Over the Christmas period, each team member is sharing their product of the year. For Julian Rodgers it is DiGiGrid AoIP hardware.
Tracking Is What I Enjoy Most
I don’t do enough tracking these days, which is a pity as it’s the part of the production process I enjoy the most. In the past my work has meant I’ve sometimes had two tracking sessions a day but in my private work I’ve always particularly enjoyed the opportunity to turn up at a rehearsal space with a car full of gear to set up an impromptu studio.
It’s no secret that I embrace Audio over IP in all its guises and this year I have had the chance to play with some Soundgrid hardware in the form of the DiGiGrid Desktop range.
Bring The IO To the Player
These little blue boxes form an ideal basis for a flexible, lightweight and easily configurable recording system. In my review of the DiGiGrid D I praised it’s mic preamps (also found the M) with their 70dB of clean gain, the clear metering and the robust build quality. The M was my favourite of the range, a single mic preamp, a Hi Z DI and a powerful headphone amp make it ideal for tracking situations, where in a typical band tracking session, one of these each would cover most of the band for capture and foldback.
I haven’t yet featured the other two members of the Desktop family on the site - the Q and the S. The Q is a dedicated headphone amp with Soundgrid, analogue, AES/EBU and bluetooth inputs and the S is a PoE network switch.
The possibility of bringing the network “node” to the performer appeals to me. Especially the possibility of having one of these small blue cubes by each player on a short mic stand - They can be fitted with an adaptor and as I’ve seen so many headphone amps get their knobs kicked off during tracking sessions I’d definitely try to get these off the floor without getting them up so high that they would be at risk. Even the tidiest cable management tends to get messy during a busy session so, by not patching to a central point, some of the “knee deep black spaghetti” can be avoided.
PoE - Keeps Things Tidy
If the hardware being deployed by the players needs mains power then any saving on signal cables tends to be ruined by runs of mains - particularly in ad hoc tracking situations. The ability to power network nodes from a PoE switch really is essential. With the DiGiGrid S supplying data and power to a complement of Desktop interfaces, there is the potential to get the maximum in terms of flexibility with the minimum of gear in the room.
When tracking in this configuration, by adding a DiGiGrid iOS Soundgrid plug-ins can be run during tracking at HDX type latencies. Allowing a proper HD style tracking experience, and the extra mic preamps are ideal for the drums.
Soundgrid Plug-ins From Third Parties
I’ve experimented with tracking bands with this setup and plan to use it again in the new year. With the Soundgrid plug-in format now open to developers other than Waves there is the potential for a healthy ecosystem to develop. My only grumble would be that, probably because of the popularity of Soundgrid in the live world, where there isn’t much demand for Amp Sim plug-ins, at present the only amp sim available in Soundgrid format is the Waves GTR bundle. Considering Plugin Alliance are now developing for the Soundgrid platform I’d like to see some of the amazing Brainworx amp sims come to Soundgrid as tracking bands through amp sims, thereby keeping the drums clean, is the quickest way I have found to track a band all together in the same room when time is tight.