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Waves eMotion LV1 Demo and Training in Vegas

By Bill Evans / May 20, 2016

We have been touting the advantages of a computer-based mixing system with no physical console for more than a decade. And while Bob Lentini’s SAC system never reached it’s potential, it looks like the Wave eMotion just may pull it off. Our pal Pooch is using it as a matrix mixer on his current tour and even for those who need physical knobs and faders, it makes a great “production console” for multi-act and multi-stage festival gigs.

 

Waves is offering a couple of hours of demo and training in Vegas on June 8 (during InfoComm and there are still about 50 seats open. Register now to check it out away from the show floor mayhem.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/waveslive-las-vegas-emotion-lv1-mixer-demo-tickets-24771048874

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Audio-Technica System 10 PRO Rack-Mount Digital Wireless System

By Bill Evans / March 30, 2016

When it comes to the world of wireless mics one might best describe me as “gun shy.” While I have owned very few of them compared to a real production company, I have faced the need to sell a few outside of the U.S. when we were kicked out of the 700 mHz band almost a decade ago. But the biggest reason for my hesitation is undoubtedly that I have been covering the politics and back and forth between gov’t, the audio industry and the much more powerful tech industry for at least that long.

(For those of you who have not been following this, the short version is that telecoms and the tech industry want the same “open” spectrum that is used for UHF-based wireless mics and monitors in order to increase bandwidth for things like smart phones and cellular tablets, They have way, way, way more money than the audio industry and they are GOING to get what they want. It is a question of when, not if.)

When I was asked to go with a group of sound pros from Nevada and California to speak with the congressional delegation of both states, one of the guys we talked to was the then-brand-new congressman representing northern Nevada, Dean Heller. Since then he was re-elected to the House three times, appointed to an open Senate seat, won that same seat in the 2012 election and is coming up on re-election. GW was in his second term and the conventional wisdom was the Hillary was gonna be president in the near-future. At least that part seems to have stayed consistent…

And I got hip to digital wireless at least a half a dozen years before that when I dropped in to a nondescript industrial park outside of Sacramento, CA and met Guy Coker and Jamie Scott at a company very few knew about called X-Wire. When Guy ended up at Line 6 after selling X-Wire to Sennheiser (who totally f’d up a system with huge promise) and launching as X2 when his non-compete expired and then selling that to Line 6, I was a big supporter of both their handheld mics and guitar systems.  (Jamie went on to found Third Power, a company that makes guitar amps that I wish I could afford.)

This is the scenic route to explaining that I have been a proponent of digital wireless operating in the 2.4 or 5.6 gHz bands for a long, long time.

The Audio-Technica System 10 comes in a bunch of different flavors ranging from handhelds to stomp box-style guitar systems. But the System 10 PRO Rack-Mount that I saw more than a year ago at NAMM was the first one aimed at head-worn and lavaliere users with an obvious eye on the install—and especially the House of Worship—market. But when I first saw it, I had a very different use in mind. And I started plotting then to get a review in the works and—finally—get my horn section on wireless mics.

My section has been on clip-on wired mics—a mixture of A-T and AKG—for more than a decade. But as we moved into bigger and better gigs, I wanted to see them wireless just for the performance enhancing aspects. But until the System 10 PRO, it had been just out of reach financially to go that direction.

The System 10 PRO appears to have been designed with keeping costs under control in ways both overt and not so obvious. One of the things that can add greatly to the cost of a wireless system is an antenna combiner and external antenna that is not constrained to the position of the rack containing the receivers. The System 10 PRO makes that bit of extra gear un-needed by using a pretty ingenious modular design.

Each 1/2 rack space unit can actually house a pair of receiver “packs.” Each of these packs—about the size of the clicker that opens your garage door—can either slide right into the rack unit OR it can attach to the unit—which house the XLR audio output as well as all of the controls for pairing, setting gain, etc—via a standard RJ12 telephone cable and then be mounted AWAY from the rack on a pole or a wall or—you name it.

We got the System 10 PRO—three channels mounted in one rack space with a slot left over to grow on—about a month before my band started a month-long run at the Aquarius in Laughlin, NV. About 100 miles south of Las Vegas. Four hours of playing time over three sets every night, five nights a week for four consecutive weeks. In a move that was more balls than brains, I left the wired mics at home and dove head-first into the new system.

(For the completists, the actual configuration of the system was a pair of ATW-RC13 chassis units tied together with a mounting plate which gave us four slots for three ATW-RU13 receiver packs with one slot left open. Those were fed by three ATW-T1001 body packs which were in turn connected to a trio of ATM350cW mics.)

Setup was a snap. Choose a System ID number on the receiver (you can use up to 10 units on the same stage so you get system IDs from 0-9) and then press and hold the Pair button until it starts to blink. Then open the battery door of the transmitter belt pack and press the Pair button there. And the transmitter and receiver form a bonded pair that is not determined by anything as last decade as frequencies. Once paired, a receiver/transmitter package go through a little dance every time they are turned on.

When the receiver is powered up, it scans for a clean frequency in the 2.4 gHz range and locks onto it. When the transmitter is powered on, it is like the receiver taps it on the shoulder and says, “Hey, dude, we’re over here.” And the transmitter sets itself to the same frequency and we’re ready to go. Crucially, should that frequency become less than clear during a performance, the receiver finds a new clear frequency, does the same shoulder tap to the transmitter and they move in tandem to the new frequency.

It’s like being at a party with the perfect wingman.

This can’t be overemphasized in importance. The room we were playing happened, just by fate, to also be home to a wireless router that is SUPPOSED to be used for outside vendors visiting the property. Supposed…

We loved playing this venue but wifi service, well, it sucked. And it was expensive. So, as you can likely imagine anyone who works there who has ever had access to the password to that network that is supposed to be for vendors has it stored in their phone. It’s a busy little router. And it lives in the 2.4 gHz range.

The System 10 PRO was not the only digital wireless we were using. We had a Line 6 handheld mic as well which—just as crucially—does not frequency hop. It is a system with a few years on it in terms of design and it transmits on two frequencies at a time and jumps between the two in a more typical diversity-style setup. And after a few nights we had to hang it up and use the standard wireless—one that did not include the Heil PR35 head that we prefer—because it was getting hit and dropping out at an unacceptable rate. It’s a lounge gig. I can deal with a drop out or two in a night. But a drop out or two per song? Yeah. No.

But the System 10 PRO units made it through 19 shows without a single audible dropout.

Not. One.

Battery life was another welcome surprise. One of the downsides of the digital wireless stuff I have used is that it tends to chew through batteries. Remember, the transmitter is doing a lot more work than a standard, analog beltpack. in addition to transmitting the signal, it has to do the analog-to-digital conversion. Plus in the case of the System 10 PRO it is in constant secondary communication with the receiver for the whole frequency hopping thing. Added to all of that, as input, we used the ATM350cW clip-on condenser models so the packs are also providing phantom power. The batteries should be toast after a set, maybe two.

Between the three wireless mics for horns plus the handheld for a lead singer and a guitar pack for me and several sets of in-ears, we use enough batteries that finding a good rechargeable option was a must. We use Eneloop Pros. And a pair of those gets through a full night and halfway through a second night before they die using the System 10 PRO. In other systems, we are having to replace them before we get to the last set. If you are NOT using rechargeables, that can get really expensive really fast.

Sound quality—as should be expected from A-T—was exceptional. The house sound guy was more than happy with what he was getting from us. And the fact that he did not have mics on stands in front of a section helped keep the potential for audio gremlins at bay. I ran a split from the house snake and used that to capture multi-track of a few shows using the Capture software that came as a part of the PreSonus RM32AI system I use for mixing shows when we have to provide PA. When I went to mix those tracks down, the isolation between the individual horns was orders of magnitude better than what it would have been with mics on stands. We matched that multi-tracked audio up with some iPhone 6S video and you can check those out here for an idea of how the system actually sounds.)

So, to sum up… Easy to use. It handles hostile RF environments with ease. Long battery life. Easy setup. and it sounds great. The Audio-Technica System 10 PRO is a home run for anyone needing a wireless, non-handheld mic solution.

 

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Moving On Along With the World…

By Bill Evans / March 7, 2016

One of my favorite series of books ever is a set of Stephen King tomes called The Dark Tower. Written over a nearly 30-year period and published over two decades, the tale of the Gunslinger is influenced in equal parts by a Robert Browning poem, The Lord of the Rings, and Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood. It is basically King’s masterwork and many of his other books have roots in or refer to people and places in the sprawling tale of the of the Gunslinger and his quest for the Dark Tower.

In the beginning we find the Gunslinger in a world kind of like a run-down version of our own (and later it gets very, very weird…) and on more than one occasion, he explains how what we are seeing is just a shell of what once was and that “the world has moved on.”

I have adopted that phrase many times over the years. We live in times where change is the only constant and trying to cling to anything at all is probably an exercise in futility.

Just look at the changes in our little world of audio. When I started covering touring audio in late 2002 as the founding editor of FOH, I did my first coverage of a tour using a digital console in probably 2003 or maybe early 2004. It was an interview with Bob Goldstein of Maryland Sound and I believe the tour was Josh Groban and the console was a Yamaha PM1D. The cost of that console was about double what I had paid for my house a decade earlier and it was news because there were not a lot of tours that had gone digital at that point. Just a few years later when Midas finally released their first digital console it was a flop because, although in adjusted dollars it was not hugely more expensive than a fully loaded and mirrored PM1D system, the world had moved on and a $350K digital audio console was pretty much dead on arrival. (Legend has it that there was nearly a fight on the floor at PLASA when the XL8 was intro’d and the then-head of Midas which was still owned by Bosch asked the president of one of the biggest sound companies in the US how many he was gonna buy and the answer was “Zero. At that price I would have to rent it for five years to recover the cost.”)

When I went online to research the release date of the XL8, I got one of those handy content/search based ads telling me I could buy a Midas M32 for less than 1% of the cost of the XL8. Now obviously you can’t compare the two. Not really. But in less than a decade, a console that can do an awful lot of small tours can be had for one-one-hundredth the cost. And there is big competition at that price point. If you want a 32-in-16-out-plus-the-main-stereo-bus console with wireless control in the three grand range you have your choice of at least three that I can think of off the top of my head including the one I personally use, the Presonus RM32AI. With no control surface. I use my Mac or an iPad to control it.

The world has—quite definitely—moved on. 

Back to my little corner of the publishing/content world… It has moved on as well.

Five years ago, SPL did not exist, I was still working at FOH and Live2Play was a side project. A kind of digital laboratory where I tried things that I could never do at FOH. My wife, Linda, who is a photographer and at the time was working for the same company as her day gig, went to a trade show for photographers and saw some cool software and registered for a drawing to win it. She won.

It was called Site Grinder. It was a Photoshop plug-in that claimed to give designers a way to make Web sites without any real coding. That was the claim and it worked but it was never anywhere close to that simple. But anyway…

My daughter Erin got a hold of it and said, “You know, there is no reason we could not use this to design mini Web sites that look like magazines.” And that was the birth of the Level 11 Media digital eZines. The first one for Live2Play came out in January of 2011 and the first one badged SoundProLive a few months later..

In the ensuing five years, we have been through a couple of redesigns, added and then got rid of some features. And then added some of them back. We had to switch platforms when Site Grinder went away. Which is what happens when a big company like Adobe starts making a product that does the same stuff that the indie-produced plug-in did. That is probably a great analogy for all of this and business life in general in the early 21st Century but we’ll leave that for another time.

When I sat down to write this, I was ready to announce that this would be the last digital eZine we would produce. We were ready to move on to new formats and distribution channels—ironically while our print competition is STILL trying to milk a 100-year-old biz model—but it appears from the response we got to an early version of this that was passed around that there are some—a significant “some”—who still like something with the feel of a magazine even if it is on a screen. But that is not to say it will last forever.

Change is coming faster all the time. I did almost 60 gigs as a player/bandleader last year. About 2/3 of those had a house sound guy and all but two of that group were under the age of 40. Of that subgroup, not a single one had ever picked up an audio trade magazine. And, while they all knew the L2P and/or SPL sites and were familiar with our social media updates, few had ever opened one of these digital magazines, either.

I am super proud of this platform. We pioneered the first—and still, really, the only—digital magazines that don’t suck. But the world has moved on. In a world of 140-character Tweets and Facebook memes and Vine videos, the idea of a compendium of content like a magazine—printed or digital—may not resonate with most people. Hell, I have had PR people for major companies “discover” this format after we had been doing it for more than three years and even some of our own contributors who did now know it existed until they saw a link to their own stuff in it. Y’all know you you are…

So, we are counting on you to tell us. Keep ‘em? Or ditch the eZine idea. We are also looking at some new platforms that may make these easier to produce. (From day one, these eZines have been a hack—using software in ways it was never meant to be used. And as with all hacks it is mental bandwidth and labor intensive.) 

We have already started to experiment with some other distribution formats. We are feeding the Apple News ecosystem and looking into the world of FaceBook Instant Articles. Not a surprise as we were the lone voice in the wilderness for social media in the MI and Pro Audio worlds too for a long time.

So there you have it. new year, new changes. It is the only constant. 

The world has moved on. No doubt about that. But, like the Gunslinger, my quest is not over. Maybe I should change my name to Roland.

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Waves eMotion Is (FINALLY) Here

By Bill Evans / January 25, 2016

One of the only things I missed and regretted about skipping NAMM this year was the chance to see a shipping version of the Waves eMotion mixing system. I have been after a totally computer based system for a long long time now. I bought one of Bob Lentini’s SAC rigs back in about 2010. Did a review of it in FOH. Looked for a link to it but can’t find it. Y’all know I am persona non grata around there, so no surprise. But if you want a glimpse of what an all-computer system is like, you might check out this group. http://www.proaudiospace.com/group/graduatedtosac

Anyway. Given that background, I have been bugging the Waves guys about when your eMotion system will be a reality for a few years now. And it is.

Here is a video by A-List FOH engineer Brad Divens about it. Rumor has it that our pal Pooch was demoing it at the show. Damn…

And here is the full story from the Waves site.

A full system includes I/O such as the DiGiGrid IOX (reviewed by our own Darth Fader HERE) Plus a SoundGrid server and a license for the actual eMotion software. Pricing depends on the size of the system, but the info we get from our pals in Tel Aviv range from about $7K for a 16-channel version to a bit north of $11K for a 32in/18 out system. And you can go up to double that in terms of I/O. Add to all of that the cost of a mac or PC to run the eMotion software. So it ain’t cheap. But it looks rather cool and, make no mistake, love it or hate it THIS is the future of mixing live sound. You might wanna pay attention here…

We are–of course–trying to get them to ship one out to us so we can run it through it’s paces.

 

 

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Clair Announces Cohesion Loudspeaker Series

By Bill Evans / January 22, 2016

Well, they made it pretty hard to post anywhere, but we happen to be pretty clever and know how to look at code and find what we are looking for… Clair has a announced a new speaker series called Cohesion that looks fairly interesting. You can get all of the details on their site here or check out the promo video below.

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Shure Reinvents Itself

By Bill Evans / January 22, 2016

So far the amount of actual newsworthy stuff coming out of NAMM has been a trickle at best. It’s amazing how much better a perception one can get on the annual gear fest when not in the middle of the noise and dog-and-pony-shows. Up until now the “advances” in dynamic microphone tech have been fairly pedestrian with the exception of the stuff Heil has been putting out for a long time now. But Shure stepped up to the plate in a big way last night. When we got an invite for a night-before-the-show preso from the biggest mic company in the world, we figured it would be a big deal. The last time they did anything like this was the release of the Axient system.

And they did not disappoint. We are looking to get our hands on one of these as soon as we can pull it off. It’s great to see the company that defined the dynamic market and continues to dominate it with the SM58 and associated offshoots finally reinvent the 50-year old tech that dominates handheld vocal mics on stages across the known universe.

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Shure Unveils KSM8 DualdyneTM Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone

The World’s First Dual-Diaphragm Dynamic Handheld Microphone and the
Most Significant Dynamic Microphone Technology Advancement the Industry has Seen in More Than 50 Years

NILES, Ill., Jan. 21, 2016—Today, at the 2016 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, Shure unveiled the KSM8 DualdyneTM Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone. A groundbreaking feat of engineering design, the KSM8 is the world’s first dual-diaphragm dynamic handheld microphone for revolutionary vocal reproduction and accurate sound-reinforcement and control. The KSM8 extends the Company’s wired microphone line—which includes numerous products of significance and enduring legacy—such as the Unidyne® 55 and the SM58® Microphone.

Designed for live sound performances where vocal clarity and sound quality are absolutely critical, the KSM8 not only meets the most discerning quality and reliability standards, it also has the versatility to adapt to changing environments without impacting performance. The KSM8 will revolutionize dynamic microphones in the live sound industry by providing sound engineers with a dynamic microphone that has virtually no proximity effect, a mastery of off-axis rejection and an output accuracy that requires none of the presence peaks or roll-offs that are typical of other dynamic microphones. Delivering unmatched vocal reproduction, the KSM8 design virtually eliminates the need for EQ and processing.

“The off-axis rejection is pretty amazing,” said Michael Abbott, Broadcast Mixer with The Voice and Shark Tank. “Low frequency is very smooth and I definitely noticed nice proximity control, which our host Carson (Daly) definitely requires. High frequency response is noticeably more enhanced. It’s an exceptionally well designed microphone by Shure.”

Meticulously crafted for exceptional vocal reproduction and sound-reinforcement control for world-class live performance in professional venues, the KSM8 features the purest cardioid polar pattern that Shure has developed to-date, providing the most consistent on-axis performance regardless of the performer’s microphone technique.

“Being part of the dynamic microphone resurgence has been extremely exciting for me, because our customers were always asking us what’s next in dynamic microphones,” said Scott Sullivan, Senior Director of Global Product Management at Shure. “When it comes to microphone technology and development, Shure has, what I consider to be, the “secret formula.” In my opinion, no other company, through our exceptional engineering department, could have achieved what we did with the KSM8.”

“In order to make the Dualdyne concept a reality, we had to reinvent the way we make dynamic microphones.” added John Born, Shure Product Manager. “We knew the only way to bring the concept to life, was to set all pre-existing parts and template designs aside, and start from scratch. Since then, we’ve put over seven years of engineering and development into creating something we knew the industry needed, but had never seen. As a result, the introduction of the KSM8 brings an entirely new dynamic microphone element to the world.”

The ability to virtually eliminate proximity effect and master off-axis rejection is powered by the patented Dualdyne cartridge of the KSM8, which features two ultra-thin diaphragms—one active and one passive—and a groundbreaking inverted airflow system. Additionally, its pneumatic shock mount offers exceptional rejection of handling noise without any loss of low frequency response.

As is the case with all Shure products, the world-class design and durability of the KSM8 is present in every aspect of the microphone. A dent- resistant, hardened carbon-steel grille design lined with hydrophobic woven fabric provides exceptional plosive and wind protection, while offering virtually waterproof protection. The aluminum handle—which is available in a brushed nickel or black finish—completes the KSM8’s clean and sophisticated design aesthetic that is a seamless addition to any stage.

The KSM8 is also available as a handheld transmitter option for use with Axient®, UHF-R®, ULX-D®, and QLX-D® wireless systems, and as a wireless capsule for use with other Shure wireless systems. Additionally, new KSM8 transmitters are now offered in a brushed nickel finish on ULX-D and UHF-R wireless systems.

The retail price for the KSM8 starts at $499. For additional details on the KSM8, please stop by the Shure booth (Hall A, booth #6541) at the 2016 Winter NAMM Show or visit www.shure.com/ksm8.

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DiGiCo: Making ‘Em Last Longer

By Bill Evans / January 21, 2016

About 6 years ago, I was interviewing a well-known live sound figure at a shed in Cincinnati and–as it often happens (and is one of my favorite things about conversations with him)–we got way off track and into conjecture about where all this digital stuff is headed. I remember him saying something about what was then one of the most common high-end digital consoles out there and how in the next 10 years we would start to see them turning up in bars. The point was how quickly tech changes and how hard it is for the folks who actually buy stuff like high-end digital consoles (production and rental companies) to get enough useful life out of them to recoup their investment before a new generation of tech made it obsolete and unrentable.
An the has come to pass. With the exception of a few stalwart models that are deemed acceptable on riders–but not preferred–you just don’t see the same tech on tours today that you saw even five years ago. The cycles are compressing which is a bad thing in terms of straight-up business.
DiGiCo is addressing that problem with a big update to their entire processing scheme that will be installable on current models allowing owners to squeeze additional life cycles out at much lower cost that a full replacement.
Press release from NAMM follows…

DiGiCo Announces Future Release of Stealth Core2 for Complete SD Range and a New SD5cs System

ANAHEIM, California – January 2016 — DiGiCo has announced its intention to release Stealth Core2, an upgrade to its existing Stealth Digital Processing™. Stealth Core2 will release additional processing from the audio core of every DiGiCo SD console, taking the complete range to a new level in terms of both processing channels and functionality, and can be fitted to all existing console surfaces.

This upgrade, which will be available as an upgrade option to all existing users, includes a re-look at the application code, further future proofing existing and future investments in DiGiCo products, and keeping you one step ahead of the rest.

The benefits of Stealth Core2 include:

  • A new look application code, which updates the user experience, delivers more processing power and provides a new screen graphical interface.
  • Upgraded FPGA processing power that moves the complete range to new levels of processing.
  • Full Dynamic EQ on every channel and buss, amongst other previously allocated tools that can be opened across all channels and busses on all SD models.
  • An increase in the SD9 channel count from 48 to 96 channels of full processing at 96kHz.
  • An increase in the SD7’s total number of processing strips to 600, all at 96kHz, along with several revolutionary features that allow the SD7 to function and perform like no console has before.
  • The SD5EX system moves to a higher level, matching that of the current SD7 in terms of connectivity and audio processing, and will deliver more than any other console shipping or announced.

DiGiCo will also be launching a new version of the SD5, the SD5cs, which will offer the same specification as the current SD5. This is the first time a multi screen experience with the famous DiGiCo superior audio quality has been available within this reach.

The SD5cs comes with a full compliment of Dynamic EQ, multi-band compressors, DiGiTuBe emulators, expanded I/O connectivity and all the other processing and flexibility you’d expect from DiGiCo’s live production experience.

“Our aim has always been to give the ultimate return on investment for our partners; it is more challenging for them now and we have to offer our support with these levels of upgrades,” says DiGiCo Managing Director James Gordon. “This is why we continue to take extra steps to enhance their initial investment over a long and beneficial usage period.”

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GEAR REVIEW: DiGiGrid IOX

By Bill Evans / December 17, 2015

BY DARTH FADER

If you look at it from the surface, the DiGiGrid IOX from Waves and DiGiCo is a 12-input, 6-output audio interface designed for use with your DAW. When you look closer you’ll learn that the IOX is a gateway into Waves’ SoundGrid audio network, which is capable of some awesome audio file sharing and processing functions. It’d be difficult to speak accurately about the IOX without also discussing the SoundGrid network so if it seems that we are skipping around like an Ewok on a Speeder Bike that’s because, well… we are.

 

SoundGrid Background 

SoundGrid is a collaboration between Waves and DiGiCo; Waves does the software and DiGiCo does the hardware. SoundGrid Studio is a networking platform that enables compatible audio interfaces to communicate with multiple computers. The network also allows your DAW to offload plugin processing to a SoundGrid DSP server, providing low-latency monitoring, realtime processing, and integration with a variety of DAW software.

The most basic SoundGrid network requires a SoundGrid-compatible I/O, which connects to your computer using a standard Ethernet cable. Other components of a SoundGrid network include the SoundGrid Studio Application, SoundGrid ASIO/Core Audio Driver, StudioRack software and the eMotion ST Mixer (we’ll discuss those in a moment). If you’d like to have two computers connected to a SoundGrid network simultaneously, you’ll need a network switch. All of the features of SoundGrid (including sync and word clock) can be used by any of the computers connected to the network. Waves sent SPL/L2P the DiGiGrid IOX audio interface so that we could set up a basic SoundGrid network in the Death Star studio.

 

IOX

The DiGIGrid IOX is built into a hefty single space rack chassis. At the center of its front panel are an illuminated power switch and a multicolor network status indicator. To the left of these are four ¼-inch TRS headphone jacks each with its own volume control. The right side of the panel has LED meters for the 12 inputs: orange indicates that phantom power is on; green indicates signal present; red indicates clipping. Waves thoughtfully provides the ability to calibrate the clip indicator to turn on at 0, -1, -2 or -3 dB, leaving you the option to have a bit of headroom when you see red. The IOX is rather heavy so make sure your rack is up to the task. It also runs a bit on the hot side so we’d recommend you leave an open space above and below the unit when rack mounting.

The IOX’s rear panel has 12 balanced mic/line inputs, each featuring a locking Combo jack input. The preamps provide up to 59.5 dB of gain and 48VDC phantom power, and are controlled using SoundGrid Studio. Six analog outputs are fed via balanced TRS jacks. Also on the rear panel are two SoundGrid ports, word clock I/O, a power connector and a reset switch (which we never needed). As of right now the IOX can run at sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96 kHz. According to Waves, sample rates of 176.4 and 192 kHz will be supported in the future.

 

On The ‘Net

Using the DiGiGrid IOX requires the SoundGrid installer for Mac or PC, downloaded from the Waves website free of charge with registration of the IOX. The IOX installer includes the ASIO/Core Audio driver, the SoundGrid Studio application, StudioRack, and eMotionST. Let’s look at these one at a time:

•The ASIO/Core Audio Driver enables your DAW software to connect to the IOX.

There are no MME or WDM drivers for SoundGrid so you can’t use it for non-ASIO programs running under Windows. We had no issues running the IOX with various versions of Pro Tools, Digital Performer and Reason on our MacPro.

SoundGrid Studio manages SoundGrid components including interfaces, DSP servers, and computers. This is where the network is configured — even if it’s a modest network consisting of a single interface and computer. You need this application to patch audio streams between your computer and DAW software, and to control the interface’s inputs and outputs.

StudioRack is a plug-in “chainer” that acts like a manager for plug-ins. StudioRack is inserted in a DAW channel and hosts as many as eight plug-ins. These plug-in ‘chains’ can be archived so if you like a particular combination of compressor, EQ and limiter plug-in for processing (for example) a vocal, you can store and recall the chain as well as the parameters of each individual plug-in for the chain.

eMotion ST is a software mixer with extremely low-latency monitoring (0.8 mS) and plug-in processing. Taking advantage of eMotion ST requires either a DiGiGrid interface with a built-in DSP server, or the addition of a SoundGrid DSP server to the network, which moves the processing grunt work from your computer into the server. The IOX functions as an interface only, and does not provide the ability to perform DSP but a DSP server could be added to the network at any time.

After downloading the installer, getting the IOX up and running in the Death Star Studio was fairly simple. You’ll need to visit the Patch page in the SoundGrid Studio application to make sure that the interface is recognized and to enable communication between the computer and the IOX.

Screenshot 1 shows the SoundGrid Studio inventory page. In the left column you’ll see the IOX, and it’s identified as the master clock, 44.1 kHz (blue lettering indicates all is well). The middle column lists the computer as a Software I/O device. Our network did not feature a DSP server so that column is empty. For that reason, the Mixer tab at the top (which would appear to the left of where it says “Patch”) is disabled.

IOX_Screen3

Screen 2 shows the Patch page where we have enabled routing between the Core Audio streams and the IOX. Notice how Core Audio Streams 1 and 2 are assigned to the IOX’s analog outputs 1 and 2 and also to Phones 1L and 1R. This allows us to route the main outputs from the DAW simultaneously to a pair of monitors and a pair of headphones for a quick-n-dirty “control room mix to cue” for a lead vocal overdub. The phones can also be patched from other Core Audio streams to create discrete headphone mixes using different streams from the computer. This needs to be done only once. Setups may be saved and recalled so if you wanted to have one patch for routing multiple headphone mixes you can save and recall it when necessary.

IOX_Screen2

Screen 3 shows the I/O control screen, accessed by double-clicking the IOX graphic in screen 1. To control a channel, click on its box. In this case we are controlling Input 1 (highlighted in orange). Coarse input gain is set to 37.5 dB, fine gain to 3.5 dB, and the meter is showing that we had a peak of -29.9. The orange lights in the lower right corners of inputs 5, 6, 7 and 8 indicate that phantom power has been turned on for those channels. Clicking on a line output will show the meter for that channel.

IOX_Screen3

It would be useful if we could see meters for input and output channels simultaneously ‘though you can always see the headphone output meters. Inputs and outputs can be named, and all of this information can be saved. It’s not as intuitive for an old timer like me to use the computer to control input gain, but it does offer a lot of convenience. For example I could store a setup to record drum tracks where all gain and phantom settings have been archived. It’s also in step with the concept of putting the IOX in the studio where it offers several advantages:

•The preamps are closer to the microphones which is always a good thing

•The IOX requires no additional gear to act as a four-mix headphone station — eliminating a piece of gear that you’d otherwise need to purchase. While we are on the topic of headphones, the IOX’s headphone amps flex a fair amount of muscle, easily running a pair of vintage AKG K240s to very loud levels (these were given to me by the Emperor when I built his first broadcast studio) — a notable feat given the difficulty that most headphone amps have driving these low-impedance ‘cans. You should see me try to fit them underneath my helmet… Keep in mind that the IOX does not provide control over output level so you will need a means for controlling monitor volume.

We used the IOX over a period of months on a variety of sessions, placing it both in the control room and in the studio. For tracks where I played a nalargon and also had to engineer, I could place the IOX next to me, connect it to my laptop and run I/O levels quite easily. The preamps don’t provide tons of gain but they certainly had enough to make quiet recordings of the nalargon. When I tried a session recording a Traz and then an old-style acoustic guitar using an RCA 74B ribbon mic, the IOX’s preamps were quiet enough not to add any noise, but even when set for maximum gain I could have used another 8 or 10 dB of gain to make the recording level a bit more healthy. Perhaps more importantly, the character of that microphone came through in all its old-school glory.

On a traditional trap kit for the new Figrin Da’n solo record (you heard it here first) we used a variety of microphones: Sennheiser e602 II for kick, Shure SM57 on snare, Audix D2s for toms, Shure PGA181s for overheads, beyerdynamic CK703/CV720 for hat, and a Bock U195 for the room The drum recordings sounded great. The kick drum was solid with an extended low end, cymbals were clear without being aggressive, and the toms sounded like toms. Though we did not have a SoundGrid server on the network, latency was not an issue even when overdubbing to a click.  The IOX and SoundGrid Studio application both proved to be very stable: we never experienced a crash or hang up when using them.

The DiGiGrid IOX is a very powerful recording interface, not only because it provides good sound and convenience but also because it offers the possibility of expansion. Additional inputs can be added to the network, and a SoundGrid server can be incorporated when you find your CPU needs help handling plug-in DSP. Headphone routing is thoughtfully implemented, offering the ability to send a quick “identical to the control room L/R mix” as well as discrete cue mixes to each of the four ‘phones outputs. If your future includes multiple workstations, you can attach additional computers to the network, and they can share audio files as well as the network DSP resources. Combined with the IOX’s I/O capabilities, those features make the IOX a powerful tool.

Darth Fader is recovering after working on dialogue replacement for Episode VII.

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Yamaha Rivage PM10 Hits AES.. and the Road

By Bill Evans / October 28, 2015

The new flagship RIVAGE PM10 Digital Audio Console will be shown at the Yamaha Professional Audio booth #319 and demonstrated in room #1A03 throughout the AES Show in New York October 30-November 1.

The new console is also making a huge impact as it makes its way around North America for one-on-one and group demonstrations held by invitation recently at Clair Global in Lititz, PA; and in early October at Eighth Day Sound in Cleveland; various October dates at SIR in Nashville by Clair Systems and Touring, Spectrum Sound, Morris Light and Sound, CTS Audio, and Memphis Audio; Masque Sound, Sound Associates, PRG, and Firehouse Productions in the NYC area in late October; followed by Solotech and Omnison in early November; the Parsons Expo in Boston on November 11; December 8 at Moody Church in Chicago hosted by TC Furlong; 3G Productions at the Westin in Las Vegas on December 16 and open to all. More PM10 demo locations will be added soon.

The PM10 significantly increases the quality and versatility necessary in a live sound environment, and inherits features from the renowned PM Series Consoles. The unique Hybrid Mic Pre consisting of a newly developed Yamaha HA along with Rupert Neve Designs Silk and Transformer emulation, provides unprecedented control of pure nature sound blended with silky harmonic content typically only found in classic analog consoles. Evolved features and performance define yet another milestone for Yamaha sound reinforcement consoles. The PM10 system is comprised of the CS-R10 control surface, DSP-R10 DSP engine, RPio622 I/O rack, three types of RY cards, and two types of HY cards provide the flexibility to configure and ideally match the scale and functional requirements of any application.

A total of 45 plug-ins are available for creative processing, with substantially increased processing power. New and noteworthy are plug-ins created in collaboration with Rupert Neve Designs, TC Electronic, and Eventide.

Collaboration with Rupert Neve Designs has resulted in the “Rupert EQ 773,” “Rupert Comp 754,” “Rupert EQ 810,” and “Rupert Comp 830,” all VCM models of Rupert Neve designed outboard devices from the 70s and 80s.

Connection to a computer for easy multi-track recording to Nuendo Live, connectivity to the NUAGE Advanced Production System, Yamaha CL and QL Series Consoles, as well as other external equipment is possible via a Dante network. Dante, designed for simple setup with an extremely wide range of professional audio devices, works ideally with TWINLANe to create an exceptionally flexible, reliable system overall.

For more information on RIVAGE PM10, please visit Yamaha Professional Audio at AES booth #319, demo room 1A03 or on the web at www.yamahaca.com.

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