A decade of Resolution Awards Recognising outstanding quality and innovation in professional audio
AWARDS 2019 REWARDING QUALITY AND INNOVATION Resolution Awards 2019 Generic.indd 1
s we celebrate the tenth year of Resolution Awards, I’d like to highlight some words from Resolution founder Zenon Schoepe: “There is a massive difference between products that feed a need at a price point to those that attempt to change appetites and expectations.” This is a key differentiator which our panel of experts — Resolution contributors and reviewers, producers, engineers and broadcasters — keep in mind when nominating products. Whether it’s the cutting-edge design of a new broadcast codec or the single-minded artisanal obsession of a boutique hardware maker, we like to reward quality and innovation. The nomination of a product is our accolade: Resolution readers then vote for the final winner. This year we opened voting to our digital community — audio pros who receive our twice-monthly email newsletter, digital subscribers and our wider Facebook and social media community. The result was many hundreds of extra votes; we maintained fairness by only allowing one vote per IP address (the numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network). Quality is as palpable in a plug-in or software application as it is in a hardware unit — it’s a matter of feel and response — as well as function. The cost often associated with real quality is inherently connected with innovation. Resolution Awards recognise quality and innovation in professional audio, and the products highlighted here have been judged to be outstanding in these respects by the best informed readership in the industry. Nigel Jopson, editor email@example.com
© 2019 S2 Publications Ltd. All rights reserved / I
Thank you We´re truly grateful to you for crowning our S360 high-SPL monitor as a winner in this year´s Resolution Magazine awards. Your creativity, wisdom and passion are at the very heart of every monitor we design, so thank you for inspiring us, believing in us – and voting for us! www.genelec.com/S360 AWARDS 2019
Genelec S360 REWARDING QUALITY AND INNOVATION
/ Resolution Awards 2019
ANALOGU E MIXER /SU MMING DE VICE
Winner: Rupert Neve Designs 5088 The 5088 is an expandable 16-channel line mixer that provides eight group busses, eight auxiliary sends, four stereo effects returns and a stereo output buss. This basic functionality of input and output routing, meters and faders provides a solid foundation on which the owner can specify an analogue console to satisfy their particular requirements — adding microphone preamplifiers, equalisation and dynamics processing from the Portico or Shelford series, mono or stereo input modules, and the Rupert Neve’s SwiftMix automation to suit your facility’s needs. For maximum compatibility, SwiftMix communicates via a 9-bit HUI over ethernet protocol. SwiftMix’s implementation provides precise fader-mapped calibration — which allows the motorised analogue fader to match levels previously set in a DAW. System configuration can be accomplished in moments by connecting a single ethernet cable to the DAW host computer, and then adding SwiftMix as a HUI controller in the DAW’s preferences. No drivers are required for PC or Mac, and channels are automatically assigned and matched to channels in the DAW — a really intuitive setup. The all-new, fully discrete analogue architecture in the 5088 represents the zenith of Rupert Neve’s decades of analogue circuitry knowledge. Custom high-voltage and discrete op-amp cards have been designed specifically for the 5088, which the company say eliminates crossover distortion. These new op-amp cards offer extended headroom, dynamic range, and frequency response while generating exceptionally low noise
and distortion. Custom-designed transformers are included on every input and output of the 5088, imparting the well-known sonic signature of Neve’s classic designs. As your studio grows or your workflow changes over time, the 5088 can be reconfigured or expanded to meet future needs — a different console philosophy — carefully thought-out to avoid adding the cost of redundant features. www.rupertneve.com
Nominees AMS Neve
The Genesys Black is a digitally controlled analogue console, offering eight channels of 1073 mic/line preamps, 16-channels of DAW/Tape monitoring, hands-on control for Pro Tools and other DAWs, eight channels of Neve digitally controlled analogue 4-band EQ and (optionally) eight channels of Neve digitally controlled analogue VCA dynamics and channel A-D/D-A conversion via MADI, AES and FireWire formats. The modular design means the full 32-fader Genesys system can be built up to. A central touch screen, six auxiliary buses, eight group buses, two main outputs, four effects returns, 5.1 monitoring, two cue mixes, talkback services and an integrated footprint with internal power supply complete the picture.
Available in 24, 32 or 48 channel sizes, with eight busses like the 1608 series, but with an in-line configuration — providing two signal paths per channel. Both audio paths are contained in the 648C channel module, with the large fader path including API’s 212L Mic preamp. The console boasts both 1550A parametric EQ and 560 Graphic EQ, giving you the choice of two of API’s flagship EQs, with the stereo buss section including API’s 529 stereo buss compressor. A total of 56 channels are available for mixing through the program bus. The 2448 (review Resolution V18.4) also offers Final Touch automation as an option. In our review, George Shilling concluded: “Wonderful API sonics, in-line architecture for customers who need something more than a 1608, and clever routing options enable surround mixing possibilities.”
SiX offers “big console sound” and a comprehensive set of utility features in a format small enough to stick in a bag. Priced at £999+VAT ($1,499+Tax), SiX offers two recording channels with SuperAnalogue mic pres, a one knob version of the classic SSL Channel Compressor, a new two-band Channel EQ, inserts and 100mm faders. There is a two-knob version of the well known G-Series Bus Compressor on the main mix bus and the unique Listen Mic Compressor on the Talkback path. In mixdown mode it is a very capable twelve channel summing system that offers “analogue detail, depth and width” to your mixes. “I really thought hard on what our users appreciate about our larger consoles; what helps their workflow and delivers quality results,” says Niall Feldman, SSL director of new products.
Genesys Black G32
SiX Desktop mixer
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Engineering EmmyÂŽ winner
Unrivalled sound and workflow An equalizer is probably the tool you use most while mixing and mastering, so you need the best of the best! With FabFilter Pro-Q 3, you get the highest possible sound quality and a gorgeous, innovative interface with unrivalled ease of use.
/ Resolution Awards 2019
D AW/ S O F T WA R E S U I T E
Winner: Avid Pro Tools 2019 The subscription model Avid has moved to means Pro Tools users now get more regular updates and bug fixes, promising a positive future for reliable sessions. For Mac users, an important update came with the release of 2019.5 in June 2019, adding support for macOS Mojave. There was also good news for audio pros running large projects: previously, Pro Tools was limited to 256 audio channels, a limitation for film and TV dubbing editors. Pro Tools 2019.5 expands to 384 audio channels by default, and can be further extended to 768 voices (working at 44.1kHz or 48kHz) using HDX cards, or by purchasing Native Voice Packs (128 voices per pack). The ability to ‘rent’ subscription voice packs via the Avid Webstore and through dealers added flexibility for one-off large sessions. Avid also increased the number of available MIDI channels to 1024. Non-educational users are now able to purchase Pro Tools Ultimate Multiseat Licenses, with a minimum seat count of five, including Avid Complete Plug-in Bundle, HEAT, Pro Tools MachineControl, and Pro Tools DigiLink I/O License. Multiseat Licensing uses iLok network licensing to provide a way of purchasing a single shareable license that can contain two or more ‘seats’. This license is stored on a physical iLok connected to the license server computer, which can be placed in a secure room. With full Core Audio support of the Dolby Audio Bridge, users can now send 130 channels (up from 32) to the Dolby Atmos Renderer, simplifying Dolby Atmos in-the-box mixing and playback workflows with Pro Tools HDX. The latest version of Pro Tools 2019 also enables playback
and display of 4K resolution files and higher frame rates. In future versions, Pro Tools will mirror Media Composer in its support for highresolution video, allowing users to import media directly into Pro Tools without the additional step of transcoding the file format or resolution. Avid also added smoother H.264 video playback to their list of Avid Video Engine Improvements. www.avid.com
RX version 7 is offered in three packages — Elements, Standard or Advanced — and brings a good selection of new tools to the music and post audio communities who use RX. Dialogue Contour is a new module designed to allow for adjustment to dialogue inflection to modify performances or edits that sound awkward. Dialogue De-reverb is another new module focused on speech, utilising a learning algorithm to separate dialogue from the reverberant signal. A new Sensitivity control helps the algorithm identify reverberant content. Music Rebalance gives a measure of control over levels of vocals, bass, percussion and the remaining instruments using “machine learning capabilities”. Reviewer Bill Lacey: “Dialogue Contour is a hit! …a massively worthwhile upgrade. It’s hard to imagine any serious working professional not including it in their toolkit”.
The Loudness Toolkit includes the VisLM loudness meter, ISL limiter and LM-Correct quick fix tool. Loudness Toolkit implements Netflix’s Audio Mix Specifications and Best Practices document, allowing users to create Netflixready mixes. The plug-ins support native 7.1.2 audio processing and loudness parameters for advanced level control and dialogue consistency. The toolkit now includes the DynApt extension, which offers immediate correction of LRA and dynamics while preserving dialogue intelligibility and correctly identifying and respecting intentional dramatic transitions. It also provides an updated loudness parameter, Dialogue LRA, as well as an added flexibility to simultaneously monitor multiple measures: enhancements to the VisLM meter include improved compliance alert indicators and SAWA (LEQm) standardisation.
The scoring application includes real-time MIDI recording, plus new features for media musicians. Dorico (recently upgraded with a 3.0 release) introduced a suite of features aimed at helping composers, orchestrators, and copyists, including support for composing to picture, timecode, markers, MIDI controller automation, and more. Dorico 2.2 added powerful MIDIcentric features including improved MIDI transcription, and import and export of tempo tracks from and to MIDI files. Composers can now input music in real time, playing against a click, or import music via MIDI, and experience the improvements in Dorico’s MIDI transcription engine, with advanced automatic tuplet detection, adaptive quantization, and enharmonic spelling.
Dorico Pro 2
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D I G I TA L M I X E R
Winner: PreSonus StudioLive 64S The StudioLive 64S is the flagship mixer of the new StudioLive Series III S line of mixers from PreSonus. Powered by the PreSonus ‘FLEX DSP Engine’, they feature state-space modelled Fat Channel plug-in processing on every input and bus; up to 32 FlexMix buses that can be individually configured as Aux, Matrix, or Subgroup buses; and flexible digital patching which unusual in this price class. All models deliver 128-channel (64x64) USB recording and extensive 128-channel AVB networking. StudioLive 64S “brings the power of a large production console to small-format digital mixing”, with 76 mixing channels, 43 buses, and 526 simultaneous effects thanks to the new quad-core FLEX DSP. StudioLive 64S mixers feature an independent main Mono/Centre bus; each channel has a dedicated level control and a Centre Divergence control that allows you to control the pan placement in your LCR mix. Despite being up against some exalted competition in this category, it’s easy to see how PreSonus’ remarkable value for money offering
caught voters attention. The provision of 33 touch-sensitive moving faders for $3,999.95, (UK street £3,400), would be a boon for production pros using the Studio One DAW, which is tightly integrated with PreSonus’ AVB desks; mixing within Studio One, you have the option to write automation data into the DAW simply by touching the fader. Studio One offers an exclusive hybrid plug-in format that allows the Fat Channel plug-in to run either on the DSP engine on-board your StudioLive mixer, or on your computer’s processor in Studio One. So, while you’re recording, the plug-in runs on your mixer’s DSP. While you’re playing back, it’s running on your computer. The StudioLive instance of the Fat Channel plug-in is automatically loaded into the mixer as soon as you select one of the analogue inputs on your StudioLive as the source for an audio track. It will show up in blue above the inserts in the console. www.presonus.com
“What does a digital mixer even look like, these days?” we were asked at the IBC show, Amsterdam. It’s a good question, with a diverse selection of surfaces — possibly hundreds of miles away, or browser-based from iPads — capable of operating the controls on modern digital ‘mixers’. Impulse contains the next iteration of Calrec’s DSP — ‘Bluefin3’, which is modular and scalable, allowing users to expand as and when they need to. The Impulse core can run multiple fully independent mix engines, providing efficiency savings by being able to consolidate the processing hardware for multiple productions. Impulse mixers can be controlled by existing Apollo or Artemis surfaces, or headless operation via a web UI and/or various forms of production automation systems.
The mc²56 incorporates features drawn from Lawo’s mc²96 flagship console, while retaining the compact size necessary for broadcast trucks or live recording. Optimised for IP video production, the new mc²56 has full native support for SMPTE 2110, AES67/RAVENNA and DANTE, featuring capabilities such as IP-Share gain compensation and DSCA Dynamic Surface to Core Allocation. For the performing arts, the console includes Selective Recall, Oversnaps (relative trim-sets), comprehensive theatre automation cue list including multiple triggers (MIDI, GPIO, LTC), Waves SoundGrid and Neumann DMI-8 digital microphone integration, and mirror-console operation. Comprehensive local I/O includes 16 mic/line inputs, 16 line outputs, eight AES3 inputs and outputs, eight GPIOs plus a local MADI port.
Studer Infinity Core technology leverages standard IT components to create a flexible, future-ready backend audio signal processing solution, capable of processing more than 1000 audio channels in a CPU-based engine. The Infinity DSP engine now comes in six versions: Core 300/600/1000, Compact Infinity Core 300/6000, and the Compact Core link Card/ COTS server version, all providing A-Link high-capacity fibre digital audio interfaces, scalable to more than 5,000 I/O. The highdensity D23m I/O system is used to break out these A-Link connections to standard analogue, digital, and video interfaces. The A-Link interface also provides direct connection to the Riedel MediorNet and Evertz routers, allowing multiple Infinity systems to be connected and simplifying complex infrastructures.
VI / November/December 2019
mc²56 3rd generation Infinity Core
/ Resolution Awards 2019
D Y N A M I C S ( H A R D WA R E )
Winner: API 529 “There are compressors, and there are desert island compressors. For many audio professionals the API 2500 is one on that list” wrote Catherine Vericolli in her 529 review in Resolution V18.1. Our readers seemed to agree, with the votes mounting up for API’s first double-wide 500 series piece, which aims to recreate the 2500’s features in a compact $2,085 500 package. Inside are two circuit boards connected to each other and to a third front-panel meter board. The two main boards each use API 2520 amplifier modules and two API 2503 transformers for line-level output. The 529 uses two THAT 2181 VCA chips per channel (four total) for minimal distortion; it draws between 150 and 200mA per slot, with current spread across the two rear edge connectors. Similar to the Ceiling control in the API 2500 and API 525 compressors, the Auto gain mode of the 529 fixes VCA gain to unity and allows adjustment of all the controls without the worry of sudden level changes at the output. The Type switch selects the 529’s VCA control
source — the pick-off point in the audio path that is used in the sidechain. There are two choices: Feed forward (called ‘New’) represents
modern compressor design, and in the 529 the stereo input signal after the API 2510 amplifier is used. The ‘Old’ type (or feedback) uses the output signal from the 2520 output amplifier — in the same way many vintage tube compressors feedback some of the output signal to control gain reduction. Whichever Type is selected, the audio signal first goes into the THRUST filter and then is combined using a true-RMS power-summing detector to derive the DC control voltage. “NORM, MED, and LOUD options obtained by the toggle switch allow the user to manipulate high and low frequency filter, achieving unique sonic responses and the familiar API low end punch” said Vericolli. “Applying compression in the LOUD setting on the 529 most closely yielded the overall sonic feel of the 2500. The 529 is a versatile power house that will inevitably become a common Lunchbox piece.” www.apiaudio.com
Nominees Crane Song
Dave Hill is one of the very few designers who can effectively shoe-horn a tube compressor into a 500-series module. Designer of the classic tube Summit TLA-100, Hill founded Crane Song after leaving Summit in 1995. The Falcon Compressor/Limiter is a single-slot 500 Series module using a single 12AX7 tube running in Class-A, vertically mounted in a ceramic socket with cooling vents cut in the top of the module’s case. The Falcon features three attack/release time settings, hard and soft knee choices for compression or limiting, two different audio path sounds, wet-dry mixing for parallel compression, and is linkable. The audio path colour is changed by modifying the tube circuit so it either has, or lacks, negative feedback.
“McDSP Founder Colin McDowell is the Rupert Neve of digital audio,” said Dave Pensado …so you could have knocked most industry-vets over with a feather when Colin debuted the ground-breaking APB-16 (Analogue Processing Box) at NAMM 2019. APB-16 has been cunningly designed to perfectly fit into a DAW-based recording environment. The Thunderbolt 2/3-compatible processor will allow 16 channels of digitally controlled, programmable (and therefore recallable) analogue processing to be run from within a Pro Tools session, using a plug-in interface to control and configure it. “Great sounding processors, lovely saturation — or pristine clean,” George Shilling said in his review for Resolution V18.4.
This valve compressor is basically a re-creation of Rohde & Schwarz’s U23, which is the 1953 version of the first-ever compressor. Berry Goedemans started Vacuvox in The Netherlands to restore and modify original U23s, selling them to the likes of Michael Brauer, Terry Britten and Paul Weller. Having updated 40 of these, supplies of original units became scarce so he developed his own brand new U23 units. “The U23m added a gorgeous open tone across everything I tried it on, tightening the bass end beautifully and adding punchy — or creamy — vari-mu magic without darkening things. The Best-ever sounding compression, more flexibility than a Fairchild, solidly built,” concluded George Shilling in his review for Resolution V18.4. As with many boutique hardware units, the secret of fine audio is an artisanal approach to details of transformer winding and component selection. At €6900, one for the ‘when I’ve had a global hit’ wish list.
November/December 2019 / VII
LUXURY FEEL, AKG PERFORMANCE AKG K361 and K371 Professional Studio Headphones strike a perfect balance between precision performance and luxurious comfort in ultra-light designs that are perfectly suited for life in the studio or on the go. Find out more at www.akg.com | Contact us: European.Marketing@harman.com
K371 AKG EXTENDED FREQUENCY RESPONSE
SLOW RETENTION ISOLATING EARPADS
Â© 2019 HARMAN. All rights reserved. AKG is a trademark of AKG Acoustics GmbH, registered in the United States and/or other countries. Features, specifications and appearance are subject to change without notice.
/ Resolution Awards 2019
E Q ( H A R D WA R E )
Winner: Rupert Neve Shelford Channel The 1U rack channel-strip is a direct descendant from Rupert Neve’s much-loved vintage 1073, 1064, 1081 and 2254 modules. It is, however, built around a new transformer-gain, class A mic preamp — Rupert’s first in over 40 years. The preamp is complemented by an inductor EQ section, diode bridge compressor, a saturation circuit, a dual-tap transformer output stage designed for optimum headroom, and doubled operating voltage. The Shelford aims to combine the essence of Rupert Neve modules from the past 50 years in a “best-ofthe-classics” design. In his review for Resolution V18.3 Russell Cottier wrote of the EQ: “The custom-tapped inductor EQ offers three bands, and you don’t really notice the lack of a low pass filter. The low
frequency band is based on the 1064, and sounds fantastic when pushing rock bass, it really melds a mix together nicely because of the smooth distortion that it can add. Unlike the 1064, the low frequency band can be used in either shelf or peak mode. The mid range is based on the 1073 mid band. The proportional Q response makes this useful for cutting unwanted mid-range frequencies, for instance toms sound particularly sweet with a gentle cut at 400Hz. The six position stepped frequency selector didn’t leave me wanting finer control and allowed fast operation.” The dual-tap output for the Channel’s RN2042 square-core output transformer creates both high and low headroom outputs without compromising the channel’s
performance. The high headroom tap is designed to capture a more pristine sound at high levels, avoiding non-linear colouration of the output stage and taking full advantage of the Shelford’s higher voltage design. The low headroom tap however is optimised to allow an engineer to drive the full voltage range of the channel, adding dynamic tone with this non-linear colouration — without clipping most professional interfaces. “I’m certain that this unit will become a classic in time,” concluded Cottier in his review. “At £2,950 this is certainly not a budget purchase but it really performs and it’s the kind of thing that you will use every day in your studio.” www.rupertneve.com
Nominees Thermionic Culture
Thermionic Culture’s Fat Bustard summing unit includes a smooth-sounding EQ specially geared to mix buss usage. Founder and designer Vic Keary received requests for a valve processor that included the EQ and Attitude controls, but not the extra summing mixer features of the Bustard. The stereo Kite has ‘semi floating’ inputs and unbalanced outputs, with controls including: HPF, Bass Cut and Lift, Top Shelf (a kind of Presence control), Air and Attitude. All knobs are indented for easy recall. Reviewed in Resolution V17.7, George Shilling concluded: “The lovely thing about The Kite is that even when you don’t think your mix needs any additional processing, you find some extra magic by running it through this box and tweaking a bit. The relatively simple choices of frequency save much faffing about, and it always seems to improve and enhance whatever is running through it.”
The WA73-EQ preamp pays homage to the Neve 1073 module; hand wired with carefully selected components so that the sonic performance is as close as possible to the original. This includes custom Carnhill transformers, tantalum capacitors and high quality Blore Edwards switch-pots. This EQ version offers the classic 3 band-EQ section. Reviewed in Resolution V17.5, Russell Cottier gave his verdict: “As a great functional and usable component of a recording studio the WA73-EQ cannot be faulted, especially at £790. Compared to many of the ’73 clones out there, the lower price doesn’t mean a compromise on build quality, I certainly would have no worries about installing one of these in a commercial studio.”
A detailed parametric stereo EQ occupying a double 500 series module. There are four bands, together with some innovative gain structure controls: EQ GAIN will expand the trim of each EQ channel by 5dB or 15dB. I/O gain will boost the overall signal level either on the Input or Output of the EQ1 by 5dB or 15dB. Reviewed in Resolution V18.3, Russell Cottier observed: “In practice the global EQ scaling control was rather useful allowing either a more or less ‘hyped’ version of your master to be selected. I found that the 15dB mode was more useful in the context of a mix or stem master and could really make some powerful changes… In terms of artistic distortion the unit behaved relatively nicely, adding a subtle overdrive — when pushed — to thicken a mix.”
November/December 2019 / IX
PROGRAMMABLE ANALOG PROCESSING The McDSP Analog Processing Box (APB) combines the flexibility of software with the fidelity of premium analog processing. Each channel can be controlled by an APB plug-in giving true digital workflow with genuine analog performance. Processing options include the El Moo Limiter, one of the all-analog limiters in the APB plug-in bundle that comes with the APB-16. The El Moo has an adjustable all-analog saturation stage with user control, making it an interesting choice as a sonic leveler. Head to mcdsp.com/apb to learn more about the El Moo limiter and all the other plug-ins that come with the APB-16, and to find an APB dealer near you.
P R O F E S S I O N A L
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/ Resolution Awards 2019
I N T E R FA C E ( A - D / D - A )
Winner: Antelope Audio Orion 32+ | Gen 3
The Orion 32+ Generation 3 is the latest offering from Antelope Audio. Housed in a sleek 1U rack-mount, the unit offers an amazing 64 simultaneous audio inputs and outputs. 32 analogue I/O is on the rear panel, with the remaining connectivity is via various digital connections. The Orion 32+ Gen 3 also sports stereo monitor outputs on TRS in addition to the 32 analogue line outs. Connection to computer is via Thunderbolt or USB2, and Gen 3 achieves dynamic range figures of 121dB on its inputs, 120dB on its line outputs and a remarkable 129dB on its stereo monitor outs. It employs Antelope’s Acoustically Focused Clocking technology, with a built-in oven keeping its clocking crystal at a constant
temperature. Digital I/O is available in optical MADI and ADAT format as well as stereo coaxial S/PDIF, with a total of 64 inputs and outputs available over Thunderbolt, and dual word–clock outputs to allow you to share the acoustic focus with your other digital hardware. Antelope Audio see their AFX system as a major selling point for their audio interfaces. Effects processors and signal treatments run on hardware within the interface, rather than using the host computer’s CPU. The AFX ‘plug-ins’ are inserted on channels, each of which has eight insert slots. These channels are addressed through dedicated input and output patch points in the Orion’s routing matrix, an arrangement that is capable of delivering a
wide range of possible configurations. The new AFX2DAW plug-in for the unit will allow much closer integration with your session files. AFX chains may be easily accessed and saved from a simple plug-in interface, so routing is quickly configured, something that was not so quick to achieve in previous iterations of this unit. Resolution’s conclusion in V18.D: “Overall the Orion 32+ Gen 3 offers unparalleled connectivity in a simple uniform I/O layout, without cluttered front mounted connections, it is definitely a professional option at $2595 but stands out from the competition in terms of I/O at this price-point.” www.antelopeaudio.com
Nominees BURL AUDIO
BDA4M is a mastering grade DAC with stepped attenuators and switchable output transformers. Specifically designed for mixing and mastering, the BBDA4M is a transformer coupled, 4-channel digital-to-analogue converter daughter card for the B80 and B16 MOTHERSHIP, the result of over “25 years of R&D experience in pro audio digital and analogue design”. On the digital side, the BDA4M employs a couple of new features: a switchable DAC filter and Avid delay matching. Switching the DAC filter allows you to change the tone from the ‘classic BURL sound’ to a more aggressive tone with a more forward mid-range. The Avid delay matching allows you to perfectly match the output delay of an Avid IO which is crucial for hardware inserts.
A modular audio converter and audio router supporting multiple formats, with flexible I/O, and networked audio and control capability, in a compact 2RU package. The approach taken by DirectOut in the design of PRODIDGY.MC is the result of a decade of experience in designing and distributing multichannel audio converters and routing systems. “It is always our aim to turn the feedback we receive from our clients into new solutions in order to meet their requirements as completely as possible,” comments CEO and Sales Director, Jan Ehrlich. PRODIGY.MC provides I/O based on eight channel modules. Line-level, microphone and AES3 (including SRC) interfaces can be combined up to a total of 64 inputs and outputs in a single 2RU rack space. In addition, PRODIDGY.MC hardware supports MADI and a network audio option — while its two MADI slots can be equipped with BNC, SC optical and SFP modules, an optional board adds Dante, RAVENNA (AES67) or SoundGrid connectivity to this very powerful device.
A single product for multiple applications: a computer audio interface, monitor controller, converter, network audio interface and music recording hub, a low latency mixer and processor with high quality audio. The Anubis interface has four analogue inputs, 2 mic/line XLR and TRS jack and two line/instrument. On the output side, two gold-plated XLR and two TRS balanced jacks allowing switching between two sets of speakers. There are two independent stereo headphone jacks with the best quality amplification Merging have ever provided, to offer a total of six outputs. There’s also MIDI IO or GPIO and the all-important AES67/ RAVENNA RJ45 ethernet connection to your Mac or PC via Core audio, ASIO or Ravenna AES67 network. Pairing other AES67 devices allows Anubis to extend its I/O as if they were built-in. Anubis can reserve all or part of these paired devices, making them available to other users on the network.
www.merging.com | www.emerginguk.com
November/December 2019 / XI
Winner: DPA d:screet CORE 6060 Listening to direct feedback from users in the theatre, film and television industries, DPA Microphones has produced its smallest ever mic capsule in both lavalier and headset versions. This capsule — one of the tiniest sub-miniatures —with CORE by DPA technology (Resolution V17.1) inside, benefits from dynamic range increased by 14dB at 1% THD (with reference to the previous 4000 generation of DPA miniatures). The d:screet CORE 6060 and 6061 Subminiature lavaliers and the d:fine CORE 6066 Sub-miniature Headset Microphone (review, Resolution V17.6) are a mere three millimetres in diameter — two millimetres smaller than DPA’s previous 4000 Series of mics. In addition to the new capsule, the 6066 also benefits from a completely redesigned lightweight, one-sizefits-all headset that attaches over the ears for maximum comfort. The headset is easily re-configured for either left or right side on-head mounting. Three-point ear grips, with spring mechanisms, help grip below the ears
and to the side of the head for added security. With a fully adjustable boom that includes an anti-rotate mechanism, the new headset is very easy to fit. A new 90° cable management system safeguards the cable and directs it
down the wearer’s back, where it can’t be seen. Like all CORE by DPA microphones, these new sub-miniatures are IP58 certified. This durability is achieved through a number of defence mechanisms including water-repellent nano-coatings, dual gold plating of the diaphragm and hermetic sealing of the amplifier. “In practise for TV and Film drama use, this range is a huge step forward,” says Resolution contributor (and Head of Production Sound at the National Film & Television School) Simon Clark. “Hiding a mic this small will be much easier for us and I did not find clothing noise to be more of a problem than before. Indeed with this diameter of capsule we now have the option to create a little space around it inside a costume, without being seen, and thus reducing mechanical noise further. All this and the excellent sound we expect from a DPA miniature microphone.” www.dpamicrophones.com
The Aston Stealth is a dynamic microphone with an active preamp and four independent switchable voicings. As with its previous microphones, Aston developed the Stealth with a team of top engineers, producers and musicians to ensure that the final voicing was something that professionals would be happy to use. “It certainly isn’t the first time that a manufacturer has claimed that their offering is four microphones in one — but Stealth is probably the closest I’ve heard to fulfilling such a claim” said Jon Thornton in his review (Resolution V18.2). “As a £299 alternative to the SM7B, it would be more than up to the task with just a single voicing. The other three are bonuses.”
Sennheiser announced the new entry-level XS Wireless Digital system at NAMM 2019. There are ten different kits in the range split between music and video, all based around the same modular transmitter and receiver. The units are very compact, and follow a similar form factor to the higher-end AVX system, in that the receivers have the plug built-in to the unit so there are no additional cables required for the 2.4GHz receiver. You simply plug the receiver straight into the recording device such as a video camera or DSLR. This is a remarkable product line at this price point. Online video content makers, for instance, can now get professional sounding wireless results at a reasonable price(XSW-D interview set, $299.95).
The WA251 is Warm’s take on probably one of the most revered classics of all time, the Ela M251. Warm has tried to use components that stay as faithful to the original as possible, given that many components have long ceased production. A JJ 12AY7 tube sits at the heart of things, with Wima and Solen capacitors and a US-manufactured Cinemag output transformer. “On sung male vocals, the WA251 delivered a terrifically solid sound — even when not set terrifically close to source it had that slightly larger than life quality,” Jon Thornton enthused in his review of the WA-251 in Resolution V18.2.
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/ Resolution Awards 2019
Winner: Genelec S360 The S360, introduced in 2018, is not a monitor consigned to a nearfield or midfield role, but a loudspeaker to be used flexibly in multichannel monitoring, for TV, movies and VR applications. A control room quality monitor that’s just as happy used in a group of sixteen or more — in soundstage-style settings — potentially at a significant distance from the listening position. With Dolby Atmos certification mandating: “Each screen loudspeaker system and associated amplifiers must have a maximum output capability of 105dB continuous sound pressure level (SPL) at the reference listening position”, it was clear that generating sufficient SPL to create an object‑oriented immersive soundfield in larger rooms had been a significant design consideration for the S360. The £6998 (per pair) S360 is housed in a compact, low diffraction enclosure, and features a 10-inch, high-efficiency, lowdistortion woofer complemented by a completely integrated directivity control
waveguide (or DCW), coupled to its 1.7-inch titanium diaphragm compression tweeter. Genelec are aiming for the sonic neutrality for which their monitors are known, with a short-term SPL capability of 118dB — with peaks even higher — and a long throw capability providing reference quality accuracy at listening distances of over 10 metres.
Down-firing reflex ports, make S360 suitable for use in conjunction with perf screens, and Genelec have a menu of mounting options to increase flexibility. The S360 includes an innovative Iso-Plate, which effectively decouples the monitor from its base when standing. For soffit mounting the S360 amplifier may be detached from the enclosure and placed into the 9032A rack mount kit. “Besides their compatibility with all types of high-SPL music applications, we see the S360 and 7382 [subwoofer] finding their place in larger Immersive Audio systems, where the listener by definition needs to find themselves utterly immersed in the experience, aware of every detail” explained Genelec Managing Director, Siamäk Naghian. “It is why we believe so deeply in the growth of these exciting new multichannel formats, and why we have produced the S360 and 7382: to realise that immersive potential like never before.” www.genelec.com
A three-way design, the Trio11 Be has a five-inch mid-range driver (rotatable in 90-degree increments for vertical or horizontal use), a 10‑inch, high‑excursion woofer and Focal’s inverted beryllium dome tweeter. The enclosure featuring a neat trick: a built-in switchable sub. This enables the monitors to convert quickly to nearfield operation, so one monitor becomes two without compromising the positioning. Switching the £2,999 Trio 11BE into ‘Focus’ mode removes the sub, but the upper mids and HF remain consistent. “Having the speaker position not change when switching from large to small speakers is not just a great idea but an innovative and interesting concept that works well” says Resolution contributor Alan Branch.
‘Three’ deploys six drivers — mid/bass and tweeter up front, two bass drivers at the rear, one on each side — and six Ncore amplifiers, all housed in an injectedmoulded polymer enclosure. The £4,542 (inc) Kii Three is a large active nearfield/ standmount speaker. Active Wave Focusing technology: “controls the sound dispersion and directs the sound pressure, where we need it to be: into the sweetspot.” Designer Bruno Putzey’s onboard DSP exploits the Kii Three’s rear and side-firing drivers to (phase) cancel sideward and rearward frequencies, predominantly below 250Hz: low frequencies that would otherwise meet the front or side wall and then reflect back into the room, delayed. The DSP on each loudspeaker is switchable to accommodate the Kii Three standing in free space, near a front or side wall or in a corner.
The two-way design comprises a 1” soft-dome tweeter with dispersion grille and a mid/bass unit composed of doped natural fibre, both of which are customdesigned for the result6. The 6.5” LF driver was developed using a laser-based measurement system (interview with PMC founder Peter Thomas in Resolution V16.4). The result6 monitors are fully active and feature built-in dual Class-D amplifiers supplying 65W and 100W of power to the HF and LF drivers respectively. To save costs, the monitors dispense with complex DSP-based options or room profiles; the monitors rely on their physical design attributes. The two-way active monitor sells for £1995 (ex VAT) per pair.
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Winner: FabFilter Pro-Q 3 (pic: Plug-in_Fabfilter_ProQ3-1) The third major update to Pro‑Q maintains the plug-in’s popularity, with the headline feature this year being dynamic equalisation. There is an extra ring around the Gain knob on all bands. Any Bell or Shelf can be made dynamic simply by rotating this, right or left for range setting of additive or subtractive dynamics. Doing so introduces three small buttons above the ring: an X to delete the function, an On/Off bypass button, and an Auto button. The latter is for threshold; auto mode is usually great, constantly adjusting the threshold to the current band-limited trigger signal. Clicking it to enable manual mode reveals a vertical slider for setting a fixed threshold, and this incorporates a meter. There are no attack or release settings but these are both set pretty fast. The EQ shape options have a new Flat Tilt mode to complement the Tilt Shelf mode, providing simultaneous boost and cut around a selected pivot point with a straight line across the graph. Filters which were
selectable from 6dB to 96dB per octave now have an even steeper ‘Brickwall’ setting which appears as a near vertical drop-off on the graph; this setting disables the Q (resonance) knob. There have also been improvements to the analysis features. Functions such as EQ matching in previous versions relied on the user setting up side-chain routing, now instances of Pro‑Q can communicate directly. In the pop-up control panel for the spectrum analyser, a list of all the other instances in a project is visible. Selecting one will display the signal it’s seeing overlaid with that of the instance being adjusted. This makes EQ matching easier, and enables a new feature called Show Collisions, which warns when two sources might be in competition for the same section of audio spectrum. The sound and workflow improvements to Pro-Q 3 mean the €149 plug-in remains as popular as ever. www.fabfilter.com
Nominees Leapwing Audio
DynOne is a multi-band parallel compressor, which allows separate compression of five bands and a parallel compression mode. Crossover filters have been designed to interact with each other, in order to avoid phase alignment issues between bands. DynOne offers different minimum/ maximum values for attack and release, while compression depends on the setting value of the corresponding crest factor (difference in threshold between RMS and Peak). “The versatility of this plug-in continues to help me do better work and find new sounds that I can’t implement with my analogue chain,” said Resolution contributor Piper Payne. “With the second version of the plug-in, I can use it more often because of the easier CPU loads.”
The idea behind this plug-in’s plain interface is to take any mono source and up-mix this to stereo. The algorithm powering the magic is one developed by Swiss company Illusonics. “Straight out of the box the results are very compelling indeed,” Jon Thornton said in his Resolution V18.D review. “Starting with a handful of relatively close-miked instrument tracks (guitars, acoustic bass and shaker), putting each through an instance of the plug-in did a remarkable job of sitting them in a space, with absolutely no need to resort to reverb or EQ.” Available through the Plugin Alliance storefront, which gives easy and flexible authorisation to either a computer or a USB stick (no iLok required).
Resolution’s editor is an enthusiastic user of this plug-in. “For many of us, this will become our go-to instrument ambience generator,” he opined in V17.5. “The best room simulator for rock and pop I have heard,” his review concluded. “Fast to adjust. Tape delay and EQ can be used independently — or combined with chamber — three plug-ins in one.” Three physical rooms are modelled by Waves: ‘Chamber 2’ from Abbey Road, ‘Mirror’ — a mirrored area installed in the ‘80s at the back of Abbey Road 3 — and ‘Stone’, which was a drum room at EMI-owned Olympic Studio 3. Mirek Stiles (head of audio products at Abbey Road) made the impulse responses for this chamber before the building was turned into a cinema.
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Abbey Road Chambers
/ Resolution Awards 2019
Winner: SPL Crescendo Sound Performance Lab, better known by their initials SPL, have made high-quality audio equipment for thirty years, and established a reputation with their premium product lines for prioritising audio quality with a no-holds-barred approach to design. The Crescendo eightchannel mic preamp is a simple looking but substantial piece of kit, housed in a 3U rack mounting chassis which extends 310mm behind the rack ears and weighs in at over 10kg. The Crescendo is “the first microphone preamplifier which operates with an internal operating voltage of 120V”. A similar high-voltage engineering approach is used in the construction of several of the manufacturer’s high-end headphone amps, their phono preamp, power amps, D-A converter and their mastering console product range. Crescendo has a discrete construction with proprietary high-voltage amplifiers, SPL’s own SUPRA operational amplifiers, and an internal operating voltage of +/- 60V. With 120V total internal voltage, a technology similar to SPL’s IRON Mastering Compressor, it’s “virtually impossible to overdrive the preamps”, SPL claim. The decibel scale’s logarithmic nature
means power rails have to be elevated substantially to deliver a significant increase in headroom: ±60V rails in the Crescendo enable a maximum internal signal level of 34.5dBu (116V peak‑to‑peak), almost a four-fold increase in headroom above a typical pro-audio device that might clip around +24dBu. The discrete op-amps of the output stage have no problems driving long cable runs, and the output stages work as current amplifiers with more than 6mA quiescent current on tap in pure Class-A operation. SPL dispensed with coupling capacitors in this fully-balanced design, to avoid their sonic disadvantages (lower dynamic range). SPL also employed active servo circuits in place of DC components for improved sound quality. Each of the eight preamp sections of the SPL Crescendo has individual VU meters, as well as a phase reversal switch, phantom power, a -20dB pad, and a -10dB switch for the meter level. The SPL Crescendo is available with a suggested retail price of €4,999, $6,499. www.spl.audio
Nominees Acme Audio
We saw this unit at NAMM 2019, and couldn’t help but be impressed with its sound, ambition, weight and price! Acme maintain the preamp adds “an exhilarating tube sheen on the high end, slightly scooping the lower mids, and beefing up the bottom.” Besides being an instrument-to-line-level all tube preamp, Acme Audio has added a microphone amp section that is also based on Motown Engineering’s original designs, featuring a fixed gain pentode with the Acme Audio/Triad input transformer.
The Camden is a British-built, clean and transparent mic preamp with ‘MOJO’: two distinct variable characters and flavours of filtering and harmonics saturation. Featuring a custom transformerless front-end topology with 68.5dB of gain, Cranborne have engineered circuitry to deliver low-noise and low-distortion: -129.8dB EIN (150ohm, unweighted) and THD+N as low as 0.0002%. Cranborne also aim for frequency and phase linearity: ±0.7dB frequency response from 5Hz-200kHz at max gain and <2° phase shift at 50Hz– 20kHz. With a competitive price of £299, George Shilling concluded his review in Resolution V17.8: “If you want a top class flexible preamp and enhancer you’d be hard-pressed to find a better alternative at any price”.
Mayer offers a wide range of guitar pedals (with a heritage of making gear for Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck) and studio hardware. The 456HD series is a tape saturation emulator and comes in a variety of formats: the 456 4 Channel Mic Pre has four channels of mic pre-amplification and the 456HD tape saturation emulation, as well as an option for Line Level input. There is also a two channel version of this unit available that can be retrofitted with an additional two channels later. The aim of the processing is to create the colouration of Ampex 456 playing on a Studer A80, without the inconvenience and latency of tape. The unit can be used to apply this effect live during tracking or as a hardware insert. ”It did do something rather nice to the input signals, in that they could be easily calibrated to not clip digitally, and the dynamics are gently massaged on the way in,” said Russell Cottier in his review for Resolution V17.7.
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Winner: Audinate Dante AV Dante AV is an integrated audio and video-over-IP solution for equipment manufacturers — a complete integrated audio and video networking solution — bringing to video all the benefits that have made Dante a successful audio over IP solution: discovery, ease-of-use and integrated control. Dante AV enables complete interoperability with more than 1600 Dante-enabled audio products already on the market. Dante AV solves problems of networked video and audio synchronisation, utilising a single network clock for sub-microsecond accuracy. With Dante AV, audio and video signals are independently routable in a single interface using the Dante Controller software. Manufacturers can also take advantage of the Dante API to customise their management user interface. Dante AV solves time alignment issues and eliminates the need for audio de-embedders in applications such as sports bars, live events and multi-zoned AV systems for perfect lip sync everywhere. The Dante AV Module supports one video channel and 8 bi-directional channels of uncompressed Dante audio. The Dante AV Module is ideal for manufacturers creating 1G video-over-IP products and includes Dante
control, transport and synchronisation. The architecture is completely codec-agnostic, so manufacturers can use the codec of their choice and still get the benefits of Dante. The Dante AV Module is available with the Dante AV Product Design Suite, providing a complete AV-over-IP endpoint product design for manufacturers that wish to quickly get a product to market. The Product Design Suite incorporates the Dante AV Module and includes a comprehensive set of hardware documents and software to create complete, fully interoperable AV products quickly and reliably. The Dante AV Product Design Suite includes a JPEG2000 codec supporting 4K/60 4:4:4 video for visually lossless results with low latency over a 1Gbps network. Dante AV Product Design Suite also implements HDCP (Highbandwidth Digital Content Protection) to prevent copying of digital audio & video content as it travels across connections. The Dante AV Product Suite can be easily customised to suit an OEM’s specific requirements and provide competitive differentiation. www.audinate.com
Cambridge v12 is the latest and most powerful incarnation of CEDAR’s audio restoration, noise reduction and speech enhancement system. This significant update to the renowned product includes a new ‘silent’ hardware option. Cambridge Silent 1 contains no rotating drives or fans, making no mechanical noise whatsoever, ideal for single users with the unit mounted in the listening room. Two new modules — Unwrap (to remove wrapping, an unusual form of clipping distortion) — and Declickle 3 (improved detection and removal of clicks and crackle in the presence of musical transients). Cambridge v12 offers a revised process management system that combines all the Process Manager and File Processing page features. This makes it much quicker and simpler to use, shortening the learning curve and making the system even more productive than before.
A powerful room correction digital audio processor supporting any stereo speaker setup with additional one or two subwoofers. ST2 provides highly accurate monitoring by improving the phase response, offering a wider stereo image and more focused phantom sources. The Optimizer software automatically chooses the filters to achieve the desired frequency response of the target curve. Phase and group delays can also be defined and its multi-point algorithm also allows for measurements in different positions for a wider sweet spot. Higher weighting can be assigned to the most important listening positions. Connectivity includes 4 balanced analogue I/O via XLR and 2 AES/EBU I/O channels as well as Wordclock in and out. “There has now been a paradigm shift in professional audio,” said Mike Aiton in his review for Resolution V17.3, “I think it is time that we say that it is no longer acceptable to make your mixing decisions in audio ignorance and denial.”
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An innovative signal processor which incorporates advanced monitor control and a comprehensive range of audio processing functions in one compact rack-mountable unit. In addition to a 40x36 monitor matrix — which allows flexible configuration of main monitor, cue and other audio I/O — the MMP1 includes a 32x32 speaker management matrix with time alignment functionality and FIR crossover filters. Pop-up EQ graphs and meters can be rearranged in the editor window; Lip sync delay time can be adjusted up to 300ms; SPL parameters may be locked to prevent accidental changes. The MMP1 Controller app for iPad provides convenient, control of all the facilities on the MMP1’s eight channel strips. These include trim, delay, phase invert, filter, EQ, Comp260 VCM compression and insert facilities. uk.yamaha.com/en/products/proaudio/ processors/mmp1/
/ Resolution Awards 2019
Winner: Sound Devices Scorpio Scorpio is a 32-channel, 36-track mixer/ recorder and the most powerful product ever designed by Sound Devices. With 16 mic/line preamplifiers, 32 channels of Dante in and out, AES in and out, 12 analogue outputs and multiple headphone outputs, Scorpio is well-suited for any production scenario. A fully-customizable routing matrix enables sound professionals to send any input to any channel, bus, or output. Up to 12 buses may be individually mixed. Due to its compact form factor, the Scorpio is equally at home over-the-shoulder or in a mobile rig. Scorpio incorporates three FPGA circuits and six ARM processors deliver the horsepower needed for complex tasks. FPGA-based audio processing with 64-bit data paths ensures the highest sound quality. The Scorpio also features Sound Devices’ “latest and best analogue microphone preamplifier design”. These preamps have the lowest noise of any preamp in the company’s 20-year history and include built-in analogue limiters, high pass filters, delay, 3-band EQ and phantom power. Scorpio’s LED metering and sunlight-
readable screen display accurate Dugan channel attenuation and gain distribution across all channels. Dugan Automixing or MixAssist is available to automatically attenuate unused microphones in multimicrophone applications. Up to 16 channels can be automixed at a time, and two separate groups can be mixed simultaneously. The Scorpio has an internal 256GB SSD and can simultaneously record to two SD cards for redundancy. Most common menus are accessible with only one or two button presses, and many menu shortcuts can be achieved with only one hand. Scorpio features a built-in dual L-Mount battery charger and may be powered with L-Mount batteries or via the TA4 DC inputs using smart batteries, NP-1 batteries, or in-line power supplies. The timecode generator contains its own battery to hold timecode for up to four hours after power off. www.sounddevices.com
The Australian manufacturer’s market timing could not have been better with this all-in-one podcasting audio interface. RødeCaster Pro offers four XLR inputs with phantom, four Class A servo-biased preamps, USB playback input, mini-plug input, Bluetooth connection, eight stereo sound playback pads, onboard multitrack microSD card storage, computer connectivity via USB-C, five headphone outputs with four volume knobs, stereo speaker connection via two 1/4-inch outputs, and control over all of it via eight faders and an intuitive touchscreen. Aphex’s Aural Exciter and Big Bottom have been incorporated into RødeCaster Pro’s audio processing section. Additional processors include highpass filter, noise gate, compressor, de-esser and ducking. A well laid-out integrated console with a wide array of features at a competitive price.
A versatile four-track audio recorder with a pair of cardioid condenser microphones which can be set in AB or XY orientation for a wide stereo field, or extra-clear reproduction with reduced phase displacement between both channels. External microphones or line-level sources connect through dual Neutrik XLR/TRS combo jacks, the preamps include 48-volt phantom and plenty of gain. Using the stereo built-in microphones, you can capture ambient sound from an audience while recording directly from an external console, ideal for live performances. The DR-40X also offers dual-level recording, a feature that helps to avoid distortion by providing a second recording file created with a lower level setting.
Until Zoom introduced the virtual reality audio recorder in September 2018, capturing VR audio required a dedicated Ambisonic mic, a separate recorder and a computer for encoding the audio from raw Ambisonics A format to VR-ready Ambisonics B format. Now, with the H3-VR, all of the encoding and decoding is done on-board, saving time, money and effort at every step. The H3-VR records four channels of audio, using a 4-capsule Ambisonics mic. The H3-VR can also playback stereo files both in standard and binaural modes. A 6-axis motion sensor provides the H3-VR with Auto Mic Position and Level Detection, so however you position the recorder from scene to scene, your 360 audio and video orientations will stay aligned.
November/December 2019 / XVII
/ Zoom F8n and cables, with well-protected exhaust mics mounted on door sill
I’ve been fortunate to record a number of classic Formula One cars, which were some of the loudest cars I’ve ever had to record
Chris Jojo Recording the legendary Ferrari Daytona — JO BOYD describes how Codemasters’ senior sound designer and principal sound recording engineer captured the magic
hris Jojo’s original ambition was to be a conceptual illustrator and production designer. His degree from Manchester University of Art and Design trained him in computer-aided design and illustration and, taking contracts in postproduction houses, he moved to Hong Kong at a time when the NES Nintendo game console and the Super NES had become incredibly popular. Jojo’s obsession with playing guitar had already led him to take an audio engineering and sound XVIII / November/December 2019
production course before attending university. Meanwhile, a friend of Jojo’s in the UK was working with an elite group of developers who’d reverse-engineered a codec compression routine for Nintendo. Manchester-based Software Creations was able to create Nintendo audio content without the expense of proprietary development kits. Between Hong Kong contracts, Software Creations asked Jojo if he’d work on some game storyboarding and design for game packaging and characters.
Knowing Jojo had musical ambitions, they also asked if he’d do some audio programming. Jojo worked for Software Creations for over ten years before going freelance. He tried his hand at writing commercial music — but it was only when he began freelancing for Mark Knight — creative director of audio for Codemasters, that he began recording cars and trucks. In 2008, after much pestering from Knight, Jojo took a fulltime role with Codemasters — and the sourcing and recording of legendary sports and Formula One motor icons began in earnest. This Autumn, one of Codemasters best loved franchises, GRID, made its comeback. At the end of GRID’s two-year development cycle, we caught up with Jojo, to find out how he captured audio for the legendary Ferrari 365GTB/4 Competizione. “Authenticity of driving experience for the player is the ultimate goal of the games and the quality of the engine audio is a big contribution to their popularity,” explains Chris.
GRID has featured new and exclusive car content with every iteration. This latest release adds some truly iconic Ferrari and Porsche GT Le Mans cars. With some pride, Jojo states: “Over 90% of our car recordings are matched to the original works cars we’ve licensed, with the same heritage or calibre,” adding, “We’re plugging gaps now with cars that have become available for recording at the tail end of GRID’s development schedule.” With 69 cars for GRID’s day one release and a significant number of cars scheduled for DLC (DownLoadable Content) release, Jojo must source and record cars to meet the production milestones across a tight development schedule — no easy feat with such rare and historic motor cars as the epic Ferrari 330 P4 or BMW M1 Procar. For the on-board sound recording, Jojo adopts a multi-microphone approach to capture every significant aspect of a given car’s engine — induction, exhaust and transmission systems — for a complete set of recorded assets for the in-game audio engine. As he explains: “It’s important to capture focussed recordings of induction systems, such as supercharger whine, carb intake, turbo dump valves and waste-gate chatter that’s intrinsic to the sound of a specific car.” The selection includes gear clunks, transmission whine and diff clatter (rear differential): every distinction of the vehicle that represents it as authentically as possible in-game. Each recording session is critical and Jojo needs to trust his equipment, particularly when it’s required to withstand the rigours of day-long track date recording. “With competition cars,” He says, “I’m often allowed access to record at ‘shakedown testing’ by the good grace of a team. In these types of scenario, the selection and installation of equipment is determined in strict consultation with the team principal and lead engineer.” With weight and bulk often being an issue, these types of installation are streamlined. Jojo continues: “On the ‘shakedown’ date it’s a case of hitting record and just standing back. The kit can stay on the car for up to three days. I can’t step in to tweak settings, I can’t get in the way of the engineers. I just have to trust it all! Obviously, everything has to be robust… and fireproof, right down to the cable ties.” Jojo relies on the Zoom F8, and more recently the F8n multitrack field recorders, to capture the eight channels of all-important, fully synchronised engine audio, along with in-cabin Ambisonic recordings from a timecode-synced Zoom F4. “I’ve been using the Zoom F8 since it launched back in 2015. Zoom kit stands up to my needs: they’re robust, lightweight and easy to use — and the F8n is even better now, with improved gain on the headphone amplifier,” explains Jojo.
/ Ferrari 365GTB/4 Competizione at Turweston Aerodrome
don’t use limiters!” The reasoning is that he wants the recording as pure as possible. “I need to preserve dynamics, so I just dial that in and
monitor on the fly when I’m conducting a session in-cab. I have used the F8n’s limiters on ‘shakedown’ dates, and in instances with single
Surges up to red line
Jojo is also impressed by the -10dB attenuation on the F8n, though as he states several times, “I November/December 2019 / XIX
/ Recording a BMW M1 at the Ascari Race Resort
/ Sennheiser Ambeo VR mic positioned for 360-degree recording in Ferrari cabin
seat competition cars where I can’t physically be on-board. I’m so comfortable with the F8n now, I’m pretty adept at judging input settings and I’ll apply limiting only as a safeguard, to reign in any sharp transients from exhaust detonations and surges up to red line or on the limiter.” Having captured engine audio for Codemasters’ games for over a decade, Jojo is very clear about his requirements. “What I need are high-quality preamps, low noise-floor, clarity and gain in headphone monitoring, responsive look-ahead limiters, dial-able high pass filtering, lightweight portability and intuitive operation. I’ve never had to bury my head in a manual. The recorders I have are very intuitive and easy to use.” Chris has taken the Zoom F8 and F8n head-to-head with other pro recorders. “The difference in quality to me is negligible. Zoom Labs Japan have really outdone themselves with the F8n preamp design.” Purity of recording from the inputs is what Jojo is looking for. “The mics are really important, but the recording itself, and the clarity of that without too much colouration, is critical. It’s the two sides of the equation.” With the Ferrari 365 GTB4, just as with every other car he records, Jojo runs step-by-step through the same recording run-plan to capture the required performance takes with which to build the in-game engine sound. With its normally aspirated 4.4-litre V12 engine, miking is minimal. He uses DPA MMC4007 omnidirectional large capsule mics secured either side of the cylinder bank and a Shure TwinPlex lavalier focussed on the carburettor induction ports (air intakes). On each of the XX / November/December 2019
car’s side-porting exhaust pipes, Jojo uses a pair of DPA 4007s and Shure SM57 dynamic cardioids. These inputs form the mainstay of the engine/exhaust capture. “The DPA MMC4007 is a phenomenal mic, pretty much a permanent fixture on both engine and exhaust recordings. It has exceptional clarity, excellent off axis response, and most importantly it can handle up to 165dB SPL”. Chris protects all of his mics and cabling with bespoke wind proofed enclosures and fire-retardant shrouds. “It’s
important to be mindful of airflow and heat sources when choosing where to position and secure the engine and exhaust mics”.
In the cabin, a Sennheiser Ambeo (review, Resolution V17.1) on an ARRI arm feeds into a Zoom F4 capturing 360-degree audio. Jojo emphasises the importance of capturing the transmission harmonics of a car, particularly on rally and competition track cars that have
/ When your ride is worth half a million, better check the rev limit first!
It’s important to be mindful of airflow and heat sources when choosing where to position and secure the engine and exhaust mics ‘straight cut’ gears or sequential transmission. “I’ve used the Sennheiser Ambeo across the entire slate of DiRT rally 2.0 and GRID recordings. It’s a superb microphone and pulls everything from the cabin space, from transmission to differential clatter to internal [dust] kick-up on a rally stage.” Jojo uses Magix [now Steinberg] SpectraLayers to extract and render the transmission whine harmonics, which are then edited and integrated into the in-game engine audio system. The three to four inputs from the engine, and the same again from microphones secured to capture the exhaust, go into the master recorder — a Zoom F8n with its new firmware. Imperative for the car’s audio profile within the game, the two sets of audio are synched by Zoom’s TCXO (Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator) Time Code generating 0.2 ppm accuracy. Currently, game audio’s ‘memory footprint’ doesn’t have the capacity to run synchronised ambisonic cabin audio — but when it does, Codemasters is ready. Whilst recording the Chevrolet Corvette C7-R GTE recently at Zandvoort Circuit, Jojo set up a Zoom H3-VR compact recorder on the pit lane wall and “came back to some amazing sounds”. He explains: “Zoom had kindly given me a unit to try out and it’s a fantastic little Soundfield recorder. All those reflections bouncing off the pit straight wall and surrounding paddock when the ‘Vette was raging past had so much depth, clarity and vivid detail.” With so many iconic racing car performance sounds now recorded, tracking down the rarest historic cars often leads to a dead end. “Some cars just aren’t attainable. They’re either in private or heritage museum collections and often priceless.” Given that scenario, Jojo will try to source a prior or following iteration of that particular model to stay as close to the specification as possible. Honoured to have been a part of what is actually a very extensive archiving project, he tells us: “I’ve been fortunate to record a number of classic Formula One cars, which were some of the loudest cars I’ve ever had to record.” As racing moves towards electric, he predicts an increase in
demand for classic motorsports content and engine sounds. Meanwhile, Jojo continues to plug the gaps, often flying out to where the cars are — in some instances without the luxury of a smooth racetrack. “There have been instances when I’ve had to resort to recording cars ‘guerrilla’ style on isolated B roads and dirt tracks. It’s tricky when the length of straight falls short of requirements. Ideally, I need around 900m of straight unbroken tarmac, any major undulations, particulate, bumps and cracks in the surface can result in a loss of traction which will be heard in the recorded audio.”
As well as the performance capture of each car’s transmission upshift and downshift modulations, he captures two other building blocks of audio: “An on-load sweep from the lowest achievable revs in each gear going right up to the limiter, just letting the gear do the work, and the same again with the off-load component when the car is decelerating from limiter to base rpm.” With those captures achieved and secured in his laptop, and offloaded via USB-3, Chris repacks his essential basic kit: “Toothbrush, Kindle, mics, cabling and Zoom” and flies off to the next car.
3 mm of audio perfection 6060 Subminiature Lavalier
Thank you! AWARDS 2019
DPA d:screet CORE 6060 REWARDING QUALITY AND INNOVATION
November/December 2019 / XXI
SoundPro’19 SoundPro’19: Chiswick has it!
he October 26th SoundPro’19 one-day expo was another runaway success, despite having to leave its home of the last few years and relocate to Chiswick Town Hall. Around 280 people (visitors and exhibitors) were in attendance at the event run by Resolution magazine and the Institute of Professional Sound, with over 35 audio/ broadcast/capture brands on display. It’s not a show for tyre-kickers, oh no: over 20% of attendees labelled themselves ‘sound recordists’, and 9% production sound mixers. The Main Hall was buzzing all day, while the Hogarth Hall hosted three fantastic talks by game soundtrack writer Mark Angus, OB truck expert Anthony Shaw, and Attenborough favourite Kate Hopkins. “Chiswick Two Hall was perfect, the visitors were enthusiastic, the exhibitors were satisfied, and Terry Tew’s support, in sponsorship and supplying sound kit, was second to none,” gushed publisher Dave Robinson. “Thanks again to Ian Sands of Streamed Events/IPS for doing a wonderful job of coordinating on the day, and to all the other assistance the show received — Frankie, Lou, Gary, you know who you are. See you all next year? (Hint: October 17th in the same place.)” www.soundpro.org.uk
/ Prism Sound’s Will Lowe with Lyra, Titan and Atlas interfaces
/ Rycote’s Simon Davies enjoying the day
/ The Sound Network team demonstrated the latest from the DPA Microphones range
XXII / November/December 2019
/ The IPS chairman (and Resolution contributor) Simon Clark gives us a quick face-on
/ There’s a clever concealment solution for every production sound microphone / Jed Allen (Kii audio), Dave Robinson, Steve Angel (HHB)
/ Sound-Link’s John Willett is never off-duty!
/ Simon Roome of Synthax demonstrates the Calrec Type-R mixer
/ Selecting a new beltpack transmitter
/ Guest speakers included nature doc sound supervisor Kate Hopkins, seen here being interviewed by Resolution publisher Dave Robinson
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November/December 2019 / XXIII
Explaining audio Off-site visual technical training: ED LISTER gives some insight
was recently given the task by my good friends over at Calrec Audio, who I regularly work with, to create a sort of ‘visual training manual’ for their latest broadcast console Type-R, which is their newly developed and first modular Radio desk. This ‘manual’ itself consists of 20 individual training videos, each one being a specific ‘how to’ — with the aim to guide the viewer on correctly controlling the console within all aspects of operation. The films act as the technical training manual in a bite-sized manageable format, rather than
looking through a word heavy instructional document, or having to arrange the time to actually physically sit down and be trained in person by an operator on site. Although the standard procedure would of course be to book time in with experienced technical training operators and go through all of the console’s elements individually, this may not actually be feasible/accessible to many engineers or organizations who could perhaps be out of reach geographically. Plus — who has the time for personal training these days, with the ever growing faster production demands?!
Joking aside, this is where things have become a little interesting recently. After all the initial hard work of actually creating and developing this serious cutting edge broadcast audio equipment we all know and love, successful audio manufacturers now find themselves catering to the modern digital world by using visual storytelling methods of technical training for this kit, explaining everything required to the end user in a more creative informative way. Since the ‘Type-R’ is pretty new, we filmed all of these videos on site at Calrec HQ over in Hebden Bridge (the technical team were there for operation & support with demo units available and so on). As I mentioned, the need to keep things visually entertaining and focused was important, as there’s a lot of content here to view and take in. So rather than just filming the available demo room as it was — we blacked it out completely, lit the console softly from above and used a white thick tabletop, aiming for sort of space-age visual environment. This was a bit of a challenge since it was a panoramic glass office, but I’m really pleased with the outcome. I feel it works well to deliver the instructional operation in a nice uniform yet creative way which was really important for me. As everything within each video was to be a spoken instruction, we needed voice over underneath our imagery to explain what was happening, what the operator was doing and why. With Calrec being a pre-eminent audio manufacturer, they have their own anechoic ‘Dead Room’ on site for equipment testing, seriously handy (and cool) as a little make-shift recording booth was set up inside. Obviously there is absolutely NO outside noise coming in whatsoever, keeping the audio extremely clean to say the least. In fact, it was so dry and clean-sounding, a tiny amount of reverb was required in the mix to make it feel a little more natural.
/ Audio@IBC: our guide to the show / Riedel: Tomorrowland and on / Genelec’s Aural ID
/ Lectrosonics DSQD: digital wireless system / Royer R-10: compact ribbon mic / Rupert Neve Designs RMP-D8
/ Tudor Davies: mixing Glastonbury / Phil Bolland: sound design at Factory / Resolution Awards 2019 nominations
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/ Panoramic glass office (L), and after blackout and lighting changes to focus on Type-R mixer (R)
Giving access to operational knowledge like this and making it so readily available for anyone is a massive selling point. State of the art broadcast production equipment takes some serious hands-on time to learn the skillset. Being able to simply go online and watch top of the range kit (that you are required to operate) complete tasks you need to figure out how to do yourself (such as EQ, Dynamics or loading shows) with manufacturer-approved instructions, isn’t usually so easily attainable. This video approach saves a serious amount of time and resources. The previous long chain of
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technical training becomes massively softened and opens a lot of doors. It should be interesting to see where we go from here with the next development within visual technical off site training — maybe full VR environmental ‘hands on live’ training situations? Mixing a live football match at the champions league final from your own office? Its definitely safe to say visual storytelling now, more than ever, plays an important role in ‘showing’ you how things are done and will continue to grow more and more. All the videos we created will be available to watch online at Calrec’s website.
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/ Calrec’s anechoic room used as a VO booth
Ed Lister is a self shooting video content producer and freelance broadcast cameraman based in Manchester, recently shooting content for: This Morning, Good Morning Britain, ITV news, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, RED digital cinema & Adobe. Ed is also the owner of www.flagtimefilms.com — producing content for clients like Calrec Audio, Warner music and Atlantic records. @Flagtimefilms.
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The C725 provides classic studio microphone performance using a hybrid of vacuum tube and solid 09:04 state technology, and the advanced dual-diaphragm capsule used in our C700 and C716 microphones. A separate high voltage regulated power supply is provided, with five switchable directional patterns and a unique “sun/moon” selector switch to provide you with control over “tube character” and dynamic range.
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For UK sales: firstname.lastname@example.org For Benelux & France sales: email@example.com November/December 2019 / XXV
WIN a Soundbucket! WHO’S ON YOUR BUCKET LIST? If you could work in the studio with one person, who would it be, and why? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
rispin Herrod-Taylor from Crookwood, looks over the studio walls to see how consumers are listening to music today, and what this means for studio monitoring. I’ve spent most of the last 30 years designing high performance, sonically accurate gear to let engineers hear the truth, so they can confidently choose what processes to use to make the music even better. I’ve made kick-ass preamps, converters, monitor controllers — and of course mastering consoles — visited some incredible rooms and met some ludicrously talented engineers. Everybody’s focused on delivering the best possible interpretation of the music, listening via some highly competent monitor chains/rooms. Outside the studio, the replay quality on today’s loudspeakers drops like a stone. The vast majority people today will listen to an artificial stereo presentation on headphones or earbuds, or in mono on Bluetooth speakers, Smart speakers or a laptop (stereo in marketing speak only). Very few people will listen to your production on a decent stereo system. Scary. It’s a testament to your abilities that the consumer-downgraded version is generally good. But it’s also true that to do your job properly you need to verify that it will sound really good at the consumer end. With your existing gear, it’s easy to get over the first hurdle — mono compatibility: use your XXVI / November/December 2019
a reference. We’ve been thinking about this problem for a while, and we’ve spent the last few years developing a cross-over speaker, one that’s aimed at domestic consumers, but is also good enough for pros to use. The result is an accurate, small (1 litre) mono portable speaker, with a near omni response. It’s available with Bluetooth and line in for the punters, or just line in for the pros. We successfully launched via Kickstarter a few years ago, and have gradually refined the “SoundBucket” in response to consumer and pro feedback to make it ‘perfect’. It excels with consumers (small, wireless Bluetooth, portable, good battery life, cool looking and really clean sounding), but we’ve added some pro features so it sounds better and works in a studio environment. It has a flat frequency response, but with a typical small speaker LF boost; low distortion, and reasonable loudness. We know from experience these qualities allow you to judge the sonic performance on this speaker, and it will translate well to all the other similar, less linear speakers. It’s active (no extra amps needed), and you can permanently mains-power it for convenience. Being small and portable you can move it out of sight when not in use, or listen to the same music with the same speaker, but in different environments. For instance at home, or in a lounge.
Using the Soundbucket
console’s mono sum button to check this. Just make sure the mono sum dim level is correct, so as you flip between mono and stereo you hear the soundstage collapsing, not any level differences. The next hurdle is trickier: how do we check how the mix sounds on a typical consumer speaker?
Today’s small speakers are very different from their predecessors. They’ve got smaller, gone mono, and are omnidirectional. The smaller size means the bass response is more limited and they don’t go as loud as older bookshelves. But it’s the mono and onmi radiation pattern that’s really different. You can’t simulate this sound with a set of small stereo bookshelf speakers, and you can’t easily just pick up a small consumer speaker to use either, for a variety of reasons. Most have: •• Battery powering — inconvenient for a studio environment •• Level-dependant bass — they have active loudness controls •• Level dependant compression — to make them sound louder than they really are •• Bluetooth only — you may prefer analogue inputs What you need is a single, small reference speaker. One that has the sonic footprint of an onmi design and reduced bandwidth, but is accurate and repeatable enough to be used as
Connect it up to your controller’s mini outputs — it automatically ‘monos’ left and right inputs, and place it anywhere convenient. The omni characteristic means it’s not essential to locate at ear height or directly in front of you. Ideally it should be about 0.5-2m from the mix position. It’s not a nearfield, it produces a far-field response at distances >0.3m. When checking on it, you’ll notice straight away it will sound thinner and less enveloping — that’s the size and lack of bass — but you should be able to get a solid emotional feeling from it, and any tweaks you need to make to bring the sound alive will be in the midrange or higher bass. You can’t compare it to your main monitors. But is it the best small mono consumer speaker? We think so, and it’s ideal for confidence checking how your music will sound on the new generation of small speakers. Want to know more? https://soundbuckets.com/technical-details/
Pro or No?
LIKE Plug-ins that are extreme. It’s great that there are so many good-sounding working tools now, but I love the unpredictability of a mad distortion or filter, and how it can transform a sound into something from another planet, or put it in an exciting unique place. Favourites this week are the Ohm Force range, or the Waves Gtr3 Stomps. Love the design of the Stomps, how easy it is to drag and drop and reconfigure modules. I wish Pro Tools would do something similar with preset effect chains — other DAWS are much better at this kind of thing. People tend to look down a bit on using these kind of presets for pros but they are great starting points.
Dave Bascombe Mixer extraordinaire: Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, Human League, ABC, Manic Street Preachers, Moby, Goldfrapp, Royksopp … and a Grammy nomination! Dave Bascombe was playing keyboards in a local band when he saw an advert for a ‘junior’ wanted at a major London studio. He started as a tea-boy and tape-op at Maison Rouge in 1978, then then getting a job at Livingstone Studios as an engineer. Bascombe then moved into freelance engineering, production and for the last 25 years or so, has concentrated mainly on mixing. He worked as co-producer with many ’80s and ’90s groups such as Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode, and was Grammy nominated for Tears for Fears’ Seeds of Love album. He is currently still mixing — working with all sorts of music — for the last few years at his home studio, and is also working with a friend on his own music, which he thinks of as “going back to the beginning”. www.echobeachmanagement.com/artist/ dave-bascombe/ LIKE Working at home, in the box. No need to entertain clients, and I can do whatever hours I like. Being able to get a mix to a certain stage and then having a break by switching to a different project in seconds. Being able to revisit mixes to fix something that bugs you days later. Easy access to multiple instances for effects with no patching. No returning to a mix the next day to find a piece of hardware has gone down or been nudged by the cleaner or a patch cord is intermittently crackly. DISLIKE Working at home, in the box! No human interaction, meaning small changes involve loads of emails and MP3s flying around, to do something that could be achieved in seconds with the artist there. Having to second guess how much they want something changed
by… enough so they can hear a difference often seems to be too much. Plus, the creativity, networking and fun that you miss out on. Also, the obvious endless prevarications… and I miss the sound, immediacy and physicality of working on an analogue console. And getting the mix signed off and done! LIKE The music biz! Especially my bit of it where I can largely ignore the politics. I remind myself all the time about what a fantastic job this is: the people are nearly always incredibly cool and friendly, I’m working with creatives of all ages, particularly young people with fresh ideas, and I get to sit in front of speakers listening to music all day. Brilliant! DISLIKE Confusing briefs. Can you make it sound more like this? We love the demo, it’s not right, but can you make the master sound more like it? And also reference these tracks? etc.
I sometimes find it more rewarding to create order out of chaos than to essentially tweak something that already sounds great
DISLIKE Demoing gear, hardware or software. I’ll usually love it for the first week, then either end up buying it before realising it was a flavour of the month, or don’t buy it but have it all over mixes that I will inevitably have to revisit once it’s gone. I’ve got about a thousand too many plug-ins already! LIKE Something I rarely get to do these days; the feeling when you first push the faders up on a big session — whether it’s a band or an orchestra — it’s always a thrill to hear the room buzzing! And the visual pleasure watching the live performance once you’ve got the sound together, something the public never get to experience. I suppose it’s like a private gig with (hopefully) great studio quality sound. Related and following on from that is watching a great musician put together a great part. Watching as the germ of the idea gets finessed and honed… then when you look at each other and know you’ve got it. It’s a privilege to be a part of the process. DISLIKE Mix pros who moan at the state of sessions they get delivered to them, usually from bedroom producers or just inexperienced artists who are more focused on the music. That’s our job: to sort out what they’ve done and make a professional sounding track out of it. Of course, it’s a treat to get a well-recorded and organised session, but I sometimes find it more rewarding to create order out of chaos than to essentially tweak something that already sounds great. It’s a bit more understandable to be disparaging about record companies’ lack of tech knowledge: stems??!! LIKE Being able to make a record in an affordable home studio. I miss the old studio model enormously, but on balance the democratisation has to be a good thing. DISLIKE Lack of feedback. When you deliver the mix and don’t hear from anyone for days. It always seems ominous even if it usually isn’t. A simple “got it thanks, going to live with it for a while then I’ll get back to you”, would help my paranoia no end. November/December 2019 / XXVII