Archive of the TechTicker Category

Roger Nichols Gear To Be Auctioned

Sadly, last year we lost an audio engineering great with the passing of Roger Nichols. The family is auctioning off his gear through Sweetwater and ebay. You can view the gear here.

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More Hot Gadgets from CES

More Hot tablets, notebooks, TVs and gadgets from CES

Acer Iconia Tab A700 quad-core tablet

Griffin Twenty: Makes any speaker Airplay ready

Lenovo X1 Hybrid Laptop

Ion Audio Guitar Apprentice


Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Ultrabook

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Hot Gear From CES 2012

As always, CES takes consumer audio gear (and often prices) up a notch, but it’s always worth a look to see what’s hot at the show. Here’s what’s in the news so far.

Logic3, Ferrari Create Premium Speakers for Discerning Audiophiles

Cambridge Audio Azur 851 amplifier and DAC/CD player/preamplifier

IK Multimedia iOS Audio

SRS Labs Pushing Object-Based Audio at CES 2012

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Top 20 Products of 2011

Year one of the new decade offered up a slammin’ set of new audio products sure to make any audio-head squeal with joy. Check out my picks for the best products of 2011 based on their uniqueness, great feature sets and overall quality.

1. The Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite plug-in accelerator gives users a powerful, desktop unit that powers a growing list of plug-ins via FireWire.

2. The Bag End INFRASUB-18 Pro and PMM-8 monitors provide a turnkey, stellar sounding, full-range system that sounds bigger than its size.

3. The Retro Instruments Powerstrip Recording Channel features a great sounding tube preamp, EQ and compressor in a two rackspace unit.

4. The Empirical Labs Doc Derr 500 Series Module takes the compact format to a new high with multi-button access to a wide range of hidden EQ features.

5. The groundbreaking Sonnox Fraunhofer Pro Codec Pug-in gives the user feature rich AAC and MP3 encoding in real time.

6. IK Multimedia’s Amplitube Custom Shop offers a la carte pricing, try-before-you-buy, and consistently excellent digital models.

7. Sonodyne’s SM 100Ak Monitors produces excellent bass response, a wide sweet spot and superb imaging, all in a small and affordable package.

8. JZ MIcrophones’ Vintage 12 is a version of the legendary AKG C12 replacing the original C12 tubes with high-quality transistor technology with equivalent frequency response with fewer maintenance and care issues.

9. The Waves Vintage Aphex Aural Exciter plug-in offers a completely unique plug-in application of a vintage and boutique hardware processor.

10. Monster Turbine Pro Gold in-ear speakers yields a great listening experience, are musical across the entire frequency range, have an open top and faithfully represent bass and mid-range frequencies.

11. Grace Designs M501 preamp is a great sounding, pristine mic amp at a fair price. Its ribbon mode, DI input, high gain and low noise make it a must-buy for anyone with an open 500 series rackspace.

12. Cubase 6 knocked this upgrade out of the park by offering stable 32- and 64-bit operation (Mac and PC), filling feature gaps from past versions, plus faster workflow, great tempo detection and accurate MIDI conversion.

13. The Sennheiser HD800 headphones serves up impeccable fit and finish plus musical and balanced reproduction in an open-ear and super-comfortable form factor.

14. Cakewalk’s SONAR X1 brings an excellent new GUI, SkyLight and ProChannel enhancements and an arsenal of stock plug-ins and instruments.

15. Pelonis Sound and Acoustics Model 42 Compact Studio Monitors are not only unique looking, but present an excellent listening experience that can be tailored to any environment via DSP, all in a super-small footprint.

16. Pro Tools HD Native broke through a number of price-per-feature barriers brining near-TDM throughput to users at an extremely affordable price point.

17. The Magma Expressbox 3T PCIe expansion chassis for Thunderbolt technology created a breakthrough for those needing portable and powerful DAW workflow via a laptop.

18. AEA’s KU4 directional ribbon microphone is an accurate re-do of the vintage KU3 from RCA. It offers excellent reproduction of a wide range of instruments plus vocals making it an instant redux-classic.

19. The Dangerous Music Liaison offers easy and super-clean switching between six stereo-insert loops, assignable to two stereo buses; flexible and parallel processing; instant recall of any gear patched through the unit; and seamless integration with Dangerous Master.

20. The DPA 2000 Series are the company’s first mics for less than $1,000. It features separate heads and bodies that are compatible with DPA’s higher-end capsules for easy upgrades.

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Studio DONE!

I’ve been following a studio build in LA as it has unfolded and it is a beauty. The previous blog posts, here and here, outlined the build from the walls in. All the finish work is done now and you can see the end product in a gallery here. Enjoy! And watch in January for a blow by blow description of the building of my own personal mixing space.

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Steve’s Impact On Audio

Even though we could all see the inevitable with Steve Jobs looking more and more frail as time went on, his passing is sad andt_hero.jpg shocking. I was watching Anderson Cooper last night and CNN had an excellent special with interviews, archival footage and a timeline of Apple products from the 70′s to the present. His impact on consumers is beyond any other CEO’s in history but he also effected audio production in a big way.

Although I didn’t buy it with making music in mind, my first computer was an Apple IIe I bought in 1983 and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. The green screen was ugly, the 5.25″ floppy was slow and noisy, it had 64 kB of RAM but I still had the feeling I was on the cutting edge. And that’s what Apple products did then and still do now: make you feel good. Whether its feeling cool about having an iPhone in your pocket to show your pictures and videos to your friends, listening to music on the go (oh and there’s that phone call thing too), or running audio software on your Apple laptop, iPad or tower, it’s like being Elroy Jetson.

Although those early computers weren’t as cool for music makers as the Commodore 64 running Dr. T software, Apple quickly started moving toward heftier music production ability with the release of the IIgs in 1986 which included a 32-voice Ensoniq 5503, ‘wavetable’ sample-based music synthesizer chip, 64 kB dedicated RAM and 256 kB of standard RAM.

My first engineering experience with an Apple computer in the studio was when I worked on Kenny G’s Breathless record in 1989. I had helped Kenny put his home studio together and got the call to cut tracks for the project after we got the room up and running. Kenny used Opcode’s Vision running on a beefy Mac (IIci I think) to sequence his tracks which we then recorded onto a Mitsubishi 1/2″ 48 track digital recorder. Later, near the end of the project, Kenny upgraded to Studio Vision which was first product to integrate MIDI sequencing and digital audio editing and recording on any platform. It used Digidesign’s Sound Tools and the rest, as they say, is history.

So what would I say to Steve Jobs if I could sit down next to him and have a coffee? I’d start with thank you. Thanks Steve for empowering me, making me feel good, and professional. Thank you for making me think outside the box, making me a better engineer, journalist and educator. But most of all, thanks for being my hero to the end. At a time when many of my heroes have fallen due to human weakness, greed, drugs and just plain being stupid, you remained a man of integrity until the end. It was an honor to live during your lifetime.

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Pro Tools 10?

I know Avid just released Pro Tools 9 this year but new features sneak-peeked in this video from IBC last week warrant a major number upgrade. (I wonder if they’ll close the door on Snow Leopard with PT10?). Also see the video at the bottom of the page demoing Light Peak (now known as Thunderbolt) from IDF 2010. It shows that Thunderbolt is built in to all devices including Avid’s HD IO. I’m betting this bows at AES in October as well as PT10

New Pro Tools features include:

Playing a Pro Tools session from shared storage. This means you’re playing from a disk cache and not from your local drive and is big news for users working across a network.

Embedded real time fades (no more fade files!). Ever notice how long it takes to open a session with a lot of fades? This new feature means Pro Tools will operate like Nuendo and pretty much the rest of the world – it’s a real improvement.

The ability to adjust the gain of individual clips/regions (+/- 36dB above zero) and add dynamic automation to the timeline. Once again, the competition has been doing this for a while but is a very useful feature.

New overlap crossfades view. This works with the new clip gain feature allowing you to visually adjust the levels of crossfades. Even cooler, AudioSuite processes don’t overwrite these types of edits.

Storage and recall of automation snapshots. Great for post and other applications where you may want to overlay automation onto new audio.

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Update: Studio In Progress

The LA studio build I’m following is near completion. According to integrator David Knauer from Audio Perception: “The wood floor is in and the wall treatments are about 70% down. We still have to build diffused wall treatments for the live room and we just received a 10 ft Argosy desk that will hold the C24. The desk has two rack expanders that hold The BAE and Radial mic pre’s and patchbays, Furman Headphone system, and other outboard gear. It also has a producer desk section that has a 20 in monitor on an arm down inside the desk the lets the monitor go from lying flat on the surface on the console to raised up into working position. we’ll also have a 27″ monitor on an arm on the back of the console. Next week we install the desk and begin to wire the studio for audio, video, computer, and ethernet.”

Here are two progression photo sets from studs to finish work numbered 1, 2, 3 in order of completion.

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New Avid Fast Track C400/C600?

I do a fair amount of surfing for audio tech and found this today. Looks like the cats out of the bag on new Fast Track interfaces c400.jpgfrom Avid. NovaMusik has the new Fast Track C400 and C600 on their site with hints at onboard effects and a monitor management system supporting multiple speaker sets (price TBA). Looks like the C400 has two preamps while the larger C600 has c600.jpgfour. And are those faders on a desktop unit? Looks like it to me which is very cool and gives the unit a look more like Avid’s MC Control.

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Studio In Progress

David Knauer of AudioPerception is a freelance engineer and audio integrator in scruffy1.jpgLos Angeles who helped me put the Esquire House studio together in 2010. This year he’s working on a build of a studio with JSX Audio’s Jerry Steckling who’s worked on the audio design for rooms at Pixar, Skywalker and more. The room is just beyond demolition stage and I’ll be posting more pictures as I get them. It’s being built for Josie Cotton, will be called Kitten Robot and David promises me it won’t be your average recording space.

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