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