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In part 3 of Behind the Gear at The Record Shop, we take a look at the Tube-Tech CL1B Opto Compressor; a device that has become a studio standard since its release in 1987. The CL1B was developed by Tube-Tech founder, John Peterson. John began his career as a maintenance engineer at the Danish Broadcasting Company. Educated as an electrical engineer, he could usually be found refurbishing gear in his spare time. In the early 80’s his interests turned to tube driven devices such as the Pultec EQ and the Teletronix LA2A. As was the case with many of today’s audio manufactures, John witnessed the growing market for vintage equipment as the quality of modern products was, believed by many, to be declining. He began designing his own renditions of classic equipment, and the rest is history. Tube Tech is now a mainstay in the world of audio, and they continue to produce superior quality tube equipment that has been utilized by everyone from The Rolling Stones to T-Pain.

The design of the CL1B was modeled after the Teletronix LA2A, a classic tube limiter that has been a standard in recording studios since its release in 1965.  John set out to build a device that offered the warm, musical compression of the LA2a Limiter, but with the added features of a compressor. The LA2a has only two controls, Gain and Peak Reduction. The attack and release times are fixed.  The CL1B features a fixed attack and release mode, but also provides additional ratio, threshold, attack, and release knobs. This allows us greater flexibility to achieve the perfect settings for a variety of applications. The Cl1B has another unique setting called Fixed/Manual Mode. This setting has a fixed, fast attack and variable release. You would think that this compressor would come with a two week class to learn how to utilize all of these options. However, the operation is fairly simple and always produces great results.

We lean on this compressor mainly for Vocals and Bass. On vocals we often use the CL1B, in conjunction with an 1176 or Distressor, to add a smooth, warm compression that helps the voice find its space in the track. In the bass world, the CL1B is great at taming the tone, but if you’re going for punch, we lean on some of our other options such as the 1176. From time to time, we will throw a snare or kick through the blue monster to give it some extra warmth as well.

One trick that we have found to be pretty exciting on vocals, is an extreme compression setting that can result in some pretty wicked tube saturation. We start by setting the attack all the way to the left, with a medium release and 10:1 ratio. Next we increase the threshold to hit -10 or so DB of gain reduction; tweaking the ratio and release to taste until the vocal starts to drive. The result is an analog tape like compression that can be perfect for a rocking vocal.

Thanks for dropping by! Check back next week for our next installment of “Behind The Gear at The Record Shop”, where we take a look at a throw back to Abbey Road, the Chandler TG1 Limiter. In the meantime, feel free to drop by our Gear Page for more information on our vast array of equipment.

As always, we love to hear feedback on our articles. If this was helpful, or a complete waste of your time, let us know! We love making new friends as well. Feel free to drop by our page on Facebook and sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive valuable resources and updates on the studio. Thanks for dropping by For The Record. Catch you next week!

-Giovanni

Therecordshopnashville.com

Welcome back to behind the gear at The Record Shop. Are you ready to roocccck!?!?!? (cue stadium of screaming fans) This week we take a look at the Purple Audio MC77. The MC77 is a superior recreation of the legendary URIE 1176 Peak Limiter. This piece of gear bleeds rock and roll. If it was magically transformed into a person it would make Slash look like Yanni. From Drums to guitars to vocals, this thing will give you clarity, punch, and attitude for days. Let’s start by giving you a quick back story on the MC77’s estranged father, the URIE 1176.

The 1176 was designed by audio legend, Bill Putnum in 1967. Bill was a revolutionary in the audio world. He is noted to have been the first cat to use artificial reverb, double a vocal recording, and develop a multi-band equalizer. So it is no surprise that he was also the dude that created what is arguably the most commonly used limiter in modern recording. The 1176 became the first true peak limiter with solid state circuitry. It was popular for its super fast attack time, resulting in a signature tone that can be heard on countless records.

In 1997, a new audio company called Purple Audio released their first product, the MC76 (If you paid attention in roman numeral class you’ll get it). Designed by Andrew Roberts, the MC76 looked like an 1176 that Barney got a hold of in the restroom, and it sounded like one that hung out with Jose Canseco (if your not hip to baseball or the news, he did a lot of steroids). It had all the vibe of a vintage 1176 without the price tag, and it quickly became a highly sought after piece of gear. The MC77 is an update of the original with a few extra features.

Aside from the paint job, the MC77 really stands out in the crowd. It has the sonic characteristics of the classic, vintage 1176 with an improved high frequency response and added grit. We’ve used it on just about everything when we are looking for something to give a track some attitude. If we want to add some punch to drums, smooth out guitars, round out a bass, or put some rock in a vocal, the MC77 delivers every time.

We have one trick in particular that produces some really unique results. But in order to explain clearly, let’s start with a story. At some point back in the day, there was an audio engineer who spent way to much time playing with the gear in the studio. One day he said, “Hey, I wonder what would happen if I pressed down all of the ratio buttons on this limiter at the same time?” Once he had all four of the ratio buttons locked in place, he cranked the input and the rest is history. There are a few different names for this trick; all buttons in, nuke, British mode; but the result is a super compression that has been used to create some really unique sounds. I’m a big fan of smashing the drum room mics with this setting. The setting creates a lag in the attack time, resulting in extra punch, and a drastic compression slope, resulting in a quick drop in level. As this push and pull repeats with each transient hit we can achieve a rhythmic pumping of compression that breathes with the track and amplifies the “room sound”. Listen to any modern rock record and your bound to find this effect in play.

And that concludes this evenings presentation. Check back next week for our next installment of “Behind The Gear at The Record Shop”, where we take a look at another colorful device, the CL1B tube compressor. In the meantime, feel free to drop by our Gear Page for more information on our vast array of equipment.

As always, we love to hear feedback on our articles. If this was helpful, or a complete waste of your time, let us know! We love making new friends as well. Feel free to drop by our page on Facebook and sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive valuable resources and updates on the studio. Thanks for dropping by For The Record. Catch you next week!

-Giovanni

Therecordshopnashville.com

Funky

A little over a year ago I was out catching a set with one of our artists. I noticed a guy with a camera darting back and forth across the front of the stage in what looked like gymnastics maneuvers, but what was most likely his valiant efforts to catch the best shot he could in the crowded venue.

We were looking for a new addition to our video production team so I asked the club owner if he knew the guy. He said, “Oh ya, that’s Kaz, he’s here all time. He films all of the bands and offers them a great deal on the footage after their set.” I thought, “What a great concept. This is the type of dedicated, big picture work ethic that we’re looking for.” Of course before I was able to grab his attention, I got sidetracked with some friends, and we were headed to the next venue.

I was disappointed that I didn’t have a chance to chat with him. From what I could tell, this Kaz character was the hardest working videographer in Nashville. However, the disappointment was short lived. Sure enough, the next night I ran into him at a different venue. Or maybe it was his clone. I swear the dude is everywhere.

As our video department expanded we brought Kevin on for a few gigs and he nailed the project every time. He was always ready to work, but if he was ever tied up with another gig, Kevin would make some calls and have a crew ready for us right away.

So you can imagine that I was floored when he told me about his involvement in a new multimedia company called The Funky Umbrella. It is essentially a team of Kazanaters that have an unwavering dedication to their work and a genuine support of their clients. Could it be true? Did I finally find our match made in heaven? The Funky Record Umbrella Shop? While the name is a work in progress, I’m blessed to have the pleasure of working with these guys.

The Funky Umbrella is a unique media company that offers a wide variety of services under…….. (wait for it) one umbrella. They provide video, photography, web design, branding, and much more. But this ain’t the “one man, one stop shop” you’re used to. The Funky Umbrella has an amazing team of professionals, each with a specific skill set, working collectively to offer a comprehensive package of services for everyone from musicians to executives. (After reading that I realize I sound like I could be narrating their latest commercial, but what the hell, these guys are great!) But I’ll get off the soapbox and let you see for yourself.

Check out Thefunkyumbrella.com

The Funky Umbrella has teamed up with The Record Shop to handle the production of Balcony TV as well as our live video shoots and artist press kits.

We are stoked to be providing audio recording and mixing for The Funky Umbrella’s productions as well.

I am very excited about this new partnership (can you tell?) and look forward to continue offering our friends valuable resources in the development of their projects. Among our recent work, The Funky Umbrella and The Record Shop have teamed up with Lightning 100 to produce a video compilation of the Live On The Green Concert Series featuring Will Hoge, Los Lonely Boys, Edwin McCain, Ten out of Tenn, Here Come The Mummies, Brett Dennen, and many more. You can catch the videos here…. Don’t forget to check out The Funky Umbrella on  Facebook to see their latest work and viral resources!

Catch you next time

-Giovanni

The Record Shop

therecordshop1 (@) gmail . com

If I was stuck in a studio on a desert island, and could only choose one compressor to bring with me, I’d grab a Distressor. The Distressor is without question the most verstile compressor on the market. If you walk into any professional recording studio in Nashville, or around the world, you’re bound to find at least one of these pieces in the room. If you drop by The Record Shop, you’ll find four of them. Why, you might ask? One, because its a bad mama jama. Two, because it adds a classic sound to digital recordings. Three, because we work on such a wide range of projects, we are often going after a different “sonic vibe” from song to song. The Distressor gives us the ability to shape the sound to fit the song. In this segment of “Behind The Gear” we’ll discuss how we utilize the Distressor here at The Record Shop, and offer some tips for using it on your own. So where did this magical piece of studio gold come from? Read on…..

Empirican History EL8X

The Distressor was developed in 1995 by Dave Derr. Dave started Empirical Labs as a recording studio and electronics consulting firm. He was also part of the design team at Eventide that created the H3000, a legendary effects processor. It’s clear that this experience played a big role in the innovation of functions on the Distressor. Simply put, Dave took the best features from a number of classic studio compressors, added modern functionality, and ease of use, while maintaing a “vintage” tone. As The Empirical Labs motto says, “We want to make products that work a little easier, a little better, and a lot longer – and make sure they are fun to use.” I think they’ve hit their mark.

-If you are interested in learning about the history of the Distressor and Empirical labs, check out this article at Mercenary Audio. The guys have a great story about how they helped Dave name the Distressor-

Vintage Features

Back in 1997, Mix columnist Paul White said this about the Distressor, “If you’re one of those people who believe only tube technology can deliver the true classic sound, a few minutes spent using the Distressor might cause you to re-think your position.” While digital recording technology continues to improve, we still turn to analog gear for its “musical response” and “warmth.” Usually, the word “warmth” refers result of tube saturation that creates a round, full sound. However, in the case of The Distressor, warmth is more like an adjective. Here are some of the features that make the Distressor so unique.

Distortion Modes

The Distressor has two distortion modes that emit a warm, harmonic distortion to the audio signal. The Dist 2 mode enhances the second harmonics, similiar to the saturation of a Class A Tube. The Dist 3 mode features a third harmonic that has the qualities of a Class B tube, or analog tape machine. We often use the Distressor for these modes alone. By setting the ratio to 1:1, you can process the sound using these settings without compressing the signal.

-Detector Modes

The Distressor also features two audio modes that vary the response of the device. The first detector mode is the High Pass Filter mode (HP). In the HP mode the Distressor does not react to low frequency energy in the sound source. This keeps the Distressor from reacting irrationally to a sudden rise in low end, such as a “b” or “p” sound from a vocalist. The second detector mode, called the “band emphasis” mode, makes the compressor react more drastically to harsh sounds in the high-mid frequency range. This mode can be useful on a vocalist that has a piercing tone to their voice on high notes, or to offer an smooth “analog” texture to an instrument.

Settings

Another unique design feature of the Distressor is the Ratios and Curves. Compressors generally have seperate threashold and ratio controls. The threashold sets the volume level at which the compressor starts to work, while the ratio determines how drastically it reacts. In the case of the Distressor, the threshold has been strategically determined within the ratio that is selected. The Distressor has eight ratio options to choose from. Each setting provides a unique response to the signal, exhibiting a musically pleasing effect on everything from subtle compression to dynamic destruction.

-For more detailed information on the Ratio settings of the Distressor, check out the Empirical Labs website here….-

How We Use It

At The Record Shop, we use our Distressors mainly on Vocals, Drums, Guitars, and anything that calls for a “classic” or “gritty” vibe. We love the “Nuke” mode, a setting that makes the distressor act as a “brick wall” limiter, with a unique release slope. This setting is great for big room sounds. We also make use of an option called “Brit Mode” that simulates the effect of the classic 1176 Limiter set to “all buttons in.” (a setting that became popular in 70’s for aggressive drum compression.) The Distortion modes are an invaluable assest to the Distressor and can be heard on nearly every recording that comes out of The Record Shop. The most useful feature of the Distressor is its overall tonal cahrecteristics. It is a great option for anything that needs to be smoothed out, warmed up, or given some edge. If you would like to hear more examples of how we utilize the Distressor, leave us a comment and we’ll send you our favorite settings.

Check back next week for our next installment of “Behind The Gear at The Record Shop”, highlighting the legendary 1176 Limiter. In the meantime, feel free to drop by our Gear Page for more information on our vast array of equipment.

As always, we love to hear feedback on our articles. If this was helpful, or a complete waste of your time, let us know! We love making new friends as well. Feel free to drop by our page on Facebook and sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive valuable resources and updates on the studio. Thanks for dropping by For The Record. Catch you next week!

-Giovanni

Therecordshopnashville.com

“Wow! Look at all those knobs.” As an audio engineer that is probably the most common phrase I hear uttered by an artist the first time they step foot in a studio. In an effort to figure out what all these fancy buttons do ;) , we thought it would be fun to introduce a new series on For The Record called “Behind The Gear.” The Record Shop is home to a unique collection of modern and vintage equipment. Our audio arsenal was carefully selected to offer a wide range of sonic colors and textures. Each week we will offer an inside look at a different piece of equipment we use here at The Record Shop. We will take a look at the history of the piece,  outline the various ways it is utilized during a session and share some unique tricks that we use to shape the tone of a recording.

This week, we’ll start the series off by offering some basic information on each category we will be covering: Microphones, Pre-Amps,  Compressors, Equalizers, and Plug-Ins. For those of you familiar with the basic function of these devices, we invite you to join us next week when we take a look at the Empirical Labs Distressor, a studio legend that reigns as one of the most versitle compressor/limiters on the market. For the rest of you fine folks, read on my friends…….

Microphone

If your reading this, I’m sure you don’t need a proper definition of what these things do, but for the sake of covering our bases, we’ll turn to Wikipedia. “A microphone is an acoustic-to-electric transducer that converts sound into an electrical signal.” Sounds simple enough, but what makes our job so fun is that each microphone does this differently and, in turn produces drastically different results. There are three different categories of microphones that are most commonly used in the recording studio: Dynamic, Condenser, and Ribbon. A dynamic microphone is work horse device, capable of reproducing loud sound sources as well as those with a powerful attack (such as guitars, kick drum, and snare drum). A condenser microphone is a more delicate device, designed to react sensitively to its sound source, offering a more defined sound on things such as drum overheads, acoustic instruments, and vocals) A ribbon microphone offers a unique tone due to the natural lack of high end frequency response that the ribbon reproduces. Ribbons have become very popular as a method to achieve a “vintage” vibe on modern, digital recordings. For more detailed information visit Wikipedia’s “Microphone” page….

Pre-Amps

A Pre-Amplifier (pre-amp) is a device that takes a low level signal from a microphone, or instrument, and boosts it to a line level signal that can be recorded. As with microphones, every pre-amp offers its own, unique tonal characteristics. There are two types of pre-amps commonly used in the recording environment: Tube and Solid State. As the name suggests, tube pre-amps utilize tube components to amplify the sound, offering a “warm” tone and a subtle distortion that is preferred in many applications. A solid state pre-amp does not make use of tube components and generally offers a cleaner, more transparent tone. Within these two types of pre-amps are countless brands and models that all have their own sonic flavor. For more detailed information, visit Wikioedia’s “Pre-Amplifier” page….

Compressor

A compressor is an audio device that effects the range between the loudest and quietest parts of a sound source (known as dynamic range) A compressor accomplishes this by lowering the volume of the sound source when it passes above the volume threshold that is set by the user. The amount of compression, and the reaction time of the device, is set by the ratio, attack, and release knobs. Just like pre-amps, compressors are also built with either solid state or tube components. Compressors can be used for a variety of applications, from subtly taming dynamics,  to extreme “pumping” that can create intriguing rhythmic effects. For more detailed information, visit Wikipedia’s “Audio Compressor” page…

Equalizer

An equalizer adjusts the balance between frequencies in an audio signal. It allows us the ability to “shape” the frequency range of a sound in order to enhance its qualities, fit it into a mix, etc. There are two main types of EQ’s used in the studio environment: Parametric and Graphic. A Parametric EQ offers a variable frequency selection on multiple frequency “bands” (ranges) and a variable “Q” (range of effected frequency). This allows us the flexibility to hone on the desired frequency and effect it accordingly. Graphic EQ’s have fixed frequency and q selection, often based on frequency “octaves” to offer a natural, musical response. For more detailed information, visit Wikipedia’s “Equalization” page…

Plug-In’s

Plug In’s are used in digital recording to emulate the function of analog equipment. While, it can be argued that software can never take the place audio moving through actual components (and I agree!) software plug-ins have continued to grow in their sonic offering and can be very useful in the modern recording environment in many situations. There are endless options when it comes to plug-ins. The market is flooded with new, innovative tools for manipulating audio. A recent development in plug in technology is what is referred to as “emulation plug-ins” These software devices are built off of algorithms developed through the testing of actual analog gear. Through this process, developers have been able to create plug-ins that embrace the tonal qualities of a specific type of gear. This is a very exciting technology that we have found very useful in Universal Audio’s, UAD Plugs. You can learn more about Plug-ins by visiting this interesting article at Delicious Audio…

Well, now you are ready to venture “Behind The Gear” at The Record Shop. Check back next week for our first installment, highlighting the Emperical Labs’ Distressor. In the meantime, feel free to drop by our Gear Page for more information on our vast array of equipment.

As always, we love to hear feedback on our articles. If this was helpful, or a complete waste of your time, let us know! We love making new friends as well. Feel free to drop by our page on Facebook and sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive valuable resources and updates on the studio. Thanks for dropping by For The Record. Catch you next week!

-Giovanni

Therecordshopnashville.com

Sonoma Wire Works Releases HigginsPack, a New DrummerPack for
DrumCore

–New Orleans funk drum grooves by Terence Higgins of The Dirty Dozen
Brass Band–

Los Altos, CA – August 19, 2010 – Sonoma Wire Works has launched the
HigginsPack DrummerPack for DrumCore. Terence Higgins, drummer for
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, brings DrumCore users unique New Orleans
marching style drum loops, variations, fills and drumkit sounds with
a dash of hip hop, funk, R&B, and soul. Higgins says this DrummerPack
is “guaranteed to add a little grease to your tracks.”

HigginsPack was recorded by the original Submersible Music team, and
was pre-configured by them with metadata for use with the DrumCore
search engine, which will help you find content based on feel
(straight, shuffle, etc.), time signature, tempo and other criteria.
Songwriter-friendly “GrooveSets” group related beats, variations
and fills to serve as a construction kit for song creation. All audio
is 48kHz/24-bit and created in a pro studio using state-of-the-art
digital (ProTools HD3) and analog (Neumann, Neve, etc.) recording
equipment. DrumCore works with all the major audio applications and
supports dragging audio and MIDI directly to tracks in applications
such as ACID® 7, Digital Performer® 6, Live 6 and up, Logic Pro® 8
and up, Pro Tools® 7.4.2 and up, Cubase® 4 and up (32 bit), and
Sonar™ 8 (32 bit).

HigginsPack includes 3.5GB of content including 7 DrumKits (24 pads
each) that match 7 GrooveSets (360 audio loops, 427 audio fills, 97
MIDI loops and 41 MIDI fills).

HigginsPack GrooveSets:

Bourbon Street Strut – A traditional slice of New Orleans march.
Intricate rolled snares with some bouncing toms thrown in for good
measure. 70 – 130 BPM

Dirty Dumpster – A trashy, choppy breakbeat groove with funky snare
work and sloppy hats. Great for Hip Hop. 70 – 120 BPM

Fix The Levee – Funky rhythms played on a poppy kit. Sounds great at
the faster tempos. 70 – 130 BPM

Go Go Grease – Upbeat and swingy, this groove is perfect for multiple
genres including Pop, Hip Hop, and R&B. 70 – 120 BPM

Nolafied – A laid back, funky breakbeat that only “The Big Easy”
could provide. 70 – 130 BPM

Swampburn – Thick and murky Nawlins’ march beats. Snare heavy with
some great tom sections. 70 – 130 BPM

Zigawho – Another funky beat with some great snare variations. Start
and Stop breakdowns and splashy cymbals. 60 – 110 BPM

HigginsPack is priced at $79.99, is available at drumcore.com,
sonomawireworks.com, and will be available via most music software
retailers. Demo tracks and HigginsPack info:
http://drumcore.com/TemplateMain.aspx?contentId=100

Requires DrumCore (2 or above) and 3.5 GB of disc space for
installation.

About Terence Higgins and his Drum Kit:

Born and raised in NOLA, Higgins is well versed in the New Orleans
funk style. He is currently touring with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band,
John Scofield’s Piety Street Band, and Swampgrease. In the past, he
has played with Widespread Panic, Dr. John and Norah Jones to name a
few, appears on dozens of albums, and has just released his solo “In
the Bywater” CD. Terence used the following drum kit to record
HigginsPack: Pearl MRX Masters Series Vintage Sunburst with black
hardware, 22×18 bass drum, 8×8 tom, 10×9 tom, 12×10 tom, 16×14 tom,
14×6.5 snare drum (Steve Ferrone Signature), 13×6.5 snare drum (Joey
Jordison Signature), and a 14×6.5 snare drum (Sensitone).

About DrumCore:

DrumCore gives songwriters and composers access to grooves and
instrument sounds of over a dozen famous drummers and percussionists.
It includes a groove library of both audio loops and MIDI files plus a
VST/AU/RTAS software instrument for Mac and PC. DrumCore is expandable
with add-on DrummerPacks. http://www.drumcore.com

About Sonoma Wire Works:

Incorporated in 2003 and headquartered in Los Altos, California,
Sonoma Wire Works develops products and services that help musicians
enjoy playing, recording and sharing music. Sonoma Wire Works’
flagship product is RiffWorks™ guitar recording software with
InstantDrummer, effects, RiffLink™ online music collaboration, and
the RiffWorld.com online community. These products have received
multiple awards for performance and innovation. FourTrack™ and
InstantDrummer™ iPhone Apps, AudioCopy/AudioPaste technology for
the iPhone, the GuitarJack™ audio input device, and the
StudioTrack™ multitrack for the iPad are also by Sonoma. Drum
products by Sonoma include the DrumCore and KitCore plugins and
DrummerPack library, as well as the Discrete Drums multitrack drum
library. http://www.sonomawireworks.com

Barry has teamed up with For The Record to share his reviews with the latest in recording products. Barry is a recording engineer/producer and contributing editor for MIX Magazine, ‘New Toys’ columnist for L.A.’s Music Connection Magazine, and writer for www.prosoundweb.com. He also is editor/writer of Gear Lust, his online special review section at www.barryrudolph.com

SoundToys PanMan

PanMan is a rhythmic auto-panner plug-in with a groove control feature. In stereo mixing, changes in the basic nature of a vocal or instrument track are limited to the level or loudness of a track, its equalization/tone, whatever added effects (reverb, chorus, flanging delays etc), and it’s panoramic position–it’s placement across the stereo field as created by left and right placed loudspeakers.

PanMan addresses and allows full access to this important aspect of mixing with tools that offer new panning treatments that go way beyond the abilities of classic hardware analog panners such as PanScan or Spanner. PanMan will control the pan type, reaction time, pan position, and pan width–even beyond the physical position of your stereo speakers.

PanMan has six modes including two rhythm modes complete with a user-programmable rhythm editor and numerous parameters for precisely determining the way any mono or stereo track in your mix can “dance” across the speakers. Some of the panning actions possible are: ping-pong triggered panning and random triggered panning with user-definable trigger divider as found in the PanScan hardware unit; and LFO-style continuous panning with selectable pan shapes and precise dynamics control. After installing PanMan into my Pro Tools HD rig I was panning everything as if I was discovering stereo sound for the first time! I would suggest going through the big collection of presets and modifying one of them that is close to what you’re looking for.

I seemed to gravitate towards the Rhythm Step panning modes where you can designate multiple “hard” pan positions (up to five positions) that change in locked session tempo fashion. Leave it to SoundToys to also provide controls called Feel and Rhythm to further sync the panning action to the feel of the music. Borrowed from SoundToys’ Tremolator and FilterFreak is the Custom Rhythm Editor–actually two editors for two different panning approaches–break point editors for designing complex modulation waveforms. These are brilliant features!

I also liked using the LFO-based panners for more dreamy-sounding treatments. You have complete control over the LFO’s speed or rate and the direction of the pan movement: Left-to-Right, Back-and-Forth, and Right-to-Left. I used one of the wider panners for a reverb return I mixed with another instantiation of the same reverb patch. This animated the reverb “cake” I was cooking up for a big vocal harmony stack. The Tweak button opens a whole LFO dynamics GUI for setting up modulation of the rate, changing the pan offset (shifts the left and right panorama itself anywhere–leaning to the left or right), defining the panning width (Width Mod) and panning rate (Rate Mod) depending on the level. The Threshold, Attack, and Release knobs control the envelope detector that determines dynamics modulation.

I did find the triggered panning very accurate and foolproof for causing a track to reposition itself predicated on it exceeding a certain level as set with the Threshold control. I also like the Width control for setting how far or wide to the left and right a track pans–all the way beyond 180 degrees (hard left and right) to 210 degrees or outside of the speakers.

Auto panning has the potential to be a distraction for the listener and the Smoothing control will set the transition from position to position anywhere from an instant and super hard “snap” to much slower, lazier or liquid movement.

An unexpected feature in PanMan are the different Analog modes where you can change from the clean digital operating mode to any of seven different analog distortion characteristics whose amount is controlled by the Input and Output I/O knobs. Dirty up any panned track using: Clean, Fat, Squash, Dirt, Crunch, Shred, or the ridiculously sounding Pump characteristic models. These sound like they may have been borrowed from SoundToys’ FilterFreak and other SoundToys plug-ins.

As with most of the SoundToys plug-ins, the programming detail and feature sets go on and on and PanMan is no different in that regard. But I’m a beginner and I have had no problems getting beautifully ornate panning treatments very quickly. This is a sound designer’s dream tool that pays off more and more as I learn more about the internal tweak controls. Like Decapitator, PanMan is a big winner for me here at my Tones 4 $ Studios!!

There are demo versions posted at www.soundtoys.com. It sells as a single plug-in for $349 in TDM and $179 Native. The SoundToys TDM Effects Version 4 bundle sells for $1,195 and includes eleven plug-ins. Both Decapitator and PanMan are exclusive to V4 along with a new preset management system, and many new presets. The Version 4 upgrades cost $99 for Native and $199 for TDM. Check: www.soundtoys.com for more information.

Flimingo Productions: I’ve used cubase 4,pro tools le and sonar 8 producer edition to record and i was wondering in your opinion,which is the most user friendly and best program to use?

Giovanni:

Thanks for your question! Deciding which DAW is more “user-friendly” is really a matter of preference and application. They are all worthy recording applications. When used with high end audio conversion, each one can produce professional results. The type of music you produce can also play a big part in which program is “best.” Pro Tools is usually favored for sessions where extensive arrangement and editing is needed. Their editing capabilities are very user friendly and fast. For sessions with a lot of midi programming, Logic is often a first choice. Their sound engine is designed to support a ton of virtual processing and their bussing system (how each track is combined into the main stereo track) is believed by many to be far superior of most DAW’s.  Sonar, Neuendo, and Cubase were once considered the “consumer” DAW’s by most professionals. However, these programs have stepped their game up and offer a great all around recording platform. Some engineers prefer these applications due to their comprehensive support of third party products, plug-in stability, and console/analog “feel.”

We use Pro Tools HD and Logic Pro, powered by Apogee Converters. I have worked in studios that utilize every DAW and these are the two that I personally prefer. While other DAW’s have become more popular, Pro Tools is still widely considered the “industry standard” In order to accommodate the majority of the market, it is necessary for a major recording studio to offer a Pro Tools HD rig. The ability to edit and arrange quickly using quick keys (no pun intended) is another big reason I prefer the program. I use Logic as my main sequencing/programming DAW. It has a great selection of built in sounds, supports all of my virtual instruments, and is very stable. Logic has recently improved their editing and drum quantization processes. Combined with a revered bussing system, they are really giving Pro Tools a run for their money.

It’s great browse google and review everyones opinion on their favorite DAW. You could listen to me talk for days on what I prefer. But in the end, the only way to really judge which program is most “user-friendly” for you is by learning how to use each one and deciding for yourself.

I hope this article provided you with the information you need to take the next step in choosing the recording program that is best for you. . We would love to hear your questions, comments, and feedback! If we can be of any assistance, feel free to drop us a line!

Giovanni-

therecordshop1 (@) gmail.com

Pro Tools, AVID/Digidesign’s benchmark digital recording software, is synonymous with the production of hit records. Since its introduction into the professional recording industry in the mid 90’s, Pro Tools has remained a frontrunner for audio production. When Pro Tools was introduced in 1991, four channels of audio were available at a price tag of $6000. Thankfully for us, Pro Tools’ capabilities continued to grow alongside the steady advancements of computer technology. As the audio industry began to stray away from major recording facilities, into home studios and bedrooms, Digidesign began developing Pro Tools systems that catered to all levels of audio production. Today, Digidesign offers Pro Tools systems affordable on nearly any budget. In this article, we take an in depth look at three levels of Pro Tools studio systems: The M-Box studio ($250-$1000), The 003 studio ($1200-$2,500), and the HD studio ($10,000+). We will also discuss some important add -on’s that can be a great addition to any Pro Tools System. These include, system upgrades, a master clock source, converters, and control surfaces. First, let’s check out the hype behind the Pro Tools software and the advancements in Digidesign’s latest version, Pro Tools 8.

Introduction To Pro Tools

Pro Tools is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). A DAW is comprised of two elements, audio recording software and audio conversion hardware. The software allows for recording, editing, mixing, and midi arrangement. The hardware provides analog to digital and digital to analog conversion of the audio. Pro Tools LE software requires a Digidesign hardware interface in order to operate. Pro Tools HD utilizes Digidesign PCI cards for processing and uses a separate hardware device for conversion.

The Pro Tools workspace is comprised of two main windows. Mix and edit. The mix window contains a vertical channel strip for each track in the session. It is set up much like a typical mixing console. Each channel has inserts, busses, input/output selections, a pan pot, record enable, solo, mute, and a fader. The edit window contains the same options as well as waveforms for each track in the session. The edit window allows you to view the waveforms for each track, edit and arrange the audio, as well as set up markers, and control the transport (play, stop, rec, etc). The editing workflow is one of the most impressive aspects of the software. There are several tools and editing modes that make editing and arranging a breeze. Pro Tools offers a number of playback and record options as well. These include: loop playback, punch record, and loop record. The software also provides comprehensive midi and video capabilities.

In the latest version of the software, Pro Tools 8, Digidesign maintained their user-friendly workflow that helped to make the software an industry standard. There are several new features such as elastic audio, the off spring of the popular audio quantization application, Beat Detective. They have also added more tracks for LE systems (48 mono or stereo), several virtual instruments and plug-ins, and a hip, new design for the workspace. Now, lets take a look at the options for Pro Tools studio set-ups.

Mbox Series ($250-$700)

The Pro Tools Mbox series hardware is a great option for those who are looking for a simple, portable device for recording. The price for these interfaces range from $250 to $700 and includes the latest Pro Tools Software. The latest Mbox hardware consists of the Mbox 2 micro, Mbox 2 Mini, Mbox 2, and Mbox 2 Pro.

The Mbox 2 Micro is a 24bit/48k, output only USB device that is about the size of a jump drive. It was designed for engineers who want the ability to work on sessions anywhere. There are no inputs on the device. It is equipped with a 1/8″ jack for monitoring.

The Mbox 2 Mini is 24bit/48k, 2 channel USB interface. It is a great option for new Pro Tools users or songwriters who want a simple device for basic recording applications. The Mbox 2 Mini is equipped with one XLR input with 48v phantom power, two 1/4″ inputs, two 1/4″ outputs, a headphone output, and combined volume control. There are a few downsides of the Mini. It does not include a midi I/O or separate volume controls for monitor and headphone outputs.

The Mbox 2 is a 24bit/48k, 4in/2out USB interface. It offers a few more features than the mini. It is a good choice for someone looking for a basic interface that includes midi capability and more extensive input options. The Mbox 2 features two preamps with 48v phantom power, two analog inputs (XLR or 1/4″), two digital SPIDIF inputs, two 1/4″ outputs, midi I/O, a headphone output and separate volume controls for monitors and headphones.

The final piece in the Mbox series is the Mbox 2 Pro. It is a 24bit/96k, 6in/8out fire wire interface. The Mbox 2 Pro is a great buy for beginners looking to get into more advanced sessions and professionals who need a reliable device for remote recording. It offers two preamps with 48v phantom power, four analog inputs (XLR or 1/4″), two digital SPDIF inputs, six 1/4″ outputs, midi I/O, two headphone outputs, and separate volume controls for monitors and headphones.

The M Box series hardware is a solid option for mixing on the run, portable recording, and basic demo sessions. However, if you are looking for a more advanced device with the ability to handle larger sessions, the Digidesign 003 could be what you are you are looking for.

Digidesign 003 Series ($1200-$2500)

The Digidesign 003 is 24bit/96k, 16 channel Pro Tools interface. It can be found in countless project studios, as well as the B rooms of several major facilities. It is an effective workhorse, offering a wide range of amenities for those not ready to take the leap to HD. The 003 interfaces range from $1200-$2500.

The 003 provides four pre amps with 48v phantom power, 4 XLR inputs, 4 1/4″ inputs, 8 1/4″ outputs, 2 1/4 monitor outputs, 8 channels of adat I/O, word Clock I/O, midi I/O, two headphone outputs, and separate volume controls for headphones and monitors. The 003 also includes 8 motorized faders, led/lcd displays, solo, mute, record enable, and pan knobs for each channel. It offers a transport, a jog wheel, and insert/send assignment as well. The 003 is also available in a rack mount version. The 003 rack has the same capabilities as the 003, but the control surface is excluded. Before we get into Pro Tools HD, there a few add-ons for Pro Tools LE systems that are worth considering.

Pro Tools LE Upgrades

Digidesign’s Pro Tools LE software is stocked with many great plug-ins. But, as we all know, you can never have enough options. So Digidesign developed a couple upgrades that offer a comprehensive bundle of additional options for Pro Tools LE users.

The Music Production Tool Kit offers an upgrade to 64 tracks of audio, multichannel beat detective, and a killer plug in selection. The plug-ins include TL Space (convolution reverb), Smack (compressor/limiter), Eleven (guitar amp emulator), and a few more great tools.

Digidesign also offers an upgrade package for Pro Tools users who utilize the software for video production. The DV Toolkit offers an upgrade to 64 tracks of audio, Digibase (file management tool), Digitranslator (OMF, AAF, and MXF conversion), and Time Code/ Feet and Frames capability. The upgrade also includes a number of plug-ins, including: DINR (noise reduction), TL Space, and X-Form (TCE and pitch shifter).

Adding a set of high-end audio converters is one of the most effective ways to instantly improve the sonic clarity of your Pro Tools LE Studio, if you utilize outboard recording gear or digital audio devices. The sonic clarity of an external clock source and high-end audio conversion can drastically help take your Pro Tools LE studio to the next level. If this is something you are considering, I suggest trying out a few options to see what sound appeals to you. Some high-end clocks and converters include Apogee, Antelope, Lynx, and Prism.

Pro Tools HD Studio ($10,000 +)

The final option for a Pro Tools studio is Pro Tools HD. Pro Tools HD systems are catered toward the professional audio and video industry. It has become a near necessity for every commercial recording studio to house a Pro Tools HD system. HD set-ups start at around $10,000.

As we outlined earlier, Pro Tools HD hardware operates a bit differently than LE. The processing and audio conversion is integrated into a single interface for LE systems. HD systems utilize Digital Signal Processing cards (DSP) and digital converters. The DSP cards are installed in the PCI slots of the computer. These cards are connected to audio converters via a Digilink cable. There are two steps to purchasing a Pro Tools HD system: Selecting a core system and choosing your interface/s

There are three Pro Tools HD Core systems: Pro Tools HD 1, Pro Tools HD 2 Accel, and Pro Tools HD 3 Accel. The Pro Tools HD 1 system includes one HD Core card. The HD 1 system will support 32 channels of A/D and D/A conversion and up to 96 digital audio tracks.

The Pro Tools HD 2 system offers one HD Core card and one HD Accel card. A HD 2 system is capable of handling 64 channels of conversion and up to 192 digital audio tracks.

The Pro Tools HD 3 system is comprised of one HD Core card and two HD Accel cards. HD 3 systems support 96 channels of conversion and 192 digital audio tracks.

Each of these systems can be upgraded by adding additional cards. If you run out of PCI slots you can connect and expansion chassis to house the extra cards. Once you have your HD Core System, you will need to add a Pro Tools HD I/O interface or third party converter in order to route audio to and from the HD DSP cards.

Digidesign has a number of options for Pro Tools HD interfaces. Lets take a look at the two of their more favored interfaces. The Digidesign 96 I/O is a 16 channel, 24bit/96k audio interface. The 96 I/O offers 8 channels of analog I/O (TRS) and 8 channels of optical I/O (ADAT). It also includes an expansion feature, which allows you to connect multiple interfaces together. The 96 I/O is a good option for HD users who are looking for a basic, overdub/mix set up. If you need more than 8 channels of analog I/O or plan to expand your system in the future, you may want to consider the 192 I/O.

The Digidesign 192 I/O is 16 channel, 24bit/192k audio interface. The 192 I/O has 8 channels of AES/EBU I/O, 8 channels of TDIF I/O, and 16 channels of ADAT I/O. There are a number of expansion card options for the 192 I/O. The AD and DA expansion cards give the 192 I/O the ability to support up to 16 channels of analog I/O. The digital expansion card adds an additional 8 channels of AES/EBU, TDIF and ADAT I/O. The 192 I/O also includes an expansion feature, which allows you to connect multiple interfaces together.

Pro Tools HD systems also support third party I/O interfaces. As we discussed earlier, there are many high-end options for third party converters. Each brand offers its own unique “color” to the audio. I would recommend listening to the different options in order to decide which converters are right for you.

Pro Tools HD Upgrades

A control surface is a great addition to a Pro Tools HD System. Control surfaces are digital mixing boards that provide hands on control of your session. They are set up like an analog mixing board and allow for recording, mixing, and editing functions. Digidesign offers a number of excellent control surfaces, including: C24, D Command, and Icon.

Whether you are just delving into the world of recording or are a seasoned professional, there are many great options for putting together an exceptional Pro Tools recording studio. If you are interested in learning more about Pro Tools, visit www.avid.com. They have documentation, reviews, and videos that offer excellent advice on choosing the right system for your needs and budget.

I hope this article provided you with the information you need to choose the right Pro Tools system for your application . We would love to hear your questions, comments, and feedback! If we can be of any assistance, feel free to drop us a line!

Giovanni-

therecordshop1 (@) gmail.com