Mixing Class With Me at SALT

Normally, I don't like doing self-promotional posts. But my friend Luke pointed out we're going to a lot of trouble to arrange this class, and it might be good if people knew about it. So here we go.

Most of you know that I've been part of the SALT conference for the last few years. Last year, I had the privilege to organize the audio track. This year, SALT organizer (and good friend) Luke McElroy asked if I would do a pre-conference mixing class. Never one to back down from a challenge, and always wanting to be part of my favorite conference of the year, I said yes. 

Here's the deal: On Wednesday, Oct. 12, I'll be teaching a class called Becoming the Mix Master. I did not name the class. But it's kinda fun. Instead of teaching you how to drop beats and spin vinyl, I'll be teaching you the basics of mixing. 

Fundamentals Not Basic

Basic is probably the wrong word; perhaps fundamentals is better. I've only got 3.5 (maybe 4 if I push it) hours to work with, so I can't teach you everything that I've learned in 25 years of mixing. However, I will teach you the fundamentals of crafting a good mix. And don't worry; none of this will be gear or plugin dependent. Everything I teach will be things you can take back to your church the following Sunday and use—no matter what equipment you have or how big or small your church is. 

Break It Down

Playing up on the Sir Mix A Lot theme, I'm going to start off having you listen to a mix that I'll put together. Then we'll spend the next few hours breaking down how I got there. We'll talk about things like mic selection and placement; building proper gain structure; setting your console up for success; proper use of high pass filters and EQ; selective compression; and effects. If I have time, I'll show you my super-secret trick for helping the lead vocal stand out without being painful. OK, it's not super-secret—I've written about it here several times. 

Gear Independence

As I said, this will be a gear-independent class. My buddy Jake Cody from Yamaha has agreed to provide consoles for me to work on, which is super-cool. Most of you know I'm a Digico guy, but to prove the gear doesn't matter as much as the technique, I'll be doing this whole thing on the very capable CL. For fun, we may also demonstrate some of the techniques on a TF-5 as well, just to prove the point. My goal is to create a training session that you can use regardless of what you mix on. 

Details

As I said, this whole shindig will take place on the first day of the SALT conference, Wednesday, October 12. The cost for this littleconfab will be a whopping $79. In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Luke is generously sharing some of the funds with me, though I told him I'd do it for free. You can register for the class here: http://saltnashville.com/salt16-labs/. Space is limited, but I hear there some room left. 

And really, you should be coming to the SALT conference anyway—it's really one of the best conferences of the year. There are some exciting changes coming to this year's event, and this is the one that I look forward to. I know the team responsible for the event and I can tell you they have a huge heart to help the church and the church tech. 

So come on out and hang with me for a few hours this fall. I don't claim to be the best, but I've learned a few things over the years and look forward to sharing them. And if you listen to the podcast or read this website, please say hi before or after the class.  

Elite Core

InfoComm 2016 Coverage: Martin Audio, L'Acoustics & Bose

Alright—we’re in the home stretch! This is our last installment of our InfoComm 2016 coverage. As we wrap up in the land of audio, we’ll listen to some new speakers that were rolled out. I got to hear each one of these, and so these are first hand (or first ear…) reports.

Martin CDD Live

 CDD Live 8

CDD Live 8

We started taking a serious look at CDD last year at InfoComm. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed; more low-cost boxes for small to mid-size rooms. Whatever. Or that’s what I thought until I heard them. Honestly, I was blown away at the price/performance ratio. A few months later, we set them up with some of our other favorite boxes for a shootout. Again, we were very pleased with the CDD series. I’ve since installed two systems and have been extremely happy with the way the systems turn out. 

Now many people think Martin Audio and think MLA, a big, expensive, powered, very impressive line array with tons of DSP. They took their experience with MLA and applied it to CDD, adding bi-amplified power to the speakers and tweaking the enclosures a bit. They also threw in some DSP for good measure. They also added Dante connectivity. 

Like last year, I knew about them going in, so I wasn’t prepared to be surprised. But when they fired up the new Live boxes, again, we were surprised at how good they sounded. The CDD Live 8 particularly blew us away, especially in light of how small it is. The subs also sound fantastic—loud, low and tight. Like the CDD line, the CDD Live line is very cost-effective, and with the build-in DSP, you could even eliminate an outboard DSP for basic systems. You know we’ll be installing a bunch of these guys.

L’Acoustics Kiva II

I’ve become a big fan of L’Acoustics over the last few years as I’ve heard more of their systems and installed a couple of them. They’re easy to tune, are voiced very consistently throughout the entire line and sound great even with stock presets. The Kiva line array is a very solid, small- to mid-sized system. It’s built on dual 6.5” LF drivers and a 1.5” compression HF driver and VDOSC waveguide. It’s a great sounding box for smaller rooms, or as delays for larger spaces. 

Again, when a company rolls out a II of anything, I tend to think, “Whatever.” Then they played the Kiva II. Wow! The Kiva sounds great, but when they switched over to the II, it was like a blanket came off the speaker. While it looks the same physically (and all the hardware still works), they completely redesigned the guts. There is a ton more articulation in the upper-midrange, and they even squeezed 6 dB more output out of it! That may not sound like much, but that’s a double-double of amplifier power. And as a 16 Ohm box, you can hang a bunch of them off the new LA12x amplifier—13,600 watts at 2.7 Ohms! According to the marketing folks, LA12x sounds cooler than LA13.6x. So there you go. Great stuff from L’Acoustics. I can’t wait to set one of these up!

Bose ShowMatch

Speaking of mid-size line array systems, we finally got to see the production prototypes of the new system from Bose, dubbed ShowMatch. Though, calling it a line array is technically incorrect. It looks like a line array, but it’s really a progressive directivity array, which they have now dubbed DeltaQ™. It’s based on the same concept as RoomMatch, with multiple vertical coverage options, and different horizontal waveguides. The difference is, in ShowMatch, the waveguides are field swappable. The rigging system is very cool, and will allow for fast, flexible setups for tours. 

For installs, it’s a smaller footprint than RoomMatch, but has similar voicing and output. I heard a early pre-production prototype a while back, and they sounded extremely good. Having done a few RoomMatch systems now, I’m always amazed at the accuracy of the coverage and the even intelligibility throughout the seating areas. ShowMatch will be one more arrow in our quiver full of great PAs to work with. 

They also announced new PowerShare amps, which are going to be a boon to anyone who does 70V systems. Unlike most amps that have a fixes, maximum output on any given channel, PowerShare allocates power to each output based on the load. This means the entire output of the amp could be available to one channel if needed. They’re 1 RU high, so they don’t take up much rack space and are priced well. They also created a few new wall controls for remote volume. 

All in all, InfoComm 2016 was a good show. Our industry has matured to the point where we’re not seeing groundbreaking new products each year, but there is a lot of good iteration happening, as well as convergence. Next time, we’ll be back to our regular scheduled programming.

Elite Core

InfoComm 2016 Coverage: Symetrix & Yamaha

Well, I sort of missed a week here, but we’re back with our final two installments of InfoComm 2016 coverage. We’re finally to the good stuff—Audio! We have some electronics today and speakers next time. 

Symetrix Solus is Back

A while back, Symetrix killed off the Solus line, which was a little sad. But it’s back now, and with two more letters. The Solus NX 4x4, 8x8 and 16x8 will be available soon and will feature all analog inputs and outputs. The count will match the product names—what a concept! The nice thing about the Solus NX line is that it’s now configurable in Composer, and is fully open DSP. Some installations don’t need Dante, and there’s no sense paying for what you don’t need. 

They also showed a cool new interface builder as part of Composer which will make it easier than ever to do web-based custom controllers for the full line of DSPs. Composer is currently at version 5.1 and 5.2 is coming soon with even more third-party Dante devices available for control. Personally, I was hoping for control of the Atterotech DIO3, and I got it. Though to be fair, Atterotech finally updated their software, too, so I don’t have to use their terrible Unify software any more. 

Symetrix showed the new ARC-3 control last year, and it’s been shipping for a while. This is a great little control for times when you need more than buttons and pots. The display is very crisp and easy to read and should prove to be a powerful control. 

Yamaha CL 4.0

There is no denying that the CL consoles (and QLs for that matter) have been hugely successful. And Yamaha continues to do what Yamaha does; roll out new features that make our lives better. We got to see v. 4 software at the show and while there are a ton of new features, the big ones for me are these: If you have Shure ULXD4D and ULXD4Q wireless systems in your Dante network, you can now see receiver gain, mute, frequency, diversity, battery, RF strength, and audio level right on the console. How great will it be to monitor the pastor’s battery level right from his channel strip? They also included new EQ models, which look very cool. I’ll have to hear them to give you a full run down, but I like what I see. A new four-band multi band comp is now available as well. The new version of stage mix allows for up to 10 iOS devices to connect to a single console for monitor mixing, which will be a huge boon to churches with limited budgets and stage space. There are some other enhancements, but those are the big ones. Personally, the ULX-D integration is enough for me to upgrade, but I’m a big fan of multi-band comps, so I’m looking forward to trying it out this summer. 

As audio becomes more networked, I think we’ll see more of this type of integration. While networking has its drawbacks, these are some of the big wins we can expect as everything ties together. 

Next time, we’ll preview some new speakers that continue to make it easier and more affordable to get great audio.

This post is brought to you by Nemosyn. The guitar player practices, the keyboard player practices, the vocalists practice, how does a sound guy practice? Nemosyn record. Practice. Perfect your mix. Visit their website at Nemosyn.com.