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The Who Reign O’er Quadrophenia With DiGiCo

The Who‘s 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia—which sets the tale of teen Jimmy Cooper amidst the global sociocultural upheaval and psychological angst of the times and the rivalry between Britain’s mods and rockers—has been reprised in a multimedia display on the band’s latest outing. The 37 date tour, which began in November and runs through the end of February, celebrates the four-decade anniversary of the album’s release and marks the band’s first major North American tour in four years. Even long-departed drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle make cameo appearances, joining remaining original members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. Entwistle’s virtuosity and famous bass solo on “5:15″ are showcased in live footage shot at the Royal Albert Hall in 2000, which streams onscreen. They also pay tribute to the late Keith Moon; their performance of “Bell Boy” incorporates video footage of a 1974 performance, with Moon’s vocals dubbed in from the LP (one of the only times in Who history his vocals were heard on an album).

The Quadrophenia tour also reunites the band with production partners Eighth Day Sound, who have worked with the iconic rockers on their last three major tours. This time out they’re carrying a pair of DiGiCo SD7 desks (each running the latest MACH III software) for FOH and band monitors, plus an SD-Rack at FOH and a d&b audiotechnik J-Series PA. The audio crew is comprised of longtime Who FOH engineer Robert Collins, Simon Higgs on monitors with support from Eighth Day’s Senior Audio Engineer Mark Brnich, and sound techs Drew Marbar and Carl Popek. [Pictured: Popek, Marbar, Collins, Higgs and Brnich.]

Collins started with the band in the late 1990s-early 2000s, and has also worked with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend on their solo projects, trading tours with engineer Paul Ramsey in between tours with Eric Clapton and others. “Paul used to look after me; he was my systems tech on The Who. I made sure the team was put in place, you know, ‘cause an English band should have an English engineer—or British, I should say. I’m Welsh, though. So here I am back. They wanted to get me back for this, and luckily it worked out timing-wise with the schedule. It’s worked out with Eric so I can go do that as well this year.”

A relative newcomer to the SD7, Collins is certainly no stranger to DiGiCo (he’s an early D5 adopter and part of the DiGiCo family). Collins says he wouldn’t part with his trusty D5 until this tour. “She’s been really good to me. Y’know? Obviously, I’ve grown up with the D5, so I was like, ‘I’ll just stay on my D5, thank you very much.’ I wasn’t ready to go to the SD7 until I knew we had the new racks… and honestly I couldn’t justify going to an SD7 working with a four-piece (like Clapton) playing blues and such, you know? I mean, that thing can run a small country, can’t it?! But for this tour, it seemed like it was time.”

Right out of the gate, he was floored by the SD7’s sonics. “It just sounds great, doesn’t it? And the biggest thing for me personally with digital desks is, I’m old-school. I come from the old analog school. I feel like I’m a part of the band. I learned the music. I’m into the music. I do the music. I know what everybody plays, what everybody does. That’s my thing. I’m not into the technical side. I just want a bass drum to sound like a bass drum. I want the piano to sound like a piano. And if you don’t get a feeling off a desk… I find that this console is musical. I feel musical on it. I feel as if I’m doing something on it. Not to mention any names, but there are other digital desks and I don’t get anything out of them. It’s like working a laptop, for God’s sake! That’s one thing about all the boys at DiGiCo: they came from the old school. They knew what we wanted. They spoke to engineers. But they didn’t just speak to them like every other company; they listened to them.

“I think DiGiCo consoles are the best out there. What you can do with this one is way beyond me. I don’t need to go down that line. Don’t tell James [Gordon, DiGiCo’s managing director], but I’m still not using Snapshots! I still do it all myself; I like to do it myself. I want to be part of it. I want to switch the guitar on when it’s supposed to be on. I feel part of it, and that’s what I want to feel. I don’t think in the digital domain.”

Monitor engineer Simon Higgs presides over the other SD7 at stage left, managing approximately 112 inputs for IEMs and such for the nine-piece band. He’s also a veteran Who member, starting in ’98 with Townshend on his Lifehouse project. He’s a diehard DiGiCo engineer, having also used the consoles since their release a decade ago.

“It’s the only digital console that I really care to use and the only one I really like,” Higgs explains. “I used a D5 with the Los Angeles band Sparks when they did 21 albums in 21 shows back in 2007, and that was the first time I really used the D5 for an extended tour… 150-odd songs, all programmed in. The Who’s monitor mix was analog for a long time until it started getting bigger and bigger and we realized we had to move to digital. So we started using two D5s, but that filled up quick. We currently are using an analog console for Pete, who has his own operator, and I look after the rest of the band on the SD7.”

With nearly 112 channels of odds and sods, Higgs says he has a lot going on managing the band’s in-ears, a few random wedges around the stage and submixing stems for Townshend’s mix. “My desk is pretty full; 112 channels and they’re pretty much filled up. A lot of outputs. I’ve still got some floor monitors up there. I’m mixing down to the analog console as well, which is just a 16-channel desk, so I’ll mix all the drums, drum floor monitors, drum sub, floor shakers [drum thumpers] under his seat…”

Having everyone on in-ears has made his job a bit easier. “Roger decided that in order for The Who to work again, he had to get used to in-ears… he couldn’t have a half-dozen wedges all around him like he used to. So he’s gone through the whole process of getting used to in-ears. They’re all on Jerry Harveys, and that’s really enabled the band to work again. Pete’s still got conventional fill monitors; he’s got four around him, just split up, one doing vocal, a stereo pair doing something else, and there’ll be acoustic guitar in the wedge, and then a monitor behind him that has sound effects for ‘Quadrophenia’ or the loops that are in ‘Who Are You’ and ‘Baba O’Riley.’”

For effects, he’s primarily using what’s in the console, save a few outboard pieces, including a Lexicon PCM 60 for the snare drum, and a Bricasti M7 reverb for Roger’s vocal that he says “is absolutely amazing.”

‘Amazing’ is often the tone of reviews streaming in from critics and fans, not only heralding the show but also the durability of both Townshend and Daltrey. Their “My Generation” anthem notwithstanding (”I hope I die before I get old”), the founding members did just that (both are now in their late ‘60s) and if the Quadrophenia tour is any indication, they still have a lot of rockin’ left to go. As for engineer Robert Collins, it’s a full-circle homecoming of sorts, having grown up on their music.

“I got a good memory on me,” he laughs. “It’s very short. But The Who have been part of my musical thing. Them, the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks—that’s what I grew up on. In fact, I was pissed off at them, actually. As a teen, I queued up in the top rank in Swansea in Wales to see The Who, and they didn’t fucking turn up! I was pissed off. They had a fight or something. This was the ‘60s. But it’s kind of funny… Who’d have thought that when I was growing up trying to play in little bands and not very good, listening to all these great singers, that I’d end up engineering for many of them?”

DiGiCo Takes Top Honors At GRAMMY® & Academy Awards

UK manufacturer DiGiCo held the coveted position as console provider for the second year in a row at the annual GRAMMY® Awards this year. The 55th installment of “Music’s Biggest Night” was overall a bigger show musically, with 20 acts on the schedule, up from 2012′s 18. As the show’s live performances have expanded, so has its audio footprint. With audio production facilitated by ATK AudioTek (and consoles provided by Hi-Tech Audio), the digital desk count handing both music and production included five DiGiCo SD Series desks: four SD7s (an upgrade from last year’s SD10s) and the addition of an SD5, as well as 11 SD Racks (up from last year’s six).

At the MusiCares event the Friday night preceding the GRAMMYs, engineer George Squires manned a DiGiCo SD7 with four DigiRacks at monitors to provide 170 inputs to 28 stereo ear mixes and 30 wedge mixes. Delicate Productions handled the audio production. On the 85th installation of the prestigious Academy Awards, ATK provided audio production with a Peterson-designed system comprised of three SD Racks, an SD5 at FOH helmed by Pat Baltzel and an SD10 run by Mike Parker. Hi-Tech Audio provided console support for all these events.

The GRAMMY and Oscar systems were both designed by ATK’s FOH Tech Jeff Peterson. On the GRAMMY event, Peterson also served as the system tech with assistance from Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher. The GRAMMY audio team again included consultant Ron Reaves mixing all of the live performance elements at FOH on an SD7, and ATK’s VP of Special Events Mikael Stewart on an SD5 managing all the nonmusical production assets. At stage right (“A”) and left (“B”), respectively, Tom Pesa and Mike Parker facilitated artist monitor mixes using a pair of SD7s (with an additional “guest” rig used for sets by Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars). [Pictured LtoR: ATK FOH Tech Jeff Peterson; Leslie Anne Jones, The Recording Academy®, Producers & Engineers Wing®; Production Mixer Mikael Stewart, ATK; Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher, Audio Consultant; FOH music mixer Ron Reaves (seated).]

“Overall, we have a massive total of 276 mic preamps and 176 outputs distributed between five consoles and 11 DiGiCo SD Racks,” explains Peterson. “Those four consoles, plus eight SD Racks, are on one optical loop, each connected to one of ATK’s 56-pair splitters. The guest monitor SD7 console is on its own optical loop, with three more SD racks. Also new is JBL’s newest line array, the Pro VTX V25 3-way system (powered by Crown ITech 1200 HD amps).

“In addition, we have more than 50 wireless microphones this year,” he adds, “which take up an entire splitter. We have almost an entire splitter dedicated to what we call high-level items, which are things like playback from the truck, Pro Tools lines, all of the production elements, and the podium mics (that are not for use with a band) are down the fourth splitter. The first two splitters are dedicated just for band inputs, one for stage right and one for stage left. This year we’re using AES outputs directly from SD racks in three locations to drive the amplifiers to the PA system. So it’s a whole digital system path again. What we eliminated was a second optical loop just to do the amplifiers. So everything is on one optical loop, with the SD Racks and the consoles.”

The transformer splits themselves are where the copper stops, Peterson explains, and are the dividing line between the live PA side with the DiGiCo SD racks and the trucks. From the ATK splitters, the signals go on to all of the different head amps: one to the two recording M3/Music Mix Mobile trucks, one to the main Denali broadcast truck, and one to the head amps for the DiGiCo consoles. “From there, it’s all various flavors of fiber, whether it’s Optocore to us or MADI to the M3 truck, or Hydra to the Denali. Once it leaves the transformer split, it’s pre-amped and converted to digital from there on. So the inputs come from the stage and then they are split up and sent to multiple destinations. The broadcast truck gets all of the raw microphones the same way we do. They do their mix, package it together with the broadcast items, the show elements and the production elements and send it out for broadcast. They also generate a lot of signals that we take out here: all of the videotaped packages, all of the music play-ons and play-offs, any band’s Pro Tools backing tracks—all of those are generated and routed from the truck through another splitter system to the rest of our consoles.”

“The SD system worked flawlessly,” sums up FOH production mixer Mikael Stewart. “The flexibility of the SD5 and SD7 are exactly what is needed for a show like the GRAMMY Awards.”

“I have continued my love affair with the DiGiCo console,” adds Ron Reaves, “having done quite a few gigs this last year on both the SD10 and the SD7. We started using these last year, and decided that this is all we wanted to use moving forward. This year, both monitor mixers switched from SD10s to SD7s, and that worked out great. The SD7 continues to be the best tool for my particular job at the GRAMMYs, and helped contribute to another great-sounding show out at FOH. I’ve particularly enjoyed the new dynamics package, and feel that between the new de-essers, and the dynamic EQ (a gift from the sound gods), that there’s no vocal ‘problem’ that can’t be tamed with this console. I’ve enjoyed some of the best vocal sounds I’ve ever gotten, too, thanks to this console.

“This year, there was a bit of extra pressure put on us at FOH to get mixes together faster in soundcheck,” Ron continues. “The demand has grown to have the first pass of a song be as close to the full band sound as possible and the console has helped me to accomplish this with the use of presets. I use a lot of presets and pre-dial pretty much everything so I’m never starting from scratch when we start rehearsing a band. That’s been a very helpful tool to have. The addition of the “presentation performances,” where a performer does a song and then introduces another performer, was also tricky and another place where the console excelled. I wrote separate snapshots in order to switch between these segments instantaneously and that worked great. For example, Hunter Hayes performed out on that dish stage in the middle of audience. When he finished, he immediately introduced Carrie Underwood—and bang, snapshot change. The console did what we hoped it would do with no glitches in the audio. In the time it took the audience to applaud, the console had already switched and we were ready to rock on the next act. It was really cool. That was a great example of how quickly this console can switch snapshots and turn on a dime.”

After two years of working on a DiGiCo SD10, the process of building snapshots was made much easier for engineer Tom Pesa, who handled the inner monitor workings on an SD7 this year on the A-Stage at stage right. “It begins with a strong template,” he explains, “a snapshot that is laid out to accommodate anything that comes down the pike with 10 A-stage acts to soundcheck. The common functionality between the DiGiCo platforms means that session structuring, labeling, grouping, building macros, etc., is all very familiar. I had only two days to dive into my SD7 on-site and plan a basic template based on the volumes of band info. Each act provided input lists, band plots, monitor layouts and in-ear requirements. Once my fellow monitor crew created the plan on monitor wedge quantities and in-ear assignments, I added that info to the input list to create the snapshot for that band. Each act is so different when it comes to instrumentation, microphone type, mono mixes and stereo mixes, but the ability to truly customize each snapshot with every parameter being specific to that act means that almost any request can be satisfied. If time permits I try and get ahead of the game by focusing on individual processing for each input, high-passing, EQ and compression as well as FX presets and mix content. The availability of powerful processing onboard the SD7, including the dynamic EQ and multiband compression, allows me to keep things well contained and sonically tight, which is important, especially when creating smooth, coherent in-ear mixes. There is no doubt how good the dynamic range is with the new generation of DiGiCo consoles. I knew how good mixes sounded on SD10 and the SD7 continues this experience for me, just on a much larger and customizable platform.

“Once again this year at GRAMMYs, the entire FOH and monitor consoles were on an Optocore loop utilizing shared head amps. Monitors were in charge of band input gain and FOH was in charge of RF vocal and production mics as well as Pro Tools inputs. We have worked hard the last two years to create a system of trust when trimming each other’s gain while soundchecking, and it has worked well. Once everyone is happy with where the individual inputs of gain are, we switch to digital trim and can fine-tune our own inputs and not affect anyone else. This whole symbiotic relationship of all the mixers at the GRAMMY Awards is why session saving, snapshot updating and recall scope is so important, and all of us have done well in making sure everything is as it should be through soundchecks, dress rehearsal and show. All in all, the use of the DiGiCo systems at GRAMMYs continues to be a leap forward in how everyone’s mixes sound and the sheer utility of how they create those mixes.”

“Honestly, no other console is touching what DiGiCo can do right now,” declares Peterson, who, since last year’s GRAMMYs, has also worked extensively on SD5s and SD7s for a host of award and music shows, from the Oscars to The X Factor. “You can’t network the other consoles the way you can the DiGiCos, so there’s really no other game in town. On shows like these, half the engineers coming in that we work with are jealous that they don’t have a DiGiCo, and the other half come in and are thankful that we’re using them now.”

Photographs courtesy of The Recording Academy®/Wireimage.com © 2013.

SYMETRIX JUPITER APP BASED TURN-KEY DSP AND ARC-WEB KEY TO SPEAKER CONTROL AT UTAH’S LIBBY GARDNER HALL

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – FEBRUARY 2013: The University of Utah’s Libby Gardner Hall is large enough to comfortably accommodate a 200-member choir, an 80-piece orchestra, and nearly 700 audience members. It is acoustically and aesthetically stunning, with a warm, rich reverb conveyed by wood panel walls arranged in a spectacular geometry. For years, the school struggled to provide the hall with sound reinforcement for spoken word, solos, and non-classical musical forms that matched the splendor of unamplified instruments. That struggle ended with the purchase of a high-end K-Array mobile PA system, but the fact that it would be placed at different areas of the stage for different types of events meant that well-balanced equalization in one location would be unbalanced at another. A simple, cost-effective, and equally high-fidelity Symetrix Jupiter 12 DSP solved that problem by allowing straightforward selection of different equalization curves from authorized users’ smartphones and other Internet-connected devices via Symetrix’ ARC-WEB user interface.

“I joined the University of Utah faculty twelve years ago,” said David M. Cottle, music tech specialist and director of the electronic music and recording studios. “I was responsible for recording and sound reinforcement in our three performance halls. The first week I was here, I disconnected the existing speakers in Libby Gardner Hall, our premier performance space. The hall is built for acoustic performance, and the installed speakers did no more than muddy the speaker’s voice. From then on, we made announcements without a microphone until we could find a better solution. We started to investigate phased arrays, which have a wide horizontal, but narrow vertical pattern. The first system we tried was a clear improvement: extremely low feedback, even distribution, clear response across the spectrum, and very little reflection. But it was also flawed. It had weak low end, was noisier than I had hoped, and proved bulky to move.”

Salt Lake City-based Performance Audio stepped in with a better solution: a K-Array KK 200 full-range tower, KK S50 subwoofer, with KA 40 and KA 10 amplifiers, all in a stereo set. “As expected, the K-Array system has the same positive properties as the previous phased array,” said Cottle. “Feedback is practically non-existent, and the dispersion is even and horizontal. The system controls the reverb in the room very well. But in addition, the K-Array subs are solid enough for occasional student talent shows and the system is quieter, and easier to move.”

When the new system would be used as the primary source of sound for a performance, it would have to be located toward the front edge of the stage. In contrast, when the system would be used to augment a mostly-acoustic performance, it would be located behind the performers. “When located behind the performers, the sound is less like a PA and more like a richer, blended ensemble,” explained Cottle. “For example, a mic’d piano with orchestral accompaniment isn’t noticeably louder. It can simply be heard with all the other instruments.” However, the system gets a pronounced low-frequency buildup when located behind the performers.

“By providing the school with a Symetrix Jupiter 12 app based turn-key DSP, we were able to give them the EQ curves to match the two locations, along with the flexibility to accommodate other positions should they need them in the future,” said Jake Peery, system design and installation expert with Performance Audio and the individual responsible for designing Libby Gardner Hall’s new reinforcement system. The system currently uses eight of the Jupiter 12’s twelve inputs and two of its four outputs. Many of the inputs combine using Symetrix’ sophisticated automixing algorithm, and mixer inputs accommodate larger, multi-mic performances. A hardwired Symetrix ARC-2e wall panel remote controls the volumes of two Sennheiser G3 wireless microphones used for announcements and spoken-word events.

In addition, Peery used Symetrix ARC-WEB to give Cottle and other authorized users control of the system from their smartphones, iPads, or other Internet-connected devices. “They can select the proper EQ curves for the loudspeaker locations and control the volumes of the wireless microphones or other inputs right from their phones,” said Peery. “They really liked that idea.” Since the new system’s installation, Cottle has received numerous compliments from faculty, students, and audience members. “The other night, we mixed a jazz band, which is one of the most difficult ensembles to control, even without a PA,” he said. “The Director said that it was the best the band had ever sounded in Libby Gardner Hall. The solos were present, but not piercing, and the rhythm section sounded homogeneous.”

ABOUT SYMETRIX Symetrix engineers high-end professional audio solutions, specializing in DSP hardware and software. Symetrix products are distributed worldwide, and designed and manufactured in the U.S. at the Seattle area headquarters. Since 1976, customers have enjoyed the benefits of Symetrix’ independent ownership and management. For more information on Symetrix professional audio products, please visit www.symetrix.co or call +1 (425) 778-7728.

MARLAN BARRY RECORDS TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN AT A MULTI-MILLION STUDIO AND THEN WITH A METRIC HALO ULN-8 AND MACBOOK PRO

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 2013: Nicholas Phan is one of the most exciting new voices in classical music today, as evidenced by the tremendous praise heaped on him from just about every media outlet in the country. He frequently records with New York-based sound engineer Marlan Barry, and the two worked together on 2011’s critically-acclaimed Winter Words. The New York Times flagged it as one of the best classical recordings of 2011. The duo joined forces to record 2012’s Still Falls the Rain, which yet again made The Times’ “best of” list. Of course, the talent and artistry of Phan and his fellow musicians, together with the sonic vision of Barry, deserve the credit for those critical acknowledgements, but it’s interesting to note the distinction between the gear used to record those two albums. For Winter Words, Barry piloted the console at a multi-million dollar recording studio, whereas for Still Falls the Rain, he piloted a MacBook Pro interfaced with a single-rack-space Metric Halo ULN-8. Neither session was a compromise.

In celebration of the centennial of his birth, Still Falls The Rain is an album of songs and chamber pieces by composer Benjamin Britten. Philadelphia Orchestra principal horn player Jennifer Montone, pianist Myra Huang, and Harpist Sivan Magen joined the amazing young tenor, and the actor Alan Cumming complemented the music with a reading of Edith Sitwell’s poetry. Avie Records released the recording, which took place within the exquisite and often-recorded acoustics of SUNY Purchase’s Recital Hall C.

In contrast both to the earlier studio recording and to Barry’s previous habit of lugging a studio’s worth of equipment to location sessions, the engineer traveled light for the two-day engagement in Recital Hall C. A MacBook Pro coupled to a pair of Avastor external hard drive served as the recording medium, and Barry’s Genelec monitors provided a familiar reference. Apart from a simple custom talkback system, the only other equipment consisted of microphones, stands, cables, and the Metric Halo ULN-8. “It was very minimal,” laughed Barry. “I’m into minimal these days.”

Four Sennheiser and Schoeps omni-directional microphones provided primary pickup of the musicians and their interaction with the acoustical environment. Depending on the composition and the instrumentation, Barry moved the microphones around to strike a perfect balance between direct pickup and imaging. A pair of Neumann mics covered the room’s nine-foot concert grand Hamburg Steinway D piano. For one of the more essential components of the recording session, Barry also used two Gunter Wagner U-47 tube microphones to capture Phan’s incomparable voice, as well as a stereo pair on the harpist.

“This was the first time I used Wagner’s U-47 without an external preamp,” Barry explained. “I went directly out of the power supply into the Metric Halo ULN-8. I wanted to capture the detailed sound of that mic and its unique tube saturation, without imposing any other circuitry’s coloration on it. Nick’s voice is so light and airy and beautiful – that mic and his voice form a magical combination. Sure, the ULN-8 has circuitry of its own, but I’ve found that unless I’m intentionally using Metric Halo’s ‘Character’ algorithms, the ULN-8’s signal path is refined, short, and transparent.”

Barry cites the Metric Halo ULN-8’s stable integration with his MacBook Pro via Metric Halo’s MIO Console software as a critical component in fostering confidence in the stability of his sessions. Despite using the Metric Halo on a near daily-basis, he has never had so much as a tiny hiccup in its performance. “Conducting a recording session with the rock-solid ULN-8 not only gives me peace of mind, it affects the musicians as well,” he said. “A reliable, high-quality recording setup inspires confidence. It is an amazing testament to Metric Halo that I have never had a single issue with my ULN-8 or its performance on my laptop or desktop.”

When not in session, Barry uses a Metric Halo ULN-8 as the primary interface at his studio. While useful for voiceovers or overdubbing, it more commonly acts as the digital-to-analog converter that allows him to monitor his editing, mixing, and mastering work in Pyramix, Pro Tools, or Logic. “That’s really the last check before a recording goes public,” he said. “Truthfulness is paramount, and I’ve learned that I can trust what I’m hearing through the ULN-8.”

ABOUT METRIC HALO Now based in the sunny city of Safety Harbor, Florida, Metric Halo provides the world with high-resolution metering, analysis, recording and processing solutions with award-winning software and future-proof hardware.

www.mhlabs.com

Four DiGiCo Consoles Are Manna From Heaven

In 2012, a DiGiCo SD7 was installed in Jiguchon Church in the South Korea’s Bundang New City. Such was its success that four more of the company’s mixers have now been installed in another church in the city, demonstrating how DiGiCo mixing consoles are making significant inroads into the country’s house of worship market.

Featuring a state-of-the-art technical specification, the new Manna Methodist Church has a seating capacity of 4,000, with around 10,000 worshippers attending each week. Services feature a live band, choir, organ and orchestra, so the audio system needed a high input channel count, as well as facilities to mix live audio for broadcast on its own Internet channel.

The church consulted DiGiCo’s South Korean distributor Soundus Corporation, who supplied and installed an SD7 console at Front of House, with four SD-Racks and an SD8-24 to take care of the live broadcast mix. In addition, Soundus supplied an SD9 for a mobile audio system and an SD11 for the church video editing suite.

“The decision to use DiGiCo consoles was based on the SD7’s ability to handle more than 200 input channels, the dual engine offering stability, reliable redundancy and excellent sound quality,” says Soundus sales manager Byung Chul Park. “The church also needed additional mixing consoles and it was an obvious decision to stay with the same manufacturer.”

Utilising an Optocore fibre optic network, this solution made for a seamless solution throughout the church.

“The system is very versatile and is easily expandable for any future requirements,” concludes Byung Chul. “The church is very happy with it.”

Yamaha Commercial Audio Provides Sound System for Concert Celebrating Company’s 125th Anniversary

BUENA PARK, Calif.—Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. (YCAS) played a major role in parent company’s 125th anniversary celebration, providing the sound system used at a concert held at the Disney’s Hyperion Theatre during the NAMM Show in Anaheim. YCAS managed all live audio production equipment requirements including the design and implementation of a large-scale Dante network from inputs to speakers and were on hand for assistance to guest artist engineers.

The concert, which featured performances by Amy Grant; Chaka Khan; Dave Grusin; Earth, Wind & Fire; David Foster; Dave Koz; Michael McDonald; Sarah McLachlan; Toto; Lucy Schwartz; new artist LEOGUN; the USC Marching Band; and house band, under the musical direction of Nathan East.

Three Yamaha CL5 digital consoles were used at front of house (one for the orchestra, one for the house band, and one for guest bands) for a total of 150 inputs, two CL5s were used at monitors, two DME64N digital mix engines were used for Dante Network Bridging and FOH speaker system processing, NXAMP4x4s for amplification with NX-DT104 Dante cards, NEXO RS18 and S118 subwoofers, NEXO PS10 speakers for front fill, NEXO 45N-12 stage monitors, LS600 and DXS15 subwoofers for drum mix subs, and, for flown for the first time in the U.S., the new NEXO STM line array used as FOH Mains.

“The new CL5 console is amazing,” states front of house engineer Bryan Lenox, who mixed many of the guest artists as well as the house band. “The three CL5s were linked together and talking to one another during a very complex show. We had a multitude of artists, background singers, multiple pianos, horns, percussionists, a multi-track recording truck, and a live broadcast stream of audio and video. The console is very user friendly and quick to get around; the flexibility, touch screen, and color-coding groups of faders are very helpful especially when having to make quick moves. The console routing is great, and although you can do just about anything with the routing, the layout can even be customized by the engineer.” Lenox said the Neve and Pultec plug-ins sounded great on kick, snare, bass, and vocals. “The new NEXO STM rig sounded unbelievable and very rich sounding while retaining detail, clarity, and punch. It was very easy to get a great sound with the combination of the consoles and the STM.”

The night’s crescendo, however, was Sir Elton John who ended the concert with an amazing five-song set. A historical evening for Yamaha Pianos as John played a Disklavier reproducing piano onstage, accompanied by a 60-piece orchestra, as his actual piano keystrokes were faithfully played, note for note, in real time (via MIDI data) on remote Disklavier pianos all over the world. He and the orchestra were visible on adjacent monitors in perfect sync with the remote piano performance, and even fans from around the world without a Disklavier were able to witness the event via a live streaming feed.

“I enjoyed using the CL, in fact, when we have solo shows with Elton similar to the Yamaha event, it will be my desk of choice,” states Matt Herr, front of house engineer for Elton John. “I’m a fan of Yamaha desks and have been for many years. The product reliability and global service is second to none.” Herr has been using a PM5K when the band performs with John. “The CL is very user friendly and sounded really good in my opinion. The Neve inserts sounded fantastic; I used one of the compressors on Elton’s vocal. Normally, I use an outboard compressor, but this one worked quite well. As far as the NEXO STM line array, it sounded nice and smooth, and I’d like to get my hands on it with the band and really drive it to see what it can do. It seems like it would be a good large line array as opposed to some of the smaller ones out there.”

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Photo 1: Matt Herr, Photo 2: Bryan Lenox

About Yamaha CAbout Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.:About Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.:
Celebrating 125 years of Passion and Performance, and 25 years in the manufacturer of high quality digital audio consoles, Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. (YCAS) provides a full line of integrated professional audio products offering complete systems solutions for the broadcast, sound reinforcement/installed sound, touring, commercial recording, and post production markets. With the addition of NEXO to the product line, the company remains the official U.S. and Canadian distributor for all NEXO speaker models. YCAS offers comprehensive in-house and field product training for its customers, a dedicated dealer network, and 24/7 technical support.

METRIC HALO’S ULN-8 CONVERTER PERFECT FOR PRODUCER DOC MCKINNEY

SAFETY HARBOR, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 2013: Veteran producer Doc McKinney has worked with a wide range of innovative musicians, including Drake, Florence & the Machine, Santigold and most recently, The Weeknd. A close friend and accomplished mix engineer turned Doc on to the clear, faithful preamplification and conversion of the Metric Halo ULN-8. Doc now uses the ULN-8 for most of his audio production work.

“A good friend initially told me about the ULN-8, and when I heard it, I was blown away,” said Doc. “Shortly after that I went to a Santigold show that sounded incredible. Afterwards, her musical director, Ian Longwell, told me they were using the Metric Halo ULN-8 I/O for everything and thankfully put me in touch with them. I absolutely love the ULN-8’s depth and clarity. I feel like I can hear everything. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s really true: there is a night and day difference; the improvement is not at all subtle.”

Doc used the ULN-8 to take The Weeknd’s debut label release, Trilogy, to the next level, both sonically and emotionally. Trilogy is comprised of remixed versions of three lo-fi “mix tapes” that were originally freely available on the Internet. However, the three bonus tracks included were all recorded on the ULN-8. “This started as a lo-fi project, and of course that has its own charm,” said Doc. “But it’s nice to open the songs up and to bring them to a higher level sonically.”

Doc has integrated the use of his Metric Halo ULN-8 into all of his production work. “I work with many different types of musicians, from singer-songwriters – who tend to have everything mapped out in advance – to urban pop or electronic artists, where recording is integral to the writing process,” he said. “The Weeknd is a very fast and very prolific writer. He comes up with a lot of stuff right off the top of his head. Whatever the situation, it’s important to have a transparent and flexible recording process that inspires, rather than kills, creativity. And when the quality of the recording is lacking, it can lead to other production decisions, which is poor compensation for an element that isn’t doing what it should be doing.”

With over 100,000 albums sold in its first week out, Trilogy’s success speaks to the power of great production. After all, everything except its three bonus tracks was freely available on the Internet in a more lo-fi form. “The overwhelming consensus is that ‘Trilogy’ takes The Weeknd to the next level,” concluded Doc.

ABOUT METRIC HALO Now based in the sunny city of Safety Harbor, Florida, Metric Halo provides the world with high-resolution metering, analysis, recording and processing solutions with award-winning software and future-proof hardware.

www.mhlabs.com

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball Delivers With DiGiCo

The perennially touring Lady Gaga is at it again. The five-time Grammy winner is in the midst of the Born This Way Ball tour, a seemingly endless succession of dates that will hit virtually every corner of the globe for more than a year—or longer. The elaborately gothic-inspired production was birthed in Seoul, Korea, in April of 2012 and has received glowing reviews (“the best live show you will see this year,” per the UK Sun newspaper) and was honored as Major Tour of the Year at the Pollstar Concert Industry Awards.

Eighth Day Sound is again at the helm of the production, coordinating multiple universal stadium systems that at times are air-freighted with the stage set, leapfrogging across several continents to meet the tour.

“Each tour system is comprised of two DiGiCo SD7 Mach III systems at FOH outfitted with Waves and two Waves servers, with one running on a UPS for redundancy,” explains Eighth Day Chief Technology Officer Jason Kirschnick. “A 192kHz DiGiCo SD Rack at FOH is loaded with 32 analog ins/32 analog outs, as well as 24 AES ins/outs for local I/O. At the stage end for FOH are two more 192 SD racks loaded with 48 analog ins, eight AES ins, eight AES and eight analog outs. We are deploying an Optocore switcher so there are three fiber loops for FOH—one loop of all three racks for FOH is connected to a Route 66 Optocore fiber router device. The primary console is in a loop with the two respective engines to the Route 66 as well as the second SD7 at FOH in a loop with the Route 66. This enables us with a push of one button to move the entire rack loop between the two FOH consoles for support acts and dual redundancy. At the monitor end is another SD7 running two Waves 9 servers (with one running on a UPS). There are two more 192kHz SD Racks at monitors loaded with 48 analog, eight digital inputs, 40 analog and eight digital outputs each.”

The PA system is d&b audiotechnik, comprised of 96 d&B J Series made up of a combination of J8 and J12s (4 x hangs; 24 boxes deep), 32 d&B Flow J subs (4 x hangs of 8 deep), 48 d&B B2 subs on the ground (stacked on each side of the stage and along the front of the stage), 12 d&B Q7 front fills (spread across the front of the stage), with a stadium delay system consisting of 4 x hangs of 12 d&B V8 and V12s. [pictured: Chris Rabold FOH with Eighth Day Sound Chief Technology Officer/Project Manager, Jason Kirschnick]

“The system is all-digital at 96kHz,” adds Kirschnick, “with a complete analog backup comprised of Dolby Lakes and LM44s with wireless control of the complete system. The d&B amplifiers are all monitored and controlled remotely through the entire system as well.”

The five-piece band consists of bass, two guitars, a sizable drum kit and a lot of stereo bass and keyboard elements, plus a programmer who supplies various stems. There are 70-some inputs at FOH, including talkbacks and audience mics and Lady Gaga’s various headset and handheld mics.

“I came onboard between legs of the tour,” explains Chris Rabold, whose previous gigs include stints with Beyoncé, The Fray and Widespread Panic. “I knew I’d only have a couple days of rehearsal before the first show so I went ahead and put a plan into effect that would ensure that I’d be as close to show-ready as I could be once we hit Bulgaria, the site of the first show on the second leg of the tour. I spec’d an SD7 for me at FOH above all else for its sonic quality. It has a million and one great features but at the end of the day, it’s the sound of the desk and the sound of my mixes through the desk that matter the most. The DiGiCo consoles simply sound better than anything else out there. There are several strong platforms in the digital console realm, but this is the one. Period. [pictured: FOH Tech/Recording Engineer Wayne Bacon; FOH Engineer, Chris Rabold; Systems Engineer, Mike "Stacker" Hackman]

“I built the console offline on my computer and sent the file to the guys at Eighth Day, who prepped the desk. From there I was able to get on the console in Los Angeles for a few days, where I worked with the tour programmer on some tracks. The desk then bounced back to the Eighth Day shop in Cleveland where I worked some more on it, concentrating on some of the finer details with routing, system integration, etc. By the time we made it to load-in, I had a basic gain structure in hand, my EQs were at a decent starting point, I had a good idea of what dynamic processing I needed, snapshots written for each song, effects laid out… Basically every last detail was in place before I even saw the band—and this was on a show with a pretty sizable number of inputs. All of the work I was able to do beforehand was absolutely invaluable.”

Rabold cites the flexibility of the snapshot section as one of the main features of the desk that aids in his daily workflow. “With a big pop show like this that is scripted very carefully, the goal is consistency and more or less perfection every single night. I don’t think we’ll ever get the perfection part of that equation down, but we can sure get the consistency through the use of snapshots. The SD7 is so much more configurable than other platforms. You can tweak it snapshot by snapshot, not just globally across all snapshots because automation is and isn’t recall safe. This is tremendously helpful and keeps you from being tied to an all-or-nothing kind of mindset. For example, if I know I want to handle a bass guitar input in the traditional sense and just EQ on the fly for a few numbers, I can do that. But if I also know that by snapshot 17 I want it to have a very specific sort of treatment, I can have it where the recall safe feature comes off and suddenly that input is recalling precisely what had been written previously. It really allows you to be flexible when you need to be and by-the-book-exact when you want to go that route, all on a per-song basis.”

Asked about outboard gear, he says he’s using a combination of outboard and onboard plug-ins. “I basically use some of the same analog things I’ve used on and off for years on certain inputs just because I know they work for me. Lead vocal and drums see the outboard devices. I use the console’s onboard complements of EQ, effects and dynamics for the real nuts-and-bolts work. The overwhelming majority of the inputs see nothing but onboard processing. As far as plug-ins go, I try to use the Waves server more as an effects device. I pull a lot of delays and specialty things from there and it’s definitely a crucial part of the mix structure. I use C6s on the playback stems. A lot of times tracks can be overly bright or overly boomy for what really works live. These allow me to reshape certain frequency ranges yet keep the overall feel and intent of the tracks in place. These are my go-to problem solvers for playback stems in the live pop world. I use the Super Tap delays and H Delays as well. They sound great and can be synced to a song’s BPM. Both of these are very flexible with how you can color them and how you can manipulate individual left and right sides of a stereo delay. Very cool. I use an L2 limiter on the output of a two-track mix as well. This is very handy when I know a board mix might be taken from the night and then played back by the artist right next to fully mastered album mixes. I want my mixes to sound competitively loud with anything they might be referenced to. You never know. Little stuff like that can go a long way toward keeping everyone happy.”

Rabold says he multitracks nightly, mainly just for virtual soundchecking and to tweak his mixes during downtime. “When time permits, I can play back a show and tweak things in the mix. I do rely on this ability and have for several years now. Soundchecking in an empty room can be pointless. Listening to a mix with nearfields or headphones that have a response that you’re familiar with can be way more helpful when it comes to listening critically and judging what’s needed in a mix. We go standard MADI out of the desk and convert that to optical MADI via an RME MADI Bridge. From there the signal goes into SSL Delta-Links, where it is converted to HD so that we can record to Pro Tools. Pro Tools 9 is running on a MacPro with a ridiculous amount of memory due to the staggering track count. Because there are so many tracks and because we’re recording at 96kHz, we split the audio files across three SSD drives.”

Ramon Morales, who’s mixed monitors previously for Beyoncé as well as other A-list artists including Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige and Pitbull, handles monitors for the band members, all of whom are on Sennheiser 2000 series IEM systems (with JH Audio JH16 custom in-ears), as well as the audio techs. He oversees a total of 12 stereo mixes, flown side fills, bass and drum subs, two mono mixes (for drum subs and thumpers on bass and drums) and several stereo FX sends. [pictured: Monitor Engineer, Ramon Morales; Audio Crew, Lee-Fox-Furnel; Audio Crew Chief/Monitor, Tech Klocker]

“Everything about the console is great,” he enthuses. “Sonically, it’s one of the best consoles out there and definitely my favorite. I can have as many ins and outs as I need or want, and having the backup console mirrored—as well as all the other features it has—what else would you want? I’ve found the Macro feature to be very useful. We’ve set many of them up to do specific things for the show and no matter where I am on the console, I can access what I need on the macro section without having to scroll through aux sends or layers and banks. Our show intercom system is also routed through the monitor console, so the techs that need show comms in their mix can have it and plenty of talkback mics using the macros.

“I’m also using many of the built-in effects including Waves to add different colors to the mix. My favorite has to be the SSL channel and the C4, which I mainly use for my vocal inputs, since the console itself sounds great. I just use them to enhance what is already there. The only outboard gear we’re using is a TC Electronics 6000 reverb system for a vocal verb. It’s a Gold Plate and one of my favorites for vocals; it’s very smooth and cuts through just enough to hear it and not overpower anything else going on in the mix. I also use it for a drum verb.”

The console’s ability to receive a video feed aids both Morales and Rabold in managing the spontaneous stage antics of the mercurial artist. “This is crucial when mixing monitors from under the stage,” says Morales, “and having limited sightlines. Having a program feed straight into the console really helps.”

“I barely even look at the stage now,” adds Rabold. “This especially comes in handy when I have to watch for the moments where she yanks off her headset mic and goes for the handheld. There’s no cue for that and being able to see it on a screen two feet in front of my face sure beats trying to see what she’s doing 150 feet away across a sea of fans!”

A great deal of time and planning was invested prior to launching the multiple systems in the field, to ensure the production ran as smoothly as possible with no margin of error. “I personally spent weeks researching and testing the fiber loops and to failsafe the redundancy on as many things as possible,” Kirschnick reflects. “I did this research and testing at our shop in Cleveland, and a great deal of time was spent making sure everything was running smoothly weeks before the tour embarked on its first show last spring. And now, with over six months of time logged with the systems in the field, the band and crew think the console and sound system sound incredible and unmatched.”

Eighth Day tour crew:
Chris Rabold: Foh Engineer
Ramon Morales: Monitor Engineer
Dan Klocker: Audio Crew Chief / Monitor Tech
Wayne Bacon: Audio Crew
Christopher Bellamy: Audio Crew
Bill Flugan: RF Tech
Lee Fox-Furnell: Audio Crew
Mike “Stacker” Hackman: Systems Engineer
James La Marca: Show Coms / Audio Tech
Matt Strakis: Audio Crew

Blue Man Group Launches New Vegas Production With DiGiCo In The Mix

The creative forces of Blue Man Group (BMG) have been working for two years to bring an all-new production to the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. This international entertainment phenomenon—one of many adaptations around the globe from Berlin to Boston—comprises a trio of blue men and an electrifying combination of music and inventive technology celebrating the more

WHEELER BROTHERS OUTFIT TEXAS STUDIO WITH A 32-CHANNEL API 1608

AUSTIN, TEXAS – JANUARY 2013: A notorious musical group has chosen an API 32-channel 1608 to outfit their unique studio in Texas. The Wheeler Brothers, a five-piece band hailing from Austin, Texas, plays heartfelt, soul-bending Southern rock suffused with the welcoming twang of indie country. The band works hard, playing a show roughly two out of every three days, and it has never played a hometown gig that was not completely sold-out. Their popularity has increased with the release of their debut album, Portraits, which has been met with critical acclaim. Summoning superhuman energy, the Wheeler Brothers are busy writing and recording their sophomore album between live dates at an expansive personal studio in Tarpley, Texas. A 32-channel API 1608 analog console is at the heart of the process, providing engineer Craig Lawrence with authentic sound and the immediacy of real knobs and faders for every track.

The 32-channel API 1608 is loaded with plenty of time-tested API processing. Twenty API 550b four-band EQs, twelve API 550A three-band EQs, and four API 560 graphic EQs sweeten the band’s instruments, not the least of which are their voices. “The board has that classic API sound… it’s open and punchy,” said Lawrence. “It has a big sound that’s really appropriate for the Wheeler Brothers. The EQ is precise but not clinical, and I love the way the bandwidth narrows as I go deeper into a cut.”

The 32-channel API 1608 interfaces with a 48-channel Pro Tools HD rig and a Studer A827 two-inch tape machine. An Endless Analog CLASP system mediates their interworking by recoding to and pulling from the tape with appropriate latencies. “One of the greatest things about having thirty-two analog API channels is that everything is right there in front of me,” said Lawrence. “I can just reach over and twist an EQ knob. The guys in the band can just lean in and turn things up or down. It’s very physical and intuitive.”

ABOUT API (AUTOMATED PROCESSES, INC.) Established more than 40 years ago, Automated Processes, Inc. is the leader in analog recording gear with the Vision, Legacy Series and 1608 recording consoles, as well as its classic line of modular signal processing equipment.

www.apiaudio.com

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