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Pro Audio Review

The Review Resource for Sound Professionals






more reviews
Audio-Technica AT2022 Guzauski-Swist GS-3a Harrison Mixbus 2.0.5 DAW JZ Microphone Vintage V12 PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 Proel DB1-P, DB1-A & DB2-A Solid State Logic Nucleus

in this issue
Covering Recording, Broadcast Production and Post Production New Studio Products 10
Facility Review 20


Sound Reinforcement
Covering Live Sound, Contracting, and Installed Sound New Studio Products 48
Review 50

NRG Recording Studios, North Hollywood, CA

by Alex Oana

Proel DB1-P, DB1-A & DB2-A Direct Boxes

by Rob Tavaglione

Review 52

Review 30

PAR Picks 6: Guitar Amp Simulation Plug-ins

by Rich Tozzoli

PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 Compact Digital Console

by Liz May

Review 30 Guzauski-Swist GS-3a Studio Monitor


by Ian Schreier

Review 36

Harrison Mixbus Version 2.0.5 Digital Audio Workstation

by Russ Long


Review 40

Solid State Logic Nucleus DAW Controller and Work Surface

by Rob Tavaglione

Technically Speaking

Review 44

Its About Time

by Frank Wells

JZ Vintage 12 V12 Cardioid LargeDiaphragm Condenser Microphone

by Rob Tavaglione

Review 46

MusiCares For Musicians And Engineers, Too

by Rob Tavaglione

Studio Sense 18

Audio-Technica AT2022 X-Y Stereo Microphone

by Simon Tillbrook

Cover Photo: Oliver Walker Cover Design: Nicole Cobban

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ProAudioReview | January 2012

ProAudio Pro Audio Review

The Review Resource for Sound Professionals

J A N U A R Y 2 012

V O L U M E 18


EDITORIAL Frank Wells, Editorial Director 212-378-0400 x535, Strother Bullins, Editor 336-703-9932, Fred Goodman, Managing Editor 212-378-0423, Lynn Fuston, Technical Editor Rich Tozzoli, Software Editor Russ Long, Senior Contributor Ty Ford, Steve Harvey, Will James, Tom Jung, Alex Oana, Randy Poole, Alan Silverman, Rob Tavaglione, Ben Williams, Sterling Wineld, Dan Wothke, Tom Young, Contributors Paul Haggard, Photographer ADVERTISING Tara Preston, Associate Publisher 917-331-8904, Karen Godgart, Sales Director, West Coast Ofce 323-868-5416, Doug Ausejo, Specialty Sales Associate 650-238-0298, ART & PRODUCTION Nicole Cobban, Senior Art Director Annmarie LaScala, Art Director Fred Vega, Production Manager 212-378-0445, CIRCULATION Tracey H. Dwyer, Associate Circulation Director, Audience Development Michele Fonville, Associate Circulation Manager Subscriptions: Pro Audio Review, P.O. Box 234, Lowell, Ma 01853 Tel: 888-266-5828 (U.S.A. Only, 8:30 A.M. - 5 P.M. Est) 978-667-0352 (Outside The U.S.) Fax: 978-671-0460 E-Mail: NEWBAY MEDIA AUDIO GROUP John Pledger, Vice President/Group Publishing Director Ragan Whiteside, Web Director Robert Granger, Online Production Manager Ashley Vermillion, Web Production Specialist NEWBAY MEDIA CORPORATE Steve Palm, President & CEO Paul Mastronardi, Chief Financial Ofcer Jack Liedke, Controller Bill Amstutz, Vice President of Production & Manufacturing Joe Ferrick, Vice President of Digital Media Denise Robbins, Vice President of Audience Development Anthony Savona, Vice President of Content & Marketing Greg Topf, Vice President of Information Technology Ray Vollmer, Vice President of Human Resources REPRINTS AND PERMISSIONS: For custom reprints & eprints please contact our reprints coordinator at Wrights Media: 877-652-5295 or PRINTED IN THE U.S.A. Administrative, Advertising, & Editorial Ofces 28 E 28th Street, 12th oor New York, NY 10016 TEL: (212) 378-0400

ProAudioReview | January 2012

technically speaking

Frank Wells

Its About Time

Once upon a time, when budgets were huge, a studio could expect up to a months worth of work on a major project. A typical Nashville session saw two-a-days for tracking, four or five days of tracking, laying down a couple of songs a day. A weeks work of overdubs and master vocal takes followed, then a day a tune was devoted to mixing. Occasionally, that pattern would get crunched into a tighter timeline, and even less occasionally, youd have a producer who finessed a single song a day during tracking, but the pattern was fairly consistent and refined. The advent of the ADAT in the early 90s began to change that pattern. At first, it just affected the overdub phase as a producer could relatively simply set up a small studio space for a vocalist or a single instrumentalist. With an ADAT synced to a multitrack recorder, theyd lay a rough mix down on the ADAT at the end of tracking. Then, using good mics, mic pres, maybe a little EQ and dynamics processing and outboard converters, they could produce major-studio-quality overdubs for digital transfer back to the multitrack for mixing. Producer-owned studios rarely had the space for full-on tracking of a complete band, and practical mixing without a legacy infrastructure was not to the point of todays complete studios In-The-Box. Besides cost savings, this paradigm most notably gave the producer and artist time time to polish a performance, time to experiment. And perhaps more significantly, time to step aside when a singer needed rest or things just werent coming together. When booking a big room, they had to pay whether they showed up or not, whether they worked all day or not. The clock was always ticking, upping the pressure and upping the tension. Its likely that few projects actually required more on-the-clock time when working in a personal space, and may have actually run more efficiently while being more relaxed. While many of todays facilities, personal and commercial, are trying to cram as many sessions and projects in as possible to maximize profit, others find that the personal studio model is, like with those early ADAT overdub rooms, giving them time back during overdubs and mixing. In a recent interview, producer/engineer Ed Cherney commented that where deadlines were once firm and tight, These days its more deadlines, schmedlines. I find myself hurrying less and concerning myself more with making it great...If were not feeling it that day, lets go golf or something and well finish it maana. He calls it a matter of quality of life that ripples into the quality of production. Heres hoping your workflow allows you the blessing of time.

ProAudioReview | January 2012

new studio products

Slate Pro Audio Raven X1
On display at Winter NAMM is a unique new Production System from Slate Pro Audio called the Raven X1. Steven [Slate] and I have both been making records for a long time in major studios and project studios, Alex Oana, VP of creative operations at Slate Pro Audio & Slate Digital, explains. We put all the features into this console that wed want for recording and mixing in the way we (and most people) do it today. Keeping it creative, fast and fun, the Raven X1 has all kinds of really intuitive features in all the right places that no one has put in a recording and mixing console before. Thats why we call it a Production System. A sneak peek at the feature set of the Raven X1 reveals some interesting highlights, including Slates Clear Path mastering grade analog circuitry; Full Monitor Control (the most feature-rich analog monitor controller); iPod/iPhone Dock with AES digital output; high-speed USB ports on console surface and under-keyboard tray for iLoks, iPad integration, USB flash drives, Smart Keys and hard drive; three My Mix 6-channel, stereo artist headphone cue mixers; iPad integration for Neyrinck V-Control Pro, tactile plug-in control; iPod to DAW routing (capture ideas from your smartphones music creation apps, offers Slate); Mix Focus Metering (comprehensive VU and scaleable LED metering); Auto Talk (talkback mode for effortless studio communication); 5.1 monitoring; four stereo speaker outputs; including studio output; eight stereo monitor sources; talkback to cue, to studio, and to slate; comprehensive source to output routing; Betty, which is built-in laptop speakers for consumer playback reference; Avid fader packs (industry-standard performance and support, insists Slate; plus the ability to add optional integrated rack bays for outboard gear, converters, interfaces, preamps and more. Finally, the Raven X1 will ship with Slate Digitals Virtual Console Collection for authentic analog console emulation. Contact: Slate Pro Audio |

Audio-Technica: 50th Anniversary Limited-Edition Products

Audio-Technica, celebrating 50 Years of Passionate Listening, has introduced a number of limited-edition products, all featuring the companys 50th anniversary design and color scheme. The products include ATH-M50s/LE professional studio monitor headphones, ATM25/LE hypercardioid dynamic instrument microphone, AE4100/LE cardioid dynamic handheld microphone, AE5400/LE cardioid condenser handheld microphone, AE6100/LE hypercardioid dynamic handheld microphone, AT4050/LE multi-pattern condenser microphone and the AT4050URUSHI multipattern condenser microphone. These products are limited-edition versions of A-Ts ATH-M50s, AE4100, AE5400, AE6100, AT4050 and the legacy product ATM25. The LE/Anniversary limited editions feature a silver-colored metallic finish with blue accents, and the AT4050URUSHI sports a traditional urushi lacquer finish with hand-painted Japanese maple leaves. The AE4100/LE, AE5400/LE, AE6100/LE, AT4050/LE, AT4050URUSHI and ATM25/LE all feature an anniversary serial number etched on the surface of each model. The AE5400/LE, AT4050/LE and AT4050URUSHI come with a specially designed, handcrafted wooden carrying case. Prices: $209 (ATH-M50s/LE); $329 (AE4100/LE); $329 (AE6100/LE); $489 (ATM25/LE); $629 (AE5400/LE); $995 (AT4050/LE); $2,495 (AT4050URUSHI). Contact: Audio-Technica |


ProAudioReview | January 2012

new studio products

IsoAcoustics ISOL8R155 Speaker Stands
IsoAcoustics has launched its ISOL8R155, a line of speaker stands that, thanks to a patented isolation technology, permits speakers to float in free space. The stands have undergone thorough testing at the National Research Council, and are said to effectively eliminate energy transfer to surrounding surfaces. The patented isolation system reportedly decouples low-frequency vibrations from the supporting surfaces, while providing midrange audio imaging as it encourages all movement to remain on-axis. Tilt and height adjustments optimize positioning. At 6.0(W) x 7.5(D) inches, the ISOL8R155 is specifically designed for all 4- to 7-inch near-field studio monitors. The stands have a height of up to 9 inches to raise and tilt high-frequency tweeters to ear level. The stands ship with two lengths of tubing-3 and 8 inches-which are said to optimize listening positions in any studio or home environment. Price: $119 per pair Contact: IsoAcoustics |

Roland R-26 Portable Recorder

Roland has introduced its R-26 portable handheld recorder at $499 street. The device provides up to six simultaneous channels of audio recording to SD/ SDHC media, two types of built-in stereo mics, XLR/TRS combo inputs, USB audio interface functionality, and is aimed for solo and ensemble music recording, environmental sound capture, broadcasting and audio/video production. The R-26 can be powered either with the included AC adaptor, four internal AA batteries or an external battery. Two stereo mic types omnidirectional and XY are integrated into the R-26s chassis. There are two XLR/TRS combo inputs with phantom power for connecting external mics or line-level devices, plus a stereo mini-jack for a plug-in-powered mic. The preamps for all mic channels are derived from the hi-res preamps found in Rolands R-44 commercial field recorder. Price: $599 list Contact: Roland |


ProAudioReview | January 2012

new studio products

McDSP Extended Platform Support
McDSP has released 64-bit versions of its entire Audio Unit (AU) plug-in product line. The McDSP 64-bit AU versions are a free update to McDSP v5 customers. Users may also demo the McDSP 64-bit AU plug-ins with v5 Native or v5 HD demo authorizations, available freely via McDSP will be also adding support for the new AAX plug-in format as a free update to the McDSP v5 product line later in 2012. Support for the AAX DSP and AAX Native plug-in formats will be added to McDSP HD v5 plug-ins. Support for the AAX Native plug-in format will be added to McDSP Native v5 plug-ins. McDSP v5 plug-ins will continue to support the TDM, RTAS and Audio Unit (AU) plug-in formats. Contact: McDSP |

Lewitt Audio LCT 840, LCT 940 Tube Mics

Lewitt Audio has unveiled two new tube microphones-the LCT 840 and LCT 940. Equipped with a 1-inch capsule, the LCT 840 features five switchable polar patterns and is equipped with a specially coated and interference-resistant, plexiglass inspection window on the front side of the body, so the illuminated tube itself is fully exposed. The LCT 940 shares these features with its little brother, but also boasts a total of nine different polar patterns (the five standard ones omni-directional, cardioid, figure-8, wide- and super-cardioid) plus four additional intermediate patterns. Price: TBA Contact: Lewitt Audio |

new studio products

Telefunken ELA M 260 Tube Mic Stereo Set
Telefunken Elektroakustik has debuted its ELA M 260 Tube Microphone Stereo Set, which comes complete with three capsules 260 cardioid, 261 omni-directional and 262 hyper-cardioid for each microphone, plus one dual-power supply. Also included are two 25-foot Accusound tube microphone cables with right-angle XLR connectors, two wooden microphone jewel boxes, two shockmounts and a flight case. The microphones also feature NOS Telefunken EF732 vacuum tubes, custom audio transformers and come in the same flint gray finish as the R-F-T AR-51 microphone. Price: $2,895 Contact: Telefunken Elektroakustik |

MXL Tempo USB Condenser Microphone

MXLs Tempo USB condenser microphone is a lightweight mic that is compatible with the Apple iPad. The mic reportedly allows users to record vocals and other sounds on the go when connected via an optional Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit adapter. The Tempo also works with a variety of computer music programs, as well as over-the-internet communications systems such as ooVoo, Skype, iChat and Google Talk. Price: $79 | Contact: MXL |


studio sense

by Rob Tavaglione

MusiCares For Musicians And Engineers, Too

Take a random survey of people employed in the music business and ask them what they skimp on, as far as budgeting is concerned. Many will tell you its their own health care needs. Whether due to the sporadic nature of our paychecks; rising costs of touring, studio ownership, instruments, etc.; or the overall downturn of the economy on a whole, many of us risk our long-term security.
Just like many of you, I recently found myself needing dental work and didnt have the needed funds on hand when I stumbled across MusiCares, a charitable division of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences). MusiCares quickly and efficiently got me the work I needed done while reminding me that altruism is still alive, even though greed gets all the headlines. I asked MusiCares executive director Debbie Carroll to share more about her organization: PAR: What is MusiCares, and what is its mission? Carroll: MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. PAR: What various types of assistance do you provide? Carroll: We offer a wide range of services including assistance for basic living needs: rent, utilities, mortgages, car payments, medical expenses, dental needs, substance abuse treatment, prescription costs, funeral and burial expenses, stolen-instrument replacement, and so on. Each client who contacts us has a specific need; we review each case on a case-bycase basis and provide assistance based upon the individual clients need. PAR: What do your dental clinics entail? Are producers, engineers and/or musicians eligible? How does one apply for a clinic in their area? Carroll: Our eligibility expands to producers, engineers, songwriters, record label employees, musicians, vocalists, tour bus drivers, managers, productioncrew members and others. Individuals do have to document that they have worked in the music industry in some capacity for at least five years or have credited contribution to six commercially recorded releases or videos (singles). Those five years dont have to be five recent years or five consecutive years in order to qualify for assistance. We provide dental clinics in partnership with local dentists or dental offices around the country during various times of the year. Each eligible client receives a free dental exam, X-ray and cleaning. If additional services are needed, we can often provide the follow-up care as well. These clinics are part of our Healthy Essentials program to focus on a proactive screenings and treatment, and include other types of clinics as well, such as flu shot clinics and other medical clinics. PAR: Whats on the horizon in 2012 for MusiCares? Carroll: We are consistently focused on expanding our outreach annually to ensure that each and every music person who may need our help knows how to reach us and is able to connect with us. Wed like to encourage folks to spread the word about our programs and services. Last fiscal year, we assisted about 2,700 music people nationally. We are on target to provide the same amount of assistance this fiscal year as well. We are expanding our dental and medical clinics substantially, and we hope more music people take advantage of those services nationally. PAR: Please tell me about your 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year and 22nd annual benefit gala. Carroll: Paul McCartney will be honored as the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year at its 22nd annual benefit gala. Proceeds from the dinner and concert to be held in Los Angeles during Grammy Week on Friday, February 10, 2012, two days prior to the 54th Annual Grammy Awards will provide essential support for MusiCares. The legendary performer is being honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year in recognition of his singular creative accomplishments as well as his charitable work, which has included an extraordinary range of philanthropic activities over the years. For ticket information, contact MusiCares at 310.392.3777. Contact: MusiCares |

Rob Tavaglione owns and operates Charlotte, NCs Catalyst Recording.
18 ProAudioReview | January 2012

All PAR Facility Review: NRG photography by Oliver Walker


NRG Recording Studios

North Hollywoods Proven Spot To Rock
By Alex Oana
Why does one great studio survive when other great studios do not? In most businesses, theres a constant ebb and flow of swimmers and sinkers. Its fairly clear now that the sky has not fallen on the music business. Label greed and technological changes may have caused a tsunami in the bathtub, but our little pro audio crew remains afloat on a fleet of single-mast sailboats.
The good news: Music production simply shifted to millions of sonically capable personal studios. The bad news: The seismic shift left many of the thousands of sonically notable, full-service, big studios unplugged and empty. I first visited NRG Recording Studios in the North Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles seven years ago during my friend John Fields tracking session for a modern rock record. The label budget deluge was already drying up in 2004, but today NRG is among a handful of name studios still rocking in L.A. alongside co-legends like The Village, Record Plant, Ocean Way, Capitol, Westlake, Henson (formerly Charlie Chaplin and A&M), East West (formerly Western Recorders and Cello) and The Pass, among others. And if you ask NRG president Jay Baumgardner, his studios success is due to both flukes and great planning. The Genesis of NRG If youve heard Papa Roach, Alien Ant Farm, Seether, Drowning Pool and Coal Chamber, youve heard multiplatinum producer Jay Baumgardners production work. If youve heard Evanescence, Hoobastank, Three Days Grace, Godsmack, Jewel and try recording sessions and jingles; at this point in the early 90s, it looked very dated and sounded too dead. So Jay and studio tech Wade Norton went about tearing everything out to make all the surfaces reflective, ultimately to build the worlds greatest rock n roll studio. It was just the beginning of 20 years of renovation and expansion into three top-flight, full-service Neve and SSLequipped studios. For this third PAR Facility Review, Jay, NRG publicist Mackenzie Ramlow and studio manager Annette Scott invited me to track for two days on the custom Neve 8078 in NRG Studio B and mix for a day on the SSL 9072J in Studio C. Studio A is currently on long-term rental by a famous L.A. band one of the increasingly rare ones with a label and a budget. All I needed for my session was a good band and a good song. Kissing Cousins I started looking around for an independent L.A. band that might like to record at one of the best studios in the world. A friend of mine who is particularly in touch with the local music scene Megan Pochebit

Kissing Cousins console tape on the Neve 8078 Bush, youve heard multiplatinum mixer Jay Baumgardners mixing work. Before launching NRG at its current location in 1991, Jay ran several home and garage studios. Like many other notable engineer/producers of our time, he started off as a musician in a band, but when A&R guys would hear the demos theyd say, We dont much like the band, but your recordings are really great. Jay got so busy making hit records in his little NoHo home studio that neighbors complained, ultimately signing a petition to evict him. He took the opportunity to move up in the world by renting a building that already housed a studio, which he now owns. The studio had previously hosted lots of coun-

Hear & See: The Well by Kissing Cousins

Visit the link below for audio and video clips from the PAR Facility Review: NRG Recording Studios sessions, straight to you from North Hollywood.


Alex Oana is the vice president of creative operations for Slate Pro Audio and Slate Digital and has been engineering for over 20 years. January 2012 | ProAudioReview 21

of Off Central PR recommended I check out a really cool, all-girl indie band. One look (and listen) to their video for You Bring Me Down, and I knew I had found what I needed: Kissing Cousins. Every bit of their riff-driven, badgirl, dirge rock would be enhanced by the sound for which NRG is known. Kissing Cousins is led by singer, songwriter and guitarist Heather B. Heywood; with keyboards, vocals, and percussion from Alexis Martin Woodall; guitars and main backing vocals from Amanda Paganini; Kissing Cousins sitting pretty with vintage drums and vocals from Beth Neumann U67 and U47 mics as dual overheads Zeigler; and additional writing and instruments from Benjamin Z. Heywood. tuning Ben had already dialed in, which A few weeks prior to the session, Heather was working great for the arrangement. e-mailed a rough demo of a new song called, Chris Dauray from sE Microphones let me The Well, which we decided to use. borrow a pair of sE4400a condensers (an intentionally unabashed nod to the classic NRG Studio B AKG C 414) and the unique RN17 condensThe first thing Heather, Ben and I did ers (co-designed by Rupert Neve and Siwei when we got to the studio was sit together Zou), which feature the worlds smallest behind Studio Bs 64-channel, wraparound diaphragm condenser capsule (17mm, and Neve 8078 to feel important and stay warm cardioid, in this case) coupled to a very while we refined the song structure and large custom Neve output transformer. arrangement, so that we could come up The idea is to capture extreme sonic with a game plan for tracking. I always detail with the super-accurate, super-fast like to capture as many musicians playing small diaphragm and compensate for inhertogether live without a click track as pos- ent, small-capsule, low-frequency rolloff sible, and in Studio Bs giant tracking with a fat transformer. Why not kick and room with Mytek Private Q headphone mix- snare, I thought, and then stuck a sE4400a ers why not? and RN-17 right next to each other on both Ben and I set up the drum kit in the spot suggested by house assistant Marco Ruiz (toward the back wall under a portion of the 25-foot tall ceiling), and Heather set up her 1963 Fender Bandmaster about 20 feet away, facing the drums, so that the three of us could practice and tweak the drum arrangement. There are times when using click makes musical and logistical sense, but not for this little number. Once all the mics were set up, I recorded all the rehearsals. Our consistent, natural-feeling, keeper drum and guitar pass arrived after three official takes. The more I record, the more I like to try new things. Usually, I spend a lot of time tweaking the tuning of the drums Alex, Heather and Benjamin work not this time. We just went with the out the song arrangement

kick and snare. For overheads, I couldnt decide between vintage Neumann U47 and U67 pairs, so I put up both, right next to each other, and printed both. As an afterthought while we were recording, Marco placed an AKG D 112 on the floor tom for me. It sounded fantastic, but was ultimately not used in the mix because the arrangement did not call for more floor tom than what came through the overheads. I lined up a Yamaha Subkick the same distance as the other mics from the beater. For room pickup, intern Brian and official NRG runner Joe put up a pair of Coles ribbon mics by the control-room glass, opposite the drum kit. It may seem a subtle visual luxury, but the floor-to-ceiling control-room glass in B made the control room and live room feel significantly more connected important in such a big studio. Doing my best to provide some intern hazing, I instructed Joe and Brian to place a pair of Crown PZMs as high as they could up in the 25-foot ceiling area using what they called the ladder of death. (I have the same ladder; its not that bad.) The PZMs ended up becoming my main room sound for the drums and later for the piano recording as well. I placed three ribbon mics on the guitar amp a beyerdynamic M 160, Royer R-121 and sE Voodoo VR1 as close as possible to one another in order to combine


ProAudioReview | January 2012

NRG Studio Bs gorgeous, wraparound, custom Neve 8078

them into one sound. As great assistants will do, Marco already had my levels going for me when I walked into the control room to check out the sounds. The Unique Neve 8078 Acquired by Jay from Allen Sides and Gary Belz, NRG Studio Bs Neve is a oneof-a-kind hybrid Neve 8078 with 24 1089 (same as 1073 except for EQ points) modules in the left wing and 40 1091 (essentially a 1081) modules in the main section: the most expensive Neve at the time of its construction in the mid-1970s. According to NRG chief engineer and studio tech Wade Norton (who installed the console and has been with NRG since the beginning), The console in Studio B was actually custom-built for a studio in Austria with the primary purpose of doing large-scale live music broadcasts. We modified the separate monitor section to include Neve 1089 modules so that it could be used for tracking as well. The desk doesnt really have a model number since it was a one-off, but the main input modules are modeled after the 1081 module. They are actually labeled 1091. Its similar to what an old 8078 would be like; it just looks way different. The most difficult part of installing the console was that most of it was labeled in German, including the user manual, so we really just had to figure it out. Despite its basis in familiar Neve parts,

Baumgardner points out one aspect that makes the sound of the console unique: The consoles main section and custom 31091 modules actually run on 30-volt rails, higher than the standard Neve 24 volts. Getting Sounds and Tracking Theres something about the Neve 1073 that always sounds right. With all the drum mics and guitar mics coming into the console, I quickly assessed my initial setup. I was totally shocked to hear a superpunchy kick drum sound with high-end definition and no harshness made up of equal parts sE4400a and RN17 that needed no additional treatment. The RN17 was shocking on snare: the crack, quickness and smoothness of the high frequencies was unlike anything Id heard before, while the body of the snare was natural but not boring in the least (as some highend, small-diaphragm condensers tend to be). The sE4400a added more body, a bit of a 1 to 3 kHz honk and a much more veiled top. Pushing up the faders on NRGs U47 and U67 pairs (via 1089s) was the definition of bliss: rich midrange detail, creamy thickness, smooth top with no ouch and warm low mids ... ahh! The U67s went through Neve 2264A comps, the Coles just tapped vintage black-faced 1176s (revision unknown), and I increased the Crown PZMs detail and reach via Slate Pro Audio Dragon

dynamic processors at 2:1 with blend at 50 percent and Sheen engaged; the only EQ used was during drum tracking. As I turned my attention to the rooms microphones, I was about to experience firsthand what makes the rooms at NRG legendary. When you push up the faders on your room mics you want to say, Wow! The thing about the NRG room sound is not only do you get wow, you get room sounds with the perfect amount of pre-delay, decay time and spectral content to work in rock tracks. My Crown PZMs in the overhead ceiling cove made the kit and the guitar amp sound open and airy, while the Coles pair in the back added room size and a dark thickness. Listen to audioclip #1 I recently became the vice president of creative operations for Slate Pro Audio and Slate Digital and, as luck would have it, my new boss, Steven Slate, showed up to see how I was doing with my drum sounds. To call him an authority on drum sounds would be a severe understatement. When Steven walked into the control room, his one comment was, Sounds great ... I like what you have going on here, but somethings not right with the snare. Its not cracking and sounds a bit boxy in the low mids. He soloed tracks, then simply shut off the 4400a snare mic and turned up the RN-17. Later, I texted Steven, saying, You saved my snare sound! In the mix, I ended up blending in some 4400a for thickness in the quieter song sections, but went 100 percent RN17 for the hard-hitting sections. Listen to audioclip #2 For our first overdubs on the beautiful and bright Yamaha C7 piano, I thought Id try extending my honeymoon with the RN17 pair. Between Marcos mic placement and these sE mics themselves, the piano sound was well balanced from top to bottom, with the top end being particularly realistic when referenced against the top-end character inside this C7; the Neumann KM84 need no longer apply. The same Crown PZM room mics I used for drums worked as room ambience for the piano, giving it a more natural reach. Listen to audioclip #3 Heathers electric guitar tracks with those three ribbons fell naturally into place just as I expected, but I ultimately chose to move the amp to one of the lockers for isolation. In the


ProAudioReview | January 2012

mix, I rolled off highs and added mids with the SSL J EQs. For acoustic guitar, which was a forcefully plucked alternating low octave part tuned down to C#, I wanted to get both the rattle-y rasp of strings without harshness and the warm wood of the guitar: a perfect job for vintage, small-diaphragm tube condensers. The combination of hard-panned Neumann KM54 and Schoeps 221B as close mics, a center-panned Sennheiser MD441 supercardioid dynamic as a near-contact mic on the body behind the bridge and an RN17 pair in the room made for a complex, wide sound that required no doubling for depth. The RN17 pair was compressed with dual Slate Pro Audio Dragons, and all five mics were fed through two mono aux sends to the 1176 pair returning on their own faders for blend and EQ. Listen to audioclip #4 With beautifully maintained vintage tube mics and a fleet of the 1073ish 1089s at our disposal, vocal sounds were a no-brainer and, of all recording we did, the band most often commented on how amazing the vocals sounded. I did experiment with two compressors Id not used before: the

Alex Oana EQing on the SSL 9072J in NRG Studio C

original Gates Sta-Level and a Collins limiter. My best results for Heather B. Heywoods lead vocal came when going through the Sta-Level, then the Collins, being careful not to drive either too hard. Switching from one vintage tube compressor in the chain to two was the sonic equivalent of opening my eyes wider. It was fun to set up the U47 and U67 on NRGs huge stands in a 15 x 15 x 15-foot triangle

pattern for Beth, Amber and Alexis harmony and gang vocals; for comps, I used console preamps and 1176, Dragon and 1176, respectively. The final overdub was tambo through the sE Voodoo VR1 ribbon, which has extended top that remains smooth. I love where it sat in the mix with no EQ. Mixing in NRG Studio C It may be called Studio C, but I just kept thinking about how I was in Jays Mix Room where hes mixed so many killer singles I hear on the radio, like my favorite Evanescence track, Bring Me to Life. Hard to believe, but our layered arrangement of drums, piano, acoustic and electric guitars and vocals added up to 93 audio tracks, because I printed almost everything discretely, with the exception of the five acoustic guitar mics which printed stereo. The first six hours of my mix were spent sorting, organizing, cleaning up and doing some subtle timing tweaks. For a diminishing few, its an everyday process, but for me, it took some effort to efficiently spread the 93 tracks in my session out over 64 Pro Tools outputs across the 72-channel SSL 9000J. By evening, I was turning physical knobs and quizzing my assistant Marco on Jays mixing tricks. Fortunately for me, Marco said, Jay is not a secretive guy with his tricks. He likes working with his assistants to educate them. Marco told me how Jay rolls off the very top end of electric guitars, sends kick and snare via busses to Distressors returning on their own faders, uses Slate Pro Audio Dragons on the lead


ProAudioReview | January 2012

Assistant Marco Ruiz and engineer Alex Oana at the SSL 9000J in NRG Studio C

vocals, Bricasti M7 Reverb on snare and toms, sends to Sound Toys Echo Boy in Pro Tools via console aux, and most importantly has the SSL console bus compressor engaged at 4:1, 30 ms attack, .3 release. For my mix of Kissing Cousins The Well, it was all about using this giant tool called the Solid State Logic 9000J. I used the channel comps on drums, one electric guitar and all the background vocals. SSL console EQs were applied to everything, including vocals. Theres nothing like the instant gratification of reaching out and grabbing the frequencies with my fingers. I used a total of three plug-in EQs for EQ automation and the Waves CLA76 compressor/limiter on bass DI and amp, for which Amanda actually played baritone guitar through an octave pedal. Its odd making the transition from ITB (inthe-box) mixing back to an automated desk; it took some restraint to avoid the temptation to automate faders in Pro Tools. Once I got into it, I was reminded about how important it is for the mixer to interact and react in real time with the music via automated console faders. It had been a while for me, and it was a ton of fun. Within a few passes I had created a bridge arrangement just by automating the faders that would have certainly involved poking around in the DAW for a lot longer. Add to Favorites Its easy as a reviewer to fall into the trap of calling everything my new favorite this or one of the best that Ive ever heard. With that

admission, I have never stayed on a studios main speakers throughout an entire tracking session before working in NRG Studio B. Jay tells me he and Andy Munro codesigned them on a napkin at AES years ago and that one-off became the Dynaudio C4. I turned on the nearfields for a total of maybe 45 seconds over the course of two days. The monitoring system passive Dyns powered by Chord amps and underpinned by double Dynaudio BM14S active subs per side sounded right from top to bottom, with nothing missing or out of proportion, invoking the least monitoring fatigue Ive ever experienced during tracking. I re-proved to myself that the Neve 1073 is unflappable and great at everything I want to do in a rock session. sE Electronics and Rupert Neve had already captured my heart with their new-generation ribbon mics; now theyve done it again, but in a unique way with the super hi-fi, detailed and rich RN17. NRG Studio B has the best acoustics Ive encountered to date for making a rock record. Close mic, and itll sound close, yet open. Put up a room mic, and itll sound big and open. NRG Artist Development as Business Development We were in the right place/right time from 1991 to 2002, Jay told me in an interview. NRG developed right in the middle of the explosive growth of the record industry. Now everything is paid off, we own the property
(continued on page 58)


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Our software editor shares six crucial guitar-amp simulator plugins that are good enough to fool even guitar-amp aficionados.
In this installment of PAR Picks 6, we highlight an ideal collection of guitar-amp simulator plug-ins. The sound of real amps with real tubes glowing inside will always carve out a soft spot in our hardwareloving hearts. Yet going direct with a plug-in can provide recordists and savvy live performers a wide choice of amps, cabinets and mics, not to mention saving us lots of production time. Like anything, each plug-in has its own strengths and weaknesses. But with a little effort, these plug-ins can sound really good and even fool a few golden ears.

Guitar Amp Simulation Plug-ins

By Rich Tozzoli

AVID Eleven This plug-in for TDM/RTAS and AudioSuite covers a lot of territory as far as simulations of Fender, Mesa Boogie, Marshall and Vox amps go, plus AVID adds a few custom models of its own. The 64 Black Panel Lux Vibrato (based on 64 Fender Deluxe Reverb Vibrato Channel) is sweet when used on country/blues sounds, and the 92 Treadplate Modern (based on a 1992 Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Head) can rip any high-gain track with ease. I like to throw on the 4 x 12 Classic 30 Cabinet, a touch of Speaker Breakup and the Dyn 409

(Sennheiser MD 409) for some beef. Theres also a nice collection of speaker cabinets, including a sweet 68 Marshall 1960A with G12H Greenbacks and a 59 Fender Bassman 4X10 with Jensen P10Q speakers. Mic choices (which can be switched on- or off-axis) include such goodies as the aforementioned Sennhesier MD 409 dynamic, the Sennheiser MD 421 dynamic and even a Royer R-121 ribbon microphone. At the top of the GUI resides a Thresh and Rel gate, and at the bottom is a useful Speaker Breakup slider, which can also be bypassed. Overall, Eleven is easy

to use and really gets some thick tones. It runs on TDM, RTAS and AudioSuite. Price: $595 Contact: AVID | Eleven

AVID/Line 6 Amp Farm 3.0 Introduced in 1998, Amp Farm was one of the first TDM guitar simulator plug-ins and is still one of my favorites. When mixing, Ive even placed it across amped guitar tracks for extra bite. Its still one of the easiest plug-ins to use, simply choose your amp, cab and mic from its drop-down menu. You can also

(Left) AVID Eleven (Above) AVID/Line 6 Amp Farm 3.0

Rich Tozzoli is an accomplished producer/engineer and the software editor for Pro Audio Review.
30 ProAudioReview | January 2012

go to the presets menu for some generic choices such as Tweed Blues. Ive found that the internal level of Amp Farm clips quite easily, so its wise to drop the Input Level a bit. Also, the Gate (Threshold and Release) comes in handy with single coil pickups, as they can pick up video monitor noise quite easily. One of my preferred TV guitar sounds involves recording my Les Paul in one channel with the 1989 Solo 100 Head (based on the 1989 Soldano SLO Head), (Top) IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3 the 4 X 12 Treadplate Cabinet and (Bottom) Line 6 POD Farm 2.5 Platinum the Sennheiser MD 421 dynamic microphone. Then I record my Tele through the 1986 Brit J-800 (based on 1986 Marshall JCM 800) in a separate channel, panned fully opposite, with the 4 x 12 Brit V30 cabinet and Shure SM57 off-axis microphone. The result: truly heavy and delightful! As no reverb is included, youll need to add your own to taste. For clean/slightly dirty blues, the 1960 Class A-30 (based on the 1960 Vox AC-30) with 2 x 12 AC30 cabinet is also a winner. There are some great small goodies The only real bummer is that Amp Farm is in this collection, too, such as the Fender available for TDM only. 63 Reverb unit, Fender Tape Echo and the Price: $595 Rotary 147-1 (based on the Leslie 147 with Contact: AVID | original woofer). You can also purchase collections such as AmpliTube Jim Hendrix, IK Multimedia AmpliTube 3 AmpliTube Metal, Ampeg SVX and, my favorAmpliTube 3 features all newly remas- ite, the AmpliTube Fender. tered amps and gear with their most recent Some ripping blues/rock can be had modeling technology. Within the latest ver- with the Jet City JCA20H paired up with the sion (v3.7), theres a link at the top right of Orange 2X12 AD 30. The tone can quickly and the plug-in called Custom Shop. With a few easily be altered by moving the onscreen clicks, you can purchase and instantly down- microphones around the cabinet. To compleload brands that include Fender, Ampeg, ment AmpliTube 3, the Stealthplug CS and THD, Gallien-Krueger, Soldano, Groove Tubes, Stealthpedal CS (Custom Shop) are two easy T-Rex, Seymour Duncan and Jet City. There ways to get your quarter-inch guitar into the are amps such as German Gain (based computer via USB connection. Overall, its on the Engl Powerball), Thunderverb 200 a well-done, highly flexible guitar package. (based on Orange Thunderverb 200), etc. AmpliTube will run via VST, AU and RTAS. Also provided is a wide choice of guitar, bass Price: $349 and rotary cabinets as well as Stomp, Mics Contact: IK Multimedia | ikmultimedia. and Rack gear. com/amplitube

Line 6 POD Farm 2.5 Platinum POD Farm 2.5 delivers over 250 models of amps, cabs, stompboxes and preamps. Its a wild experience to spin the carousel of gear and simply drag and drop your choices. Signals can be split to create two fully independent signal chains, and up to 20 FX models (10 each) can be placed in any order before your amp/cab selection. POD Farm 2.5 is also available with fewer models: 18 amps, 24 cabinets, five bass amps, 29 stomp boxes and effects and six mic preamps. Built-in gates, a mixer, MIDI options and a tuner/ mute section are also provided. Im a fan of the Orange AD30 amp and the Diezel Herbert for aggressive metal-ish tones. Throw in a Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi and Maestro EP-3 Echoplex, and its game over. Essentially, any sound you can think of can be had with the 2.5 Platinum version. POD Farm 2.5 will run AU, VST, RTAS and standalone. Price: $99 and $299 (POD Farm 2.5 and POD Farm 2.5 Platinum, respectively) Contact: Line 6 |

Softube Vintage Amp Room The modeling approach that Swedish company Softube takes is different: It went for the sound of only three amps along with the associated speaker cabinets and microphones. Simply called White, Brown and Green, these models seem to precisely emulate Marshall, Fender and Vox amps without directly saying as much. White is super simple: just a single input and no reverb. Its the most powerful of the three distortionwise and produces some seriously ripping tones. Brown provides great classic Fenderlike tones. Green lets you go bluesy and proudly British.

January 2012 | ProAudioReview


I really dig the way you can grab the mic stand (with a single SM-57 on it) and move it around the speaker and room; in use, the changes in tonality are dramatic, and Id love to have this type of interaction on all guitar-amp plug-ins. Please note that you are limited to the preset cabinet/mic selections, but these are some really good guitar tones (sometimes, limitations are your best tools). Vintage Amp Room is available for VST, AU and RTAS formats, as well as PowerCore and TDM. Price: $329 & $499 (Native and TDM) Contact: Softube | Waves GTR3 This is a comprehensive guitar software package that features 25 amps, seven bass amps, 29 cabinets, 26 stomp pedals and multiple microphones and settings. Its nice that there are some unusual amps in here, including the Carvin Legacy, Ibanez Thermion and a handful of quirky speaker cabinets like the Acme eight-inch OpenBack (from a 1968 Gibson Skylark), Electron

Waves GTR3 4 X 12 (straight cab with E-V speakers) and 15-inch ClosedBack (based on a 60s Fender Showman). Users have the ability to load a standard guitar amp, one with two cabinets or even just the pedal board. When loading the two cabinet model, you can adjust the individual volume, phase and delay for each. Sometimes, I will place the GTR Stomp 2 as an insert after my chosen guitar software and simply use a single spring reverb, utilizing the Mix knob to create a good blend. GTR3 also has the standalone ToolRack; with it, you wont need a DAW host. ToolRack is a great addition for laptop gigging or just jamming. GTR3 will run on RTAS, TDM, AudioSuite and VST. Price: $100 (TDM or Native) Contact: Waves |

studio review

By Ian Schreier

Guzauski-Swist GS-3a Studio Monitor System

Astonishing performance is what the GS-3a will provide both worldclass studios and our industrys most discriminating end-users.
Several months ago, with our facility nearing completion, the team here at Manifold Recording embarked on a search for the perfect monitors for our Annex control room. We needed an absolutely no compromise monitoring solution for both current and future surround formats in addition to good oldfashioned stereo.
We also wanted a system that was a good fit with the design of the room, the dimensions of our Harrison Trion console, and a center channel able to accommodate a large video monitor/screen at the front of the room for sound-for-picture mixing. Even though we were ultimately going to purchase a surround system, we decided to evaluate all the contenders in a stereo configuration to simplify the audition process (and maintain my sanity). And for brevitys sake, Ill limit this review to the performance of a stereo pair for the same reasons. The auditioning and shootout process was an epic journey not easily encapsulated here; to make a very long story very short, Ill jump to the happy ending: We chose the Guzauski-Swist GS-3a monitor system. Never heard of em, you say? Well, until eight months ago, neither had I. Before I go into describing the how and why these monitors perform so well, a little back-story on the company is in order.

Background You may be familiar with the names Mick Guzauski and Lawrence P. Swist individually (and if not, look them up ), but what you may not know is that Mick and Larry have been friends since their teens, living in upstate New York. Each became successful in the pro audio world following independent paths, but remained in touch and close throughout the years, despite changes in the industry and from the different coasts where they sometimes resided. Then, about 10 years ago, Mick moved back to the same state as his longtime friend. He reinitiated a long-standing conversation with Larry regarding his frustration with finding near/mid-field monitors that performed up to his expectations. At that point, the serious work of designing and building a dream monitor began in earnest. Drawing on Larrys knowledge and skills in acoustics

and design and Micks ability with crossovers, DSP and his vast mixing experience, the GS3a was conceived and built. Initially, the monitor was created just for Micks use, in his own studio. It was only after many other visiting engineers, producers and artists begged Mick and Larry to build a pair for them that the intrepid duo considered this as a serious business opportunity and quite possibly the next chapter in their respective careers. Its the quintessential American business story: two longtime friends build a better mousetrap in their garage, and the rest is history. Features The GS-3a is a sealed enclosure, three-way active monitor configurable for horizontal or vertical operation with a frequency response of 29 Hz to 18 kHz (+/- 2dB). Each pair is powered by the GS-A3 Class-D

Ian Schreier is chief engineer/producer for Manifold Recording, a music production facility in North Carolina.
34 ProAudioReview | January 2012

GS-3a monitors atop the Harrison Trion console in Manifolds Annex control room. stereo amplifier unit, which produces 1,950 watts per channel (1,550w for low frequencies, 400w for mids and 400w for highs). If youre counting, thats nearly four kilowatts of power for a stereo set! The GS-XD4080 crossover is a rackmounted, 96 kHz, 40-bit, floating-point DSP processor unit (with user-definable room compensation equalization and delay) with both analog and digital (AES) inputs. While I believe they would improve the end results of any studio that uses them, at $17,500 list for a stereo system (approximately $50,000 for 5.1), theyre aimed squarely at the world-class end-user who requires a rugged ultra-high performance monitoring system, but one in cabinets small enough to offer flexibility when configuring a room. In Use Personally speaking, its difficult for me to break the habit of describing monitor performance in general, broad and sweeping adjectives of quality, but Im going to try. If youre thinking Ill describe these monitors as transparent, rich, accurate, silky, detailed, or punchy, I wont. Instead, Ill attempt a very brief synopsis of some key areas where I believe these monitors really excel. Lets start at the bottom end, my favorite! The GS-3a utilizes a two-cubic-foot sealed enclosure and a Dayton 12-inch aluminum cone subwoofer driver. This results in accurate low-end response at volume with none of the chuffing or pumping effects associated with ported cabinets. A sealed cabinet design simulates the infinite baffle ideal in speaker design and also dampens extraneous cone movement. When paired with a light rigid cone and a very powerful amp with fast slew rate, a very detailed articulation of the low frequencies is possible; when working with material containing lots of bottom (which this monitor handles with ease), this equals the minimization of unwanted or excessive resonance of the speaker at low frequencies. In other words, that perfect bass/kick relationship you got in the control room is more likely to translate well in the real world. The midrange is handled by a threeinch ATC dome driver; Ive heard this driver argued by many to be the best device of its kind available, and Im inclined to agree. It has a very wide frequency range, excellent power handling, and a broad, smooth dispersion pattern. In practical terms, the wide frequency range of the ATC driver allows Mick and Larrys monitor to send the vast bulk of the oh-so-critical mid/vocal range to a single driver. This keeps those potentially problematic crossover point phase issues out of the most important part of the mix. In application, its hard to overstate how big a difference this makes. The wide disper-

sion of the dome aids in the broad (and even sweet) spot these monitors produce. A one-inch Morel soft dome tweeter handles the sparkly bits with an RMS power handling of 125W. Far more critical to discuss, however, is this: A few paragraphs ago, I commented on the GS-3as sealed enclosure design and the huge power to drive it. That design is not necessarily all rainbows and unicorns, which may be why its not used more often on high-power studio monitors; all that energy has to go somewhere, and other than a tiny bit converted to heat, it shows up as enclosure vibration. All that vibration can seriously affect the performance of any other driver connected to the cabinet. For example, visualize singing a steady pitch while sitting on a seriously unbalanced washing machine; imagine what that would do to mix and the stereo image perception! Thus, these clever guys have a solution an effective way to isolate the mid- and high drivers from the vibration generated by the woofer. Because they are seeking a patent for the new technology, I cant say more than that right now, other than it works beautifully. [Ed. Maybe the gap and appearance of separate low and mid-high cabinets provides a clue?] Summary The results of these design achievements (and possibly hundreds more that I have no clue about) plus a high level of build quality and materials used is, in a word, astonishing. I know I promised to avoid broad sweeping generalizations, but this is one Im comfortable with. The GS-3a is among the finest speakers Ive ever heard, period. Im not kidding, nor am I a paid spokesperson. But if they asked ... Price: $17,500 per pair Contact: Guzauski-Swist Audio Systems, LLC |

January 2012 | ProAudioReview


studio review

By Russ Long

Harrison Mixbus Version 2.0.5 Digital Audio Workstation

For in-the-box music mixers, the amazing-sounding Mixbus DAW may be an answered prayer.
Even if you havent heard of Harrison Consoles the Nashville-based mixer manufacturer youve definitely heard Harrison consoles on some of the biggest-selling albums of all time: Michael Jacksons Thriller and Bad, Janet Jacksons Rhythm Nation, Sades Promise, to name a few. Youve heard Harrisons in many blockbuster films, too: Transformers 1 and 2, Spider-Man 1, 2 and 3, Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor, and the Harry Potter series, not to mention top TV shows such as The Simpsons, 24 and CSI. With over 1,500 large-format Harrison consoles installed worldwide, the company is synonymous with high-end audio mixing.
In the last few years, Harrison has entered the workstation market with its Mixbus Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), one of the most buzzed-about new platforms amongst audio pros. Mixbus is built on the Ardour open-source DAW platform, and it utilizes Harrisons precision DSP algorithms for EQ, Filter, Compression, Analog Tape Saturation and Summing. Originally available for Macintosh OSX and Linux machines only, the latest version Mixbus v2.0.5 will shortly be released with support for Windows machines and, for $219, its within the reach of anyone. Features Mixbus is a full-featured DAW that combines Harrisons remarkable sound quality and feature set into an in-the-box (ITB) mixing solution. Mixbus up-front knob per function mixer layout is based on Harrisons legendary 32-series and MR-series consoles. The DAW provides an infinite number of stereo and/or mono input channels (limited only by available CPU power) and each one features a High-pass Filter, EQ, Compressor and eight Mix Bus sends. Each of the eight stereo mix busses includes tone controls, compression, sidechain control and analog tape saturation emulation and can be used either as a group or auxiliary return. The master stereo bus also features tone controls, and analog tape saturation emulation as well as K-meter, Stereo Correlation Meter (which displays the mono compatibility of the stereo mix) and Limiting to ensure your mix is the best possible quality. The K-meter (no, I hadnt heard of this before Mixbus, either) is a loudness meter that was designed by well-known mastering engineer Bob Katz. It is calibrated to -14 dBFS, and it indicates the average level of the stereo audio signal. [Visit digido. com/level-practices-part-2-includes-thek-system.html for more info Ed.] The workstation includes built-in delay compensation as well as a Polarity (phase) button and Input Trim and Makeup Gain controls on every channel. Mixbus supports both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems and it requires a three-button mouse or trackball with a scroll wheel for efficient operation. Included in the $219 Mixbus purchase price are licenses for Mac, Windows and Linux machines. The Mac OSX version supports Audio Unit plug-ins and any Core Audio interface; the Windows version supports VST plug-ins and any ASIO/MME interface; Mixbus Version 2.0.5: All editing windows visible

Russ Long is a Nashville-based producer, engineer and mixer as well as a senior contributor to PAR.
36 ProAudioReview | January 2012

and the Linux version supports LADSPA plug-ins and any JACK-capable interface. Mixbus is the only DAW that Im aware of that continues to support the older PPC Macs so, with Mixbus, you G5 diehards can continue to hold out.

great editing features as well (e.g., regions are transparent while they are being dragged, but they switch to opaque when dropped into place, making it easy to line up transients when sliding a sloppy performance into place). I must note that I love the momentary timecode In Use readout that appears while Ive been using Mixbus moving regions within the on a regular basis for nearly edit window. two years, and Ive seen a External MIDI control is lot of improvement over that limited with Mixbus, and time. Getting up and running Rewire and the Mackie HUI with Mixbus requires installprotocol arent supported Mixbus Version 2.0.5s Track window; Bottom: Mixbus Version 2.0.5 with all Mix ing JACK, which provides a windows visible at all, although it does concise way to move audio include Logic Control intebetween audio interfaces gration, which is a plus. The and applications as well Mixbus keystroke for learn as from one application to MIDI control is Command + another. Theoretically, this Middle click, which is one of is a good idea but it can be the reasons a three-button a complete pain on some mouse is such a necessity. computers. Im not sure I use a Kensington Expert why its easy on some comMouse trackball, and using puters and hard on others, Trackball Works was able but since Ive started using to program the trackball Mixbus, Ive installed it on to send Middle click when two MacBook Pros, two Intel I simultaneously press the Mac Pros, a PPC Mac G5 and Left and Right buttons. a Windows 8 PC and its been When it comes to mixing a breeze twice (the PC verwith Mixbus, the first thing sion, thankfully, doesnt you notice is the sound qualrequire you to install JACK ity. It sounds very real, very separately) and overwhelmingly frustrating Mac and PC versions) with simultaneous- analog. Im not saying you cant get this twice. Thankfully, in every instance, once ly recording a couple of inputs across 64 sound with other DAWs; Im just saying you Ive had it up and running, its been smooth tracks, randomly punching in and out, and dont have to work to get it with Mixbus it sailing from then on. Just be prepared to quickly jumping from one point in the song just happens. That said, old-school mixers spend some time getting your system con- to another: in my use, the workstation has accustomed to mixing on analog desks will figuration just right. In JACKs defense, it been rock solid. Ive also spent time over- love Mixbus. does add some nice functionality, such as dubbing a single track at a time and, in The second thing you notice when workthe ability to route the output of iTunes or every instance, Mixbus never hiccupped ing with Mixbus is how great the onboard QuickTime directly into Mixbus. Newcomers or faltered. Based on these experiences, EQ and compression sounds. Having EQ to Mixbus should check out the educational I anticipate the DAW would be completely and compression on every channel strip videos on the website. Kevin dependable during a tracking session. provides a big head start to the mixWard has done a fine job creating videos While editing with Mixbus is fairly intui- ing process. And its not just some jive that are extremely helpful and available tive, its not as quick as with some other EQ and compressor that will barely get free of charge. DAWs. I do think my workflow with Mixbus you by; its an extremely musical EQ with I havent used Mixbus for a full track- will improve as I use it more but I doubt if wonderful-sounding filters and a smooth, ing session with musicians, but Ive done Ill ever be able to edit on Mixbus as fast natural-sounding compressor that works quite a bit of experimenting (on both the as I can in Pro Tools. Mixbus has some well for virtually any instrument or vocal.

January 2012 | ProAudioReview


The EQ and compressor both outperform the majority of the plug-ins on the market today. Harrison has obviously thought this whole mixing process through, as other features like having a polarity switch on every channel are a godsend for experienced mixers. Id kill (OK, not really) for Avid to add this to Pro Tools. Another feature that makes mixing with Mixbus a pleasure is its Plug-in Effect Mixbus 2.0.5s Mix window Control Sliders that allow the plug-in controls to be mapped direct- Tape Saturation create the perfect cohesion ly to the controls on the mixer strip. This to make a mix really shine. I moved several means you can view your plug-in settings mixes back and forth between the PC and and make plug-in parameter adjustments Mac platforms, and it worked perfectly in directly on the channel. The Mix Busses every instance. Harrison claims (rightfully make it easy to add parallel compression to so, Im sure) that it is just as smooth when the drums or more simulated analog tape moving to or from the Linux platform. saturation to the guitars and keyboards. When its all said and done, its pretty The automation is easy to learn and quite amazing how quickly you can dial in a powerful, too. The built-in compressors and mix in from beginning to end with Mixbus

compared to other DAWs, partially because of the EQ and compression on every channel strip, and partially because each channel and bus metering includes peak, peak hold and gain-reduction available all of the time. And Mixbus sounds so good compared with other DAWs, theres just less to do. Summary Mixbus isnt a perfect DAW. For users who require virtual synths, extensive MIDI support, etc., it likely wont even be a consideration. Yet for the engineer who simply mixes music and is increasingly doing it ITB, Mixbus may be an answered prayer: the software supports an unlimited number of tracks and the automation is intuitive. Most importantly, it sounds amazing. Price: $219 Contact: Harrison |

studio review

By Rob Tavaglione

Solid State Logic Nucleus DAW Controller and Work Surface

Ideal for the modern DAW-based studio with limited need for mic inputs, the Nucleus is a cut above typical controller-type devices.
There is no doubt that many smaller, DAW-based studios would absolutely love to get the classy Solid State Logic name front and center in their control rooms (without the space and budget traditionally required for an SSL desk, of course). SSLs Nucleus facilitates just that.
Yet the Nucleus is not your fathers SSL. And what it is precisely may be hard to summarize: a DAW control surface, a USB audio interface, a SuperAnalogue front end, a monitoring controller, and a plug-inbundle-sporting central command center for your DAW-based professional or project studio. As a result, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Features Front and center, at least visually, are the Nucleus 16 100mm motorized faders; each resides in a channel strip with a solo button, a cut button, a select button, SSL Nucleus a rotary encoder, a 14-character scribble strip, a record enable button and a LED meter. The center section contains the prominent jog wheel, transport controls, mode buttons, numerous DAW commands, master metering, two mic preamps, controls for no-latency monitoring and monitor level control. The rear panel contains a four output USB hub (Type A) and one Type B socket, an Ethernet jack, S/PDIF I/O (optical), two quarter-inch headphone jacks, a handy iPod input (stereo 1/8-inch mini-plug), stereo monitor outputs on XLR or RCA (-10 dB), inputs/outputs and send/return insert loops for both mic pres (the insert loop can be inserted on your L/R mix as well) and an external stereo input on XLRs. Also on the rear are the power switch, locking IEC cable socket that connects to the auto-ranging 90-250V AC supply, quarterinch footswitch input, SD card slot and a 9-pin D-sub terminal input (SSL diagnostic use only). In Use Unfortunately for me, I couldnt work the substantially sized Nucleus surface (70 cm x 40 cm) into my workflow or work area. Catalyst Recording is centered on a Mac Pro/MOTU Digital Performer DAW, yet mixing happens via a 24-channel, custommodified Soundcraft Ghost console (and workstation full of outboard gear), effectively eating up all the suitable real estate in my control room. So Mike McGinnis, of post-production/composition house

Rob Tavaglione is the owner of Charlottes Catalyst Recording.

40 ProAudioReview | January 2012

Mike McGinnis of Concentrix Music and Sound Design at work via SSL Nucleus. Concentrix Music and Sound Design here in Charlotte, NC, came to mind as someone who might be able to fit the Nucleus right into his work and rig. I called him up, and he jumped at the chance to audition the Nucleus in his busy production environment. Mikes rig at Concentrix consists of Apple Logic and Steinberg Nuendo DAWs via an Apple Mac Pro tower with a Mackie Control Universal 8-channel HUI, some Amek 9098 mic preamps and a Grace m201 mic pre, interfaced to the world (in stereo or 5.1 surround) via his TC Electronic System 6000. In setup, we took the Mackie HUI out of service, slipped the much bigger Nucleus in its place and connected directly to his Mac Pro via Ethernet and USB. We installed the Nucleus Remote software and the USB Control Panel software and drivers, then told the computer to look for a Mackie controller and a Mackie Extender (which is how the computer sees the Nucleus and its 16 faders) and created a profile for this DAW. With that, we were up and running. Up to three DAW profiles are controllable with the Nucleus. Once running, Mike reported no crashes in his three days working with the Nucleus. Mike commented that the Nucleus felt sturdy, solid and well made while its jog wheel has just the right heft and drag to it; he loved its quick, precise action. He particularly liked the large and very readable scribble strips compared to his Mackies, although the meters seemed a little small. He reported the faders had a good feel (even though wed both prefer aluminum over plastic). The monitoring section was very clean to both our sets of ears. Mike reported that the preamps sounded excellent on vocal, acoustic guitar and electric guitar overdubs. Its a nice, clear sound, similar to the 9098s, he explained, but more colored than the Grace m201. These mic pres are the real deal SuperAnalogue ones, mind you: with 75 dB of gain, an input pad, high-impedance switch, 80 Hz HPF, phantom power, polarity reverse and a selectable insert loop for your favorite outboard gear. Yet as nice as the Nucleus sounded and functioned, we still had some quibbles. Mike reasonably wished for some positional indicator on the Nucleus, either a bar/beat counter or a time-code display: something to keep from having to look for the counter on the DAW screen. We both felt a built-in talkback mic was sorely missing from a device that should be the heart of your studio (you can always patch one into your DAW session, but I feel thats

January 2012 | ProAudioReview


The preamps sounded excellent on vocal, acoustic guitar and electric guitar overdubs.
inelegant, at best). I also felt that the headphone outputs didnt provide enough volume, raising the need for an external headphone amp. Further, alternate monitor switching would be nice (although the -10 dB outs may suffice), as would good ol AES I/O, too. Finally, the Nucleus doesnt do surround ... and thats a shame, as the post houses that could be a perfect fit for the Nucleus (like Concentrix) require it. This, however, would radically change the price and the product itself; perhaps this features absence defines the Nucleus as simply being more for the music project studio? Although I havent mentioned the Duende Native Plug-in bundle that comes with the Nucleus, it certainly deserves attention. This bundle has been previously reviewed and is worthy of its own detailed inspection. Suffice it to say, the EQ and Channel Strip has both E and G EQs, the Stereo Bus Compressor has literally captured the sound of an era (like the original in big SSL center sections). Overall, the bundle adds significant function and value to the Nucleus package. Summary SSLs Nucleus is ideal for the modern DAW-based studio with limited need for mic inputs. The ease it provides in DAW control far surpasses mousing around, and its scrub wheel is a cut above typical devices. Its software is stable and is coupled to an efficient, ergonomic work surface with the right controls in the right places, plus easy shortcut customization. And yes, the absence of a talkback mic, sufficient visual display and surround capabilities are personally disappointing, considering the Nucleus $5k price tag. My first reaction was that the price is too high, but once I added up the cost of two eight-channel fader HUIs, two really nice preamps, a monitor controller and a premium plug-in bundle, I realized that the price is only slightly on the high side. The center of the Nucleus glows with a backlit Solid State Logic Oxford, England. It is mighty impressive and very convincingly implies the serious audio quality within. Just how much that is worth is up to you. Price: $5,149 Contact: Solid State Logic |

studio review

By Rob Tavaglione

JZ Vintage 12 V12 Cardioid Large-Diaphragm Condenser Mic

Latvian craftsmen of world-class microphones introduce a modern classic LDC inspired by the legendary AKG C 12.
Ive previously reviewed both the Vintage 47 (V47) and the Vintage 67 (V67) from JZ Microphones Vintage Series, which are sonically modeled after the Neumann U47 and U67, respectively. I was surprised to find them closely emulating the timbres of those highly desirable mics. This time around, we audition JZs Vintage 12, directly comparing it to its much-lauded inspiration, the classic AKG C 12.
Features The V12 shares the exact same body, metal-flake finish, stand-mount and design simplicity (transformerless, no pads, no filters, no switches, cardioid-only) as the other Vintage Series microphones we reviewed. Therefore, the operative difference is the capsule this time, the GDC12, a 25mm diaphragm utilizing JZs Golden Drop technology, a sputtering technique where a precisely engineered pattern of golden dots is distributed across the diaphragm, according to JZ promotional material. The V12 handles 134 dB max SPL with 6 dBA of self-noise. In Use I began by recording electric guitar overdubs (via a AMS-Neve 4081 preamp), pairing it with a Shure SM 57 on the same speaker. As is typical in this config, the V12 picked up a much fuller bottom than the SM57, had much flatter mids and a little bit JZ V12

more sizzle up top, as condensers usually do. I liked the warmth of the V12 and the top-end bite was just about right, too but its bass was often a little woofy, especially

with the proximity effect due to its close position to the sound source. With a little bass rolloff, the V12 sounded excellent. We stacked a lot of divergent guitar tones with

Rob Tavaglione has owned and operated Catalyst Recording in Charlotte, NC since 1995.
44 ProAudioReview | January 2012

the V12, including clean, brown and super-saturated; the V12 translated the little details of the tones faithfully across the board, showing ample versatility. With light and breathy vocal performances, the V12 picked up a nice airiness and intimate detail, remaining smooth even with lots of gain. Another vocalist really let the V12 have it with some over-thetop rock stuff (although he would occasionally lean in for a quiet line or two as well). Through it all, the V12 translated that sometimesawkward transition with ease. With just a straight-up, middle-of theroad baritone guy, vocals soundThe C12 and V12 positioned as near to coincident as possible. ed simply fantastic with minimal effort; the signal chain was the low end with some similarities (and some V12, Manley TNT tube preamp, Chandler differences) in the mids and a noticeably Germanium compressor, a light Universal brighter, edgier top end with seemingly Audio de-esser and LA2A emulation on mix, quicker transient response [Listen to audiono EQ. clip #2]. I tried to EQ away the differences No review of a vintage-inspired mic between the two mics, but still couldnt would be truly complete without some good get the characters to match as closely as old A/B comparisons, so I rented an original the V47 and V67 did with their NeumannAKG C 12 from Blackbird Audio Rentals in inspired classics. Nashville. Blackbirds Rolff Zwiep sent me I also rented the modern AKG C 12 VR a beauty of a C12 (serial number #0882, if (serial #0051) and repeated my test. youd like to rent it and listen for yourself). Interestingly, the C 12 VR was quite bright I miked up my trusty Taylor solid-top acous- compared to the V12 with a rather differtic guitar with the C12 and V12 as coincident ent bottom end and some different accenas possible, backed up about 18 inches so tuations in the midrange. Fact is, the C 12 VR the mics placements would be equidistant, sounds more like a V12 than an original C 12. used two identical channels of Earthworks Further and more detailed testing revealed 1024 preamp and laid down a test clip. the V12s response to different impedances The AKG C 12 had a huge, enveloping to be quite interesting. For example, I recordbottom-end, musical and slightly sculpted ed some jangly percussion tracks: tambo, mids with a top end, that is, as you may shaker, cabasa, etc. Here, the V12s slightly know, extremely sweet but nowhere near sizzly top end is a bit too much and too overbearing [Listen to audioclip #1]. In grainy at lower impedances (600 ohm), but comparison, the V12 had a less-substantial works much better with more resistance (10 kohm). The V12 picked up plenty useful top-end and impressively gutsy lows on djembe, with the variable impedances offerSelected Audio Clips: ing additional fine-tuning. Using the solidJZ Vintage 12 state side of my Manley TNT preamp, I found the V12s nuanced sensitivity to impedance Visit the link below to hear to be a versatile paintbrush, with all setclips referenced in Robs tings potentially useful for vocals: a stark review of the JZ V12. -Ed. mids-accentuated intimacy at 300 ohm, an in-your-face flatness at 600 ohm, a slightly

scooped high frequency-emphasizing response at 2 kohm and a compressed low-mid thickening at 2 Mohm. Heres the bottom line, according to what Ive heard: the Vintage 12 sounds only somewhat similar to an original C 12 (even if it sounds more like a C 12 than the C 12 VR does), but it does not capture that subtly sweet top, that robust bottom, nor that elusive C 12 midrange quality. However, with a variable impedance preamp at the users fingertips, a V12 is a flexible vocal paintbrush, imparting magic and mood in some wonderful ways. Summary OK, so the JZ V12 doesnt quite do what its Vintage Series brethren do that is, quite accurately capture the vibe of a specific classic tube mic with which they (surprisingly) share almost zero physical qualities. But thats hardly this reviews conclusion. The Vintage 12 sounds fine in its own right; comparisons aside, this mic sounds great on acoustic instruments, electric amps and voices, too. Its exceptional on voices, actually. Admittedly relying on memory, the V47 and V67 both sounded very good on vocals, too, but I believe the V12 is a little more versatile than either of those models. All three JZ Vintage Series models bring color and personality to the table and they are really quite similar, despite their tonal differences. Yes, their slightly delicate-looking windscreen/basket is still there, as is that slightly too-limited-in-range, stand-mount swivel; I think these features could use some improvement. But once again JZ Microphones has made a carefully crafted, well constructed, and great-sounding large-diaphragm condenser that is quieter and more dependable than a your standard premium-priced vintage tube microphone, and for a fraction of the cost, whether it precisely mimics its namesake classic or not. Price: $1,895 direct Contact: JZ Microphones |

January 2012 | ProAudioReview


studio review

By Simon Tillbrook

Audio-Technica AT2022 X-Y Stereo Microphone

Adding an Audio-T echnica AT2022 to your rig will significantly increase quality in audio field-capture via portable audio/video devices.

The Audio-Technica AT2022 is a stereo condenser microphone that is just 9.5 ounces and 7.5 inches long, with one end of the narrow body sprouting a pair of cardioid capsules arranged in an X-Y configuration. The angle between these two capsules can be altered to either 90 or 120 degrees on a swivel mount. The mount clicks into place at each angle, and the capsules are decoupled from the mount with rubber, helping to absorb some of the jolts and knocks you expect with a portable recording device. For storage and transportation purposes, you can fold the two capsules down flat.
Features The body of the Audio-Technica AT2022 unscrews to expose the battery compartment. A single AA battery powers the mic, which has an on/off switch on the body. As well as turning on the power for the AT2022, this switch can also engage a high-pass filter with the turnover frequency fixed at 150 Hz with a 6 dB/octave slope. As a stereo microphone, it may initially appear odd that the base of the Audio-Technica AT2022 terminates in a standard three-pin XLR connector, but this is an unbalanced output with pins 2 and 3 carrying signals, with pin 1 common. Along with a padded microphone case, clip, and furry monster-type windshield, the AT2022 is supplied with a short cable that converts this XLR output to a mini eighth-inch jack. In Use I tried the AT2022 out with two different devices. First, I attached the microphone to an HD Flash camcorder to record a number of different types of event, including auto racing, an outdoor music gig, and some general dialogue examples. The supplied windshield is an absolute must, and thankfully didnt make any significant changes to the frequency response of the AT2022, which was full ranging with good levels of high-end detail and convincing lows. I used the HPF in most applications, and also without it with open-air music and low throbbing engines to see how well the sound was represented. I was not disappointed. Handling noise was an issue with this microphone, but when fixed securely, or in an appropriate suspension, the problem goes away. The quality of both the microphone and the supplied accessories is very good indeed and all felt robust and up to the task. For the second test, I used the AT2022 with a Zoom handheld stereo recorder to capture a number of sound effects and various instru-

ments within a few different studio spaces. When capturing ambient effects I noticed that the output of the AT2022 was generally quite low and needed a good degree of gain to capture sufficient detail. It was only with this type of recording I really noticed this, and I ended up with some low-level background noise that might be an issue in some circumstances, though this was the only scenario where it was apparent during the review. In the studio, using the AT2022 to record drums and other instruments in a more ambient fashion was definitely the way to use it and, in this application, did a very good job. In application, the AT2022 capsules in both the 90- and 120-degree settings presented significant differences in stereo image; it was more than I expected. In general, I found the standard 90-degree setting was the one to use. The 120-degree setting offered a special dynamic effect that worked well with things such as wide ambiences and vehicle passes. Summary The Audio-Technica AT2022 is a well-designed and solidly built great value. It is ideal for achieving increased quality when capturing audio in the field with any variety of portable audio/video devices. Price: $439 list Contact: Audio-Technica |

Simon Tillbrook is the principal music tutor at Islington Music Workshop in London and a regular contributor to PARs sister publication, Audio Media.
46 ProAudioReview | January 2012

new live products

Electro-Voice ZXA1-Sub Subwoofer
Electro-Voice has launched its ZXA1-Sub, the matching subwoofer for the companys ZXA1 compact, self-powered loudspeaker. The ZXA1-Sub is designed to provide portability, performance and power in a lightweight, small-format package. Though equipped with an EV-engineered 12-inch woofer, a 700-W amplifier and a maximum SPL rating of 126 dB, the ZXA1-Sub weighs in at 46 lbs. and sports a 15.75 x 17.5 x 18-inches profile. Other features include dual XLR stereo inputs and outputs; a pole mount for full-range systems; 9-ply/15mm wood enclosure, internally braced, with textured paint; and DSP with low-end boost and polarity control. Price: TBA Contact: Electro-Voice |

Audix BP5 PRO and BP7 PRO Band Packs

Audix has introduced a new concept in bundled microphone kits: the band pack. Two professional band packs the BP5 PRO and BP7 PRO contain five and seven studio-quality Audix microphones, respectively. Also new for 2012 are two affordable, equivalent band packs, the BP5F and BP7F. These combinations include five and seven microphones from the dynamic Fusion Series. The Band Packs were created with microphones that have been used by artists, engineers and sound companies for many years. The BP5 PRO is a five-piece professional microphone pack, which includes the D6 and i5 instrument mics, kick and snare drum mics, respectively. The D6 and i5, plus the OM5 lead vocal dynamic microphone and two OM2 dynamic vocal mics for support, comprises the BP5 PRO. The BP7 PRO is the same package with two additional microphones, i5 dynamic mics, for miking guitar and bass cabinets a well as a wide variety of instruments. Prices: $975, $775, $650 & $495 (BP7 PRO, BP5 PRO, BP7F and BP5F, respectively) Contact: Audix |

Posse Personal Monitor Mix System

Posse Audio has launched a compact system for musicians, recording artists and music venues, which the company calls POSSE (Personal On Stage Sound Environment). It interfaces with wireless earphone and instrument systems and comes with an acoustic gooseneck mic. POSSE also includes a tote bag, floor box, mic stand box, cables (6-foot MIDI, 6-foot HDMI, 3-foot guitar), earbuds, belt box, power supply, external condenser microphone and user manual. Price: $449 street Contact: Posse Audio |


ProAudioReview | January 2012

new live products

MIPRO MM-89 Condenser Vocal Microphone
The MIPRO MM-89 is a handheld cardioid condenser vocal microphone with capabilities far beyond what you may expect if youve never heard of this Taiwanese pro audio manufacturer. The MM-89 features a shock-mounted, true condenser capsule housed in a die-cast, zinc-alloy metal chassis; its multi-layer windscreen/ grille is designed to resist breath noise. Handling a maximum of 147 dB SPL, the MM-89 is capable in virtually any performance environment. Other crucial specifications include a 50 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response with a notable presence peak between approximately 3.5 kHz and 7 kHz, adding sparkle and intimacy to vocals and other instrumentation, too. Price: TBA Contact: MIPRO |

SKB 1SKB-R102 10U Slanted Top/2U Front-Facing Rack Case

SKBs 1SKB-R102 is a 10U slanted-top and 2U front-facing rack case, roto-molded of linear medium density polyethylene and the lid and front and rear doors are injected for durability and strength. Featuring steel-threaded rails, hard lid and doors, side access ports (for cable routing), the 1SKB-R102 has enough space to mount the AV-8 computer shelf with the lid closed. The front door is hinged to the top lid, while the back door provides maximum access to the rack gear. Two TSAlocking, SKB-patented trigger latches secure the lid, while the flat hard top allows for stacking in transport and storage. The SKB-R102 is covered by SKBs no-fault Million Mile Guaranty (lifetime warranty). Price: $179.99 Contact: SKB |

Earthworks DP30/C Drum Periscope Cardioid Microphone

Earthworks has unveiled the new and improved DP30/C Drum Periscope cardioid microphone at $799 street. After many recommendations from front-of-house engineers and drummers from all over the globe, the redesigned DP30/C features a thicker and more rugged gooseneck that will stay in place even when the snare or toms are struck extremely hard, offers Earthworks promotional material. Once the durable microphone head is placed in the sweet spot, drummers will not have to worry about the DP30/C migrating. The new DP30/C reportedly maintains the same sound quality and craftsmanship of the original. The microphone capsule housing is designed to protect the microphone capsule and withstand a direct hit from a drumstick. The electronics are housed in a cylindrical tube attached to the end of the gooseneck, providing a high-level, low-impedance output that will prevent radio frequency interference. Price: $1,099 list Contact: Earthworks|


live review

By Rob Tavaglione

Proel DB1-P, DB1-A & DB2-A Direct Boxes

These virtually unknown DI dark horses should give the major players a serious run for their money.
Simple passive DI boxes, active ones, and/or comparatively complex, feature-laden ones: All have their place in the modern engineers kit. Thus, I was eager to look into these Proel direct boxes from manufacturing-rich northern Italy: three high-quality imported models with a wide range of features, sonics and a few surprises.
Features These three Proel DI boxes the DB1-P, DB1-A, and DB2-A share a similar chassis of steel and aluminum at a large 8.5 inches wide by 4.5 inches deep in size. Oversized rubber endcaps/feet keep the boxes still on slick surfaces (allowing the stacking of multiple units); these endcaps are removable so that two units can be rackmounted in one standard 19-inch space. All three models have quarter-inch inputs, ground lifts and quarter-inch unbalanced link jacks, parallel to the input. The two active models both have 9V battery compartments on the back panel, as well as 9V DC inputs and outputs for daisy chaining power , or can run on phantom power. From here, each model differs wildly in its feature set. The passive DB1-P conveniently offers a RCA phono plug input, a -20 dB pad, a -40 dB pad (yes, thats 60 dB total reduction with both in, enough for taking a speaker level output out the back of an amp), and a filter for smoothing the high-end of such an output. Most importantly, the DB1-P has a mu metal core transformer: expensive and reportedly great for reducing phase and harmonic distortion [see sidebar for more on mu metal Ed.]. The active DB1-A doesnt have a phono plug, but has a female XLR instead. Pad-wise, the DB1-A has -10 and -20 selections, for -30 dB of total attenuation. Additionally, theres a signal-present LED, a clip LED, a power switch, a handy polarity reverse and that mu metal core transformer. The transformerless active/stereo DB2-A has RCA inputs, -20 and -30 dB pads, dual ground lifts, and a power switch. In Use The Proel DIs showed up right at the start of a keyboard overdub session, so I had the DB2-A in my workflow within minutes of its arrival. I found it to be super-convenient with a no-fuss battery compartment and dual RCA inputs (ideal as we were coming out of a Macbooks eighth-inch mini-plug headphone jack) while its sturdy feet and ample size helped hold things still. The sound was smooth and balanced (although its hard to tell much from a noisy laptop

What Is Mu Metal?
According to Proel, Mu metal is an alloy consisting of 77% nickel, 16% iron, 5% copper and 2% chromium or molybdenum. In its final form, the alloy is heat-treated in the annealing process; it is exposed to high temperatures in a hydrogen atmosphere within a magnetic field. Annealing alters the materials crystalline structure, increasing the desirable electromagnetic properties by 40 times. More expensive to work with (as bending, drilling, or mechanical shock after annealing disrupts the materials grain alignment) Mu metal requires the hydrogen annealing process to be repeated if the electromagnetic properties are to be retained. When used in the core of an audio transformer, mu-metal core yields excellent distortion and phase characteristics.

Rob Tavaglione (of Charlotte, NCs Catalyst Recording) has been writing and reviewing for PAR since 1996.
50 ProAudioReview | January 2012

output). Also ideally, I had lots of bass guitar overdubs to lay down for nearly a month, and I ran a single-channel Proel on every one of them. Long story short, the passive one was kind of dark up top (slightly veiled) with a very extended bottom-end that captured low notes (like those below a four-string bass) with incredible power. The active one had a much hotter output (which is typical for active vs. passive models) and much more top-end, more punch, but not the massive bottom of the DB1-P. I found myself using active DI on my passive basses, where they benefited from a little extra zing, punch and clarity, yet my brighter active basses seemed to like the taming and musicality of the DB1-A. Both boxes were an absolute pleasure to use with their stability, pads and stackability. I felt that a shootout was in order, so I ran all three Proel DIs and my personal favorite a Countryman Type 10 active through the paces with my Taylor acoustic, passive bass, active bass and a synth (mono only). The active DB1-A was on par with my Type 10; both were super clean and punchy, with the Type 10 perhaps slightly crisper, whereas the DB1-A was a little warmer and smoother (audioclip #1). The DB1-P (audioclip #2) was darker than all my passive DIs, but it had the cure for anemic bottom, filling up the body of weak synth patches or thin basses (although this thick tonality wasnt right at all for acoustic guitar). The DB2-A (audioclip #3) didnt fare so well under such detailed inspection; it was noticeably noisier than all the other DIs with a smaller soundstage, less dynamics and punch, although its frequency balance proved to be right in between the chunky DB1-P and the crisp DB1-A. Summary After growing accustomed to all three Proel DIs, my only complaint is that I wish at least one model included all the great features of the line: all its pads, the filter, LED metering, the RCAs and the polarity reverse (put all these features in my sonic favorite, the DB1-A, and Im sold). As it is, the stereo DB2-A does not offer the same low noise and clean punch of the

other two models and the DB1-A is limited in application by its dark tone. That said, these virtually unknown DI dark horses should give the major players a serious run for their money. The

Selected Audio Clips: Proel DI Boxes

Visit the link below to hear clips referenced in Robs review of the Proel DI boxes -Ed.

proprietary mu metal core transformers bring enviable tone to the table and, paired up with the hefty chassis (which I prefer, although they may be a bit bulky for those touring with limited cartage), these Proel DIs are unique products in the competitive world of DI boxes. Speaking of competitive, the DB1-P streets for $69, the DB1-A for $89 and the DB2-A for a mere $69: What a great surprise! Prices: $89, $89 and $108 list (DB1-P, DB2-A and DB1-A, respectively) Contact: Proel America |

January 2012 | ProAudioReview


live review

By Liz May

PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 Compact Digital Console

The 16.0.2 is an easy-to-use, truly useful and affordably priced mix/recording system for both live and studio applications.
The StudioLive 16.0.2 is an smallformat digital console that stays true to the quality audio performance and fully integrated software of its bigger brothers, the StudioLive 24.4.2 and 16.4.2 [the latter of which was reviewed by PAR in April 2010: Ed.]
Taking up less than two square feet, the 16.0.2 offers a compact, user-friendly mixing solution for audio engineers on the go or smaller music venues needing both sophisticated sound reinforcement and music capture/production capabilities. Its also great for contractors due to its remote-control features. Features The 16.0.2 provides 16 channels eight mono, four stereo; 12 of them (1-8, 9, 11, 13 and 15) are equipped with Class-A XMAX preamps. The channel inputs are as follows: mono channels 1-8, 9 and 11 (the left side of the stereo pairs 9/10 and 11/12) have both XLR and quarter-inch balanced inputs; channels 10 and 12 have quarterinch balanced inputs only; channels 13 and 15 (the left side of stereo pairs 13/14 and 15/16) have XLR, quarter-inch balanced and RCA unbalanced inputs Channels 14 and 16 have quarter-inch balanced and RCA unbalanced inputs. Feature-wise, PreSonus Fat Channel is

PreSonus 16.0.2 the golden ticket of the 16.0.2; each individual channel, when selected, has one of its own, complete with a gate, compressor, three-band semi-parametric EQ, limiter, high-pass filter. Phase reverse and phantom power are available on the channel inputs; stereo channels access the Fat Channel as stereo pairs. The Fat Channel is engaged by pressing the Select button on the desired channel, prominently located at the top of each fader (except for FX A and B, where there are no faders). When

Selected Audio Clips: PreSonus 16.0.2

Visit the link below to hear clips referenced in Lizs review of the 16.0.2. -Ed. PreSonus1602

mixing on the fly, its absolutely necessary to have this quick access to dynamic signal processing. The workflow and logic of Fat Channel gives engineers the ease

Liz May is a producer/engineer, scoring artist and owner of SoundLizzard Productions, LLC.
52 ProAudioReview | January 2012

The StudioLive 16.0.2 as reviewed at Winston-Salem NCs Underground Theatre, part of the citys Community Arts Cafe. and quickness needed to troubleshoot and execute a command, where some digital consoles leave you buried in layers and pages to find your way back out (often too late in live applications). The 16.0.2 has four aux busses with pre/ post-fader sends and quarter-inch balanced input jacks for every channel, which gives the console the near-immediate familiarity of an analog board. It also provides two internal FX busses for delay and reverb effects. In all, the board provides over 130 options for signal processing. The two, 32-bit floating-point stereo DSP effects channels are loaded up with reverbs and delays, including useful controls such as a tap tempo control and parameter adjustments. FX assign, digital out, pan, and copy/load/save buttons; talkback, solo bus and headphone sections; and a 31-band graphic equalizer for the mains complete the work surface controls. Ergonomically, the 16.0.2 has a lot of buttons for a small mixer, yet the plethora is really what makes it so user-friendly, especially for users with only a few hours experience on a digital board. At first glance, it can be somewhat overwhelming until the operator gets in the StudioLive groove. Once familiar with it, the minimal layering of pages is what makes this board a great choice for so many jobs. The 16.0.2 can simultaneously handle multitrack recording as well as live mixing. Equipped with a 16x16 FireWire interface, PreSonus includes the cables and software needed to record straight from the board to a laptop. This PreSonus software Capture (multitracking application) and Studio One Artist (DAW) provides the tools for multitrack recording and playback through the 16.0.2; it will also work with any DAW that supports ASIO or Core Audio, including Pro Tools 9 and later. Once the software is installed (which literally takes only minutes), this simple system is ready to record. Also included with the software is Virtual StudioLive (VSL); it works over FireWire to control the board via laptop, iPad, or the like, effectively serving as a virtual mixer. VSL also interacts with the wireless StudioLive Remote; SL Remote for iPad is a free download from the Apple App Store. [At Winter NAMM 2012, PreSonus is slated to announce shipment of QMix for iPhone/iPod touch, which will provide wireless control of the auxes and users can assign permissions for each iDevice. So, each band member could control just their own aux mix. Ed.] MIDI features abound in the 16.0.2, unique to this smaller StudioLive desk (the larger models do not offer MIDI). Users may MIDI control main level output, scene change, effects assign, and effects level via the hardware MIDI I/O. This I/O also acts as a regular computer MIDI interface, so a MIDI control surface, synth, keyboard controller, etc., can be attached to the 16.0.2. Finally, what would a digital board be if it were unable to recall or store presets and settings? Not adequate. So, the 16.0.2 can simply recall stored information in scenes; save individual channel settings; and copy information between channels. Users may choose which settings to save and restore, and in any combination; for example, the semi-parametric EQ setting could be restored while the compressor and fader position is not. In Use I installed the PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2 at the Underground Theatre in WinstonSalem, NC, at the Community Arts Caf, an intimate performing arts venue where artists of all kinds can present a showcase, hold an album release event, screen film shorts or movies, hold poetry slams, etc. A variety of organizations regularly present shows here, including the Piedmont Jazz Alliance, Nashville Songwriters Association International, Fiddle & Bow Society, Cinema Pub, Comedy Pot Luck, Press 53, the East Coast Songwriters Conference, as well as my own production company, SoundLizzard. Some of the finest regional, national and international performers have graced this stage, so I felt it was both an appropriate and duly demanding environment to audition the promising features of the 16.0.2. The


ProAudioReview | January 2012

venue requires the sound to be clean and intimate; it demands a flexible, modern and reliable board that is also user-friendly. So, the requirements are numerous and a lot to expect from a small, affordable digital mixer. Upon first installing the board, there was some hesitation from the resident groups to use it over the older analog board that had been there. However, it didnt take long for curiosity to get the better of them, and they began testing the waters to find the StudioLive functional for their purposes. Though the 16.0.2s 12 dedicated mic inputs initially seemed a bit limiting for some at the Underground, the number of inputs proved to be more than sufficient in practice. For install, the Undergrounds existing 16-channel snake was ready to use; balanced mains left and right as well as monitor outputs were provided, the latter of which is used to feed a half stack of main mix-augmenting speakers in an area of the room where the main mix doesnt quite reach. The 16.0.2 also allowed additional control over independent channel mutes, phantom power selection and outputs (previously restricted by the normal house mixer). StudioLives software bundle that ships with the 16.0.2 was fairly easy to install, and the board connects simply via FireWire 400 cable to a computer to record enabled independent channels. When recording live shows, I typically run Pro Tools via MacBook Pro and a Digi 002 Rack, so I was a little unsure of how stable this system would be for its first gig: an active live mix while multitracking an entire three-hour show at

the Underground. After restarting my computer, I was up and running in no time. I have to admit, it was great to be able to record all separate tracks with minimal recording gear. I did have an initial roadblock: I selected my external hard drive as the record drive, since newer MacBook Pros only have one FireWire 800; the board wanted to be connected directly to the laptop. So, I was forced to record straight to my laptop,

I was pleased with my recorded results. Another artist that SoundLizzard works with (Joe Next Door) used the 16.0.2 to record its show, too. It was very easy to record from it, offered Zoo of Joe Next Door. Minutes of setup are all it took to be rolling. Summary I recently met an engineer working in Los Angeles and, in our conversation he brought up a new piece of gear he was stoked about. At first, he didnt tell me what it was, but mentioned how it fed his need for a live mixing board he could also transport easily for mobile remote recording. Once he said it was the 16.0.2, we immediately began to trade our thoughts on its great functionality and price. The low learning curve makes the 16.0.2 a great tool for a venue that has many different individuals in the engineering hot seat, especially for those that may not be familiar with digital consoles. Jim Tedder, the owner of the Community Arts Caf and Underground Theatre, was so pleased with the board he does not want to be without it. We are now looking into making it a permanent resident of the venue, as it perfectly facilitates the goal of offering live recordings as a package to its visiting artists. I recommend the 16.0.2 as an easy-to-use, versatile board that is truly useful for both live and studio applications, priced affordably at $1,300 street. Price: $1,599.95 MSRP Contact: PreSonus |

Recording went as smooth as one could have hoped for and the minimal setup time was incredible.
which I was pretty uneasy about. However, I had no problems with it at all. [According to PreSonus, an external drive could have been used. The mixer has two FireWire 400 ports, so users can connect the mixer to the computer via one port and attach a hard drive to the other. Further, PreSonus does provide a FW800 to FW400 cable. Ed.] On December 22, I ran sound for acts ARGUS with Small Town Gossip at the Underground Theatre and recorded eight tracks to my laptop. At the end of the day, the recording went as smooth as one could have hoped for and the minimal setup time, to me, was incredible. Most importantly,

16.0.2s rear panel I/O


ProAudioReview | January 2012




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Pro Audio Review

Contact: Doug Ausejo 650-238-0298

January 2012 | ProAudioReview


NRG Recording
(continued from page 28)

and theres not a huge overhead. Now were developing artists ourselves with NRG Artists. We have a social-networking department. NRG welcomes a range of clients and, according to assistant engineer Marco Ruiz, The second a client walks through the door we treat them with respect no matter who they are. Independent bands approach Jay directly on Facebook; they dont have to go through management. Jay can help determine the budget since he owns the studio. You get used to being spoon-fed biglabel budgets for a few years, but thats done, said Jay. Things arent being created from the top down anymore; if youre waiting around for a call ... you just do it. Now its back to being creative. Artistically, art is art. The money got so big, the game got so big, the artists just got worse and worse; the labels had picked all the low-hanging fruit. Finally, Jay said, Itll take a few years for

Kissing Cousins and their engineer at sessions end: Beth, Amanda, Alex, Heather and Alexis things to develop, so I asked him, whats evolving here? The artist is given a chance to evolve. Things arent created overnight. True artists will emerge with some development, not overnight. You have to be resourceful. Independent artists are a lot of what were doing now, while at the same time my mix of the new Bush record went number one and Ive got the new P.O.D. mix coming up. We are booked for the next six months. Why NRG? After learning Jays philosophy and business model, I was proud to have brought a true indie rock band to his studio. NRG is not a fluffy/posh studio. This is a full-service, comfortably appointed, time-tested, no BS, everything-you-need-under-one-roof studio with no sonic compromises and three world-class rooms where the sounds are great, almost no matter what the engineer does. And NRGs monitoring clearly told me when I was going wrong. I believe I just answered the question from an engineers perspective about why NRG has been rocking nonstop for 20 years. NRG Recording

16 25 53 8 23 12 59 2 55 9 39 14,42 13 5 17 Acoustics First ADAM Audio Alto Professional Aphex API Argosy Console Audio Plus Services Audio-Technica U.S. B&H Pro Audio DPA Microphones Fingerprint Audio Full Compass Galaxy Audio Genelec Gepco International 27 51 7 15 38 19 6 60 29 32 11 33 26 28 3 Grace Design JH Audio KRK Systems Lectrosonics Parts Express PreSonus Primacoustic QSC Audio Products Radial Engineering Rohde & Schwarz Shure Sony Creative Software Sweetwave Audio Telefunken Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems


ProAudioReview | January 2012