Archive for August, 2010

Mix Webcast: Tracking The Band

On September 30th, please join me for a free, live webcast I’m doing titled Tracking The Band. Registration also enters you in a raffle to win a Mackie 1640i console/interface valued at mackie-onyx-1640i.gif$2,199. Register Here

TRACKING THE BAND
This webcast will illustrate how, with the right tools, you can make tracking, overdub and mix workflow mimic that of a large pro studio, even on a tight budget. Mix technical editor Kevin Becka will track a song, start to finish using an Onyx 1640i and Pro Tools M-Powered on a MacBook Pro. Using iMovie and audio, Becka will break down the recording process, from mic choices and setup on drums, guitar, bass, piano and vocals, all the way through to the mix. He’ll also interface an array of new mics and other gear into the workflow plus great tips on processing.
After the presentation, there will be a live Q&A, straight to your desktop where you can ask Kevin, and representatives from Mackie directly about the experience. If you’re looking to tune up your music production skills, come join us for this special webcast, Tracking the Band, and learn how to make your recordings sound like the pros.
Registering for the Webcast enters you in a raffle for the Onyx 1640i, a $1600 value
Topics covered by the webcast will include:

1.    Recording guitar, bass, drums, piano, synth, sax and vocals
2.    Proper mic choice and placement
3.    EQ and compression tips
4.    Studio communication
5.    Jumping between tracking, overdub and mixing workflows
6.    Setting up headphone mixes while recording, both to and from the DAW
7.    Interfacing outboard gear such as compressors and time-based processors
8.    The benefits and methods of analog summing.

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Top 5 Questions About The New Avid Pro Tools HD Gear

As you’ve probably heard, Avid has released new Pro Tools HD interfaces and software. This release has been anticipated, to say the least, as Digidesign (now Avid) has not upgraded their IO since the initial release of the products in 2002 then the release of Accel a year later. The release is substantial but their press release leaves some questions unanswered.

  1.  Why not change the cards too?
    Besides the color and new logo, the new HD IO doesn’t look much different on the outside, however the interface has been redesigned from the bare hd_i_o-front.jpgbones. There is a new clock, converters, power supply, filters, lower latency figures and it will support 16 analog ins and outs. It seems Avid has seen improvements third-party companies like Black Lion Audio have made to existing Pro Tools IOs and have stepped up their game. Nonetheless, the HD DSP cards (HD1, Accel etc.) have not changed. This is a bit surprising as chip technology has gone through the roof in the last 8 years. I’m also surprised Avid hasn’t more fully embraced FPGA technology that companies like Fairlight, Calrec, Digico and others have used for some time now. Yes it’s an upgrade, but there’s nothing really groundbreaking here.
  2. What about Sync HD?
    This is a simple answer. New Sync HD units will undergo a cosmetic change only to match the new hardware.
  3. Why doesn’t HEAT offer individual channel controls?
    HEAT ($495) is the new software option co-designed by Crane Song’s Dave Hill who created the similar Phoenix plug-in ($450). HEAT is not a plug-in but a global software add-on that can be individually turned on and off per channel and placed either pre or post insert. There are only two controls, Tone and Drive that manage HEAT changes across multiple tracks. While it’s nice to have this as a Pro Tools built-in, it falls short of the Phoenix plug-ins capabilities and is more expensive.
  4. Does Pro Tools 8.1 fix promised bugs?
    Last October I wrote about some annoying Pro Tools bugs, some of which didn’t make it into 8.0.4. I was promised by a Digi rep that some of the other bugs were put on a fix list for 8.0.5 which was bypassed with this new 8.1 release. One of my pet peeves has to do with Pro Tools and the C24 controller. The Sends buttons on the C24 will not switch the sends view in Pro Tools necessitating a trip back to the mouse. This has been an issue with Pro Tools since the C24 was released in 2008 and especially disappointing since this feature worked on the Control 24 , the surface that the C24 replaced.
  5. What about Euphonix? At the 2010 NAB convention in April, Avid announced they had purchased Euphonix and “will deliver a broad range of audio and video control surfaces and consoles designed to meet the needs of customers ranging from the independent professional to the high-end broadcaster.” So what’s the status? It seems that this release would have been a great opportunity to include Euphonix. Perhaps Pro Tools EUCON compatibility? Hello? Beuller?

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Avid Bows New Pro Tools HD Products

I’ve been sitting on this news for a while but now it’s official. Avid has released three new Pro Tools interfaces, two of which offer a built-in soft-knee analog limiter. There’s also a new software option for Pro Tools HD called Heat ($495) designed with Crane Song’s Dave Hill, maker of the Phoenix plug-in. Avid is also releasing Pro Tools 8.1 in conjunction with these new products which they say is a minor upgrade. Despite the hoopla surrounding the products, the release leaves some unanswered questions about the new gear.

I’ll be seeing and hearing these interfaces next week at a studio in LA I’m helping put together for Esquire magazine. It’s a very cool project and I’ll have more news and pictures on this installation and what my experience is with the new gear very soon.

Here’s the product descriptions released by Avid today:

HD I/O, HD OMNI and HD MADI interfaces for Pro Tools|HD enable customers to achieve the hd_i_o-front.jpghighest-quality audio with improvements to digital audio conversion quality, a variety of new configuration options and increased support for open digital standards like the popular MADI protocol.

Features include advances in design, filtering and clocking and flexible digital I/O connectivity, which offers support for a variety of formats. Additionally, Curv, a new soft-knee analog limiter hd_omni-fntwht.jpgin HD OMNI and HD I/O, cuts the time customers spend re-recording and editing by tracking hotter signals when recording, preventing distortion when overloading inputs. The new I/O options include:

HD I/O (8x8x8 Analog/Digital $3995; 16×16 Analog $4995; 16×16 Digital $2495): Enables customers to achieve the highest-quality audio record and playback with three optional space-saving configurations—16×16 analog, 16×16 digital and 8x8x8 analog and digital—in a 2 RU rack mountable interface.

HD OMNI ($2995): Frees up customer workspace by integrating the functionality of numerous costly outboard components into an all-in-one premium sound solution for recording, mixing and monitoring. Features include state-of-the-art conversion, two world-class mic pre-amps, headphone outputs, a full-featured surround monitor section and a 14×26 channel persistent mixer that functions even when the computer is off—letting users listen to CDs, MP3 players, keyboards and drum machines without the need for an additional mixer.

HD MADI ($4995): Opens up workflows and speeds production time for broadcast, live sound and post production sound professionals by offering the ability to easily connect Pro Tools|HD systems to industry-standard MADI infrastructures, without the need for a format converter. Built-in sample rate conversion on all inputs and outputs allow customers to integrate into hd_madi-front.jpgworkflows with multiple sample rates (upstream and downstream) using a single, 64-channel 1 RU rack mountable interface.

HEAT ($495)— Premium Analog Warmth in a Digital Package, Minus the Plug-Ins
Designed in collaboration with digital/analog engineer Dave Hill of Crane Song, the HEAT software option for Pro Tools|HD systems is an innovation for mixers who value the warmth and sound qualities of tubes, tape machines and analog consoles, but want to eliminate the complications and expenses of using tape machines and vintage outboard processors, or managing plug-in changes across multiple tracks. Customers can now directly add the best sounding euphonic qualities to every track in the Pro Tools mixer using a single, global control, dramatically enhancing sound quality and improving settings management.

Bundle Prices:

hd-pricing_new.gif

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Airfield Audio Liminator 2

This week, I’m doing a pre-production recording session for a Mix Recording The Band webcast on Sept. 30th and just got a new toy in to play with during the session. Airfield Audio’s Liminator 2 is a airfieldliminator.jpgstereo solid state compressor that features dual input transformers. One of the cooler switchable options is a choice between Jensen or Sowter input transformers for a grittier or cleaner tone. Other controls include variable Threshold, Attack, Release, Ratio and switchable meters (in/out/GR). We popped the top and all pots are matched and the entire unit is handmade. Good stuff!

More info later on the webcast which features the Mackie Onyx 1640i console as the in/out solution for a session recording to a laptop running M-Powered Pro Tools. I’m using great mics and a lot of OB gear inserted during tracking and mixing. Should be very cool and I’m already having fun setting it all up.

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