Archive for January, 2010

Pro Audio Party of the Year

Maureen Droney and Jeff Greenberg sure know how to bring together the best and the brightest in pro audio, lock them in a studio and show everyone a good time. Maureen, the head of the NARAS Producers & Engineers Wing, brings in the bodies, and Jeff, president of The Village Recording Studios and modern-day P.T. Barnum, opens up his legendary complex to kick off Grammy Week. This year’s theme was Catch a Fire, with tribute paid to Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records. Jimmy Jam was there, Daniel Lanois made the introductions, Quincy Jones was spotted hanging around. I ran into Jackson Browne in the Monster Room, listening to a pair of the most coveted handout of the evening, the new Turbine Pro in-ear monitors. Lucinda Williams was there till late…an all-star cast and a fitting tribute to musical genius all around.

But it was just as cool to see all the engineers, producers, studio owners, studio managers and manufacturers that make our industry tick. In his introductions, Jeff looked around and and pointed out Paula from Capitol, Rose from Record Plant, Buddy from Conway, Doug from East West (nee Cello), Shivaun from Sound City and many more that I’m forgetting the morning after. Noel Lee from Monster, as I said, had a packed room, as did Rich Nevens and Avid. Got to talk with Mark Brunner in the Shure room and Frank Oglethorpe down in the Prism/Sadie room. Great to see Peter Chaikin and Mark Gander from JBL. Also a real treat to see Phil and Cathy Wagner, she of Apogee and he formerly of SSL and nearly ready to announce his next move.

If it sounds like I’m name dropping, I am. That’s the point. It’s a who’s who of audio! Chris Lord-Alge, Jimmy Douglass, Eric Liljestrand, Leslie Ann Jones, Dusty Wakeman, Jim Scott, Gavin Lurssen, Ed Cherney, Glenn Lorbecki, James McKinney, Carmen Rizzo, Al Schmitt, Phil Ramone. I’m forgetting plenty right now. Also ran into Hank Neuberger, Mike Abbott and John Harris, who hit the ground running at the Staples Center this morning, beginning three days of rehearsals for the Sunday show. They’ll be mixing out of the Music Mix Mobile truck, which can be seen on the cover of Mix right now at online at Today at 1 it begins with the Zac Brown Band. Will be reporting back as I get the chance.

It’s Grammy Week, and hats off to Maureen and Jeff for kicking it off right!

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Top Ten Gear Picks from NAMM

Winter NAMM is but a memory but not the slick gear that bowed at the show in Anaheim. The Mix/EM crew shot some great video from which I’ve picked my favorite pieces.

  1.  I attended the Waves press event on Friday where Jack Joseph Puig, Chris Lord-Alge and Eddie Kramer showed off their latest plug-in creations. Although some of the GUIs were in beta, the concepts and sounds were fantastic and worth a further listen when they’re released.
  2. API’s Arsenal line is now renamed JDK. The R-22 is a two-channel rackmount compressor launched at NAMM bearing the API legacy of quality and an affordable price point.
  3. I got a great tour of Amplitube 3 at the IK Multimedia booth. It has some slick new abilities making it sexier than ever to model amps, cabinets, processors and more.
  4. Dan Duffell from SSL showed me their new X-Patch system, a very slick and organized way to manage studio signal flow through any gear you’d like.
  5. Do any remote recording? Then you have to check out Sony’s new and affordable PCM M-10 handheld recorder. It has lots of great features pulled down from their higher end units and comes with a number of great accessories.
  6. Engineers with ears I trust were raving about the new JZ Vintage series mics. It mimics some famous legacy mics via switchable capsules.
  7. We ran across producer/engineer Ronan Chris Murphy in the A Designs booth where he gave us an unsolicited testimonial of the new NAIL Compressor. Some unique features make this a box to put on your “must hear” list.
  8. Radial Engineering had a gang of studio problem solvers plus their new Workhorse 500: a vertical rack for 500 series units including a summing mixer and easy module linking.
  9. Presonus was showing off their new, and larger, StudioLive mixer designed to work across a variety of situations. The slick smart channel design easily puts parameters at your fingertips.
  10. Jonathan Little at LittleLabs demoed his 500 series VOG module which makes it easy to pinpoint desired frequencies, lifting a track to greatness. I heard it myself and it’s very impressive.

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New Alan Parsons DVD Set

This new DVD set from Alan Parsons looks like a winner. Great production values, serious interviews and access to some of the best minds in recording. A definite BUY

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Mixing With Massy

Okay, we’ve let you know about this new Mix column, “Gear Stories With Sylvia Massy,” in newsletters, online, in print, through Facebook, as a Tweet…all the ways we reach out in the modern world. But it’s hard to do justice to what Sylvia has created up there in remote Northern California without a visit. So at the end of December, I packed up the car and drove the four hours up I-5 to Weed, California (insert joke here), to get a look at RadioStar, the old vaudeville theater turned recording space, with a classic Neve at the center. The video tour is forthcoming any day on
First off, Weed is out there, only really accessible from I-5. But it’s located in some of the most virgin and beautiful territory California has to offer, in the heart of the Siskiyous and literally at the foot of 14,800-foot Mount Shasta. It’s not likely that she’ll see Tool making the drive up, but what Massy and team have assembled is something she couldn’t have possibly done in L.A., or any other major market for that matter. She owns the theater, with its old-school, don’t-whisper-or-the-band-will-hear-you acoustics, and she owns the building next door with offices, a two-bedroom residence and another studio. They purchased a building a block away to put in a budget studio with a Trident board, and she and partner Greg Shivy just closed on the building across the street, where they will likely place their video-editing operation. It’s a mini-complex, with tons of vintage gear and vibe. And it’s all hers. Except maybe for the parts still haunted by the spirits that nearly all who have visited have felt…or seen…at some point.
I’m not saying that it’s a new model, but it is obvious from the first step inside the lobby that there is something fresh going on. On the day we visited, Northern Crowns of Las Cruces, N.M., was finishing up drum tracks on an EP, with plans for a return visit in the summer. They’re being co-produced by Massy and RadioStar intern-turned producer Lori Castro. The band is scheduled for a gig at the Whisky A-Go-Go in early February, where they are setting up for label interest. It is live recording, with overdubs next door, with video next to that, with solid songs. If they hit it big, RadioStar is their launchpad. And there are others in the same vein. Sort of like venture capital: If one out of ten hits, then RadioStar is in IPO territory. Like I say, not a new model, just one that requires that you own the means of production.
But it’s also about looking forward. And while Massy still (rightly) believes that a label and radio can kick-start a career, she has her fingers in a lot of new-media pies and is constantly looking at new ways to distribute, promote and push an act to the next level.
You’ll be reading a lot from Sylvia Massy over the coming months in Mix, mostly about classic pieces of gear with a story behind them. But you’ll also get insight into her unique personality that somehow fit right in when she was riding the wave in L.A. and feels equally at home on her 50-acre ranch just five minutes from RadioStar.
Look for the video interviews, both edited and in their entirety, on the Mix site. We want you to know our newest columnist. We think you’ll like her.

Top 5 Pro Tools Cripplers And How To Fix Them

When your Pro Tools system gets sluggish or repeatedly crashes, sometimes the simplest thing can fix the problem. Just upping the computer’s RAM will often help but there are also deeper, hidden features that can get your rig humming along like a bullet train. I invite you to participate and add your own entries in the comments section.

The Problem: When using Virtual Instruments on a multi-core computer, Pro Tools may give you buffer errors saying it playbackengine1.gifis running out of processing power even if no other plugins are in use.
The Fix: Go to the Setup/Playback engine pulldown and set the number of RTAS / HOST processors to 3 instead of 4 (Mac Pro Quad Core). If using a Dual Core or a PPC system, reduce the number of RTAS / HOST processors to 1. This works on LE, M-Powered and HD systems.

The Problem: Apple’s Spotlight is a great way to find data on your computer but it can make your whole system sluggish spotlight.gifif not properly set up.
The Fix: Go To Apple System Preferences under the Apple symbol at the upper left side of your monitor. Find the Spotlight option and limit the search index to only the most important categories. Not only Pro Tools but your whole system will run better.

The Problem: Plugins with streaming ability can bog down your system bringing your session to a halt.
The Fix: New with Pro Tools 8, the plugin streaming buffer can help content stream more efficiently from the disk. Go to the Setup/Playback engine pulldown and adjust the buffer size to find the best setting. Also try turning on the “optimize for streaming content� box to enhance performance.

The Problem:
Some wildly capable plugins such as AmpliTube Fender from IK Multimedia are DSP hogs and become cpu-usage.gifsluggish with minimal use.
The Fix: Go to the Setup/Playback engine pulldown and reduce the CPU Usage Limit to  60% or less. This will give your system the power it needs to run DSP-intensive plugins smoothly.

The Problem: Pro Tools preference files, database files, DAE files and AMS setup files can become corrupted bringing database-helper4.gifdown your system in short order.
The Fix: Rather than deleting these hidden files yourself, download the free Pro Tools Preference and Database Helper from It easily removes a variety of elusive, damaged and unreadable files that can cripple your system. Versions are available for Pro Tools systems on 10.4 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard) but not yet for 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and Pro Tools 8.0.3.

Thanks go out to Pro Tools power user Sean Conkling for helping with this post

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Feeling Loopy?

picture-1.jpgProducer/composer Rick DiFonzo of Discrete Drums fame, has created a new, download only, audio loop website at Rather than selling large drum collections, the focus is on small, individual session packs featuring 50 to 150 loops per package.

Files are 16 bit Apple Loop AIF, with 24 bit Acidized WAV files coming soon. With multiple song segments (intros, verses, choruses, fills etc) users can build the arrangement they need, and change tempo within most software apps. Apple Loop encoding allows out-of-the-box tempo shift in Logic and Garage Band.

The advantage to this approach is that users can download only the sessions they need. Small file sizes keep prices low and downloads manageable. Drum sessions are available in rock, alt rock, pop, country, reggae and r&b styles. EXS-24 Sampler instruments are also available, which can be imported by many other soft samplers. Guitar, bass, orch and synth packs are also available.

For detailed product info and audio demos, please visit

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