NAMM 2018! NAMM boss Joe Lamond on why this yearâ€™s audio offering is bigger and better than ever
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P3 JANUARY 2018
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When you have finished reading this magazine please, why not give it to someone else to read, too? Or recycle it properly. Don’t just sling it in the bin. I mean, come on!
n the run up to any trade show, it’s not uncommon to hear the familiar rallying cries of event organisers claiming that their latest outing will be ‘bigger and better than ever’ with ‘record breaking’ visitors set to attend, etc etc. Yet in the case of NAMM 2018, it truly does appear that the annual LA expo could be in line for a truly special edition. Particularly on the pro audio front. Despite the imagery sometimes associated with NAMM – leather and denim clad rockers sporting dyed black hair shredding away on a guitar – the show has always been about so much more than that, as anyone who has ever attended will testify. And while pro audio has always a major component of the exhibition, this time it really is ramping up its efforts to establish itself as the most essential industry gathering on the planet. Perhaps in light of rapidly growing shows like Amsterdam’s ISE and IBC increasingly vying for the attention of the professional audio market in recent years, NAMM 2018 will see a vast new space incorporated within proceedings that has been designed exclusively to host pro audio exhibits. Plus, it’s substantially upped its education and training offering to ensure that its appeal extends way beyond the long-standing, big name players in the ﬁeld. You can ﬁnd out more about exactly what’s on offer at this year’s show in our exclusive interview with this month’s cover star, NAMM president and CEO, Joe Lamond over on P11. And we’ve also spoken to exhibitors about why they keep returning on P17. With competition for space on the trade calendar looking set to rise signiﬁcantly over the years ahead, it’s vital for such shows to ensure that complacency doesn’t set in and that the balance between attracting new faces and pleasing the familiar ones holds steady. Few, it seems, have managed that balancing act as well as NAMM over the years. For now, depending on when you’re reading this, we hope you have a great Christmas, a happy new year and look forward to seeing you in Anaheim!
P4 JANUARY 2018
In this issue... People P6
Strategic Position Phil Ward visits Entec’s London HQ for a chat with head of sound Jonny Clark
P11 HEY, JOE!
P17 NAMM 2018 Some of the biggest names in the biz tell us what makes NAMM so special and what keeps them coming back year after year
NAMM CEO AND PRESIDENT JOE LAMOND TALKS THIS YEAR’S SHOW
Interview P22 Attitude Is Everything Suzanne Bull, founder of Attitude Is Everything, which aims to improve access for deaf and disabled people at live music events, tells us all about the charity’s work and its plans for 2018
Live P34 The sound reinforcement market Leading executives from some of the biggest players in live sound offer their predictions for 2018 and identify the biggest growth areas for the sector
P26 NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES PHIL WARD CHATS TO SOUND NETWORK CO-FOUNDER RALPH DUNLOP
Recorded sound P38 British Library A look behind the scenes at the British Library’s Season of Sound
Studio Photo: Danny North
P52 Return of the Macc Hugo White, co-founder and occasional producer of critically acclaimed indie rock band The Maccabees tells us all about his new career behind the desk
P30 RATTLE AND HUM ANDY BARLOW ON BEING IN THE STUDIO AND ON THE ROAD WITH U2
ROSKILDE FESTIVAL AND MEYER SOUND AN UNPRECEDENTED COMMITMENT TO GREAT SOUND, FOR 2018 AND BEYOND
P6 JANUARY 2018
Gear prudence It may lack kerb appeal but Entec’s West London-based headquarters harbours a palace of perfection, writes Phil Ward...
here’s a sign on the wall at West London production rental company Entec Sound & Light. It says: “Guide the crystal through the cosmos, avoiding planets and black holes”, a sentiment either from the ‘60s or sci-ﬁ. Very acid rock, but these days the acid has been replaced by Pimm’s. Rock is going up in the world and so, therefore, is Entec. “There’s always a better way of doing things,” says Jonny Clark, Entec’s head of sound, and about raising global standards he is crystal clear. Clark is the natural successor to Dick Hayes, the recently retired FOH ﬁgurehead who cut his teeth on the road with The Who and then joined Entec full time to help consolidate the company’s enviable reputation among the touring cognoscenti. Just one year before Hayes ﬁrst humped Pete Townshend’s Sound City L100 amp heads on and off stage, and only two years after Roy and Gene Clair opened for business in Pennsylvania, Entertainment Technicians (Entec) was registered in the wake of several successful and ground-breaking openair concerts organised by co-founder Harold Pendleton. There was no Brit Row or SSE as yet, but there was a ﬂood of louder acts that attracted huge crowds and who prompted the expansion of Pendleton’s jazz and blues events around Windsor into rock festivals that needed Charlie Watkins’ slaved amps and speakers, professional lighting rigs and more toilets. Adapting quickly to the counter-culture, Pendleton introduced simple ways to keep civilization from crumbling – like wristbands and plastic beer cups – and more sophisticated ways, like video screens and twin stages for faster turnaround, to make the audience experience ever more engaging and rewarding. Entec embraced this production ethos with vigour, and applied its values to innovative audio and lighting. Nearly 50 years on, and Entec is the rental company most true to its original form and function without ever losing touch with changing habits and technologies. The West London HQ, notwithstanding cosmic reﬂections on the wall, nestles between bus stops and burger joints with studied prosaicness, in an area beloved of transportation managers and anyone else keen to exploit the speed with which you can escape. Despite this, Entec’s business is smartening itself up. As we’ll see, there are more suits and briefcases among the clients than before, and they know what they want. The latest inventory spend – Shure, Digico and d&b
Easy rider: Jonny Clark
audiotechnik – satisﬁes all-comers and is a continuation of long-standing relationships that fall squarely into the ‘ain’t broke, don’t ﬁx it’ category, but the equipment has never had to behave itself so impeccably.
Top gear A d&b audiotechnik customer since 1995, Entec has added 20 d&b V-Series V8 three-way loudspeakers, 32 D80 four-channel power ampliﬁers and six DS10 audio network bridges. “Entec was an early adopter of d&b,” says Clark, “and now they’re in the top three names on every rider that comes across my desk. Why change that? The new generation of d&b is really exciting.” Earlier this year Entec bought several Shure UR4D wireless receivers. To this has been added 28 channels of Shure’s Axient Digital system, including AD Series handheld and lavalier mics, ShowLink remote control and Wireless Workbench software, plus 10 dual-channel Shure PSM 1000 IEM systems. “We’re conﬁdent that the manufacturers are on top of the bandwidth issue,” continues Clark, “actively making sure that there’s enough spectrum for us by changing their infrastructure to suit. We have an open dialogue with them about issues like this. Our purchase of Axient
Digital gives us the kind of future prooﬁng I’m looking for. It doesn’t mean that the current UHF-R becomes discontinued; it’s all valid and serviceable stock and we can suit different budgets accordingly. It’ll be around for some time, but the Axient Digital will be around for a very long time.” Two 72-channel Digico SD12 consoles have also been purchased, along with the compact SD11i and two SDRacks, in the wake of an additional SD7 earlier in 2017. “It’s a bit of no-brainer with Digico, because there isn’t a console manufacturer out there hitting the same notes,” according to Clark. “There are other, great products out there but who’s really bringing something new to the party? Again, it’s that rider thing: they’re nearly always at the top, and we are a rider-friendly company. The new SD7 has been out on tour since we got it last March, and I probably won’t see it again until late next year! The SD12s essentially replace the Proﬁles, which ticked every box but the technology seems to have run its course. “These are manufacturers who form a three-way relationship with ourselves and the end users to provide complete support. Our customers will always get an answer at any time between us – the contact number is
Photo: Denholm Hewlett
Humanz touch: The current Gorillaz tour
on the console, or we’ll put someone in touch with the right person… the joint effort to keep these things on the road has never been so streamlined as it is today, and we’re glad to be a part of it.”
Riders on the form As well as these purchases, Clark has been keen to restructure the staffing and departments in order to promote forward thinking without losing the spirit of the place. “I wanted to be pro-active rather than reactive,” he says, “and invest according to trends in the industry as opposed to the immediate demands of any given client. Of course, we listen to what the clients want, but if we keep our inventory relevant then we are in a position to offer the very best solutions possible and lead the market responsibly. “We all know the riders and there is a commonality to everyone’s gear, broadly speaking. But the difference with Entec is that it’s still relatively small enough to provide very personal attention, and that’s from the very top of the company. You get looked after, and that’s the way we want to operate. Yes, we want to grow – but in a way that’s carefully thought-out and managed and not in an explosion of activity.” Refreshingly, digital audio networking here is a workaday framework rather than an evangelical cause. “You have to make sure you can get in on any format and out on any format, but you can, more or less,” Clark says. “We use it more for system tech’ing than transport, but our guys will help you with that – Peter Eltringham is our specialist, and you have to have specialists in these areas now. You can’t just have an all-rounder, and that’s been reﬂected in my staffing structures across the company.” Indeed, there are different specialists for wiring and power deployment, as well as the console and
microphone landscape, including spectrum. Clark is a fastidious organiser who likes to keep his ﬁre engine clean, so to speak, and this is perhaps one of the reasons why festivals do not ﬁgure as often as you might expect on the Entec calendar – although that could change. “We’re doing a lot more ‘rock and roll corporate’ instead,” reveals Clark. “It’s the full rig, proper line array, proper groundstacks, sideﬁlls… but at an awards ceremony, or a company milestone – even a birthday party for someone really important! They’ll hire a huge ballroom in a big hotel and a serious band, and we look after the production. The sound engineers will take a break from their touring schedule, and ﬂy in for this one event. They may be big corporations, but they want to put on a happening show and they know we’re very neat and tidy about taking care of it. “I make a point of making sure all of our boxes are immaculate and everything’s in tip-top condition all the time: the consoles are zeroed and meticulously cleaned, and staff take a great pride in that. We know that when we send it all out, it’s presentable – and reliable, of course. Our de-prep and re-prep is crucial, and I’m obsessive about it.”
Human touch When an agreement was reached with Coloradobased Brown Note Productions to debut d&b’s latest loudspeakers for large-scale arenas, stadiums and festivals on the recent European leg of Gorillaz’ Humanz world tour – GSL, part of the new SL Series – it was part of a new ‘transatlantic’ partnership with Brown Note, the company that supplies racks-and-stacks to Gorillaz in the US. Entec, meanwhile, has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Damon Albarn and his cohorts since Blur’s ﬁrst hit record.
“It’s quite a unique production,” explains Clark, “unlike a simple four-piece rock band who can pick up in-ears, radio mics or another package almost anywhere. We carry all the control worldwide, and it’s a very different type of infrastructure that needs consistency from continent to continent. From the outset Joel Stanley, the production manager, knew exactly what the requirements were and we packaged it accordingly – and sent our guy who designed it around the world with them. It’s very reassuring for Matt Butcher at FOH and Dave Guerin on monitors, plus knowing that I’ll take a call from them 24/7.” All this, and the door is open for training and re-training. “Even if we don’t run official courses like other rental groups do,” reveals Clark, “we do welcome trainees into the warehouse for a week or so to become acclimatised to our methodology, prior to any ﬁeld placements where they’ll see all the latest technology in practice. I think that’s a really important part of our future, to build new relationships and create a community rather than just get bogged down in a my-inventory-is-bigger-than-yours competition. We are competitive in that way, as the recent purchases show, but there’s so much more to it than that.” Entec remains resolutely independent. “And we intend to stay that way,” Clark says emphatically. “We have partnerships with people across the planet, some new, some long-term, but I’ve always known Entec from my touring days as a compact and efficient entity that kind of ﬂew under the radar. I’m quite reserved myself, and I’ve always liked that about Entec. There are many things you take for granted that were started by Entec and I’ve discovered a lot of these since I’ve been here. But history is one thing; you also have to set that aside and keep looking to the future.” www.entecLIVE.com
P8 JANUARY 2018
Pro audio movers and shakers Stay in the loop with the latest job appointments and movements in the professional audio biz over the past month…
L-Acoustics hires Tony Szabo to support global touring projects and co-manage team
-Acoustics has hired Tony Szabo as head of touring application to support major projects across the globe and co-manage its team. Szabo will work directly with Florent Bernard, director of applications, touring, to deploy the application strategy and work with L-Acoustic’s network of partners worldwide. Most recently, Szabo served as senior systems engineer at L-Acoustics UK partner Adlib Audio Solutions, designing systems for tours and festivals, mentoring the systems engineer team and leading technology acquisition decisions. He has more than two decades of experience working with touring artists. Szabo told PSNEurope: “Being able to encompass the points of view of touring sound engineers will help me to bring a global perspective to the application touring strategy at L-Acoustics. I look forward to working with the amazing group of professionals that make up the L-Acoustics partner network worldwide.” Bernard added: “Counting Tony in this newly created position will allow us to continue to affirm and expand our leadership in the touring market, while supporting our partners to do the same.”
K-array hires Russell ‘Rusty’ Waite as global business development director
L-Acoustics hires Sandy Macdonald to head up Broadway theatre audio sales
Sennheiser appoints Fadi Costantine as technical sales manager in Middle East
Italian manufacturer K-array has appointed Russell ‘Rusty’ Waite as its new global business development director. With previous roles at Euphonix, Stage Tec and, most recently, EAW, Waite has more than 25 years of experience in the broadcast and corporate AV market. In his new role at K-array, Waite will support sales initiatives across all channels and lead business development worldwide. “My role as VP of sales at EAW is what made my transition to K-array a natural one, and my experiences as a sound designer, freelance audio broadcast and recorßding engineer will deﬁnitely help me to understand the challenges that our customers face,” commented Waite. “I look forward to contributing to the future growth of K-array and taking it to a level that it really deserves. There is a great team based in Italy and very strong established partners around the world!”
L-Acoustics has appointed Sandy Macdonald as sales manager, musical and theatre, in New York, joining Scott Pizzo, regional sales manager and Jesse Stevens, applications engineer. Macdonald has spent the past 12 years managing sales in the north-east for Meyer Sound. He will coordinate efforts with Jesse Stevens, who spearheads application support for Broadway designers and certiﬁed providers for L-Acoustics in the region. The duo will ensure that L-Acoustics and its L-ISA immersive solutions are available to Broadway sound designers as well as providing local support to theatre sound design consulting ﬁrms in the tri-state area. Pizzo commented: “The East Coast market is particularly demanding. Over the past few years, we have successfully built a solid presence in high proﬁle venues, festivals and corporate events in the northeast region and New York City in particular. Sandy brings a wealth of premium sound experience and theatre market knowledge to L-Acoustics.”
Audio specialist Sennheiser this month announced the appointment of Fadi Costantine as its new technical sales manager in the Middle East. Costantine will primarily focus on supporting customers and growing Sennheiser’s footprint in the business communication, system integration and audio recording segments. As a part of the technical sales and application engineering department, Costantine will help deliver technical support for the system solutions channel across all of Sennheiser’s target verticals. Costantine said: “Joining Sennheiser presents me with the opportunity to drive innovation and the uptake of best practices in the Middle East industry. Over the duration of my career in the UAE and Lebanon, I have established professional relationships with key industry ﬁgures, which I will now leverage to help Sennheiser penetrate into new customer accounts.”
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P11 JANUARY 2018
A NAMM for all seasons
Photo: Getty Images
Now in its 117th year, the NAMM show returns to California’s Anaheim Convention Centre from January 25-28 for four days of product launches, networking opportunities, education and training sessions, live music and a whole lot more to boot. And there are big changes afoot, with a substantial new space incorporated specifically to facilitate pro audio exhibits. To find out more, NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond granted Daniel Gumble an exclusive interview to talk the show’s evolution, what we can expect from this year’s outing and how the annual extravaganza has held strong in a tremulous trade show landscape…
P12 JANUARY 2018
ike any market beholden to technological advancement, the professional audio industry and its various segments can often be found in a state of ﬂux. From live sound and studio to broadcast and installation, digital innovation is changing the game on an ever-more regualr basis, be it in the form of immersive audio, product manufacture or production techniques. As such, time-honoured practices are increasingly broken with, while new strategies and a more nimble approach is required. Inevitably, the key factors changing the audio at its core have also trickled down into every nook and cranny of the business. One area in which this has been particuarly notable in recent years has been in the marketing and launch of new products and the decision process surrounding how best to bring them to market. And for that reason, the NAMM show occupies a rather unique position. As pretty much anyone reading this will be aware, the pro audio trade show landscape is currently in the middle of an ongoing state of transition. Over the past few years, manufacturers, suppliers and audio professionals across the board have been assessing and reassessing the state of play. Over the course of its most recent outings, Frankfurt’s annual Prolight+Sound/Musikmesse event has seen its trade credentials called into question on account of some big changes to its focus, which have resulted in, according to some, a gravitation away from business and towards a consumer audience. Organisers of course insist that it is still a bona ﬁde trade show, but the seemingly inexorable rise in popularity of Amsterdam’s ISE and IBC shows have certainly diverted the gaze of some Messe regulars away from Germany and towards the Netherlands. Never before, it seems, has there been such a wealth of options on the trade event calendar. Which brings us back to NAMM. While its European counterparts continue to ﬂuctuate in their trade appeal, the age-old California crowd-pleaser has provided the industry with a much-needed mainstay. A staple for some 117 years, it continues to steadily grow its audience by appealing to new visitors and exhibitors, while ensuring there is always something on offer to keep its regulars happy. Of course, the allure of its palm tree-lined, sun-bleached environs undoubtedly plays a part in many a European exec’s decision-making process when it comes to plotting their annual trade show commitments, but what NAMM and its organisers really seem to have mastered is striking the right balance between new and old, year-on-year; never staying the same, never trying to reinvent the wheel. For that reason, over 7,000 brands are expected to be on show this year, while 2017’s record-breaking turnout of 101,726 attendees looks set to be topped by the end of its 2018 outing. So what exactly can the pro audio contingent expect from NAMM 2018? Daniel Gumble caught up with NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond to ﬁnd out…
It seems the global pro audio trade show landscape is currently in a state of ﬂux – shows like IBC and ISE are on the up, while question marks continue to loom over Frankfurt. How has NAMM remained such a consistent event over the years? There certainly has been a lot of change in NAMM’s 117year history, it is hard to imagine that Thomas Edison had just recently patented the light bulb when we ﬁrst started! So yes, we have evolved with the times, and in the midst of all this change, we have viewed our role as a member-driven organisation to be a trusted, reliable and predictable platform for our industry to gather. We believe it is the member companies of NAMM who make all the magic happen and we’re grateful for the trust they put in us to produce the NAMM show on their behalf. The global music and sound products industry is a complicated and inter-related ecosystem. In my case, I’ve been a professional musician, worked music retail, done commercial installations and toured as a production and tour manager. I imagine that there are many industry participants whose careers have evolved over time but the glue that binds us all is our passion for music - and perhaps that’s the one thing that we’ve never forgotten, the importance of the music. In tying that together, perhaps the most rewarding outcome from the NAMM show, in addition to launching our 10,000 member companies into the New Year, is our Circle of Beneﬁts business model, where trade show revenues are channelled into grants, scholarships, scientiﬁc research, new music programmes and lobbying that strengthens music education and creates access for children to learn and grow with music. Our members contribute to these efforts through their show participation and can be proud to know that they are creating life-changing impact through music. What’s new for this year’s show, particularly on the pro audio front? Deﬁnitely some big changes! The expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center North building has given us the opportunity to invite more pro audio exhibits, and to support the growing buying community by nearly tripling our education offerings. We were fortunate to have the Audio Engineering Society agree to produce their conference at NAMM, and with Audinate’s Dante, ESTA (The Entertainment Services and Technology Association), A3E, and NAMM’s TEC Tracks, it’s an almost dizzying array of professional development opportunities with a simple goal: offer relevant and high value education for our members and attendees. We also understand the importance of networking and peer-to-peer interaction, with award shows like the TEC Awards and the Parnelli Awards, concerts, receptions and the famous hotel lobby bars where important conversations occur and friendships are strengthened. People tell us that some of these moments become lifetime memories, and we’re humbled to have our members feel that the show is their ‘family reunion.’
P13 JANUARY 2018
Show business: Joe Lamond (left) and below with Robbie Robertson
How difficult is it to strike the balance of pleasing the regulars and keeping things fresh enough to attract new visitors? Creative, entrepreneurial activity drives our industry, but it needs a stable, reliable platform on which to launch from each year and the NAMM show provides that role. I’ve been coming to NAMM since 1983 and there have been no two shows that were alike; each one is a brand-new experience created by tens of thousands of innovative industry leaders each competing in the marketplace of ideas to build their company’s success. As far as the education offerings, each year brings a new set of challenges and the courses evolve to provide cutting-edge solutions. Most of the successful people I know have long ago decided to be life-long learners and that’s why coming to NAMM and attending as many sessions as possible is such an integral part of success. Have you been able to learn anything from the huge growth seen at shows such as ISE and IBC? We ﬁrmly believe that high tides make all ships rise, and where and how we make music continues to evolve. Music - that’s what it’s all about for us and how each facet of the industry is led back to making music and the creative processes behind it, and that’s where our focus is: using the NAMM show as the platform to serve the interests of the industry and to inspire more music makers.
Photo: Getty Images
How crucial is it for NAMM to keep abreast of what’s happening in Europe with regards to trade shows? I suspect that some may see NAMM as a tradeshow but at the core, NAMM is an international organisation, counting members and attendees in 129 countries, with a mission and vision to advancing music making and to support a healthy, vibrant industry. Within our structure, we maintain ﬁve objectives: build a successful trade show to enhance the industry; encourage growth in membership by offering tools and resources; offer high-quality professional development designed to enhance and grow; promote and fund music making programmes and opportunities for all people; and convene the industry and engage in issues which impact the industry at-large – add all of these together and you’ll ﬁnd that the NAMM team is busy year-round, advancing these objectives.
Tell us about the pro audio educational offering at this year’s show? While new technology and products drive any industry, continuing education and training, and getting better at practising one’s craft, is essential for growth. We have always believed this to be true, and it seems to me that we’re in a very natural cycle of expanding education at the NAMM show to reﬂect the changing needs of industry members. The vast ecosystem of music and sound depends on a growing number of industry professionals to make it all work, and with that, the
P14 JANUARY 2018
Photo: Getty Images
Wonderland: Steve Wonder (left) and Joe Lamond (right)
opportunity to learn. The NAMM show is the crossroads where this ecosystem intersects. It is an honour and also a responsibility to provide reliable and relevant education to achieve a vision of a more musical world. Speciﬁc to education, AES@NAMM brings a rich legacy in audio education to NAMM U’s offerings. In particular, AES@NAMM will get deep into hands-on and technical education for audio professionals, and in an incredibly broad range of topics. With ESTA, Lighting & Sound America/PLASA, and others, we’re poised to offer event tech professionals the certiﬁcation, tools and skills needed. TEC Tracks couldn’t have a more exciting line up of free sessions for audio professionals — speciﬁcally, legendary Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick is hosting a keynote. Also, A3E, Advanced Audio + Applications Exchange, is holding its ﬁrst three-day Future of Audio Summit at NAMM, which should be especially fascinating for anyone interested in such future-forward topics as audio for virtual reality, sensor technology, AI and much more. How vital is a strong educational offering to the future of both NAMM and the wider professional musician/ audio community? We believe that it is an important role for a professional trade organisation like NAMM to deliver world-class events where new products can drive opportunity, education that aids in member success and peer to peer networking that strengthens and inspires industry
participants. It’s really a three-legged stool, and all three elements are necessary. Also, I think it’s important to add that the NAMM show offers more free industry education than you can get pretty much anyplace else, which is incredibly exciting. It seems that the music industry in general is ﬁnally starting to see some money ﬁltering back into the business, with streaming now starting to take hold. How much of a knock-on effect does a healthy music business have on our industries? The turmoil created as the recording industry adapted to streaming and downloading in many ways caused a boon for the live music business, as acts turned to touring to make up for lost revenue. In my opinion, that created a situation similar to the space race of the ‘60s as everyone competed to build bigger and more lavish stages, sound systems, light shows and increasingly add video to their concerts. It also opened the door for thousands of independent artists who were able to use technology to make, record and share their music while touring to build up a following. Our members and the industry responded with creative solutions and we saw the growth and expansion in that area. Looking back on 117 years of NAMM history, it seems like whenever something came along to disrupt the status quo, something else came along to create opportunity. Music is like that, always changing. Thankfully, the one constant is the virtual certainty that music will be a part
of the human experience, just as it has been since the dawn of recorded history. What business trends have you seen throughout 2017? Any particular markets or sectors that have surprised you? There’s an incredible convergence that’s occurring across music right now. The entertainment experience is diverse, technology-driven and not limited to one sector anymore. Think about the installation for a school auditorium or mixing a track in a bedroom; there’s so much accessibility to incredible technology. Along with that, take pro audio products, live sound and install projects – not something a traditional music retailer would carry or undertake – but such services and products are more and more common at your corner music store, accessible and in-demand as consumers’ expectations of music and performance rise. What are the biggest opportunities for the NAMM show and the NAMM organisation in general in 2018? Luckily, we have a very clear vision, mission and set of objectives and a wonderful board of directors that guide our every decision. I imagine staying true to that vision, and always focusing on how we can serve our members and the industry will keep us on track. I am a drummer at heart, so thinking any further than that is probably an exercise without merit!
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P i r at e S t u d i o s , L o n d o n | J A M E S C h o i ( t o p l e f t ) | M e l l o r ( b o t t o m r i g h t )
Photo credit: Jesse Grant/ Getty Images for NAMM
The NAMM Factor The industry is gearing up for NAMM 2018, with its extended pro audio space, more educational programmes on offer and guaranteed winter sunshine. But at a time when other trade shows are in a state of flux, what is it about this Californian show that has seen it grow year-on-year? Tara Lepore asked some top brands to explain NAMMâ€™s enduring appealâ€Ś
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t a time when professional audio trade shows are in a state of flux, the NAMM show remains the go-to event for manufacturers, suppliers and customers across all sectors of the industry. Taking place between January 25-28 at the Anaheim Convention Centre in California, the winter NAMM show will have an extended pro audio space this year, something that has attracted previous exhibitors to display at the LA show once again. An example of such a company is L-Acoustics, exclusively telling PSNEurope that “with the recent addition of more floor space, and a clear objective by NAMM to dedicate this space to the professional audio industry, the show has taken on a bigger and more important place in our agenda.” Another addition to this year’s winter show is a range of all-new education programmes. NAMM’s focus on education can be dated back to the inception of the association in the early 20th century, and its 2018 show still highlights the importance of sharing best practice and expertise within the audio and MI industries. As such, NAMM’s director of professional development Zach Phillips told PSNEurope that it is “tripling the amount of pro audio and event technology
education at the show” for 2018 with partners Audio Engineering Society (AES) and Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA). As part of this extended offering, the AES@NAMM Pro Sound Symposium workshops will provide training on line array technology, live sound mixing consoles, wireless systems and studio environments, plus much more. Education is an important factor for exhibitors, and sets the show apart from its competitors, says Meyer Sound’s Jane Eagleson: “AES and NAMM together have created a fresh and exciting departure from the typical menu of trade show workshops”. Yamaha echoed the importance of developing skills, with director of marketing Marc Lopez saying “the AES@NAMM collaboration is evidence that professionals are seeking further opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge”. Manufacturer Funktion-One will exhibit for the first time at the show, citing the increased focus on pro audio as a major pull factor, and its recent US successes as a reason to focus on that market. To get the bottom of its enduring appeal, we asked some industry heavyweights why the winter edition of NAMM continues to draw exhibitors and visitors year-on- year.
Meyer Sound: ‘AES@NAMM offers a fresh departure from typical trade show workshops’ “From an educational perspective, NAMM boasts the same eye towards innovation that defines the expo at large and informs Meyer Sound’s distinctive approach to audio technology,” explains Jane Eagleson, PR manager. “To that point, the inaugural AES@NAMM 2018 Pro Sound Symposium affords a singular opportunity to connect with industry professionals, in the context of real-world recording and live sound settings. “For Meyer Sound, The Studios element at NAMM holds particular appeal, providing a unique avenue through which to showcase our Bluehorn System – a full-bandwidth monitoring solution – in a highly interactive, and therefore, highly instructive way. Attendees will not only learn about the system’s capabilities, but actually engage with them firsthand, from the driver’s seat of a fully equipped studio environment.” The educational offering at NAMM, which grows year-on-year, is one of the key reasons Meyer Sound continues to exhibit at the show. Eagleson adds:
“Recognising there is simply no substitute for participatory education, AES and NAMM together have created a fresh and exciting departure from the typical menu of trade show workshops, and Meyer Sound shares their commitment to elevating the collective experiential knowledge of the professional audio community. For these reasons, we are pleased to support the AES@NAMM 2018 Pro Sound Symposium.”
THE INAUGURAL AES@NAMM 2018 PRO SOUND SYMPOSIUM AFFORDS A SINGULAR OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
JANE EAGLESON, MEYER SOUND
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Photo credit: Jesse Grant/ Getty Images for NAMM
Yamaha: ‘The NAMM Show will always attract a worldwide audience’ “Yamaha Corporation of America has exhibited at the NAMM show for many years with a strong musical instrument focus,” says Marc Lopez, director of marketing. “We’ve also participated in sponsoring PA systems for various stages throughout the show with both Nexo line arrays and Yamaha digital audio consoles. Recently, we’ve seen a major interest in professional audio as well as a professional sound engineer presence at NAMM. “The show has proven to be an effective venue to demonstrate our products with the additional benefit of utilising the incredible talent that comes to NAMM seeking out instruments that best suit their needs. We have found that supporting the stages with PA draws live mixing engineers in and provides them an opportunity to audition the systems in a realistic environment. “We see the AES@NAMM collaboration as evidence that professionals are seeking further opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge. Yamaha has been a long-term investor in music and sound education with a high-level philosophy that music improves people’s lives.
“One of our goals is to improve the understanding of the relationship between music, sound, and acoustics with the end result being better sound quality with well-controlled sound reinforcement systems for sound engineers. “AES@NAMM reinforces our commitment and deepens our involvement with the show. The NAMM show also attracts a worldwide audience and with Yamaha having a global presence, the NAMM show offers an incredible opportunity to reach a very diverse group in a singular location. “NAMM has, by far, the most participation from our various subsidiaries around the world, providing a substantial impact and focus for the global market. We anticipate continued momentum from NAMM, and look forward to contributing to the opportunities for the professional audio industry.”
Nexo STM line array at 2017 Montreal Jazz Festival
PROFESSIONALS WANT TO IMPROVE THEIR KNOWLEDGE. YAMAHA HAS BEEN A LONG-TERM INVESTOR IN SOUND EDUCATION WITH THE PHILOSOPHY THAT MUSIC IMPROVES PEOPLE’S LIVES
MARC LOPEZ, YAMAHA COMMERCIAL AUDIO PRODUCTS www.psneurope.com 17-20 Importance of NAMM_Final.indd 3
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L-Acoustics: ‘With a new dedicated pro audio space, we have decided to exhibit again’ “NAMM has always been an important trade show on the global calendar of events,” says Stéphane Ecalle, L-Acoustics director of marketing. “L-Acoustics did exhibit years ago, but in the recent past, we’ve limited our presence to attending as visitors. With the recent addition of more floor space, and a clear objective by NAMM to dedicate this space to the professional audio industry, the show has taken on a bigger and more important place in our agenda. “This year, L-Acoustics will be present with a dedicated booth space – visitors can stop by to see our Syva colinear source system or meet with our team on booth 18007 on level two of the Anaheim Convention Center North. In addition to the booth, we’ll present demos of the L-ISA Immersive Sound Art platform in meeting room 17209, also on level two of ACC North.
“In particular, we’re pleased that the additional space at NAMM has allowed us the opportunity to redeploy our presence at this show, especially with a dedicated meeting space that will allow us to demonstrate products that can’t be done in a booth. NAMM seems to be growing naturally to take its place as the essential gathering for the live sound industry, a nice compliment to the summer Infocomm show which attracts a more AV and installation audience. An additional encouraging sign is NAMM’s efforts to focus on educational outreach, something that we find a plus for the industry and which we are closely watching. “We’re looking forward to January and our enhanced presence and we are also looking forward to working with NAMM as they continue growing their outreach to the live sound industry.”
NAMM SEEMS TO BE GROWING MORE NATURALLY TO TAKE ITS PLACE AS THE ESSENTIAL GATHERING FOR THE LIVE SOUND INDUSTRY
STÉPHANE ECALLE, L-ACOUSTICS
Syva colinear system
Funktion-One: ‘We feel it’s the right time to pay additional attention to developing the US market’ “Funktion-One will exhibit at NAMM for the first time in 2018,” PR Manager Michael Nicholson tells PSNEurope. “The company will use its 800 sq ft stand to present loudspeakers from across its extensive product range, including US trade show debuts for Evolution and Vero, plus an exclusive launch of the F124 bass enclosure.” “The decision to become an exhibitor at NAMM 2018 was based on a number of factors,” explains technical sales director, David Brum. “The US market is more aware than ever of Funktion-One, thanks to the work of our US distributor, Sound Investment, and the arrival of Vero, which has been used on some really big events. We feel it’s the right time to pay additional attention to developing the US market.” Nicholson continues: “We have chosen NAMM for that because we believe it’s the right show, with the right people on the show floor – thanks in no small part to the organiser’s increased focus on pro audio. We’ve considered exhibiting at NAMM for a number of years and are now convinced that our investment in time, stand costs, and travel are worthwhile. We’re confident that our involvement in the show will be positive and productive, which is why we’ve committed to a large stand. We’re looking forward to it.” In recent years, Funktion-One has dominated the US nightclub market, with installations at standout venues like Cielo and Output in New York, Beta in Denver, Q in Seattle, Mansion 360 in Miami and Time in Orange County. In addition to that, the introduction of the vertically arrayed Vero system and Evolution Touring speakers has underpinned a significant increase in
WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO BUILDING ON THE SOLID BASE WE HAVE IN THE STATES TO MAKE NEW AND IMPORTANT CONNECTIONS
TONY ANDREWS, FUNKTION-ONE
Founders Tony and Ann Andrews
Funktion-One sound at gigs, festivals and other live events across the country, including Ultra Miami, What The Festival, Tipper at Red Rocks, Imagine Festival Atlanta and Deadmau5 at Nassau Colisseum. “It isn’t only the size of Funktion-One’s stand that highlights how important the company views its participation in the show, senior members of both the Funktion-One and Sound Investment teams will be present throughout,” explains Nicholson. Founders Tony Andrews and Ann Andrews will join sales director David Bruml in making the trip across the pond, while its US distributor Sound Investment will be represented by owners Dean McNaughton, Dan Agne and Todd Konecny. Funktion-One’s stand, which is presented in conjunction with Sound Investment, will feature a flown Vero array, a flown Evo Touring array, plus a ground-stacked configuration comprising F124 and Evo 6E. Other products on show include the SB210A and F81 studio/small events system, an FF4.2L mixer, PSM318 DJ monitors, and a BR118 and F1201 polemounted system. Tony Andrews comments: “We hope that NAMM will be a very important show for us by providing a springboard for furthering our endeavours in what has always been an interesting market. We’re in the midst of a very exciting time in Funktion-One’s development, both in terms of technological innovation and market impact. Therefore, we’re looking forward to building on the solid base we have in the States and to making new and important connections.”
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Better access for all The feeling of community experienced at a gig is one of life’s great pleasures, but also one that can be taken for granted. Tara Lepore spoke to Attitude is Everything CEO Suzanne Bull about campaigning for better access for deaf and disabled people at music venues and festivals, how the charity has been embraced by the music industry and its plans for 2018... The viewing platform at the O2 Academy Brixton
t started with a letter addressed to the general music press in 2001, raising the issue of accessibility at gigs. From this small call to arms more than 15 years ago, Suzanne Bull has built a charity that has helped hundreds of bands, promoters and music venues create gigs and events that are more inclusive and accessible for all. Initially starting as a one-year pilot project exploring the ways in which the music industry could better work for deaf and disabled music fans, Attitude is Everything (AiE)’s Charter of Best Practice, encouraging event producers to go beyond the legalities of the Equality Act, has now been adopted by 130 music venues and festivals. The charity’s projects and initiatives are often very simple: to allow deaf and disabled people to be as independent as they want to be at live music events. The recent Access Starts Online campaign to get venues clearly displaying accessibility information on their website has been dubbed “really achievable” by the Music Venue Trust. The music industry has “embraced the charity’s work”, says Bull, as “it takes the guess work out of what they need to do. PSNEurope spoke to CEO
Suzanne Bull MBE to ﬁnd out more about the charity and what it’s got lined up for 2018… Why did you decide to launch the charity? I wrote a letter that appeared in the music press about the state of access in UK live music venues and festivals in 2001. An officer from Arts Council England saw the letter, got my phone number from someone, phoned me up and asked if I’d like to do a project. From there, we built a steering group, which was initially meant to be a one-year pilot project. It was exploring how disabled music fans and the music industry can come together and resolve accessibility issues, and that’s when we created our Charter of Best Practice. How did the charity grow from a pilot project to where it is today? I don’t know, to tell you the truth! I used to run out of money every year and go to a different Arts Council department until we got more success. With more and more audiences going to see live music, things were dramatically increasing. And venues were also coming
to us more, so the demand was growing. Then, the Arts Council realised that they had a really important project here that was also fulﬁlling their goals of getting more disabled people into the arts. In 2008, that was the ﬁrst time we got our regular funding from the Arts Council. By then, there was a team of three of us – now we’ve got around 11 – but the team grows all the time. There’s also our mystery shopper volunteers, who attend live music events and report back to us. What have some of the highlights been for the charity, since it began and more recently? If you look at the ﬁgures from last year, now 165,000 disabled people attend venues that are signed up to the charter, and we have 130 music venues and festivals actively working improve to accessibility. We’ve also trained around 5,000 event staff over the past 17 years. The other big success is that earlier on this year we secured funding from the Paul Hamlyn foundation for a new programme called Breaking the Sound Barriers. That programme will go back to focus on grassroots music venues, because they need a lot of help and
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support [to provide better access], but they don’t necessarily have a lot of money. Tell us about some of your published reports. The State of Access reports have a history of affecting change. We’ve released three so far at two-year intervals, giving a snapshot of the industry at the time of publication. The ﬁrst State of Access report looked at the Charter of Best Practice being an event standard for access to live music, something which in May last year was endorsed by UK Music’s Live Music group. The 2014 State of Access report looked at accessible ticketing. We worked out that the music industry was missing out on £66m of ticket sales by not having accessible options when booking tickets. Our suggestion was that more options needed to be available that weren’t just booking on the phone, for example, and that ticketing businesses could create a universal proof of disability, where people didn’t have to keep repeating
their access requirements or paying for expensive letters from their GP to prove their disability. In 2016, our report focused on the fact that two out of three deaf and disabled people don’t go to gigs because they can’t ﬁnd the access information they need online. In response to this, we started a campaign called Access Starts Online, which we launched at Independent Venue Week with the Association of Independent Festivals. So far, more than 40 venues and festivals have signed up to it. We’re aiming to launch the next State of Access report in 2018, so watch this space! What have been some of the biggest challenges? Always, as you grow, there is an issue of funding. It’s a challenge because you always want to do so much more. You don’t want the funding situation to hold back ambition, which it hasn’t in our case, but it’s still important. Aside from that, the music industry and disabled people have really embraced our work, and
have really taken on board the things we’ve said. The music industry is quite keen – they’re like, This is really helpful, it takes out the guess work of what we need to do, and there’s someone here that we can talk things over with. They’ve been really supportive. What have you got planned for 2018? In November 2017, we launched the DIY access guide, which is aimed at grassroots music venues, artists and promoters that are putting on their own gigs and don’t have any money to [implement access]. We’re now looking to expand our diversity among our mystery shoppers. We’re not just looking at people who’ve got a physical impairment, we’re looking at a wide range of people to be able to better advise the music industry. It’s also going to be important for us to expand our resources and information regionally in the months to come. Watch this space! www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk
AiE volunteer stewarding at Pyramid stage viewing platform at Glastonbury Festival
CEO Suzanne Bull’s campaign work for fairer accessibility won her an MBE in 2013
Representing the charity across the country, AiE volunteers steward at Leeds Festival
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Past, present and future at Radio TechCon 2017 The second independent Radio TechCon, the technology forum for the UK radio industry, covered a wide and varied range of subjects in its most recent outing, both serious and not so serious. PSNEurope’s Kevin Hilton rounds up the highlights…
adio TechCon took place at the end of November 2017 with a varied programme of technical sessions covering a range of topics. Held at the London headquarters of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), the conference drew an audience of engineers and technologists from both the BBC and UK commercial sectors, plus representatives of stations in Poland, Germany, Switzerland and Southern Sudan. The focus of Radio TechCon is largely on current or emerging developments but this time started in the early days of broadcast radio engineering. Angela Stevenson, a senior radio technologist at the BBC, looked at the work of CS Franklin, HJ Round and WT Ditcham, who made signiﬁcant advances in microphones, ampliﬁcation and reverberation but are little known today. A possible future was discussed in the session 5G or not 5G. Andrew Murphy of BBC R&D outlined the three main areas: enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine-type communications and ultra-reliable/low latency comms. He commented that much depends on standardisation, the responsibility of ETSI (European Standards Institute). The proposed standard - 3GPP comprises Release 15 of 5G plus 4G and the ﬂexible radio interface. An ‘early drop’ of this was due at the end of 2017, with similarly early Phase 1 deployment to come in 2018 followed by a full introduction in 2019. In radio broadcast there is potential for content creation, including metadata. “This could be signiﬁcant for broadcasting live events,” Murphy said, “instead of using satellite or ADSL.” The broadcast and multicast aspects of 5G come under the 5G-Xcast project, based on 5GPPP Phase II technology. Mark Henry, head of 5G at BT/EE, observed that the accelerated implementation of 5G was driven by upcoming big events such as this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea and the 2020 Summer Games in Japan. Henry explained that new radio services would work on a co-existence basis with the ability to scale the amount of frequency involved, although each block still required a certain amount of power for mission critical applications. Simon Fell, director of technology and innovation at the EBU, commented that 2018 would see 5G projects
(L-R): Andrew Murphy, Mark Henry, Simon Fell with host David Lloyd during the 5G session
at the European Championships and trials by NRK in remote areas of Norway. He did, however, warn that bringing about a shift in radio listening might prove difficult because so many conventional radios were already in use. Another technology that, like 5G, is likely to bring broadcast radio even closer to consumer technology is the smart speaker. As voice activated devices becomes more mainstream, said Dan McQuillin, managing director of Broadcast Bionics, there was an opportunity for radio stations and software developers to expand what could be done with this new interface. According to a survey of users of the Amazon Echo, 77 percent use it for listening to the radio. McQuillin said this would also apply to the other leading smart speaker AIs - Google Home, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana - particularly in the important car market. “It will be omnipotent there, all cars will have them,” he predicted. To tailor these devices for radio listening, RadioPlayer has developed a new VUX (Voice User Experience) application. Managing director Michael Hill explained that RadioPlayer was approached by Amazon three
months before Echo was launched, leading the company to consider the best way to apply voice control to radio. “We started simple, following the adage ‘crawl, walk, run’,” he said. “We then decided to do three things and do them well.” Audio over IP (AoIP) continues to make inroads into radio, although a straw poll by Jamie Laundon, senior technologist with BBC Design and Engineering, showed that only a small proportion of those in the audience were using network audio. The title of Laudon’s session, Learning to Play Nicely Together, illustrated that getting devices using different AoIP protocols - Dante, RAVENNA, LiveWire+, Wheatnet and Q-LAN - to work together was still not straightforward. The situation has improved, he said, since the introduction of the AES67 interoperability standard, which he described as the “O-negative” of audio networking. On top of this, Laudon added, there was now AES70, which speciﬁed not only how networks were controlled but also made different set-ups talk to each other. Radio TechCon is due to return in November 2018, although a deﬁnite date and venue have not been conﬁrmed.
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The signal chain As the next generation at UK distributor Sound Network enters a new relationship with key supplier and now owner DPA Microphones, retiring Sound Network co-founder Ralph Dunlop share his personal reﬂections with Phil Ward… How did full acquisition by DPA come about? It was a two-sided question that brought about the idea. Around two years ago Pete [Wandless, co-founder] and I were asking the question about the future of DPA with regard to it being acquired by an investment company, and whether Sound Network would be part of any future plans if the company was sold on again – as is the norm in these situations. DPA countered with the question of what our plans were for the future of Sound Network now we were getting older. Our ﬁrst answer was to carry on regardless and keep building on what we’d already achieved. Because we’ve worked so closely with DPA, both companies knew each other inside out and had very similar visions of the future. When Kalle Hvidt Nielsen came on board as CEO he seemed to have very clear plans for how he wanted DPA to proceed. He liked the way we worked, the team he had, and respected the distribution model and philosophy. One thing led to another and we sat down to explore how the two companies could ﬁt together. DPA made us an offer beyond any expectations we had, and it seemed like a good idea, especially, for the longevity of Sound Network. What does it mean for Sound Network beyond ‘business as usual’? It’s really a matter of combining the variety of distribution skills Sound Network has acquired after 23 years in business with the bigger picture that DPA has of its future. Having been on the front line for so long, and having a wealth of industrial expertise to tap into via our client base, DPA can forge much closer links with the market, rather than retaining the arm’s length approach of the traditional distribution model. From the outside it will look much the same – most of the changes will evolve internally. Who’s going to be in charge? For some time now, Adam Pierce and Mat Wandless have essentially been responsible for the day-today running of Sound Network: Adam for sales and marketing; Mat for operations and purchasing; and together for general management. Behind them is a fantastic team supporting their guidance and enthusiasm. All are very skilled and ambitious. Of course, DPA will keep a close eye in the shape of Nikolaj Forsberg, the newly appointed EVP of sales in Denmark.
What does it mean for the other (non-DPA) brands at Sound Network? We have been in contact with all our other suppliers and no one has raised any objections or concerns over the change of ownership. I think everyone sees it as mutually beneﬁcial both in the UK and perhaps further aﬁeld in the future. Why did you and Pete start the company? I had recently left Garwood, the company responsible for bringing in-ear monitoring to the world, and Pete had recently left Fairlight where he’d been sales manager. We were basically at a loose end and met up for a coffee in a café in Crouch End. This really was the ﬁrst Sound Network office. We’d known each other through the industry for a few years, with the dubious bond of having worked at companies that both had corporate aircraft – me at Bruel & Kjaer and Pete at SSL. This put us in an elite group! Also, we lived around the corner from each other at the time, and we had similar backgrounds in the industry. Everyone who I didn’t know, Pete did – and vice versa.
What have been the most enjoyable moments with Sound Network? There are too many to mention. Me sitting in Wembley Arena watching Stevie Wonder rehearsing with his backing singers – I was the only one there. Hanging out with Andy Fairweather Low having a chat, while Ry Cooder was doing a sound check. Meeting George Martin, a few times. He knew the Beatles, you know! Having breakfast with David Byrne. Meeting Christopher Lee and George Cole, among many others, when Pete and I had a couple of audio studios in Great Titchﬁeld Street. Pete engineered Keith Moon’s ﬁnal recordings, and stood on the pit wall at Silverstone taking measurements for a new mic during the British Grand Prix. The memories go on and on; I have been a very lucky man. Pick two or three major turning points when you glimpsed the future… Early on, we saw the AMS digital reverb and delay. If you went for the ‘full monty’ you could get 64 seconds of
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memory – for only £4,000. Bargain! Then, Sony bringing out the PCM recorder – digital technology in its infancy. Pete and I imported a DAW called DSP from Australia in the early ‘90s, fully automated, integrated and with nonlinear video. It was so ahead of its time. Unfortunately the market didn’t agree with us at ﬁrst, but we were proven right a few years later. We had two demo units and built two audio studios around them, so they paid for themselves and a bit more. How has the theatre business improved for sound operators over the years? In terms of improvements, it really started when the theatre market could afford to buy automated mixing consoles. It always appeared strange to me that when the SSL arrived only recording studios bought them. The need was less acute than in theatre and live markets where you had so many time constraints. But, of course, they were so expensive. Pete should know: he was SSL’s sales manager. Another area that gets forgotten is the major progress in speaker design that has taken place over the past 20 years or more. The technological advance in terms of materials and electronics has been stunning. Those who use their ears know all about it, but to most
usable sync sound. It changed the world of sound effects: it could go inside a pumpkin before you hit it with a hammer; right up against the manifold of a Formula One racing car; stuck in your ears for perfect binaural recording – the list of innovative sound design applications this microphone inspired is staggering.
people it’s still just a black box. Last, but deﬁnitely not least, is the microphone and one microphone in particular: the DPA 4060 miniature. Because of its extraordinary performance this microphone changed everyone’s concept of what a miniature microphone can and should be. Noise ﬂoor was lower, SPL handling was higher and the detail was stunning. It became the professional standard for both voice and instruments. Film recordists could hide it in costumes or plain sight to capture
Is there anything that can’t be mic’d up? Yes, outer space! However, that hasn’t stopped anyone trying. Bruel & Kjaer supplied microphones to NASA to take to the moon. As far as I know they’re still there – hard to tell if they are still working or not. Oh, and one other thing – a crop circle! Way back, the BBC bought a pair of DPA 4007 omni microphones because of their ﬂat response up to 40kHz. They were for recording crop circles in Wiltshire and engineers – seriously – thought there might be super-sonic sounds emanating from them. Apart from that, no. You just have to know what you’re doing. Are you now going to ﬁnish that difficult third album? Give me a chance! I haven’t ﬁnished the ﬁrst one yet. Some strange, weird experience in the music industry occurred and I had to put everything on hold. I am going back to where I started, though – which is a good place.
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Production lines For the acoustic design and building of a voiceover studio in Ambassadors studios’ new Amsterdam Herengracht facility, the company assigned studio builders KB|MF to lead the project. Marc Maes took a look around and sent back this report...
Baay watch: Marco Baay
mbassadors is a creative production studio and a market-leading caterer for ﬁlm creation and production, visual effects, post production, sound design, music composition and recording. An international crew of some 60 staffers all work under the same umbrella serving the ﬁlm, video and advertising market. Its main production headquarters (comprising ﬁve audio studios, a grading suite and seven online and offline image/video studios) are located in the Zeeburg East Amsterdam area. In June 2017, Ambassadors decided to open a new studio. Located in the historical centre of Amsterdam, the Herengracht studio multiplex is currently targeting the international creative industry. “The Amsterdam canal district is becoming an international creative
cluster where advertising agencies and related business ﬁnd each other,” explains Ed Meijaard, managing director and founding partner of Ambassadors. In addition to video editing, video post production suites and a grading room, Ambassadors also incorporated a new audio post production and voiceover studio in the building. Marco Baay, who joined Ambassadors as sound designer and partner in 2016, and the studio management team, carried out extensive market research and decided to appoint KB|MF for the acoustic design, furniture and integration of the voiceover studio in a vast living room space on the ﬁrst ﬂoor at the Herengracht location. The fact that the studio had to be constructed in a such a large building, taking into account parameters such as the stability and acoustic characteristics of the
walls, ﬂoor, ceiling and the neighbouring properties, proved to be quite a challenge for KB|MF. “After we went through the architecture of the building we decided to adapt the original plans for the location of the studio,” comments Okke Van Bergen, managing director of KB|MF. “It turned out that on the initial position, the ﬂoor would collapse under the weight of the voiceover booth and equipment. Bearing in mind the architectural and monumental regulations, we had to safeguard the original building and had to move the voiceover set-up to another position in the same room. He continued: “The ﬂoors had to be levelled and the whole set-up was built as a demountable concept because, eventually, the room must be brought back in its original state if and when Ambassadors should decide to leave the premises.”
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WE PLAY IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE OF OUR INDUSTRY. EVERY DETAIL MUST BE PERFECT, FROM THE INITIAL RECORDINGS TO THE FINAL MIX
“The initial idea of the new studio was to make people feel at home in a spacious but cosy living room looking out over Herengracht canal. “We wanted to integrate the voiceover studio and control section without changing the original interior of the room. We put the engineer’s position on a stage offering better visibility to the recording booth and improving communication with the clients.” “The studio had to sound as dry as possible, without any sound leakage from the outside to the inside,” Baay elaborates. “A recording may never be disturbed by a call or a director who is giving some remarks in the background. We play in the Champions League of our industry. Every detail must be perfect, from the initial recordings to the ﬁnal mix. I have known Okke van Bergen for many years. He has designed and decorated several studios for me. After years of cooperation, Okke knows exactly what a studio needs, both in equipment and acoustics.” The voiceover booth was constructed as a box-in-box room, guaranteeing optimal insulation values. “After we carried out the acoustic design and calculated the absorption and diffusion we put in place several testconﬁgurations,” says Van Bergen. “With Marco testing the set-up, we adjusted the acoustic elements to get the sound he wanted to have in the booth. As for the engineer’s position in the living room, the combination of a pair of PSI A17-M active monitor nearﬁelds and acoustic panels on the backwall worked out well.” A large television display with a soundbar is placed under the voiceover studio window to demonstrate how the audio content sounds ‘at home’. Loyal to the company’s adage that all of Ambassadors studios had to be fully compatible offering maximal ﬂexibility, the new voiceover studio was equipped with a basic set of equipment: an Avid Pro Tools HD12 system with plugins like Waves, AltiVerb reverb, Speakerphone 2, Oxford Sonnox Oxford V3 plugins, a Source Connect AoIP plugin, the PSI A17-M monitors with an SPL MTC Monitor & Talkback Controller monitor controller, a high quality Brauner VM1 microphone and TC Electronics Clarity M loudness metering. “The studio also uses a Neve 5012 Portico Duo pre-amp and a 5043 Duo compressor/limiter,” says Van Bergen. “Marco Baay liked the combination of the pre-amp with this speciﬁc conﬁguration.” The studio is connected with the Ambassadors servers at the East Amsterdam headquarters via a dark ﬁbre link, virtually establishing one huge obstaclefree studio landscape. “The big advantage is that we concentrate our servers in Zeeburg – all of our image and sound studios are connected in the Dynamic Drive Pool (DDP) network supplied by Ardis Technologies,” concludes Meijaard. “Our business requires the swift and quick transfer of audio content and large image ﬁles for production and grading, and that’s where the DDP comes in. Our clients have the option to work either from our Zeeburg HQ or at the central hub at the Herengracht.”
Photo: Danny North
Man of Experience On December 1 2017, Irish rock legends U2 released their 14th studio album in the form of Songs Of Experience. Producer and live sound design consultant Andy Barlow told Daniel Gumble about the pressures of working with one of the biggest rock’n’roll bands in history and how he has applied his magic touch to their notoriously ambitious live productions…
or the past two years, producer, artist, engineer, sound designer (anything else?) Andy Barlow has served as the proverbial Swiss army knife in U2’s audio tool kit. A staple part of the legendary Irish rock outﬁt’s touring entourage since his manager received a call from Bono requesting his services on the road as a sound designer, his work impressed sufficiently to elicit an invitation to helm ﬁve tracks from the band’s 14th studio album Songs Of Experience as producer. The decision from Bono and co to retain Barlow’s services beyond the rigours of touring are hardly surprising when you consider his extensive credentials. One half of inﬂuential electro duo Lamb, he’s become accustomed to working in the studio with a variety of different artists and genres over the past 20 years, having produced, in addition to his own projects, the likes of David Gray and The Ramona Flowers. He has also had compositions used in adverts for Guinness and
the Tomb Raider: Underworld video games, as well as in ﬁlms such as Moulin Rouge! and TV series including Six Feet Under, CSI and Torchwood. As you can see, he’s done a lot. Now, in an exclusive conversation with PSNEurope, Barlow tells editor Daniel Gumble about life on the road with one of rock’s juggernauts, working in the studio with Bono and the responsibilities that come with producing the biggest band on the planet… You’ve been working exclusively with U2 for the past two years as producer and mixer and as a consultant on their live sound design. How did that come about? I was on tour with Lamb in Russia where there was about 10ft of snow and my manager called and asked if I want to go to Monaco next week when I came off tour to try out for U2. The ﬁrst thing I asked when I met Bono when I got to Monaco was, Why am I here? He told me he had been a big fan of Lamb’s work for years.
Becoming their live sound design consultant happened quite casually. I was on tour with them in my capacity as producer and Bono said there were some things they needed help with, including their walk-on music. A few days later he said, You’re one of the live creative team now, and that was it. Because I’m an artist as well and have been on stage lots of times, I guess I was the obvious candidate. U2 are known for their spectacular live shows – were there any especially strange or challenging requests? Nearly every day! One day they would say, We need some walk-on music, but we need it by 10am, and it’s already midnight! I’d never done the live role before and it’s a really long show (over two hours) and on some gigs it would be extremely demanding on Bono’s voice. I would think about set list sequencing and change keys to spare his voice, listen to his voice on every section and speak to him about which parts were most demanding on his
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vocal chords, change the running order and ﬁnd new ways of singing parts of the song. The extremes from low baritone to falsetto is much more of a strain on his vocals than anything else, so it was about looking at that, shortening the intervals and placing them differently on the live set so that we could get through the show without his voice deteriorating. You produced ﬁve tracks on the forthcoming U2 record. What was that process like? It was like giving birth. If you think you know what it’s like to produce bands, working with U2 would confuse you because they do things very differently. Usually you have to win the trust of the musicians before they let you get stuck in with directing, but from the ﬁrst moment Bono was without ego. He would say, Let’s work on this together. He is more open to new ideas than anyone that I’ve ever worked with. Bono also sings differently, he‘s channelling something when he sings. The usual process is something that we would call ‘Bongolese’, which is gibberish mixed with something he’s feeling - a melody, a cup of coffee, the view from the window. Occasionally a word would stick and come to the forefront, but it was more about the feel, the gaps in the phrasing. When we ﬁnd a shape that we like, then he’ll go away until 6am the next morning and write a narrative to that shape overnight. Bono is famous for changing lyrics right up until mastering, so by the end my assistant Alex was making notes of different lyric changes, because there were so many in each song. Then, just when we thought we had all the lyrics, Trump won the election. Bono came in and said that we needed to change the lyrics because it’s not relevant now and everything had changed, so everything was up for grabs once again. Trying to write and record an album while rehearsing for shows was hard for the band, but as we progressed, it spearheaded the whole creative tsunami that followed. It was a crazy idea to write an album while on the road, but it worked because they were all together. When we got to LA after the tour ended, we started to get a lot done. We were in Rick Rubin’s studio and everyone was focused on the record. Being on the road, you can get each member for just a few minutes at a time, and we’re in a dressing room where there is not enough space to record as a band. So I would be piecing individual pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, rather than having the overview of recording together as a band. Apart from Ireland, LA was the ﬁrst time properly that we could record the band all together. Talk us through the gear and the studio you used to make those tracks? We had a large UAD rig - they really like everything to be plugged in and ready to play, so every morning we would sound check guitars, keys and bass, which means having a lot of inputs. I would un-mute a channel and it would be ready to record. On the UAD
rig I’ve got every plugin that it comes with. Bono really loved singing in front of speakers with an SM58, this would be run into a Universal Audio 6176, into a UAD Apollo interface via a Manley Vari Mu compressor. The drums would go into Neve 5024 Mic preamps. I’ve been monitoring on Genelec and PMC monitors. After watching a documentary with Brian Eno and seeing Bono sing into a U87, I later persuaded Bono to try singing into my Neuman 149 microphone, which I love. I was controlling the session with a Mackie control pro and recording onto Ableton Live and using the push controller with Ableton. I also had a Native Instruments Kontrol S66, which was my main MIDI controller. Guitars would come into me from The Edge’s amps via Royer ribbon microphones and SM57s. Bass I would take with
On Song: Barlow (left) with Bono
MAKING THE RECORD WAS LIKE GIVING BIRTH. IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO PRODUCE A BAND, WORKING WITH U2 WOULD CONFUSE YOU. THEY DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY
ANDY BARLOW Adam’s Vintage Ampeg recorded with a Shure SM7 mic via an L2 Compressor. For The Edge’s vocals, we did lots of them again handheld, with a Telefunken M80 microphone, again via a Neve Mic pre, which worked really well on his voice. That’s the equipment I would bring into the session, but in addition, U2 would have plenty of their own gear including a rack of 80 Neve 1073s, a huge mic collection including a C12 and Coles Ribbon microphones (mostly used on drum overheads). It is an interesting choice to use Ableton Live as the band had never used it
before. I really enjoyed being able to ﬂick around the arrangements and change keys and tempos very quickly. I don’t think they had ever experienced anything like it before. I do everything on Ableton these days, whether it’s producing, DJing or writing. How do you approach working with a band like U2? I like to be really prepared going into sessions, so for me it’s all about pre-production, then I can make it look easy when I’m in the studio. I’d say, What are we doing tomorrow? And Bono would say that we would be doing vocals. So, I’d prepare the session for vocals and get all the lyrics sheets prepared and microphones set up. However, once he’s reached the studio that day he’ll tell me we’re working on a completely different song, even one I’ve never heard and we’ll work on bass instead! I had to really let go of being prepared for the session and think on my feet most of the time. Were any of the tracks you produced particularly challenging or unusual? All of them were challenging. When I ﬁrst started with the band, their manager told me about this track called Little Things. He said that the song had been on the table for 10 years; Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Flood and Paul Epworth had all had a go but not managed to get it past the starting line. So, I took it to be my personal mission to get it into a shape where the band could take off with it. And I did, I got it on the record. It’s called Little Things That Give You Away. It’s a Hey Jude kind of arrangement, the ﬁrst half it takes off and the second half does something very different. I re-engineered the second part, which made it more open, so it could really take off. How did this project compare to other projects you’ve worked on before? It doesn’t compare to any of my previous projects. Nothing could have prepared me for this. The length of the day was very unusual. We weren’t in proper studios 90% of the time, which I love actually - being in spaces that aren’t studios. But I would bring all my equipment and we’d set up in whatever mansion or venue the band were close to. How much pressure and expectation is there going into the studio with a band the size of U2? Everyone on their team is the best at what they do, so it does set the bar very high. The band were extremely busy, so sometimes I only got them for an hour a day. There was quite a lot of time when the band weren’t in the studio because they had other commitments, which again is pretty unusual. So I had to get on with it and try to imagine what would be helpful in terms of preparation for the next session. I felt some pressure, mostly from myself for wanting to excel. There was a lot of heightened pressure, not so much from them, but just the enormity of working with a band on their scale.
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The speed of sound The Galaxy Studios, cradle of Auro Technologies’ revered Auro-3D technology, hosted the presentation of the world’s ﬁrst automotive immersive sound installation, featuring a Porsche Panamera and the brand new Porsche Cayenne as the protagonists of what was dubbed the “fastest concert hall in the world.” PSNEurope’s Marc Maes sent back this report... (L-R): Andreas Henke, CEO of Burmester Audiosysteme, Wilfried Van Baelen, CEO of Auro Technologies & Galaxy Studios, HermannJosef Stappen, head of press, Porsche Technology Communication
uro-3D was developed in 2005 by Galaxy Studios founder Wilfried Van Baelen. In 2010, he founded Auro Technologies for the development of the revolutionary format he baptised as ‘Immersive Sound’, which became the new generic term for ‘Sound in 3D’. Today, Auro-3D technology is adopted by some 1,000 movie theatres and over 20,000 home cinema conﬁgurations worldwide. What’s more, Auro-3D has also successfully entered the gaming industry and the smartphonemarket, now boasting some two million users. Now, it is making a play for the motoring market. “After a ﬁrst Auro-3D introduction in the Porsche Panamera, we are consolidating our commitment towards the automotive market with the new Porsche Cayenne,” explained Van Baelen in his welcome speech before the international press gathered in Mol, Belgium.
“With the high-end Burmester Audio system, the immersive sound experience is now offering a new driving experience.” The Auro-3D sound system for both the Porsche Panamera and Cayenne was designed by Berlin-based audio manufacturer Burmester. The company was founded in a living room in 1972 and has steadily grown to become the last independent full range high-end audio manufacturer on the planet. “We’re a small, family owned company, with less than 100 staffers, and that’s the key to our success,” underlines Andreas Henke, CEO of Burmester Audiosysteme. “Already in 2009, we pioneered high-end sound in the luxury automotive segment, setting a standard for ultimate sound quality in vehicles.” The audio conﬁguration for the two Porsche models consists of 21 (seven tweeters, seven mid-range and
two broadband speakers, four 120W woofers and one 400W subwoofer) loudspeakers, piping the music into the cabin. All of the speaker enclosures were tailor made to ﬁt the interior and meet the dimension and weight restrictions of the car designer. “We’ve opted for a fully symmetric signal feed,” said Henke. “And against all principles of digital audio, we decided to use analogue ﬁlters for quality reasons. The system is powered by Class D ampliﬁers with a total output power of 1,455W (including 4 x 120 W for the woofers and a separate 400 W for the subwoofer) offering elegant performance even when using high power. The new conﬁguration is also equipped with the Burmester Air Motion Transformers (AMT), an exclusive for Porsche, resulting in extremely clear and detailed high frequency reproduction.” To achieve the Auro-3D sound, an extra broadband
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two-way AMT centre speaker was integrated in the dashboard and two more broadband speakers were positioned in the windscreen pillars on either side of the passenger cabin. This new set-up is designed to drastically improve the clarity of vocal reproduction, beneﬁtting the music playback, as well as broadcasts, hands-free telephony and GPS traffic announcements. “We’ve been looking for the perfect algorithm adapted for the Porsche passenger compartment and the Burmester technology,” explained Mathias Renz, business manager Audio Acoustics with Porsche. “We did some research and decided on Auro-3D, who developed a dedicated algorithm enabling to create a natural 3D-effect in music playback. Together with Burmester, we have been able to lift the musical experience on a higher emotional level – the challenge being the room for the components in the car, the choice of lightweight components and power consumption.” When asked whether these extra features in key construction elements of the car would compromise the safety of the Porsche, Renz assured that all of the conﬁgurations were thoroughly ‘crash-tested’, citing the example of the speakers in the two (L-R) front pillars where Porsche engineers carried out a number of tests before giving the green light for the installation.
In addition to existing preset functions for the Burmester car soundsystems, the Auro-3D system includes the Pure preset, offering unﬁltered sound reproduction with no additional effects. To restore the sound quality of compressed music content, the Porsche Auro-3D conﬁguration is equipped with a special software Auro-Matic algorithm enhancing the audio signal.
“Today, music is not limited to audio CD’s or high quality USB ﬁles,” said Renz. “Some content is imported via radio, Bluetooth, smartphones or MP3. This software makes use of the ampliﬁer’s internal calculation capacity to restore these types of audio ﬁles, improving the quality of the playback. Auro-3D is already used to deliver spatial music playback in cinemas and is now revolutionising the automotive sector as well.”
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Increasing volumes New ﬁndings published by consultancy ﬁrm Futuresource Consulting at the end of 2017 suggested that the loudspeaker market is on track to hit $3.6bn by 2021, a $1bn increase over the next four years. Tara Lepore spoke to leading executives from some of the top loudspeaker manufacturers about where the biggest growth drivers are and their predictions for 2018...
‘A successful brand focuses on customer experience’: David Claringbold, d&b The loudspeaker business has traditionally operated in isolation of broader technical trends. Sound has been an island of its own, slowly and surely adopting innovations once they have proved battle-ready. We are not exactly a fail-fast industry: much of what determines a brand’s relevance and integrity is determined by its ability to build product that is long lasting, sonically acceptable and commercially viable. With the advent of sound processing and networking technologies, the sector is at a point where the demands of the customer for integrated solutions and single source supply chains will drive large-scale innovation and convergence. I believe that we are also at the forefront of an era where audio will take centre stage in the value proposition of artists, venues, and events in a way not previously imagined. This will require the industry to move beyond ‘big and loud’, into something far more sophisticated. Increasingly, the success of a loudspeaker brand will not only be driven by its technology, but also by
its focus on the customer experience and the brand’s commitment to invest in innovation. This will challenge every aspect of a loudspeaker company’s corporate culture, as we move from our traditional business models to far more software and integration-driven products and services that operate via our established sales frameworks and e-commerce platforms. This large-scale change in our industry dynamic is set to be driven by a number of factors. Firstly, the business models that underpin our traditional customer base are changing rapidly. Customers are now looking for technology partners who not only understand their application but who also understand their business model and add value to it. The ability to work within noise emission regulations on an outdoor event and still deliver sonic punch to the audience is just one example of added value, as is the ability to service leading artist riders and the everyday demands of stadia installs. Secondly, our customers are adopting a more reﬁned awareness for high quality sound. They see sound as
a part of the brand of an event or venue and they are sensitive to the audience’s increasingly sophisticated knowledge and understanding of audio. In short, sound will increasingly become a value driver as we move to a world where B2B and B2C disappear and companies adopt a more person-to-person relationship in their marketing and communications. Thirdly, technological change will deliver content platforms that empower producers, artists and audiences to personalise the event experience. Products such as the d&b Soundscape will enable artists to create sound designs that are customised and digitally designed and mapped. The important word here is customer. We are moving ever closer to a world where our audience is at the centre of our sound experience thinking – not at the end. It’s a brave new world of opportunity. Those that embrace risk and put creativity at the core of their values will have their best foot forward in the growth of our industry. David Claringbold, CMO, d&b audiotechnik
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‘Creativity and innovation are what drives growth’: Jochen Frohn, L-Acoustics As the creator of the modern line source array, L-Acoustics enjoys a privileged position in the sound industry – we’ve had decades to innovate, create and replicate breakthrough technology and solutions that are now universally accepted in the market. Predictable, standardised systems and designs for venues and events along with a network of trained partners around the globe running the Jochen Frohn
systems that are rational and quick to deploy has led to unprecedented coverage, SPL and bandwidth homogeneity, which in turn drives greater client satisfaction – all of these are attributes that are synonymous with L-Acoustics today. At L-Acoustics, we feel we are seeing a paradigm shift in the professional sound industry, both at venues and live events. As streaming has accustomed audiences to having quality entertainment on demand in their living rooms, in their cars, on the train, in their pockets – really anywhere and anytime they want it – so live productions have become the ‘wow!’ moment that fans are seeking. Our job is to rise above expectations and give people moments of exception. The industry has evolved so rapidly in the last couple of decades. Audiences demand ultra-high production values and the audio industry is obligated to provide an innovative, quality experience to go right along with other industry disciplines. This demand puts pressure on the audio industry to push the envelope and has translated into a current profusion of exciting sound system designs at both venues and live events. L-Acoustics is at the forefront of this excitement with L-ISA, our immersive sound system that is
applicable to permanent installations and live events. L-ISA creates a sound that is natural and highly intelligible for audiences, matching what they hear to what they see and giving them a connection to the artist or performance that they’ve never felt before. So even if L-ISA is a paradigm shift in the way that sound designs are conceived, implemented and even in the way a sound engineer mixes, we’ve already succeeded in installing L-ISA systems in forwardthinking venues such as the Puy du Fou theme park in France and the Mercury Space club in Moscow. L-ISA has been experienced by Renaud fans for a 15-month tour throughout France and festival-goers at Coachella and Panorama festivals in the US this summer. As productions realise that L-ISA offers expanded creative horizons and scalability to diverse venues and productions, I think we’ll see it being rapidly adopted. In my opinion, the growth in the professional sound industry will have to come from projects like L-ISA. Creativity, innovation and continuing to incite excitement and a sense of pushing the envelope for productions and audiences is what will drive the growth that will ensure that live production will keep its place as the driver of the industry. Jochen Frohn, director of business development
‘Immersive sound has become a real buzzword’: John McMahon, Meyer Sound This upbeat assessment seems in line with what we’ve experienced recently at Meyer Sound. I think there are two factors at play here. Part of it is the increasing overall volume of loudspeaker sales, but we are also seeing a shift upwards in loudspeaker quality as more markets across the board are looking to offer a better listening experience. So not only are quantities increasing but the dollar investment per loudspeaker is also going up, which boosts the total amount. We’ve seen this trend developing in commercial projects, whether retail, corporate headquarters or hospitality. If you have already spent considerable sums on architecture and interior design of your space, completing the job with substandard sound does not reﬂect well on your brand. We’ve found that major global concerns are looking for premium solutions to support their brand by ensuring a great listening experience for customers, shareholders or their own personnel. In live entertainment, immersive sound has become a real buzzword. It’s something Meyer Sound started working on with sound designers like Jonathan Deans and Francois Bergeron decades ago, and now it’s popping up everywhere. Obviously immersive sound requires far more loudspeakers than conventional approaches, and we’re seeing system sophistication once seen only in Las Vegas showrooms now going into
500-seat regional theatres. If you look at a trend like the new fully immersive cinema sound formats, that gives you another clue in terms of quantities. It’s similar to immersive sound in live events, but on a much wider scale. That even carries over to sporting venues, like football stadiums, where the trend is toward distributed systems as opposed to end zone systems. It’s a better solution, but it costs more and requires many more loudspeakers. We have a varied mix of companies now serving the pro loudspeaker market. On one hand we’ve seen recent acquisitions of major manufacturers by international conglomerates and private equity ﬁrms. But we also have a healthy number of independent private companies like Meyer Sound that are focused on this market and will play a major role in driving future growth. Companies like ours have greater ﬂexibility in responding quickly to customer needs and in developing new technologies. When you’re privately held, you can roll up your sleeves and dig into something over a number of quarters – or a number of years – without worrying about short-term returns for stockholders. A good example of this freedom to innovate would be self-powered loudspeakers, a technology Meyer Sound pioneered in the 1990s. It was a huge leap of faith back then but it’s paying off in spades.
In sum, those loudspeaker companies that can offer integrated solutions, from design software through system optimisation tools, will realise the greatest beneﬁt from these upward trends. John McMahon, vice president of solutions and strategy
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The French connection The French Pavilion for the 57th Venice Art Biennale 2017 was transformed by French artist Xavier Veilhan and the pavilion’s curators, Christian Marclay and Lionel Bovier, into a music performance space and recording studio, in which professional musicians from all over the world played throughout the duration of the exhibition. Simon Duff reports...
he Venice Biennale showcases the best in cutting edge international contemporary art, attracting huge numbers of visitors to its Venetian Arsenale and Giadini locations, running annually from May to November. For both art lovers and music fans alike, one of the highlights of 2017 was the French Pavilion, in the Venetian Giardini. Xavier Veilhan is a Paris-based artist whose work involves sculpture, painting, video, photography and installation. For his Venice immersive installation he blurred the architectural lines initially drawn up for the French Pavilion, designed in 1912 by the Venetian engineer Faust Finzi. Doors, walls and ceilings collided to form a landscape of wood and fabrics that revealed two main performance spaces and a fully operational recording studio. This overall artwork evoked not only Kurt Schwitter’s assemblages but also the Dada movement as a whole, including their phonic devices. The French Pavilion in the Giardini measures some 400m2 when it is empty and about 360m2 for Veilhan’s design. The internal structure used Okoumé plywood throughout, a relatively simple and cheap material and a light colour. This was important to the design from an acoustic point of view and put visitors at ease, calming the atmosphere, in contrast to a typical white cube space used by art galleries. Studio 1 had a reverb time of 1.5 seconds, and 0.8 seconds in the smaller Studio 2. Acoustician for the project was Pierre Hugonnet. Veilhan explains the design methods: “Pierre’s approach was, in a quantitative way, based on good knowledge and exact measurements. We based the studio’s design on his recommendations, but we also partly developed some structures that have no acoustic purpose, so it was a combination of trying to avoid making big mistakes and taking little risks for the small areas we submitted to him. We knew we had to treat the ﬂoors and to put in certain non-parallel walls, but we were never 100% sure of the design in terms of acoustics. It turns out the result was very satisfying.” Numerous instruments were integrated into the space, enabling musicians from different horizons and genres (from classical to electronic and from new music compositions to folkloric styles) to play on site, either individually or collaboratively. The presence of sound technicians and an impressive guest list of musicians ensured the possibility to experiment with sound, at the same time as encouraging unexpected collaborations. Musicians were free to decide how they wished to use
their time in the pavilion and will retain full ownership of their performances, thus leaving with their own recordings and a compilation of their work with others. The centrepiece of the installation was a fully functioning control room with an API 2488 console, Yamaha NS-10 monitors, Pro Tools HD and full outboard, all supplied by British record producer Nigel Godrich, who has supported the project. Choice pieces of kit in the outboard racks included AMS Reverb and Delay units, Korg DC12 delay, MXR Harmoniser, Massenburg and Focusrite EQ as well as a SSL Smart Compressor and four Urei 1176 compressors. Veilhan explains how he got Nigel Godrich on board with the project. “I made a portrait of him for a sculpture in my Producers series. Nigel was introduced to me by Nicolas Godin, from the French band Air, who had worked with him on two of their albums. When I began to work on Studio Venezia, Nigel advised me on what to do and what not to do. When he found out I’d be working with a standard type console, he proposed to lend me his own, a 1973 API 2488 analogue mixing desk. The same one on which he recorded Radiohead’s In Rainbows album. He wanted to show us what it was
to have a great desk, which was very generous of him. It completely changed the project and turned Studio Venezia into a dream studio.” Sound engineers Tibo Javoy and Clement Roussel worked at Studio Venezia using Ableton Live and Pro Tools, depending on the musicians and their habits. Veilhan envisaged his Venice exhibition not as an end in itself but as the next step on an international journey. This travel dynamic corresponds fully to the philosophy behind the project, which functions, in the artist’s own words, as a “musical reﬂector”. Sensitive to the realities and geographical location of the installation, Xavier Veilhan invited musicians who were the embodiment of their country or city – but also those just passing through on speciﬁc dates, and offered them a unique musical experience within the pavilion’s speciallydesigned space. Rather than attending concerts, visitors were instead invited to listen, watch and bear witness to musical creation in progress. One-off actions replaced shows to make way for discovery – as contemplative as it may be – as individuals moved around the installation. Visitors attended these sessions more by accident than through
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Nigel Godrich’s API 2488 console
planning, as the French Pavilion’s activities stretch out over the 173 working days of the Biennale, and the list of musicians present was only partially unveiled in advance. The project’s creator, who was present during the seven months of the Biennale, hopes the pavilion will become a living, breathing space rather than a passive receptacle for predetermined programmes. Around 100 musicians from various countries came to Venice to work, think and play for audiences of art lovers who were not necessarily there to hear them play. Veilhan comments on some of his personal highlights from the project. “Thurston Moore and Ensemble baBel, the ONCEIM ensemble recording Eliane Radigue’s Occam Océan, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry & Starkee, Enrico Gabrielli, Pierre Rousseau & David Nzeyimana were some of my many outstanding performances and recordings,” he said. Thanks to invitations from several partners via the Institut Français, Studio Venezia will soon become Studio Buenos Aires then Studio Lisboa. The project will be presented in July 2018 at the CCK in Buenos Aires, then in the Autumn at the MAAT, Lisbon’s brand new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology.
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Thinking. Inside the box.
Sounds and voices The history of audio is an important subject, with recorded speech bringing major events and ﬁgures of the past back to life. Understandably, it is not an easy subject to present, but the British Library is attempting to do just that in its Season of Sound, which highlights key developments and the need to preserve our aural archives. Kevin Hilton went along to look around…
hrough a wash of crackles, static and time comes a stern, almost manic Germanic voice proclaiming “I am Doctor Brahms.” This is the starting point for the British Library’s ongoing exhibition celebrating 140 years of recorded sound, which takes visitors from that early point in audio history through other technological breakthroughs, historic voices and events, right up to the modern digital age. Audio accounts for a substantial part of the British Library’s assets and activities. It holds a large collection of historical and historic recordings in its sound archive, a vast proportion of which have been digitised with the aim of making them available online. One hundred of these feature in the 140 Years of Recorded Sound exhibition and can be listened to in four booths, or pods, placed at intervals in the display area. Steve Cleary, lead curator of literary and creative sound recordings at the British Library and a co-curator of the exhibition, explains that the Season of Sound was conceived partly to raise the proﬁle of the archive. “There were three reasons behind it,” he tells PSNEurope. “The ﬁrst was to highlight Save Our Sounds, an ambitious project particularly related to the sound archive. With the help of Heritage Lottery funding we have been digitising analogue audio held in our collection while there was still time to do it.” Cleary says there was some pressure to get on with this critical and necessary process before it was too late: “We will reach a point where either the analogue material degrades or the playback equipment will disappear. So we are acting now.” Save Our Sounds extends beyond the British Library collection, taking in 10 regional centres round the UK, including Manchester City Council, The Keep in Brighton and London Metropolitan Archives. The £9.5 million received from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2015 is being used to digitise 500,000 rare and vulnerable recordings. As part of this the British Library’s Technical Services department, which runs
the Conservation Centre for transferring original sounds on to digital media, is training technicians who will in turn train other personnel in how to carry out this process. Another aim was to show what is happening with sound recording and distribution today, rather than focusing wholly on the past. “We want to reﬂect the way the commercial music landscape is now with digital downloads being the medium of choice,” Cleary says. “There are now new systems available to deal with digitally released material on block. This depends on working with the record companies, big and small. It’s a full time job because there is no legal requirement for people to deposit audio with us, as there is for books.” The third reason, Cleary says, was to provide something “enjoyable, engaging and informative”. That intention certainly seems to have been achieved. Even on a rainy Monday
evening, a healthy number of people came to the British Library’s Entrance Hall Gallery and spent time perusing the exhibits and displays. The 140 Years of Recorded Sound exhibition is arranged on the back wall, with a mixture of text, video and, naturally, audio recordings played through headphones. Early examples include recordings made on Edison’s tin foil Phonograph, with ﬁlm of a former assistant to the inventor/entrepreneur recreating the famous Mary Had a Little Lamb recording. The Phonograph also made the ﬁrst wildlife recording possible. This was made
through the ages
A 78rpm disc made for Queen Mary’s doll’s house in 1924
by Ludwig Koch, a pioneering sound recordist specialising in natural history. Koch worked for the BBC and amassed a collection of important historical recordings. Among these was a lacquer disc copy of Brahms’ voice, as featured in the exhibition, which was originally captured on wax cylinder. A more traditional aspect of the exhibition is the use of display cases. These contain some of the artefacts held by the Library. Included is a tiny 78rpm disc made for Queen Mary’s doll’s house in 1924. Alongside this, from the same year, is something more scandalous: a 78 of James Joyce reading from his widely banned novel Ulysses. This is a very rare example of spoken word, being one of only two recordings made of the author. It was commissioned by Sylvia Beach, owner of the Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris, who published Joyce’s novel. Recorded at HMV Studios in the French capital, only 30 copies were made. Joyce’s voice is No. 10 in the 100 Sounds from the Archive. Among other historical ﬁgures that can be heard are Florence Nightingale, King George V and Amelia Earhart. The 1932 recording of the ﬂying ace is said to be an early example of tape-based editing. There are also music recordings, including Les Paul’s track Lover (1948), made up of multiple recordings of his guitar from acetate discs playing at different speeds. Also featured are the earliest known recordings of computer music from 1951; the Dr Who theme, produced by Delia Derbyshire at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop; Nelson Mandela speaking at the Rivonia trial in 1964, made on a form of Dictaphone; Cracking Viscera, recorded by the modern successor to Ludwig Koch, Chris Watson (1994); and the result of last year’s EU referendum. The most
recent clip is also from 2016, a rap track by the Swet Shop Boys entitled T5. In all there are approximately seven hours of audio to be heard. Cleary says the exhibition puts a different twist on the traditional museum experience: “Usually audio and video are subordinate to the main event but we wanted to reverse that and focus on sound and listening,” he comments. “In other exhibitions the idea is to keep people moving but for this they are invited to sit down and spend time taking everything in.” Among the artefacts of interest to professional audio visitors are a 1971 Nagra IV-S, which, as Will Prentice, head of the library’s technical services agrees, is not just a key piece of equipment and engineering but also a beautiful thing in its own right. Alongside this is another Nagra recorder, the SN miniature from 1970. A featured part of the exhibition is an installation by musician Aleks Kolkowski. This is based on the wireless log kept by 16-year old radio fan Alfred Taylor, who, in 1922, bought a receiver and aerial with a £200 (approximately £8,000 today) prize from a newspaper. This exhibit features radio sets of the times, clips of programmes and Alfred’s meticulously kept note book, detailing what he picked up from stations such as 2LO (which would become the BBC’s London service), 2ZY in Manchester and PCGG from The Hague. Live events also feature, including the Radiophonic Workshop playing live and Chris Watson in conversation with David Attenborough. More are planned for 2018, with Brian Eno in conversation among the highlights. The Season of Sound continues until March. www.bl.uk
P40 JANUARY 2018
Ofcom allocates 700MHz guard band for PMSE, but still no word on compensation The ongoing saga of spectrum allocation took a new turn at the end of last year, when regulator Ofcom secured part of the 700MHz band for wireless microphone use in the UK. PSNEurope’s Kevin Hilton offers his take on the situation...
he UK broadcast and spectrum regulator Ofcom has announced that it will guarantee continued use of frequencies from 694 to 703MHz for wireless microphone and in-ear monitoring (IEM) applications. The programme making and special events (PMSE) sector will still be able to use this 7MHz range after May 1, 2020, when the 700MHz band has been cleared and made available for new mobile broadband services and technologies. The clearance of 700MHz will further restrict what frequencies that can be used for PMSE, reducing the amount of spectrum that can be used for wireless mics by 96MHz. Ofcom has proposed allowing spectrum in the Air Band, covering 960-1164MHz, to be used for broadcast and live event production. This is currently solely used for DME (distance measuring equipment) transponders on commercial aircraft in UK airspace, although Ofcom is conﬁdent there is will be no problems with interference. Moving to the Air Band will necessitate the development of new wireless microphone systems. PMSE users are still waiting for details of what compensation they might receive for having to replace their current equipment when they move from 700MHz. The conﬁrmation that 694 to 703MHz, which is a guard band, can be used will secure valuable capacity for wireless mic operations and might allow existing systems to still be used. In its announcement, Ofcom said that the 700MHz guard band will separate frequencies used for digital terrestrial television (DTT) from mobile broadband operators and users. It will also allow those in PMSE to carry on using the band. “Ofcom is committed to supporting the PMSE community and believes there are beneﬁts in allowing PMSE users to have continued access to the guard band,” the regulator said in a statement. “We believe that continued use by PMSE services is likely to secure the optimal use of this spectrum and maximise the beneﬁts to UK citizens and consumers.” The PMSE Implementation Group of the Digital Television Group (DTG) said it welcomed Ofcom’s decision, saying it would potentially provide more capacity for events and live production. There was also the chance that users could carry on using wireless mics tuned to these frequencies and not be forced to spend money on new equipment for other bands. Despite this positive reaction, the DTG PMSE Implementation Group did raise some concerns over the decision: “As 694-703MHz forms a guard band to protect DTT from interference from new mobile services and vice
versa, the quality of the spectrum for PMSE applications may be poor due to the potential for LTE [long term evolution or 4G] handsets using nearby frequencies. In addition, it will not be possible to assess the quality of the spectrum prior to an event or production as it will only become an issue when LTE handsets are in the proximity. As such, factoring the spectrum into PMSE planning may not be possible.” BEIRG (British Entertainment Radio Industry Group) has been a vocal critic of Ofcom’s approach to clearing both the 800MHz and 700MHz bands in favour of mobile broadband and other new technologies. It has also lobbied to ensure that the requirements of PMSE, which is part of the larger broadcast and live sound production sectors, continue to be recognised and catered for. In this instance the organisation is reserving comment until the announcement of compensation for PMSE users, which is expected to arrive in January or at least during the early part of 2018.
Spokesman Alan March would not be drawn into commenting directly on the guarantee over the guard band but did say that the ﬁnal announcement on funding might be “a much bigger battle”. March added that BEIRG and other representatives of the PMSE community were “actively pursuing” their Members of Parliament, with the ultimate aim of gaining access to the Treasury department officials and ministers that will make the decision on how much will be paid to compensate PMSE users. The DTG PMSE Implementation Group commented that it was not possible to say how much the guard band announcement would inﬂuence the compensation scheme. “Feedback is that due to the uncertainties around using the band, users should have the option of getting compensation for PMSE equipment that uses 694703MHz,” the Group stated. PSNEurope will continue to monitor this important issue as it develops. www.ofcom.org.uk
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Historic Italian opera house Teatro Comunale has undergone a major audio upgrade. Mike Clark takes a look behind the scenes…
ccording to one’s interests, the Italian city of Bologna is best known for its cuisine, the fact that it hosts Europe’s oldest university or its 38 kilometres of porticoes. But, it’s also the home of an important opera theatre, the Teatro Comunale, inaugurated in 1763 with the ﬁrst performance of Gluck’s Triumph of Cloelia. It was the ﬁrst Italian theatre to stage numerous Wagner operas and Giuseppe Verdi was in the audience at the ﬁrst production of Lohengrin. The venue, which has hosted singers of the calibre of Gigli, Di Stefano, Tebaldi, Del Monaco and Pavarotti, recently underwent an upgrade to its audio facilities, with the installation of a d&b audiotechnik sound system and a Midas Pro1 console. The system was designed by Massimo Carli of MediaCare AudioVisual (San Giuseppe - Ferrara), using d&b ArrayCalc, and the company also carried out the installation. Carli explains: “The theatre wanted a PA with a low visual impact, that was able to ensure perfect coverage of the 850-capacity room, including its four tiers of boxes. When I suggested column speakers, the sound engineers weren’t convinced that they’d be up to the job. However, I’ve speciﬁed d&b’s 24C for some time and was certain of the outcome of an A/B test, so suggested an onsite demo, setting up a 24C system with E15X-SUBs and anther point source system. The results convinced the audio team and management that the column system was the right choice and clinched the deal.” Until recently, the only sound reinforcement at the theatre was a quartet of small enclosures installed on the cornice of the second tier of boxes. In the main room there’s now a set-up comprising four 24C, a pair for the stalls, the other for the ﬁrst tier of boxes. There are four additional 24C, each with a 24C-E column extension (providing six additional 4” drivers), for the other boxes, supported by two compact but punchy E15X-SUB subwoofers. Goso chose these after considering the crossover frequency of the subs, which support the main
speaker to approximately 140Hz. “When necessary, I can boost the bottom end with a pair of E18, but, since the E15X have plenty of SPL, I can give them a few more dB of EQ on the low frequencies and avoid using the ‘big’ subs,” Carli added. “The 24C and 24CE are really splendid as far as sound is concerned. I was immediately struck by their natural timbre, particularly on the high frequencies. They sound more like a good hi-ﬁ system, rather than a PA, and, thanks to their slim lines and custom RAL colour ﬁnish, merge perfectly with the theatre’s decor.”
a foldback from the orchestra, are often used for effects. New gear was also installed in the theatre’s two foyers, which host rehearsals, conferences, small modern music concerts, DJ sets and other events. In the Respighi foyer, a 10D powers a pair of 24C, leaving two channels free in the event of a sub or monitors being required. In the Rossini foyer, another 10D is used with a quartet of 8S and an E15X-SUB. Each foyer has a Soundcraft Ui16, for conferences or small sets and an extra Yamaha console is deployed for larger projects.
Emiliano Goso at the Mida
As far as amps are concerned, there’s a d&b 30D for the two E15X and the two E18 when used, with a cable run arriving on stage, for use for internal ampliﬁcation (for example the organ in Tosca) or effects such as thunder, cannon shots, etc. Then there are three 10D, as each 24C or 24C+CE has its own dedicated channel. The 24CE require this for impedance reasons, whereas the 24Cs (which theoretically need one channel for each pair of enclosures) are powered individually, since, for installation reasons, they must be aligned with a delay, so couldn’t share a channel. Two 10D are used for the main system, while a third handles the stage where, for monitoring, Goso chose a pair of 16C, positioned in the ﬂy towers, and two 12S half-way upstage, which, as well as
Goso concludes: “The main room’s signal routing is entrusted to a d&b DS10 network bridge, which handles the conversion of the signals on the Dante network to AES-EBU for the amps. In the rack along with the amps and DS10 there are two Focusrite units, a RedNet2 and a RedNet4, the latter used for the ‘most important’ microphones. A Midas DL151, providing 24 mic preamps, is connected directly to the Midas PRO1. These channels are available on the network thanks to a Klark Teknik DN9650 bridge, which also converts the Dante signal coming from the Rednet units to SuperMac for our Midas PRO1, where we record with Pro-Tools 12 and monitor with two Unity Audio Boulder MKII.” www.comunalebologna.it
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P44 JANUARY 2018
Audio Lab 2 will ‘richly enhance’ GCRS’s understanding of sound
Grand opening London’s Grand Central Recording Studios recently announced the launch of its brand new Audio Lab 2 - a purpose-built facility offering cutting edge sound design and mixing services. Daniel Gumble spoke to GCRS co-founder Ivor Taylor to find out more…
ollowing on from the successful establishment of GCVRS – Grand Central’s VR arm – the opening of Audio Lab 2 represents a major push from the Soho facility to bring together capabilities for both ﬁlm and 360/VR audio. With almost 10 years of research and development informing the build, the studio has been designed to produce integrated and immersive soundscapes, and features 32+1 Dolby Atmos speakers, as well as 16 lower level speakers enabling the world’s ﬁrst mixed Dolby Atmos Theatrical and TOA studio for VR work. Here, GCRS co-founder Ivor Taylor takes us inside the new studio and tells us what it will bring to the studio sector…
Tell us about the Audio Lab 2 set up. Who is it aimed at? Audio Lab 2 brings together outstanding capabilities for both ﬁlm and 360/VR audio. With almost 10 years of research and development informing the build, the studio is equipped to produce unrivalled integrated, immersive soundscapes. It’s a facility that aims to answer questions about how to make expert VR soundscapes in a real world commercial environment and then deliver workﬂows, which allow clients and sound designers to seamlessly and jointly develop VR soundscapes. Grand Central has built itself a formidable reputation mixing cinema trailers for the likes of Universal Pictures, Studio Canal, Lionsgate and eOne among others. The introduction of a full Dolby Atmos Theatrical installation was a unique opportunity to be part of the next big thing in cinematic sound. It’s also an integral build on our work at GCVRS, the studio’s dedicated VR arm, that offers creatives and directors working in the emerging world of VR production the delivery of expert spatial audio sound design. Talk us through the spec. Audio Lab 2 is a multimode studio capable of working in
stereo, 5.1, 7.1, 7.1.4, Atmos and High Order Ambisonics for VR. There is no ‘speciﬁcation’ as such for a High Order Ambisonics speaker layout, plus Audio Lab 2 had to deliver Dolby Atmos Theatrical for GCRS’s trailer and ﬁlm clients. This meant that we ended up using the very speciﬁcation required for Dolby Atmos Theatrical as a foundation to which we then added additional speakers to make a High Order Ambisonics studio. Atmos required a 32-speaker array comprising 12 high level speakers in the ceiling and 20 speakers nominally at sitting ear height.
We then had to select a speaker design which would deliver the high levels Atmos requires with very low levels of distortion and wide dispersion, giving the widest ‘sweet spot’ possible. Sweet spot size is very important – how can you collaborate with clients if the only person in the room who can experience the ‘mix’ is the one sitting in the engineer’s chair? We selected a new speaker design concept from Exigy, which has a very wide dispersion pattern giving exceptional clarity and an enhanced, large sweet spot, all with very low distortion and high power levels when needed. The technical side of the install has a 48 fader 500 path DFC Gemini, Protools HDX 2 and a HDX
3, 16 by 16 x 64 Madi matrix and the switching of room modes via a 15 x 4 crossover array. When did work start on the studio? Conceptually, the design work started in early 2015 but it had its roots back in 2008 when we ﬁrst started working on immersive/3D sound. The actual build started in July 2017 with completion in November 2017. What will the new studio bring to GCRS? Immersive 3D audio is a new skill set which is in its infancy. Where it will go no one really knows, but for GCRS and GCVRS we see the new studios as being capable of richly enhancing our understanding of sound and how to use sound to create much deeper experiences. Stereo is amazing but it cannot take us forward any further - Audio Lab 2 will help us on this journey. Does this launch illustrate GCRS’ commitment to providing the most cutting-edge services in the market? Absolutely. Our focus is about delivering best in class audio environments with in-depth client creative participation during the mix process, all encapsulated into a seamless and efficient workﬂow. Key to this is embracing emerging technologies and ensuring our facilities are at the absolute forefront of sound design technology - which I’m proud to say they are. What has the response been like from engineers and audio professionals utilising the space? Excellent. Both clients and audio luminaries have really bought into the studio design concept and sound at all levels. It is early days but what is notable is that the studio has gone straight into production without any glitches either technically or sonically. www.gcrs.com
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P46 JANUARY 2018
To Unity and beyond Kevin Walker, founder of monitor specialist Unity Audio, has been an influential figure in the sector for almost 30 years. Here, he tells PSNEurope about his approach to speaker design and how the market has changed over the past three decades…
nce you own Unity Audio products you own them for life. That’s the bold claim from Kevin Walker, who created Unity Audio as a result of his passion for sound, music and, in particular, monitor technology. “Having been in the audio industry for over 30 years and seen the growth of the digital era, I wanted to create monitors that not only transform how sound engineers work, but achieve faster results due to having an accurate monitor,” he explains. Unity Audio began as a UK distributor for high-end pro audio products and moved into manufacturing monitors after noticing a gap in the monitor market. “The trend over the past several years due to restricted production budgets, studios becoming smaller and generally smaller monitors becoming more accurate seemed to dictate the decline for large format main monitors,” said Walker. “However, over the past few years there seems to be a resurgence for main monitors again.” His approach to this was to design a sealed speaker cabinet rather than a ported design, with the aim of producing superior and accurate low frequency reproduction with a dynamic transient response and a more natural extended bass roll off. The ﬂexible modular approach provides customers with an upgrade path and different mounting options, suitable for many operational requirements. “Like every aspect of audio design there’s always a trade off, a sealed cabinet won’t achieve the same SPL ﬁgure as a ported cabinet,” Walker says. “Now that the range has expanded we have been able to address the demands of customers wanting high SPL ﬁgures. This coupled with our philosophy to only use excellent quality components ensures a high technical standard. The proof is in the pudding, as our customers certainly appreciate the end results when they hear them.” Walker’s philosophy has always been to maintain an emphasis on manufacturing, with attention to detail and an open-ended commitment to customer satisfaction. The Unity Audio range includes the Boulder, Rock monitors and BABE monitor system. Walker gets into the detail: “The Boulder MKII is a three-way active monitor that gives a fast, accurate detailed sound and extended bass response, while delivering even greater levels of SPL. It incorporates four bi-polar low feedback ampliﬁers to give the power delivery of the custom Class A/B ampliﬁer. The Boulders are ﬁtted with two 220mm SEAS custom aluminium woofers that provide bass precision down to 32Hz and beyond. The unique coaxial mid-range tweeter driver made exclusively for Unity Audio works
as a point source over seven octaves and delivers linear amplitude and phase independent of frequency, resulting in incredibly detailed and accurate imaging. The Boulders can partner with an Avalanche subwoofer to make a 2.1, 5.1 or 7.1 system and can even be used with Rocks due to the consistent sonic signature.”
Thirty years of Unity: Kevin Walker
I WANTED TO CREATE MONITORS THAT NOT ONLY TRANSFORM HOW SOUND ENGINEERS WORK, BUT ACHIEVE FASTER RESULTS DUE TO HAVING AN ACCURATE MONITOR KEVIN WALKER The Rock MKII, meanwhile, is a compact speaker “is equipped with a 100W discrete bi-polar low feedback ampliﬁer with custom wound transformers for a fast, clean and accurate audio reproduction. The Rock uses a 50KHz folded ribbon tweeter and the 180mm woofer features a 0.2mm aluminium foil. The seamless combination of drivers delivers a frequency response of 37Hz-38kHz +/- 3db. “As for the BABE monitor, it comes as a modular system transforming the existing 3-way Boulder into a 4-way monitoring system. The sealed cabinet is internally isolated to reduce vibration interference and uses a single 300mm driver with a 125mm voice coil, designed exclusively for low frequency reproduction. The driver employs a huge 130mm Hexatech external voice coil wound with a hexagonal-shaped aluminium coil
wire – two to three times thicker than standard woofers – for accurate music reproduction, superior durability and power handling. It retains the same sealed cabinet approach used throughout the Unity Audio range and this design approach provides faster, tighter and more accurate linear bass reproduction and results in less phase rotation, reduced time domain ringing, lower group delay and a shallower roll-off slope.” With new technologies emerging, Walker is always reviewing the Unity Audio range. “Some of the model updates and even new ideas we’re looking at now have been due to customer feedback and requests,” continues Walker. “For example, this is the reason why we came out with the updated Boulder MKII. We had feedback from America that some customers wanted higher SPL and low frequency extension and so we up-gunned the MKI’s 2x 6” woofers to 2x 8” woofers.” He continues: “Wherever possible we offer upgrade paths for our customers across the range. This is unusual, especially for a monitor manufacturer, rather than the usual approach of ‘you just bought our speaker last year but here’s the new model’ approach, I want to reassure our customers that wherever possible we will make an upgrade path available. I put myself in their shoes; they’ve spent their hard-earned cash on our product which I’m always grateful for and this gives us conﬁdence that we have their interests in mind.” He concludes: “2017 was a very busy year. The past 18 months have been exciting; at the start of 2017 we brought the production in-house. This was a big move for us but it was the right time and having everything onsite and a great production team means we’re more efficient and R&D is far easier and effective. 2018 is shaping up to be equally exciting with our expansion overseas. Since our ﬁrst monitor back in 2009, production has grown steadily, and we now have an illustrious client list of studios, engineers and producers including Guy Massey, David Wrench, Mike Crossey, Monnow Valley, the University of West London, Metropolis Mastering Studios, Gary Newman, Rudimental, Coldplay, Guy Sigsworth and New Order to name but a few. The Rock MKII, Super Rock and Boulder MKII, BABE and Avalanche sub-woofer monitors have received many reviews that have championed the ﬂexibility and design of the monitors and made Unity Audio what it is today.” firstname.lastname@example.org www.unityaudioproducts.co.uk +44 (0)1799 520786
P48 JANUARY 2018
Signature sounds Autograph and Digico recently equipped Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre with a brand new audio system. Here, the venue’s head of sound, Sorcha Williams, gives PSNEurope the lowdown on what the audio upgrade means for the historic location…
anchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre is a unique theatrical space, located within an historic building whose story is as colourful and dramatic as the productions that grace its in-the-round stage, one of the largest in the country with a capacity of up to 750. The Royal Exchange’s Great Hall was the heart of ‘Cottonopolis’ as Manchester was once known, one of the global centres for cotton trading and the source of much of the wealth generated for the city by that trade. Badly damaged by bombs twice – once in 1940 by the Luftwaffe and again by an IRA device in 1996 – the magniﬁcent space was subject of a restoration following the latter and reopened two years later. The theatre itself is extraordinary. A self-contained, heptagonal steel structure of which only the ground ﬂoor seating and stage rest on the Hall ﬂoor, the module is actually suspended from four of the building’s massive, original columns. Sorcha Williams, the theatre’s head of sound, was closely involved in the speciﬁcation of the theatre’s new Digico SD10T console. Supplied by Autograph Sales and Installations and delivered with dual SD-Racks ﬁtted with the OpticalCon options, the unique T-series theatre software comprises a redundant engine and fader pod. “In a relatively short space of time, the technical requirements for sound design have rapidly changed with advances in technology,” Williams explains. “That, coupled with the Royal Exchange now producing a big musical every year, has meant that we have had to invest in equipment that could cater for the diverse range of productions on our stage. That means being ﬂexible with how we programme and operate shows, and where we operate from. Our usual sound op area is not suitable for mixing a musical, so we create a secondary ops area. Our in-house desk was a Cadac J-Type, which was a great desk to use, however not practical to move. We therefore hired a Digico every Christmas for the musical and whenever we had a larger-scale show that required live mixing mics, most recently on our co-production with Manchester International Festival ‘Fatherland’. With the increase in the need to hire, it made sense for us to invest in our own digital console to replace the Cadac.” She continues: “Digico is what is always requested by sound designers and the features and expandability it provides mean we can cater for almost any requirements. Physically the SD10 is a compact size for such a powerful
console and so suits our space requirements. Being able to position racks in strategic areas for different productions and connect them over OpticalCon ﬁbre gives us a greater use of our infrastructure, and while we currently have to run long lengths of ﬁbre between various points, I chose this option in order to future-proof the purchase. Our current install infrastructure doesn’t have ﬁbre points but perhaps in the future it will. At the time of the original install, they catered for everything that they needed then – we literally have XLR and NL4 patch points everywhere you could possibly need them. There’s a lot of thinking at the moment about what the install will need to be moving forward, and from my experience having ﬁbre points around the building would be incredibly useful.” The decision to purchase the spare engine and fader pod as part of the audio upgrade was to provide sufficient redundancy when running a large show. “Personally, I have never been in the position where I needed to use an RE,” Williams comments. “The ﬁrst Digico console I used regularly was an SD7 and I never had to switch engines, but knowing that you can gives the operator peace of mind. We are currently in the middle of tech-ing Guys & Dolls and the associate sound designer has found it useful to jump onto the RE fader pod to make
slight adjustments to aux levels without disrupting what I’m doing on the main console. The Cadac didn’t have any form of redundancy, so we were increasing the risk of losing a show if anything happened. Several years ago, I upgraded our QLab systems to run a redundant system so it made sense to do it with the desk too.” The SD10T was also speciﬁed with the dedicated ‘T’series theatre control software. “While I ﬁnd that setting up some of the features with the T software can be time consuming to begin with,” Williams adds, “ultimately it makes the workﬂow during the tech so much quicker. The recall features it provides allows for much more detailed scene-by-scene programming.” Williams concludes: “We have had a long-standing relationship with Autograph, both with sales and hire, so I think that made the process so much easier. Ben Tredwell was very knowledgable on the equipment. I’ve always felt that the Autograph sales guys are not just salespeople. They really understand what they are selling and can advise according to your requirements. Aftersales is excellent, there is always someone on the end of the phone to answer questions, it doesn’t matter how random the question is, they will always have an answer or direct you to the person who could help.”
P50 JANUARY 2018
All Systems go
Over the past few years, ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) has become one of the most important gatherings on the professional audio trade show calendar. Paddy Baker, editor of PSNEurope sister publication Installation, examines why the Amsterdam show continues to soar in popularity among the pro audio crowd and why its appeal shows no sign of slowing…
ntegrated Systems Europe has become such a fundamental part of the installed systems marketplace that it’s sometimes easy to forget that it’s only been going since 2004. The ﬁrst ISE took place in Geneva, in a single hall, with 120 exhibitors. It soon found its home at the RAI in Amsterdam, where it has grown strongly and steadily: last year’s show had almost 1,200 exhibitors and 73,000 visitors. For ISE 2018, another hall has been added at the RAI, bringing the total to 15. Why has this happened, and why is it becoming more of a draw for the pro audio world? The reasons fall into two groups: those about the show itself, and those relating to pro audio market trends. For the past decade or so, there has been a noticeable trend for audio manufacturers to expand from live into ﬁxed install. So it stands to reason that they would choose to exhibit at what has long been Europe’s leading show for AV systems integration, and is now the top show in this market globally. But there’s more to it that that. ISE is, of course, all about integrated systems. While ‘pure’ audio jobs do still exist, increasingly audio is part
of larger, more technologically diverse projects. ISE is a major showcase for manufacturers of displays, projectors, lighting – as well as the transport and control infrastructures that enable the different elements of an installation to communicate with each other. Now, since the advent of audio over IP, these large-scale projects can be made more ﬂexible and more cost-effective to deliver. In the world of integrated systems, there are many types of people who can inﬂuence product selection: integrators, consultants, distributors, end users. All of these are well represented at ISE. In fact, the show has continued to grow in recent years by attracting people from outside the traditional channel, such as end users. Additionally, as technology progresses and becomes more complex, there has also been a recognition among manufacturers that no one can do everything. If another company has a technology that complements yours, it’s often better to partner with them rather than spend time and money creating your own, probably inferior version. So there are all kinds of conversations taking place at ISE. People come to ﬁnd solutions for projects they are working on; to discuss distribution deals; to consider technology partnerships; to keep abreast of the latest
tech trends and maybe discover the unexpected; and simply because they know their peers will be there. And because ISE has become the top show, it’s the one that is on everyone’s list. While other shows have suffered a marked exodus of big audio names, ISE just goes from strength to strength, attracting new attendees each year. In 2017, one visitor in six was attending the show for the ﬁrst time. In fact, such has been ISE’s success that it is even starting to encroach on the live market. In 2017, 18% of attendees said they operate within the live events marketplace. Perhaps as a reﬂection of this, ISE 2018 sees Hall 7 change from being the Audio hall to Audio and Live Events. Finally, the timing and the location of ISE have also played a part in its success. Amsterdam is a major hub airport – a signiﬁcant chunk of Europe can get there by plane in two hours or less. It’s a pleasant, relatively compact city to visit, even in harsh winter weather. And its position in the calendar seems to ﬁt well with many manufacturers’ product development and marketing schedules. ISE looks set to be part of the installed systems landscape for some time to come.
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White noise Since critically acclaimed indie rock outfit The Maccabees called time on their career in 2017 after 13 years and four revered albums, founding member and occasional producer for the band, Hugo White, has embarked upon a new career in the studio. Daniel Gumble caught up with him in his London facility to discuss gear, production techniques and life after the band… What was the decision behind getting into production after the band ﬁnished? In the early days with the band I was making demos but I didn’t really see myself as a producer. However, by the third album there was a question mark over whether I should do the record or if we should go with a producer, which we did. At that point I felt the task was too big, but the record didn’t work out with the producer for various reasons, and we had about a month left to deliver this record. So I was thrown in the deep end with it! I was like, give me the hard drive, I’m going to redo this record, and I rebuilt it from scratch. It was an insane amount of work, but it worked and everyone was happy. From that point on I realised I can compete at that level, and from then it was decided I was also going to produce the next record, which was the ﬁnal record we made. And it went to No.1, which was great! By that point I knew I wanted to be working in the studio. I learned a lot from being in the band – so much of being a producer is about people skills and understanding that band dynamic, which is so complex. How valuable was your experience with the band in shaping you as a producer? Only recently have I reﬂected on how well being in the band has served me as a producer, especially working with younger people. I understand all the situations they are going through, like dealing with labels and management etc. And I’ve worked with some great producers – Stephen Street, Ben Hillier, Markus Dravs, and I’ve had a long-standing relationship with Cenzo Townshend who mixed our ﬁrst, third and fourth albums. He’s still mixing the stuff I’m working on now. You’ve also been writing in the studio with some of the artists you are producing. Is that something you would
have entertained during your time in the band? No. We were so closed off, we wouldn’t have let anyone in. Until a year and a half ago I didn’t realise that everyone else co-writes everything. We were that blind to it; we didn’t think anyone could or should try to change our opinion. But now it’s really opening up and people are seeing that that’s how things work. There’s a lot to be said for doing it both ways. There were ﬁve of us, so a bad idea never really got through. By bouncing off each other you keep improving on what you originally had. If you’re a solo artist you don’t have that, so they need a co-writer.
music and the performance.
Who have you been working with? I started working with a guy called Matt Maltese. He’s a singer songwriter I started working with at a very early stage, when it was just him and a piano, but we’ve gradually built things up and got a band together. It’s been great, taking someone’s vision and realising it. I’ve also been working with a band called The Magic Gang, who are a bit more like The Maccabees were; they work in detail and they want it to be right before they bring it to the producer. I’ve also been working with Ten Tonnes, Jessie Ware and more recently I’ve been doing writing sessions with a girl called SOAK. And a couple of other potentially exciting things are in the pipeline...
How difficult was it being in the studio with a band full of writers? It made the writing process go on forever! We would spend months on songs. Everything builds up and it becomes an intense world you work in together. There are a lot of producers now who co-write knowing that they go in at the start of the day and you come out at the end of the day with a track that is fully written. Not that that is a perfect way to work – there is a lot of bad music written like that – but in the modern world I think spending months on writing a track is problematic. I want things to be quicker and more efficient. I’ve started working on Ableton and using it as a really quick writing tool.
Do you have a particular style of production that you bring to each project? It’s really about catering for what the artist wants, and a lot of the time people can’t say what it is that they want. People rarely start a project knowing exactly what it’s going to sound like; you learn along the way, so it’s about understanding them and getting on the same wavelength. I want to make records that deliver in the modern, competitive sonic world, without taking the life out of the
What’s your set up here? My most treasured mic is the Neumann FET 47, which is our go-to vocal mic and we use it on guitars too. Also the Coles 4038, which are overheads used for acoustics and percussion. I use BAE 1073 preamps and a rack of APIs, and some API EQs, plus a lot of plugins. More recently I’ve started using UAD stuff, which has really made things come to life. Monitor wise I use Adam A8X for tracking. It’s a fairly simple set up.
You must have learned some useful things from the producers you’ve worked with in the past… Someone like Stephen Street was great because you had conﬁdence he was in control of everything, which is really important. You need to feel like the producer is solid and is dealing with everything - someone you trust, basically. Markus Dravs was amazing at dealing with everyone in the band and the complex band dynamic we have. He would step into our discussions and ﬁnd a solution.
Save the Date Conference 13 – 17 September 2018 Exhibition 14 – 18 September 2018 RAI, Amsterdam
Where the media, entertainment and technology industry does business Join over 1,700 exhibitors showcasing the latest technological innovations, 400+ speakers delivering the latest industry insights and over 57,000 attendees providing unlimited networking opportunities at IBC’s annual conference and exhibition. Add dates to your diary show.ibc.org/savethedate Follow us on social media for the latest news and updates #IBCShow
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Sound and vision Calling all snap-happy smartphone addicts! In each issue, we publish the best pro audio pics shared on social media in the past month. From gig shots to get-out selﬁes, the industry’s online community is thriving and we want to share the great work that’s going on. Want to be featured next month? Tag @psneurope or email email@example.com
@ez_audio Bangalore at @echoesofearthfestival followed by Goa at @thesoutherndeck with @youngr_music and the crew. Pure madness! Looking forward to rest of the tour!
@martinaudio Day 1 of The Killers #02arena with @capital_sound. 58 MLA, 6 MLAD, 20 MLAC, 34 MLX. Sounded great with @kenny_audiotips_kaiser @danfathers @barneycush
@amateaudio X12CLA array systems ﬂying below X18T in a new installation for a theatre in South Korea
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Follow us on Twitter Instagram Facebook @psneurope @steve_bartlett Throwing it back to one of my fav European spaces. The #neve room at #wisseloord - I was honoured to be the ﬁrst engineer in this room when it reopened. It has a vintage #neve8014 a #emi console great #pmc speakers lots of toys including an original #bluestripe 1176 and some incredible tape that I used as much as possible!
@vue_audio AL-4 acoustic linearity line array
@lathebestsound The ﬁrst L-ISA system to be deployed in Italy! Ennio Morricone this weekend in Bologna and Milan, sound by #AgoraSound. Seven frontal hangs of #Kara with centre ﬂown #KS28 to immerse 9,000 spectators. #LISAimmersive #thefutureofsound
@renkusheinz Washington University in St. Louis’ gorgeous E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall upgraded its sound system from a handful of stage-stacked arrays that had to be wheeled out onstage on a cart, to a state-of-the-art system featuring Renkus-Heinz IC Live Gen5 digitally steerable line arrays. @wustl_official #renkusheinz #linearrays
THE EUROPEAN DESTINATION FOR THE GLOBAL AV INDUSTRY Bringing Events to Life Experience professional Audio and Live Event technology and solutions at ISE 2018
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Speaker of the house Phil Ward talks to David Scheirman, now with Bose, who recently became president of Audio Engineering Society…
ow director of global concert and rental business for Bose’s growing professional division, David Scheirman went to school in Oklahoma City and has been further educated at Caltech, Stanford, the University of Washington and MIT – yet when asked how he would explain pro audio to his old classmates, his reply is refreshingly simple: “The pile of black boxes in front of the band that can get really loud!” So is his summation of the top priorities of a live PA system: “That it makes, and keeps making, sound.” Maybe it’s this basic, piercing logic that has propelled him through four decades of touring and installed sound professionalism, including 17 years with JBL and Harman, developing management and training responsibilities in a complex organisation and an even more complex world. His trusted colleagues stretch from Rio to Russia, and it’s this network that can now match their respect for him to a new global perception of the AES... Were you in a band? Or at the side of the stage with a screwdriver? Both. I played in a neighbourhood garage band doing school dances, and I was also in the AV club in high school because we got hall passes to get out of class all day long. What were the real big product breakthroughs of the JBL years? That time frame was a really productive period for JBL Professional in various market segments, from recording to cinema, to installed and portable sound products. In the Professional Division, the JBL EON helped establish an entirely new product category for compact powered portable speaker systems. And the innovative ScreenArray system for the cinema industry, which contributed to JBL’s Technical Grammy Award,
was quite a benchmark product. Leveraging the trend to line array type loudspeaker systems, JBL’s VERTEC product portfolio became extremely successful. The powered versions of these systems, using DrivePack technology developed in collaboration with dbx, BSS and Crown, could be considered a breakthrough from a systems integration perspective. In 2005, the JBL VT4888DP-CN was perhaps the very ﬁrst powered line-array system with networked digital audio that was software-compatible with other audio product categories like wireless mic receivers, DSP hardware products, discrete ‘smart’ power ampliﬁers, and the like. Beneath it all, JBL’s component innovations, such as Differential Drive cone loudspeakers and dual-voice coil high frequency drivers, were signiﬁcant innovations. What were your most personally rewarding projects at JBL? I’d have to say, helping lead the new-product development team for the JBL VERTEC VT4889 full-size line array in 1999-2000, and introducing that system to the global sound reinforcement industry was both challenging and rewarding. Back then, JBL had such a fantastic, well-integrated team of electro-acoustical designers, project managers, manufacturing engineers and such. Seeing those systems still in use for projects as diverse as Rock In Rio, the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, along with top-tier concert tours and installed systems for major venues like Los Angeles’ Staples Centre, is quite gratifying. How does AES67 help ﬁnd a balance between proprietary solutions and open ﬁle exchange? Proprietary solutions help create protected franchises and generate revenue for their developers on the front end of a technology development curve, while open solutions often emerge over time to provide broader access to superior features and capabilities. Any
technical standard for the audio industry – such as AES67 for audio-over-IP, or even AES14, the seemingly simple XLR connector wiring standard – can help all players to focus their efforts on end-user requirements. However, to shift an entire industry in any particular evolutionary direction that involves integrating software, ﬁrmware and networking technology – along with various audio equipment components – takes more time than the initiators often anticipate. The most important issue is that ‘proprietary’ and ‘open’ standards are not enough of a distinction. An open proprietary standard is very different from an open-source or open nonproprietary standard: in this respect, industries much larger than ours have many lessons to teach us. It is wise to remember that proprietary protocol-based commercial offerings typically rise and fall over time. What prompted the move from JBL to Bose? I retired from JBL to assist with some pressing family matters. Once these were resolved, I was contacted by Bose Professional with a unique and exciting new opportunity, and I’m having a great time thus far. I was very keen to ﬁnd out what would happen if Bose was to apply its very stable business platform and its advanced R&D capabilities – especially in light of its connections with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – to some of the current challenges in professional sound reinforcement. And I liked what I saw. How do you get people to switch to Bose? Rental company owners must be good business people if they’re going to be successful, and they are typically smart enough to make their own decisions. One does not ‘get’ them to do, or switch to, anything. If they are surviving and growing, then they understand the importance of solid long-term value, global support and technical innovation – probably in that order. Bose is in it for the long haul, with the resources and the innovation
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to move effectively in any direction it chooses – plus the wisdom of patience, as opposed to expecting an urgent response from trendy marketing gimmicks. The market is not homogeneous and is highly nuanced, although it will always prize true value derived from the investment given. How do you feel about the latest moves towards so-called immersive speaker conﬁgurations? Ever since the consumer electronics industry began pushing ‘surround sound’ decades ago, there has been an increasing number of channel counts, loudspeaker positions and even fresh new content platforms to feed into such multi-channel audio systems. Remember 3.1? 5.1? 7.1? As the cinema experience gets scaled down into smaller residential venues, and as the ‘immersive’ audio experience scales up to meet the needs of larger-scale, live audience events, it’s interesting to see traditional sound reinforcement equipment suppliers migrating over to pro-sumer markets. It’s a very engaging and compelling listening experience, and to have some of the more modern and capable large-scale tools employed in that space is a fascinating new development for the entire industry. Bose would certainly be capable of achieving innovations in that area, but the practical implications are huge. I remember the unique 1980-81 concerts by Pink Floyd for The Wall – an amazing experience for the audience but also a tremendous additional burden and responsibility on the crew and venues to re-create those multi-channel special effects, live. I also saw and listened to a permanently-installed 200-channel, immersive audio multi-source system designed by Dr Wolfgang Ahnert at the Kremlin Palace, Moscow – all the way back in 1991! So new trends in ‘immersive audio’ are not about just branding, it’s more about adopters – the paying customers – really understanding that this is a system design paradigm that needs more investment, more complex deployment and very careful signal-path management. Are we ready for that on a universal basis in the sound reinforcement realm? What does being the president of the AES mean to you? I ﬁrst joined the Audio Engineering Society (AES) when I was 22 years old. It became a point of entry into the professional audio industry, and I can honestly say that the most interesting, proﬁtable and prestigious projects I’ve done in my career as a professional engineer have come from referrals by contacts and colleagues within the AES. Now, as president, I enjoy sharing that opportunity and experience with others.
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Published on Dec 18, 2017