Archive of the Studio Design Category

LIVE FROM MIX NASHVILLE

By George Petersen
THIS WAS A TOUGH YEAR FOR MIDDLE TENNESSEE. And it was especially hard on Soundcheck, Nashville’s premiere live sound showcase for tour rehearsals, with off-the-road storage for instruments and backline for major tours, and on-site offices for leading companies such as Meyer Sound, Shure, Digital Console Rentals, Fender, Peavey, Tour Supply Inc., and others. And back in mid-May, when the once-in-a-century rains caused the Cumberland River to rise well over its flood stages, Soundcheck was at ground zero, and in a matter of hours was completely submerged. We had planned to host our sister publication’s annual Mix Nashville live sound and recording series just days later, and postponed the event until September 13 and 14, 2010.

Meanwhile in those months since the waters subsided, Soundcheck has been going nearly 24/7 to get back on line, pulling out drenched sheetrock, tearing out soaked carpeting, re-wiring and re-building, while rare guitars and amps went into a dry triage facility, where world-class restoration specialists went to work. Now, after this almost Herculean effort, Soundcheck is back.

It took a while to line up new dates for Mix Nashville that would work for sponsors, attendees and, most importantly, Nashville’s audio community. But we’re moving full-steam ahead with our favorite event of the year. Nashville is a recording town and there are plenty of programs catering to the studio crowd, but we’re also offering expanded programming, with two full days of presentations and panels focusing on live sound.

Hosted by Meyer Sound and Yamaha, Soundcheck’s Studio D will be the central point for all things Live, with three presentations each day from the sponsors, and I’ll be moderating two stellar industry panels featuring top-level industry pros offering advice and insights from their years of experience. The first, on Monday afternoon at 2:30pm, is “Sound System Meets Venue—Selecting The Right Playback Package,�? which given the selection of range of gear available today, will look into answering some tough questions about creating the right system for any installation. At 2:30pm on Tuesday, the topic will shift to “What’s Next? Technologies That Will Drive the Next Five Years in Sound Reinforcement.�? And with all that’s going on—from consoles to plug-ins to processors to snakes to system control to wireless—this should provide a fascinating glimpse into determining what’s around the corner and on the horizon.

Best of all, the event is FREE to all greater Nashville residents, and a mere $39 for earlybird registrants from outside Davidson County. Visit the Mix Nashville website today for all information and links to registration. Hope to see you there!
George Petersen is an independent journalist/author/producer. Visit him on Facebook or at www.audioinfosource.com.
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READY FOR NEUMANN STUDIO MONITORS?

By George Petersen
photo of Neumann studio monitor
WORLD RENOWNED FOR ITS PRO MICROPHONES, Neumann has announced it is adding Neumann-branded studio monitors to its portfolio. The new line will be based on products from Klein + Hummel—another company iin the Sennhsiser family of products. K+H monitors earned an excellent reputation in European marklet, but are less well known in other countries, particularly in North America.
“This will certainly change in the near future, because the Neumann brand is well-established in the international studio world,? says Wolfgang Fraissinet, president of marketing/sales at Neumann Berlin. “We anticipate a strong synergy effect here.?

historical georg neumann photo
Neumann is no stranger to non-microphone technologies, such as record lathes and studio consoles. In this rare photo, company founder Georg Neumann (left) experiments with an optical film sound recorder.
“In the history of the company, Neumann stands for far more than microphone technology, “ Fraissinet continues, “and over the decades we have also produced record-cutting equipment and studio consoles, for example. Our expertise in transformer design for the microphone—as well as in signal processing and digital audio technology, has already been demonstrated. In addition Neumann has a leading role in the area of high technology, which is successfully implemented, for instance, in the digital microphones of Neumann’s Solution-D series.?
Existing K+H studio monitors are being incorporated into the Neumann product portfolio as the “KH Line.? Over time, new products will be developed to fullfil the needs of high-end studio professionals. The first new studio monitors carrying the Neumann label will be launched later this year.
Neumann Synergie logo
The new Neumann Synergie logo
So far, Neumann has been secretive about the new products, other than unveiling a new logo for this symbiosis of the two technologies, known as Neumann Synergie. The circular logo shows a microphone grill on the left, a speaker cone on the right, with a gentle sine wave shape separation between the two. So the rest of us will have to wait until later in the year for more details on Neumann’s first studio monitors. Stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.
Go here for more information about Neumann’s existing K+H monitor line .
When not working on Mix stuff, George Petersen records and performs with the SF Bay Area-based rock band ARIEL. Check ‘em out at www.jenpet.com.
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THE WEIRD WIDE WEB

By George Petersen
EVER WONDER IF SOMEONE’S PUTTING YOU ON? We always appreciate getting e-mails and comments about Mix and the industry in general, but every once in a while, we just gotta wonder whether someone’s putting us on. It’s the web equivalent of the phrase “O.K., Where’s the hidden camera?”—wondering whether Allen Funt is gonna come out from behind a curtain. And sometimes, maybe it’s simply a sad reflection on whoever actually sends these things.

One time, some guy inquired, asking for a recommendation about what kind of outboard mic preamp he should buy. Someone told him his tracks would sound much better if he bought a Neve preamp. I replied that to in order for us to maintain some kind of impartiality, we have a policy of not recommending any specific products unless it is part of a written article, review, etc. But out of curiosity, I asked him what kind of mics he had. He replied he had a couple of Shure SM57s.
Believe me, there are few mics more amazing than this must-have, time-tested classic, but at this point the “Candid Camera” alarm went off in my mind. However, diplomacy set in and I recommended he could probably get more quality for his money by first getting some better mics which later—once he’s ready to invest in a super-quality preamp—would really make sense. Problem is some schmoe, an “expert,” no doubt, gave some one-size-fits-all advice that really didn’t fit his particular situation.

Another time, some guy e-mailed after reading what we assumed was a thoroughly tongue-in-cheek article I wrote on the back page of our AES issue last year with a bunch of joke press releases called “Products You Won’t See at AES”. You can check it out here: CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE.
Among other things—including gems such as “The Roach Coach Music Library,” a “Drunkulator” plug-in and a “Stoogelizer” outboard processor—the list described the “Virtual Sur-Reality” helmet, which would give users the visual impression they were mixing in Abbey Road studios or the Sydney Opera House rather than the cheesy studio or dumpy basement club they were in.

It was written in jest, yet some poor soul actually thought it was real (talk about sur-reality!) and wondered how he could contact the manufacturer. I’m sure it was quite a letdown for this person to hear the truth, but maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here that indicates there might be a market opportunity for someone to actually make such a product. Any takers? And hey, if it’s on the Internet, it’s gotta be real… doesn’t it?

George Petersen is an independent journalist/author/producer. Visit him on Facebook or at www.audioinfosource.com.

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AUDIOBITES THE SHED

By George Petersen
WALKING AROUND THE AES SHOW LAST WEEK, ya couldn’t miss it. Right out in the middle of the exhibit floor at New York City’s Javits convention center was a huge 30×30-foot pad of astroturf, with a rustic-looking cabin sitting right in the middle of it.
What is it? It’s a copy of Peter Gabriel’s backyard songwriting sanctum, equipped with a Solid State Logic AWS 900+ console /workstation controller, SSL XLogic outboard gear and additional Gear provided by Guitar Center Pro, including a Pto Tools HD rig, Auralex acoustic treatment, Argosy studio furniture and Henick-Lane air conditioning. Mix editor Sarah Jones and I sat down with Gabriel during the show and got his take on this. (Click here to check out the video interview.) Bringing “turnkey? to a whole new level, this “Shed of your Dreams” studio costs under $250K, depending on exact finish, specifications, the exact gear you choose and location—the user only need provide a concrete pad and electrical service.
Evidently the reaction at the show was overwhelmingly positive and from what I hear, several orders were placed. But $$$ aside, the concept of having a cool, prefab studio laid down at your location over a matter of days has a lot of merit.
The building itself is a 240-square-foot Summerwood Cheyenne cabin and it had a great vibe of its own. Gabriel’s own shed is decorated with some amazing (and quite valuable) artwork that’s NOT part of the purchase price. But as an avid art collector myself, I’d have no problem finding stuff from my own to spruce the joint up.
As an aside, my wife and I collect a variety of styles, but lately have been focusing on illustration art from science fiction. To get an idea of how cool some of this stuff is, you can check out one dealer we occasionally buy from—Worlds of Wonder at www.wow-art.com. Hey, just don’t complain to me next month because you spent all you money there, but even if you don’t, it’s a great source of eye candy—or a way of finding the right artist for your next album cover.
And while I was on the web, I checked out the Summerwood Products site www.summerwood.com (the guys who built the Gabriel shed) and was impressed by the array of designs and possibilities offered. More eye candy to be sure…
When not working on Mix stuff, George Petersen records and performs with the SF Bay Area-based rock band ARIEL. Click here www.jenpet.com and check ‘em out.
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AES–THE UNTOLD STORY

By George Petersen
HERE WE ARE AND AES IS JUST A MONTH AWAY! It doesn’t seem so long ago when we were at AES (at least the San Francisco show) and now AES is upon us once again. If you haven’t done so already, now–or at least 21 days before the show to get those advance-purchase fares–is a good time to lock in those cheap plane tickets. Or if you’re really lucky to live within a manageable distance—train tickets.
Or to steal the lyrics from a song about another U.S. city, “GONNA TAKE A BUS. GONNA TAKE A TRAIN. EVEN IF I GOTTA WALK, GONNA GET THERE JUST THE SAME…
New York AES is the place to be if you’re an audio pro. By all indications, the show’s gonna be great, with hundreds of exhibitors hawking the latest hoo-hahs and a great selection of workshops, papers and events to keep you way busy on October 5, 6, 7 and 8th.
But the magic of AES isn’t necessarily the show itself, but a gathering of the tribes and often the best place to find the real action is late night, at the bar of the Marriott Marquis or any of the dozen other official AES hotels. In fact the number of products on the show floor that are directly attributed to sketches made on rum-soaked cocktail napkins from last year’s AES is just as staggering as the comical gait that many attendees have when exiting the bars at closing time.
If you’re really smart, call the Iridium Jazz Club (212/582-2121) and snag a couple tickets for one of Les Paul’s shows, Monday night October 8th. Les is really an American icon and in a day when the word “living legend” is bandied around to apply to nearly anyone, Les is the genuine article. The shows start at either 8 or 10 pm, but it’s best to get there early to get good seats, as there are no reserved seats and it’s first come, first serve. Check it out at www.iridiumjazzclub.com.
If you’re really, really smart, bring something for Les to sign after the show. He’s usually pretty nice about such things, unless you walk in carrying a Strat. In that case, you’re on your own, and you certainly don’t want to mar your New York experience by needing to drag yourself into an emergency room to have a (Fender) guitar neck extricated from one of your body cavities. My advice? Leave the Strat at home, bring a CD, LP or your ’58 gold top Les Paul guitar to get signed. And watch out, because Les sometimes “forgets” to return your pen after he autographs something. In any case, a performance by the Les Paul Trio is a wonderful and unforgettable experience that’s well worth the $45 ticket price. Don’t miss it!
And if you really need a great reason to attend NYC AES, just say the words “Ray’s Pizza” three times and you’ll be magically whisked to the doors of the Javits Center. But if that fails for some reason, just grab a cab… from anywhere. And for more info about the AES show, visit www.aes.org. You’ll be glad you did!
When not working on Mix stuff, George Petersen records and performs with the SF Bay Area-based rock band ARIEL. Click here www.jenpet.com and check ‘em out.
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STAYIN ALIVE: STUDIO DANGERS

Filed under: — George Petersen @ 3:38 pm

By George Petersen
Last week, an industry friend of mine sent me a sad and disturbing link to a article in last Saturday’s Seattle Times (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003480664_stormdead16m.html) that recounted the story of noted audiobook performer/producer Kate Fleming, who drowned in her studio during the recent flooding in the Northwest. Evidently when her basement project room began filling with water, she went down to salvage some of her gear when a sudden water surge filled the room and trapped her inside. Like many home basement studios, Kate’s room was a single-door, windowless design that left no exit possibilities in case of disaster.
Certainly this was a tragic freakish accident that’s hardly the norm, but how many of us work inside maze-like confines with no outside windows and behind heavy studio doors that may be difficult–if not impossible–to open in the case of flooding? More likely, perhaps is a situation where we could be trapped in case of fire, which could come suddenly when fueled by sources such as natural gas leaks, heating oil or simply a vehicle rear-ending a gasoline tanker in front of your facility.
Whether you have a mullti-room recording complex, rehearsal facility or small project studio, taking a few minutes to review disaster preparedness plans is good advice. Are exits marked? Are there exits at all? Are exit doors chained shut for security reasons–we’ve all see that one more than a few times. Besides alarms and extinguishers, sometimes an available large axe or two can provide lifesaving access or egress, especially when dealing with double wall construction.
Thankfully, most of us won’t be in a studio flood, fire or other disaster. But a more very real danger is crime. The studio biz has odd hours, often with a single engineer working alone in a room filled with thousands of dollars of highly desireable, easily fence-able equipment, making studios a target for thieves. Here, the solo project studio owner, is especially vulnerable, especially when taking bookings from people they don’t know. Several years ago, this exact scenario played out at a small project room, where the owner was shot dead and then the room completely cleaned out. I know of a dozen of so instances over the years in which such robberies have taken place (fortunately rarely with deadly force), but often with studio employees being beaten, tied and one handcuffed to a water pipe while the thieves took their time and loaded out everything in the place. These aren’t pretty stories, but it’s better to be prepared than a victim.
Be safe, be healthy, be street smart and have some great holidays.
When not working on Mix stuff, George Petersen records and performs with the SF Bay Area-based rock band ARIEL. Check ‘em out at www.jenpet.com.
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HOW DO YOU HEAR?

Filed under: — George Petersen @ 12:56 pm

By George Petersen
I’m still recovering from the AES convention in San Francisco, which was awesome to say the least. [For more on the show, check our AES-SF site at http://mixonline.com/aes ]
Here was a huge convention center filled with the latest technology, but the irony is that for all of the time we spend creating audio, we spend very little time listening. Sure, we hear things all day, but listening is an art in itself, and critical listening is the highest form of the craft. The difference between hearing and listening is about as wide as the gap between sipping a chardonnay and chugging a Coors.
As producers and engineers, we have to focus on the big picture and still be acutely aware of the minutiae. Musicians in the studio focus on the performance, and no amount of rattling, creaking, buzzing, rumble or hiss will sway certain players from their way of hearing. How often have you heard a take with great “feel,? but then found that one bandmember is overly bothered by a slightly anticipated 32nd note in the middle of a four-bar fill that no one but that player can hear?
Critical listening requires training and practice in the ability to discern both technical flaws and performance issues such as tempo, intonation and pitch. (Of course, working with pitch-challenged vocalists or unsteady drummers also requires finesse and diplomacy, but that’s another issue.) Unfortunately, expertise in the listening art can be severely hampered by inaccurate monitors or a poor acoustical environment. Too often, the investment in decent monitors or acoustical treatments is deferred in lieu of some cool new “must-have? effects processor or other studio toy.
Some engineers have the amazing ability to compensate for quirky control rooms or lousy monitors, but is that the way YOU want to work? A key indicator of a monitoring system’s health is how your mixes sound when played on other systems. A good mix should sound consistent on a boombox, headphones or a high-end home stereo; a mix that’s boomy, thin, dull or overly bright signifies an underlying problem.
Another question is how we listen. Sitting exactly in the sweet spot of a great control room is fine, but occasionally standing off to the side with one ear plugged may offer a better indication of how the mix may sound to users under less-than-ideal conditions. One favorite trick is checking mixes on a car system, but here again, playback during rush-hour traffic will sound very different from the way it sounds in a studio parking lot at 3 a.m.!
When not working on Mix stuff, George Petersen records and performs with the SF Bay Area-based rock band ARIEL. Check ‘em out at www.jenpet.com.
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So has listening become a lost art?
What monitoring reference(s) works for YOU?

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