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April 2017

www.psneurope.com

No substitute!

CODA AiRAY is perfect prescription for Placebo on tour in Europe P44 P24

P52

P58

IT’S FULL OF STARS

STOP THE PRESSES!

THE GRANDJEAN TOUR

THE HUGE UNIVERSE OF GALAXY STUDIOS CONTINUES TO EXPAND

VOID ACOUSTICS TAKE US TO LONDON’S NEWEST MEGACLUB, PRINTWORKS

AWARD-WINNING FRENCH ENGINEER’S ACCENT ON STUDIO SKILLS

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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

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08/02/2017 12:26:34 11:13:26 10/10/2016


PSNEUROPE Editor Dave Robinson drobinson@nbmedia.com

Group Commercial Manager, Music Ryan O’Donnell rodonnell@nbmedia.com

Deputy Editor Sarah Sharples ssharples@nbmedia.com

Senior Account Manager Rian Zoll-Khan rzoll-khan@nbmedia.com

Content Director James McKeown jmckeown@nbmedia.com

Sales Executive Alex Goddard agoddard@nbmedia.com

Head of Design Jat Garcha jgarcha@nbmedia.com

Production Executive Jason Dowie jdowie@nbmedia.com

P3

Welcome

APRIL 2017

DAVE ROBINSON Editor Contributors: Kevin Hilton, Marc Maes, Phil Ward, David Davies, Mike Clark Laurent Dupuy, Noel Larson PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe to PSNEurope please go to www.psneurope.com/subscribe-tonewsletters-digital-editions should you have any questions please email subs@psneurope.com Please note that this is a controlled circulation title and subscription criteria will be strictly adhered to.

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is published 12 times a year by NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU www.psneurope.com

@PSNEurope NewBay Media Europe Ltd is a member of the Periodical Publishers Association 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 PSNEurope are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems. Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA ISSN number 0269-4735 (print) 2052-238X (digital) Accreditations to memberships of industry associations and media partnerships

When you have finished reading this magazine, please recycle it

Cover image: Placebo c/o Louise Stickland @loosplat

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martphones. You evil, selfish little tablets of addicitve convenience. We have so much to hate and blame you for, particularly when it comes to enjoying live music. Oh, I know gentle reader, you can see my curmudgeonly complaint coming from a mile away: ‘The tide of smartphones held aloft during a gig ruins the experience for everyone’ etc etc. Well, it’s true, simple as. So, imagine my utter pleasure and surprise while watching Anderson Rabin and Wakeman live (effectively = a version of prog supergroup Yes) at the sumptuous Brighton Dome in mid-March. I kid you not, for practically the entire gig, there was not a single phone waving in the air, trying to cadge a pic or record a sneaky video snippet. The audience, I’ll admit, was mainly made up of Yes fans of a certain age: the sort of majority demographic that will sneer at 1985’s Hold On, from the (dazzling) Trevor Horn-produced 90125 album, and dismiss it as a ‘new song’ – despite it being 32 years old. (Jesus, now I’m starting to feel old...) This crowd knew how to enjoy the band, without the need to vertically extend an iPhone upwards in the process. What a contrast to so many other gigs I’ve been too! However, amusingly, there was a trade-off: there was no jumping up and down and screaming after many of the tracks: just a lot of polite applause. Apart from when it came to ’70s classics such as Awaken or Long Distance Runaround. Then the sexagenarian crowd were practically rioting in the aisles. (Well, I say that...) I’m writing about Yes here (and there’ll be a full report on the A&H desk that Rick the Caped Crusader employed to submix his frantic fingerwork soon) because in next month’s editorial I fully expect to be reflecting on the Prolight + Sound show. Dear me, with two weeks to go, I’ve been hearing tales of big brands – Meyer Sound, EV, Sennheiser, Genelec – declining to exhibit. Have Messe really got it so wrong? We’ll certainly let you know. There’s a Frankfurt preview starting on p8, anyway Meanwhile, check out Phil Ward’s piece on 3D audio, beginning on p30. This new frontier is being pushed partly because of the demands of smartphone users. That’s right, you beautiful slab of technology, we have so much to love you for. n

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P4 APRIL 2017

Contents

In this issue... P30 3D AUDIO FROM SOUND REINFORCEMENT TO THEATRE AND ONLINE TV

P22 TONY VISCONTI ON HIS TIME WITH DAVID BOWIE

P50 SAFETY FIRST PAT TESTING – NEVER EASIER OR MORE COLOURFUL

Studio 22 24 28

P28 ANALOGUETUBE FAIRCHILD COMPRESSOR RE-CREATIONS

Business 6 7 8 12 14 16

Formidable Audio and Gig for Life / Spitfire selected for Future Fifty network Live events charity Backup relaunched / AED partners with L-Acoustics Prolight + Sound 2017 preview Vocal channel: Laurent Dupuy Movers and shakers: industry appointments PSNTraining: what’s on

Broadcast 34 36

18 30 38

New products FEATURE: 3D AUDIO FEATURE: BROADCAST CONSOLES

Audio options for UHD TV services and products NAB 2017 preview

Live 44 46 48 50

Placebo plays big with CODA AiRAY Orbital Sound discuss the new Nexo GEO M10 line array HARMAN’s Connected PA Ecosystem PAT testing made easy

Installation 52

Technology

Tony Visconti on David Bowie and Holy Holy Galaxy Sound’s foray into immersive sound Analoguetube on building Fairchild originals

L-Acoustics and Void Acoustics in London’s newest nightclub

Back pages 57 58

Hither and dither Q&A: Manon Grandjean

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Easily configure your mic and get the perfect sound on every performance.

Di1 Direct Box

Retain your favourite instrument settings for instant recall whenever you connect.

PRX800W Loudspeakers

Instant speaker recognition and preferred settings at every gig – even save presets per venue.

Experience Connected PA at Pro Light & Sound Hall 4, Stand F41 Find out more about the HARMAN Connected PA at connected-pa.com

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Business

P6 APRIL 2017

UNITED KINGDOM

Formidable’s Flashlight cabs for Gig For Life The new music festival will raise money for Cancer Research UK, writes Sarah Sharples

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K-based Formidable Audio has been chosen as audio supplier for the pilot event of Gig For Life, a music festival in aid of Cancer Research UK, which will be held on 27 May at the Hop Farm site in Kent. Formidable Audio’s stock of refurbished and upgraded Flashlight cabinets will deliver the likes of 10cc, Maverick Sabre and Toploader to a 10,000 capacity audience. Formidable Audio’s Joe Turner, who is also the festival’s production manager, says: “It’s such an honour to be a part of something as exciting as Gig For Life, which as well as supporting a truly worthwhile cause, has such exciting prospects for the future. The team at Amber Creative (the event organisers), are committed to turning Gig For Life into a national event, which not only opens the possibility of touring the production across the country, but also has the potential to generate massive donations to Cancer Research UK.” Gig For Life will be the company’s largest deployment of modernised Flashlight at a public event. “This is a great opportunity for us to showcase

the Flashlight in all its glory,” says Turner. “We’ll be putting in a 4 x 4 cluster each side, so this is going to be big. It’s probably the largest deployment of Flashlight anyone has seen or heard in many years. I’m excited to see what reactions we get from engineers, bands and audience alike.” To accompany the flown clusters, a total of 48

Maverick Sabre will perform at the festival

TSW721s will provide the low frequencies, whileTFL760H Floodlights will provide near field coverage. n www.gigforlife.co.uk www.cancerresearchuk.org www.formidableaudio.com www.ambercreative.co.uk

Joe Turner from Formidable Audio

UNITED KINGDOM

Spitfire blitzes Future Fifty network It’s a bombshell of an opportunity for the young company, writes Dave Robinson

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pitfire Audio, a developer of software tools for composers and musicians, has been selected for the ‘Future Fifty’ group which showcases and supports 50 of the UK’s “growth stage” companies. According to Spitfire, the 50 have been picked and assessed by a panel of some of the most successful “entrepreneurs and investors in UK tech”, who believe the businesses have “the potential to scale rapidly and build significant[ly]”. Paul Thomson, co-founder of Tileyard Studiosbased Spitfire, says: “I’m very excited that Spitfire will be part of the Future Fifty programme. To have developed our passion for composing and recording film scores into a reputable and profitable business is incredibly fulfilling. We join a community of companies who are all at a similar stage, where we can share the

challenges and opportunities that we are all facing. We look forward to learning new skills and accelerating our growth, contributing to the digital economy of the UK, and becoming the best company we can possibly be.” Future Fifty purports to be a network of “the UK’s fastest growing, and most disruptive digital tech companies” with links to business opportunities, private partnerships and the UK government. “Through Future Fifty,” states the organisation’s website, “companies get immediate access to a valuable peer network; expert-led classes and workshops designed to take their businesses to the next level; and a high level of visibility in joining the illustrious Future Fifty portfolio.” Future Fifty reports that, of the 77 companies that have been through the programme since 2014, there

Co-founders Christian Henson (left) and Paul Thomson, at AIR Studios, where Spitfire carries out a lot of its orchestral recording

have been five floatations on the LSE, 17 mergers and acquisitions, and over $3.8bn in funds raised. Naked Wines (bought by Majestic Wines) and Photobox (sold to a private equity company in 2015) are two of the high profile graduates of the group. n www.spitfireaudio.com

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P7 APRIL 2017

UNITED KINGDOM

Punk you better Backup! Charity supporting the live events industry gets a London relaunch. Dave Robinson jumped around

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espite a train strike reducing access to central London, the relaunch of live events charity Backup – formerly known as Behind the Scenes – went ahead at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden on the evening of Monday 13 March. Supporters, trustees, patrons and invited guests (including heads of rental houses and equipment manufacturing operations) gathered to hear about recent charitable acts the outfit has undertaken, and also to learn about events planned to raise further funds. The name might be familiar to those who attended last September’s Pro Sound Awards: Backup, literally then only a few days officially registered and verified, was the charity the Awards team decided to showcase and support during the evening. “Since then, thoughout the autumn, we’ve got the website together, the trustees that we want onboard, and the direction that we need as a British charity to

help the UK live events industry,” says trustee and spokesperson Lee Dennison. “Anyone who works in our industry [for five years or more] – predominantly freelancers – but if something happens to cause them to fall upon hard times, the charity is there to take a bit of pressure off them. So, we might cover their rent for a month, for instance.” Dennison – whose day job is serving as head of audio at rental house White Light – cites a recent example of a rigger from Crewe who had an accident and wasn’t able to work for six months. Backup assisted in paying his car insurance so that, when the technician had recovered, he was able to travel to find work once more. “What we don’t do is give money away to people,” insists Dennison. “We look to pay the insurance company or mortgage company. We have a grants committee of four trustees, we do due diligence on [all applicants] and we make the payments to the third party.”

(L-R) Sound designer Bobby Aitken, chairman John Simpson, and trustee Lee Dennison

Dennison highlighted the DiGiCo annual quiz night, which has raised funds for Backup/Behind the Scenes for several years. In 2016, 27 teams raised over £12,000. Further karting and ‘golf day’ competitions are scheduled in the next few months. n www.backuptech.uk

EUROPE

AED Rent enters L-Acoustics K1 network From March, AED Rent is serving the professional AV business with a vast inventory of L-Acoustics K1 systems, reports Marc Maes

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hen, in 2008, L-Acoustics launched the large format K1 line array range, the company identified some 50 companies worldwide as privileged partners. “Over the years, K1 has evolved to become the world standard in line array systems. Due to growing demand, it made sense for us to allow a trusted partner to cover the market’s needs,” says Han Dohmen, L-Acoustics sales manager Benelux and Northern Europe. Dohmen underlines that, rather than a change in the K1 exclusivity policy, the decision to include AED Rent in the K1 network was inspired by the fact that AED Rent’s modus operandi of only supplying to professional rental companies fits L-Acoustics’ business model. “We only sell K1 to certified production companies, but we made this exception for AED Rent as we felt it would allow them to better fulfil their role as supplier to the industry, especially our

existing K1 network.” Glenn Roggeman, CEO of AED Group is happy to consolidate his long-time working relationship with L-Acoustics with a substantial investment in K1, which follows last year’s investment in 300 KS28 subwoofers. “There are over 8,000 rental and production companies in Europe, and less than 60 K1 partners worldwide,” he says. “Today, L-Acoustics recognises the need to give access to K1 to a wider clientele, through a trusted rental partner.” Roggeman adds that AED Rent, together with L-Acoustics, established specific K1 rules, identical to those applied with the K1 owners worldwide. “First of all, the production company must meet certain standards and use a K1-engineer or certified K1-technician to handle the system – in addition we require a professional crew and a minimal use of 24 K1 heads and 24 subs, a full system,” he adds. With an impressive inventory of over 1,500

(Top, L-R): Piet Verstraete and Koen Conaerts, AED Rent Account manager/sound engineers (Front, L-R): Han Dohmen, L-Acoustics sales manager Benelux & Northern Europe, Steven Mansvelt, managing director AED Rent, Glenn Roggeman, CEO AED group

L-Acoustics K-series line arrays (Kiva, Kiva II, Kara, K2, K1 & V-DOSC), more than 1,000 subwoofers and over 1,000 wedges in its rental fleet, AED Rent continue a journey with L-Acoustics that started in 2001. www.aedrent.be www.l-acoustics.com

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P8 APRIL 2017

Show preview

GERMANY

Flying in for Frankfurt New black boxes, new partnerships and a new silent stage area will be features of this year’s show

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rolight + Sound kicks off from April 4-7 in Frankfurt. From product launches, to a special area to demonstrate the silent-stage concept, plus an exhibition called Faces Behind the Voices comprising 30 stories, portrait photos and unique voices – from James Bond and Bruce Wayne to SpongeBob – a lot is going on at the show. Audio-Technica, Box of Doom, Cymatic Audio, Fischer Amps, Hearsafe, InEar, Kemper, Klang Technologies and Vision Ears will be showing their products and technologies in the silent stage area. Show organisers are presenting the advantages and the technologies required for a silent stage, on a special set-up, on which a professional band will play several times a day throughout the fair. Initially, visitors only hear quiet music via the PA system. However, via listening terminals in front of the stage, they can then immerse themselves in the band’s world of sound. The idea behind the silent stage is to cut onstage noise levels to a minimum using, for example, amp simulations, isolation boxes, drum cages and electronic musical instruments. Equally, no monitoring loudspeakers are used and the musicians hear themselves and the other band members via an individually adjustable headphone mix. This means the sound from the PA system competes less with that emanating from the stage and there is less crosstalk between the individual signals that can be clearly separated in the mix, the organisers say. When correctly implemented, the quality of the sound reaching visitors from the PA system can approach that of a studio recording. Additionally, visitors interested in headphones will be able to test the various in-ear and on-ear products from the exhibitors taking part in the special area. They can also discover products and services revolving around miking, portable sound, concert sound, installed sound, production, radio and network and media technology. New products are also being launched from across the pro-audio industry. Adam Hall Group’s LD Systems, will unveil its near-production concept for a future-oriented sound product, which has been developed in collaboration with Porsche Design Studio. “This integrative design has never been seen before on the market and makes no compromises on sound quality, but is technically unique,” says Porsche Design Studio designer Jörg Tragatschnig.

Adam Hall Group say the company has created the world’s first mobile, battery-powered column-PA system

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P9 APRIL 2017

AUDAC’s new bass cabinet named NOBA

DPA’s microphone combines the best of cardioid and supercardioid directional characteristics

The MAUI 5 GO – the world’s first mobile, batterypowered column-PA system – will also be on display. With six hours of battery life from a single charge, the MAUI 5 GO guarantees total freedom and excellent sound quality, the company says. Gravity is also extending its range. Further innovations such as a revolutionary laptop stand or a highly flexible keyboard table, as well as products from the lifestyle sector, will hint at the brand’s future direction at the show. AUDAC will present their new state-of-the-art bass cabinet named NOBA. With its curved shape, 4mm thick aircraft graded aluminum and powerful 8” woofer of 300W, the NOBA is able to deliver an unheard low frequency response for its small woofer size, the company says. Stijn Vandebosch product manager at AUDAC explains: “When the idea for developing the NOBA arose over three years ago, we didn’t want to develop just another active bass cabinet to be hidden in the room’s darkest corner.” Crestron’s flexible table-top meeting room system, Mercury, will also be available for attendees to see. The sleek, all-in-one console transforms meeting rooms into highly effective collaboration spaces. The company is also set to display its new modular utility amplifiers, the AMP-1200 and AMP-2100. Danley Sound Labs will be looking for companies to distribute its products in several countries worldwide and the Danley J3-94 will make its first European appearance. The J3-94 delivers incredible SPLs with fidelity that is closer to reference monitors than to conventional PAs or line arrays, the company says. In additon, Danley will demo the SH-50, its flagship Synergy Horn loudspeaker, along with the TH-Mini15, which uses the company’s Tapped Horn subwoofer technology. DPA will be showing its d:facto vocal microphone range, which includes an extremely linear version for sound engineers. It combines the best of cardioid and supercardioid directional characteristics to ensure

minimum bleed, high SPL before feedback and a natural sound. As the range is entirely modular, capsules can be removed and replaced with any other d:facto capsule to suit different recording or performance requirements. The microphone can also be transformed from a wired version with a handle to a handheld wireless microphone capable of integration with wireless solutions such as Sennheiser, Shure, Sony, Wisycom, Lectrosonics and Line6. Fohhn Audio brings its next generation of Beam Steering systems and Class D amplifiers, along with audio solutions from its upcoming Media-Series, which will feature at ‘The World of Fohhn’ display. One of Fohhn’s show highlights is the digital update of its Linea Focus products. This latest generation of Beam Steering systems is now equipped as standard with digital AES/EBU- and Fohhn AIREA inputs. The systems are also optionally available with digital inputs for DANTE and Optocore, as well as analogue inputs. A further highlight is the new Media-Series: two-channel audio systems that can be seamlessly integrated into media stations for optimum speech intelligibility during web conferences and reproduction of high quality media sound, the company says. Funktion-One will launch three new loudspeakers, with the Evolution Touring Series growing with the addition of supplementary mid-high and mid-bass enclosures. The company launched the Series at the show two years ago. It then extended the series with the addition of the Evolution T tour-ready loudspeaker

The World of Fohhn display

in 2016 and will grow it further with the release of the Evolution 7TH and the Evolution 7TL-215 at this year’s show. Evolution 7TH is the mid-high section of the Evo 7T. It features 10” mid-range and a 1.4” compression driver for high frequencies. The Evo7TH is significantly smaller than the Evo 7T, making it extremely flexible and adaptable to a number of configurations. Evolution 7TL-215 features two Evo 7T horn-loaded 15” drivers. It provides mid-bass reinforcement for flown and ground-stacked Evo configurations. The addition of the Evo 7TL-215 and Evo 7TH to the standard Evo 7T means that Evo configurations are now eminently scalable, the company says. It will also add to its bass reflex range of speakers. The BR132, which utilises Powersoft’s M-Force 10kW linear transducer, is around 40 per cent smaller than the horn-loaded F132, which debuted at the show last year. The 32” bass reflex speaker delivers plush elastic bass and lots of frequency extension, and is particularly effective in applications requiring deep, strong subbass at close range. Before the show, JoeCo announced Starpoint Distribution as its new exclusive sales representative

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P10 APRIL 2017

Show preview

Starpoint staff (show) will be hosting JoeCo kit this year

L-Acoustics will unveil the P1, a networked digital audio processor The Evo 7T from Funktion-One

in Germany and Austria. The agreement is expected to significantly raise the company’s profile in both territories and JoeCo will take pride of place on the Starpoint booth, where the Blackbox multi-channel recorders and Bluebox Workstation Interface Recorders will feature. L-Acoustics will unveil details of the P1, a networked digital audio processor. Visitors will also have the chance to attend one of the daily presentations of the workflow and control tools for the company’s L-ISA immersive sound solutions, which offers a full multichannel sound design for live applications, as well as for playback in home, marine and public environments. L-ISA’s hyper-realistic localisation capabilities ensure that audio channels are aligned with visual cues, the company says. NEXT-proaudio will launch Acoustical Simulation Tool software – an acoustic simulation software for 2D modelling of either single subwoofer sources or sub-arrays. The tool is capable of predicting the acoustical performance of the subwoofers, helping the user to find the best solution for a given venue with a multiple sound sources. The simulator allows the user to simulate in 11 different ISO 266 spacing frequencies (20Hz~200Hz) with a single click. PMC is showing the latest additions to its Main Monitor range – the new MB3 and BB6 active Advanced Transmission Line loudspeakers that are specifically designed for critical music creation and production. Available as single or twin-cabinet (XBD) versions, these ultra-high-resolution monitors have digital and analogue inputs and are designed for freestanding or soffitmounted use in recording, mixing, mastering and outside broadcast applications. Both new models feature PMC’s hand-built, precision-matched 34mm soft-dome tweeter and 75mm fabric mid-range driver, coupled with the latest generation of the Radial low-frequency driver.

NEXT-proaudio is launching its Acoustical Simulation Tool software

Radial Engineering will present a range of new products from The Key-Largo, a device that combines a multi-channel keyboard mixer with the performance attributes of a real-time footswitch controller to the Radial LX-2 that allows you to easily send a single source to different destinations at once without noise, with the ability to attenuate the input signal and tame hot outputs from a mixing console or mic preamp. In partnership with Solid State Logic, Universal Audio will unveil the new SSL 4000 E Channel Strip Collection for UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces. UA’s team of engineers dug deep into the SSL 4000 E hardware, faithfully modelling the original preamp’s Jensen input

transformers and DBX “gold-can” VCA output section. There is also the new Moog Multimode Filter Collection for UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces, which features an intuitive, full-featured, four-lane 16-step sequencer, giving electronic and dance producers creative potential, from melodic and polyrhythmic pattern programing to random chaos and cacophony. The company will also be showcasing its latest software release, which features three new plug-ins – Softube’s OTO BISCUIT 8-bit Effects, plus Brainworx’s bx_ subsynth Subharmonic Synthesizer and Fuchs Overdrive Supreme 50 Amplifier plug-ins. n www.prolight-sound.com

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20/03/2017 16:46


35 Years 35 Years xy

d&b is 35. Donnie is d&b. Donnie Haulk is CEO of AE Global Media, a d&b partner in the US. They’ve been on board since 2001. “It’s great being a part of a brand and family that strives to always push forward to the next innovation. Quirky, brilliant and not afraid to take on a challenge, I can always count on the team to provide solutions that bring value to our customers.” In 35 years d&b has evolved from a small garage venture to a worldwide standard in professional sound systems. It’s people like Donnie who make this story possible, and just that bit different from the rest.

Welcome to System reality. 35yrs_33_(PSNE)_220x290_150317.indd 1

15/03/2017 16:34

35 Years 35 Years xy

d&b is 35. Donnie is d&b. Donnie Haulk is CEO of AE Global Media, a d&b partner in the US. They’ve been on board since 2001. “It’s great being a part of a brand and family that strives to always push forward to the next innovation. Quirky, brilliant and not afraid to take on a challenge, I can always count on the team to provide solutions that bring value to our customers.” In 35 years d&b has evolved from a small garage venture to a worldwide standard in professional sound systems. It’s people like Donnie who make this story possible, and just that bit different from the rest.

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P12 APRIL 2017

Vocal channel

Buying new gear? READ THIS FIRST!

F LAURENT DUPUY

is a double Grammy Award-winning engineer based in London

orgive the ‘clickbait’ approach, but this is important! Whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment purchase or something you’ve been saving up for, new gear often brings with it great hopes of revolutionising the quality of your future productions. However, this new machine is going to occupy a place in your personal audio set-up, and therefore the quality and coherence of the whole ensemble will affect it. And it’s how the different elements fit together that will determine the success of the investment. For recording, a top-class microphone with a bottom-of-the-range preamp will never be able to show its true colours, and vice versa – the preamp won’t shine without the help of a decent mic. And this also goes for everything from the studio booth to the converters.

When mixing, we face the same issues. If you only have cheap converters to split the multitracks using a desk that isn’t well maintained, even if you buy outstanding compressors, you will still be limited. Any future purchase needs then to be part of a global vision, whether it’s an existing set-up or a first purchase. In both cases, you need to know your budget and whether it’s available immediately or in various phases and on what time scale. You also need to establish a clear aim. Is it mainly to record overdubbed tracks or to record a whole band? If you’re mixing, you’ll need to know how many tracks on average you want to mix per session and how many outboards or plug-ins you’re going to need. Next organise the order of priority. In my opinion, the three essential areas are the acoustics of the control room, the

monitoring system and conversions. The acoustics of the control room in symbiosis with the monitoring system will be your ears to control your entire production from start to finish. Another critical aspect is conversion. Working in a digital world, the signal is systematically converted at some point in the audio chain. This part needs special care. You can have the most amazing mic or preamp, but if you can’t hear their quality, or if they’re affected by poor conversion, it’s like crawling along in the slow lane in a Formula 1 car. This same analysis could also help someone who doesn’t have access to big mixing studios, who is asking the eternal question of in the box or out of the box for mixing. I don’t have a categorical answer to that one, but hopefully this can begin to answer a few key questions… n

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P14 APRIL 2017

Movers and shakers

New to RCF UK Ex- Wharfedale Pro and Adam Hall Group staffer joins the Italian brand

R

CF UK has recruited Chris Fearn as its new regional sales manager, responsible for the Midlands and South. Fearn has a long career in audio, dealing with HiFi, MI and pro products. After 12 years in the HiFi industry he joined CIE Group selling commercial audio products, before spending 13 years with Wharfedale Pro supplying retail products to the MI/DJ markets, as well as servicing the installation sector. More recently he spent two years with Adam Hall Group looking

Audiologic has appointed Diogo Scutti to the position of technical support engineer. He was hired in response to rising demand for in-house and on-site support and trained at Brazil’s Audio and Video institute. Scutti has worked on the front line of AV support from large fixed installations to events such as an Olympic opening ceremony and stadium gigs featuring artists like Paul McCartney. www.audiologic.uk

To support the introduction of new products and to continue Pan European growth, Bob Harrison joins Wharfedale Pro as international pro audio sales manager. He has previously worked for Beyerdynamic, EAW and Peavey and more recently has been active with PanEuropean distribution of several audio brands. He will directly support all UK Wharfedale Pro resellers and the European distribution network. www.wharfedalepro.com

after the whole of the UK and Ireland. Fearn says: “Throughout my career selling audio products there has always been a brand which seemed to excel in the markets that it has focused on. In the case of RCF products, these are designed and engineered in Italy by a great team of people, with an excellent pedigree. Joining RCF is a great opportunity for me, and I look forward to introducing their products to a broader market.”n www.rcf.it

Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW) has appointed Bernie Broderick as business development manger for live sound. Broderick is a veteran of live production with nearly 30 years of experience from sound company owner, pro-touring FOH, systems technician to 17 years as an educator for EAW. He was also one of the initial collaborators of the ADAPTive line of products. eaw.com

EAW has also appointed Jeremy Forsythe as the business development manager for the installed sound market. Forsythe joins EAW after spending the last five years as lead designer and project manager for an AV integration firm operated by Hollywood nightclub owner John Lyons, who was integral to the design and development of EAW’s Avalon club series loudspeakers. He will help system integrators. eaw.com

DEALER NETWORK Calrec Audio has named Broadcast Hungary as its newest distribution partner throughout Hungary. “Broadcast Hungary is the ideal partner to help us grow our market share in Hungary. In fact, they recently did an outstanding job helping us close our first-ever sale there, even before we finalised the distributor agreement,” says Mike Reddick, international sales manager for Calrec. “With almost 20 years of combined professional experience ... the Broadcast Hungary team provides the perfect blend of technical expertise, local market knowledge, and local support.” Based in Budapest, Broadcast Hungary represents a full array of solutions to broadcast, live production, and related organisations of all sizes. “At Broadcast Hungary, we strive to offer our customers the broadest possible portfolio of top-quality solutions,” says Zoltan Szele, head of audio department, Broadcast Hungary. “Our new partnership with Calrec Audio means we can now provide the state of the art in digital audio mixing desks, which is not only an advantage to our customers but opens the door to new business opportunities for our company.” calrec.com www.broadcasthungary.com

Håkan Sjöö. a 20-year pro audio veteran, takes on the role of Powersoft’s regional sales account manager, EMENA – including India, the Nordic countries and German speaking territories – with a special focus on rackmount amplification. Håkan brings industry knowledge from the extensive time spent in different roles with RenkusHeinz. He aims to open up new business segments in install. www.powersoft-audio.com

Peavey Commercial Audio has strengthened its European footprint with a new Italian distribution partnership with Audio Link Srl. The deal will see PCA’s full portfolio of audio solutions, including MediaMatrix, Crest Audio and Peavey Commercial Audio now available throughout Italy, Malta and San Marino. Audio Link managing director Stefano Cantadori, says: “In our company history, through our valued customers, we have been able to supply MediaMatrix and other Peavey Commercial Audio technologies, to some of the most prestigious cruise ships, sanctuaries, museums, theme parks, sport arenas, leisure centres, meeting rooms and offices ... We believe the role of a distributor is very simple: to be the shortest link between clients and the factory.” www.peaveycommercialaudio.com www.audiolink.it

TSL Products has appointed Stephen Brownsill to the role of audio product manager. His responsibilities include product definition and direction for the flagship audio monitoring range and utilising his experience to support the company’s ongoing growth strategy. He brings nearly 30 years of broadcast industry experience, starting out as a recording engineer, and was most recently at Solutions Architect. www.tslproducts.com

Stage Tec is strengthening its presence in Eastern Europe by making Dirigent Acoustics responsible for sales of its products in Serbia. “The Balkans offer good growth opportunities for manufacturers of professional audio equipment. We intend to take advantage of these opportunities together,” says Alexander Nemes, sales manager at Stage Tec. Dejawn Todorović, managing director of Dirigent Acoustics, has worked in the audio equipment, acoustics and soundproofing industry since 2000. For nine years, Todorović gained experience with the broadcaster RTS in Belgrade as head of systems engineering. He is also the founder and organiser of the bi-annual TAKTONS International Conference tradeshow. “With Stage Tec, we are gaining a partner that complements our product range perfectly. We look forward to promoting the Stage Tec mixing consoles and the NEXUS network here in Serbia,” Todorović concludes. www.stagetec.com www.dirigent-acoustics.com

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PROFESSIONAL

ShowMatch™ DeltaQ™ loudspeakers provide better coverage for outstanding vocal clarity. ©2017 Bose Corporation.

With DeltaQ technology, new ShowMatch array loudspeakers more precisely

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direct sound to the audience in both installed and portable applications. Each array module offers field-changeable waveguides that can vary coverage and even create asymmetrical patterns. The result is unmatched sound quality and vocal clarity for every seat in the house. Learn more at SHOWMATCH.BOSE.COM

NEXT-GENERATION ARRAY TECHNOLOGY

17/01/2017 10:26:18


P16 APRIL 2017

Britannia Row boosts live sound technology training BY SARAH SHARPLES

April 12

HiQnet Audio Architect Letchworth Garden, UK www.soundtech.co.uk

May 17

Sound Technology Soundcraft VI Series Letchworth Garden, UK www.soundtech.co.uk

May 25

Prism Sound Mic to Monitor Dublin, Ireland www.prismsound.com

Ongoing

iZotope: pro-audio essentials Online pae.izotope.com

Britannia Row Productions Training is running its core 12 week Live Sound Technology Course (LSTC) from April 3 to June 30. The 2017 course will primarily be delivered from South Thames College in Wandsworth, with some sessions being held at Britannia Row’s main headquarters in Twickenham and some on site at Britannia Row shows. The tutors will be Britannia Row staff and freelance engineers and technicians. Britannia Row Productions Training’s M.D, Mike Lowe says: “Unfortunately we were unable to run the 12 week full-time Live Sound Technology Course in 2016 due to lack of appropriate accommodation. We have come to an arrangement with South Thames College, our partners for our three year BSc Hons Degree Course in Live Sound Production, to predominately use their Wandsworth Campus to run LSTC this spring. The facilities at Wandsworth Campus include a dedicated training room for the course, lecture theatres, a

theatre, a sports hall and several recording studios and rehearsal spaces. The college runs several courses for musicians and vocalist so there is no shortage of live music for our LSTC students to work with.” Lowe adds that that over 80 students from the 2013 to 2015 LSTC courses are now earning their living as live sound professionals around the world with sound companies, venues and as freelancers. “Joe Standon, for example, who was on a 2014 Live Sound Technology Course is already the front of house sound engineer for both Limp Bizkit and Rag‘n’Bone Man and touring the world,” he says. The course is suited to those wanting start a career in live sound, for those already working who wish to enhance their knowledge and skills, or people working in areas, such as audio equipment manufacturing, who would benefit from a greater understanding of all aspects of live sound. n www.britanniarow.com

Yamaha console training to be hosted by SFL Group

BY SARAH SHARPLES

Reading-based SFL Group has new training sessions for Yamaha CL and QL series digital mixing consoles, aimed at sound engineers and potential console purchasers. Taking place on 28 June and 11 October, the sessions include comprehensive, hands-on tuition on designing, configuring and mixing with CL and QL-based audio systems. “Yamaha has arguably contributed more to our appreciation and expectations of the workflow of a modern digital mixing console than any other manufacturer, with the Centralogic interface forming one of the most established and widely recognised benchmarks of the industry,” says SFL project manager Pat Smith. “During these seminars we will simulate an event environment with live multi-track recordings. Once the basic console functionality has been explained, participants will be mixing live shows in the classroom.” Alongside the consoles themselves, participants

will be introduced to Yamaha’s R-series Dante I/O and network interfacing products, including how to design and configure large, multi-console networks, and a unique session on Dante networking. Use of Yamaha’s StageMix iPad control app and PC-based interfaces and editors is also covered. The sessions take place at SFL’s premises at Unit 5, Headley Park 10, Headley Road East, Woodley, Reading, RG5 4SW, with each session costing £30 per participant. n www.sflgroup.co.uk

Audinate expands online training program BY DUNCAN PROCTOR

Audinate has announced the immediate availability of Level 2 Dante Certification online, for those unable to attend events. This follows the success of the Level 1 online Dante Certification, launched last year with more than 5,000 people now certified. Level 1 covered basic principles of audio networking and Dante, while Level 2 was previously offered only at live events. This half-day training course was followed by a knowledge test and a hands-on skills test, which includes an interactive simulator for the hands-on skills test. The Level 2 Certification course is an intermediate to advanced level course that prepares AV personnel to design larger Dante network systems, and provides training on audio networking concepts such as clocking, unicast and multicast, latency, and redundancy. This course contains 10 instructional videos, a knowledge test and the simulated skills test. The Level 2 certificate is awarded to those who successfully complete all modules, and pass both tests. “We have been thrilled with the level of interest in the Dante Certification program since it was first introduced last year,” notes Joshua Rush, VP of marketing and product at Audinate. “We are excited to announce that the Level 2 certification course is now available online so that consultants, integrators and customers can now get certified whenever they want, and wherever they are located.” n www.audinate.com

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20/03/2017 16:47


8-CHANNEL AMPLIFIER PLATFORM

SIMPLIFY YOUR MISSION CRITICAL AUDIO SYSTEM

Redundant Dante™ and output routing GPO, remote on/off swithc and MAIN/AUX input select In-depth network and remote control Redundant power supply 8x8 Input / Output matrix Highest level DSP with multi-stage signal processing Suitable for mixed lo-Z and 70/100 V loads Up to 1500W per channel @ 4Ω

Designed and manufactured in Italy

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powersoft-audio.com

23/01/17 17:38 24/01/2017 11:02:23


P18 APRIL 2017

New products

KMR AUDIO

BAREFOOT SOUND FOOTPRINT01

What is it? Aimed at the working musician, the Barefoot FP01 takes some of the best features of the studio staple Barefoot MM27 and MM12, such as the Dual-Force Technology opposing subwoofer, 1” ring radiator and MEME (Multi-Emphasis Monitor Emulation) technology and repackages them in a smaller, more affordable format, allowing project or home based studios to use Barefoot speakers. Details: The active 3-way nearfield montior boasts a powerful 650W Class D amplification system with 500W dedicated to powering the two opposing 8” subs and 150W powering the midrange and high-frequency drivers. It is handmade in the US. And another thing… A 2-way DSP crossover is employed between the subs and mid/high drivers while another passive crossover is placed between the high and mid drivers. www.kmraudio.com

WAVES AUDIO

SENNHEISER

SYNTAX AUDIO

What is it? Any live or broadcast engineer is familiar with the challenging situation of having to mix multiple channels of speech mics. These Dugan plugins save users the tedious need to manually ride faders while trying to keep up with several people talking at once and are suited to broadcast news panel, radio and TV talk shows, houses of worship, motion picture dialogue recording and discussion panels.

What is it? A professional wireless microphone system, which fulfills the business need of rental companies, theatres, broadcasters and houses of worship for a flexible two-channel wireless solution that allows the use of existing accessory infrastructures, the company says.

What is it? The perfect choice for studio, live and installed applications, the company says. By utilising uncompressed, multi-channel digital media networking technology with near-zero latency and synchronisation, the A32 Dante is designed to eliminate the unsightly and often troubleprone mass of cables employed in large scale productions or AV installations.

DUGAN AUTOMIXER + DUGAN SPEECH

Details: A patented voice-activated process powers both Dugan plugins. The bundle includes two plugins for auto-mixing multiple mics in real time: the new Dugan Speech for integrated use inside the Waves eMotion LV1 live mixing console, and the Dugan Automixer for other major live sound consoles. And another thing… The plugins control the levels of multiple microphones automatically and in real time. www.waves.com

DIGITAL 6000

Details: The system addresses the challenges of the shrinking UHF spectrum: it eliminates intermodulation, enabling more channels to operate in less spectrum space. It is available in two different versions, a bodypack and a handheld transmitter, and a rack-mount 19” charging unit. And another thing… Up to eight receiver units can be daisy-chained without the need for an additional antenna splitter; the multi-channel system will work with a single pair of antennas. System latency is 3 milliseconds. www.sennheiser.com

FERROFISH A32 DANTE AD/DA CONVERTER

Details: It supports 64 channels of MADI I/O, 32 channels of ADAT optical I/O, and 32 channels of analogue I/O. Additionally, one ADAT optical connector can be used alternatively as S/PDIF. And another thing… With a wealth of I/O choices, the Ferrofish A32 Dante can also operate as a very capable audio format converter, while simultaneously functioning as an AD/DA converter. www.synthax.co.uk

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20/03/2017 16:48


THIS IS

NOT

STATE-OF-THE-ART WIRELESS COMMUNICATION SEE RIEDEL‘S NEXT STEP AT

www.riedel.net

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P20 APRIL 2017

New products

PLOYTEC + INTELLIGENT SOUND & MUSIC AROMA

What is it? Ploytec, audio specialists from southern Germany and intelligent sound & music, the Cologne based plug-in experts, have released the audio tool Aroma. It helps to put analogue character and charm into audio recordings, the companies say. Details: Four valve or tape like processing units, called Salt, Pepper, Sugar and Chili, add elegance to any audio material. Primarily designed for mastering, Aroma also shapes the character of vocal and instrument recordings. Individual flavor controls allow adjustment to a wide variety of beauty, warmth and attractiveness. Aroma’s additional Mid/Side processing option allows for fine tuning of the stereo base. And another thing… Aroma’s salt effect features an adjustable structure of even and odd order harmonics. Pepper focuses on odd order harmonics and offers a variety of musical colors. Sugar adds sweetness and fatness in the style of analogue tape. Chili is described to make recordings “hot as hell and delicious as heaven”, the company says. www.ploytec.com www.ismism.de

ADAM HALL GROUP

ONLINE MASTERING STUDIO

QUICKLINK

What is it? Robust and roadworthy multi-functional full-range speakers and subwoofers, which are available in active and passive versions.

What is it? EU ProMixEQ-10A is VST plug-in mixing equaliser designed by Marian Brezekhiel Brezovan, who has more than 10 years of experiences with DSP coding and plug-in development.

What is it? A modern day mobile encoder that incorporates all the functionality required to broadcast live video from any location, which has been given an update with Version 4.0.

Details: It is designed to produce precise musically sounding tones with minimum coloration, artifacts and harshness of sound and it ideal as main mixing equaliser for individual instruments and tracks. The equaliser uses latest available technologies (DSP codes) of EQ/Filter virtual circuits to provide clean, high resolution sound. It consists of low cut filter – 18-60Hz with bypass option and high frequency BP EQ: 15kHz-21kHz, Boost/Cut +- 15dB, wide Q 0.1 – 0.9, plus low frequency, low-mid and mid-high frequency. The EQ Bypass has an on/off and preset manager with 12 example presets.

Details: It has a improved, diversified antenna system, designed to improve signal strength, allowing greater available bandwidth. It also has a new bonding algorithm, which helps the backpack perform better on marginal 3G/4G networks, has reduced latency and is higher performing on 3G, 4G and LTE networks. A new HEVC library codec has been added to increase picture quality with enhanced packet loss concealment. As a result, more processing power is offloaded onto the GPU, resulting in reduced power usage.

STINGER G3

Details: The series consists of active and passive speaker cabinets in 8”, 10”, 12” and 15” formats, as well as two 15” and 18” subwoofers. During the development and optimisation of the horns, the Boundary Element Method (BEM) was used, and the distance between the tweeter drivers and woofers has been minimised to avoid partial dropouts caused by comb filter effects. With their four precisely tuned presets (full range, satellite, monitor, flat), the full range speakers can be optimised for the desired application at the touch of a button. And another thing… The abrasion and impact resistant polyurea plastic coating repels dirt and guarantees longevity, especially during mobile use. All active speakers are equipped with powerful class D amplifiers. www.adamhall.com

EU PROMIXEQ-10A

And another thing… The plug-in has been released as freeware and can be downloaded online. www.onlinemasteringstudio.eu

MIDI BACKPACK

And another thing… The new Store and Forward feature allows for offline encoding and transmission for later transfer when a network becomes available. www.quicklink.tv

www.psneurope.com/business 18-20 Products FIN.indd 2

20/03/2017 16:49


NETWORK. AUDIO. VIDEO. CONTROL.

Pushing the Envelope. Watch it on YouTube. tinyurl.com/lawo-pte

STARRING Lawo V__link4 Video-over-IP Stage Boxes Lawo V_pro8 8 Channel Video Processors Lawo VSM Control and Monitoring System Lawo mc2 56XT Audio Production Console Lawo mc2 36 Audio Production Console Lawo Nova73 Audio Router Lawo DALLIS Modular I/O Lawo LCU Commentary Solution

Official MotoGPâ„¢ Supplier Audio/Video-over-IP Infrastructure

Join us @ NAB, #N1424 www.lawo.com

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15/03/2017 14:22:53


P22 APRIL 2017

Studio

UNITED STATES

Tony Visconti: Blackstar and beyond With a fresh haul of MPG and Grammy Awards newly added to his mantelpiece, Tony Visconti remains at the very top of his game. David Davies spoke to the legendary producer/engineer about pushing creative boundaries, the evolution of studio technology and that extraordinary final album with long-term collaborator and friend David Bowie

I

am working too much but really, I cannot think of a better thing that one could be doing,” says Tony Visconti as he discusses a hugely distinguished career in music production that is now nearing its half-century mark and will soon yield a further round of releases from artists including singer/songwriter Kristeen Young and fashion designer turned singer Daphne Guinness. Suffice to say, there isn’t much opportunity for taking stock in Visconti’s day-to-day life, although the phenomenal run of acknowledgement that he has received during the last 12 months – including the International Producer of the Year and Outstanding Contribution to UK Music trophies at the recent Music Producers Guild Awards, and multiple awards as part of the team that worked on David Bowie’s final masterpiece, Blackstar – can’t help but prompt a little reflection on the long road travelled. “It is a great honour [to get a lifetime achievementstyle award] and it is wonderful to be recognised by your peers in this way,” says Visconti, “but I certainly don’t feel as if my career is over…”

“Blackstar was one of his very best…” Such a strong sense of continuation must surely be welcome after a 2016 that saw the death of arguably Visconti’s most important collaborator: David Bowie. From 1969’s eponymously-titled second studio album, through ‘70s landmarks such as The Man Who Sold the World and the somewhat erroneously-labelled Berlin Trilogy (Low, Heroes and Lodger), and on to the postmillennial reunion with albums including Heathen and The Next Day, Visconti produced or co-produced many of Bowie’s most influential and best-loved albums. The partnership continued right up until 2016’s Blackstar, which – as has been well-documented – was recorded during Bowie’s battle with cancer and released just three days before his passing. An extraordinarily inventive album recorded with a new band of primarily jazz-oriented players, Blackstar appeared to constitute a bold new chapter in Bowie’s creative story. But contrary to the perception that still lingers in some quarters, it was never regarded by its creator as the final chapter.

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P23 APRIL 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Visconti

“With the previous album, The Next Day [released in 2013], there was a sense of trepidation as David had had a ten-year lay-off and no one was quite sure [in the initial stages] whether it would actually be released or not,” recalls Visconti. “But with Blackstar he had a different attitude, and knew that he wanted to make a kick-ass album, for want of a better term!” Despite his illness, “he didn’t think he was going to die, and in fact he thought he had maybe found a new muse with this album. Throughout the sessions his energy was spectacular… and he did intend to make another album after Blackstar.” Visconti himself regards the LP as “one of David’s very best”, although it is to be expected that he finds it difficult to listen back to the album at this point in time. “More than a year has passed and I am still at some stage of grief,” he confirms. “Occasionally I get very choked up when speaking about him…” One of several important ways in which Visconti has been able to process his grief has been through touring with Holy Holy. Established specifically to perform Bowie’s early ’70s music, the band features Visconti on bass, alongside original Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey and Heaven 17 vocalist Glenn Gregory. As fate would have it, Holy Holy was booked to play a show in Toronto on the night after Bowie’s passing. “At the time I felt like going home and crying my eyes out, but I thought to myself that that was not the way to handle it and that we should play the show,” says Visconti. “I told the others that even if we do break down onstage, the fans will want us to continue and play. And after that realisation it started to become therapeutic.” The Holy Holy project is very much ongoing, and at the time of his interview with PSNEurope Visconti was looking forward to a short tour at the end of March, including two shows in the newly-anointed UK City of Culture, Hull – where Woodmansey formed the Spiders of Mars together with the late, great Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder all those years ago.

Visconti – who received a Honorary Doctorate and visiting professorate from the university last September – is full of praise for the new studio, which features a 300sqm octagonal live room and a myriad of vintage and rare recording equipment. Centre of operations, though, is an Audient ASP8024 Heritage Edition console, which Visconti describes as “absolutely amazing”. The producer’s homebase is New York, where he operates a studio in a creative complex called Human Worldwide. Primarily geared towards post-tracking work such as vocals, keyboards and mixing, the studio is “Pro Tools and Logic based with some great preamps and channel strips” from the likes of Universal Audio. Visconti works in the box, although he is currently mulling the possibility of acquiring an analogue console. For his tracking needs, Visconti travels far and wide, having recently logged time in cities including Los Angeles and London – but admits that the situation back in New York isn’t exactly ideal. The Magic Shop, where Bowie recorded much of his music in the final years of his life, closed its doors last year, and overall “there are unfortunately fewer spaces available.” There are studios that are doing well, notably Electric Lady, “which is really thriving, but you might have to wait three months for a booking.” Nonetheless, Visconti senses that “something is in the air” and even ventures the opinion that “studios are on the rise again”, pointing to a recent uplift in the number of smaller, project- or producer-led facilities in the UK and US.

“Studios are on the rise again…”

He’s got his own album to do…

Although archival projects for Bowie and other key former collaborators such as Marc Bolan (for whom he produced most of his ’70s classic recordings) are always likely to form part of Visconti’s workload, it is clear that his primary focus is on new recordings. As well as the aforementioned Guinness and Young, he has also been working with singer/songwriter Mary Epworth. In fact, she was the first artist to work at Visconti Studio, a recently opened facility located at Kingston University, with which he has a long association.

Despite having wholly or partly produced more than 100 albums, releases under Visconti’s own name – 1977’s Visconti’s Inventory and a fine 2007 memoir entitled The Autobiography: Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy aside – have been rather scarce. But he reveals that could soon be about to change with the possible release of a solo album. “My schedule has been crazy, so it’s taking a while,” he admits. “But I think I have become a better composer now, so if and when I do put out an album it will be the

PSNEurope’s entirely subjective list of five albums produced or co-produced by Tony Visconti that should be part of every discerning collection… 1. T.Rex - Electric Warrior (1971): A gleaming glam-rock masterpiece that arrived at the start of Marc Bolan’s phenomenal 1970s run.

Visconti in his studio in New York

2. David Bowie - Low (1977): The first of Bowie’s so-called ‘Berlin Trilogy’ combines spiky future-pop with gorgeously glacial instrumentals. 3. Thin Lizzy - Live and Dangerous (1977): Debate continues to rage over the extent to which it was ‘enhanced’ after the event, but Live & Dangerous remains a hard-rock set-text – and frontman Phil Lynott never sounded better. 4. Morrissey - Ringleader of the Tormentors (2006): Visconti helped Mozza to return to his best form on this unexpectedly euphoric collection. Just sample the truly widescreen Life Is a Pigsty if you’re in any doubt. 5. David Bowie - Blackstar (2016): As with all of his most enduring releases, Bowie’s final studio album found him both breaking new ground and – on Lazarus and I Can’t Give Everything Away – writing some of the most hauntingly beautiful music of his career. very best that I can do. There are both instrumentals and songs, and I think I could be ready by the end of this year…” When asked to describe the material stylistically, Visconti responds with a laugh, “Oh, it’s pop music; nothing very deep!” Those who have followed his career over the past five decades might beg to differ, as it has often seemed that he has done more than almost any other producer to enrich and extend the possibilities of pop – and long may he continue to do so. n www.tonyvisconti.com

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20/03/2017 16:49


P24 APRIL 2017

Studio

The AuroTorium dubbing and screening stage

BELGIUM

Welcome to Mollywood With immersive sound gaining importance, Galaxy Studio – the cradle of Auro-3D – is increasing its business in post-production and related fields, notes Marc Maes

D

espite the rapid evolution in audio formats, Galaxy Studios remains an impressive facility when it comes to music recording. The 1995-built Galaxy Hall, a 330sqm live recording room with renowned optimal acoustic qualities, continues to be a major asset, for assignments in film scoring, soundscape recording and other music projects. With an average of two big orchestral recording projects per month, the Galaxy Hall and the adjacent digital Neve 88D and analogue API Vision control rooms have also fully turned to Auro-3D – every recording is effected in the new standard. At press time, the Galaxy Symphonic Orchestra finalised the recording of Symbolica, the soundscape for the fantasy amusement park Efteling’s new £35million darkride attraction, opening up this summer. Bearing in mind the philosophy that Galaxy Studios offers the full package, from recording to postproduction, sound design, editing and mastering, image department for compositing, colour grading and authoring for DCP/Blu-ray or UHBD, the company has oriented its activities towards a one-stop facility for a wide range of projects. The latest addition at Galaxy Studios is the 350sqm AuroTorium dubbing and screening stage. A fullyfledged 144-seater cinema theatre with a 15m-wide reference screen and Barco 4K 32B projector, 62 active

Meyer Sound cinema system cabinets (nine Acheron 80 screen speakers, 44 HMS-10 surround speakers and nine X-800C subwoofers) in the AuroMax speaker layout deliver a truly immersive cinema sound experience. The theatre’s acoustic design was carried out in close collaboration with Concept-A, Galaxy Studios and Meyer Sound. The AuroTorium’s core element is a tandem of two systems, a AMS Neve DFC and an Avid console, says Alexander Vyverman, chief technical manager at Galaxy. He explains that the facility opted for the DFC because the desk was specifically designed for ‘sound for picture’, offering a specific workflow from 5.1 to any available immersive sound format. “Actually, our DFC desk, with its 32 faders, can control more than 1,000 channels,” he claims. “It was under the guidelines of our CEO (Wilfried Van Baelen, inventor of Auro-3D) that AMS Neve designed its first ever DFC console for Sound in 3D (Immersive Sound), installed at Galaxy studios in 2010. “We use a video satellite PC as ‘print master’ channelling the audio content of two Pro Tools HDX machines, via the DFC, back to the Pro Tools video satellite unit.” Engineers have the option of mixing either completely in Pro Tools using the DFC as router, speaker controller and subgroup manager, or to accomplish a full mix on the DFC console. “Using the DFC for summing all sounds

Wilfried Van Baelen, CEO of Galaxy Studios

not only results in a better overall sound quality but also gives much more flexibility in switching quickly and easilyy between all kind of cinema sound formats (5.1 up to AuroMax 50.1).” The 3D theatre’s extensive speaker configuration is managed by two MediaMatrix Nion DSP engines to control all of the speakers in the theatre: addressing audio content to arrays or specific speakers, calibration of the speaker system and calculation of delay options.

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P26 APRIL 2017

Studio

The digital signal is then sent to a rack of Forssell converters, and then on to each of the 62 powered Meyer Sound speakers. “Which brings up another new section, Galaxy Acoustics,” begins Van Baelen. “Acoustics are crucial to achieve optimal audio results. Over the years, Galaxy Studios have gathered a gigantic know-how in terms of acoustics and we want to pass on this expertise to our clients. Thierry Migeotte, who’s heading the department, won the golden CEDIA award 2014 for Best Home Cinema Theatre, installed in Dallas (USA).” Galaxy Acoustics aims to optimise the acoustics, eyeing theatres, entertainment rooms and high-end users. “We offer a wide range of acoustic treatment, from worldwide design and know-how to finding local support partners,” Van Baelen adds. He says non-stop innovation diversification and specialisation have played a key role in Galaxy success and development in the digital and immersive world. “The music industry has drastically changed – in the early days we were a pure music recording facility, with bands coming to stay many weeks to record their albums. That scenario has gone. Today, we have more clients who come to do a specific part of their production at Galaxy Studios like recording of drums, strings, or mixing…” he explains. By adding an extensive audio/image post-production and music for picture division, Galaxy has posted substantial growth. “We got a boost of about 30 per cent in our music department last year and this will be even more in 2017,” predicts Van Baelen. “We see this growth thanks to Auro-3D. It’s an established and future proof format, we have been doing all of our recordings in the Auro 3D standard since 2010.” In addition to their legendary API Vision and Neve 88D control rooms, Galaxy Studios opened a pre-dubbing stage with an identical configuration like the AuroTorium (Avid Icon and AMS-Neve DFC). “The control room serves as pre-mix facility and mixing for broadcast – we have put in place the same consoles as in the AuroTorium for maximal compatibility. The idea is to take the final mix only to the main dubbing stage at the AuroTorium to reduce costs without compromising on quality. Actually, we made history here, because this is where the George Lucas film Red Tails was mixed, the first ever movie in immersive sound, using the Auro-3D system,” enthuses Van Baelen. Another element of the operation’s growth and strategy is the Galaxy Symphonic Orchestra, made up of the “the best available musicians in the country”, claims the CEO. “The idea dates back from when we started – we did some recordings with leading orchestras like the Brussels Philharmonic, but some clients like to have the choice between a well-known orchestra or our own selection of top musicians. The idea had ripened some 15 years ago but I’m happy to say that today, the Galaxy Symphonic Orchestra has become a valuable option

The main recording hall for the orchestra

alongside the best orchestras in the world.” In addition to the musician’s expertise, Van Baelen underlines the timesaving aspect: “Ten minutes after the in-house orchestra enters the main hall, Patrick Lemmens – our renowned engineer – can push the record button,” he says. “But it doesn’t stop there, because the Galaxy Hall can be connected to any room in the world thanks to our own developed streaming technology, allowing multichannel audio to be streamed with latencies under 30ms, all without any loss in quality and even up to Auro 9.1. Like we did for example with Capital Studios in Los Angeles who recently installed the Auro-3D system.” Looking to the future, Van Baelen says that by the end of this year, the initial 1995 studio multiplex will only account for 40 per cent of the total footprint, adding up to some 7,500sqm of working space and services. “We plan to build a new grading suite for broadcast, a new dubbing stage with a third AMS-Neve DFC, four Auro-3D sound design rooms, and two Foley rooms with heightened 3D reflections to get the most natural sound,” he comments. “And we will open our first Auro-

3D mastering suite which will become a worldwide new reference for mastering in all formats including immersive sound.” Galaxy Studios began in 1995 with a crew of 12. Today, the Galaxy Studios Group (sheltering the main studios, the Mollywood finance division and the Zilvermeer film production company) and Auro Holding (parent of Auro Technologies) employs a staff of 120 people, 30 of which work in Auro-3D affiliates abroad. “Technology is evolving rapidly, and in terms of quality we have a big advantage,” states Van Baelen. “The healthy competition urged us to speed up things but I believe it’s time to plan the expansion of our market share (without the legacy of some of our competitors). Stepping into film was crucial, without affecting our music recording segment. With the release of new Auro-3D A/V receivers, over one million smartphones with Auro-3D technology and the commitment of major players like Microsoft and Sony towards the new format, I’m convinced that Galaxy Studios is a futureproof enterprise.” n www.galaxystudios.com

The AudoTorium is a cinema theatre with a 15m wide reference screen and Barco 4K 32B projector and 62 active Meyer Sound cinema system cabinets

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20/03/2017 16:55


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08/03/2017 16:11:57 08/03/2017 10:36


P28 APRIL 2017

Studio

UNITED KINGDOM

Tube driver

Simon Saywood is the man behind Analoguetube, a company that won’t let that Fairchild dream fade-away. Dave Robinson expands

O

nce you own Analoguetube products, you own them “for life”. That’s the bold claim from Simon Saywood, who created Analoguetube as a result of his love of electronic manufacturing and his interest in music, in particular tube technology. “Having been in the audio industry for 25 years and seen the growth of the digital era, I wanted to create something hand-built that combined my passions,” he explains. Saywood’s philosophy has always been to maintain an emphasis on quality manufacturing with attention to detail and an open-ended commitment to customer satisfaction. There are a few compressors (and Fairchild wannabes) available on the audio market, but none “like Analoguetube, built to the original Fairchild design”, claims Saywood. His looks like an original, and “sounds like one too”. Saywood beings: “2016 was a very busy year. In fact, the last 18 months have been exciting as the company expands. 2017 is shaping up to be an equally exciting year. Since our first AES show back in 2008, production has grown steadily, and we now have an illustrious worldwide client list of studios, mix, mastering engineers and producers alike. “I keep as close to the original specifications as possible with the Analoguetube design, improving where possible and appropriate. The AT-1 and AT-101s were designed and developed to perform and operate like the Fairchild 660s and 670s. This design makes for a very natural sound, low distortion and no audible thumps or pops, even under severe limiting conditions. The AT-1 and AT-101 compressors have received many reviews and nominations that have championed this technology and

made Analoguetube what it is today.” He gets into the detail: “The attack and release time doesn’t compress to the point that the music becomes compromised, but, rather, ensures a better balance of compression.” Analoguetube compressors are all built using original parts that include the transformers, controls and the new generation 6386LGP triodes developed from the original tube types. The unique features of these “gain-crushing” compressors allow all types of instruments and sound to sit “upfront”; signals sound fatter and bigger in the mix, adding depth, dimension and clarity, gluing the image together for all types of music. “Stereo compressors are used as normal out-board equipment in the studio or in mastering but some are strapped across the mix-buss which is very exciting, as both Analoguetube models have a very unique tonal signature that translates very well across radio, streaming and other mediums,” notes Saywood. It is interesting to note that there are some historical differences between the 660 and 670 models. “They are tone and functionality with the AT-1/660’s offering more in the mids than the AT-101/670s,” says Saywood. “The depth and dimension aspects often associated with the stereo units are to do with the mids being gently dipped down between 60Hz-5kHz when ‘driven’ and compressed. The mids are often then EQ’d back in at the board and brought ‘forward’ (in level) in the mix – this is sometimes perceived as the ‘depth’. “ Whilst all AT models are pretty much the same as the Fairchild originals, he insists, there have been a few minor

The Analoguetube AT-1 compressor

Simon Saywood has combined a love of electronics manufacturing with a love of music to create Analoguetube

additions. Features include: Stepped AC threshold, Lat/ Vert (Mid-Side Processing) ‘Key’ Insert, Bypass switching and Stereo Linking. All units are further customized using alternative colours and anodizing on 5005-grade aluminium alloy. Whilst the meters, attenuators, switches, knobs and some transformers are imported from the US the entire development, production, assembly and testing is in London. “There is very much a no-compromise approach to audio equipment manufacturing: Sowter Audio transformers, non-inductive Mills resistors and Film & Foil Musicap capacitors all connected using traditional ‘point-topoint’ wiring throughout.” Saywood hopes for an eventual listening revolution: “We are being seduced by music that has become flat and lifeless through radio, streaming, aggressive marketing and the need to shout the loudest. It’s a trick. A lot of music we hear today seems to be compressed in a way that leaves very little in the way of musical dynamics, affecting the natural tone and colour of the music which has become lost as the output becomes louder.” While we await that revolution, the client list grows. Users include: Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), Andrea Bocelli, Miles Showell (Abbey Rd), Cenzo Townsend, Metropolis Mastering, Jon Kelly and Steve Booker, in destinations stretching from Los Angeles to the Middle East. Distributors include Kazbar Systems (UK) and Joystick Audio (Belgium). “Analoguetube has shipped almost 50 units worldwide which is quite incredible when you think of the 80 hours they take to make and the 35kg each unit weighs…” n www.analoguetube.com

…and around the back!

www.psneurope.com/studio 28 Analoguetune FIN.indd 1

20/03/2017 16:50


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24/06/2016 13:22:15


P30 APRIL 2017

Feature: 3D Audio

WORLD

Sphere of influence

The old pipedream of believable 3D sound is finally becoming real. Well, virtually… writes Phil Ward

T

he entertainment industry and the media, if we can separate those two addictions of modern life, are about to be hit by changes in audio production and presentation that could dwarf the evolution from mono to 7.1. On several fronts, three-dimensional sound reproduction is making rapid headway and it seems nowhere will remain untouched by some kind of adoption: from the sound reinforcement used in customer experiences and attractions to regular theatre; from conferencing to fine art; and from radio to online TV. The gaming industry’s dramatic effect on social habits is beginning to bite into mainstream forms of communication, and it’s the headphone generation that leads the way. Smartphones have made media and entertainment an instantaneous and constant companion, so ubiquitous that formal consumption of leisure and information has to raise the bar – and 360° audio reproduction will play a big part in that at every level.

Sennheiser AMBEO VR mic belonging to Henrik Opperman of London VR facility Visualise, out on a location recording session

Soho east In London at least, some studios and agencies have already been established in the pursuit of these new markets – including 1.618 Digital and Visualise. Others have evolved from traditional post-production, maybe even adjusting the company name to highlight the changes: witness Bamsound VR, which used to be just ‘Bamsound’. “We’ve been around for 10 years doing conventional post-production,” reveals Scott Marshall, founder and CEO, “but in the last year and a half we’ve re-positioned ourselves into this market. We did it partly to create the buzz, of course, but also because this is the new audio. Our existing clients are very excited about it. Slowly but surely, over the next few years, more and more people will adopt these techniques.” As well as new agencies coming into being, traditional post-houses can adapt to immersive sound quite easily, Marshall believes: “I get a lot of enquiries from other facilities who are interested in VR and other applications, as we are ahead of the curve. But we’re right on the cusp, now, of a new industry. And we need that, to grow the market. As the right clients – the right brands – embrace it, it will gather pace.” Just as DiGiCo needed more competition to expand the digital live console industry in the early years – which duly arrived – facilities like Bamsound VR will welcome more players to the field if it means greater awareness of the possibilities. “At BVE in London last month I met many contemporaries in mixing and dubbing who wanted to know more about how it works,” adds Marshall.

How does it work? There are several current platforms that, each in its own way, apply algorithms to the signal process to create more convincing three-dimensional audio. Sennheiser’s AMBEO, Out Board’s TiMax and L-Group’s L-ISA project are just three examples, but their applications have so far concentrated on advanced forms of sound reinforcement. In cinema and home theatre, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X have taken the market beyond 5.1 and 7.1 and their rapidly antiquating techniques, and are now entering a new phase of production and even preproduction relationships. But it’s Ambisonics that seems to be getting a foothold in VR production, which is odd considering that it emerged from British academic research in the 1970s. A dedicated community of enthusiasts has nurtured those principles over the years and has gradually updated them for applications in the digital age: notably Blue Ripple Sound’s O3A suite of Ambisonic plug-ins for VST platforms following its development of ‘Higher Order Ambisonics’ already popular in gaming and VR. So far the company

has achieved compatibility with the DAWs Reaper, Pyramix, Max.MSP and [Canadian software] Plogue Bidule, but not yet Pro Tools, Cubase or Nuendo.

Back to workflow This doesn’t stop the new generation of 3D sound designers, who are happy to switch between DAWs according to each stage of production and postproduction, playing to each one’s strengths. Henrik Opperman is head of sound at Visualise, an up-andcoming VR studio and production company based – like 1.618 Digital – in East London. “I work in Ambisonics, which is finally finding an applications-driven market,” he says. “Its workflow was integrated into DAW-world, and there are the Ripple plug-ins, but otherwise it’s much the same. The Sennheiser AMBEO VR mic that I use doesn’t have the old matrix output that the original Ambisonics mic had, so the signal goes straight into a DAW and into any format – complete flexibility. “I do use Reaper a lot, because my workflow is in

www.psneurope.com/technology 30-32 3d Audio FIN.indd 1

20/03/2017 17:33


P31 APRIL 2017

Scott Marshall in the Bamsound VR Lab

WE’RE LOOKING AT NEW EXPERIENCES THAT WE CAN PROVIDE FOR THE AUDIENCE, AND WE’VE GROUPED WHAT WE CAN DELIVER INTO FOUR CATEGORIES: IMMERSIVE IS ONE OF THEM, BUT THERE’S ALSO INTERACTIVE, PERSONALISED AND ACCESSIBLE

CHRIS BAUME, BBC R&D

3rd-Order Ambisonics, but whenever I need to work to picture I can just as easily convert to Pro Tools or Logic. But we need to move on from the tape-emulation concept, and adopt techniques closer to Reaper’s object-andmultichannel model. One track can have MIDI, audio, Broadcast WAV or MP3, and it’ll just play it.” “The market leaders are releasing the tools free of charge,” adds Scott Marshall, “similar to the way visual effects and cross-platform game engine developers do, like Unreal and Unity. Facebook has released its panning tool, compatible with Pro Tools, Reaper and Nuendo, which opens it up for everyone to get involved. We do need postproduction experience, though: I run a post course at the School of Sound Recording in Camden and the students all come from a musical background. Working with film and TV, I always tell them, is a different language – and it will be the same in VR and other 360° genres. It’s not a music mindset. A lot of the ground rules for creating a great audio landscape should be carried forward into 360.”

its channel output, although there’s more on the way, while the newest version of Nuendo can implement a lot of game engine stuff, but people still trust in the fidelity of Pro Tools above anything else. It will get there. “Meanwhile I’m beta-testing the Dolby Atmos authoring tools and helping them build new products for VR, and that’s only reached Pro Tools so far with the option of 128 objects. It’ll be a while before it gets implemented on other DAW platforms – which I think says a lot about market confidence in Pro Tools. Other systems will catch up with Higher Order Ambisonics in time, but at the moment Reaper is the main choice if you’re already heading down that path.” How does this affect monitoring? Are clients expected to come into a facility, strap on headsets and float off into another green world for a while? “It depends on the client,” says Marshall. “I’ve done a few reviews where we’ve done a Dolby Atmos mix, but obviously it’s not true VR, 360 because you can’t experience the spatial audio individually.

We can dynamically mix if everyone’s on headphones, to excite the programme – or we can send them the files depending on the format. “That’s where the final market is anyway – on headphones. It’s not for large-format screening, although it’s interesting that Dolby’s VR tools are very similar to the Atmos tools. I think there’s a roadmap to being able to convert large-format cinema mixes into VR…” Ambisonics is also inspiring a new wave of binaural recording, with engineers setting out on location to find good content ready for a new generation of audio post-production. Henrik Opperman travels the world just like David Attenborough’s sound guy, but this time it’s Ambisonic. “We do a lot of 360 videos as well as VR,” he reports, “but whether the target is channel-based, for video, or object-based, for VR, it’s the same source capture: the AMBEO mic does it all. Next destination is Bermuda…” “There’s a re-connection with production audio,” agrees Marshall, “which was broken down over the years

Location, location Facilities will also have to navigate the usual market forces as one generation lapses into another, as Marshall points out. “Pro Tools is still the professional tool that provides the audio quality and consistency we require, even though DAWs like Reaper are really useful. Our jobs are sent all over the world, and compatibility with Pro Tools is essential. It may be a little behind the curve with

A 3D shoot for Swiss humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières and a 360° documentary on refugee camps, part of a touring iMax-style installation showcasing the work of Visualise

www.psneurope.com/technology 30-32 3d Audio FIN.indd 2

20/03/2017 17:33


P32 APRIL 2017

Feature: 3D Audio

BBC’s Orpheus project – exploring new horizons in immersive and interactive broadcast sound

Henrik Opperman capturing a noisy fish market auction in Osaka

in traditional post. Again, there were plenty of sound recordists at BVE and I’m now getting recordists involved in the whole process right through to post. They’re a new generation, very technology-savvy, who can take those free tools and SDKs and contribute hugely to new designs and products. There’s a lot of different things happening at the same time, including right now the building of new Ambeo and other spatial sound libraries.”

Useful objects Object-based audio replaces discrete channels with moveable – or at least adjustable –spot sources, anything from an individual actor’s voice to a footstep. If these are decoded in suitable playback systems they can generate a soundscape that builds an illusion of three-dimensional

space, although 3D is not the only type of application. Chris Baume is a senior research engineer at the BBC’s R&D Department in London. “We’re looking at new experiences that we can provide for the audience, and we’ve grouped what we can deliver using object-based audio into four categories: Immersive is one of them, which covers 3D sound, but there’s also Interactive, Personalised and Accessible.” ‘Interactive’ includes a project called Venue Explorer: a web app allowing users to ‘direct’ their own images and sounds from a live feed. ‘Personalised compression’, for example, offers automatic adjustment of dynamic range compression in your headphones as the mic in the smart device detects a passing truck, or similar – rendering your mobile media a little more resilient to mobile acoustic conditions. The ‘Accessible’ experience gives listeners the means to customise basic mixes, such as the balance between sports commentary and crowd noise or between dialogue and M&E. “It’s quite a simple change, but is the starting point for many potential applications,” adds Baume. Binaural output is at the heart of the BBC’s Immersive experiments, used to spatialise audio content in many different ways. Something called the Orpheus project has been set up in-house to develop the tools and protocols to do this more effectively, Baume explains. “This is where we’re building the infrastructure we need to produce and deliver object-based audio to the home, and although it doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of how a broadcast studio works there will be improvements. New pre-production tools will include a lot more metadata, for instance, so production can track and use the objects meaningfully.”

Dimension, the war All of this chimes with the new priorities of interactivity, audience power and an increasingly ‘unmediated’ media. But it’s not all young turks with Wi-Fi: the legacy

Meet the Klangers German pioneer Klang (as featured in depth in March 2017 PSNEurope) grew out of Aachen University’s music-minded acoustics and engineering departments and was founded only in 2014, initially to create 3D in-ear monitoring. It uses binaural mixes to locate multiple sources in ear-buds or headphones, but can also replicate the positioning of any loudspeaker arrangement from stereo to 5.1 and beyond. “For any 360° audio production you can use the Klang processor very easily to take your DAW output and mix or monitor in real time,” explains Andy Huffer of UK distributor HD Pro Audio. “You can take the individual signals, post-processing in the DAW, or create manageable sub-groups, and place them in a binaural environment within the Klang software – horizontal, vertical, front and back. It takes up to 56 channels via MADI or Dante, and that’s a very quick way of soundscaping a 360° video. It’s an incredibly natural mix for any programme.” www.klang.com www.hdproaudio.co.uk

boffins are onto it. The Fraunhöfer Institute in Germany is now working on MPEG-H, Part 3 of which is concerned with securing some interoperability standards for 3D audio; while the Audio Engineering Society’s Technical Council (AESTC) has just convened a new board of experts to address what it calls New Realities: the development of audio in ‘Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality environments’. Even if VR is asking for a big lifestyle change – Nintendo Wii meets sensory deprivation – its smaller sibling Augmented Reality will crop up everywhere: your regular senses are still in touch with ‘consensus’ reality but helped along by prompts, cues and enhancements that understand where you are. Think SatNav on steroids. So give the smartphone kids a break. They are driving our future. n www.visualise.com www.bamsound.com www.1618digital.com www.bbc.co.uk/rd sennheiser.com/microphone-3d-audio-vr-mic

www.psneurope.com/technology 30-32 3d Audio FIN.indd 3

20/03/2017 17:33


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15/02/2017 09:52:16 14.02.17 19:13


P34 APRIL 2017

Broadcast

UNITED KINGDOM

Next gen audio standardised for Ultra HD TV systems

ETSI has ratified DVB’s choice of MPEG-H 3D and Dolby AC-4 as the audio options for Ultra High Delimitation TV services and products. Kevin Hilton reports

T

he European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has published the DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) specification for upcoming Ultra High Definition UHD) technologies and TV/streaming services as an official standard. This includes Next Generation (NGA), with features such as immersive sound offering options for personalisation, interactivity and the ability to select alternative languages and other versions. The DVB Steering Board approved TS 101 154 V2.3.1 (‘Specification for the use of Video and Audio Coding in Broadcasting Applications based on the MPEG-2 Transport Stream’) in November 2016. The decision by ETSI to standardise those recommendations will make the interoperability necessary for UHD-1 Phase 2 products and broadcasting widely available to both consumer electronics manufacturers and broadcasters. The vision aspects of this, primarily HDR (high dynamic range, which delivers greater luminosity than other imaging formats, including 4K), have received most attention, but future UHD systems will also offer a comprehensive selection of audio features. Since UHD was first announced there has been discussion over what sound formats should be used with this higher resolution, more immersive video system. Many developers, broadcasters and manufacturers – both consumer and professional – view spatial surround systems, such as Dolby Atmos and Auro3D with the extra dimension of height, as the obvious accompaniment to UHD. Others considered established discrete 5.1/7.1 formats such as Dolby Digital adequate for the purpose. This divergence of opinion surfaced in DVB discussions, but eventually it was decided to recommend NGA technologies. “There were some DVB members who were not convinced NGA was needed,” comments David Wood, chair of the DVB Commercial Module group on UHDTV. “But members in general wanted a ‘tool box’ approach for NGA where both the standardised options are included in the specification.” The two audio formats DVB decided on are MPEG-H 3D Audio and Dolby AC-4. Both technologies deliver the desired immersive experience, using object-based techniques instead of relying wholly on the more traditional channel approach. There is also scope for

personalisation and customisation, allowing viewers to select different audio versions and features. Important among these in terms of accessibility is Audio Description (AD). MPEG-H 3D Audio comprises a mixture of channels, objects and scene-based technologies. Writing in the March edition of DVB Scene, Stefan Meltzer, a technology consultant to Fraunhofer IIS, which was involved in the development of MPEG-H 3D Audio, explains that the channels add the height component to existing surround systems, producing 5.1+4 and 7.1+4. The objects are not tied to a specific loudspeaker configuration, with their position and function identified by associated metadata. Scene-based audio is made possible through High Order Ambisonics, which allow the sound picture to be manipulated prior to playback. This last feature is seen as particularly suited to virtual reality (VR) projects. Dolby AC-4 is an open standard defined by ETSI and became part of the DVB’s codec spec in 2014. AC-4 was designed round Dolby’s Atmos immersive system, but also includes options for selecting different audio versions, such as alternative commentaries and altering the balance between dialogue and sound effects and music, as well as AD (in a similar way to MPEG-H 3D). Also writing in DVB Scene, Elfed Howells, business group director at Dolby, comments that AC-4 is suitable for broadcast transmission, OTT and mobile streaming services (and their hybrids), as well as VR. Because both systems derive from the same basic principles, David Wood says they offer “similar features”, which, he adds, means there will be “no major difference in the experience” for the listener/viewer. Wood explains that the NGA systems have two major objectives: “One is to provide the option of an immersive audio experience. The other is to allow the broadcaster to provide separate audio channels, which we term ‘objects’ and that can be selected and adjusted by the user,” he says. “These allow for different languages, dialogue and audience groups, which could be a very exciting part of NGA.” There is the possibility that NGA, could in the future, be used to alleviate some audibility problems, although it is unlikely to help with ‘mumbling’ actors. “Both NGA systems would offer considerable flexibility in terms

David Wood: “Members in general wanted a ‘tool box’ approach for NGA”

of the audio offering,” Wood says. “This could include a separate dialogue channel that could be adjusted in relative volume to the background sounds. This could be helpful for many, particularly the elderly. But that would be for the NGA broadcaster to decide.” The NGA and DVB UHD Phase 2 specifications were being processed by ETSI at the time PSNEurope was going to press. Wood expected publication of the standard in the following weeks. While these are still early days for the implementation of NGA, the UHDTV service in South Korea is set to become the first broadcaster to use MPEG-H Audio as its sole sound source. Spanish national broadcaster RTVE has been testing AC-4 in live transmissions over the last six months. Other trials of the system have taken place in France at TDF, France Television and Arte and at PBS and KQED in the US. n www.dvb.org

Fraunhofer IIS MPEG-H 3D Audio demo set-up

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20/03/2017 17:29


35 Years 35 Years xy

d&b is 35. Donnie is d&b. Donnie Haulk is CEO of AE Global Media, a d&b partner in the US. They’ve been on board since 2001. “It’s great being a part of a brand and family that strives to always push forward to the next innovation. Quirky, brilliant and not afraid to take on a challenge, I can always count on the team to provide solutions that bring value to our customers.” In 35 years d&b has evolved from a small garage venture to a worldwide standard in professional sound systems. It’s people like Donnie who make this story possible, and just that bit different from the rest.

Welcome to System reality. 35yrs_33_(PSNE)_220x290_150317.indd 1

15/03/2017 16:34

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20/03/2017 14:17:37 20/03/2017 14:06


P36 APRIL 2017

Show preview

UNITED STATES

Digital audio and more at NAB Aerial robotics and a drone pavilion, a post-production campus and a new IP showcase will be on offer at NAB 2017 – as well as brands showing their audio wares, of course

N

AB Show 2017 is being held at the Las Vegas Convention Centre from April 24-27, with a focus on digital audio and how technology is changing the shapes and sizes of sound equipment. The broadcast show sees wires disappearing with evolving bluetooth capabilities and work being done to reduce distortion and produce superior sound quality, At the show sound engineers, videographers, SFX specialists, station engineers, system integrators and allied professionals will be there to explore sound in broadcast. Spotlight educational sessions will look at Audio Monitoring for ATSC A/85 and OTT Production, as well as Studio Video over IP – How It All Comes Together. Then there are the companies showing their products. Calrec’s new Brio console will be on display. It is only 892mm wide, with a dual-layer, 36-fader surface and is entirely self-contained, with analogue and digital I/O and GPIO built into the surface. Additional expansion I/O slots allow for further I/O integration, and fitting an available Hydra2 module makes it possible to connect to and share audio over Calrec’s Hydra2 network. The company’s RP1 remote production unit will also be at the show. The remote production engine is a 2U core that contains integrated, FPGA-based DSP, which enables a console surface at another facility to control all mixing functionality. The RP1 core manages all of the processing for IFB routing and remote monitor mixes,

and it does so locally with no latency. Canare will showcase its latest line of fibre and 12G solutions, including the company’s flagship cables and panels. These include patchbays – an independentlydeveloped rotary switch that has been specially designed for use with high frequency signals. The HFO Connector Panels will also be there – the company’s range of completely customisable panels that can be created to exact customer specifications in terms of

the number and types of inputs and outputs as well as indoor and outdoor use, catering to both in-studio and mobile applications. Jünger Audio will be presenting its full range of D*AP products, all of which incorporate a collection of adaptive processing algorithms. They also employ the industry standard Ember+ remote protocol that allows seamless integration with an increasingly wide range of compatible equipment. The range includes natural sounding products for loudness control, audio monitoring, audio conditioning and metadata management and Dolby decoding, encoding and transcoding. Among them are the D*AP8 MAP edition surround monitoring audio processor; the D*AP8 CODEC edition processor that provides a viable replacement for any discontinued legacy Dolby hardware processors; the D*AP4 VAP edition two channel voice audio processor and the D*AP8 TAP edition television audio processor, which ensures consistency of loudness and sonic “character” across multiple programme sources.

Calrec’s Brio console with dual-layer, 36-fader surface will be at the show

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NUGEN Audio will unveil Halo Downmix, an all-new product for precise downmixing of feature-film or 5.1 mixes to stereo. Pre-existing tools can generate excess ambient sound as the rear channels collapse to stereo, and they can cause indistinct dialogue or disproportionate levels of low-frequency energy, the company says. Original archive material, when upmixed using legacy methods such as rear-channel delay and phase shifting, can end up with audible timing errors when summed to the phantom centre, it adds. Halo Downmix surmounts these challenges by giving the engineer hands-on control over the relative levels, timing, and direct/ambient sound balance within the downmix process. It will also demonstrate the latest update to Halo Upmix, the company’s solution for upmixing stereo audio to 5.1/7.1/9.1 surround, which includes algorithmic improvements designed to enhance multichannel-to-multichannel mix and upmix adjustments. The AMB Processor will also be on show. It enables post-production facilities to accelerate workflows significantly and reduce delivery times for a range of different tasks, with separate modules available for upmixing and loudness management. AMB also offers new features including threaded algorithm processing and multiple processing threads that are addressable for simultaneous parallel handling of files and queues. ProCo Sound, an RHC Audio brand, will feature its HD-SDI Cable. The ProCo HD-SDI Cable is a 100 per cent sweep tested, low loss coax cable designed for professional broadcasters that need a highperformance and reliable SDI connection. RTW is set to debut a 19” rackmount for its TM3 and TM3-Primus series of products. Also on display will be RTW’s well-known TM7/TM9 TouchMonitors with upgraded firmware. The TM3 RackMount Solution comes in two versions that integrate easily with either the TM3 TouchMonitor or the TM3-Primus TouchMonitor by simply swapping out the necessary hardware. The TM3-2U is a mounting system for RTW’s TM3 series products, including the TM3, TM3S, TM3-3G and TM33GS. With the appropriate mount, the TM3-Primus may also be used in this configuration. The TM3-Pri-2U is the exclusive rackmount for RTW’s TM3-Primus, allowing mounting for the TM3-Primus into an appropriate

The TM3 RackMount Solution will be on display for the first time from RTW

The D*AP4 VAP edition two channel voice audio processor from Jünger Audio

Nugen Audio will debut its Halo Downmix

mechanical environment for a customer installation. Studio Technologies introduces the new Model 371 Intercom Beltpack. The compact, lightweight unit combines the features offered by broadcast-style, 2-channel party-line (PL) intercom user devices with a single-channel listen output and a 4-pin male XLR headset interface connector. The flexibility of Dante and its inherent support of standard IP networks mean that multiple Model 371 units can be used in PL intercom applications with help from audio matrix units, such as the new Studio Technologies Model 5422 Dante Intercom Audio Engines. Model 371 units can also be directly interfaced with ports on compatible matrix intercom systems. The Model 371 features professional audio quality that begins with superior microphone performance, the company says. Using a low-noise, wide dynamic-range microphone preamplifier and VCA-based dynamics controller (compressor) input, audio quality is preserved and the chance of signal overload is minimised. The Studio Technologies introduces the Model 371 Intercom Beltpack

resulting signal is routed to an analogue-to-digital conversion (ADC) section that supports a sampling rate of 48kHz and a bit depth of 24. Wohler Technologies will be showcasing the AMP1-8-M dual input SDI 8-channel audio monitor, the AMP1-2SDA 2-channel audio monitor and Audio over IP modules, including Dante and Ravenna /AES67, for its AMP2-16V Series audio monitors. The AMP1-8-M offers fast, intuitive operation for monitoring SDI audio and is ideal for in-studio or remote productions. It provides instantaneous selection and summing of any four SDI audio pairs. It features adjustable volume and balance controls, clear display of levels, and phase indications on bright 2.4”, LED-backlit LCD displays, with configurations that can be created, saved and recalled via an intuitive front panel interface. Users can monitor through built-in speakers, headphones or analogue outputs. For those looking for essential monitoring capabilities in environments, including OB truck/vans and network/ station facilities, the AMP1-2SDA offers Wohler’s high-quality audio monitoring in a compact 1RU 2-channel version. It features adjustable volume and balance controls, clear display of levels and phase indications on bright displays. The unit can monitor via its builtin speakers or headphones with automatic speaker muting when headphones are connected. The unit offers several input options: 3G/HD/SD-SDI, analogue and AES3. n www.nabshow.com

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Technology feature: Broadcast consoles

Calrec Artemis console at Al Jazeera Balkans console showing both tactile faders and touch screen operation

WORLD

The same – only not the same The broadcast audio console has been going through a period of evolution over the last ten years. While it is unlikely to change out of all recognition, it is undergoing some fundamental rethinking and development, as Kevin Hilton discovers

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he broadcast mixing console has gone through a series of technological changes over the last 30 years. From automatic recall to full digital operation and automated mixing to the incorporation of networking and routing functions, the result has been something much more than a way to mix. At the same time there have been significant changes in television and radio production, which have put extra demands on equipment and engineers/operators alike. Back in the purely analogue days the console - often big and with many inputs, outputs and fader strips - was very much a tool of the person using it. The advent of automation and various layers of processing and mixing options was intended to give the engineer greater control and flexibility but, in many instances, turned the tables and made the operator a slave to the technology. Since then manufacturers and developers have worked to achieve a balance between the two, where the console offers as many features and as much processing power as possible while at the same time being easy and intuitive to use. “If you look at the job of the audio engineer today, it is a lot more than just mixing,” comments Andreas Hilmer, director of marketing at Lawo. “They are responsible for a lot of other things now, such as comms.” Because of this, Hilmer explains, a major aspect of the modern broadcast console is the ability to integrate with the overall broadcast system. This involves a

hardware platform working with different software according to the project, allowing the console to adapt to different environments and tasks. “We’ve seen that in video with the matrix approach,” Hilmer says, “and it’s definitely something we’ll see for audio in the future.”

Your personal assistant Another facet of the new breed of console is its ability to assist the engineer through automation and recall settings. “There is automated up-mixing and gain control already, which means the operator can concentrate on other things,” Hilmer comments. “It’s not about sacrifices in quality because the console starts assisting the person using it. The automation can take care of some components of the mix while he or she concentrates on the overall production.” John Davis, technical support manager at Logitek, acknowledges that giving precise control over clean audio remains a primary function of the console but says automated mixing is now more commonplace, particularly in TV where one person is likely to be responsible for both audio and video. “The person behind the desk is now more than ever responsible for multiple facets of the production. Besides riding gain on the audio faders, the operator now is frequently also operating a video switcher and robotic cameras. As a result, we are doing a lot of automation where the video switcher is acting as the primary audio operator and the director is just using a few faders next to the video

WE DON’T MAKE JUST CONSOLES [NOW], WE MAKE DISTRIBUTED AUDIO SYSTEMS

JAY TYLER, WHEATSTONE

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Remote Production: the mixer that isn’t there Broadcasters today are looking for ways to produce more programming for less money and with fewer resources. The North American TV market is leading the way in this: regional studios controlled from a central broadcast centre; coverage of college sport events managed with minimal equipment and staff on site, but with full remote control. In both cases the audio console is located elsewhere but ‘connected’. Logiteks’ John Davis (above) comments that this kind of wide area control is more commonplace

switcher to get the mix right.” Live broadcasting involves multiple sources from the studio and outside locations. This means either several operators can be involved on a single production or one person takes care of everything. Either way a clear and

as networking bandwidth becomes less expensive. Calrec’s Henry Goodman agrees, adding: “Networking and IP infrastructures are what make remote production possible. The core audio technology to provide remote production has been available for a long time; it is the access to IP transport technology that has been the ingredient to make this practical today.” Calrec last year introduced the RP1 remote production engine, which works as a modular I/O core connecting to console input/output cards over AES, MADI, SDI or AoIP formats such as Dante and RAVENNA. Klotz claims to have produced remote mixing systems as early as 1997 using control surfaces, mix engines and DSP running from a central control room. Today, Thomas Klotz feels telecommunications will play a crucial role in the full realisation of the concept: “AES67 defines a

established methodology is usually in place so everyone knows what is supposed to happen and when. Which is where one of modern broadcasting’s most infamous buzzwords comes into play. “The important part of today’s mixing desks is the workflow integration within

control and audio protocol for software manipulated Ethernet signals but the main problems, like distributed synchronisation and low-latency exchange of audio signals over telco networks, are not considered within that standard. This will only happen once Ethernet TSN [time sensitive networking] becomes available on a large-scale.”

the individual workplace,” comments Stefan Mertens, managing director of Thum+Mahr. “The workspace physically integrates all the needed external systems within the mixing desk without confusing the operator, so he or she can concentrate on the show and not on the

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Technology feature: Broadcast consoles

Logitech Mosaic console Audio engineering – and broadcast sound in particular – has an ambivalent attitude towards virtual mixing. The technology is attractive to many but the idea of using a touch screen or mouse to move mixer icons still does not appeal to most operators right now. “Our Micro desk has the ability to be controlled from a tablet but our research shows the vast majority wants tactile controls,” comments Mark Hosking of Studer (top). Virtual mixing techniques may become more popular as engineers and operators become used to screen-based working. In the meantime it is the background techniques and technologies that are more likely to be virtualised. “Over the next five to ten years the control surface will still exist and be smarter and more flexible,” says Calrec’s Henry Goodman. “Routing and infrastructure will look more virtual with the move to network environments console and its nice features.”

Three into one Within Thum+Mahr’s portfolio is the DHD range of digital consoles. The 52 Series of mixing and routing systems is based on a modular approach used by many, if not all, leading manufacturers right now. This comprises three components: the console, or, to be more accurate, a control surface; the mix engine; and the audio I/Os. “There is no necessary relation between the size of the control surface, the size of the mix engine and the number of audio ins and outs to the system,” Mertens comments. “All members of the network can share content and control across that network, which is structured and can be connected by CAT or fibre optic cables. Ultimately there can be hundreds of ins and outs on the network available for each mixing system. What this forms is a type of audio and control cloud system structure.” Nowadays, as Mark Hosking, global broadcast sales director for Studer, observes, the three parts of a mixing system do not have to be in the same room - or even the same building. “The control surface, the I/O and the mix engine can be thought of as independent,” he says. “There is a move away from big lumps of hardware into more virtualisation. There can be a shared mixing console without a surface that is under the control of the newsroom system.” Last year Studer introduced two consoles based on the concepts of virtualisation and the networking of

and I expect this will enable the realisation of more virtualised processing.” Logitek will introduce the sixth generation of its router-based console at the 2017 NAB Show. This will feature a customisable ‘glass cockpit’ but with still recognisable controls. “We see a future of both virtual consoles and hybrid virtual consoles that retain some physical controls,” comments John Davis. “In some instances you need tactile controls so you can operate the board eyes-free. We’ll have a simple, intuitive interface that’s common to both methods of operation so you can switch easily between either based on the task.”

remotely located components. The Micro, aimed at TV, radio and news comprises a core processor, graphical user interface and optional fader controller. A key element is integrated audio over IP (AoIP) capability, with the possibility of connecting to a web browser. The Glacier, which is being installed in the new studios at BBC Studioworks’ Television Centre in London, is designed for smaller spaces and has a control surface that can be customised to offer only what features are necessary.

this trend of reducing the footprint continuing by taking away physical elements and using the flexibility of touch screens to achieve more of the consoles functionality.” Another part of this evolution, maintains Klotz, will be a move away from dedicated mixing consoles, something he says is beginning to emerge at the moment: “It will be towards a ‘generic’ interface device that could be used on multiple platforms. Touch screens have become so affordable and programming interfaces are readily available to create a universal device that could be programmed to work today as a control surface for a DAW and tomorrow is used to handle an outside broadcast.” Jay Tyler, director of sales at Wheatstone, acknowledges this versatility brought by new technologies: “In some instances I’ve heard of the news desk being used to mix bands. That’s because there is lots of capacity and lots of layers.” In some cases this means large, centralised desks but Tyler also sees a growing demand for more compact models: “It’s true there is a combination of mixing and device control in today’s desks. People want more bi-directional control. At the same time consoles are getting smaller. Instead of having parametric EQ, panning and sends on each channel there can be a centralised panel to control all that. They also have layers – which give a lot of channels – and can be connected by CAT5 cable. In effect we don’t make just consoles any more, we make distributed audio systems.”

Keep the customer satisfied This broadening out of the functions and capabilities of the audio consoles tie in with the current and emerging needs of broadcasters. “It’s about flexibility,” explains Henry Goodman, director of support and

Two worlds collide Klotz is another manufacturer to launch a new console that tunes into the IT-multimedia influence on broadcast technology. The DC3 was conceived to replace the venerable DC2, which has been used for over ten years in broadcasting, usually with the VADIS router. The first two DC3s have been installed by Chinese public broadcaster Radio Guangdong; a further three have been ordered by Bauer Media Group member RMF FM in Poland. The DC3 works with the existing VADIS platform and comes in four to 32-fader sizes, combining a conventional fader approach with Klotz’s new Touchstone programmable touch screen technology. “We saw a move to make console surfaces more compact over ten years ago,” comments managing director Thomas Klotz. “We moved away from large drop-in frame consoles towards blade-shaped control surfaces that sat on top of the table. In future we see

ROUTING AND INFRASTRUCTURE WILL LOOK MORE VIRTUAL WITH THE MOVE TO NETWORK ENVIRONMENTS AND THE REALISATION OF MORE VIRTUALISED PROCESSING

HENRY GOODMAN, CALREC

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Technology feature: Broadcast consoles

market development at Calrec Audio. “Broadcasters want to maximise the utilisation of not just the audio mixer but of every part of the production environment they have. We can see this driving not only the flexible surface design but also infrastructure – in other words networking – and how audio processing is delivered.” Goodman adds that touch screen technologies – both in terms of operation and displays – are allowing a single hardware platform to present many operating options. In the future, he says, this will see the working surface develop to incorporate “softer control elements”, some based on touch screens, which can be used to arrange the layout of the controller to suit the operator or a specific production. Many controls are now arranged in menu layers or as ‘nested spills’, which enable a range of features and functions to be ‘opened out’ and ‘folded back’ according to requirements. This has lent itself well to surround sound processing, which Ian Staddon, vice-president of sales at DiGiCo, says very specifically affects the design of many aspects of modern desks. “The channel count of the consoles has significantly increased due to the need to accept multiple sources,” he says. “Operators also need to view the ‘spilled out’ 5.1 channels and have

Lawo mc²66 mixing console at Austrian public broadcaster ORF’s recently upgraded centre in Vienna, which also features two DALLIS IO units and additional DALLIS, plus a V__pro8 video processor

the ability to collapse them into one, as well as being able to monitor and have metering of these signals, along with the ability to mix up and down. Another consideration is interfacing with the video world, either directly or through a router system by implementing different protocols.” Much of this new flexibility and functionality has been made possible by integrating ‘traditional’ broadcast design and engineering with technology and techniques from the computer world. “Within five years standard blade servers will run software applications for the mixing, routing and control in a standard IT

environment,” concludes Stefan Mertens at Thum+Mahr. “But you will still need a human touch interface to control the mixing system in a holistic and intuitive way. So I guess the console with physical faders will last longer than the engine and functionality behind it.” n calrec.com www.digico.biz www.klotzcommunications.com www.lawo.com logitekaudio.com thummahr.de www.studer.ch

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20/03/2017 11:21:56 3/3/17 4:22 PM


APRIL 2017

Live

EUROPE

Loud like love!

Photo credits: Louise Stickland

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Adlib has supplied a CODA AiRAY for a major European outing for alt-rockers Placebo, who celebrated 20 years together in 2016. On the meds: Dave Robinson

Compact and powerful: the CODA AiRAY

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t was 1996 when Placebo released their eponymous first album; since then, the band have sold more than ten million records. Hard to categorise, from originally being labelled as alternative or glam-rock, the band have developed musically throughout their career to attract any number of labels from critics. If a goth-rock, Brit-pop, post-punk, electronic, experimental, industrial, grunge rock band is your thing and you trust the judgment of the late David Bowie (and who wouldn’t?) then it’s a safe bet Placebo will be right up your strasse. And recently, that’s where Placebo have been (or pretty nearby) having embarked on a world tour to celebrate their incredibly productive and highly respected career. That tour rolled through the UK in the latter part of 2016, taking in a number of familiar arenas and attracting large audiences. The band’s commitment to revisit every part of their back catalogue, including songs they swore they’d never touch again, proved popular, during a two-hour plus performance of epic proportions. From continental Europe, through Russia and back, the tour audio was delivered by Liverpool’s Adlib Audio, who, as well as being one of the country’s leading rental outfits, are exclusive distributors of CODA Audio in the UK. Adlib chose this tour to throw CODA’s AiRAY system into the fray. Having taken delivery of AiRAY early in

2016 and been suitably impressed by its credentials on outings with contrasting artists Ella Henderson and Public Service Broadcasting, as well as one or two notable summer festivals such as T in the Park and Latitude, the system had earned its stripes and took to the road in the hands of system-tech George Puttock and Adlib’s regular Placebo FOH engineer, Ian Nelson. Given the distinctly eclectic nature of Placebo’s set – plenty of thunderous assault – but also liberal and measured use of violin, piano, keys and even a theremin, the band offers the perfect vehicle by which CODA’s “revolutionary” rig (see extensive PSNEurope profile, February 2017) can be reasonably assessed. Catching up with the team at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena on a gloomy December morning, the usual collection of trucks is poised outside the home of Nottingham Panthers Ice Hockey stars, waiting to decant a cargo that’s seen action from Moscow to Manchester. Of immediate significance is the number of trucks. They have covered 14,000 miles and it’s a theme warmed to by system tech George Puttock: “AiRAY really is a compact system. Whilst box for box we used a near-identical count to the PA on the previous tour, we used one less truck. You can’t really overstate the implications of that. The AiRAY system was around one third lighter than the previous one, so we didn’t

need the same lifting capacity of chain hoists (less truck space), cabling and amplification requirements were significantly reduced (less truck space) and of course the boxes are physically smaller (again, less truck space) Having one less truck probably saved in excess of £7k worth of fuel alone. That’s not just a financial saving either, it’s an environmental one!” Of course it’s one thing saving on transport costs, quite another ensuring that no corners are being cut in respect of delivering world-class sound for a world-class band on a world tour. Any question of this “ultra-light, ultra-compact” system providing anything other than optimal audio is quickly dispelled by Puttock: “We’ve had a couple of promoters walk in to some pretty massive arenas and raise an eyebrow at the PA during set-up. It’s clear that they were doubtful about whether we had enough power...and then at the end of the gigs they can’t quite believe what they’ve heard! “ In Nottingham as AiRAY is fired up in the empty barn, a tour of the venue reveals a remarkable clarity and consistency in every location – and that’s just the raw sound of the system. At showtime, as Placebo take the stage, any lingering doubts that this much vaunted system might be undercooked for the Arena circuit are swept away at a stroke. Placebo – that’s core members Brian Molko and

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The current line-up includes regulars Molko and Olsdal, with sessions Matt Lunn on percussion

Stefan Olsdal, with Matt Lunn on drums – come on strong and stay there. The sound is huge and punchy and gives the firm impression that FOH man Nelson could comfortably find more headroom if he wished. There isn’t any need. Another tour of the venue reveals a remarkable consistency of power and balance in every area of The Motorpoint. Placebo’s set is going over a storm and everyone, including the fans high on the sides are getting the full weight of the band’s delivery. The sense that Placebo have reached a significant milestone is palpable and there is also a distinct feeling amongst the audio-cognoscenti that CODA’s AiRAY is also setting down a notable marker of its own. The band’s 20 Years of Placebo Tour took in 37 arena shows in 12 weeks, playing to 280,000 people in 16 countries. The choice of AiRAY for the tour was, by all accounts, an “easy one”. The vastly experienced Ian Nelson took a considered view that every conceivable benefit, sonically and practically, pointed towards something special for this historic tour. He was not disappointed. Reflecting on the system’s performance

he sums up: “Let me start with the audio quality which is quite simply phenomenal. I didn’t walk away from a single one of [those] 37 shows feeling anything less than happy. By every criteria I can think of, AiRAY makes everything easier. “The linear nature of the system from phase to dispersion makes my job easier. It’s very predictable in terms of what the audience hears: it’s the same on-axis as off-axis, so I’m confident that the audience at the side is hearing what I’m hearing at the mix position. We were able to create loud, coherent sound in rooms that had previously been a real fight and on many occasions we were running the system almost flat – again – making life a lot easier. “When you factor the compact nature of AiRAY into the equation, the advantages keep on stacking up,” continues Nelson. “A box with stadium performance that weighs less than 40kg allows us to get enough PA into even the smallest gigs we do, without compromising coverage or level. Saving an entire truck on the Placebo Tour made Ian Nelson was FOH engineer, with George Puttock as system tech

a significant dent in production costs – I’d estimate something of the order of £30K in total. Taking everything into account, AiRAY ticks every production box from the truck to front of house – even the lighting and video crews are happy because the compact nature of the system means there’s less to get in the way!” A final note from Adlib: the hire outfit reports that the AiRAY’s use on this tour has served to confirm that confidence in the system was very well-placed. In fact, that the company has recently added another significant quota of AiRAY to its inventory, to meet growing demand. Or, as Placebo might put it, speakers for “every you and every me”... n www.codaaudio.com www.adlib.co.uk

Hits have included Pure Morning, Special Needs and Taste in Men

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Live

EUROPE

Orbital comes around to new Nexo M10 box Nexo bolstered its GEO series with a companion box for the successful M6 at the recent ISE show. Orbital Sound Ltd are already fans, learns Dave Robinson

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exo unveiled the latest addition to its GEO series – the M10 line array, a high-output system for long-throw theatre and live music applications – at the ISE show in Amsterdam in February. The GEO M10 cab (with its single 10” neodymium LF driver, paired with a 1.4” HF titanium diaphragm HF driver) is reported to be twice as powerful as its sister GEO M6 box, launched two years ago. But while the ergonomics of the M10 are comparable to the M6, the larger cabinet draws on structural and acoustic innovations first released in Nexo’s mould-breaking STM Series modular line array, in particular the STM M28. There are two versions of the M10 cabinet, offering 12.5° and 25° of vertical dispersion. Both have 80°/120° horizontal dispersion which can be configured manually, without tools, by removing the magnetic grille and adjusting Nexo’s innovative ‘flange fixing’ system. The rigging system for the GEO M10 evolves another step from the original designs in the GEO M6 and the STM Series. The internal 3-point rigging system now features automatic locking and no loose parts. Two different bumper options are available, both with optional expansion bar, as well as an extension accessory for ground-stacking. Orbital Sound/Sales has become the #1 dealer and service centre for Nexo in the UK over the last two years. Founder Chris Headlam and director of sales Andy Simmons (with the company since late 2014) are very much aware of the importance of the relationship with the France-based speaker-maker. “Nexo benefits from having a company like Orbital in the UK behind them; we benefit from them being part of our portfolio. So far, so good,” remarks Simmons. “We’re lucky to have such a relationship with them, and the support we’ve had has been second to none.” Headlam says embracing this partnership was “all about Orbital working out how to make ourselves into something that made more sense, after 15 years. We were a very traditional [rental] model and that no longer makes sense,” he opines. “Rental houses do all the work and cover everyone’s mistakes up…” he begins with a smile. “The thing now is

Orbital Sound’s Chris Headlam (left) with Nexo CEO Jean Mullor at ISE 2017

Typical hang for the GEO M10 line array

to go to a manufacturer where you can have a sensible conversation, have interaction with them. We have a young, highly motivated staff at Orbital, they need to do more than take a box off a truck and sell it to someone.” ‘Old’ Nexo was a great brand, says Headlam, “but we’re interested in the future, [so] it’s nice to come to Yamaha-owned Nexo, with its ‘next-gen’ products. ‘Yamaha owned’ makes made us think, ultimately, there are some serious players involved here, and that is a good way to be.” Simmons adds: “[Mentioning Yamaha] is always seen as a positive at the meetings I go to.” Orbital has scored many wins via the GEO M6, with its 6.5” bass driver and 1” compression driver, plus waveguide. As covered by PSNEurope two summers ago, outdoor event innovator Luna Cinema bought two M6 rigs from Orbital. Says Simmons: “A lot of other people doing outdoor events have seen what Luna are doing and have bought the same thing.” While sales in that vein have provided a foundation for trust in GEO M, it’s a raft of other jobs that have strengthened it. Namely: Orbital Sound provides the kit for (count ’em) 46 pantos during the winter. “I got to know panto only too well!” he laughs. “It goes from spoken word to duets to dance music to pop music.

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M10 cabinets, opened up!

You need a PA that can do all of that, rather than just being tuned to pop music. A modern panto is a lot more demanding than how it looks on the poster, you know.” He says the versatile M6 has proved a boon for this type of work. However, in addition to the musical styles, 46 panto clients has meant the Orbital team has got to

know 46 theatres. And that’s meant “vastly different theatres” across the country. He cites one in Liverpool, and follows that by pointing out the contrast in size and shape with one in Leeds. Hence, while M6 has been a master ‘tool in the box’, the M10 will help out with bigger spaces. And, because of

the ‘magnetic flange’ feature, Orbital engineers can alter the coverage to fit the venue. (“Not to mention,” points out Nexo’s Ginny Goudy, “the modularity: all our systems are voiced together so you can supplement one box with another and it will all work virtually seamlessly.”) “It sounds like a minor point,” remarks Headlam, “but we’ve used other manufacturers systems where you have to buy one box or the other. With [M10], no longer do we have to stock loads of different boxes that might get used once in a blue moon: we have one box that does both. That’s half the number of speakers you might require normally.” And how do they sound? “Phenomenal!” smiles Headlam. “The sound is the least worrying aspect of the whole thing!” laughs a confident Simmons. If there’s a key reason why Orbital, a well-known d&b player for many years, would want to stick with GEO M, both 6 and 10, then? Chris Headlam: “It gives us something which works in the spaces within which we have to work.” n www.nexo-sa.com www.orbitalsound.com

LEEDS | 9-10 MAY, 2017

AUDIO

LIGHTING

AV

STAGE TECHNOLOGY

The must-attend event for industry professionals. Discover the biggest names and exciting new products for live entertainment technology. leeds.plasafocus.com/psne

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LONDON, OLYMPIA | 17-19 SEPTEMBER

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Live

EUROPE

“Connected PA can save the world!” PSNEurope invited Noel Larson, senior global solutions manager, HARMAN, to explain the thinking behind the company’s new approach to sound reinforcement

O

K, that headline might be a bit of hyperbole. Nevertheless, what would you call a ‘pro-audio ecosystem’ that could change customers’ impressions of using equipment, as much as our standard perceptions of what a phone was shifted with the introduction of the first smartphone? Connected PA, we think at HARMAN, will make life easier for more than one million gigging and recording musicians out there. Let me go back several steps… A few years ago, we (that is, HARMAN) began looking at how to make our products easier to use, sound better and faster to set up. We started by spending months on functional focus groups, watching countless set-ups and teardowns. Watching bands unbox new gear for the first time, then try to integrate that into their rig. What we found was more simple than we thought going into the project. We learned two universal truths. First, musicians want to play music. They did not sign-up to be sound engineers. Second, they often got poor sound from their gear. That lead to a poor experience, which could lead to blaming their gear and, ultimately, playing less. With these truths in hand, we set out to solve the problem. We knew that the system should set up fast, sound good when it did, but not ask the band to understand insider terminology like ‘threshold’. (Which, as we all know, is a prog rock band from 1974, anyway.) First, we began to look at presets. We pooled together key knowledge within the company of what makes a fantastic preset. For vocals, we looked at the EQ, optimal levels, which reverb was a good starting point and how much saturation gave a great sound, without it turning to mush. As we began to write these, we realised that for each channel in our retail-level mixer we had about 70 decisions made. That meant our Soundcraft Ui24 digital mixer could need nearly 1,700 settings; that’s without going too many layers deep – if we did, it went easily over 2,500. (Think of that first truth: musicians just want to play, not end up in a total mess.) You could argue that setting up your PA currently is like getting really excited about the new Pokémon game, getting it home just to realise, “Now all I have to do to play it… is write the game!” We quickly realised presets would not be enough. We

One of the ‘Universal truths’ HARMAN found: musicians just want to play

would need to develop a system that would ask how the channel was to be used, then automatically, provide a preset that gave a great first stab at a set up. For 90 per cent of us, this would be enough to get up-and-running, but if you wanted to tweak the sound you could still easily do that. The presets would also need to be ubiquitous: meaning, once you answered the easy questions, you don’t want to keep answering them over and over. You’d want to plug in and have the mixer remember the last time you used it. Even better if it was channel agnostic: if you could set up for rehearsal in channel three, but plug into the show set-up on ANY channel, and ensure you get the right preset every time, without marking up the mixer with masking tape. To accomplish this, each device in the HARMAN Connected PA Ecosystem would need to be recognised and automatically paired with its unique preset. To do this, we took it to the next level and developed a chip that delivers to the mixer a unique serial code, the product name and type. For example, the AKG P5i, once plugged in, will tell the mixer that your personal P5i mic is plugged in and you need the set-up from when you last used it. The code takes less than 25 milliseconds

to send and the app will instantly recognise and trigger the preset, regardless of the channel you plug into. Therefore, this is not just an AKG P5i mic; it is YOUR P5i mic! Just plug the mic in, the named preset (Noel’s Amazing Xylophone Mic, for example) is attached to just THAT mic. Now multiple that by, 16 or more channels. You could save hours and will be up and running faster than ever before. On top of that, you know it sounds right because it is set up just like last time. You will even be able to save that mic and mixer to the cloud and recall it later if you are using a friend’s Soundcraft Ui mixer – anywhere in the world! Finally, you can have confidence your performance will sound as good as it did in rehearsal. Now that we had all the technology needed for the system, we had to find a way to tie the pieces together. The first part developed was the hub of the system in our Soundcraft Ui series of mixers. We used the original Ui12/16 as proof of concepts but it is really in the Ui24 that you see the culmination of the work. This surfaceless mixer had to be able to store the presets, the product identifiers (PIDs – up to 10,000 of them), be able to recall them in a flash and still be an excellent mixer. Once we understood how the PID information would

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look, we needed to have a chip that could store the information, be able to transmit on command, and – oh yeah – not change the price of the product. We wanted it to be something we could offer as a ‘cost-less’ feature to the consumer. Next, we needed the speakers – real speakers, tear-the-roof-off-the-club level speakers – and we had them in the new JBL PRX800. We needed the speakers to work with the Ui mixer’s built-in Wi-Fi to allow plug-and-play configuration, meaning that when the speakers are plugged in to the left/right outputs the mixer knows they are stereo mains, but when plugged into the auxes it knows they are monitors. With

Connected PA you can just re-plug the speakers into auxes and they are all reconfigured faster than you can physically move them. Finally, we added a dbx Di1 DI box with the same recognition features as the P5i mic. Perfect for an acoustic guitar or bass, it will pull up the right preset for your instrument just by plugging into the mixer. Now we needed to make it work seamlessly. Last, but certainly not least, we wanted the Connected PA app to accomplish two important things. It needed to be easy to use, but have the depth a professional could appreciate and it had to be contained in one app. Look, we are as guilty of it as anyone: new product

equals new app. Pretty soon you are swiping up, down, left and right just to get to the right page: not easy in the middle of a gig. HARMAN currently has 17 different apps – we want to get that down to just one. Nevertheless, that one app could be a nightmare if it did not work correctly. To that end, we spent countless hours with end-users of all skill levels to refine the “how’s, why’s and what’s” of the workflow. In the end, making things easy can be really hard to achieve, but it’s worth it. And maybe – just maybe – Connected PA will save the world… n pro.harman.com

HARMAN Connected PA

The current CPA line-up: “With a lot more to come!” says Larson

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Live

UNITED KINGDOM

Learn off PAT

Fifteen years of collaboration between Out Board and Data Strategy means testing kit for safety has never been easier – or more colourful!

F

or manufacturers, rental companies and venues, portable appliance testing (PAT) and regulatory certification is a daily certainty, with diverse and varying global safety standards to be met. After all, nobody wants their kit to catch fire or – worse – explode when in use, do they? Technology developer Out Board is better known for the spatial audio wizardry of its TiMax SoundHub systems, but the company has another string to its bow: the PAT-4 and CAB-5 (for cable) Test Processor workstation. In tandem with associate Data Strategy’s QC-Check database and automation software, here is a system for testing safety and functionality of electrical appliances and cables, generating job-specific report documentation for each job or project. The QC-Check client-server database platform streamlines the process of professional electrical appliance and cable testing in bulk, with full electricalsafety test records referenced to an individual asset level. Single or multi-seat QC-Check/PAT4/CAB5 systems can perform 16A/32A/125A electrical safety tests in single and 3-phase rental equipment, as well as continuity and insulation tests on power, signal or data cables from five up to 100 cores. Dual 32-bit RISC ARM processors in the PAT-4 Test Processors measure resistance, current and voltage in high-speed sequenced test routines individually tailored to each asset group. The optional RCD-T test module performs fully isolated RCD tests with results recorded in QC-Check. QC-Check manages the entire end-to end process of automating, controlling and logging all tests, creating detailed audit trails for all aspects of equipment safety inspection. Data Strategy can also implement real-time integration with clients’ existing rental software packages such as RentalPoint, RTPro and HireTrack, as well as in-house proprietary systems such as PRG’s Team. Out Board director Dave Haydon explains: “Our development and marketing joint venture with Iain Roche and Data Strategy Ltd has seen four iterations of our industry-leading enterpriselevel PAT and quality test systems over about 15 years, driven by ever-changing HSE initiatives in the UK and internationally.” The inclusion of ARM processors in the latest PAT-4/ CAB-5/RCDT Test Processors, and Data Strategy’s lead on sales, system specification and QC-Check software development, has led this essential resource to really come of age, says Haydon. “It provides the ultimate future-proofed electrical safety test, logging and

reporting platform for production rental companies and venues.” Production Resources Group (PRG) was an early adopter of the technology, leading to 35 networked QC-Check/PAT-4 workstations serving multiple departments at PRG’s Longbridge warehouse in the UK Midlands. PRG’s operations director Nigel Taylor asserts: “It enables us to feel confident in the shows we’re taking on, whether that’s large-scale opening ceremonies or concert touring you know that these shows which can be going into listed buildings or massive stadia are hitting the regulatory safety obligations of Europe.” The standardisation of testing and data-logging processes ensures clear data and straightforward tasks for his staff, whereas previously there was, “…manually obtained data consolidated and formalised into one document for presentation to the customer. Items would be missed, wrong barcodes copied… but with the QC-Check the data is 100 per cent accurate, there is

WE’VE USED THE ORIGINAL SYSTEM OVER FOUR YEARS. THERE WAS NO ALTERNATIVE...

SHAUN PEARCE

absolutely no variation in accuracy.” It’s “impossible” for the operation “not to be accurate”, he claims. Pearce Hire of Cambridge invested in two units, including second QC-Check/PAT-4 workstation with RCD test function last year, dedicated for its power distribution department. MD Shaun Pearce explains: “We’ve used the original system over four years. There was no alternative, to be quite honest, we wanted something that was going to integrate with our stock control and Hire Track. It all works together as part of one big, smooth process that tests and logs all the equipment using the same data.” Data Strategy’s QC-Check workstations, custom designed and precision engineered by SES Entertainment Service, provide all appliance and cable test connectors employed by a particular rental operation or venue. Also housing the QC-Check computer, barcode scanners and the Out Board PAT-4 and CAB-5 devices, the workstations are designed to be fully integrated into the real-time warehouse job

Out Board PAT-4/Data Strategy QC-Check Workstation, ready for action

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Iain Roche of Data Strategy

prep procedures, augmenting essential electrical-safety tests with fully documented multi-step functional and inspection tests. PRG’s Taylor states: “Everyone is testing to the same ethic. It’s a logical process to check there’s no external or physical damage – everyone is at the same standard – which is otherwise impossible to determine without QC-Check.” For Pearce, the investment is “justifiably worthwhile!”. He adds: “Any form of testing, checking or servicing will help improve the standard of the equipment we send out: we know hand-on-heart that its working 100 per cent safely, which brings its own peace of mind.” This quality-control data captured for each piece of equipment over time can be used constructively to trace problems. Nigel Taylor uses this regularly to “address skills gap shortages and understand how things go through prep, but also to support compliance issues encountered in the field”. He goes on to claim: “It gives us the support and stability to say, ‘Actually, this item left this building on this day, in this condition’, so it gives us a lot of security, which is very beneficial.” Pearce concludes: “Having the PAT test gives us the edge over other companies that don’t test in this way. I’d

recommend it to anybody. It’s absolutely the way to go for any company that wants to grow.” n www.datastrategy.com www.outboard.co.uk www.pearcehire.co.uk

Shaun Pearce

A series of high-intensity loudspeakers from Funktion-One, engineered for unforgettable audience experiences

See us at Prolight+Sound 2017 Outdoor demos in Agora area every two hours, please check our stand for demo times

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Evolution Series www.psneurope.com/live

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P52 APRIL 2017

Installation

Swedish DJ Adam Beyer gets the crowd going in the Press Hall Photo credit: Max Meichowski

UNITED KINGDOM

Stop the presses for Printworks Two fully soundproofed halls, racks of industrial machinery and a site used for filming famous movies, means a lot of history is contained in London’s newest nightclub. Sarah Sharples works it out

A

new nightclub in London has opened in the building that housed the giant presses that once printed the Metro and Evening Standard newspapers. It’s a space that contained western Europe’s former largest print facility, spread over more than 100,000sqft (9,400sqm). The unique industrial space has been used for a range of launch events, as well as a location for films such as The Avengers: The Age of Ultron (2015), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and Criminal, starring Kevin Costner (2016). Manchester United star Paul Pogba appeared at Printworks as the face of an Adidas’s campaign in 2016. He was choppered in and joined by BRIT winner Stormzy and Radio iXtra, Twin B, with football-mad guests led through the Press Halls and into the cavernous Reel Storage space to test the new Red Limit models, the company’s football boot collection released late last year. Meanwhile, luxury British fashion brand Mulberry chose Printworks as the venue to launch its 2017 summer collection. Over 900 guests watched two catwalks in ‘The Vanway’ – a space that once housed the final stage of the printing process and where vans would collect newspapers for distribution in the UK – and the Publishing room, a 20,000sqft (1,800sqm) space on the site. And Triumph’s Bonneville Bobber motorcycle was launched there in October 2016, with The Vaccines and DJ Harriet Rose filling the space with music, during which an indoor drag race with the motorcycles also took place. Launched as a nightclub in February this year,

UK DJ Maya Jane Coles hits the decks Photo credit: Justine Trickett

Printworks is a 6,000-capacity licensed venue comprising six event spaces, arranged over multiple levels with a maze of corridors and rooms, which retain all the original industrial machinery, including two fully soundproofed press halls. The opening nights line-up featured a back-toback set from German DJ and electronic music producer Loco Dice, American duo The Martinez Brothers and American DJ Seth Troxler. The main room, the Press Hall, was fully-fitted with L-Acoustics loudspeakers, an automated lighting truss

that makes the most of the vast heights and over 100 lasers and spotlights to illuminate the dramatic industrial features. BSC Audio was responsible for the installation, along with Loz Poulton, production manager at LWE, a London promoter. Managing director at BSC Audio David Shepherd says: “It’s a challenging space for audio with low balconies on either side of a long room. The biggest problem is achieving enough height in the system to get throw, so

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P54 APRIL 2017

Installation

Looking down on the crowd in the Press Hall. Photo Credit: Danny North The Charge Room features Void Acoustics’ systems

much so that metalwork had to be removed from some of the under balconies to get the stacks in. Working closely with Loz I think we have achieved a great result in what is an iconic venue.” The L-Acoustics set up consists of 8 stacks with a total of 12 x K2, 12 x Kara, 16 x SB28 and six SB18. The DJ monitors are two SB28 with 4 ARCS, while the bar Area is 8 x Kiva, driven from 15 LA8. The console is a Yamaha QL1 with a Rio 3224. Meanwhile, for ‘Charge Bay’ – a smaller room on the main floor – the sound system was designed,

commissioned and installed by club speaker specialist Void Acoustics, while there is a another system from the Poole-based developer upstairs at the artist bar. Jake Manley, UK sales manager at Void Acoustics, talks enthusiastically about the new venue: “Printworks in London is an amazing space that instantly captured our hearts. The industrial setting mirrors London’s underground music scene and is perfectly located near the centre of the capital,” he says. “The events at Printworks (will) feature some of the biggest names in the industry, and we have specified a sound system to match

the quality of the artists that will perform (there).” With the assistance of Peterborough-based sound and lighting specialist Twisted Audio team, which is led by Barry Williams, the crew from Void designed a custom sound system for Printworks with the aim of delivering as even coverage as possible. The system in Charge Bay features Air Motion, Void’s three-way bi-amped sculpted loudspeaker array, and Stasys 218 low-frequency enclosures to deliver a thunderous and dynamic low end. Void says that the new Air Stream monitors have been chosen to provide DJs with “ultra smooth frequency transmission at high sound pressure levels”. Void Acoustics was established in 2002 by Rog Mogale and Alex Skan. As creative director, Mogale said in PSNEurope’s original 2015 Genius! supplement: “When I designed the Air Motion, I threw away the box. No box, no resonance. I then selected the very best transducers I could find and matched them to horns with minimal colouration. I’m proud that we achieved a product totally without compromise, either sonically or visually.” Events are already booked into the space up until September and Paul Jack, from Printworks, is impressed with how the space has been transformed. “It was fantastic seeing the space come to life both from a sound and visual perspective. Watching people’s excitement seeing the space for the first time said it all,” says Jack. “It was a testament to all the work that has gone into preparing the space and to our production team, Loz Poulton and Zofia Plonczak. Void provided the sound in Charge Bay, installing a four point system that delivered a clear and punchy sound with amazing feedback from artists and clubbers alike; it sounded amazing.” Future plans for the space include a mini-jazz season, a classical music programme, alongside markets, vintage fairs and food festivals, plus in-house music events. n www.l-acoustics.com www.voidacoustics.com

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CALL FOR

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Please send all contributions for possible publication to drobinson@nbmedia.com

P57 APRIL 2017

Hither & builder

Bonobo, BVE, Bose, beer and buskers – it’s a b-b-brilliant range of photos this month

The view from behind the desk: US engineer David Liles mixes laidback dancebeat maker Bonobo (and an orchestra, no less) for two nights at the 02 Academy Brixton last month

What are all the best French skiers listening to at lunchtime? Well, this Bose F1 system no less, cranking out ‘les hits’ in La Plagne

SIMple Simon? No, It’s Broadcast SIM! Spotted at BVE at ExCeL last month

Why is there a housing crisis in the UK? Because the workforce are moonlighting as buskers, that’s why. It’s disgusting, etc, etc…

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P58 APRIL 2017

Backtalk

Photo credit: Marc Seth

Manon Grandjean Having worked with the likes of English grime and hip-hop artist Stormzy and the band London Grammar, the French engineer speaks to Sarah Sharples about life in the studio

W

inning Breakthrough Engineer of the Year at the MPG Awards was a defining moment for Manon Grandjean. She was “proud to represent women in the industry” and hopes the recognition from that accolade will encourage more females to carve out a career in the music business. The soul and R’n’B music fan has worked with a range of big names in the industry: from Noel Gallagher, Kasabian and Ethan Johns when she was inhouse assistant and engineer at songwriter Terry Britten’s State of the Ark Studio, to engineering London Grammar’s platinum-selling debut album If You Wait in 2013 as well as the Novello-winning band’s forthcoming 2017 follow-up. Other recent projects have included Kano’s Made in the Manor and Gavin James’ Bitter Pill.

Why did you want to work in the industry? I was always involved in music since I was young. I was classically trained on guitar for many years. At 18 I did an internship in a recording studio in the south of France as I wanted to see what a sound engineer really does. I learned so much and I was hooked: since then, I knew that it was what I wanted to do.

How did you get started? I started in Livingston Studios in London at the end of 2009 as an intern/runner after I finished my studies in France. I was an intern for a few months and worked my way up as an assistant. Shortly after I started working at State of The Ark [in Richmond] as a freelancer and became their trusted in-house assistant and engineer for five years. In 2013 I also started to work at RAK studios until mid-2015.

writer/producer Fraser T Smith in his own studio in Parsons Green. I met him at RAK on a session for Gavin James, and ended up working with him since then, full-time. The highlight of that has been to engineer and co-mix the #1 album [and BRIT winner] Gang Signs and Prayer.

What are three bits of kits you couldn’t do without and why? Like every engineer, I like nice gear, preferably vintage! To narrow it down to three is pretty hard but, a nice microphone like an old Neumann U 47, a good preamp like a Neve 1073, and an LA2A compressor. Although great gear is essential to do great recordings, working on the sound of your source in the room is as important. I also try not to let gear get in the way of creativity and musicality.

technical work and musicality. Great engineers and producers like Sir George Martin and Glyn Johns, mixers like Spike Stent, mastering engineers like Mandy Parnell. It is almost unfair to give a couple of names as there are so many; every producer or engineer I worked with influenced me – you always pick up tips and tricks along the way.

You won Breakthrough Engineer of the Year at the MPG Awards. How did that feel? It felt incredible! I couldn’t believe being up there with all those great producers and engineers and mixers I admire. I was really honoured and humbled to receive an MPG Award but I was also very proud of it – to represent women engineers and hopefully inspire younger women.

What do you think marked that breakthrough? You worked on If You Wait. How was that? London Grammar came to State Of The Ark to work on that first album with producers Tim Bran and Roy Kerr. We all got along really well. It was the start of a great relationship. They loved the studio’s atmosphere and all the [vintage] gear in it, the whole session was very relaxed. It was like working with great friends.

Their second album is coming out soon – what can we expect from it?

Engineering the first London Grammar album was a turning point for me: people started to acknowledge my work after that. Working with Fraser allowed me to take it even further by not only engineering but also mixing and mastering projects, which also a second breakthrough for me.

What is it like to work in such a male dominated industry?

What are you currently working on?

Who are your biggest influences?

I was really lucky that I always worked with nice and open-minded people that never saw my gender being an issue in the studio. It is good to bring a bit more balance in the studio environment. I think things are changing and I think people need to be aware of that – there are a lot of amazing people in the music industry and we should focus on that instead of the negatives. n

I am currently working with Grammy award-winning

There are so many, people that inspire me for their

www.matrix-studios.co.uk

We did a few weeks of recording back at State Of The Ark last year. It was great to work with them again, and with the same producers (My Riot). It a beautiful album and I am sure their fans will be very pleased with it.

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Big thinking For smaller boxes

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