Cruising cities August 2016
Get onboard to discover how the pro-audio industry is sailing the seas P48 P26
WHAT’S THE SPIN ON ANALOGUE TAPE-MAKING IN FRANCE?
WE ASK, WHAT WILL PRO-AUDIO BE LIKE IN 2021?
DEEP DOWN AND DIRTY AT THE SLUDGIEST GLASTONBURY YET
PM. The new generation. A new era of digital mixing has arrived. For more than four decades Yamaha has been at the forefront of live sound mixing technology. Now we deliver the culmination of years of dedication to the art of the digital mixer, our new ﬂagship - the RIVAGE PM10. The future is here. Discover RIVAGE PM10 at yamahaproaudio.com
Expanding the Rivage family with RPio222
For more information please visit www.yamahaproaudio.com
Connect with experience
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X8, LIVE MONITOR - L-ACOUSTICS X SERIES In creating the X Series, we brought all of the experience gained in designing the K2 to bear on a new series of reference coaxials. Optimized design, ergonomics, acoustical performance and weight make the X Series the most advanced coaxials on the market. Four distinct enclosures with format, bandwidth, SPL and coverage angles perfectly adapted to short throw rental or install applications, the X Series offers studio monitor sound quality, compact design, consistent tonal balance, no minimum listening distance and exceptional feedback rejection. www.l-acoustics.com
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Contributors: Kevin Hilton, Marc Maes, Dave Wiggins, Mike Clark, Phil Ward, Erica Basnicki, David Davies, Simon Duff
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P3 AUGUST 2016
DAVE ROBINSON Editor
ou could call it a double-header this month, as not only have we slaved (and believe you me, slaved we have) to get this fun-packed edition of PSNEurope together, the team has also completed the annual report for the live sound business, PSNLive. You may have both of them in print, you may only see them both online, but either way, there are some pieces to be read side-by-side. For instance, our exclusive access to the Stereophonics gig in Wrexham – whereby die-hard MLA fan Dave Roden warms to the Italian charms of Capital Sound’s new Outline GTO system (p42) – should be lined up next to the PSNLive piece on the bigger picture view from Paul Timmins and his crew. (Boy, those guys have been busy this year...) Pictures courtesy of our old mate James Cumpsty, by the way. Similarly, Kevin Hilton’s trip with Richard Branson (..sort of) on p32 might be followed up with his companion piece on Extreme Gigs, also in PSNLive. That hugely inspired – and inspiring – feature also explains why there are rather a lot of Jamiroquai pictures in Hither & Dither this month (p58). But I digress. You’ll have seen the whopping great boat on the cover this month. It’s the world’s biggest cruise liner, in fact, the gargantuan Harmony of the Seas. I’ve been wanting to run a feature like this for a while, circumnavigating (if you will) the ocean of pro-audio equipment, networking infrastructure, detailing and more that goes into installing state-of-the-art entertainment and communications systems into these beasts. It’s a discussion I’ve had with my parents many times over the years: they couldn’t possibly see themselves taking on a holiday on such a vessel (and they are of an age when you’d think they would, with all due respect to Mum and Dad!) However, read through Sarah Sharples’ excellent piece, and you too will be packing your suitcase and heading down to Southampton... It seems that Simon Honywill could have done with some sort of sea-going craft to get him around the quagmire of sludge that was Glastonbury this year. Read his hilarious tales from the festival on p44. You might want to take a bath afterward.
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P4 AUGUST 2016
In this issue... P40 CHANGES AT HK AUDIO THE GERMAN MANUFACTURER’S OVERHAUL
P18 IBC2016 – STARRING ANG LEE PEEK INTO WHAT’S ON SHOW
P58 BUSINESS AND BREXIT ADLIB MD ANDY DOCKERTY ON DIVERSIFYING
Studio 20 22 24 26 30
Producer/engineer Fabrizio Simoncioni’s new venture Livingstone Studio gets a refurb Music is back on at Suburban Home Studio Analogue tape’s comeback One microphone to record the whole band
Broadcast P32 TRUCKING BACK AFTER FIRE NEP VISIONS’ BRINGS DANTE IN
Business 6 7 8 10 12 14
Stage Tec and Salzbrenner companies untangle New memberships for the Open Control Alliance The Pro Sound Awards Vocal channel: Dave Wiggins Movers and shakers: industry appointments PSNTraining: what’s on
NEP Visions’ recovers from devastating ﬁre Future of the pro-audio industry in 2021
Live 40 42 44
Eight reasons to make way for HK Audio Stereophonics outing for Capital Sound Roll in the mud at Glastonbury 2016
Installation 48 54
All aboard! Cruise ships, crews and communications d&b audiotechnik enters Amsterdam ArenA
New products IBC2016 Conference preview
Hither and dither Q&A: Andy Dockerty
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THE LEO FAMILY TRUE SOUND IN LINE ARRAYS.
The LEO Family provides power and clarity for nearly every application, from intimate performance spaces to the worldâ€™s largest outdoor festivals. LEOPARD, the smallest in the family, is gaining a following for being the most lightweight and versatile line array in its class. From small to midsize to large-scale, this family of line arrays has you covered.
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P6 AUGUST 2016
Long-running Stage Tec/Salzbrenner dispute untangled It’s one of the most recognisable names in pro audio, but also one of the most contentious. Kevin Hilton looks at the acrimonious – and confusing – situation between the different Stage Tec and Salzbrenner companies that is finally drawing to a close
he existence of three apparently separate operations each using either the Stage Tec/Stagetec or Salzbrenner names – or both – has caused confusion in the market in the last 20 years. This state of affairs became more convoluted earlier this year but now appears to be approaching a conclusion following negotiations between two of the parties and the closure of the third. During IBC 2015 Stage Tec, manufacturer of the AURUS digital mixing console and NEXUS routing and networking system, announced a restructuring that included the appointment of Dr Helmut Jahne as sole managing director. Jahne was a co-founder of the company in 1993, when it was known as Stage Tec Entwicklungsgesellschaft für professionelle Audiotechnik (literally ‘Stage Tec development for professional audio’, or EfpA – our abbreviation – for short). The manufacturing division grew out of a sales company founded in the Bavarian town of Hallstadt in 1992. Stage Tec Vertrieb für professionelle Audiotechnik (‘Stage Tec, trade for professional audio’, VfpA – our shorter version again) went on to become the exclusive distributor for Stage Tec console and networking products. A third component was later added with the creation of the systems integrator latterly known as Salzbrenner Stagetec Audio Video Mediensysteme. When its premises in Hallstadt became too small for its growing development and manufacturing operations, Stage Tec EfpA moved to larger facilities in Berlin in 1999. In 2001, Stage Tec VfpA and Salzbrenner Stagetec Audio Video Mediensysteme also left Hallstadt, moving to the market town of Buttenheim some 24km away. Also during the early 2000s the Salzbrenner family took full ownership of the sales company, renaming it Salzbrenner Stagetec Vertrieb professoneller Audiotechnik. Salzbrenner Stagetec Audio Video Mediensysteme, which also handles Stage Tec products, including the AURUS and NEXUS, but, to add to an already confused situation, produces its own range of digital mixing systems, notably the POLARIS series of networked mixing desks. At the end of 2015, following the appointment of Helmut Jahne, the existing Salzbrenner Stagetec/ Stage Tec website was “separated out”, with the various
companies taking on even more individual identities. In February 2016 there was a further delineation when the email domains of the operations were also changed so that each company had its own address. Early in March, the sales company was renamed; ‘Salzbrenner’ was dropped to make it Stagetec Vertrieb professoneller Audiotechnik again. It was also moved from Buttenheim back to Hallstadt. Shortly after this Stagetec Vertrieb professoneller Audiotechnik ﬁled for insolvency in the German courts. According to Jahne the company had been having difficulty paying its bills and was shut down owing €11 million to the Stage Tec manufacturing operation in Berlin. In April, both Stage Tec from Berlin and Salzbrenner Stagetec Audio Video Mediensysteme of Buttenheim attended Pro Sound + Light in Frankfurt. The latter announced that it had changed its name to Salzbrenner media, with the slogan “Professional in everything we do”. Joint managing director Thomas Salzbrenner commented that the date of this name change, 1 April, coincided with the founding of the parent group on the same date in 1963. Explaining the reason for the move and general restructuring, fellow joint managing director Wolfgang Saltzbrenner says: “Since last year we have been readjusting our structures and processes with focus on the perspectives of the worldwide media markets. Now is the time to unify our brands.” The company also presented the POLARIS evolution console for theatre projects and introduced the NIO xcel range of network audio interfaces. In addition to its own products the Salzbrenner media website shows that the company continues to handle the Stage Tec ranges and those of the intercom and commentary system specialist Delec. Head of sales Marco Kraft told PSNEurope that Salzbrenner media was “ﬁne and independent” but that Stage Tec “is one of our important product deliverers for system integration
Dr Helmut Jahne, co-founder of the original 1993 Stage Tec
The AURUS Platinum digital mixing console
projects”. He adds that Stagetec Vertrieb professoneller Audiotechnik had supplied Stage Tec products to the SI company in its role as official distribution channel for the ranges. Kraft also conﬁrms that Stagetec Vertrieb professoneller Audiotechnik had now ceased trading. During PL+S, Stage Tec launched Platinum DSP for its consoles, along with an intelligent ﬁbre-optic board for connectivity on its NEXUS audio networks and mixing desks. The company has also strengthened its sales operation with the appointment of Alexander Nemes as sales manager and Jens Kuhlmann to the role of project planning and customer support. Commenting on the situation with Salzbrenner media, Helmut Jahne says that it was “a good idea” for the integration company to change its name and remove the Stagetec component. He adds that while not all disputes between the two sides were resolved, negotiations were continuing between the Salzbrenner family and Stage Tec EfpA. At the time of going to press he hoped that a ﬁnal agreement would be reached in the near future. www.salzbrenner.com www.stagetec.com
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P7 AUGUST 2016
AES70/OCA: full speed ahead? A cluster of new membership announcements for the AES70-supporting Open Control Alliance suggests that – six months on from its publication – the networked audio control standard is beginning to make its mark, writes David Davies
ix months on from the publication of AES70 – which is based on the Open Control Architecture (OCA) developed over multiple years by the OCA Alliance – there are clear indications that the control standard is starting to achieve traction in pro-audio. After a number of highproﬁle showcases at trade shows including Prolight + Sound, late July brought news of three new members. AES70/OCA was the subject of extensive coverage in the February 2016 edition of PSNEurope, but to recap its primary objective is to make it possible to change and monitor all operating parameters of a network device. These include creation and deletion of signal paths, parameter adjustments for signal processing objects, network device ﬁrmware updates, and management of access control. In addition, control may be limited to facilitate simpler ‘operator’ functionality. The three new member companies – custom control OEM manufacturer 1602 Group, AoIP live sound networking and USB audio streaming specialist Archwave Technologies, and commercial audio giant TOA Corporation – join the Alliance in the wake of the OCA’s appearance at InfoComm 2016, where it featured a live demo of AES70 interoperability on its booth. Arie van den Broek, CEO of Archwave Technologies, comments: “Being dedicated to open technologies and standardisation in Audio-over-IP, joining the OCA Alliance and, therewith, supporting the AES70 standard, was a logical extension to Archwave’s current leading position as provider for modular AoIP solutions for RAVENNA and AES67.” Ethan Wetzell, OCA Alliance spokesperson and Bosch Communications Systems engineering core
We see it as being an incredibly positive sign […] that the beneﬁts of AES70 for customers and manufacturers alike are being recognised.
Ethan Wetzell, Bosch Communications Systems and OCA Alliance platform strategist, says: “we take the [new member conﬁrmations] as an incredibly positive sign that as people have watched the technology develop and the standardisation process become formal and ratiﬁed, they have made two principal observations: ﬁrstly, that there is a deﬁnite market beneﬁt for customers and manufacturers alike; and secondly, they feel conﬁdent that this is real and is now making its way into the market.” The OCA Alliance is hopeful there will be more member announcements in due course, with Wetzell saying the organisation is “happy to have a conversation with anyone who shows an interest. But I would say that our focus isn’t on the numbers as such, it’s more about focusing on the promotion of the technology and pushing the standard forwards.” With this in mind, the OCA Alliance will continue to develop the OCA MicroDemo, which was created to demonstrate the ability of OCA to run in lightweight hardware environments and will soon be made
available “by way of software and hardware references”. Wetzell also draws attention to a new open source controller developed by another recent addition to the Alliance, DeusO GmbH: “It’s been made available to anyone interested in using it and provides a really clever library of tools that allow people to build up front-end control applications for OCA devices.” Whilst the work of “spreading adoption and awareness” regarding AES70 is ongoing, Wetzell conﬁrms that progress is also being made on the prospective directory standard. Currently referred to as AES-X238, the project aims to ‘develop a statement of requirements for a directory service architecture, possibly including an automatic network discovery mechanism, suitable for professional media networks of all scales, from tabletop to intercontinental.’ Wetzell says its still in early stages, but regular work is happening and thinks a timetable of 18 months to two years could prove to be “about right”. www.aes.org
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08 AUGUST 2016
Shortlist suspense! W The list of potential winners will be released imminently...
ith the fourth annual Pro Sound Awards now less than two months away, the PSNEurope team is currently working its way through the huge number of nominations received to decide on the ﬁnal shortlist. This process involves looking at the performance of those nominations over the past year (between end of May 2015 and end of June 2016), plus the information provided by the lobbying emails, but we don’t base ﬁnalist positions on the number of emails we receive about a particular company – just solid evidence for their inclusion. The official shortlist will be released in early August at which point our panel of judges from across the pro-audio spectrum will begin the difficult task of deciding the winners (with the exception of the Grand Prix and Lifetime Achievement gongs which are decided by PSNEurope, and the Rising Star award, chosen by our friends at Audio Media International). Tickets for the awards, which celebrate excellence in live, studio, installed and broadcast audio, are on sale now for a bargain £55. For the second year running, Canadian stand up comedian Sean Collins
will be hosting the Awards. Since moving to the UK, Collins has quickly established himself as a respected comedian. His appearance on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow on BBC 1 proved a bombastic gig, affording him the opportunity to perform at The Real Variety Showcase for Jeremy Lee Associates, the UK’s biggest specialist agency for after dinner speakers, awards hosts, corporate cabaret and public sector events. Also returning this year is the ever popular photo booth, sponsored by Audio-Technica. Tom Harrold, marketing manager, EMEA, at Audio-Technica, said: “We’re delighted to be a part of the Pro Sound Awards and to join the NewBay team in celebrating and honouring the many talented individuals who make our industry what it is. “It’s with a big smile on our faces that we’ve chosen to sponsor this year’s photo booth, which will hopefully leave guests with great memories of what we’re sure will be a fantastic night. Good luck to all on the shortlist!” And don’t forget to keep an eye on www.psneurope. com next week when that shortlist will be revealed.
Want to get involved? A range of partnership opportunities – from headline sponsor to category, red-carpet and afterparty sponsorship – are available. Contact PSNEurope’s Ryan O’Donnell (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rian Zoll-Khan (email@example.com) for more details! Ticket enquiries? Drop James a line, firstname.lastname@example.org
THE CATEGORIES Live/touring sound • Engineer of the year • Best tour sound production • Best theatre sound Studio sound • Engineer of the year • Best studio • Best sound in post-production Installed sound • Team of the year • Best permanent installation project • Best temporary installation project Broadcast sound • Team of the year • Broadcast event of the year • Best facility Achievement • Marketing initiative of the year • Rising star (in association with Audio Media International) • Lifetime achievement • Grand prix
www.psneurope.com/business 08 PSAwards FIN.indd 1
G E T C LO S E R TO THE POWER OF LIVE When itâ€™s your reputation on the line, choose mics that will provide the most consistently honest sound. DPA Microphones offers a wide range of specially-designed produc ts for your close-miking or ambience-miking needs. No matter what you choose, you can be cer tain that there are no other mics that will deliver a live experience as powerful to your audience. Visit your local audio dealer to learn more about the range of options available.
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Made in Denmark 22/07/2016 10:17:12
P10 AUGUST 2016
Welcome back, old friend
P DAVE WIGGINS is a freelance marketeer and pro-audio pundit
LASA’s blue riband event returns to west London this September when the new format show occupies Olympia from the 18th to 20th. In its 39th year and according to its governing body, the show ‘.... will deliver a renewed proposition, providing an exhibition solution more suited to current industry needs... with live demo opportunities for the audio and lighting sectors, plus product shoot-outs, technical workshops and training sessions, networking sessions, conferences...’ Although the number of pro-audio shows globally is less than in previous years, it is still easy to get blasé about them and dismiss them as peripheral. In this information age one can ﬁnd out pretty much anything about any sound, lighting, staging, projection or video product via the ‘net so why schlep round a hot, noisy exhibition hall?
Well, in the opinion of this correspondent at least, the equipment on display at trade shows these days is mostly just eye candy. It’s nice to be able to twiddle the knobs and be dazzled by the wobbly mirrors but that’s not the point any more - modern trade events deliver real value to exhibitors and visitors alike by providing worthwhile opportunities to make or renew valuable personal connections. Meeting the people behind the brands and technology is priceless and full of opportunity to develop commercial possibilities. With the beneﬁt of hindsight it’s easy to be critical of PLASA’s move to ExCeL in 2013. OK, it’s a fair cop, now let’s move on. The fact that so much of the pro-audio community has chosen not to participate in the London show (though they’ve been at the excellent Focus events) in recent years is also regrettable and I hope that the new format and location
will entice them back – it is of course down to PLASA to construct a credible commercial argument to get those companies back on board and I sincerely hope they do. I admit that I’m biased, partly because I’ve spent chunks of my life at PLASA shows but also because I believe that the UK needs a contemporary London-based trade event for the production industry. No one should need reminding of the UK’s vast inﬂuence over the world of entertainment and its technologies. The network of international manufacturers, resellers and distributors that have evolved to support that creativity deserve a high-proﬁle international platform in the hippest and most artistically diverse city. At the very least those who haven’t taken part for some time, both visitor and exhibitor, should deﬁnitely pop in. I’ll see you there. www.plasashow.com
Slogan created by:
Name: Jane Scutt Job title: Gram op Company: Castor Sound Ltd
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P12 AUGUST 2016
Movers and shakers
Dynamic changes for DPA Microphones management A new CEO is coming on board after Christian Poulsen’s surprise departure
PA Microphones of Denmark has announced that Kalle Hvidt Nielsen will become the company’s new CEO on 1 September, 2016. Nielsen will succeed interim CEO, Thorsten Reuber, who has managed the company since 25 January. However, the news comes as something of a surprise to members of the wider pro-audio community, who were not aware that Christian Poulsen, CEO since October 2010, had moved on. “DPA has made great progress over the last years, which to a large extent is thanks to Christian Poulsen’s efforts,” Reuber told PSNEurope. “Throughout 2015, there was a difference of opinion between the shareholders on the further strategic direction of DPA. It was decided that Christian Poulsen should step down as CEO. “He is in a good and constructive dialogue with DPA and the other shareholders.” Poulsen’s arrival saw the departure of DPA cofounder Morten Støve, and the introduction of the ‘d:’ series of microphones: d:vote, d:screet, d:ﬁne and more. Kalle Hviedt Nielsen is “accustomed to heading up
companies that focus on high-quality solutions and cutting-edge technologies”, says DPA. He brings over 15 years of experience in directing technology-focused Danish companies, including Topsil Semiconductor Materials A/S, Bang & Olufsen A/S and Brüel & Kjær Sound & Vibration Measurement A/S. “Nielsen brings rich experience from the audio industry,” says Reuber. “He is the right person to lead DPA into the next phase of growth, including the development of a broader, more application-oriented and digital product portfolio. www.dpamicrophones.com
DEALER NETWORK ADAM Audio has announced Black Box as the new distributor for Malta. Sandro Sammut, managing director at Black Box, says: “We have been following ADAM for quite some time and were fascinated by the supersonic quality and performance of the systems from the smallest F Series up to the GTC Series.” Technical and sales director David Zammit says: “ADAM Audio’s speaker design and engineering is world class. It gives us the possibility to be at the forefront providing cutting edge technology and unrivalled quality to our customers.” www.black-box.pro www.adam-audio.com ARX Systems has appointed V HyperSound & Light as its exclusive distributor for Cyprus. “V HyperSound & Light’s is a well known and respected distributor of professional audio and lighting products,” says ARX managing director, Colin Park. “They’re the ideal partner to grow the market and user base for our digital and analogue product range throughout Cyprus.” Managing director of V HyperSound & Light, Vassos Mouzouras says: “ARX ... will be of great interest to our installation, live sound, corporate, broadcast and studio customers.” ARX joins V HyperSound & Light’s distribution portfolio that includes Mackie, Clock Audio, Logic Systems and Pan Acoustics. www.hypersound.com.cy www.arx.com.au
Barclay Dakers joins Adlib as business development manager. He will be dedicated to building Adlib’s brand and customer relations in Scotland. www.adlib.co.uk
Marquee AV has appointed Ed Draycott as project manager. Draycott will oversee the company’s installations in large scale venues. www.marqueeav.com
Craig Hamilton has been recruited as operations manager for Adlib. He will be based in the new warehouse in Glasgow and will be dealing with logistics. www.adlib.co.uk
Visual Data Media’s new audio post-production division, called Visual Data Sound Services has appointed Matt Pavolaitis as rerecording mixer. www.visualdatamedia.com
Also joining Visual Data Media’s new division is Greg Faust as the senior re-recording mixer, with responsibiity for driving business development. www.visualdatamedia.com
Yamaha Music Europe has appointed Reece Stead as its new commercial audio sales representative for the northern UK and Northern Ireland. www.yamahaproaudio.com
Radial Engineering has appointed FACE as its exclusive distributor in the Netherlands. FACE has been taking care of Radial’s distribution in Belgium and Luxemburg for years. Karel De Piere, CEO of FACE says: “Radial is a brand with a wide range of smart solutions and problem solvers. Their portfolio contains products that are perfect for the rental, theatre and broadcast market but are equally at home in studios. Radial ﬁts perfectly in our existing portfolio and aims both at the professionals market, as well as the MI retail industry.” Peter Janis, CEO of Radial Engineering, says: “FACE has been expanding into the Netherlands for quite a while now, and with their dedicated local sales team, we are very conﬁdent that this is a step in the right direction.” www.radialeng.com www.face.be
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Desired directivity and better impulse response
Measures 10db less noise pollution on stage Digital acoustic steering Hyper-cardioid dispersion Self powered
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P14 AUGUST 2016
Powersoft alert to adapting RH Consulting Guide for training BY SARAH SHARPLES
September 14 Soundcraft Vi Series Console Letchworth Garden City, UK www.soundtech.co.uk
September 15 Making Waves Production Park, Leeds UK www.isce.org.uk
September 19-21 AFMG: Level 1 + Level 2 EASE Training Berlin, Germany www.afmg.eu
Ongoing Izotope: Pro audio essentials Online pae.izotope.com Powersoft has adapted RH Consulting’s Guide to Voice Alarm Systems into a bespoke educational tool for its customers by offering speciﬁc information about deploying its products in emergency applications. The Guide’s second edition was recently published and joint authored by pro-audio consultants Roland Hemming and Richard Northwood. Powersoft’s guide is aimed at consultants, manufacturers, installers and venue owners. Marc Kocks, Powersoft’s business development
manager for the ﬁxed install market in EMEA says: “For anyone involved in the voice alarm business this is invaluable. Features such as the loudspeaker power calculator, the worldwide voice alarm standards ﬁnder and the various comparative tables on standards requirements are information that they would ﬁnd difficult to get from any other source.” The company held a training seminar at InfoComm 2016 in Las Vegas. www.powersoft-audio.com www.rhconsulting.eu
Programme for InfoComm renewal units BY SARAH SHARPLES
Audio loudness and mastering in the Internet age BY JON SCHORAH
Sweeping changes in the way music is delivered and consumed means the rules are changing for music producers on how to mix and master content. The loudness wars have grown ﬁercer in recent years and the intention and skill level of mix practitioners has varied widely. The resultant variation in loudness from track to track has not translated well to streaming services, forcing consumers to reach constantly for the level control. Content providers have now introduced loudness-normalised playout. As a result, the use of audio compression in music production returns to its roots as a creative decision, rather than a commercially driven imperative. Engineers need tools that can not only measure target levels but help them understand the audio dynamics in more detail. NUGEN Audio has addressed these considerations with MasterCheck , the ﬁrst music-industryspeciﬁc audio plug-in designed to facilitate mix and mastering for loudness-normalised playout. With MasterCheck, producers are able to mix audio according to the new loudness criteria and understand not only how algorithms from the major streaming platforms will affect the mix, but how the music will sound on consumer playout devices for the optimal listening experience. www.nugenaudio.com Read the rest of this article online at psneurope.com
Allen & Heath has been named as an official InfoComm International Renewal Unit (RU) Provider. This will allow more than 9,000 professionals holding InfoComm International’s Certiﬁed Technology Specialist credential to earn renewal units towards their certiﬁcation by completing certain Allen & Heath education programs. The dLive Certiﬁcation Course can be completed for RUs. It will provide students with a greater knowledge of engineering and mixing a live event or broadcast, as well as a broader understanding of IP connectivity and System Networking for two RUs. At the end of the course, participants will be able to utilise the desk from Novice to Certiﬁed User. “Allen & Heath has shown a commitment to bettering the audiovisual industry through the delivery of quality training that supports accreditation,” says David Labuskes, executive director and CEO of InfoComm International. “By fostering professional development, Allen & Heath has demonstrated its leadership and strong support of the industry.” www.americanmusicandsound.com www.allen-heath.com
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P16 AUGUST 2016
What is it? A family of loudspeakers, including point source, line source, stage monitor and sub woofers, for both portable and permanent occasions. Details: The complete range consists of 8” and 12” 2-way point source loudspeakers that are available in 2 horn patterns, a double 8” articulated line array, single 12” and 18” subwoofer models – and the company will soon add a 12” co-axial stage monitor. And another thing… They all feature a large, highly-legible navigation screen that provides on-box access to all Radius functions through the use of a simple turn and push encoder www.eaw.com
VERTUS CS 1000
TRA SERIES XPA 1002-70V
What is it? Targeted at live performers and installers, it’s the latest speaker on a stick combination, which can be deployed on stage in minutes or used at a corporate function or party.
What is it? A software upgrade to separate and isolate melodic content within a mono or stereo mastered mix.
What is it? It delivers power in a small space to easily boost ampliﬁer channel counts two at a time, while only using half a rack of width of space.
Details: A bi-ampliﬁed design, the Vertus CS 1000 comprises a long excursion 12” bass reﬂex subwoofer and a passive mounted satellite. And another thing… If more power is called for, two Vertus CS1000 systems can be deployed in a dual conﬁguration and the overall system is raised by 6dB. www.fbtaudio.co.uk
Details: ADX TRAX Pro 3 and ADX TRAX 3 boast faster separation processing speeds, new STEMS ﬁle format export, consonants annotation tool and zoom-to-ﬁt options.
Details: The ampliﬁer delivers 100W of power into a 70 volt line for powering high impedance distributed speakers.
And another thing… VVC 3 features two new separation modes for vocal and melodies. The vocal mode uses an advanced algorithm to identify and separate only vocal content. audionamix.com
And another thing… There is patented CDRS – Class D Ripple Suppression technology that provides a smooth, clean audio waveform and an improvement in signal ﬁdelity over conventional Class D ampliﬁers. www.extron.com
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Show preview: IBC 2016
Will you BC’ing it? Kicking off on 8 September, Europe’s premier broadcasting technology show is back. Here’s an early primer of what you might see at the RAI
rokeback Mountain and Life of Pi multi Academy-Award winning director Ang Lee will deliver the keynote address at the IBC2016 Conference in Amsterdam, which is being held from 8-12 September. Lee will speak as part of the IBC Big Screen Experience, where more than 300 speakers will share insights on key issues in the entertainment, media and technology sector under the conference theme, Transformation in the Digital Era: Leadership, Strategy and Creativity in Media and Entertainment. Julian Pinn, executive producer, IBC Big Screen Experience says: “For over two decades, Ang Lee has shown true mastery in utilising cutting-edge science and cinematographic techniques towards his creation of some of the very ﬁnest works of cinematic story-telling art.” Lee’s keynote will focus on his latest work — Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and the revolutionary new cinematographic technique used. It unlocks a new level of story-telling power and emotional connection with the on-screen characters. It also offers greater control with preserving artistic integrity over the increasing range of delivery formats, both within cinema and to the wider electronic entertainment market. There are ﬁfteen exhibition halls, themed by creation, management and delivery. A number of exhibitors will be at the show from 9-13 September. Calrec Audio’s new Brio console will take centre stage at IBC2016. The compact digital broadcast audio console is the smallest in the Blueﬁn2 family and is 892mm wide, with dual-layer and a 36-fader surface. Calrec’s RP1 remote production unit also makes its IBC debut, while the company will unveil a number of technologies that offer simultaneous interfacing with multiple protocols and unique and comprehensive ﬂexibility across various audio and video standards. “IBC is the ideal forum to introduce our innovative new products to the European market. We ﬁrst revealed these products at the NAB Show, and they were met with great enthusiasm. Alongside Brio, RP1, and our new networking interfaces, we will also launch some exciting new additions to our product range. We’re not talking about them yet, but there will be more details in the run-up to the show,” says Dave Letson, vice president of sales, Calrec Audio. Dalet Galaxy will showcase enhancements to Brio and AmberFin platforms. Dalet offers embedded, as well as federated tools to plan, collect, research, write,
Enhancements to Brio and AmberFin platforms from Dalet Galaxy will be at the show
edit and distribute text, audio and video to television, radio, web and social media. Ben Davenport, director of marketing for Dalet Digital Media Systems, says, “Dalet will feature its effective solutions for today’s end-to-end news production and distribution workﬂows. With social media becoming the go-to platform for news consumption, content owners must ﬁnd ways to streamline news production for multi-platform distribution.” Enhancements to Dalet Galaxy user interfaces include an intuitive social media GUI that looks and acts more like a social media publishing platform. Digigram experts will show the company’s latest innovations in IP audio codecs, codec ﬂeet management, and monitoring in the cloud. They will also show audioover-IP (AoIP) sound cards for IP studio migration and IP middleware licensing for smart AoIP streaming, processing, and encoding systems. The company is making its IQOYA audio-over-IP (AoIP) technology accessible as middleware to ecosystem partners for creation of their own live streaming, processing, and encoding systems. Called IQOYA *VIP, it combines Digigram’s IQOYA IP audio streaming and encoding engine, built on the company’s advanced FluidIP technology, and key real-time audio-over-IP protocols in a solution tailored for broadcast OEM partners and system integrators. Reﬁned and optimised over ﬁve years and more than 3,000 installations for leading broadcast and telecom operations, the easy-to-integrate Lawo is presenting its new 5ژ/$< Virtual Radio Mixer
Academy Award winner Ang Lee will be the keynote speaker
IQOYA *VIP engine from Digigram features native highperformance AES67, MPEG-TS, and ACIP audio-over-IP streaming formats, top-of-the-range MPEG, AAC, OPUS, and apt-X encoding/decoding, as well as accurate PTP clock synchronisation. For the ﬁrst time in Europe, Lawo is showing its new 5ژ/$< Virtual Radio Mixer. 5ژ/$< is a softwaredeﬁned radio mixer, which means a user can easily add to its capabilities and plug-ins are available for features such as voice processing, declipping, IP remotes and multi-line VoIP. Michael Dosch, director of virtual radio products, says broadcasters can now run the equivalent of an entire radio studio’s worth of equipment on a laptop, including mixing, voice processing, codecs and phone systems. He adds that this software approach reduces the price of obtaining all these tools to a fraction of that of their hardware counterparts. Mixing and additional tools are all controlled within a multitouch onscreen GUI. Unveiling Wisycom’s new IEM receiver, At the HHB the MPR50-IEM Communications stand, co-exhibitors iOgrapher, Mogami, NUGEN Audio, RØDE Microphones, TC Electronic, Wohler and Zoom will provide a pro audio outlook. The iOgrapher line of ﬁlmmaking cases for iOS devices will be on show, as well as the range of Mogami audio cables for music and broadcast applications. NUGEN Audio will introduce its allnew audio batch ﬁle processing solution, AMB, together with a
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multi-channel upgrade of the companyâ€™s Halo Upmix plug-in for upmixing stereo audio to surround. â€œWe developed AMB in response to customer demand for increased ďŹ‚exibility, more processing power, and scalable access to expanded capabilities,â€? says Jon Schorah, founder and creative director of NUGEN Audio. AMB includes new customisation features and several optional extensions that will allow customers to carry out an even greater range of audio-processing tasks. These features include a new upmix/downmix capability, an extension for the companyâ€™s award-winning DynApt technology for loudness-range targeting and content repurposing, and loudness management support for MXF or ProRes ďŹ les. The latest version of Halo Upmix adds a brand-new set of algorithms for upmixing from multichannel audio to higher channel counts, including LCR to 5.1, 5.1 to 7.1, and 7.1 to 9.1. The 9.1 option allows the introduction of vertical positioning into the upmix, generating a 7.1.2 (Dolby Atmos) bed track-compatible upmix. A comprehensive selection of RĂ˜DE broadcast microphones will be on demonstration at the HHB Booth. New recording capabilities for Sound Deviceâ€™s PIX-E Series of 4K-compatible recording monitors are making
A debut of the PIX-E Series of 4K-compatible recording monitors from Sound Devices
their international debut at IBC. Video Devices, a brand of video products developed by Sound Devices, with its PIX-E Series of monitors now feature an H.264 codec, with the capability for simultaneously recording an edit-ready Apple ProRes ďŹ le and a more compact H.264 MP4 ďŹ le. These new features are available as a free download for PIX-E owners. With the addition of H.264, an applied LUT is baked into the H.264 .mp4 ďŹ le and saved via SD card. The master ProRes 4K ďŹ le is saved to the Video Devicesâ€™ SpeedDrive without an applied LUT. Visitors to HHBâ€™s booth can also discover a new TC Electronic desktop loudness meter called Clarity M.
Wisycom will unveil its new IEM receiver, the MPR50IEM, which was specially designed for professional in-ear monitoring applications. It includes an ENS compander that caters to live and music shows/ broadcasts by signiďŹ cantly increasing the quality of audio transmission during the transfer of complex data, such as high dynamic audio inputs. Vocal transmission, the main purpose of the previous system, is also reďŹ ned with the MPR50-IEM. It possesses channel switching capabilities, giving the user freedom to switch from IEM to IFB mode with a simple click on the menu. The new IEM protects the ears from an accidental volume increase by allowing the user to set a maximum volume with its quick lock volume control. Meanwhile, Wohler takes an exciting step with the introduction of the new VoIP- and AoIP-capable iAM series with support for SMPTE 2022. Plus, a new AES67, Dante and Ravenna option for the AMP2-16V, while alongside these will be the equally-innovative AMP12SDA and AMP1-8-M â€“ two new audio monitoring units. The HBB Communications stand will be completed by Zoomâ€™s wide array of recording devices. Tickets are on sale now, with early bird rates extended for the show. Â„ www.ibc.org
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Simoncia working hard in his new Tuscan base, D:PoT Photo credit: Alessandra Barsotti
Back to the drawing board Italian producer/engineer has a new home, writes Mike Clark
egular readers might remember a story from January 2014 regarding The Garage recording facility deep in Italy’s Tuscan countryside, created by globe-trotting produce/engineer Fabrizio “Simoncia” Simoncioni, who returned to Italy after working on award-winning recording projects in the US, UK and Mexico for many years. Simoncia has now decided to move on to yet another new venture: D:PoT recording studio in Prato (also in Tuscany). The recently opened facility was designed by acoustician Donato Masci’s Studio Sound Service. Masci designed The Garage (still in operation), so some similarity between the two was almost to be expected. Masci explains: “The control room has a ‘nonenvironment’ design, with a solid reﬂecting front and very absorbent rear and ceiling. The Genelec main monitors are ﬂush-mounted in reinforced concrete to ensure the best possible results and the rear of the room features a very deep bass trap with a custom diffusor optimised with software featuring acoustic scattering (Reﬂex, Comsol), doubling as a slat absorber and diffusor.” Here things begin to differ, as the D:PoT control room is slightly shorter, so it was decided to adopt the solution of using two wheel-mounted side islands of outboard racks that can be moved as required. Another (more important) difference consists in a window on either side of the room, through which, from behind the studio’s Solid State Logic 4064G console, the
engineer can watch the artists in a neutral vocal and solo instrument booth, or the studio’s live room, which features slat absorbers and resonators to optimise reverb times on the whole spectrum. The result is a perfectly symmetric room and fact that the windows are exactly the same size and set at the same angle is also an important factor from an acoustic point of view, as Masci explains: “This angle is very important, as it enables the ﬁrst reﬂections to be fed behind the listening area, creating the so-called reﬂection-free zone and giving the room a really spacious feel.” One of the key aspects of the studio is without doubt the ﬂush-mount format adopted for the main monitors and the concrete structure, which Masci generally proposes to clients, but, as he adds, “The ﬂoor is often unable to bear the weight of the wall, or there are other limits that compel us to look for alternatives, which are, in reality, often compromises. It’s not often you have the possibility of designing without having to resort to these compromises – for structural, budget or space reasons – but D:PoT was one of these occasions!” Equally enthusiastic about the new venture, Simoncioni continues, “We inaugurated the studio in May and immediately began work on a new album by Litﬁba, one of Italy’s historical rock bands, led by charismatic vocalist Piero Pelù.” Picking out which of the array of analogue outboard units ﬂanking his console he is particularly fond of is no easy task, but “Simoncia” highlights the Retro Instruments Sta-Level compressor and the two Retro
Instruments 176 limiting ampliﬁers (based on Bill Putnam’s classic UA 176). “I like the latter, for the ‘old’ colour they give the sound and – a must for me – the harmonic saturation they add thanks to their valves, as well as the up-front sound they deliver, particularly for vocals and electric guitars. Then there’s the less-known IGS Audio Tubecore stereo mastering compressor, a great unit that, thanks to its interchangeable valves, lets you change the overall tone and sound colour, as well as working in mid/side mode.” The monitors also play a key role: cutting edge Genelec 8351A nearﬁelds with a digitally controlled Genelec 7270A SAM subwoofer (supplied by Midiware, who Simoncioni has worked with before); plus Chris Pelonis’ Model 42 MkII mini monitors with a Pelonis LF42 sub. For clients (such as Litﬁba) who like plenty of punch, D:PoT runs a pair of older Genelec 1025A four-way main monitors, able to push out very high sound pressure while maintaining a (reportedly) linear response. Simoncioni added some ”personal” touches to the studio, such as the custom features he speciﬁed for the modiﬁed 4064G console: the power supply, sixteen Series E Black EQ, eight Series E stereo channels with ‘Brown’ EQ, LCD monitors and a two-way SSL automation interface for DAW control. Then there are additions of an aesthetic nature, such as the wall covering in the control room, reminiscent of the handcrafted saddle blankets on sale in El Paso, Mexico, where he worked in the past. www.studiosoundservice.com
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Livingston Studio 2 opening (L-R): Dave Malekpour (Augspurger); Bruce Millett and Stephen Roach (Burbank); Robbie Dunne (Miloco Gear)
Livingston Studio 2, I presume? Mike Hillier goes in search of the famous north London facility after its major refurbishment
ivingston Studio 2 in Wood Green, London, has undergone a major refurbishment. The studio, which was previously home to Jean-Paul Maunick aka Bluey from jazz-funk band Incognito, is now open as a tracking room centred around a brand new Custom Series 75 console powered by Neve. There’s a legacy surrounding Livingston, stretching back to the 1980s, which can be explored elsewhere: it involves such high-proﬁle names as producer Jerry Boys, the Buena Vista Social Club, Nick Gold, Björk and producer Marius de Vries. More apposite here is the takeover of Livingston by Miloco Studios in 2012, and the refurbishment by in-house studio design and installation team, Miloco Builds. Studio 1 has been operational for a couple of years: now it’s the turn of the Studio 2. Robbie Dunne, Miloco Gear’s sales manager, was closely involved in the reﬁt: “Bluey was using a hybrid set-up based around a summing box. We wanted to go for a more traditional set-up, so we started by looking at new consoles. I wanted the most feature-packed, exciting console I could get in for the budget we had. Burbank [Audio Systems] had just taken over the Custom 75, and the project was to make a cut down 88RS with all original 1073 preamps and 1081 EQs. It’s similar in price to the [API] 1608, but feels like you get more bang for your buck as you get all the legacy stuff, the 1073s, 1081s, 2254s, and also modern routing options. We
Custom Series 75 Manufactured by Stephen Roach’s and Burce Millett’s Burbank Audio Systems, in California, under licence from AMS-Neve, the Custom Series 75 console merges the best of classic Neve consoles, with modern circuitry, components and routing options. As the console is manufactured under licence, all the key components, such as the transformers and wing knobs, are genuine Neve, and the console development was worked on by AMS-Neve engineers in tandem with the Neve Genesys console. The 2081 inline channel strip on the console has the preamp and EQ stages from a Neve 1081, while taking the Class A output stage and switchable gapped core output transformer from the Neve 1073. The channels can be summed on either a vintage (voltage summing) or modern (current summing) stereo buss, with feeds to each buss being selectable on a per-channel basis. The two summing busses along with the switchable output transformers per channel provide a variety of sonic colouring options, which ensures the Custom Series 75 can be used to get anything from crystal clear to vintage styled recordings.
The master section of the Custom Series 75 houses two optional 2254 compressors ready to be patched across the master buss, in addition to four stereo reverb returns, two stereo and three mono Aux sends, eight recallable scenes and monitoring for up to 12 sources. The Custom Series 75 is available in conﬁgurations with banks of 8-channels between 16- and 64. Other conﬁgurable options include an optional producer’s panel, LED lights, patchbay, rackmount panels, backup PSU, timber ﬁnish and leather armrest colour. customseries75.com
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also considered SSL and Audient consoles, but kept coming back to the Custom 75.” The studio settled on a 24-channel (48-input) Custom Series 75 console with the 2254 compressor option built-in, and Miloco is now the UK dealer for Custom Series 75 consoles. For recording in Studio 2, Miloco installed a Pro Tools HDX rig with UAD card, using Avid HD I/O convertors, a Studer A80 MkIV 24-track 2-inch tape machine and an Ampex ATR-102 two-track 1/2inch machine for bouncing mixdowns. Additionally, the room is equipped with a selection of notable outboard, including an API 3124 4-channel preamp, to provide an alternative to the Neve colouring of the console, a Tube-Tech PE 1C program equaliser and DBX, Empirical Labs, SSL and Urei compressors. The main monitoring is handled by a pair of Augspurger Duo-8 monitors, says Dunne. “We looked at PMC, Quested and some other speakers for the main monitors, but the Augspurgers really carry a huge sound. Main speakers are usually only used for vibe, they lack the detail you need for mixing. This isn’t the case with the Augspurgers, they have the detail and people are mixing on them using the nearﬁelds only for reference.” In addition to installing the Duo-8 monitors in Studio 2, Dunne also installed Augspurger Duo-12s in Livingstone studio 1, he says. “A lot of hip-hop studios in America have been using Augspurgers, the JBL/Urei horn thing is really popular over there and this is a reﬁnement on that principle. “It’s not only hip-hop though, the onboard DSP means these are ﬂat from 20Hz to 20kHz – when we ﬁrst put the speakers in they weren’t great sounding, they were quite bright in the room, but the time and phase alignment, and room management systems
Augspurger Duo-8 Augspurger monitors were originally designed by George Augspurger and custom built to match the room, with crossovers, ﬁlters, delay and phase adjustment tuned by ear to the room, to produce a sound that ﬁlled the space, with a large accurate sweet spot and ﬂat frequency response. George Augspurgur’s designs have now been taken on by Dave Malekpour’s Professional Audio Devices who have integrated DSP tools into the ampliﬁers to provide the ability to tune the speakers to the room. The Duo-8 monitors in Livingstone Studio 2 are two-way mini-main loudspeakers, housing an 8-inch carbon ﬁbre loaded paper-cone woofer and 4-inch Beryllium tweeter. This produces a true main loudspeaker in a midﬁeld-sized cabinet. The ampliﬁers provide 600W to the LF/MF driver and 150W to the HF compression driver per side, with an optional 3-way ampliﬁer adding a 1,100W per side channel for powering additional sub-woofers. The DSP system is controlled via USB, with on board the amps let us tune them to the room”. Full disclosure here: like the Custom Series 75, Miloco Gear is now also the UK distributor for Augspurger monitors. The studio is also equipped with a large selection of instruments, ampliﬁers, and guitar pedals. “We want to aim the studio at indie bands looking to make an album for only a couple of grand. We know
The tastefully lit live booths!
Windows software controlling the 16 FIR userdeﬁnable EQ ﬁlters per channel. The software also includes options to control the time and phase alignment of each band in addition to limiting and level control. www.augspurgermonitors.com people are used to using plug-ins and emulations of vintage gear, but we wanted them to be able to come in here and use the real thing. To be inspired into making great music,” explains Dunne. To this end, the instrument collection in Studio 2 includes a Bösendorfer grand piano, Fender Rhodes 73 MkII stage piano, and Hammond M101 with Leslie 122 cabinet as well as more modern synths, such as a Roland Juno 60, Moog Little Phatty and Arturia MiniBrute. For guitarists, the studio has amassed a collection of vintage, rare and boutique guitar pedals so large it would be easy to get lost in. “We’ve got three different sets of pedals; pre-amps and boosters, delays and reverbs and modulation,” commens Dunne. Among the gems in this pedal collection are a Klon KTR, one of the cleanest boost pedals available, a late 60s Shin-ei/ Kimbara Companion fuzz, and a Roland AP-7 Jet Phaser, which combines fuzz and a multi-stage phaser capable of anything from mild phasing to pronounced jet-engine roar. “We know a lot of bands will track parts at home, and we wanted them to be able to come in and re-amp the parts so we also have a Radial re-amp kit, which will let bands bring their pre-recorded parts and run them out through the pedals or amps, and capture it back in”. Livingston Studio 2 is now open and taking bookings, and with such great equipment on offer, we can imagine a lot of bands and engineers are going to go looking for Livingston.
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Matthew Johnson, Hookworms and Suburban Home Studio Storm Eva brought devastation to Matthew Johnson and his recording base, but with help from friends and a GoFundMe page, Mike Hillier discovers the studio is back and better than ever The newly renovated digs
he 2015 Boxing Day ﬂoods caused by Storm Eva brought devastation across the north of England and south-west Scotland. Hundreds of residents were evacuated as rivers burst their banks. Matthew Johnson, of Leeds-based band Hookworms, and owner of Suburban Home Studios saw his studio ﬂooded in the crisis. With his studio now refurbished and ready to open again we caught up with him to see how he’s been dealing with the disaster.
Your studio Suburban Home was badly damaged in the ﬂoods on Boxing Day last year. Can you tell us what happened? I was lucky. I saw the warnings early and managed to drive back from my parent’s house on the afternoon of Boxing Day. My studio is situated about 100m from the River Aire, which ended up rising by a couple of metres to break its banks. Myself, a friend and my uncle used sandbags to keep the water out as long as possible, while we moved everything we could into the attic space. To leave we had to ﬂood the studio, which was pretty surreal. When I got there in the early afternoon the water was lapping at the car park and by the time we left it was up round my stomach (I’m six foot). We had to leave because it was no longer safe to be there. I guess since it unfolded over a few hours something very surreal became something very normal. It was the ﬁrst time the river had broken its banks since 1866.
A GoFundMe page was created on your behalf. What did that mean to you? Both ﬁnancially and motivationally I couldn’t have reopened without it. I received an insane number of messages from people around the world wishing me well because they’d enjoyed records I’ve made and it’s hard to say without appearing disingenuous, but it did keep me going. I had no idea anyone was paying any attention to my work – I’m always thrilled that I get to make a living from doing this, but always ﬁgured I was more of a transparent backroom part of the records I’ve made.
Did you manage to ﬁnd alternative studios to work in while the rebuilding was going on? Yeah I did most of my tracking at Greenmount Studio, in Armley, which is a really inspiring studio in the basement of a church. They were incredibly kind in
making space for recording I already had booked in. For mixing, I set up in my spare room, which deﬁnitely wasn’t ideal but I think I made it work through endless referencing. I worked in a few other unusual places too, including one band’s practice space and it’s been a really good learning experience to solidify what it is I want from a studio space and to also try microphones and outboard I hadn’t been able to get my hands on previously.
Suburban Home has now re-opened. Do you feel you’ve managed to make improvements to the space? Yeah! I’ve been lucky that since I moved to the current location ﬁve years ago I’ve been so busy that I never had the time to change things that annoyed me about the space. I’ve worked hard on the acoustics this time – the live room is much more open sounding and I’ve designed the traps/diffusion to be quickly moved onto or off the walls, so for a small room it’s really ﬂexible. The monitoring and general workﬂow is much better than before, as it had originally been more a case of adding things on top of one another, rather than designing it as a whole. I’ve now got multicore running to every part of
the building so the whole space is more versatile too.
Are there any further improvements you’d like to make? It wasn’t until we had to take the ceiling out post ﬂood that I realised just how bright the warehouse that houses the studio is during the day. So now I’m looking into a huge window or a sun tunnel for the live room roof in the near future. I think I’ve spent enough time working in studios with no natural light. In the long term I’m hoping to expand sideways with a second larger live room and some smaller spaces for mastering/mixing and technicians. I’d really like to turn it into a small hub, because I feel working in a community is better for everyone.
Who have you got lined up to come into the new room? I’m just ﬁnishing up mixing records for Joey Fourr and Tangerines and then I’m making records with Chain of Flowers and Native Braves both of which I’m excited about. Some other stuff I can’t talk about yet, and also a new Hookworms album. suburbanhomestudio.tumblr.com/
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Really real: Reel-to-reel returns
The vinyl revival is so 2015. To be a truly modern audiophile, put the turntable away and make room for the reel-to-reel. It’s analogue tape’s time for (another) comeback and Mulann Group has torches at the ready to carry it into the future, writes Erica Basnicki
he ongoing battle to reclaim audio quality from the over-compressed world of MP3s and streaming audio has found a new ally: magnetic tape. Of course, “new” is a bit of a misnomer; the use of tape for sound recording and reproduction has been around for almost a century. The tape we know today was developed in Germany in the 1930s at the Baden Aniline and Soda Factory (BASF) and Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG) in cooperation with the state radio Reichs-RundfunkGesellschaft (RRG). BASF is still a well-known name in the analogue tape world, and its analogue tape formulations, as well as those of AGFA and EMTEC, are now owned and manufactured by French analogue enthusiasts, Mulann Group. Under a new brand – RecordingTheMasters – Mulann Group hopes to promote analogue tape “as a nice complement to what exists today”, says CEO JeanLuc Renou. Having acquired the tape formulations in January 2015, RecordingTheMasters launched its product line at the recent 140th AES International Convention in Paris this past June. Its catalogue includes three professional and two semi-pro tape formulae. The professional line features the SM900 premium high output studio tape,
the SM911 industry standard bias compatible tape and the SM468 high-bias studio and archive tape, all available in 1/4”, 1/2”, 1” or 2” formats. The semi-pro offerings are the 1/4” LPR90 long-play high-output studio tape and LPR35 long-play standardbias studio tape. The key here is complement – not competition. Mulann Group recognises the role of digital in music recording and reproduction: “We have to make sure that we work together; we are not competing at all – we are just trying to optimise our work together and make sure that the community gets the product and the services they want,” explains Renou. “It’s like heating. In your home, you have heaters in every room – high numbers – and that’s not going to change. That’s digital. But you can also have a single ﬁreplace, and it takes time to experience something different – this is analogue. The ﬁreplace isn’t going to replace your heaters and the heaters won’t forever kill the ﬁreplace.” An apt description considering analogue’s “warmth” is its biggest selling point, and just like a roaring ﬁre on a cold winter’s day – or perhaps more appropriately, a nice campﬁre at the end of a long summer’s day – there’s nothing quite like it. The question is: who’s
We have to make sure that the community gets the product and the services they want
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Slitting machine for ¼-inch tape
buying? (We’ve seen so-called revivals in the magnetic tape market come and go in the last decade, from the likes of Quantegy; RMGI has been subsumed here; in the US, ATR Magnetics appears to be the only company still manufacturing the format.) Mulann says, not surprisingly, look ﬁrstly to the professional recording studios. According to Nadine Patry, chief marketing officer at the Group, the music industry is (still) recovering from the slump brought on by ﬁle-sharing sites such as Napster that hit back in the early 2000s. At the time, studios moved to faster – and cheaper – digital music technology as labels put on the pressure to cut costs. “Today when you talk to the labels, they’re not bidding on the CD anymore. They’re bidding on downloads and streaming on the one side, and vinyl on the other side. So I’ve spoken to a lot of studios who are revamping (tape) machines, and are getting them back online. In fact, we’ve seen growth in the studio area.” Patry adds that the recent vinyl resurgence has made a signiﬁcant contribution to the revival of tape: “Yes, because vinyl records that have been produced from digital masters are of really poor quality. People are starting to refuse vinyl records coming from digital masters. It’s pushing engineers to record on analogue because you can go to vinyl directly with very good sound quality, which is expected from the consumer today. They can also easily digitise for downloads and streaming. It’s changing the world of music.” RecordingTheMasters has responded to this demand with a new product, Mix Master, a 3,750ft (1,143m) analogue tape that exactly matches the length of a vinyl record. Which brings us to the somewhat surprising second big growth market for analogue tape: the consumer market. The truth is when it comes to audiophiles,
Technician qualifying raw materials before production
nothing should really seem surprising. There are people out there willing to pay over €10,000 (£8,350) for three metres of cable, and tens if not hundreds of thousands more for an entire sound system. The difference here is that while it may be questionable as to how much a cable can improve the overall sonic quality of a home system, reel-to-reel has a deﬁnite technological advantage over vinyl: it can handle a much greater dynamic range. Too much bass on a master and the resulting vinyl will send a tone arm ﬂying. Tape? No problem; it just keeps rolling, full bass (and not to mention sparkling treble) and all. It remains a niche market but it is being catered to by specialty labels such as Washington-based label The Tape Project, who release classic albums on reel-to reel, duplicated from the original analogue masters. At $450 per album it is unlikely to see the same mainstream growth as vinyl, but given the number of sold out albums there is deﬁnitely an appreciative audience out there. Here in Europe, the Slovak company Horch House not only releases tape copies of analogue masters (including a healthy selection of Star Wars soundtracks), but has initiated “Project R2R”: the development of the world’s only current consumer reel-to-reel tape deck. Developed in partnership with Revox, the reel-to-reel is designed by Manfred Meinzer and expected to be available in early 2017. Meanwhile, on eBay, reel-to-reel listings are in the tens of thousands, with dozens of people watching listings eager to snap up machines (hands in the air, this author already has a collection going). While we look forward to a new reason to spend our hard-earned cash, we need to look back to tap into tape’s ﬁnal big market: archiving. As Patry points out, we are still able to listen to listen to recordings made in the
1930s. “That’s why I say the format of analogue is very basic and forever readable, which is not the case with my hard drive with digital photos I put on it 10 years ago.” In addition to changing hardware and ﬁle formats, hard drives also require booting up at least one a month to keep them viable, and are given a useful lifespan of about three years. Even less for optical formats such as CDs and DVDs. Analogue tape can survive without much TLC required for at least 10 times that. “It’s 30 years deﬁnitely for tapes, but we have tapes that have been recorded in the 1930s – a long, long time ago – that are still used today,” says Patry. “We also know how to refurbish it. When you destroy part of a tape, while it does affect several millimetres you can still clean that. On a hard drive, if certain sectors fail, you cannot recover the sound because it’s not linear at all.” Strong arguments then to keep tape’s ﬁre stoked. www.recordingthemasters.com The winding machine for 2-inch tape
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P30 AUGUST 2016
The 360° microphone that’s no joke Polish company Zylia has designed a microphone/software combo that records your band – then separates the instruments into individual stems. Rob Speight wonders how
hen is a microphone not a microphone? When it is 32 microphones. But this is not a lame joke. Enter the AudioImmersion microphone from Polish company, Zylia. Even though this product has not even hit the shelves yet, it is beginning to catch the eye of wily techie types. Looking somewhat like the ‘remote’ that Luke Skywalker battles on the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars Episode IV, the AudioImmersion is no less full of technology and innovation except it can’t ﬂy and doesn’t have lasers – yet! Aimed initially at performers who want to record their rehearsals, the premise for how to use the microphone is a simple one; place in centre of room, connect to computer via USB 2.0 cable, boot proprietary software and hit record. On completion of the recording it is sent to Zylia’s servers where some of their technicians wave algorithms at the data and subsequently send back isolated stems of each and every instrument that was playing in the rehearsal. Says co-founders Piotr Szczechowiak and Tomasz Żernicki: “We specialise in audio processing and although based in Poland we have offices in Demark and we are setting up a new one in the USA. The main markets for the product will be the USA, UK and Germany. We wanted to create a device that was a single microphone to record all instruments in the band simultaneously without having to spend time setting up a lot of microphones and a mixer.” Szczechowiak was forthcoming about the quality of the processed audio: “Of course, it’s not super studio quality, it’s not supposed to replace recording in a studio. But, it’s something in the middle of recording rehearsals with a smartphone and recording with a full microphone set-up.” The recording itself is completed at 48kHz, 24-bit resolution but the intense processing naturally degrades some of that quality. Although the AudioImmersion contains 32 physical microphones, that is not necessarily the number of individual instruments it can record simultaneously. Szczechowiak continues; “What the device and the system is doing is that it actually senses the instruments. So, it knows the direction that the instrument is coming from and based on that, and some advanced processing algorithms, it
can actually extract the instrument from the mixture.” Żernicki gave more detail: “Actually we have an unlimited number of virtual microphones but for practical purposes we can extract six to seven instruments at a time.” The complex processing uses, among other things, SPL, delay, room reverberation and phase to calculate the position of each The Zylia team, including Tomasz Żernicki (front row, left) and Piotr Szczechowiak (front, right) instrument. Szczechowiak explains the recording process in more although basic processing will be included. Extra detail; “Basically we have two modes of operation. features will be paid options. Żernicki says: “If you are You can set up the virtual mics manually by using the a sound engineer you probably want to play around software and just listening, but the main mode will be with it but when we did a test with a lot of musicians the automatic mode. It senses where the sources are we found that they don’t really care. They just want to by looking at the audio. You start recording and you press one button and automatically have the result. play each instrument ﬁrst for about ﬁve seconds so it The best scenario is that they can just record and after calibrates and knows where each instrument is. Then the rehearsal each member of the band gets sent their you just need to remember not to move the position of own personalised tracks. We have spent a lot of time each instrument during the session.” with musicians and we incorporate all of their feedback, The audio returned from Zylia’s servers are standard so even though this product is engineered by us, it is mono tracks that can be placed into DAW, or other designed by them.” formats such as a basic stereo mix. “We have many The AudioImmersion will be available to order from options so we can produce different outputs. We can September as part of Zylia’s KickStarter campaign with do a lot of things because we have virtual mics! So, lets the ﬁrst shipments available in the ﬁrst quarter of 2017. imagine you set up two virtual mics in a hall or even a “The campaign is to help us get some hype around the 5.1 conﬁguration. You can then do whatever you want. product and also to raise some cash to help us with the This functionality of the virtual microphones gives you ﬁrst batch of production,” Szczechowiak reveals. such great ﬂexibility when compared to a static set-up www.audioimmersion.pl because you play in software (retrospectively) with your microphones, not with physical devices. It’s kind of a game-changer,” Szczechowiak says enthusiastically. This kind of technology would seem suited to the tidal wave of virtual reality gaming and movies that are about to engulf consumers. “We get a lot of questions around this topic,” explains Szczechowiak. “When people see this microphone, some think it should be able to record in 360 degrees and, of course, it is possible as we have a lot of microphones. We can also record in third-order Ambisonic format. So, yes, if you would like to use it to record audio for cinematic VR you can do that.” The ﬁnal version of the microphone and processing When one mic is 32 mics… package will ultimately be a subscription model,
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P32 AUGUST 2016
NEP UK bring Dante onboard after inferno A Calrec Apollo console, Genelec monitors and Telex intercoms are among the core components of the ﬁrst of four new NEP UK OB trucks to be launched over the next few months, writes David Davies
ollowing on from a devastating ﬁre at NEP Visions’ UK base in Bracknell last November, the OB specialist has underlined its continued resurgence with the introduction of the ﬁrst of four new OB trucks that support both HD and UHD TV production. The initial truck, Paciﬁc, made its major event debut at the Wimbledon 2016 championships last month. The other three trucks – Aurora, Caspian and Sargasso – are due to enter service between now and October. All four have been designed to work as standalone or together in any combination, making it possible for NEP personnel to move between the trucks with a minimum of fuss. Steve Jenkins, NEP UK and Ireland president, comments: “The creation of four new state-of-the-art UHD trucks equipped with the latest technologies in under a year is a real testament to the NEP team’s hard work, dedication and skills. The launch of Paciﬁc marks a new chapter for NEP UK, and we look forward to getting the other trucks on the road before the end of the year.” Visiting Paciﬁc during the ﬁrst week of Wimbledon, PSNEurope discovered that the facility continues NEP’s long tradition of selecting Calrec desks to mastermind the audio. Like the three forthcoming trucks, Paciﬁc has been equipped with a 56-fader Apollo console, whose speciﬁcation is based around the Blueﬁn2 HDSP that provides up to 1,020 channel processing paths, 128 programme buses, 96 IFB/Track outputs and 48 auxes. Calrec international sales manager Jim Green remarks that Paciﬁc represents the ﬁrst NEP Visions Calrec installation in which the OB provider has taken advantage of the console’s support for Audinate’s Dante media networking technology. “NEP Visions are using Dante to provide the interface between their comms system and their Calrec consoles, giving them the increased ﬂexibility this AoIP technology offers,” he says. “Many of our customers are using different AoIP formats and it’s important that as a manufacturing partner we are able to help them leverage this technology, whatever the format. It’s vital that broadcasters and facility providers such as NEP Visions can be conﬁdent that they’ll beneﬁt from
The new truck parked up at Wimbledon for the tennis coverage
Calrec’s Jim Green: assisting the move to an “AoIP future”
Calrec’s knowledge and support as they move into an AoIP future.” It should also be noted that the Apollo onboard Paciﬁc was by no means the only Calrec being used by NEP at Wimbledon this year. A further Apollo desk, as well as four Summa consoles and one Omega, were also used to provide coverage, observes Green. Genelec monitors and RTS Telex intercom technology are also integral to the audio set-up
NEP Visions’ Steve Jenkins (L) and Simon Moorhead
onboard Paciﬁc. As with the other new trucks, Paciﬁc also features Sony HDC-4300 4K cameras, Canon UHD lenses, EVS servers and SAM Kahuna 9600 6ME 1080P/4K switchers. “The feedback from our personnel has been really great. They really love working on Paciﬁc,” says Jenkins. www.nepinc.com www.calrec.com
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P33 AUGUST 2016
Virgin re-born – on a train Rail passengers know all about the difficulties of getting a mobile signal on trains. But this didn’t stop the ‘new’ Virgin Radio broadcasting on a train, as Kevin Hilton reports
adio loves an OB. The medium lends itself well to ‘outside broadcasts’ from locations beyond the conﬁnes of the studio, with a microphone and a pair of headphones the most basic technology needed to get on air. Behind that is the whole business of connecting back to the control room. As technology has developed, becoming more ﬂexible and incorporating more IT and telecoms techniques, broadcasters are being increasingly ambitious, as shown by Virgin Radio relaunching on a train travelling from Manchester to London. The resurrected station’s inaugural broadcast, hailed as a world ﬁrst, was hosted by breakfast show presenter Edith Bowman with drivetime host Matt Richardson, and came live from the specially renamed Virgin Radio Star train, part of Virgin Trains’ rolling stock, in the late spring of this year. Travelling on a nonstandard route passing through Crewe, Birmingham and Rugby, the train also played host to six bands – Mystery Jets, Travis, The Feeling, Gavin James, Emmy the Great and Walking On Cars – who played at various points during the journey. The job of deﬁning a suitable system for the endeavor was given to radio and live events production company TBI Media. Founded by former BBC studio manager and independent producer Phil Critchlow, TBI Media has worked on many projects for both BBC and commercial radio but the Virgin launch did pose some new challenges, both technically and logistically. “We were invited to come up with an idea of how to do the re-launch and if we could get a live signal off a train,” Critchlow says. “The main issue was not being able to put anything on the outside of the train, such as an antenna. We’ve worked in situations where we’ve had to broadcast from a Spitﬁre during a Battle of Britain celebration, which was essentially the same problem.” The solution was to use a series of bonded mobile phone cards working on both 4G and 3G. These were fed through Viprinet bonding routers supplied by specialist hire and facilities operation Wired Broadcast (and distributor of the technology in the UK). “There were 12 different SIM cards and two Viprinet routers attached to the train’s antenna,” explains Wired Broadcast’s operations manager Patrick Gunning. “The Viprinet gave access to the internet and selected the best signal as the train went along. We also used Tieline IP codecs for the connection back to London.” TBI Media carried out a test-run prior to broadcast to map out which stretches of the journey had the best coverage. “We were looking for all the signals available
Edith Bowman and Matt Richardson presenting from the Virgin Radio Star train
as the train went along,” comments Critchlow. “During the test we identiﬁed where the signal was robust and where it wasn’t. For the four-hour journey we estimated we would have two hours of decent signal in total. Because of this, the show on the train was run as an outside source, handing back to the Virgin Radio studio in London when the signal wasn’t good.” The Virgin Radio Star consisted of ﬁve carriages: one was dedicated to the live performances, with the seats removed to accommodate the artists and travelling audience; the other four were for the travelling audience, with one also housing Bowman and Richardson’s presentation area, including a Mackie broadcast desk. “The performances were timed for certain points in the journey,” says Critchlow, “and we had a couple of station stops along the way.” The carriages were connected by a Dante network running over send-receive laptops, with PA loudspeakers located in the luggage racks of each coach. (A full report on the live sound side of the production can be found as part of the ‘Extreme Gigs’ feature in the 2016 edition of PSNLive.) The ‘new’ Virgin Radio broadcasts on DAB through the UK’s second digital radio multiplex (Sound Digital, which was launched in February). Virgin Radio originally went on air in 1993 as a national FM service and was part of
The Virgin Radio Star at Manchester Piccadilly station
Richard Branson’s attempt to broaden the reach of his business empire. Despite building up a loyal listenership Branson decided to reduce his media holdings and in 1997 sold the station to the Ginger Media Group, fronted by its then breakfast show presenter, Chris Evans. He in turn sold Ginger Media, including Virgin Radio, to Scottish Media Group (SMG) in 2000. Seven years later Virgin Radio was bought by TIML Golden Square, a subsidiary of The Times Group, and rebranded Absolute Radio. While the Virgin Radio name disappeared from the UK it continued as an interntional brand. It is now being licensed by UTV Media, which also runs TalkSport, to return to British airwaves. Virgin Radio was the last service to launch on the Sound Digital multiplex, which is owned jointly by UTV Media, transmission provider Arqiva and Bauer Media, which bought the Absolute network in 2013. www.tbimedia.co.uk www.wiredbroadcast.com virginradio.co.uk
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P34 AUGUST 2016
Technology feature: The future of pro audio
Personal jetpacks and meals in pill-form might not be set for launch in ﬁve years’ time – but certain developments in pro audio may well be. David Davies and Dave Robinson gathered the predictions – and the pipe-dreams, perhaps – of leading lights from across the equipment manufacturing business
any of you will have had a job interview where the question, ‘Where do you see yourself in ﬁve years’ time?’, has come up. Not an easy one to answer with any sort of guarantee, that’s for sure. But, that’s kind of what we’ve done here: namely, asked a dozen or so manufacturers, from all over the pro-audio spectrum, to speculate as to what their particular sector might look like in the year 2021. We then followed that up with the utopian scenario: what would they like their sector to look like in 2021? Here’s what those who agreed to take part told us. Please note though – as we made it quite clear to the participants – these statements are nonbinding. If the future doesn’t quite turn out the way they suggested, we won’t get pointy or sneery with anyone. Plus, you won’t be surprised to learn, no one’s disclosed their Big Secret Roadmap for forthcoming product launches here. All the same, there are some interesting views on where we are going. To 2021, then, and beyond…
Lars-Olof Janﬂod, marketing & PR director, Genelec on the monitors and speakers sector in 2021: I believe that there is gradually a growing need for monitors [going into the future]. As streaming takes over more and more, there will be a greater number of channels like YouTube that require more content to be produced. The demand for quality will also rise
in tandem, and content will not only come from or through mobile phones but by more professional means.
In the music business we see more music being produced than ever before, although it’s not done the way it used to be. The studio is in the hands of the songwriter/ composer/artist. This trend has been with us for some time and there is no sign of it ending. New music genres like EDM have become very popular and are growing rapidly. Add to that the incredibly successful gaming industry and I think not only monitoring, but the whole pro-audio industry, is looking at a bright future.
What would he like that sector to be like in ﬁve year’s time? I think and hope that we will have a more advanced situation from a technical standpoint. The monitor industry or the use of monitors is traditionally very conservative; the majority of users still think that you can take the monitor out of the box, put it on the meterbridge (if you have a console), plug it in and play. There is little consideration for placement or acoustic calibration – instead we more often hear that users prefer the manufacturer’s setting of controls, if there are any! Compare that with the SR industry where things like placement, rigging and, above all, acoustic calibration are necessities. It should also be the case in the studio. I am pleased to say that we at Genelec provide users with the right tools to meet these demands.
Simon Browne, director, product management, Clear-Com on intercom in 2021: We would expect a tighter interoperability between all audio devices based on common standards for not just audio over IP, but also the control of levels, crosspoints, labels, and other metadata such as source device descriptions and diagnostics. I expect this may come down to a small number of standards choices with groups of manufacturers [being] compliant with each or multiples of them.
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What would you like the intercoms sector to be like in 2021? Clearly we would like a uniﬁed common audio and control standard that lifts all suppliers and leads other sectors with high performance audio solutions that scale from the auto-industry to live sound and distribution.
Pieter Schillebeeckx, product director, TSL Products on audio monitoring in 2021: As we all know the broadcast industry is going through a period of rapid change as it is becoming more and more IP-centric. This will ultimately affect all parts of the broadcast chain including audio monitoring. In ﬁve years’ time, we expect that we will reach the point at which we will start selling more IP connected audio monitors than traditional baseband audio monitors. At the same time, we anticipate that many of the tasks performed by audio monitors and their operators are going to be automated and predict a move towards software-based audio monitors to fall in-line with the move towards “COTS” (common off the shelf) IT hardware. And what would he like it to be in ﬁve years? Alongside a healthy demand for traditional style audio monitors for use in live production (such as our the new TSL MPA1 range), we would like to see a real increase in demand for automated audio monitoring probes – both software and hardware based – that allow the monitoring of a large number of channels at different points in the chain. These are two very different applications that will ultimately require different approaches.
Lee Ellison, CEO, Audinate, on media networking in 2021: Audio networking is relatively early in terms of mass adoption, but that is changing rapidly. In the next ﬁve years we would expect over half of the live sound and commercial installations to take advantage of
Allen & Heath & 2021 “In ﬁve years’ time, I anticipate that digital technology will have become the default choice for audio processing and mixing systems, although these things always take longer than expected and there will probably still be analogue solutions around. Furthermore, advancements in connectivity and networking will be paramount, especially for the pro touring and install sectors, and the industry will be more aligned with developments in IT networking infrastructure and Internet of Things (IoT) within venues and systems.” Glenn Rogers, managing director, A&H “Another major technology drive in the mixing console ﬁeld will be user interface innovation, which is already heavily inﬂuenced by consumer devices. The challenge for us will be to develop more compact, more instant and transparent control options but not alienate the customer. As systems become ever more complex and ﬂexible, ensuring they remain intuitive and allow space for the creative part of the role of a sound engineer should feature highly in future products.” Rob Clark, R&D director, A&H audio networks. In fact, media of all type, both audio and video will be transmitted over a common IT infrastructure, managed from a computer or mobile device. Today, 1GB networks can easily support huge amounts of audio network capacity, but we anticipate 10GB networks will become more ubiquitous and more affordable.
to the equipment, and become optional. Obviously microphones and speakers will need to convert at the analogue-digital end still, but all the other I/O devices, mixers, matrix switchers, etc, could be cost-reduced. If you think about it, if networking is built in standard in AV equipment, you eliminate all the added XLR, analogue connectors, and video connectors that actually burdens the cost of the AV system installation. At Audinate, we are looking to lead this transformation of the digital revolution.
Johannes Rietschel, CTO of Barix, on AV installation in 2021:
And what would he like it to be in ﬁve years? Our vision is that audio and video systems are converged over standard IT networks, and become the default, and Audinate and Dante continues to be the dominant networking platform for all networked media. We see that as people become more comfortable with IT networking, they will realise that connectors like the XLRs and other analogue connectors actually add superﬂuous costs
There is no question that a large part of our industry is still very much hardware-based. That will likely still be the case ﬁve years from today. Customers like to purchase boxes and equipment, and own a budget.
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Technology feature: The future of pro audio
Waring Hayes, technical brand manager, XTA MC2 on control in 2021: Who ever thought we would have an ‘Internet of Things’? Who really needs an Internet enabled toaster or kettle? If you need a tweet to remind you that your toast is burnt or your kettle has boiled, you need to step away from the smartphone and get some outside air. That said, remote control is far from a luxury for most consumer goods these days, and I think as more and more processing shifts from dedicated units and integrates into single-box solutions, this trend is likely to continue and to affect us in pro-audio as well. Whilst there’s not a lot of point being able to tweet your powered monitors (as it were), what about if you were able to receive Facebook updates from your amps in a remote install you only visit once a year? That’s a whole lot more useful. Any remote monitoring system that doesn’t need you to install software and can use something you already have
(like your smartphone) would mean the equipment integrates with your ways of working and living and not the other way round. Who doesn’t want that? As audio appliances become “smarter” and more integrated, their functionality becomes potentially increasingly complex. Just consider mixing desks – while large analogue boards had a lot of controls, you could pretty much drive any of them if you’d used ANY of them, but the same doesn’t always hold true of digital desks. We are still trying to ﬁnd the happy medium between the immediacy and clarity of a “one control per function”, and the convenience of reassignable controls and “soft” controls on a screen. There’s a good reason why so many plug-ins strictly mimic their hardware counterparts – ease of operation and immediate familiarity. What we are used to is changing though, and I believe how gear operates will change over the
And what he would like this sector to be… However, there is much that can be done with software and virtualised environments these days. In a perfect world, we’ll see service and standardised hardware come together into a more complete and cohesive solution. We feel that Barix is on the leading edge of this. We provide boxes, and we continue to offer more and more in the services area. We expect that more customers will adopt these strategies moving forward.
driving AV integrators and consultants to utilise standardised, readily available, off-the-shelf hardware whenever and wherever possible. In short, there will be a continuing migration away from application-speciﬁc hardware in favour of low-cost, general purpose hardware running applicationspeciﬁc software. In 2021, OEMs will be leveraging open-source software like never before, and passing the advantages on to their customers. Integrators will beneﬁt from increasingly powerful applicationspeciﬁc software, resulting in better than ever system performance with fewer design hours invested.
Dane Butcher, CEO and founder, Symetrix, on installed sound DSP in 2021:
What would you like the situation to be in 2021? There will always be start-ups trying to enter the ﬁeld, but the 80/20 principle will apply more than ever, in that a small majority of OEMs will dominate. Symetrix’s razor sharp focus on installed sound DSP hardware and software will continue to keep us in the top echelon of installed sound DSP providers through 2021 and beyond.
next ﬁve years. The next generation of engineers doesn’t perceive operating a complex system such as a desk as “trying to paint the hall through the letterbox”. Few will be paying a premium for dedicated controls, when there can be a virtual version that is inﬁnitely reconﬁgurable, and that’s how all the clever stuff will be working. We know it’s already happening, as screens get ever bigger, and plugging a mouse into a desk even seems a little backward-looking. But what would you really like in 2021? That would be wireless power – if we can (almost) do the multicore via Wiﬁ, it won’t be so long that we can supply power the same way. Possibly not the kW required for ampliﬁcation, but then why not dream? I want an electric blanket that cooks me from the inside out. IoT world. This will allow manufacturers to create ecosystems of components that communicate in diverse ways and have a wide range of capabilities and applications. As this occurs, the software will also take a very important role in differentiating systems from one another. In hardware, there may be a reduction in differentiation, but in software, we will see divergent approaches in conﬁguring, controlling and monitoring systems. Virtual and augmented reality will not be a huge factor in the professional world in the next ﬁve years, but we’ll see it creep into the scene through the emergence of more immersive audio environments. Elements that are being prototyped in gaming today will work their way into the professional environment slowly, primarily because many of these technologies don’t scale well into professional environments, and their security standards don’t currently meet the needs of the corporate and institutional worlds.
Paul Chavez, director, systems applications, Harman Professional Solutions, on audiovisual systems in 2021: Installed audio DSP systems will become highly standardised in ﬁve years’ time. The importance of interoperability between devices from different OEMs will become exponentially more relevant between now and 2021. With respect to both audio and control signals, the trend will continue toward the use of fewer, more comprehensive protocols. The basic economics of cost reduction in the technology sector will be a compelling force
It is clear that today our industry is beginning to see some signiﬁcant consolidation of individual system components into more integrated systems. Much of the hardware made today is very high quality and form factors, such as multichannel ampliﬁers with DSP or high-quality line array loudspeaker systems, can be difficult to differentiate. One of the differentiating features we might see ﬁve years from now is the adoption of the mixed methods of wireless networking that we’re seeing today in the consumer
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P38 AUGUST 2016
Technology feature: The future of pro audio
What would you like these systems to resemble in 2021? What I’d most like to see are standardised digital media transport and control protocols, so we can effortlessly connect digital systems together and stop talking about how to translate AES67, MADI, Dante, AVB, etc. ad nauseam. We spend a ridiculous amount of time guessing, theorising and working on protocols that may or may not be here in ﬁve years. I don’t expect that the standards will be completely settled in ﬁve years, but I hope it becomes clearer and that we can move on with creating fully digital, networked systems without the hassle of solving compatibility issues. I think we tend to overestimate what can happen within a ﬁve-year time period. The most important issues, like new media networking, typically need a longer time window to develop into viable standards because of the magnitude of the existing infrastructure. AVB hasn’t taken hold for this reason. The sad thing is that the media world will continue to suffer from the complexity of implementing networked audio due to the fact that we have to support protocols that must be compatible with legacy systems, even though there are clearly superior methods to manage networked media today.
Achim Gleissner, head of commercial management broadcast & media, Sennheiser, on the wider audio industry in 2021:
own audio engineers, today’s journalists often have to do the job alone. So they also have to know about how to create good sound. The same issue applies in the recording area: today, many songs are created by home recording. This is possible because of three developments. First, easy-to-use and “forgiving” plug and play products, which already contain a lot of audio knowledge built-in. The second factor is easy content distribution via social media, which empowers virtually anyone to be a broadcaster. And third, the streaming possibilities of today, where everyone is able to spread audio and video content in real time. This last factor will only increase in importance. As I said before: these users, who in the past only had to deal with content creation, today also have to acquire knowledge of audio. This fact shapes one of our goals: we want to offer our customers a product that is tailored to their needs and intuitive to operate. And what would you like this landscape to be like in ﬁve years’ time? We aim to shape the future of the audio industry. This includes developing solutions that set future trends. We also want to take our knowledge about audio to a wider audience. It is becoming increasingly important to raise the awareness of improved quality in audio, as the use and implementation of audio products has changed over a wide range of areas. Many users, who currently put more emphasis on image or video instead of audio, could improve their audio quality with only a few steps. A great example of this is our new action mic, the ﬁrst result of our participation in GoPro’s new Developer Program. Since GoPro users create spectacular video of their travels, sports activities and unique moments, we want to ensure that their sound will also be exceptional.
Jon Tatooles, co-founder and chief business development officer, Sound Devices, LLC, on location recording in 2021:
There will be no change in how a microphone works physically, but much more important will be the audio chain and the associated devices in this chain: these are designed to produce good sound, with the microphone being essential to that objective. As a consequence, it is vital for us to be aware of and anticipate upcoming trends in audio recording, producing and reproduction. With this knowledge, it is our mission to set new trends in the audio industry ourselves. It is also our task to impart knowledge about audio because the user base of audio products is constantly changing. While in the past, every broadcaster had its
We will see more and more production done on location, with productions done in acousticallycontrolled studios increasingly becoming a luxury. Smaller, more capable gear, at lower costs facilitates projects done on location. Multi-camera, multi-track production in the ﬁeld is becoming the norm versus the moon-shot it was only a few years ago. What would you like this sector to resemble in 2021? There is an increasing sentiment that production success is about having good gear. While choosing the right equipment is important, we see a growing gap between truly knowledgeable professional users and those who rely mainly on web videos to gain experience. I see numerous industries with formalised training, such as InfoComm’s CTS programme and the numerous IT accreditation programmes. I would
like to see something similar develop for production professionals. Our technology is changing quickly.
Tony Andrews, co-founder, Funktion-One, on large-scale audio systems in ﬁve years’ time: Unless Vero achieves what we hope for, I would expect the continuing institutionalisation of largescale audio with system choice narrowing, audio quality remaining mediocre and level constraints becoming more draconian. At least we now have Dante as a decent digital protocol. Overall there is much room for improvement
What would you like this to see in 2021? I would like audio to be understood as an art worthy of proper consideration and respect. What I would like and hope for in large-scale audio is the full appreciation of the dimension and depth that real high-quality audio can be. Clean, pure audio is a multi-dimensional, immersive experience. It can be so transporting that you lose the difference between the inside and the outside of your head. To achieve this level of quality, inherent distortion has to be extremely low, transient information at all frequencies has to be intact, dynamic range uncompromised and, obviously, even spectral balance across the frequency range. I would also hope that lighting and set designers stop deciding where the audio is allowed to be put and promoters and managers actually dare to go amongst the audience to hear what the people experience. That engineers spend more time listening and learning what good sound is and less time looking at screens. That people who are making audio judgments solely on the relative sizes of numbers leave our business for a more suitable profession, like accountancy. And that promoters realise, particularly in so-called dance music, that audiences are not just coming for a big name but also for big audio; and that audio should receive a fair share of the budget rather than being chiselled so that the ‘star’ can be overpaid.
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M-5000 & M-5000C LIVE MIXING CONSOLES
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P40 AUGUST 2016
The world’s biggest orchestra (7,548 players) gathered in Frankfurt to set a new world record in July 2016. PA by HK Audio, of course
The HK Eight This is no hateful cowboy movie: this is the triumphant return of St Wendel’s ﬁnest, guns Dave Robinson
K Audio is one of those solid European brands that has ticked along nicely in the background for the last few years,… Cohedra, yes, good. Elements, mmm, liked that. LUCAS, that compact portable package, yup. However, in in the last 12 months, with a change in management, a strengthening of its marketing objectives, a new waveguide technology and an overall overhaul, the German manufacturer has embarked on a journey of energised focus and enlightened presence in the market. In case you weren’t paying attention, then, here are eight lovable reasons to make way for HK…
A comprehensive brand overhaul HK Audio gave itself a complete facelift in January 2016 when it presented its new branding campaign: The Soundmakers. Two years in the planning, The Soundmakers represents a complete global overhaul of HK Audio’s identity, with everything from marketing materials to product design receiving a fresh coat of paint. “We want to provide an emotional home and a stage for everyone who is as fascinated with sound as we are at HK Audio,” says Nico Petit, the ﬁrm’s chief marketing officer. “The Soundmakers message touches all bases and target groups – from musicians, bands and DJs through to sound engineers, installers and even HK Audio employees themselves. We’re all Soundmakers, and we’re going to share our passion for great sound together in a global community. This is just the beginning…”
Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice is a big fan of HK kit
Introducing: Business Solutions
Leading from the top
A totally new concept for HK Audio, Business Solutions was unveiled at Prolight + Sound 2016. The BS goal? To offer totally customisable installation solutions for clients in the hospitality sector. Systems are available in any desired colour, printed and engraved design elements can be added, different woods can be selected for cabinet housing, and special coatings can be ordered to make the speakers weatherproof for outdoor use.
HK Audio’s radical changes in direction have been accompanied by major developments to the management board. Nils Stamer, son of ﬁrm co-founder Hans – and nephew of the other co-founder, Lothar – is helping the second generation of the HK Audio company leadership take its ﬁrst steps as managing director. On the sales side, CSO Hermes (a new hire in l2015) is looking after the fresh Business Solutions team.
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Donâ€™t underestimate the power of the LINEAR 5
hard-hitting, million-selling drummers, but the HK Audio artist stable is proud to boast Iron Maidenâ€™s bonkers but brilliant Nicko McBrain and founding Deep Purple member Ian Paice as long-time endorsers and enthusiasts. Soundmaker Paice says of his Contour-based onstage monitor system: â€œThey pick out the depth and the sweetness and the clarity at the top end that you need. The drums just seem to stay in balance and the frequency response seems to be working perfectly for everything I need.â€?
A record-breaking summer in Frankfurt Summer 2016 has been a world record-breaking one for HK Audio, with a mammoth Cohedra line array system decking out Frankfurtâ€™s cavernous Commerzbank-Arena for a six-week extravaganza of events. Live music, outdoor cinema programmes, the ESL One international sports gaming tournament and EURO 2016 public viewings all attracted crowds of thousands, and the worldâ€™s biggest ever orchestra â€“ made up of 7,548 people â€“ brought proceedings to a suitably grand close on 9 July. CMO Petit says: â€œItâ€™s been an incredible summer in Frankfurt, and weâ€™re proud HK Audio was able to play a part in it all. The Stadion Sommer has really helped get the Soundmakers message out to hundreds of thousands more sound enthusiasts, and that can only bode well for the future.â€? Â„ hkaudio.com
Revolutionary new technologies made in Germany With one of the worldâ€™s most sophisticated Class 1 acoustics labs at their disposal at HK HQ in St Wendel, Germany, HK Audioâ€™s engineers have always considered themselves as being â€œat the forefront of developing new pro-audio technologiesâ€?. Pick of the recent bunch is the Multicell Transformer, a diminutive yet ingenious invention that makes the most of hornsâ€™ and waveguidesâ€™ physical advantages, with â€“ allegedly â€“ none of the drawbacks. The mouths of the MCTâ€™s nine horn channels form a line array, with sound traveling down channels of different lengths to achieve different delay times. The result? â€œA perfect vertical curve, an extremely precise +5Â°/-25Â° pattern of throw and the performance of comparable horns and waveguides at a fraction of their size,â€? says HK. Bold claims indeed!
LUCAS NANO 608i: pro audio goes 21st century Released to much fanfare at the 2016 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, the LUCAS NANO 608i is HK Audioâ€™s gift to the 21st century performer who wants the whole shebang in one portable 16kg box. The ďŹ rst all-in-one PA to feature an on-board iPad-enabled mixer, the 608i â€œis hardware and software in perfect harmony,â€? says senior product manager RĂźdiger Forse. â€œThe app for iPad is so intuitive and valuable for every kind of performer, the way you can watch and touch your mix is revolutionising stages across the world. Plus, the 608i packs an astonishingly powerful sonic punch, despite its light weight and small size. It truly is the next generation of crossover PA, and itâ€™s perfect for everyone from DJs and solo performers to acoustic groups, speech givers and more.â€?
Shown Actual Weight. %+()*%.&!*($)#**())#""$**))#""( *$$.%*(+""*+(*($)#**(%$*#(!* +*.%+#* $%*!$%-%-"**) *%/ -***(.*)"* -*%*#%)*&%&+"("*($*,#!$*)(*%%$"$ "))%*()%#*%**"$*,$)*""*%+)$)""#*")%* ))*"" +)*)(+)$.%*(*(%)%$)*($)#**(*(%%" *+()$"+(#%*)**$&"-*)#(*&%$&&)+&( +% '+"*. -* *" .( ("))0 $ / "%! *+$$($!*%+*$&()%$)%#*#)%%$*1),$)#""( $"*(*$*"%%!)$*&*+(
LINEAR 5: a new performance class HK Audioâ€™s newest additions to the â€˜Made in Germanyâ€™ LINEAR family continue the companyâ€™s lifelong pursuit of ďŹ‚awless sound reproduction at an achievable price-point. Thanks to technology lsuch as the aforementioned Multicell Transformer, the passive LTS mid/high unit and its active LTS A sibling are the ďŹ rst speakers to deliver genuine longthrow performance (over 50m) in an ultracompact format.
Drumming up business with star power
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P42 AUGUST 2016
Stereophonics return to Wrexham
Outline planning A recent Stereophonics outing in Wales provided some home comforts for Capital Sound’s new boxes, reports Phil Ward
n a way, Capital Sound is more quadrophonic than stereophonic today: not two, but four speaker brands now vie for attention in the warehouse since a strategic investment in d&b and Outline to augment the Meyer and – especially – Martin Audio inventory. In a changing climate things are getting busy, really busy, for this UK rental mainstay, and when needed there have to be more options in the trucks. Not there was much sign of climate change in the conditions endured at Wrexham’s Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium last month: FOH engineer Dave Roden summed it up best as “a cold, wet, windy and rattly old football ground” which, even in July, presents most of the usual headaches. It’s the oldest international football venue in the world and, despite many modernisations, you can still feel the cups and saucers clinking in Mrs Evans’ parlour across the road every time Welsh soccer hero Gareth Bale gets the ball. Substitute a Bale surge with Kelly Jones’ guitar, plus entourage, and you can imagine the peril facing the Evans household’s best china. As Capital Sound’s system tech Robin Conway explains, the Racecourse Stadium is nothing if not rooted in its local community, while there hasn’t been a rock concert there since the Wrexham Festival of 1982, according to local paper the Daily Post. “It’s really old,” he states Conway, “and tricky because of being so close to residential real
It’s the ﬁrst time there’s been a gig here since 1982
estate. It’s got open corners between the stands, a condemned terrace at one end and the nearest property is about 60m! That ruled out delay towers down the pitch in line with the PA, so we split it into four smaller ground stacks: containment took precedence over ultimate audio ‘ﬁnish’.” These were made up of 24 of Italian manufacturer Outline’s Mantas28 elements, complementing the main hangs of 15 GTO-C12 line array elements and
a single GTO downﬁll per side. A spin-off from the larger, dual-15-inch GTO cabinet introduced in 2011, the C12 generates “output power surpassed only by its larger sibling from an enclosure that is physically smaller and 30% lighter”, according to Outline. Twenty-four GTO subs handled the LF – deployed, much to Conway’s satisfaction, “in the same that way we would MLX [the sub from Martin Audio’s ﬂagship line array, usually Roden’s ﬁrst choice]: in a
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P43 AUGUST 2016
I was able to mix the ‘Phonics show without any real compromise
Dave Roden, FOH broadside array. We probably would have taken less MLX, maybe 18 for this, but it would have been used in a like-for-like manner.” This is crucial, because Capital Sound supplied the GTO kit on this occasion in the absence of any available MLA. Furthermore, it illustrates perfectly the company’s strategy of offering acceptable alternatives even for die-hard devotees of its core payload – which, when it comes to Martin Audio’s Multi-cellular Louspeaker Array, Dave Roden most certainly is. Given the conditions, this was always going to be something of a baptism of ﬁre for the GTO in Roden’s hands – but his faith in Capital’s judgement was well rewarded. “The day was a resounding success,” he says. “The responses from absolutely everyone – the local authority, Vanguardia, all of the bands and their management, the fans and the media – were all very positive. From a noise and licensing point of view, I was able to mix the ’Phonics show without any real compromise and still remained well within the offsite It was FOH engineer Dave Roden’s ﬁrst time with the Outline GTO
limits – at an overall show average at FOH of 99dBA.” Roden’s more detailed analysis reveals a few understandable comparisons with his default system choice but, in facing the generic issues of large-scale events under British skies, it’s a clear endorsement of Capital’s policy. “System-wise… it’s not MLA,” he admits. “It sounded absolutely amazing on the soundcheck day with hi-ﬁ programme material being played through it. Big, punchy, airy and very loud, but still controlled. Perfect for a pop act – though I don’t think it performed quite as well with a live rock band in this particular environment. The low end was really good – the sub array deﬁnitely worked! In the mids, at least on this occasion, there was a hump at around 500Hz which I just couldn’t seem to smooth out, but when cut left things sounding a bit too hollow, and the 1kHz-4kHz region took a fair bit of work to get the vocal to sit comfortably without being too spikey. That said, it sounded as good as many festival systems I’ve used. I’m just being very speciﬁc. “The main problem I had on the whole was the difference in sound at my slightly elevated mix position when compared to standing on the arena ﬂoor. At my console, if it sounded just right in the upper mids and highs, then on the deck it was too mushy so I had to accentuate that region – meaning it was uncomfortably bright at FOH but punchy enough on the ﬂoor. Obviously this is not the ﬁrst time I’ve encountered this phenomenon, but it’s something I’ve become less accustomed to over the last few years given the evenness of MLA. “The gusting wind obviously didn’t help either, and when it ﬁnally calmed down for the last part of the show the audio image did become more cohesive overall. But the C12 was very affected by the wind, which is where the larger GTO box would probably have been better in that respect. “All in all, I think the Outline range is as good as any other system currently available – apart from MLA – but it works much better in certain environments with speciﬁc programme material. I used Butterﬂy in the Middle East for a few outdoor shows and it sounded absolutely stunning, but that was in smaller arenas – 8,000 to 10,000 – with very warm, still conditions. I’d certainly be happy to use the C12 again, but probably in a smaller, indoor – or warmer and drier – environment.” Capital Sound’s new Outline inventory has been augmented by another Italian dimension: the ampliﬁcation and processing package,
IN THE SAME BALL PARK Acting as a de facto substitute for Martin Audio’s MLA system for this football stadium gig, Italian manufacturer Outline’s GTO line array was pitched into action on a level playing ﬁeld. According to supplier Capital Sound’s system tech Robin Conway, the GTO’s design made it a more or less like-for-like swap. “We used exactly the same number of boxes with the GTO-C12 and the downﬁlls as we would with MLA and MLA downﬁlls,” he recounts, “and the same in the side hangs: nine-plus-one. It’s a really hi-ﬁ box, like the MLA: not identical but the throw was excellent and consistent down the ﬁeld. No, it doesn’t have the MLA’s DSP and target EQ curve, but it’s a well-executed waveguide with no pockets of energy in the wrong places.”
speciﬁcally tailored to the GTO system, is based on Powersoft’s X8 ampliﬁers for both FOH and monitoring. Capital’s power deployment has been described by general manager Paul Timmins as “multi-purpose”, with modular, compact racks typically consisting of up to three X8s with custom PACom, NL4 patching and Dante networking. This wasn’t the ﬁrst test for Capital’s new Italian signings: there’s an ongoing tour commitment with ’40-quid’ [Four tenors – Ed] housewives’ choice Il Divo; and the classic rock Stone Free Festival, including an airing for Rick Wakeman’s King Arthur suite, took GTO into London’s O2 Arena with multiple acts. Given its obvious versatility, it looks like Outline’s GTO would ﬁnd favour with most of the knights of Mrs Evans’ table. capital-sound.co.uk/ www.outlinearray.com/
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P44 AUGUST 2016
The audience at the Pyramid Stage await the arrival of Adele
Hippopotami spotted backstage at West Holts! On the ground at Glastonbury 2016: Simon Honywill gives his own personal account of the ‘greatest festival in the world’ (and certainly the muddiest)
have come to the conclusion that this fractured nation needs a new holiday. This holiday would coincide with the end of Glastonbury Festival and link with the ancient celebration of the summer solstice. There would be ﬁres lit, cider drunk, fatted calves slaughtered. There would also be tents discarded, camper vans towed from unimaginably ﬁlthy swamps, cars slept in, trucks stuck in queues and tour busses over-booked due to being unable to meet return deadlines. The upshot of all this carnage is hundreds of thousands of working hours missed due to Glastonbury punters being unable to return to work after a weekend of swamp culture and mud dancing. It’s so much more ‘now’ to consider the Monday after Glastonbury a write off. Come on Westminster, it’s not like you’ve much else to do – let’s make it easy for everyone and call it a Bank Holiday – the Glastonbury Bank Holiday Mudday. From the point of view of anyone who works at Glastonbury with a sound system or anything else for that matter, this year turned out to be as difficult as any when the Mud Monster paid a visit. It was like a ﬂeet of muck-spreaders had driven through Frankfurt Prolight + Sound, turned around, drove back through it again, all as a précis to a tank battle in the resulting quagmire. It’s mud, but not as we know it. It has the most extraordinary qualities, being able to form pools of latte-like liquid and clods of adhesive miasma at the same time. Legs become turgid appendages and boots become a liability, getting stuck at the most inconvenient times. Clothes are soiled beyond the means of any Zanussi or Dyson. My washing machine has, in fact, left home. The time taken to clean equipment in the festival’s wake adds many man-hours to the original plans of the best of any rental company, a hit they all must take
Not a lot you can say about the backstage area...
if they are to play their part in the most iconic festival in the world. Not only are muddy cables and cases the issue, but after both Muse and Adele used an excessive use of confetti, which mutates into some kind of Rizla-based glue when mixed with slurry, some of the gear looked like the aftermath of a particularly rough wedding. What never ceases to amaze me though is the resilience and commitment of the punters. On the face of it, it’s pure madness: let’s pay a fat wodge for tickets, queue forever to get in, spend three or four days wading about in the kind of conditions reserved
for pig farmers, and sleep in a tent that might keep you dry if you are sufficiently together to put it up correctly when desperation dictates. Some people bring kids in pushchairs, for pity’s sake! They’re struggling to move themselves around, let alone something that has doubled in weight due to the amount of mud clinging to the wheels like a parasitic fungus! From behind a laminate and production wristband, which affords a degree of respite and somewhere relatively dry to sit down for a while (catering did however develop its own weather system this year), it’s easy to forget that Glastonbury is the one thing every year that thousands
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P45 Block 9 Genosys, enhanced by MLA Compact for the ﬁrst time
professional sound and light systems, (with bits about video if they must), I am obliged to tell you about the technology deployed at the festival that came under my responsibility. Since 2008, RG Jones Sound Engineering have been using Martin Audio loudspeaker systems on the Pyramid Stage. Back then we were working with the mighty W8L Longbow, a ﬁne piece of British electroacoustic engineering and the kind of thing that, if the British Army used line arrays, would have been found in Kandahar, such was its solid reliability and efficiency. Some excellent results were achieved with Longbow, but the inexorable march of technology brought along the now widely accepted ML range, which offered new possibilities in the control of coverage and SPL across an audience and beyond, whilst at the same time sounding knee-tremblingly good. Convincing Glastonbury Festival to make a signiﬁcant change can be akin to turning a supertanker, such is the scale of of people rely on as an excuse for completely letting go, running wild and abandoning the everyday, something that many do to the point where the mud becomes irrelevant. Reality is suspended, mud does not matter, cleanliness is anathema; music and partying are the ultimate priorities. Glastonbury delivers in spades — everybody can go wild in the country. Moving around the site is at times like being caught up in some form of mass psychosis. In a scene redolent of a Quatermass ﬁlm, a seething mass of muddy humanity, plodding ever closer to whichever god they want to worship, grinds to a halt to watch some wretched teenage girl writhing around trying to avoid full body contact with the sludge as her boot gets stuck, trapped as if in the jaws of some hideous mud-ﬁend. Her ‘friends’ ﬁrst laugh and then themselves ﬁght through the sticky stuff in a feckless attempt to help. They all end up in a tangled, writhing heap of legs, spangled make-up, over-sized eyelashes, wellies and hot pants. It is like rubber-necking a disco motorway pile-up in slo-mo. But hey, who cares? They’re having the time of their lives! My personal part this time round was on behalf of the festival to design, spec and commission new Martin Audio MLA systems for West Holts and Block 9 Genosys, as well as keep an eye on the Pyramid and John Peel stages. The name of the game was containment within the festival site and between stages, which was achieved with bells on. Sigh: if only all these stages were closer together. They stretched across the entire NW-SE diagonal of the entire site, turning the load-in period into something akin to Royal Marine training. Sometimes carrying two backpacks full of computers and associated hardware, I must have made around 20 trips back and forth. I would have broken a sweat at the best of times but with the additional friction afforded by a foot of mud it was more than exercise. Because this venerable magazine’s core focus is
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P46 AUGUST 2016
Their were blue skies too
the operation, but the organisers take the audiences’ sonic experience extremely seriously, as well as their obligation to adhere to the licensing regulations and minimise the impact of such a huge event on the neighbours. RG installed MLA for the ﬁrst time for 2014’s festival to great effect, regularly reaching levels of over 100dBA in the Pyramid arena across the entire audience. For The Who’s set last year, I was reading around 103dBA at the track that delineates the rearmost extent of the arena, with the offsite levels still under the requisite marker set by the noise police. Atmospherics always play their part, but being able to start with an even, predictable system response and SPL proﬁle, as well as determine what happens outside of the desired coverage area is extremely valuable, as Glastonbury Festival now realises. It’s therefore not surprising that the festival has decided that other stages on the site were problematic and in need of a fresh approach with some new technology, and the result was that John Peel, West Holts and Block 9 Genosys all featured MLA Compact systems in 2016. The John Peel stage was moved from its swampy site on the north-west corner of the festival up the hill in an attempt to avoid some of the hideous ground conditions of soggy years past. The consequence of this was that it was now somewhat closer to the Pyramid, and concerns were raised about sound leakage to the Pyramid arena. On behalf of SW Group, Stage Audio Services deployed their new MLA Compact system to signiﬁcant effect – amazing inside, quiet outside. Job done. There was more interference on Pyramid from the nearby bar than from the pumping system within the John Peel big top. West Holts, a popular stage that features a myriad of
musical genres from around the world (this year saw a set from the world’s weirdest band, Japan’s Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra), has historically suffered from making a little bit too much of itself in surrounding areas, affecting traders and Greenpeace, and impacting on The Glade Stage. RG Jones were brought in to cover and contain, with two 20 deep hangs of MLA Compact and a broadside cardioid bass array of MLX subs. Underworld’s return to Glastonbury after something like 16 years was sonically rendered in all its synthy glory, with nobody hammering on the ceiling to tell us to turn it down. Job done. Notable this year for the family of Hippos that had taken up residence in the backstage lake, West Holts provided a welcome relief
from the gloop – replacing it with something that resembled a liquidised container full of Caramac. And then there was Block 9. In one of the worst affected areas of the festival, the building of the incredible structures in Block 9 was severely hampered by horrendous quantities of thick sludge. Of the three EDM stages in Block 9, Genosys is the only one outdoors, and running as it does through the night until 6am, offsite levels are critical. The late night license conditions dictate that no single system should be clearly audible offsite amongst the general throb of the festival. In the past this has forced the Genosys system down to sub-90dBA levels, hardly conducive to making people dance. The Block 9 production team were steered by festival production in RG Jones’ direction. Two 10 deep hangs of craftily optimised MLA Compact and a tightly controlled bass array later, we had 98dBA, all night, staggering ﬁdelity and lots of dancing, inaudible offsite. Big smiles all round. Job done. Above all, Glastonbury Festival is about people. People come, people trade, people dance, people get dirty, and people exercise massive quantities of skill and professionalism in ensuring people have the best time. In the case of the audio systems featured here, the people made them what they were. On the Pyramid Stage was once again one of the ﬁnest teams with which I have ever had the privilege to work. Ben Milton, Mark Isbister, Mark Edwards, Jason Baird (Martin Audio), Becky Pell (yoga anybody?), Damion Dyer, Jack Bowcher and Dan Mosely, you are the Right Stuff. On West Holts, Matt Sussex, Sam Lyddiard, Rob Ritchie, James Clark and Martin Shaw. On John Peel Stan Saunders and Chris Pyne (Martin Audio), and several others I didn’t meet, sorry. Block 9, staying up all night were Conners and Shaun: chaps you did great. Job very much done. Next? Hey, everyone! Use up your phone battery like this!
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Enter the IBC2016
Nominate your new product by 31 August to be in with a chance of winning www.newbay-awards.com
For more information contact Lucy Wilkie on firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aerial picture of the world’s largest cruiser, Harmony of the Seas
Shipping now Sarah Sharples gets her sea-legs on to see how the pro-audio industry is benefiting from the billion-dollar cruise-liner industry
he cruise liner industry is big business. Almost 23 million passengers worldwide are expected to sail this year and it is estimated that the market is worth US $40 billion
(€35bn). This means it’s a lucrative business for companies installing sound and communications systems, involving a lot of technology and big budgets. Refurbishments also play a big part. Multiple theatres, cinemas and performance spaces in these ﬂoating cities mean it’s not one installation job, but many. Then there are the teams that have to do the change-overs between acts: one week it might be an orchestra in the main theatre; the next a DJ; the next, a cabaret.
All aboard! Having spent 10 years working on ships and ﬁnishing up on the QE2 when it sailed to Dubai to be sold, Rodrigo Thomaz, who is now based at Audio-Technica UK, has done it all. This includes providing the audio for famous faces, such as Queen Elizabeth II, which he says was his most stressful gig. “We are just talking about a simple PA system with a few microphones, however the pressure of anything going wrong and the logistics of all the security around the event, made this in my opinion one of the biggest challenges I had to deal with onboard any of the 17 cruise ships I worked on,” he says.
Audio-Technica’s Rodrigo Thomaz spent 10 years working on cruise liners
The biggest act, in terms of size that Thomaz worked with was the resident chamber orchestra at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philharmonia Virtuosi. The orchestra came on board the Cunard Caronia for a two week cruise and performed daily, explains Thomaz. “That was a huge challenge to properly capture each section of the orchestra, including the various soloists
with proper mic placement and detailed mixing. Then we had strike everything and get ready for the evening production shows with a seven-piece band, 24 backing tracks and 10 singers onstage.” When it came to equipment, Thomaz says he always chose A&H Wizard mixing desks for the deck area and the various lounges across the ship. “They would just
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Cruising is plain sailing? Not always, says tribute band member Chris Hook There are two kinds of cruising jobs for musicians. One is to be a permanent ﬁxture on the ship for a period of months playing in the bars lunchtime and/or evenings and basically becoming part of the crew. The other is to provide the feature entertainment for one night of the cruise in the theatre and usually falls to well known names, professional shows and, as in our case, tribute bands. I played four cruises last year with Ultimate Elton and the Rocket Band. It was interesting. Our job was to join each cruise liner at whichever port it was at two days before the end of the cruise and play two concerts in the main theatre on the same night, one at 7pm and one at 9pm. Then cruise and repeat. A cruise liner is basically a big ﬂoating hotel with miles of corridors connecting the cabins and lifts connecting some 13 ﬂoors. The band was allocated four rooms at the opposite end of the ship to the theatre. Each soundcheck and concert involved a quarter-mile trek to the stage. Said stages are, I must say, in very luxurious theatres with a capacity of 600 or more and all the equipment you would expect from a modern theatre; banks of radio mics, hazers, big projector screens and video walls and
input to the show, one is production manager, one is a stage hand whose job it is to ﬁnd a couple of guitar stands and set up the mics, one is in charge of monitors and one is the FOH engineer. Soundcheck takes two hours because they can’t get the monitors working. Not once but almost every cruise! Ah well but the fun is in the free food and the drinks. We each received a discount card for drinks giving us 20 per cent off the extremely expensive prices. Still not cheap and you cannot carry alcohol on board. We tried and got caught twice and had our whisky conﬁscated and returned to us at the end of the cruise, like naughty boys at a scout camp. We ﬁnally succeeded by putting the whisky into camel packs and strapping them to our legs. The audiences were really good and up for a good time even though the average age was probably close to 65. The ports we called at were mostly fun to visit for a few hours as we had plenty of free time. Stockholm, Viga, Tallin, Naples and Santorini were great, Would I do it again? Yes probably, though, to be honest, I won’t shed any tears if they don’t ask us back.
Chris Hook (on bass, second from right) with tribute act Ultimate Elton, playing on the Rhapsody of the Seas cruise liner
elaborate lighting rigs. So it comes a bit of disappointment when we discover the drum kit is a $500 cheapie and the bass and guitar amps are small combos just about adequate for a semi pro pub band and, like many pub band amps, some of the knobs are broken for good measure. The keyboards are Roland R700s, very nice we thought, but as we need two and most of their stock were broken, we had to make do with one on at least on one of the trips. The stage hands are many and varied; all wearing branded outﬁts, one is for musical direction and has no apparent
work year after year and they sounded great. AudioTechnica mics such as gooseneck and hanging models were my ﬁrst choice for the theatre and the artist elite range for the band, but we also used other good brands depending on stock availability. I recall running around New York looking for vintage guitar amps for a Beatles tribute act and VOX AC30 always sounds great.” Thomaz says working in the industry gave him access to all sorts of equipment as well as allowing him to see what happens behind the scenes, including the logistics of loading and unloading shows and talking to stage management. He also loved the opportunity to travel the world. There were some special moments on board too, Thomaz says. “I am from Brazil and my wife Gemma is from York in the UK. We ﬁrst met in Alaska, I proposed to her using a satellite phone somewhere in the ocean near Australia, whilst she was cruising in Mexico. I love that!”
New installs From 2016 to 2017, 15 more new cruise ships will come online, adding 39,500 to worldwide passenger capacity. The world’s largest cruiser Harmony of the Seas, which is three times longer than the height of London’s Big Ben and taller then the Eiffel Tower, is owned by the Royal Caribbean company, and was completed recently. The ship, with its 10-storey slide and robotic bartenders, took its maiden voyage from Southampton to Rotterdam
The Aurora underwent a dry dock refurbishment, including The Masquerade Lounge, which was ﬁtted with Renkus-Heinz CF Series loudspeakers
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Audio challenges on the seas For Rodrigo Thomaz, being in the middle of the ocean far away from suppliers, replacement personnel and spare gear, was the biggest challenge. A crew member from the tech team could be feeling sea sick, a piece of equipment could be faulty or show schedules may have to be changed if the ship was in the middle of a ﬁerce storm, Thomaz explains. “Luckily, the cruise industry invests heavily in equipment and extra supplies, so if something was faulty there was an 80 per cent chance to get it repaired on board at sea,” he says. The tech team was also formed by multi-talented individuals who were able to cover other duties if needed, says Thomaz. “My duties as senior stage manager involved any audio related work but I could also cover for the light tech if needed. Our cruise director, Martyn Moss, would rather not cancel a in May, with almost 6,500 guests on board. Taking more than two-and-a-half years to build and costing US$1bn (£695 million), Harmony had sound, light and stage technology installed by VIDELIO-HMS, which took a year. Marco Baldin, director of commercial and sales manager, says it was quite a long schedule, but was in line with the expectations. “VIDELIO-HMS has done the engineering, the manufacturing, the
show but change it if it was not safe for dancers onstage or if a large piano couldn’t be moved during a storm.” “Many times Martyn would call upon talented crew members to scramble a last minute show for the guests if a contracted entertainer was unable to board the ship during a storm for example.” And the worse audio incident he encountered? “I remember leaving a ship after a long contract just to be called back on board as my replacement audio engineer had a breakdown and as a result unplugged the entire theatre wiring from the mixing desk, audio network patchbay, and video feeds. Everything had stopped working! So I found myself not boarding my plane in Honolulu back to Rio that day, I went back to put it all back and stayed on board for another month before a new replacement engineer arrived.” installation, the commissioning and the set-up in all the public venues including the crew areas – almost 50 venues,” he comments. Equipment was selected based on the areas, so big sound in large venues, such as the theatre, and ambient sound systems for restaurants, Baldin explains. “On Harmony of the Seas, Meyer Sound has been the right choice for performance versus costs in the main theatre
The Neptune Lounge on the MS Braemar was upgraded due to unwanted sound transmission using Electro-Voice products
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MS Braemer had it’s audio upgraded while at sea
and the Studio B, while QSC Audio or Atlas Sound have been selected for smaller areas.” Royal Caribbean also launched its new ship Ovation of the Seas, this year and Anthem of the Seas in 2015. At 167,800 tonnes, the ships are the biggest cruise liners ever built in Germany, and the third largest in the world, with Amptown System Company (ASC) responsible for the installation of the audio. Malte Polli-Holstein, ASC’s key account manager of maritime projects, says that when installing equipment quality and reliability are top priorities, due to the unique use and conditions on board liners. “The systems are currently in operation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which means an excessive use in comparison to applications onshore. Further requirements for ASC are ﬂexible service and response time throughout the world. Cruise ships continually change their positions and ASC has to deliver spare parts to the furthermost regions of the world in a short time,” he says.
Then there is the issue of cruise ships being made of steel: ASC has to come up with clever solutions with regard to installation and mechanical mounting, he adds. “The salty sea air is a further challenge for installing the products. The components must be ultra-weather protected by the manufacturer, a simple weather-protected certiﬁcate does not work. The sea air will cover the products and eat through them, and corrode them slowly… The system specialists take care with disassembling the loudspeakers and post-treating every component, applying special lacquers and exchanging all metallic components.” The Ovation of the Seas includes the indoor active space called the Seaplex, which is also frequently used for partying at night. Polli-Holstein says in the SeaPlex, there is a DJ cabin with plexiglass walls equipped with a Yamaha 01V96 audio console, two Pioneer CDJ2000 CD players and Genelec monitors. “The sound reinforcement system involving Meyer Sound speakers
ensures a sweeping party sound enhanced by six 600-HP subwoofers, eight Meyer Sound UPQ-1P widecoverage speakers are distributed around the periphery to ensure a powerful sound. The wireless equipment provided in the SeaPlex is from the UHF-R series by Shure,” he comments. Meanwhile, the two-ﬂoor Music Hall is the central event venue on board the ship and offers shows, comedy, and live music, and can even be reconﬁgured on demand as a large-scale discotheque. Polli-Holstein explains its control centre is equipped with a DiGiCo SD8-24 audio console and is located in one corner of the stage and dancing area so that it takes up as little room as possible. “Sound technicians can use an iPad connected to the DiGiCo console by wiﬁ to adjust sound settings while listening to the sound in the middle of the public area. Meyer Sound speakers are everywhere.” The Royal Theatre on the Anthem was an equally complex installation, reveals Polli-Holstein. He says in the earlier days of cruise ships, ASC installed technology for classical theatre, where professional actors could show their performance. “Today we are confronted with the trend and the requirement of multiplex event rooms which work also for all-day operation. ASC has developed and installed a concept, together with the specialist planners from Meyer Werft and RCI, which provides a highly ﬂexible infrastructure. The Royal Theatre of the Quantum class can be used from presentations, games, sales events, and auctions to movie showings, classical music, and stage shows.” The Theatre contains two Meyer Sound line arrays with 20 M’elodie speakers and four Meyer 700 HP subs, with a further ﬁve compact MINA boxes as a centre cluster line array, he says. “Forty Meyer Sound UPJunior speakers have been installed by ASC as surround speakers and a delay line. The entire speaker processing is operated with three Galileo 616 speaker management systems. These include balance functions for the M-Series array products, have six inputs and 16 outputs, and offer a broad range of control options. Seven Meyer UP-4XP speakers have been installed for the front-ﬁll.”
The upgrades There are more than 400 cruise ships out on the seas, and this increasingly popular holiday option means modernising systems is also essential. To avoid any downtime, Fred Olsen Cruise Liners recently used the UK’s EW Production Services (EWPSL) to install ElectroVoice speakers, ampliﬁers and network, while at sea. The MS Braemar hosts live music, comedy, cabaret and full theatre productions in the Neptune Lounge, but unwanted sound transmission were affecting passenger cabins on adjoining desks above and below. Paul Byrne, operations manager for EWPSL, said it was tricky to upgrade the systems while at sea, without interfering with the entertainment schedule.
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decision to go with Renkus-Heinz CF Series loudspeakers. “They needed a system that could deliver highimpact musical performance from the small stage area for dancing and for live music, but could also function at lower levels for background music during the day,” McBoyle observes. “It also had to provide good intelligibility for spoken word performances. And it had to be consistent across the entire venue, without blowing anyone away.” The Lounge is ﬁtted with left and right arrays of Renkus-Heinz CFX101LA modular point source line array loudspeakers. Groundstacked beneath the ﬂown arrays are a pair of CFX 218S dual 18” subwoofers to provide low frequency punch. Reinforcing the main arrays are two rings of delay ﬁlls. Augmenting the main system, McBoyle speciﬁed four CFX121 cabinets facing inward onto the dance ﬂoor. “Those speakers are primarily used when the room is in disco mode, but they can also provide foldback for the dance ﬂoor area if needed,” he reports. A pair of CF121M cabinets are employed as stage wedges. QSC Audio amps powers the system. A Yamaha QL1 console handles the mix, connected via Dante to a MediaMatrix NION NX handling system DSP. McBoyle says the installation was a challenge. “The dry-dock overhaul was only 20 days long, and that included almost every aspect of the ship. There were contractors everywhere, all working on top of one another. Speakers were being installed while the ﬂoor of the disco was being ripped out and restored.” With global demand for cruising rising by 68 per cent between 2004 and 2014, it looks like the audio industry will continue to play an integral role in the growing industry. All aboard please!
The Aurora, owned by P&O Cruisers, underwent a million dollar dry-dock refurbishment for three weeks
“There was a lot of uncertainty in this installation,” he says, “primarily because it all happened at sea, which put a lot of pressure on our design team. Fortunately, our friends at Electro-Voice UK provided an ETX loudspeaker system as a temporary sound system.” But not all liners continue cruising when it comes to upgrading. Last year, luxury cruise liner, the Aurora, owned by P&O Cruisers, underwent a £26 million (€30m) dry-dock refurbishment for three weeks. The ship, which was ﬁrst launched in 2000, accommodates 1,800 passengers, nearly 1,000 crew members and has three swimming pools, a spa and health club, cinema, theatre and several entertainment venues. Audio consultant and designer Peter McBoyle from Ontario was brought in by FUNA International, which was overseeing the refurbishment. One area that needed improvement was The Masquerade Lounge, the third largest venue on the ship and home to the nightly disco, as well as being used daily for live music, comedy, lectures, and other presentations. When not hosting an event, the Masquerade functions as a lounge and meeting point for guests. As McBoyle explains, the need for versatility played a role in his
The Neptune Lounge upgrade included the EVU-2082/95 Ultracompact two-way with dual 8-inch woofers
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The Amsterdam ArenA, ahead of the upgrade to a d&b system
d&b rethink for Amsterdam ArenA
On 24 June, on the occasion of Coldplay’s Head Full of Dreams concert, the Amsterdam ArenA management and Ampco Flashlight Sales signed the contract for a new in-house sound system, reports Marc Maes
his autumn, Amsterdam’s ﬂagship semiopen air venue – it has an optional roof – will be using a d&b Y8 conﬁguration for announcements, public security addresses and as an additional concert audio system. Prior to the decision to upgrade the decade-old current set-up (including over 200 Martin Audio W8LM cabinets), Tim Oosterop, the venue’s production manager, carried out a market survey for a fresh solution. System techs from international touring acts where consulted, alongside Roland Hemming, of UKbased RH Consultants, a specialist in working within EN guidelines (agreed European standards) for stadiums. d&b audiotechnik was judged as the most credible brand for the assignment, and entered a speaker design for the 55,000 capacity ArenA. With Ampco Flashlight Sales being responsible for the maintenance of the venue’s existing audio conﬁguration for the last decade, the continuation of the working relationship was a natural ﬁt. “We had to take into account demands such as speech intelligibility, the requirements of the UEFA 2020 guidelines and, last but not least, the safety regulations imposed by the Amsterdam ﬁre department,” explains Rolf Dijkstra, sales director at Ampco Flashlight Sales. “One of their obligations is that the system includes a feature checking the function of the signal processing, speakers and cables, once every 100 seconds.” The choice was for a d&b conﬁguration, consisting of 18 Y8 arrays with 12 loudspeakers each, powered by 54 30D four-channel ampliﬁers. Every individual array serves one public area of the ArenA. “d&b’s ArrayProcessing allows us to optimise the sonic performance of the arrays by manipulating the vertical dispersion within the mechanical coverage angle,” continues Dijkstra. “This comes in handy, because four
of the Y8 clusters will be pivoting, for use either as delay or extra speakers during concerts. Instead of having to climb 35 metres to adjust the beam of the array speakers, the electronic pre-sets Sealing the deal! (L-R): Henk van Raan (CEO Amsterdam ArenA); Roland Hemming (RH in the 30D amps, in Consulting); Vince Borelli (d&b audiotechnik); Ramon van der Zalm and Rolf Dijkstra (Ampco Flashlight); Stefan Goertz and Phill Coe (d&b audiotechnik); Henk Markerink combination with (ArenA); Dick van Berkum (Ampco Flashlight); Tim Oosterop and Martin Wielaart (ArenA) the ArrayProcessing algorithms, provide a consistent tonal balance and reverb control, resulting in mid-October. “The big challenge in terms of installation improved speech intelligibility.” and logistics is to keep the current evacuation audio The 30D amps will be placed under the Amsterdam system operational while putting in place the d&b gear,” ArenA’s roof, in closed, air-conditioned racks, weathering says Dijkstra. “It was good to see the R&D people of our temperatures between -10° and +50°C. A redundant suppliers Peavey and d&b audiotechnik work closely ﬁbre network connects the racks, while the ampliﬁers together to make the interfacing between their products are connected via a Dante network. “The 30D amps work for this unique project.” include the ‘system check’ feature, verifying the status Peter De Fouw, general manager of Ampco Flashlight of the system by measuring and comparing the speaker Sales comments: “We are very happy and proud that the impedance of the cabinets,” explains Dijkstra. “Any Amsterdam ArenA trusts us with this project. Especially tolerance over 5 per cent is notiﬁed to the system since this is where we see the future of AFS: combining control. A combination of d&b software and redundant our product portfolio with the in-house knowledge MediaMatrix Nion N6 Dante servers, controlling the gathered over the years by our rental department amps and speakers also allows remote access to the Ampco Flashlight Rental.” system by our engineers. The Amsterdam ArenA’s “After ten years of service, the Martin Audio system in-house system engineer, present during every event was up for replacement,” concludes Tim Oosterop, staged in the venue, takes on physical interventions like production manager of Amsterdam ArenA. “With d&b changing connectors.” and AmpcoFlashlight we feel conﬁdent that we have a The new audio system will be supplied and integrated system that will keep Amsterdam ArenA at the top of by Ampco Flashlight Sales, who will also take on cabling the game as a multifunctional stadium.” and maintenance. As of 1 July, Ampco’s engineers will www.ampco-ﬂashlight-sales.nl begin the assignment, with a completion date set for www.amsterdamarena.nl
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Hither & flier Recent reminiscences of ‘Extreme gigs’ had us hankering for these pics…
In sister title PSNLive, published this month, Kevin Hilton talks about the legendary 2007 Jamiroquai ‘Gig in the Sky’ in his feature on Extreme Gigs (p28 everybody). Well, in what was too good an opportunity to waste, here are more magniﬁcent pics courtesy of the legendary ex-TPi editor Mark Cunningham’s collection, taken at that incredible event… (The engineer is Rick Pope, incidentally)
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Right people, right time David Davies talks to Adlib MD Andy Dockerty about business… and Brexit
ive music remains a core activity, but Liverpool-based sound and lighting rental and installation company Adlib is now a highly diversiﬁed business with interests in areas such as conference AV and education. Let’s just hope that Brexit doesn’t put the brakes on everything, says Andy Dockerty….
As we pass the mid-point of the year, how would you describe overall activity levels in 2016? It’s been a good ﬁrst half-year. We have just ﬁnished working on the International Festival of Business here in Liverpool, which was a massive event taking place over more than three weeks and for which we supplied the full production including LED wall, projectors, screens, large-format displays, lighting PA and set. It was a really interesting block of work – albeit challenging at times with so many organisational factors to consider – and we came out of it with some great new contacts.
Is corporate work a growing part of the business then? Yes. It’s probably leaning towards being 20 per cent of our workload now. It has been a case of having the right people in the right place at the right time. We added a few personnel who really helped to develop this marketplace for us. I wouldn’t describe it as a strategy to diversify, but you are always a bit concerned that bits of the business might dry up, so there is a constant lookout to see which other areas you can develop.
What about the core live music and entertainment side of the business? We continue to support some major tours – an obvious example being Mrs Brown’s Boys, which we have been working on for 16 years from when it was ﬁlling 200
or 300 seat venues to today when multiple nights at stadiums are the norm. We also currently have the Foals, Ellie Goulding, Lana del Rey and Joe Bonamassa with FOH, monitor and stage packages, as well as identical ‘B systems’ for all of them. We have also been working on stages at a lot of festivals – T in the Park, V, Leeds Reading, Kendal Calling, Latitude, Glastonbury, Creamﬁelds, Fusion Festival, etc. So that side of the operation is relatively busy, but the general autumn touring does not appear to be as busy as maybe it was three or four years ago – and of course we now have the whole Euro thing…
two years back when it had got to the 15,000 attendance level and it was really nice to be there. But the growth of festivals can bring challenges because as they become more and more popular, the number of companies keen to do the audio increases – and so the prices are driven down to the point where it can be difficult to make a proﬁt. Then you have to factor in the time and resources to return equipment to the point where it can be used again after a festival. Glastonbury this year was a casein-point – it took a lot of our warehouse staff’s time to get the cables back to being anything like presentable. So much mud… It was pretty grim!
Ah yes, the dreaded ‘Brexit’. Uncertainty reigns supreme at the time of writing, but what do you think the impact on live music in the UK might be?
Fixed installation has been another growing area for Adlib in recent years, so what kind of projects have you been taking on in 2016?
I think there could be more reluctance on the part of USbased artists to come to UK based companies because of currency and administrative issues, however, at the moment with the £/$ relationship, we could be quite attractive. There is also the more general question of ‘when does dealing with the UK become too awkward for international acts?’. They might opt to engage the services of some of our European friends. And if the carnet system is reintroduced, then there could be increased administrative costs. It’s hard not to feel that the whole change may bring with it a load of additional problems… and let’s face it, we’re not exactly the most popular nation in Europe at the best of times!
The festival circuit remains buoyant for Adlib – and it’s clear that Kendal Calling is a particularly signiﬁcant ﬁxture on the calendar… I have loved watching that festival grow. I went about
We’ve specialised in the live venue market for the past 15 years and most recently we have completed successful installations at The Lowry Theatre [in Salford], The Core at Corby Cube, Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall and Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall. We’re also very passionate about the education sector. We’re currently working on the infrastructure for LIPA’s 6th Form College as well as several major secondary school projects across the North West that incorporate sizeable audio, lighting and video systems. We have really targeted the education sector with the idea that it’s preferable to specify industry-standard products that will last; not cheap and cheerful kit that is going to break within a year. We also try to work on projects that allow us to set up work experience at Adlib for students, who will then recognise the systems we use... It’s one of several ways in which we aim to offer some insight into the way we work at Adlib, and into the industry as a whole. www.adlib.co.uk
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