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BEHIND THE SCENES, MONTRÉAL’S NEW CONCERT HALL RUNS ON SYMETRIX DSP

MONTRÉAL, CANADA – DECEMBER 2011: After long enduring a substandard concert hall, the Montréal Symphony Orchestra was recently blessed with the La Maison Symphonique de Montréal. Built to exacting acoustical standards by Tateo Nakajima of Artec Consultants, La Maison will host a wide range of musical and theatrical performances. While most of the publicity surrounding the building’s opening is justifiably centered on the stunning, state-of-the-art acoustical experience that awaits its patrons, La Maison is just as sophisticated behind the scenes. Indeed, Artec Consultants designed a comprehensive, yet intuitive paging system that will ensure that the production quality of the events at La Maison will meet the highest expectations. Philippe Beaudoin of Montréal-based A/V integrator Solotech programmed and installed the Symetrix SymNet-based signal processing and interface technology that makes the powerful and elegant paging system possible.

Six zones comprise the paging system. The lobby zone conveys pages for patrons, typically before performances and during intermission and retransmits the audio captured within the hall for late arrivers. [Basically, there's a camera that captures the video and sends to displays on all 3 levels of the lobby and a microphone gets the audio and sends to the paging system] Based on their physical layout and intended usage, there are two separate dressing room zones. The stage manager’s booth, the recordist’s booth, the house audio mixer, the follow spot operators and the lighting board op, get their own zone. The venue managers’ offices get their own separate zone. The final zone patches through the main audio mixer into the house sound system. Over three-hundred McBride 820CXB paging loudspeakers powered by two QSC CX-204V and two QSC-1202 amplifiers deliver the paging system’s output.

The linchpin of La Maison’s paging system is the Symetrix ARC-SW4 and ARC-XLR, a pair of wall panel remotes with integrator-programmable push buttons and an XLR jack. Room managers and stage managers have their own Symetrix ARC-SW4 and ARC-XLR to handle outgoing pages, and each one is configured the same way. Two mobile racks can be plugged and patched from different areas of the venue for temporary needs of traveling productions and events. Of its eight buttons, six are labeled by zone. To deliver a page, the user pushes a button for each of the zones that he or she wants to include. Then a push-to-talk button, combined with a Shure 527B microphone, executes the page. Additional features include a push-button chime, which calls patrons to the hall prior to a performance or after an intermission, and a volume control override button. Although it may find other uses, the volume override button’s intended purpose is to deliver urgent messages, such as when a musician or the conductor needs to be called from the dressing room to the stage.

An open-architecture Symetrix SymNet 8×8 DSP, supplemented by a Symetrix Control I/O, sits in the middle of the system. It ably handles the complex routing required of the system, along with all of the frequency and dynamics processing nuances that make the pages not only functional, but also pleasant. “Symetrix delivered on two essential features that make the paging system at La Maison comprehensive, easy-to-use, and cost-effective,” said Beaudoin. “First, it has a wealth of flexible logic modules, which meant that I could design the system to hang together robustly. Second, the ARC remotes convey logic controls and audio on a single Cat5 cable with very liberal distance restrictions. That made the physical installation as easy as it could possibly be.”

ABOUT SYMETRIX
Sound professionals rely upon the performance, value and reliability of audio mixing, routing and processing products from Symetrix. For more information on Symetrix professional audio products, please visit www.symetrix.co or call +1.425.778.7728.

METRIC HALO ULN-2 SURVIVES HAITIAN FIRE

CARREFOUR, HAITI – DECEMBER 2011: Bad things sometimes happen to good people. While he was working for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) as a hospital administrator in troubled Haiti, Eyal Tapiero volunteered his spare time and expertise to record some remarkably talented hip-hop artists in the community. But just days before his return to Canada, Tapiero arrived to his Haitian residence to find it engulfed in flames. His MacBook Pro was burned, his backup drive and music collection were destroyed, and his Metric Halo ULN-2 emerged from a drawer as hot as if it had been roasted in an oven.

“During my time in Haiti, I developed a close bond with many of my Haitian coworkers and found that some of them had aspirations of being hip-hop stars,” Tapiero said. “They had talent, but they couldn’t afford to get demo tapes made.” While on holiday break in Canada, Tapiero decided to take some recording equipment back to Haiti in order to do a little production work in his free time. “I wasn’t looking to do anything too complicated,” he said. “I had my MacBook Pro, Sennheiser HD 25 headphones which were invaluable for monitoring and tracking, a Shure SM57, Audix i5, CAD GXL-3000, and an M-Audio Oxygen 25 key midi controller and my trusty ULN-2 all running through Ableton Live.”

Despite less than ideal recording conditions, the raw talent and spirit of the performers were making the tracks sparkle with life. The noise of the nearby highway, the loud generator that droned day and night, and the intolerable heat could not deter those in the mesmerizing grip of musical inspiration. The Metric Halo ULN-2 and MacBook Pro were ideal. With minimal fuss and with immunity to the city’s frequent power outages, Tapiero captured some high-quality tracks. “We had two monitor mixes, full recording, and full metering all through one box running power from a laptop,” he said.

His residence fire occurred just one week shy of Tapiero fulfilling his one-year contract with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The neighbors reported that the fire raged for at least twenty-five minutes before it was subdued. “I was devastated,” Tapiero said. “I lost all my personal belongings and electronic equipment. My backup drive, which held all of our recordings and production archives, was destroyed. My music collection was destroyed. None of my friends ever got a final copy of the demo tape. It was terrible. While the ULN-2 had escaped direct contact with the flames, I thought its insides were fried for sure but I still held on to it.”

Several months later, Tapiero learned the insurance for the fire fell through. And since he was constantly traveling and without a new computer, Tapiero didn’t see the value in having the ULN-2 looked at by a professional. “But back in Canada, my brother urged me to give it another try,” he recalled. “So, I plugged the ULN-2 into to his MacBook Pro with nothing more than a FireWire cable and a dim hope. But to my surprise, it worked! We tested all the ports and functions, and everything was working as it should. I was shocked and I couldn’t believe my luck!”

Inspiration restored, Tapiero has begun saving up for a new MacBook Pro. Thanks to the intervention of Metric Halo’s Allen Rowand and the generosity of Alto Music (a Metric Halo and Apple dealer), Tapiero will get his new laptop faster than he thought.

“Tapiero wrote to thank us for making a product that could withstand the torture test of being in a burning room,” said Rowand. “After I read his letter I contacted Jon Habor at Alto to see if he could do anything to help out and he immediately agreed. It’s always terrible when someone loses their property, but it’s even worse when it happens to someone who’s doing humanitarian work. We’re happy that we can help Tapiero get back to recording.”

To find out more about the humanitarian backdrop for this story, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), interested readers can visit:
MSF Canada: http://www.msf.ca
MSF USA: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.com

ABOUT METRIC HALO
Based in New York’s Hudson Valley, 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

Dual DiGiCo SD8 Systems At ZZ Top’s 1st Annual La Grange Fest Blow Away Band’s Live Sound & Satellite Radio Broadcast

ZZ Top pulled off their very first La Grange Fest in late October, pairing the timeless Tejas boogie kings with Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and country singer Jamey Johnson. Set just outside Austin in Bee Cave, the fest—and subsequent live broadcast on Sirius XM radio—was accomplished using DiGiCo‘s SD8 at the hands of the band’s engineer, Jamie “Jamo” Rephann. Both Jamo and monitor engineer Jake Mann have been rockin’ SD8s (Mann on an SD8-24) for several years on the band’s tours with production partner Clair Brothers.



The SD8 was in place when Jamo inherited the gig from engineer buddy Toby Francis. “He’d been raving about the DiGiCo’s and I just decided to go with it,” Jamo recalled. “I had been previously using a Venue Profile for AFI and The Mars Volta, but after hearing the difference between the Avid and DiGiCo, I was sold on the SD8, and don’t want to use anything else from now on.”



But it is the sonic quality of the SD8 that induces raves from the veteran engineer. “The DiGiCo sound is the best I’ve heard on a digital desk of any make or model, and I’ve used all of them from the Yamaha MC7 to the Midas XL8. Side-by-side, the SD8 smokes them both. I didn’t touch anything but a Midas XL 4 for like 10 years, and am a huge Midas fan… but they don’t hold a candle to the DiGiCo’s. The real difference came after mixing on a Venue Profile for 2 years (with a Big Ben as an external word clock). I ran some CD’s and was amazed at the sonic quality I was hearing. Everything was in the 160-500Hz area and the ‘air’ from 8-12k was back, almost like a great analog desk! I couldn’t believe my ears and was already kicking myself for not trying this desk earlier. It has the quality of a smooth analog sounding desk and I couldn’t be happier.”



The console’s I/O section and onboard features have proved versatile for handling the various house systems the 3-piece encounters from gig to gig. “I’m using a total of 38 inputs for ZZ Top, not including the 4 audience mics. I also have as many as 8 outputs a night to drive a variety of house systems—L, R, Sub, Center, Outfill, Delays, Smart, and SMPT for video that we run through my desk to lighting. I really love the delays on the output section, available on every output, and EQ and compression if you want it. But I have to tell you, I cannot live without using the multiband compressors on a few things because of the DiGiCo sound. They’re super-transparent and really do a wonderful job with everything I use them on. I use the multibands on both channels of vocals, kick and snare channel inserts, bass group, synth bass and guitar group. Also, the regular comps and gates sound great as well. They’re very smooth and warm-sounding with no “pumping” as it were. Additionally, I do some channel splitting and panning things on the guitars. I have 3 guitar channels that I make stereo and pan all the way. I’m also using my control groups to do most of my mixing as well as the normal subbing out of kick, snare, bass, vocals, guitars, and etcetera. Then I’ll use the compressors on the subgroups if needed… it kind of melds things together, if you will, a bit better in my opinion.”
 


With space often an issue in venues and on festival dates, the SD8′s compact footprint has paid off. “It’s really comes in handy so many times when space was an issue. I just use the desk and an easy tilt so I roll up with nothing other than a Smart tablet and my desk. It has really helped me get in and out at many festivals with a minimum of space and hassle.”



The band is recorded on every gig, which serves several functions, including virtual soundchecking. “Monitor engineer and resident SD8 guru Jake Mann multitracks each show using an RME MADIface card into a MacBook Pro using Logic,” explained Jamo. “And since the band does not soundcheck at all, virtual soundcheck is KEY to my show every day.”



At the LaGrange Festival, working in tandem with the Sirius and Skynyrd’s audio crews only reinforced Jamo’s love of the DiGiCo desk. “As usual, the console preformed amazing with no issues at all. I do love the uses of delay times on the outputs as I delayed the FOH mix to radio and added Sirius’ 2 audience mics. There was an additional Profile at FOH for Skynyrd and even with the external word clock the SD8 just smoked it. I hear their engineer is now going to try the DiGiCo after hearing our show, which just destroyed his profile sonic-wise and left it sounding limp and weak! There was none of the low-mids or shimmering highs with the Profile. He ran a mic through my desk and was stunned just at the vast improvement to his voice compared to the Avid… ‘Nuff said. Not to mention, the Sirius radio guys said that it was the best sounding live performance to air over Sirius.”

Compact Manhattan Pub Gets Big Sound with Renkus-Heinz

New York, NY – December 2011… The Pig ‘n’ Whistle in midtown Manhattan is typical of many of the area’s taverns. What the narrow storefront space lacks in width, it more than makes up for in depth and height, spanning two floors and extending far to the back of the building it occupies.

“It’s only about 25 feet wide, but it’s more than 75 feet deep, and there’s an open veranda and dining area upstairs, with a high open ceiling,” says Rich Trombitas of Cornwall-based Cardone Solomon & Associates Inc.

“It’s a beautiful place,” says Trombitas. “The architecture is just stunning, the finish and detail looks wonderful. But sonically it’s very challenging. The stage is located on the second level, and particularly on Friday and Saturday nights when they have Irish bands and DJs in there, the noise level can be a real challenge.”

The main floor is served by three wall-mounted TRX82 two-way cabinets per side, with low frequency coverage augmented by a PNX212 subwoofer mounted in a closet, as well as an SGX-12S sub concealed at the end of a banquet seating area. The second level veranda and dining area is covered by six SGX61 compact two-way boxes, with a second SGX12S sub. The system was installed by Rego Park, NY-based Starview Satellite.

The system design was further complicated by architectural changes during the construction phase that limited the number of viable locations for speaker mounting. “We were originally going to go with six TRX81 cabinets per side, but we replaced them with three of the TRX82s,” says Trombitas. “It’s a longer cabinet, with two 8-inch woofers. They turned out to be perfect for the application, because you’ve got 120 degree coverage that’s uniform throughout the entire listening area. You can walk all the way from the front to the back and the coverage is nice and even.”

Despite the architectural challenges, Trombitas says the end result was a great success. “The owners love the system,” he says. “They’re getting good quality background music during the day, and high-impact performance with great vocal sound at night for DJs and live shows. It sounds great on both floors, with no feedback issues.”

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Greater Beth-El Temple Renovates with Iconyx IC Live

Omaha, NE – December 2011… The restoration of Omaha’s Greater Beth-El Temple is complete after a June 2008 arson fire set by mischievous neighborhood youths that nearly destroyed the Apostolic Christian church, popular among Omaha’s African-American community. The congregation was forced to relocate while the temple underwent a complete renovation. Left virtually an empty shell after the fire, the building required new floors, a ceiling, a stage, seating, and numerous other necessities including a sound system.

Greater Beth-El services include a full musical ensemble playing contemporary Christian and gospel music. Theatrical performances and concerts are also regular events at the temple. According to John Manhart of Direct Pro Audio LLC, the contractor who designed and installed Greater Beth-El’s new audio system, low profile looks combined with large sound capability were paramount in selecting the new system.

“Greater Beth-El needs a sound system that blends well aesthetically with the temple’s décor but still provides enough output to handle their sound requirements,” explains Manhart. “They want to avoid big hanging speaker boxes that might block the view of their stage backdrop and projection screen.”

Direct Pro Audio opted to install an Iconyx IC Live Digitally Steerable Array System by Renkus-Heinz. IC Live’s slim profile and customized color make it virtually disappear into the wall, a major factor in its selection.

The installed system includes two ICL-FR-DUAL loudspeakers, each with 16 drivers per side. The loudspeakers have been custom-painted to blend almost seamlessly into the temple’s stage area and are mounted permanently on both walls flanking the stage. Two IC Live sub-woofers are tucked into a nook just below the speakers.

Other system components include a Roland M-300 digital mixing console and a variety of Audix wired and wireless mics.

The renovated temple has seating for approximately 600, but a moveable air wall located in the rear of the temple allows them to accommodate up to 800 people when necessary.

Reports Manhart, “The IC Llive system is low profile, custom painted to match the décor, and has great quality sound output. Nothing else on the market can really do that.”

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ASHLY KLR-5000 AMPS POWER LSU’S PETE MARAVICH ASSEMBLY CENTER

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – DECEMBER 2011: Although the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC) in Baton Rouge served as the United State’s largest ever triage center and field hospital during the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, the 13,500-seat arena is better known as the venue to watch Louisiana State University Tigers basketball. Built in the early 1970s, the PMAC’s original sound system was cutting-edge for its time, but a botched renovation in the mid-1980s left the PMAC sonically lacking… for decades. Although inspired by the Tiger’s roaring fans, the PMAC’s nickname, “The Deaf Dome,” was an apt, if less flattering, descriptor of that sound system. To provide the team and its fans with a spark of inspiration, an anonymous donor provided the funds for a first-rate, modern sound reinforcement system. Tim Landry, principal of audio integrator Tim Landry Sound Construction (Mandeville, LA), provided the donor with a system design centered on thirty-four Ashly Audio KLR-5000 amplifiers, Ashly Audio processing, and Sound Bridge loudspeakers.

“The sound system that went in during the 1980s was a terrible design executed terribly,” observed the characteristically candid Landry. “For example, the original design called for five speakers each in four separate horizontal arrays. For reasons unknown, the installers changed it and put two speakers on top and three on the bottom of each array. It changed the entire nature of the system. Tilting of the clusters disastrously affected the outer speakers. Beyond that, the boxes were arranged in ways that the manufacturer never intended, which led to bizarre frequency interactions. As a result, some seats were covered poorly and some seats were not covered at all.” A system of physical relays meant to facilitate scene changes for different types of events went south quickly. “You could just tap the thing and amps would blink on and off,” complained Landry, who, prior to the renovation, helped maintain the crippled system with jumper wires (literally) and bubble gum (figuratively).

In recent years, the school raised funds to upgrade several aspects of the aging PMAC facility. It replaced the seating and ceiling. It installed a new efficient HVAC system. The school even installed a brilliant new Daktronics scoreboard. “It was time to get some excitement into the building,” said Landry. “And the sound system was the obvious fix. Fortunately, a generous and well-to-do LSU alum donated the money to do it.” The donor’s only request? Install a sound system to beat all sound systems! To meet that request, Landry rented several loudspeaker systems anonymously and evaluated their performance in the PMAC. The clear winner was Sound Bridge.

Landry drew up the original plans with a well-known, but pricey amplifier manufacturer in mind. “But then I spoke to Ashly,” he recalled. “I have a lot of respect for Ashly’s gear and the people behind it because in all the years I’ve been installing Ashly amps and processors, the only units that ever failed went underwater during Katrina. Even still, two of those units came back to life and are working to this day! Anyway, Ashly said the new KLR-5000s amplifiers would be coming on line, and they seemed perfect for the job.” Landry ordered thirty-five of the new amplifiers, thirty-four for the system and one for backup. “On system critical installations, I always include a backup unit,” he said. “But when Ashly is involved, I have yet to need it!”

For processing, Landry turned to the Ashly ne24.24M. Two units provide all of the processing for the PMAC. “There are two modes,” he said. “One for the student operators that contains some limiting to prevent them from blowing anyone’s eardrums out and a second, more liberal setting. We called it ‘Terrance Turbo Mode’ in honor of the system’s primary operator. Terrance has a key that effectively removes that limiting and gives him full access to the full 165,000 watts of power surging through the KLR-5000s. Terrance is very pleased.” In addition, the ne24.24Ms replace the old physical relays that caused so many problems. Now the operators can select which clusters play via the software.

The logistics of the installation were particularly demanding because LSU books the PMAC with an event almost every day. “We definitely had to work around their schedule and not the other way around,” said Landry. “I admit I was a bit nervous about receiving serial numbers one through thirty-five on the KLR-5000s, but, as I said, I’ve come to trust the folks at Ashly. They really came through and made sure we had the units when we needed them – it would have been a bloodbath if they hadn’t. And the amps worked flawlessly from day one and continue to do so.”

ABOUT ASHLY AUDIO With a greater than thirty-seven year history, Ashly Audio Inc. is recognized as a world leader in the design and manufacturing of quality signal processing equipment and power amplification for use in the commercial sound contracting and professional audio markets.

www.ashly.com

METRIC HALO SUPPORTS LIVE ORGAN RECORDING AT ST. PETER’S LUTHERAN CHURCH DURING AES TECH TOUR

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 2011: It was a unique confluence of events in late October that led to a mind-expanding technical tour for participants of the annual AES conference in New York City. Veteran classical music engineer and educator Bill Siegmund of Digital Island Studios, LLC, organized the “Live Organ Recital Recording” tour, a rather grey title for an event that ended up lively and colorful. The recording took place at New York’s famed St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. Well known as ‘the jazz church,’ St. Peter’s current sanctuary resides below the Citigroup Building and was constructed with an ear for music. Celebrated organist Walter Hilse played the church’s massive Klais manual tracker organ, and Siegmund recorded it with the help of his trusty Metric Halo interfaces. The event allowed participants to reflect not just on the mechanics of mic placement and remote monitoring, but also on the philosophical underpinnings of recording and the place of recorded music in today’s technological zeitgeist.

Although Siegmund was excited to encourage experimentation regarding many aspects of the session, the core of his rig was, after years of development, set. He placed a Metric Halo ULN-8 and an LIO-8 (outfitted with mic pres) on stage, minimizing delicate mic-level cable runs. The Metric Halo boxes provided high-end preamplification and AD conversion. The digital outputs fed an RME MADI converter for the long run downstairs to the makeshift control room where DA conversion was handled by another LIO-8. There, a MacBook and a surround sound ensemble of Neumann KH 120 monitors paired with a Genelec 7070A subwoofer allowed all participants to travel back and forth between the hall and the control room for an “is it live, or is it Memorex?” experience.

Siegmund originally converted, so to speak, to Metric Halo converters in 2005 with a 2882+DSP. “The flexibility, compactness, and sound of the 2882 is what drew me to Metric Halo originally,” he said. “And when they introduced the 2D card I added one in 2009. But as I came to appreciate a few of the 2882′s limitations, I petitioned Metric Halo for an updated box that would overcome them. Quite independently, they introduced the ULN-8 just weeks later. Although I’ve never been an early adopter, the ULN-8 was like a dream come true. I purchased mine two days later, taking advantage of the deal Metric Halo extended to existing users. And when it arrived, my new ULN-8 came straight out of the box and with me to Nashville to record Schnittke violin sonatas for Naxos with classical producer and fellow MH user Jamey Lamar.”

“Now I use my ULN-8, together with the sibling LIO-8 (with mic pres), on every date. They’re road warriors! I appreciate the fact that each unit packs eight channels of fantastic preamplification, conversion, DSP, routing, and mixing into just one rack space. With all their mic gain, my ribbons never break a sweat, and my Schoeps, DPA, Neumann and Sennheiser condensers work to their full potential. Moreover, I can adjust gain and routing from a remote control room. I was able to sell my Rosetta 800 and eight channels of John Hardy M-1s, shaving valuable pounds from my remote recording rigs.”

He also cites the ability to pre-configure sessions via Metric Halo software – away from the stress of the actual event – as a great contributor to more effective workflow. “In May 2010, WFMT in Chicago hired us to do the first live radio broadcast from the newly renovated Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. We had mics for performers onstage, our two radio hosts, and their guests, set up in the stage left wing and we set up a control room in the back of the house. The ULN-8 was onstage, one of my 2882s was in the wing, and another 2882 was in the control room (I hadn’t gotten my LIO-8 yet). We didn’t know how many guests we were going to have nor when they would appear. And ISDN transmission lines out of the hall were only installed on the afternoon of the show! But with MIO Console I was able to set-up a mixer in advance, one with enough flexibility and room for expansion to accommodate the inevitable “oh, by the way” changes at the venue. The broadcast went to air flawlessly.”

Meanwhile, back at St. Peter’s, Siegmund began with a mic setup that he has used successfully there before. A pair of DPA 4006 TLs (with acoustical pressure equalizers to form an M 50-like polar pattern) together with an M-S pair of Schoeps MK 41 and MK 8, formed a Decca tree for the principle pickup. A pair of Schoeps MK 21s in an NOS-array was pointed away from the organ and used for surround pickup. “To produce the final mix, I use the surround mics to feed a reverb unit,” he explained. “It’s a wonderfully diffuse input.” The tree plus surrounds were about thirty-five feet off the floor on a custom mic stand. And since this was also an AES tech tour, Siegmund added three alternate stereo pick-ups for comparison. A pair of Neumann Solution D digital mics hung fifteen feet up. Sennheiser MKH-800s were used in a Blumlein array. Lastly, and most curiously, he used the room’s catwalk to suspend a spaced pair of Schoeps MK 2H omnis sixty feet off the floor.

“One of the students asked the very reasonable question, why are we putting mics in places where no human ears ever go?” recalled Siegmund. “Resident cantor and organist Thomas Schmidt beat me to the answer. He pointed out that, for instance, you can go to Carnegie Hall, sit in the back row, and still have a wonderful musical experience. But if you stuck mics there, you’d never be hired again! The information content and context of recorded music is quite different from the live experience, and the recording technique demands a different approach. As recording engineers, it’s our responsibility to keep a listener engaged when the visual and visceral elements of a live performance are not present. It turns out that an organ recording will often convey the excitement of the live experience with the mics high up off the floor.”

Very special thanks for a successful AES Technical Tour go to Allen Rowand and Jon Stern of Metric Halo, Chris Spahr of Sennheiser USA, Duke Markos of Duke Markos Audio, and AES Convention Chairman Jim Anderson.

ABOUT METRIC HALO Based in New York’s Hudson Valley, 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

API 1608 INSTALLED AT CANYON HUT RECORDING STUDIO

LAUREL CANYON, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 2011: Constructed in rocker Alice Cooper’s former house in 2008, Canyon Hut Recording Studio has recently acquired and installed a fully analog, all-discrete API 1608 console. According to co-owner Tim Hutton, picking the right console was an easy decision once he heard the 1608.

“When making the decision to buy a console, I knew it had to feel ‘right’ in my gut,” said Hutton. I tested many and most of them were fairly linear. The 1608 was the only console that was un-darkened, incredibly warm and all embracing. Its design is flawless and I felt right at home when I first sat down and started tracking.”

Hutton is a songwriter, producer and bassist, and co-owns the Canyon Hut with his brother, Dash. The brothers were born into a musical family, as their father, Danny Hutton, was a founding member of classic rock band Three Dog Night. Touring as children with the group, Tim and Dash were able to interact with influential musicians such as Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Glen Campbell and America. After attending the Hamilton Music Academy and later touring with his band, the Telacasters, Tim started to record and produce tracks for some of his friends’ bands. The recording hobby later turned into a full-time gig, and Tim knew he needed to find a professional soundboard.

“Things really took off at that point,” he said. “I decided I needed ‘the best’ console. I was already very happy with my API 554s and 525s, so I decided to test the 1608. I was floored. It was exactly what I needed, wanted, and demanded to make the Canyon Hut one of the best studios in Los Angeles.”

Two famous studios were the inspiration for Canyon Hut’s “2001 meets the 1950s” design, with the control room situated so that it looks down into the live room, similar to Abbey Road and Motown. Canyon Hut’s live room also shares dimensions close to those of Motown. The studio offers an extensive microphone selection, a 1959 B3 Hammond organ and a 1929 Parlor grand piano. Canyon Hut’s past clients include Film School, TS and The Past Haunts, Three Dog Night and HB Surround Sound.

“I really want the world to know that we are a one-stop shop. We can engineer, produce, mix, play, sing, whatever the record needs, all with the best gear – the 1608.”

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

WIRELESS FIRST USES NEW CLAIR GLOBAL WIRELESS ANTENNA TO HANDLE EIGHTY-SIX RF CHANNELS AT ROCKEFELLER TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY

rockcenter_xmaslighting_2011.JPGNEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 2011: When construction workers decorated a twenty-foot tree with paper garlands, cranberry strings, and the tinfoil ends of blasting caps in the early years of the Great Depression, they had no way of knowing they were starting a beloved holiday tradition. Today, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in midtown Manhattan is a national symbol of the season. The tree’s lighting ceremony in late November has blossomed into a two-hour television special, complete with nostalgic hosts, the Radio City Rockettes, and performances by pop music icons, both contemporary and enduring. As in years past, NBC hired Wireless First, a Clair Global Company, to wrangle eighty-six channels of mission-critical wireless RF that spanned a full city block. In addition to an encyclopedic knowledge of all things RF and decades of in-the-trenches experience, Wireless First’s successful package included the new, innovative more

Canadian Indie Music Fest Rifflandia Gets Amped With DiGiCo

Canada’s Rifflandia Festival has been called Victoria’s version of SXSW, featuring some of the best and brightest Canadian and international indie artists. This year’s stellar lineup included 4 days of 110 artists on 9 stages and showcased bands from City and Colour and Cold War Kids to De La Soul and Blackalicious. Doug Lyngard of Victoria’s D.L. Sound & Lighting Productions handled three stages of the audio production for the event, rounding up two DiGiCo SD9s from its inventory, supplemented by an additional SD9 and SD11 provided by Vancouver’s Gerr Audio. The feedback from engineers handling the event—as well as the guest engineers who sat in with their bands—was nothing short of glowing, with all citing the ease of use and stellar sound among their favorite DiGiCo traits.

Lyngard purchased the SD9s back in 2010 and has used them on myriad festivals and events over the last year with great success. “The sonic quality of the console is the main reason why I purchased them,” he explained, “and of course, the DiGiCo name. I also like the fact that once you learn one SD console, you’re good to go on the rest of the series.”

At FOH on the festival Side Stage was Craig Brittain on an SD9. No stranger to DiGiCo, he’s been using DiGiCo consoles handling monitors for the better part of the last four years with Michael Buble. “After falling in love with DiGiCo and a D5 on a European tour with Michael, it became my go-to console of choice for any tour/artist. I am a big fan of the DiGiCo sound and currently am using an SD7 as we tour around the world.

At Rifflandia, having a chance to spend a bit of time on the smaller SD9, I was impressed at how DiGiCo have managed to keep the sonic quality utilizing the Stealth Digital Processing. It’s nice with the DiGiCo to know what you are getting yourself into and how things are going to sound. From the SD9 to the SD7—and now the new additions to the SD line—nothing matches where DiGiCo is at sonically. Having taken the next step in processing using Stealth technology, it’s easy to forget the limits of traditional DSP chip configurations. I have said it before and will repeat it until I am blue in the face, but nothing on the market compares to that of any DiGiCo consoles!”

“When looking at the festival line-up I was responsible for, and knowing I was going to be using an SD9, I simply came up with a template the day/night before the first day of shows that I programmed in to accommodate all of the bands and was good to go for the first soundcheck the following day. I knew that my knowledge of the console would aid the visiting engineers with little or no experience on the desk. Any artist with the luxury of a morning soundcheck, I simply stored the snapshot and carried about the rest of the day!”

Over at the Metro Theatre stage on an SD11, it was FOH engineer Jim Kent’s first time on a DiGiCo. With only a day of preparation prior to the fest, he found the console’s interface and layout extremely intuitive to use. “The graphic interface was fantastic! I found it very helpful that the screen was speaking to me in an analog/graphic way. I really liked the channel layouts and found them very natural for mixing on the fly. I had some guest FOH engineers with a few of the bands and they found it very easy to navigate. We all particularly liked the fact that the controls were right below the compressor graphics, i.e. threshold/ratio/attack. I also found the FX rack to be very easy to manipulate the same way, and was able to pull live echo repeats and reverb effects on the fly. Being a festival setup, we went from 4 channels to 32 in less than 30 minutes… add a vintage guitar pedal as a vocal effect and a video feed, and all was accomplished well within time. The SD9 performed perfectly and did not get in the way of the creative process. The DiGiCo, too, sounded great. I had a solo artist on stage at one point and the console was able to reproduce voice and guitar with all the meat one needs and get the spit in the throat that I like to hear on an intimate vocal.”

Another DiGiCo newbie was engineer Tim Herron, stationed on an SD9 at monitor world at the Alix Goolden Hall. Given the task of operating both lights and monitors for multiple bands an evening—and with no hands-on time prior to the event—Herron found the console allowed him to work quickly and efficiently. “Arriving at 1pm we did the first show at 9pm and that was without even having seen the board before. I was able to learn how to navigate everything I needed and get up to speed relatively easily without having to have a dumbed-down feature set, and the SD9 had a nice combination of great features combined with pure usability. I felt like the board was working for me and not the other way around (which is not always the case with digital consoles). The SD9 had the look and feel of an analog console with its ability to label and save during soundcheck. During the festival, we had some very hardcore analog-console-using FOH engineers. One said that it was the best-sounding digital board he had encountered and another said that it was the most sonically transparent console she had used. My impressions were that the sound quality was superior to the other digitals I have used and that the console certainly was an excellent choice for an event like Rifflandia where sonic quality was the major consideration in intimate event venues. I know that I will be looking forward to using this console again.”

Mixing FOH at the Alix Goolden Hall was Paul Gatien on another SD9. Gatien’s extensive experience mixing on the console for the 2010-2011 summer seasons at Victoria’s Butchart Gardens proved invaluable—with a diverse entertainment schedule showcasing around 64 shows from folk and Jazz to classic rock and the Victoria Symphony. “The SD9 proved handy especially for the store and recall ability when dealing with the repeat and weekly shows, both at Butchart and Rifflandia. The sonic quality of the SD9 was amazing, too; it didn’t have that ‘digital edge’ that I have encountered with other digital consoles.”

Handling up to 32 channels of inputs from the stage at Rifflandia, Gatien opted for a basic festival stage microphone patch as they were missing some of the technical riders from the artists. Fortunately, most bands were able to soundcheck prior to their sets, which helped with changeovers.

“To avoid gain sharing, we used a passive splitter snake and sent a monitor split to a D-Rack located at the monitor mix position and another split to a D-Rack located at the FOH position. At FOH I used 2 line outs from the D-Rack for the Left and Right speaker mains and 1 output for the lip fill speakers. I also used 2 line outputs for the balcony fills. I ran all of these outputs as Matrix outputs off the Master fader. Being able to store the soundcheck and then recall the settings for the show was probably my favorite feature of the SD9. I stored each soundcheck as a session file and then recalled it for the show. In order to be consistent, I made up a session file template and at the end of each soundcheck made sure that I was consistent in what channels I had muted and/or left turned on, such as the music from the laptop. This way as I was loading the next band’s session file all parameters would stay the same and there was no noticeable transition from one bands session file to the next.”

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