By Rich Tozzoli. The company describes this mastering plug-in as a “unique multiband limiter, human-ear EQ and powerful audio maximizer” that will increase the loudness of your mix while maintaining or improving its dynamic perception.
By Steve Harvey. Avid CEO Louis Hernandez Jr. discusses storytelling, creativity in new book.
By Rich Tozzoli. Dig into Universal Audio’s new software emulation of the classic Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor.
The PSN review team takes on a HDMI wireless connection kit that allows audio and/or video content to be shared wirelessly from a HDMI port-equipped device.
By Rob Tavaglione. Did I mention that I’m currently obsessed with shaping the stereo field? I should also mention that the stereo-izing of mono tracks has been part of that width obsession, too. Day after day, I’m called on to make bland lead vocals into sexy, stereo, shimmering images of intrigue. Thankfully, Side-Widener helps do just that.
By Rob Tavaglione. IK Multimedia makes a number of gadgets, accessories and forward-thinking tools that are geared towards the postmodern performing and self-recording musician. However, its new iRig Acoustic Stage is a must-have for both live and studio sound engineers for its unique problem-solving capabilities, coupled with a low price of only $99.
By Rob Tavaglione. I know that I’ve been asked no less than a hundred times, “Can you make it sound like it’s on a scratchy old record?” I’ve often skirted the somewhat clichéd or cheeky request by saying, “I can add some static, but it’s hard to make it sound really cool.” Well, now that I have iZotope’s Vinyl plug-in, I’m able to say “Yes, I can do that” followed by “And yes, it will sound cool.” It’s powerful stuff that is remarkably free.
For those unfamiliar with the Bit-tree brand of patchbays, it is worth noting that the company’s founder, CEO Glenn Garrard, got his start in the music industry by building and maintaining speakers and tape machines for Detroit’s Motown Records alongside the illustrious Berry Gordy, Jr. When Gordy relocated Motown to LA in the early 1970s, Garrard moved, too, eventually working in television (for The Merv Griffin Show) before founding Bit-tree later in the decade.
By Rob Tavaglione. At first look, Blue’s Baby Bottle SL doesn’t look like much of a “baby”—that is, until you compare it to its behemoth predecessor, The Bottle. I’ve reviewed The Bottle, and it is indeed a testament to “no holds barred engineering.” It’s quite possibly the world’s most versatile microphone. The Baby Bottle SL doesn’t take such a purist (or expensive) route, but still delivers a similarly focused and forward sound.
Cloud Microphones’s new Cloudlifter CL-Zi ($379 street) is a well-built, steel-chassis box featuring a variable impedance knob (labeled “Z”) and high-pass filter (HPF) to allow tone shaping through the manipulation of impedance loading.
By Strother Bullins. ESI Audiotechnik GmbH—a branded and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) pro audio design/manufacturing firm since 1998—is now shipping its 24-bit/96 kHz-capable U168 XT audio interface ($499.95 street), featuring what are arguably a recordist’s most commonly needed I/O at very attractive price points. Having used a wide range of USB I/O units, I was happy to find such an affordable, well-built 1U box with precisely what I find myself needing in most of the laptop, site-based multitracking sessions that I do. And at this price, I expect the U168 XT would serve a wide range of users well, notably those who may need a secondary I/O for on-the-go tracking situations, as described below.
Having already reviewed DPA’s lovely d:screet SC4098 supercardioid podium microphone in both house-of-worship (HOW) and theater environments (in Pro Sound News’ June 2015 issue), I revisited this world-class microphone recently, pairing it with the new DM6000 Microphone Base, an incredibly flexible product that can be used on tabletops or lecterns, or hung from the ceiling.
By Russ Long. The ADK Custom Shop’s Custom Z-Mod mics—which include the ADK Z-800, ADK Z-251, ADK Z-49, ADK Z-12, ADK Z-47 and ADK Z-67—are ADK’s definitive microphone line. Each model is hand-built in the USA in the sonic tradition of one particular classic microphone that is well-known in the history of recorded music. Each of the mics feature discrete Class-A tube electronics and offer nine polar patterns.
Everyone is a content creator these days. But while we can capture HD video on our smart devices, says Anthony Mattana, “When it comes to audio on our phones, we throw a Hail Mary and say, ‘the mic’s open.’ People don’t even know you can adjust mic gain.” In 2014, Mattana, a former Broadway theater sound designer, founded Hooke Audio, assembled a team of designers and developers, and launched a Kickstarter campaign for Verse, a pair of Bluetooth headphones with integrated binaural microphones.
By Russ Long. Beautifully built in the spirit of the classic Neumann U67 to David Bock’s specifications, the Soundelux USA U99 tube condenser microphone ($2,599 street) is one of the finest microphones being manufactured today at any price. The tube microphone’s pickup pattern is continuously variable from omnidirectional to cardioid to figure-8. The glossy black and beautiful mic features a European-made K67 dual-membraned 1-inch capsule and is equipped with the same signature Soundelux USA Fat switch found on the U195 mic, as well as an inventive and musical high-frequency Cut-Flat-Boost switch that that works in tandem with its Hi-Lo switch.
By Strother Bullins. At NAMM 2017, Blue Microphones announced three newly revamped microphone models as part of its Essential Series, a collection comprised of the company’s best-selling condensers, featuring updated aesthetics, more sonic flavor and some key added features. Two of the three—the Bluebird SL and Spark SL—are reviewed here; Rob Tavaglione is currently reviewing the Baby Bottle SL for publication at a later date, as he reviewed the original Baby Bottle years ago.
By Strother Bullins. Upon auditioning Series Black by Lauten Audio—a typically “higher-end” and all-original design-centric microphone manufacturer—I felt as if I might’ve discovered a new subcategory of condensers. Though budget priced, the series provides a significant value in tonality, far from the typical “budget” microphones I have used in the past. Though “no frills,” Series Black mics are thoughtfully equipped with what many modern (e.g., primarily residential) audio engineers will need; filter frequency points were chosen specifically by Lauten’s owner/designer, Brian Loudenslager, to better serve those sheetrock-rich customers. And, though far from “fancy” or intentionally ornamental, Series Black products aren’t exactly plain, and are definitely not bland. So in truth, Lauten’s “Series Black” moniker is spot-on. Somewhat like Henry Ford’s first factory-built cars, these mics are comparably affordable, relatively well-constructed, useful to most users, free of accouterments,
By Russ Long. After being blown away by the new Apogee Symphony interface last year, I couldn’t wait to give the Element 46 a go. One of three Element Series products, the Element 46 represents Apogee’s latest foray into the interface market with a focus on Thunderbolt I/O. It is the perfect blend between functionality, portability and cost without compromise in quality. The elimination of physical controls is the primary contributor to the Element Series’ affordability; while that made me a bit reluctant, I haven’t missed the controls a bit.
By Strother Bullins. The product category of “portable PA” (PPA) has significantly broadened in recent years to include some all-in-one tools increasingly employed in smaller venues and multifunctional A/V environments such as houses-of-worship (HOW) and educational, corporate and institutional facilities. Innovative MI/Pro Audio manufacturer Fishman arguably helped define the portable PA category with its “stick” PPA, 2008’s SA Series, which followed 2003’s LoudBox. Both SA Series and LoudBox offerings were initially built to serve the unique needs of performing musicians. “The real foundation of the Loudbox was simple,” said Larry Fishman in a recent interview. “To create an amplifier specifically for acoustic instruments and vocals with no coloration.”
By Liz May. The StudioLive Coaxial Active Integration (AI) loudspeaker package I utilized included the 312AI, 315AI and the 18sAI Subwoofer. There are no 10-inch models available, but there is a three-way, dual 8-inch cabinet, which I did not use. When the speakers arrived, they were much heftier than I imagined; with the subs weighing in at 94 lbs. and measuring 23” x 24” x 26” and the 15-inch model weighing in at 71 lbs. and measuring 27.9” x 21.3” x 18.6”, moving the units any real distance without assistance was out of the question. That said, I appreciate the cabinets’ constructions, which are designed and built to be very durable.
By Strother Bullins. While an increasing number of loudspeaker products claim to be “multipurpose,” the SV8 Powered MicroMain from relative newcomer BassBoss truly is a “jack of all trades” and perhaps a master of several. The company touts the American-made, self-powered two-way SV8 as intended for studio monitoring, gymnasium, restaurant and venue environments—and in that order—so naturally, I was intrigued by its purported flexible nature.
By Rob Tavaglione. There seems to be a trend afoot—what used to be the advanced features of top-shelf products are now being incorporated into entry-level models. Case in point is the QH4 headphone amplifier from Samson. At only $69 street, its price is competitive against many other low-cost headphone amps, yet it has a number of very attractive advantages.
By Liz May. My opportunity to review the PreSonus AR16 came in the form of a successful installation at a local university. I was working with Wake Forest University’s Campus Ministries group to help them find a sound support solution for their events. They did not have anyone on their team who was a trained sound engineer, but had some people who knew how to use basic analog sound equipment. In such situations, digital consoles don’t always cut it, yet these very same users often like the kind of tools that are typically provided with a digital board. For this reason, we chose the PreSonus AR16.
By Rob Tavaglione. There are a number of reasons to record sound isotropically, or equally from all directions: to capture the totality of environments and natural sound; to capture music organically as if from an “in the thick of it” perspective; and, last but not least, to capture sound that, when paired with video capture or animation (that is coincidentally from the same point in space), will recreate a virtual reality. With emphasis on the latter, Sennheiser’s Ambeo VR mic uses four pre-polarized KE14 condenser capsules in a tetrahedral array. When processed with Sennheiser’s own ambisonic software and third-party down-mix software, Ambeo VR’s signals can be decoded to stereo, surround sound or a fully spherical 360-degree soundfield, contained in four channels of B-format ambisonic audio as utilized in today’s interactive virtual reality (VR) standards.
By Simon Allen. When introduced to Roland M-5000 for the first time, you are greeted with the acronym OHRCA on its screen. Standing for Open High Resolution Configurable Architecture, it highlights a few principles that the console is built upon. “Open” alludes to the variety of input and output formats that it utilizes. Roland is known for its own REAC protocol that all of the brand’s consoles and digital stage boxes use; Roland was one of the first manufacturers to develop the digital snake concept. As well as this connectivity, however, there are two expansion card slots, which enable the use of other protocols such as Dante, MADI and even Waves SoundGrid.
Over seven decades, German pro audio manufacturer Sennheiser secured its legendary reputation by building world-class microphones, headphones and wireless systems, yet arguably some of its most interesting products have hit the market within the last few years.
By Russ Long. I’ve had the opportunity to work and audition several of Tatz’s proprietary PhantomFocus monitoring system-equipped spaces, and they are sonically spectacular. For that reason, I knew that an audio production chair worthy of the PhantomFocus name is worth our attentions.
By Russ Long. I’m always anxious to get my hands on a killer virtual instrument (VI) and the new IK Multimedia Modo Bass ($299) is the best bass guitar VI I’ve encountered. It provides an unchallenged level of sonic realism and real-time control, making it feasible to create totally convincing and sonically uncompromised bass tracks without using a real bass.
This microphone got a lot of attention from the gang; not one of us had ever worked with a microphone before that allows polar pattern changes after recording! The LCT 640 TS, designed and engineered in Austria by Lewitt Audio, is a dual large-diaphragm, multipattern condenser offering omni, wide-cardioid, cardioid, supercardioid and figure-8 modes.