Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Month: January 2011 (Page 2 of 3)

Church Tech Weekly Episode 30: Mega NAMM Coverage

Sit down, strap in and relax! Mike and Van go all out to give you comprehensive coverage of Winter NAMM 2011. This is a long episode, but be sure to listen all the way to the end for plenty of new tech that will have an impact on you as a church tech. From new wireless to new cymbals, we cover it all!


Van Metschke



Winter NAMM 2011: Heil PR-31 BW

Heil PR-31 BW Heil PR-31 BWOK, disclaimer time: I’m a big Heil fan. We’re rapidly replacing almost all the mics on our stage with Heil products. Not because they give them to me (I wish!), but because they sound great. I’ve written before about how much I like the PR-30 on overheads (and it’s also great on electric guitar), and the new PR-31 BW is pretty much the same mic, only 4″ long. It was “designed” by Bob Workman, FOH engineer for Charlie Daniels. When I say it was “designed,” I mean Bob Workman basically cut a PR-30 down so it would fit better on the drum kit. He showed it to Bob Heil, who said, “We can build that!” It’s the same diaphragm and pattern as the PR-30, only smaller. I hope to have a few of them to play with on our B3 in a few weeks.

Heil PR-31 An interesting under-mic’ing option for cymbals.Under mic’ing cymbals seems to be all the rage now, and the PR-31 and the HH 1 drum mount surely makes a slick package. We have 3 of the HH1’s on our tom mics (PR-28s) and love them.

Heil HandiMic Heil Handi Mic Pro PlusThis is not a new product, but come on, how cute is that? The HM-Pro Plus accurate phase response, a accurate cardioid pattern and excellent rear rejection, this would make a great snare, hi-hat or tom mic. Or just about anything else, for that matter. The small size would make it easy to place around guitar cabinets or a B3. And at $108 list, I may have to buy 2-3 of them just to have.

Winter NAMM 2011: Whirlwind

Whirlwind Data Snake Whirlwind Data SnakeI’ve been a fan of Whirlwind products since they were located in an old factory on Boxart St. in Rochester (disclaimer, I’m a Rochester native…). They’ve since expanded to a much larger facility on the west side of Rochester, and they continue to come up with cool, well made products. Acknowledging the proliferation of data lines on stage, they’ve introduced the Data Snake. Available in 6 or 12 audio channel versions, the snake adds 2 Cat6 data cables connected by EtherCons.

Mixing analog and data in the snake Mixing analog and data in the snakeWe were just talking about needing something like this on our stage the other day. We often have a percussion player on stage left, and with 3-4 mics plus the M-48 data line, that’s 5 cables running over there. With a snake like this, we could get all the audio and data we need across the stage with one line. Very slick. If you’re even a little familiar with Whirlwind, you know the stuff is built like a tank and will last a long, long time. They’re not cheap, but you’ll probably never replace it.

Whirlwind Power Link Whirlwind PowerLinkI saw this at InfoComm, but didn’t write about it. The PowerLink system is a collection of power distribution products connected by Neutrik PowerCon connectors. The boxes are all made from 0.074″ powder coated cold rolled steel and feels like it could withstand being run over by an Abrams M1 tank.

Whirlwind PowerLink Distro Whirlwind PowerLink DistroI love this concept because it allows you to place power where you need it, when you need it with a minimum of fuss and cables. The distros connect to the house power using twist-lock plugs and splits that power out to two or three circuits. The stage boxes are daisy-chainable, so you can put multiple boxes on a circuit. Because they’re using PowerCons as interconnects, you could easily make up or buy a whole collection of multiple length cables and use just what you need. No more using 100′ cables when you need to run 10′.

Winter NAMM 2011: Roland VR-5 A/V Mixer

RSS VR-5 Roland VR-5 A/V MixerWe were able to get a good run through of the new VR-5 A/V mixer from John Broadhead of Roland Systems Group. The VR-5 is an interesting product. Here’s a list of highlights from the RSS website:


  • 5-Channel Video Switcher (3 video sources, PC input, video playback)
  • 2 Mono and 5 Stereo Mixable Audio Channels
  • Built-in scan converter for PC input
  • Built-in dual LCD monitors with touch control for easy video source selection
  • Three video layers for 2 video sources plus DSK (downstream keyer)
  • MPEG-4 player/recorder
  • USB video/audio class device for web streaming

That’s all cool, but it’s the last line that makes this interesting. You can plug this mixer into your computer and it will show up as an audio and video source for any streaming application. So if you need to take a video stream out to LiveStream, for example, it’s easy to do. Need to Skype a missionary in? No problem.

They included a built-in video player and recorder; both operations will work with a standard SDHC card inserted into the front slot. You can only record or play back at once, however. The unit is currently only Standard Definition and video input and output is either S-video or composite. Built-in frame sync’s eliminate the need for genlocking everything.

One of the coolest features is the built-in touch screen multi-view monitor. Yes, you read that right, touch screen. Want to take a shot live? Touch the shot on the screen. Could anything be more volunteer friendly? It will also do effects like split screen, picture in picture and downstream keying (chroma or luma).

It’s an interesting proposition. On the one hand, the absolute ease of sending a mixed stream of audio and video out to the web in one operation is compelling. On the other hand, lack of more modern input signals (SDI, component video) could be a detriment. Generally speaking, for SD web streaming, S-Video is going to be good enough, however, so it will really depend on what you’re trying to do.

This may not be the ultimate video mixer we’ve all been waiting for, but for the right application, it could be exactly what’s needed.

Winter NAMM 2011: RME

RME FireFace UFX RME FireFace UFXRME was showing off the new FireFace UFX interface. Using what appears to be the same LCD screen as the JoeCo BlackBox (and probably a lot of digital cameras…), the UFX sports a really slick, high resolution display right on the front panel. Featuring a significant 30 channels of I/O, and the very slick TotalMix FX software, the UFX gives you more options for routing your audio around than almost any interface I can think of. There are 4 high quality pre-amps, 16 channels of ADAT I/O, AES/EBU and 12 channels of balanced line I/O. It interfaces with FireWire 400 and USB 2.0, and as you can see, occupies a single rack space.

RME has always been known for extremely high quality conversion and interfaces, and I expect this one to be no different. We’ve been using the MADIFace for six months, and it’s been absolutely rock-solid.

RME BabyFace RME BabyFaceAnnounced at InfoComm and now shipping, we also saw production models of the BabyFace. This is RME’s answer to the Apogee Duet, only with more features. Whereas the Duet offers a 2×2 analog I/O, the BabyFace 10 input and 12 output channels! You get 2 analog inputs, 4 analog outputs, 8 channels of ADAT (or 2 channels of S/PDIF) I/O plus MIDI I/O. There are two high-quality mic pres plus a dedicated line input. Most of the I/O is handled by a breakout cable, though there are headphone and line in jacks on the side of the unit. Like everything else RME makes, it’s very well made, and while not cheap, is a good value. Expect to pay about $750 street.

Winter NAMM 2011: JoeCo BlackBox

JoeCo Black Box JoeCo Black BoxJoeCo was showing off their BlackBox 24-channel recorders as well. New at NAMM was the Dante interface for easier interfacing with digital consoles. This model joins models that have balanced analog, ATAT, and AES/EBU I/O. I saw these single-rack devices about 6-8 months ago and was immediately intrigued. To use, you simply connect a USB hard drive of your choice to the box, and you’re ready to record and play back 24 tracks. The BlackBox features a bright, color LCD screen and a scroll wheel modeled after the click-wheel on an iPod.
These could be a great way to do virtual soundcheck, depending on your set up. We were told a MADI version is in the works, and since up to 4 of them can be daisy chained together, it would be easy to record up to 96 channels at 24-bit up to 96K audio. And since it records in the Broadcast Wave (BWV) format, you can plug the drive right into the DAW afterward (no proprietary formatting to deal with!)
They’ve also done some really cool things like normal the inputs to the outputs in all modes except playback. So that means if you’re working on an analog desk using the insert jacks to go out and come back in, even if the power to the BlackBox goes out, your audio remains intact in the PA. That’s smart. And when the unit is recording, you have to press Stop for 2 seconds before it will actually stop. Also smart. The BlackBox can be found for somewhere between $2500-3500 depending on I/O.

Winter NAMM 2011: Ultimate Support

Ultimate Support Speaker Cart Van getting a look at the Ultimate Support TS-1000 Speaker CartThis was pretty slick when we saw it at the Ultimate Support booth. The TS-1000 is sized to transport the common powered sub/top box configuration, it’s easy to roll the speakers in, and with the help of a gas support, raise the top speaker up to height. It makes raising speakers up to 50 pounds effortless, and essentially knocks 50# off any other speaker. This could be a huge win for portable churches or any portable sound system.

Ultimate Support Laptop Stand Ultimate Support Laptop StandAlso on hand was this very cool laptop stand. It’s called the Hyper Station and features a lower shelf for a hard drive, audio interface or whatever you want to put there. Made from cast aluminum and coated with automotive grade anodization, it looks pretty solid.

Winter NAMM 2011: ElectroVoice’s New Toys

EV's LiveX series EV’s LiveX series of powered and unpowered speakers

EV had quite a few interesting new products to show. The new LiveX series of passive and powered speakers were on hand, and in the demo room we heard them in, sounded very impressive. I had been looking at the QSC K or K-W series as a replacement to our aging EONs in our student room; however, these LiveX speakers sounded quite a bit better. Which of course means I need to get a demo of both and shoot them out. What’s even more amazing than the sound is the price point. The ELXP 12 single 12″ powered with a 1000W amp is $599. Step up to the 15 and it’s $699. The single 18″ powered sub is $799. We heard the 12 without the sub and the amount of bass extension was impressive and clean. The passive versions of the cabinets are about $300 less than powered. Once I have a set to put up against the K-series, I’ll let you know which one wins…

EV RE-320 EV RE-320Everyone knows how great the EV RE-20 mic is. Both a broadcast standard for voice over work and an amazing bass cabinet or kick drum mic, it’s always a treat to see and hear the RE-20. However, it’s not cheap. Following in the footsteps of DPA, EV has introduced the RE-320, the down-market little brother of the RE-20. With an interesting “dual-personality” switch, the frequency response can be changed up for optimal use as a kick drum mic or a voice-over/acoustic instrument mic. Dressed in all black, it looks cool and will retail for $300. Dang, another mic I need to buy…

EV's new R300 Wireless That’s Kevin Sanchez’s hand in the shot; he staged the lovely product shot.I don’t know if EV is intent on capturing the low end of the market or not, but the new R300 wireless mic system may help them do it. At $300 per channel, it’s certainly a low cost offering. Yet the packs are metal, not cheap plastic, and the handheld has the same thread and pin configuration as Shure wireless. Which means that for around $500, you could have this with a Heil PR-35 on it. How does it sound? Good question, I didn’t get to hear it. I’ll be seeing if I can get my hands on a set or two to try out soon.

Winter NAMM 2011: Lectrosonics Digital IEM

Lectrosonics Quadra IEM Lectrosonics Quadra IEM 4-Channel ReceiverSpeaking of wireless IEMs, Lectrosonics showed off their new Quadra IEM system. It’s called the Quadra because, you guessed it, there are four channels of audio transmitted to each receiver. It’s all digital using spread-spectrum technology and RF performance is said to be crazy-good. We listened to a brief demo and it sounded as good or better than any IEM I’ve ever heard. And the ability to send four channels could be a big plus in certain situations.

Lectrosonics Quadra Transmitter Lectrosonics Quadra TransmitterConsider these options: First, you could send a stereo mix plus the performer’s vocal and instrument. That gives them immediate “more me” control right on the pack. Or, you could send two stereo mixes (ch. 1&2 and ch. 3&4) from one transmitter and set up two packs to pick off their own stereo mix. That greatly increases transmitter density and saves some money on hardware. As is typical for Lectrosonics, the quality is extremely high; it’s all engineered and built right here in the USA. It’s also not cheap; figure around $3500-3800 a channel street. For churches it might be a bit steep. Then again, it might be exactly what some need.

Winter NAMM 2011: DPA’s New Reference Mics

DPA 2006 and 2011 Bruce Meyers showed off his new 2006 and 2011 modular mics.Bruce Meyers gave me an in-depth demo of the new 2006 and 2011 modular reference mics from DPA. As you know, I’m a huge fan of the 4098 HB hanging choir mics. Bruce told me the goal with the 2006 and 2011 was to bring most of the sonic quality that the 4006 and 4011 Standard Reference Mics are known for down to a price point that us mere mortals can afford. The cool thing about this product line is that you can buy the mic bodies (which house the pre-amp and other electronics) at a reasonable price and start with the 2006 or 2011 capsules and have 85-90% of the high-end performance. When budgets allow, you simply purchase the 4000 series capsules and you have the top of the line. Bruce tells me that for under $800 users will be able to get into a 2006 or 2011 with the short back, which is not bad. And see that cord with the small plug on it? That’s a super-low profile XlR cable; perfect for hanging installations.

I heard the 2011 compared to the 4011 and have to say the differences are there, but very subtle. For super-high end recording, the 4011 is hard to beat. But for less critical, lower budget or live work, the 2011 is going to be a top choice for a lot of people.

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