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D.A.S. Hits the Gym

Miami, FL (FEBRUARY 21, 2020)—Miami’s Anatomy Gym recently updated its sound reinforcement system with loudspeakers drawn from the new E11EVEN Sound Series by DAS Audio.

Working in coordination with John Fiorito, DAS Audio of America’s national installation manager, the company installed eight DAS ES26 loudspeakers along with two S18 subwoofers in its second-floor midtown-Miami location.

DAS Icon Series, E11even Sound Debut at NAMM

The new sound system at Anatomy Gym is configured in such a way whereas the DAS ES26 mid/high enclosures are run in stereo with mono sub bass. The loudspeakers are placed in a two 4-point system., as the room is a perfect square but is too long to just have loudspeakers in the four corners. As a result, in the center of the room, the loudspeakers are at a V-mount. All loudspeakers use the DAS ceiling mount bracket.

Miami’s Francois Frossard Design, also known as FFD, contracted the installation. Francois Frossard, FFD’s principal, noted, “Anatomy Gym’s second floor studio is an interactive workout area where the instructor leads a large class of gym members rotating among various workout machines under a heightened sensory experience of music and lighting, complete with a nightclub setting. This makes the workout more fun and time goes by quicker, as the clientele feed off the energy of each other and that of the instructors during the sessions. The instructor plays hip hop / house music along with other formats and uses a Shure fitness microphone to coordinate the class and provide instruction.”

Frossard and his crew installed Anatomy Gym’s new sound system in November 2019, and it was placed into service immediately thereafter. Since that time, he reports his client is very pleased. “The new system injects a high level of energy into the exercise programs and you can see that it has a dramatic impact on the people as they exercise. The music is vibrant, and the instructor’s speech is articulate. Together, it makes for a fun and energizing time for everyone involved.”

DAS Audio • www.dasaudio.com

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The METAlliance Report: Why We Do This

After seeing the growth and then rapid decline of the music industry, our merry band of music makers felt the need to defend the art form we’ve all embraced. We had all previously heard the idea that mixing audio for TV didn’t matter, because people heard it on 1” speakers. MP3 offered a similar argument: who cared—and importantly, who would pay for anything better?

We didn’t agree, and simply asking the artist only reinforced the mission. They want everyone to hear what they hear in their ears, hearts and soul, not some compromised rendition. Our argument was simply put: If you’d pay a few dollars for a cup of coffee that might last you 10 minutes, why wouldn’t you pay a few dollars for a recording that offered you the fullest, most rich experience that could last you a lifetime?

The METAlliance Report: Grid Versus Groove

The METAlliance Report: Ed Cherney (1950-2019)—Someone Truly Special

The METAlliance Report: How to Choose Your Next Studio Monitors

We started with educators—the real ones, not those entities looking to profit off someone’s passion and only provide them with a limited and often inferior schooling. We talked with, visited and supported their efforts. The love of music hasn’t abated; the thirst for how to make music has grown substantially. The number of accredited institutions offering audio programs seems to increase by the year. Music schools often offer an engineering track. The idea is that when understood, quality in audio retains or even gains value. The goal then was to increase understanding, and teaching institutions are a fundamental avenue towards that end.

We also started our “In Session” weekends in Los Angeles and New York City, recording real artists in real session dates. These were meant to offer those interested an opportunity to see how the people who did this (as they have for decades) applied their mainstream methodology of capturing a group of players and singers, and the magic that can result. We included techniques for In-The-Box work and also mixing. It also became clear that in addition to students, many professionals attended so as hone their skills and just hang with our group of accomplished characters and musicians. These are complicated to arrange and manage, and even with support from key people, studios and manufacturers, are never anything profitable, but they are always fun and genuinely rewarding.

It wasn’t remarkable that the METAlliance members all learned, too. The attendees with the shared “audio affliction” all had ideas and methods to contribute—not only on the audio side, but also how they succeeded in maintaining their vocation in often difficult situations. They were often equally thankful and inspiring. You could see them all relate to the late Ed Cherney’s story in the early days of being fired for the first time.

It still continues: Al Schmitt tells a great tale how his first time in the engineering seat was both a thrill and truly scary. I remember how I had to literally invent a technology improvement to make a talented artist happy. Chuck Ainlay recalls how he moved from a small town in Indiana to Nashville to make a career based on confidence and passion. Elliot Scheiner teaches how he mixes, and we’ve seen an attendee literally put his face on the faders to watch Els’ most minute fader moves on a lead vocal. Frank Filipetti recounts building perhaps the first end-to-end digital recording process for a major artist’s record in a house, and it proved to be award-worthy. And of course, the late great Phil Ramone used to share how he finally got work with Sinatra. These are the stories of an art form. These are memories born of the magic of collaboration, attention to the art and science, and most of all, in service to the music.

Today, people still listen to music all the time. It may be through earbuds that hopefully do the music justice, and are perhaps the only way people can actually focus on what they’re hearing through this media onslaught we all live in day-to-day. Those listeners hear it exactly how you produced it, but they probably haven’t given that a thought. You know it’s happened, though, when people still have a song running through their heads. The emotional contact is real and universal.

In the end, when it comes to standing up for quality and not just convenience, when the dollars don’t always justify the result financially but they do artistically, when someone insists “it’s not worth it, nobody cares,” that’s when someone needs to suggest otherwise. If we don’t support each other, what should we expect from the rest of the world?

If not us—and you—then who, right?

Grammy and TEC Award-winner George Massenburg is a producer, recording engineer and designer of audio equipment who has participated in the creation of more than 400 albums. He has won Grammys as both a producer and as an engineer, and in 1998, was awarded a Grammy for Technical Achievement for a lifetime of contributions to the art and science of recording. Massenburg’s discography includes seven Little Feat albums; seven Earth, Wind & Fire albums; 13 Linda Ronstadt albums; and albums with Journey, James Taylor, Jennifer Warnes, Herbie Hancock and Ricky Skaggs, among others. He also created that mainstay of the recording process, the Parametric Equalizer.

METAlliance • www.metalliance.com

THE METALLIANCE: Al Schmitt, Chuck Ainlay, Elliot Scheiner, Frank Filipetti and George Massenburg, along with the late Phil Ramone and Ed Cherney, founded The METAlliance with the dual purpose of mentoring through “In Session” educational events and to convey to the audio professional and semi-professional the group’s choices for the highest quality hardware and software, by shining a light on products worthy of consideration through a certification process and product reviews in this column. The METAlliance Mission—to promote the highest quality in the art and science of recording music.

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Oberlin College Launches Recording Arts and Production Degrees

Oberlin, OH (February 21, 2020)—Making use of its nine concert venues and recording studio, Oberlin College & Conservatory will start a new program in Recording Arts and Production beginning in the fall of 2020.

The program will offer a one-year Professional Certificate in Recording Arts and a two-year Artist Diploma that incorporates both Recording Arts and Production.

Oberlin Debuts Clonick Studio

Capitalizing on Oberlin’s conservatory concert environment, the program expects to offer numerous opportunities for hands-on learning, with an emphasis on engineering and producing classical and jazz music.

The program will offer group and individualized instruction as students take part in recording projects across a range of musical styles and mediums, and engage with engineers and producers in residence each semester.

“Constant opportunities to apply developing skills are the cornerstone of this program,” says Paul Eachus, Oberlin’s director of Conservatory Audio Services. Eachus and Conservatory Audio Services associate director Andrew Tripp serve as co-directors and primary lecturers of the Recording Arts and Production program.

“The diversity of Oberlin’s programming requires us to be ready for everything, from chamber ensembles and electroacoustic works to big band and full symphony orchestras,” Tripp adds. “With more than 400 performances each year, we’re able to transform ‘knowledge’ and ‘approach’ into practical application.”

The one-year program, consisting of two semesters of study toward a Professional Certificate in Recording Arts, provides students with understanding of the technology, systems, and processes associated with recording, live sound and streaming systems as they work supporting more than 400 performances and recording sessions at the campus.

The two-year program, consisting of four semesters of study toward an Artist Diploma in Recording Arts and Production, requires a proven level of musical literacy, according to the school. Students who show expertise in their first year then spend the second year working on producing professional recordings that serve the needs of Oberlin Conservatory’s official record label, Oberlin Music, as well as archival purposes and other essential functions.

The application deadline for Oberlin College & Conservatory’s inaugural program is June 1, 2020.

Oberlin Recording Arts and Production • www.oberlin.edu/recording-arts

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Heil Sound Debuts PR 37 Vocal Mic

Fairview Heights, IL (February 21, 2020)—Heil Sound has launched its new PR 37 vocal microphone.

Aimed towards professional vocalists, the new microphone is said to have an upper mid-range response designed to cut through a mix. It features a 1.5″ diameter dynamic element and has a frequency response from 50 to 18,000 Hz and output level of -51 dB @ 1000 Hz.

Getting Psycho with Heil Sound

The company worked with several FOH mix engineers, both with the initial design and subsequent field testing of the new microphone. John Hopkins, FOH for the bands Sleep, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, stated, “The PR 37 immediately moved to the top of the list for my go-to vocal mic. It’s a super transparent mic and the rejection of stage noise is incredible.”

Adam Pike, working with Red Fang noted, “The Heil PR 37 is a beast. Very rich and smooth low-mids along with the pristine high-mids that Heil is known for. The extremely sturdy casing is also a great added bonus.”

The PR 37 is expected to begin shipping in July, retailing at $269.00 US.

Heil Sound Communications, Inc. • www.heilsound.com

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Sweetwater Opens 480,000-Sq-Ft. Distribution Center

Sweetwater's new 480,000-sq-ft. distribution center.
Sweetwater’s new 480,000-sq-ft. distribution center.

Fort Wayne, IN (February 21, 2020)—Sweetwater opened a new 480,000-square-foot distribution center on Monday, February 17. The new $52.5 million facility will reportedly allow the pro audio and MI internet retailer to process and ship twice as many orders per hour.

Sweetwater broke ground on the new distribution center back in October, 2018 at its 163-acre campus off U.S. 30 in Fort Wayne, IN. Along with providing more room for inventory, the new facility sports custom technology created by the company’s IT team to allow workers to process and fulfill orders more quickly.

How Big was Sweetwater’s 2019?

The new facility is a stand-alone building, and while it may be nearly the size of seven football fields, it’s been situated with an eye towards eventual expansion. As company COO John Hopkins told local TV station WANE, adjacent land on the Sweetwater campus could be used to create an extension on the new facility, adding roughly another 240,000 square feet of space to the distribution center, which would allow the company to double its newly achieved order volume capacity again.

The company’s previous 80,000-square-foot distribution center, built 13 years ago, is attached to the main building on the Sweetwater campus. It is now earmarked to be renovated and converted into Class A office space, and is expected to house sales and marketing teams. Those offices will be needed—while Sweetwater hired 159 employees last year, bringing current staffing levels to 1,700, the company projects it will employ 2,300 people by 2024.

Sweetwater will be expanding in other ways as well. The company will break ground in July on a $31 million, 70,000-square-foot conference center, expected to open the following summer. It’s a safe bet that that facility will help the company host its growing annual GearFest trade show; the 2019 edition attracted nearly 500 vendors and 17,000 attendees.

Sweetwater had its biggest year ever in 2019, hitting $805 million in sales, up 11% from $725 million in 2018, as it shipped 2 million orders to more than 1 million customers.

Sweetwater • www.sweetwater.com

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Sweetwater Opens 480,000-Sq-Ft. Distribution Center

Sweetwater's new 480,000-sq-ft. distribution center.
Sweetwater’s new 480,000-sq-ft. distribution center.

Fort Wayne, IN (February 21, 2020)—Sweetwater opened a new 480,000-square-foot distribution center on Monday, February 17. The new $52.5 million facility will reportedly allow the pro audio and MI internet retailer to process and ship twice as many orders per hour.

Sweetwater broke ground on the new distribution center back in October, 2018 at its 163-acre campus off U.S. 30 in Fort Wayne, IN. Along with providing more room for inventory, the new facility sports custom technology created by the company’s IT team to allow workers to process and fulfill orders more quickly.

How Big was Sweetwater’s 2019?

The new facility is a stand-alone building, and while it may be nearly the size of seven football fields, it’s been situated with an eye towards eventual expansion. As company COO John Hopkins told local TV station WANE, adjacent land on the Sweetwater campus could be used to create an extension on the new facility, adding roughly another 240,000 square feet of space to the distribution center, which would allow the company to double its newly achieved order volume capacity again.

The company’s previous 80,000-square-foot distribution center, built 13 years ago, is attached to the main building on the Sweetwater campus. It is now earmarked to be renovated and converted into Class A office space, and is expected to house sales and marketing teams. Those offices will be needed—while Sweetwater hired 159 employees last year, bringing current staffing levels to 1,700, the company projects it will employ 2,300 people by 2024.

Sweetwater will be expanding in other ways as well. The company will break ground in July on a $31 million, 70,000-square-foot conference center, expected to open the following summer. It’s a safe bet that that facility will help the company host its growing annual GearFest trade show; the 2019 edition attracted nearly 500 vendors and 17,000 attendees.

Sweetwater had its biggest year ever in 2019, hitting $805 million in sales, up 11% from $725 million in 2018, as it shipped 2 million orders to more than 1 million customers.

Sweetwater • www.sweetwater.com

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Music, Etc.: Robert Tepper — Outlasting The Rest

Robert Tepper.
Robert Tepper.

The ’80s were good for Robert Tepper. Moving to New York City from his native New Jersey, he teamed up with Benny Mardones to co-write several songs for the singer’s 1980 Never Run, Never Hide album. One of those songs, “Into the Night,” was nominated for a Grammy and became Mardones’ only hit. In fact, the song reached the Billboard Top 20 twice, in 1980 and 1989, a rare achievement.

Tepper recorded his debut album, produced by Joe Chiccarelli and mixed by the late Csaba Petocz, with an all-star roster of musicians including Dann Huff, Alan Pasqua, Tim Landers and Myron Grombacher, in 1985. Sylvester Stallone selected the title track, “No Easy Way Out,” for Rocky IV, propelling the song into the upper reaches of the charts both on the soundtrack album and as a single.

Unfortunately, the label held up the release of Tepper’s No Easy Way Out album while the soundtrack’s success played out. A second Robert Tepper track, “Angel of the City,” was included in the soundtrack for Stallone’s next movie, Cobra.

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Tepper’s sophomore album, 1988’s Modern Madness, again produced by Chiccarelli, was also largely ignored by his label. Undeterred, Tepper, by now a resident of Los Angeles, continued to release records, working as a one-man band who to this day also engineers, produces and mixes.

He has since also ventured into music for film and TV, and works with various artists in his home studio, Addison Sound, often as a co-writer. Last year, he embraced his ’80s roots and, in collaboration with Spanish guitarist and co-writer Pablo Padilla, co-wrote and produced his fifth Robert Tepper album, Better Than the Rest, released on Germany’s AOR Heaven label.

On Early Success:

The bad news was, by the time my first album was released, nobody gave a damn. The good news was that I was part of a franchise and it put me on the map. I got a platinum record; now I had a career.

I got more into producing and mixing, but I never stopped writing. I love to write. People hire me as an engineer because I’m also writing with them and guiding them along.

On Adult-Oriented Rock:

For years, I had no interest in doing an AOR record. Classic rock stations have pretty much killed classic rock radio for us all. They play the same 10 cuts. I listened to some records people had put out and thought, you’re kind of doing what you did before, but not as well—so I didn’t do an AOR record.

On the Road to the New Album:

I wear a lot of hats. I did an acoustic rock album, New Life Story. Mark Goldenberg co-wrote one song and played guitar. Apart from that, I did everything—programmed the drums, played bass and guitar, sang all the parts, recorded and mixed it. I loved it, but the fans were, meh.

But it got me to a couple of festivals. We played a gig in England where people just flipped; they loved it. I saw there were people who still remembered what I do. I had been oblivious.

This guy, Indigo Balboa, put that band together, including Pablo Padilla, a great guitar player from Madrid. Pablo said, “I’m going to school in L.A.,” to study composition, so we got together.

Pablo and I sat and listened to all the classic songs we love. We started writing a year ago, right after the NAMM Show, and it was effortless. Before we knew it, we had a bunch of really good songs.

We had “Better Than the Rest” and four or five other songs and showed them to a couple of people. There are only a couple of labels you can go to. AOR Heaven loved them. But they said, “You must debut it at the H.E.A.T. Festival in Germany.” So I did that, about a month ago. It was amazing, really fun.

On Reviving the 80s:

I said, what would it be like it somebody did an ’80s record today? Everybody goofs on the ’80s, but the reverbs and the delays made that sound huge and cinematic. We also used loops and modern keyboard sounds. We really tried to make an ’80s AOR record with the best of what that era brought to music, and the excitement of what it would sound like if it was produced today.

On the Process:

I’m a songwriter, but I love engineering, I love mixing. Your engineering affects your writing. When I start to write and we start to arrange, that’s production to me. Are the acoustic guitars going to drive this song? Is this going to be a dead drum sound, a snare sound that doesn’t eat up a lot of real estate? What are we going to do to fill in that space?

When we did this record, we’d get a basic groove going. I worry about the drums later; I reprogram everything. But you’ve got to start by getting the best sounds you can get. If Pablo and I plug in a mic, we work on the sound a little bit. He’ll say, “Let’s do a scratch vocal.” I’ll say, “There’s no such thing.” It’s not like you’re going to go back and redo it 20 times.

I don’t even remember singing on this record. We got the sounds we wanted, the vibe, the feeling, and were on to the next thing. That’s what the home studio thing is for me. It’s the immediacy.

On the Future:

People are getting it; they’re buying the record, and we’re getting great reviews. My fans seem to be loving it. That’s making me very happy.

The plan is to play Sweden, Spain and Switzerland, possibly England and Italy, in late September. And we’ve already started writing for the new album. You’ve got to keep it going.

Robert Tepper • www.roberttepperworld.com

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Tascam Updates USB Audio Interface Driver

New York, NY (February 19, 2020)—Tascam Audio Interface drivers now be updated with new drivers with the release of Version 4.0 for Windows.

Available now as a free download, the 4.0 driver update is said to significantly improve latency over the previous version, offering a selectable latency setting between 4 samples and 2048 samples versus a previous default buffer size of 64 samples.

RTS Intercoms Bring Trucks Together at Big Game

Setting an ultra-low latency buffer size of 4 samples results in a negligible delay between the actual playing and hearing of audio in real-time during recording. Alternatively, setting a higher sample rate (up to 2048 samples) maximizes a computer’s processing power for optimized performance during mixing, according to the company.

A new HiDPI (high-dot per inch) feature automatically adjusts the viewable size of the settings panel onscreen to match a monitor’s resolution size and settings. This eliminates the need to squint or strain to read settings panel parameters that previously appeared smaller or skewed when a monitor’s resolution settings didn’t match the driver’s default resolution setting.

A new “Auto Driver Select” feature (available for US-1×2/US-2×2/US-4×4 models) enables activation/deactivation of the default IN/OUT audio setting. Activating the Auto Driver Select feature enables the computer to automatically recognize the US-Series interface as the default for Input/Output, reducing recording session setup and configuration time. The Auto Driver Select feature can be disabled for customizing output settings for different devices on the computer.

The new update is compatible with a range of Tascam audio interface units, including the US-16×08, US-4×4, US-2×2, US-1×2, iXR, and Celesonic US-20×20. Supported Windows OS versions include Windows 10 32-bit, Windows 10 64-bit, Windows 8.1 32-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, Windows 7 32-bit (SPI or higher), and Windows 7 64-bit (SPI or higher). Additionally, operation on the latest version of Windows 7 has been verified.

Tascam • www.tascam.com

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RTS Intercoms Bring Trucks Together at Big Game

Burnsville, MN (February 18, 2020)—RTS intercoms tied together Game Creek Video’s OB trucks for the final game of the American football season in Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. [They discretely refrained from naming the event, but we can say it—it was the Super Bowl].

“Basically, we provide the infrastructure for our clients,” says Jason Taubman, senior VP, technology for Game Creek Video. “From opening night on Friday through Sunday night’s live coverage, Game Creek Video was responsible for basically every bit of video you saw on Fox television from Miami.”

Audio Powers Calvary Chapel’s Growth

Even the halftime show, which is covered by a separate production supplier, relied on Game Creek’s cameras. According to Taubman, this is one area where RTS intercoms played a critical role. “One of the things we have to do is swing the camera communications back and forth between one production and the other,” he explains. “Making that switch to the halftime production and then swinging everything back to game coverage when it’s over is one trick we do with RTS that’s pretty cool.”

Game Creek uses RTS intercoms for its entire fleet of OB trucks, each of which has its own completely integrated comms system. All trucks are then connected to each other using RTS Tribus and Trunking technologies. The primary trucks on site were Encore A, B, and C (a three-truck system) for game coverage; Cleatus A and B for the pregame; and Bravo for the kickoff show, opening night, and as primary backup to Encore. Additional Game Creek support facilities brought the truck total to ten.

All the primary production trucks use RTS ADAM frames, while the newest support truck, Edit 4, sports the latest RTS ODIN frame connected via Dante/OMNEO networking. “The way we brought this all together was via OMNEO,” notes Taubman. “We put an OMNEO card in each matrix frame, then Dante networked everything so they could share ports. We also use RTS trunking to bring them all together, creating a network of well over 200 user stations across the production compound.”

Those user stations use a variety of RTS keypanels, with the latest installations like Bravo using the new KP-5032 and KP-4016, while legacy models like the KP-32 serving the more established trucks. “That intergenerational compatibility is a key point for us,” notes Taubman. “One of the reasons we have stayed with RTS is that we can connect our oldest system to our newest system without a whole lot of drama.”

RTS • www.rtsintercoms.com

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Audio Powers Calvary Chapel’s Growth

Newport News, VA (February 20, 2020)—When Calvary Chapel revitalized a site that was once a shopping center into a church campus, audio was a key consideration. With a 1,400-seat main sanctuary, a 600-capacity fellowship hall and more in development, “the church held to a conviction that high-quality audio was something that should serve every worship space, not just the main sanctuary,” explains Bart Cardea of Providential Integration Concepts, the Chesapeake, Virginia-based firm tasked with developing the church’s audio blueprint. “When it came to the controlling end of that equation, high channel count flexibility was a very real necessity, not just an abstract concept.” Part of making that happen included the installation of numerous Allen & Heath mixing systems.

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Allen & Heath components including a dLive C3500, multiple SQ-5, and ME-1 mixing systems spread out across the entire campus, fulfilling the needs of audio events large and small.

With installation of the Providential Integration Concepts design managed by Matt Stairs of Sunset Sound of Virginia Beach, audio signals route via Dante throughout the plan. The church’s dLive C3500 control surface stands at front of house in the sanctuary, joined by a DM64 MixRack at the stage, which often hosts major faith-based musicians from around the country.

Meanwhile, the first of three SQ-5 mixers on-campus handles the sanctuary monitor mix, while the second and third are respectively deployed in the fellowship hall and youth room. A total of eight ME-1 personal mixers reside on the sanctuary stage, used for both regular services and visiting performers.

“If anything,” says Calvary Chapel technical director Tony Lewis, “Allen & Heath has allowed us to expand at our own pace, growing into a future where we always can accommodate a larger sonic vision. From the speed of our workflow to our ability to configure these systems in a fashion that suits the working style of any of our own staff members and visiting engineers, there isn’t seemingly anything within our audio chain that hasn’t improved.”

Allen & Heath • www.allen-heath.com

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