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July 2017

Crossing the Rubycon

The lowdown on “the biggest changes at Abbey Road since it all began” P22 P36









An evolution in digital mixing Drawing on 30 years of digital mixing know-how, Yamaha’s flagship RIVAGE PM10 system continues to evolve with a new compact control surface, support for 400-channel single-mode optical fiber and V1.5 firmware updates including Eventide H3000 Live UltraHarmonizer and Dan Dugan Automatic Mixing plug-ins.

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

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10/10/2016 10:19:58 12:26:34 14/06/2017

PSNEUROPE Editor Dave Robinson

Group Commercial Manager, Music Ryan O’Donnell

Content Director James McKeown

Senior Account Manager Rian Zoll-Khan

Head of Design Jat Garcha

Sales Executive Alex Goddard



JULY 2017

Production Executive Jason Dowie

DAVE ROBINSON Editor Contributors: Kevin Hilton, Marc Maes, Phil Ward, David Davies, Marc Miller, Mike Clark, Mel Lambert PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe to PSNEurope please go to should you have any questions please email Please note that this is a controlled circulation title and subscription criteria will be strictly adhered to.

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

NewBay subscriptions: The Emerson Building 4-8 Emerson Street London SE1 9DU Email:

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2017 subscription rates for nonindustry/non-European readers are: UK: £39/€62 Europe: £54/€86 Other countries: £106/$170

Accreditations to memberships of industry associations and media partnerships

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

ISSN number 0269-4735 (print) 2052-238X (digital)

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!


ell, here we are then: exactly 19 years to the day since I started on Pro Sound News Europe – working under Phil Ward and Joe Hosken with Sue Gould and Richard Lawn on the ad team – and now I’m off to try my hand at something else. Next month, it will be Dan Gumble’s shiny face that will be beaming out of this page, and his words of insight you’ll be applauding. In nearly two decades, I’ve seen so many things, far too many to list here. But aside from the rise of digital technology, the beginnings of a genuine universal networking solution, the ever-miniaturisation of technology and so on, what I’ve seen is the fine and talented people who have emerged. Those (no names, no pack-drill) who have started off small but risen to greatness through determination and hard work. I hope some of that rubs off on me with what I do next… I like to think what I’ve done with the mag has made some difference to people’s lives: entertained you as well as informed you. Maybe – in the case where we discovered that a leading software company was sending agents posing as clients into studios in order to catch the owner using pirated software – even shocked you. On this journalistic theme, if you’ll permit me, a definite highlight of my career with PSNE was discovering that a major US manufacturer was laying off several hundred jobs, and transferring them to south-east Asia if I recall correctly, just ahead of Thanksgiving. Nice! When I called the local county journal to try and find out more, it turns out that they didn’t have a clue about the redundancies. So in the end, that local paper ended up quoting me and PSNE – a magazine based in the UK – for its story. That did tickle me… I’d like to thank all the people I’ve worked with over the years here, all the ad production, design and sales people, the management and all the good people at NewBay who will be taking the title forward. And that really is a key lesson I’ve learned about the pro-audio publishing world, and the wider audio business in general: it is full of some very good people. Cheers and goodbye! n

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P4 JULY 2017






6, 7 8 10 12 14 16 20-21

Ariana Grande returns to Manchester for One Love Pro Sound Awards returns! PSNPresents success Vocal channel: Andy Huffer Movers and shakers: industry appointments PSNTraining: get a (new) life! The strategic position


18-19 New Products 40-46 FEATURE: Digital mixing systems and their ‘USP’

22-23 24-26 28 30-32

Abbey Road renewed: here comes the sun again! 25 years of FX Rentals France’s Studio Davout closes Chris Walls: from a shed to the ascendent


34-35 Mark Yonge: 16 years of AES standards 36 -38 Behind the scenes of the ‘live’ Casualty

Live 48-49 50 52 54

Field Day: MLA has a field day too! Tigercub live at Dingwalls Luigi Nono performed in ancient theatre Stephen Court remembered

Back pages 57 58

Hither & dither Q&A: The editor 04 Contents v1JMcK.indd 1

23/06/2017 10:42

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

Photo: Ralph Larmann

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P6 JULY 2017

Photo credit: BBC/One Love Manchester


One Love Manchester pulls in huge TV audience

11 million people watched the charity concert

Although organised under difficult and emotional circumstances, the concert in aid of victims of the Manchester Arena bombing succeeded in honouring both those affected and human spirit. Toby Alington had the task of mixing the on-stage music for worldwide broadcast transmission. He talks to Kevin Hilton about getting ‘that’ phone call and meeting the challenge


he charity benefit concert is something broadcasters and facilities companies alike are now used to staging. Even so, these events are still huge undertakings and can take several months to organise logistically, technically and artistically. The One Love Manchester show was, as is now to be expected, an involved television, radio and live sound production but one put together in just over a week after the tragic event it was in reaction to. One Love Manchester took place at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, not far from the Manchester Arena where a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured more than 100 others at the end of Ariana Grande’s show at the venue on 22 May. Talk of a benefit concert to raise money for victims and their families, as well as commemorating those affected, grew in the days following the tragedy. Then events began to move very quickly.

Ariana Grande returned to Manchester just two weeks after the terror attack, and she brought Pharrell Williams with her 6-7 Manchseter v1JMcK.indd 1

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P7 JULY 2017

Toby Alington, ready to mix the broadcast

“My phone rang on Bank Holiday Monday [29 May] asking me what I was doing that coming weekend,” says Toby Alington, who mixed the broadcast music for international distribution as well as for the BBC. “By Tuesday afternoon a plan had been put in place and we were on site by Friday.” Alington is a veteran of live music for TV, with the BRIT and MTV Europe Music Awards, as well as numerous direct to cinema shows, among his credits. Even so there must have been some trepidation in taking on this project, particularly as the music festival and events season is getting into full swing. This raised questions about the availability of facilities but, fortunately, leading companies, including Arena Television, Britannia Row (now part of Clair Global) and the Floating Earth studio truck were all available. “That was a huge relief,” Alington comments. “I had already been booked for a live to cinema concert the week after One Love and there was nothing available in the UK for that, so we had booked a French mobile. Thankfully there was a little window for Manchester when we were able to get all UK facilities.” The Floating Earth truck, which Alington describes as “one of my favourites for multi-artist shows”, is

equipped with a 128-channel SSL C200 console and a 192-channel Pyramix multitrack recorder, plus access to 256 remote microphone amps, fibre links to stages and two DirectOut MADI.SRC units giving an additional 64 channel inputs. Arena Television, which already had several vehicles of its fleet committed to the BBC’s Springwatch nature series, supplied two vehicles for the TV presentation. In a statement the company said, “Arena has been working with BBC Music for a number of years covering largescale music events like Glastonbury. When we first heard about the possibility of covering this for the BBC, we made it clear we would do whatever it took to bring this event to air. We deployed roughly 50 percent more staff than normal as the timescale was very tight and the exact requirements were evolving day-by-day.” For One Love Manchester, Arena supplied one of its recently introduced next generation IP-based trucks, OBY. This was used for the main event production, while the company’s OB10, equipped with a Calrec Sigma Bluefin console, was on presentation duties for the BBC. “We also sent up about twice the amount of equipment we normally require for an event like this so we could help work with organisers to provide any facilities needed for the broadcast,” Arena’s statement adds. Alington mixed the music in Floating Earth, with the output of the C200 going to OBY, where on-stage presentation and audience atmosphere were added through the truck’s 64-fader Calrec Apollo desk to create the international show mix. From the stage Alington took 96 analogue splits, plus a further 64 MADI feeds over fibre from Coldplay’s self-contained rig, which was used for the band’s own performance as well as “other bits and pieces”. Alington says he chose

to stick with more established connectivity technology because of “the speed the show moved at”, although having the MADI overlay “helped”. One Love Manchester featured an array of artists, including Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, Take That, Liam Gallagher, Robbie Williams and BlackEyed Peas. Ariana Grande made a widely acclaimed, emotional return to Manchester as the headliner. Rehearsals took place the day before in London but the first the technical crews at Old Trafford heard of any of the performers – and still not all of them – was at 11am on Sunday, the day of the performance. “The doors opened at 3pm, so we had four hours to rehearse a five and a half-hour show,” Alington says. The end result was roundly praised and drew in an estimated TV audience of over 11 million people, making it the most watched broadcast event of the year so far. n

Barlow prepares to play 6-7 Manchseter v1JMcK.indd 2

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pr Se os nd ou y be nda our fo wa no re rd m Mo s@ ina nd n tio ay bm ns 24 ed to Ju ia.c ly om


P8 JULY 2017


Gongs ahoy! Announcing the Pro Sound Awards 2017! New venue, new format, new everything!


t’s that time again! The annual pro-audio event you REALLY MUST attend – PSNEurope’s Pro Sound Awards – is back! For the fifth outing of the top night of gong-giving, we’ve moved to The Steel Yard nightclub/venue, in the heart of the City (just round the corner from Monument, in fact). Tickets for the awards, taking place on which celebrate excellence in live, studio, installed and broadcast audio, are on sale now for a bargain £58 (plus VAT). The lobbying period for the awards is open as of 14 June (now!) and closes at midnight on Monday 24 July 2016. As always, anyone can enter and its totally free. Simply read through the categories and see which one(s) you feel you want to make a pitch for, nominating yourself, your team, an associate or a project or person with which you have been impressed and want to give wider recognition. (Full eligibility criteria is available online at Then send a short pitch (up to a maximum of 400 words) for each award under consideration to

Provide as much factual information as possible; data and evidence of notable successes are invaluable. Based on the email entries received, the Pro Sound Awards team will create a list of finalists for each category. This process involves looking at the performance of those nominations over the past year (between end of June 2016 and end of July 2017), plus the information provided by the lobbying emails, but we don’t base finalist positions on the number of emails we receive about a particular company – just solid evidence for their inclusion. A shortlist of finalists for each category will be presented to a large panel of judges from across the pro-audio spectrum; this panel will ultimately choose the winners of each Pro Sound Award (with the exception of the Grand Prix and Lifetime Achievement gongs, and the Rising Star award, chosen by our friends at Audio Media International). You’ll find judging criteria and more info online… Good luck! n


LIVE/TOURING SOUND • Engineer of the year • Best live sound production • Best theatre sound STUDIO SOUND • Best studio INSTALLED SOUND • Best installation project BROADCAST SOUND • Team of the year ACHIEVEMENT • Marketing initiative of the year • Rising star (in association with Audio Media International) • Lifetime achievement • Grand prix

Want to get involved? A range of partnership opportunities – from headline sponsor to category, red-carpet and afterparty sponsorship – are available. Contact PSNEurope’s Ryan O’Donnell ( or Rian Zoll-Khan ( for more details! Ticket enquiries? Try Abby French ( 08 PSAWARDS 2017 v1JMcK.indd 1

23/06/2017 12:23

35 Years xy

d&b is 35. Sara is d&b. Sara Sowah is Head of Marketing Communications at d&b. She’s been on board since 2014. “Being part of the d&b team is like being surrounded by your brothers and sisters – they’re annoying, they’re fun, they’re determined. It’s a big passionate family totally obsessed with sound. I feel like it’s where I belong.” In 35 years d&b has evolved from a small garage venture to a worldwide standard in professional sound systems. It’s people like Sara who make this story possible, and just that bit different from the rest.

Welcome to System reality. Full Page Template.indd 1 35yrs_09_(PSNE)_220x290_100517.indd 1

10/05/2017 09:43:16 10/05/2017 10:16


P10 JULY 2017


impresses again!

‘Chat with social networking’ event does the job, despite prevailing forces The producer panel


eld in central London last month, on a rainy night just after a terrorist attack in London, PSNPresents still attracted a robust crowd who would not let the weather or otherwise deter them from a top night out. Host Phil Ward recounts his first-hand experience: “Our three producers really delivered,” says the former editor of PSNEurope and now much sought-after columnist. “Firstly, Andy Wright recounted days in a van for Keyboardhire, getting all the MIDI kit to work together in the days before we can take all that for granted, as well as getting your head around a session for S Club 7 one day and Jeff Beck the next, plus an inspiring trip up the River Amazon with David A Stewart. “Then Ian Dowling told us how he got started at Strongroom before landing a full time job engineering for Jim Abbiss and picking up a grammy for Adele’s 21. Finally, and unforgettably, Tommy D roused the audience with tales of the origins of The Ministry Of


Good point!

Sound, how to DJ a Jordanian Royal Wedding and why Corinne Bailey Rae’s gentle acoustic guitar is no different from a room full of techno-ravers: whatever makes everyone happy with the result, do it. “All agreed that 3D/360 audio is the next big challenge, and if it proves to be a headache we need to drink lots of Tommy’s 808 Whisky to get through it…” Barney Jameson hosted the second half of PSNPresents, which, in line with the concurrent MediaTech 360 event organised by TVBEurope, had more of a broadcast focus. “PSN Presents was a great success, delving into the roots of broadcast sound, hearing about the latest developments and exploring what can go wrong and why,” comments Jameson. “Catherine Robinson, audio supervisor for BBC Wales, discussed her work in developing binaural broadcasts across BBC radio and TV, including a special edition of the Doctor Who episode Knock Knock.

Andy Wright

“Eddie Veale of Veale Associates regaled the audience with tales of working with John Lennon on Imagine, and then offered his unique perspective on the future of broadcast and how to solve issues such as the much publicised ’Mumblegate’. “Finally, Mark Briscoe, head of audio for Salfordbased production house dock10, discussed how dock10 and MediaCityUK are helping to reshape the broadcast and post production landscape in the UK. He also offered an insider’s view of the ‘Mumblegate’ controversy, explaining how events surrounding award-winning police drama Happy Valley also caused consternation amongst viewers, while exploring the difficulties in producing high quality broadcast audio when viewers watch on a huge variety of devices, from a plasma screen to a smartphone.” Of course, the conversation continued in the bar afterwards… Watch out for online footage, and dates of the next PSNPresents, soon .n

Ian Dowling 10 PSNpresents v1JMcK.indd 1

23/06/2017 12:23


What do you do after you’ve given the performance of a lifetime? You deliver an encore, of course. Introducing the K.2 Series. The next standard in powered loudspeakers. K10.2

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Š2017 QSC, LLC. All rights reserved. QSC and the QSC logo are registered trademarks of QSC, LLC in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries. World of K is a trademark of QSC, LLC.

with Product Registration

24/05/2017 11:22:32

P12 JULY 2017

Vocal channel

No alarms and no surprises



is sales director of HD Pro Audio and says “Skateboarding is not a crime!”

une 1998: I’m riding the increasingly powerful digital wave that’s sweeping through the live audio industry. Radiohead are finishing a mammoth tour to promote OK Computer while Muse release their first EP and Coldplay play their first pub gigs. So, how has the live audio game changed since then? It would be interesting to know how the intervening period might have developed without our old friend the MP3. The first MP3 players were launched in 1998, and I still have my Diamond Rio PMP300 in a cupboard somewhere. The convenience of the compact files and the associated players, and the ease with which these files could then be shared via the rapidly expanding internet has probably been the most significant revolution to hit the music industry since the advent of recorded audio.

The knock-on effects have been huge; the record industry saw traditional revenue streams dry up, with no immediately visible way to quench their powerful financial thirst. Where once the live show could be an indulgent marketing campaign for an artist’s lucrative recorded output, it’s now often the key financial pipeline. Consequently, touring production budgets seem to be ever-shrinking, as every last audio extra is scrutinised for the benefits it brings against the production’s financial outlay. The last 19 years have seen almost universal adoption of Chris Lyndop’s revolutionary IEM technology. It was 1998 when I sold my first Garwood system to quirky electronic pop funksters Moloko, and while that particular brand (and band) are no more, they paved the way for the current market leaders. Monitor engineers have needed to get more sophisticated in

their approach to mixing for IEMs though. While the stages have got quieter, the PA systems have got more sophisticated. Loudspeaker waveguide technology has continued to deliver ever-increasing clarity and SPL with lower distortion over longer distances, whether in point-source or linearray formats. It’s the latter that has seen enormous adoption in the last 19 years and has been one of the most recognisable developments in live audio, particularly from an audience perspective. Unlike IEM, the pioneers and innovators of the technology are still very much at the forefront of the industry, setting the bar high for those that seek to usurp their position. MP3s, IEMs and Line Arrays barely scratch the surface of this intensive period of live audio progress, but what state do we find the live audio industry in now? Fitter? Happier? More productive? Comfortable? n 12 Column v1JMcK.indd 1

23/06/2017 12:24

SSL Live.

More Dynamic Range New L200 console, new High Capacity Dante I/O, new features, new iPad Personal Mix Application. Find Out More :

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21/04/2017 20/04/2017 15:59:26 18:17:00

P14 JULY 2017

Movers and shakers

Dave Griffiths posted to Polar The move bolsters the company’s MI/Consumer Division


olar Audio has hired Dave Griffiths as business development manager for its MI/Consumer Division. This new position makes him responsible for managing accounts across the midlands, north of England, Scotland and Ireland. Griffiths’ career began as a studio engineer at multimedia specialists The Music Factory before progressing through the ranks as a producer and then as a production manager. His career has also included stints in Yamaha’s pro music division as well as at Korg.

Commenting on Griffiths appointment, Tim Riley, director of brand development at Polar says: “He came highly recommended by several influential clients and it was immediately clear when we spoke, that his experience and broad skill-set dovetailed perfectly with our brands and plans” Griffiths adds: “I’m familiar with the territory to be covered, having worked extensively in the regions and look forward to forging and growing new relationships as well as renewing old acquaintances.”n

Pioneer Pro Audio has appointed James Field as a technical consultant for its Pioneer Professional Audio division in The Middle East and Africa. He will provide technical and sales support to distributors, resellers and customers of Pioneer Pro Audio products. Included in this remit will be product training and demonstrations.

Daniel Mills has returned to Audient as technical support manager after completing his studies at Birmingham City University, where he gained a degree in BSc (Hons) Music Technology. Mills is tasked with spearheading the launch of a live chat facility, currently being trialed on the company’s website. “It’s great to be back!” he says.

Alex Mahon has been appointed CEO of Channel 4, succeeding David Abraham who announced his decision to leave the broadcaster in March. The former Shine Group CEO will become the channel’s first female chief executive. She has most recently been CEO of effects company Foundry. Mahon is expected to start in October or November.

QSC has named Abdul Chaudhri its new director, systems solutions. His will oversee East Coast operations for the business development team. He joins QSC from AMX by Harman where he was VP sales – Eastern region. There, he led the channel sales team and multiple sales representative companies for Harman Pro.

Core Brands has appointed Mark Fisher to the role of director, product management. Fisher is responsible for management of the SpeakerCraft and Sunfire brands and will be based in the Core Brands Petaluma, California corporate HQ. Fisher joins Core Brands from ASTRO Gaming, part of Skullcandy, where he managed headset products.

Industry veteran Bob Tamburri has joined Ashly Audio as product manager. Tamburri will oversee and direct the full life cycle of Ashly products and will report directly to Ashly CEO Jim Mack. Prior to joining Ashley Audio, Tamburri held product manager positions at Sony and TOA and was a sales representative for Sennheiser.

DEALER NETWORK Ipswich-based loudspeaker manufacturer Celestion has inked a new distribution deal in Spain with Iberloud, based in Almonte in South West Spain. The company will be distributing Celestion’s entire range throughout their network of retailers, including HF compression drivers, low frequency, and coaxial drivers for pro audio applications, as well as Celestion’s guitar and bass loudspeakers. “Celestion are renowned both for their high quality professional audio products and their world-famous guitar speakers and we’re delighted to be able to offer these products in Spain,”. “We are committed to offering the best quality brands and after sales service to the Spanish consumer and Celestion are an excellent addition to our range,” says Iberloud chief marketing officer, Daniel Martin. Celestion distribution sales manager, Stephen Frith adds: “Their experience in the audio products industry is considerable, and we value their knowledge, professionalism and dynamic approach.   Adam Audio has entered into a partnership with Swee Lee Holdings, who are now the exclusive distributor for Adam Audio’s Pro Audio range in Singapore.  Swee Lee was established in 1946 and has grown from a local retailer to a regional leader, providing everything from musical instruments to pro-audio equipment, as well as customised audio and video solutions to customers in Asia.  “We are extremely pleased to have Swee Lee represent us as our distributor in Singapore for ADAM Audio’s range of products,” says Melanie Becker, international sales manager at ADAM Audio. “Swee Lee is all you look for in a distribution partner – they are dedicated to their brands, have superb technical knowledge and service attitude, their approach to the marketing and the modern omni-channel environment is outstanding and they have more than 70 years of experience in this field.” KDMC will act as a Danish distributor for German manufacturer DirectOut Technologies. KDMC owner Kim Johansen has been involved in large A/V and broadcast projects as product manager and system designer for the past ten years. For 28 years, he has also worked as a FOH engineer for various bands and projects. 14 Appointments v1JMcK.indd 1

23/06/2017 12:24

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P16 JULY 2017

White Light provides solution for immersive training day BY MURRAY STASSEN

10 July

JAMES Summer course Leeds Beckett University

19 July

SD-Series Training Redditch

9 August

Certified MIDAS Digital User Manchester,

2 September

Live Sound Fundamentals Britannia Row Immersive training programmes provider Active Training Team (ATT) was recently appointed to create an immersive, one-day induction experience for all employees working on the Thames Tideway Tunnel; a multibillion-pound super-sewer being constructed beneath the river Thames. London-based AV specialist White Light was hired to provide and install the technical solution for the project. Having recently been appointed as a d3 Certified Solutions Provider, White Light incorporated d3 Technologies’ 4x4 pro servers at the heart of the new technical system. The d3 platform allows multiple layers of content to be played and synchronised with multi-channel audio and lighting to create an immersive environment. White Light used this to turn eight projectors and 11 speakers into one giant digital canvas and allow

content to be moved around the fully immersive space to suit the scenario. The audio was supplied as dedicated audio pieces played back from the d3 server using Dante DVS into the Yamaha MRX7-D processor, which was then distributed out to 11 discreet EM Acoustics loudspeakers hidden within the space. This created a high impact surround sound environment that further enhanced the realism of the scenario. Adam Christopher, co-Director at ATT, comments: “As we are all from a theatrical background, we were fully aware of White Light’s strong reputation in the industry and how this has now expanded into the installations market. We wanted them to come on board and provide us with the exact technical support that could get the most out of the experience.” n

QSC launches new online training platform BY MURRAY STASSEN QSC has launched a new online training platform, which offers several new features to help improve the user experience. All QSC online training content is open to the public and free-ofcharge and Q-SYS Level 1 training is now available in five different languages. The platform also provides training on the QSC TouchMix digital mixers as well as several other of its loudspeaker and amplifier lines. The new QSC online training platform features new user profiles, allowing customers to track progress through courses, submit final designs for certification, access prior certificates and offers the option to renew a certification. Q-SYS Level 1 Training presents the fundamentals of the Q-SYS Platform with step-by-step instruction from experienced QSC educators on how to

programme an entire installation and troubleshoot audio, video and network related issues that might arise. QSC also offers Q-SYS Level 2 Training, a two-day course that focused on an advanced application-based Q-SYS curriculum. Additionally, QSC TouchMix Training is comprised of a series of short videos covering the most commonly used features in the TouchMix, including mixer navigation, using TouchMix Wizards, preset channels, mixer scenes, wireless operation, multi-track recording and more.  “QSC is committed to providing world-class product education and thought leadership to our industry in ways that are useful, enjoyable and technologically accessible,” says Patrick Heyn, director of marketing for QSC Systems. n

Gus Dudgeon Foundation and JAMES Confirm 2017 Summer Course at Leeds Beckett University BY MURRAY STASSEN The Gus Dudgeon Foundation and JAMES have confirmed that their Post Graduate Summer Course will be returning for its seventh year on 10 July 2017 at Leeds Beckett University. The course will see renowned producer and Leeds Beckett senior lecturer Ken Scott guide twelve top-graduating students from JAMES accredited courses through five days of recording on both analogue and digital systems. Ken Scott is responsible for recordings by a wide range of artists including The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Pink Floyd and Supertramp. The Gus Dudgeon Foundation, Leeds Beckett University and JAMES’ sponsors (who so far include SSL, PMC and KMR) are funding this opportunity. Functioning as course accreditation for audio recording and music production, live performance, music composition and audio post production for film & TV, JAMES actively provides industry support for education as well as student careers advice. JAMES accredits education on behalf of the Association of Professional Recording Services (APRS), the Music Producers Guild (MPG) and the UK Screen Association. The Gus Dudgeon Foundation was formed to preserve and promote the techniques of recording and production exemplified throughout Dudgeons’ outstanding career, while giving students from all walks of life the opportunity to learn and pass on these skills. Members of the Gus Dudgeon Summer Course Planning and Development Committee are: Chris Hook, Steve Parker, Katia Isakoff & Phil Harding. n; 16 PSNTraining v1JMcK.indd 1

23/06/2017 12:25


35% more compact, 100% dLive Experience next generation digital mixing with the full power of dLive’s 96kHz XCVI processing core, intuitive Harmony UI and DEEP embedded plugins. Now in an agile new compact class.

3 new Surfaces + 3 new MixRack sizes Includes 19” rack mountable C1500 surface 128 inputs / 16 FX returns / 64 configurable busses Dante, Waves, MADI + Optical option cards Full dLive ecosystem - apps, software, expanders + remotes



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13/01/2017 11:15:27

P19 JULY 2017

New products



What is it? New power amplifiers with four models per series in an updated industrial design, says Dynacord. Details Both amplifier series comprise a linear amp design that features a software tool allowing full configuration, control, and supervision of sound systems with multiple amplifiers. The software will be available on Dynacord’s website and four different

models per series are being made available, with total output power ranging from 1300-3600W. And another thing... The Dynacord L Series power amplifiers have been engineered to provide sound reinforcement for live music applications while the Dynacord C Series power amplifiers are designed for permanent installation applications.




What is it? Software release for Aurus and Crescendo platinum consoles, which includes an auto-mixer and a de-esser.

What is it? A new active speaker series with 1,200W class D power amps and “Intelligent Multiband Limiters”.

Details Stage Tec has released its Software Release 4.3, which includes a number of additions for the Aurus and Crescendo platinum consoles, including an auto-mixer developed by Stage Tec, a de-esser as a channel module, loudness metering in sum and group channels and a substantial increase in the number of Base Devices which can be included in a Nexus audio network.

What is it? A portable expander rack for Allen & Heath’s dLive digital mixing system. Details The DX168 features 16 XLR mic inputs and 8 XLR line outputs, and communicates with the dLive system via Allen & Heath’s proprietary 96kHz DX protocol over Cat-5e cable, allowing cable runs of up to 100m between the dLive system and the unit. In “Redundant” mode, dual cable redundant connections can be made to dLive S Class hardware as well as non-redundant single cable connections to S Class and C Class systems.




Details HK Audio claims that the technology behind the Linear 3 will allow performers to achieve great audio results even if they have no sound engineer or a thorough pro audio knowledge themselves. The new speakers feature four EQ presets – Bass Boost, Flat (LF), Flat (HMF) and Contour, two of which are active at any one time. 18-19 New Products v1JMcK.indd 1

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E-352 NANO What is it? High-definition installation speakers that are housed in a compact, weather resistant enclosure. Details The e-352 Nano features a 2.5inch beryllium dome tweeter with neodymium magnet assembly, which results in extremely low distortion and extended highfrequency performance, according to Vue. The tweeter is flanked by a pair of 3.5-inch cone transducers that are custom-engineered and manufactured by the company specifically for use in the e-352 Nano. And another thing... Available in black or white with optional full grill, the resulting combination of transducers, crossover, DSP and cabinet allows the e-352 to achieve peak sound pressure output above 120 dB SPL at one metre.




What is it? Amplifiers equipped with native DSP, including delay, equalisation, multi-channel limiting, and noise reduction.

What is it? A microphone preamp and analogue to digital converter offering mono, dual and stereo capabilities.

Details The SA Series enable all Renkus-Heinz loudspeaker models to be freely combined, offering full networking capabilities, RHAON II control and monitoring, and connection via a choice of analogue, AES/EBU, or Dante single or redundant network input. All SA Series amplifiers are equipped with native DSP with nine available preset memories.

Details Suitable for a wide range of users and recording situations, DPA’s new d:vice MMA-A is a compact and flexible digital audio interface, which comes in the form of a two-channel microphone preamp and analogue to digital converter. The kit even comes with interchangeable lightning and USB cables for increased connectivity.

What is it? Vastly improved intercom-over-IP capabilities for Clear-Com’s LQ Series communications solutions. Details The expanded LQ Series handles the connection and distribution of audio signals among all standard intercom systems. The enhanced LQ Series adds SIP capability for telephony and interoperability, connects traditional intercom with Agent-IC mobile application users, and increases the available input and output ports for HelixNet digital partyline.



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The strategic position: Bryan Grant

Global perspective Phil Ward talks to Britannia Row co-founder Bryan Grant about the reasons behind the May announcement that Clair Global had bought his company

The time to quit is before you wish you had,” wrote the author Kimberly K Jones, and although nobody at Britannia Row is quitting anything it’s a handover designed to prevent any regrets. That’s according to Bryan Grant, who after 40 years at the helm of one of the UK’s most successful rental companies – in partnership with colleague Mike Lowe – has shaped a deal with Clair Global that relinquishes his ownership. That’s Clair Global – not Sun Capital Portfolio Ball-Crushers, or similar. It’s an important distinction. It does extend Clair Global’s globe, especially in the UK. Clair UK, Concert Sound as was, has been physically incorporated into Britannia Row’s HQ in Twickenham, south-west London, as part of a process that consolidates without compromise. “They moved in on 1st February while we still had the strategic alliance in place; we hadn’t completed the sale at that point,” Grant says. “But apart from that everything stays as it is: Audio Rent Switzerland is still Audio Rent Switzerland; we remain Britannia Row; JPJ Audio in Australia, bought by Clair Global the year before last, remains JPJ Audio… “What I find exciting about the whole thing is that it’s not like one main hub with satellite operations spinning around it. That’s the way it has been done elsewhere, but the situation with Clair is different and a lot more positive. JPJ is the major company in Australia; we’re one of the major companies in Europe; and obviously they are the major company in the States. We have our own markets and our own reputations, and Clair does not have to build a name in those territories. It’s already there. “What we’re able to offer our customers is a consistency of backup and infrastructure, as well as our core service. It’s not like you’re going to get to Sydney and find everything’s a bit stretched and frustrating. It’s all fine, wherever you go.” It’s the first time Grant has had a boss in 40 years, and he has no problem with that. “It came across in our very first discussions with Clair Global what a great organisation it is,” he continues. “They really care about what they do, they’re not beholden to a bunch of venture capitalists and they’re in control of their own destiny. It’s a well-resourced, family situation. “The real motive, in all honesty, is that we’re getting old! In one sense it’s an exit strategy, because we didn’t need to do this deal. We have been conscious of the fact that most companies of our type, however big they are, tend to be owner-operators. So you have a reasonably

Bryan Grant: he’s now got a boss, for the first time in 40 years

strong-willed owner who runs the company in a kind of pyramid: one governor with an ever widening team of ciphers beneath him, and that’s the end of it. “We recognised quite some ago that there’s no real future in that, especially if we wanted the company to be worth something. It’s got to be worth more than me and Mike. For the last seven years or more we’ve been identifying people within and without the industry who could run the company without us. We wouldn’t want the thing to just stop the day after we weren’t around any more. And I think we’ve achieved that.” Grant resists the ‘smash-and-grab’ business style that loves a CEO and, potentially, erodes the trust so essential in the rental sector. “I say to the guys who work for us: if you’re only doing this for the money, stop doing it. There have to be easier ways of making a living! It’s long days, it’s hard work and you’ll only get grumpy… But as long as you keep enjoying it, keep doing it. I’ll stop when I stop being entertained by it. I was at the One Love concert in Manchester – an old bloke who was lucky enough to get paid while seeing this extraordinary event and contribute in my own small way.” Indeed. Just thirteen days after the bomb attack on Manchester Arena, UK in May, a hastily convened benefit concert for victims and their families took place at Manchester’s Old Trafford Cricket Ground. It was

christened ‘One Love’ and, as well as bringing together the community of the largest city in Northern England, it revealed the intrinsically cooperative spirit of the pro audio industry alongside a powerful vindication of the deal between Clair Global and Britannia Row. While Clair Global was responsible for the tour – by pop sweetheart Ariana Grande – that was so cruelly devastated by the attack, its gear was stranded for almost a week inside the Manchester Arena as forensic examinations took place. With the idea of a concert mooted quickly, it was Britannia Row that installed RF gear, microphones, IEMs and two DiGiCo SD7 consoles at Wembley Arena, 200 miles south of Manchester in London, so that emergency rehearsals could begin. Britannia Row also augmented Clair’s Cohesion CO12 system used on the tour, even though simultaneous tours by Phil Collins, Robbie Williams and Depeche Mode had just begun to stretch resources to the limit. “It was a really good indication of what we can do, the collaboration we have,” Grant adds. How did an antipodean colonial build a mini British institution? “I am British,” Grant protests with a smile, “except when it comes to the rugby! I became a British citizen and I have a British passport. I even went to an official welcoming ceremony with the Mayor of Fulham. And I got a postcard from David Blunkett… 20-21 Strat position v1JMcK.indd 1

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“Joking aside, I do like to think that Britannia Row is an international company. We do stuff all round the planet. We happen to be based here in the UK, but that’s all. We had established a company in America as early as 1976, which ran into the ‘80s. We tried again in the mid-‘90s with Firehouse in upstate New York, and although it didn’t work out it shows our global ambitions. “We were under-resourced, not in terms of money but in terms of infrastructure: firstly, finding the people to run those operations and, secondly, competing in those domestic markets. That’s the hardest part – especially in America, where they circle the wagons pretty quickly. You have to buy something that is already established in that market, which is precisely what Clair has done with us – and JPJ, and Audio Rent. They’ve even had to buy a market leader in Nashville; it’s that competitive.” Perhaps, in a parallel universe where Clair Global was the size of Britannia Row and vice versa, it might have been the other way around. “Clair has the advantage of being into their third generation,” explains Grant, “and of being extremely well resourced within the biggest territory in the world. So yes, it’s an exit but we didn’t need to do it to save the company. We’re making money. We have very good

The PA giant pulled out all the stops for Ariana Grande’s One Love gig

infrastructure. But the world is consolidating, and our strange little business of plumbing audio is doing the same thing. It’s growing up. Some do it by surrounding themselves in vast amounts of venture capital, but what I like about Clair is that they’re still in it for the original reason: for the audio. The grandchildren – Shaun and Matt Clair – are very passionate about it, as is Troy. They haven’t lost sight of the business they’re in.” So no regrets, but will he miss that business? “Miss

it? I’m not saying I’m going to stop in a couple of years or something. The truth is I don’t know. People ask me – noting that I’m in my late sixties – when I’m going to retire, but that doesn’t mean anything to me. To me, retiring means stopping doing something you didn’t really want to do in the first place. For your whole life! That’s not what happened to me. I’m so lucky: I ran away to join the circus. And stayed…” n



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The new and impressive Mix stage


Peppermint condition Phil Ward visits Abbey Road following the biggest changes since it all began


or the tourists milling about outside Abbey Road Studios, not much has changed. There’s still a dangerous zebra crossing on which to infuriate motorists by staging infinite selfies; the wall has had a topical lick of paint but remains a graffiti magnet; and music recorded inside 50-plus years ago still bothers the charts whenever given the chance. Which it regularly is. But behind the black railings there has been an attempt to arrest the decline of commercial recording studios and make a breathtaking statement about the current recording scene, especially in London. OK, there is a shop – and whether there really are Sgt Peppermills on sale I don’t know – but throughout the rest of the limited site across this small acreage of St John’s Wood a dizzying number of innovations has catapulted Abbey Road into the 21st Century, and new recording space is not the half of it.

Institution In March 2015, the Abbey Road Institute was launched as a training hub for music production, following the closure of Alchemea and new ownership for the SAE. In September last year Abbey Road Institute bought Studios 301 in Sydney; a series of annual lectures began in London focusing on the studios’ legacy; and an initiative called Abbey Road Red was launched to support the endeavours of audio technology start-up businesses against the backdrop of such esteemed heritage in recording innovation. Around the same time, the most far-sweeping alterations and additions since

1931 were revealed in a plan that would complete the wholesale reinvention of the facility – all the while preserving, of course, the three original studios upon which the reputation, and the myth, have been built. The money has come from Universal Music Group, the entertainment business giant that retrieved EMI and its iconic studios from the banker Citigroup and a period of considerable uncertainty. The promises made at the time of that deal have been most emphatically delivered, as the site emerges from developments that not only appear to guarantee a working future for the original rooms but also to make the whole complex the envy of the world once again and, crucially, a relevant option to all corners of production from cash-strapped independent artists to Hollywood blockbusters. The three main additions include two smaller studios, called The Gatehouse and The Front Room, and the Mix Stage, a Dolby ATMOS-equipped showpiece that directly bonds one of the remaining orchestral recording spaces of world class with the means to complete a project for tomorrow’s more three-dimensional markets. Not that famous old Studio Two misses out, either: it finally gets two isolation booths and a new listening lounge, while what was the garage has been adapted into two more production suites. To accommodate the Mix Stage, it’s been necessary to build out into part of the garden – potentially disconcerting for residents until you realize that they’ve been living with the protrusion of Studio Two from the very beginning, something easy to underestimate until, through the narrow staircase window, you catch sight of


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the robust shell that metabolised Sgt Pepper and all the rest even as the neighbours pruned the lavender. The acoustic design of the Mix Stage – along with all the other new acoustic spaces – is the work of Munro Acoustics in collaboration with the Abbey Road technical team. “For ATMOS jobs we submit our initial designs to Dolby,” comments Andy Munro, “and they go into the architects’ brief. When it’s built, we do the acoustic testing – and for this room we built all the speakers as well – and then the Dolby engineers bring in their own digital engine that does the ATMOS programming. Because it’s an object-orientated sound system, in theory every speaker has to be capable of delivering sound anywhere in the space. The time delays and the reverberation are exactly specified.” The 44 monitors, built at Munro’s facility in the UK, are an extension of designs perfected at Dynaudio Acoustics and Munro. “The surround speakers are a variation on the good old BM15,” Munro says, “still a very popular nearfield because it’s loud, accurate and not too expensive. The screen speakers are like those at Shepperton and elsewhere, with Dynaudio drive units custom fitted into our UK-built cabinets. I believe they chose our system because it is more like a traditional B&W or ATC soft-dome solution, but big enough to handle full-blown film mixing. Each one is nearly 100kg! The system also includes a unique, switchable horn driver for a more cinematic sound plus additional speakers for IMAX. It’s far and away the most comprehensive system we’ve ever built.” Actual B&W monitors – very much the ‘house’ speakers at Abbey Road – also figure in a retractable 7.1 system. In addition the room sports a hybrid console fashioned from the AMS Neve DFC 3D formerly in The Penthouse Studio and an Avid S6, housed in a custom frame by Surrey-based Frozen Fish Design. Expert supplier HHB and colleagues from Scrub provided and fitted the Avid desk along with eight Pro Tools systems and copious AV accoutrements.

Westminster Abbey The planning permission process to adapt this listed building was applied for in November 2013, and took three months to be acknowledged by Westminster City Council. Final approval came in April 2015. Just over a year later the completion of the first phase was confirmed by the recording in Studio Two of a song for the movie Legend of Tarzan, the audio swinging smoothly between the new iso booths, the old studio and the revered control room like the apeman himself. Simon Campbell, head of technical services, is a veteran of Olympic and Townhouse, among other casualties of modern studio economics, and has been at Abbey Road “on and off” for 25 years. “The ATMOS room has been built into an end of the garden that was hardly used, being in the shadow of Studio Two,” he explains. “ATMOS was clearly the latest thing in Dolby’s armoury, and our engineer Pete Cobbin

The new Front Room

[now freelance] made me aware of it even when the format was in its relative infancy. It seemed clear that if we were going to build a room big enough, we had to have it. It was a bit of a leap of faith for the business, having always recorded the music for film here and then passed it on to, say, De Lane Lea or Pinewood for the dub, but we talked around it and it stacked up.” The Penthouse still exists as a small mix room, especially for TV and film, complete with new HHBsupplied Avid S6; as does Studio 52 built as a surround mix space for Sir George Martin and his son Giles as they developed the Love project for Cirque Du Soleil. It’s now occupied exclusively by Giles Martin, so The Front Room and The Gatehouse represent entirely virgin recording territory for a more democratic footprint. “Although Studio Three was our smallest, it was still bigger than most people’s ‘Studio One’,” continues Campbell. “So if we wanted to offer real budget options we were going to have to build appropriately, and Universal were in complete agreement.” Work on The Front Room was split between studio construction specialist Miloco Builds and Munro Acoustics. The Gatehouse acoustic design was carried out by Chris Walls and his recently established enterprise Level Acoustic Design, while the ergonomically crucial furniture for all three of the brand new spaces – plus Studio 52 – was supplied and fitted under Abbey Road’s remit by studio expert AKA Design. “The Mix Stage is big, but it’s not enormous,” confirms AKA Design founder and MD Guy Wilson. “Because of the ATMOS speaker arrangement we had to do custom Pro Tools rigs in the corners, to keep the sightlines and the

client seating. In the producers’ area we made a rise-and-fall combined coffee table and work surface, because there was a need for multiple use of furniture in this way – all solid and veneered walnut with leather nosing. “The other studios had what are more standard control rooms for us nowadays, although fully customised: Abbey Road likes its outboard! To keep that feel of a creative space we did angled racks built around a control surface with lots of patching, but even that can be flexible and more room made available quickly. These were oak.” So while the tourists dodge red buses as before, Abbey Road takes yet another pivotal turn. Around 1980, as the rise of synthesizers and other electronic alternatives to the orchestra conspired with increasing competition from SARM-style studios with bigger, densely equipped control rooms, the possible splitting up of Studio One into smaller spaces came up at a few nervous board meetings. But nerve held, helped by the demolition of orchestral film recording rival Korda in nearby Denham, and the decision to keep Studio One intact was sealed in a vital partnership with Anvil Post Production and ratified with the installation of a projector. The picture soon became a lot clearer. “The core business of this place is recording, mixing and mastering music,” reflects Simon Campbell, “and the new spaces simply make more of that accessible. The heritage is unique, and we’re all proud if it, but there’s a new, younger generation of artists that we can accommodate and it’s going to keep this place alive and kicking.” n 22-23 Abbey road v1JMcK.indd 2

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Still got FX appeal

FX rentals is celebrating a silver jubilee. Mike Hillier explores 25 years of audio equipment hire and more


ueen Elizabeth II referred to 1992 as her “annus horribilis”, Windsor Castle had caught fire, Charles and Diana had separated, Andrew and Sarah had separated, and Britain had collapsed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday. It wasn’t all bad though, 1992 also saw Carter USM score their only number one album, with 1992: The Love Album, future Star Wars actors Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were born, and in July, 1992, FX Rentals was formed, with a handful of staff and pro-audio equipment from predecessor Audio FX. Since its opening, in July that year, FX Rentals has been open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with staff on hand in the office ready to help at all times, even at Christmas. Such is the company’s determination to always be open that they once ran an advertisement jokingly referring to themselves as the fourth emergency service. And where their clients, which include Abbey Road, AIR and Metropolis, are concerned, this may be closer to the truth than they’d care to admit. Initially the 24-hour nature was devised with recording studios, which would frequently also be operating 24 hours a day, in mind. But before long it became obvious that being “24-hour” had potential for the live audio world too, giving bands the flexibility to return equipment after a gig, or for clubs and DJs to phone up with additional kit requests during the night, should anything additional be required, or a replacement needed at last minute.

Founders Roger Evan and Nick Harriss

Whatever you need, whenever you need it FX Rentals began with a selection of high-quality studio effects units, outboard compressors, EQs, reverbs and delays were still considered a luxury in most studios, and engineers would hire in only what was needed for a session. As well as outboard, FX had a selection of 2” 24-track machines from Studer and Otari as well as newer digital multitrack machines from Sony and Mitsubishi. Director, and now joint owner (with Nick Harris) Roger Evan has not so fond memories of transporting these huge machines in and out of studios: “They were so large, we’d often have to take doors off to get them to fit into and out of the building.” As the decade progressed the company moved with the times, keeping up with not only the newest recording mediums ¬and sequencing technology: Alesis ADAT, Tascam DA-88, and onto DAW-based

Tape machines in the FX Copyroom

systems (an Atari ST with Cubase or Notator was an early favourite). But FX also continued to invest in new processors, whether digital or analogue, all the while maintaining their existing gear selection meaning you could now hire a brand new Bricasti reverb just as easily as a 1950s valve microphone. Over 25 years, the company boasts having 250,000 hires. From that handful of staff FX Rentals has grown, servicing every segment of the professional audio industry from major recording studios, to festivals and tours, film and TV broadcasts, to small home studios, weddings, and schools. One client even hired a small recorder and microphone to investigate paranormal activity at a haunted house.

Archive photo of the racks of hire kit. (Are those DA-88s in the middle row?)

In addition to renting audio equipment, FX Rentals has broadened their scope, adding backline equipment and instruments, drums, DJ tools, even smoke machines and a cake stand(!) to the library of available rental equipment. Beyond rental, FX has expanded into providing acoustically treated rooms for musicians to write, rehearse, record or mix in. And since there is so much audio equipment on hand nearby FX is keen to provide discounts to clients of these spaces for equipment rental.

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FX top five rental items Neumann U47 valve microphone Despite its age, the Neumann U 47 remains the one mic that just about everyone wishes they had in the mic locker. The U 47 initially used Neumann’s M7 capsule, and a circuit based around the Telefunken VK14m valve, later replaced with the K47/49 capsule and a circuit based around the 13CW4 Nuvistor valve. Opinions clash as to which combination sounds best, but all of them remain highly sought after for their silky smooth sound. Fender Rhodes electric piano Instruments are just as much in demand at FX Rentals as recording equipment, and none more-so than the Fender Rhodes electric piano. The Fender Rhodes was designed by Harold Rhodes as a simple portable instrument that he could use to teach recovering soldiers during World War II, and has gone on to become a staple instrument of blues, jazz, rock and hip-hop. Yamaha NS10 nearfield monitors Despite being nobody’s favourite, the black housing and white cones of the Yamaha NS10 became ubiquitous in studios through the ‘80s and ‘90s as the nearfield monitors everybody simply had to have. Beginning life as a poorly received home hi-fi bookshelf speaker, the NS10 was rescued from oblivion by mix-engineers, including Bob Clearmountain, looking for a portable speaker they could take with them from studio to studio.

Yamaha SPX-series effects units Despite not being the fanciest, most impressive multi-effect units in the world, the Yamaha SPXseries has continued to be popular through most of FX Rentals 25-year history as a solid, reliable and easy-to-use tool. Front-of-house engineers love the flexibility these boxes provide, and there are still some mix engineers who rely on them. Urei 1176 compressor/limiter Probably the most common sight in studios around the world. The 1176 is the outboard compressor of choice for engineers, who have used it on everything from vocals to drums. It’s a very aggressive device, capable of pushing any sound to the front of the mix.

Completely “not-staged at all” rental picture from an old FX ad campaign

available to them, to offer transfers, archiving, restoration and more recently mastering services. The Copyroom now has five rooms and eight engineers providing expertise on all manner of tasks from restoring analogue tapes, to recovering old DAW sessions saved on obscure formats like Logic 3 or 4. Tapes can arrive in all manner of disrepair, Richard Whittaker (copyroom manager) recalls a request from the Bob Marley estate to restore 27 tapes they’d found in the family archive. “When the tapes came in, some were just fused solid,” he says, “as you handled them they just peeled off clear leaving behind a solid block of oxide.” Among the tapes though was an MRL test tone tape, which enabled the team to run tests to try and restore this tape without potentially damaging the originals. Research and assistance from an expert at the Ministry of Defence ensued, which Richard describes as being “akin to digging up dinosaur bones”, but the final results were successful, and initially 12 of the 27 tapes were fully restored with more being added to that list over time. The Copyroom has worked with countless artists, recently turning their hand not just to re-mastering, but even re-recording and mixing The Who. “We did the first mix of My Generation in true stereo, from the original four-track tapes, but when we brought it up we noticed several parts were missing”. It transpires that having run out of tracks, Pete Townshend had recorded his guitar solo directly onto the mono master, along with some backing vocals and percussion parts. These parts were therefore not able to be separated from the rest of the mix, and so FX re-recorded Pete with his original guitar and amp, onto a one-inch eight-track Studer A80, recreating as closely as possible the missing solo, as well as the other missing parts. This new mix and master is available now on Geffen Records. Of course, it’s not been all plain-sailing for FX Rentals. The company experimented with a repair service which never took off, and had a brief period with a European office. With 25 years now passed, the company will be looking to 25 more, and hoping to continue to supply any new parts of the audio industry that surface over the next quarter of a century. n

Recording the paranormal One of the strangest rental requests came from a customer who called asking for advice on recording the paranormal. Will Bence (technical manager at FX Rentals) was asked to give advice on suitable microphones to record ghostly voices coming from a corner of the roof in the client’s flat in the Lake District. Having narrowed down the source to one

specific corner, Will put together a package including two Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun microphones and a Tascam DR100 portable recorder, perfectly suited for recording conversations with the dead. Of the final recordings though, Will has heard nothing. Perhaps the ghosts weren’t rehearsed enough for their big day after all… 24 26 FX rentals v1JMcK.indd 2

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Paris Davout closes after 50 years The oldest Paris studios, Davout, closed in April. Since the 1960s, the facility has hosted famous French artists, bands and movie orchestras, and British and American stars beside. Always one of the most sought-after studios, Davout represented the biggest recording space in Paris. Franck Ernould tells its story


hen Davout Studios opened in June 1965, there were only three other independent recording studios in Paris (Acousti, Geneix, Europa-Sonor), and six label-owned (including Barclay, Decca, Pathé, Polydor and Vogue). Yves Chamberland, Davout creator, was a technician/partner at Europa-Sonor. He wanted to build a bigger place, aiming to film music recording. He found an abandoned movie theatre – Porte de Montreuil, with 1,600 seats and a balcony – revamped it, and hired Claude Ermelin from Europa-Sonor as a sound engineer. They installed EMT plate reverbs, Fairchild compressors and Studer 4-track recorders, while Chamberland himself built the first consoles. The A studio, on the ground floor, was more than 300sqm in area, and 9 m high – bigger than CTS but smaller than Abbey Road Studio 1 – and could host a full orchestra. Once closed and isolated, the balcony became B studio/control room. Both were equipped with tape recorders and perforated film machines, plus screens and 16/35 mm projectors. The idea was to be able to record directly on to magnetic film, in sync with the movie, while offering good acoustics, microphones and desks – the best of “movie” and “music” worlds. The concept was an immediate hit, and first sessions included Les demoiselles de Rochefort (Demy/Legrand) and A Man and A Woman (Lelouch/Lai) – two huge successes in France. Chamberland quickly added two other studios, and in 1972, a printed ad said “Already more than 300 movie scores, 2,000 singles/LPs, 1,000 jingles/ads”. Not a bad tally in only seven years. Twenty people, including six full-time sound engineers, worked in Davout in those days. Chamberland, a jazz drummer, happily let his musician-friends record in Davout when studios were not busy during the night. He created a publishing company and a label, coproducing in 1973 the Suite For Flute and Piano Jazz Trio with Claude Bolling. That record sold more than three million copies. The ’70s were a golden era for recording studios all over the world, Davout included, going 8- then 16- and 24-tracks, with bigger consoles (Alice, MCI, Plus 30, API). The Former B studio became M (as “Mix”) when Tom Hidley rebuilt in 1976 as his first Parisian room, complete with an adjoining marble echo chamber. Chamberland and Ermelin then quickly bought SSL desks and Sony PCM-3324 recorders when needed. As a result, in the ’80s, Davout welcomed English and

Davout’s final recording session, on 9 April 2017: composer Philippe Rombi and the Bel Arte Orchestra, for François Ozon’s forthcoming Double Lover

American artists like Jon & Vangelis, Randy Newman and John Barry. Many famous TV rock shows were shot in the A studio. In 1987, Chamberland became tired of studio managing and wanted to work with his jazz artists. He sold his business on, but the new owner couldn’t make it work and, five years later, Davout was placed in receivership. That’s when ex-employees formed a new company and took over the facility. They refurbished Davout, bought a new SSL 9000 console for the A studio, equipped it with a Boxer multichannel monitoring system, and set about putting it back in the studio ‘Top 5’. The rejuvenated operation hosted sessions with Prince, The Rolling Stones, Simple Minds, Duran Duran and more. But it couldn’t last. The “studio crisis” hit Davout in 2007: sometimes, there were no sessions for three weeks in a row. As a result, rooms other than A and B studio were hired to producers in order to encourage activity back to the building. However, municipal authorities (the ‘Mairie de Paris’), needing to rebuild an aging school in the area, began to take an interest in the site. By 2015, the Mairie had made legal moves to acquire Davout and adjacent buildings, in order to go ahead with the school project. Davout was expropriated in 2016: the final session (an orchestra recording with Philippe Rombi for a forthcoming movie feature) took place on 9 April 2017. Demolition will begin in this month (July), with the school inauguration planned for September 2019. Ironically, Davout’s business has been running well of late.

The Studio A control room had been overhauled, and regular orchestral recordings plus various sessions in B (equipped with a 1990-SSL 4056G) could have kept the place running for some time. The team have kept most of the gear, including many vintage rarities, and intend to carry on recording somewhere else, and to set up training sessions with Jean-Loup Morette, the in-house engineer, and other freelancers. But for the moment, there’s no 300sqm recording space with an adjacent 5.1 control room available in Paris anymore… n

A session for « Les Demoiselles de Rochefort » in Davout Studio A. Michel Legrand, Claude Ermelin and Jacques Demy were all there 28 Paris Davout studios v1JMcK.indd 1

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Goldcrest Post mix room


Walls has ears for Level’s next project Ex-Salford Uni acoustician crops up 100th project in three years


orking out of his garden shed in 2014, little did acoustician Chris Walls think that just three years down the line he find himself with rogue assassin Jason Bourne on his tail. Well, not quite, but if Walls and his team hadn’t managed to fit out Goldcrest Post in record time, the latest film in the Bourne franchise may not have been released on time. But, Matt Damon’s action hero aside, Walls has come a long way since his shed days and now, as the talent behind Level Acoustic Design, he has his own mission – to create high-end studios for the likes of Google, Warner, Universal, NBC and Abbey Road, to name a few. Walls, a graduate of Salford University who cut his teeth working with Munro Associates for eight years, set up Level Acoustic Design in 2014. In a short time the company, now embarking on its one hundredth project, has acquired a strong track record in delivering state-of- the-art design solutions into sound studio environments. “Last year exceeded any expectations I had when I set up the business,” says Walls. “In 2016 we took on projects for Abbey Road Studios, Mark Ronson, Fraser T Smith, YouTube, NBC Universal, Deluxe Technicolor, Molinare and Halo. We also carried out our first projects in India, Europe and South America. With one exception, all of our projects have come through recommendations from previous customers which is quite something.”

The first and most important task in every project, according to Walls, is to understand the client’s operational requirements. Once that is understood, the room can then be designed around them. “I have met a lot of great music editors, mix techs, sound supervisors, engineers and producers over the years and talking to them about their work is invaluable,” continues Walls. “Hearing what they like and don’t like about studios, including mine, helps refine things for the next project. I like to think customers come to us because we take the time to understand their requirements and then we do whatever it takes to deliver.” Many artists and producers are leaning towards achieving a relaxed and homely feel for their studios rather than the ‘spaceship studio’ look. Their aim is for the studio to be a comfortable space conducive to collaboration and creativity. “The equipment needs to fit around that requirement and not get in the way of the creative process,” says Walls. “However, there is still the expectation that they can accurately monitor and mix, which throws up some challenges in balancing layout and aesthetics with acoustic performance”. Having been involved with the design of over 70 recording studios at Tileyard Studios, Level Acoustic Design was asked to design Tileyard Education. “We had a brief to recreate the sound of another Tileyard studio we had designed but in a much smaller volume,” explains Walls. “That led to a few new design ideas which proved to be very successful and have since been

Chris Walls

modified and implemented elsewhere. We designed the live room walls and ceiling to achieve a particular early reflection pattern which makes the studio sound bigger than it actually is. It means you can add a fairly luxuriant reverb to anything recorded in there and it melds very well because of the room’s early reflection signature.” Level Acoustic Design is currently working with Molinare Post Production to replace an existing 5:1 studio. This project will see the existing studio be replaced to a 7.1 mix room, however Walls is now considering an ATMOS installation. “The commercial requirement for immersive audio has definitely increased over the last couple of years, 30 32 Chris Walls v1JMcK.indd 1

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One of Tileyard’s many studios!

with US productions in particular wanting ATMOS for features, commercials and trailers, and even home entertainment releases,” adds Walls. “As immersive audio continues to grow in post production, with Dolby ATMOS at the forefront, a big design change has been the quantity and location of speakers, that and maintaining acoustic quality in smaller spaces, with ever tightening budgets.” As for the future, there is an ongoing trend of trying to squeeze more and more out of smaller and smaller

Music Studio at Warner Bros

spaces, according to Walls: “It’s not unusual to walk in to a 10-square metre studio with monitors that go down to 25Hz. That is generally not a recipe for success!” Level Acoustic Design continues to refine designs to eek out every last bit of performance whilst educating clients as to what can realistically be achieved in a small room. Timescales are a constant challenge, particularly in post where films are booked months in advance. Projects have very real completion deadlines for a dub to start. “At Goldcrest I remember the site basically

being a muddy hole at Christmas and we had to be open in May for Jason Bourne,” says Walls. “We had the same issue at Halo with a six week programme. Crazy schedules but, as always, somehow it gets done.” Moving forward, the Level Acoustic Design order book for 2017 already exceeds 2016: “We have a nice mix of music, post, and broadcast projects and we are being approached for larger-scale projects which is gratifying,” says Walls. “Not bad for a business that started out just three years ago as a man in his shed!” n

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A farewell to standards Mark Yonge has been behind AES Standards since 2001. In that time he helped prepare the audio world for the shift from traditional engineering to IT-based operations. He talks to Kevin Hilton about his standardisation work and previous life with Dolby, SSL and Granada Television


he last day of AES Berlin during May was probably a time of mixed emotions for Mark Yonge. It marked the end of his 16-year tenure as standards manager for the Audio Engineering Society, during which he oversaw several significant guidelines covering new technologies. During his time with the AES, Yonge has been involved in the standardisation of several major technologies that have shaped, and continue to shape, the way audio is produced, manipulated and distributed. Key, and most recent, of these is AES67 for AoIP interoperability. But his work has also taken in amendments for the exchange of digital audio signals (AES3) and the Broadcast Wave file format (AES31). Before becoming a standards administrator, Yonge worked as a sound engineer in television and for two major audio manufacturers. He says he was always conscious of the need for some form of standardisation that might improve pro-audio practices in general: “There is an obvious commercial advantage in having proprietary technology but you can’t make an entire infrastructure out of it. At some point you need a standardised interface.” Yonge started his career in 1972 as a trainee in the sound department at Granada TV Studios in Manchester. In what he describes as “very analogue days”, Yonge worked on “pretty much everything”. This included the first TV version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the then twice-weekly soap Coronation Street. “That was shot as live in two big chunks because editing videotape at that time was too expensive,” Yonge comments. “There were four cameras and three booms moving all the time, which was a very good discipline because you had to get the right microphone in the right place at the right time.” By the mid-to-late ’70s, electronic editing for broadcast was viable and, as Yonge says, timecode was “a new thing”. Partly because of this TV drama production was adopting the filmmaking approach of shooting out of sequence and cutting scenes together in the edit. “It was done shot by shot and a live drama sound crew was sitting round doing very little,” Yonge recalls. Because of this situation, and inspired by a big, audio-centric film of the moment, Yonge decided to make a career change. “I’d seen Star Wars [1977] at the Manchester Odeon, which made me think actively about what the soundtrack was doing,” he explains. “Usually they tended to be quite sketchy but this was a new sound. Which is why I wanted to join Dolby Labs and move to London to be

Mixing this film on Boxing Day?! Read on…

part of the work into surround sound.” Yonge worked with Dolby Stereo for four years, enhancing the sound on films including Star Wars and Superman, but also became involved with soundtracks for videotape. In the early 1980s he “took it on myself” to introduce Dolby A-type noise reduction for the one-inch C-format video tape machines being brought in by the commercial ITV broadcast companies.” By 1984 the ITV network and recently launched Channel 4 had converted to one-inch with Dolby A, allowing Yonge to turn his attention to home video duplication. “The VHS format had agreed to include Dolby B-type noise reduction in its high-end video recorders and the latest films were being duplicated in mono with the ‘Dolby Stereo’ logo in the credits - they didn’t sound great,” Yonge says. “The solution was to help VHS duplicators make copies in stereo from high-quality masters.” Connecting cinema technology with the home video version was clearly a clever marketing ploy but it did on one occasion interfere with Yonge’s Christmas plans. “I remember very clearly on Boxing Day having to go to a mastering facility that was making a C-format master of Pink Floyd: The Wall [1982],” he recalls. “They were trying to transfer the film master, which had a very wide

dynamic range and was causing problems. Because I knew the film I had to go in and ride the fader, which works better than using a compressor.” While such experiences are clear highlights of Yonge’s time at Dolby, after 10 years he felt both he and the company were in “a bit of a slough”. At the time Solid State Logic had just introduced the 5000 Series digitallycontrolled analogue for film and TV, so, he says “I had a word with them.” Yonge joined SSL in 1998, and worked on the ScreenSound eight-track digital editor and the Scenaria and Omnimix integrated digital systems, which led to the more recent Axiom and Aysis consoles. “SSL was very proprietorial and wanted to do the whole thing,” Yonge Mark Yonge: 16 years in charge of standards for the AES says. “But that makes no sense because you need to interface with third party disk drives, routers and switchers. With the increase in digital audio we needed an interchange file for audio that could go between proprietary islands.” With this in mind Yonge became interested in the EBU’s work on the Broadcast Wave (BWAV)file format, which later became an AES standard. “I though it made good sense back then and it still does today,” he says. Through his involvement with the AES contribution to BWAV, Yonge’s next career move began to take shape. 34-35 Mark Yonge interview v1JMcK.indd 1

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“I knew the standards manager at the time, Dan Queen, was looking to retire and actively searching for a replacement,” Yonge observes. “I had no clear idea of what being AES standards manager really meant but I thought ‘How hard could it be?’” The plan was for Yonge to join the AES in September 2001 and travel to New York for the handover with Queen. “During my going away party on 11 September I was seeing pictures of burning buildings and nobody knew what would happen next,” he says. “I was on one of the first flights to JFK when the flight paths reopened. There was still a cloud of dust over Manhattan when I got to Dan’s office.” Once files had been exchanged, including Queen’s handwritten records, Yonge began to settle into his new role. “The first task was to understand what all the different working groups were doing,” he says. “There were lots of them and some didn’t seem to produce anything. So I sat in on meetings, learnt what they were doing and then worked to see if I could help them do what they trying to do.” Yonge further defines the job as managing the process of developing standards: “It’s not just about

Yonge worked on ITV soap Coronation Street in the 1970s (this pic was taken much more recently of course…)

At Solid State Logic, Yonge worked on the Scenaria integrated digital system

the audio engineering but getting the procedure right. The point is to have open standards and develop a consensus.” IT technology was starting to have greater impact on broadcasting and pro-audio at the time, with the shift from custom silicon to its commodity equivalent. “The infrastructure was no longer designed by the audio industry but by the IT industry,” he comments. “[Therefore] we had to make sure IT understood what the audio industry expected.” Because of this, Yonge continues, he has been interested in what standards IT systems can run to get decent audio: “AES67 is a good example of this.” At the time he took over the prime candidate for networking was ATM (asynchronous transfer mode). This was recognised by AES47, which appeared in 2002 and laid down guidelines for networking audio over ATM. “It worked reasonably well but telcos and even some broadcasters were

…which led to work on the Aysis console

already saying the future was IP,” Yonge adds. “There were a number of AoIP offerings around that worked perfectly well, such as CobraNet and Livewire, but there were no open standards. The idea behind the AES67 development was to use existing technologies under the rule ‘No making stuff up!’ What we needed was to identify existing technology standards and clarify how that should work.” Other standards Yonge has overseen include revisions of AES5, covering sampling frequencies for applications using PCM; AES17, the standard for measuring digital audio; and the modular reorganisation of AES3 for exchanging digital audio signals. Rather like a proud parent Yonge does not pick out a standard as most significant but points to some of the most memorable: “AES67, of course, and AES31 Part 2, which includes Broadcast Wave and is likely to be around for a long time. AES2, specifying methods of measuring loudspeaker

performance was revised and makes more sense now. One of the hardest to get right was AES59 for 25-way D-type connectors. But all the standards are good stuff.” The enthusiasm for his work is clear but recently Yonge had begun to consider the future. “I’ve been ill in the last couple of years,” he admits, “and thought I should retire before my body retired me.” Richard ‘Rich’ Cabot, a long-standing participant in the AES standards process, has now taken over, with Yonge working with him until the end of the Berlin show to ensure what he calls “a competent succession”. Yonge admits the AES standards job will be “difficult to give up”, as it’s been part of his life for the best part of 16 years. “Rich will do a superb job but I have to remember I’m not responsible for this any more,” he concludes. “I will find something else to do. I’ll still be keeping an eye on audio though...” n 34-35 Mark Yonge interview v1JMcK.indd 2

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Various scenes from the special, single-shot, ‘live’ episode of the long running drama Casualty


One-take audio for hospital drama’s 30th anniversary Car crashes, impalements, DIY mishaps. All these – and more – have featured in BBC One’s medical emergency drama Casualty since it began in 1986. To cap its 30th series, the show has been filmed in a single shot, which, as Kevin Hilton explains, provided some challenges to the sound crew


ong-running television series usually have a special episode to mark significant anniversaries. The trend recently has been for an all-action live production that tests the skill and resourcefulness of cast and crew alike. BBC medical drama Casualty has not followed this fashion for the climatic episode of its 30th season but instead opted for something just as challenging: a story shot in a single, moving take featuring a wireless camera, five sound booms and 35 radio microphones. Casualty is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-running emergency medical drama television series in the world. Created by Jeremy Brock and Paul Unwin to partly highlight the work of the NHS (National Health Service) at a time when the Conservative government under Thatcher was planning cutbacks, the show first aired on 6 September 1986. Since then it has filled its regular Saturday night slot on BBC One with stories of horrific injuries sustained in often bizarre accidents, interspersed with the convoluted personal lives of accident and emergency (A&E) staff at the fictional Holby City Hospital. The series was originally produced in Bristol before moving to purpose-built facilities at the BBC’s Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff in 2011. The interior sets of the

A&E department were designed to allow the actors and crew to move easily from one section to another, a facet that came into play during filming of the one-take episode. “It’s a great set, very open,” comments Tim Hunt, who has worked as a sound recordist on Casualty “for too many years to remember”. Hunt says the possibility of a live Casualty had been discussed over the years but when producers decided on a one-shot edition he was still filled with some trepidation. “I was approached in June last year about doing it and spent the whole summer thinking ‘this is big!’,” he comments. “I sat down one day and started planning it, realising that the big problem with one camera shot is that you’re on a wide shot every time you move, so you see everything, which makes it difficult to film.” A standard episode of Casualty is filmed using multiple cameras, with one production sound mixer on set, two boom operators and an assistant. Hunt knew this set-up would have to be expanded for this production, titled ‘One’, written by Paul Unwin. This was not only due to moving about the interior sets but also because the action begins outside the hospital with a big stunt sequence and follows an injured motorcyclist in the ambulance to A&E.

Taking the position of lead sound recordist, Hunt brought in a second production mixer, Brad Bower, to cover the ambulance scenes. Bower also assisted during rehearsals, adjusting gains and hiding microphones on set, as well as supervising the recording machines for the takes. Six booms were available to four operators – James Drummond, Abdul Amoud, James Abbay Bowen and Marc Walters – with four for interiors and two on exteriors. “The second exterior boom was if we needed to solve any shadows on a 360 shot,” explains Hunt. The intention was to match the sound of conventional Casualty episodes, which rely primarily on boom mic.. But Hunt knew wireless systems would have to play a larger role than usual, particularly for scenes where it would have been difficult to position a boom without it being seen. “We do use radio mics, typically Audio Limited TX2440s, most often for sequences with the paramedics moving down long corridors from the ambulance bay,” he says. “But we needed more on this shoot, as well as someone to monitor and mix the wireless feeds.” The incoming radio signals were handled by Scott Talbott, a BBC Studioworks sound supervisor usually based in London. Talbott worked in a flyaway control room built into the studio set by hire company Terry Tew 36 38 Casualty v1JMcK.indd 1

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Broadcast put aside for hiding mics in clothing, with Milton also checking each one in the fitting room on a Sennheiser EM 3732 live audio receiver to ensure clean feeds. A wireless mic was also attached to the ARRI Alexa camera during the opening shots moving through the building. The Alexa played another part in the sound production by having the monitor mix output of the SD644 recorded on Track 1 of its audio tracks as a guide. Track 2 was used for a sync feed from the camera. The ambulance scenes threw up some problems, especially in terms of how many crew members could be onboard with the actors. “I wanted Brad there as sound recordist but that wasn’t possible because the camera crew wanted the focus puller in there as well,” Hunt says. “Instead we rigged two Schoeps CCM 41 super-cardioid compact mics in the ambulance, hard wired to the SD664 hidden in a cabinet. That way we were able to cover the dynamics of the performance.” The ‘One’ episode of Casualty was in production from

Sound and Light, which also supplied 32-channels of Sennheiser SK 5212 wireless. The mix area was based round a 32-fader Studer Vista 5 console, feeding a RME MADI bridge connected to two JoeCo recorders, again provided by Terry Tew. The wireless mic feeds went through the Vista 5, which was controlled by Talbott. Recording and playback in the control room were supervised by an assistant working with him, while a RF engineer looked after the racks. “All radio mics were isolated to the two JoeCos,” Hunt comments. “Scott also recorded my monitor mixes of the booms and took all my ISOs. That meant we had duplicates and were not relying on one monitor recorder.” Hunt looked after two booms, recording the outputs on to a Sound Devices SD788 portable recorder through a CL-9 linear fader controller. “All six booms were recorded through the returns of the Studer,” he explains. “We could listen to that and see how the extra radio mics were sounding with the booms. It was mixed pretty seamlessly – I was very happy with the mix.” This way of working allowed Talbott to add to the booms from his wireless feeds where appropriate. “As scenes of dialogue went through we could ascertain which lines I couldn’t get with a boom,” Hunt says. “Because Scott was quality monitoring he could bring in lines as necessary.” The Sennheiser SK 5212 body packs were fitted with DPA 4060 miniature mics. The four interior booms were Panamic poles supporting MKH 50 hyper-cardioid mics, connected to wireless systems using either PTX plugins or 2040 adapter leads. Exterior scenes used two MKH60 shotguns, also on 2040 transmitter links. Body mics were worn by 27 of the performers in the episode, with one wearing a second mic and transmitter, Hunt explains, to “cover the dynamics of his performance”. Some radio mics were built into the set

or props for specific scenes. In one sequence two artists are singing in the background; a mic was hidden in the false ceiling above them while another pack and mic were attached to the bottom of a seat being hit with a rubber drum stick. Wireless mics were fitted on to actors and their costumes by specialist sound engineer Zoe Milton, who was recommended by Terry Tew. Both had worked together on Woody Harrelson’s Lost in London (PSNEurope March 2017), another example of singletake filming, albeit with a live element. Extra time was

3 April to 13 April. “We divided the script into four and did a quarter each day,” comments Hunt. “That meant we would see how the camera and the booms were working. After a full dress rehearsal we did as many complete takes as we could, changing things as we went. We ended up with four complete takes in three days, with takes 2 and 4 probably being the best. The idea was to do it without stopping.” Viewers can judge for themselves when the special single-take Casualty airs this month. n 36 38 Casualty v1JMcK.indd 2

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28th September 2017

The Steel Yard, London


ENTRIES OPEN SOON Free to enter!


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

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Technology feature: Digital mixing systems

P40 JULY 2017


Laurent Dupuy gives the OK, mixing in Algeria in 2016 (see boxout)

DESK JOCKEYS Phil Ward spins the latest hits from the digital live console charts…


nless it’s a completely different concept, like the software-only LV-1 by Waves, it can be hard to spot immediately any unique characteristics or selling points of a digital mixer for itinerant live sound. They all have touchscreens; they all offer networking; they all make the tea. This is odd, given the disparate way that the industry has evolved its various solutions – so much so that engineers are now obliged to maintain discrete IT portfolios for each one (see ‘HOT DESKING box’). So, we’ve asked each of the leading manufacturers to identify what makes them different, in the hope that the Stork of originality can indeed be distinguishable from the margarine of dogma.

generation FPGA technology, with 36 parallel virtual processing cores running on a single chip the size of a stamp. This massive power allows dLive to deliver 128 full processing inputs and 16 stereo FX returns, a configurable 64-buss architecture, plus 64 Dyn8 engines with 4-band dynamic EQ and 4-band compression, all at 96kHz. But other key benefits of this new technology are variable bit depth, for precision and noise performance, and a class-leading latency at just 0.7ms.


ALPHABET SOUP In the interests of fairness, our contributions are hereby presented in alphabetical order. If you notice that any given brand that might regularly be associated with pro digital mixing on tour is missing, please write to your local MP: all the marques best known for touring, at least to PSNEurope, have been invited, but not all of them have responded in the way that might once have taken for granted. No doubt they are busy preparing for a hard Brexit.

Head of product marketing at Allen & Heath, Nic Beretta

ALLEN & HEATH “It’s hard to know where to begin when listing distinctive features of dLive, as it’s such a unique system,” reports Nic Beretta, head of product marketing at Allen & Heath. “dLive’s XCVI Core makes pioneering use of next-


“The XCVI core also enables dLive’s DEEP processing architecture, which embeds top quality processing emulations directly within the input and mix channels. These bespoke algorithms include compressor, preamp and graphic EQ models and can be inserted on the fly 40-46 Digital Feature v2JMcK.indd 1

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without burning FX slots and, crucially, without the setup and licence hassles associated with external plug-ins – they’re right there, where you need them, whenever you need them, and with no extra latency! “Many consoles use touchscreens nowadays, but the capacitive touchscreens on dLive respond to every pinch, swipe, drag and drop exactly how you’d expect them to. Bespoke ‘widget’ areas can also be set up on the screens to keep track of scenes, meters, FX and other custom controls. “dLive is also the only professional mixing system on the market capable of surface-less mixing – very efficient for fly-in dates and space-conscious venues. With its brain in the MixRack, it allows very compact systems that do away with a conventional

Avid’s marketing manager for live sound systems, Derk Hagedorn

control surface. In installed applications, this unique architecture – coupled with dLive’s networkability and ecosystem of control and integration options – makes it stand out from the market. The ample matrix capabilities with 800 system inputs and outputs, up to five 128-channel, 96kHz audio networking ports, up to 48 analogue I/O points, remote control over TCP, distributed GPIO, PoE compliant remote controllers including newly released wall plates are all unique features that you will struggle to find in any other digital live sound system.”

AVID S6L running a Sonnox plug-in

party plug-ins using the industry-standard AAX DSP format – the same used by Pro Tools HDX systems. No external ‘plug-in runners’ are required, delivering the most stable and integrated performance possible. “Secondly, deep Pro Tools integration insures not only zero-hassle recording of live shows of up to 128 tracks over a single Cat-5e cable – more via MADI, and with VENUELink functionality automatically setting up the session with track names, populating snapshots and so on – but S6L’s Virtual Soundcheck capabilities also enable engineers to play back live recordings through the system on a per-channel basis to sound out the room, dial in effects settings, let band members rehearse their parts without the band and much more. “S6L is also unique in that it shares the same VENUE file format with all other AVID live systems dating back over 10 years, enabling any engineer with a VENUE show file to quickly load their show onto S6L and start mixing immediately – perfect for festivals with quick turnovers. In regards to processing power S6L offers a new level of performance, delivering 192 input processing channels, 96 outputs – plus LCR – and 24 matrixes at 96kHz. All of these channels are available at all times; we don’t ‘steal’ from other channels in order to pump these up.

DiGiCo technical director John Stadius

AVID “The AVID VENUE S6L live sound system offers several features and capabilities that set it apart from other live sound systems in the market,” says Derk Hagedorn, AVID’s senior marketing manager for live sound systems. “First off, it offers an on-board plug-in architecture that can accommodate both AVID and third

“More importantly, S6L provides you with unparalleled access to manage all these channels, with a powerful Universe View that gives one-touch access to any channel instantly, and custom fader layouts to instantly put your most important channels at your fingertips at any point of the performance. For networked systems, The new 32-bit Mic Pre, launched in Frankfurt

VENUE S6L’s I/O sharing with TrueGain management offers the most transparent and seamless experience of any shared I/O solution in live sound. “Finally, the recent VENUE 5.4 software update brings an unmatched level of programmability to the system with all-new Events and Snapshot capabilities. Almost all parameters are now available as actions and triggers, including input, EQ, dynamics and aux send parameters, as well as MIDI commands – perfect for Ableton and QLab – MIDI Time Code values – MTC and LTC – switches and much more.”

DIGICO “DiGiCo has always taken pride in bringing new technology and audio performance to the marketplace before its competitors,” points out John Stadius, DiGiCo’s technical director. “The latest evidence of this is the newly launched ‘Stadius’ 32-bit Mic Pre, that can be installed in any of the SD series I/O racks to give engineers increased resolution on their input stage – the result of the R&D team turning their expertise to DiGiCo’s analogue front end, the microphone preamplifier. The objective, as it was with our existing mic-pre, is always to capture sound with as much natural detail as the human ear, and provide a circuit 40-46 Digital Feature v2JMcK.indd 2

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with as much linear transparency as technology at the time allows. “To achieve this, we had three project fundamentals: minimise system noise; expand our dynamic range; and increase our speed and accuracy of analogue signal conversion. Foremost, our carefully selected passive component material types and tolerances ensure that whatever differential signals are coupled into our system have their integrity preserved right up to the analogue-to-digital converter. Low noise and high Ray Tantzen, PreSonus senior product manager

tolerance matched resistors keep everything perfectly balanced, while the one phantom power blocking capacitor in the audio path is a hand selected, acoustic series MUSE Gold Nichicon. “As for the converter, well… it’s where the product gets its name from. By using twin 32-bit converters, two per channel, we drop our EIN to a stunning 128dB, and our dynamic range expands up to 123dBA. Looking at the audio signature of our preamplifier it’s clear to see the reduction of harmonic generation through the gain range. The result, according the lucky engineers who have experienced it so far, is that ‘it sounds awesome’...”

PRESONUS “StudioLive mixers bridged the gap between the studio and the live sound experience,” comments Ray Tantzen, senior product manager at PreSonus. “Multitrack recording has been a crucial aspect to bridging this

divide. In our current line-up of mixers, having both integrated SD recording and tight integration between our Capture and Studio One recording software and the onboard recording interface provides a unique experience. “For example, Capture recognises StudioLive mixers and self-configures, complete with channel names, making recording on a computer easier and more seamless. We took that a step further with our StudioLive AI and StudioLive Series III mixers by adding integrated scene save and load, so you can save your mixer settings with your audio. These settings also open in Studio One, which configures its console just like a StudioLive mixer when a Capture session is loaded, allowing you to edit and mix your recording with the same starting mix. Another benefit of this integration is the ability to do a true virtual soundcheck, using Capture. “With the StudioLive Series III digital consoles and StudioLive AR USB-series analogue mixers, we’ve added SD recording in addition to the integrated USB 2.0 audio interface. For Series III consoles, this allows you to run Capture right from the mixer, without connecting a computer, or you can use both and have a redundant recording of every input channel and the main mix. While many mixers provide some level of recording capability, none come close to providing the tight software/hardware interoperability and onboard



The new L200 SSL Live console

recording functions of StudioLive.”

SOLID STATE LOGIC “The SSL range of Live consoles is built on a unique pedigree: nearly 40 years of outstanding analogue and digital innovation in all aspects of audio production technology,” according to head of marketing Dan Duffell. “This means that SSL Live is SSL-all-over, from the SuperAnalogue pre-amps to the patented 64-bit floating point Optimal Core Processing engine that can execute a complex algorithm within a single sample, with no headroom limit, and without the need for life-limited DSP or FPGA silicon. “On the surface and under the hood, SSL Live does it differently. All consoles in the range combine independent, intelligent fader tiles with freely assignable layer and bank switching, as well as ultra-bright, gestural, multi-touch screens and comprehensive channel control. The unique SuperQuery ‘Q’ function allows user-definable forward and reverse query and spill of any input channel, buss or VCA. Inside, SSL Live has a completely configurable architecture, as well as the unique and much-praised Stem Group – a fully processed buss that can be routed

THOSE USPs IN BRIEF Allen & Heath: surface-less versatility; DEEP signal processing Avid: highly integrated plug-in architecture; Pro Tools DNA; 10-year legacy file compatibility DiGiCo: 32-bit design philosophy; new Mic Pre PreSonus: ‘Capture’ and ‘Studio One’ recording software SSL: SuperAnalogue preamps; ‘Q’ function; Stem Grouping; sprung chassis arm Soundcraft: Vistonics and FaderGlow interface features

Tight integration between Capture and Studio One

Yamaha: Rupert Neve Designs signal processing 40-46 Digital Feature v2JMcK.indd 3

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24/06/2016 13:22:15

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The Vi2000, up-close and personal

to and from anywhere, including other Stem Groups. You can create hierarchical mix structures accessible at the press of a ‘Q’ button, and there’s no need to use channels up on aux returns any more. “There’s more innovation when you drill down into an SSL Live channel or buss path. With a simple drag and drop finger-swipe, processing order is entirely at the user’s whim; every processed channel, stem or output includes an all-pass filter for ultra-fine phase adjustments and a tube ‘warmth’ effect, as well as Legacy or Constant Q 4-band parametric EQ, full dynamics, two insert points and more. And every Live console has a large internal effects rack with a huge range of ultra-low latency SSL-quality effects. “Finally, there’s the singularity that is the new L200 SSL Live Console T-chassis design: it keeps all essential console controls within easy reach and brings sprung arm mounted external screens and devices closer to the centre of the console. Arms can be mounted on either or both sides of the console and can be specified as screen mounts or laptop/utility trays.”

SOUNDCRAFT “It has to be our Vistonics knobs-on-glass user interface combined with FaderGlow colour-coding, I think,” opines Andy Brown, Studer-Soundcraft’s senior product manager at Harman Pro Group. “Imagine a typical digital mixing console: to replace the forest of individual knobs you’d have on an equivalent analogue console, you’ve either got a very limited number of fairly fixed controls for one channel, which you then have to assign to one channel at a time to see those settings and adjust

something, or you have a more spread out collection of much smaller screen-based controls giving you almost a picture of an analogue desk, but with sets of real knobs next to the screen that can somehow be assigned to a group of parameters on the screen. “With both of these approaches you’re at a disadvantage. With the first, you can’t see what any of the parameters are set to until you select a channel – and with more than 100 channels the show’s going to be over by the time you’ve finished looking! With the

FaderGlow colour-coding was a big USP at Soundcraft

second, you can see more but when you want to adjust something, assigning the pictorial controls to the offscreen knobs can be error-prone – you’re never 100% sure what those knobs are doing and, once you start adjusting, you have to look back to the screen, away from where you are turning, to see visual feedback of what you’re doing. “The Soundcraft Vistonics II interface places those assignable knobs directly on the glass touchscreen, not next to it, which means there’s a graphical display

HOT DESKING FOH engineer Laurent Dupuy faces the USP claims of all the main manufacturers with a laptop loaded with separate ‘portfolios’ for each brand. “Take my reggae artist Alpha Blondy, for example,” he points out. “We never tour internationally with full production so I have a USB stick with almost every desk possible on it: I’ve got my show ready to run in any type of situation. You don’t have many options in the middle of Africa… but you get to know how each desk is going to react. “My workflow is similar on any desk, but you can’t have snapshots rolling from one to another – that would be a nightmare. So I make sure I have my eight most critical effects accessible at all times, and I mix them according to each song. It’s not a huge patch – 32 to 40 channels – so my VCA setup is quite simple to retain custom faders on any desk, provided it’s recent enough! If you go back to a PM5D

or something like that, it all changes again. “I make the desk adapt to my workflow, which is getting easier but you have to be aware of data compatibility with older software. Sometimes you can lose eight channels instantly, and you don’t have time in a line check to find out where they are. You need to build up a file directory for each desk and keep it updated all the time.” 40-46 Digital Feature v2JMcK.indd 4

23/06/2017 14:42






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P46 JULY 2017


Andy Cooper, manager of PA application engineering at Yamaha Professional Audio Division

behind each knob that can not only indicate clearly with colour and easily recognisable icons what the knob is doing at all times, but also gives clear visual feedback of control changes right where the knob is located – meaning you don’t have to look somewhere else to get that. In addition, the ‘channel strip display’ part of the touchscreen uses icon-based graphics rather than an attempting to copy the look of an analogue console, and so allows a much clearer view of the huge number of parameters across multiple channels that you need to see. “The result of all this is that you get a really involving, comfortable interaction with all the mixing parameters, and it’s also faster, easier to learn and navigate and consequently less stressful to use in a pressurised live environment. The knobs are also touch-sensitive and each one has an integrated push-button mounted with it on the screen, so a lot of functionality can be controlled like this. Soundcraft FaderGlow is an associated concept that uses multi-coloured illumination in the fader slot to indicate what function the fader currently has, and so reduces the chances of adjusting the wrong thing where multiple layers are being used.”

PLUS CA CHANGE… Ben Hammond, experienced FOH Engineer and a design consultant for Allen & Heath’s dLive concept, pauses in a departure lounge to tell PSNE why vive la difference is the battle cry of the mix – if you’ve learned your craft. “If you’re in the lucky position of ensuring every show is on the same console,” he says, “it’s not an issue – but if not, when it’s festival season you’re going to see dlive’s, Profiles, Vi6s, DiGiCos, Midas… so you need to create and save as many different show files as you can. You can’t just copy and paste between consoles! “Over time you learn different tricks on different consoles: I love the Master Limiter on the Soundcraft Vis but would never use limiting on the L+R on any other console; I have a few tricks unique to the Profile too; and the on-board effects on all of them are wildly different, so over time you begin to catalogue your favourites on each. One of the main sonic differences between consoles for me is the summing on the master buss;

YAMAHA “When Yamaha’s Virtual Circuitry Modelling team met with Rupert Neve, we knew something exciting was going to happen,” recounts Andy Cooper, manager of PA application engineering at Yamaha Professional Audio Division. “Rather than merely copying the general sound character of vintage analogue gear, VCM mimics the electrical character of each analogue part of the original circuitry, resulting in a far more detailed, realistic sound. And so we have Rupert Neve Designs ‘SILK’ processing and transformer circuitry modelled in the hybrid mic pre-amps of RIVAGE PM10. The harmonic components of the source are shaped in such a musical manner that

Virtual Circuitry Modelling in action

some desks everything can sound great individually but when you push it onto the master buss it just doesn’t glue together and needs some help – so on particular desks I’m gonna hit the L+R pretty hard to get to where I want to be, but others I can just leave it totally open and bask in years and years of headroom! “The bottom line is everybody can claim they have the best desk on the planet, in reality its actually the desk that suits you and your workflow the best. The truth is however, if you know your craft you’re gonna make a good-sounding gig out of any of them…”

the need for additional enhancement by EQ becomes minimal. As a result, the sound quality perception of RIVAGE PM10 is outstanding, as reflected in our customers’ comments, including: ‘The clarity on the top end is amazing, it’s got the clearest imagery I’ve ever heard on a board’; ‘It’s as though the highs and lows are extended while maintaining a natural sound’; ‘Everyone in the band has commented on how much better everything sounds’… “Besides the SILK processing, six additional circuits designed by Rupert are modelled in RIVAGE PM10, including the vintage ‘EQ773’, ‘Comp754’ and ‘EQ810’. In analogue times, high signal levels were preferred for the warmest sound. However, in the digital domain high signal levels can be dangerous, so a ‘Drive’ parameter has been added to the EQs, recreating the saturated sound of the original transformers loved by musicians and engineers around the world. It would be practically impossible to mix a world tour using even 24 channels of Rupert Neve’s analogue pre-amps, EQs and compressors. RIVAGE PM10 carries 144 channels-worth of VCM, in the space of a 25U rack – DSP engine plus two I/O units! Every input and output channel has two insert points which can be positioned separately within the signal chain, each insert point accommodating up to four VCM plug-ins. And of course all the processing offers delay compensation, allowing for insert changes mid-show. Even the smaller CL and QL series consoles benefit from the stunning quality of VCM, including the Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5033 EQ and 5043 compressor. This compressor features a fascinating ‘FB’ switch, to change the gain reduction type between the modern ‘Feed-Forward’ style and the classic ‘FeedBack’ type. It’s enlightening to hear the difference it makes! At the same time, the EQ includes modelling of the original input/output transformers, having a musical influence on the sound even when the EQ curve is flat.”n 40-46 Digital Feature v2JMcK.indd 5

23/06/2017 14:42

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JULY 2017

Photo credit: Ida Fanous




Leading the Field Victoria Park played host to Aphex Twin’s comeback gig at this year’s Field Day festival on 3 June, with Capital Sound supplying the Martin Audio MLA system that filled the new Barn stage with the DJ’s unrepentant brand of electronica. Murray Stassen stormed along


n 2015, during an interview for one of PSNEurope’s sister publications, Field Day founder Tom Baker told your correspondent that when he launched Field Day a decade ago he intended for the event to be like “a village fete [accent] meets a gig with DJs afterwards”. That year saw the likes of punk poet Patti Smith, ’90s shoegazers Ride, slack rocker Mac Demarco and Canadian electronic composer Caribou perform at the Hackney event, with the festival split into two days. Field Day 2017, cut from two days to one, felt much less of a village fair and much more like Glasto’s Dance Village, with the DJs becoming the main attraction rather than the entertainment for later in the evening. Not to say this is a bad thing, but rather indicative of a wider shift in music consumers’ tastes and the live music business’ reflection of that. The introduction of the cavernous new Barn stage this year undeniably changed the dynamic of the event. Featuring a line-up of world class DJs and producers, headlined by Richard David James, aka Aphex Twin, the Barn was the star attraction of what was traditionally an open-air focused festival, (apart from the various satellite in-tent stages of course). While the structure served a weather-related purpose, it also contained Aphex Twin’s light display beautifully and was filled to the brim with sound delivered by a Martin Audio MLA system with the

clarity you expect to hear when you see those loudspeakers flown either side of the stage. Providing the audio systems for three of the eight stages (the Barn, outdoor stage and Resident Advisor) this year was veteran hire company Capital Sound, which has been a provider of sound solutions for concerts, tours and events for three decades. The Barn was set up the previous weekend for (dance festival) Creamfields’ Steel Yard event: that saw Axwell & Ingrosso, Faithless, Martin Solveig and others perform in Victoria Park. Capital Sound had been brought in for that event too, and ended up keeping the same sound configuration for the Barn at Field Day. “I’d never worked in [the Barn] before, but I think that it was successful and not only for Steel Yard and Creamfields, but also for Field Day,” says Capital Sound senior project manager Martin Connolly. “One of the DJ bookers there said to me that it has put a completely new slant on Field Day. Because of that structure, the festival has changed a little bit in music genre.” Connolly tells PSNEurope that Capital Sound’s relationship with Field Day started via event management company LoudSound. “Dan Craig [LoudSound head of operations] had been doing the LED Festival at Victoria Park and the first show we ever did there with them was Deadmau5 in 2011,” recalls Connolly.

Barn adores: Aphex Twin puts MLA through its paces at Field Day’s new stage area

“From that point on, Dan brought us into the frame for Field Day, because they were in a place where the MLA would help with their offsite situation.” The “offsite situation” he’s referring to is of course the noise restrictions imposed by Hackney Council on events operating in Victoria Park, which is surrounded by many (increasingly gentrified) residential streets. “For any festival these days there are noise restrictions when it’s in close proximity to housing,” says Connolly. “The council establishes that there are certain noise sensitive positions and people can call up if they feel that the plates on their walls are rattling. People will complain about a festival even when it’s well below the measurement of 65dB, one metre from the most sensitive point.” Acoustic and environmental impact consultants Vanguardia independently monitor the noise limits around the site, with measurement microphones placed at various sensitive points. “Vanguardia use a system (Audioview) that tells you if you’ve got a bit of headroom left at the end of the day,” adds Connolly. “Roly Oliver (Vanguardia’s head of live business) was looking after that and he did a really good job on site. In order to achieve as the best possible sound levels at Field Day, Capital deployed its MLA system inside the Barn, with a newly acquired SSL L200 mixing system at front of house and a Yamaha QL5 on monitors. Bass 48-49 Field Day v1JMcK.indd 1

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The Outdoor stage: more Martin Audio tech at work

end was supplied by 21 Martin MLX subs in a cardioid design. The outdoor stage, headlined by Run The Jewels, was also based around an MLA system with an AVID Profile console at FOH and a Yamaha CL5 on stage. For the Resident Advisor stage, headlined by Flying Lotus, Martin WLC loudspeakers were deployed while Yamaha PM5D consoles were used at FOH/monitors. “The configuration for the Barn was [plotted] via (Martin Audio prediction software) Display,” says Connolly. “The original structure was 148m long and eventually, when they started looking at plans to get it into Field Day, they had to reduce the length of the building. Eventually I think it came down to 118m long. “That distance included the stage, so once we had the measurement of the building and we knew where our points would be, we could put that into Display and it calculated the right number of boxes that we needed to cover the distance and take a view on delay positions.” Connnolly recalls “some interesting discussions” with Aphex Twin engineer Jamie Hartley about exploring multiple delay positions. “When we modeled it, it came out with the design that we used in there, with just two large delays, which would work much better than more hangs with smaller delays. So that’s what we actually ended up with,” he says. “Fortunately, following the success of Steel Yard, I went back to [Hartley] with a report and said that in my opinion, the current design is the best design to work with for that structure rather than dropping the two delays and turning them into four. “He was kind enough to take that on board and that’s what we went with. The response following the show in the emails that he’s sent back was that he was really happy and very pleased with everything that had been done.” The choice of console for the Barn also came about as a result of conversations with Hartley.

“Jamie plays an intricate role with how the Aphex Twin show works,” says Connolly. “I believe that when they signed the deal with the promoter it was agreed that he could have input into the system design. “Even though the console was new to him, he wanted to go down the SSL route. He had Avalon VT-737s and Summit Audio DCL-200s on the outboard originally. When he went with the L200 he said he’d just use everything in the desk. And that was that!” In addition to Field Day and Steel Yard, Capital Sound work with the likes of Clapham Common’s SW4 festival, British Summer Time Hyde Park (BST) and the BBC Proms in The Park, which all pose similar challenges when it comes to playing amplified music in an inner-city green space.

This year’s BST will see Green Day, Kings of Leon, Tom Petty and other big hitters perform in Hyde Park, with 2017 being the fifth year that Capital Sound will be providing BST with the coveted MLA to keep park, promoter and public happy. It has been documented several times within PSNEurope and elsewhere: as a consequence of Capital Sound’s involvement in Hyde Park, BST reports it has received no complaints off-site about noise, with the deployment of MLA being a major factor in that. The Royal Parks recommended that the BBC hire Capital Sound for its Proms in the Park. “Even the Proms were getting complaints off-site,” says Connolly. “We weren’t even getting complaints when the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath were playing at 100dB.” Connolly concedes that the nature of working on outdoor events is that “if you get bad weather, wind and atmospherics are always going to affect where the sound ends up”. However, “you can [fix] that with the MLA,” he adds. “If it was a traditional line array you’d have to drop the whole system in, recalculate the angles and fly them out again. Whereas with MLA, you put the new data into it and it does a new prediction electronically, so nothing has to be moved.” Connolly says that “a lot of work has gone into designing the system” that is used in Hyde Park and this being the company’s fifth successful year of working there is clear evidence of that. n

: …and the view from the delay towers. This is Cap Sound’s third Field Day 48-49 Field Day v1JMcK.indd 2

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Tigercub roar with Midas at Dingwalls Brighton noise-pop trio Tigercub played their biggest headline gig to a sold-out crowd at Camden’s Dingwalls on 6 June. Murray Stassen reports


ingwalls has played host to a number of legendary bands since it was established back in 1973 with a performance on the iconic venue’s stage almost a rite of passage for any group working their way up the London circuit. The 500-capacity venue has seen raucous performances by the likes of the Ramones, the Clash and the Sex Pistols with contemporary rock ‘n’ roll stars like the Strokes and Foo Fighters also performing intimate gigs there in recent years. Following in the footsteps of other loud bands to have cut their teeth at the Camden institution, on Tuesday 6 June it was the turn of Brighton’s Tigercub to push the venue’s PA to the limit. The gig, with support acts Shit Girlfriend (yes, really) and Nelson Can, was the noise-pop band’s biggest headline slot to date following the release of their debut album Abstract Figures In the Dark, which was produced by Alex Newport (At The Drive In, Bloc Party). “That was my first time at Dingwalls,” says Tigercub’s engineer Sam Liddiard who has been working with the band since November 2016. Liddiard has also been working with industry and press darlings The Amazons this year and works at Glastonbury as an in-house engineer on the West Holts stage. “Dingwalls was cool, but it was crushingly loud,” he adds. “The PA is quite narrow. It’s great because it so focused, but it misses all of the area where the mosh pit is, so the vocals were a lot quieter at the front.” The venue’s PA system consists of four d&b C4 top cabinets, eight d&b C4 sub bass cabs, d&b B2 INFRA subs with four Nexo PS10s as centrefill. “Once all the people filled in it did smooth out quite nicely. I was actually quite pleased I was able to get the vocals to sit on top of everything. During the sound check I definitely couldn’t raise them as high,” he recalls. “You can always push the PA a lot harder without it sounding nasty when there are people in the room. It’s good that it was so rammed because you can always make a full gig sound so much better. Having bodies in the room makes so much difference.” Dingwalls’ in-house FOH console is a Soundcraft Vi6, but Liddiard explains that he took a Midas PRO 1 to the

Tigercub in Camden: “It’s so loud!”

venue for this particular gig. “I used that just because I love them and they sound really good,” he explains. “Tigercub want to be really loud and punchy and the Midas desks just give that real low end. “Kick drums and bass sound so good through them and d&b and Midas mixed is just amazing. It was interesting hearing the difference between the support acts through the Vi6 compared the PRO 1. I think I definitely preferred the PRo 1.” Liddiard says that the desk was supplied by Brightonbased hire company Technical Solutions, and adds that he doesn’t normally take his own console to gigs, but by using a desk he was comfortable he was able to get things to sound exactly how he wanted them to. “I think I’m going to start taking it for the bigger gigs,” he says. “It just means that the show is how I want it to be and I’m not relying on in-house stuff. So that is definitely my desk of choice. It’s just about the sound really. I can make any desk work, but the sound of the desk is really important.” For guitars, drums and vocals, Liddiard took a selection of his own mics to the gig to get the sound he

was looking for including kit from Sennheiser, Audix and Shure. He says that “the battle with Tigercub” is that because they are so loud, he runs out of headroom really quickly because there is so much bleed into all of the microphones. “With the (Sennheiser) E 906, you just pick up the amps,” he explains. That makes a lot of difference. It means that I can get the guitars so much louder.” For vocals, Liddiard says that he’s tried the Sennheiser E 945 in the past but for this gig he used a trusty old Shure beta 58A. “The E 945 is really good because it’s so loud, but the problem is that because it is hypercardioid and [frontman] Jamie [Hall] moves round a lot, he sings into the side of the mic and you just lose all of the vocals. “So I put him back on a 58 and I could hear everything he sang. Because he moves around so much I have to use a mic that’s not so tight, and that’s just the sacrifice you have got to make.” n 50 Tigercub Dingwalls v1JMcK.indd 1

23/06/2017 14:43

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P52 JULY 2017


One spaced-out avant-garde “tragedy” A 17th century theatre hosts multiple orchestras, choruses and live electronics. Mike Clark got into orbit


eatro Farnese, one of the largest theatres in 17th Century Europe, was officially opened in 1628, on the occasion of the marriage of Margherita de’ Medici and, after only being opened for weddings and official visits to the Farnese court in the 18th century, and a long period of little or no use, was re-opened in 1913 for the first Verdi celebrations. Following considerable WWII bomb damage, it was reconstructed between 1956 and 1965 using the original proportions and materials. Unique in its own right, the theatre recently hosted three performances of Prometeo, a 150-minute work by Luigi Nono. Nono (1924 -1990), one of Italy’s most prominent post-war avant-garde composers, composed Prometeo for performance by four orchestras (each with a flute, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, four violins, viola, cello and double bass), playing on different levels round the venue, a 12-member chorus, five solo singers, two actors for the spoken parts, three string soloists, three wind soloists, percussionists and live electronics. The work was intended for performance in a large venue with perfect acoustics and able to completely surround the audience with constantly moving sounds, so this was no L/R main and delay sound reinforcement job, and BH Audio, specialist in classical and contemporary music and jazz since 1979, was called in to handle the complicated task of appropriately amplifying the impressive line-up. The BH team was led by technicians Andrea Carli and Matteo Duo, and the latter comments: “From the positions of the musicians and the loudspeakers installed at various points round the theatre, it was immediately obvious that the sound was of the utmost importance on this project.” The d&b audiotechik loudspeakers deployed by BH (mainly T Series with extra Y10P, E8 and B6) were powered by four D80 and a D12 and the 46 mics were a combination of DPA, Neumann, AKG, Shure, Sennheiser, beyer and Electro-Voice. Carli continues: “For this extremely unusual work we divided the speakers into twelve groups, plus two subwoofers. Various outputs were fed from the Avid S6L we fielded for the project to the audio cards connected

Not an opera, nor a cantata, oratorio or concert: Prometeo is a “tragedy formed by sounds”

to two MacBook Pros running Max/MSP used by the live electronics directors (Alvise Vidolin, Nicola Bernardini and Luca Richelli) who ‘piloted’ the whole project. Vidolin continued, “The majority of the processing was carried out with the two computers running Cycling 74’s Max/MSP software, thanks to which it is possible to transform a computer equipped with an audio interface into a system for the musical application of live electronics.” The directors were thus able to digitally simulate the analogue devices used by Nono in the eighties at the Heinrich Strobel Foundation’s Experimental Studio in Freiburg (Germany). For example, recreating the 48-channel vocoder built in the eighties by LAWO, simulating the original filters’ response curves. Vidolin adds, “We also used Max/MSP to create an audio patch bay similar to that installed in the Freiburg studio and which was the very heart of the studio itself. We also applied the Avid S6L console’s on-board effects, in particular for a pair of reverbs.” The audio flow was fed out by the Macs’ audio cards in ADAT, converted to MADI, then converted from 48kHz to 96kHz via DirectOut MADI.SRC. The signals then returned to the audio MADI-192 card of the AVID S6L engine, where the channels were assigned and fed out via snapshots previously created on the S6L, called up

via MIDI by the live electronics team. Vidolin enthused, “I found the Avid S6L an excellent control surface and its virtual sound check was the icing on the cake. In a work in which sound played such a fundamental role, involving approximately thirty configurations during the show and fine-tuning and adjustment of each individual snapshot’s settings, and considering the number of artistes involved, with another console everything would have been much more complicated and would have required a lot more work.” A multitrack recording was made of the event, at both 96kHz (thanks to the AVB card of the console) and 48 kHz, using the two MADI outputs of the stage rack. Carli concluded, “In order to use such a large number of outputs as well as those of the AVID stagerack, we used a DirectOut Andiamo 2.XT SRC converter, connected via the MADI-192 card of the AVID engine.” Describing this composition, Nono said, “It’s not an opera, nor a cantata, an oratorio or a concert. It’s a tragedy formed by sounds, with the complicity of a space.” He would definitely have approved of this version. n 52 Nono v1JMcK.indd 1

23/06/2017 14:44

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P54 JULY 2017


IN MEMORIAM Stephen Court: a tribute By Jim Evans Roxy Music play the Wharf

Stephen Court outside his beloved Tavistock Wharf

With his wife, Angela


riends and colleagues have been paying tribute to loudspeaker designer and entrepreneur Stephen Court, who has died following a fall at his West Country home. Court (“I’m a few years younger than Mick Jagger”) was a dedicated sound-man and one of pro-audio’s more colourful characters. He worked for the BBC and ITV and some of the biggest names in rock. And he had anecdotes to relate about them all – and the merits or otherwise of their sound systems. In recent years, he was based at Tavistock Wharf in Devon which he and his wife Angela bought in 2006 and developed into the leading live music venue in the area. The sound system at The Wharf is, not surprisingly, designed and built by Court Acoustics, which was the vehicle for his various system designs for both studios and live applications. Just prior to his passing, he had been promoting his latest loudspeakers with presentations at leading studios including Real World (Bath) and British Grove (London). Alan Parsons worked with Court on a number of initiatives including the Sound Check CD sound analysis programme. “Sound Check was very much his idea,” says Parsons, who is godfather to Stephen’s son James. “There was definitely a need for this product and he believed the live sound people needed it. He was always into low frequency energy – ‘big bottom end’ as he termed it. That’s why he insisted on Yello’s The Race being included on the Sound Check CD. “He was also the sound designer for the stage production of Freudiana in Vienna, which was the last

project we did with [Alan Parsons Project co-writer] Eric Woolfson before he died. “He had an opinion on eyerything – whether it was wanted or not. I liked him very much despite the stubborness and the opinions. He was a good friend. We will all miss him.” Court was a long-standing member of DEAF (The Distinguished Engineers Audio Federation) which over the years has raised thousands for deaf children. His post luncheon/curry jokes at their gatherings won plaudits and groans. DEAF secretary Tony Shields recalls: “His award-winning joke which was requested to be told on several occasions at DEAF lunches about the two Japanese sewage city workers on shift work who never ever met each other, is an apt epitaph to a great character. The gag went on for probably five minutes in Stephen’s wonderfully hideous Japanese accent, while the final punchline… well, it was just belly-aching!” “Stephen was one of our great characters and staunch supporter of our cherished profession, he will be greatly missed. Between Steve and Dag (Fellner, of Feldon Audio Hire) the ‘60s would not have been so much fun,” said acoustician Eddie Veale. “Stephen was one of the few distinctive original characters in the British audio industry when we led the world,” said former Marquee Studios director Simon White. Throughout his career, Court championed the merits of quality sound. And it was not always easy. “I recall trying to persuade the London Palladium to install a sound system,” he told your correspondent. “This

followed their phone call to me, inviting me to provide a solution to their sound problems. ‘We can’t afford your quote because we have just put £20,000 worth of carpet and chandeliers in the foyer’ was a not untypical response. ‘You can’t put speakers anywhere near the proscenium arch because the royal crest goes there’. Six months later, they parted with double that amount of money on a system that took two years to sort out. “It must be very difficult for venue owners because they are really at the mercy of sound equipment salesmen, and even the so-called ‘consultants’ seem to have a remarkably constant choice in equipment they recommend. I recall the great [entertainment impresario] Sir Lew Grade at London’s Talk of the Town telling me, ‘Mr Court, I have heard your sound systems are very good, and I know our sound system here is a load of crap, but we are full every night, and if I spent part of my fortune on one of your systems, we would still be full every night’.” Referring to The Wharf, he noted, “The joy of owning your own venue is putting everything, exactly where it should be – including the sound control area which we suspended from the roof trusses, geometrically in the centre of the sound field. – I think it’s taken me nearly forty years to achieve that.” Right now, he’s probably pointing out to St Peter the inadequacies of the sound reinforcement at the Pearly Gates. We’ll miss him. The funeral was held on 9 June at The Church of Mary Tavy, and the Wake was held – where else? – at The Wharf. n 54 Stephen court v1JMcK.indd 1

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LOGO – No Strapline

LOGO – White


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P57 JULY 2017

Hither & era

After 17 years of writing captions on this page, it’s now someone else’s job!

While one studio closes, another one thrives: here’s an old ad, prepared for a US-based studio magazine, promoting France’s famous Studio Davout which closed in April

Patrick ‘Duim’ Demoustier and the new Symphony digital AoIP monitoring unit, developed with distributor Amptec and UK-based manufacturer Glensound (and thanks for the pic, Marc Maes!)



…Meanwhile Here are Philip Bagenal (left) and Martin Terefe at the Eastcote Studios relaunch party in May. Terefe acquired the award-winning studios earlier this year from Bagenal, who has owned it since 1979.

…And a final ‘cheers!’ from this lot: the AES Daily team from Paris 2006. (L-R): David Davies, Rob Speight, the editor, Camilla Edwards, Hazel Croft, Simon Croft


Visit to find your local Neve dealer For recording as it’s meant to be heard, it has to be Neve - no question.

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P58 JULY 2017


Before I go… Outgoing editor Dave Robinson shamelessly fields questions from Facebook suggestions and attempts to shape them into something akin to a life narrative


ave Robinson has been a component of PSNE/PSNEurope for over 19 years. With a masters degree in Music Technology from York University and a love of relentless, repetitive (some would say “rubbish”) electronic music, he’s also edited the title since 2000, launched PSNLive and Genius!, mentored and supported many writers and contributors, and only once been to prison. Lo and behold, finally, here in 2017, he’s off to a new adventure. Meanwhile, a frivolous posting on his Facebook timeline prompted friends and colleagues to suggest questions that he might try to answer. And so…

Mark Flanagan (ex-TC Group): How many single malts is one too many?

Paul Robson (Medialease): What’s your favourite pop quiz question?

Press conferences at trade shows come in many forms. Some are too late in the day and go on too long, deluging you with techno jargon at 5pm when all you want is a beer. Others, especially in the US, expect you to be attentive at 8am over Starbucks and specifications. Now, around 2012, Tannoy decided single malt tasting at 4pm in Frankfurt would be a good idea. “Here are the new drivers, here’s a glass of ten-year-old Talisker.” I have no recollection of the rest of that day. But I know I had to apologise to certain people later.

Hosting and organising the PSNE pop quiz in Frankfurt for several years was a total hassle but, ultimately, a joy. And it allowed me to give a gratuitous mention to Tangerine Dream, the band that inspired my whole career. Did you know I sold my train set, my Spiderman comics, my Lego, so I could buy a synthesizer and sound like T Dream, back in 1983? (That picture at the top? It’s me, with TD’s Chris Franke at a NAMM show, circa 2001. …He was bonkers.) Anyway, my favourite question: “In the Banana Splits, who played the drums?”

Christopher Xtopher (dBs Music): What’s the best pun headline of your career?

Paddy Baker (Installation magazine): What’s the best Steely Dan album?

Headlines I always quote belong to my peers, much to my chagrin. As in: Phil Ward’s exclusive trip to Denmark to see the FX/dynamics developer: ‘Close friends get to call at TC’. Jon Chapple, talking about a post house in Glasgow growing its TV work: ‘More Telly for Savalas’. Myself? About 18 years ago, this was an early headline I thought was pretty good: ‘Speakers slated by Welsh, rated by Alan’. It was about nearfield monitors made in a mine in Wales, which Mr Parsons of the eponymous Project approved of. Oh yeah, and the 2005 Barcelona AES Daily when Peter Gabriel bought a console company: ‘SSL Sledgehammer!’

They’re all great, aren’t they? Pretzel Logic. Hell Freezes Over. The One With Rosie Vela On It. But, you know, there have been other albums recorded since 1974. In the future, the first album I hear at an AES Convention won’t be anything to do with Donald bloody Becker! I mean, Nightfly was 1982! Come on! Have you not heard of Santana?

Mel Lambert (freelance writer): In an all-digital world, is there room for vinyl? The resurgence of vinyl, I applaud it. If it creates a bigger audience for music, and encourages listeners to sit down, pause, and listen to the art of recording, rather than treating audio as a convenient time-filler or, at worse, a valueless commodity, then that is very good indeed. But, I will continue to dip into the CD collection I’ve built up over the years, if you don’t mind. (What’s more, they sound great through these megaliths from Blaenau Ffestiniog.)

Nick Batt ( Best junket trip? Being editor has afforded me some fantastic trips abroad. For instance: The 46664 concert in South Africa in 2005, where I helped set up a microphone for a press conference led my Nelson Mandela in his (now empty) Robben Island prison. Later, visiting the World Cup stadiums of that country as a guest of Peavey and Electro-Voice in 2010. Chicago in 2010 to interview Harman Pro Audio’s Blake Augsburger on his 47th birthday. NYC’s Times Square with Audio-Technica in April 2016. Ultimately though, the best has to be being invited to Eurovision – seven times over several years – by Sennheiser. I have to say, everyone should go to Eurovision once in their lives. But – darling! – not in those shoes.

Marsha Vdovin (PR Maven): How have you seen publishing change and how does it relate to the changes in the music industry? How to answer this? There has been consolidation in publishing, as there has been in the wider pro-audio industry. There is pressure to deliver volume of messaging with, perhaps, some disregard for depth, analysis and context. But: as long as there are writers and editors who are prepared to raise their heads above the parapet and ask the questions that need to be asked, then we have nothing to worry about.

Travis McGee (Ex-PR man): Bacon or beercan? Let me ask you: herpes or hairpiece?

Marcus Brooke (Sonifex): If you could be the editor of any magazine, what would it be? Decanter. The wine magazine. Though, God knows how I’d get anything done.

Barney Jameson (PSNE caretaker editor during 2008): Who was the best PSNE editor ever? Ask Dan Gumble when he completes his tenure… n 58 Backpage v1.indd 1

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PSNE July 2017 Digital  
PSNE July 2017 Digital