Space & Time
As with any instrument that derives from a spacious environment, it is integral that you consider the most appropriate space before recording begins. There are many options, but ultimately it depends on the purpose of the recording as well as the budget, facilities and resources at your disposal for the project.
For large ensembles, 90% of the recording quality is in microphone placement and appropriate acoustics. The material a room is built out of has a major effect on the tone of the recording, for example the coloration of the dissipating reverb tail and the actual quality of a vocal performance. Churches are a natural workspace for a choir for a number of reasons. The stone structure of the church, the large dimensions and the often curved and angled roofs favor a strong but dissipating reverb texture which is perfect for choirs. Have you ever considered why vocalists enjoy singing within a reverberated space so much?
Pro Tools dance producers are going to be delighted to discover that the ReFX Nexus 2 synth is now an AAX plug-in for Pro Tools.
The Nexus 2 synth features a 6gb library of over 1000 presets, an Arpeggiator, trance gate and extensive effects routing, all combined to creating those killer dance sounds found on so many hits.
64 bit AAX native support now gives Pro Tools users an added tool in their production arsenal.
More information and a demo sounds can be found here.
Another much loved plug-in from the Sonnox stable SuprEsser is now available in AAX native.
SuprEsser is excellent not only as a de-esser, but equally suitable for removing other trouble material such as plosive and other errant material from a vocal in a Pro Tools session. It also gives the user the ability to listen both inside and outside the band reject settings, ensuring nothing is excluded from the clean sound that should be left in.
Owners should download an update from Sonnox, a 15 day demo is available from Sonnox.
There’s a lot of AAX reverb plug-ins making an appearance for Pro Tools 11, many of them are very good. Here are 10 AAX reverbs for Pro Tools 11 worth considering.
Did your favourite make our list? What did we miss? Take our favourite reverb plug-in poll at the end and have your say, please also add your comments.
Before you reach for your wallet then you might want to consider the Dverb, a reverb used by a lot of producers over the years including Tony Maserati, Dot Da Genius and many more. It might be free and easy to use, but don’t let that found you. Supports AAX Native, AAX DSP and RTAS.
Exponential Audio Pheonix Verb
From the man who coded many of the Lexicon reverbs, this new kid on the block has a very rich heritage, an awesome sound and a lot of tweakablity. Check out the video here. Supports AAX Native, RTAS, VST and AU.
Our friends at Universal Audio have sent an email out to users offering advice for those considering a new Mac Pro. They write:
Dear UAD/Apollo User:
As you may know, Apple recently began shipping their new flagship Mac Pro models. These new machines are based on all-new PCIe architecture which changes the way they work with UAD-2 and Apollo hardware.
- Apollo/Apollo 16 interfaces, UAD-2 Satellites, and the UAD-2 OCTO will be fully qualified to work with the new Mac Pros over Thunderbolt via a UA firmware update in early 2014.
- Unfortunately, UAD-2 SOLO, DUO, and QUAD PCIe cards cannot be made to work with the new Mac Pros. (See table below for full UAD/Mac compatibility list.)
Importantly, the UAD-2 OCTO PCIe card will require a qualified Thunderbolt-to-PCIe chassis for compatibility with the new Mac Pros. UAD-2 Satellite owners, and Apollo / Apollo 16 owners not using Thunderbolt, will be able to connect to new Mac Pros via an Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter.
Nando Eweg sent us a question….
I’m working on a commercial which is 25 fps, but now I have to make a 24fps version for the cinema in surround. I’ll work around some issues, but I don’t know exactly how the other people are doing this. I use X-form for the vocals and voiceovers, but all the spotted fxs that’s a different cookie. I also want to keep the different stems for the surround mixing.
How do other people deal with 25 to 24 fps conversion?
A new film has recently been released based on one year in the life of writer Allen Ginsberg when murder took place and affected his life forever. The title is drawn from a quote by William Faulkner “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” His quote warns of the over use of personal elements when writing.
Presets in music production are a relatively modern part of the production process, previously it was china graph markers or bits of paper with settings for outboard or synths drawn on, in some cases producers and musicians would create elegant preset template sheets and photocopy them.
For those of us old enough to have lived through the 1980s and onwards the over use of presets soon became apparent and one would often be listening to a track and say “DX7 piano” or “D50 Fantasia”. In fact some sounds have become so indicative of a musical genre or period we reach for them when trying to recreate those periods, they act as musical markers to the period. The same goes for artists and producers, be that the Phil Collins drum sound, or as James has been showing so well, the guitar sound of top artists.
There is nothing inherently wrong with having a signature sound or technique, most of which came about by accident, I have my personal favourites, we all do.
However, if we simply rely on our favourite sounds and presets then we are in danger of limiting our creativity and painting ourselves into a corner that we can’t return from. I find there is nothing more satisfying than sitting down with a synth, drum machine, sampler or outboard and come up with a new sound, just for that track. Furthermore, plug-in presets can be a great starting point when producing a track, but the basic failing of them is that every track is unique and a preset designed in a development lab can’t possibly take any account the material you are throwing at it.
So I encourage you to take the words of Faulkner to heart, kill your darlings, start from scratch and make something orginal. It may not make your production process quicker, but in my opinion it will give a better result and prove a lot more rewarding. Discuss.
The winner on day 3 of the People’s Choice Prize Draw is Dave Holt.
He said “Pro Tools 11 all the way! Just mixed a whole bunch of tracks for a band who were just offered a major label deal and I couldn’t have met the deadline without PT11.”
If it were the end of the month of March you could be forgiven for thinking that this was some kind of up coming “April Fools” joke - But no it appears that this one is perfectly serious.
Eventide, The makers of some some of the most renownd effects algorithms found in both hardware and plugin format have produced another rather unique plugin.
In Eventide’s own words:
Mood is a plug-in that answers the question “How does it feel?” by analyzing a song’s key, spectral content, tempo, dynamics, etc. to create a set of ‘descriptors’ which are then compared to a data base. The data base has been populated by people (OK, by us) listening to and rating pop songs.
Mood displays, in real time, the relative intensity of four emotions - angry, calm, happy and sad. The intensity of these emotions are output as MIDI and OSC values which could be used, for example, to control the brightness and color of lights on stage or in a dance club.
After months of training, we believe that while Mood is nearly ready for prime time, it will benefit from training by a wider audience (OK, by you). And so we’re asking for your help.
The plug-in includes a link that makes it easy for you to give us feedback and to let us know which songs ‘fool’ Mood. We’ll select 10 ‘helpers’ at random for a free copy of the final release version of Mood.
Please download Mood and try it out yourself. You can find Mood’s installers together with a license for Mood good through the end of March 2014 at http://eventideplugins.elasticbeanstalk.com/mood.jsp
Take a look at the Demo video below to show how it works.
I wouldn’t normally ask a question and take up any of your valuable time but I’m really stuck with a Pro Tools 11 issue that has thrown me into confusion. Now Kontakt is 64bit I’m using Pro Tools 11 fully in my workflow and I am loving the new power. However I’m really confused as my “older” pro tools 10 sessions that use Kontakt instruments and recorded audio stems don’t always play back correctly.
The Kontakt instruments play out of sync to click II and audio stems. I use multichannel Kontakt and route studio drummer outputs (st2 - st3 - up to st16) to Pro Tools aux track inputs so that I can control the individual channels on my c24.
They are offering two standard configurations….
Quad-Core and Dual GPU
- 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
- 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
- Dual AMD FirePro D300 with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each
- 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
- $2,999.00 (UK price inc 20% VAT £2,499.00)
6-Core and Dual GPU
- 3.5GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor
- 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory
- Dual AMD FirePro D500 with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each
- 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
- $3,999.00 (UK price inc 20% VAT £3,299.00)
The US site is offering shipping from December 30th, where as the UK store is offering shipping in January 2014.
You can also add options to these two standard models with options that include 6, 8 or 12 core processing, GPUs with up to 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM, PCI-e based flash storage up to 1TB and software packages like FCPX, Logic Pro X and Aperture.
Who is going to be buying one?
The winner on day 2 of the People’s Choice Prize Draw is M Berry.
He said “I voted for the Blue Cat MB-7. The ability to host VST is good. Also, I had been fooling around with using filters to split bands to do parallel compression & this makes the whole process so much nicer. But the real winning feature for me is the midi integration with the controls. This allows me to do some really nice control tricks. I really wish that Avid would apply this midi philosophy to some of the controls in Pro Tools. I am really liking Blue Cat these days. I happily used the spec. analyzer in their free bundle for a long time (you may remember I submitted a tip to use it as a distortion meter). When the deal for the MB7 hit, I got it immediately & loved it from the start. It was a ‘no-brainer’ then for me to trade it up for the entire bundle. IMO, this company is doing some really good, fresh thinking.”
If you are new to Pro Tools the different kind of track options available can sometimes be daunting, in fact sometimes even seasoned professionals are not entirely sure of the benefits of using different track types.
We will take a look at each type of Pro Tools track in detail, explaining each section to the Pro Tools track type and how to use them. In this post we are looking at the Pro Tools instrument track.
Instrument tracks were introduced into Pro Tools in version 7.0. Previously to use either a software or hardware instrument in a Pro Tools session the user had to create a MIDI track for recording MIDI and an AUX track for routing the audio for playback in Pro Tools - an instrument track is a combination of both, simplifying the Pro Tools workflow. Let’s take a look at each section.
Moving from left to right you can see the colour bar first as a solid strip of colour. In the image above the instrument track has defaulted to the mustard colour, however double clicking on the colour bar will open the colour picker where you can change the colour of the track. Double clicking when multiple Pro Tools tracks are open enables the user to recolour groups of tracsk.
Next you see the track name (changed by double clicking on the text) the record arm button, the (S) solo and (M) mute buttons. Below these you see the small metronome icon which allows the user to select between sample and tick based operation, this changes how the Pro Tools track responds to timing information. The next button (CLPS in this image) determines what information will be displayed in the Pro Tools track timeline. The image below shows the selection extended. In the top half of the list are the types of information to show, int eh bottom half are the automation options available in the present track, these differ depending on user customisation.
It’s that time of year and the tide of jingle riddled music graces the airwaves once again. Christmas is a season that celebrates largely religious music and the coming of the carol, and we can all expect and agree that the most prominent display of Christmas music is going to be through the medium of the voice.
Given the impending approach of Christmas, I thought it relevant to impart some simple tips and tricks for working with choirs and vocal ensembles in a production and recording capacity. Before we look at microphones in depth, it is pertinent to address pre-production due to the inevitable element of close interaction the producer or engineer will have with the ensemble being recorded.
For Pro Tools users wanting to grab the new Apple Mac Pro, Apple have announced it will go on sale tomorrow December 19th. Perhaps the most controversial product to leave the Apple design labs for a long time, the new Apple Mac Pro with its striking black cylindrical design has split opinion from Pro Tools users.
That said there is still some confusion as to what exactly will be possible tomorrow, will people be able to take a Mac Pro home, or order one on line, Apple is still not clear about this. Their statement says…
Apple has confirmed that the new Mac Pro will be available to order through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorised Resellers.
A London based Apple Store employee is quoted as saying…
They currently don’t have any of new Mac Pros in the store and will not know any more about availability until tomorrow.
However Tim Cook has tweeted this today….
We will see what tomorrow brings…
Our friends at HHB Communications Ltd. have supplied Nugen Audio loudness plug-ins to a variety of high profile customers like ITV, National Geographic, FX UK channels, audio post specialists Vaudeville and The Farm Group to help them to comply with international loudness broadcast standards like the EBU R128 standard which is already adopted in parts of Europe and now being adopted in the UK as part of the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) agreed programme delivery standard for all broadcasters in the UK.
ITV London Dubbing Mixer Sam Wansborough has used the Vis LM-H for ITU-R BS.1770 compliance with 3s integration on promotional material for Channel 4 and for double-checking the overall meter readings for National Geographic programmes and clearly likes it….
“Nugen plug-ins offer very accurate and clear feedback that makes it a lot easier to mix naturally to loudness, rather than reacting by trying to hit a target all the time. This level of detail allows you to accurately determine the parameters with clear resolution. Write enabling the meter readings into the automation lanes also helps to quickly and easily locate and identify problems.”
Simon Brett who is Director of Operations for Fox International Channels UK now relies on Nugen’s LM-Correct Loudness Correction plug-in, both as a standalone application and within Media Composer and Pro Tools environments.
“We initially used LM-Correct to ensure compliance with EBU R128 for our short form ad and promo delivery. The recent adoption of EBU standards in the DPP specification has brought loudness to the forefront as an issue that needs to be addressed without taking up valuable time in an audio suite. Having the ability to export WAVs from Avid to correct via the standalone app or the RTAS plug-in has allowed us to ensure that we meet the DPP’s requirements. I have found the software to be reliable, accurate and a faster-than-real-time solution that has not added a significant increase in job duration.”
Audio post specialists Vaudeville have integrated the Nugen Loudness Toolkit on all of their systems. Their Managing Director Daniel Jones explains…
“We have had Nugen plug-ins integrated into our session templates for the last couple of years and find them invaluable, go-to plug-ins that are effective and easy to use.”
In this free Pro Tools video tutorial Russ shows how to set up the Source Connect Source Nexus in Pro Tools so you can route audio from any external device into Pro Tools.
The winner on day 1 of the People’s Choice Prize Draw is Dan Watts from the UK.
He said “I know it’s slightly an unglamorous choice but VE Pro 5 gets my vote. Being able to host slave PCs easily on my mac without having to tweak a multitude of settings is just amazing! And all using Ethernet too!”
There’s a lot of love for Maag products on our team, their hardware is awesome and thanks to team Plug-in Alliance now we can have the EQ4 in a plug-in too!
We found this interview with Cliff Maag Snr of Maag Audio from the 100th Annivesary Pensado’s Place recorded live at NAMM 2013, it doesn’t take long to discover the passion that drives Cliff to make the products he does. To see a man of the calibre of Cliff Maag talk about a generation that will create “the grestest engineers that have even been” is both exciting and moving.
Cliff not only builds some cool recording gear but also runs his own Studio the Record Lab and has worked on countless albums for both high end and aspiring artists.
We will be having Cliff Maag Snr on the Pro Tools Expert Podcast in 2014 to talk about his work, his ethos and more about that passion that drives him to create audio excellence.
The votes continue to pour in for the Pro Tools Expert People’s Choice Award.
How about winning a limited edition white iLok, thanks to our friends at iLok we have some cool ‘Storm Trooper’ iLoks to give away. All you have to do is vote for your favourite product, leave a comment and every day until Christmas Eve one lucky person will be drawn. It’s as simple as that, no forms to fill in, simply vote and comment!
Ends Christmas Eve.