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Aphex® Model 188 and 1788A Mic Pre’s Shape the Sound of 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief

— Longtime Aphex® users Music Mix Mobile (M3) choose Aphex as the backbone of the audio
system at all-star benefit —

The 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief raised in excess of $30 million, according to its non-profit charity organizer, the Robin Hood Foundation, and delivered more than three hours of music by some of the biggest names in the business to a global television and streaming audience of two billion. Every single note of music performed onstage at New York’s Madison Square Garden passed through Aphex® Model 188 and 1788A eight-channel remote controlled microphone preamplifiers, provided by Music Mix Mobile (M3), the New Jersey/California-based remote recording, mixing and production company that supplied the music mixing trucks and expertise for the 12-12-12 event.

The 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief featured musical talent from both sides of the Atlantic, including Paul McCartney (who performed a tune with the surviving members of a reformed Nirvana), Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Kanye West, Billy Joel, Chris Martin with surprise guest Michael Stipe, and Alicia Keys. Celebrity announcers included Kristen Stewart, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon, among others.

According to Pete Gary, Engineer-in-Charge, M3 fielded two trucks: “Voyager”, based on the East Coast, and California-based “Horizon”. Music mixers John Harris and Bob Clearmountain mixed alternate performances throughout the evening, aided by Jay Vicari, who mixed Billy Joel and Bon Jovi. M3 partner Mitch Maketansky was audio coordinator for the event, which was delivered to the audience at the Garden by Red Hook, NY-based Firehouse Productions and in the U.S. was broadcast over 37 television networks, live streamed from numerous web sites and simulcast into movie theaters nationwide.

“Every input that you heard on the show hit an Aphex,” stated Harris. Gary added, “Voyager had 120 channels of Aphex 188 mic pre’s, and Horizon was running 112 channels of 1788As. Our main infrastructure for the show was built around Aphex. They’re reliable and they’re clean. We didn’t want the sound to be drastically different between acts and trucks, and they don’t color the sound too much, unlike other mic pre’s, so you can do a lot with that front end. The Aphex pre’s made everything easy — like always!” says Gary, noting that M3 originally adopted the Model 188 in time for the 2009 GRAMMY® Awards broadcast, shortly after it was introduced.

At Madison Square Garden, artists were set up on a rotating turntable divided into stages A and B, alternating from one performance to the next. “We had two guys per stage dialing all of the mic pre levels independently, storing them, and making sure the recalls came back exactly as saved,” Gary continues. “When the table would turn for the next performance, we would flip over to the other truck.”

Harris observes that the recall abilities of both models of Aphex preamp were critical to the delivery of a consistent mix throughout the evening. “Over the days of soundcheck and rehearsal, once we got all the mic gains set perfectly we were able to store settings in the units. Each time the stage turned around we would hit the recall button and—boom—all the settings come back exactly the way they were stored at rehearsal. We were on the air in seconds with the exact same settings that we had from days before.” Harris further notes that every signal not only passed through an Aphex mic preamp but also through each unit’s A-to-D converters.

Gary elaborates, “All of the inputs from the stage were fed via analog splits and fanned out to our Aphex racks. We then changed the Aphex Toslink into a MADI stream and transmitted everything over fiber to the trucks. It’s the absolutely cleanest signal path that we could produce to get to the trucks 1,500 feet away, five floors down and out on Eighth Avenue. The networking protocol made it super easy to integrate into our systems and network the entire infrastructure together. On one network, from one master computer, I could view the entire network of mic pre’s from the truck, because of their TCP/IP addressing.”

Aphex CEO, David Wiener, was on hand, both in the M3 mobile studios and backstage lending support. “John, Joel, Mitch and the rest of the M3 crew did a fantastic job as usual. Their talent and mobile technology is really impressive – that’s why they do all the big jobs – and it’s a real compliment that Aphex is the backbone of so many of these major events and broadcasts.”

With so much production equipment on the deck and a constant stream of backline gear being staged for each performance, the compact size of the Aphex Model 188s, at just a single rack space per eight channels, was also beneficial, according to Harris. “As well as being so great sounding, the 188s are so small that we were able to get all 120 channels into just one corner of monitorworld there on the floor of the Garden. Sometimes it can be important to get everything into a small footprint.”

More importantly, concludes Harris, “The Aphex mic pre’s have always been 100 percent dependable. You’ve got to have that on a show where you’re broadcasting to two billion people. Aphex is the sound of 12-12-12!”

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