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P. 10, 50
MAY 2011 | VOLUME 17 | ISSUE 5
Beyond the Digital Basics
• WORSHIP AUDIO: Diving The Digital Deep
The Review Resource for Sound Professionals
Dangerous Music BAX EQ • Glyph PortaGig 62 • Joe Barresi: Tracking Rock
• Rupert Neve Designs Portico II • sE Electronics Voodoo VR-1 & VR-2
in this issue
MAY 2011 | VOLUME 17 | ISSUE 5
Sound Reinforcement
Covering Recording, Broadcast
Production, and Post Production
Covering Live Sound,
Contracting, and Installed Sound
New Studio Products 10
New Live Products 50
PAR Exclusive First Review 20
Radial Engineering Workhorse 500
Series-Compatible Modular Rack/Mixer
by Rob Tavaglione
Featured Review 39
PAR Picks 6: Software EQ
by Rich Tozzoli
Review 42
Dangerous Music BAX
Stereo EQ
by Alan Silverman
Review 44
500 Series Modules, Chassis and Innovations
Rupert Neve Designs Portico II
by Rob Tavaglione
Technically Speaking
Review 46
by Frank Wells
by Rob Tavaglione
Opinion: Worship Audio 54
Our Road To Digital
Review 48
by Russ Long
Beyond The Digital Basics
sE Electronics Voodoo VR-1 Passive,
VR-2 Active Ribbon Microphones
Glyph PortaGig 62 Portable RAID
Data Storage System
by Dan Wothke
Review 49
Joe Barresi: Tracking Rock
Instructional Video
by Russ Long
Cover Photo: Rhon Parker
Cover Design: Nicole Cobban
ProAudioReview | May 2011
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The Review Resource for Sound Professionals
M AY 2 011
V O L U M E 17
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ProAudioReview | May 2011
technically speaking
Frank Wells
Beyond the Digital Basics
Emulating analog circuitry performance with digital
processing has certainly come a long way in the past
couple of decades. I remember when the AT&T DisQ
project was initiated in the ’90s, using an SSL or Neve
console as a control surface for a DSP array that was
pretending to be the console, there was no pretending
to model the sound of the consoles. Transfer functions
were measured in regards to the feel of the console
controls and gain structure.
Engineers familiar with a desk, grabbing, say, an
EQ knob to get an expected result, would get that
result in terms of the raw parameters — boost or cut,
Q, frequency of operation. No attempt was made to
model any character inducing aspects of the mapped
device (function mapped, not modeled). Indeed, it was
beyond the experience if not also the abilities of the
genius-level programmer coding the system to model
beyond knob positions. It was equally certainly beyond
the DSP resources of the processing core to handle the
complexity of sonic modeling in anything near real time.
A popular internet forum topic over the last year has
begun with someone stating, “All digital EQ sounds the
same.” Within a narrow window, they are correct —
there are standard formulas for minimum phase EQ
(that’s EQ of the same mathematical character as analog EQ, sans any analog circuitry artifacts); simple EQ is
done the same across a wide range of digital processor
engines. Certain aspects of digital EQ, such as processing of near-Nyquist frequencies, are enhanced in some
engines by using techniques such as up-sampling.
Then there’s whole swath of additional EQ techniques
using linear-phase equalization, creating equalization
effects that are only possible with digital processing.
With enough processing power and time (particularly
at low frequencies), most any EQ curve can be created
that one desires. The EQ in this case is not the traditional sound we are used to associating with EQ; FIR versus
IIR filters, a new toolset digital brings to end-users.
Given that similar processing is typically applied,
where do we find the differences within digital equalizers applying minimum phase EQ? Two primary areas
of performance are in play: the human interface (how
easily and familiarly can you get a desired effect from
the controls) and the introduction of artifacts (sonic
effects that emulate certain euphonic aspects of analog processors). It is in the latter area that the most
progress has been made over the past two decades
as clever programmers embellish the core EQ mathematics with modeling techniques, modeling a target
device to the component level, or by adding additional
processing elements to achieve a particular sonic signature. That’s where today’s magic happens.
ProAudioReview | May 2011
new studio products
Lynx Hilo Reference A/DD/A Converter System
Lynx Studio Technology has released its Hilo reference A/D
D/A converter system, providing two channels of “masteringquality” analog-to-digital conversion, up to eight channels of
digital-to-analog conversion, a secondary monitor output, and
an independent headphone amplifier, all in a compact half-rack
width. Hilo also features a 480 x 272 touchscreen interface,
adaptable to particular applications. Initial front-panel controls
support signal routing and mixing, sample rate selection, clock source options, levels, metering and diagnostic features.
Hilo’s digital or analog inputs can be routed to three separate outputs: Line Output (with eight trim settings), Monitor Output and
Headphone Output. The Monitor and Headphone outputs have volume controls, accessible via faders on the touchscreen or the single
knob on the front. The digital section offers AES/EBU inputs and outputs with transformer isolated balanced XLR connectors; S/PDIF input
and output are available via transformer-coupled coax or optical (TOSLINK) connections; Optical ports for up to eight ADAT channel I/Os,
which are completely independent from the AES/EBU or S/PDIF coax channels. Lynx’s LT-USB LSlot accessory (for computer connectivity),
SynchroLock word clock and I/O are also included. In total, Hilo has 12 total inputs, 16 total outputs, plus 32 channels, possible via its LSlot
port. The unit’s FPGA powers its internal 32-channel mixer.
Price: $2,495 (suggested retail price)
Contact: Lynx Studio Technology |
Universal Audio
Lexicon 224 Reverb
Kush Audio Gain Train
Kush Audio has begun shipping its Gain Train, a “totally transparent,” Class-A, expandable, monitor controller system with a small
footprint. The Main Gain — the system’s base module — is a
two-in/two-out standalone monitor controller featuring independent L/R output muting, a mono switch and tri-color Peak/RMS
metering. The Function Junction module expands the system’s
functionality by adding two additional stereo inputs and outputs,
talkback with level control and auto program-mute, as well as dual
headphone amps with independent level controls and “top flight”
signal path. All Function Junction I/O is via a rear-panel d-sub,
allowing the system to be configured for numerous applications.
Prices: $499 each (Main Gain and Function Junction)
Contact: Wave Distribution (U.S. distributor) |
Kush Audio |
ProAudioReview | May 2011
Universal Audio has premiered its Lexicon 224 digital
reverb plug-in for the UAD-2
platform. The plug-in captures
all eight reverb programs
available in original 224-firmware version 4.4, including
every tunable parameter,
with fader-style controls. The
Lexicon 224 emulation also
incorporates the original
unit’s input transformers and
early AD/DA converters.
Additionally, the Lexicon
224 emulation for UAD-2 features direct input and presets
from Lexicon 224 users, including Chuck Zwicky (Prince,
Jeff Beck), Eli Janney (Jet, Ryan Adams), David Isaac (Eric
Clapton, Luther Vandross), E.T. Thorngren (Talking Heads,
Bob Marley) and Kevin Killen (U2, Peter Gabriel).
Price: $349
Contact: Universal Audio |
new studio products
Harrison 950m Analog Console
After a decade focusing on digital consoles, Harrison has unveiled its purely analog console
for music capture and mixdown, the 950m. The feature set of the 950m is designed
for use in a DAW-based studio. Harrison touts the console’s “massive linear power
supply, robust ground plane design, all balanced connections, gold-plated
switches, through-hole components, and high-headroom summing busses.”
Main features include separate mix busses (one transformer-balanced
and one electronically balanced), both with built-in compressors and patch
inserts; per input strip, a choice of mono mic/line or stereo line module; and a
customer-configured modular construction, which allows the 950m to operate as a tracking
studio front end, or an analog summing platform, or both simultaneously.
Other features include input modules with insert point, switchable HP/LP filters, three-band tone controls, pan/balance, trim, input switching, four mono aux sends, mute, solo, 104mm fader and a four-segment
meter. Microphone channels also have a 48V phantom-power switch and a post-fader direct output. The Mix Master module includes two
stereo mix bus compressors, oscillator/talkback assignments, aux send masters and 104mm faders for each of the two stereo mix busses.
The monitor module includes the oscillator controls (100 Hz, 1 kHz, 10 kHz), monitor source selection, monitor level/mute/mono, talkback
and headphone jack. The studio module includes source selection/level/mute/mono for each of the two studio feeds, as well as talkback
assignments. The output module houses the output transformers and two stereo mix bus VU output meters.
Physically DAW-friendly as well, the 950m is built upon a frame providing a 2-tiered front bolster to accommodate a keyboard, mouse
and DAW controller. The controls on the 950m provide parameter control while also touted as easy to recall.
The 950m is offered as a standalone console or paired with Harrison’s console converters, providing “practically unlimited” I/O using
either MADI or gigabit Ethernet.
Prices: $20,000 to $37,000 range, priced upon
configuration for 12-, 16- and 24-channel versions
Contact: Harrison Consoles |
MicW i436
Measurement Mic
for iPhone, iPad
and iTouch
Beijing-based MicW has introduced the i436
measurement microphone for Apple iPhone,
iPad and iTouch. The i436 is designed and
manufactured according to IEC 61672 and
ANSI S1.4 measurement microphone standards. According to MicW, this omnidirectional offering has a “very flat frequency
response” and was tested for long termstability in high humidity and high temperature environments. Built in a stainless-steel
housing, it weighs 6 grams.
Price: TBA
Contact: MicW Audio |
ProAudioReview | May 2011
new studio products
The Aphex Channel
Model 230 re-imagined, the Aphex Channel incorporates seven devices, DI and mic inputs and conversion within a 1U rack space
design. Processing includes Aphex’s patented Reflected Plate Amplifier (RPA) tube preamp, EasyRider Class-A compressor, Logic
Assisted gate, De-Esser, Big Bottom enhancer, parametric EQ and the Aural Exciter, another Aphex patented technology “for increased
presence and clarity with improved detail and intelligibility,” offers the company. Stay tuned to the pages of PAR for a full review of
the Aphex Channel.
Price: $1,299 list
Contact: Aphex |
Solid State Logic Duende Native Plug-Ins
Solid State Logic has released its Duende Native plug-ins — sonically identical to the now-discontinued DSP-powered Duende plugins, available separately or in two bundles in VST/AU/RTAS plug-in form. Emulations included are SSL console classics: the EQ and
Dynamics Channel plug-in and the Stereo Bus Compressor plug-in; Drumstrip and Vocalstrip “task-specific” plug-ins; X-EQ and X-Comp
“mastering-grade” processors.
Prices: $199 - $359 each, $479 and $1,099 (Native Essentials Bundle and Native Studio Pack, respectively)
Contact: Solid State Logic |
new studio products
CharterOak MPA-1
Mic Preamp
CharterOak Acoustic Devices has introduced its MPA-1, a solid-state, dual-channel microphone preamplifier. It features transformerless
input circuitry and transformer-balanced output. The MPA-1 is also fitted with constantly variable high- and low-pass filters that encompass
the entire bandwidth of the device, a -6 dB pad, +48 VDC phantom power, and polarity reverse, for control and flexibility.
Price: TBA
Contact: CharterOak Acoustic Devices |
Minnetonka AudioTools
AWE Software
A solution for batch processing of digital audio assets, Minnetonka’s
AudioTools AWE offers over 24 different signal- and file-processing
functions. AudioTools AWE supports Dolby E Encode and Decode and
streaming playback. AudioTools AWE version 1.6 interfaces with the
Minnetonka SurCode for Dolby E bundle.
Price: Free with SurCode for Dolby E Bundle ($3,495)
Contact: Minnetonka Audio |
KRK 12sHO, 12s
Powered Studio
The KRK12sHO cabinet features a 12-inch,
high-excursion, woven Kevlar driver cone set
in a curved baffle front plate with a frontfiring port. The integrated power amplifier
is spec’d at 400w RMS and yielding SPL of
113 dB music and 116 dB peak. The variable subwoofer low-pass filter control yields
a spec’d frequency range of 29 to 160 Hz.
Controls include LFE input gain, bypass,
phase-reverse and variable phase-adjust with
XLR/TRS inputs and XLR outputs.
The KRK12s 12-inch and 225W RMS-rated
internal amp spec’d for 110 dB music and 113
dB peak SPL. The subwoofer low-pass filter
is variable from 50 Hz to 130 Hz. Controls
include system volume (-30 dB to +6 dB),
bypass, phase reverse and ground lift switch,
with XLR/TRS/RCA inputs and XLR/RCA outputs.
Price: $1,999 (12sHO); $1,099 (12s) list
Contact: KRK Systems |
ProAudioReview | May 2011
studio review
By Rob Tavaglione
Radial Workhorse 500 SeriesCompatible Modular Rack/Mixer
This “truly professional-grade” 500 series-compatible chassis is
innovative, fully featured and justifiably premium-priced.
Take a great idea — the API 5006B ($499) and 500VPR ($949)
Lunchboxes, 6- and 10-slot portable modular racks for API’s
own 500 series module format,
respectively — add an 8-channel
mixer, extra flexibility, beefed up
features and then what do you
have? The Radial Workhorse: an
evolved choice in 500 compatible chassis.
How does Radial’s chassis measure up to
the original? Is the Workhorse ($1,500 list)
worth three times the cost of the original,
smaller Lunchbox? PAR received one of the
first production models of the Workhorse
for this review, so let’s find out.
The Workhorse is a 3U, 8-slot, 500 seriescompatible steel chassis that is, according to
Radial, compatible with all 500 series modules, whether they be older API units, newer
API units, third-party units, double-wide
(e.g., tube and/or stereo) units, and Radial’s
own burgeoning line of 500 modules. The
Workhorse features a removable tray to guide
modules into place, holding them securely.
This tray has no guides on the last four slots,
allowing easier placement of double-wide or
non-standard modules there — or it can be
reversed or simply removed.
The rear panel offers all the Workhorse’s
impressive I/O options, other than two frontpanel-mounted, quarter-inch headphone
jacks. These rear-panel connections (per
module) include XLR I/O, quarter-inch TRS I/O,
and quarter-inch Omniport, a utility jack that
takes on different functions based on the
capabilities of any given, inserted module.
The rear panel also has three D-sub DB25
connectors (via standard Pro Tools wiring
convention) that respectively provide balanced inputs for all eight modules, eight
direct outs and eight line inputs routed
directly to the Workhorse’s 8-channel summing mixer. Also available are XLR and quarter-inch TRS connectivity for both the main
and monitor outputs (derived from the
same mix, but with mutes and independent
master level controls). The main L/R bus
also has Jensen transformers at the output
and unbalanced insert points for external
processing. The expansion bus allows the
connection of multiple Workhorses together
(via quarter-inch I/O) for a larger multitrack
Four stereo link switches allow quick
pairing of modules in master/slave fashion.
Seven feed switches provide the ability to
connect adjacent modules and feed signal
down the line without patch cables, stringing
up multiple custom signal routes or even in
one big channel strip-type arrangement.
Such a box as the Workhorse — one
with many potential location applications
— requires professional-grade power implementation, and the Workhorse delivers with
a fairly large in-line switching power supply,
a total of 1,200 mA of current available for
all the modules (exceeding origninal 500
Rob Tavaglione has owned and operated Catalyst Recording in Charlotte, NC since 1995. [email protected]
ProAudioReview | May 2011
series specifications, allowing more current
for power-hungry modules such as tube
mic pres), grounding lugs, thick cable and a
locking 5-pin XLR power connector.
The front panel offers the mixer’s controls with eight continuously variable pans,
rotary faders, mutes and peak indicators,
mains and monitor faders, the aforementioned dual headphone jacks, and a handy
mono summing button. Module outputs are
automatically routed to this mixer, although
older 500 series modules will require routing their XLR outputs into the mixer via
D-sub connection.
Despite having a comparable boatload of
features, operating the Workhorse is designed
to be simple and intuitive. For example, here
are some possible configurations:
• A processing rack: A studio can fill the
Workhorse with anything from eight compressor/limiters, to combinations of dynamics, EQs, DIs and re-amping/splitting modules. Meanwhile, road warriors might go for a
classic “four comp/limiter-four gate” rig.
• A front end: A studio or live engineer
can roll with eight mic pres or maybe four
tube-driven, double-wide modules ... or, half
it, with a combo of mic pres and dynamics controllers for a more versatile front
end. For touring or studio, one might prefer
to construct a “diva channel” — with mic
pre, comp/limiter, enhancer/exciter and A/D
• A stereo channel strip: Connect two
mics, two mic pres, two EQs, two compressors and one phase alignment device
(i.e., Radial’s own Phazer), then use the
main outputs to record (allowing a phase
align/check via mono sum button), gaining
Jensen transformers at the mixer output.
• A small studio mixer: Using that “diva
channel,” route it to your DAW, then monitor
eight outputs from your DAW, feeding monitors and headphones.
• A location recorder: Load the Workhorse
with eight mic pres, record the direct outs,
confidence-monitor the recorder’s outputs
via the summing mixer’s input, create a
stereo rough mix and a mix for video with
compression inserted on that bus.
[At the time of publication, Radial
announced the soon-to-be-available WR8
($800 list), a rack-only version of the
Workhorse. “Yes, you will be able to upgrade
it, adding the mixer section” at a later date,
offers Radial. — Ed.]
In Use
I started out by loading a combination
of four modules from Radial and four from
Lipinski Sound: the latter, two L-609 mic pres
and two L-629 compressors; this review provided a great opportunity to bring these preproduction Lipinski devices into the review
setup. The guide tray helped make things line
up nicely, but a firm push is required to snap
the edge card connectors into place. With a
satisfying click, they all seated well and a
small Phillips screw locked them in place.
I employed an AKG C 451 and the
Fishman transducer output from my acoustic Taylor solid-top guitar, the Lipinski mic
pres (the mic in one — the DI in one) and
used the Feed switches to hit the Lipinski
compressors. I ran the compressors’ XLR
outputs to my DAW and received some very
nice sounds. This front end showed ample
headroom, no noise floor issues and was
easy to set up, though the compressors
were a bit tricky to operate.
During this tracking, I found the
May 2011 | ProAudioReview
Workhorse’s headphone amp to be all that
was promised. It gets loud — loud enough
to drive very high impedance headphones
to the threshold of pain (which could be
quite a useful thing live, on location, etc.).
I tried tracking in stereo with the Radial
Power Pre — a nice mic amp, with nearly
over-the-top Breath and Punch voicings —
and a Lipinski pre through the Workhorse
mixer. So, I then recorded the Power Pre
both direct and through the mixer with the
Jensen transformer with great results. The
mixer is very clean, seemingly noise free;
the color is subtly wonderful with that extra
bit of heft and tempered transients that you
get with Jensen transformers.
I then paired up two Lipinski pres with
two Lipinski comps and recorded them
via routing their quarter-inch TRS outputs
through a DB25 and into the summing
mixer inputs. Voilà — no problems or noise
here. In fact, I routed all four modules into
the mixer, created stereo panning, potted
all four signals up to equal level and created
some sweet parallel compression. Yes, the
Lipinski modules behaved somewhat errati-
cally — unequal levels, noisy switching and
surges too long after applying phantom —
but man, they sounded nice; again, these
Lipinskis being pre-production models, we
trust that these behaviors are due to some
“work in progress” issues.
Next, I wanted to insert some Lipinski
compression into my Soundcraft Ghost’s
stereo mix bus, so I switched positions
between one mic pre and compressor,
thereby enabling me to use the comps adjacently and employ the stereo Link switch.
Such a switch is easy and quick: after powering down, it only took a minute and a
small screwdriver.
I ultimately tried every connection
and function the Workhorse offered and
found it all worked as promised, at least
with the Radial modules. The few performance issues that involved the Lipinski
modules may simply represent the initial
tweaks that third-party manufacturers
must make during module production
and their subsequent beta testing.
The big question is whether this Radial
mixer is worth its premium price. I believe
it is. It is truly professional grade and worth
the cost for its applications in location
recording, DAW output summing, tracking with parallel compression and other
flexibilities as a studio front end, or even
as an FX returns sidecar. In retrospect,
I wish I tried the Workhorse with highcurrent-draw tube modules, simply to witness how its power pooling works under
tough conditions. However, considering the
quality, thoroughness and practicality the
Workhorse exhibits in every other aspect, I
could only expect this much-touted feature
to exceed spec and expectations.
Radial’s Peter Janis told me that he and
his designers were slow in getting the
Workhorse to market because they were
insistent on all the little details being
right. I believe they did it right, thus the
extra wait time was well worth it.
Price: $1,500 list
Contact: Radial Engineering, Ltd. |
A PAR Special Promotional Feature
A PAR Special Promotional Feature
In 2006, API announced its VPR
Alliance standardization program
and consistency guidelines in
response to the growing number
of manufacturers producing 500
Series modules to fit into the company’s trademarked Lunchbox and
500VPR racks as well as its mixing
consoles. Nearly five years later,
there are now 30 brands itemized
on the VPR Alliance’s list of thirdparty modules that physically fit
and electronically conform to API’s
rack specifications.
However, there are many more 500
Series modules available than are listed
on the VPR Alliance website. Indeed, it
almost seems as though every manufacturer of audio signal processors is producing at least one 500 Series module.
Thus, buyer beware: Be sure to check
with the manufacturer that your module
of choice is truly 500 Series-compatible
and will not only fit into the rack, but will
also operate properly and reliably, without adversely affecting the performance
of any other modules in the enclosure.
The Original: The Lunchbox
API’s Lunchbox has recently undergone
a redesign to enhance connectivity,
adding DB25 connectors to more conveniently interface with a DAW, mixer or
other gear and to also boost available
current. “The Lunchbox has always had
enough current to run six API modules,”
The recently re-engineered API Lunchbox boasts many improvements, including an
increased power supply current of 215mA per slot, the addition of DB-25 connectors
for easy input and output connection and XLR access to channels 7 and 8 of the
multi-pins. The revamped lunchbox also provides individual power rail LED indication
and re-settable fuses on the power rail of each slot, so that one faulty module will
not affect the others. The addition of a 100 VAC input voltage tap allows for wider
international versatility. Despite these valuable updates, the price remains at $499.
reports API president Larry Droppa. But,
he observes, “Some manufacturers had
pieces that drew a little more power
than the specification, and it tended to
drag the supply down, so we said, ‘Let’s
just up the current in the supply while
we’re re-engineering the box.’”
Now, says Droppa, “It has higher
than the specification that’s listed for the
modules. We can’t, or don’t, pretend that
we can regulate all the different modules
from different manufacturers that go into
a Lunchbox or 500 rack these days.”
VPR Alliance
The VPR Alliance was set up to help
protect the customer, he points out: “It
doesn’t do anything for API. It’s really
an attempt to protect and give the customer satisfaction that these modules
can all play nicely with each other.”
The 500 Series platform has certainly provided an opportunity for boutique
manufacturers and “garage experimenters,” says Droppa. As the inventor
of the format, API was perhaps understandably apprehensive about giving
competing firms its stamp of approval
and providing marketing support via
the VPR Alliance website. But, says
Droppa, “People who want to buy API
will still buy API modules; that’s been
substantiated. So it’s truly given a platform to some of these other designs
and ideas that I think are very viable.”
— Steve Harvey
An extensive hunt for anything that any manufacturer
claims to be a 500-Series compatible module resulted in
more than 100 separate instances. Here they are...
P1 — Based on the Pacific mic pre.
EM Silver — Mic pre with steel output transformer
and DI.
EM Blue — Mic pre featuring nickel output transformer.
EM Red — Mic pre with 50/50 output transformer.
EM Gold — Mic pre with steel output transformer.
MP1 — A 60-dB mic/line preamp.
MP2 — Dual mic/line preamp.
MPA3 — Mic pre with wide gain range.
MD12 — Dual guitar and bass recording preamp.
B1 — Mic pre to complement B2 Bomber ADC.
512C — Fully discrete mic/line preamp.
B1D — As B1, but with all-iron BX4 output transformer.
Juggernaut — Class-A, discrete, transformer-coupled
Carnhill — Mic pre with Carnhill input/output transformers.
MA5 — Mic pre inspired by ‘70s British Class-A
Elixir — Low-noise, wide-bandwidth mic pre.
VP26 — Mic pre inspired by ‘70s “West Coast” sound.
Model 581 — Vintage-style, discrete, Class-AB.
7681 — Discrete, Class-AB circuit, neutral mic pre.
Why Build For 500?
Jonathan Little of Little Labs, makers of the VOG Analog Bass
Resonance Tool:
“The 500 Series has become a standard you cannot ignore as a manufacturer.
It was a natural to have the VOG in the 500 format because its unique design
required a bi-polar power supply, unlike all the other Little Labs gear, which runs
off a mono-polar 48V supply. A 500 Series rack is like a stocking, and with all
these wonderful modules available to stuff it with, it makes an audio engineer
feel like it’s Christmas everyday. I just had to be part of it; I love Santa!”
Mic Pre 500 — Derived from the company’s Mic-Pre
MicAmp 500 — “ultra-realistic sound, punch, remarkable detail.”
Broadhurst Gardens 501 — Neutral mic pre with DI.
DIY500 — Framework to build own mic pre.
EAC500 — Tailored mic pre based on DIY500 template.
EAC312V — Authentic 312 mic pre.
SMP-500 — Sonically neutral mic pre, based on
m501 — Transformerless mic pre based on m101.
MP500NV — Mic pre inspired by early ‘70s consoles.
Magnum mic pre — Classic sound.
501 — Discrete, 2-stage studio preamp with active
Nitro Equalizer — Two-band, fully parametric.
SC-501 mic preamp — “Clean, fast and clear.”
Dual99v500 — Mic pre using two discrete 99v
X12 mic preamp — “1970s-style ‘aggressive’”
X72 mic preamp — “Big, punchy and huge.”
MX5 “hybrid” preamp — A X12 and X72 quality blend.
TG500 — A 2-FET, 6-transistor, Class-A design mic
NV500 — Reworked take on Neve 1073/1290 mic
Model 583E — A true vacuum-tube amplifier preamp/EQ.
583s — Vacuum-tube mic pre based on 992EG
MPA — Fully discrete, dual-stage mic and DI preamp.
L-609 — Simplified version of Signature series mic
HV-35 preamp — Millennia clarity hits a 500 module.
PREQ4 Microphone Preamplifier with AIR BAND
1073LBEQ — In the image of the Neve 1073 Classic
HO-5 — Single-channel version of the HO-3.
MP1 — A-Low-noise, high-gain mic pre.
MP1 — C-Vintage-style preamp.
MP1-L — Mic pre based on Lundahl 1538XL input
Bella — Remote-control mic pre.
Biz Mk — Mic pre with mic/line switch and DI load
Pants — Four op-amp differential mic pre.
PowerPre — Mic pre with 3-position voice control.
A9031 — Mic pre with ‘60s/’70s Olympic Studios
A9033 — Mic pre with passive voltage gain.
RMS 5A7 “Tubule” — Transformer-coupled tube
mic pre.
Portico 517 — Based on the 5017 Mobile Pre
Mono Gama — Mic pre with Jensen input
GAMA Pre — a.k.a. Golden Age Microphone Amp
Si — Transformerless mic pre, switchable input
PT2-500 — Mic pre and instrument DI.
M581 — Vintage style mic pre.
L21 — Mic pre, stepped control over
input attenuation.
AM20 — A 4-band parametric equalizer.
AMEQP — Analog EQ with recallable
550A — Discrete, 3-band EQ.
550B — A 4-band EQ, standard on
large-format API consoles.
560 — A 10-band graphic EQ.
E27 — A 3-band EQ with Jensen
Tonic — A 3-band EQ utilizing chokes
and electronic filters.
Why Build For 500?
David Walton of AMS-Neve, makers of the Neve 1073LB preamp and 1073LB
“We have been receiving requests to manufacture the legendary Neve 1073 classic mic
preamp and EQ module in a footprint that would fit into the 500 Series module size for quite
some time. The challenge was to squeeze the necessary components into the limited space
without compromising the original design, component specifications and resulting audio
performance. The design team pulled out all of the stops and created a very clever modular
design, which split the 1073 preamp from the EQ circuit and allows users to build a classic
Neve 1073 audio path in modular ‘blocks.’ One single-slot-sized module is the 1073 mic
preamp (1073LB module) and the other is the EQ (1073LB EQ module). While each of these
individual module types can be used as standalone modules, the clever part is that the two
module types can be directly linked to each other in the same rack, thus creating a genuine
1073 classic mono mic preamp and EQ audio path ... The portable form-factor of the 500
format is one of its greatest features, so it made total sense to introduce the legendary Neve
quality to the format, to allow new and current engineers to experience the amazing Neve
audio heritage in almost any location.”
32EQ — EQ and filters from Harrison
32 series consoles.
Impulse — A passive program equalizer.
V14 — Single-channel, 4-band EQ.
PEQ500 — Full Pultec EQP-1A and
EQP-1R type passive EQ.
EQA — EQ with discrete audio path.
Little Devil EQ — “English-style” console EQ with hardwire bypass.
TAV — A 10-band, inductor-based
graphic EQ.
Little Devil EQ — all discrete circuits
& “transformer-balanced everything.”
Odd — A 4-band, inductor-based EQ.
EQ500 — EQ based on Daking 52270
511 — A 2-band, discrete transistor
reciprocal EQ.
PEQ-503 program equalizer — “Threedimensional”
Lilpeqr — A 2-band program EQ.
Q3 — three-band induction coil EQ
EQSM1 equalizer — With continuously
variable mid-bands.
ASC-V — Single-channel, 4-band EQ.
AM10 — Single-channel compressor/
AM660 — Analog re-creation of
Fairchild 660 limiter.
525 — Fully discrete, feedback-type
527 — Single-channel, compressor
based on 225L.
Essence — Class-A optical compressor.
Vogad compressor — “In your face”
Action — FET compressor with true
relay bypass.
Potion — Class-A, FET-based compressor.
Brute 500 Series compressor/limiter —
Warm, present.
Komit — High-resolution VCA compressor-limiter.
Germanium — Class-A compressor
with Germanium transistors.
JM-115C — Transformer coupled in/
out VCA-based compressor.
Portico 543 — Fully controllable mono
Little Devil — FET compressor based
on Germanium and 2264.
FSC — DIY opto-compressor kit.
P501 — Tracking compressor for
Little Devil Compressor — all discrete circuits & “transformer-balanced
Class-A xpressor 500 — Top-notch,
feature-packed stereo comp.
P3500 — Compressor, variable attack
and release controls.
L-629 — Simplified version of
Signature Series compressor.
OCL-500 — Opto-compressor/limiter
based on the OCL-2.
BAC-500 — Compressor module capable of 50 dB of gain.
Optograph 500 — Single-channel, discrete, optical compressor.
Mono Optopgraph — single channel
discrete optical compressor
Dual Vandergraph — direct descendant of the Shadow Hills Mastering
Level-Or — JFET limiter/distortion processor.
M2B — An 8-channel summing module with main insertion.
M26 — A 26 x 2 summing module,
including insertion paths.
DerrEsserr — Multi-function filtering
Levr — Active summing amp.
JM-120 — Dual Hi-Z input DI preamp.
VOG — Analog bass-resonance tool.
AD-596 — A 24-bit, 96 kHz, 8-channel
A/D converter.
PDI500 — Passive direct box module.
Cans — Headphone amp, can double
as control room preamp.
Moiyn — Summing amp for Sweet
Ten rack.
JDV LB — Discrete, Class-A instrument DI.
Reactor JDX — Guitar amp and speaker interface.
Phazer LB — Phase-alignment tool.
X-Amp — Re-amplifying device.
EXTC — Effects loop processor.
Shuttle — multifunction effects insert
531 — Optical de-esser based on
Dane 31.
HPM500 — A 6-channel mixer with
switched panning per input.
Just so we’re covered, there may be other modules in the world that
claim the 500-compatible moniker, but at the time of compilation of this
directory, we didn’t know about them. If so, drop us a line.
RACK READY...a closer look at a
sampling of 500-Series options.
Based on the Portico 5017 Mobile Pre, Rupert Neve
Designs’ Portico 517 is a transformer-coupled preamp/
compressor/DI with Vari-phase, Silk and DI/mic-blending capabilities in a 500 series model. It was the first 500 series module
designed by Mr. Rupert Neve. Also available is the Portico 543
mono compressor-limiter (pictured).
The Neve 1073LBEQ 500 Series mono equalizer module from
AMS Neve is the second 500-series format module the company has built in the image of the Neve 1073 Classic module.
Its 1073LB mic pre debuted last year. The 1072LBEQ is available exclusively via Vintage King Audio and select distributors
worldwide. |
True Systems’ pT2-500 microphone preamplifier is a VPR Alliance-member
product incorporating True’s new Type 2 circuit design and includes a discrete FET
DI circuit with thru jack for easy connection to amps or effects. It also features
detented, dual-range gain control for setting/resetting over wide gain ranges (from
6 to 70 dB). |
Five reissued 500 Series modules from Inward
Connections have been released and are available from
Vintage King Audio. The modules use the new VF600 amp
blocks as opposed to the structure of Inward Connections’
previous 500 series modules, which were based upon the
SPA690 blocks. The five are as follows: the “classic-sounding”
Magnum mic pre; the fully parametric two-band Nitro equalizer; the “in your face” Vogad compressor; the passive Impulse
Program equalizer; and the “warm, present” Brute 500 Series
compressor/limiter (pictured). |
The Daking Mic Pre 500 single-channel microphone/instrument preamplifier module is derived from the company’s Mic-Pre
One freestanding unit and features switchable phase, 20 dB mic
input pad, +48V phantom power, a selectable quarter-inch line/
hi-z instrument input. Like the Mic-Pre One, the Mic Pre 500
shares the gain structure and Class-A, fully discrete transistor
circuitry design of Daking’s Mic Pre IV. The front-panel controls
include a variable high-pass filter (0-200 Hz), continuously
variable input gain and an 8-segment tricolor LED meter with
simultaneous VU and Peak. |
The SMP-500 from Forssell is based on the SMP-2 mic pre. It is a sonically
neutral preamp, featuring an all Class-A discrete JFET front end with a gain range
of +8 to +64 dB in 24 switched steps. The output is fully balanced and floating.
Front-panel LED signal level indicators are provided to indicate 0 dBu output level
in green, and output clipping in red.
The xpressor 500 by German manufacturer Elysia is a versatile, worldclass stereo compressor featuring
discrete Class-A topology, Auto Fast
switchable “semi-automation,” Log
Release, “beyond infinity” negative
ratios, parallel compression blending
within the unit, sidechain filter, gain
reduction limiter, a transient-rounding
“Warm” mode, analog dynamic LED
meter, stepped potentiometers, and more.
The Chameleon Labs Model 581 is a 500 Seriescompatible, vintage-style microphone preamplifier. The circuit
design is discrete, Class “AB,” with a transformer balanced
mic input and output. LED-illuminated push buttons control DI
input, phantom power, phase, and input mic impedance from
300 Ω to 1.2 kΩ. The rotary gain control adjusts gain from 25
to 80 dB, while the output control range is from unity to off.
Power and tri-level metering are provided by an LED array.
JDK Audio’s 4-band EQ, the V14, is a re-engineered version of the APSI 562
equalizer. Built around the 500 VPR format, this EQ has high headroom with a
+24 dB clip level. It covers from 20 Hz to 20 kHz in four EQ bands of overlapping
frequencies: 20 Hz to 200 Hz, 100 Hz to 1 kHz, 500 Hz to 5 kHz and 2 kHz to 20
kHz on the R24, and 2.2 kHz to 20 kHz on the V14. Each band has a continuously
variable control of frequency and gain (+/- 12 dB) and provides peaking response
characteristics. Two separate pots control the R24’s frequency and gain while the
V14 utilizes a set of dual concentric pots for each of the four bands.
Five Fish Studios’ 500 Series Modules are five in total:
the “clean, fast and clear” SC-501 mic preamp (pictured)
with Jensen input transformer/custom output transformer
options; “three dimensional” PEQ-503 program equalizer;
the 1970s-style “aggressive” X12 mic preamp; “big, punchy
and huge” X72 mic preamp, and the MX5 “hybrid” preamp, a
nice blend of X12 and X72 qualities. Along with these preassembled modules, Five Fish offers “do-it-yourself” kits, too.
Odd, from Purple Audio, is a four-band, inductor-based EQ. It only has two
active stages and so has a very low current draw — useful if you have other
power-hungry modules in the rack. Also offering a low current draw is the TAV,
a 10-band, inductor-based graphic EQ with the handy ability to compare unprocessed source material by pressing the illuminated button for relay true bypass.
The P-1 is a 500-Series format version of A-Design’s Pacific mic pre. It features
48v phantom power with a red LED indicator, polarity reversal, a cast aluminum
gain knob, -20 dB pad, and custom wound transformers. The inspiration behind
the design of this — and the EM Series — is the “Quad Eight sound,” after the
legendary early recording technology company.
Roll Music Systems’ RMS5A7 Tubule combines
the full-featured convenience of a modern mic preamp
module with the rich sound of a transformer-coupled,
all-tube preamp classic. Its input pad, attenuator and gain
control also work together to provide a wide tonal variety.
For the cleanest tones, keep the input attenuator up and
the gain control low. For more rich tube coloration, engage
the input pad and turn the attenuator down in order to use
a higher gain setting without overloading the Tubule or
other devices in the signal chain. The continuously variable
input attenuator also allows for very accurate gain settings that can be easily recalled.
All large-format API consoles have the 550B EQ fitted. It offers seven switched
frequency centers per band, switched in 2 dB steps with 12 dB boost or cut,
hi and lo shelf switches, proportional Q, high headroom, and silent bypass. The
550A is a reissue, and comes complete with switchable 12 dB per octave 50
Hz to 15 kHz band pass filter, proportional Q circuitry and 2520 op amps on
the output.
The Buzz Audio Elixir mic pre provides low noise, wide bandwidth amplification
of mic and instrument signals, and is aimed at those who want a recording preamp
where a small amount of bass is added to the signal while retaining the full high
and mid spectrum. The output configuration results in a maximum output level of
+34 dBu before clipping, delivering clean audio into analog or digital recorders
without overload.
Millennia Media’s HV-35 (pictured) features a front-panel instrument input, DC coupled ribbon mic with 10 dB gain boost setting, 80
Hz rolloff filter, 48 V phantom, 15 dB Pad and Polarity flip. The gain
control is continuously variable. Millennia also offers the AD-596, an
24-bit, 96 kHz 8-channel A/D converter with internal/external clocking
via AES or Wordclock I/O on BNC connectors, proprietary True-LockClock, and DB25 I/O — all in one 500 Series-sized slot.
The HO-5 microphone preamp is the first in a series of 500 Series-compatible
modules from Matrix Audio Systems. The mic preamp is single-channel
version of the HO-3, the 2RU microphone preamp. It also features the Matrix Audio
1205 hybrid op amp, a custom input transformer and a Jensen output transformer.
Other features include an all-discrete, FET-based, instrument-direct input on the
front panel with a super high 1 Megohm input impedance to accept all highimpedance levels without loading, a 10 dB pad, a 48V phantom power switch and
a polarity inversion (phase) switch. With adjustable gain up to 65 dB, this preamp
has a very full, big, punchy sound for vocals, drums, electric guitars and more.
Another one that promises to run on any 500 rack, the Chandler Little Devil
equalizer features a hardwire bypass, hi and lo mid +/-18 dB with hi and lo Q
switching and a three-position filter. It also has English-style inductors — similar
to 1081 and 33115 vintage units — with seven selections per band.
The LaChapell Audio Model 583E, a true vacuum-tube
amplifier preamp/EQ, offers the same amplifier stage found
on the company’s 583S, including the Jensen JT-115k input
transformer coupled with an transformerless, 3-band EQ
section with fully sweeping frequency controls and cut/boost
settings of +/- 8 dB. The EQ can run as an integrated EQ
serving the preamplifier or separate as its own autonomous
module where both units run independently.
A de-esser that doesn’t just de-ess, the Empirical Labs DerrEsser module is a
multifunction filtering device with several applications. In basic mode, it is a levelinsensitive de-esser, but it can also act as a high-frequency compressor. It also has
settings that enable users to listen to either the HF controlled with the dynamic/
compression circuits; or the LF not affected by these circuits.
True Systems’ PT2-500 mic preamp and instrument
direct-in features a DI circuit to calm “edgy” piezos, 70 dB of
gain, high headroom, low-noise, with a maximum output (1
percent THD) of +29 dBu THD+N (+26 dBu, GAIN = 40dB):
0.0006 percent typ. Maximum input (no pad) is +22 dBu
(+28 dBu output at min. gain). Frequency response (gain =
40 dB): 1.5 Hz to 600 kHz (-3 dB).
A useful application for processing voice and bass tracks, the Buzz Audio
Essence is a Class-A optical compressor that the company says is great for those
seeking a “musically transparent compressor for all tracking and mixing tasks.” It
takes up two slots in a 500-Series rack; the I/O connectors in the first slot carrying
the main audio path, and those in the second slot used for a side-chain insert point.
The Electrodyne 511 (dist. by Vintage King) is a two-band discrete transistor reciprocal active inductor equalizer with custom inductors. The unit’s output
transformer was produced by Electrodyne’s original manufacturer to strict factory
tolerances as small as 2 percent. Building upon the classic design, the 511 EQ’s
production specs allow a consistent EQ performance and repeatability from channel to channel that wasn’t possible in earlier models.
Chandler offers the Little Devil compressor. With an FET compressor that uses
concepts from both the company’s Germanium compressor and the 2264, and
a curve selection with zener and germanium diode knees. Chandler promises it
will run without problem on any 500-Series rack, in its words, “from crappy to
kick-butt,” although there may be compatibility issues with the older API Lunchbox.
The Inward Connections OPT1A 500 (dist. by Vintage King) is a fully transformer balanced limiter with an all-discrete design. Using the SPA690 discrete
amp blocks, the OPT1A has the exact same Optocell gain-reduction circuitry as
the TSL-3 Vac-Rac tube limiter in a solid-state 500-Series format. The limiter fits
standard 500-Series’ slot configurations both mechanically and electronically.
The latest creation from Little Labs is the Vog Analog bass resonance tool
— the first product from Little Labs to come in the 500-Series format. Vog was
originally designed to capture the chest resonance of vocalists or voiceover artists,
enabling them to still have a proximity-type effect without having to be so close to
the microphone, hence the name, Vog (or Voice of God). The Vog allows users to
sweep a sharp peak resonance from 20 to 300 Hz with anything below the peak
eliminated at 24 dB per octave. This allows you to focus on the low end you want,
while eliminating mush and unnecessary woofer excursion.
The Lipinski Sound L-629 is another simplified version of a Signature
series module. The compressor has a unique circuit, which it claims completely
eliminates distortion on low frequencies and on low-release time. It features
a very fast attack time of 0.01ms, and the auto gain offers an additional five
seconds of attack time and five minutes release time. There is a hard-wiring
option for stereo operation.
A-Designs EM Series of preamps comes in Blue, Red, Silver and Gold, each with
a different kind of transformer that offers varying tones. Blue has a nickel custom
wound output transformer; and Silver has steel, along with a DI that makes it useful
for bass guitar and keyboards. EM Red comes with a 50/50 output transformer, and
Gold has the output transformer of Silver and the input transformer of Red.
The latest 500-Series release from API is the 527 compressor, a single-channel
module based on the 225L discrete channel compressor. The 527 features
comprehensive controls including variable attack, release, ratio, and output gain
controls. The unit also includes API’s patented “Thrust” circuit, first offered on the
2500 stereo bus compressor. A 10-segment LED meter is switchable between gain
reduction and output level.
API’s 512C is a fully discrete mic/line pre amp,
designed to provide low noise gain. Its sound character can be traced back to the first modular mic pre,
the 1967 512, and it offers high headroom and a
variety of inputs and input access points. Front-panel
XLR and 1/4-inch connectors in combination with
real panel mic access make it a very flexible module.
Grace Design’s m501 is a
500-Series version of the m101
mic pre. It is a fully balanced,
transformerless design “for engineers confident of the quality of
the source,” who “wish to capture it
with as little coloration or distortion
as possible.” There is a ribbon mic
mode, which raises the mic input
impedance, bypasses the input
decoupling capacitors, and deactivates 48v phantom
to protect ribbon mics from damage.
Lipinski Sound has brought out the L-609 mic
pre, a simplified version of its flagship Signature
series. The module has a discrete design based
on patented “Lipinski Square” circuitry, with no
capacitors or integrated circuits in the signal path.
It also features transformerless, low-impedance
output, a two-step custom input transformer, a
low-power LED meter that will not affect its performance, and a switchable VU/peak meter.
Moiyn 8-channel summing amp. With the Moiyn
installed into slot 9 of the Sweet Ten, slots 1 through
8 become input modules to the Moiyn. Because of the
Moiyn’s differential voltage summing input amplifiers,
any standard module can be used in slot 1 through 8
with minimal loading.
The Pendulum Audio OCL- 500 opto compressor/limiter is based on the OCL-2, introduced in 1998.
The OCL-500 uses the same compression circuit as
the OCL-2, but uses a transformerless, Class-A, solidstate gain makeup circuit in place of the tube stage.
The OCL-500 has a wide range of time constants and
dynamic control to optimize the compression characteristics, including a side-chain hi-pass filter.
S&M Audio’s EQSM1 equalizer
features a first-order, 50 Hz highpass filter with a very gradual slope,
and the high and low shelves are
set at specific, effective frequencies.
The EQSM1’s continuously variable
mid-bands have a wide bandwidth
and slightly overlapping frequencies.
In addition, a true bypass “In” switch,
allows for accurate comparison
between the original signal and the equalized signal.
The Eisen Audio custom preamp service uses
the DIY500 mkII universal template to construct individually tailored modules. The front panel, markings,
buttons, knobs, and connectors can all be designed
just how you want, and standard switch features can
also be modified.
Radial’s Komit is a high-resolution VCA compressor/limiter. It features a typical compression ratio
control, enhanced with a “smart” three-position, feedforward, auto-tracking mode that sets the response
time to slow, medium, or fast. Particularly advantageous for those recording in 5.1 surround is the sync
function that employs a time constant instead of voltage to synchronize the compression so that multiple
units can be locked together for greater accuracy.
If you have a Purple Audio Sweet Ten Rack, you
could turn it into a 8x2 mixer by getting yourself the
Following the success of its British-style MP-500NV
microphone preamplifier, Great
Electronics, with cooperation
from Harrison Consoles, debuts a
true American EQ for the 500 Series
standard: the Harrison 32 EQ by
Great River featuring the EQ and filters form the renowned Harrison 32
Series consoles. Features include
low, low-mid, hi-mid, and high EQ
bands with gain and frequency controls; low- and high-band “peaking” switches; EQ in/
out switch; Harrison’s high- and low-pass filters with
sweepable frequency; and filter-in/-out switch.
The instrument DI from Radial, the JDV, is a 100
percent discrete, Class-A box with a feed-forward
design that does not employ any form of traditional
negative feedback phase cancellation techniques to
stabilize the input circuit, which Radial says, “captures
the very essence of instruments and delivers the
natural tone.” Control load correction allows the user
to apply the desired load on the pickup for the most
natural rendering.
The Realios 9031 mic pre offers the 60s and
70s Olympic Studio sound, and features a Class-A
transistor output stage — an important feature as
the original Olympic preamps were integral parts of
their respective mixing desks and were never meant
to be connected directly to an output. It has finer 5 dB
gain steps, a high-impedance FET DI, polarity reverse
switch, and switchable phantom power.
A tracking compressor for vocals, the Safe Sound
Audio P501 is derived from the original Safe Sound
P1 design using a multistage side-chain. It has a
single gain knob for all three inputs, high-impedance
instrument input, and a 60 kHz bandwidth mic input
with 72 dB of gain. Other features include auto gain
makeup, and a switchable fast limiter that offers
dynamic adjustment of attack time.
Radial Engineering: Building A Workhorse
Radial Engineering, headquartered in Vancouver, BC,
Canada, has taken API’s classic 500 Series platform and
run with it, developing the Workhorse, an eight-module rack
enclosure that also houses a mixer with monitoring and
offers enhanced rear-panel connectivity. The company has
released eight compatible modules to date, with more on the
way, and is reportedly beginning to attract third-party module
Why Workhorse?
With API’s 500 Series module racks already well established,
why introduce Workhorse? “Naïve is the first word that
comes to mind,” laughs Radial Engineering president Peter
Janis. “We thought, this couldn’t be that difficult!”
Radial Engineering had originally intended — and, indeed,
had begun — to develop 500 Series modules for API’s VPR
Alliance stamp of approval. But Janis and the Radial team
ran into some challenges with the API specification and
decided to instead develop the next iteration of the platform.
Throwing In A Mixer, and More, For Fun
But rather than design a simple module rack, says Janis,
“Why not throw in a mixer to have some fun?” The Workhorse
includes an 8 x 2 summing mixer with pan, level and mute
control, which reduces the space available for modules, of
course. In addition to a Jensen transformer-balanced main
stereo output, the rack also offers a separate stereo monitor
output and dual headphone outs.
The rear connections offer many possibilities, including the
ability to bus from one module to the next. “The most fun
about the device is that you can run signal chains in either
series or parallel,” he points out. “All of a sudden, you’re
creating new sounds.”
In addition to module I/O, there is a TRS “Omniport” connector that can provide access to other module features, something missing in the former design, says Janis. “Sometimes it’s
an input, sometimes a footswitch, sometimes a guitar input,
sometimes a DI output — the designer chooses.”
The power supply is outboard: “A lot of people say you
can’t use switching power supplies, they’re noisy, but the
Workhorse is so quiet it’s scary.”
The specification is open source and freely available, “no
strings attached,” says Janis, who estimates it has been
downloaded as many as 80 times, and by about 40 manufacturers. “We tell people how to build it so it’s built properly:
properly shielded, properly grounded, physical dimensions,
electrical connections and how to use it, from top to bottom. All we ask is that if you use the name Workhorse, you
understand it’s our brand.”
— Steve Harvey
Software EQ
Our software editor discusses six of his
favorite equalizers.
by Rich Tozzoli
Just like compression in our previous “PAR Picks 6” installment,
equalization is added to taste. But in doing so, you can land anywhere between killing your mix with it or making it sound just right.
And through the range of dangers and potential, we all still seem to
rely on it in virtually every session. Here, I share my thoughts on six
software EQs that I find useful, each offering its own character, all of
which are reliable for getting the job done when needed.
Abbey Road TG12412
4-band, semi-parametric EQ
Developed in collaboration with Chandler
Limited, this 4-band, semi-parametric EQ
is part of the company’s TG Mastering Pack,
which also includes the TG12414 filter. Both
were modeled after EMI’s custom-designed
mastering “transfer consoles.”
The TG12412 EQ is broken down into
four bands: low, low mid, upper mid and
high. With all four, you can select a fixed
Frequency, Gain and Shape as well as
adjusting a master Level control. There is
no metering at all, which is sometimes
good, as it’s truly about using your ears and
not your eyes.
The interesting (and quirky) thing about
the TG12412 is the Shape feature, which
offers five selections for each band: LOW, BL
(blunt), MED, SH (sharp) and HIGH. The High
and Low are shelving curves, while the rest
are bell curves.
While the TG12412 is primarily intended
as a mastering plug-in, I find it most use-
(Left) Abbey Road TG12412
(Above) Waves Linear Phase
ful on certain instruments such as Bass and
Kick. I often use it to EQ and filter frequencies out of instruments, as it’s incredibly
smooth and warm-sounding; you can crank
the levels either way (up to +/-10 dB) without it ever getting harsh. It will run as TDM,
as well as RTAS/AU and VST.
Price: $560 and $335 (as part of the TG
Mastering Pack, TDM and RTAS/AU/VST,
Contact: Abbey Road |
Waves Linear Phase
Equalizer, Broadband Version
Another EQ plug-in that was intended for
mastering use, the Waves Linear Phase
comes with two components with purchase: selectivity between Lowband and
Broadband. The Broadband component
offers five bands and a special low-frequency band, whereas Lowband offers
3-band, low-frequency components. It runs
as TDM, RTAS, Audio Suite, VST and AU, each
to 96 kHz.
This paragraphic EQ
type has up to +/- 30 dB
per band and the linearphase component means
all frequency bands are
delayed by the exact same
amount, which helps avoid
any phase smearing. It
also features “double precision bit resolution processing” — fancy words to
say that internal processing is done at 64-bit floating point in Native, and
48-bit fixed with TDM.
I do like to use this EQ
Rich Tozzoli is a composer, engineer/mixer and the software editor for PAR.
May 2011 | ProAudioReview
across the master bus. I can best describe
it as having super clean and crisp character.
I tend to combine it with an outboard hardware EQ to help shape my final mixes, and
I’ll often simply add a touch of air and cut a
touch of bass (like a single dB or two). It’s
pristine sound lets me turn to it in critical
EQ situations.
Price: $250 and $200 (TDM and Native,
Contact: Waves |
Sonnox Oxford EQ
The algorithms for the Sonnox Oxford
EQ were developed directly from the Sony
Oxford OXF-R3 console. It features five
bands of fully parametric EQ with selectable
shelf settings on the LF and HF sections as
well as separate low- and high-pass filters
with variable slopes.
A unique feature are the four various
selectable EQ types. Each features unique
control over Gain/Q dependency and control range — and, of course, each has its
own “sound.” You can easily hear the sonic
changes by clicking though them with
the TYPE button on the GUI. Sonnox also
offers an optional fifth Type: a GML (George
Massenburg Labs) 8200 EQ emulation with
center frequencies up to 26 kHz.
Without trying to be cliché, the Oxford
can best be described as being highly musical; I turn to it when I really don’t want EQ
to be heard. The various TYPEs help cover
a lot of territory, and it’s one of those rare
EQs that work great on just about anything.
The Oxford EQ will run on TDM, RTAS, AU,
PowerCore and VST systems.
Prices: $495, $350 and $200 (HD
including Native, PowerCore including
Native, and Native, respectively); $675
and $220 (with GML 8200 EQ option,
HD including Native and upgrade
including Native from the base Oxford
EQ, respectively)
Contact: Sonnox |
Massenburg DesignWorks
(MDW) Hi-Res Parametric EQ
Aside from running as one of the optional
TYPE options within the Sonnox Oxford
EQ, the Massenburg DesignWorks (MDW)
Parametric EQ plug-in will run standalone
on Pro Tools HD systems as well as within
the Mackie d8b and in the TC Electronic’s
System 6000 reverb/effects processor.
I use the MDW within the Pro Tools HD
environment, where it’s 96 kHz capable
with 48-bit double-precision processing. On
this plug-in, the five filter bands are connected in series, and each filter band has
eight filter-type options. Filter band five has
four extra filter types, and the Frequency
Response Curve Display is scalable.
The interface is amazingly easy to use,
and dialing in good sound literally takes
just a few seconds. But ease of use is not
why I call it up — it just sounds fabulous,
especially in the high frequencies. The air it
can add to a vocal is superb. It’s something
I refer to as “soft,” but in a good way. Note
that it operates only in mono or multi-mono.
Price: $795
Contact: Massenburg DesignWorks |
Universal Audio
Cambridge EQ for UAD-2
The Cambridge EQ for use on UA’s UAD-2
platform is the most aggressive EQ of this
bunch. I call it my “savage” EQ, but that
doesn’t mean it can’t be subtle. It can, but
I use it for its edginess: for example, when
I really need to get a snare or kick to pop
through a mix.
It’s a 5-band design with three types of
Q and resonant shelf per band. It also has
17 low- and high-pass filter types, each
designed to emulate the response of a classic analog filter.
While I like the useful zoom controls for
fine adjustment, I tend to just grab the colored frequency bands and start dragging.
(Above) Sonnox Oxford
(Top Right) Massenburg DesignWorks Hi-Res Parametric
(Bottom Right) Universal Audio Cambridge
ProAudioReview | May 2011
But when it’s time to get specific, I’ll just
type in a frequency value. The filters are
excellent, and of course, highly flexible. You
can really crank this EQ up. The results are
not subtle — and that’s exactly why I like it.
Price: $149
Contact: Universal Audio |
McDSP Channel G
The only “channel strip” in this list, I turn
to the Channel G’s 5-band parametric and
shelving EQ section when looking for a nice
variety of analog-type tones. The HD version of this plug-in supports TDM, RTAS,
Audiosuite and AU formats, where the
Native version supports RTAS, Audiosuite
and AU.
You have the choice of calling up the
Console, Dynamics or EQ version in mono or
stereo. I tend to use the Console version on
a master bus and/or the EQ-only version on
individual channels. It’s nice that the filters
have selectable slopes of 6 to 24 dB/Oct
and you can choose from high/low pass and
notch filters. However, the real winner here
McDSP Channel G
is the selection of modeled EQ modes that
include E (SSL E Series), G (SSL G Series), N
(AMEK/Neve 9098i) and the A (API 550). A
nice feature is the ability to switch through
the various EQ types and not only hear
the difference, but watch the EQ curves/
response change with each.
I prefer the A series EQ for nasty guitar
tones. It has that inherently wide API sound;
and wow, can it add some harmonic edge to
a track! I also like the sound of the N series
on acoustic guitars while the SSL E works
great on a stereo mix.
Price: $349 and $279 (HD and Native,
Contact: McDSP |
May 2011 | ProAudioReview
studio review
By Alan Silverman
Dangerous Music BAX EQ
This shelving stereo equalizer is operationally sleek and pleasing
in tonality: It’s simply “all about feel,” offers PAR’s resident
mastering expert.
Dangerous Music’s BAX EQ is a highly refined professional interpretation using shelving filter topologies introduced by British audio
engineer P. J. Baxandall in his classic paper, “Negative Feedback Tone
Control,” first published in Wireless World, October 1952. The design
was seminal; it was the first tone-shaping circuit where levels could
be controlled by a single potentiometer without the need for a switch
to select boost or cut.
The simplicity and sonic quality of the
design led to its deployment as the “tone
control” in countless high-fidelity preamplifiers. The design had characteristics that
made it especially suitable for musical tone
shaping — extremely smooth, flat shelves
and minimal phase shift. The filter components reside in the feedback loop, leaving the main signal path pure. Dangerous
Music’s lead designer, Chris Muth, has skillfully exploited these advantages to create an exceptional mastering-grade, analog
stereo EQ.
The feature set on the “BAX” is simple
and straightforward; there is a low cut, low
shelf, high cut and high shelf. Frequency
points are linked for both channels while
boost/cut levels can be set independently
for left and right. This allows for M/S operation in conjunction with an external sum
and difference matrix, as well as individual
channel tailoring. All controls are stepped,
and the corresponding internal component
values are hard-switched via a network of
40 relays.
The circuitry is built from high-quality
parts, selected after a year’s worth of listening with the goal of tight tolerances and
musicality. All capacitors in the signal path
are film-type, not ceramic. The elaborate
relay-switching scheme ensures that the
shelving slopes remain constant as the
corner frequencies are changed. Values are
dialed in with 8-position rotary switches
for frequency and 21-position rotaries in
.5 dB steps for level. Low-cut points range
from 12 Hz to 54 Hz, low shelves from 74
Hz to 364 Hz, high shelves from 1.6 kHz
to 18 kHz, and high cuts from 7.5 kHz to
70 kHz. The subsonic and ultrasonic points
are intended to keep the audio band clean
without side effects.
In Use
At first, the frequency values on the
shelves seemed counterintuitive; they are
specified with the values in the middle of
the slopes rather than at the corners. The
reason behind this is the gentleness of the
slopes. It is this gentleness that contributes
to the BAX’s extraordinary musicality. The
phase shift is kept to less than five degrees
for a 1 dB change, and tonal effects are
heard far from the nominal values well into
the midrange. It is remarkable how an EQ
so simply laid out can be so versatile and
The top end is capable of an effortless air, while the midrange is smoothly
enhanced. The low end can create a “solidas-a-rock” bass while warming vocals. The
BAX is all about feel; it mysteriously imparts
improved sonic appeal without aggressively impacting the original tonality of a mix. It
can do this while neatly sidestepping two
of the thorniest recording problems: thickness in the low-mids and harshness in the
upper-mids. My other equalizers took on
new characteristics when freed by the BAX
from the heavy lifting, resulting in a range
of new colors.
My first in-session use was on a wellmixed big-band project. The mix engineer
had mastered the project, but the artist
felt there was more potential, so the unmastered mixes were sent over. The BAX
delivered — and it delivered fast. There’s
something fantastic about interacting with
a great analog EQ. The sweet spot came into
focus quickly. It seemed too easy. My usual
5-band analog parametric EQ remained unpatched. The BAX proved itself as a true
“program equalizer” in the tradition of the
classic mastering EQs of simpler times. Add
NYC-based mastering engineer Alan Silverman is a two-time Grammy nominee in the Album of the Year category for mastering.
ProAudioReview | May 2011
some nice top and bottom ... and done: The
ref garnered an enthusiastic approval from
the artist with no change.
Next up was an attended mastering session with singer-songwriter JD Souther who
traveled from Nashville to New York for the
date. JD had recorded what he felt was
a personal best album and was deeply
invested in every aspect of the production.
JD and I had never worked together before,
and both his manager and the label’s A&R
executive were at the session. No pressure.
The BAX delivered a deep bass and
an open, airy presence. My standard EQ
was then free to handle a few notches to
sweeten the vocal. After the first playback,
you could hear a pin drop. Following what
seemed to me a very long minute, JD said,
“What’s wrong with that?” and we were on
our way. On the second tune, JD asked for
a .5 dB more bass. How fun was it to just
reach for the BAX, twist one quick click, hit
play and see appreciation in an artist’s eyes.
With the BAX, a .5 dB click amounts to a lot,
thanks to the gradual slopes of the shelves.
The BAX seems to do more with less, giving a
track a finished polish with only a few touches. Running the shelves in conjunction with
the cut filters leads to a surprisingly flexible
range of curves. When used in conjunction
with the low-cut filter, the low shelf can tame
a tubby bass as well as flesh out a thin one.
The high-cut filter serves to sweeten the top
end when the upper shelf is used for a midrange lift. The device seems very transparent
with negligible insertion loss.
I have been having a blast with the BAX
and feel grateful to be able to benefit from
the years of research and development
that Chris Muth did while serving as technical director at Sterling Sound. During his
time there, he ripped apart and improved
just about every bit of equipment that
came through the door. Chris is also a
mastering engineer in his own right and,
apparently, he finally built an EQ that even
he could love. The BAX EQ is affordably
priced well below its high level of quality.
It’s like a delicious dessert with no calories.
Price: $2,529 list
Contact: Dangerous Music |
studio review
By Rob Tavaglione
Rupert Neve Designs Portico II
Considering the legendary status of Mr. Rupert Neve, it is not
surprising his channel strip is “hard not to love.” How much love?
Read on.
The Portico II Channel by the one and only Mr. Rupert Neve simply
sounds great — but of course, that should be a given. So please allow
me to be a bit more helpful while I place this world-class product
amongst some of its closest peers.
Here, I will base most comparisons and
opinions on what I learned in evaluations
for PAR’s “World-Class Channel Strips”
Session Trial (read it here: — Ed.); that experience fully illuminated the abilities of
such premium signal processors for me.
As a complete “all-in-one” signal path,
let’s look at the Portico II Channel from
entrance to exit to grasp its capabilities.
Input Section
The Portico II starts with three transformer-coupled inputs, one for mics with
72 dB of gain (66 dB in 6 dB steps with an
additional 6 dB on the +/- 6 dB gain trim).
Wisely, this gain trim applies to the mic and
DI inputs as well, offering a convenient gain
rider. The line-level input makes the Portico
II quite useful as a channel insert and would
be excellent for stereo sources with a second unit and the stereo link jacks on the
rear panel. The DI input sounds particularly
sweet to me, as its transformer imparts full-
ness and body not seen in budget units and
the thru jack is equally welcome.
The mic input sounds particularly sweet
and silky — neither fat, nor mid-forward, nor
bright — just open and classy while exhibiting lots of headroom. The +/- 36 V power
supply rails (higher than normal) in this
circuit likely contribute to this headroom,
preventing the front end from sounding
like a crunchable 1073 vintage Neve mic
pre. I tried acoustic guitars, electric guitars,
vocals, basses and percussion always with
neutral, yet polished results.
High-Pass Filter
This filter is continuously variable from
20 to 250 Hz at -12 dB/octave and is clean,
exhibiting no audible distortion or resonance
at the filter point. This circuit is particularly
useful in that you can filter the program signal or the side-chain going to the compressor
for less pumping with bassy sources.
EQ Section
The EQ controls of the Portico II offer
best-of-class flexibility and more so; this EQ
delivers the transparency, sweetness and
purity of tone you’d expect. The low and high
bands offer four stepped frequency choices
each (35, 60, 100, 220 and 4.7, 6.8, 12, 25K,
respectively), +/- 15 dB of gain and either
bell or shelf curves. The two mid bands are
more interesting and complicated with continuously variable frequency and Q, as well as
+/- 15 dB of range. The frequency ranges generously overlap the low (70-1,400) and high
(700-14K) bands and the Q reaches a nicely
shallow 0.7 up to a fairly steep value of 5.
The de-esser is a fully functional, variable
and controllable feature, not a strippeddown afterthought; it uses the HMF band
to select frequency, Q to control the bandwidth (nice!) and the HMF EQ level control is still functional for the actual EQing
of that same band! In the aforementioned
PAR Session Trial, the Manley Voxbox and
the Millennia-Media STT-1 had excellent deessers too, but the Portico II’s may be just
be the best I’ve ever used.
Compressor Limiter Section
As much praise as the EQ section of
this unit has garnered here, I still think the
Portico II’s biggest draw is its eminently flexible compressor. The only similarly versatile
compressor I have used on such a channel
strip is found on the API 7600, but it sounds
quite different from this Portico — not better
or worse, just different.
Both feedback and feed-forward modes
are offered (plus RMS or peak detection),
giving distinctly different behaviors and
Rob Tavaglione owns and operates Catalyst Recording in Charlotte, NC.
ProAudioReview | May 2011
tones: the feed-forward
for quickness, hardness and accuracy and
the feedback for slowness, musicality and
“vintage-ness.” But the
big rewards lie with the
blend control, allowing accurate variable
blending of compressed and unprocessed
signals — parallel compression. I could go on
for days about the greatness of this feature:
for example, some heavy compression gently tucked under for perky peaks and thick
density, aggressive feed-forward attenuation heavily blended in for superb clarity and
“in your face-ness,” 100 percent compressed
feedback for a familiar flavor from yesteryear, not to mention the side-chain HPF interactions. All that, and more, is available in this
one feature.
So you want some vintage Neve flavor
in your rack, but modern sonics, too? Then
you’re largely covered by the Portico II’s
Texture options. With Silk engaged, you
can control negative feedback to the out-
able control offers more
“extremism,” for lack of
a better word.
put transformer, add harmonics and affect
frequency response — from barely even
apparent to rather flavorful. Silk is rather
dark when cranked, with increased low-end
hang time and obvious distortion; at about
one o’clock, it gets interesting and by four
o’clock, your bass guitar is so growly, fat,
thick and chewy that you’ll be head bobbing!
Silk+ is actually less apparent when
cranked, adding some subtle character
and density without sacrificing high end
or detail. You can use liberal amounts of
Silk+ on vocals or even mixes. This is not
an “all or nothing” mangling proposition
—moderate Texture amounts leave your
signal unharmed and only “added to,” not
destroyed. This feature was like the wonderful transformer-loading option of the Great
River ME-1NV/EQ-1NV (used in the aforementioned PAR Session Trial), but with vari-
Considering the fact
that all sections of the
Portico II are eminently useful, if not best
in class, it’s hard to not like this unit,
even at its premium price point ($3,195
street). “It’s hard not to love it” is a more
accurate statement. The EQ in general,
the de-esser, the superb compressor and
the Silk features will surprise you and
demand daily usage. I only have a few
quibbles: A master output level would be
nice to have, the switches don’t feel as
good as the pots do and some additional
metering wouldn’t hurt, either, but these
points are incredibly minor in context,
as in the context of world-class channel
strips, of which the Portico II Channel is
one of the very finest available.
Price: $3,495 list
Contact: Rupert Neve Designs |
studio review
By Rob Tavaglione
sE Electronics Voodoo VR-1
Passive, VR-2 Active Ribbon Mics
Good performance, price, and warranty make these Voodoos ideal
choices in modern “ribbon hungry” audio production environments.
Designer: Siwei Zou of sE Sound Engineering
Description: Pressure gradient ribbon
microphones with 2-micron aluminum ribbons: one passive (VR-1), the other with
active electronics (VR-2)
Defining trait: Extended 20 Hz to 20 kHz
bandwidth via a patent-pending “mechanical device” (a diffuser that attenuates
direct sound and enhances high-frequency
Specifications: Figure-of-eight polar pattern, less than 300 ohms impedance VR-1
(less than 200 ohms VR-2), 17 dBA selfnoise (20 dB VR-2), maximum SPL of 135
dB, 1.6mV/Pa -56 ± 1.5 dB sensitivity
Test application #1: Drum kit in both hihat and ride-cymbal positions, each two feet from
source through a Sytek
MPX4A preamp.
My tests found the VR-1
required approximately
20 dB more gain than the
VR-2 in similar SPL positions. Both mics handled
the high SPL well, exhibiting no audible distortion.
Both models exhibited
extended low-frequency
response, largely flat midrange response, high-end
response extended to just
below typical condenser
microphone levels and
normal transient compression generally found in
ribbon microphones. I would
define their performances
as classic, with moderately
extended highs.
This particular test revealed that the
VR-1 supplied for testing had its polarity
reversed and an almost too snug XLR connector requiring caution when disconnecting. [According to Jonathan Pines, director
for strategic operations at Fingerprint Audio
(U.S. distributor for sE Microphones as well
as Rupert Neve Designs), both the reversed
polarity and snug XLR issues have been
corrected in all shipping Voodoo ribbons;
the models supplied for this review were
pre-production models. — Ed.]
Test application #2: Acoustic guitar with
placement two feet from neck/body of
instrument through an AMS-Neve 4081 mic
My tests found
similar frequency
response between
the two, with slightly more high-end
response from the
VR-2 and slightly
higher noise floor
from VR-1 (due to the
additional mic preamp gain). Overall
response could be
defined as smooth,
classic and in need
of minor corrective
EQ around 200 Hz
(cut) and 10 kHz up
(boost). [Hear it via
audio webclips #1A
and 1B. — Ed.]
Test application
#3: Stomp tambo
(tambourine attached to
wooden box and struck
Selected Audio Clips:
sE VR1 and VR2
Visit the link below to hear
audio clips referenced in
Rob’s review of the VR1 and
VR2. — Ed.
with foot for “kick drum with jangle” sound),
positioned with both the VR-1 and VR-2 as
close to coincident as possible with each
mic in each other’s side null — about 8 inches out — aimed on-axis with instrument.
My tests revealed that both mics picked
up significant low-end thump and ample
high end, with more high end translated by
the VR-2. [Hear it via audio webclips #2A &
2B. — Ed.]
Product-to-Product Comparison: These
Voodoo ribbons aren’t as “bright” as the
Audio-Technica AT4081, although the VR-2
is close and slightly hotter in output.
Compared to a passive AEA R92, the VR-2
is the brighter one, but similar in low-end
response. The Voodoo ribbons are balanced “top to bottom,” closer to the Blue
Woodpecker or the Coles 4050, although
distinctly different from each. [Based on
manufacturer-supplied specs, the Voodoo
ribbons are nearly flat (within +/- 1 dB) in
frequency response between 20 Hz to 18
kHz, 2 dB down at 20 kHz, and offer a notably tight polar pattern. — Ed.]
The sE Electronics Voodoo ribbon
microphones are “small form factor”
(continued on page 58)
Rob Tavaglione has owned and operated Catalyst Recording in Charlotte, NC since 1995.
ProAudioReview | May 2011
studio review
By Russ Long
Glyph PortaGig 62
Though choices abound in the marketplace, PAR’s senior
contributor swears by Glyph’s PortaGig 62, a drive “as close to
perfection as possible.”
When it finally came time to replace my trusty Glyph PortaGig 100
GB hard drive — after over half a decade of heavy use! — naturally,
I returned to Glyph. That company’s drives have continually proven
themselves to be both amazingly reliable and reasonably priced. A lot
has changed since I purchased my PortaGig 100: Glyph’s new leader
in the portability department is the bus-powered PortaGig 62, the
little brother to the Glyph GT 062E, priced at $279 street.
The PortaGig 62 is a portable RAID data
storage system providing storage capacities up to 3 TB in a tiny package (4.8 inches
wide, 3.6 inches deep and 1.7 inches tall).
The PortaGig’s all-metal enclosure surrounds a pair of 2.5-inch SATA hard drives
and is available in a wide variety of size
and speed configurations, including 1 TB,
2 TB and 3 TB sizes at 5,400 RPM and 320
GB, 500 GB, 640 GB, and 1 TB at 7,200 RPM.
All of the configurations provide transfer
speeds of up to 177 MB/second, and
the drive supports RAID 0, RAID 1
and Spanning modes.
When configured to RAID 0,
drive performance is improved
.but there is no redundancy. RAID
1 configuration provides redundancy by allowing data
to be written identically to both internal
drives, meaning that
as long as one drive is
working, your data is safe. Spanning
mode writes data sequentially across both
drives; when the first one fills, the second
one continues onward. The drive includes
the Glyph Manager software that provides
easy drive configuration and the ability to
continuously monitor the health of all supported Glyph drives connected to the computer. If the drive has a problem, the front
panel’s activity LED (which typically glows
blue) glows red, and the software immediately notifies the user. Theoretically, this
will allow a backup to be made before the
drive fails and data is lost.
The PortaGig 62 has front- and rear-panel
ventilation holes, allowing an extremely
quiet internal fan to pull cool air in the
front while pushing hot air out the rear of
the enclosure providing maximum airflow
and optimum cooling. A convenient power
switch is located on the drive’s back panel.
The drive features connectivity and buspower via FireWire 800 or connectivity via
USB 2.0 or eSATA ports. The drive includes
a wall-wart as an alternative to bus-power.
It is actually possible to use the eSATA connection for fast data transfer while simultaneously powering the drive via the FireWire
800 connection.
All Glyph drives feature Glyph’s 3-2-1
warranty; it includes a 3-year drive-performance warranty, a 2-year free basic
data-recovery policy, and a 1-year advancereplacement policy.
In Use
Although it is larger than my PortaGig 100
GB hard drive, the Portagig 62 is still small
and, considering its data transfer speed,
connection options and software control,
it’s massively more powerful. I
carry an external hard drive
with me all of the time —
it just makes sense. I never
know when a producer is
going to show up for a tracking session without a drive,
when I will need to
bring a session
Russ Long is a Nashville-based producer, engineer and mixer as well as a senior contributor to PAR.
ProAudioReview | May 2011
figurations. I decided on the RAID 1 configuration as my permanent setup (you lose all
of the drive’s data when reconfiguring the
RAID mode). It cuts the drive size in half,
but the advantages of built-in redundancy
trump the size issue in my book. [Using a
RAID 1 configuration, as Russ does, is the
equivalent of purchasing a master and safety drive, and therefore the PortaGig 62 (and
its price) should be compared to buying two
identical drives from another vendor. — Ed.]
home from my studio, or when I will need to
rough in a mix or two in a hotel room when
I’m working out of town. I’ve been carrying
the PortaGig with me since last December,
and it has performed flawlessly.
The PortaGig 62 is shipped Macformatted with RAID 0 configuration
although it can easily be formatted for PC
use. Before implementing the drive into
my regular workflow, I tested it in all three
RAID modes and it worked perfectly in each
instance, and the Glyph Manager software
made the repeated drive configuration
quick and easy. Glyph Manager boots up
mini review
immediately and provides a quick system
appraisal or, by selecting a specific drive,
the application will provide specific drive
model, serial number, current status (fully
operational, initialized, degraded or halted),
volume or partition name(s), connection
configuration (FireWire, USB or eSATA), the
temperature of the Oxford bridge chipset
and each drive, and the fan speed (which
varies depending on the temperature).
I experimented with recording and playing-back sessions with large track counts
at 44.1 kHz, 96 kHz and 192 kHz. and the
drive worked perfectly in all three RAID con-
My only complaint about the PortaGig
62 is its lack of a protective carry case.
Even though the drive’s design is extremely
robust, a small padded carry bag (like the
one that was included with my PortaGig 100)
would make me feel more comfortable carrying it in my bag. Otherwise, the PortaGig
62 comes as close to perfection as possible.
Prices: $309 to $785 (depending on drive
capacity and speed)
Contact: Glyph Technologies | glyphtech.
By Russ Long
Joe Barresi: Tracking Rock
Instructional Video
Joe Barresi’s long list of credits, which
includes his work with Queens of the Stone
Age, Tool, Weezer, Bad Religion and dozens more, easily lands him a place on the
short list of the industry’s most influential
rock producers and engineers. Thankfully,
in Barresi’s case, his tremendous success
hasn’t led to a matching ego, and he has
generously shared his talent with the public
in his new 2-hour, 44-minute HD video, Joe
Barresi: Tracking Rock.
The program is a behind-the-scenes documentary that walks the viewer through
the three-day process of Barresi producing
a track with the alt-rock band, Zico Chain.
It includes the signal path of every instrument recorded and the implementation of
Joe’s massive collection of mics, amplifiers,
cabinets and audio-processing gear. Also
included are the song’s AVID Pro Tools session, an OMF file (allowing the session to be
opened in other DAWs) and the raw audio
tracks allowing critical listening and analysis. A release of Barresi mixing the song on
his SSL 4000 console will be made available
Q3 of 2011.
Joe Barresi: Tracking Rock was shot
entirely in high-definition video, and it looks
fantastic. The program is not available in
DVD or Blu-ray formats; instead, it has been
optimized for on-computer viewing as well
as viewing on the iPad, iPod and iPhone-4
formats. I watched the program primarily
on my iPad, but I also spent time with it
on my computer and iPhone, and it always
translated well.
The documentary begins with a tour of
Barresi’s House of Compression (his studio)
and then jumps into recording. Beginning
with drums, it moves to bass, guitar and
then vocals and in each instance, there is a
setup chapter (e.g. Drum Setup, Bass Setup,
etc.), which is Barresi talking through his
setup of that chapter’s instrument. This is
(continued on page 58)
May 2011 | ProAudioReview
new live products
DiGiCo SD10, SD11
Digital Consoles
Roland R-1000 48-Track
Roland’s R-1000 is a standalone, dedicated recorder/player
designed to work with the V-Mixing System. Users can connect and use the R-1000 with any digital console that has
MADI output capabilities by pairing it with the Roland S-MADI
REAC MADI Bridge or to capture up to 48 channels of discrete
audio all as separate broadcast wave files.
It can be used in live events to play back selected channels
to augment a live performance or as a multichannel playback
deck in fixed applications. Sync two units together for a
96-channel recorder/player or sync to video with SMPTE (LTC)
or via black burst. Files are stored on a removable hard-disk
drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD). Files can be transferred
via USB to a connected drive.
Setup and configuration can be done using the color LCD
touch panel on the front panel or with the PC remote-control
software via a USB connection.
Price: TBA
Contact: Roland Systems Group | rolandsystemsgroup.
DiGiCo has unveiled its SD10 and SD11 consoles. According
to the company, the SD10 (pictured) sits between the
SD7 and SD8. It features a 15-inch, touch-sensitive screen,
37 100mm touch-sensitive faders, 96 channels with full
processing, four layers of 10 keys that control Smart Key
macros, dual hot swap, switch mode and PSUs as standard.
The SD11, a console that is the smallest (both in size and
price) that the company has ever produced, is designed for
use either as a desktop console or mounted in a 19-inch
rack. It features 12 touch-sensitive moving faders below a
15-inch touch-sensitive screen. Sixteen mic preamps, eight
line outputs and two mono AES I/O are provided, in addition
to which users have the option to connect a DiGiCo D-Rack
to the Cat-5E port. This aims to provide a remote I/O rack
frame with an additional 32 microphone inputs and up to
16 outputs. It also has 12 Flexi busses, which can be userconfigured as either mono or stereo. In its maximum configuration, these could be used as 12 stereo mixes.
Prices: POA
Contact: DiGiCo |
Audix Micros Series M1280B
According to Audix, the Micros Series are “the world’s smallest condenser microphones with integrated preamp and detachable cable,” and the latest addition to
the line — the multi-pattern M1280B — features a machined brass housing and
modular threaded capsule; 40 Hz - 20 kHz frequency response; and a 12mm
gold-vapor diaphragm. Exclusively for the M1280B, Audix includes a discrete
circuit design, recessed miniature XLR connector, and total immunity from RF
caused by cell phones and wireless GSM devices.
The M1280B is available in a matte black finish, and supplied accessories
include a 25-foot cable, hanging mic clip, mic stand adapter and external windscreen.
Price: $430-$470 (depending on capsule)
Contact: Audix |
ProAudioReview | May 2011
new live products
beyerdynamic Touring Gear
Microphone Series
German manufacturer beyerdynamic has launched its Touring Gear microphone
series, a complete product range of more than 25 different microphones for
live performance. Most notably, this line features beyer’s Sound Channeling
Technology, “acoustic labyrinths with special geometries that provide optimized
sound channeling,” explains company documentation. “(SCT) influences the sound
and model the polar pattern by using precisely tuned delay lines and attenuation
pads. Whether with additional elements, special materials or a unique design: Every
beyerdynamic microphone has its own Sound Channeling Technology.”
The Touring Gear Series has four distinct subcategories: the entry-level TG 30,
“the standard” TG 50, the “no compromises,” German handcrafted TG 70 and the
premium-class TG 90, which features the top shelf TGV90r ribbon microphone as
well as the TG V96c true condenser microphone for live vocal applications.
Prices: TBA
Contact: American Music & Sound (U.S. distributor) |
Kaltman Low-Frequency
Measurement Antennas
Kaltman Creations has introduced
its line of Extremely Low Frequency
(ELF), Super Low Frequency (SLF)
and Low Frequency (LF) measurement antennas. The company aims
to cover antenna requirements for
precision “H” and “E” compliance,
exposure, spectrum surveys and
research-related applications.
Price: TBA
Contact: Kaltman Creations |
ProAudioReview | May 2011
B2D Directional
Countryman has introduced its B2D
directional lavalier microphone, “the
world’s smallest directional lavalier
microphone,” the diameter of a No. 2
pencil. The B2D is targeted for applications where vocal reinforcement is
required without being visibly present.
The B2D offers a hypercardioid polar
pattern for isolation from ambient noise
and feedback. Compared to an omnidirectional lavalier microphone, the B2D
achieves, on average, 6-10 dB more gain
before feedback; this also translates to
fewer issues with phase interference
when multiple microphones are used
simultaneously, and less challenges
with room noise, offers Countryman.
The B2D has a frequency response of
50 Hz to 18 kHz, with a 4 dB presence
boost at 6 kHz for increased intelligibility. It is available in three sensitivities/
versions to accommodate a wide range
of applications, with overload levels (at
1 percent THD) of 120, 130 and 140 dB
SPL. The package includes the microphone, shock-mount clip, and strong
cable (with a break strength of 50 lbs.).
Price: $650 list
Contact: Countryman Associates |
new live products
Harman HiQnet Performance
Manager Software
Harman Professional has introduced its HiQnet Performance Manager
software, a user interface that reportedly facilitates the design of touring
and live-performance venue sound-reinforcement systems. Designed especially for touring and theatrical sound engineering, HiQnet Performance
Manager is an application-specific iteration of the company’s HiQnet System
Architect 2 connectivity and control software application for professionalgrade audio system integration.
HiQnet Performance Manager is said to provide a step-by-step workflow
that directly corresponds to real-world system configuration, taking the
workflow paradigm introduced in System Architect 2 to a higher level of functionality for any live-performance audio application. It is fully
integrated with JBL’s Line Array Calculator II loudspeaker configuration and acoustic modeling software. The user begins by loading templates of the speaker arrays used in the system, and then runs Line Array Calculator II for each array as part of the initial sound-design
task of determining how many and which type of loudspeakers are required to cover a given venue. For each array, Performance Manager
automatically loads the passive VerTec or powered VerTec DrivePack DPDA line-array configuration into the main application workspace
— the first of many automated design processes native to the software application. Loudspeakers can also be manually loaded into the
templates, if desired.
Price: Free Download
Contact: Harman |
Innovason Eclipse GT
Digital Console
Innovason has unveiled the latest incarnation
of its Eclipse digital mixing console,
Eclipse GT. The look of the Eclipse
GT has changed considerably with
the integration of a few features like
a side rail to facilitate moving and
carrying, as well as some aesthetic
touches like the red LEDs in the sidecheeks (which may be switched off if necessary) and the signature Innovason red trackball.
Another major change is the “feel” of the console from
an operator’s point of view. According to the company, all of the knobs
and faders have been selected to give the desk a more expensive “feel.”
All of the features of the original Eclipse (such as the M.A.R.S.
onboard multitrack recorder, Virtual Soundcheck and the Broadway
function for seamless changeover from a live to a recorded soundtrack)
are an integral part of the Eclipse GT. The M.A.R.S. computer reportedly
acts as a redundant control computer and can take over all control and
display functions. Eclipse GT also retains Innovason’s SmartFade and
Smart-Panel features for flexibility and configurability.
Price: POA
Contact: Innovason |
AKG DMS700 v2
Wireless Mic System
AKG has launched version2 of its DMS700 digital
wireless microphone system. With a 512-bit encryption, 3.5 mS latency and DPT700 bodypack, DMS700
v2 aims to improve the link quality and increase the
working range of the transmitters and receivers.
Users with the original DMS700 wireless system can update their units through a software and
hardware update. The free software update includes
the 512-bit encryption, AES EBU output and 0.5 ms
improved latency, improved link quality and range
improvements and output gain menu with a bar
graph and ability to deactivate auto-lock.
Prices: $1,286 to $2,695 depending on selected
Contact: Harman/AKG |
May 2011 | ProAudioReview
worship audio
By Dan Wothke
Our Road to Digital
Twelve years ago, our house of worship, Belmont Church of Nashville, increased
the level of commitment to media; we started with audio. This included contracting with Live Technologies on the complete renewal of our system — custom
speaker cabinets, power amps, processors, Furman headphone monitoring
system and a new 48-channel Soundcraft K2 analog console. We didn’t know it at
the time, but that was likely the last analog console we will ever have in our Worship Center.
Educating the Masses
last board. Our board, originally purchased
We’ve all seen it: the subconscious pro- for about $12,000 was used for 11+ years,
verbial eye roll whenever techies start talk- or an estimated 1,872 assemblies, totaling about a new piece of gear that we “must ing just $6.41 per assembly. Then add in
have.” Fortunately for us, the gear spoke the hundreds of special events, weddings,
for itself as our jump to digital was primar- funerals and classes, that number showed
ily out of necessity. The faithful K2 was that we got our money’s worth. After showstarting to have problems, which pointed ing the video, everyone was on board and,
to capacitors failing, switches wearing out after four weeks, we raised over $5,800 in
and the like. So all the musicians, leaders the knob drive. Then the manufacturer of
and techies of our church knew it was the new board offered us $1,700 for tradetime for an upgrade. The next step was to in of our old board (they didn’t care if there
promote ownership from within the church were any knobs). Utilizing the old board,
body. Yes, it was in the budget but in a we raised $7,500 (far exceeding its actual
house of worship, people want to help — worth of $2,000). More importantly, there
they want to share in the ownership.
was an awareness about the new console.
When confronted with this challenge,
an immediate fundraising idea came to The Decision
The decision of which console to buy
mind: a knob drive. What is a knob drive?
I counted up the knobs on our Soundcraft was based on three primary criteria for us:
K2 and with faders the total was just over
1. Sixteen physical channel faders with
1,000. This was the plan: If someone a total of 48 inputs/8 analog outputs
made a donation, of any amount, they minimum
got a knob. Sounds quirky,
but our creative team put
together an entertaining and
informative video explaining
the knob drive and made a
video with some fun ideas of
uses for the knob around the
house. You can view the video
on our Facebook page linked
To comfort those who were
concerned about value, I broke
down the money spent on the Belmont Church’s “Knob Drive” brochure.
2. Seamless interface with an Aviom
headphone monitoring system
3. Cost in the $20k range.
After looking at the boards that fit
in that range — which included Allen
& Heath, AVID, Soundcraft and Yamaha
— with help from Spectrum Sound of
Nashville, we landed on the AVID Venue
SC48. The SC48 met all criteria, is a proven workhorse in the industry and our
familiarity with TDM plug-ins combined
with the option to upgrade was also an
attractive feature.
Our headphone system — the Furman
HDS16 — had served us well for 8+ years,
but the decision to upgrade our console
also led to an upgrade to an Aviom system. The expansion card for the SC48 cost
the same for either analog headphone
systems or the Aviom, but we really wanted to move to a more flexible digital headphone system, so we decided to install
an Aviom A-16D distributor and 10 A-16II
personal mixers. We already had
a pair of RJ45 jacks at each mic
panel, so the new system could
just drop into place without any
infrastructure change. The only
cabling required by the new board
and headphone system was one
Cat-5 cable from FOH to backstage.
We did not upgrade to digital
because our way of mixing or overall sound was broken; the workflow
we had established and the sound
of the room was great. So, our first
Dan Wothke is media director at Belmont Church of Music Row, Nashville. Reach him at [email protected]
ProAudioReview | May 2011
Belmont Church’s road to a digital console ends at the AVID Venue SC48, now at FOH, replacing a trusty, well-loved Soundcraft K2 analog desk.
goal was to take what we had in the analog
world and use digital to replicate it. Then
we would sprinkle in the more advanced
features as we encountered challenges
that it could solve. Ultimately, it was our
goal not to have anyone audibly notice the
new board, although sonics did play a part.
The most common comment from
those who knew of the board being
installed was the increased clarity it
brought to the mixes. I concurred with
their assessment but felt the color provided by the K2 and external processing
was missed. It took a few weeks to get
things dialed in to our liking with the use
of plug-ins and tweaks to the graphic EQs.
The curves from our analog graphic EQ,
compared to the new digital graphic, were
more different than I expected with more
dips in the 60 – 200 Hz range and the
anticipated dips in the 8 kHz range and
up. A major help in getting things dialed
in was copying files from our weekend
studio recordings into Pro Tools LE and
ProAudioReview | May 2011
interface with the Venue to create virtual
mixes based on what the band actually
sounded like. Each engineer did this as
part of their training before being thrown
into a live situation.
Why Go Digital?
There were some key reasons for us to
go digital that have paid off time and time
again, which makes me wonder how we
used to do this in the analog domain. The
Venue’s VCA channels have been worth
their weight in gold. We’ve all been in
the situation where someone gets up
in the middle of worship and wants to
share something. The band keeps their
full intensity, and it is hard to hear the
person with the mic over the music.
In the past, it was a game of finger gymnastics to pull down the groups
while keeping their relative positions in
order to get the spoken word over the
music. Now, we have all of the music
channels and/or groups assigned to a
VCA as well as the singers to their own
VCA. With the press of a button to get to
bring the VCA channels to the forefront,
the engineer can bring down just the
VCA with the music while keeping their
relative positions intact. Since the board
has been installed, there has not been an
event where this has not come into play.
Recently, in the span of nine days, we
had performances from seven different
worship teams interwoven. The time and
headaches that presets and snapshots
helped avoid was beyond effective — and
not just for the engineer, but also for the
worship teams. Add in presets within the
headphone system (and if a team had
rehearsed) and we can have them back
up and running right where they left off
in a matter of minutes.
Less Is More
Going digital allowed us to eliminate one
of our two external racks. The former rack
(continued on page 58)
Contact: Contessa Abono
[email protected]
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May 2011 | ProAudioReview
Worship Audio
that once housed 22 channels of gates and
compression, three outboard effects units
and four channels of graphic EQ has now
been replaced with plug-ins. All routing is
now done in the software, compressors and
gates are built in on every channel, and in our
current configuration we have eight discrete
graphic EQs at our disposal. Add in the ability
to save presets for virtually everything, and
the digital domain again scores big. Within
Venue, we are starting to build our libraries for
different musicians and vocalists. With some
pre-planning, we can load the presets for
their channels or specific areas within their
channels and have a familiar starting point.
I will admit it takes a change of mind-
set when working with digital. First, to see
tweaks represented visually on a screen
can cause the end-user to question, for
example, “is the filter really set there,” or
“that seems like a lot of gain applied,” etc.
Mixing with digital should not result in letting our eyes taking over the role of our
ears. The key is to mix with our ears and
observe with our eyes.
Everything is customizable on the Venue,
which can be a double-edged sword. We are
still working on having some things remain
the same from week to week — such as
master compressor, graphic EQ presets and
specific routing — while still allowing the
engineer the freedom to use what they prefer and work how they prefer. Digital adds an
entire new level of challenges when training
new volunteers, increasing the importance
sE Voodoo
Joe Barresi
(continued from page 46)
(continued from page 49)
transducers, easy to place due to their
smaller-than-average size as well as a
very versatile shockmount. This shockmount allows numerous configuration
options, including very close “flush
mounting” with the source. This secure,
near-perfect shockmount is hindered
only by its crucial plastic collar (which
prompts extra care in handling).
Both Voodoos exhibit the useful combination of an extended “condenserlike” top end, but with the substantial
bottom-end response and compressed
transients of traditional ribbons. The VR1
offers slightly less high end and a slightly
more classic ribbon sound. The VR2 offers
a substantially hotter output and more
high end, but is nearly sonically identical.
Reasonably priced with a “zero downtime/free replacement” warranty (within
three years of purchase) the Voodoos are
worthy competitors in today’s ribbon mic
followed by a tracking chapter (e.g. Guitar
Tracking, Vocal Tracking, etc.), which captures the actual recording process including Barresi’s interaction with the musician
or vocalist.
The setup chapters include his thorough
signal-path explanations (although exact
gear settings are justifiably but unfortunately not included) and are complemented
with visualizations that show signal flowcharts, gear photos and gear costs making it easy (though possibly quite expensive!) to precisely emulate one or all of
Barresi’s signal paths. The gear explanations are complemented with “Joe’s notes,”
which provide a brief comment on a specific
piece of gear. For example, his notes for the
Univox Cabinet used with the bass guitar
reads, “Likes it for distortion. Uses it for
guitar, bass and keyboards. Hard to blow
it up — indestructible.” But my favorite is
his unnamed staple guitar amp that is only
known as “Top Secret” in the program where
his notes reads, “Every pro has his secrets.
Go find your own.”
Besides being brilliant at what he does,
Barresi is funny. Not just mildly funny
but really funny. It’s no wonder bands are
(continued from page 56)
Prices: $799 and $1,199 list
Contact: sE Electronics |
Fingerprint Audio (U.S. distributor) |
ProAudioReview | May 2011
of planning ahead of time. On the flip side,
with such planning, a preset can be set up
so that a volunteer’s job is even easier than
when working with analog.
A Well-Paved Road
The decision to go digital has proven
to be beneficial to all. The musicians have
raved over the new headphone system and
the clarity and usability it brings. The engineers have, despite the challenges at first,
quickly adapted and really embraced the
change. As for the congregation, we have
been distributing the knobs, which has, in
some way, given our faithful Soundcraft
K2 a respectable exit and raised the level
of ownership in our house. Thanks to planning, educating, training and more planning, our road to digital was well paved.
happy to spend months in the studio with
this guy. The program concludes with a
50-minute discussion/interview between
Tony Shepperd, one of the project’s producers (and a world-class engineer in his own
right) and Barresi, which is worth the price
of the program itself.
The less experienced among us may not
realize how tracking a band is an entirely
different animal than tracking individual
musicians, and Joe Barresi: Tracking Rock
not only captures all of the technical essentials to tracking, but it also demonstrates
the successful dynamic between a band
and a tracking engineer/producer. And this
dynamic is as important if not more important than the technical end of things. Barresi
demonstrates this concept perfectly.
The most amazing thing about this program is that it is packed full of information
for both the beginner and the seasoned
pro. One would be hard pressed to find an
engineer that wouldn’t benefit from this
documentary in one way or another. I know
I’ll be revisiting it myself from time to time.
Price: $95
Contact: Tech Breakfast |
Russ Long is a Nashville-based producer,
engineer and mixer as well as a senior
contributor to PAR.
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