Burbank, CA (April 30, 2021)—Five-time Grammy-nominated record producer, songwriter and movie producer, Harvey Mason Jr., has unveiled the new home of Harvey Mason Media, which includes the former Evergreen and Enterprise music recording facilities.
The Evergreen Stages building started life as a movie theater in the late 1940s before being repurposed as a multi-room music recording complex in 1979. The main live room measures over 3,000 square feet and includes four isolation booths. The studios, which have hosted sessions by some of the biggest names in the business during 40-plus years as a premier music studio, will also serve as the new home of Harvey Mason Media, which offers a wide range of services for record, film and television projects.
Mason, who has also served as the chair of the board of trustees and interim president/CEO of The Recording Academy since the start of 2020, says both facilities will feature Solid State Logic Duality Fuse 72-channel SuperAnalogue mixing consoles. The Duality Fuse console installed at Evergreen is the first to be installed anywhere in the world and will soon be joined by a second at its sister facility, the original Enterprise recording studios, just across the street. Duality Fuse is the latest model of Duality, featuring a fully integrated Fusion analog processor in the center section.
“The goal in rebuilding this historic building was to make it the most elevated, high-end, large format room in the city,” says Mason. “The live room sounds amazing and is one of the largest in L.A.; we can record an 80-piece orchestra here. Couple that with the sound of the Duality Fuse console and the flexibility it gives us, and we’re in a unique position in L.A.,” he says. “It gives us the opportunity to do great things here.”
The refurbishment of Evergreen Stages included an acoustic redesign of the control room, which is configured for 5.1 mixing and now features an ATC speaker system. “We worked with George Augspurger…who has designed three or four rooms for me over the years,” says Mason. “We reconfigured the front wall, built an entirely new back wall, added new ceiling treatment, repositioned the console and built a new credenza. The control room sounds much, much better and is more ergonomic.”
Additionally, the team led by Paul Cox of technical design and integration firm Paul J. Cox Studio Systems replaced the facility’s wiring infrastructure, says Mason. Cox and his team will also integrate the second, identical Duality Fuse across the street. The former Enterprise Studios was founded in the 1980s by Craig Huxley, who also owned the Evergreen Stages building for a period, operating it as Enterprise 2.
My favorite part of tracking a band is matching my collection of mic pres to my carefully curated mics for euphonic results, and 500-series mic amps have made this fascination more affordable and convenient. The newest addition to my 500 rig is the VHD Pre from SSL and it has affordably given me that classic SSL sound, along with a number of creative options.
Out of the Box
Occupying only one 500-slot, the VHD Pre packs in plenty of features without feeling too cramped or crowded. It starts with a gain control ranging from +20 to a whopping +75 dB of gain—enough to amplify quiet sources and passive ribbons. There is an input pad of -20 dB, which is enough to accept hot mics and line level sources, as well as a defeatable -18 dB/octave high-pass filter that ranges from a nearly-subsonic 15 Hz up to a truly-midrange 500 Hz for anything from rumble removal to a complete removal of all bass.
You’ll find the requisite phantom power and polarity switches, but most important is SSL’s VHD (Variable Harmonic Drive) circuit as taken from the Duality line of consoles (which actually have two sets of preamps—VHD and SuperAnalogue, hence Duality). A switch engages the circuitry, and the Drive control allows 2nd-order, 3rd-order, or a blend of both, harmonics.
There is a 1/4” direct input for electronic instruments, along with a Hi-Z switch that changes input impedance from 1.2 K ohms to 10 K ohms for tonal and sensitivity variability. A single tri-color LED indicates signal presence with the familiar green/yellow/red scheme. Finally, an output trim control (ranges from -20 to +20 dB) is provided for dialing back level on all that high-passed VHD-goosed signal you’ve created.
It should come as no surprise that the VHD Pre has a clean, largely neutral sound that is high on headroom, wide in frequency response and particularly sweetly defined in the top-end—the classic SSL sound if you will. Some call it “glass,” others call it “pure clean gain,” some call it “sterile,” and a few call it “thin.” I call it time-tested, versatile and familiar. On vocals, acoustic guitars, classical instruments and the like, the VHD Pre strikes a chord you’ve heard a million times and can immediately recognize. I’m not saying that this SSL tone is shockingly different, just simply that the numerous subtleties add up to create something very familiar and even nostalgic.
Let’s quickly cover the FAQs before getting to the VHD details: The gain is clean all the way to +75 (there is no sudden jump in noise or distortion at end of travel); the HPF is accurate, smooth and musical (ranging up to 500 Hz is brilliant for committing to wildly filtered sounds); the switchable impedance is a “must have” if you like to tweak your tones on the way-in without EQ (10 Kohms gives you more of that SSL air); and the output trim is essential to have for precise level setting and attenuating an overdriven circuit.
The VHD section is a little tricky, and solving its mysteries is the key-to-the-kingdom. VHD is simply on or off; you can’t select the “amount” of it (not directly, at least), although the knob controls the blend of second- and third-order harmonics. Fully second-order multiples yield a warmer, congealing tone that is dark-ish, smooth, sort of scratchy and “tubey,” while fully third-order is a bit crispier, more sizzly, fuzzy and more transistor-like. Both are quite subtle without a lot of signal, although rather useful for their subtlety, especially when blended.
If you hone-in on today’s pop music, you’ll notice subtle saturation on almost any kind of track—vocals, keys, basses, drums, even handclaps—and the VHD Pre delivers those tones all day long. I found VHD often working best at juicing up detail and immediacy without being obvious or even noticeable (until bypassed, at least). Unruly tambourines, anemic vocals, boring bass, stock synths and “meh” guitars all take the heat well. I almost always had a 60/40 or a 40/60 harmonic blend, and you might be surprised how often 3rd-order is useful.
With ample gain, VHD jumps into distortion and you have to contain it deliberately for musical results. The key here is to carefully balance input gain with output trim, driving the input just hard enough to get the dirt/grit that you do want, re-balancing the odds and evens in the VHD, tweaking the HPF (maybe even the impedance) and then attenuating output until you’ve got that elusively desirable gritty growl that is manageable and sounds cool. Don’t be surprised if you find heavy VHD best combined with clean signal in parallel. All things considered, VHD really does the trick for harmonic dusting and moderate grit, but heavy distortion and manglings are more hit or miss. Basses and electronic drums? Oh yeah! Vocals? Not so much.
The Final Mix
At $579 (street), I couldn’t resist getting a VHD Pre for that widely popular vocal sound it so easily achieves. The versatility of the HPF and the variable impedance have made it an easy pre to plug-in when I’m not sure what a client is going to deliver. And now that I’ve mastered the use of this VHD section, it looks like I’ll be needing another one, so my stereo keys and other dual-input sources can get the benefit of a little SSL harmonic massaging, too.
Kinnelon, NJ (February 19, 2021)—Will Putney’s Graphic Nature Audio recording studio is relocating from its current home in Belleville, NJ to a larger, rural property about 20 miles west in Kinnelon. Putney, a metal/hardcore producer/engineer, mixer and musician has worked with bands such as Every Time I Die, Body Count, Knocked Loose, The Amity Affliction, Stray From The Path, Counterparts, Terror and Northlane
Putney has long mixed using a hybrid setup: “I would mix out into pieces of gear that I’ve collected over the years and sum everything together back into the computer. The setup ended up getting more and more complicated. Over time I was basically building a console piecemeal, with different summing mixers, and creating ways to do parallel sends and analog-style routing to get to my compressors and EQs.
As a result, the new facility is centered around a newly installed 32-channel SSL Origin analog in-line mixing console, acquired from Vintage King.“ I decided that if I could find something streamlined enough that would give me the routing functions that I want and without too many components, and that had a small enough footprint, I would probably be better suited to working on something like that,” he said.
The transition from his former multi-component workflow to the new setup incorporating the Origin has been seamless, he stated: “It all just feels super musical, and it’s fast and easy for me to get mixes going on. What I do in the computer doesn’t really change at all, so it’s business as usual; I still work how I always did.”
The complement of gear installed with the Origin mimics Putney’s previous setup and includes a pair of Amphion Two18 nearfield monitors, which he switched to several years ago, along with Universal Audio Apollo interfaces for tracking and overdubbing into his Logic Pro DAW. “We still use Pro Tools for editing,” he says, “or if I travel to another studio.”
The Origin desk has been installed in a room at the new location in Kinnelon, where the next stage of construction will begin in the coming months. “I’ve got two control rooms set up here. The goal for the future — we’ll start construction in the spring — is to do an updated version of my old drum tracking room but with a more traditional control room. That will be my A room where I can do everything — recording drums and mixing. I will be able to do an entire record there, start to finish, as opposed to working in the modular rooms in the other facility,” says Putney.
Hollywood, CA (January 20, 2021)—Nick Gross, drummer, producer and entrepreneur, is a busy man, recording and performing with a variety of bands while also overseeing Gross Labs, his growing entertainment, media and investment company. Amidst all that action, Gross found the time over the past year to expand his Noise Nest production complex in Hollywood.
Now spanning an entire block in the heart of Hollywood’s media district, Noise Nest began more modestly under another name about eight years ago. “We leased the smaller space for the first three years for a production team that I had at the time; we used it as a songwriting facility,” says Gross. “We later built it out to be more of a recording studio facility where other managers, publishers and labels could use the space.”
When his neighbor’s larger building became available, Gross snapped it up, gutting the structure and calling in Peter Grueneisen’s nonzero\architecture to design a three-room complex with lounges, kitchen and other amenities. He then had designer and acoustician Chris Owens of F.C. Owens revamp the two production rooms in the original, smaller building.
“It started as this sort of punk-rock, grungy little studio and it’s turned into a multi-purpose, multi-use content factory,” Gross says. His vision for Noise Nest was inspired by pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek’s now-defunct Fantasy Factory in downtown L.A., which he calls “a cool and creative way to think outside of the box.”
The initial two rooms catered to outside clients while Gross was growing his business, but Noise Nest now focuses on in-house content creation. “I host a lot of our internal publishing and label clients; they each get to use the space for free,” he says. “We’re doing all kinds of things: music production, live streaming, gaming. It’s an epic live event space; we built two basketball courts.”
The Gross Labs umbrella company, launched in 2018, encompasses record label and music publisher Big Noise Music Group, Noise Nest Animation, e-sports organization Team Rogue, and philanthropic education and self-discovery platform Find Your Grind. Gross co-founded Big Noise with Vagrant Records co-founders Jon Cohen and John “Feldy” Feldmann, the man behind SoCal ska-punk band Goldfinger; signings include The Used, Ashley Tisdale and The Wrecks. Gross still sometimes plays with Goldfinger, as well as his own bands, Half the Animal and girlfriends. His many investments range from consumer products to new tech ventures.
A common thread throughout Noise Nest is PMC speakers. “The choice of PMC was a no-brainer,” says Gross, who first heard the monitors at the studios of his friend, producer and songwriter Dr. Luke. “They’re incredible. We’re super stoked to have them.” Studio A features PMC’s flagship QB1-A in-wall main monitors, while various IB1S-A, twotwo.6 and twotwo.8 models provide near field coverage there and in the other rooms.
There is a consistent aesthetic between rooms. The largest space, A, is dominated by a massive console supporting a split analog API 1608, with the main desk to the left and 16 more channels to the right, plus a Slate Raven system. “It’s a one-of-a-kind desk that I wanted to build out with a cool mixture of analog and digital. The outboard gear that sits behind it is pretty special as well,” he says, and includes SSL and Neve mic preamps.
The tracking space is just the right size, he says: “It gets the job done. We wanted to be smart with the space and be as effective as we could, knowing that we wanted to build three studios in a 4,500-square-foot building,” he says.
The B room, equipped with an SSL Matrix2 and soffited Genelec 1238A SAM main monitors, transforms into an indoor/outdoor space. “People can be playing basketball outside and see what’s going on inside the room at the same time,” he says. The console in Studio C, the smallest room, overlooks a small booth and houses an industry-standard vocal chain—Neve 1073 preamp and Tube-Tech CL 1B compressor—with ATC SCM25A Pro monitors and a rack of additional outboard gear.
“All three studios have their own vibe. I wanted to take the feeling of old recording studios, whether that was old brick or old wood or analog gear, and give it that high-end, digital, 2020s modern vibe. So we have white brick everywhere and polished concrete for all the floors,” says Gross. “It’s just a fun hang and a good vibe. You don’t want to leave.”
Loire Valley, France (January 8, 2021) — Flow Studios, a new recording facility based in France’s Loire Valley, has opened with a 32-channel Solid State Logic Origin analog in-line console in its control room.
Studio owner Luke Aaron Clark reportedly built the studio control room to accommodate the Origin desk. The studio itself was designed by John Brandt, took three years to complete and involved modifying an old town hall.
“What I love about the Origin is that it gives me the ability to work with one artist in the control room, or to have a band or larger group spread out throughout the studio, with all instruments recorded simultaneously,” says Clark. “As a commercial studio owner, I wanted to create a beautiful space where an engineer or producer can get to work quickly. Thankfully, the engineering and design behind Origin is very intuitive.
“The SSL Origin is set up as fully patchable, which provides a highly flexible workflow throughout the studio. We have 96 patchable audio lines accessed via wall panels located throughout the facility, while we also use the intelligent and intuitive bus routing on the SSL Origin to manage our dedicated hearback system.”
Clark says the console can create a comprehensive workflow: “For tracking, if someone wants to get a session up and running quickly, they can run everything through the desk and it all sounds harmonious,” he explains. “After tracking, the desk, outboard gear or trusted plug-ins can be employed for mixing.”
He adds, “I was already familiar with the snarl and crunch of the E series 242-type EQ. It gives some added weight and the ability to fine-tune during or after tracking. And the glue you get from the classic bus compressor is indispensable.”
Los Angeles, CA (December 1, 2020)—Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group (UMG), has installed a new 32-channel Solid State Logic Origin analog in-line mixing console at its 6,000-square-foot Republic Records Studios facility in Los Angeles.
The label opened Republic Records Studios in 2017 and in the first year of operation produced projects by a host of label artists, including The Weeknd, Metro Boomin, Amine and others. The facility has produced six #1 albums over the last 18 months. The building encompasses a tracking space large enough for a medium-sized orchestra, two control rooms and four production suites.
Earlier this year, Rob Christie, Republic Records studio director since the facility opened, elected to replace Studio A’s aging mixing console with a new SSL Origin. With so many Top-40 artists and their production teams coming through the room, he wanted to eliminate any maintenance issues in the space. “One thing that we need on a session is reliability,” he says. “I need to know that everything is going to work, and that it’s laid out nicely and easily for access, speed and reliability.”
The in-house technical staff wired and installed the Origin console, which Republic Records acquired from Ferndale, MI-based Vintage King. “The SSL is just plug-and-play; it’s ready to go,” says Christie. During the installation, the control room front wall was customized to accommodate a soffited pair of Augspurger main monitors, complemented by a pair of 18-inch subwoofers positioned behind the console. Pairs of ATC SM45A Pro reference monitors and Yamaha NS-10s nearfield speakers are additionally available.
The technical staff also added a bay at both sides of the Origin. One houses a patchbay and the other contains a selection of outboard processing units, including several preamplifiers, equalizers, compressors and limiters.
Republic Records was honored as the top Billboard Hot 100 label for a sixth year in a row at the beginning of 2020 as a result of the success of artists including Ariana Grande, Post Malone, the Jonas Brothers, Drake and Taylor Swift. Billboard also named Republic Records the overall label of the year for the fourth time in five years.
2020 will be remembered as the year we’d like to forget, but when 2021 is recalled one day as the year everything bounced back, much of that will be due to groundwork laid down in the preceding 12 months. That includes the pro-audio industry—next year, when live events and concerts return, new hits rule the airwaves and the latest must-hear podcasts land in your listening queue, many of them will be created using pro-audio equipment that was introduced over the last 12 months. With that in mind, here’s the Gear of the Year for 2020.
So what was the Gear of the Year? That’s not an easy thing to determine, so rather than weigh a hot new plug-in against an arena-filling P.A. or an audio console years in development, we decided to let our readers show the way.
Product announcements have always been among the most popular stories on prosoundnetwork.com, so we dug through our Google Analytics (readership statistics), sifting through all the “new product” stories we ran 2020 (well into the triple digits!) to determine which ones were the most popular with PSN readers. With that in mind, here’s the Gear of the Year that YOU unknowingly picked—a true Top-20 for 2020.
1. YAMAHA RIVAGE PM3 AND PM5 DIGITAL MIXING SYSTEMS
This dual product launch in May was far and away the most popular product announcement of 2020 with our readers. Yamaha introduced two consoles—the PM5 and PM3—as well as a pair of DSP engines—DSPRX and DSP-RX-EX—and version 4 firmware that provides features to new and legacy Rivage systems.
Both of the new consoles feature large capacitive touchscreens that allow users to use multi-finger gestures, with the PM5 sporting three screens and the PM3 getting one. As with their predecessors, the PM5 and PM3 sport 38 faders—three bays of 12, with two masters—but each of the new control surfaces is laid out with an eye toward increased efficiency.
2. SOLID STATE LOGIC 2 AND 2+ USB AUDIO INTERFACES Solid State Logic unveiled its first personal studio-market products—the USB-powered SSL 2 (2-in/2-out) and SSL 2+ (2-in/4-out) audio interfaces—at the Winter NAMM Show. The 2+ in particular caught our readers’ eyes, with a 4K analog enhancement mode “inspired by classic SSL consoles,” monitoring and an SSL Production Pack software bundle. Offering expanded I/O for musicians collaborating, it includes two analog mic preamps, 24-bit/192 kHz AD/DA AKM converters, multiple headphone outputs with independent monitor mix, MIDI I/O, and additional unbalanced outputs for DJ mixers.
3. JBL 4349 STUDIO MONITOR
The JBL 4349 studio monitor is a compact, high-performance monitor loudspeaker built around the JBL D2415K dual 1.5-inch compression driver mated to a large format, High-Definition Imaging (HDI) horn, paired with a 12-inch cast-frame and pure-pulp cone woofer. The JBL D2415K compression driver features a pair of lightweight polymer annular diaphragms with reduced diaphragm mass, while the V-shaped geometry of the annular diaphragm reduces breakup modes, eliminates time smear and reduces distortion, according to JBL.
4. APPLE LOGIC PRO X 10.5 Apple updated Logic Pro X with a “professional” version of Live Loops, new sampling features and new and revamped beatmaking tools. Live Loops lets users arrange loops, samples and recordings on a grid to build musical ideas, which can then be further developed on Logic’s timeline. Remix FX brings effects to Live Loops that can be used in real time, while the updated Sampler augments the EXS24 plug-in with new sound shaping controls. Other new tools include Quick Sampler, Step Sequencer, Drum Synth and Drum Machine Designer.
5. AMS NEVE 8424 CONSOLE
The AMS Neve 8424 is a small-format desk based on the 80-series console range. Intended for hybrid studios, the desk provides a center point between analog outboard gear, synths and the like, and the digital world of DAW workflows, software plug-ins and session recall. As an analog mixing platform, the 8424 offers 24 DAW returns across 24 channel faders or, for larger DAW sessions, a 48-Mix mode that allows a total of 48 mono inputs with individual level and pan controls to be mixed through the stereo mix bus.
6. MILLENNIA MEDIA HV-316 MIC PREAMP Millennia Media bowed its fully remote-controllable microphone preamplifier, the HV-316. Offering 12V battery operation, the HV-316 is housed in a 10-pound, 1U aluminum chassis housing 16 channels of Millennia HV-3 microphone preamplifiers with simultaneous analog and Dante 32-bit/192 kHz Ethernet outputs. Other digital audio output options are planned, including USB and MADI. The unit is designed for high-temperature continuous operation (up to 150° F), is powered by both 12V DC and worldwide 80–264V AC, and features “pi filter” shielding on audio and digital feeds to prevent interference.
7. SHURE SLX-D DIGITAL WIRELESS SYSTEM
The Shure SLX-D, offered in single- and dual-channel models, provides operation of up to 32 channels per frequency band. Transmitters run on standard AA batteries or an optional lithium-ion rechargeable battery solution with a dual-docking charging station. For less technically inclined users, it offers Guided Frequency Setup and a Group Scan feature that sets up multiple channels by assigning frequencies to all receivers automatically via Ethernet connections, allowing a 30-plus channel system can be set up via Group Scan within a few seconds.
8. MEYER SOUND SPACEMAP GO
The Meyer Sound Spacemap Go is a free Apple iPad app for spatial sound design and mixing. Working with the company’s Galaxy Network Platform, Spacemap Go can control Galaxy processors using a single or multiple iPads as long as the units have current firmware and Compass control software. Spacemap Go is compatible with various sound design/show control programs such as QLab, so designs assembled using them can be implemented into a multichannel spatial mix using Spacemap Go’s templates for common multichannel configurations.
9. D&B AUDIOTECHNIK 44S LOUDSPEAKER
Housed in a flush-mountable cabinet, the d&b audiotechnik 44S is a two-way passive, point source installation loudspeaker with 2 x 4.5-inch neodymium LF drivers and 2 x 1.25-inch HF dome tweeters, delivering a frequency response of 90 Hz–17 kHz. The 44S features a waveguide and baffle design intended to provide horizontal dispersion down to the lower frequencies while being focused vertically, providing a 90° x 30° dispersion pattern to direct sound to specific spaces.
10. BEYERDYNAMIC TG D70 AND TG 151 MICS Beyerdynamic made two additions to its Touring Gear (TG) series. The second-generation TG D70 dynamic kickdrum mic is meant for capturing the impact of bass drums and similar low-frequency-intensive instruments, while the TG 151 instrument mic is a lean microphone with a short shaft that can be used on everything from snares and toms to brass instruments and guitar amplifiers.
11. QSC Q-SYS CORE PROCESSORS QSC’s Q-SYS Core 8 Flex and Nano audio, video and control processors provide scalable DSP processing, video routing and bridging for web conferencing, as well as third-party endpoint integration without the need for separate dedicated control processors. The 8 Flex includes onboard analog audio I/O and GPIO plus network I/O, while Nano offers network-only audio I/O processing and control.
12. TELEFUNKEN TF11 MICROPHONE Telefunken‘s TF11 is the company’s first phantom-powered large-diaphragm condenser mic. The CK12-style edge-terminated capsule is a single-membrane version of the capsule featured in the TF51, and the amplifier is a proprietary take on the FET mic amplifier similar to the M60, coupled with a custom large-format nickel-iron core transformer.
13. L-ACOUSTICS K3 LOUDSPEAKER
K3 is a compact loudspeaker from L-Acoustics that is intended as a main system to cover up to 10,000 people, or for use as outfills or delays for K1 or K2 systems. Designed as a full-range line source, K3 integrates 12-inch transducers for large-format system performance in the form factor of a 10-inch design.
14. CLEAR-COM HEADSET SANITIZATION KITS Clear-Com has sanitization kits for its CC-300, CC-400, CC-110, CC-220 and CC-26K headsets. They include replacement ear pads, pop filters, sanitizing wipes, ear sock covers and temple pads in a cloth bag. Items for each kit vary depending on the headset, and can also be purchased separately.
15. ZOOM PODTRAK P8 PODCAST STUDIO
The Zoom PodTrak P8 provides recording, editing and mixing capabilities all in one unit. Six mics, a smartphone and PC can be recorded simultaneously, each with its own fader and preamp with 70 dB of gain. A touchscreen controls monitoring, adjusting, onboard editing and more.
16. WAVES SHIPS KALEIDOSCOPES PLUG-IN Waves’ Kaleidoscopes plug-in creates classic analog studio effects such as 1960s phasing and tape flanging, 1970s stadium tremolo-guitar vibes and 1980s chorus sounds.
17. OUTLINE STADIA 28 LINE ARRAY SYSTEM
The Outline Stadia 28 is a medium-throw system intended for use in permanent outdoor installations. A single enclosure weighs 46.2 pounds and can reportedly reach 139 dB SPL.
18. LAB.GRUPPEN FA SERIES AMPLIFIERS Lab.gruppen‘s FA Series Energy Star-certified amplifiers are intended for commercial and industrial applications, and are offered in 2 x 60W, 2 x 120W and 2 x 240W.
19. D.W. FEARN VT-2 PREAMPLIFIER
The updated D.W. Fearn VT-2 Dual-Channel Vacuum Tube Microphone Preamplifier now features an integrated, switchable 43 dB pad, aiding patching into a master bus.
20. KEF LS50 META SPEAKER
Our Gear of the Year list concludes with the LS50, featuring KEF’s Metamaterial Absorption Technology driver array, a cone neck decoupler, offset flexible bass port, low-diffraction curved baffle and more.
New South Wales, Australia (November 24, 2020)—Damien Gerard Studios became Australia’s first client for the new Solid State Logic Origin after relocating to West Gosford in New South Wales.
“Once we had completed the move into the new larger facility, the old Soundcraft 2400 series console was probably our weak link compared to the quality we had elsewhere in our outboard and mic inventory, which had upgraded considerably with the move,” explains studio manager Marshall Cullen. “My new business partner Jason Stenning and I began looking at vintage consoles that might be available — including Sylvia Massy’s old Neve in the USA — but the economics of it didn’t stack up.”
Cullen had reportedly heard good things about the Origin, and was swayed by the advantages of buying a new console, including a warranty and a modern power supply design. Local AV distributor Amber Technology organized the testing and delivery of the new desk. Since the day Damien Gerard’s new control room came online, the studio has been busy with tracking, mixing and mastering, as well as hosting solo artists and voiceover sessions.
The studio’s large live room, which can accommodate 20 or more musicians, has recently done a number of sessions with people live streaming or recording and filming live for post production. “Having the workflow of the console with 64 faders in front of you, the split paths and being able to fly different ins and outs where it’s needed has really helped those sessions,” says Cullen. “Also having an engineer on the left-hand side of masters and plenty more faders for a producer or assistant on the right-hand side has been a great boon.”
Tuscany, Italy (November 12, 2020)—Italian producer/remixer Gianni Bini, owner of Viareggio-based recording studio House of Glass in Tuscany and one of the prime movers behind the Ocean Trax record label, has replaced a 10-year-old Solid State Logic Duality with a new System T.
The original House of Glass was destroyed in the tragic Viareggio railway disaster in 2009 and, as part of the rebuilding process, Bini decided to place a SSL Duality console at the new studio’s heart. A decade on, it became time to replace it and he found himself on the verge of signing a deal for a different brand.
“I really wanted to stay analogue and I was about sign the deal for a new analogue console when two things happened,” he says. “The first thing is that at the end of last year, I signed a huge contract for 100 albums to be produced in the next five years. And the only way to produce 100 albums in five years, is to record it live. I needed something that was going to be able to do that and manage the throughput.
“The second thing was that I heard System T,” he continues. “This console is closer to the SSL 4000 than the Duality is. I don’t know what they did, because this is a computer, but they did it. I wanted some input from people that I trust—and I expected them to come in and say, ‘No, no no, digital is no good, don’t buy it’—but they came in, listened to it, and they said, ‘Wow, this is fantastic, the sound is brilliant.’ The word they used was ‘stellar.’”
The new installation at the House of Glass consists of a 64-channel SSL System T S500 surface, Tempest Engines and Network I/O AoIP stage boxes, featuring SSL’s SuperAnalogue mic pre technology.
Bini has found that the System T has come in handy has he tackles the mammoth 100-album project. “I did 10 albums in two and a half months because the console let me do it,” he says. “I do a set up and I can save it, and when the next band comes, if I use the same mics, then it’s already saved. The gains are already done, the workflow is already done…it’s very quick.”
New York, NY (November 5, 2020)—Two weeks after a massive three-day fire ravaged the Nobeoka City, China factory of semiconductor producer Asahi Kasei Microsystems, pro-audio manufacturers around the world that are dependent on AKM’s high-end audio chips are still looking for information and determining their next steps.
AKM produces a variety of ADCs, DACs, ASRCs and Receivers for numerous pro-audio and high-end consumer audiophile manufacturers, including Solid State Logic, TASCAM, miniDSP, Merging Technologies, SPL of Germany, Focusrite, RME, Schitt Audio, SMSL, Monoprice and others. All of AKM’s audio-related chips were produced at the now-closed factory.
That all of AKM’s audio-related manufacturing could be wiped out in one fell swoop blindsided many of its customers. “We were unaware that only one facility manufactured the AKM DACs and ADCs—that shows how small our industry really is,” said Hermann Gier, managing partner of SPL of Germany. AKM officials have said publicly they hope to be operational again in six months, and the company is expected to engage independent fabrication houses in an effort to keep production going, but nothing concrete has been announced.
“I still have close to zero information as far as the AKM prognosis is concerned,” said Chris Hollebone, sales and marketing manager at Merging Technologies. “As far as we are concerned, we are taking stock, literally, over the weekend and trying to ascertain whether an order that was about to be delivered was destroyed in the fire or might still make it…. We have enough parts in-house to keep us going for a while, but not knowing when any production might start may cause us headaches down the line. It is a bit like COVID-19—very hard to predict!”
Paul Youngblood, director of Product Marketing at TASCAM, admitted “This has all happened so fast that all we can say is we are still in the process of analyzing the situation.” A spokesperson for RME echoed that sentiment, stating that company was “currently still ascertaining information, and it’s too early for them to comment.”
SPL of Germany’s Gier noted that his company was “fortunately…in a comfortable position,” adding that while it uses AKM converters in a number of products, including its Crimson, Madison, Phonitor range of headphone amps, and the new Marc One interface, among others, SPL has stocks in-house that it estimates will last between six months and a year, depending on the product.
That hasn’t stopped some from trying to capitalize on the situation, however. Gier noted, “It is unfortunate that stock brokers take advantage of situations like this, making it increasingly worse by charging ridiculous prices for remaining parts. We already rejected various unethical offers; now it looks unlikely that our industry can sustain production and keep the prices stable.”
For now, the pro-audio industry awaits news from AKM.