Archive of the AES 2009 Category

Panning and Decapitation

Two of the coolest plug-ins at AES were from SoundToys, whose marketing director Mitch Thomas sported spiky purple hair especially for the event. PanMan, as the name suggests, is an auto-panner that makes your stereo field a creative destination for complex modulation. With PanMan’s user-programmable rhythm editor, MIDI sync and user-definable LFO shapes, you can set up stereo patterns that just weren’t possible until now.

Decapitator, as the name implies, has a potentially radical effect on audio signals. Decapitator is a saturation processor offering settings that range from slightly grungy to flat-out overdrive. It beefs up your sound by modeling five types of analog gear. Once you find a sound you like, clicking on the Punish button pushes it right over a cliff without losing any of its analog-sounding edge. SoundToys says that Panner and Decapitator should be available before the end of the year.

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Ticket to Ride

Of all the products vying for the biggest buzz at Javits Center, the most labor-saving was almost certainly Vocal Rider, a new plug-in from Waves. Vocal Rider simplifies the job of mixing by automating the normally hands-on process of adjusting the faders on vocal tracks. Instead of manually riding the levels or painstakingly drawing automation data in your multitrack recording software, all you have to do is set a range of levels and let Vocal Rider do its work. It compensates for any variations from the target range, raising or lowering the volume as needed. That should leave a lot more time to focus on recording or other aspects of perfecting your mix.

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HD Tracks

It seems that uncompressed delivery of singles and records is gaining momentum as more titles become available. Just ran into Norman Chesky of HD Tracks, and the company just signed a deal with Universal for content. $15.98 a record, $2.49 a track. Check it out. Not much more for a song as it should be heard.

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Rockin’ at the Roseland

API threw quite a 40th anniversary bash last night, locking out the Roseland Ballroom and flying in Sonny Landreth as the house band. Great food, monster playing, and this old hippie got to see Bob Weir join the band for “Maggie’s Farm” and “Little Red Rooster.” Brought back some fond memories of Dead tours. And Sonny can play. Smokin’.

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Mixing With Attitude

Once again, the Recording Academy put on a stellar Grammy Soundtable, their 26th in conjunction with AES. This time around, the topic was Mixing With Attitude, and P&E Wing exec director Maureen Droney matched up three very unique personalities, each at the top of their game, then brought in Nile Rodgers to moderate and keep them in line. Chris Lord-Alge started off by describing his setup, which hasn’t changed in years and has been moved to his new facility, Mix L.A. He’s at an SSL 4000 E Series with 48-track Sony digital tape machine. He’ll keep it up, he says, as long as he can find tape. Chuck Ainlay out of Backstage in Nashville sits at an SSL 9000J and uses Nuendo, sometimes working with Mark Knopfler in London on his Neve 88r or API, with an EMI Red 4 tube desk, which he jokingly called the “most ridiculous bass DI ever!” Then Tony Maserati said he has no real console in his setup, though he makes use of numerous summing sources, including a 16-channel Chandler, Dangerous 2-bus and a Neve sidecar.

But the fun began when they started to describe their styles and played bback some tracks. Chcuck picked LeeAnn Womack’s “Solitary Thinking,” a lonesome track with beautiful vocal and an open room sound that Chuck says comes from great playing in a relatively small, dead room at Soundstage. Chris picked Green Day’s “East Jesus Nowhere,” a slammin’ track that he confessed he mixed “balls to the wall” in the 45 minutes before the band came in. Tony cut in and said, “45 minutes! The track I’m playing took seven days!” Big laughs, but then he went on to explain that the Keri Hilson song featuring Akon came in at 175 tracks, and the producer kept sending more from L.A. over the Internet. His computer, he said, was “chugging and puffing.”

A couple commonalities emerged. All three try not to listen to a rough until they’ve already looked for the magic in a track. All three wanted to own their work, their contributions, and keep copies in their own vaults, for the inevitable call six months later when the label or artist can’t find what they’re looking for. And there was a quite funny moment at the end, when Bob Clearmountain got up to ask the first question: ” Do you guys like working with the treble best, the lows, or just hanging with the mids?” The panelists never really answered the question, instead applauding Clearmountain, whom they each said was one of their biggest influences. A great hour and a half all around.

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Legacy of Les

Just ran into Russ Paul, know as Les Jr. in some circles. He spent yesterday walking the floor and running into old friends…Eddie Kramer, Phil Ramone, heck, everybody here seemed to know Les and want to share a story. Today Russ wanted to see Eveanna Manley, so we made a beeline to her booth and they shared a big hug. This afternoon at the TEC Awards, when the tribute to Les takes place…well, it will be something special.

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Yamaha Road Warriors

Yamaha Commercial has pulled a 53-foot trailer into the main hall, representing their latest effort to take training and education to the people where they live. Based out of Nashville and aimed primarily at the house of worship market, the new vehicle is double expansion and quite spacious with five networked stations representing each of the console line, the main attraction when you walk in being the PM5D front and center. An additional roomy space in the rear is set up for clinc-style training. Look for it in a town near you.

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API Sells a Vision

API kicked off their second-day press conference with an appearance by Bob Weir (Grateful Dead, Ratdog), who just purchased a Vision console for his home studio. Weir told the crowd that he first encountered the API name nearly 40 years ago, when he and the Dead went into a San Francisco studio to record “American Beauty.” Now he’s back full circle and “pleased as punch,” thinking that”he might buy another.” Weir was followed by the head of the MP&E department at Berklee College of Music, which just purchased three Legacy Plus boards, calling it the “most musical console on Earth, with the definitive tools that students need.” The company was also showing off the 1608, with Grammy-winning engineer Vance Powell doing demos. And they had a new 500 Series compressor on display, the 527. Now it’s on to their 40th-anniversary bash tonight at the Roseland Ballroom. Hottest ticket at the show, with Sonny Landreth as the house band and a scheduled guest appearance by Mr. Weir himself. Should be fun!

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First day of AES: What a show!

It’s the first day of AES, and already I’m seeing products that are bound to please everyone. In the everybody’s-gonna-want-one department, two products really stand out. The first is the the new Korg Wavedrum, a resurrection of a legendary electronic hand drum, brought up to date with new samples and new technology, at a price that can scarcely be believed. The other is the Novation Launchpad, a control surface with an 8×8 matrix of illuminated buttons designed for Ableton Live, but it works with any software, thanks to its built-in Automap support. Best of all, it will street for less than $200! Lots more details later. Back to the show! Launchpad

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Welcome to AES 2009!

Stay tuned to this page to get your breaking news from the show floor!
—Editors

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