Tag Archives: COVID-19

BREAKING: The Bristol Hi-Fi Show Cancelled for 2021, Going Virtual Maybe?

BRISTOL UK (PTA) — In a post made to social media, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show has announced the cancellation of their in-person event that was to be held in the last weekend of February of 2021, in the city of Bristol, UK. The event was cancelled due to the lingering concerns surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, public health, and travel safey. As a possible solution, the Bristol Hi-Fi Show organizers are working to keep options open as hosting a virtual hi-fi event may be the best course of action. This remains a developing story. Stay tuned for updates. The Bristol Hi-Fi Show celebrates its 34th year in 2021. The show is organized by Audio T (a UK dealer) in association with What Hi-Fi? (a UK publication) and is the largest and longest running consumer home audio show in the UK. From the Bristol Hi-Fi Show Facebook Page “Due to the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing pandemic, we have made the difficult decision not to host the Bristol Show 2021. We are currently looking at options to host a virtual event, so watch this space!”  

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

The Modern Sound of ‘Modern Family’

The sound team behind Modern Family
The sound team behind Modern Family was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award every year for the show’s entire 11-year run. Making that happen were (l-r): Peter Bawiec; Brian Harman; Dean Okrand; Steve Tibbo; and Srdjan Popovic. IRINA LOGRA

Los Angeles, CA (September 29, 2020)—Mockumentary family sitcom Modern Family took its final bow in April at the end of an 11-season run that saw the sound team behind the show nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for 11 straight years. “Right out of the gate, we tried to come up with a signature sound for the show, from the pilot on,” says re-recording mixer Brian Harman.

The show—which explored complex parenting issues with humor— was something new to television, says Harman, and took off like a rocket with critics and viewers. “It’s one of those shows you wish you could get on every year for your career,” he says.

“We hope the audience and voters appreciate that there is something to be said about the legacy of Modern Family’s sound,” says re-recording mixer Peter Bawiec, who worked on “Finale Part 1” and “Finale Part 2,” the latter nominated for this year’s Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation. “A lot of other genre shows reference the way this show is mixed. It has its own language that’s very distinctive.”

The show has always been mixed at Smart Post Sound’s Burbank facility on Hollywood Way, says Harman. “The first five years were done on a smaller stage, where the pilot was done. I want to say year six we moved over to the bigger stage where Dean [Okrand] and I were already working on Sons of Anarchy and other shows, so for the final five years, we were on Stage 4.”

On the mixing stage, says Bawiec, “We’re running the [Avid] D-Command as well as the [Avid] S6. In terms of speakers, it’s interesting because we start off mixing in 5.1 on JBLs, which is pretty standard for cinema. And then we do playbacks on nearfields because we want to make sure that it folds down nicely onto stereo. And the print master is done on a TV. So we’re going all the way down to make sure that it plays in your average living room scenario.”

CAS to Honor Sound Mixer William B. Kaplan

This being a weekly episodic show, turnaround is brisk. “We’re basically doing an episode in a day,” says Harman. “We start at 9 a.m. and go to playback at 2 or 3 p.m. and we print master by 5 or 6 p.m. Those are quick turnarounds, so we have to be efficient. It has to be predictable and controllable.”

What is not predictable is the show itself, says Bawiec, which can throw the team an occasional curveball. “Every episode is going to be different, and we don’t know what the episode is until we get on the stage to mix it and we play it down. The season finale was like that—there were so many different locations, including an ice rink. You’re trying to do so much in that one day; that’s the one limitation we deal with all the time. You’ve got to hit that 2 or 3 p.m. playback.”

Since dialogue is the focus, “it’s one of those shows where all of the writing, everything that’s said, all the jokes, have to land,” says Bawiec. “It’s one of the most important things, to make sure that people catch all of that. We can’t do that if the production sound doesn’t kick ass, and Steve Tibbo and Srdjan Popovic kick ass, delivering those production tracks, which are clean and crisp, so we can, in turn, mix that into the show.”

Sound effects, Foley and ADR for each episode are completed over the course of a few days, but it turns out that little ADR is done post-shoot for the principal characters. “A lot of ADR is done by Tibbo on set in the same room. If they need to grab someone, they do it between takes and shoot ADR on set,” says Harman. “Steve Tibbo is one amazing production mixer.”

Bawiec adds, “Because we’re mixing as they’re shooting other episodes, there’s not much work to match the ADR we get, because it’s recorded on the sets where the scenes take place. You basically can’t tell when we have ADR—because we can’t tell either.”

Shooting ADR on set is efficient, too, since the actors have no need to drive across town to the studio to pick up their lines. “Of course, when COVID-19 hit at the tail end of the show, things got slightly different because they weren’t shooting anymore. We had a bit of iPhone material instead of regular ADR,” notes Bawiec.

Recently Bawiec also had to record ADR remotely on a movie that he’s mixing. “Fifteen hours of ADR over iPhones is the new reality. You have to make that quality work.”

“I think everybody is surprised by how bad Apple AirPods sound!” laughs Harman.

“We’re used to FaceTime sounding decent, but it turns out the Air- Pods microphones are pretty bad,” Bawiec agrees.

Loop group—walla—for Modern Family is a different matter. Since it involves six to eight actors, it became a little more complicated with the arrival of the coronavirus. “We had them split between multiple rooms,” says Bawiec. “With new technology like RedNet and Dante, you can run three or four rooms at the same time without any issues, and have multiple people see the same picture and hear each other over the cans.”

As Bawiec discovered on a subsequent project, “You don’t even need a RedNet box because you can have Dante Virtual Soundcard, which turns any laptop into a Dante device. That is just a mind-blowing thing. We did a VPN-based Dante and had two facilities running simultaneously. Those are tricky things, but like everyone in the industry, we’ve managed to overcome most of those issues.”

COVID-19 has also affected who can now be on the stage during a dub, Bawiec says. “The new reality for everyone is either we mix on big stages, where everyone is socially distant and it’s a very limited crew, like a producer and a director, or else it’s entirely remote. A lot of the TV shows that we’re going to be doing this fall are going to be entirely remote. It will be just the two of us with maybe the supervisor on the mix stage, and everyone watching at home on their home cinema setups.”

Smart Post Sound • www.smartpostsound.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Marist’s Pandemic Reopening Aided by A-T

A classroom at Marist College, featuring an Audio-Technica U851RO Boundary Microphone
A classroom at Marist College, featuring an Audio-Technica U851RO Boundary Microphone

Poughkeepsie, NY (September 23, 2020)—Like many educational facilities, Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY worked overtime this summer to prepare to reopen during the pandemic for Fall semester classes. Part of that meant taking Remote Learning students into account—and that in turn led the college to purchase and install 150 Audio-Technica U851RO omnidirectional condenser boundary microphones and 50 ATDM-0604 SmartMixers into 50 classrooms.

“We wanted to offer a learning experience as close to traditional in-person classes, using a blended synchronous model in which the teacher and half the class are live and the other half are remote, while still conforming to all the New York State and Department of Health requirements and staying within our budget,” explains Lee Walis, manager of Technical Services at Marist College, an AVIXA Certified Technology Specialist who would design and install the systems.

“At first, I thought we’d need a high microphone count in each room, at least five in the smaller classrooms and a minimum of 10 in the larger lecture halls, as well as multiple mixers per room to handle a variety of different processing needs. An additional design requirement is to include a voice-lift feature, because the instructors and students would be wearing masks. It was going to be a complicated project and the microphone costs alone were going to be substantial.”

Audio-Technica’s Phil Cajka Sets Retirement

However, Walis began to look into the idea of using boundary microphones, and ultimately chose to use three Audio-Technica U851RO microphones in each classroom. Using one U851 attached to a classroom’s podium and two more attached on either side of a piece of Dibond aluminum / polyethylene composite sheeting hung near the classroom’s ceiling-mounted projector, he was able to cover each room in full in terms of picking up instructors’ and students’ voices.

“You can hear students from the back of the room, with masks on, no problem,” he says, “and the pickup pattern on the boundary microphone means the professor isn’t closely tied to the podium, so everything feels very natural. And the microphone rejects HVAC and projector-fan noise, which would have been a problem with the choir-type microphone arrays we considered in the beginning.”

In addition, Walis is using Audio-Technica’s ATDM-0604 SmartMixers, one in each of the 50 classrooms he’s outfitted for the start of the semester. “The processing is fantastic,” he says. “We’re not doing sound reinforcement for the room mics, so there’s no feedback, even as we’re picking up the softest voices in the room. And even with such a variety of acoustical environments — some classrooms have absorptive carpeting while other have reflective linoleum flooring — we’re getting clear speech intelligibility and predictable response. Plus, the USB output on the mixer is our portal to the computers running either Webex or Zoom for the distance-learning part. In fact, where I thought I was going to have to program the DSP for each room, it turns out that with the ATDM-0604 and U851RO, I can have the exact same program in every room, with only minimal adjustments needed for a few rooms with extreme conditions.

“So, we were able to drastically reduce the number of microphones needed, and use fewer mixers, and I could tune one system once and use that same program in virtually every classroom, thereby reducing labor,” Walis continues. “We were able to accomplish all of this at a fraction of what we though it would cost, which for a small, private college is an achievement, even without the issue of the pandemic.”

 

Audio-Technica • www.audio-technica.com

 

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

COVID-19 and Pro Audio: An Industry Interrupted

 

The October edition of Pro Sound News is usually our annual State of the Industry issue, featuring extensive rundowns of where recording and live sound stand in the moment. Our October, 2020 issue won’t be one of those, however, because at this moment in time, the state of things is both obvious and impossible to tell. Everything continues to hinge on the COVID-19 pandemic and the ever-shifting—and occasionally shifty—timetable as to when we’ll have vaccines, when they’ll get rolled out, who’ll take them first, and how far and how fast we’ll get back to “normal”— whatever that is now.

The whole world seems determined to make sure our post-pandemic lives move forward as if nothing ever happened, however, so while we’re faced with an industry interrupted by the pandemic, if we’re going to pick up where we left off, it’s important to know where we were before 2020 went off the rails.

Recording studios today may not be the high profile, big room facilities of yesteryear, but they continue to proliferate at a surprising pace. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018 (the most recent year on file), there were 1,894 recording studios in the United States. That number has climbed every year since 2009, and there are, believe it or not, hundreds more studios now than there were during the height of the record industry in the late 1990s. Some remain focused on music, others are podcast-only and most specialize in “anything that comes through the door,” but while the early lockdown days of the pandemic shuttered all of them, cursory evidence suggests that studios are bouncing back in a big way.

Numerous studio owners I’ve talked to in recent weeks volunteered with incredulous voices that things were looking up, the general sentiment being, “I was busy all August and it hasn’t slowed down. It’s actually a little busier than it was before the pandemic.” Their theories as to why it’s happening range from “pent-up demand from musicians and content creators who developed lots of material while in lockdown” to “people who built home studios only to realize that professional-sounding results require not only professional gear, but professionals, period.”

There are a lot of recording professionals these days, to be sure. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2019, there were roughly 13,000 “sound engineering technicians,” which the bureau basically defined as recording engineers/ mixers for music, film, television, podcasts and so on. Those pros made a mean annual wage of $67,000. Are there as many engineers now in 2020? Lack of income during lockdown may have caused a shakeout with some audio pros turning to other forms of employment to keep the lights on — or it may have led to more people stuck at home with a personal studio to declare it and themselves now “professional.” Time will tell.

And about those personal studios. If there’s any business that happened to be in the wrong place at the right time during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s pro audio manufacturers that make affordable entry to mid-level audio gear, ranging across mics, interfaces, mixers, headphones, studio monitors and so on. Demand for their products has exploded this year, getting bought up by corporate professionals trying to up their Zoom game while working at home, recordists, musicians, audio professionals scrambling to build pro-level facilities at home so they can keep working, podcasters, and more.

Live Events Pros Set for #RedAlertRESTART

Many manufacturers that serve those categories are finding the unexpected success to be a double-edged sword. The out-of-left-field upsurge allowed them to keep employees working full-time instead of having to enact furloughs—a great thing in a difficult time. However, the upswing also brought with it concerns that they could appear to be profiteering off a terrible time. That said, it’s hard to accuse a company of gouging the customer when they don’t have products to sell. With the pandemic affecting overseas manufacturing before COVID-19 even hit U.S. shores, until recently, numerous brands found themselves scrambling to get units on shelves. Much like the current housing market, there’s too much demand and not enough inventory, and some manufacturers have found themselves sold out of certain products for weeks at a time while awaiting shipments from overseas.

For all the unexpected success related to recording, however, there’s little to be cheerful about in the world of live sound. There are far more people working in that side of the industry, and few are making any money in the field this year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2019, there were 74,000 “audio and video technicians”—defined loosely as production pros for tours, concerts and events—making a mean annual wage of $51,000. They haven’t earned nearly as much this year, as alternative outdoor events like drive-in concerts proved to be intriguing experiments in most cases rather than fiscally sustainable entertainment formats. Some manufacturers serving the live sound industry, too, have had to implement shortened work weeks, furloughs or layoffs to keep moving forward.

Meanwhile, their customers — local, regional and national live sound companies — are looking for every way possible to cut costs, whether reassessing their inventory and then eBaying aging gear, shifting focus to installation if they can, or changing their warehousing strategies by subletting, moving to smaller facilities or packing their entire shop into storage. They’re fiercely determined to tough it out, but the truth is, they shouldn’t have to.

It is a disgrace that at this writing, months after their introduction, Congress hasn’t passed either the RESTART Act or the Save Our Stages Act, both of which would directly or indirectly help struggling sound reinforcement providers.

The bipartisan RESTART Act would extend the Paycheck Protection Program, providing small businesses— like sound companies and venues, for example—with 16 weeks to use those funds if they have fewer than 500 full-time employees and have had a decline in revenues of at least 25%. It would also provide small business loans that businesses could take up to seven years to pay back, allowing up to two years before they have to start paying.

Meanwhile, the Save Our Stages Act, which has 28 bipartisan cosponsors, would create a new $10 billion Small Business Administration program to provide grants of up to $12 million to eligible venues, producers, promoters and others to help cover up to half a year’s worth of expenses like payroll costs, rent, mortgage, utilities, and PPE, among other needs.

Given that venues across the country annually generate $9 billion in ticket sales alone, protecting the businesses behind such a strong economic driver should be a no-brainer.

The need for those acts’ passage is all the more necessary because local and regional audio providers and the venues they serve are crucial if the concert industry’s going to return. As regions slowly relax capacity regulations over time, local, club and theater-sized shows will lay the foundation for that comeback; now is the time for our elected officials to make sure those vendors and venues will still be in business to make it happen.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Billy Strings’ Drive-In Tour Rolls On

Wilkes-Barre, PA (September 16, 2020)—It used to be that a tour would drive into a venue and load-in; this year, the drive-in is the venue. While those drive-in concert venues may seem few and far between, some intrepid acts are linking them together for tours anyway, forging ahead despite the pandemic. Case in point: bluegrass sensation Billy Strings’ Meet Me at the Drive-In tour, which spent much of mid-September on the road, playing sizable gigs in outdoor venues in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

One of those stops included three nights at Wilkes-Barre Township’s Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza—or, rather, its parking lot. On hand to ensure every speedpicked note was heard were Dave Brotman and Mike Shoulson of Coatesville, PA, rental company DBS Audio Systems, which fielded a Meyer Sound Leopard reinforcement system for all three shows.

Billy Strings performing at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza parking lot. Andy Lytle, Billy Strings FOH Engineer

“What a wonderful experience it was to work a large show again—our first since December—and to work with such a professional crew and fabulous band as Billy Strings,” DBS Audio Systems president Dave Brotman said. The Billy Strings production team included FOH engineer Andy Lytle.

The parking lot venue provided a capacity for 530 vehicles, allowing fans to maintain social distancing while enjoying the outdoor shows. Covering all that space were left-right hangs of 16 Leopard compact linear line array loudspeakers each and a dozen ground-stacked 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements. Meanwhile, four MSL-4 reinforcement loudspeakers were evenly dispersed among two delay towers.

WSDG Pitches In for Drive-In

“Once again, the Leopards performed beyond my wildest expectations. Andy, Mike, and I were absolutely amazed. From a low-end perspective, we opted not to do an end-fire configuration, though it would have helped on stage, due to the extreme width of the parked cars,” Brotman said. “Once tuned, the 1100-LFCs performed wonderfully and soared happily all the way back to the end of the parking lot, which was easily 500 yards-plus. The 1100-LFC is the most musical sounding subwoofer I have ever heard. With an upright bass and the wonderful overtones it naturally has, the 1100-LFCs only complemented the bass players’ sound. No coloration, just an incredibly musical loudspeaker at any volume.”

At 200 feet from the stage, the front of house mixing position was significantly farther away than FOH engineers are used to (100 feet). It was also Lytle’s first time using Meyer Sound Amie precision studio monitors at the console: “The Amies’ sound quality helped my mix drastically. The clarity of the Amies was unbelievable, not to mention the low end response. These monitors sound so good that I would trust them mixing the band side stage any day.”

With drive-in concerts serving as a new solution to producing live events, everyone from the production teams to the artists to the audience was excited to be experiencing live music. “Everyone we came in contact with was just thrilled to be there, be performing, and be reinforced by, in my opinion, one of the best loudspeaker systems on the planet,” Brotman said.

Meyer Sound • www.meyersound.com

DBS Audio Systems • http://dbsaudio.com/

Billy Strings • https://billystrings.com/

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

ISE 2021 Exclusive Update: On the Record with AVIXA’s Joé Lloyd

ISE 2021

If you haven’t heard, Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) is officially moving from Feb. 2-5, 2021 to June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AVNetwork sat down with Joé Lloyd, AVIXA’s senior director of communications, to hear the latest information on ISE 2021 and InfoComm 2021.

Joé Lloyd, senior director of communications, AVIXAJoé Lloyd
Joé Lloyd, senior director of communications, AVIXAJoé Lloyd AVIXA

“Research shows us that people definitely want to get back to face-to-face meetings,” said Lloyd. “While everybody has their own personal timeline of when that will happen, overwhelming, the majority of people feel like May/June is the time of year that people will be able to come back together.”

“As an organization, we’ll be able to bring AV professionals back together in that timeframe,” she continued. “There will be a show in Asia, a show in Europe, and a show in North America, all in a timeframe that our audiences have told us that they want to get together.”

Lloyd added that AVIXA is trying to bring back face-to-face meetings in a safe way, rejuvenating the industry and the community, but always keeping the safety of all of those who take part in their events—from attendees to exhibitors to staff, and even the hotel, restaurant, transit, etc. workers in the local communities—at the forefront of it all.

While hosting two major industry tradeshows in the same month may create a conundrum for some AV professionals, Lloyd pointed out that the audiences do not overlap as much as you might think. “From a U.S. perspective, we look at ISE as our show: ‘Just in another country’,” she said. “But what’s interesting is that when you look at the attendee breakdown, these really are regionalized shows.”

According to AVIXA and ISE, in 2019, less than five percent of ISE attendees were from the U.S., and less than 11 percent of InfoComm 2019 attendees were from outside of the Americas.

The two shows, Lloyd claims, “are not competitive.” While ISE caters to both the residential and commercial markets, InfoComm focuses solely on pro AV. According to ISE’s data, 53.7 percent of ISE attendees focus solely on the pro AV market, with 38.7 percent focused on both commercial and residential. “InfoComm is pro AV all the way,” touted Lloyd

“InfoComm is not moving [because of the ISE date change],” Lloyd said firmly.  “The show, with all of our best intentions, is happening in June. We’re moving full steam ahead with a fabulous show and it’s happening June 12-18, with the exhibit hall open June 16-18.”

ISE 2021 • www.iseurope.org

InfoComm 2021 • www.infocommshow.org

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Providing Socially Distanced Concert Sound in Belgium

The Studio 100 Pop-Up Theatre in Belgium usually hosts 2,000 spectators, but is now holding concerts for 200 spread across the same space.
The Studio 100 Pop-Up Theatre in Belgium usually hosts 2,000 spectators, but is now holding concerts for 200 spread across the same space.

Puurs, Belgium (September 3, 2020)—Large-scale musical spectaculars are the stock in trade for the Studio 100 Pop-Up Theatre in Puurs, Belgium. Billing itself as the world’s largest temporary show venue, the 7,000-square-meter site is a flexible space with mobile seating for around 2,000—in non-COVID times.

Before the pandemic, the venue was hosting alternating productions of the wartime-focused 40-45 and a tale about a pioneer for social justice, Daens, The Musical. However, with lockdown cancelling the ability to host the audiences needed to support such sizable productions, Studio 100 looked for other ways to use the space, ultimately settling on music performances.

Scientists Hold Concerts to Determine How to Bring Shows Back

Working with artist management and booking company House of Entertainment to cfrate a concert series that would observe strict social distancing measures, Studio 100 hosted ‘The Living Room Concerts’ featuring a range of artists who performed 30 concerts in total during July. Although only 200 customers were permitted per show, it was essential that the audio system was still large enough to cover the whole space to cater for the socially distanced audience tables.

Studio Haifax used a Coda Audio system comprising 22 x ViRAY, 4 x APS, 4 x G308 and 24 x SCV-F in a cardioid arc. Thirty concerts took place during the season including appearances by Natalie & Jef Neve, Snelle, The Starlings, Glannis Grace, Christoff, Belle Perez, Samson & Marie, Willy Sommers, Hooverphonic, Nick & Simon, De Romeo’s, Dana Winner and Clouseau.

Coda Audio’s Director of Global Marketing, David Webster comments, “Whilst the timescale for a return to normal in the live performance sector remains uncertain, events such as the ‘Living Room Concerts’ continue to demonstrate the creativity and determination of the industry to overcome, in whatever ways possible, the constraints of the pandemic. We’re pleased to hear that our versatile systems are front and centre in these efforts to reconnect artists and audiences.”

Coda Audio • https://codaaudio.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Podcast Explores Yorkville Sound’s Ventilator Production During Pandemic

 

Yorkville Sound PodcastToronto, Canada (August 31, 2020)—Yorkville Sound has released Episode #2 of its ongoing Yorkville Sound Podcast, this time featuring product designer Peter Till. While the company and Till may be focused on pro audio, the episode instead focuses on how the manufacturer responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action.

In March of 2020, Peter Till, Yorkville Sound’s product designer, looked at a mixing board and imagined a hospital ventilator. With that, Yorkville pivoted its manufacturing efforts from building loudspeakers that can shake stadiums to producing machines that can save lives.

Yorkville Sound Launches Pro Audio Podcast

In the episode, Till recounts his own background, discussing how his early beginnings as a Grade 6 Yo-Yo string manufacturer with a passion for drumming created a path to Yorkville’s Production team.

The Yorkville Sound Podcast, a monthly discussion-format podcast geared toward the Music & Pro Audio enthusiast, is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, along with a video version on Yorkville’s YouTube channel.

The podcast is produced using gear all currently available in the Yorkville catalog, down to the last cable. The gear list includes the ART Tubemix and HeadAmp 4, Apex headphones, two Aston Stealth mics and a variety of Yorkville cables and stands.

Yorkville Sound • www.yorkville.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Snapsound Takes Its Shot with Atmos

Snapsound's Dolby Atmos-capable mixing room
Snapsound recently upgraded one of its four rooms for mixing in Dolby Atmos, outfitting it with Meyer Sound speakers, an Avid S6 M10 controller and more.

North Hollywood, CA—Zach Seivers went to school to pursue his dream of telling stories through film but found that sound was his true calling. In 2006, straight out of film school, he started his own audio post company, growing the business from one to four rooms before recently adding to his storytelling tools with an upgrade to Dolby Atmos mixing capabilities.

Seivers set up Snapsound in an office tower in North Hollywood in a deal with a documentary filmmaking client. “I was able to bring equipment into a room that they traded with me. I said, ‘I’ll be an in-house guy for you guys, but I want to be able to pursue my own clients.’ And they were cool with that.”

He still maintains a working relationship with the company but has since leased his own space in the building, initially focusing on non-theatrical content, primarily for broadcast. “We built three 5.1 nearfield rooms and a voiceover/ADR recording space. Eventually I stopped recording dialogue and repurposed that room as a fourth nearfield room. If I was doing any projects with a theatrical destination, I partnered with a facility like Deluxe” in Hollywood, he said.

Working with an acoustical designer, Seivers value-engineered the rooms to get good, basic acoustic treatment and isolation in the studios at minimal expense. “I didn’t know how long I would be in the space,” he explained. “Now it’s been over 10 years, but I knew I would never be able to take those physical investments with me if I had to leave the building.”

Instead, he said, “I decided to put the emphasis on digital tools to account for any acoustical issues. We worked with Trinnov and brought the DMON [monitoring processor] into all of the studios. That was a game-changer.”

The layout and equipment complement, including JBL 4328 speakers, was designed to be identical in every room: “The DMON allowed us to fix the more complex problems and matched the sound of each of the rooms so much more closely than we were able to do without it.”

The monitors have since been upgraded to JBL 708s. All four rooms have also transitioned from Digidesign Control 24 surfaces to C24 desks over the years.

As the momentum behind Dolby Atmos built in recent years and the essential tools became more readily available to independent facilities, Seivers decided it was time to take the plunge. “Netflix embraced and pushed delivery in Atmos. That was the catalyst for me as a business owner,” he said.

Related: Netflix Unveils Audio Streaming Improvements, by Steve Harvey, May 2, 2019

 

He contacted Chris Bolitho, sales director at Vintage King Audio in Los Angeles, about upgrading Snapsound’s Studio A. “I’ve known Chris for a long time,” said Seivers. “He quickly connected me with Miles [Rogers, cinema/studio development manager] at Meyer and introduced me to Jose Castellon [senior studio and cinema design engineer] at Dolby. VK is very hands-on and has a very personalized service. And they have a wonderful guy on their staff, audio consultant and technician Frank Verschuuren. It’s nice to have that level of support.”

Snapsound's Dolby Atmos-capable mixing room

Seivers had heard Meyer Sound’s Acheron Designer cinema speakers in sound designer and re-recording mixer Will Files’ room at Sony Pictures in Culver City, CA. “It’s a relatively small room, but they had such a huge, theatrical sound, and resolution, detail and color,” he recalled.

With the Acherons, “You can emulate a theatrical sound, and I’ve increasingly been moving into more theatrical work,” he said—a move that led to installing three Acherons for LCR coverage in Studio A. “The way the sound moves in the room is so much more dynamic that I’m able to make choices that I have found translate better from a small to a big room. If I’m going to another facility and four-walling a large stage, I want to minimize the amount of time I spend translating the work to that room.”

Meyer’s UP-4slim speakers support the Dolby Atmos side and overhead zones. “I like that they have more than enough power, the resolution is fantastic, and they have a really interesting look. I also like that they’re extremely modular and easy to install—and remove. And we didn’t have to deal with cutting holes in the ceiling.”

Related: COVID-19 Can’t Stop Pro Audio Retail, by Steve Harvey, June 25, 2020

Studio A’s spec was barely compliant with Dolby’s criteria for Atmos Home Entertainment Studio certification, he said. The room just squeaked through. “Because our room has a sloped ceiling, the rear overheads were right on the edge of what Dolby considers their minimum spec. They’re very careful with when and how they make concessions, since the point of the certification is that it is a standard. But we were so on the edge that they were willing to be flexible. They balanced that with the other aspects of the room.”

Signal transport between the Pro Tools system and the Dolby Atmos RMU—both running on Mac minis—and the Avid MTRX controller is via Dante. To continue taking advantage of Trinnov’s optimization technology, Seivers also upgraded Studio A’s DMON to a Dante-enabled version capable of handling the new 7.1.4 speaker configuration and communicating with the MTRX.

He also swapped out Studio A’s C24 for an Avid S6 desk. “I love the reaction of the faders,” he said. “As simple as that sounds, that was the biggest reason I wanted to invest in it.” The S6 is popular for mix-to-picture rooms, but Seivers initially resisted the upgrade because of the expense. “But there’s a little bit of a future-proofing aspect because the S6 is built with Atmos in mind,” he said.

As it turns out, there’s an active used console market through online portals such as UK-based Resurface, including for the component parts of Avid’s M10 version of the S6, which doesn’t include the display screens. That’s fine by him, said Seivers, who finds the displays distracting. “I’m looking at the image on the screen and not Pro Tools or the board displays. You can get an M10 at a fraction of the price of a new M40 system, so I ended up buying the S6 used.”

Now, like everyone else, Snapsound is facing an unpredictable future in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s super strange, but we’re creative people and we can be creative in ways beyond our craft,” said Seivers. “I’m confident that people are going to find ways to tell stories no matter what.”

Snapsound • www.snapsound.com
See Snapsound’s portfolio of work: www.snapsound.com/portfolio

Vintage King Audio • www.vintageking.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Peek at All-Star Damian Lillard’s Mini-Studio Inside the NBA Bubble

Five-time NBA All-Star, Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard has a second career as rapper Dame D.O.L.L.A.
Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard has a second career as rapper Dame D.O.L.L.A. Frenchieinportland/Creative Commons

The NBA is back in action despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with 22 teams living and playing within ‘The Bubble’ of Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex as they complete their season. Living in lockdown has left some with little to do other than play, but five-time NBA all-star Damian Lillard has been putting his downtime to good use, recording in his hotel. Waxing lyrical is not a new passion for the Portland Trailblazers point guard, who has recorded as rapper Dame D.O.L.L.A. for some time.

Now, having posted a photo of his mobile recording set up on Instagram, we can take a look at what he’s using to capture those tracks inside The Bubble.

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Live from the Bub… #JustTurned30

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Capturing Lillard’s flow is a Telefunken-Elektroakustik ELA M 251E large-diaphragm tube condenser mic—not an impulse purchase at $9,495 list price, but given that he’s expected to make just shy of $30 million this year, he can probably afford it. That mic is perched atop a Gator FrameWorks GFW-MIC-0821 compact base bass drum and amp mic stand.

Next stop is the Universal Audio Apollo x4 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface, which in turn is sending everything to Avid Pro Tools on an Apple MacBook Pro. Keeping that laptop connected to something via a Cat 5 cable—let’s guess it’s hotel internet—is a J5Create JCD383 USB-C multi adapter.

Last and realistically least, the hard-to-see headphones leaning against the Apollo x4 aren’t high-end cans but rather a Sony PlayStation platinum wireless headset—which means Lillard is probably games for fun when he’s not, you know, playing games for a living. On the other hand, it’s always a good idea to hear your tracks the same way the eventual listener is going to, so having a set of down-to-earth consumer ‘phones around isn’t a bad idea actually.

Those headphones are crucial, however, as he pointed out to the Associated Press, noting, “I saw people saying that there would be complaints of him recording music, but I don’t have any speakers. Everything is in the headphone speakers. I’m rapping out loud, but not screaming to the top of my lungs. Nobody is going to hear me rapping.”

Peek Inside Green Day’s Old Home Studio

Damian Lillard's latest singlePerhaps neighbors won’t hear him rapping in his hotel, but more and more people are hearing him in the outside world. Hip-hop is more than just a hobby for Lillard, who aspires to have dual careers in basketball and music, much as actor Donald Glover has a separate occupation as Grammy-winning rapper Childish Gambino. June saw Lillard drop two tracks—“Goat Spirit” with Raphael Saadiq, and “Blacklist”—while July found him releasing “Home Team.” He’s also worked with the likes of 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne in the past, the latter of whom he performed with during this year’s NBA All-Star weekend. With NBA players not allowed outside The Bubble until their season ends, who knows how many tracks Dame D.O.L.L.A. may leave Disney with?

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com