From an operational standpoint, one of the major issues that separates the world-class studio from the project studio is the cue system. The Furman Headphone Distribution System (including the HDS-6 [$349] and HR-6 [$129]) provides world-class sound quality and features at project studio prices. Two recent projects have allowed me to put the Furman system to work and I have been more than pleased with the results.
The Furman HDS-6/HR-6 Audio Distribution System is a reasonably priced, great-sounding and flexible way to provide independent mix control for up to 16 sets of headphones. The system consists of two components: the 6.8-pound. rackmountable HDS-6 Audio Distribution System (1.75 inches x 19 inches x 7.25 inches), and one or more 1.25-pound HR-6 remote mixers (2.5 inches x 6.75 inches x 3.5 inches).
The components are sold separately, so you do not end up purchasing more HR-6 mixers than you need. You can always purchase additional mixers if your needs expand in the future. The distribution unit and remote mixers are connected with a pair of Ethernet cables (using RJ-45 connectors). Multiple HR-6s can be daisy-chained together. Each HR-6 includes a pair of 25-foot cables. If additional cables of the same or different lengths are required, they can be ordered from Furman or purchased at most computer stores.
For an application where daisy-chaining is not practical, such as permanent installations, an Ethernet patch panel can be wired to allow multiple HR-6 units to connect from a central location. Up to eight HR-6 remote mixers can be linked to an HDS-6, and two pairs of headphones may be plugged into each HR-6.
The HDS-6 rackmount distribution system connects to the console or directly to the DAW to drive a group of HR-6 remote mixers. Connections to the HDS-6 are via TRS balanced or unbalanced 1/4-inch jacks. Trim pots are provided on the HDS-6’s front panel to match the console or DAW output levels to the HDS-6’s inputs. Input sensitivity is variable from -10 to +4 dBu. Front panel LEDs indicate overload for each channel, power on and link cables reversed.
In addition to providing high-current differential-buffered signals, the box also provides power and ground to the HR-6 remote mixers. The remote mixer’s power output is rated 400 mW at 32 ohms (200 mW at 600 ohms, 500 mW at 100 ohms) from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Frequency response is ±1 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Distortion is only 0.008 percent THD or less at full rated power at 1 kHz, and not more than .05 percent from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The noise level is at least 96 dB below full rated output at 32 ohms load with 0 dB input.
The HR-6 is a compact six-channel, five-pot remote mixer. The box allows musicians to customize their own headphone or monitor mix. The HR-6 is equipped with a stereo pot and four mono pots. The stereo pot would likely be used for an overall mix and the four mono pots for sound sources that would require different levels from musician to musician (e.g. click, vocal, etc.). The box also provides a Sub Mixes Included/Excluded button, which mutes the four mono pots, allowing only the stereo source to be heard, without having to alter the HR-6’s four mono settings. Each mixing station accommodates two sets of headphones via 1/4-inch TRS jacks. Included with each HR-6 is a removable clamp that allows easy attachment to a microphone stand.
A July trip to Cincinnati to record cellist Eric Hauck in a makeshift studio was the perfect opportunity to put the Furman Headphone system to the test. A new baby prohibited Eric from making the trek to Nashville to track with the rest of the Appalachian Christmas Quartet, so producer Michael Aukofer and I decided to bring the studio to him. The Furman Headphone Distribution System performed flawlessly. The Furman System gave Eric control of his own click level and eliminated multiple headphone adjustments. I routinely work with the Formula Sound Cue8 system so this type of control is nothing new, but with the Furman System the price is so affordable you can actually purchase a system for the price of renting a Cue8 system for a project.
After returning to Nashville and being more than pleased with the Furman’s performance, I spent some time listening and was again thoroughly impressed with the system’s performance. The boxes have a smooth, punchy sound, a nice top and full bottom end. There is plenty of gain and the whole system is built for years of performance.
Furman also recommends using the system in live situations allowing performers to adjust their own stage mix during a performance though I would hesitate to use it with stage monitors as it could be risky to give performers the power to increase the level of a microphone to the point of feedback.
Whether you are building a studio from the ground up or are upgrading an existing studio, the Furman Headphone Distribution System is possibly the perfect answer.
Contact: Furman Sound at 707-763-1010, www.furmansound.com.