New York, NY (April 14, 2005)–To facilitate their weekly recordings and broadcasts from the New York Philharmonic, audio director Larry Rock recently upgraded to a new streamlined digital recording system anchored by the Lynx AES16 192 kHz interface, Steinberg Nuendo and Yamaha DM2000 V2 console. This system allows Rock to digitally record, edit and deliver the performances in 3-5 days to Chicago’s WFMT Radio Network for national syndication of “New York Philharmonic This Week.”
When the New York Philharmonic began planning their weekly radio broadcasts with WFMT, the plan was simple, but the technological challenges were daunting. With performances usually on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, radio stations broadcast the program as early as the following Tuesday. With editing and post-production in New York and Chicago, there is no time for error. And Rock feels there is also little room for media. The recordings would not rely on tape, CD, DAT or other media–the data is stored on hard drives throughout the production. Also, the music remains in the digital mode from the mic preamps until it is aired.
Rock had three primary goals for the new system. First, he needed to record and edit 24 tracks using a PC. Second, he wanted the system to be tape-free, to eliminate the time, potential reliability and storage issues of tape. Third, he demanded the best possible audio quality with no data compression.
For 15 years, Rock has used digital audio workstations that require proprietary file systems. Rock decided that standard PCs, such as off-the-shelf Dells, are preferred for compatibility with other departments’ storage systems, as long as other issues could be resolved. A primary challenge is to get audio in and out of the computer and maintain excellent quality. He tested Lightpipe and other PCI card solutions, and found they did not offer the audio quality and stability he needed and lacked the universality of the AES format.
Massachusetts-based Parsons Audio and Sound Mirror’s Mark Donahue suggested a system anchored by the Lynx AES16 and Nuendo from Steinberg.
“Some of the other digital I/O solutions were quite limited. Audio quality and synchronization were problems. The AES16 is extremely flexible, especially in post-production, and locks well to all signals. And the AES16’s SynchroLock jitter reduction helped significantly,” explained Rock, who tested the AES16 and added it to his new system. “The AES16 gives us 16 AES/EBU channels per card and with a PC loaded with four, we can run 64 channels in and out. They just make life easier.”
The system front end begins with the best available microphones, such as the small mics in the Schoeps and Neumann line. The mic preamps are Millennia HV-D3D’s, which feed Tascam MX-2424 converters and into the Yamaha DM2000 V2 digital mixer. A Z-Systems Digital Detangler enables routing of all channels to the four Lynx AES16’s in his Supermicro computer. The entire performance is recorded to removable IDE drives.
Typically Rock records two or more of the concerts, picks the best overall performance and edits for the best musical content, and removes coughs and noises, pulling segments from other concerts where necessary. Often, due to time constraints, Rock will grab the removable hard drives to take them home for final post-production. At home, he has a Dell system with a removable drive bay, using the LynxONE for D/A conversion and two channel audio output.
Once the editing is finished, Rock uploads the entire performance via FTP in stereo to WFMT by Monday, where voice-over is added and the broadcast is aired on Tuesday. The radio station returns the final broadcast to the Philharmonic, where Rock encodes it for streaming by anyone from their website, www.newyorkphilharmonic.org, using RealAudio. When performances are mastered for CD or DVD, Rock utilizes WaveLab from Steinberg.
What advice would Rock give performing arts centers putting together similar recording systems? “First, buy the most basic, fast computer you can and skip the peripherals. Second, add Lynx cards–they sound great and are very easy to install. Third, use affordable removable drives–you can get them for about a dollar a gig now–very affordable. I don’t suggest Firewire drives at this point. Fourth, get a good video card–there is a lot of detail to look at in programs like Nuendo, so think about your eyes as well as your ears. Fifth, remember that the chain is only as strong as its weakest link–get great converters, preamps, and mics.”
Lynx Studio Technology, Inc.