Archive for April, 2011

It’s Not Exactly Audio BUT……

One of the coolest things I saw at the recent NAB show was the Roland VR5 AV Mixer/Recorder. And although this blog is mostly about audio, there are some compelling reasons for audio pros to know about this product. After all, in these days where self-promotion is king and everyone must be their own promoter, what better way than to explore web streaming as an option. For instance, if you’re a studio looking for a contact-bumpvr-5_roland.jpg from your clients, why not live stream a session? Dierks Bentley did just that from a studio in Ashville, NC and the results were impressive.

But back to the gear. The VR5 is an elegant, all-in solution for audio/video live production. I was able to quickly get my head and hands around the unit at the Roland booth at NAB. They had a few camera feeds coming in to the VR5 and I was able to quickly fade in and out of the various sources by simply touching the screen. It accepts up to 5 sources including two independent audio sources. It also has an onboard player that sources from an SD card, can do chroma keying and other neat video tracks. It was so cool that I’m going to do a live stream event soon that I’ll write about in Mix.

Check out the VR5, it could very well be another revenue stream for individuals or facilities looking for more ways to spread their brand and put some $$$ in their pockets.

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Mike Reagan

Mike Reagan is a member of the first generation of commercial music composers who began their careers knowing that this field represented a viable option. A native of the San Fernando Valley, Reagan grew up playing guitar and piano, and spent time at the Dick Grove Music School before heading east to the Berklee College of Music.

Scott Gershin, of Soundelux Media Labs, which later became Soundelux DMG, gave Reagan his first major opportunity. “I started out doing sound design- effects mostly- for video games, which was a new division for the company at that time. From there I went into designing sound effects for feature films, then got the opportunity to compose music for games.

“Back then- the mid 1990’s- I was working with a simple set of tools. Opcode Studio Vision was my work station, SampleCell my sampler, and my keyboard controller was a Kurzweill K2500. It’s amazing to think of what you could turn out with those basic pieces of equipment if you worked hard enough!”

These days Mike works out of his home, which sports two mirrored studios, each with three Mac Pro’s. “One runs Logic 9 and a combination of Vienna Instruments and Bidule, another spits out samples only, and a third runs ProTools 8.”

Reagan left Soundelux in 1999 to strike out on his own, just after writing an original song for the Jim Henson/Sony Pictures feature film “Elmo in Grouchland,” supervised by music supervisor Andy Hill. “That score won a Grammy in the category of Best Children’s soundtrack album.”

Mike’s mixed his own tracks for years, but has recently reached out to LA mixer John Rodd to mix his music. “John is a talented recordist and mixer who has worked on hundreds of records, films, video games, and television projects. He is a joy to work with and it’s great to have his ears on my projects.”

Although he works with live players whenever possible, Reagan marvels at the constantly escalating quality of sample libraries. “Last year I flew to Skywalker Ranch a few times, to record the “God Of War III” and “Darksiders” scores, and you hear things from these great musicians playing in a great room that you’ll never hear from samples and synths.

“But it’s amazing what the technology is giving us these days. I mocked up some demos recently using LASS (LA Scoring Strings) and then went into a studio to replace them with live string players. The samples sounded so good on one of the cues that we kept them in!

“I’m a huge Spectrasonics freak, and a big fan of Tonehammer, Cinesamples, Sonivox, Andrew Keresztes at Audio Bro, Yuval Shrem at Fable Sounds and Eduardo Tarilonte at Forest Kingdom, LASS and Broadway Big Band are some of my all time favorite sample libraries. On the plug-in side, I have all of the Waves stuff, and everything that Sound Toys puts out is great.

“I have two mirrored studios, and Adam 3A’s are my main stereo speakers in both rooms. I love them. I also regularly use Bock Audio microphones- David Bock was the inventor behind Soundelux microphones which I don’t think are available anymore, but he continues to make beautiful sounding mics under his own company ( and they sound better than ever!”

These days Mike Reagan spends about two thirds of his time writing music for games. The rest of the time he’s scoring television shows, and he recently scored his first feature film. So, what changes has he seen in the audio for video game industry over the last 15 years plus?

“People expect- rightly- that music will sound great regardless of the playback system a user has. We’re used to providing that quality. My first game was on the Super Nintendo platform. We had to learn how to make stuff sound awesome coming out of tiny speakers, and we did!

“I’m really excited about our new company, Redvolt Audio. Redvolt will be targeting mobile entertainment, and we’re working with some of the premier mobile game designers and publishers.”

More about Redvolt Audio and Mike’s career can be found on his website,

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The Best $20 You’ll Spend Today

Longtime friend of Mix and audio engineer Jose “Chilitos” Valenzuela has released his much-anticipated second edition of “The Complete Pro Tools Shortcuts.” The book is newly revised with over 400 Pro Tools shortcuts covering the latest versions of the DAW protoolsshortuts.jpgand is a great way to speed up your workflow and make more $$$$$$$. I just got my copy today and it is well-written and comprehensive. It’s the best $20 you’ll spend today.

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Lawrence Manchester

Growing up in Maine, Lawrence Manchester dreamed of a career in music. Working behind the desk wasn’t part of the original plan, however. Playing guitar and drums, singing, and working steadily in his teens, Manchester headed off to the Peabody Conservatory to hone his classical percussion stops. While in college he became intrigued with the recording process. Manchester is kept busy these days with his steady job as Music Mixer for the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon show, and he sandwiches film score dates around his work at NBC.

In 1994 Manchester began a two year internship at the Power Station. “The music industry is always changing,” he says, “and that was a time of significant change. When I started out at the Power Station 24 track analog tape was still the master format, unless a client wanted to pay $1,000 a day to rent a Sony DASH machine. Now ProTools is the standard platform for recording mixing and mastering.”

Manchester does a lot of mixing and mastering at the room he operates out of Avatar. “I did the acoustic treatment myself, after doing a lot of research and experimentation. I use a Mackie Control surface with my ProTools rig, and JBL SLR Series 6328 surround monitors. I have a similar set up in the room I maintain at NBC.

“I rely heavily on the Waves Platinum bundle, and I also use their restoration tools at times. I like Revibe, the DigiDesign reverb quite a bit; it’s efficient and its 5.1 algorithms are very good. I’m also a fan of the Sound Toys series of plug-ins.”

Manchester particularly enjoys recording orchestras, and film dates have been an important part of his career. “After spending a few years as an intern at the Power Station I went over to Manhattan Center Studios. They’re one of the big orchestral studios in town and I wanted to get into that side of the busines. Joel Iwataki was my mentor. He engineers a lot of dates for Elliot Goldenthal, and I get to participate in a number of those sessions. These projects can take a good deal of time to complete, and Joel will often start working on one of them and then have scheduling issues that will force him to move onto another project, at which point I’ll continue working with Elliot. That was the the case with Across The Universe, which was a wonderful film.”

He jumps back and forth between three worlds, so what does Lawrence Manchester feel are the main differences between engineering records, film scores, and live television?

“A record is the product itself, whereas music for film or television serves to support another medium. More time and attention, therefore, can generally be put into making records.

“Technically, film music is recorded and mixed in 5.1, but records are still conceived and executed in stereo, for the most part. People love portability and stereo is the only practical way to deliver sound that can be moved around easily- we only have two ears, so multi-channel headphones aren’t practical! As long as people want to have music in their breast pocket we’re locked into stereo.

“Every day I mix bands and other musical groups for Jimmy Fallon in 5.1 and it’s great to weave the audience into the mix. I love it, and I have to admit it’s a bit depressing to have to take that material and listen to it in only two channels! That aside, I love what I do and consider myself very lucky to be working in this industry.”

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Top 5 NAB Gear Picks

I just returned from the NAB show in Las Vegas where there was some standout gear on display. I saw Genelec’s 1238CFgenelec_1238cf.jpg Tri-Amplified DSP Monitoring System for the first time and it is impressive. The three-way monitor is a midfield or soffit-mount size speaker that is a mere 10.1 inches deep and offers their Genelec Loudspeaker Manager™ (GLM™) control software. The 1238CF can be combined with Genelec 8200/7200 Series products in the same control network. The rear-mounted amp ran surprisingly cool to the touch and the speakers sounded great.

The Digico SD11 is a rackmounted live mixer that comes with a stagebox offering 16 microphone pre amps, eight line outputs and two mono AES I/O. It features 12 touch sensitive moving sd11-cover.jpgfaders below a 15� touch sensitive screen. There’s plenty of IO on the unit itself making it versatile enough to run with or without the stagebox for quick and portable use.

The Channel from Aphex is a complete channel strip for voice and instruments. The Channel incorporates seven powerful devices within a compact, single rack space design. It includes a tube preamp, compressor, gate, de-esser, Aphex’s Big Bottom bass enhancer, parametric EQ, and Aural Exciter.

Roland’s M-480 is their upgrade of the M-400 V-Mixer. It has a wider stance, larger touchscreen and more direct user tweakability including an EQ “smart channelâ€? to which you can assign any channel for quick hands-on involvement with your signal processors. It features 48 mixing channels plus 6 stereo returns Main roland-m-480.jpgLCR outputs, 16 AUX buses, 8 matrices 4-band fully parametric EQ, gate/compressor on all channels. All input and output channels equipped with delay 6 built-in multi-effects and 12 graphic EQs Cascade capability supports large format applications.

The Neyrinck V-Control Pro is a slick iPad controller for Pro Tools (soon to be cross app) designed by none other than former senior vice-president and chief technology officer of Avid Technology, Dave LeBolt. I was quickly able to get deep into automation and plug-in controls with its large buttons, some which v-control-pro-neyrinck-copy.jpgpop up other useful menus making it a tactile delight. You can swipe horizontally to move channels instead of banking and operate the transport with the dedicated controls across the bottom of the screen. Watch for a review coming soon.

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“This Boy”

I spend a lof of time at weddings checking out the band- it keeps me from having to make chit chat with the in-laws. I ran into Andrew Lubman a few years ago at an affair and we started talking. Check out the video of him singing and playing down “This Boy.” He nails it, doesn’t he? What impresses me most is the way Andrew inflects the lead and each of the two background vocals. He’s not imitating the Beatles, but he is imparting some variety of color to each of the tracks.

Nice job, Andrew!

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Nylon Guitar

Back in the day I concertized as a “classical” (I hate that term; it sounds pretentious to me) guitarist. The great Fred Hand ( was my teacher at one point. Naturally, when plug-ins hit the market purporting to give a realistic simulation of the nylon string guitar and all its colors, my ears perk up.

I haven’t gotten my hands on this product yet, but follow the link and check out the dryly-named Nylon Guitar plug-in ( The demos sound good, don’t they?

Isaac Albeniz’s 19th century piece “Leyenda,” is one of the chestnuts of the literature. It captures the fire and romance of Andalusia. When I was 19 and traveling through Europe with my girl friend Carolyn I stopped on the steps of the Alhambra to listen to a kid about my age play. He handed the guitar to me and I aimed this piece in his direction.

The only weakness I can hear in these demos is revealed in this demo. One of the go to ways that players bring variety into performances is to switch from playing over the sound hole to playing ponticello- close to the bridge. In a piece like “Leyenda,” or any of the dances from the Bach lute suites- another staple of the literature- that contain lots of repeated sections, having the ability to vary color in this way is essential. I didn’t hear any ponticello playing in these demos, however.

Otherwise, this sounds like a fantastic product, well worth checking out.

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Blade Studios Grand Opening Party

Blade Studios had a very successful grand opening party on Saturday April 2, 2011. With close to 600 in attendance, the crowd enjoyed food and drinks while exploring the newly constructed studios. The highlight of the night was the jam session where musicians could sit in and jam with other fellow musicians. Brian Blade led the jam session starting out with his father Brady Blade Sr singing. The jam session was recorded on Blade Studios new CLASP system running to a Studer 827 then recorded to Pro-Tools at 96 Khz. Some of the mixes will be posted soon on the Blade Studios Facebook page.

Here is one of the songs from the jam session:

Blade Studios Grand Opening Party Jam 3 by bladestudios

Here is a new tour video of Blade Studios:

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April 2011
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