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Monthly Archives: October 2016

October 6, 2016

Publisher Greig Watts On Episode #129 Of My Inner Circle Podcast

greig wattsMusic publisher Greig Watts is the guest on this week’s Inner Circle Podcast, and his UK company DWB Songs has been very successful in Asia. We’ll discuss the differences in writing for that market, the challenges of getting paid and how he gets around it, writing in an EDM world, and the company’s very successful songwriting camps in the interview.

On the intro we’ll look at the rumor that Spotify is buying Soundcloud and why that might be beneficial to both the company and artists, and I’ll give a report from both GameSoundCon and AES 2016 in Los Angeles.

You can listen to it at bobbyoinnercircle.com, or via iTunesStitcher, Mixcloud or Google Play.

Tips On Recording A Tabla

recording tablaWhen it comes to percussion, we sometimes tend to lump it all in with drum recording technique. That’s far from how it should be approached though, as each different type of percussion needs a special technique in order to optimize the way it’s recorded. Here’s a great video where tablaist Sirish Kumar Manji shows you how to record and use tabla primarily in an electronic production, but most of the information pertains to just about any music. Also, it shows how Ableton Live can be just as useful as a recorder as other DAWs.

The video comes courtesy of the Point Blank Music School.

Tips For Choosing A Set Of Monitors

choosing monitorsIt’s surprising that so many monitors (speakers that is) are purchased just from a review or word of mouth, since they’re such a personal item. Here’s an excerpt from my Studio Builder’s Handbook (written with Dennis Moody) that covers some things to think about before you purchase your next set of speakers.

“1) Don’t choose a monitor because someone else is using them. Just because your favorite mixer uses a set of Tannoy Precision 8D’s, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be right for you too. Everyone hears differently and has a different hearing experience. Plus, the match with your room might not be ideal, they might not be a good match with the type of music you work on, and if they’re unpowered, you may not have the same amp to drive them with as the reviewer, so they’ll sound different from what someone else hears.

2) Make sure you listen to the monitors before you buy them. The pros take their time and listen to them under a wide range of conditions before they commit to a purchase, so why shouldn’t you? It’s true that you might not live near a big media center with lots of pro audio dealers, and even if you do, you may not have a relationship with one that gets you a personal demo in your own studio. That shouldn’t stop you from listening though. Take the trip to your local pro audio or music store and spend some time listening.

Here’s what you should listen for when you evaluate a monitor:

  • Listen for An Even Frequency Balance – Check to see if any frequencies are exaggerated or attenuated while listening to a piece of music that you’re very familiar with. Listen especially to the mid-range cross-over area (usually about 1.5 to 2.5kHz), then to cymbals on the high end, vocals and guitars in the midrange, and bass and kick drum on the low end.
  • Listen to the Frequency Balance At Different Levels – The speakers should have the same frequency balance at any level, from quiet to loud.
  • Make Sure The Speakers Are Loud Enough Without Distortion – Be sure that there’s enough clean level for your needs. Many powered monitors have built-in limiters that stop the speaker or amplifier from distorting, but this also keeps the system from getting as loud as you need it to be. Be sure to listen to them at various volume levels to determine if they’ll be loud enough for your needs, if they will distort, or if their sound characteristics change dramatically at different volumes.

3) Listen with source material that you know very well. The only way to judge a monitor is to listen to material that you’re very familiar with and have heard in a lot of different environments. This will give you the necessary reference point that you need to adequately judge what you’re listening to. You can use something that you recorded yourself that you know inside and out, or a favorite CD that you feel is well-recorded. Just stay away any critical listening with MP3’s; the higher the quality of your playback source, the better. A high quality 24 bit source like from a personal digital recorder is great because it gives you a better idea of the frequency response of the system.

If the monitors that you’re auditioning aren’t powered, you might want to bring your own amplifier to the audition because the amp/speaker combination is a delicate one. A speaker has a much greater interdependence on the power source than most of us realize, and many engineers search for the perfect amplifier almost as long as for the perfect monitor. Thankfully, that’s not as much of a problem these days since most high quality monitors have built-in amplifiers perfectly matched to its speaker drivers by the manufacturer.

That being said, you can easily get used to just about any speaker if you use it enough and learn it’s strengths and weaknesses in your room. It also helps to have a reference point that you’re sure of to compare the sound with, like your car or a particular boombox, then adjust your mixes so they work when you play them there.”

You can read more from The Studio Builder’s Handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.

Outstanding Audio Software From AES 2016

Audio Software AES 2016As I said in my post yesterday, there were fewer audio software companies at AES than one might have expected. The reason is that many software companies are boutique operations with only a few employees, so taking time away from development and spending a lot of money on a show is a critical decision. When it comes down to it, it’s either exhibit at NAMM or AES, and since NAMM reaches more people, that’s the show that usually wins. That said, I did see a couple of plugins at AES that might change the way you mix.

Izotope Neutron

Izotope has always been a company on the cutting edge of audio software development, and it’s constantly coming up with new and useful plugs. The latest is Neutron, which may change the way you mix forever. Neutron does a couple of things – first, it analyzes a track and finds the EQ problems and automatically fixes them for you. Then, it will analyze multiple tracks and find where one track may be masking the other frequency-wise, and sets the EQ and compression. The company is quick to point out that the plug’s suggestions are only starting points, but that certainly performs much of the heavy lifting that sometimes takes years of experience for a mixer to achieve. Check out the video below.

The price for Neutron Standard is just $249 with a $199 introductory price.

I should also point out that I was approached by another company at the show that was in beta test for a plug that did much the same thing but with a different approach. More on that when it’s released.

Eiosis E2 De-esser

De-essers are a necessary evil in audio. We generally don’t like to use them, and when we have to, they’re sometimes finicky in setup. The Eiosis E2 de-esser takes de-essing to the next level, making it a dead-easy setup yet with plenty of flexibility to be able to tackle just about any problem area that you might have. What’s even better is that it has a dynamic EQ built in, which again makes tweaking easy, especially on a vocal. Works great on instruments as well, which isn’t the case with all de-essers. All in all, the results are some of the smoothest you’ll find from a de-esser anywhere. The Eiosis E2 is a bargain at its current sales price of $99. Check out the video below for more details.

There were certainly other fine plugin releases at AES, but these two are the ones that caught my eye.

New Gear Overview From AES 2016

aesThe AES Conference was in Los Angeles at the end of last week, and there was new gear everywhere. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much that you’d call “revolutionary” (which is the norm at gear shows these days), but there were a few things that caught my eyes and ears that I thought I’d share.

The Show

This was a pretty upbeat show in general that was fairly well attended. There was a feeling of optimism in the air and people were spending money, even on large hardware purchases like recording consoles. That said, a number of hardware manufactures didn’t show. Universal Audio, Trans Audio Group (importers for the likes of Drawmer and ATC), Audient, and and other hardware manufacturers, and a host of software companies that you normally see at NAMM didn’t exhibit.

If there was a theme to the show, it was immersive audio, and there were exhibits and demos everywhere, although this was helped by the fact that the Audio For Virtual Reality sub-conference was also held at the same time upstairs. All in all, it’s an exciting time for this side of the business, although in many ways its still the wild west, with new tools and techniques being made up as we go along. Sort of reminds me of the early days of surround sound around about 2001 or so.

The Gear

As usual, the gear that caught my eye might not be what was most popularized at the show. Something jumps out if it’s unusual in any way or I can see an immediate use in my workflow, which might not be anything like yours. With that in mind, let’s get started.

little-labs-monitor

Little Labs Monitor – High quality headphone amplifiers are big this year, and other manufacturers have jumped in the game, but I saw these little boxes everywhere at the show. What makes Monitor unique is the ability to swap input channels, listen to one side only, go to mono or invert the phase at the flip of a switch. It’s expensive at $540, but it sure does sound good.

 

dynaco-st-70xHafler-Dynaco ST-70x – For those of you who go way back in the business, you’ll appreciate the fact that Radial Engineering, who purchased both the Hafler and Dynaco brands, is reintroducing a new version of the the famed Dynaco ST-70. This was and still is a revered tube amplifier in many hi-fi circles, and it’s back once again. No idea of the price though.

 

primeacoustic isolation productsPrimAcoustic TriPad, HeadRest and CrashGuard – Speaking of Radial, the company seems to come up with something new and useful every month. Here we find three new products from its Primacoustic division that you’ll find you’ll be able to use every day in the studio. The TriPad is a mic stand isolator, HeadRest is a mic stand headphone holder, and CrashGuard is a drum mic shield to protect your precious snare drum mic from getting wacked.

manley-nu-muManley Nu Mu – Manley showed a new compressor called the Nu Mu (along with ELOP+) which takes the tube vari-mu backbone and marries it with solid state electronics. It’s around $2,500.

 

unfairchildUTA Un-Fairchild – Speaking of vari-mu, UTA’s new UnFairchild is basically a reproduction of the hard-to-find Fairchild 670 but with a lot of extra parameter control that goes way beyond a typical 670. How much? Less than $10k.

 

 

electronaut-m97Electronaut M97 – Speaking of the 670, Electronaut showed its M77 which is like a 670 on steroids (complete with NOS tubes if you want) that incorporates a Dorrough peak meter instead of VUs. Looks pretty cool at $7,777.

 

jbl-lsr705iJBL LSR705i – I’ve never heard a small speaker with a 5 woofer sound as big as the LSR705i. The low end that comes out of these little boxes defies the laws of physics somehow and the demo that I heard by Peter Chaikin and Frank Filipetti was truly outstanding. AT $687 each, they seem like a bargain until you realize that they’re passive and require an amp and DSP processor as well. That said, they’re truly impressive..

 

 

oceanway-ribbon-micsOcean Way RM1 ribbon mic – Ocean Way Audio showed off their monitors, which always sound great, but also introduced the new RM1 ribbon mic, which incorporates a newly designed pop shield so you don’t have to worry about popping the ribbon when working with a vocalist. $2,250.

 

sennheiser-ambeoSennheiser Ambeo surround mic – If you want to record immersively, B-format is the way to do it, and Sennheiser showed it’s new Ambeo mic that’s very much like a Soundfield, but a lot cheaper at $1,650.

 

 

visisonics 5/64VisiSonics 5/64 – Speaking of immersive recording, the VisiSonics 5/64 features 5 cameras and 64 microphones. What’s amazing is that it outputs 64 48/24 PCM channels over a USB connection, along with the video. A lot of money at $64k though.

 

 

 

 

rackfxRackFX – One of the most interesting things I saw at the show was a service by RackFX. In a nutshell, if you want to have your tracks processed through some analog gear that you don’t own, the service will find a studio with the gear, download your file and play it through the device, then send you the processed file back. It even has a set of robot knob twirlers that allow you to dial in the settings yourself if you want. It’s pretty out-of-the-box thinking, but we need more of that in this industry.

That’s it for hardware, tomorrow I’ll get into some of the software from the AES show.