Tag Archives: atc

Living Voice IBX-R3 Loudspeakers | REVIEW

Here’s a little witticism for you all to ruminate upon before I dive into the Living Voice IBX-R3 (website) loudspeakers: “You can have it all, but just not at the same time.” My wife really likes this one, as it was told to her many years ago by a very smart matron when she was trying to raise children, earn a graduate degree, volunteer in the community, and forge ahead with a professional career. Once she took the advice to heart, her life took on a sense of much-needed focus and satisfaction. Here I am thinking, as a seasoned audiophile and reviewer, that this advice might well apply to our lot also. I have three systems in rotation here these days. One consists of my big ATC speakers driven by a big Pass Labs amp, and it does scale and dynamic like nobody’s business.  Another is built around the legendary Quad ESL63 panel speakers driven by either tube or solid state amplification, which have a magic all their own, but alas don’t revel in the strengths of the ATC/Pass combo. And then there is the review system. The focal point is the pair of efficient Living Voice IBX-R3 speakers powered [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Studio Showcase: Asheville’s Vinyl Answer

Musician, composer, producer and label owner Gar Ragland founded Citizen Vinyl, which includes a recording studio centered around a Rupert Neve Designs 5088 console.
Musician, composer, producer and label owner Gar Ragland founded Citizen Vinyl, which includes a recording studio centered around a Rupert Neve Designs 5088 console. David J. Simchock

Asheville, NC (November 30, 2020)—Vinyl record sales have been steadily rising over recent years, a fact that did not go unnoticed by 30-year music industry veteran Gar Ragland. Following a visit to musician Jack White’s pressing plant in Detroit several years ago, he decided to open his own vinyl facility in the mountains of North Carolina.

The Citizen Vinyl facility includes a recording studio, record pressing plant, café/bar, record store/art gallery and performance space.
The Citizen Vinyl facility includes a recording studio, record pressing plant, café/bar, record store/art gallery and performance space. Stephan Pruitt Photography

“It was seeing what Third Man Pressing are doing that really helped affirm my gut instinct that a similar concept would do well in Asheville,” says Ragland. “Not only because of our homegrown love of music and history of craft here in North Carolina, but also because we have 12 million tourists coming through town, many of whom are seeking a cultural adventure.”

Ragland’s Citizen Vinyl plant, on the first floor of the historic three-story Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper building, has plenty to appeal to tourists. The pressing plant, operated under the guidance of German native Peter Schaper, is behind glass and open to view. Ragland’s business concept has evolved to include a collective of local craftspeople.

“Under one business entity, we have vinyl pressing along with a vinyl record-themed cocktail bar, a farm-to-table café, and a store, Coda, that features new vinyl records and an art gallery featuring local visual artists. We call it analog sound and art,” he says. Staff curate Daily Sides, an in-store vinyl playlist that’s posted on Instagram and soon will be streamed on Citizen Vinyl’s website.

The newspaper built broadcast studios for its WWNC-AM radio station on the third floor in 1939, introducing a national listening audience to bluegrass music. “Hundreds of acts would play in Studio A, including Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys,” says Ragland.

Having rented a room for years at the nearby Echo Mountain Recording facility, Ragland, a musician, composer, producer and owner of the New-Song Music label, saw an opportunity to open his own studio. The building’s owner was days from turning WWNC’s studios into office space when Ragland took a tour: “I pleaded with him to put the sledgehammers down and give us some time to figure out how we could save this piece of Asheville and American roots music history.”

The new recording facility, created out of the former broadcast studios of WWNC-AM, has an emphatically analog mindset.
The new recording facility, created out of the former broadcast studios of WWNC-AM, has an emphatically analog mindset. Stephan Pruitt Photography

The Citizen Studios are in WWNC’s former Studio A, with 32 tielines to the high-ceilinged Studio B, now a multipurpose live and event space. “We’ve tracked a few projects in there and are still figuring out what the room’s strengths and weaknesses are,” he says.

“We hired David Rochester of Technical Audio Services to work on our restoration and treatment. He’s also a dealer for Rupert Neve Designs, so I worked with him to get a 5088 console in here and he helped with the wiring and installation. He’s been a great member of the Citizen Vinyl team.”

Ragland, a Rupert Neve fan, says, “What I love about this console is that it’s a new, warrantied piece of equipment, but it has all the mojo and vibe of the classic Neve sound. It’s got a lot of depth and breadth and horsepower, but it’s also simple and elegant in its design, which I find empowering.”

He has since added some Shelford modules in the desk’s penthouse. “Those sound so good—the EQs are amazing. Over time, and as our needs grow, I can pick up more.”

Ragland’s moved in his collection of gear and added some new pieces, including pairs of ATC SCM25A Pro and Yamaha NS-10M nearfield monitors. “I’m really into analog sound and trying to do as much out of the box as I can,” says Ragland. “I find it’s a much more enjoyable workflow and a more creative way to put mixes together.”

Studio Showcase: Fever Recording Runs Hot

Studio Showcase: L.A. Studio Follows Its Muse

Ragland intends to continue taking projects to Echo Mountain. “We have no aspirations of being a commercial recording studio. In addition to my own workload, there are a couple of younger producers and engineers coming in a few days a month, but we’re not advertising day rates.”

Mastering engineer Ryan Schilling of American Vinyl Company has now moved his Neumann VMS 66 lathe into WWNC’s former control room. “We’re going to be able to offer vinyl mastering services on site for our pressing clients,” says Ragland. He plans to engage Schilling’s services to offer local and touring artists and their fans limited-edition vinyl keepsakes of in-store performances in the first-floor space.

“It’s not the ideal time to be starting a business,” Ragland admits, “but vinyl sales are up 17 percent from last year. It’s one of these industries that’s grown—not despite the pandemic but because of it.”

Citizen Vinyl • www.citizenvinyl.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Studio Showcase: Fever Recording Runs Hot

Fever Recording underwent a remodel to give it more of a boutique hotel vibe, according to owner Eric Milos.
Fever Recording underwent a remodel to give it more of a boutique hotel vibe, according to owner Eric Milos. Sven Doornkaat

North Hollywood, CA (November 3, 2020—Fever Recording owner Eric Milos recently swapped out the aging Solid State Logic 4048G console for an SSL Duality Delta Pro-Station desk in the facility’s main control room. “It sounds great, it looks great and the functionality, with Pro Tools control on the surface and the marriage of the console automation with the Pro Tools automation system, really gives you the best of both worlds,” he says.

Milos acquired Fever Recording, formerly owned and operated by multi-Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Warryn Campbell, at the tail end of 2016. The main studio, with its own tracking room, lounge and kitchen, is separate from the rest of the building, the other half of which houses three production rooms, rented to long-term clients, with shared amenities.

“There’s a gated back parking lot where you can pull in and walk straight into the studio. We’ve had a number of artists in who appreciate that privacy,” he says.

Milos, originally from Ohio, graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2010 and cut his engineering teeth at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood. He subsequently hired on as an engineer at Clear Lake Recording, which chief audio engineer Brian Levi established in 1987. In 2012, Milos purchased the Clear Lake facility and much of the equipment in it.

Clear Lake’s Studio A was designed by George Augspurger. “It’s got a really great Trident 80B console. It has been a great tracking room for all of its life, with a wonderful sounding drum room and a great grand piano. We do everything—every style, every type of session,” says Milos, from large ensembles to solo vocals.

Studio Showcase: L.A. Studio Follows Its Muse

Pro Tools Ultimate and a Studer A827 tape machine are both available. Outboard, there is a Neve sidecar and various pieces of vintage Pultec, Eventide and Lexicon gear alongside some of the newer studio standard gear, plus classic Neumann, Sony and other tube mics. “There’s also a nice smattering of modern mics. We’ve never not had enough microphones for a session,” he says.

“When I took over, probably half the cool vintage equipment there. I could never dream of spending the money you would have to pay for it now.”

Fever Recording's control room is centered around a SSL Duality console
Fever Recording’s control room is centered around a SSL Duality console. Sven Doornkaat

Milos built a B room in 2016 to handle overdubs, vocals, tracking and mixing. “It’s got an Avid D-Command and a basic set of outboard. We do a lot of vocal overdubs in there, for all genres of music, and we do a little bit of 5.1 mixing and some ADR.”

Two small production rooms, designated C and D, are leased out on a monthly basis. “In one room, we have a composer who has been with us for three or four years,” he says.

Fever Recording, located a couple of miles west along Burbank Blvd., underwent a bit of a remodel along with the Duality desk upgrade, says Milos, to give it more of a boutique hotel vibe. “We also got a few pieces of outboard gear, like the SSL Fusion, which everybody has been loving. The price-to-fun ratio has been excellent.”

The control room door barely cleared the old short-loaded 64-frame 4000G desk. “It was too big for the room. This Duality fits, and it looks like a spaceship,” says Milos, who bought the console, formerly at a N. Hollywood recording school, through Vintage King.

“I’ve done a couple of mixes on it; it’s so much fun and clients have been loving the Duality. I couldn’t be happier.”

Nestled in the control room is a well-appointed credenza of outboard gear.
Nestled in the control room is a well-appointed
credenza of outboard gear. Sven Doornkaat

The Duality behaves more like an SSL 9000 series desk, he says. “We can push it a little bit harder than a 4k. There have been occasions where we were getting a little bit of distortion on the master buss of the 4k, because we didn’t have the headroom for a massive 808.”

On the subject of headroom and 808 kick drums, Milos has also bolstered the Bryston-powered Augspurger main monitor system at Fever. “I added some dual-18 Meyer Sound subwoofers that I saw on Craigslist. It’s a great full-range system when you switch up to the mains. For the most part, people are up on the mains when they’re doing production and getting a feel for the song. Then they switch to the ATC25A nearfields for tracking and mixing, for more detail.” There is also a pair of Yamaha NS-10s.

“Anybody familiar with the 4k pretty much gets the Duality right away. In that studio, we do a lot of hip-hop and top-40 stuff, so there’s a lot of production—keyboards and that kind of stuff—and not a lot of full tracking. The Duality is nice for the situation where there are 20 people in the control room, and everything is interfaced, and being able to control Pro Tools.”

Fever Recording • www.feverrecording.com

Clear Lake Recording • www.clearlakerecordingstudios.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

McGary Audio SA2 Power Amplifier | Review

When I first set eyes on the attractive McGary Audio SA2 vacuum tube amplifier, the first thought that entered my head was “stingray.” Anyone who has observed this sea creature will know immediately what I mean: just one look at that front panel tells the story. Anyway, I can’t use that moniker, as it’s been assigned already to Manley Laboratories’ iconic product of the same name. When I was a kid, I greatly enjoyed watching a particular type of ray termed the cownose ray for the obvious protuberance on its front portion. These rays frequented the waters around the house where I grew up and were great fun to watch, chase, and attempt to capture. Of course, we were never successful at the latter. Popping off the diamond-shaped thingy (really a cover) on the front panel of the SA2 exposes a pair of RCA jacks for single-ended input of signal. There! I had it… now the front panel looked much like the profile of my favorite cownose ray! Even better, the McGary Audio SA2 takes on the appearance of a friendly ray, complete with winking eyes in the form of magic eye tubes positioned on each “wing.” More about these [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Inside the Live Sound of Live Aid, Part 1: London

Queen at Live Aid
Queen’s 17-minute set at Live Aid became the stuff of legend. The performance of Freddy Mercury (left) and Brian May was all the more dynamic because, according to Roy Clair of the band’s U.S. audio provider, Clair Global, FOH engineer Trip Khalaf “did opposite of what the movie Bohemian Rhapsody said. The movie said that he turned the volume up, but he actually pulled it down because everyone was overloading the system.” Pete Still / Popperfoto / Getty Images

London, UK—To say that the Live Aid benefit concert was ambitious is an understatement. Held simultaneously at London’s Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Stadium [See Part 2] on July 13, 1985, it was broadcast live to an estimated 40 percent of the world’s population and featured an all-star roster of artists who had to be shepherded on and off stage with almost split-second timing—whether they were ready or not.

And just to make things more difficult, the first time anyone really heard the PA, supplied by Malcolm Hill Associates, was when Status Quo kicked off proceedings with “Rockin’ All Over the World.”

In October 1984, a BBC News story on the under-reported famine in Ethiopia generated a worldwide outpouring of donations to relief agencies. It also inspired Band Aid, a group of about 40 musicians assembled by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox, to record a timely charity single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Then Geldof had the bright idea to organize a bi-continental concert event to continue the fund-raising drive.

Owner Malcolm Hill’s company already had a reputation for handling very large events, including the likes of AC/DC’s Back in Black world tour and the U.K.’s Monsters of Rock festival, using its own Hill Audio products—mixing consoles, amplifiers, crossovers and speakers. On paper, the audio production for Live Aid was just a regular festival spec, according to Hill, with dual A/B desks and associated control gear at front of house and monitors, and dual sets of mics—the only items not manufactured by Hill Audio—and wedges. “Just a normal day at the office,” he says.

Inside the Live Sound of Live Aid, Part 2: Philadelphia

In total, 48 Hill M4 4-way cabinets were flown per side, with a stack of four per side for in-fill, controlled by a Hill 3-way stereo crossover. The M4 housed three long-coil 12-inch ATC speakers in a direct radiating/folded horn configuration and a pair of 10-inch dual-concentric Tannoy speakers plus, passively crossed over, a Renkus-Heinz horn and SSD 3301 compression driver. A combination of Hill TX1000 3-channel and DX3000 2-channel amplifiers provided power to the rig. TX1000 power amplifiers also drove two systems of tri-amped wedges, which used the same speaker components as the M4s. Hill C3 cabinets were available for side fill and drum fill use.

Live Aid LogoOut at the front of house mixing position, a pair of 32-input Hill M Series 3 desks were used, while with a pair of 32×10 versions were onstage at the monitor mix position. This was long before computers and plug-ins, of course, so the duplicate FOH racks were loaded with hardware such as AMS RMX16 and Roland SRE555 reverbs, Roland SDE3000 delays, Drawmer noise gates and compressor/limiters, and Eventide 910 and 949 Harmonizers.

While it was a typical gear list for a festival, things started to get complicated fast in the weeks leading up to July 13, when it was decided to broadcast the event live to TV viewers worldwide. Initially envisioned with 10 or 11 acts performing for the 72,000 concertgoers at Wembley Stadium, Live Aid’s bill soon mushroomed to nearly two-dozen artists as the enormity of the event and its charitable potential—not to mention the marketing benefit of a global TV audience—started to sink in.

The production was somewhat hamstrung by the smaller than optimum size of the stage, which was donated by Bruce Springsteen, who had performed at Wembley days earlier. For Live Aid, a revolving stage divided into three sections was added—for the current act, setup of the next act and breakdown of the previous act—and left little space for the cameras, monitor rig, band gear and hangers-on. A strict show schedule was imposed, with five-minute changeovers and sets of 10 or 15 minutes adhered to with clockwork precision. Later in the day, as the Philadelphia show got underway and TV coverage ping-ponged between performances at the two locations, changeovers were able to stretch out.

Savvier artists prepared themselves for the tight timing. Queen, famously, put together a 17-minute set that helped launch them to an even higher level of stardom. Others, like Ultravox, were more practical.

“I distinctly remember Ultravox choosing songs to perform which used the least equipment in order to eliminate the chances of something crucial not being patched in,” recalls Midge Ure. “Unlike regular guitar, bass and drums bands, we depended on hearing the DI’d synths/drum machines through the monitors, so we stuck to more traditional instrumentation for the majority of the set.”

He adds, “Both the live sound crew and the broadcast crew did an amazing job.”

Indeed, Hill puts the smooth running of the Wembley show down to the selfless contributions of volunteer Steve Dove, who had been working with Sony on Angus Young of AC/DC’s wireless guitar set-up. “Without him pacing backstage, fetching, coordinating and organizing the artists, the whole crazy venture would have totally fallen apart,” he says.

Problems with the mains power and generators during the several days of set-up prior to the Saturday show meant that the PA system was never checked on its own. Rather, the Hill crew were simply able to confirm that everything was at least passing audio during a handful of artists’ soundchecks and line checks.

A delay tower at FOH was hastily added and powered up on the Saturday morning of the show, at which time the PA was also covered by scrims painted with the Live Aid logo. But the logo was painted using emulsion, forcing engineers to drive the M4 rig’s high-end flat out to compensate for the lack of acoustic transparency.

During the show there were mercifully few hiccups. A mis-patched mic sent Paul McCartney’s piano and vocal to the two separate FOH consoles when he launched into “Let It Be” almost before anyone noticed he was on stage. That came in the wake of a blown power breaker that took The Who off the air for a short time.

“Was it perfect?” says Hill. “No, but it was magnificently better than doing nothing.”

Continue on to Inside the Live Sound of Live Aid, Part 2: Philadelphia

Indeed, looking back, it’s the charitable impact that has had lasting effects, Hill says. “Friends of mine who run Hope for Justice, the modern-slavery charity, insist that Live Aid changed the mindset of the West to be more aware and pro-active in meeting the needs of struggling nations. And when a team from my church went to Ethiopia a few years ago, they were able to report that the relentless force that is Bob Geldof could be seen in the way aid is distributed, the road systems and even the political scene.”

For Hill, Live Aid was almost exactly half a lifetime ago. “Thirty-five years? That means I’ve lived for three more years after Live Aid than I had lived before.”

Hill Pro Audio • www.hillproaudio.co.uk

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

LSA 20 Statement Loudspeakers | Review

So here it is, my first audio review in the COVID-19 world, and it’s a real game-changer. I’ve been listening to a lot of music using the LSA 20 Statement loudspeakers (website), yet as much solace as I’ve gotten from the music itself, I really haven’t been in much of a mood to write about it. Well, that stops now. There is hopefulness on the horizon. As a dear friend ended a recent email to me: “There is a collective grieving for the world as we knew it, but I believe it’s a time of great transformation. We may be in a seemingly dark place right now, but we will emerge from our place of struggle having gained the strength to fly to greater heights than we’ve ever known before. Who wants to stay a caterpillar, anyway?” There you have it; I don’t intend to caterpillar around for much longer, thank you very much, but will do my thing in isolation as long as I have to. To make that work, what we really need in these trying times is something that makes us feel comfortable. Like a familiar pair of jeans and a favorite t-shirt. Or a really good friend. Which [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile