Tag Archives: Studio

Studio Spotlight: Noise Nest Invests in the Future

Noise NestHollywood, 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.

Noise Nest's Studio A is centered around a split API 1608 console and a Slate Raven system.
Noise Nest’s Studio A is centered around a split API 1608 console and a Slate Raven system.

“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.

Studio B sports an SSL Nucleus.
Studio B sports an SSL Nucleus.

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 live room in Studio A has ample space for artists.
The live room in Studio A has ample space for artists.

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.

Studio Showcase: Asheville’s Vinyl Answer

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.

Studio C adjoins a small vocal booth
Studio C adjoins a small vocal booth

“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.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Yamaha Unveils MSP3A Studio Monitor

Yamaha MSP3A Studio Monitor
Yamaha MSP3A Studio Monitors

Buena Park, CA (January 13, 2021)—Yamaha has updated its MSP3 studio monitor with the introduction of the new MSP3A powered monitor speaker. Cosmetically, the new offering has a similar use of multiple input connectors, controls and compatibility with optional brackets, but Yamaha states the new monitor provides higher SPLs, lighter cabinet design and reportedly better audio quality—move intended to improve its appropriateness for users whose workflows include content from digital instruments and portable devices.

Yamaha MSP3A Studio Monitor
Yamaha MSP3A Studio Monitor

The MSP3A is the first Yamaha reference monitor to include the company’s Twisted Flare Port technology, intended to provide clearer and tighter low-end frequencies. The sound control technology applies aerodynamic sound analysis and flow visualization measurement to pinpoint and control noise-generating issues. Noise-generating air flow turbulence at both ends of the speaker port is reduced by changing how the port widens from input to output, adding a twist to it. According to Yamaha, suppressing turbulence reduces muddiness, lowering distortion in the low bass region, in turn aiding transition to the full range drivers.

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A built-in 22 W power amplifier is optimized for the speaker unit, comprising a 10 cm (4″) woofer and a 2.2 cm (0.8″) tweeter. The cabinet weighs just under 8 lbs., improving portability and making it easier to reposition the unit in different room configurations.

“Clear and natural sound are the keys to creating immersive and memorable experiences when creating music or video content,” said Preston Gray, marketing director – Pro Audio at Yamaha. “The expanded capabilities of this new reference monitor give audio engineers the right tool for accurately matching audio with video in a range of production applications.”

With an MSRP of $250, the MSP3A is currently street-priced at $199 per monitor.

Yamaha Corporation of America • https://usa.yamaha.com/products/proaudio

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Roland Launches VERSELAB MV-1 Song Production Studio

Roland VERSELAB MV-1 Song Production Studio
Roland VERSELAB MV-1 Song Production Studio

Los Angeles, CA (January 11, 2021) — The Roland VERSELAB MV-1 Song Production Studio is a new composition tool based around a portable, all-in-one design that offers vocal recording, 16 velocity-sensitive pads and Roland’s 16-step TR-REC rhythm sequencer.

The MV-1 contains a ZEN-Core sound engine with a sizable library of instrument and rhythm sounds already onboard, while future integration with Roland’s Zenbeats music creation app will allow users to connect the unit to a computer or mobile device.

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VERSELAB provides users with templates, pattern generators and a guided workflow that moves through the process of making tracks. Users can record vocals via the built-in mic or an external XLR mic and add various effects, from auto-pitch to harmonizers. The ZEN-Core engine provides the sounds of classic Roland instruments and further curated sounds, while the TR-REC sequencer and 4×4 pads provide an interface for building drum tracks, bass lines, and melodic parts.

VERSELAB also includes pro mixing and mastering effects to help users polish tracks ready for distribution.

The VERSELAB MV-1 Song Production Studio will be available in January 2021 for $699.99.

Roland • www.roland.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

AMS Neve Enters the Belly of the Beast

Belly of the Beast in South London has become the first facility in the U.K. to install an AMS Neve 8424 console.
Belly of the Beast in South London has become the first facility in the U.K. to install an AMS Neve 8424 console.

Burnley, UK (December 2, 2020)—Belly of the Beast, a studio in South London owned by Nick Cage, producer and manager of Dizzee Rascal, has become the first facility in the U.K. to install an AMS Neve 8424 console.

“For studios like ours, where you have a large and varied collection of preamps, EQs and interesting bits of outboard gear, this desk is ideal because it provides a very logical system to bring all of those elements together,” says producer, mix engineer and studio manager James Rand.

“We now have an architecture where we can route our preamps directly into the console and send the sound wherever we need it. This makes life a lot more exciting because what used to be a faff to set up is now much simpler and easier,” says Rand.

Pro Sound News’ Gear of the Year 2020

The studio was set up as a private facility but in recent years — certainly since James Rand and musician/engineer Raf Rundell began working there — it has become an end-to-end facility where artists have access to a team of writers, session musicians and engineers who can handle all aspects of their projects, from recording through to mixing and mastering.

The studio pre-ordered the desk prior to its release in June, following an in-depth demo that highlighted its full range of features. The decision to replace Cage’s old TL Audio VTC console with the Neve 8424 was part of a longer-term plan to attract more commercial projects, Rand explains.

“We already do a lot of mixing and that part of our business became even more important during lockdown, so having a console with reliable recall was an imperative,” he says. “The arrival of the new desk gave us the opportunity to reorganize the studio and all our racks so that we could create an environment that really supports artists and allows them to get some wicked work done.”

Since installing the Neve 8424, Rand has used the desk on a number of projects including mixes for artists such as Lapsely, Sega Bodega, Mykki Blanco and Beatrice Dillon.

AMS Neve • www.ams-neve

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Studio Showcase: Asheville’s Vinyl Answer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Studio Showcase: Fever Recording Runs Hot

Studio Showcase: L.A. Studio Follows Its Muse

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

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

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

Citizen Vinyl • www.citizenvinyl.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Damien Gerard Studios Takes First Origin Down Under

Damien Gerard StudiosNew 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.”

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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.”

Solid State Logic • www.solidstatelogic.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

New Studio Microphone Wrap-Up : Fall 2020

Studio Microphone Wrap-Up, Fall 2020
Sift through our Studio Microphone Wrap-Up, Fall 2020, to see the latest offerings for recordists of all levels.

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 Element
Aston Element

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.

Aston Microphones • www.astonmics.com

 

Audio-Technica Limited-Edition AT2020 Mics

Audio-Technica Limited-Edition AT2020 Mics
Audio-Technica Limited-Edition AT2020 Mics

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.

Audio-Technica • www.audio-technica.com

 

Avantone Pro Kick Drum Mic

Avantone Pro Kick Drum Mic
Avantone Pro Kick Drum Mic

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.

Avantone • http://www.avantonepro.com

 

Beyerdynamic TG D70 and TG 151 Mics

Beyerdynamic TG D70 and TG 151 Mics
Beyerdynamic TG D70 (left) and TG 151 Mics

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.

Beyerdynamic • www.beyerdynamic.com

 

IsoVox IsoMic Studio Microphone

 IsoVox IsoMic Studio Microphone
IsoVox IsoMic Studio Microphone

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.

IsoVox • www.isovoxbooth.com

 

MXL Microphones Revelation Mini FET

MXL Microphones Revelation Mini FET
MXL Microphones Revelation Mini FET

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

MXL • www.mxlmics.com

Sanken CUX-100K Microphone

Sanken CUX-100K Microphone
Sanken CUX-100K Microphone

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.

Sanken • www.sankenchromatic.com

How To Choose Your Next Studio Microphone – The Complete Guide

Scope Labs Periscope Microphone

Scope Labs Periscope Microphone
Scope Labs Periscope Microphone

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.

Scope Labs • www.scopelabs.eu

 

Sennheiser MD 435 and MD 445 Vocal Microphones

Sennheiser MD 435 and MD 445 Vocal Microphones
Sennheiser MD 435, MD 445

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.

Sennheiser • www.sennheiser.com

 

Telefunken TF11 Microphone

Telefunken TF11 Microphone
Telefunken TF11 Microphone NICHOLAS SONSINI

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.

Telefunken Elektroakustik • www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com

 

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Dirac Live Room Calibration/Correction – A Real-World Review

Dirac Live
The Dirac Live software guides users through the steps of the measurement process.

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.

Dirac Live’s Filter Design Page

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.

An impulse response page in Dirac Live
An impulse response page in Dirac Live

In Session

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.

How To Choose Your Next Studio Microphone – The Complete Guide

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.

Dirac Live • www.dirac.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Studio Showcase: Fever Recording Runs Hot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fever Recording • www.feverrecording.com

Clear Lake Recording • www.clearlakerecordingstudios.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Peek Inside the Private Studio of Herman’s Hermits’ Keith Hopwood

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.

The control room inside Pluto Music.

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.

Herman's Hermits
Herman’s Hermits in 1968. Keith Hopwood (far left) would go on to found Pluto Music. Public Domain

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.

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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).

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com