NAB 2014 Show Highlights Posted

This is a consolidated version of the blogettes that I posted during the show. Not a lot of new information since then other than links and a few pictures, but if you didn’t read those, you’ll find the full report on the Trade Show Reports page, or just grab it here.

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Prism Sound Presents Free Mike-to-Monitor Workshop

Learn about audio hardware design, get the best out of your studio and talk to leading engineers as they personally take you through their mixes and reveal their tips and tricks to achieve their acclaimed, signature sound.

Prism Sound presents a workshop featuring special guests Edward J ‘UK’ Nixon, chief engineer for The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and multi-Grammy award winning producer Dwayne ‘Supa Dups’ Chin-Quee. Topics to be presented are:

  • How do the pros do it?

  • What makes great gear great?

  • How is that hit sound achieved?

  • What does it take to become a successful and in demand engineer?

The seminar will be presented live in Atlanta on March 19 and Orlando on March 21. The March 21 presentation will be webcast live for those of us in the rest of the world.

Register or get more details here.

Posted in Info

Vintage Trade Show Reports Posted

A friend from the newsgroup way back located some NAMM and one AES show report that he had captured from my newsgroup postings. This was from a mostly pre-web era and these reports were newsgroup posts that I made reporting what i saw at the show that day. They’re not organized by product category nor spell checked and edited very diligently, no pictures, not many URL links (most of which are probably dead by now anyway) but they’re a picture of what was happening in the late 1990s. You might enjoy reminiscing or reading for the first time what was hot back then, and being glad that we don’t have to do it that way any more.

Gil Griffith of Wave Distribution once introduced me to someone as “Mike was blogging about shows before the word ‘blog’ was invented.” These are some early blogs. Visit the Trad Show Reports page, or go directly to them here:

NAMM Winter 2000
NAMM Winter 1999
NAMM Winter 1998
NAMM Summer 1997
NAMM Winter 1997

AES 1998


Posted in Trade Show Reports | Tagged

Focusrite Studio Console Video and Contest

Our friends at Focusrite have produced an interesting historical video about the first studio console that they designed. There were only ten of those consoles built, and the video traces each one from its first installation to where it is today. It’s kind of interesting to see how far these things have gone (one was in a New Jersey studio that suffered a lot of flood damage from last year’s hurricane Sandy) and the efforts that owners have taken to keep those consoles alive and in use

The excuse for the video (or maybe it’s the other way around) is the 25th anniversary of the Focusrite brand. To celebrate, they’re having a contest, the prize being an expense paid (hopefully including transportation) recording session at AIR Studios in London. The contest is now closed, but the video is still up and it’s an interesting story and worth watching.

Watch the Focusrite 25th Anniversary video.


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The 78 Project

A piece on NPR’s Morning Edition (see the link at the bottom of this page) about The 78 Project caught my ear this morning. I’d never heard of this project before, but apparently it’s been going for a few years. A couple of folks from New York have resurrected a portable (it weighs 50 pounds, but there’s a handle on the case) Presto disk recorder from the 1940s, and have been takPrestoDiskCutter_78_Projecting it around, making direct-to-lacquer disk recordings of musicians in non-studio environments, invoking the spirit of Alan Lomax and his extensive field collecting work for the Library of Congress.

The 78 Project’s work isn’t quite like Lomax in that they’re not discovering music history. Most of their work, at least that which they’ve published, has been with established contemporarly artists in the (though I hate the term) “americana” genre, Richard Thompson, The Secret Sisters, Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, Marshall Crenshaw and such. They’re issuing their recordings as vinyl LP pressings with a digital download including extensive notes, and for those who don’t have a turntable, their recordings are available for download through iTunes. This is definitely lo-fi stuff, and clearly a bit of a novelty, but they’re pretty serious about what they’re doing. In essence they’re using the disk recording and playback process as a signal processor, following up with contemporary digital mastering, sort of like using Grandpa’s TEAC to “warm up” your digital home studio recordings. From the photos, it looks like they’re using the original microphone that came with the recorder, or one like it.

I’m not sure how technically hip they are (the write about desparately changing tubes before a session), and their gear lust for a Newcomb suitcase turntable owned by one of their artists is a little strange (this is the sort of player common when I was in elementary school in the 1950s). They accept the flaws and glitches of the one-take sessions, but they seem to have some good guidance and want to let people know about what they’re doing, so I’m doing my part here in the interest of maintaining vintage technology. I hope they’re using something better than the Newcomb for transcribing the masters, and that they’re taking good care of the lacquers. They have a film in the works, too, as Kickstarter funded project.

For further details, visit The 78 Project web page

Here’s the NPR story

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2014 Winter NAMM Show Report Posted

I’ve posted my consolidated NAMM show report for the 2014 Winter show. There’s some additional information here that I didn’t include with the daily reports, and it’s organized by category. Pictures and links to web sites. No videos (you can find those on the web).

I’ll leave the daily reports up for a while since they’re showing up in search engines, but eventually I’ll clean house and remove them. So if you tell your friends, refer them to the full report.

Here’s the direct link to the 2014 NAMM Show Report

Check out the Trade Show Reports page for others.

Posted in Trade Show Reports

2014 NAMM Show – Day 4

Last day, playing catch-up. I really enjoy Sunday at NAMM. All the crowds are gone, though, unfortunately, some of the best people to talk to about products are on their way home, but I did fill in a few gaps.

Behringer is now shipping all the cut-down versions of the X32 console, though their tablet-controlled mixers are still getting the kinks worked out. As usual for Behringer, they introduced a lot of new products, more than I could keep track of. Of interest are a couple of USB audio interfaces and DAW controllers. The UMC-404 and UMC-1820 are, respectively 4 in/4 out and 18 in/20 out interfaces with four and eight mic/line inputs. The 1820 also has ADAT and S/PDIF I/O. They’re pretty straightforward as these things go. The X-Touch series of control surfaces come in three sizes – X-Touch (the whole works), X-Touch Compact which loses the jog wheel and a bunch of buttons that control DAW automation, and X-Touch Mini which also loses the motorized faders but has knobs that can be assigned to serve as level controls. They all use the Mackie Universal Control or HUI protocol which makes them compatible with nearly all recent DAW programs.

The close connection between Behringer and Midas consoles is no better illustrated than with the new Midas M32 compact live sound console. At heart, it’s a Behringer X32. It runs the same software and uses same converters and digital processing components. The user interface is physically laid out a bit differently, it has real Midas mic preamps (as opposed to “Midas designed” in the X-32, and has higher quality moving faders.

Dangerous Music has a new dual channel compressor that’s designed to compress, not to add crunch, warmth, or distortion. It has a fast limiter ahead of the compressor to tame transient peaks and prevent them from dropping the level of the channel. The two channels can be operated independently or linked for stereo, In the stereo mode, gain and threshold controls are linked so that one knob controls both channels together. Even when linked, the detectors are independent, as are the compression ratio, attack and release controls. There are separate side chain sends and returns on balanced XLR connectors as well as a side-chain listen mode so that when using the side chain inserts  or one of the oreset side chain filters, you can hear what the detector is hearing. This is a Chris Muth design and his other products are noted for their transparency, so I’d expect that from this compressor.

Cathedral Pipes is the unlikely name for a microphone company, but the name withstanding (their mics are named for famous cathedrals in Europe), they hand build a range of mics in their shop in Southern California. All of their current condenser models share the same Neumann M7 style capsule that they build in their shop, There are two tube models and an FET model. The difference between the tube models is with the output transformer and some capacitors. There’s one capacitor in the top of the line mic that costs $100!. They also have a ribbon mic and, yes, they make their own ribbons too. These guys seem to have a thorough understanding of how these mics work, build them to very high standards, and sell them at fair prices ranging from $2500 down to $1000. While they started out with a U47 design, their intent wasn’t to make a clone, but rather, to make what they believe to be sensible improvements while leaving the basic sound character alone.

Great River Electronics has had a compressor using a 400 kHz pulse width modulator (PWM) as the gain control element. This isn’t a new idea, but it hasn’t been very popular due to such reasons as complexity, cost, and that, since vintage PWM compressors didn’t work all that well, there wasn’t a good model to copy as a starting point. Modern components and design make it possible to build a compressor that introduces a lower level of distortion when changing gain than the more common VCA (voltage controlled attenuator) or LDR (light dependent resistor of “optical” compressor). The Great River PWM-501 PWM compressor has finally emerged from the workbench as a 500-series module. In addition to that format being very popular nowadays, eliminating the power supply and enclosed chassis brought the price into a more comfortable zone. Designer Dan Kennedy says that it takes some time and listening skills to learn how to use it correctly, but that if a transparent compressor is what you want, this one is a cost effective choice.

I picked up an interesting-at-first-glance book from the “we don’t want to carry these home” table at the Berklee Press booth entitled Project Management  for Musicians. By Jonathan Feist. It appears to cover just about every aspect of how to do business in the music business. If it’s good, When I get time to start reading it, I’ll write a review.

Well, that’s it for the show. When I get my brain unscrambled I’ll organize things, fill in some details, and put the whole show report together. Stay tuned.

Posted in Trade Show Reports