Page 1

REPORT

REVIEWS

REVEALED

/ Eventide: audio creativity, since 1971 /Harman Experience Centre: new solutions /Prolight + Sound: through the lens

/Session guitarist: NI Electric Sunburst /Warm Audio: two flavours of ’47 /Spitfire Hans Zimmer Strings

/Stephen W Tayler: mixing for Kate Bush /Recording in Chislehurst caves /John Lennon’s ‘home studio’

V17.D | Digital • April 2018 | £5.50

NEW LOOK

The

Interview

Xxxxx Xxxxxxxx Christian Henson Xxx


There is nothing else on the market that comes anywhere close Hugh Robjohns – Sound On Sound

genelec.com/theones


/ Contents

V17.D | Digital • April 2018

35

News & Analysis 5 6

12 49 54 58

Leader News Conventions, studios, appointments New Products Playlist Which live gigs for Resolution writers? Prolight + Sound Pro or No? Adam Daniel of Point1Post sounds off in surround

Columns

14 Broadcast aside Interactive engagement: the next level of production 16 Business Spotify’s Wall Street debut, UK music sales 18 Crosstalk Bringing a performance aspect to electronic music 20 Sound Opinion Are we getting lazy, knowing we can fix it afterwards?

Christian Henson

43

Craft

32 Stephen W Tayler Engineer, producer, musician, composer and sound designer: Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega, Peter Gabriel, Underworld, Sadia Sadia 35 Christian Henson Film composer and co-founder of Spitfire Audio 38 Sounds of the Underground Rob Kelly on recording in Chislehurst caves 43 John Lennon’s ‘home studio’ Exclusive extracts from Scott Cardinal’s book on Tittenhurst Park 46 Eventide — audio creativity, since 1971 Eventide’s founders, Richard Factor and Tony Agnello talk us through their achievements

14 38

Sweet Spot

54

50 Musical sound-check Acoustician Donato Masci on testing your monitors with music 52 Harman Experience Centre 53 Native Instruments competition

REVIEWS 22 Native Instruments Electric Sunburst 24 Warm Audio WA-47 and WA-47jr 26 RME ADI-2 DAC 28 Tracktion Waveform 9.1 30 Spitfire Audio Hanz Zimmer strings

18 Digital • April 2018 / 3


Click here for more


/ Welcome

Leader

Nigel Jopson

EDITORIAL Editor Nigel Jopson nigel@resolutionmag.com

From CMI to VI

CONTRIBUTORS George Shilling, Jon Thornton, Dan Daley, Dennis Baxter, Gijs Friesen, Russell Cottier, John Broomhall, Keith Holland, Simon Clark, Bill Lacey, Rob James, David Kennedy, Tim Oliver, Erica Basnicki and Ian Miller

ADVERTISEMENT SALES EUROPE Roland Ormesher +44 (0)20 7993 4704 roland@resolutionmag.com Chris Cope +44 (0)203 289 8015 chris@resolutionmag.com US & INTERNATIONAL Jeff Turner +1 415 455 8301 jeff@resolutionmag.com

PRODUCTION AND LAYOUT Dean Cook, The Magazine Production Company +44 (0)1273 467579 dean@resolutionmag.com

PRINTING Gemini Print Southern Ltd, Unit A1 Dolphin Road, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex. BN43 6NZ

MANAGEMENT Publisher Dave Robinson dave@resolutionmag.com Published by S2 Publications Ltd +44 (0)20 8694 2979 info@resolutionmag.com PO Box 71523, London, SE10 1DT, UK ©2018 S2 Publications Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care is taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this publication, but neither S2 Publications Ltd or the editor can be held responsible for its contents. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the Publishers. S2 Publications Ltd. Registered in England and Wales. REGISTERED OFFICE Gowran House, 56 Broad Street, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol, BS37 6AG. Company number: 4375084.

/resolutionmagazine

A

s a very young recording engineer, I saw the “future of music making” when producer Trevor Horn (Resolution V7.4) booked a session in the studio where I worked as a house engineer. He arrived with a Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) — a digital synthesizer, sampler and hardware DAW which had only recently been invented by Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie. At the time, the CMI cost as much as a decent London flat. I had recorded a Fairlight before with producer Alan Tarney (Cliff Richard, Leo Sayer, A-ha), but Alan didn’t have the workstation with screen, and used it like a glorified keyboard. I gave Trevor’s CMI operator (and Art Of Noise member) J. J. Jeczalik a SMTE code feed and in/outs from the SSL console. I rolled the tape and Trevor did what I assumed was some sort of rehearsal take, playing his bass in a rather off-the-wall manner, going for some odd slaps and pull-offs which seemed a little outside his repertoire as a musician. After a brief conflab with J.J. — “around bar 8, yeah, the bridge bit, then that slap…” — Jeczalik got to work with his screen and light-pen. I rolled the tape again and a perfectly in-time, in-tune, funky bass part came out of the CMI. I instantly resolved that, as soon as

such devices became even slightly affordable, I absolutely must have one. I had to wait another four years for the Akai S900. On the other side of London, holed up in a little studio called Snake Ranch, Hans Zimmer bought eight Akais. Zimmer had the forward-thinking realisation he could sell himself better as a movie composer if he could demonstrate the exact sound of his score (playing orchestral samples) to Hollywood execs, none of whom read music, and who — at the time — commissioned work on the basis of reputation. This became one of the cornerstones of Zimmer’s future success. Sample libraries passed through a tricky period, where extensive development and top-notch recording were unwarranted, because sample DVDs could easily be copied and downloaded. There seemed no value in recording something exceptional. Fast forward to today, where VIs with online authorisation/ iLoks negate this threat, and we see companies like Native Instruments and Spitfire Audio investing extensively and taking sampling to the next level. The musicianship and quality of audio recorded has actually been taken above what might be warranted within most production budgets. It’s fantastic to see value restored, and this type of high-end production tool made available to audio professionals.

Nigel

Editor

@ResolutionMagaz

Digital • April 2018 / 5


News

Immersive listening in focus at AES Milan show

A highlight event of the AES Milan Convention will be the ‘New Surround and Immersive Recordings’ sessions, presented by Jim Anderson and tonmeister Ulrike Schwarz, recipient of multiple European awards including the Diamant d’Opera, Diapason d’Or, and Echo Klassik, as well as accolades for Anderson’s work on many GRAMMYwinning projects. ‘AES Milan Workshop W10’ will take place on Thursday, 24 May at 10:45, showcasing high-resolution surround and immersive recordings. Anderson and Schwarz will present listeners with works that they have recorded and mixed in the past year in sessions taking place in New York, Norway, Havana and beyond.

Waves Virtual Mix Room surrounds Elton GRAMMYwinning mix engineer Brian Yaskulka (Lisa Loeb, Andy Summers) recently mixed Elton John — Farewell Yellow Brick Road: The Legacy, a career-retrospective 360/VR project for music legend Sir Elton John and part of his on-going career-farewell endeavours. Without a 360 mix environment but working with tight deadlines, Yaskulka found the right solution with Waves Nx Virtual Mix Room over Headphones (reviewed Resolution V16.8). Yaskulka notes, “I had no viable monitoring facility, so I went ahead and used a pair of AKG K702 reference headphones, with the Nx Virtual Mix Room plug-in and the Nx Head Tracker attached to the headphones. I ended up mixing 90% of the project on headphones. The remaining 10% was done in the Spinifex theatre, and I was amazed, as it sounded almost exactly the same in that acoustically magnificent theatre as it did on my headphones with Nx.” 6 / Digital • April 2018

Capcom chooses Genelec Ones Japan’s Capcom is one of the world’s most renowned games developers, with titles including Street Fighter, Resident Evil and Monster Hunter. More than 300 Genelec monitors can be found within the company’s facilities, and a recent refurbishment of Studio B, has prompted the addition of even more. The Dynamic Mixing Stage, is home to an immersive 7.1.4 set-up which represents Japan’s most prestigious installation to date of the coaxial 8331 and 8341 point source monitors from The Ones range. “Fixed, film-like visual productions will appear far less frequently [in games] in the future, so we decided that our studio facility should reflect that change, becoming a workspace for handling the overall mix for the game, rather than just those movie-like moments,” explained Kazuya Takimoto, from the Sound Production Department. “To achieve that, we drew up the room design from scratch, and we tried to introduce more compact solutions.”

Stage Tec becomes RAVENNA partner The Berlin-based manufacturer of professional audio mixing consoles and routers is one of the leading pioneers in the transition from analogue to digital audio technology. In the 25 years of its existence, Stage Tec has set new standards in digital technology with continuous development and innovation. “With our engagement in RAVENNA we are pleased to be able to offer an even wider spectrum of IP solutions to our customers”, explained Helmut Jahne, CEO of Stage Tec. “We have been providing IP-based technology since 2012 with the NEXUS Dante card XDIP. With the launch of our AES67-compatible RIF67 Router Interface in 2017, Stage Tec also offers IP audio transport via AES67. A second interface card to be introduced this year, the NEXUS Fiber and IP Interface (XFIP), will also feature full AES67 compatibility. Both cards are also fully RAVENNA-compatible.” (pictured: Philipp Lawo, CEO Lawo, and René Harder, Stage Tec management team)


APPOINTMENTS

API Legacy for Croatia’s 15IPS Studios API announced the order of a second Legacy AXS recording console for the European market. The new 15IPS Studios in Croatia will be taking delivery of a 32 channel AXS, which was displayed at the Musikmesse exhibit in Frankfurt, Germany and will be shipped to the facility for July. This is the thirteenth AXS to be delivered since the product’s launch approximately one year ago. The AXS console continues API’s commitment to an all-analogue signal path. Console frames range from 32 to 80 channels, with each channel offering dual input capability and access to two API 200

Series module slots. A return to the traditional 1.5 inch module width standard allows for the use of API 500 Series Equalisers on a per-channel basis. Managing director and recording engineer of 15IPS Studios, Borko Kovac, says, “We made the choice for the API Legacy AXS console because of the character of the sound; the great preamps, equalisers, compressors and the 28dB of headroom. Combined with our living accommodation and a spectacular view of the coast from the studios, API and the AXS was only a dream, but now has become a reality.”

Native Instruments unveils artists events

Palma Music Studios opens with SSL Duality

Native Sessions BARS examines Hip Hop, Grime and R&B cultural movements from April 11 - May 20, taking place in Berlin, London, Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Toronto — and for the first time — Mexico City. The BARS concept is an exploration into the evolution and influence of the foundational elements of Hip Hop, Grime and R&B, featuring some of the world’s leading musical voices. Lectures, discussions, and performances from the scene’s most prolific artists will dig into the sonic and cultural hallmarks of the genres. To celebrate the series, Native Instruments is launching a remix competition with Metapop giving fans and creators a chance to throw their cap in for a beat battle.

A new ground-up commercial facility on the beautiful Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca features flexible spaces, including the ‘Quincy’ control room, with a 48-channel SSL Duality δelta SuperAnalogue console at its heart, and the spacious ‘Wonder’ live room. The studio is a joint project between Swedish producer Fredrik Thomander and Johan Lundgren. Nick Whitaker was the Acoustic consultant, and Paul Ward (Oxford Studio Systems) handled wiring and infrastructure. The building has eight floating zones and the creative spaces span three floors, with three project rooms, a vocal booth, and a larger basement production studio.

Abbey Road Studios, have appointed multiple Grammywinning producer, guitarist, arranger and composer Nile Rodgers  to the specially created role of chief creative advisor at the Studios. In a unique partnership celebrating a shared legacy and vision for creative innovation, Rodgers will establish Abbey Road as his primary UK creative base and serve as the Studios’ global artist ambassador. He will also advise on Abbey Road’s pioneering experiments in audio technology, including Spatial Audio. Apple announced the promotion of Oliver Schusser to lead Apple Music Worldwide. His new title is vice president of Apple Music & International Content. Schusser has previously led efforts outside the US related to the App Store, iTunes movies and TV portals, iBooks and Apple Podcasts. Schusser will relocate from London to California; while in the UK he played a key role in the acquisition of Shazam, which has yet to receive European regulatory approval. He will continue to lead international teams in 38 different offices. Will Evans, former global sales & marketing manager at Spitfire Audio, has been promoted to CEO. The new role was created by founders Paul Thomson and Christian Henson in order to have someone dedicated to the day-to-day running of the business and provide a “singular leadership voice”. Thomson and Henson will focus on creative opportunities and partnerships, and on ensuring Spitfire’s product offering is aligned to its customer base. Carianne Marshall has been appointed chief operating officer at Warner/Chappell Music. Marshall was most recently head of creative services, and head of creative licensing at SONGS Music Publishing. Marshall developed a roster of more than 300 songwriters at SONGS, where she was the company’s executive leader on the West Coast. SONGS signed songwriters such as Lorde, The Weeknd and Diplo before being acquired last year by a fund managed by Kobalt Capital.

Digital • April 2018 / 7


APPOINTMENTS Genelec Inc. announced the promotion of two of its key US sales personnel, John Whitcore and Paul Stewart (formerly Genelec Territory Managers). Whitcore has been appointed National Sales Manager, and Stewart has been appointed Senior Technical Sales Manager — reflecting the company’s ongoing sales growth in the US market. Prior to joining the Genelec team, Whitcore managed US/Canadian East coast pro audio sales for Avid. Stewart, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, draws on nearly 20 years of experience (12 of which have been at Genelec) in pro audio sales to high-end production facilities. Lawo has appointed Michael ‘Catfish’ Dosch to the position of Senior Product Manager, Radio OnAir. Dosch succeeds Stephan Türkay, who assumes the post of Senior Product Manager, Networked Audio. Dosch is well known for his role as co-founder of Axia Audio, where he was instrumental in the adoption of AoIP for broadcasting, and for his many successful console designs, which include the Axia Fusion and PR&E Radiomixer. In his new role, Dosch will manage Lawo’s extensive portfolio of radio products.

PMC has appointed OTARITEC as its distributor for Japan, with responsibility for its entire range of professional monitoring products. Based in Shinjyuku, Tokyo, OTARITEC was established in 1980 by parent company OTARI, initially to distribute its own range of audio products. It has subsequently built a strong reputation for handling high-end pro audio and broadcast products from many manufacturers including LAWO, Riedel Communication and d&b audiotechnik. OTARITEC says PMC’s reputation for producing high-end professional monitoring systems was a key reason why it wanted to take on distribution for the brand in Japan.

8 / Digital • April 2018

Studio upgrade for Sensible Music The project included the fine tuning of the acoustics, an equipment upgrade and creation of a vocal booth. “We wanted to inject new life into the studio and have a more accessible creative environment that caters to modern workflows,” said Jack Freegard, Manager at Sensible Music, London. Chris Walls from Level Acoustic Design was challenged to retain the original acoustics of the studio from when it was first designed. Studio Creations undertook the build and technical install. “Both Chris

Walls and Justin Spier understood what we were after. The control room now has a more focused sound and the bottom end is much tighter.” Main monitors are PMC BB5XBD’s, and vintage Neve and API pre-amps were chosen to complement the new SSL AWS 948 Delta console. “In addition to the existing control room and live booth, we have converted our old machine room into an extra booth which can be used for re-amping, as a satellite production suite or vocal booth,” Freegard added.

CEDAR DNS 2 on set in Morocco

Adlib invests in Sennheiser Digital 6000

For a two-part TV special broadcast by ARD TV in Germany, SWR engineer Peter Tielker explained his use of the DNS 2 on set. “I sent my mix via an Aux path through the DNS 2, which I then routed back into an input on my Sound Devices 688T. Due to the near-zero latency of the DNS 2 there was no loss of synchronisation between the sound and the picture, and my cleaned version was later available as an alternative to the original mix. It’s not difficult to choose appropriate settings and, if the guys in post think that I’ve over-processed something, they can always go back to the original audio.”

The system includes eight channels of Digital 6000, with SK 6000 pocket transmitters, and SKM 6000 handheld transmitters with MD 9235 capsules. Rackmount rechargeable battery units for both the handhelds and pocket transmitters will help reduce the company’s environment footprint. “We’re getting increasingly busy and finding that there’s a lot of demand for radio equipment to tour around Europe” says Adlib Director Dave Kay. “We wanted to invest in the newest technology to give us more flexibility on spectrum usage. We’ve used Digital 6000 for the past couple of years on events such as Capital Radio’s Summertime and Jingle Bell Ball where it has worked flawlessly.”


FOR RADIO Breaking Radio Silence

SCALABLE

MODULAR NATIVE AOIP

calrec.com


News

METAlliance at Capitol The METAlliance recorded more than 20 songs during the Academy weekend of recording sessions at Capitol Studios in Hollywood. Recording enthusiasts, both beginners and seasoned pros, got to mix songs, witness great performances, ask every question they could think of and meet leading musicians, engineers, and producer Don Was (Resolution V11.8). Blue Note recording artist José James and his band recorded with engineer Ed Cherney and producer/bassist Don Was. Often referred to as a jazz singer for the hip-hop generation, New York City-based vocalist José James combines jazz, soul, drum’n’bass, and spoken word into his own unique brand of vocal jazz. “We worked on tracks for José’s new Blue Note album for the entire weekend,” said Cherney “and the band was incredible.” METAlliance founders Chuck Ainlay and Elliot Scheiner worked with attendees throughout the weekend exploring the art of mixing in Studio C. Established in 2005, the Music Engineering and Technology Alliance works with educators to help ensure the skills and techniques that have developed through the history of recording are carried forward. 

New recording studios at University of Winchester Two members of MercuryPrize-winning indie rock band alt-J launched the University’s new state-ofthe-art recording and post production studios on the 29th March. Created by acoustic architects Veale Associates, the five-room complex features two control rooms, two live rooms and an ADR/Foley room for creating sound effects, as well as a green room. Both control rooms feature Audient consoles, with the world’s first heightadjustable ASP8024-HE console in control room two. The console allows ergonomic operation for wheelchair users and can be raised all the way to a comfortable standing position. The large live room features an acoustic diffuser which provides excellent sound diffusion and is the first manufactured by the Italian Wood-Skin company to be installed in the UK. 10 / Digital • April 2018

Philippines’ ABS-CBN installs Lawo mc²56 consoles Philippines’ leading media and entertainment organization, ABS-CBN Corporation, has upgraded Control Rooms 3 and 10 at its TV production studios in Quezon City (close to the country’s capital, Manila) with identical Lawo mc²56 audio consoles. The new consoles were installed by Broadcast Communications International, the main contractor. The IP-based Lawo production consoles — each with 64 faders and providing 270 DSP channels, a routing capacity of 5120x5120 crosspoints, integrated Waves SoundGrid servers and connectivity via four

DALLIS I/O frames — mark the first Lawo equipment installations in the Philippines. After a rigorous selection process carried out by ABS-CBN in the preceding months, the order for the mc²56 consoles arrived with Lawo in February 2017. Following delivery and several months required for installation, testing and training — all according to ABS-CBN’s ambitious project schedule — the modernized IP-ready studio control rooms went on-air in January 2018. Tan Boon Siong, Lawo’s Sales Director for Southeast Asia, commented: “We are proud to have our first large-scale installation in Philippines.”

2018 AES Conference on Audio for Virtual and Augmented Reality The second International Conference on Audio for Virtual and Augmented Reality, will take place August 20-22, 2018, at the DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, WA, USA. The conference and exhibition will bring together a community of influential research scientists, engineers, VR and AR developers, and content creators to explore spatial audio capture, rendering, binaural, ambisonics, wave field synthesis and more. The conference’s keynote presenters — Jean-Marc Jot (Magic Leap/DTS), Ivan

Tashev (Microsoft Research Labs) and Ravish Mehra (Oculus) — are at the forefront of innovation for VR and AR. The three-day conference and expo will focus on the dissemination of top-level research, with demonstrations and discussions focused on technical solutions and recommended practices. Leading researchers, practitioners and industry leaders will offer panel discussions, tutorials and workshops on new and forthcoming technologies. The deadline for submission of papers and workshops is May 1, 2018.

WHEN IS THAT TRADE SHOW AGAIN? plasa focus, Leeds

1-2 May

AES Archiving, Culpeper

WWRS, Hollywood

2-4 May

Summer NAMM, Nashville

28-30 June

AES Spatial conference, Tokyo 

7-9 August

BIT Audiovisual KOBA, Seoul AES, Milan Palm Expo, Mumbai InfoComm, Las Vegas MPS, London BroadcastAsia, Singapore

Madrid 8-10 May May 15-18 23-26 May 31 May-2 June 6-8 June 12-13 June 26-28 June

VA June 28-30

AES VR conference, Redmond  20-22 August Integrate Expo, Sydney IBC, Amsterdam

22-24 August 13-18 September

AES Mastering conference, London  AES, New York

22-23 September 17-20 October


SPITFIRE AUDIO C L I C K

H E R E

F O R

M O R E


New Gear

New products Resolution’s essential briefing on the latest hardware and software Steinberg Audio-Technica

URT interfaces

ATH-M60x

www.steinberg.net

www.audio-technica.com

The UR-RT2 and UR-RT4 24-bit/192kHz interfaces are the result of a collaboration between Steinberg and Rupert Neve Designs. The UR-RT2 comes with four inputs and two outputs, while the UR-RT4 boasts six inputs and four outputs. Both interfaces offer USB 2.0 and MIDI connectivity (with 5-pin DIN connectors, owners of vintage synths will be pleased to hear), alongside a range of input/output options for laptop and iPad, as well as providing DSP-powered effects for zero-latency monitoring. These include REV-X reverb, Channel Strip, and Guitar Amp Classics (VST 3 plug-in versions also included). The Neve transformers are coupled with D-PRE preamps by Yamaha (as featured in the MG series mixers). The D-PRE uses an inverted Darlington design with four transistors, two on each hot and cold signal, which allows the preamp to accept relatively hot signals without the usual increase in distortion. Unlike many desktop interfaces, Resolution anticipates plenty of gain and a characterful sound. The UR-RT2 and UR-RT4 audio interfaces will be available for purchase from resellers and through the Steinberg Online Shop from the beginning of June. The suggested retail price for the UR-RT2 is €399, the UR-RT4 is €649 including tax.

Ferrofish

The latest addition to the M-Series headphone line is a low-profile, on-ear professional headphone model that utilises the same proprietary 45mm largeaperture drivers found in the ATH-M50x (with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminium wire voice coils). The ATH-M60x’s low-profile, closedback, on-ear design is made with sound isolation and comfortable fit in mind. A-T have employed memory foam for the (replaceable) earpads and headband. The cans have a low-impedance design — enabling reasonable levels even from puny headphone outs. It will ship with three cables — 3.0m coiled cable, 3.0m straight cable and 1.2m straight cable — as well as a protective carrying pouch. The ATH-M60x be available summer 2018 at £179. BPHS2 Broadcast Stereo Headset for news and sports broadcasting is based on the ATH-M60x, using the same 45mm drivers. This rugged stereo headset offers a low-profile design with “commanding, broadcast-ready vocal reproduction”: available in three configurations: BPHS2 stereo and BPHS2S single-ear versions both with hypercardioid dynamic mics, and BPHS2C stereo with condenser mic, again, available from summer 2018.

Avid

elysia

In its new iteration the Pulse16 DX is a highquality 48/96/192kHz 24-bit converter with active jitter reduction. The 1U rack-mount, 16 analogue I/O ADAT, MADI and Dante converter allows full 16x16 expansion across Dante audio networks “at a remarkably low cost” (price has yet to be announced). Through its two RJ45 connectors, the Pulse16 DX expands any Dante audio network via its 16 AD/DA Cirrus Logic converters. Pulse 16 DX also offers full ADAT and MADI functionality with eight TOSLINK connectors, MADI users have the choice of operating in multimode or singlemode with easy-to-switch SFP modules, allowing reconfiguration without the need of factory modification. The Ferrofish Pulse 16 DX can even function as a format converter: MADI to Dante, or maybe add 16 analogue channels to an incoming MADI stream and route them onto your Dante network. Two TFT displays monitor all 32 channels.

Avid recently unveiled Avid | On Demand, an SaaS cloud services and solutions platform that provides media production capabilities on demand. On Demand lets media organisations conveniently deploy the capabilities they need on a perproject basis without a drawn-out deployment phase or large capital outlay. Services include Avid | AI, a new suite of Avid and third-party capabilities that automate content indexing, such as closed captioning verification, language detection, facial recognition, scene detection, and speech-to-text conversion. Avid also introduced Avid NEXIS | E5 NL nearline storage solution. With the addition of this high-density on-premises solution to the Avid NEXIS family “the world’s first software-defined storage platform for media”, Avid customers can manage media across all of their online, nearline, and archive storage resources.

Elysia have demonstrated a single-width 500 module featuring preamp, filters, harmonics, dynamics and a balanced DI “everything you’ll ever need in front of your DAW” as they describe it, with the typical elysia attention to minimal-path high quality audio circuitry. The preamp is a Class-A design, and instead of using potentiometers, Elysia have incorporated single resistors controlled by a relay cascade. This combines with stepped controllers for completely repeatable settings. Sound shaping is via a ‘Mojo machine’ with filters and harmonics, and the low end can be cleaned up with a variable high-pass filter. A fixed ratio compressor has a single knob controlling threshold. There’s a front-panel DI input, and both inputs (XLR and DI) can handle levels up to +19dBu. Elysia have indicated the pricing may be expected to be somewhere between the Mpressor 500 and their double-wide 500 modules.

www.synthax.co.uk

www.avid.com

www.elysia.com

Pulse 16 DX Dante

12 / Digital • April 2018

On Demand & Nexis

skulpter 500


Sennheiser

RME

Compared to the ew 100-p series, Sennheiser says the ew 500-p operates with a higher switch bandwidth. The ew 500-p 88MHz bandwidth more than doubles the ew 100-p’s 42 MHz bandwidth. With a higher bandwidth, Sennheiser say the ew 500-p will offer “a higher channel count and easier channel allocation in congested RF environments.” Additionally, the ew 500-p is reported to offer higher power for longer reach. The ew 512-p G4 Pro Portable Lavalier Mic Set, features a camera receiver, bodypack transmitter and professional MKE 2 lavalier mic, along with various accessories. The series additionally features the ew 500 BOOM G4 Pro Portable Boom Set, providing a camera receiver, phantom power equipped plug-on transmitter and accessories. Finally, there’s the ew 500 FILM G4 Combo Set, consisting of both bodypack and plug-on transmitters, a MKE 2 lavalier mic and a camera receiver. The 500 Series has up to 32 compatible channels and the SKP 500 G4 features phantom power, and can be used with various different types of microphones, unlike the ew 100-p, which can only be used with dynamic microphones.

The Digiface Dante is a 256-channel, 192kHz USB audio interface that combines a lightweight design with Dante network connectivity and supports AES67. The BNC connections provide Word Clock I/O and can be switched to work with MADI, allowing for MADI and Dante to be used together, and allowing the unit to work as a simple bidirectional format converter in standalone mode. The Digiface Dante uses RME’s low latency USB driver for Windows and macOS and is equipped with RME’s digital real-time mixer TotalMix FX software. The new Digiface Dante provides the user with the benefit of RME’s driver technology for zero-latency monitoring, and low-latency performance in and out of the Dante networking during recording or playback. With the release of the Digiface AVB, RME is addressing the growing need in the AV industry to distribute audio over a LAN (local area network). The Digiface AVB USB audio interface uses AVB to transfer up to 256 channels of audio between PC and audio networks. Equipped with USB 3, the interface provides users with the ability to stream up to 128 channels of audio with sampling rates up to 192kHz into the AVB network and another 128 channels back.

www.sennheiser.com

www.synthax.co.uk / www.rme-audio.com

ew 500-p

Propellerhead

Digiface Dante & AVB

ROLI

Spitfire

Propellerhead Software has released Layers Wave Edition Reason Rack Extension, offering the sound of the mighty Waldorf Wave synth in a modern, easy to use sample Reason Rack Extension instrument. Four layers of samples from the Waldorf Wave, combined with effects, sequencing capabilities and comprehensive modulation, adds up to a powerful performance instrument. In the early 90s the hardware Waldorf Wave was the most advanced wavetable synthesizer to date.

The Kit consists of the Seaboard Block, Lightpad Block, and Loop Block which snap together to create a powerful, integrated instrument. Seaboard Block replaces a traditional keyboard with a soft, pressureresponsive surface that lets you touch and shape your sound, and comes bundled with a huge library of sounds from string sections to glitched-out synths.  Lightpad M is the updated version of ROLI’s award-winning Lightpad Block. Its redesigned interface allows for even more precise and expressive playing. Dimpled with 225 microkeywaves, the new Lightpad Block enhances the tactile feedback of the original for a more responsive playing experience.

Spitfire Audio announced Ólafur Arnalds Chamber Evolutions. BAFTA Award-winning Icelandic composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Ólafur Arnalds — known for his original score to Broadchurch — recorded the samples at Lyndhurst Hall at Air Studios. The ensemble was creatively captured with “the best high-end microphones and pres”, and piped through the Neve 88R large-format console with several user-selectable mic mixes making their way to the Virtual Instrument control panel as C (Close), St (Stereo), T (Tree), and A (Ambient). This library enables you to quickly and easily create dynamic, evolving and interesting string music. It contains a chamber string section recorded playing slowly evolving long notes with all kinds of interesting colours and effects — plus ‘Waves’ — single notes that swell from nothing and then die away again at four different lengths.

www.propellerheads.se

www.roli.com / www.soundtech.co.uk

www.spitfireaudio.com

Wave Edition

Songmaker Kit

Chamber Evolutions

Digital • April 2018 / 13


Columns

Broadcast aside Dennis Baxter

Make mine interactive

I

Active engagement: the next level of entertainment production

have read and heard praises of the value of the second screen experience. Selfishly, as a picture/content producer, I do not want my audience to take their eyes off my screen. Alternatively, I definitely see the value of the second screen experience as something exciting for the next level of entertainment production — and a powerful tool for sound. Beyond VR, you cannot do much to manipulate the screen. More graphics, stats and alternative camera views seem to be a big part of the second screen experience, which leads me to believe the future of personalised entertainment is the sonic and individual control of the sound of the experience. What is personalisation? Interactivity in real-time. Personalisation permits the viewer to customise and enjoy any level of interactivity desired from swapping the language or changing the format from mono to immersive sound. The integration of passive television viewing with an active interface to broadcast and broadband entertainment, gaming and commerce channels has been in development for some time now. The humble television hand remote was the first interactive device that could change the channel and volume, but in reality was only the point-to-point interactivity between the remote and television. For over a decade, content and data providers have offered a limited interactive menu of mostly information or video-on-demand because there is constricted bandwidth in the digital stream between the providers and consumers. Advanced interactivity and audio capabilities require more capacity/bandwidth for additional audio and data channels. But audio lives in a world where pictures have been at the forefront since the electronic picture format was rolled out — and audio has always been secondary. The picture has already moved to UHD (ultra high definition) which requires twice the bandwidth of HD, while stepchild audio has been left with the same bandwidth as it had for HD. In 2015, the broadcast and broadband world saw new audio coding from MPEG-H and others that optimised the existing bandwidth to give users up to 16 very high quality audio and data channels where there had been just eight channels available before. The possibilities seem unlimited, but a couple 14 / Digital • April 2018

/ “Alexa, improve his homework narrative…”

/ Dennis gets the mix right

of simple applications come to mind for the use of the additional channels. True 360° immersive sound is now possible along with a wide range of utilitarian applications such as language selection, specific programming enhancements, and commerce, of course. Straightforward volume adjustment has been available for some time, but with interactive channels it is simple to adjust the sound balance to improve speech intelligibility. Simply by adjusting the balancing of the commentators with the ambience, listeners can achieve significantly better clarity. Background reduction is useful and simple for the consumer and maybe particularly useful while consuming media in loud environments.

Select the sound source

Programming enhancement, such as language choice (English/German/French — whatever) or voice selection, such as listening in on the personal audio of a dozen contestants in a reality programme is possible. Alternative language selection is essential for International distribution and even useful for large countries like China, which has two official languages as well as releasing programmes in English. Alternative commentary is a valuable production tool that could offer various levels of commentary to entertain the casual fan or the knowledgeable consumer. The reality programme, Big Brother, pits multiple contestants against each which often results in salty and unscripted dialogue. Interactive audio would permit the viewer to isolate and listen-in

on conversations with any and all of the participants. Programme enhancements, where the viewer can be the participant (active) and not just the spectator, are finding interested audiences with radio. Resolution editor, Nigel Jopson, sent me some details about interactive programme enhancements that the BBC was testing where the programme narrator asked the listener to make choices at certain points to direct the story results. Finally, programming around commerce has already been successful. Another level of interactivity is where the consumer can expect a richer experience such as modelling and role-playing. I find it interesting that for decades, many of the innovations in film have been related to sound. With electronic media, the sound was lagging, too, until the rise in the popularity of digital gaming. Next Gen Audio (NGA) will play a major role in the consumer experience by bringing the possibility of immersive sound and interactive channels. Immersive sound and interactive channels are valuable tools that can attract and keep the attention of the media consumer. Active engagement has been lacking for many years and may have contributed to the ‘sports bar’ phenomenon and the fact that a lot of television consumption is a passive activity. The pictures tell enough of the story. Clearly, audio and video can be consumed at different levels of attention. But with the addition of innovative interactive capabilities, an engaging and entertaining sound can easily be achieved creating a higher level of interest and audience retention. At the end of the day, make mine interactive. dbaxter@dennisbaxtersound.com


/ Column

Business

Nigel Jopson

Smart speakers will drive streaming Business deals which affect production pros

UK label revenue up 10.6%

Spotify goes public

Smart speakers

UK record company trade income (revenue generated through sales and streams across all music formats combined with earnings from sync) rose by 10.6% in 2017 to £839.4m, according to the BPI (British Phonographic Industry).  This represents the fastest rate of growth since the height of Britpop in 1995, when revenues increased by 10.7%. However, total trade income remains nearly one third lower than the peak year of 2001, when it topped £1.2bn. The increase in 2017 was driven by a 9.5% leap in music consumption. Revenues from streaming grew by 41%, and streaming now makes up 46% of industry turnover. Monthly subscriptions added the most to the overall increase, rising by 45% to £346.9m. Ad-supported audio and video streaming grew less, contributing £42m. The BPI thinks this figure should have been higher, were it not for “the continuing distortion in the market-place that allows some user upload platforms to pay much lower royalties than competing digital music services”. The BPI continues to maintain that the UK government’s Digital Charter, will address this ‘YouTube’ issue. The UK’s 10.6% growth in label recorded music revenues compares to 12.6% wholesale growth for labels in the US, announced by the RIAA in March. Meanwhile, in Germany, the third largest recorded music market worldwide, industry body BVMI recently reported a 0.3% decline in recorded music revenues in 2017 — but with a similar 42.8% bump in music streaming revenues.

Swedish streaming giant Spotify debuted on Wall Street on the 3rd of April with a bang: Spotify was one of the largest tech offerings in history, valuing the company at $25bn. Why is this important for production pros? Streaming is the future, and of all the big services, only Spotify is truly independent. Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, YouTube(Google), Deezer(WMG owner Access Industries), QQ Music(Chinese internet giant Tencent), and — in the future — Facebook, all have parent companies with business imperatives having nothing to do with music. They’re not concerned with music streaming generating a profit — ergo, there is little pressure to drive down label costs. Unlike TV, music rights are heavily concentrated — our major label ecosystem has an 80% market share between them. But a quarter of this share comes from distribution arrangements with indie labels, and top artists increasingly own their own masters. If Spotify can make some deals with indies, it could be positive for our industry. The Consumer Technology Association estimates US consumers will spend $6.6bn on music streaming services in 2018. “Music enthusiasts are investing their time and effort to build playlists, add favourites, customize the service” said Richard Kowalski, manager of industry and business intelligence. “The engagement can lead to someone who wants to turn off ads and enjoy offline listening. They’re ready. They’re not going to jump to another service, because they’ve put all this time and effort in.”

Smart speakers will fuel the next wave of music streaming and market growth. About 43m Americans now have a smart speaker in their home, with Amazon’s Echo range thought to comprise approximately two thirds of those devices. Smart speakers are predicted to grow to 56.3m shipments in 2018. Amazon and Google will face increased competition as new vendors enter the race. Last month we revealed Facebook intends to release two units later in 2018, code-named Portal and Fiona, both equipped with touchscreens. Meanwhile, Spotify has been recruiting specialists over the last year to work on a hardware product that “influences the way the world experiences music”. Music is the most popular use for smart speakers, with users listening to more audio than they did before purchasing one. A Music Business Association survey with 3,000 US participants discovered 34% of Amazon Echo and Home owners spend more than four hours a day listening to music, compared to 24% of the general population. 48% of smart speaker owners have a premium subscription to a music-streaming service. Smart speakers look set to encourage more casual interaction with music — with generic requests to “play music” creating dependence on the personalisation algorithms of speakers’ computer-programmed assistants. Creating the correct metadata to play nicely with algorithms may eventually become just as significant as radio pluggers were in the past. nigel@resolutionmag.com

16 / Digital • April 2018


/ Column

Crosstalk

Erica Basnicki

Don’t just press play!

S

Bringing a performance aspect to electronic music

ome of my favourite artists are those who use technology in interesting ways: Björk, known to fearlessly embrace new software, instruments and devices; Scanner, the aptlynamed composer who made a name for himself (ahem) by using a radio scanner to snatch mobile phones conversations from thin air and weave them into his compositions; Amon Tobin, who made his remarkable sixth studio album Foley Room entirely out of field recordings. One of these artists is not like the other. Although Björk has certainly embraced digital technology whilst creating her music, she stands out for incorporating it into her live musical performance and having a fan base big enough that these electronic experiments such the Reactable get written about extensively in the media. Usually, this coverage has the feeling of ‘look at this brilliantly weird artist doing something brilliantly weird onstage’. Björk is no doubt uniquely gifted, but certainly not the only artist to explore bringing more of a performance aspect to electronic music using something other than live musicians. Making live electronic music more, well, ‘live’ on stage has always been a challenge, and I have honestly been very cynical about the gadgets and apps that promise to add a visual excitement that is otherwise difficult to come by. Not quite as cynical as Deadmau5, who in 2012, wrote a particularly scathing article titled “we all hit play” on his personal Tumblr blog (which has since been deleted) targeting the more mainstream EDM/DJ shows. As the title suggests, to pull off a truly ‘live’ electronic performance would be a logistical nightmare. Much easier to fake it and just press play. The result, at least for cynics like me, is that it’s been all too easy to dismiss some rather brilliant gestural controllers, apps, and other hybrids not unlike a marketing manager who still questions the power and validity of social media. Take Imogen Heap’s Mi.mu Gloves: ‘wireless, sensor-enabled gloves for creating and performing music through movement and gesture’ according to the website. As a child of the 90s, I can’t help but think of the failed experiment that was the Nintendo Power Glove. Mi.mu Gloves are nothing like the Power Glove. 18 / Digital • April 2018

/ The Glitch Mob performing at Austin City Limits

It’s the emotional response that’s key

In fact, watching them in action is mesmerising. How do they work? Is it magic? Logically, I can answer these questions. It’s the emotional response that’s key. An emotional response is key to any great gig. Music gives us that, but in a live situation we need a bit more. That’s what makes Mi.mu Gloves so exciting. Unfortunately, Mi.mu Gloves are also a rather exclusive product, at least for the moment. Made with care in limited batches, they may excite the imagination but will never be embraced by the masses. That’s not to say that gestural music control is …erm, out of reach of a wider audience. IK Multimedia and Source Audio are two manufacturers that have developed more readily-available solutions. Source Audio offers the Hot Hand USB that combines a three axis motion sensor ring and USB receiver for wireless control with any MIDI-compatible DAW. IK Multimedia’s iRing uses a similar ring-like device, but is intended for use with an Apple iDevice to control apps (though Mac users will have the option to use their device with a desktop DAW and achieve wireless control in that manner). Obviously, these and other similar gestural control devices will not offer the same functionality as the Mi.mu Gloves, but with a broader market available, there is a greater potential to spark even more ideas. The idea of ‘performance’ also extends well beyond gestural control: expressive MIDI controllers such as ROLI’s Seaboard and its diminutive counterpart, blocks have earned a spot in the mainstream via the Apple store. VR

— a topic worthy of its own discussion — is blurring the lines between the listening to an album and watching it be performed ‘live’. Most notably, Beattie Wolfe’s live-streamed performance of Raw Space, which combined a focused listening of what she put together in the studio, with imagery and floating lyrics to create a performance of sorts. Raw Space was an augmented reality application, rather than VR. There is a rather successful Kickstarter campaign for a fully virtual album on the way, in the form of I-Exist’s project, Consciousness. Are these considered gigs? No. But it’s not passive listening either. It’s an indication that music is becoming more visual, and will likely continue to do so. For now, let’s step back into (real) reality, and back on the stage. Especially you sceptics not yet convinced that apps and technology are able to elevate the live electronic music performance. Time to look at a new-to-me artist: LA-based electronic trio The Glitch Mob. They’ve convinced me that we can do more with electronic music live. This May, The Glitch Mob begin a world two that features the debut of Blade 2.0: a custommade instrument/stage/technology hub powered by Macs, Ableton, iPads and a whole host of unique controllers. The bottom line is that no one is pressing play, they are playing this...thing, whatever it is. With Blade 2.0 the controls have been flipped so the audience can dance — or watch — as they choose. It’s electronic, it’s live, and it’s definitely a performance. It’s electronic, and it’s electric. Why should analogue musicians have all the fun? @ericabasnicki


“PHYSION IS A MONSTER” — Recording Magazine


/ Column

Sound opinion Tim Oliver

Pitch perfect, on the grid

L

Are we getting lazy and accepting poor performances, knowing we can fix it afterwards?

ast month I came to the easy conclusion that we don’t need timing and tuning tools to make classic records, and that had they been available in the last century we as producers (and engineers, mixers and programmers, henceforth collectively known as producers) may well have sabotaged the life of many a good song. So my question now is why do we feel we have to correct performances? A question that raises many more before any answers appear: The first being what is prompting the urge to make everything so ‘perfect’? We quickly learn imperfections in both tuning and timing after a few listens of a record and, interestingly, expect to hear them on subsequent listens. I remember an ‘80s mix cassette that did the rounds in Manchester on which an Earth Wind and Fire track was interrupted by some poor pause button work resulting in a very bad stutter edit. Now when I hear that track I expect to hear the stutter and slightly disappointed when I don’t. We happily seem to tolerate these learnt imperfections and soon don’t notice them at all, so it’s hard to understand why the tolerance for allowing that learning process in current productions is all but absent. Is it led by us as producers, by consumers who’ve developed an intolerance to imperfection, by the record labels or perhaps even by the software developers? If it’s us producers, is it that budget and hence time constraints mean we have to settle for a rough approximation rather than a definitive performance, which we can make technically acceptable in edit time away from the studio. Are we (and/or musicians) getting lazy and accepting a poorer performance rather than working harder with multiple takes and dropins, knowing that we can fix it afterwards? Or perhaps we think we can get a better attitude and delivery by focussing the musician on the energy of the performance and not worry about getting it right? I like to think it’s the latter of course, particularly with nervous singers but almost certainly there’s an element of laziness as the edit stage becomes as important as the recording and mix stages in the recording process. 20 / Digital • April 2018

than to convince us we need it, can’t live without it, and our productions will be better than those who don’t have it.

Once you look in the microscope it’s difficult not to focus in

To blame consumers for the situation is for me another lazy explanation and a guilt-free excuse for us producers doing it. Certainly the likes of X-Factor, has led a sector of the public to believe anyone can sing like Mariah Carey or Freddie Mercury along with the associated vocal gymnastics, invariably bereft of any real emotion and pitched to death. However, the enduring appeal of un-tuned and un-timed records from the past suggest it’s not the full explanation. The idea that it’s the record labels leaning on producers is a cracker. Their eyes and ears are always on the competition, and maybe like loudness, if your track sits on a playlist in between two tighter tunes, yours might seem less impressive. With radio so precious, every single play counts and that first listen has to hit home, so the possibility of losing potential buyers after one listen drives them to it. I’d happily support this as the sole reason for the perfection culture and hold them entirely culpable… but I need the work. The software developers as culprits seems like a long shot, but looking in deeper they’re far from innocent bystanders. Commercial pressure means they are slaves to a combination of the developing technology and to the revision treadmill. They need to come up with something new to sell to us, and what better way of selling it

I should make a distinction between tuning and timing and the difference in tolerances between the two. Since the mid ’80s, drum machines, sequencers and clocking have almost certainly had an impact on current expectations of metronomic timing. I don’t want to do the listening public a disservice but subtle nuances to rhythms and where on the micro-grid the beat sits is likely lost on them, certainly the ones I know anyway, they would know whether they like the groove or not but couldn’t tell you why. But it’s not lost on us. We can obsess for hours nudging drums milliseconds hither and thither convincing ourselves there’s a gulf of difference between the options. This might be fine if it’s programmed drums but is it so healthy for a real drummer’s performance? The temptation to make everything in time and in tune is irresistible to only the most catholic of producer. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about, I’m a Virgo. The developers give us the tools and because we can, we do. The trouble is maintaining perspective and selfcontrol. You assess a performance and identify a few bits of vocal or a few bars of drums that could do with some reining in. You open up Melodyne or Elastic Audio and do those tweaks’ by which time you’ve zoomed in and your subjective field of view has narrowed so then other phrases or sections start to sound relatively out. Once you start looking into the microscope it’s very difficult not to focus in and fiddle and fiddle and fiddle. And for all this talk it’s becoming quite apparent that there’s only ourselves to blame. No-one is forcing us to tune the life out of a vocal or kill the feel of a human drum track. Just because the technology is there, it doesn’t mean we have to use it. And so perhaps it’s time to re-educate ourselves, ride out our own insecurities and doubts, and have a bit more belief and faith in the warts and all performances we’re entrusted with. @RealWorldStudio


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/ Review

Native Instruments Electric Sunburst Guitarist and producer RUSSELL COTTIER discovers he may not need to set up those mics and play that rhythm part

M

aybe you need a quick guitar part adding to your latest composition. Perhaps you have neither the patience nor the budget to hire a live session guitarist, or maybe you just really want a Les Paul sound and only have a Stratocaster to hand. Electric Sunburst is the latest in the Native Instruments’ Session Guitarist range and it is designed to bring some of that classic set-neck, single cutaway vibe to your tracks. German audio software house Native Instruments has been releasing pattern based performance instruments for some years now and the Session Guitarist line has been widely credited as one of the most realistic and intelligent virtual instruments on the market for creating guitar parts in the box. Electric Sunburst is more than just a basic sample library, it offers realistic playing styles, patterns, gear models and operates within 22 / Digital • April 2018

Kontakt 5 (full version) or the free Kontakt player. The pattern editing, sound and performance options go far deeper than this review could hope to cover but the key features are immediately obvious in the instrument GUI. Basic use is simple and intuitive to anyone who is familiar with the Native Instruments patterns performance concept. Native Instruments selected a high-end, single cutaway, dual humbucker guitar with a sunburst flamed maple cap (though they don’t mention the iconic brand name). Recordings were made with Universal Audio 610 Solo preamps and the instrument offers extensive deep sampling with an incredibly intelligent engine under the hood. Electric Sunburst comes with 154 patterns that suit a wide variety of styles and of course these can all be switched in real time, played with whatever chords or notes you choose and a whole host of expression and

editing techniques can be applied. At the top of the instrument GUI we see a box analysing the currently played chord and Impact level, which is controlled by the pitch bend parameter. It is surprising how much realism can be added with a simple push of the pitch wheel at relevant points. This appears to be more than just a volume swell, the sample selection changes to more forcefully played notes. String noise is more noticeable and of course any gain stages are driven harder providing a very realistic feel. The Sound Preset area offers 33 factory guitar amp and processing presets, of course user presets can be created and saved. Factory preset sounds are associated with specific pattern groups, with which they are intended to work best. Selecting the Link to Song control will change the sound preset as the songs (pattern groups) are cycled through below. This is a quick way of auditioning different sounds for your track, played in a stylistically appropriate manner. For modern pop-rock tracks the use of software guitars was actually quite liberating. A cleanly played and precise virtual guitar for rhythm allows a more sloppy, real guitar part to sit nicely in the mix and not take up too much space. Even the high-gain amp sims sounded well controlled due to the ability to eradicate handling noise, precise tuning and tighter timing. Towards the bottom of the GUI are tabs for Patterns, Guitar Settings, Amps & FX and Playback parameters. Patterns are grouped into selections of six to eight and as mentioned these are referred to as Songs. Key switching from C1 to G1 changes the currently playing pattern and the switching keys are of course indicated in red in the keyboard view. As with many other Native Instruments products, patterns can be changed on the fly and either synced to start on a key press or synced to host. Changes mid-pattern will of course cause the new pattern to continue playback at the relevant point allowing for some interesting combinations.

Patterns and riffs galore

There are far too many patterns mention here or even remember unless you are a regular user, so you may find yourself gravitating towards certain favourites for your chosen genre. However there are a few tools available that will help you select the right pattern that little bit quicker. The three indicator logo types will show which patterns are arpeggios, strum patterns or riffs. Of course these patterns play intelligently transposed to the chord that you have played, keeping the sounds natural and realistic within the guitar range. Double clicking a pattern will open up the Pattern Browser that allows for some clever filtering options and a rather useful Rhythm Search tool. Click Record here and play any MIDI notes in vaguely the rhythm you are looking for and the software will present you with patterns with a similar rhythm. These can be added into Custom Songs as required so you can build the ideal performance tool for composing your song or even live use.


/ Review

/ Pattern chord selection

/ Fret noise and string mic levels

The only major drawback of this patterns system however has to be the lack of editing options for the actual patterns. The ability to record or program patterns in MIDI would open up some incredible possibilities. Certain patterns can become a little obvious to users, it’s not uncommon to hear familiar Native Instruments Action Strings used in lower budget TV and film scores from time to time. There are several additional useful functions on the Patterns tab. Auto Chords provides a set of diatonic chords, based on the selected scale in a manner very reminiscent of keyboard accompaniment functions. White keys now control scale degree chords and black keys modify the chord type. The Voicings menu allows advanced voicings of single notes transforming them into chords and offering a variety of idiosyncratic guitar voicings. This feature allows chords to be played whilst inputting only a single note. It is actually one of the more useful features of the instrument as it allows a more guitar-like performance and keeps the left hand free for pattern switching and pitch bend wheel expression control. It is also important to not overlook the small [i] button, bringing up the Pattern information will not only show the rhythm played but also allow us to reduce the length of the pattern, creating a shorter loop. Some description of the pattern rhythm is indicated here visually. Native Instruments Action Strings, for example, has a similar pattern system but the actual rhythm score is shown in the GUI which makes composition significantly easier for anyone with even the most basic of musical theory comprehension. The Guitar Settings tabs is rather powerful and offers all the settings that one would expect on a real guitar. This actually raises a rather interesting point about the capture process of the samples. It appears that the pickup feeds have been recorded individually, presumably with a modified wiring, allowing tone control to be applied on individual pickups and in-software blending. A very useful feature of this tab is the Doubling button that is designed to provide a tight doubled guitar effect like you would get with double-tracking. Two different takes are used for each note and these are panned left and right.

An unexpected, but very welcome feature is the Mic control that allows us to dial in some close mic sound on the actual strings. It’s a technique that can sometimes add that little extra transient to pop out from an overdriven or bassy sound. Here it sounds almost as if the sample has been heavily gated to just add a little punch at the start of the notes, but once added into the signal it is rather nice. It should be noted of course that this Mic signal is added before processing and mixed into the guitar DI output that you might send through your FX chain. So in higher gain scenarios it is quite easy to overdo the mic level, despite it being much tighter than the real-life equivalent. The control for Fret Noise proved useful, though the Noise Floor knob seemed to get little use during the testing other than being turned down fully. There is even a tuning control to mirror the intonation quirks that real-life guitars present.

actually this is a little refreshing in this world where we are bombarded with distracting photorealistic plug-in GUIs. Generally this system offers great tones and the effects are responsive and fairly close to the real hardware. Five amp types and ten cab models really complete the FX suite, giving plenty of tonal options ranging from super clear bell-like tones to the AC Box that can crunch up when needed. If you need high gain then reach for the screaming Van 51, which presumably emulates a Peavey 5150. Having the option to drop in the (1176 style) Fast Compressor in the signal chain is also a welcome feature as guitar pedal compression often lacks the ability to add enough spank in some cases.

/ Swing and Humanize controls

Finally the Playback tab houses many of the power user options like Swing, Humanize and timing offsets. Mapping some of these options to a MIDI control knob can offer an incredibly lifelike performance. The control for Tempo scaling is rather handy too as it allows more experimental pattern playback. Overall Electric Sunburst is a powerful and realistic software instrument. The scripting has been cleverly and effectively put together and in general use it was rare that this instrument couldn’t pass for a real guitar. Electric Sunburst is capable of providing realistic and wholesome guitar tones for many genres spanning many decades — on a more artistic note it is also rather fun to play and quite inspiring. The playability, flexibility and usability are second to none, so if you are in need of a guitarist that will never launch a TV out of a hotel window then head over to the Native Instruments website and find out more.

/ A generous choice of virtual amps

Moving over to the Amps & FX section we can hear the influence of the Native Instruments Guitar Rig software heritage here, albeit in a rather reduced form. A seven item signal chain can be set up for processing with models of industry stalwart pedals, studio FX and amps. As usual the names are a little cryptic but the sounds are actually very usable. The black, green and orange gain pedals cover most bases and there are a variety of modulation pedals, delays and convolution reverbs. Controls are represented as generic knobs below the chain as each option is selected, but

VERDICT PROS

At £89 Electric Sunburst runs with the free Kontakt player or Kontakt 5 so the entry price-point is pretty reasonable compared to many other sample libraries. Great playability and realistic rhythm track composition.

CONS

The ability to record or program patterns in MIDI would open up some incredible possibilities..

www.native-instruments.com

Digital • April 2018 / 23


/ Review

Warm Audio WA-47 and WA-47jr JON THORNTON warms to two new takes on a classic design

F

ounded in 2011 by Bryce Young, Warm Audio’s tag-line (Serious Gear, Seriously Affordable) explains much about the product mix and design philosophy. Concentrating exclusively on the analogue side of the signal path, the company’s first product was the WA12 discrete mic pre-amp. The brash orange colour scheme of this little box matched its intent to provide creative colour as well as simple gain to the signal path — but using the highest quality components to achieve the best balance of price to performance. The following five years saw the range expand to include more mic-preamps, compressors and EQ combinations, some of which bear more than a passing similarity in both design and looks to some familiar classics. And that sincerest form of flattery continued when Bryce first turned his attention further up the signal path. The WA87, launched in 2016, was the first of Warm Audio’s mic offerings — no prizes for guessing the inspiration there — followed swiftly by the WA14, inspired by the 1970s iteration of a certain Austrian icon. It’s interesting that Warm Audio has focussed on the 24 / Digital • April 2018

classic incarnations of what were really studio workhorses, rather than anything more exotic. Their latest offerings do, in a sense, continue this school of thought. Because, whilst Neumann’s U47 often has an almost revered status attached to it, it was just as much the workhorse of its day. Two flavours of U47-inspired microphones are offered by Warm Audio, differentiated chiefly by the electronics and the physical size. Both microphones feature the same capsule. This is a custom (Australian) manufactured design, based on the centre terminated, dual diaphragm, shared back-plate K47.

WA-47: nine polar patterns

In the ‘full-fat’ WA-47 this capsule feeds a valve based electronics stage with transformer coupled output, and the whole thing is packaged in a hefty, solid looking body that closely mirrors the size, look and feel of the original valve U47. There are some differences of course. Unlike the original, polar pattern selection is via the external supply, and nine patterns (omni, figure—eight and cardioid with six intermediate steps)

/ JJ Slovak 5751 tube

are available. The manufacturer’s literature goes to great lengths to stress the care taken in component choice for the internals. A Slovak Republic JJ5751 valve is employed, offering a deliberately lower gain than other choices might in order to emphasise the sonic effects of the interplay between valve, capsule and TAB-Funkenwerk output transformer. Even the supplied 7 pin cable that connects the mic to the power supply hasn’t escaped scrutiny in its effect on overall performance, with Gotham Audio cable and connectors used here. The WA-47jr dispenses with the thermionics, instead utilising FET based transformer-less electronics mated to the same capsule. The ‘junior’ designation is entirely appropriate here. Unlike the WA-47, which bears a striking visual similarity to the original, the U47jr doesn’t ape the form factor of Neumann’s U47 FET. Instead it looks for all the world like its larger brethren that has somehow been shrunk in the wash (and shed a few pounds in the process). Three polar patterns are available via a stubby toggle switch at the front of the mic, with further switches at the rear providing a -10dB pad and a 70Hz high pass filter. Both microphones ship with a familiar looking suspension mount, the only significant difference being that the WA-47 has sprung clamps to hold the microphone, whilst the WA-47jr screws into the bas e of the mount. The WA-47jr also comes with a solid clip, and whilst this does actually fit its bigger brother, I’d feel a little nervous using it support such a weighty microphone.


/ Review

Tube vs. FET designs

So how do they sound? Before we go there, it’s worth getting a couple of things out of the way. First the price. The WA-47 retails for £899, and the WA-47jr £299. Not cheap, but by no means stratospheric pricing either. The second thing is just what to compare them to. I don’t have an original U47 or U47-FET, so can only rely on the sonic memory I have from the times I’ve been fortunate to use both microphones. And added to that, there’s a bewildering array of U47 clones / replicas / homages out there at all price points. You could go mad trying to compare and contrast the subtle and not so subtle variations between them all, and all the while we need to bear in mind that no two original U47s are likely to sound exactly the same either these days. So I’m just going to evaluate these mics for what they are, whilst simply acknowledging the broad sonic signature of their inspiration. Set up side by side in the studio, the first thing that strikes you is that the WA-47 has a much hotter output than its junior counterpart — with the WA-47jr needing substantially more gain for an identical source. A walk around each mic set to cardioid with spoken voice is immediately revealing. On axis, at about 20cm distance, the WA-47 sounds immediately pleasing. Rich and full in the low end — even at this distance you hear a little gentle proximity lift. There’s plenty of resolution in the mid-range, with a slightly larger than life quality, but never gritty or harsh. And it doesn’t sound overly dark either — in fact there’s more than a hint of breathiness in the high end. By comparison, the WA-47jr sounds a little bit more reined in, slightly harder and, dare I say it, a touch more ‘Germanic’. Both mics have very smooth off axis responses in cardioid, although the WA-47 seemed to exhibit a slight rear lobe at around the 180-degree mark. But on speech, the WA-47 is immediately compelling and eminently tuneable with working distance to different voices.

They both have bags of character — what’s surprising is that there’s so much difference in that character

WA-47jr… smooooth!

What was surprising, then, was just how different both microphones sounded when switching to sung (male) vocals. Admittedly, the singer in question has an unusual tonality that challenges almost any microphone — a lovely thick chest voice coupled with some really quite harsh resonances in the high-mids. And here, you still get a beautifully rich low end, and plenty of mid-range detail, but almost a slight ‘spikiness’ to the high-mids at higher vocal levels. And

/ WA-47jr: K47 dual diaphragm

the WA-47jr, whilst not quite as ‘big’ sounding here, seemed much smoother in that frequency range. Switch to a different singer though, and the WA-47 sounds wonderfully smooth in that register again, and the WA-47jr much the same as before. Both mics take EQ in both directions very well though, so dialling out a troublesome resonance, or adding a little more air is easily done, and doesn’t have the effect of immediately taking the life out the vocal or sounding overly harsh as can be the case with some cheaper valve mics I’ve encountered. But I do wonder whether the full-fat WA-47 is just a little bit more of a diva than its FET based stable mate. Moving to acoustic guitar, and the pendulum swings back towards the WA47 on first listen — it just seems to pull an almost ‘mix-ready’ sound of the instrument. Listen closer though, and that high-mid zippiness still comes through at times — not that it’s at all unpleasant. Switching the WA-47 to the omnidirectional pattern opens up the sound quite a lot — it’s a little less ‘larger than life’, and some of the slight tubbiness to the low end disappears when used close in. Meantime, the WA-47jr carries on fairly consistently — that slightly harder quality delivering a more precise, if slightly less full tonality. One of my slightly less than scientific measures when evaluating microphones is whether they bring a smile to my face or not — and I have to say that both of these microphones did, almost straight away. And on the right source, the WA-47 turns that smile into a full-on grin. They both have bags of character — what’s surprising is that there’s so much difference in that character. And in terms of value for money, I have to say that Warm Audio have done an astonishing job here. Are they as good as or better than other U47 clones? Who knows. Do they sound similar to original U47s? Probably — but that’s not really the point. What you have here are some really nice, characterful microphones that won’t cost the earth, but will bring a smile to your face every time you get them in front of something. Good job.

VERDICT PROS

Well put together; both represent a lot of microphone for the money; bags of character and a tonality that will put a smile on our face.

CONS

WA-47 can suit some sources much more than others — perhaps a bit of a diva; WA-47jr doesn’t deliver quite the same richness as its big brother..

www.warmaudio.com

Digital • April 2018 / 25


/ Review

RME ADI-2 DAC

NIGEL JOPSON is forced to re-assess his choice of benchmark D-A conversion

T

he ADI-2 DAC is a two-channel high-end digital/analogue converter in a 9.5”/1HE housing, at a street price around £724 (ex VAT). Long-time Fireface owners (like myself) will be impressed

with the sleek looks — which don’t come at the expense of RME’s traditional accessories such as the 66-page printed manual — which lists everything from operation of the 5-band parametric EQ, through recommended cable

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26 / Digital • April 2018

lengths to a justification and measurement chart for the digital volume control. There’s an IEM output on the front next to the headphone jack, optimised for in-ears like the Campfire Andromeda, which are at least 20dB ‘louder’ than (already cranking) low impedance cans. Testing with a dB meter jammed on the earpiece, I confirmed at least a -15dB level drop. Plugging one set of cans in, I was impressed when a message: “Faulty cable, short detected, unplug!” flashed up on the IPS display. The high-resolution IPS panel makes menu operation easier than users of RME’s TotalMix software might anticipate, and displays further functions provided by the DSP: peak level meters, a useful 30-band analyser with ‘DIGICheck biquad filter technology’, and a State Overview screen listing the current states of SPDIF, USB and clock. The analyser is displayed by default with whatever sound source is selected, the meter ballistics are sensible, and there’s a 25Hz band which proved it’s worth several times. The SPDIF coaxial and optical inputs can be used alternately, with the optical supporting 2 channel ADAT up to 192kHz. Class Compliant USB 2 enables up to 768kHz/DSD256 sample rates for PCM, DXD and DSD. The implementation of DSD is a canny choice, as something of a devotional following has built-up amongst the audiophile hi-fi fraternity, with websites like HDtracks now offering premium DSD downloads.


/ Review

Head-to-head testing

Resolution doesn’t do ‘shootout’ tests, but it certainly helps to have an appropriate supply of apples-to-apples comparative gear. In addition to my multi-channel rack, my standard setup includes a 2-channel DAC/ headphone amp in about the same price range as the RME. By co-incidence, I also had a highly respected (up-market hi-fi) DAC to hand. Even as audio pros, our temporal auditory memories are short: Class compliant USB connection means it’s possible to switch very quickly between output DACs on a Mac. Putting the 3 similar devices head-to-head was illuminating. My ‘benchmark’ DAC — which I spent some time auditioning different units to choose — was revealed as completely wanting by the RME! This was most evident in the mid-to-high definition of instruments buried in a mix. For example: I have a track which I mixed with a kalimba part in the bridge, I know it’s there, but listening on my KRKs with my benchmark interface I would be tempted to EQ it. On the RME, I heard exactly why I had it at that level when I mixed in a commercial studio. At high frequencies, ‘shots’ of delay were clearly audible as they decayed on the RME, whilst my benchmark interface (which was not cheap!) lost the final decays in the mix. The hi-fi unit was comparative to the RME at snare-hit frequencies, but couldn’t match it

at the high end. The same was true at the extreme low end: for example, with a sine wave–rich bass part which punches into a verse. The RME reveals the dynamic rise of the waveform, answering that eternal question — is this going to pop-out too much when it’s played in the club? The unit we tested, ADI-2 DAC FS, is playback only for analogue; as we went to press, RME announced the ADI-2 Pro FS, which adds two servo-balanced analogue inputs on combo XLR/TRS in a dual mono design, supporting 786kHz sample rates and DSD recording at £1,154 (ex VAT). Powering requirements for the ADI-2 DAC FS are flexible, tolerating input voltages from 9.5V up to 15V. As the manual says: “The DC input of the ADI-2 DAC also allows for the use of a rechargeable lead-battery or LiPo instead of a power supply, for completely independent mobile operation and ground isolation. A matching connection cable (power jack to terminals 6.3 mm) is available from RME. Special power banks in the range of 10,000mAh and up can be found equipped with a 12 V output.” So, a completely portable high-quality setup — for recording as well, with the ‘Pro’ — will be possible. Unfortunately, many of the time wasting, ear-doubting, problems that ‘production room’ in-the-box mixers often experience are a result of inadequate monitoring. Listening carefully

on headphones, desktop speakers and nearfields, I realised that more of these problems are down to the DAC than many of us might imagine! The sound quality of the ADI-2 DAC FS is superb. Even to my ‘industry veteran’ ears, and even at 44.1kHz 16 bit, the difference was obvious when compared to the other four DACs I had available. This is not just a DAC that’s ‘worth a try’ — if you’re looking for a benchmark two-channel with comprehensive monitoring controls — you have to audition this.

VERDICT PROS Noticeably better audio quality compared to most DACs. Versatile range of sampling rates. Great front-panel headphone monitoring. Useful spectrum analyser and EQ. Remote with level control, dim and mono buttons. CONS

The DC connector on the rear panel seems a little delicate, the cable needs to be dressed carefully to avoid disconnection.

EXTRAS Recently announced ADI-2 Pro FS adds A-D conversion with two analogue inputs. www.rme-audio.de

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Digital • April 2018 / 27


/ Review

Tracktion Waveform 9.1 The streamlined DAW gets even more features and improvements, GEORGE SHILLING delves in

L

ast year the Tracktion Corp renamed their DAW formerly known as Tracktion. As we noted at the time, Waveform was effectively the eighth version of the Tracktion software, so rather than calling this first major update version 2, it becomes Waveform 9. To recap slightly, Waveform signalled something of a departure from the single-window Tracktion philosophy, with new MIDI and Mixer pages making a welcome appearance. Waveform is more colourful and modern looking than the Tracktion of old, but with the vision still firmly set on it being a recording system for musicians, rather than experienced and technical recording professionals. This refreshing approach is appealing to anyone making music in a studio and trying to get the job done, whether amateur or professional. Improvements in version 9 start with some sorting-out of the Settings tab. There are new icons for each section so it looks smarter — these are logical and familiar with symbols like a spanner icon for Maintenance, a folder icon for File Locations, and a 5-pin DIN icon for MIDI Devices. This list of tabs down the left panel is now more sensibly in alphabetical order. An Appearance tab siphons off a few things from the previous General Behaviour tab which had become a bit crowded. Here you have groovy new colour sliders for MIDI note colours, and you can do things like linking the Clip and Track colours. A new Chords tab builds custom chord formulas, useful for the new Chord Track (see below) and the helpful new MIDI Chord Player. Downloads, previously in the Help section, is also now here as a tab. From the File Locations tab you can click a link to open the settings folder 28 / Digital • April 2018

(which on a Mac is in the Application Support folder) to save you digging around your computer. Keyboard Shortcuts has been completely reorganised, with many functions renamed to make more sense, a few of the defaults changed, and you can search for a function by keyword or by pressing a shortcut to see what it is mapped to. Most of the original or previous shortcuts are still there and function as expected, but the renaming makes things a bit more sensible and logical. New functions have been added; for example Zoom Fast jumps in and out by bigger increments. There is also now a shortcut to merge clips in one go. F11 now shrinks the controls panel to the useful compact toolbar (which includes transport, counters, bpm display and other essentials) rather than hiding the panel altogether. A long-requested function was solo clear and this has been added as Reset Solos/Mutes, although as you might have spotted it simultaneously clears Mutes, which may not be quite so desirable. RTZ now jumps straight to the beginning (instead of going first to the In marker). One huge improvement in Waveform 9 is the way it deals with multiple output virtual

instruments. This is great for drum instruments or multi-channel sampler plug-ins. Wrapping the plug-in in a ‘Rack’ plug-in and then placing the instrument onto multiple tracks, there are new functions for clearing routing (or ‘wiring’) and automatically routing outputs sequentially. You can then save the setup to bring the instrument into other songs. There are six new Modifiers comprising LFO, Break Point, Step, Envelope Follower, Random and MIDI Tracker. You can assign these to all kinds of plug-in parameters.

Create your own plug-in interface

The new Faceplates feature now allows anyone to modify and create their own plug-in interfaces, adding or removing controls as desired, and the new Stack Editor view makes a complex Rack environment a little easier to understand. Waveform’s new Multisampler makes sample management and editing easy, with the ability to drag audio files from the Finder. Instant Recyclelike functionality is great for slicing things up. The new Chord Track is a great compositional tool for setting up a song. You can then experiment with substituting different chords or transposing, working particularly well with the Pattern Generator — you can make that follow the Chord Track while auditioning different patterns and arpeggios. A new Macro tab appears when you select a plug-in. You can quickly create new macros, and of course you can then assign them to your new custom Faceplate. Trackloops are introduced with this version of Waveform, these can be manipulated along similar lines to Apple Loops, and the provided loops can also be exported as WAVs onto audio tracks. Version 9.1 fixed the illogical behaviour of submix soloing in 9.0. The new Modifiers are now available on each track in the main window and the mixer for dragging to plug-in parameters. You can also now add plug-ins in the Mixer by dragging the icon, just like in the Track view. There is now a button at the bottom right of the Track view window to toggle waveform zoom, another new feature to help make editing easier. A new Recent plug-ins folder appears at the top of the plug-ins list. Tracktion Waveform is ever more endearing, and it moves forward again with a host of useful improvements in this latest version.

VERDICT

/ Creating a processing chain for the sampler

PROS

Vastly improved menus for settings and particularly keyboard shortcuts, new multi-output instrument functions, and loads of other useful new features like Faceplates and a great Multisampler.

CONS

More features to learn for new users, but you can ease yourself into them slowly.

www.tracktion.com


/ Review

Spitfire Audio Hans Zimmer Strings His Name Is Maximus! GEORGE SHILLING gets orchestrally epic with this “most ambitious library”

S

pitfire was established over 10 years ago, gradually expanding from their private bespoke sample libraries to a comprehensive selection of commercially available instrument libraries, most notably the Albion series that first appeared in 2010. With award-winning composers Christian Henson and Paul Thompson running the show, standards have always been high, with many libraries recorded at AIR Lyndhurst’s fabulous sounding Hall by the likes of Jake Jackson [Resolution V10.6] and (in this case) Geoff Foster, utilising top-grade professional musicians. Hans Zimmer is one of the best-known movie composers of the last 40 years with multiple awards for soundtracks including The Lion King, The Dark Knight, Gladiator, Inception and Interstellar. Described as Spitfire’s most ambitious library yet, Hans Zimmer Strings was recorded using 344 players at AIR Studios. This is clearly pushing boundaries and Zimmer has stated that the mission here is to “create the impossible”. Many of Spitfire’s instruments use Native Instruments’ Kontakt for sample playback but this is a new self-contained plug-in, developed with the help of design and user-experience agency UsTwo. This supports VST, AU and AAX, Mac OS 10.10 onwards and Windows 7 onwards. The installer (and required disk space) is over 183 GB, available as a download or via a hard drive delivered for a small extra cost. Uncompressed, the component WAVs are 424GB although only 200GB disk space is required. With a fast fibre connection I set about downloading using Spitfire’s new app, choosing a directory on an external drive for the library, but I had to resume on another day. In theory, this should continue from where you left off, but mine somehow restarted from scratch and seemed to have forgotten about my external drive. I may not have been paying close enough attention but it all ended up on my system drive. With a looming deadline I left it going overnight, and on return it had successfully merged the files and installed itself with no additional input required or dialogue boxes — marvellous. The user interface developed with UsTwo makes for a stylish and polished user 30 / Digital • April 2018

experience. It looks uncluttered with a few large controls taking centre stage and always visible, while the lower section switches between three screens for different functions. You can resize easily by dragging the bottom corner, or you can collapse things with a button to reduce the window to the essentials. This clutter-free look does come at the expense of easily legible text — at my normal screen resolution I was sometimes squinting to read it. At the top is a strip (‘Top Menu’) with system related information and master controls: on the left are a disk load status LED, CPU and disk use percentage readouts, memory and voice usage. Towards the right are controls for MIDI channel, Tune, Pan, Volume and buttons for a mini pop-up menu of MIDI settings related to Velocity and CC, and Settings for more general setup in a new window that opens up overlaying the plug-in window. Immediately below this is another narrow strip for Preset management — more on that later. A vast main area below that contains just two fader controls — Expression (volume) and Dynamics, and a big knob, often controlling Reverb level by default. (The reverb provided is a beautiful sounding hall effect, but cannot be edited.) The knob can be repurposed to control Release, Tightness or to crossfade to Vibrato samples as appropriate. Tightness is a useful setting for adjusting the starts of short sounds — with such huge numbers of players there will inevitably be something of a blurry start to notes, but you can cut into the note to add a bit more attack when playing parts in if so desired. Of course you can later loosen things and drag notes slightly earlier for more realism. The lower section can be switched between Signal Mixer, Technique Selector and Controllers on different tabs or pages. Beneath

/ Col Legno: “hit with the wood”


/ Review

this is a piano keyboard and an information and help panel. There are presets for various groups of musicians: for example with violins or cellos you can have 20 players left, centre or right, or all 60, each group having a few unique presets along with the standard ones. The Preset section is opened with a small arrow next to the current selected preset’s name. This opens a browser window that overlays some of the plug-in window, with a scrollable list of all presets in the right column. Next to each of the 234 presets is a small Preview button to hear an example, and on the right a button opens a short description for more information on the setting. The left column provides a series of ‘Filters’ that help narrow the selection by instrument or Long/Short articulations. In the middle column are automatically scrolling ‘headings’ e.g. 60 Cellos, under which come the more specific presets. Out of the browser, you can also use left and right arrows to nudge your way through the presets, although if you have set filters then that also affects this method of preset selection. Making any change adds an asterisk to the preset name, then you can click the floppy disk icon on the far right of the preset bar to rename and save. The Technique Selector panel provides buttons for switching between, say, Long and Pizzicato. You can Shift-Click to select two at once, although controllers will only act on the main selected part. You can also select techniques by Keyswitches and these can be dragged to a convenient out-of-the-way section of the keyboard. You can also set up selection by note range, velocity, speed of playing, MIDI channel or Program Change. There are advanced Round Robin options — for example you can choose Reset on Transport so that each play through will be identical. There is a useful Lock function for this panel preventing changes — even via MIDI control.

Col Legno Tratto

As well as the usual expected standard Long and Short techniques, Tremolos and Pizzicatos (familiar to Albion users), there are such delights as Col Legno Tratto — bowing with the wooden side of the bow (instead of the usual horse hair) for a magical texture. With a small group this would likely be a bit weird and thin, but with (for example) 60 cellos it becomes something rather magical and special; you get the note but also magical artefacts. Super Sul Ponticello (as close as possible to the bridge), Con Sordino Tremolo Harmonics settings properly set your teeth on edge and are quite something for those scary moments. Col Legno violin taps are great for tension, like rattling or marching skeletons. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Super Flautando is wonderfully floaty, and Sul Tasto basses are hugely warm and expansive, creating a massive oceanic bottom end. Bartok Pizzicato is a useful percussive and bright snap, and gradually introducing this to normal pizzicato is a great tension-booster. A selection of FX includes a

/ Playing styles for 60 cellos

/ Unload samples to free-up RAM space

variety of useful swoops and slides, some with Tremolo.

Mixer with 26 microphone positions

Using the mixer you have a huge amount of flexibility for adjusting microphone balances and selecting which mics to use — there are up to 26 mic positions. If you are creating music you might not want to get bogged down by wading through the multiple pages of faders, so you can switch off Advanced mode to simplify things. This changes the control to a single fader to move between Close, Tree and Ambient mic positions. But having worked in AIR’s Hall studio with Geoff Foster who made these recordings, it was wonderful to envision the different positions of both performers and microphones in Advanced mode. By default, all presets start with the Tree faded up for a general overview, and other mics muted. Drawing a fader all the way down unloads those samples from RAM by default, although that setting can be changed. The faders start with Close mics, Tree — the Decca Tree configuration over the middle, Ambience, and Outriggers — these are at a similar height to the Tree but (unsurprisingly) set out wide. There are several pages you can scroll through

for additional mic positions, and there are plenty of Foster’s extra spot mics to play with. Overall width and pan of the close mics is adjustable in the mixer and you can flip left and right. Some presets place violinists and cellists up in the Gallery, a balcony that overlooks the main floor of the studio. You can use the space to give different perspectives and fill the stereo field. There are close mics for the players, but the other mics remain set up in the main area, giving a time delay on the Tree and Outriggers, or the option of just using the distant mics for a slightly muffly ambient sound. There is a handy toggle to make the mixer Global for all presets or individual for the current setting, and furthermore there is a very useful Save and Load system for mixer presets. Usefully, there is a similar lock function to the Technique Selector. You might expect with this number of players and mics in the mix that things might sound muddy or unfocused, but this doesn’t seem to be the case at all. It’s as if you can catch glimpses of individual players in the throng, little scrapes and textures. But there is no synth-like wash, just glorious, silky, musical richness. Presets with ‘waves’ in their description have the players adjusting dynamics within the section at different times, creating subtly varying layers of sound for extra magic. Vamping a few suspended chords with almost any of the presets gives you goosebumps, Spitfire’s Hans Zimmer Strings is instant film music heaven, ideal for suspense and thrilling moments, or indeed anything from passion and romance to peace and calm. I loved the richness of the cellos, the delicacy of some of the softer violin presets, and the enormous thunder and warmth of the basses. And the violas weren’t bad(!) This has a magical and special feel to it, thoroughly inspiring, flexible and musical. Of course you can automate and/ or MIDI control everything; fading up the Close mics for example can change the perspective and bring things into focus, not just with volume. Investing in this library will inspire creativity and help you to create impressive sounding tracks that will surely please your clients. Superbly silky.

VERDICT PROS

Beautifully recorded and processed, expertly assembled and straightforward to use, instant movie strings in an inspiring package

CONS

The fonts used in the plug-in are a little small, despite plenty of blank space

EXTRAS Hans Zimmer Percussion features cinematic percussion recordings produced and mixed by the man himself. The Professional edition includes additional mixes by Junkie XL, Geoff Foster, Alan Meyerson and Steve Lipson www.spitfireaudio.com

Digital • April 2018 / 31


Craft

to a point after a while going through the same process of recording studio albums — which is always great fun and really fulfilling — but you’re looking for other interests to keep your enthusiasm going. I know quite a few people who’ve become a bit jaded, but they have to keep doing it. I’ve been able to become enthusiastic about learning something new. Kate Bush is known for taking a lot of time to complete things… The one thing I will say about that is the way it works — it starts with a very specific goal. If you’re working on a mix and it does take quite a few days, I always felt I was 95% there in the first day, and then it’s just a matter of refining, not over-working. It’s a matter of honing it, with plenty of time to absorb it. Do you take lots of table-tennis breaks? Not really, it’s quite concentrated. But Kate has such a perfect vision of what she wants, and it really is tiny little details. But it never feels like you go in one direction and then have to change it.

Stephen W Tayler A master craftsman and composer, producing and engineering refined recordings, whose diverse skills include visuals, installations, mixing Kate Bush and a solo album talks to GEORGE SHILLING

H

is early years had all the right ingredients for a professional music career: a chorister at Oxford, a scholarship to public school, clarinet and organ study at the Royal College of Music — and time spent fiddling with the family’s Grundig tape recorder. This led Stephen Tayler to the BBC who offered a job, but while waiting for it to start he strolled into Trident and landed a tea-boy job, working up the engineering ladder, often with the prog artists that he already loved, like UK, Bill Bruford, Peter Gabriel and Brand X. Following a spell of disco records he went freelance and worked extensively with Rupert Hine at Farmyard, with multiple albums for The Fixx, Chris de Burgh and Howard Jones, and projects with Tina Turner, Underworld, Stevie Nicks and Rush. In recent years he has partnered with installation artist Sadia Sadia and they have a production company, Stephen also released a solo album Ostinato, and recently performed it live. In 2010 he mixed most of Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut album, mixed the whole of her next album 50 Words for Snow the following year, and was ‘Kate Vocal Navigator’ for her 2014 residency at the Hammersmith Apollo. 32 / Digital • April 2018

Is it more acceptable (these days) to diversify? Absolutely, and I’ve found that it’s been collaborating with certain people over the years that this ‘reaching out’ into other areas has become very useful. Particularly as people are being pushed with budgets. But for me, you get

If you’re doing sound for an installation, how do you deal with the acoustics of the space? Sadia developed an installation that was destined to be three large projections of manipulated images of water through the gorge in Tasmania in a large exhibition space. I’d helped her develop the sound. There were eight speakers along a fairly narrow space, so as you’re walking the soundscape changes. We were working remotely, and I wanted to know how the space sounded — it was quite echoey. So they recorded a clap and sent it to me, and with convolution I recreated the acoustic in here with eight speakers in a corridor, so that it would work in this emulation. Apparently it was great — I never heard it! Another thing I worked on for Sadia was 30 poems that had been recorded and were played simultaneously on 30 miniature speakers all round a room. Many years ago we worked on one installation with two 5.1 systems, one above and one on the floor to create a more three-dimensional space. It’s experimenting,

/ Chimera Arts Studio at Real World - live rig in foreground for rehearsal


without huge resources, but it’s interesting thinking of ways to do it. We’re working on things that are going to be surround in visuals and audio. That’s crossing over a bit from my live show. I thought the last room in the Pink Floyd exhibition — where it didn’t matter which way round you were — that was quite clever. How long have you been working in-the-box? I started in our flat in London when it became possible to do that during the mid-’90s. Then when I moved out here [Bath] about 11 years ago I had a studio in the cottage I was living in, and it helped to keep it compact. I started enjoying the fact that I could switch between tracks, between projects, between anything, and that’s become quite important to me. But it depends what I’m doing because if somebody wants me to work on a project elsewhere then I’m always happy to go with whatever’s on offer. So if I’ve got consoles and analogue gear I’ll make the most of it. If you are going somewhere, do you take stuff with you? Normally I go with the flow, but sometimes I take a small rig along as a secondary setup — a laptop and interface, and a pair of monitors or headphones. In the instance when I was working with Kate Bush I had a small rig in another room for doing editing procedures. There was the main studio with the main setup,

/ The Hohner Steinberger guitar has been modified for use as a lap steel

but if I wanted perhaps to go and do some fine editing on a particular file, I would do that on my own rig. Was that so you could leave things happening in the main room? It was mainly because I had software on my Mac that wasn’t available, and that’s usually when I go to another studio, they have a computer dedicated to Pro Tools with all the

Forever young!

plugins, but if I want to go and work in Digital Performer (which I like to do), or in Melodyne or with Izotope RX which I use a lot, I tend to do those sort of functions on my machine. What do you do with RX? It’s for forensic clean-up. Particularly for live recordings where you have less than ideal circumstances, it can be very useful for removing elements of spill, drum hits or noises,

…. and always up to date in production and post-production! With development of digital audio equipment moving at an ever faster pace, it has never been more important to keep up-to-date. Stage Tec has always paid close attention to the sustainability and value retention of its mixers. To this day every AURUS audio mixing console continues to benefit from practical up to the minute innovations. The recent software release for AURUS platinum and AURUS, for example: With the new decoder M/S stereo is now available automatically on input channels. What’s more, you can mix stereo sources to centre and surround sums — opening up diverse control and processing options. These and all the other functions packed into this new software release ensure that AURUS platinum and AURUS remain at the cutting edge. Innovative. Sustainable. Stage Tec!

www.stagetec.com

A U D I O

E X C E L L E N C E

Digital • April 2018 / 33


/ Craft

because I am working on different things all the time. But I always commit — one of the things from my early career was you had to print things because of the limited number of tracks. If you’re mixing tracks recorded by others, how do you deal with all the housekeeping? That has become quite a big part of managing projects actually. The hardest thing is when somebody sends a Logic file. People tend to send it with a lot of onboard plugins, so I have to dismantle it or render things. Some people are very good and certainly when I send something to somebody else it takes care of itself — decisions are made. And when I finish a project, I feel it’s really important — and a lot of record companies require rendered files.

/ Genelec 1031A main stereo monitors, 5.1 monitors are Genelec 1029 with 7050 subwoofer

How did you construct Ostinato? There is quite a lot of piano and prepared piano sounds. I did want to incorporate the whole idea of soundscapes. I was inspired to do that because about 20 years ago I acquired binaural in-ear microphones, and with a little minidisc recorder I was capturing sounds in Paris where I was working at the time. I thought of developing a set of pieces based on these environments, and that’s how the Ostinato album came together — over about 10 years.

/ Shure Beta 87A for live vocal treatment/woodwind

and general clean-up. In the studio sometimes you might find there’s a bit of buzz on an electric guitar or something, or clicks or whatever — I find it useful for all sorts of things. The first time I used it I was working on a very low-budget movie. There was one instance where they had recorded some dialogue, and the scene was supposed to be in a darkened room at night, but you could hear birds singing in the background, because they had recorded it during the day. I found I was able to remove all the tweeting birds.

What made you finish it? Kate Bush was very encouraging and I acquired a certain amount of confidence working with her that made me think, yes, I can do this! So it was shortly after I’d worked on the two albums I did with her — 50 Words for Snow did incorporate a certain amount of atmosphere. There were some hidden sound beds in there to psychologically create a mood. Do you use software instruments? Yes, I don’t have a massive collection but I do like pianos, Omnisphere and a few other emulations. Working in the box, I like the freedom it gives you to chop and change,

I wanted to know how the space sounded — it was quite echoey. So they recorded a clap and sent it to me, and with convolution I recreated the acoustic in here with eight speakers in a corridor 34 / Digital • April 2018

Your productions are very tidy… Is there such a thing as over-polishing? Personally I don’t think that. I’m quite disciplined in not going too far, but I’ve worked with a few people who try and over-work things and over-think them. But if my work sounds polished, that’s what I bring to it! One important thing I find useful is having the luxury of putting something to one side and coming back to it on another date. For the live show you run stuff from Pro Tools and play the top part? Absolutely, it’s a whole combination. Essentially there are two elements. From my iPad I’m running soundscapes that, if possible, go into a surround sound system. It’s an app called Soundboard. It varies from track to track — on some I’m playing pre-recorded tracks from Pro Tools whilst processing any number of things. All my audio which comes in from the microphone, my Steinberger guitar [laid flat] which I play fretted or with a slide — with an Ebow, so it’s monophonic. All the audio is also processed through an Electro Harmonix 45000 looper if I want to do that. It’s very tactile, and I have a foot controller for it. And processing the voice — I don’t sing, so much as create vocal sounds. There’s the clarinet, penny whistles, sound effects, all that whilst feeding two computers running visuals and projections, [including] an overhead view of [the rig]. I’m just sending out a stereo feed of the music, and a quadraphonic feed of the soundscapes. Do you use a voice channel? I have a few things, a Sontronics Chimera mic pre which is very nice. I have the Saturn and one of their older valve microphones. I don’t have a ton of stuff, because most of the jobs I have are working with other people elsewhere, unless I’m mixing. I’ll work with anything that’s put in front of me. I worked on the BBC One World One Voice project in 1990 going round the world, I had to get used to recording on things like an eight-track Tascam cassette, or recording simultaneously to four un-synchronised DAT machines. Give me anything, and I’ll see if I can work with it.


Craft

Christian Henson JOHN BROOMHALL talks to one of Spitfire Audio’s founders about accidently creating a global music software phenomenon

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hristian Henson is co-founder of Spitfire Audio, whose music software business makes high end orchestral tools for people just like himself — he’s also a media composer with some fifty film credits as well as games, advertising and television — including Poirot and Top Gear. Not formally trained or a reader of music, he’s relied heavily on sampling and sequencing technology to challenge the paradigm of a music college path. Eleven years ago, frustrated with the virtual orchestral tools available, he hooked up with like-minded composer Paul Thomson who also

couldn’t fathom why people recorded samples as samples, rather than fragments of live performance. Reaching out to selected A-lister composer friends they created a private club to prototype a new sampling approach — Spitfire was formed as a business entity — though not a commercial enterprise until two years later. A decade on and the name Spitfire Audio is synonymous with the highest of high-end accessible and eminently playable virtual orchestral software with thousands of users around the world comprising a vibrant buzzing community of which Spitfire are rightfully proud — as are their now forty-strong in-house staff.

One of the most humbling recent moments for me was hearing the first track of U2’s new album which features Bono singing over our Mandolin Swarm — that’s not us following the curve — we’ve provided something which seems to have inspired U2.

How would you characterise your company mission and ethos? Following a wild journey of rapid development and change, Paul and I have reverted to our original founders’ roles creating the overall strategy for Spitfire’s content and concepts, uncovering new business opportunities and acting as ambassadors for the brand. Our ethos is having an affluent approach trying to do everything in the best possible way — from our customer support experience, to the samples we make. We want to be a good company — we’re not into that modern style of business aggressively trying to monopolise things, so we’re very supportive of young developers. We like to listen — and that’s lead to a remarkable community of users and friends. I guess a long-term goal is creating a generation of orchestral music makers — this area is still the bastion of white male middle-to-upper-class westerners — that’s something we want to challenge, plus there’s a compelling business argument there as well. It’s reflective of my story — I was kicked out of orchestral class because I didn’t want to compose Stockhausen. Paul and I have quite a litter of children between us and we see how music education is under threat and we’re very interested if there’s anything we can do to help. Has that approach and ethos changed much over the 11 years? My studio manager laughs at me… he’s like: “do you want this mic, or this mic?” I always say “the most expensive one…” I have one superb microphone from a well-known manufacturer who also make some really shit mics: you imagine the marketing meeting for a new product — people asking, is this going to be one of our really good mics or one of our rubbish ones?! Applying our affluent approach across the board makes things easy — you never cut corners. When Will Evans (now CEO) came onboard as our marketing guy his main observation was — “you make the best samples in the world — but can you say you make the best YouTube videos in the world? Is your approach to office culture the best in the world?” Digital • April 2018 / 35


/ Founders Christian Henson, left, and Paul Thomson in — of course! — Air Studios

Given a massive rate of change and expansion from a private club to masses of users, what have been the main challenges and how have you overcome them? Growth is tricky. At the start it was Paul and I almost in a potting shed putting rubber bands round jam jars — doing everything between us. The first challenge was to relieve ourselves of those responsibilities — it’s kind of like cell division really. I remember I made some payment that we couldn’t afford and Paul pointed out we could have left it for two weeks adding “Christian, can’t I just handle the finance from now on?” You kind of grieve and feel like you’re being demoted but actually it’s part of that cell division as the company grows. With so many staff coming onboard, Paul and I found ourselves in this management position we were totally unequipped for — so appointing a CEO and returning to our original founders’ roles has been the right move. And we’re very grateful for our vociferous but supportive user base always pushing us on. Being composers has enabled us to come up with new ideas — as a composer you’re always faced with problems and when you come up with a solution, that’s also a potential commercial opportunity. How do you feel about the responsibility — composers completely reliant on your software to meet deadlines and earn money — that must weigh heavy? Well you’re absolutely right. I had an epiphany 36 / Digital • April 2018

of sorts a few years ago. I came to the conclusion that Paul and I were great at playing with the train set but possibly needed a father figure to ensure we didn’t use too much electricity and buy too many model trees. So we brought in a third partner, Paul Kempe, not because we needed the investment, but we wanted him to introduce accountability and checks and balances to reduce that sense of total panic and helplessness we had, being responsible for something like this. And 11 years has seen huge developments in the media composer’s studio computing — how has that affected things? It broadens the scope of possibility — five years ago we might have suggested something delightful and the response would be that’s crazy — no-one’s going to download all that and keep it on their computer. It’s hard drive technology that’s really changed stuff up. Technology doesn’t necessarily make life easier — but it does make it more interesting. And re-programming people not to think of samples as “I’ve got my Philips screwdriver — I don’t need another one” — these are inspiring tools and to a certain extent can be disposable — you might buy something for a specific job then put it aside. That’s important in our business and liquidity — we think more like a record company than a tech company — we’re part of the music industry. One of the most humbling recent moments for me was hearing

the first track of U2’s new album which features Bono singing over our Mandolin Swarm — that’s not us following the curve — we’ve provided something which seems to have inspired U2. How did you develop a methodology and process in the first place? We had a hunch — we analysed how people were doing it and did the opposite — and the opposite was how people record music! Paul and I went out on a limb (it was a big investment) recording second violins for our bespoke Chamber range and the studio engineer said — “are you sure you want the mic stands set up just like you would for music — you realise there’ll be a really big noise-floor?” But we thought instead of getting computers to recreate reality — recording close and dry then introducing reverbs and panning to fake it being in a room, why not have the computers do the boring stuff reducing noise floor? And lo and behold noise reduction technology has really allowed that. So that was the main thing — it’s easier to make an instrument sound like it’s to the right and the back of the hall by putting it there, as opposed to artificial processing. And we mix all our stuff like a film score — our whole process completely emulates a film scoring project. Another thing I feel passionately about and proud of is we pay musicians royalties from sales and that aligns everyone’s interests. They know we’re in it for the long haul — it’s not a smash and grab.


/ Craft

Why the name Spitfire?! It’s ridiculous — I was going to set up a library music company with my brother and we never got round to it. But the legal entity and URL were sitting on the shelf. Meanwhile all our business was going through my sole trader setup as a composer. My accountant told me that we needed a dedicated entity so I said to Paul “I’ve got this thing called Spitfire Audio on the shelf — shall we use that?” I’m afraid that’s the rather unromantic story — just another happy accident.

watching someone ‘play’ an orchestra for the first time — it’s like “yep, you can do that!” — and it’s very exciting.

EW

What do you see as the keys to Spitfire’s success? We’re composers making tools for composers — that’s our original USP and there’s a legitimacy in that. But it’s grown to become a wellrespected IP base with an extraordinary community of people who we can all talk on the same level — it’s not us trying to sell shovels and picks to composers. It’s us making shovels and picks for ourselves and talking to them about digging up gold — I guess that’s the secret really. It’s always important for us to remember how fortunate we are to be in this position because it’s not by design — it’s a series of lucky coincidences — for instance, improvements in noise reduction and people getting their heads around downloading so we don’t need warehouses — it’s all just worked out very well.

products like Albion give people the confidence to express themselves musically and orchestrally — it gives me a lot of pleasure

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Perhaps your most noted recent release is Hans Zimmer Strings. Tell us about that… For us, it’s taking what Hans wanted to its logical conclusion, surpassing the resources even he’d have available for a blockbuster movie score — for instance 344 string players including a 120-strong cello section. For me this is the most exciting aspect of sampling — making the impossible possible. It’s hyperreality and hyper-humanity — you can feel the human input yet in a context that couldn’t readily be created in the real world. One of my proudest moments was standing up in front of friends and peers at Air Studios (our spiritual home) to announce this library — a real pinchme moment. You think imposter syndrome is bad enough when you’re at home working on Logic — you should try that! Collaborating with Hans has been very special and this release represents everyone at Spitfire knocking it out of the park.

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Our readers can find out more via your personal YouTube channel, Christian Henson Music. Meanwhile, in closing, thoughts on future developments? I think it’s hard drive technology that’s going to change things up, but I’m fascinated with the explosion of social media and the community. There’s something about arts education where teachers think it’s alright to say things like “you’ll never come to anything” or “you’re not good enough”. I think as a composer, if your confidence is taking a hit, it becomes impossible to do what we do. So I hope

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Digital • April 2018 / 37


Craft

/ Percussionist Paul Clarvis

/ Tom Briers with Tibetan Horn (Dungchen)

Sounds of the underground Composer and mix engineer ROB KELLY talks us through making The Caves Sessions — three albums recorded in Chislehurst Caves for Audio Network

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hislehurst Caves is an amazing place. 14 miles from central London, it’s an underground network of 20 miles of tunnels with a reverb time of approximately 30 seconds. Technically, they’re not caves — they’re entirely man made. The earliest records date back to the 13th century: there is a theory they were dug by the Romans and Saxons (who mined them for chalk and flint), and the Druids who built their tunnels for ‘other purposes’. Possibly worship, rumours even of sacrifices, the Druid area has smoother walls and a more impressive labyrinthine tunnel structure that gets taller as it converges in front of what may have been an altar. There’s no proof of any of this, but we recorded in the Druid area for good measure. It certainly sounds the best.

The temple of boom!

The acoustic is extraordinary. The damp chalk walls absorb almost all HF, but the low end goes on for three weeks. I don’t know what the 38 / Digital • April 2018

RT60 is, around fifteen seconds, but you can certainly hear a LF reverb of thirty seconds. Tubas, kick drums, bass trombones and such-like are monster. Like a cathedral, there is a subtle natural ‘chorus’ effect as the pitch of the reverb decay wobbles slightly, presumably due to changes in air density caused by temperature changes along the tunnels. So your distant mics might be a subtly different pitch to the close ones surrounded by warmer air from all those humans and lamps. This makes for a very rich sound and the tunnels are very resonant. So you can imagine my excitement when Audio Network agreed to my lunatic suggestion of making them some production music down there. I’d actually worked in the caves once before with my friend, film and TV composer Ruth Barrett. I’d suggested it as a possible recording location for her score to Remember Me — a 3-part dramatised ghost story she was scoring for the BBC, featuring Michael Palin. We had an

amazing day down there and she made some very spooky music, so I have Ruth to thank as an inspiration for doing my own project. I mentioned this in passing to Andrew Sunnucks, chairman and founder of Audio Network, for whom I’d previously written some music and worked regularly as a mix engineer. He dragged me down there and immediately booked 2 days ‘cave time’. A logistical scrabble commenced as the only available time was about 2 weeks after we went on our recce.

Musicians and instruments

I was fortunate to record with some amazing musicians. We had percussionist Paul Clarvis on drum kit, waterphone, darabuka, cahon, gongs, ‘Hungarian milk jug’, frame-drums and other percussion. We had the beautiful voice of soprano Grace Davidson and a low brass trio of Tom Briers (tuba, Tibetan Dungchen mountain horn and ancient brass instruments), Katrina Lauder (French horn and trumpet) and Sarah Mann (trombone / bass trombone). I played cello, darabuka and Bütone tank drums, a type of metal tuned percussion instrument from the ‘tongue drum’ family that I co-designed with my friend James Bergersen. Andrew Sunnucks and I also bashed a giant metal water tank with hammers (a remnant from the 2nd World War when the caves were Europe’s largest Air Raid shelter, a nightly home to 15,000 people). We also recorded auto-harp, plastic ‘whirly-tubes’, kalimba, cahon, birdwhistle and had a go at throat singing. We are awful at throat singing. Back in the light, overdubs included Tim Garland on bass clarinet, Ollie Haycock (guitars), Monty Sadler (Theramin), Emily Lim (trumpet) and me on bass and synths. I co-wrote three of the tracks with bagpipe and duduk player Michael J York but Mike wasn’t able to make the dates so I pre-recorded his parts at Strongroom and played them back through a battery powered PA system in the caves whilst I noodled around on percussion.


/ Tom Briers, Tuba

Field recorders, mics and mild disasters

Some of the logistical challenges of recording in a cave are obvious. It’s cold, damp, slimy and pitch black. It’s terrifying, bewildering, easy to get lost and there’s no light and no power. There is certainly no runner, strictly no sofas and you can forget about recording to a computer. The cold means laptop batteries die

/ Rob Kelly and Andrew Sunnucks playing Bütone tank drums

fast and sacrificial altars don’t have mains sockets. Definitely a job for a field recorder and several spare batteries, we went for a Nagra D with six pre-amps. Some of the other challenges are less obvious. Our chosen recording spot was about a ten-minute walk in, and so ten minutes back out. If somebody needed to leave, you could hear them walking out for 10 minutes, then back

in again. It’s absolutely silent down there except for constant water dripping in the background. So if somebody needed the loo, that’s 25 minutes recording time lost. Synchronised toilet breaks were in order. Lit by head torches and paraffin lamps, we recorded for 2 days solid. I think the field recorder’s limitation of only 6 mic-pres was a good thing. In a good acoustic, I think you can

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Digital • April 2018 / 39


/ Soprano Grace Davidson

make a great recording of any instrument with just two mics. Our main pickup was my brand new matched stereo pair of AKG C414 XLII which we used in Blumlein figure-of-8 configuration. I love these mics, they are super-versatile. They are also the most expensive microphones I own and I’d had them about a week at the time. So it was a little

surreal when I found myself having to dry them out over a candle flame to remove moisture from the capsules. Despite being condenser mics, they’re not fond of condensation. Our other mics were a pair of DPA 4006A omnis that I used as the distant spaced pair, and Earthworks omnis, also a spaced pair and the ‘mid’ perspective pickup round the corner from

Like a cathedral, there is a subtle natural ‘chorus’ effect as the pitch of the reverb decay wobbles slightly, presumably due to changes in air density caused by temperature changes

/ Rob Kelly, producer Andrew Sunnucks and percussionist Paul Clarvis (L-R)

40 / Digital • April 2018

the mains. So everything we recorded was in stereo as close, medium and distant perspective, but with no spot mics. The disadvantage of a field recorder is you don’t have a click track, and the musicians can’t hear themselves back when overdubbing if you’re recording to all channels at once. I used a metronome app on an iphone with a headphone splitter to give our players a click. This worked well but of course meant all parts and takes recorded to tempo had to be assembled manually afterwards. It’s a tough environment to play in for even the best players. Instruments do not enjoy sudden temperature changes or being freezing cold and slimy, and neither do musicians. Using a field recorder meant no backing track or playback of the previous take to pitch to when overdubbing the next part. So with very challenging playing conditions inevitably some tuning work was required in post. We’re all very used to getting out of jail with Auto-Tune and Melodyne. They are wonder tools, but they don’t work so well when there is a giant, huge reverberant echo of the previous note underlying the next one. So I developed a tuning technique mainly using Waves SoundShifter as a real-time insert plug-in, arming the automation of the fine pitch control, and subtly moving it using Pro Tools automation to correct any pitch drift between parts. Fiddly, but works surprisingly well with very reverberant material.

Writing and cataloguing

I managed to write and notate 8 pieces in the time available between booking and going pot-holing, mainly sparse, slow tempo material that I knew would work in the cavernous acoustic. But we also planned extensively for recording ‘toolkits’ of sound — grooves and loops in particular tempos and melodies and drones in related keys that we knew would work together with a view to assembling material in the comfort of my studio at Strongroom. It has both light and power and hardly any slime. We also sampled many of the instruments at numerous different dynamics from which I built multi-mic perspective software instruments, an important part of my writing process. On returning to the light and doing a neurotic backup, the next job was to import the polyphonic 6 channel .wavs from the field recorder into Pro Tools. Our location recording engineer Simon Allen kindly ‘slated’ each take as it went down. He probably had the hardest job as he couldn’t move around that much to keep warm but Simon has the patience of a saint and a very thick coat — thank you Simon. From his slate I then added markers to every take, and used the marker comments field to add my own notes on tempos, which takes I preferred, any nice improvised moments and the utterly freaky and unexplained whooshing noises on the distant mics. I then used the ‘export session as text’ function in Pro Tools to make a spreadsheet, which I imported into Google Docs so I could share it with producer


/ Craft

Andrew Sunnucks. I then colour coded each take by ‘mood’ — scary, violent, melancholy, rhythmic etc. so I had a visual guide to what would work together, and used colours to keep track of what material I’d used on which piece. If I’d been making hip-hop, this process of combing through the field recordings to find material that works together might be called crate-digging. This was chalk-digging. The finished product landed up being 31 main pieces and over 650 mixes and stems available across three albums.

Plug-ins, post, altiverb and Abbey Road

The learned readership of Resolution may now be thinking that somebody perhaps should have told me about Altiverb before I dragged a literal tonne of equipment and musicians into the bowls of the earth. Fortunately they did, and it was an essential part of post-production. In addition to amplifying pre-recordings of bag-pipes, we used our PA system to take several impulse responses of the tunnels using the sweeps from the Audioease website. This enabled me to add a ‘cave acoustic’ to the overdubs I did at Strongroom and was also very fortunate to tag onto an Audio Network string session in Abbey Road studio 2. The track ‘Silvia’s Spy Theme’ features lashings of Altiverb ‘cave acoustic’ on the strings, plus Universal Audio / AKG BX 20 Spring Reverb plug-in. Modern multi-channel reverb hardware and software sounds amazing, but I still think you can’t beat the sound of a real multi-mic’d acoustic. The players respond differently hearing their instrument or voice coming back from around them, and when improvising leave more space in the music than if they were hearing themselves with a stereo reverb over headphones. And being somewhere frankly terrifying with the faint possibility of the roof caving in adds a certain something to any performance. But the most creative trick when you have a network of tunnels to play with is to move things around. We did a ‘percussion procession’ of 5 of us playing a slow groove, walking down the tunnels and approaching the main mics from about 100 meters away so the tension slowly builds as the players get closer to the mics. I used elastic audio ‘vari-speed’ mode a lot when sound designing, this procession recording I slowed down by about 60%, it’s terrifying — the thunder tube percussion sounds like knives and it forms the basis of cheery number Tunnel of Fear. Another ‘space experiment’ had 4 of us armed with plastic whirly tubes moving about down different tunnels with mics in between us. During mixing I got rather used to having every element in close, medium and distant perspectives. It’s a bit like having a ‘3D’ multitrack — great to be able to automate up the close mics to emphasis something, or just use the distant pair when you want dark, epic-ness. Some of the songs I started with no close mics, then gradually faded them up throughout the

piece, such as the drums on Slow Mo Dream (which also starts with the whirly tubes). The disadvantage of having your mics 100 metres down a tunnel next to a dripping stalactite when recording a soprano quietly singing nursery rhymes (mix 2 of Black Death) is of course noise. Even the cleanest mics and pre-amps generate noise when you crank the gain to maximum and give them almost nothing to pick up. Not a conventional recording technique. I used Izotope RX extensively to clean things up, running it as a real time de-noiser insert on each of the three perspectives (sampling a different noise profile

for each) and sometimes automating thresholds where necessary. I like the idea of cheating physics with de-noising software — real recordings with very distant mics of very quiet things that have very little noise. You can get some very strange effects from that so the de-noising was a creative process in a way. Spectral Repair also saved the day. I didn’t remove all the water droplet sounds as I quite like them, but many had to go, and it was also fantastic for removing instrument key noises, people shuffling about (we had a film crew down there with us) and the odd high-speed ghost.

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Digital • April 2018 / 41


/ Craft

The finished product

/ “Synchronised toilet breaks were in order”

Another big part of my writing process was building software instruments. Due to the limited time between suggestion and session I wasn’t able to write all the music I wanted before the recording dates, so by sampling the drums, Waterphone, tuba, gongs and soprano Grace Davidson at different dynamics and pitches, I was able to then build sampler instruments using Native Instruments Kontakt and Izotope Iris. I am not clever enough to build custom UIs for the instruments, but wanted to preserve the multi-mic aspect of the recordings within the sample instruments. So I’d build the ‘close mic’ instrument, then duplicate it twice and then retain the zone mapping but swap out the samples for corresponding medium and distant equivalents to make the three

instruments. I then had them all on the same MIDI channel in Kontakt, but routed up separate instrument / aux returns in Pro Tools to preserve the flexibility in changing proximities of the sound. Sometimes I’d have the different perspectives on separate MIDI channels, so I could play one chord in close perspective on my ‘cave soprano’ instrument, then the next chord using distant voicing, a technique I used in Frozen Light. Iris is a fantastic creative tool, it’s a bit like an Akai 3200 XL hardware sampler but through the magic of being a software instrument it’s a ‘spectral’ sampler, like Spectral Repair you can draw shapes within an FFT spectral analysis to choose, manipulate and loop harmonics and partials individually.

Musical and film history of the Caves

We are by no means the first to make music in the Caves. Aside from some likely ancient music making, composer Ruth Barrett beat me to it. Way before that, local boy David Bowie performed there with his first band, the Konrads, and the Rolling Stones and Status Quo are also said to have played there. Led Zeppelin had a lavish Halloween party in the caves to launch their record label Swan Song with a performance from the Pretty Things. Pink Floyd also did a gig there in 1967 and Hendrix played the caves twice. The Dr Who TV episode “The Mutants” was filmed there, which scared the hell out of me as a nipper. Several films have been shot there, most recently found footage horror The Borderlands and a music video for Cradle of Filth. During the second world war it was a nightly home to 15,000 people and had it’s own hospital, chapel, stage, electric lighting and cinema.

42 / Digital • April 2018

/ Druids used to sacrifice drummers here

Known collectively as The Caves Sessions, the three albums and plethora of stings, stems and sub-mixes are available to listen to for free and to licence for use in media from Audio Network. There is a playlist of all the tracks available here — http://bit.ly/The-Caves-Session You can also check them out on Spotify and Apple Music under the title “The Caves Sessions”. The albums are Chamber of Horrors, dark and violent brass, bagpipes of doom, industrial riffs and horrible sound design. Ambient Underground is more mellow and experimental featuring ‘Whale song’ frame drums and ambient Americana, and Tunnel Vision is probably the most quirky of the three with processed Waterphone, sound designed soprano. I’m fairly confident in saying the track ‘Molten Metal’ is the first music written for double-tracked German wah-wah kalimba, modified propane canister, second world war subterranean septic tank, vibraphone and space-echo. I’m very grateful indeed to all the musicians that made such amazing contributions to the project, and to producer Andrew Sunnucks and everyone at publisher Audio Network, for humouring my lunatic idea and having a great deal of faith and patience waiting for me to deliver it. I hope the Resolution readership enjoy taking a listen! Rob is a composer and mix engineer based at Strongroom studios in London. Before becoming a freelance cave-dweller we was a director of AIR Lyndhurst and Strongroom Studios, and before that UK Pro Tools Product specialist for Avid Technology, (then Digidesign). Other recent composition includes two albums of Balkan and Gypsy music for Audio Network, the score for nature documentary Hilbre and a piece for saxophone quintet and Bütone percussion.

www.robkellymusic.com


Facility

Studio photo credit: Eddie Veale

Tittenhurst Park and its legendary recording studio. It was there John Lennon wrote ‘Imagine’. I wondered if he would have written such a song if he had been living in the middle of some ghetto, versus living on a 70+ acre estate filled with lush greenery. Probably not. I wondered if he would have been productive if he didn’t have his own recording studio right in his house. Probably not. While interviewing dozens of musicians who recorded there, I asked them if beautiful environments inspired their creativity and increased their productivity. The answer was overwhelmingly yes. John Lennon started an incredible trend which inspired George Harrison’s F.P.S.H.O.T. At Friar Park, Richard Branson’s The Manor, and countless others, including Peter Gabriel’s extraordinary residential recording complex. Now that my book series is done, I’m developing a series of time-travel-style audio tours so people can experience what it was like to visit, and work in, many of the U.K.’S amazing recording studios that may or may not still be around. We call them ‘Audible Adventures.’

John Lennon, recording Imagine

Tittenhurst Park SCOTT CARDINAL shares extracts from his book on John Lennon’s ‘home studio’

T

ittenhurst Park has an amazing history. It was the home of patent medicine inventor Thomas Holloway, and in the mid-20th century it was owned by Peter Cadbury. Most notably, it was the home of John Lennon from 1969-1971, who then sold it to Ringo Starr. From 1973-1975 Ringo used it as a personal recording studio, when he moved to Monte Carlo he had the studio upgraded and made the facility available for use by other artists. Portions of Ringo’s documentary Born to Boogie were shot there, with Marc Bolan singing and playing guitar and Elton John on piano. In the late 1980s it was sold to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former President of the United Arab Emirates, who devoted a good deal of his wealth to beautifying the gardens and expanding the size of the lake that Lennon had originally built. Beautiful homes and gardens have always been of great interest to me. Anytime I ever walked past the Dakota apartment building in New York City, there were always people there to take photos of where John Lennon was shot. That always bothered me. In addition to being incredibly morbid, I thought it was a shame that so many people took their snaps and then moved on without giving any consideration of the beauty and history of the building he chose

to live. So I began studying architecture and design psychology. I was fascinated by how people — especially creative artists — were inspired by their environments. While researching the Dakota I learned quite about

In 1969, the young Eddie Veale, a former engineer at legendary London recording facility Advision, was given the opportunity to design a studio at Tittenhurst Park, the home of John Lennon. Not only did Veale set a precedent by building the first home studio, he also lent his skills to engineering Lennon’s famous Imagine album. When it comes to studios there is perhaps none more iconic than Tittenhurst Park, Ascot, not only the birthplace of John Lennon’s legendary Imagine album but also the country’s very first home studio. Who can forget Lennon at the grand piano in the White Room? While no longer in existence, Tittenhurst deserves its place in the spotlight not least because it was the model that spawned a

/ Control Room at Tittenhurst

Digital • April 2018 / 43


generation of home facilities, changing the face of studio recording. Tittenhurst was the work of studio designer Eddie Veale. A fortuitous meeting with the Beatles’ manager Neil Aspinall in the summer of 1969 led Veale to an encounter with the great man himself, and launched a career that the former Advision project engineer could never have foreseen. “John had just purchased a new home and asked me if I would like to build a studio within it, to save him from the commute into London,” explains Veale. “There was no real brief. He just said: ‘Build me a studio as good as Apple’.” Up until that point, home studios had been no more than a room with a Revox machine and a microphone, more a place for the musician to trial ideas before getting into the proper studio. The Ascot project would be a first not only for Veale but also for the UK. A few days later, Veale, going it alone under his new guise of Audiotek, met Lennon at Tittenhurst and together they selected a single-storey extension, next to the kitchen but away from the main living areas, as the ideal location. Construction began in August 1970, and for Veale it was to be his first solo construction project. There was a lot to learn, not least how to keep the rainwater out. The original studio specified and constructed by Veale was 8-track, largely because the master machine was a 3M 8-track sent over from Apple who were moving to 16-track. The short lead time — Lennon wanted to start recording by Christmas 1970 — meant that there could be no pause for a bespoke console so the ever-resourceful Veale ended up building one from scratch. “Consoles were all built to order at the time and the only serious console builder for studios was Cadac, but we didn’t have time to wait for them,” explains Veale. “We ended up using Cadac modules and we did the metalwork and 44 / Digital • April 2018

the wiring. I had to corner-mount the monitor loudspeakers to fit the available space. The speakers were based on my design for the Apple Studios, they were wedge-shaped, using Altec drivers, and were placed above the window. I acquired a bit of a reputation for designing loudspeaker systems after that, and have enjoyed improving many studio control rooms over the years! “The console had 16 microphone input channels and four echo returns, eight master outputs, two foldback and two echo (reverberation) outputs. Monitor power amplifiers were Amcron, headphone and other amplifiers were Quad. There were two EMT140 echo plates and an echo chamber. Micorphones were Neumann and AKG. Stereo machines for mixdown and ADT were Studer B62, “ he continues. With the studio up and running on time, despite the presence of an increasingly impatient Lennon who was keen to start work before testing was complete, by the end of July 1971 most of the tracks for Imagine were recorded, and producer Phil Spector was literally in the mix. “Having designed the place I took on the role of studio engineer for the album,” says Veale, “so that I was on hand to deal with any problems as they arose. I worked closely with a couple of engineers from EMI, which was a huge learning curve for me and helped enormously when I came to design the home studio for George Harrison later on. By the time we were halfway through Imagine we had ironed out most of the wrinkles. It turned out to be quite an engineering achievement on all fronts — technical, soundproofing and isolation — not to mention the construction work.” Even more learning on the job came when Spector called for Automatic Double Tracking for a vocal part: “I had no experience of ADT so I didn’t have a clue how to get it right,” says Veale. “In the end I drove to Abbey Road with Lennon, Phil Spector and a trail of engineers to create it there. As soon as I heard what they were after I realised what the problem was. The playback was reverse phase so what was coming back was out of phase. It took about five minutes to correct and then we had our own ADT effect at Ascot.” With Imagine in the bag Lennon was ready to move straight onto the next recording, as soon as Veale could upgrade the studio to a 16-track with a larger control room. The ‘new’ studio remained, maintained by Veale, throughout Lennon’s ownership and beyond, when Ringo Starr took over the tenure in 1973. Veale subsequently went on to design and build home studios for the cream of the 1970s music scene — Donovan, George Harrison and Alvin Lee among them — and several still exist today. Now, trading as Veale Associates, incorporating Audiotek and a great team of people, the company has expanded into the world of TV, film, radio studios, educational studios and auditoria and acoustics for exclusive offices and homes. Imagine that…

What was is like recording at Tittenhurst Park?

Joey Molland (guitarist — Badfinger, Natural Gas — played on Imagine) “We got there and the studio was all set up. Phil Spector was there and Klaus Voormann again, and Nicky Hopkins played the piano. We’d known Nicky for years at that point; He was one of the great pianists in England, maybe the best and Jim Keltner, playing drums. And that’s all there were in the room.”

Eddie Offord (engineer/producer — Yes, ELP and many more). “I only worked with John Lennon once, on the Imagine album. He had an estate outside of London, like a manor, with a brand-new recording studio built inside. He asked me to come out and do some work, which I did. I felt bad, though, because I could only do a few tracks with him. I had to tell him that I had a prior commitment to record with Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The time I spent with John was great… Phil put strings and all of that stuff on. John was very confident about what he was doing. The Beatles had only been broken up for a little while, but I didn’t get the feeling that he was adrift or insecure to be on his own. He wasn’t very technical; he liked to work fast, only doing a few takes of things. He didn’t do a lot of recording on his own, though — it was more a band thing. Alan White played drums on some of the tracks, and he did a great job. I would offer opinions to John if I thought something didn’t sound right and maybe we could get it better. He was cool — there was never any kind of attitude from him. He didn’t act like a star or that he was better than anybody else. I remember him being a fun guy. At the same time we were doing this, John encouraged me to work with Yoko, which I did manage to do. I liked Yoko a lot as a person — she was very sharp, very educated — but I thought that what she was doing musically was pretty painful. It was like this primal scream thing. I hated it.”


/ Facility

Alan White (drummer for Yes, played on Imagine and Instant Karma for John Lennon) “Imagine was all done on an 8-track machine. The studio wasn’t big at all. It was tiny. In fact, on a couple of tracks where Jim Keltner played, I was playing Vibraphone in the bathroom. There was a door in the corner, with a bathroom back there, and we couldn’t have the vibes out in the room where the drums were, [because] it would go all over the mics, so they put me in the bathroom and the door had a two inch crack in it where I could see people out the door, and that’s ‘Jealous Guy’. I played all the vibes in the bathroom.”

Tom Allom (producer — Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard, interviewed Resolution V9.5) “My history with Startling Studios goes back to about 1975. My manager Mike Dolan had heard of the studio and I believe the first time I used the studio was with Hudson Ford. The studio itself wasn’t spectacular but the atmosphere there was great, set as it was in the beautiful park. The estate had very lovely grounds with

spectacular trees. At the time there was the famous dinosaur peeking over the shrubs and the rhino on the lawn.” Bernie Marsden (guitarist, on the recording of Whitesnake’s album Come an’ Get It) “The actual studio at Tittenhurst was not very large. Ian set his drums up in the hallway, which created a sound that is so vital to the entire album. Setting them up there turned out to be a real stroke of genius. The hallway had a brilliantly high ceiling that created a sublime sound for him. Brilliant stuff.”

David Tickle (engineer for Prince, Joan Armatrading, Belinda Carlisle, Divinyls — among many others) “Among the albums I worked on while at Startling were Rab Noakes, Stormer, and Split Enz I See Red. By 1978 I wanted to begin producing on my own, so I responded to an advertisement that was offering work for: ‘the best engineer in England, money no object’. The ad had been placed by Mike Chapman who had recently produced Nick Gilder’s City Nights

album. He hired me, and I was soon working on Blondie’s Heart of Glass & The Knack’s My Sharona. I returned to Startling Studios in 1984 with Laurence Gowan to produce his album Strange Animal. We could have recorded anywhere but I wanted to return to Tittenhurst Park. I knew it would be the perfect place to spend time while recording the album. It was a great studio, and I still think about the memories I have while being there.”

Jerry Marotta (session drummer for John Mayer, Iggy Pop, Tears for Fears, Elvis Costello, Cher, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates). “When I got to Tittenhurst Park I thought it was awesome. It was really fun. It was rewarding. It was gratifying. The place was historic …there were all the people who had been there, like sessions with Stephen Stills and Joe Walsh. That was all very important when working with somebody like Larry Gowan. I mean, we were in John Lennon’s home where they recorded Imagine!” Softcover books can be ordered via Amazon. The limited Deluxe edition is available for £244 directly from CampfireNetwork. The nearly 700 page book combines Volumes 1-3. Each is personally signed, numbered, and include a Certificate of Authenticity and a bookmark. Enter the code: Resolutionmag to get 10% off.

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Digital • April 2018 / 45


Cutting edge

The idea for the Omnipressor was prompted by a conversation between Eventide cofounder Richard Factor (RF) and a former colleague, Mark Weiss, who by 1974 sat on a committee investigating anomalies in the Watergate tapes. They didn’t crack how Nixon had the tapes doctored, but it sparked fresh thinking about side chain compression. “I don’t usually get musical ideas; I get technical ideas that turn out to be musical,” Factor has said. Around two years in, engineer Tony Agnello (TA) joined the business, and he remains Managing Director of the company.

Eventide – audio creativity, since 1971 Two of Eventide’s founders, Richard Factor and Tony Agnello, were awarded the 2018 Technical Grammy: PHIL WARD rewinds the clockworks

I

t became AES folklore that the Eventide booth would have coveted bars of chocolate in generous supply: ‘reverb so sweet you can taste it’ being the hook. The vibe was casual, the brand a hit with every professional involved in recording the sound of music. Here’s a typical piece of conviviality, even in the user manual: ‘Your Omnipressor loves you and wants to be your friend. If you don’t understand it, if you don’t fondle its controls properly, it will cause you hours of confusion, and tempt you to dash it on the rocks or put it in a sack and drown it.’[Actually true: a small adjustment could cause wild, unanticipated results — it was a diva! — Ed.] With plenty of hair and a Robert Crumb approach to marketing graphics, Manhattanbased Eventide put the audible counter-culture in a box and fast-tracked mind-expanding techniques that it took most of the ‘60s to cultivate. Thanks in part to planet-saving recycling of the psychedelic muse, the products have never gone out of fashion and today dominate both the vintage hardware emporia and the software emulation supermarkets in equal measure. 46 / Digital • April 2018

You’ve used the name Eventide since 1969/70: what the hell does it mean? RF: Back in 1970 when we started making stuff the question came up: ‘what shall we call the company?’ I had a list of ten names, derived from science fiction stories, which were methodically and unequivocally rejected by the others. Finally, from a previous avocation — building digital clocks in the evening while actually working for a living — I suggested Eventide Clockworks. When we moved from our original home in New York City to our current factory in New Jersey, we dropped the ‘Clockworks’. As a partnership, what are your relative strengths and weaknesses and how do they complement one another? RF: Tony is Beatles and Bob Dylan. I’m more Byrds and Beau Brummels. Several sidelines to studio technology have come and gone, less or more related to the original Ampex tape cue locator product. Which ones survive today? RF: We continue to make a good business with anti-profanity delays, and our logging division has grown immensely — although the focus has changed from radio to public safety such as 911 centres and airports. We discontinued aircraft map displays and computer memory and hardware quite some time ago. The first commercially available digital delay (DDL 1745 from 1971 — “EVEN I DIG A LAY”, according to Stephen Stills’ puckish adaptation of the marque on his model) featured ‘shift registers’ — 980 bits each representing 100 milliseconds, discovered in early ICs you used pre-Eventide. What was it about these things that caught your imagination and why did you think of audio? RF: Shift registers caught my attention when all you could get was 256 bits. I built a delay line of only a few milliseconds from cast-off parts from my day job. I was always into audio from my previous life — broadcasting and ham radio — and heard some interesting effects from a device we were working on that had an entirely different purpose. It was only when the 980-bit


1960s America was a hotbed of innovation electronically and musically shift registers were advertised in an electronic publication at a ‘reasonable’ price that I realized they could be turned into a commercial product. The shift register saga is a long one of mostly painful memory.

The H949 (1977) had anti-glitch technology to remove pitch-change artefacts, but these are now simulated in modern replicas! Are the software models too accurate? Don’t we need an aleatory element in signal processing and mixing, rather like performance? RF: I like ‘aleatory’. I maintain that aleatory obnubilation is responsible for our modern history [in a blog, Factor suggested that random weather conditions swayed the 2000 Presidential Election result]. As to your specific question, I can only answer with ‘yes and no’. TA: And ‘maybe’. The H949 did not have a true aleatory element. The anti-glitch method was based on auto-correlation, which is deterministic. The ‘randomness’ of the occasional and subtle artefacts is not due to the method per se but rather a consequence of the audio signal itself. For some audio signals, like periodic ones, auto-correlation can determine excellent splicing points in the signal resulting in glitch-free pitch change. Non-periodic audio signals may or may not be treated so kindly by this method. So, the randomness of the artefacts is a consequence of the randomness of the audio rather than the result of some indeterminism of the method. The H910, on the other hand, was primitive in many respects including a true aleatory element in that the system clock — which in almost all subsequent digital audio hardware was crystal derived — was derived from an LC oscillator. Crystal-based oscillators generate precise unvarying, stable clocks. LC oscillators drift with temperature, age and so on in truly random fashion.

/ Richard Factor with Keith Emerson’s keyboards

much. The Omnipressor plug-in is a faithful recreation and was developed by Richard, the designer of the hardware. The H910 was quite a challenge. For one thing, restoring an original unit to its ‘factory’ performance was not easy. The H910 is almost entirely analogue and modelling the custom A-to-D converter, the filters and the non-linearity of the companding was quite a challenge. I had the good fortune of having the help of a talented DSP developer Dan Gillespie, who

succeeded in emulating the nuanced behaviour of the analogue circuitry. The result is spot on. We’ve released the H910 plug-in ourselves and have licensed it to Universal Audio. Our current emulations of the Instant Phaser and Instant Flanger, on the other hand, are embarrassing and consequently we don’t offer those plug-ins for sale. A faithful emulation of those two lovely sounding analogue boxes is the current focus of our DSP team. Our non-legacy plug-ins are included in the

Re-creating the legendary H910 harmoniser

In what important ways does the Clockworks Legacy bundle differ from the originals? TA: Our Clockworks Legacy bundle includes software recreations of our early rack-mount products. Some are damn close, others not so

/ Tony Agnello working on the original H910 Harmonizer

Digital • April 2018 / 47


/ Cutting edge

Anthology XI bundle. No one has ever created plug-ins quite like Physion and Blackhole. And then there’s Tverb — a unique plug-in inspired, not by a rack-mount effects box, but rather by a recording technique employed by Tony Visconti. Do software sales generate hardware sales? TA: Same answer as earlier. Maybe. Why was this — at the time limited — digital technology so valuable in the analogue world of the 1970s? RF: It’s the half-a-loaf theory. You might as well ask why today’s limited technology is so valuable. TA: Well… you can do pretty much everything in analogue — amplify, compress, limit, filter, gate and so on. The one thing that you can’t achieve using analogue electronics is delay. Prior to digital audio, delay was achieved mechanically by either dedicating a room (echo chamber), a tape machine (tape delay) or a garden hose (Cooper TimeCube) — check out our YouTube video “DDL 1745 NAMM TECnology Hall of Fame Recipient”. Dave Blackmer designed the Phaser. How many alumni graduated from Eventide? RF: Dave Blackmer founded dbx at roughly the same time as Eventide, and produced the dbx noise reduction system. More accurately, I designed the Instant Phaser and Dave offered circuit suggestions that made the product far more valuable and commercial. We also used modules from his company in our other products. He and his company were invaluable to our early success. We’re especially proud of alumni Ken Bogdanowicz and Bob Belcher, of Sound Toys, and Dave Derr of Empirical Labs. I’m sure there are many more who have achieved distinction even without founding their own very successful companies.

What impact did specific products have on studio sounds and techniques: the Instant Phaser, the Omnipressor and the early Digital Delay lines? TA: The Phaser simulated tape flanging but has its own distinctive sound — like flanging but not quite. Tape flanging requires a tape machine and is a bother to set up and control. The 48 / Digital • April 2018

/ Tony Agnello tries a different pitch on his voice

Omnipressor was innovative — like nothing else that came before it. It introduced the notion of the ‘side chain’ in a revolutionary way. It made reverse dynamics effects possible. The digital delay replaced tape delay. It was used for ADT and as a pre-delay for plate reverbs. In the 1970s plate reverbs became popular because they could be used instead of ‘echo chambers’. Plate reverbs sounded great but they had one shortcoming. In the real world, the onset of reverb — the dense part — is not instantaneous. In the real world there is an initial delay. Digital delays were set up as sends to the plate. What do you think were the ingredients of ’60s America that produced so many passionate audio technology pioneers, as well as musicians and bands? RF: 1960s America was a hotbed of innovation electronically and musically. I suppose it helped that electronic components were then large enough to be visible to the naked eye — and we were inspired by and competing with the Russians. Why does the H9000 need iOS integration? TA: It doesn’t ‘need’ iOS integration but it does need to be DAW friendly. We’re developing an app called emote which will run either as an app on Windows or Mac or as plug-in. As an inventor, how do you beat the Smartphone? TA: With another Smartphone. Name one crucial thing you learned from ham radio. RF: Never to let my classwork interfere with my education. If it weren’t for ham radio and all the electronics I learned, I’d probably be an economist today. My mom wanted me to be a doctor, but that was right out.

We continue to make a good business with anti-profanity delays, and our logging division has grown immensely How did you get to meet Bob Moog, and what did you think he was up to? RF: I refer you to www.priups.com/riklblog/ aug06/060822-moog.htm [it’s Thereminrelated!] Name one crucial thing you learned from WABC. RF: Broadcast Radio is, or was then, even more fun than ham radio. Also, the WABC connection was responsible for our name and several of our products, including the profanity delay and the justifiably forgotten Monstermat… Who would win in a game of tennis between Tom Corbett, Space Cadet and Captain James T Kirk? RF: I’d go for Tom Corbett, although I’m not sure he’d do well on grass at Wimbledon. Tom had Roger Manning and Astro as coaches; Kirk only had Spock. First set to Kirk, but the remaining two or three to Corbett. www.eventideaudio.com http://bit.ly/Eventide-DDL1745 http://bit.ly/Eventide-Omnipressor http://bit.ly/Omnipressor-History


Playlist

Which live gigs for Resolution? Erica Basnicki

Mike Aiton

George Shilling

Phil Ward

Artist: Bonobo Gig: Alexandra Palace, 1 June 2018 Why?: Amazing musicians, lots of dancing, and a total mashup of genres and moods without a set change to break things up. Can’t wait! Artist: Steven Wilson Gig: Birmingham Symphony Hall 22nd March 2018 Why? Although I found him to be a bit of a prog snob when I worked with Porcupine Tree, this is as pop as The Beatles, Prince or Abba. With holograms and everything! He should be huge.

Tim Oliver

Artist: A Certain Ratio Venue: Fiddlers, Bristol They’re back at the top of their game spurred on by a back-catalogue re-release on Mute. The way they combine electronica and humana is right on point for now.

Ed Lister

Artist: Kaleo Gig: Albert Hall, Manchester Why: Albert hall (a beautiful converted old Wesleyan chapel) is both visually and acoustically outstanding and this sell-out gig did not disappoint. The icelandic bluesrock group absolutely blew the roof off — I was there filming onstage — one of those little ‘Moments’!

David Kennedy

Artist: Pip Blom Gig: Moth Club, London Why? Very new to me — there’s something thrilling about watching real talent on the rise and Kim Deal would seem to agree as she’s asked Pip to support the Breeders on their current tour.

Artist: Steven Wilson Gig: Royal Albert Hall Why? Melodic progressive rock at its best. Very loud, energetic and with a ton of emotion. Stupendous performance by musicians at the top of their game. Artist: We Are Sound Gig: ‘In The Dark’ at Ely Cathedral: totally acappella, 100-strong choir in 360° ring around the audience Why? Invited by sound designer Bobby Aitken who, like me, was 100% off-duty.

Simon Clark

Artist: Leafcutter John Gig: Colston Hall, Bristol Why? A folkie who makes coruscating electronica with a home-made light sensitive interface called “Light Thing” and grows (yes grows) his own contact mics. Check 2015’s Resurrection.

John Broomhall Artist: Gig:  Why:

Russell Cottier

Artist: Scarlet. Gig: Sound City Liverpool Why? I am producing this band at the moment. Sound City is a rock and indie festival, showcasing a lineup of established artists alongside hot new talent in city-centre venues.

Dan Daley

Artist: Jim Oblon Gig:  12 South Taproom & Grill Why?  Oblon is an unreal guitar player and I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them his day-gig was as Paul Simon’s drummer. Being able hear every instrument straight to my ears… it’s good to be reminded of what a kick drum is supposed to sound like.

Donato Masci Artist: Gig:  Why?

St. Vincent Magnolia — Milan I first saw her with David Byrne in Florence — probably one of the best acts I have seen. This year she’s going to play in Milan, I’m really looking forward to it, as her shows go far beyond a simple concert!

Mary Chapin Carpenter Bath Festival @ The Forum A rare opportunity in my area to see this total class act. A singer/ songwriter of substance, I’m counting on her to bring wisdom and a super-tight band.

Nigel Jopson

Artist: Re:Freshed Orchestra Gig: Arnhem Why: Rotterdam-based funk, soul & hiphop collective of 16 young performers. From trombones and violins to sax and synths, an off-the-wall, love-ofmusic combination.

Bill Lacey Artist: Gig: Why?

Pat Metheny Newport Jazz Festival, Summer 2018 He puts on a great show, has fantastic musicians playing with him, and is one of the few Jazz players in the world using a guitar synthesizer as a lead instrument.

Dave Robinson

Artist: Elbow Gig: O2 Arena Why? Guy Garvey and his Bury bandmates turned the O2’s cavernous cathedral into an intimate pub snug for perfect renditions of My Sad Captains, The Birds, Grounds for Divorce (with inevitable sing-along) and of course, One Day Like This.

Facebook is a convenient and quick method of contacting the editorial staff at Resolution. Like us and message us at: bit.ly/Resolution-Facebook

Digital • April 2018 / 49


Sweet spot

Musical sound-check Acoustician DONATO MASCI suggests some music to test your monitoring

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onato is an acoustic designer and consultant (and specialist Resolution contributor) who has personally designed more than 100 recording and audio-video post/production studios; he has worked with different teams for the design of churches, theatres, auditoriums, conference rooms and home theatres. Masci has on-going collaborations with Genelec and Dolby for multichannel audio and 3D systems, and he is a consultant to B&C Speakers, Powersoft and K-Array for their product R&D. While Masci is normally to be found deploying an array of measurement microphones and software tools to objectively assess acoustic environments, he explained to us: “As music lovers, and considering the final functionality of control rooms, we usually undergo a dedicated music content listening session. It’s a further perceptual confirmation and exploration of our design targets, as well as some fun, and an effective demonstration for clients.” Masci listed eight pieces of music which he has intentionally chosen to give his designs an acoustic work-out. Listen to your own monitors with these tunes, and focus on the items highlighted by Donato — you might be surprised! Peter Gabriel UP ‘Growing up’ There are many helpful sections for critical listening. The mix is very good in general, with a broad frequency content and nice depth perception (due to time-isolated low frequency beats). The kick drum goes quite deep in

50 / Digital • April 2018

frequency (with a peak at 54Hz), the definition of which may be lost in boomy rooms, masked by synth sequences which are in the same tonal range but slightly higher in frequency. Around 1:00 there’s a nice and well separated-in-time drum sequence, appearing isolated from the rest of the mix, and as a consequence useful for the appreciation of stereophony. Also at around 2:30 the stereo imaging quality of the room can be assessed, as a sequence of voices jump sequentially from the phantom mono to the sides, enabling the listener to check width and definition of the sound image.

Furthermore, if you have both big monitors and some nearfields in your studio, try exploring the difference in perceived depth and extent of the dynamic range. Even if your nearfield monitors are high quality, you’ll probably be surprised by the improvement when listening to the larger system. Peter Gabriel WALL-E soundtrack ‘Down to Earth’ We usually consider the first part of this track up to 1:08, where a deep and isolated low frequency impulse peaks at 29Hz.

Jamiroquai Cosmic Girl ‘Travelling without moving’ This track has a nice snare drum punch in the low-mid frequency region, well balanced with the lower frequency kick drum and bass guitar envelope, resulting in a good musical tool to check mid-low content balance, as many well separated impulses are present in this frequency region.

Billy Cobham Spectrum ‘Red Baron’ VS. Rage Against the Machine ‘Wake Up’ In order to explore audio system dynamic range capability and the relative performance of the room tested, we usually undergo a listening comparison between these two tracks. The Billy Cobham track has a considerably lower loudness but much richer dynamics in respect to ‘Wake up’ — a song we like a lot from the ‘90s when the infamous loudness war began! Rage Against the Machine ‘Wake Up’ is basically a flat wall of sound as you can see from the second waveform depicted below:

This is such a low frequency that many audio system lacking low frequency equipment/ components won’t even be able to reproduce those sounds! However, when properly reproduced, this track enables exploration of the low frequency decay control of your room. In adequately dry environments, it is possible to clearly perceive the sound wave with your body as well as your ears. Such low — but full of energy — pulses may excite many of the studio’s room furniture or architectural components, such as the floor area where the subwoofer is positioned. Resonances from the windows or the console, which might be highly detrimental for the listening experience, can be investigated. Massive Attack Mezzanine ‘Angel’ We couldn’t exclude this track, as a pure challenge at low frequencies for many audio systems. In our assessments of studio monitoring, we’ve often heard some quite weird artefacts from bass reflex apertures due to the high density of sound energy to be reproduced. This piece is also helpful to appreciate low frequency content balance as well as how good your studio low end definition is. The key test with this song is trying to understand if each note start can be separately perceived. This is also a good track to explore any possible modal effects — and sound field homogeneity — moving from the listening position to different listening locations in the room.


Devendra Banhart Mala ‘Mi Negrita’ We usually use this track from the Venezuelan/ American singer- songwriter to check or optimise an audio system’s correct phantom mono channel reproduction and perception, examining if it’s sensed at the centre of the stereo image, also investigating if sound is perceived as coming from points rather than a more extended region. Such analysis is facilitated by the fact that mono content of this track is quite frequency limited, making it easier to understand spatial attributes. Here are some tricks for investigating stereophony with this track: close your eyes and rotate on your chair! In order to understand if phantom mono perception is correct, while trying to eliminate possible influences from other architectural elements in the studio, we usually listen at the engineer’s position with eyes shut. We have a 360° spin around the chair pointing, still with eyes closed, where we think the phantom channel is, comparing it afterwards with the actual mid point between the monitors. Point or broader area? In order to understand if the phantom mono is perceived as coming from a point (the best result) or an area it’s useful to move your head from the listening position while still staring at the centre of the stereo image, as this channel might possibly be perceived as spatially

/ Checking an audio system’s phantom mono channel

spread, due to obstacles and loudspeaker edge diffractions. Experiment with comparing the definition of a flush monitor with respect to speakers on stands, or mounted over the console meter bridge. Holly Cole Temptation ‘Jersey Girl’ VS. Lenine Na Pressão ‘Na Pressão’ Listening to theses song might help you examine low frequency decay times effects by comparison, as both are rich in that frequency region, but are quite different in the time domain. One has a repetitive and time-isolated beating while the other is a jazz piece with many, close in time, transient sounds.

Daft Punk Random Access Memory ‘Get Lucky’ Whatever your personal musical taste, this song is a great mix, as each instrument has a well defined frequency placement where many details are effortless perceivable. Beside being a really good mix, the joyful emotional response associated with this track often encourages listeners to be less reserved about expressing their opinions! Donato Masci and Giacomo Arcangioli would like to thank Cecilia Torracchi (Studio Sound Service), Valentina Cardinali and Roberto Magalotti (B&C Speakers)

Digital • April 2018 / 51


Cutting edge

Harman launches new Experience Centre in UK DAVE ROBINSON discovers how Harman has realigned itself after the Samsung takeover

F

ollowing the purchase of the business by Samsung in March 2017, Harman Professional Solutions — maker of audio equipment by brands including JBL, AKG, Studer, dbx and Lexicon, as well as AMX control systems and Martin Professional lighting — opened the Harman Experience Centre London (HECL)on the 4th April. Actually located 25 miles from central London in Hemel Hempstead (but that never stopped ‘London’ Gatwick, 40 miles from the capital, from using the moniker), the HECL follows similar facilities created over the last year in Shanghai, Singapore and Los Angeles. The $5m, 2,400sqm, multi-functional former BT-building will also serve as the new Harman headquarters for the EMEA region. Visitors to the Centre will have the opportunity to see just how Harman’s AV, control and audio solutions have progressed in the last few years, and how they now integrate with Samsung’s video technologies. The ground floor Product Showroom includes a Broadcast Radio suite, Touring Sound zone, Connected Retail Experience, Connected Hotel Room, Home Recording ‘desktop DAW’ space plus AKG showcase, a Networked AVoIP wall, and more. The opening of HECL reinforces Samsung’s commitment to its $8bn purchase, following a year of speculation as to what direction the

/ Broadcast applications engineer Manuel Mercadal in the Broadcast Radio demo suite, featuring AKG mics and Studer Glacier consoles

52 / Digital • April 2018

/ Studer Glacier console

electronics giant would take Harman. “We’re doubling down in Europe,” said Erik Tarkiainen, VP of global marketing for Harman, at the HECL launch. “We have a partnership with Samsung that’s resulted in very real collaborations: huddle spaces, things in retail, things we’re doing in cinema that we can’t even show here yet...” “We had different [Harman brand] locations in London Wall, in Potter’s Bar, people in Newark. We’ve relocated to here, so this is the new centre — and there’s room to grow here,” he continued. “But the other thing is the Experience Centre: we wanted a place where we could bring both our channel partners and our end users and take them through the full experience of what we do. We realised that customers have been introduced to Harman though different brands and different points of history, and we’ve done them a disservice by not being able to show them the whole thing.” The former JBL facility in Northridge (Los Angeles), California, was the last Centre to open in November: “We’ve already had a thousand visitors in just a few months.” Taikiainen noted how proud the Harman staff were that the whole Product Showroom had been planned, built and decorated by the team, with no outside consultants involved — at a considerable saving in costs, of course. Pertinent to Resolution’s readership in particular is the Broadcast Radio ante-room.

/ Desktop set-up and AKG mic/headphone display

The set-up here reflects current Studer Glacier on-air console technology, as well as hosting a larger Vista console, BSS routing and AKG microphone tech. Operator for the day, Harman broadcast applications engineer Manuel Mercadal, hinted that while only ‘tabletop’ versions of the Glacier desks (launched in 2016) were on show, modular versions, for integration into broadcast racks, were on the way. However, there did seem to be one omission: a demonstration of JBL’s high-end monitoring solutions, such as the M2 Master Reference Monitor, for instance, or other pro studio configurations. “We’re waiting for Samsung to produce its LED cinema screens,” revealed Tarkiainen later. “As soon as they deliver a small version, we will complete the post-production, immersive audio suite. There are M2s already in the Cinema suite, you just can’t see them!” Notable is the ‘Monopoly’ game theme on the first floor: perhaps an illustration of the company’s renewed self-assurance? HECL is open by appointment to Harman and Samsung customers, employees, distributors, sales representatives, dealers, artists and other industry professionals for meetings, performances, productions, hospitality events, and more. european.marketing@harman.com pro.harman.com

/ Erik Tarkiainen, VP of global marketing for Harman Professional Solutions, amid the Monopoly icons that are scattered around the first floor


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SMART KEYBOARD CONTROLLER The new hardware adds colour screens and complements the touch strip with traditional pitch and mod wheels. The Mk1 turned your entire library into a single instrument and the Mk2 brings DAW control to make sketching out ideas effortless. KOMPLETE ULTIMATE 11 With 87 products, over 18,000 sounds and 500 GB of instruments and effects, the Ultimate version bundles professional-grade orchestral scoring instruments with innovative and creative synths, effects and your modular fix with Reaktor’s Blocks.

NATIVE KONTROL STANDARD The Komplete Kontrol S-Series became more than just a controller keyboard when NI introduced Native Kontrol Standard (NKS). With a vision to standardised hardware mapping for virtual instruments, Native opened the doors in 2017 and have since partnered with over 50 companies to bring over 500 plugins to the platform. A little known fact: Native quietly made it feasible for every plugin developer to utilise the S-Series’ accessibility features for visually impaired users simply by adopting NKS.

HOW TO ENTER To be in with a chance of winning, simply send us a sentence on what features interest you the most. Send your answer to comp@resolutionmag.com by midnight on the 11th May and we’ll select a winner. For competition terms and conditions visit: http://bit.ly/Resolution-Competition-TandCs

KOMPLETE KONTROL SOFTWARE Komplete Kontrol is quite a mature platform now and has recently introduced Effects control with the major players such as Waves and Isotope already signed up. Komplete Kontrol is the brains behind the brawn and brings features such as Scales, Chords and Arpeggiator to any hosted VST or NKS plugin. Komplete Kontrol acts as your browser for all your plugins and drastically speeds up workflow by treating your entire software suite as a single set of tagged presets accessible directly from the hardware. Find a sound, make it your own and get ideas down into your DAW without leaving the keyboard.


Round up

Frankfurt photobook! A different kind of reporting from the Prolight + Sound/MusikMesse events: Resolution publisher DAVE ROBINSON was out and about with his Canon, documenting the technology — and the t-shirts — that caught his eye. Here’s what he brought back…

/ Cheers! Engineer Peter Oslaj (left) and managing director Borko Kovac (second left) of 15ips studios, a new facility opening in Split, Croatia in August 2018 and overlooking the Adriatic Sea, celebrate the purchase of their API Audio AXS Legacy console with distributor Erwin Strich (second right) of ES Pro Audio and API’s Dan Zimbelman. 15 IPS’ acquisition represents the second AXS desk sold into Europe, and more than a dozen sold worldwide www.apiaudio.com / It’s Erwin Strich, president of ES Pro Audio, the Ingolstadt, Germany-based distributor serving German-speaking countries for API Audio. Strich has sold the 400th — 400th! — API 1608 console. That prestigious sale went to a studio in Karlsruhe in the south-west of Germany www.es-proaudio.de

/ Simon Eriksson from Sweden-based Research Electronics AB with a range of his Ehrlund high-end microphones. Back row (left to right): EHR-D, EHR-E and EHR-M1and EHR-M. Black mic in case: EHR-H www.ehrlund.se

54 / Digital • April 2018

/ Already got a great line level A-D converter and want to try mic modelling? Antelope Audio has a bundle for you with ‘Edge Strip’. It’s a modelling microphone with four VST microphone replicas, USB control and discrete MP dual ultra-linear microphone preamp with 61dB of gain. Here’s Momchil Velev from Antelope’s marketing division with the goods! www.antelopeaudio.com


/ Stage Tec company founder Dr. Helmut Jahne celebrated 25 years of the console and networking technology developer in Frankfurt. Here he is at the AVATUS console, launched last year as a prototype but appearing now in its completed form. AVATUS is a “very compact, total IP console based on touch-screen technology, which can handle about 800 channels [of audio]” www.stagetec.com

/ The ARQ Aero Rhythmtrak was drawing lots of attention on the Zoom booth. No, we’re not sure either… www.zoom.cp.jp

/ Public relations officer Susi Schiller and career advisor Walter Hauschild were on hand to promote the benefits of the Abbey Road Institute. German campuses for the teaching organisation opened in Berlin and Frankfurt in 2016 www.abbeyroadinstitute.de

/ Schertler’s Drago Dujak with the compact and clever Arthur Format48 modular mixing console www.schertler.com

“Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity” Isaac Newton quested.com | info@quested.com Digital • April 2018 / 55


/ More processing from Warm Audio’s international sales manager Mark Williams. The WA73 ‘British’ style mic-pres were new at the show www.warmaudio.com

/ Start-up company Distopik’s Bojan Šernek from Slovenia demos his radical software departure that will enable remote digital control of analogue studio kit. ‘Master your tracks online’ is the message: “Upload your files, use analogue gear to process, bounce and download”. Worth investigating… www.distopik.com

/ PSI Audio’s Claudio Kernen stood watch over his A17-Ms on the Softube booth www.psiaudio.swiss

/ Best t-shirts at the show? Bojan, Žiga and Rok know how to party for one thing!

/ Owner and inventor Philip Olsson from Sweden with his unique approach to creating a soundproof environment where space is a premium www.isovoxbooth.com

56 / Digital • April 2018

/ A team of ‘Profession Audio Survivors’ — AKA the Maag family (left to right, Ryan, Cliff Jr. and Cliff Sr.) from Utah, USA — were in fine humour promoting the Mäag range of dynamic processors on the ES Pro Audio booth www.maagaudio.com


/ Round up

/ This cylinder with azure otic additions (…blue ears) is used in AP’s headphone testing apparatus. Watch out for a comprehensive test in a forthcoming issue of Resolution www.ap.com / When he’s not selling gear for Funk Junk, Adam Crowe has his own entrepreneurial pursuit: PatchCAD, a specialist package for designing labelling studio patchbays. Time to get organised! www.patchcad.com

/ No, not a steering wheel for driving business: it’s Samsystems’ Richard Smith with the innovative Integral close miking system for recording guitarists. At the hub is a super-cardioid off-axis dynamic mic: retro-fit Integral into your speaker cab (“Quick, easy, fit and forget,” says Smith), plug it in and you’re ready to record. Guitarist magazine called it “genius”, indeed… www.samsystems-uk.com

/ Back to the future! A younger Dave Hill keeps a close watch on the pony-tailed boffin of today at Pro light+Sound Frankfurt www.cranesong.com

FORWARD THINKING AUDIO GEAR

TITAN

COMPRESSOR LIMITER

www.davehilldesigns.com

Dave Hill Designs SHW 0914.indd 1

14/08/2014 09:04

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Digital • April 2018 / 57


Pro or No?

Adam Daniel

Signing off on a mix in a tiny room, and expecting it to translate to a full size cinema, is hopeful at best

The Point1Post re-recording mixer reveals what he likes and doesn’t like… LIKE Great production sound. A quality recording of the cast’s performance is the best starting point for an amazing soundtrack. I have huge respect for all the members of the production crew who strive for perfection while prepping and shooting a film. DISLIKE Questions on Facebook Sound Groups that start with “I’m working on a film” followed by something so basic or fundamentally misunderstood that my heart falls. I admire the desire to learn but there is a huge difference between sink or swim when clients are involved. Adam Daniel is a re-recording mixer with nearly 20 years’ experience. He started his film career in the sound department at Shepperton Film Studios. Under the guidance of industry legend Ray Merrin (Tommy, The Shining, Alien, Chariots of Fire) he learnt the craft of film mixing. Adam played a key role in the Shepperton Film Studios’ transition from analogue to digital post production. After 6 successful years, which included a BAFTA nomination for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Adam left the Pinewood Shepperton Group and formed Point1Post, an independent post production company based near Elstree Film Studios. It features a large mix stage utilising a 45 speaker Dolby Atmos system. Adam has mixed over 120 movies. His body of work includes large studio pictures, international productions, independent films and feature documentaries. In addition to mixing, Adam also works as a Sound Editor, and provides consultation services for studio installations and post production workflows. Here are six things he likes and six things he dislikes… 58 / Digital • April 2018

LIKE Upmixing plug-ins. Penteo and Halo offer incredible results by filling the soundscape in a very natural way. When creating stereo deliverables the mixes fold down perfectly rather than sounding like a fat mono mix. DISLIKE Theatrical mixes being completed on non Theatrical Mix Stages. Signing off on a mix in a tiny room, and expecting it to translate to a full size cinema, is hopeful at best. By all means prepare the project in a smaller space — but always complete the mix in a calibrated environment that will translate to cinemas worldwide. LIKE Dolby Atmos. The most significant advance in film sound for decades. I love how the format has opened up new creative possibilities. Post facilities are rapidly upgrading their studios to meet demand from production companies. Immersive mixes can now be enjoyed in cinemas, the home and on the move.

DISLIKE Insufficient disk space. However much storage you have, it’s never enough. I always seem to run out of space at the most inconvenient time!!! LIKE Watching films and television. I visit the cinema at least once a week and watch loads at home. It improves my relationship with directors, and I’m always being inspired to try new things in my own mixes. DISLIKE Waiting for Apple to release the new Mac Pro… whilst dreaming of a 32GB MacBook Pro. LIKE Completing a premix. I always feel very satisfied once I have gained control over the sound elements. Everything is nicely cleaned up, EQ’d, balanced and ready for the final mix with the director and producers. DISLIKE Repeats. When an ambience is looped and you have to fix the same rogue sound over and over again. When an ambience is looped and you have to fix the same rogue sound over and over again. LIKE Variety: I’m so lucky that I get to work on multiple genres, meet new crew and travel to interesting places on a regular basis. Every scene has new challenges and creative opportunities. No day is ever the same. DISLIKE The sad passing of Ray Merrin on the 15 January this year. A legend of film sound. www.point1post.co.uk


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/ Net neutrality: you’re gonna pay / Disney-Fox: what next for Sky News? / Audio preservation: so long to a silent past

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/ Shivoham — The Quest: 4 continents, 9 studios, 200 players / Abbey Road: Mixing Hollywood blockbusters

/ Mics on ice: letter from PyeongChang / Music industry grows: UMG revenue up 11% / Mastering: refining its message of value

/ Arouser: Distressor in-the-box / Acustica: Convolution evolution / DPA CORE records Daytona

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15/01/2018 14:33

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REPORT / Eventide: audio creativity, since 1971 / Harman Experience Centre: new solutions / Prolight + Sound: through the lens

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Resolution v17-D Digital April 2018  

Audio for broadcast, post, recording and media production

Resolution v17-D Digital April 2018  

Audio for broadcast, post, recording and media production