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.”
Recording microphones have been flying off the shelves at retail all year, but that hasn’t stopped pro-audio manufacturers from introducing a new studio microphone every few weeks this Fall. Some are high-end products aimed at the upper echelons of the recording world, while others are intended for down-and-dirty use in home studios, but they’re all worth finding out about, because every new mic is a potential new tonal flavor for your sonic stew. Sift through our ICYMI rundown of new mics from the last six months and see what’s new!
Aston Element Microphone
Aston Microphones has clearly had a blast this year developing its new Aston Element by having potential users vote on sound samples to determine the way the microphone would ultimately sound. The Element incorporates new capsule technology, a new chassis design, a magnetic pop filter and custom shock mount, and a backlit-LED logo 48V phantom power indicator. According to Aston, the studio microphone has been rated by NTi Audio as the world’s quietest mic and the frequency response, which extends far below 20Hz and above 20kHz, as the widest of any electromagnetic microphone.
Audio-Technica has released new limited-edition AT2020 Series microphones—the AT2020V (standard) and the AT2020USB+V (USB model), each featuring a reflective silver finish. The side-address condensers are equipped with low-mass diaphragms custom-engineered for extended frequency response and transient response. The mics’ cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source. All models in the AT2020 mic line are aimed to provide a wide dynamic range and handle high SPLs. Both of the limited-edition V models come with AT8458a shock mounts to attenuate noise, shock, or vibration transmitted through a mic stand, boom or mount.
Aiming to help drummers capture the ultra-low end of their sound, Avantone Pro has introduced Kick, a sub-frequency kick drum microphone that aims to capture the subsonic signature by using a low-frequency driver. The AV-10 MLF sports a single continuous press-formed cone, and in the Kick’s case, the 18 cm cone acts as a microphone element. The microphone itself is of a moving coil dynamic type, with a 50 Hz to 2 kHz frequency response, 6.3 Ω output impedance and figure-eight pattern, plus a male XLR connector.
Beyerdynamic has introduced two new additions to its 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.
Swedish audio manufacturer IsoVox has introduced IsoMic, a new studio microphone created in conjunction with fellow Swedish company Research Electronics AB, owners of the Ehrlund Microphones brand. The new microphone is based around a triangular capsule with a 7 Hz to 87 kHz frequency range. The IsoMic itself features an aluminum body with glass bead-blasting finish. Its triangular capsule reportedly has a SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) of 87 dBA, DR (Dynamic Range) of 115 dB, and a maximum SPL (Sound Pressure Level) peak performance of 0.5% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) at 116 dB or 1% THD at 122 dB.
Hot on the heels of introducing its Revelation II studio microphone in the Spring, MXL Microphones has launched its new Revelation Mini FET, aiming to provide intimacy and warmth of a tube mic, but built around a FET circuit with a smaller footprint. MXL’s Revelation Mini FET utilizes a 32 mm center terminating, gold-sputtered capsule combined with a low noise circuit. The mic focuses on the midrange and lower frequencies, resulting in recordings with less hum and more music. Additionally, the inclusion of a three-stage pad (0, -10 dB, -20 dB) is intended to provide the flexibility needed for recording high SPL sources, such as horns and kickdrums. The mic features black chrome accents as well as hand-selected FET and capacitors
First announced earlier in the year, Sanken Microphones is now shipping its new CUX-100K Cardioid or Omnidirectional super wide range professional microphone. The new microphone builds on the history of the company’s Chromatic omni-mode CO-100K, adding the ability to change modes with three settings: Cardioid (Far), Cardioid (Near) and Omni modes. The CUX-100K is intended for a variety of high-resolution, high-sample rate recordings, both in spatial or close-miking applications.
Scope Labs, a new pro-audio manufacturer based in Finland and operating globally, has introduced its first mic, the Periscope Microphone — an omni-condenser microphone with a built-in compressor that gives the mic a unique character. The Periscope is based around an omni capsule followed by a compression circuit intended to highlight textural nuances that the mic captures, with the aim of providing a hyper-realistic sound. The Periscope is manufactured in-house at Scope Labs Ltd. in Finland.
Sennheiser has introduced two new vocal microphones—the MD 435 large-diaphragm microphone, bringing the company’s dynamic MD 9235 capsule to a wired vocal microphone for the first time; and the MD 445, an LDC with a tight super-cardioid pick pattern. Ostensibly intended for live sound use, they reportedly hold their own in the studio as well. The MD 435’s lightweight aluminum-copper voice coil is intended to provide fast transient response, according to Sennheiser, in an effort to provide detailed, transparent sound. The large-diaphragm microphone features dynamics of 146 dB(A) and can handle sound pressure levels of up to 163 dB/1 kHz. The MD 445 is designed with a high-rejection, super-cardioid pick-up pattern, it reportedly offers uses considerable gain before feedback. Dynamics are wide at 146 dB(A) and the microphone is said to be able to handle sound pressure levels of up to 163 dB/1 kHz.
The TF11 is the company’s first large diaphragm phantom-powered 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 by OEP/Carnhill made in the UK. The mic’s through-hole components include UK-made polystyrene film capacitors, Nichicon Fine Gold electrolytic capacitors, and a high-performance, ultra-low-noise JFET amplifier.
Purpose-built rooms with ideal acoustic treatments may not need room correction software, but the rest of us do. With chart-topping artists producing hits in re-purposed bedrooms, basements, garages and hotel rooms, the need for acoustic analysis and correction is greater than ever.
I reviewed Sonarworks’ Reference 4 software for PSN back in 2018, so I was eager to compare this new calibration/correction system from Dirac, as it promises to bring some different methodologies, concepts and results.
Dirac Live seeks to correct room anomalies and inaccuracies in both the time domain and the frequency domain to improve the soundstage with greater imaging and localization of sound, increased clarity and intelligibility, as well as tighter bass response with fewer resonances. This is accomplished with a combination of linear- and minimum-phase IIR filters, as well as impulse response correction (affecting the timing of signals and the ratio of direct to reflected sound).
Out of the Box
Dirac Live is available in the ‘big four’ formats (VST, VST3, AAX and AU) for both Mac and Windows (OSX 10.11 and up, Windows 10, respectively). A measurement microphone is needed for calibration; I used a USB reference mic as provided by Dirac, but other models are suitable (at least models that a frequency response plot is available for). Dirac Live is compatible with all the major DAWs and supports nearly every multichannel format under the sun (2.0, 2.1, 3,1, 4.1, 5.0, 5.1, 5.0.2, 5.1.2, 6.0, 6.1, 7.0, 7.1, 7.0.2, 7.1.2, Quadraphonic, Pentagonal, Hexagonal, Octagonal and Ambisonic). The stereo version sells for $349, while the multi-channel version is $499. I tested Dirac Live in stereo, as Audio Units on a Mac Pro.
There are two components to utilizing Dirac Live—the Dirac Live processor plug-in that will be inserted within a DAW session, and the calibration tool program that will read your room’s response, create a custom filter(s) and communicate with the plug-in. After instantiating the plug-in, you open the calibration program which scans for a “device” that will ultimately store your filters and do the audio processing. Dirac also makes a hardware version for home hi-fi enthusiasts, but this pro version sees the plug-in as its “device.”
The measurement process is lengthy and very specific, but not difficult, just like all the other correction systems I’ve tried. The process involves setting system volume for the playback of frequency sweeps, measuring those sweeps from nine different positions surrounding your listening position and then fine tuning the correction filter that Dirac Live suggests. The whole process took only about 10 minutes and is rather interesting, as you can hear changes in room response as the full-bandwidth sweeps excite your room, creating some resonances and some dips, and it’s fun to correlate graphs of the measurement on screen.
Next, you’ll “proceed to filter design,” and this is where the really interesting part is. Dirac Live has automatically generated a response curve, but you can customize that curve by grabbing control nodes, moving them to desired frequencies and then boosting or cutting. You can also choose to move the “curtains”—the dotted vertical lines placed very low and very high on the frequency graph, which represent the lower and upper frequency limits of Dirac Live processing (it is not wise to try to achieve perfectly flat response all the way down to 20 Hz, or all the way up to 20 k; that would eat up a lot of headroom).
Furthermore, custom target curves can be loaded in .txt or .targetcurve formats and then “snapshots” can be taken of the current condition, modified and then easily compared to other stored snapshots without having to close the current project—nice for ultra-fine tuning of curves. For those of you who (like me) want to know exact frequency values of your room’s trouble spots, you can zoom into your response curve with your mouse scroll wheel and pan across the frequency spectrum with <hold+drag>.
Now that you’ve created (and possibly modified) your target curve, upon going back to your DAW session, the Dirac Live plug-in is now loaded with your correction curve. You’ll notice the output level of the plug-in may be attenuated; this is in order to give Dirac Live some headroom to apply processing (the amount of attenuation is about equal to the sum of your target curve’s positive and negative deviation). You can now turn the processing on and off as well as switch between different target curves you’ve stored without any jumps in level.
For in-the-box mixing and mastering work, an instance of Dirac Live inserted on the master fader informs your decisions and then must be bypassed during bounce/render, or else the Dirac Live processing would be applied to your mix. Wisely, Dirac Live can be automatically bypassed when bouncing/rendering with a simple preferences setting. For analog mixing, I inserted the plug-in on my stereo mix track, where I would monitor the processing but it would not be recorded into my mix file.
Even though it’s a little jarring to suddenly hear your system responding differently, I began mixing with Dirac Live and got slightly improved results on my first attempt. My room is in pretty good shape except for some low ceiling-induced bass issues (with adjacent dips and bumps) and a bit of low-mid mud. Dirac Live cleared up that mud and did quite a bit for that bass response, inducing me to fine tune my kick drum, boost that bass guitar and get my lead vocal right in the pocket. Frankly, it’s hard to describe the improvements I heard, as they were slightly different than what my system corrected with Sonarworks; not relegated to just frequency response, it sounded like phase accuracy had improved and imaging was more exacting, perhaps due to the impulse response correction, as well as precision filtering.
One drawback to using Dirac Live was the inevitable switch to other monitors or headphones for reference. When using frequency challenged full-range monitors (Avantone Mixcubes), I had to bypass the Dirac Live processing, same as with headphones. I do wish that it offered correction for cans like Sonarworks does, which is as effective (if not more) as its correction for rooms/monitors.
The Final Mix
Even though it adds a little complication to mixing and mastering, Dirac Live can definitely improve monitoring accuracy to the point where it is worth the extra effort. At a cost of $349, the price is significant but not prohibitive, especially considering just how much knowledge can be gleaned from the measurement process. Furthermore, that knowledge can be very useful for the fine tuning of your room via furniture, bass traps, absorbers and diffusers that can help make Dirac Live’s job much easier.
If you work entirely in-the-box (and maybe even in a small boxy room), then software-based room correction is a no-brainer that should be utilized. If you do a lot of ensemble tracking or analog mixing like I do, then you may find the inevitable switching from unassisted monitoring to corrected monitoring to be a little jarring and maybe even disturbing to your “acclimation.” How I wish there was a freestanding hardware-based calibration/correction device that could be placed in-line before my main monitors so I could easily hear everything with proper correction, maybe even with headphone amps with their own specific correction.
Until that time comes, I still recommend Dirac Live for the wealth of knowledge it teaches you about your room, the tremendous flexibility it offers and what appears to be the best-sounding room correction algorithm on the market today.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
England (October 15, 2020)—Like many former rock stars from the 1960s, Keith Hopwood of Herman’s Hermits has a bit of a home studio at his house in Tiverton near Tarporley, England. Unlike many former rock stars, however, you’ve probably heard music created there. After his rock n’ roll days were over, Hopwood founded Pluto Music, which has composed and recorded music for shows like Bob the Builder and Roald Dahl’s the BFG in his barn. Now the sprawling estate—and studio—are for sale.
Hulgrave Hall is a sizable house dating back to the 18th century, equipped with five bedrooms, library, wine cellar, dining room, drawing room, big kitchen and more across three floors. Helping fill out the three acres of land are an additional separate cottage, various outbuildings and sheds, a workshop, stables, an orchard, a paddock, ornamental gardens, and another seven acres that are separately up for sale.
But for many, it’s the attached two-floor barn that will be the big draw, as it’s where Pluto Music has been based for decades. The first floor features an office/reception area, cloakroom with bathroom, and a storage/filing area. On the second floor, however, resides an ample control room and further live room that reportedly at points provided studio services to The Smiths and The Clash.
The well-appointed control room is outfitted with a Mac, pair of 27” Apple screens, a Mackie 24:8 console, and a variety of studio monitors including sE Electronics Munro Sonic Egg 150s and classic Yamaha NS-10Ms, among other goodies. No word as to whether the gear comes with the house.
Set in the middle of open countryside against the backdrop of Beeston and Peckforton Castles, the house is roughly 33 miles from both Manchester and Liverpool. It is listed with Jackson-Stops, and at press time, is on the market with an asking price of £1,750,000 ($2,257,000).
Nashville, TN (October 6, 2020)—The Grip II has been the home of countless recording projects and sessions since award-winning studio designer and monitoring expert Carl Tatz built the two-room facility for Jay DeMarcus, co-founder of country music trio Rascal Flatts, more than a decade ago. The studio will likely stay busy for a long time to come, too. In January, Rascal Flatts marked their 20th anniversary with the announcement of a farewell tour, since cancelled due to COVID-19, giving DeMarcus plenty of time to focus on his new independent Christian music label, Red Street Records, and other projects.
“We have been recording stuff for the label,” confirms Nick Lane, De- Marcus’ go-to engineer since 2013, “but he’s also been really cool about other producers, players and songwriters booking sessions. For the last four or five years, we did a lot of songwriter demos. Two or three years ago, we probably cranked out close to 1,000 songs a year—18 demos a day, three or four times a week.” Since May, following the coronavirus lockdown, DeMarcus, a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, has been working on an album with one of his new label signings, Lane adds.
The facility is in the basement of the DeMarcus family home. “I designed the whole thing, including the entrance and the driveway,” says Tatz. “They had such faith in me.” Indeed, Tatz even helped the family decide which of the two houses they were considering buying would best accommodate the planned studio. “It’s very flattering that Jay has always valued my opinion,” he says.
Their relationship goes back to 2006, when Tatz designed and built The Grip I in a previous house. Tatz has also built a home production facility for another Rascal Flatts cofounder, guitarist Joe Don Rooney.
Carl Tatz Design control rooms have a signature look, typically featuring a wall of alternating floor-to-ceiling glass and acoustic treatment, which Tatz calls an Acoustic Lens. “My general philosophy is to make the back of the room completely dead, the ceiling completely dead— all absorptive—and make the sides a combination of reflective and absorptive; diffusive.”
When a side wall in the control room doesn’t look into another room or outside, he installs mirrors. “Not only is it acoustically symmetrical, it’s visually symmetrical. It’s one of the hallmarks of what we do.”
Central to any Carl Tatz Design room is his proprietary monitor tuning protocol. “The big selling point for anyone hiring me is the Phantom Focus System. That’s what changes everybody’s lives,” adds Tatz.
The tracking room could best be described as modest, but it produces a sound that belies its small floor area and relatively low ceiling. “Using those space couplers in the right way—those waffle-looking things— the sound will go up, get confused and come down. That’s what gives it the illusion. It makes it sound bigger than it is,” says Tatz.
“Whenever there’s a new drummer who has never worked in there before, I make a point of telling them that the room mics up way bigger,” says Lane. “You expect it to sound small and boxy, but it mics up huge— and not just for drums. We do a lot of horn and string overdubs in that room and it really sounds great for how small it is. It’s honestly one of my favorite rooms that I’ve ever done cello in. That room really resonates nicely.”
Because the drum room is relatively small, the room mics can end up close to the control room glass, which Lane thought would be a problem when he first arrived, he says. But the acoustic lens apparently works its magic. “I was expecting any bipolar mic to sound weird that close to the glass, and, shockingly, it doesn’t. It’s interesting how it has not been noticeable.”
Much of the gear predates Lane’s time at the studio. “I believe it was mostly Jay and an engineer who used to work with him, Sean Neff, who made the original choices,” he says.
Studio A is anchored by a 24-channel SSL AWS900 desk and a well-stocked credenza. “If we’re tracking, we use a lot of outboard,” says Lane, noting that API, Neve and UA mic preamps are among the favorites. “The console pre’s play second fiddle. If we run out of other stuff, then we’ll use the console.”
As for the mic locker, “Jay has collected a handful of vintage Neumanns over the years. We’ve got a couple of 67s, a couple of 269s, a couple KM 84s, an 87. The one thing he didn’t have for a long time was a 47, but a couple of years ago we bought a 47 clone made by Slate. It sounds really great,” says Lane.
One highlight for Tatz was the amp closet, which has a floating floor and floating plenum walls. “You’re getting the true sound of the amp,” he says. This being a home-based facility, he also focused on isolating the studio from the living areas above.
DeMarcus does most of his songwriting in the Wine Cellar, a second studio that used to be just that. “There’s not a ton of outboard gear in there,” says Lane. “It’s mostly synth and keyboard world.” On Aug. 22, DeMarcus posted a photo to Instagram from the room that suggested Rascal Flatts are working on new material. “Big announcement coming soon!” he wrote.
Projects produced in whole or in part at The Grip II have sold in the millions and have garnered ACM, CMA, Dove and Grammy Awards. Three Rascal Flatts albums have been tracked there, says Tatz. Over the years, DeMarcus has produced a long list of albums by artists including Reba McEntire, Alabama, Michael English and Chicago.
Adding flair to the facility, Tatz and DeMarcus have incorporated fun items like Fender bass neck door pulls and Vox wah-wah pedal door pushes. The elevator—“That elevator is pretty amazing,” says Tatz—incorporates a lightbox with images of DeMarcus playing bass at Abbey Road Studios and on stage with Rascal Flatts.
Tatz was also contracted to design and build a very large screening room for the family, separate from the music production facilities. “An 11-foot projection screen comes down in front of the smaller screen, and it’s got five subwoofers in the floors,” he says. “You don’t have those kinds of opportunities too much, where everything is that refined.” Carl Tatz Design
New York, NY (September 28, 2020)—Zoom has introduced its flagship podcast production tool with the PodTrak P8, aiming to provide a complete podcast studio with recording, editing and mixing capabilities all in one unit.
Up to six mics can be used at the same time, each with its own fader and preamp with 70 dB of gain. A seventh channel is devoted solely to recording calls via smartphones, while the sixth channel, can be switched to USB for recording guests from a computer. Both the sixth and seventh channels include a Mix-Minus feature. Along with the six inputs are six independent headphone outputs as well, along with main outputs that users can connect to their own studio speakers for monitoring.
Central to the P8 is a color touchscreen that can be used for monitoring, adjusting, onboard editing and more. Features include limiters, low cut, tone adjustments, a compressor/de-esser, noise reduction and more. Clips can be edited, trimmed, split, faded and more on the screen, or files can be transferred to a computer for mixing as well.
Adjacent to it is a series of nine multi-colored sound pads that can be used to trigger sound effects, music, pre-recorded interviews and more. The PodTrak P8 comes with 13 onboard sound pre-loaded, and users can upload their own, with the ability to create up to four banks of sounds for 36 sound clips in all.
Small enough to be portable, the PodTrak P8 provides up to two hours of recording with four AA batteries or can be powered via USB. Additionally, the unit can function solely as an audio interface when connected to a computer for recording and live streaming. The unit comes packaged with the main unit, an AD-14 AC adapter, and a quick guide for getting started.
Stow, OH (August 17, 2020)—Audio-Technica has released new limited-edition AT2020 Series microphones—the AT2020V (standard) and the AT2020USB+V (USB model), each featuring a reflective silver finish.
The side-address condensers are equipped with low-mass diaphragms custom-engineered for extended frequency response and transient response. The mics’ cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source. All models in the AT2020 mic line are aimed to provide a wide dynamic range and handle high SPLs. Both of the limited edition V models come with AT8458a shock mounts to attenuate noise, shock, or vibration transmitted through a mic stand, boom or mount.
The AT2020V is intended for vocal pickup in home-studio applications and features an analog XLR output for connection to a digital converter or mixer. The AT2020USB+V, applicable for podcasting, streaming, home studio recording and voiceover use provides the convenience of plug-and-play USB operation. The AT2020USB+V features a built-in high-output headphone amplifier with volume control that allows direct monitoring of the microphone signal with no delay. It also offers a mix control that blends microphone and pre-recorded audio. The microphone’s A/D converter has a 16-bit, 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate, and a 10-foot (3.1 m) USB cable is included.
The microphones are currently available in the U.S. priced at $149 (AT2020V) and $199 (AT2020USB+V).
Chicago, IL (July 29, 2020)—Since establishing a studio in his home’s garage, Enviyon Entertainment owner Romel Williams—better known simply as Will—has been sensible about building his business, only upgrading his gear and expanding his facilities as his finances have allowed. It’s been a long road, but Williams is now celebrating a decade in business with the recent addition of a podcasting studio and the introduction of Enception, a latency- beating remote recording service.
With a long history as a musician dating back to high school, Williams started out making beats in the living room of his house in Country Club Hills, a southern suburb of the Chicago metropolitan area. “It wasn’t a lot of equipment—just a MIDI keyboard, a laptop and an interface,” he said. But he moved out to the garage once he started a family because his young daughter liked to mess around with the controls.
“In the summertime, I would open the door because it would be hot in there. People from the neighborhood would walk by and ask, ‘Hey, is this a studio?’ And I’d say, ‘I guess it is!’ So it all started by accident.”
Before taking on any clients, Williams worked on his production chops. “I wasn’t so much into engineering yet because I didn’t have anybody to record, so I would practice on my own vocals,” he said.
Not only are Chicago summers very hot but winters are very cold, so as his recording clientele expanded, he decided to get out of the garage and find a commercial space. “But I knew the equipment I had would not be sufficient. People wouldn’t want to come into a commercial studio and see an old-school Mbox 1 and a laptop and be charged whatever I would have to charge because of the overhead that I had,” said Williams, who was still holding down a day job at the time.
“While I was in the first rental space, in 2012, I would buy a piece of equipment with every paycheck. I’d get a check and buy a mixer; get another paycheck and buy a mic. It took me a whole year. For that year, I paid rent, electricity, gas and insurance because I didn’t have enough equipment to open the studio. It was a long struggle, but when you have a vision, you just keep doing it—even though they tell you that you’re crazy.”
The commercial space, a former dental office at the end of a row of storefronts in a local strip mall, needed remodeling to work as a studio. Looking back, he said, “I didn’t realize how important construction was. You’ve got to soundproof everything.”
Fortunately, Williams is good with his hands and was able to do much of the work himself, including building studio furniture and a novel dual-computer display for his DAW. “I built it in 2013,” he recalls, before he was even aware of the Slate Raven, which it resembles. “I didn’t even realize there was a system like that,” he said. “I’m very handy so I just took some wood and made it, and it’s been that way ever since.”
The original room, Studio A, was a success, and Williams soon found himself needing to expand. “The store next door was a clothing store, and the one next to that, they did some dance exercise, and the fourth store was a hair salon. When the opportunities arose, I would take the space. I grew from one to the next and ended up obtaining all four storefronts.”
Many of Enviyon’s clients are from the worlds of hip-hop and dance music, and over the years have come to include the likes of 147 Callboy, DramaGirl, DJ Casper, G-Herbo, Queen Key and the late Juice WRLD. But while those productions typically involve a lot of collaboration in the control room, Williams designed his next room, Studio B, in the second storefront, for versatility. The room offers several iso booths to accommodate live tracking of musicians and vocalists.
“We’re running everything through an Apollo 8XP interface,” he said of the B room. “I have a 48-channel Mackie board in there as well, but I really like the clean sound of the 8XP.”
By the time Enviyon had expanded into the fourth storefront, Williams and his staff had a different plan for Studio D, too. “When we built Studio D, we had a lot of different ideas on how we wanted it to be. I didn’t want a conventional studio; I wanted it to do more than one thing.”
As a result, Williams has added a podcast studio in Studio D, outfitted with Shure SM7B mics, that enables artists to move straight into marketing mode at the end of their project. “As soon as they’re done, they can go over to the podcast area to be interviewed,” Williams offers as an example. “We can do a livestream from there or record the audio professionally.”
The entire facility operates on Pro Tools, he added. “If I’m not available, it’s easy for another engineer to access a recording session from another studio using the network and pick up where we left off.”
With fortuitous timing, Williams introduced Enception just as the COVID-19 lockdown began. The new service flips the script on typical remote recording workflows and offers additional growth potential for the business. Devised in collaboration with several developers and similar to commercially available remote access and support software, Enception enables the Enviyon engineer to take control of the artist’s home workstation. “The artist doesn’t hear any latency because the recording is at their end,” he said. “There’s maybe a second of latency at the engineer’s end, but that’s fine. Then we can either mix it live or mix it at the studio and send them a copy.”
Most importantly, the service gives the client real-time feedback. “That’s what people want,” said Williams. “People still want to come to the studio if they can, but this is a great idea for those who can’t, or who are out of state or are overseas. That’s who we’re targeting with this program.”
Des Moines, IA (July 14, 2020)—Iowa-based folk pop act The Well Pennies recently updated its 500 Series rack with a trio of Neve 1073LB microphone preamplifiers for the group’s Golden Bear Records, a studio and record label.
As the Well Pennies, husband and wife duo of Bryan and Sarah Vanderpool, recorded two albums in Los Angeles, before relocating to Iowa in 2016 and founding Golden Bear. When they’re not recording their own material, they’re working with artists in the region. “We moved here with the sole purpose of building a recording studio away from the chaos of Los Angeles,” Bryan Vanderpool says. “We originally built the studio just for The Well Pennies, but Des Moines has such a vibrant art and music community that after a while our calendar started filling up with all sorts of local bands and songwriters. Today, whenever we’re not working on Well Pennies material, we’ve usually got some great local artist in here recording or mixing new music.”
With that happening before their eyes, the duo opted to get the 1073LBs, which sport the unique sonic characteristics of the original 1073 Classic microphone preamplifier, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. “A 1073LB preamp was one of the first things we bought for the studio when we moved back from Los Angeles,” he says. “These preamps help us get that warmth and harmonic drive that is missing from so many modern recordings. They can turn what would normally be a sterile recording into a rich and complex piece of art.”
He adds that one advantage of the Neve 1073LB preamps is their ability to deliver a unique sound. “The real problem with modern workflows is that everyone is using the same plugins, the same preamp emulators and the same reverbs,” he says. “Everything sounds the same. Whenever we add a unique piece of analogue gear to the chain and use our real Neve preamps, it sets the sound apart and makes the recording sound unique (better). The 1073 units helped us sculpt our sound from the very beginning of The Well Pennies music.”