Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Audio-Technica BP40 Large Diameter Dynamic Mic

Audio-Technica BP40 Dynamic Microphone
When I first saw the new Audio-Technica BP40 dynamic mic, I thought, "Hmm, looks like the love child of a Shure SM7 and an Electro-Voice RE20. A little longer than an SM7, but with a grille more like an RE20 or RE27N/D.

Large diaphragm (1.47") , hypercardioid pattern, humbucking coil, 6 dB/octave 100 Hz low frequency cut, integral pop filter, relatively high sensitivity - –48dB (3.9mV) re1V at 1 Pa, 450 Ohm impedance, 50-16,000 Hz frequency response, less than 1.5 pounds.

BP40 Capsule
Got it;
- diaphragm bigger than most LD condenser mics
- tight pattern

Looks like an on-air mic with kick drum possibilities. $349 on the street, which is about $100 less than an RE20.

On-air microphones have to handle close talking announcers, so stopping pops is essential. The BP40 has a 3/4" thick, replaceable foam pop stopper seen in the photo below. I unscrewed the headgrille and shot the below photo aimed back up towards the back of the foam.

Inside the BP40 Headgrille
Having a replaceable foam pop stopper is very useful and healthy, especially in radio stations where a cold can be quickly passed from person to person as they nuzzle the mic and change shifts. The BP40 headgrille simply unscrews, allowing you to change the foam and disinfect the headgrille. The headgrille also serves another purpose, it keeps the talent at least a specific distance from the diaphragm to prevent closer and more proximity effect from overwhelming the almost inch and a half diaphragm.

Radio DJs frequently like to "eat the mic" to take advantage of the bass building proximity effect that getting close to a directional mic produces. Working close also reduces bad room acoustics and noisy HVAC systems. Let's move to video for a comparison between the BP40 and RE27N/D.

In the above video shot in my studio, you can hear that the the pattern is tight as the graph below left indicates. There's a slight tail at 5kHz, but when you listen to the above video, while you might be able to hear it a little more than with the RE27N/D, I don't consider it a problem.

The BP40 has a humbucking coil to reduce the pickup of stray AC fields. I have an "AC Hum Hell Hole" in one spot here in the house. It's really tough on mics. especially ribbons and dynamics. There's a 200 amp AC service cable that runs down the outside of the house to the main panel in the basement. Inside, in my den, some mics begin to pick up the hum as far away as three feet from that wall. I got the BP40 all the way to the wall before I heard the faintest hum.

BP40 Polar Pattern
BP40 Frequency Response

My first career was 17 years in radio as an on-air talent and Production Director. That's a lot of time on mic; a five hour air shift and at least three hours of production, five days a week. Different stations have different mics. Your voice becomes a test tone. You learn a lot about mics. If you're still in radio production and have somehow missed Radio And Production magazine, check it out. Editor Jerry Vigil has been working hard for quite a few years to make RAP an oasis for radio production people.

Depending on the voice and delivery, you learn to use the variable frequency response caused by working the proximity effect of the mic. Above right, the frequency response graph of the BP40 works well for voice; the frequency response graph shows a nice little peak at just below 4 kHz. The 6 dB per octave bass cut shows the roll off begins at 200Hz. Again, in the above video, you can hear the effect. You may well need the Low Cut for big voice performers who like to eat the mic. Not a big voice? Then leave the Low Cut off and move in.

WTMD Ops and Tech Manager Donnie Carlo
In order to get a wider scope on what the BP40 sounds like, I reached out to Operations and Technology Manager, Donnie Carlo, at WTMD. Carlo arranged to have me come in to the WTMD studios and also mentioned that one of their female air talent could help me by cutting some tracks. Carlo had an ElectoVoice RE27N/D and a Shure SM7 lined up for me. These are typical on-air mics. Perfect!

WTMD is a college station, attached to Towson University, but it's no ordinary "college radio station." Their programming and listener outreach is the best I've heard and seen. We're very fortunate to have them here in Baltimore. It's a Class B1 FM at 89.7 MHz with a power of 3 kW. Several years ago they received a grant that allowed them to move from the basement of one of the older university buildings to a new facility at 1 Olympic Plaza in Towson, MD. It's a beautiful facility with updated gear. I know many professional radio people who have never worked in a station as sweet as this.

She who will not be named @WTMD
We spent about an hour in Studio C using my voice and the voice of "the female talent who preferred to be unnamed" - how's that for mystery!? We recorded with the Audio-Technica BP40, Shure SM7 and ElectroVoice RE27N/D with the top EQ roll-off. I also recorded my voice back here at my studio using GML preamps and an RME ADI-8 DS A/D converter interface.

I found that, as with the RE20's Variable D design that minimizes proximity, the BP40 proximity effect didn't really kick in on my voice until I was two inches or closer.

Peavey International II kick and BP40
I had a music session here and used the BP40 on kick drum. I wasn't sure how the ten year old Peavy International II kit would sound. The kick is a 22" x 14", 9-ply basswood drum. (to the right.) I was very pleased by the the entire kit and the kick drum. The extra barrel with yellow label is a Shure A15AS variable pad set to -15 dB. The kick drum track below says more than my words can. See what you think.

Here are some files to check out. I think the BP40 holds up very well against these mics.

Ty Ford Voice BP40 w/GML preamp

Ty Ford Voice BP40 at WTMD

Ty Ford Voice RE27ND (with peak cut)

Ty Ford SM7 at WTMD (cover removed)

Female VO talent BP40 at WTMD

Female VO talent RE27ND at WTMD

Female VO talent on SM7 (cover removed)

Peavey International II Kick drum

In Conclusion
Like most Audio-Technica mics, the build of the BP40 is very solid. Having a quality, directional hypercardioid like the BP40 in your mic locker will serve you well. Based on my use of it, I'm guessing that it would work or horns, hand percussion and guitar amps as well. It would also probably tame banjos and fiddles.

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

AES NYC 2015 A Journeyman's Wandering #05 & Finale

Photo by Tom O'Connor
The AES/NYC show at the Javits Center (or in California on even years) is always an eye and an ear opener. Each time I attend I come in the door thinking I've pretty much seen everything. I'm always wrong.

From the white papers in sessions where engineers talk about what may be around the corner to the floor where you can see what's shipping or what's about to ship, my coverage continues with this 5th and last episode. 

Read on, there may be surprises for you. This last report features RME, Radial Engineering, TASCAM, Lewitt Microphones, Zoom Recorders, Cloud Microphones and from Shure, in-ear monitors and MOTIV, which offers digital microphones and new ways of recording. 
I have been an RME user for about eight years. I bought one of their A/D D/A converters because I wanted to improve the audio quality going into my Digidesign 003r, rack mounted I/O box that I operate using Pro Tools. I still use the original RME ADI-8 DS for that job, even though RME has upgraded it to the RME ADI-8 DS Mk iii. If I needed that same sort of quality functionality today, the Mk iii would definitely be a contender. I reviewed the new unit in February of 2015 and you can find that review here. The combination of my room, mics, preamps and the RME ADI-8 DS, are responsible for the quality of the sound I get.

I was looking for a piece that would be attractive to small studios and also for actors who are called upon to do their own engineering when asked by producers for voice auditions. The audio book market continues to grow and the tech-savvy actor can open an account at and make at least a partial living by recordings book in the privacy of their own homes. 

The RME Babyface Pro (above) is one way to get there. Its small footprint belies its abilities. As I watched Jeff Petersen explain the ins and outs, it occurred to me that there was a lot going on inside this box. I'm sure you'll agree!

Radial Engineering
I have always enjoyed the thinking at Radial Engineering. They make a large number of audio boxes that do lots of different things - call them "problem solvers" if you like. You'll understand as you watch Jay Porter explain some of these boxes, like the BT-Pro, the first BlueTooth enabled stereo receiver direct box. The DI Net, direct boxes for DANTE systems that either input or output from a DANTE network. The JDX Direct-Drive a small instrument amp simulator that lets you feed a small house system or a small powered speaker, but the processing in the box supposedly makes it sounds like a Marshall 412……except at a much lower volume and without having to lug the amp in and out. Check them all out in the video below.

Radial bought Jensen a few years ago. John Hardy has been making the one rack space Jensen twin 990 servo preamp for some time and it's a truly great sounding preamp. I've had one here in my studio and also took it around to other music studios to the delight and amazement of others. For more details, here's a rabbit hole to my online archive and one of the reviews I wrote about the Night preamp and the Jensen twin 990. The Jensen twin servo mic preamps built into the 500 Series format caught my eye and ear.  

Jay also had a nice USB-Pro Stereo USB Laptop DI box (below) that can solve a lot of problems. 

TASCAM's Jeff Laity had a great little plug on recorder for dynamic mics, the DR-10X Plug-On Micro Linear PCM Recorder (below). If you're doing on the street reporting with a dynamic mic, you can now safely leave the cassette deck behind. This would probably be useful for singer-songwriters or anyone who want to quickly capture a mono file of a thought or musical performance. Keep one by the bed for those wake-up moments when you have a great idea that you'll never remember in the morning.

On the top end, TASCAM's DA-6400 is a 64-track recorder (below) for live sound, FOH or live broadcast recording and playback. Timceode, Gigabit Ethernet, Serial RS-422 and parallel control.

TASCAM has speced and engineered their own SSD hard drives and have hot-swappable enclosures for them. There are two I/O slots for optional audio interface cards: IF-MA64/EX 64-channel redundant (in/out/thru) MADI optical/coaxial interface card, IF-MA64/BN 64-channel MADI coaxial interface card, IF-DA64 64-channel Dante interface card and an IF-AE16 16-channel AES/EBU interface card.

Lewitt Audio
To be honest, I had never heard of Lewitt microphones. They started after Roman Perschon left his job as Project Manager for AKG, best I can tell, around 2009. Lewitt makes a line of dynamic and condenser mics. I wish them luck. It's a crowded market. The glowing vacuum tube in the Lewitt LCT940 (below) caught my eye and the power supply and pattern adjustment box it was attached to looked interesting, so I spent a few minutes with Dean Downey to learn more. It's a mic that combines both FET and tube and allows you to vary the mix of the two and choose among all the patterns from Omni to Figure Of Eight.

I've been a fan of Zoom for a while. They have made inroads into the pro audio and pro video markets with low cost gear that has some limitations, but gets the job done. I have reviewed both the Zoom Q4 and Zoom Q8 video cameras and am amazed that they can bring the technology they do at the price points they do.

I saw the Zoom F8 (above) come out earlier this year and have heard that it's selling very well. There are some cautions. The knobs are pretty difficult to mix with because they're so small. Also the gain knobs turn down, but not completely off. So the ideal use for the F8 is for a multi-track ISO recorder that you'll use to record audio and then mix the ISO tracks in post. Check out the new iPad control that Charlie Lederer demonstrates. Very Cool.

Cloud Microphones
I've known Roger for about five years. I reached out to him when the Cloud  JRS34 bi-directional ribbon mic came out. I worked with Cloud to make a few changes in the JRS34 as they were getting it ready for market. 

Somewhere along the line they put out a small amp stage called the Cloud Lifter. Then the Cloud Lifter CL-Z variable impedance mic activator. It's a truly neat device, especially if you have passive ribbon or dynamic mics, even a Shure SM57 or SM58. (Non-linear thought: If you're micing a snare with an SM57, try a Granelli G5790. It's an SM57 with a 90 degree angle that's a lot easier to position on a drum kit. These are local Baltimore guys.) The Cloud Lifter CL-Z allows you to continuously vary the impedance load the mic sees. That, of course, changes the sound of the mic; more flavors, more colors.

I've never seen so many in-ear phones! I asked Shure's Thomas Banks to run down the list and explain the differences. The Shure booth was very, very busy. I was concerned that all of the chatter around us would cover our comments. It's a little tough, but work with me here!

The Shure line (above) was very impressive. From the SE112 ($49), SE215 ($138.99), SE315 ($242.99), SE425 ($342.99), SE535 ($499), SE846 ($999), SHA900 listening amplifier ($999), and KSE1500 electrostatic earphones ($2,999.00) - there's a price point and feature set for everyone. (really? $3k? What must that sound like?)

My first thought was that one of these many in-ear drivers would be perfect for videographers who are also responsible for grabbing sound. Their problem is that even the small-ish Sony MDR 7506 headphones stick out too much and bang into the side of the camera when it's shoulder-mounted. NOT HELPFUL!! I hope to get around to trying some of these later to find out which model delivers sound similar enough to the MDR7506 to be useful in the location audio work I do. 

If you think Shure has been sitting on its laurels and watching the world go by, THINK AGAIN! This became apparent when Banks gave me a whirlwind (pun intended) tour of the Shure Motiv line of digital mics and new recording solutions. Please excuse the couple of places my camera decided to go soft focus. I may have had my finger over a focus sensor. I need to look into that. 

Banks showed me the Shure MVL lav, MV5, MV51, A free Motiv App, (a 24/48 recording software - check the App store), the MVi, MV88 Mid/Side stereo condenser with an amazing amount of control via the App in the above video. With these, Shure has definitely demonstrated that it's listening to "what the kids are saying."

That was my last stop of the second day and as the sun set over Manhattan, I walked back to the once grand (but not any more) Hotel Pennsylvania. OTOH, the Niles Restaurant a block south on 7th Avenue in the Affinia Hotel, was a great place to eat and drink.

The next day, as we trained from NYC back to Baltimore, I could only say that the AES Convention was, once again, great and showed me more than I expected. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

AES NYC 2015 A Journeyman's Wandering #04

This fourth report from AES/NYC 2015 moves on to cover more of the booth visits I made over a day and a half. I took a small Olympus Stylus TOUGH TG-4 Digital camera with me so I didn't have to take notes and because "reality video" catches a bit of what it feels like on the floor. It's has a 16MP BSI CMOS with a top sensitivity of ISO 6400 and a 5 fps shooting rate at full resolution. 

I got it over the hundreds of others on the market because it's built to withstand underwater dives to 50 feet, falls from as high as seven feet onto what I don't know), temperatures as low as 14 degrees fahrenheit and pressure up to 220 lbf. I wasn't expecting to operate the camera at any of those extremes, but thought being prepared might come in handy later.

I used it in auto mode most of the time and, while not perfect due to operator error and the whims of the camera itself, I was and remain happy with it. The "stereo mics" are mounted exactly where my left hand wants to hold the camera, so I had to learn to hold it somewhere else our all you could hear was mmmfmmmmfmfmmfmfmmff.

Glenn Sanders is relentless in his efforts to improve location audio gear. First in many things, the Zaxcom "firsts" that stand out for me are a small, digital body pack transmitter that has a built in audio recorder and also records time code to a mini-SD card, NeverClip, a system that prevents overloading of the transmitter by unexpectedly loud sounds and the ZaxNet systematic approach that, among many other things, allows an operator to adjust the sensitivity of a transmitter from a Zaxcom console without ever touching the transmitter itself. Click on the Zaxnet link to find out more.

Join Glenn above as he talks about the new Nomad Touch Remote control. If you're doing location audio from a bag or on a cart, the Nomad Touch can let you take care of business very easily; metadata, changing output busses, record enable tracks. So it's a Deva-style touch screen for a Nomad recorder. Nice!

Scott Boland was at the Redding audio stand and among other things was showing the new Rycote Cyclone windshield kit. The system is different in that the windscreen itself is attached via a suspension system to the base. That reduces vibrations from making their way to the microphone. Scott is showing a medium sized vernon in the video. It works with a Sennheiser 416Schoeps CMITRode NTG1NTG2 or NTG4 or 4+. As of 12/7/15, the only size available in the USA is large. That would be the right size for long shotgun mics like a Sennheiser 816 (If you still have one), Audio-Technica 4071L, or a Rode NTG8. Shorter versions are expected in 2016. Check out Scott's demo below.

Eric Blackmer was just across the aisle at Earthworks. It had been some time since I had talked to him and we did some catchup, especially on an ingenious invention called a KP1 KICKPAD, an inline device that allows almost any XLR terminated mic to be used as a kick drum mic. $99.

It comes with the Earthworks DK25/L Live Performance Drum Mics that also includes three SR25 cardioid mics and a windscreen for the kick drum for a simple but effective three mic drum PA setup. 

There is also the Earthworks DK25/R Recording kit that includes two TC25 omni mics for overhead, a SR25 cardioid for kick, a KP1 KICKPAD and a windscreen.

Finding solutions for situations is vitally important for any company. The Earthworks FW730 FlexWand mics and stands are good example of this approach. Preachers, drummer and choir directors take note as Blackmer details the applications and why the FW730 works so well. I like the fact that it has an XLR plug built-in to the stand itself and the cord runs internally all the way up to the microphone. And as Eric demonstrates below, it's very stable.

Finally, Blackmer showed me the Earthworks SR20 handheld cardioid condenser for live work that can withstand 145 dB SPL. I was struck by the ingenuity of Earthworks designers to come up with the screw on headgrille that allows one of his typical designs to be repurposed for a totally different application. Very cool! $599 is certainly out of the reach of anyone with an SM58 budget. It's up there past an Audio-Technica AE5400 and equal to a Neumann KMS 105but mics are sometimes something you don't know you want until you hear what they do. Then you want one! See what Eric has to say about the Earthworks SR20 below.

Coming up in the next edition, the RME BabyFace Pro, a long list of Radial Engineering gear, a new Tascam plug on recorder plug on for dynamic mics, a Tascam 64 track recorder with removable hard drives, a new soft, silicon surfaced Roli music keyboard, a gaggle of Shure in ear monitors and more! Keep an eye out! Subscribe to the Blog!!!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

AES NYC 2015 A Journeyman's Wandering #03

Gateway to the AES Show Floor
The 2015 Audio Engineers Society Convention in NYC comes to the Javits Center every other year. It bounces from the East Coast to the West Coast every Fall.

The display floor is part of the show. There are also suites in which closer listens to particular gear are available, and a healthy collection of papers and presentations are made. If you're in pro audio, keeping track by being a member of AES can be helpful.
Doug Fearn AES 2015

D. W. Fearn
I got in mid-day friday and spent the remains of that day on the left side of the hall, seeing old faces and meeting some new ones. Doug Fearn is one of the old faces. He's has been making hand-crafted analog mic preamps, compressors and EQ for about fifty years. His web site has a lot of deep, useful information about acoustics, building control rooms and sessions. You'll also find very useful information on every piece of his gear and how the circuits work. Sure, you can just plug something in and give it a whirl, but getting the inside track on how a circuit works and how best to work it from the designer makes a big difference.

D. W. Fearn VT-2
While he has a line of about a dozen pieces of high quality gear, Doug says his VT-2, two channel vacuum tube microphone preamp remains his top seller. Based on the sound  of classic designs of the 1960s but updated as technology allows, the VT-2 bridges the gap between history and the present. Click here for the VT-2 video that explains the VT-2 and what makes it special.

In every studio, my own included, you need a few great preamps to help make a difference. I don't have any of Doug's here at my studio, but many do and they will take your audio to another level. If two channels is more than you need, you can scale back to a one channel preamp; the D. W. Fearn VT-1, seen directly below. Doug also makes an eight channel version.

D. W. Fearn VT-1
Want a smaller footprint? Like 500 Rack or a portable shoebox with handle? Not far away, the BAE 1073 DMP Desktop Mic Pre (left) caught my eye. A balanced XLR microphone in with Phantom Power, a 1/4" Direct in with a bass DI transformer, two 1/4" Thru jacks. Check out the specs and video for more information. The 1073 DMP can be ordered with Jensen or Carnhill (St Ives) transformers.

Gordon Audio's Grant Carpenter
Nashville's Grant Carpenter (and Gordon Microphone Preamps) were at the next booth. I hear Gordon preamps at Producers Video, an audio-video post house here in Baltimore, while doing some VO work with Producers Video engineer Bob Bragg. Bob's ears are some of the best in town. 

What may differentiate the Gordon solid state circuitry, is the Soft Signal Path. "Each stage and the path itself are variable, optimized automatically for the selected gain and output load. 

Gain in the signal path is variable, equal to the actual settings of the gain control with no feedback, no attenuators. 

Automatic output load compensation couples and output load sensing circuit to a variable-parameter output stage. The output signal is monitored to determine the load while the output stage parameters are adjusted accordingly to minimize distortion."

If you're looking for a "color box", I don't think this box is what you want. The unit accepts mic, line or DI sources. 

The Gordon Model 4 is a single channel preamp. the Gordon Model 5 is a two channel version. There are also remote control chassis available to eliminate those long, signal-robbing runs between microphone and input stage. 

I still remember the article in MIX years ago in which one live sound engineer was amazed at the difference that putting preamps on stage and running short mic cables to them made over snaking from the stage to FOH.

OK, now for something completely different. In reviewing the DPA 4017 and 4018 capsules and MMP-C and MMP-C, recently, I caught wind of a new omni lavaliere mic with a special holder that allows the mic to be positioned in a shirt button hole. This side-address lav is available as the Low Sensitivity SLIM 4061 and the High Sensitivity SLIM 4060, two different sensitivities. I was not able to find sensitivity figures, but I'm guessing the low sensitivity version is for screaming actors and musicals where the mic may be hair-mounted. Look for them, the Button Hole Mount and the Concealer Mount at the end of the year

DPA SLIM 4060 (or SLIM 4061) side-address, omni lav

DPA SLIM 4060 (or SLIM 4061) with button hole holder
DPA has an online video that explains some of the tricks to successful lav mounting, including use of the DPA Concealer. If you regularly work with actors and find getting lavs mounted so you don't get clothing or body noise, you're going to like this video!

That'll do it for the #3 installment of my Journeyman's wanderings at AES NYC 2015. As the sun set on Manhattan, I was off on a walk back to the very sad Hotel Pennsylvania to meet my wife, Bette. She scored big at Bloomingdale's and we had a great dinner at Niles Bar & Restaurant a block south of the hotel.

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Manhattan as seen reflected in the Javits Center East Front

Saturday, November 7, 2015

AES NYC 2015 A Journeyman's Wandering #02

Javits Center
Nothing like a crisp and clear Fall day in NYC. Too bad I had to spend most of it inside the Javits Center for the 2015 Audio Engineers Association Convention.

Good news for future conventions at the Javits, NYC has just opened an extension of the 7 Train that runs from Main Street in Flushing, Queens on the East Side across Manhattan to 34th Street – Hudson Yards in Chelsea, a short block from the Javits Center. 

The 7 Train crosses Manhattan near 42nd Street on its way West stopping at Grand Central Station and Times Square before turning South down to 34th Street just before 11th Avenue, where the Javits is. 

Foot sore AES attendees or anyone attending a conference at the Javits who is staying in mid town can now jump the 7 train and get back to their hotels for a nice foot soak before heading out on the town. 

7 Train Station, 34th & the Yards, Chelsea
I suspect it won't take long before that part of Chelsea gets a series of facelifts, including shops, more places to stay and more restaurants. How much you'll pay for that convenience remains to be seen, but a two nights stay in the lowly, grimy  Pennsylvania Hotel (booked in advance) was over $800. REALLY! Oh, yeah, that's right we're in NYC.

Mark Fouxman - Samar Audio Design - VL37A

What's Old Is New
My first stop was Mark Fouxman at the Samar Audio Design booth. Mark began his work by modifying microphones. His modification of the AKG C1000S is pretty stellar and economical. It makes the C1000S very useful in the studio. Check the link for audio samples.

Microphone modification soon led to inspiration and he began making his own microphones. I have been talking to Mark about his VL37 classic, bi-directional, passive ribbon mic which now at my studio for review. He's done some very inventive things to squeeze as much signal and as many high frequencies as possible while lowering the noise by fine tuning an old design. 

He brought the next phase of the VL37 to this AES show; the VL37A, an active version. About 10dB more sensitive and quieter than you would expect, the active version also has that uniquely extended high frequency response. By adding the active stage, Fouxman provides a more consistent termination for the ribbon. This means that a variety of preamps will not vary the sound of the mic as much because the loading of the ribbon is achieved by the active circuitry.

Rupert Neve Designs for 500 Racks
Rupert Neve
AES isn't much without checking in with Rupert, who is now 89. The first thing to catch my eye was the Dante sign. Dante, patented by Audinate, stands for Digital Audio Network Through Ethernet. This is no time to stick your head in the sand. Dante is here and shows no signs of going away. Here's a list of recent Dante enabled products. Careful, it's a rabbit hole!

Rupert Neve Design 5060 Centerpiece
Not far away was a Rupert Neve Design 5060 Centerpiece Desktop Mixer. No, it's not new, but it sure looks nice. It's an up to 24-input line mixer with the mix buss from the 5088 console, including a multimode insertable “Silk” circuit. The center section has three monitor outputs, mono and dim, three external inputs, and talkback to two separate outputs including a headphone amp.

The mixer section has four 100mm mono/stereo faders, each fader having insert and mute, for inputs 1-8. At the top left of the panel are 8 stereo rotary faders for stereo inputs 9-16. On the right is a Master fader. A pair of large VU meters with peak flashers indicate output level There's a USB / MIDI transport controller with a Shuttle/Jog wheel. Yum!

AnaMod ATS-1 Analog Tape Simulator
If your world is too digital, perhaps you need to return to your analog roots. AnaMod's ATS-1 analog tape simulator is a two channel box. You can see it here in the top slot of the rack with the light faceplate and dual analog meters. You can choose 7.5, 15 and 30 i.p.s.. The modes have the corresponding head bumps built in. There are four types of tape machine and four different tape formulations. You can add hiss in stereo. (how quaint.) There is also bias control and hi and low EQ. There is nothing digital in this unit.

The ATS-1 models up to four types of tape machine and up to four types of analog recording tape. Machine and tape formula changes are done by SIMM cards. The unit ships with Quantegy GP9 and Ampex 456.  

Applications include tracking in front of A/D converters and mastering to achieve a more analog sound. 

Pendulum Audio
Not far away was Greg Gualtieri's Pendulum Audio with racks of analog and tube-based gear. Shown here from top to bottom are:

The Class A OCL-2, Electro-Optical, Vacuum Tube Compressor Limiter. 

The Class A ES-8 Remote Cutoff Tube Limiter.

The Class A 6386 Remote Cutoff Tube Limiter.

The PL-2 JFET/MOSFET Two-Channel Brickwall Peak limiter.

Several other Pendulum pieces caught my eye. Gualtieri has broken out the De-esser from his Quartet Tube Recording Channel and made it available in the API 500 format as the DS-500.
Pendulum SPS-1
There are many ways to record acoustic instruments with pickups. The Pendulum SPS-1 is a two-channel rack unit that offers an impressive array of controls. 

I've been very happy with the K&K Pure Western Mini in my D-28S Martin and my Martin Grand J-28LSE baritone with D-TAR Wavelength pickup and mic, using vintage Groove Tube Brick and Ditto, tube direct boxes, or the instrument input of my Millennia Media STT-1, but this gear does spark my interest. That's all for now, but there's a lot more to come. Please stay tuned and subscribe to this blog.
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Monday, November 2, 2015

AES NYC 2015 A Journeyman's Wandering #01

Jacob Javits Convention Center
We arrived in NYC at Penn Station Friday around mid-day to attend the Audio Engineers Association 2015 Convention at the Javits Center on 11th Avenue. I wanted to stop by the B&H Superstore first. They are not open on Saturdays due to religious observances.

Having been tipped off by PR Maven Howard Sherman that "The Microphone Room" at B&H's NYC store had been designed by Walters Storyk Design Group, I was more than a little interested in seeing the space and what was in it. John and Beth have done many spectacular projects over the years. How would they approach a mic room in a retail establishment?

Note: B&H help make this blog possible, but most people who know me at all are aware that I don't blow smoke. Someone had mentioned to me in the past that B&H's 9th Ave. store was pretty amazing. It was on my way to the Javits Center. OK, fine, Show me.  

In most big box stores, the audio department takes a back seat to the other gear. I entered the store and asked for the audio department was. I can't tell you how many square feet is deployed for audio, but it's SIZABLE. Aisles and aisles of glittering glass cases with mixers, headphones, recorders, mics, adapters, wind filters - all things audio, all JUST THERE in plain sight.

Impressive, but what about the microphone room? I was directed to it. Through the window I could see there were already people inside. You need to swipe a card to get into the room. I waited until the customers and B&H associate came out. I introduced myself and asked to see the room and was swiped in.

The space was a lot smaller than I expected, but the design was obvious - no parallel walls. Thick walls to keep the "walla" from the rest of the store out and windows to allow the mics to be seen and to keep those in the room from becoming claustrophobic. As the heavy door "smffed" closed, the room was very quiet.

I was flanked on both sides by double arrays of microphones - two long brackets ran the length of each wall and the mics were attached on their various mic clips and suspension mounts to the brackets. Not under glass, behind a counter, but nekkid and staring you in the face where you can touch them, fondle them or handle them to see which have controls and what the controls are. 

B&H Microphone Room Wall #1

Large, medium and small condensers, shotguns, dynamics, ribbons. OK, a massive display, but what about hearing them? As you can see from the shot below, there seems to be some rack mounted gear under the array on wall #2.

B&H Microphone Room Wall #2
And a closer look reveals a credenza full of preamps and a patchbay that lets you hear and compare each to these mics. You can click on each photo to see the gear in greater detail.

I suppose there might be another retail showroom that has this sort of display, but I've never seen or heard of one. Kudos to B&H for putting it out there like this for gear slutting audio people. If you are within traveling distance from NYC and are trying to make choices about microphones, it's hard to beat the idea of a road trip to this "oasis or microphones." Bring your favorite set of headphones so you can make good comparative decisions.

Oh, by the way, the audio monitor room was the next one over. Here's a peek.

I'll be posting info from booth visits on the AES Display Floor. Stay tuned! Copyright 2015 © Technique, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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