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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