced Pro Tools version 12.8, now with native 7.1.2 stems for Dolby Atmos mixing. The combination of Pro Tools 12.8 and Halo 3D Immersive Extension will provide a more fluid

Apogee has rolled out new Control software for the Ensemble Thunderbolt audio interface that enables additional features and functionality. The company’s Control software, which replaces Maestro 2, has been built from the ground up to offer a highly customisable user interface that provides multi-unit support and compatibility with the Apogee Control iOS App, as well as the Apogee Control hardware remote. Users can connect two Ensemble Thunderbolt interfaces to a Mac – doubling their analogue inputs and outputs – and also connect any Apogee Element interface to an Ensemble Thunderbolt for an expanded system with the new update, which is available from the Apogee website below as a free download for those on macOS 10.10 or greater. www.apogeedigital.com

September 2017

workflow for audio post professionals handling multi-channel and object-based audio formats, Nugen says. Jon Schorah, Nugen’s founder and creative director, commented: “The addition of Ambisonic output in the 3D Immersive Extension enables users to apply our unique algorithms in ever diversifying contexts and workflows.” www.nugenaudio.com


28th September 2017

The Steel Yard, London

RECOGNISING THE ACHIEVEMENT ACROSS THE WIDE SPECTRUM OF PRO AUDIO

TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE www.prosoundawards.com

Sponsors

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT SPONSORSHIP Ryan O’Donnell Head of Advertising E: rodonnell@nbmedia.com T: +44 (0)207 354 6000

@PSNEurope

AWARDS ENQUIRIES Daniel Gumble Editor E: dgumble@nbmedia.com T: +44(0)203 871 7371

#prosoundawards

GENERAL ENQUIRIES Katya Moore Events Manager E: kmoore@nbmedia.com T: +44(0)207 354 6001

@ProSoundNewsEurope

TICKET BOOKINGS Johanna O’Brien Ticket Sales E: jobrien@nbmedia.com T: +44(0)203 871 7383

www.prosoundawards.com


PRODUCT NEWS: MICROPHONES

BLUE LAUNCHES RASPBERRY STUDIO MOBILE RECORDING PACKAGE

Blue Microphones has announced Raspberry Studio, an all-in-one mobile recording system that combines Blue’s mobile USB microphone, Raspberry, with custom recording software from PreSonus and mastering software from iZotope. Raspberry Studio includes professional production tools such as custom templates for music, voiceovers and podcasts, which feature automatic track

setup and dialed-in sound processing for professionally produced vocals and instruments. The package features PreSonus Studio One Artist Blue Microphones Edition recording software, which lets users stack multiple instrument and vocal tracks to create fully produced songs. With a 32-bit audio engine, tracks can be edited on screen with ease, while multiple takes can even be pieced together to craft a complete vocal performance. iZotope Ozone Elements is also included, featuring professionally designed presets and simple macro controls that allow users to quickly get their mixes ready for radio and streaming. Raspberry Studio is now available from retailers at an MSRP of $219.99. www.bluemic.com

GET CLOSER TO FLAW L E S S M O BI L E AU D I O You’re on the run after some big news. You need to be quick and practical, but most importantly, you need to capture a great story. Your smartphone records the video but you know that crystal-clear audio is essential. With the new d:vice™ Digital Audio Interface your audience will clearly hear your message, even if you work in challenging situations. Pre-programmable, easy to use and inconspicuous, the d:vice™ allows you to record amazing sound so you can tell the full story.

Made in Denmark

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September 2017

dpamicrophones.com/dvice

www.audiomediainternational.com

SONTRONICS RELEASES SOLO DYNAMIC MICROPHONE British mic manufacturer Sontronics has announced that SOLO, a new supercardioid dynamic microphone that was first unveiled at the Summer NAMM Show, is now available. SOLO – with its ‘extremely tight’ supercardioid pattern for best results on live vocals, guitar amps and drums either in the studio or on stage – is thought to be the world’s first dynamic mic to be designed, developed and made in the UK. Promising ‘superb’ off-axis rejection and requiring no EQ, the Sontronics SOLO is designed to be very easy to set up and use for live sound engineers or gigging vocalists. www.sontronics.com


35 Years

y

d&b is 35. Sara is d&b.

Sara Sowah is Head of Marketing Communications at d&b. She’s been on board since 2014. “Being part of the d&b team is like being surrounded by your brothers and sisters – they’re annoying, they’re fun, they’re determined. It’s a big passionate family totally obsessed with sound. I feel like it’s where I belong.â€? In 35 years d&b has evolved from a small garage venture to a worldwide standard in professional sound systems. It’s people like 6DUDZKRPDNHWKLVVWRU\SRVVLEOHDQGMXVWWKDWELWGLË HUHQWIURPWKHUHVW

Welcome to System reality.


NEWS IN DEPTH

www.audiomediainternational.com

MERGING: PYRAMIX 11 WILL ‘SPEED UP WORKFLOW’ Stephen Bennett provides an overview of the new version of the Swiss-based company’s Digital Audio Workstation. idely used in broadcast and missioncritical audio applications, Merging was an early adopter of audio-over-IP technology with its RAVENNA Ethernet Audio Protocol and Pyramix version 11 brings some new innovations in this and other areas. The ANEMAN: Audio Network Manager is a new tool that oversees the audio network and which shows the status of devices connected along with details of the Precision Time Protocol (PTP) status. Multiple sample rates are seamlessly supported and Pyramix’s AISO driver is now compatible with 48-frame AES67 devices and available for use under Linux. “We’ve thought for a long time that the network route seemed to be an obvious choice for us,” says Maurice Engler, product manager and strategic product development at Merging. “The situation in the marketplace today demonstrates that this choice was the right one. ANEMAN works with our own renowned converters (Horus + Hapi) but also with AES67 devices - and the list of compatible converters is expanding.” Pyramix is firmly aimed at the broadcast and

W

post-production sectors and version 11 features some new tools that creators in these areas will find useful. VST plugins can be applied directly to mono or multichannel clips, while Merging’s ‘3D audio’ VST-based B<>com processors offer what the company calls a “truly immersive experience”. Pyramix’s surround panner can now be controlled by 3D connect devices for the tactile control of the special positioning of audio. “It is generally acknowledged by the users that Pyramix has always been the best and most precise audio editor,” Engler claims. “In Pyramix X we introduced a unique object-based immersive audio

bus monitoring and panning structure and this has been enhanced in version 11 by adding some great plugins from b<>com—which were developed in partnership with French broadcasters. Pyramix 11 is not just aimed at complex multichannel productions though and you can use these excellent sounding algorithms for a simple 5.1, stereo or binaural productions.” Version 11 brings compatibility for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Creator (with backwards compatibility to Windows 7) and Merging’s proprietary Masscore lowlatency driver is also available for the latest Microsoft operating system. Other improvements include changes to clip Trim controls, a useful labelling of inputs and outputs, media manager improvements and an ‘album publishing’ function. Version 11 also offers enhanced integration for the AVID S-series of Hardware Controllers. “With Pyramix 11 we’ve created tools to help speed up workflow,” says Engler. “These enhancements came from listening directly to the feedback from our customers.” Alongside Pyramix, drivers for AES67 and RAVENNA (Core Audio, ASIO) and Merging’s converter firmware’s have also been updated.

Reach the Summit MA-808 Portable Wireless PA System 6ERSATILE3OUND!MPLIlCATION The MA-808 innovatively integrates wireless microphones, speakers, CD / USB player and a Bluetooth interface for wireless music streaming into a sturdy, compact case that offers an entirely portable sound system anywhere it is needed. MIPRO supplies UHF and 2.4 GHz receiver modules options and matching handheld or bodypack transmitters, as well as the exclusive miniature transmitters for musical instruments, such as violin, saxophones, erhu, guitar, cajon, and so on, THUSTHEINSTRUMENTPLAYERSCOULDEXPERIENCECONVENIENTWIRELESSAMPLIlCATION via the MA-808 portable wireless PA system.

The Ultimate in Convenience Lightweight with built-in pull-up handle and sturdy wheels for easy transport, the economical rechargeable battery system enables operations indoors or outdoors without AC power and cumbersome cables. Even handheld & bodypack transmitters can be stored within the sleek cabinet.

Exclusive UK & Eire Distributor: CUK Audio

Norwood Court, Ibrox Business Park, Glasgow, G51 2JR Tel: (44) 141 440 5333 | sales@cuk-audio.com | www.cuk-audio.com

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September 2017

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SHOW NEWS: PLASA

www.audiomediainternational.com

LIFE BEGINS AT 40

Information

The PLASA Show celebrates an impressive milestone in style this year with an enhanced seminar programme and a haul of new Fast Track sessions to keep visitors on their toes.

What? PLASA Where? London Olympia When? 17-19 September

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// LASA will mark its 40th anniversary from 17-19 September, with a show that, according to the organiser, “celebrates the evolution of the entertainment technology industry, and an exciting future for the PLASA Show,” following last year’s move to London Olympia and return to a September dateline. This year’s event will accommodate over 200 manufacturers, suppliers and distributors showcasing their very latest technology, hosting exclusive product launches and sharing their expertise. And audiophiles can get particularly excited for the 2017 show, following recent close cooperation between PLASA and the audio industry. Visitors can expect an increased emphasis on the sector with a 25% increase in exhibitors — including manufacturers such as Adam Hall, Bose and KV2 — plus more audio-focused education events and live product demonstrations. This year’s enhanced seminar programme is set to deliver more content and a more diverse range of subjects. The first audio-related sessions in the Audio & AV Theatre will include sound designers Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin – interviewed in our May/June issue – talking about their work to build a shifting world of sound on The Encounter, which traces National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre’s journey into the depths of the Amazon rainforest. Meanwhile, d&b audiotechnik’s Oran Burns and Bill Brooks’ session Are You listening? takes a fresh view on the much-debated idea of an ideal frequency response for a live sound system, considering factors like hearing sensitivity, creative preferences and cultural trends. Speaking of which, Soulsound’s Jon Burton will impart his ‘10 Top Tips for Touring Engineers’ whilst the IPS takes a look at ‘The Ins and Outs of Microphones’ at the

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new Fast Track Theatre, where a number of bite-sized sessions will take place. Here, visitors can learn about ‘The Business of Being in the Entertainment Technology Business’, take part in the Communications Workshop – both of which will be hosted by Burnt Orange’s Lauren Rogers – and look at the art of ‘Getting a Foot in the Door’ with Soulsound’s Darryn de la Soul. As part of these 30-minute sessions hosted by industry associations, experts and trade unions, the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) will provide an update on their ‘Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment’, and will also be considering ‘New Guidelines from the National Counter-Terrorism Security Office on Crowded Places’. ‘Preparing for the loss of 700MHz – What you need to know’, by Shure’s Tuomo Tolonen, will examine Ofcom’s 2014 announcement to reallocate UHF frequencies 694790MHz (the 700MHz band) to the mobile sector. With a deadline scheduled for May 2020, this session will look at the wider implications for the industry and how best to meet on-going challenges. Shure is also showcasing its line of digital wireless systems on stand G40 at the PLASA Show. Launched earlier this year, Axient Digital incorporates a newly designed minimal-latency digital RF engine that builds on the company’s UHF-R, ULX-D, and Axient wireless systems. Axient Digital offers a wide 184MHz tuning range with high channel density and advanced automatic RF interference detection and avoidance features that will be familiar to users of the original Axient system. The scalable, networkable system includes a universal receiver, available in dual and quad-band versions (AD4D/AD4Q), which works with two different transmitter types: the AD series and the Showlinkenabled ADX series.

In the first of two panel discussions hosted by journalist Phil Ward, the curiously entitled, ‘Was Le Corbusier Deaf or What?’ looks to uncover the tricky relationship between audio and architecture. In 360 Degrees of Sound, Ward will then look to some prominent voices from the industry to discuss new formats for 3D audio within immersive experiences - from theme parks to art galleries. Experts in this session will include Sherif El Barbari of L-Acoustics, Scott Willsallen of Remarkable Projects, and Dave Haydon from Outboard. “We’ve gathered the big guns to take on these two equally fascinating topics,” says Ward. “These are issues driving the technology solutions of the future. The insight - and debate - promises to be the most informed and interesting you’ll find.” Meanwhile in practical sessions, visitors will be able to gets hands-on with technology in a new ‘Genesis Lab’ featuring a maze of experiments and immersive technologies; a concept that has evolved from last year’s ‘Exploratorium’, the brainchild of Soulsound’s Darryn de la Soul. Genesis Lab participants can show off both their technical expertise and their imaginations in a setting that ‘generates deep conversation and forges relationships,’ according to Soulsound. PLASA’s director of events, Chris Toulmin, is excited to celebrate the show’s 40th birthday: “PLASA Show has been at the heart of the live entertainment industry for the last 40 years, and we are excited to deliver a show for 2017 with many innovative new features and celebrating the impressive industry developments that have been achieved,” he says. www.plasashow.com


SHOW NEWS: PLASA XXX The PLASA Show marks its 40th anniversary this year. Here we take a look at a number of key milestones in the iconic London event’s four decade-long history as well as some significant developments in the professional audio industry.

1976

The British Association of Discotheque Equipment Manufacturers (BADEM) is conceived with the mandate to run an annual trade show.

1977

Martin Audio launches the legendary MH212 Philishave touring PA.

1978

BADEM launches Discotek 77 at The Bloomsbury Centre Hotel.

1982

Show’s name changed to BADEM 82 Light & Sound Show.

votes to change name to Professional Lighting & Sound 1983 BADEM Association (PLASA).

1984

PLASA outgrows the Bloomsbury, moving to the Novotel in Hammersmith for 1985.

1988 PLASA moves from the Novotel hotel in Hammersmith to Olympia 2. Show moves to Earls Court Two, launches the PLASA Awards.

1992

merges with the Sound & 1995 PLASA Communications Industries Federation .

1980

Turbosound introduces its TMS-3 live enclosure and Meyer Sound unveils the UPA1 trapezoidal loudspeaker.

1984

First wireless head-mic for stage (HM-1) launched by Nady Systems.

This year sees the development of the first IEM and the launch of the Yamaha DMP 7 - the first digital mixing console.

1991

Mackie launches the CR-1604 mixer.

L-Acoustics launches the first line array, the V-DOSC while the first configurable DSP, MediaMatrix, is launched by Peavey.

1996

1995

Midas launches the XL4 analogue FOH console.

1996 2005 Earls Court floods during the show. Tony Andrews (Funktion One) wins the first Gottelier Awards.

2004

2006

Cobranet audio network developed by Peak Audio.

Audinate reveals its Dante audio network.

2007

2007

hosts the first Rigging Conference alongside the show, 2009 PLASA featuring keynote speaker Alan Jacobi, LVO.

PLASA goes live with a complete rebrand.

2016

DiGiCo develops the SD7 digital FOH console.

2011

2012 ‘Backstage at the London 2012 Ceremonies’ is the main seminar attraction. PLASA moves to Excel and stages the Audio Lab.

1993

powered speaker for touring, the MSL-4 1994 First launched by Meyer Sound.

PLASA moves to Earls Court One.

PLASA introduces Code of Ethics for exhibitors.

1987

2013

2010

Martin Audio creates the MLA line array system.

Sennheiser’s Digital 9000 digital wireless mic system revealed and Dolby ATMOS launched.

2013

2012

EAW launches the Anya post-line array.

PLASA moves to Olympia. September 2017

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SHOW NEWS: IBC

www.audiomediainternational.com

CONNECTING PEOPLE

With a comprehensive new IP Showcase and more interoperability solutions on show, the 2017 edition of IBC is looking readier than ever to push the boundaries of the creative industry when it returns to the RAI this year.

Information What? IBC 2017 Where? RAI Amsterdam When? 14-19 September

///////////////////////////////////////////////////// nother 55,000 attendees from more than 170 countries are expected to travel to Amsterdam for IBC between 14-19 September, as the discussion and debate about the challenges facing the entertainment and electronic media industries continues. The 2017 Exhibition - which covers fifteen halls across the RAI and hosts over 1,700 exhibitors - has built on the successful IP Interoperability Zone from last year’s show with a new ‘IP Showcase’, an area it says will confirm that “real-time IP for production, playout and contribution is a practical, flexible, efficient reality that is rapidly taking hold in mainstream broadcast operations.” Here, more than 40 vendors will work together to demonstrate real-world IP interoperability based on SMPTE ST 2110 final draft standards and AMWA NMOS specifications - a single set of common IP interop standards and specifications that are enabling the flexibility and efficiency of IP in real time media. The demonstrations will be divided into application pods - live production signal flows, contribution and playout signal flows, etc. - all shown under the control of familiar user interfaces. Here visitors can learn the business, technical, and creative benefits of IP workflows and media over

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IP network standards, as well as how others are already leveraging IP in real-world broadcaster applications and how these benefits can be applied to their own operations. Meanwhile, the integrated IP Showcase theatre, curated by IABM, will run presentations covering the full range of knowledge for real-time IP production and intra-facility distribution. The Content Everywhere Hub in Hall 14 will also feature an ‘extensive and varied’ programme of presentations, demonstrations and panel sessions designed for especially for broadcasters. With more companies demonstrating their IP products, and great progress having been made in formalising and universally adopting the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of real-time IP signal flow standards, the IP Showcase is set to be a major destination for visitors to broaden their interoperability horizons.

On the Showfloor Clear-Com will present the latest updates to its LQ Series of IP interfaces at this year’s IBC exhibition. The enhanced LQ Series adds SIP capability for telephony, connects traditional intercom systems with Agent-IC mobile applications, and increases I/O channel density for the HelixNet digital partyline. The company says that with its LQ Interfaces, a complete communication solution of analogue,

digital and IP intercom systems can be fully integrated and connected over reliable IP networks for communication from ‘virtually anywhere.’ Jünger Audio will demonstrate a number of its new networked audio products as well as showing its full range of Smart Audio-enabled D*AP gear at the 2017 show. Netbridge is a series of simple converters that translate established audio formats to networked audio. The first products in the range are UHD-Netbridge that converts 4x 3G-SDI to MADI and Dante and MADI-Netbridge, a bidirectional MADI/Dante converter, both of which will be available as 1U 19-inch rack mounting or standalone units. The German company will also introduce Easy Loudness, a dual stereo Level Magic audio processor with true peak limiting, optional loudness logging, and plug-and-play functionality. Fitted with SDI and AES IO, it is designed for stereo broadcast to ensure consistent loudness is maintained from programme to programme. NUGEN Audio will demonstrate a new update for its Halo Upmix with a new 3D Immersive Extension that builds on Halo 9.1, adding further options beyond the existing Dolby Atmos bed track capability. Also on display will be Halo Downmix, the company’s downmixing solution for creating the best possible stereo mixes from original surround audio sources. Sennheiser will display a range of its products including the MK 4 digital microphone for dubbing and podcast applications, as well as the ClipMic digital and MKE 2 digital clip-on microphones for iPhones and iPads. Its portfolio of products is rounded off by shotgun microphones from the MKH series for film production, along with wireless microphones from the Digital 9000, Digital 6000, 2000 and evolution wireless series. Meanwhile, when it comes to 3D productions, the company’s AMBEO VR Mic and Neumann’s binaural KU 100 dummy head are bound to attract interest. Then there is the Artemis Ray digital audio console from Calrec Audio, which will make its European debut at IBC 2017. Artemis Ray has 456 fully featured input channels and can handle up to 72 faders, the same as the company’s larger Artemis Shine model. Via a new fader/monitor panel, Artemis Ray has a new surface layout that allows more faders in a reduced surface area. www.ibc.org


See us at IBC booth 10.A31

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OPINION

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UNDERSTANDING THE ARTIST’S CREATIVE PHILOSOPHY Engineer Tobin Jones explains the importance of familiarising yourself with an artist’s musical intentions in order to achieve a mix that conveys the message they were hoping to get across when their song was written and recorded. but truly creative music has its own unique sound. Great music has never been made by copying someone else and the same is true of great mixes. When I get asked to do a mix, instead of reference tracks I ask for a short sentence/paragraph about what the song is about; what emotions the artist felt while writing the track and the emotion(s) that they want to inspire in the listener. This tells me far more about how the artist wants to sound than another released track by another artist, which will probably be totally out of emotional context with the song they have written. When I get a track to mix, it may have been years since the artist wrote the song, or they may have recorded it numerous times with different producers and engineers. Sometimes this means they have come to the point where they hate the song and have become totally disconnected with the original intention behind it. Often by asking them to write a little bit about the song actually reconnects the artist to the song and helps them remember why they wrote it in the first place.

TOBIN JONES

he most important part of any mix is to understand how the artist envisions their own music. What do they want to get out of it artistically, financially and emotionally? Usually it’s a combination of all three of these factors. In my experience, when an artist is overly driven by financial considerations the project can lack conviction and become confused. Above all, it is the emotional aesthetic of the track that must prevail. This is true regardless of genre, instrumentation and composition. Understanding the artist’s musical and sonic background is key to achieving a mix that is original and engaging, which captures their creative and emotional intentions. It is important to spend time talking through these points with the artist and not to be shy in asking the personal reasoning behind why the songs were written. Ultimately the artist’s view is the most important. If they don’t like something in your mix they are right regardless of your views. At the end of the day it is their artistic creation and expression - not yours. That is not to say that you cannot be creative and expressive with your mix - you should be, but you must do this within the scope of the artist’s creative vision. Sometimes they might be unsure of what this vision is and in this case it is imperative you spend time discussing the songs and the broader artistic philosophies that drive the artist. Discuss how the artist would like their music to sound.

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Most artists want other people to like their music, although this is not always the case and I have worked with many artists who really don’t care what other people think, as it is his or her creative expression. I personally find this stance very inspiring as it can prevent the music from becoming diluted and confused by constriction of other factors. It also allows for the track to sound more concise. Other artists can’t afford to be so staunched in their convictions and this can mean doing things to make sure listeners engage with the music. There is an important reciprocal relationship between the artist and the listener and knowing that your music is stimulating an emotion in another person can feed on-going creativity. Understanding the extent of this is why it is so important to get where the artist is coming from.

Why I don’t ask for reference tracks When mixing, I very rarely ask for reference tracks. I find that it tells me very little about the context and emotion of the actual song I’m working on even if they follow similar paths sonically. Music is generally a reflection of emotion of some kind. Most artists write a song based around a feeling they have or one they want to provoke in others. Therefore the mixing needs to reflect that emotion - if it doesn’t, it will fail as a mix. If an artist wants to sound like someone else it is never going to happen. In my opinion it’s OK to have influences,

Attended sessions There are many engineers who prefer the artists not to be present during mixing or at least for the start of the session. I can see the attraction of this for the engineer as it allows them to do what they feel unhindered, however I think it is very important for the artist to be present for at least some of the mixing process. Mixing is a journey, taking a track from one place to another. As the music is the artists’ own expression it is important they are present during this journey. As an engineer, this means allowing the artist to express themselves during the session but also communicating with them in a way that allows you to get on with the legwork of the mix. Being able to retain focus on a mix while the artist or band is in the control room takes time and practice but it is well worth the investment. When artists are involved in the mixing process they generally feel more connected to the song and the creativity that goes into it and will ultimately be happier with the results. Knowing that you care about their artistic and emotional intention will inspire confidence within them and feed into your own creative head space when mixing, resulting in a more artistically-aware mix. Tobin Jones is owner and head engineer at The Park Studios, a recording studio in Wembley, London. www.theparkstudios.com


OPINION

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STANDARD PRACTICE TSL Systems’ Aneta Aniszewska explains how IP has brought about greater flexibility for broadcasters and media organisations and how embracing interoperability and open standards will help drive future development.

ANETA ANISZEWSKA

here is little doubt that IP brings greater flexibility and efficiencies of scale to broadcasters and media organisations. An IP environment offers a more flexible and scalable way to support a greater number of channels. The rate at which broadcasters are beginning to adopt hybrid SDI-IP infrastructures as well as end-to-end IP is on the rise. And the integration of IP Audio networks is a key part of that. On the video side, we have seen the development of standards such as SMPTE 2022-6 – which sets out specifications for transport of high bit rate media signals over IP networks – laying the groundwork along with the soon to be ratified SMPTE 2110. Added to this, manufacturer-led initiatives such as AIMS and specifications such as AMWA’s NMOS are giving broadcasters and media organisation the added confidence to invest in new IP infrastructures and workflows. The audio industry has always been more fragmented than the video side with many different networking options and connection schemes in place, perhaps because audio product manufacturers have been implementing proprietary audio over IP (AoIP) systems for a decade or more. Added to this, there is a significant proportion of audio within a facility not associated with video (monitoring, tie-lines, audio playback, microphone circuits, etc.), so audio and video signals were often kept separate.

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At the beginning The audio industry as a whole began to address this with AES67, a networked audio interoperability specification developed by the Audio Engineering Society. It describes techniques for interoperability between Audio over IP network streaming (AoIP) with the use of RTP over UDP, which is also used for video. The specification also allows different audio networking protocols (Dante, RAVENNA, etc.) to pass audio between each other. Additionally, AES67 aims to lay out a set of constraints to facilitate interoperability between implementations; this gives broadcasters and media organisations the confidence that any equipment they invest in will be able to talk to each other. We have seen a raft of products hit the market with AES67 support, allowing them to connect with other compliant devices within the network. AES67 defines clocking, network transport, encoding and streaming, session description and connection management. While this is a huge plus, there remains one potential area of weakness within AES67. The specification gives manufacturers a choice of packet size and order, control protocols and number of channels making them open to manufacturer interpretation. This can cause issues when it comes to interoperability. What is also open for manufacturer interpretation is the media transport itself, allowing them to write their own protocol for routing, level monitoring and so on. In an AES67-enabled packet you would have all the normal Ethernet and audio network protocols, MDNS, ARP, PTP. But when it comes to data payloads, they are proprietary. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it does enable manufacturers to come up with unique features. Furthermore, while some issues are being addressed by AES70, such as the absence of a common discovery system, there is still work to be done. AES67 aims to ensure interoperability when it comes to audio transport streams, but this doesn’t cover the “high levels” of any protocol such as routing and, ultimately key for true interoperability, control. In essence, therefore there are “levels” of interoperability. For example, you can connect and stream AES67-enabled Dante to a device that accepts AES 67 but you would not be able to set up routing without the use of the Dante API (Dante controller software). In other words, interoperability doesn’t extend to 100 percent.

AES 70 (OCA - Open Control Architecture) is addressing those issues but uptake by manufacturers is at a very low level. In terms of systems demand, this is already there, but manufacturers need to catch up with the implementation.

In conclusion There must be in-depth understanding between multiple vendors of the existing protocols to ensure interoperability. Systems integrators like TSL Systems also have a role to play. As customers seek to implement IP infrastructures – both for video and audio – SIs have the experience to help them find the best solutions. In terms of ensuring interoperability, they are able to assess the available options and make recommendations about what systems will work best together. By making use of an SI, broadcasters and media organisations have a means of going the extra mile to ensure interfaces are compatible - or if needed, find one that will work better. Interoperability between AES67 and Dante and RAVENNA has helped and we can see evidence of this in the fact that broadcasters like Canal+ are beginning to invest in and deploy AoIP infrastructures. Earlier this year, TSL Products provided 23 MPA1 Mix Dante units for the Canal+ Factory facility to enable custom audio mixing within an IP-based workflow. Dante units were also supplied to MBC in Dubai for its all new facility at Dubai Studio City – TSL Systems acted as the systems integrator for the project. There are some encouraging signs that we are moving in the right direction. The AIMS consortium is developing an industry standard for networked video, which includes SMPTE 2022-6, and it has been agreed that AES67 will be the specification for the audio element. This is the sort of work that is needed – and much more of it – to ensure that vendors can help broadcasters to make the transition to IP-based infrastructures. It is by embracing interoperability and open standards that we can drive the future development of the industry.

Aneta Aniszewska is a support engineer for TSL Systems.


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FEATURE: AUDIO OVER IP

GOLD STANDARD

A Lawo-equipped audio control room in Zhejiang Radio and TV Group’s new International TV Centre, which is networked using RAVENNA AoIP.

The broadcast, live performance and music recording sectors are still coming to terms with the implementation and potential of AoIP. Kevin Hilton speaks to manufacturers who have embraced the AES67 standard to create AoIP-based networks. rofessional audio is an umbrella term covering disparate areas of expertise that are connected, sometimes loosely, because they all involve sound. There are ostensible similarities between broadcasting, live performance, installation and music recording but enough specialist techniques and idiosyncratic peculiarities to make them very different from each other. Which is why audio over IP (AoIP) for distribution, networking and interconnectivity would appear to be universal to all three but also have to adapt to suit the specific requirements of each. These sectors are still coming to terms with the implementation and potential of AoIP, if not the basic concept. While there is the core, almost generic Layer 3 format for carrying audio over IP-based IT connections, different manufacturers have produced their own takes on the technology to match their products and core markets. Early systems such as CobraNet and LiveWire have been joined in the last

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ten years by RAVENNA, which, with its connections to Lawo, was initially regarded as more a broadcast format; and Audient’s Dante, originally seen as a live sound and installation protocol. Despite this demarcation the two systems have always been seen as competitors, increasingly so as each has crossed over into the other’s ‘territory’. With users adopting one or the other, it was probably too late for anyone to develop a fully open AoIP system. Which is why the AES (Audio Engineering Society) decided to develop a means to enable interoperability between all existing systems. From its introduction in 2013, all three arms of pro audio have been recognising and assessing the potential of AES67 to create AoIP-based networks. As consultant Roland Hemming observes, this has created almost different forms of AES67, each adapted to the protocol it is being used in conjunction with. This is illustrated by the Telos Alliance now marketing its AoIP offering as LiveWire+AES67.

Martin Dyster, vice president of business development with the company’s TV Solutions Group, describes the various AoIP systems as “almost IP surrogates for MADI”. With LiveWire+AES67, he explains, the aim is to get away from traditional, involved infrastructures that pulled back to a TDM matrix or router. “The idea is to use IP as a transport stream that creates an entire backbone, with DSP engines running on computers as opposed to a crate full of cards and an FPGA doing the grunt work,” he says.

Early adopter Telos subsidiary Axia was among the first manufacturers to produce AoIP mixing consoles. These have been predominantly for radio but the year-old TV Solutions Group was formed to push both the mixers and AoIP into television production. One of the first results of this is a TV centre installation at a US sports and education facility, which, frustratingly, was still under a nondisclosure agreement at the time of writing. September 2017

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FEATURE: AUDIO OVER IP This involves Axia desks and other Telos products, including xNode IP interfaces and Pathfinder routing software, on the audio side connecting through AES67 to Evertz video routers and switchers and a Riedel intercom system. The network is the basis of a large campus with two control rooms and a multipurpose media centre, among other facilities. Dyster comments that the idea behind this is to create a distributed IP network. “People are looking at installations that are made up of any devices that are able to connect to any other device,” he explains. “In this way they can build large infrastructures with existing base band systems but replace crate-based card style routers.” Dante is being used for both fixed installations and broadcast. During last year’s US presidential elections BBC Radio sent live reports back to the UK using the technology but it does appear to be lending itself more readily to situations combining PA sound and recording or in-house TV. A recent example is the Fellowship Alliance Chapel in New Jersey, USA. This now features a multichannel audio system with routing, distribution and management features based on a Dante network incorporating Dante Via, which is designed to emulate low-cost computer-to-computer networks. Earlier this year Audinate announced the Dante Domain Manager server-based software for enhanced management of networking. Joshua Rush, vice president of marketing at Audinate, explains the concept was to create an audio system that looked and behaved more like “a traditional IT network”. To achieve this, Domain Manager includes features for authentication, domain creation and reporting of changes. “This means you can set up admins, different types of users and give them access to specific devices and not other devices,” Rush explains. “Now you can set up networks as big or as small as you want and cross subnets. Broadcast facilities tend to be pretty large, with different studios and LANs. But if you want to pass audio across those networks you can do it because they’re contained within anything plugged into the main switch. It gives the flexibility of having the device groupings however you want them, for a room, a building or over a campus.” That last word - campus - is being used increasingly when networking is discussed today. RAVENNA - in conjunction with Lawo mixing consoles and, in several instances, its IP video matrices - has been part of a number of large installations in the last year. Among these is the new International TV Centre for Chinese broadcaster ZRTG (Zhejiang Radio and TV Group). This includes six TV studios, which are connected to audio control rooms over AoIP. Mixing desks are linked to DALLIS stage boxes in the studios using RAVENNA, with audio distributed by Nova routers. The whole process is controlled by VSM management software. While there is no definite number of how many AoIP networks have been built so far - certainly there appears to be anecdotal evidence of only approximately ten percent of new installations 22

September 2017

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CONTROL ROOM

STUDIO FLOOR

ON AIR ON AIR Axia Fusion Console

TA Mixed xNode

Axia xSelector Audio Monitor

Audio Player TA xSwitch Effect Processor Telos VSet6 SIP Handset

Axia PowerStation Integrated Console Engine TA Mic xNode

Radio Mic RX

Video Servers

FIELD AND REMOTE LOCATIONS

TA SDI xNodes TA xSwitch

To/From Intercom TA Analog xNode

Presenter IFB TX

RACKS ROOM

Linear Acoustic AERO.soft

Telos VX Prime Call-In System SIP GATEWAY DEVICE

Wired Telephone

PC/Laptop

Mobile Phone

Tablet

Analog Audio Signal SDI Video Signal GPI Connection Ethernet Connection

An AoIP network. featuring AES67 - the last year has seen not just more practical implementation of the technology but a greater awareness and understanding of it and what it can do.

Industry awareness AES67 has been the focus of industry seminars organised this year by Roland Hemming involving Genelec and ALC NetworX, which oversees development of RAVENNA. As with LiveWire+AES67, RAVENNA is now being promoted as fully interoperable with “AES67 built in”. Genelec’s 8430A IP SAM studio monitor has featured in demonstrations involving not just its integrated RAVENNA capability but also the ability to connect to Dante units through AES67. While best known for its music studio, broadcast control room and post house monitors, Genelec does not see its AoIP offering as exclusively in those areas. The company is involved in live venue installations of its IP loudspeakers, with the intention of bringing more high fidelity to the club market. The AES itself has continued to promote interoperability and AoIP connectivity through its Plug Fests. After successful events in the US and on mainland Europe involving many different manufacturers, Plug Fest came to the UK earlier this year. Held at BBC Broadcasting House in London, the event featured tests of equipment from AudioTechnica US, Digigram, Prism Sound, Neumann, Shure,

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Sonifex and Thum+Mahr. Bruce Olson, chair of the AES standards committee and founder of technical systems consultancy Olson Sound Design, attended the Plug Fest, which he feels shows the growth of AES67. “It’s not early days for it any more,” he says. “We’re seeing a steady take-up and organisations like the BBC have been showing some future developments using the technology.” Another significant development is the introduction of ANEMAN (Audio Network Manager), produced by RAVENNA and Merging Technologies. This is designed to provide fast, efficient configuration of networks and monitor network movement. This is now included on Pyramix systems as the standard discovery and management device. “I think everybody knows that all AoIP schemes work and we have done enough Plug Fests to know AES67 is very useful as an interchange format,” comments Chris Hollebone, sales and marketing manager with Merging Technologies. “However, the bar has been raised now that we are looking at serious over-IP systems as featured in the IP Showcases that have been at NAB and will be at IBC. There is still an issue of management to be solved, but ANEMAN could be part of that solution in the future.” AES67 has also moved AoIP beyond sound-only installations or self-contained systems by being included in the SMPTE 2110 standard for video - and general media - transport over IP. Patrick Warrington, technical director


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FEATURE: AUDIO OVER IP

RAVENNA partnered with Merging to co-host the launch of the Merging/ Digigram-developed Audio Network Manager software tool at Jigsaw24. at Calrec Audio, sees the almost wholesale integration of AES67 into this scheme - where it is known as ST2110-30 as giving the interoperability standard “a further fillip”. Calrec currently offers an AoIP Gateway including AES67 and supports industry groups including the MNA (Media Networking Alliance) and AIMS (Alliance for IP Media Solutions), both of which advocate AES67 and its ST2110-30 counterpart. As for the continuing development of AES67, Warrington says, “We expect future revisions of the standard to refine issues around the practical implementation of AES67 and, equally crucially, to offer guidance on conformance. Experience shows that interoperability is enhanced when suppliers are able to measure their implementations against a set of performance criteria.” The real hope for digital/IT-based technologies in broadcast and live sound has been greater - and easier - integration of all systems and devices, including audio, video and data. AES67 has laid some foundations for this, which will be built on if ST2110 and the discovery and connection management protocol NMOS (Networked Open Specifications) are widely adopted. An area of audio and general production that has readily accepted IP and other new media techniques is communications. All the main intercom manufacturers now produce systems with some form of AoIP capability and continue to expand capabilities. RTS’ Omneo uses Dante for audio transport controlled by OCA (Open Control Architecture). It is also compatible with the AVB (Audio Video Bridge) open IP format. Riedel Communications continues to develop its MediorNet system, which is designed to 24

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route and distribute programme feeds as well as intercom signals. This is now able to communicate on a broader AoIP basis through the adoption of RAVENNA/AES67.

Elsewhere in the market Clear-Com states that it is able to work with a variety of AoIP networks. Its Intercom over IP range is based on the LQ series, which is intended to form part of a larger IP network through LANs, WANs or internet connectivity. It is also tailoring its approach for specific sectors with products such as the Agent-IC virtual IP intercom app. Simon Browne, vice president of product management at Clear-Com, says Agent-IC has potential for live events in expanding conventional two-wire party line intercoms, with wider wireless connectivity. “Recording studios could benefit from streaming bi-directional audio over the internet at 20kHz bandwidth using LQ or just linking up high quality voice bandwidth intercom between production centres,” he adds. Something like that would probably be best suited to recording, TV or post studios within a large broadcast centre or on a media campus. The recording world in general, while recognising the need for sharing material and moving equipment such as processors and effects between different suites, is still considering its options. Studio producer and front-of-house mixer Matteo Cifelli, who works with Tom Jones and Il Divo among many others, says he has not had happy experiences with Dante. Instead he relies on custom rigs inc orporating DiGiGrid units with their own protocol. Live sound and recording console manufacturer

www.audiomediainternational.com

Zhejiang Radio and TV Group’s RAVENNA AoIP network. DiGiCo uses the SoundGrid network to connect to either DiGiGrid recording systems or SoundGrid plugins. All of which is based on what Austin Freshwater, general manager of DiGiCo, describes as solid connections to either PCs, Macs or SG servers. But this does not mean the company is ignoring AoIP. “With Dante there are two implementations,” Freshwater says. “The first is an eight- channel I/O card used in the standard SD-Rack running at 96k for connection to third party equipment. This is ideal to get signals on and off the network to be managed by the console. The second is a 32-channel I/O at 96k, DMI card, which is used for larger connectivity to the network for RF mic connection or larger channel count networking. We don’t tend to use this for recording due to the channel limitation on our larger systems.” DiGiCo also has a group project looking at AES67. The first result of this is now available, which Freshwater hopes will be expanded into DMI cards in the near future. Another recording-oriented company, Focusrite, launched the Red 8Pre last year with Dante network capability. It has also added AES67 support to its RedNet product range, with further capability for snapshot recall from MIDI programme change messages. AoIP may not be fully established in the three branches of pro audio just yet but it is something to be considered in broadcast, live sound and recording for the future. www.digico.biz www.uk.focusrite.com www.genelec.com www.lawo.com www.clearcom.com


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STUDIO PROFILE

www.audiomediainternational.com

CLASSICAL CONDITIONING

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Adam Savage discovers Alpheton New Maltings, a new orchestral recording facility in rural Suffolk that has positioned itself as a cosy alternative to the usual inner city options in the UK’s south east.

estination studios have always been a popular option in the music production world for artists wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and sample the creative benefits that often come from recording in an idyllic location, but that hasn’t always been a possibility in orchestral circles, particularly in the UK. But this could now be set to change with the arrival of Alpheton New Maltings, a brand new purpose-built venue based just an hour and a half outside London that has now opened its doors. Set in rolling Suffolk countryside, within the grounds of an historic Grade 2 listed Old Rectory, the building was constructed to look like a traditional maltings, but inside it’s very much “state-of-the-art,” according to its owner, musician Robert King. The “warm, live” acoustic is the result of King’s appointment of renowned acoustician Bob Essert – whose previous projects include Sage Gateshead, KKL Lucerne, Koerner Hall Toronto and Singapore Esplanade – to work on the build, while the internal specification was carried out by Sound Space Vision. Unwanted external noise is a nuisance whatever area of audio you work in, but it’s an even greater hindrance in classical recording, where takes often incorporate long periods of silence and it’s not uncommon for a passing car, plane or hedge trimmer to appear on the recording when listening back to what would otherwise have been a perfect ‘phrase’. But Alpheton New Maltings claims to not have this problem, thanks to its multi-layered walls and roof, as well as triple-glazed windows that provide high levels of soundproofing. “Having a noise ruin your best take sends musicians

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crazy – just when everything is going brilliantly, a lawnmower starts up outside the church, or a motorbike half a mile away suddenly appears in the mastertape,” King says. “Even in the most rural church or hall which you are sure will be silent, suddenly you find it isn’t quiet at all. I must have lost weeks across my 30 years recording to external noises.” King was involved from the very beginning and with each stage of the planning, spending hours with the architect and the acoustician. In fact, it was his priority to appoint the latter before the former, which is a rarity for any construction project. “I have always been really interested in acoustics, having worked in hundreds of buildings, and this project has been fascinating, getting to grips with the tiniest details of roof construction, or how to design an acoustic labyrinth that will let air in, but not noise,” he explains. “Sound ingress is like water – it will always find the weakest point”.

An Instant Classic Because he’s tried out so many venues, he’s been able to piece together ideas about what he did and didn’t like from each one. And there was one that stood out quite clearly from all the others. “This is a small space so one of the things I said to Bob is that I’d like it to sound like Wigmore Hall but empty, which is a very different sound to Wigmore Hall full. That was one of my target sounds to get close to. You can never copy a sound but you can at least get a good direction,” comments King. Another key requirement for orchestral recording is ample space, and there’s plenty of it in the 18m x 10m live room, with a ceiling that rises to 10m and is

supported by 22 acoustic panels suspended in the roof area that give controllability to the acoustics. “Part of the brief from the very beginning was to have a significant degree of adaptability,” notes King. “If you open the acoustic curtains completely you get an almost church sound, whereas if you close them fully you can dampen it considerably. We hope people don’t need to add artificial reverb because the building does it for them.” Classical recording engineer David Hinitt was one of the first to try out the new space, and identified its flexibility as one of the main attractions: “If you’re recording solo piano versus a string quartet then you’ll want to take a different approach and the nice thing about Robert’s design is that you can change the sound of the hall with the curtains. You can have them all open and bare walls, which would give you a live acoustic, or close all the curtains and soften it and have a more intimate environment. That largely depends on the ensemble you’ve got in there and as an engineer that’s invaluable.” And fortunately for Hinitt, this versatility proved invaluable for one of his latest projects, which involved a variety of musicians: “We were doing one CD but we had six different ensembles. We really gave it a test in different situations with different musicians,” he recalls. “You have the space to move them around the concert hall [where you get a different sound]. The oak wood floor also helps with strings. You get a lovely rich sound.” On the other side of the glass, of course, is the control room, and what you’d find in there would depend on when you visit. This is because in the classical world, the tendency is for engineers to bring all their own equipment, including console/control surface, so on a day with no session you’d notice a lack


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STUDIO PROFILE of in-house kit compared to your typical contemporary music production facility, which as we know would likely already have most things that the engineer would need already provided. With that in mind then, what would Hinitt pick out when asked to list a couple of his gear choices for this particular project to go alongside his trusty Tascam US2400? “The mic preamps that I like to use are Neve 4081’s. I’m a fan of the vintage Decca sound – those lovely warm, open, baked, rich recordings – and one of their traits was to use Neve mixing desks and you can get the equivalent now with [these] so I go down that route,” he says. “I bought a pair of Neumann KM 133’s, which use the same capsules as the M50’s, and again the M50 was a Decca microphone. I’m a real fan of that so I want the same kind of kit that a Decca engineer would’ve used. It was the first time I used those. I use mainly Neumann microphones – there were also some TLM 170’s out there.”

Package deals With three decades of industry experience now under his belt, King now has an extensive list of contacts from across the world of orchestral recording. After making almost 100 records for Hyperion, in 2012 he

Pictured (l-r) David Hinitt and Robert King decided to go out on his own and founded the VIVAT label. This means that as well as hiring out the Maltings to established recording companies who can bring their own production teams, he can also offer a variety of packages to clients, comprising award-winning engineers, producers and editors. “The aim is that an artist or ensemble can show up, concentrate wholly on their music, and we will create the finished master for them – we can even arrange artwork and design, sleeve notes and translations, as well as CD pressing. For artists who want to produce

a top-class demo, or to produce physical CDs for sale at their concerts, we can produce the whole package, bringing the same quality of production as we do for our VIVAT label.” And if all of this still isn’t enough? Well there is one more thing, says King: “The Hebridean sheep outside are very inquisitive, and will usually stop for a conversation, especially if you have a bucket of beet nuts.” www.newmaltings.com

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September 2017

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LIVE PROFILE

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THREE TIMES A CHARM

Not often do we get to experience a next-generation sound system in all its glory before an official release, let alone at two of Europe’s biggest festivals. Here Colby Ramsey speaks to Pioneer Pro Audio about how it blew Lovebox and Tomorrowland crowds away with its new three-way system this summer.

Pioneer Pro Audio’s XY-3 at Tomorrowland

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// hen Pioneer Pro Audio’s new three-way PA system was picked up by Tomorrowland at Prolight + Sound earlier this year, a great opportunity for both parties began to materialise. Not only was this an opportunity to feature a brandnew sound reinforcement system at one of Europe’s biggest EDM festivals, it was a unique chance to ‘beta test’ the product in a live environment before its official release in mid-September. Consequently, Pioneer Pro Audio’s Alex Barrand and his engineering team have been working closely with rental companies for festivals this summer such as Tomorrowland, Lovebox, Hospitality in the Park, the FabricLive arena, and Garage Nation; covering as many different musical genres as possible to really push the new three-way system and see what its maximum capabilities are, as well as building presets and limiter configurations for when it first launches. “Lovebox was a really good example of a pure techno party environment, so we worked closely with the technicians at Fabric to get that particular sought-after sound,” says Barrand, who helped manage the setup at both Lovebox and Tomorrowland festivals in consecutive weeks at the end of July. “Because it’s in the city centre, there’s a lot of sound restrictions in terms of what you can and can’t do.”

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Fundamentally, Lovebox was a larger setup than the one used at Tomorrowland, utilising eight of the new XY three-ways and five XY-218S horn subs. At this stage, Barrand and his team were able to measure the three-ways with acoustic simulation software to get the right splay angles for each box, “and so we really learnt a lot about the directivity of the sound at Lovebox,” says Barrand. “We were about 80 metres from the stage and sonically you could hear everything perfectly, which was really impressive.” For Tomorrowland it was more of a smaller, boutique-style indoor setup for around 250-300 people so just two XY three-ways and two XY-218S were used per side of the stage. As a result, Barrand was able to lock in some extremely useful presets for each different sub-genre of EDM to accentuate the system’s configuration versatility. “Being just two wide, we were still able to measure the cancelletion and splay angle points correctly like at Lovebox,” Barrand explains. “We were really lucky to have the opportunity to fine-tune the system to such an extent at Tomorrowland. It was really interesting for me to learn a lot more about the system and what better way to do it than in a live environment.”

TESTING ONE, TWO, THREE The new system used at Tomorrowland and Lovebox is a three-way bi-amp version of the company’s XY Series

PA that contains a 12-inch custom made B&C driver, the same that is used in the L-Acoustics K1 but with some extra modifications that make each driver 1500w RMS. “We knew the three-way was a product that we really had to nail in terms of spec and sound quality, and deliver something beyond even our own expectations,” says Barrand. “The power in terms of the low-end punch definition is definitely there. It was a hard, long process but it’s exciting now to see it growing in different festivals and seeing different people’s reactions. “We were looking for the flattest response we could possibly get naturally rather than adding any dynamic procession to the box to make it sound good,” Barrand adds. “There’s a lot more definition in that system if you array it three-wide or three-deep, and a lot more factors to consider in terms of how it all comes together within a larger system rather than it just being about the drivers.” For amplification, Pioneer Pro Audio’s XY series has been using Powersoft right from the beginning, as Barrand reveals: “I had a great relationship with them from my Ministry days and I brought them naturally on board when I joined Pioneer. I was a strong believer in working closely with a reliable amplifier brand during the product’s development so we can match the sound and make sure the characteristics are true all the way through.” Pioneer Pro Audio plans to bundle together some packages encompassing its new XY-series and


LIVE PROFILE

A larger XY-3 configuration at Lovebox Powersoft’s K series amplifiers after sculpting them to particular specficiations, “but first we need to establish how we’re going to do that for each market with different distributors that use different brands,” states Barrand. Even with regards to the logistics of the system, the rental companies who worked with Barrand and his team at Tomorrowland commented on how easy it was to transport. Ergonomics remain a key factor because the system needs to be set up and taken down as quickly and efficiently as

possible, so it was very well executed on that side as well. “Everyone I spoke to was amazed by the system, but for me I guess there’s something to learn at all times and of course sound will always be very subjective,” comments Barrand. “These two festivals were very unique in their own right and the level of production that goes into both of them is incredible”. Pioneer’s prerogative going forward then is likely to be the full introduction of its XY-3, enabling them to

get a system off the ground in some of the larger club environments: “We’re definitely going to be focusing on the touring market in the next five years with some larger-format systems and there’s some really exciting stuff in the pipeline,” Barrand reveals. “So I’d like to say the XY-3 is the start of something big.” www.pioneerproaudio.com

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September 2017

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TECH FOCUS

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AUDIO OVER IP

A GROWING NETWORK

A number of AES67-enabled products have entered the marketplace since the standard was first introduced in September 2013. Audio Media International asked a few manufacturers how their offerings have reinforced the standard and how they expect it to develop in the future.

Yamaha QL Series Consoles The QL1 and QL5 are multi-purpose digital mixing consoles that are mid-range and mid-priced, with Dante networking already built in. The QL5 has a 64 in/out Dante module while the QL1 has a 32 in/out Dante module. According to Yamaha, the main reason it went down the AES67 route was for its broadcast customers who want to link the QL consoles with larger console network formats. In installation, the company is also seeing some customers linking equipment with QSC systems. Yamaha tells us that it is also planning to bring AES67 compatibility to a number of its other Dante-enabled products, while also seeking maximum compatibility with other manufacturers’ equipment.

Key Features In this regard, Dante is still its network of choice, due to the number of manufacturers licensing it now, but Yamaha says that it sees AES67 as a bridge between the Dante “world” and other networks such as RAVENNA and Q-LAN.

„ 64 in/out Dante module (QL5) „ 32 in/out Dante module (QL1) „ Dan Dugan automixer „ Rupert Neve Designs plugins

www.yamahaproaudio.com

Focusrite RedNet A16R

Calrec 1U AoIP

Calrec provides an AES67/Ravenna interface as well as a modular I/O Dante card that has AES67 compatibility. Each element of Calrec’s protocol range redundantly connects to Hydra2 and appears like any other I/O resource on the Hydra2 network. Hydra2’s integral suite „ Modular I/O Dante card with AES67 compatibility of management tools provides additional benefits to 256 channels of audio on a single connection allow remote configuration patching, port protection, „ „ Second expansion card provides 512 channels alias files, virtual patchbays, and access rights. The AES67/Ravenna interface is a 1U box that can transport 256 channels of audio on a single connection. A second expansion card provides the unit with 512 channels of audio — one of the highest-bandwidth connections available for either protocol. The box is versatile in that it can even accommodate one of each card, allowing simultaneous operation of multiple formats. Calrec says that it expects future revisions of the standard to refine issues around the practical implementation of AES67, and, equally crucially, to offer guidance on conformance. Beyond AES67 itself, the company expects to see the widespread adoption of ST2110, and the closely-related discovery and connection management protocol, NMOS, which it says will further enhance interoperability, allowing third party devices not only to interoperate at a transport level, but to be able to be discovered and managed by generalised control applications.

Focusrite says that it’s seen the adoption of AES3 and AES10 (MADI) in “a large way” over the last two decades, so it’s expecting that trend to continue with audio-over-IP. An additional important characteristic of AES67 „ 16x16 analogue converter for Dante and according to the company is that it does not AES67 audio-over-IP systems „ Housed in a compact 1U chassis attempt to reinvent the wheel. It is closely „ Provides dynamic range of 119dB linked to many of the existing audio-over-IP „ AES67 support for RedNet A16R will be implementations and is based on existing IT released via firmware update in September 2017 standards such as PTP (IEEE 1588) and RTP (RFC 3550) – already used extensively, and supported universally in off-the-shelf network equipment such as switches. Focusrite’s RedNet products use Audinate’s Dante audio-over-IP implementation and Audinate has implemented AES67 transport and synchronisation as an option within many of its platforms. Dante Controller will discover SAP-advertised AES67 streams from nonDante devices, and in turn will advertise Dante AES67 streams also using SAP. RedNet A16R offers premium A-D and D-A for AES67 workflows, allowing seamless integration with any analogue equipment meaning that many legacy analogue-only devices, such as consoles and outboard equipment, can live within an IP workflow.

www.calrec.com

www.uk.focusrite.com

Key Features

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Key Features


TECH FOCUS

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AUDIO OVER IP

QSC Q-SYS

Q-SYS is a software-based platform built around an open IT-friendly ecosystem, making it highly extendible. This allows QSC to add native AES67 audio distribution capabilities directly onto its built-in network ports without the need for additional hardware. QSC Q-SYS Core processors run AES67 and Q-LAN on the same network interface ports, simultaneously providing users a complete media distribution system for sending AV&C capabilities across a network.

QSC became one of the founding members of the X-192 task group that was responsible for developing the AES67 standard. The company believes that as AV and IT continue to converge, there will be an increased need to put realtime media on the corporate IT network rather than deploy AV-specific, separate networks. In order to help this transition, QSC maintains that it is incredibly important to use modern, well vetted, “proven IT technology in an IT-friendly fashion”.

Key Features „ A media (audio, video and control) infrastructure platform „ Offers native AES67 integration

www.qsc.com

Allen & Heath M-Dante card

One of a range of digital audio networking options available for the dLive and GLD mixing systems to enable integration with other systems, digital mic splitting, multi-track recording and system expansion. The M-Dante card offers the ability to create and route AES67 streams in Dante Controller, and addresses requests from Allen & Heath’s customer base to integrate with other AES67 equipment, for example QSC Q-Lan systems.

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Allen & Heath tells AMI that it recognised the importance of AES67 for interoperability purposes and that by supporting AES67, it has made its mixing systems particularly attractive to an increasing number of consultants, integrators and broadcasters who are looking at AES67 to futureproof their projects or installations. www.allen-heath.com

Key Features „ 64 channels of bidirectional audio at 48kHz „ Control Network RJ45 port „ Primary and Secondary EtherCon ports


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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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ZOOM F4

Alistair McGhee shares his thoughts on the new Zoom F4 multitrack field recorder.

MULTITRACK RECORDER

oom set a tiger among the pro location pigeons when they released the F8 recorder. Eight mic inputs, iso recording of all eight inputs and a mix (up to 96Khz) and time code, and all this location goodness for less than a grand ex vat. Following in the F8’s footsteps Zoom have released a control surface and the F4, baby brother to the F8, making up a family system of some power and sophistication. Today we’re looking at the F4 as Zoom offer professional level features at an even more affordable price. So what is the deal with the Zoom F4?

Z Overview

Well, as you might expect, out of the box it is a four input recorder and mixer with iso recording of the four inputs and a recording of the stereo mix. The F4 is expandable to six inputs via the Zoom ten pin interface on the back, this socket accepts standard Zoom mic capsules and if you want more flexibility you could add the EXH-6 interface which accepts external mic or line sources. Going down this route turns the F4 into a six channel recorder/mixer and the Zoom can record all channels and a stereo mix up to 192Khz - if high sample rates are your bag. The mic amps on the F4 are the same as those on the F8 and offer a bad ass 75dB of gain - ribbons welcome here. Get in touch if you are doing location sound with ribbon mics! Phantom is available at 48 or 24V, no T powering option - this is the 21st century after all.

In USE Ergonomically the F4 is very straight forward. Four combi inputs on the left - you’ll need to use the quarter inch jack sockets if you want to feed line level in. The front panel sports a mono screen, four encoders for level, headphone volume, transport controls and additional controls for the menu system, PFL/Solo and track select along with four special function buttons. The right hand side has two full size output XLRs - hooray-ish, output is at -10 and 34

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don’t stick phantom up them! There’s a sub output on minijack, also on 3.5mm jack a tape return, a quarter inch headphone jack and mini USB. The tape return input, which can handle -10 or +4, is selectable to inputs five and six, when used this way hitting the input 5/6 custom button the front panel sends a prefade listen of the tape return to the headphones. Very convenient - but at the cost of recording tracks five and six. The main encoders are switchable between ‘Trim’ which governs the track record level and ‘Fader’ which is the contribution of the input to the mix. So set your trim to give you lots of headroom

Key Features „ Lightweight design „ Six inputs „ Recording and playback at resolutions up to 24-bit/192 kHz „ Low noise floor (-127 dBu EIN) „ High gain (up to 75 dB) RRP: £575 www.zoom-uk.com


TECHNOLOGY REVIEW just in case, then switch to Fader and mix. One wrinkle here is that the encoders are not motorised so when you switch from Trim to Fader (or vice versa) you need to sweep the encoder across the the previous position to pick up control where you left off, The F4 offers dual SD card slots and these will accept cards up to 512Gb - check the Zoom website for confirmed compatible cards. The Zoom offers several different options when it comes to recording - you can record all your inputs and your mix on one card. You can record in duplicate with a full back up running on your second card. Or you can distribute the iso recordings and the mix across the cards. Isos (inputs one to six) on one card and the mix on card two. As an extra safety feature the recorder closes the record files

at regular intervals and so should disaster strike you will not lose all the file. I tried pulling the card out of the recorder while in the middle of a take and I lost about ten seconds of audio, the rest of the file was completely intact and usable. Another feature of the F4 will appeal to the paranoid, and who isn’t paranoid on set today? This is dual recording, a feature available on channels one and two. In this mode you have a second track simultaneously recording say input one, and this second channel has independent settings for a range of options. The most obvious being trim gain. A simple workflow would be set channels one and two to dual recording, set the main encoders to trim gain and now channel three is a duplicate of channel one

onboard backup battery - so if you switch off for lunch then you will need to resync when you power your F4 back up. This is inconvenient but in my book not a deal breaker and is helped by the flexibility of Zoom’s powering options. The F4 can be powered by eight AA batteries - which is a lot when you consider the diminutive dimensions of the Zoom - and in true pro fashion Zoom have fitted a standard Hirose four pin power connector. And yes, if you have a battery pack in place you can change the supply to the Hirose without interrupting the operation of the machine. So if your worried about re-syncing your timecode, don’t just stay powered over lunch. I can’t imagine any pro users relying solely on internal batteries. I did notice with my rather aged lead acid that the low battery warning took me by surprise with shutdown before I could reach for the internal battery pack. To my shame I hadn’t kept my eye on the battery indicator, the moral is avoid embarrassment - keep a set of AAs on board.

Conclusion

and four a duplicate of channel two, with gain and other input options fully variable. So you cheekily set trim gain on channel one to just below clipping to max out your signal to noise but then give yourself a safety back up on channel three by turning the gain down on that track by say 10dB. This feature is a bacon saver, particularly as the F4 offers input limiting on each track after the analogue to digital conversion, which means it is possible to overload the analogue input before you get to the limiters. Timecode is a key feature for location recorders and the F4 offers timecode in and out on BNC connectors, not as neat as a Lemo but robust and widely supported. The Zoom supports seven different formats with extensive support for drop and non

drop standards. You can jam the Zoom from external code, run it off the internal real time clock and if you fancy you can set your F4 to auto record when it sees the external timecode running. And if you have a trigger happy camera operator the timecode menu allows you to set a record delay, which means the recorder will ignore very short runs of timecode with the duration configurable up to eight seconds. The timecode functionality and accuracy of the Zoom devices are key to their pro credentials, I know loads of people live without timecode and sync in software or manually but I would take the view that timecode is probably a professional Rubicon that needs to be crossed to establish pro credibility. The F4 manages that with one caveat - the recorder doesn’t have an

The F4 is a recorder first, a mixer second and a usb interface third. Plug the Zoom into your PC (Windows 7 and up) or your Mac and you’ll have all the F4 shine right there on your desktop. But I don’t suppose many people will buy the F4 because they need a soundcard. No, the first customers for the F4 will be location sounders keen to get a foot on the professional ladder for the price of a meal for four in a motorway service station. If you’re thinking, ‘Is this for me?’ I suggest you start with and stick by the answer to the question - how many record tracks do I need? Remember the F4 is a recorder with mixer functionality, it is not a dedicated mixer per se. If you need four tracks then an F4 is far and away the most affordable option for you. Six tracks is tricky - you are moving into F8 territory, but if you ‘might’ need six but mostly need four, in some ways the F4 is a better bet. You don’t get the bluetooth iOS option and you don’t get the colour screen. But you do get full sized XLRs for outputs, you get finger friendlier encoders and extra buttons on the front panel - oh yes and a big chunk of cash to spend on ice cream. I think the F4 is a winner.

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

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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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FLARES PRO EARPHONES

Simon Allen tries out these new in-ear-monitor earphones from Flare Audio.

tarting a professional review for a pro audio product with how it looks might seem a little, well, unprofessional. However, you’ve got to see this thing. Flare call it “The Cube”, and albeit just the box that contains the new Flares Pro, it’s stunning. Crossing that line from a pro audio product to a personal and fashionable accessory for the audiophile, The Cube isn’t just any old packaging. From here-on-in, you get a sense that this is a product from a well established manufacturer, with years of love and care used to try and achieve the ultimate earphone design yet. Inside “The Cube” are three layers with the FLARES PRO on top and all the accessories below. The previous R2 model was quite a simple product with only a few foam comply tips to chose from. Now though, there are 3 sizes, of 3 different styles of earpiece tips. They’ve also managed to develop their own Bluetooth device for pairing with any mobile device for audio playback and making calls. Portability isn’t an issue either as they’ve also included a very attractive carry case for you to take the FLARES PRO on the road.

S

Everyday Pleasure Considering the more domestic side of these new professional earphones, Flare have really worked hard to make this a product that you want to use on and off the stage. Not only are they a pleasure to work with, but you want to use these on the bus, in the car and at home. I love the cable that these new earphones come with, which is both stylish and tough. Part-way down the cable is where the 3.5mm jack cable can be changed for the Bluetooth DAC. The connections are made via a pair of MMCX connectors that are both reassuring and easy to use. Even with the pitfalls of Bluetooth technology in mind, the Bluetooth DAC that comes with the FLARES PRO clearly wasn’t a quick-fi x solution following Apple’s shocking hardware upgrade. The device is light and comfortable to wear, easy to use and delivers a great sound if just listening to music. The clear advantage of this unit in our modern world of course, is the ability to take a call at the same time. The earphones are very ergonomic for domestic use. Each various option of foam tip are very comfortable once you’ve found your size, and the FLARES PRO themselves are light-weight. I found the foam style tips the most comfortable over a 36

September 2017

prolonged period of time, but the ‘everyday’ silicone tips easier to wear in a hurry, if taking calls for example.

For Live Use The considerations for earphones as IEM’s can be quite different to those of a domestic-based listener. There are several qualities that these FLARES PRO have however, which immediately present themselves as very serious IEM contenders. Firstly, there’s the simple fact that these hold a similar design to Flare’s highly successful ISOLATE earplugs. The isolation you get with these, even in a non-moulded housing is fantastic. I wore these on the side of a noisy stage at a festival and didn’t struggle to hear what I needed to through the PRO’s at all. There’s also the high-quality build of these earphones, which now have a much more durable cable. Replacement of any broken parts is simple too, with parts, including replacement foam tips, available from Flare directly. The big question for many however, will be the availability of a moulded option. I’ve been informed that Flare are looking at a way they can offer a moulded service, but of course several of the mould companies will already insert the FLARE earpiece into their products. Although I’m not a performing musician, I would add that with the correct fitting and type of foam tip, these do feel very secure to wear as they are. Finally, we must discuss the sonics of these new PRO’s for professional use. I’ve been following Flare from the early days of their PA development and I thoroughly appreciate their ‘waveform integrity’ concept. Flare explain that traditional speaker enclosure design introduces a form of distortion by the very nature of putting pressure on a driver’s movement. Flare’s speaker designs have all been focused on removing this resistance, with the idea a driver can truly represent an audio signal. In these earphones however, they’ve taken this one step further. Here they are attempting to balance the pressure across both sides of the driver, considering the restriction placed on the driver moving in towards your head. The result is quite revealing. Somehow it’s very quick to appreciate the

Key Features „ 5.5mm beryllium drivers „ Made from aerospace Grade 5 Titanium „ Compatible with all Bluetooth devices „ Gold plated 3.5mm jack connector RRP: £349 www.flareaudio.com colour of a mix, but not in an unpleasant fashion. Having become accustomed to the R2’s, it surprised me how gratifying most music sources sound through these earphones.

Conclusion They’re an absolute pleasure to wear, which I believe performers and musicians will really enjoy. Sound professionals will be quite fussy about which foam tips suit them and how they sit in their ears, but get them right and they’re like detective’s goggles.

The Reviewer Simon Allen A freelance, internationally recognised engineer/ producer and pro audio professional with over 15 years of experience. Working mostly in music, his reputation as a mix engineer continues to reach new heights.


TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

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SONNOX OXFORD DYNAMIC EQ

Stephen Bennett finds out what makes the company’s latest equaliser plug-in different from the rest.

PLUGIN

Key Features „ 5 bands of the Oxford Type-3 EQ curve „ Ability to overlap all bands fluidly „ Flexible per-band internal/external sidechain controls „ Clear and informative GUI for complex workflows „ Flexible upwards/downwards compression and expansion RRP: £200 plus sales tax www.sonnox.com

ne of the beautiful things about Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) is the ability they offer to automate almost everything. There’s no longer a need to use bluntforce de-essers and put up with that weird ‘toothless’ effect they almost always create. Instead, volume and EQ automation can be used to drop out plosives and sibilance to millisecond accuracy. Equalisation is one of the first and most useful tools available to the audio engineer and has developed from simple valve and capacitor filled hardware to a myriad of sophisticated digital plug-ins. So why on earth does the world need a new EQ?

O OVERVIEW

Sonnox have developed an enviable reputation for high-quality plug-ins based on the Sony Oxford consoles (hence the company’s name) so any new processor from them is worth a look and the Oxford Dynamic EQ under review adds some interesting twists to the familiar equaliser paradigm. The new plug-in is a 5-band parametric based on Sonnox’s excellent Oxford R3 EQ, itself designed so that the filter’s Q reduces in width with gain, creating a softer equalisation as the level is increased. Sonnox claims that this allows the EQ to capture some of the ‘mojo’ of the hardware on which it is based. The plug-in uses Sonnox’s standard user interface, so if you’ve had experience of the company’s other programs you’ll be up and running in no time - the software is authorised via an iLok 2 or 3. The key to the plug-in’s raison d’être is in its name – the EQ can be applied dynamically to different sections of the audio. Like multi-band compressors, the Oxford Dynamic EQ splits the audio into frequency 38

September 2017

bands that can then be processed individually. Dynamically adjusting the EQ rather than the level, as a compressor does, has some advantages – a parametric EQ can have a more precise frequency adjustment than a compressor and the latter can suffer from static phase shifts at the crossover point. Sonnox claims that the Oxford Dynamic EQ can avoid these issues by utilising the aforementioned variable Q, with the added advantage that frequency bands can be overlapped.

IN USE On instancing the plug-in you’re presented with a typical EQ graphical display with gain on the Y axis and frequency on the X. You can set an ‘offset’ and ‘target’ gain for each selected frequency which then creates a constrained gain zone for the EQ to work over. So, for example, if your audio benefits from a boost at 5kHz, but the level occasionally strays into the hot zone, Sonnox’s EQ will let you cool it down. You can solo each band for precise setting of the dynamic EQ - perfect for spotting sibilance - and the EQ can process in stereo, left, right, side or mid only. As you’d expect, the plug-in can work in low and high shelf EQ modes or as a bell curve parametric. EQ parameters can be set by dragging on-screen or more precisely by numerical entry and the display can be zoomed in gain steps of 12 and 20dB. A useful addition is a FFT frequency display that shows the output of the processed signal, which is extremely useful when trying to track down specific annoying frequency glitches or you want to see the overall frequency curve when mixing. The EQ can be controlled by sidechain signals whose filter frequency can be the same as, or independent of, the EQ bands via low, high or band pass filters. Sidechain signals can be

solo’d and fed with stereo or independent left, right, mid and side signals. Fine control over how the EQ reacts to the audio are set in the Dynamic controls section itself. Under Detect, the user can select Peak, which reacts to all incoming audio or Onsets, which is specifically designed to cope with sudden changes in level – which is perfect for enhancement or remedial work on percussive sounds or sibilance. The Trigger section allows the user to determine when the EQ kicks in and can be set to react to audio that is either above or below a defined threshold. When set to Above the EQ is effectively providing downwards compression and upwards expansion and when set to Below, upwards compression and downwards expansion (or gating) of the audio. The Threshold control defines when the processing becomes active and is a 10dB soft-knee type that is dependent on the trigger settings, while the Dynamics control is equivalent to a compressor’s ratio parameter and defines how reactive the band’s gain is and how strongly the EQ responds dynamically to the incoming audio. The Attack setting defines the speed that the EQ settings approaches the target gain, while Release controls how the EQ band recovers from the offset gain. What this all amounts to is that problem frequencies can be addressed only when they appear above (or below) a set threshold. With a traditional static EQ, the entire channel will be processed even when it’s only a few milliseconds that need correcting – the Oxford Dynamic EQ lets you get all forensic with your audio while the reactive visual display makes it easy to see which frequencies are being affected in real-time. You could, of course, do something similar by laboriously (and tediously) automating multiple static EQs and compressors but, as they say, “time is money”.

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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14 – 19 SEPTEMBER 2017, RAI, AMSTERDAM

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BLUE MICROPHONES ESSENTIAL SERIES MICROPHONES

Strother Bullins puts Blue’s Spark SL and Bluebird SL cardioid condensers to the test

Key Features „ Cardioid condensers „ Frequency response 20 Hz - 20 kHz „ Bluebird SL features a maximum SPL of 138 dB „ Spark SL features a maximum SPL of 136 dB „ Both come with a shock mount and stained wooden storage case „ Two year warranty RRP: £299 (Bluebird SL) and £180 (Spark SL) www.bluemic.com t NAMM 2017, Blue Microphones announced three newly revamped microphone models as part of their Essential Series, a collection comprised of their best selling condensers featuring updated aesthetics, more sonic flavour, and some key added features. Two of the three - the Bluebird SL and Spark SL - are reviewed here. The larger Bluebird SL and smaller Spark SL are remarkably priced cardioid condensers available for £299 and £180, respectively. Both provide a -20 dB pad and a 100 Hz high-pass filter (12 dB per octave), which increases the flexibility of both models significantly. Both provide unique tonalities - more on that later - plus the lovely design and packaging elements we’ve come to expect from Blue as well as neat perks such as the same yet sufficient, well-designed shock mount and stained wooden storage case per offering. Though it has been years now since Blue first built their striking and groundbreaking designs in the Eastern European republic of Latvia, the company has retained its spirit of innovation and dedication to value and quality control in today’s increasingly competitive microphone marketplace chock-full of largely internationally sourced parts and build-outs. Blue assures its Essential Series customers of thorough

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quality control with a three-part inspection card detailing frequency response, noise specification, and fit/finish standards met - in every package. Essential Series microphones come with a two-year warranty. The Bluebird SL features a 138 dB maximum SPL, allowing it to handle a wide range of acoustic and electric sound sources, as well as a bumpy/sculpted 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response. The latter is relatively flat from down low until between 2 kHz and 10 kHz, where response jumps around nearly up to 10 dB to eventually taper off near 20 kHz; as such, the Bluebird is a somewhat-forward and seemingly detailed condenser that emphasizes vocal range transients, conveys openness and clarity, and is ultimately usable on almost any featured sound source within multitrack recording. In use, melody instruments - whether vocals, guitars, woodwinds or acoustic strings - seemed to benefit by the Bluebird SL’s upper-mid emphasis, perhaps sounding a bit “pre-EQ’ed,” though tasteful and never harsh. Meanwhile, the Spark SL also features a sculpted 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response and slightly lower maximum SPL of 136 dB. Its frequency response “ridgeline” closely resembles the Bluebird, but provides a different overall tonality; to my ears, it is perhaps a bit more “frequency flat” overall, yet it is still flavourful while providing a full midrange sound. As

it’s a bit smaller than the Bluebird (not to mention less expensive), I felt comfortable placing it in close-miked applications on drum kit; with the -20 dB pad, it was a winner. On large, tonally complex cymbals such as medium-weight rides, the Spark SL was a clear winner. Perfectly suited for vocal or solo instrument and track-stacking multi-track applications, the bottle-style Bluebird SL and Spark SL are just about as affordable as they can be while offering careful build quality, features and guaranteed performance by Blue, a company that has now been serving (and challenging the norms of) the recording industry for many years. At £299, the Bluebird SL is an all-around, very useful workhorse large diaphragm condenser; at £199, the Spark SL is a bargain - one you won’t be so afraid to place in compromising (high SPL or relatively dangerous) positions.

The Reviewer Strother Bullins is a technology writer and editor for the professional audio industry as well as an active musician and recording enthusiast. He’s the Technology Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group.


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INTERVIEW

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YEAR OF THE RAT

Leading audio system designer and live sound engineer Dave Rat recently signed a deal with Sommer Cable, but what else has been keeping the former Chili Peppers engineer busy? Colby Ramsey finds out from the man himself. Personally the biggest challenge is staying healthy and connected to projects back home while on the road. You spend a lot of time waiting for buses and planes and being moved from place to place. Early on I would fully immerse in the travel and live in the moment and current adventure. As time went on and much of the travel became familiar, my priorities shifted to longer term and bigger picture stuff and the joys of travel became the challenge.

What have you been up to since wrapping up engineering duties with the Chilis? I never wanted to be a sound engineer but enjoyed the travel, people and experiences, and never wanted to be a businessman either for that matter. From my perspective, I am a designer, builder and fixer of things and learned to mix sound just to test some of the designs. I just want to make fun or useful sound toys that people want or can use. So what I have been doing is working on restructuring Rat Sound so I can focus more on designing products, doing seminars and other creative angles as well as coming up with some new fun stuff. What was your favourite gig that you did with those guys, and why? For me the earlier tours were awesome. More raw, more relaxed and less focused on the business side of things. Probably the most exciting tour was Lollapalooza 92. Back when most bands and crews stayed in the same hotels, the top brass of the festival worked in the pit assisting with people coming over the barricade and there was a wonderful combination of passion and chaos fuelling the adventure. Same thing with the early Big Day Out festival tours in Australia – so much positive energy and fun. 42

September 2017

How has your touring setup evolved over the years? Interesting to think about that. Early on the big challenge was to get enough gear on the road and figure out setups where everyone could hear decent sound. Coverage and intelligibility was a huge day-to-day challenge. As the band increased in popularity, budgets expanded and there were huge technological advances in sound systems and prediction software, the focus shifted to perfecting sound quality. As far as the control side and mic’ing, I really kept it very simple over the years using a minimal amount of mics. Console wise I only used three board types over the entire time I mixed them. I used a Ramsa 840 early on, a Ramsa X1 later and finally a Midas H3000 for the remainder. What have been the main challenges you’ve had to face when on tour and how have they changed? In the early 90’s, just getting everything to work everyday and knowing what is and is not working at any point during the show was a challenge. Back then having high quality protection on sound systems was almost non-existent and you had to use the “be careful” method of not blowing everything up. Now we can monitor everything and system protection is well refined with most manufacturers.

Could you tell us about some of the gear you’ve been designing recently? My current projects are getting the SuperSub 30 fully refined and deployed, developing the SuperSub 21, testing the viability of the Ultimate Drum Thumper and expanding the SoundTools product line. We are beginning to deploy the SuperSub 30 on some festival gigs, and they were on a stage at FYF festival at the end of July. Refining limiter settings as well as cardioid and end fire presets is nearly done. The SuperSub 21 is coming along and V2 is testing out very well. The SuperSub series is unique in that it’s an unusually rigid enclosure with long ports and near point source output allowing to reach never low frequencies at high levels for its physical size. The Ultimate Drum Thumper is currently just a test run to see if there is interest in a drum thumper that is so powerful it will blur your vision. It is quite an experience to sit on. Most actively though I am working on SoundTools. We have over a dozen products in the pipeline and our biggest challenge is we can’t build them fast enough. We don’t advertise beyond social media and some interviews for fear the demand will push us into back orders again. That said, we don’t want to expand too quickly as we don’t want to lose the close connection to the products and quality. So we’ll follow the slow steady growth plan. Do you have anything to add about your recent deal with Sommer Cable? The SuperCAT Lite and SuperCAT Sound cables have been very popular and we are adding a black version of the SCL soon. We are excited to be working with Sommer and have them terminate specified lengths of SCS and SCL cables that can ship directly from Sommer to our European and UK dealers and distributors. The whole SoundTools project is really fun. It reminds me of the early days of starting Rat Sound and the excitement of being a part of its organic growth is awesome. www.ratsound.com


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AMI September 2017 Digital Edition