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News update August 2011   Leave a comment

Hey all!  Bluewater Sound is back and I’m very excited to see what happens in the next year!  We have moved the fort to Pittsboro, NC.  I have the studio set up here, but I’m more interested in beefing up the live sound/ recording system.  But before we get into that, I want to share the last project we completed in Wilmington.  Here is a link to the album I recorded for Tom Rhodes and his band http://www.tomrhodes.bandcamp.com/album/better-son

Tom has since moved to California, and is doing very well. I will be adding some songs from this album to the player on the website soon.

Here the long term plan for the Bluewater Sound:

I’m in the process or researching, demoing new speakers for a new A rig.  In the running are EAW KF 650, Turbosound TA-890H, or Community SLS 960

EAW KF650

Turbosound TA-890H

I would also like to add some beefy subs to this setup eventually but for now, I might just double up on the number of EAW FR250Z’s that I have now, which will become the B rig.

Here’s something else I am very excited about, the Allen & Heath iLive IDR 32 with a T series controller, probably the T112.  I’m going to try to use the Mixrack with a laptop, until I can justify the controller.  The great thing about the iLive is that you can do just that, control the system with a laptop and iPad.

Allen & Heath MixRack iDR32

Allen & Heath iLive T112

This combo will also become my 64 channel mobile recording rig.  This rig plus one additional converter (Lynx Aurora 16) will be able to record 64 channels of audio to multiple recording programs for back-up, so if one system crashes it will still have at least two backups.  The last thing you want to have happen while recording live is to have audio drop-outs or software crashes.  It’s not like in the studio, you don’t get a do-over, t happens once, then it over.  Having a high channel count of high quality reliable audio recording that can also run the main mix FOH and monitors will be awesome!!

Thanks for reading!  Please subscribe to this blog for updates.  More coming soon!

-Captain Nielsbeard

PS  One more pic for ya!

Allen & Heath T112

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Bridging the gap between analog and digital: The new Allen & Heath GS-R24   3 comments

Breaking News!!!  Allen & Heath has bridged the gap between analog and digital and live and recording consoles with their new GS-R24.  It has been a while since I have been so ecstatic about a piece of audio gear…  like since Radial introduced the Workhorse 5000 lunchbox or Danley Sound labs released the Jericho Horn.  I must admit though that I am biased to liking Allen & Heath consoles I have personally owned two GL series, but this thing is undeniably sweet!  Although the product is squarely aimed at the project studio market, I think it could be a home run for live sound in churches who are looking to integrate recording into their system.  It has all the same outputs that you would expect from a live sound console PLUS DAW integration and way better sound quality than what you would expect from a mixer at this price point and even an option for motorized faders!  Read on for more on this and what makes this thing sound so great.

Pre-Amps: “The GS-R24 pre-amp is a highly developed and proven design. Originally evolved from a balanced summing amplifier circuit originally designed back in the late 1980s for the Focusrite Forte console whilst working for industry legend Rupert Neve. Very low noise transistors are employed in a symmetrical topology with local phase compensation resulting in an inherently stable but wide bandwidth, low distortion, very low noise design”.  According to Allen & Heath this Pre-Amp is the best sounding Pre-Amp that they have ever put in a console!

EQ:  Most folks are happy to get a mixer with one sweepable mid, two sweepable mids and those folks are in heaven.  This console has two sweepable mids with “Q”.  This means you can choose how wide or narrow (in terms of frequency) your boosts or cuts will be.  This is great for EQing with surgical precision.  For example, say you have a one-note sounding bass guitar that is overwhelming at 80hz.  You want to cut it without affecting 60hz or 100hz, so all you have to do is narrow the “Q” filter and you can cut way more of the 80hz without affecting the surrounding frequencies as much.

The routing of the console is very similar to the popular GL series consoles with 6 Aux sends, 4 subgroups and L,R and Mono outputs. In place of the matrix mixer, you get a plethora of routing options for studio connectivity that give you additional feeds for the artists IEMs or headphone mixes and all channels can be used as returns for analog mixdowns.  You also get 5.1 sorround sound mixing (Think for churches that are producing live DVDs of their HD video productions), and options internal A/D and D/A conversion and motorized faders!

Sound Quality:  Aside from the Neve based Pre-Amps and surgical EQ, this mixer also has two “valve channels” that allows you to use and adjust tube saturation.  Analog circuitry is known to impart harmonic content on signals and that’s why in the era of digital that that analog sound is still in such high demand in products today.  One the only arguments with digital is that it is too clean and lackluster in depth and warmth, so I think this is a great compliment to this board.  Whether you are overdubbing or mixing down to two tracks, these tube channels can add that missing something to your tracks.

Also check out the specs to see details like how it has a frequency response of +/- 1db from 10hz to 130khz and .0015 THD from mic to L,R mix!  http://www.allen-heath.com/gsr24 (click user guide)

I can see it now… recalling mixes, seeing the faders fying around to the positions you left them, doing my final tweeks, then sending the final stereo rack through the valve channels and adjusting the saturation to my hearts desire and printing the results.

Perfect For Churches Seeking Ultimate Integration with Video?  Many churches these days are getting fancy video recording systems with the latest HD cameras and video switchers and many of them are able to make a profit selling DVDs of those video productions.  Unfortunatly the majority of them use the same stereo mix that is going to the Front of the house (FOH) speakers and thus the audio mix always sucks!  Why not have your mixer also give you the ability to give multi-track recording and DAW control?  Now only will your mixes be great but it can also be a training tool for sound engineers.  Most churches have volunteers running the system, and those individuals often need some help.  I can’t think of a better way to learn how to mix for a particular praise team or band than actually mixing for them.  The advantage of having integrated recording is that you can record your band once and from there on out, you can pull those individual tracks back to the mixers channels to mix.  This means the engineers in training can practice mixing the same band, in the same room without the band having to physically be there.

Drawbacks:

I only have a few gripes about this console which don’t amount to a whole lot considering the price point.

First, the ¼” line inputs are unbalanced so you can plug intruments directly into the console.  Unfortunatly this means if you choose to use an external converter you’ll likely want to make sure your converter outputs are XLR.  This leads me to my second issue.  I would love to have seen dual inputs on each channel.  That way you could switch between the first input (from the source) to the second (return from DAW) and have all tracks on the appropriate channel.  Again, this is just for those who would rather use an external converter.  My next gripe is that they don’t have a 32+ channel option.  My only guess is that they will release these later.  Finally the last is less of a gripe more of a justification.  There are no digital effects, as this is not a digital console.  The disadvantage is that you don’t have compression, limiting, gating, and other effects on every channel, but the advantages are that digital effects are evolving so rapidly that few manufacturers can keep up thus digital mixers become obsolete quickly.  Many people are still hesitant to get a mixer that requires you to go through layer to implement effects so I think it was wise to not make this a digital mixer.  Many people still prefer to have one knob for one function.

Summary:  The Allen & Heath GS-R24 igh quality analog console with Neve modeled Pre’s, surgical EQ, tons of routing mainly aimed at recording studios, but can also be used for live sound at a price point that can’t be beat.  Now that I’m working with Tri-Tronics, who are Allen & Heath dealers, and huge fans, I’m going to do everything in my power to convince the rep to let me demo this thing ASAP.

Bluewater Sound partners with Tri-Tronics Professional Electronics   Leave a comment

It’s 2011 and Bluewater Sound is relocating to Pittsboro, NC and we have big plans on improving our services.  The two main changes stem from our vision to provide great value in commercial sound system installations, recording and sound system rentals.  Our chief engineer Niels Hempel will be working with Tri-Tronics as a Customer Relationship Manager.  Tri- Tronics has been the most reliable audio/video installation company in North Carolina since it opened in 1961.  Their core competency comes from a commitment to servicing their loyal customers.  Tri-Tronics’s customers (mostly houses of worship) typically have a long record with the company.  Since most technicians that run these systems have limited experience, customers are guided through the design process, troubleshooting, and making plans for the future.  This commitment to understanding the needs and training end users to operate these systems have customer’s continually coming back for more.  Niels will be working with existing customers and new ones to make sure that every system is optimized.

Also… Our recording services will specialize in location recording and mixing.  We see a great opportunity in recording live events, especially music concerts.  As recording technology has been rapidly changing fantastic equipment has enabled engineers to get studio quality sound from mobile packages.  Studio recordings will always come out but people might prefer to buy THE actual event that they went to.  Music is all about evoking emotions for people, and we think that not only are musicians more “in their element” on stage, but the audience might also have a special relationship with that event.  Given the opportunity to “re-experince” the event, at a reasonable cost, most people would take it, so we think this will be a marketable service.

Our mixing and mastering will be done at the new location in Pittsboro, but our engineers will continue to do tracking and recording services at varioous studios in North Carolina.  To meet our quality standards and needs of clients we think the cost to design a tracking facility would decrease the value of our services.  In order to get the best bang for the buck, recording musicians will be consulted to find the best “room” to fit their sound, and our engineer (who gets a discounted rate for using the rooms) track at that location and mix at our specialized mixing facility.  This way the musicians get the sound they want at a price thats affordable.

Pro Tools Going Native in 8.1… Smart move   Leave a comment

Now that it has been leaked on Sweetwater that Pro Tools 8.1 will be supporting native* processing (see below). So,  I can replace my “misconceptions” blog post with this!  Funny though that they only put it up on the site for a matter of minutes (plenty long enough for us nerds to get screenshots!!) after the outrage ensued on forums when Avid (parent company of Pro Tools) didn’t release the native version yesterday and instead released more hardware for what seemed like a non-existent market.  But now it makes sense.  They are doing a series of releases leading up to native making this huge transition go smoother.  I suspect native will arrive no later than early 2011.

The issue, and major source of frustration for many recording engineers in the past few years was that the real Pro Tools, Pro Tools HD used HD cards (processing chips)  that plug into the computers PCI(e) slots and lightened the load of some processing from the computer.  These HD cards were a huge barrier because the price and technology, though they were great and top of the line when they were introduced in 2002, remained unchanged since.  I don’t have to mention that computer technology is both way cheaper and way better than it was in 2002.  So to pay 20-30 thousand dollars for little to no benefit over professional native systems; systems that have the same latency (delay from processing), same track limitations, and equal processing power as the top of the line PT HD systems was just not a feasible option.

To add to that frustration, professional native system users are denied work that they are more than capable of doing simply because the first thing some musicians ask when they ask about recording is…  Do you have Pro-Tools?  This is completely understandable because most commercial studios:

  • They bought it when computers couldn’t do what they can do now and
  • Still use that setup because it works well and they are all still compatible with each other.
  • And that the ability for native systems to compete on the same level as PT, mostly due to the incredible performance of multicore computer technology, has only been around for a few years now.

When faced with this question, some of us had a workaround just buy buying a Pro-Tools le system which is very limiting to say the least, and secretly used the native system after studio hours, the rest of us had two choices:

  • Simply say “no, I use ______” , At which point the conversation stops. or
  • Say “no, and explain why the  ______ works as good as any PT setup”, at which point you usually just get a nod,  and a blank stare

Either way we usually didn’t get a chance to talk further or show them examples our work.  Now that Pro Tools is going native it is both going to:

  • Deflate the myth that Pro Tools is better than other DAWs and
  • Allow Native engineers to be compatible with the big studios that use PT

Although it’s not great news for folks who bought an HD system recently because they had to, most studios who bought the system years ago claim that it has paid for itself over and over again.  Not to mention that now, native DAW and freelance engineers can have professional level Pro Tools for a reasonable price, their projects are compatible with the systems at big studios.  This means that they will be booking more and more time at the big studios to supplement their projects with the lavish comforts and uber expensive vintage gear!

In the end, everybody WINS… especially the musicians/clients, because they can enjoy some of the benefits of a million dollar studio for less money.   Some of their project can be done at studios like mine for cheaper (the hard, time-consuming stuff), and the rest they can do at the luxurious studio (Facebook pictures and drinking exotic coffee).  😀

The point is, they can pick and choose from both worlds to get the best possible value for the dollar! That is what it’s all about.

…again I’m glad I could replace my old blog post (ranting about misconceptions, sounding silly) with a more positive one.

Thanks for reading!

Native*, the term used for DAWs (digital audio workstations) like Nuendo, Cubase, Logic, Sonar, Reaper and Digital Performer that use the computers processors to do all the work for the software, as opposed to Pro Tools HD that uses HD cards (processing chips)  that plug into the computers PCI(e) slots and lightens the load of some processing from the computer.

Posted August 10, 2010 by bluewatersound in Uncategorized

Just -In !! Government Seeks to prosecute downloaders!!!   1 comment

Government seeking to prosecute dowloaders

This is an abomination!!

First, If they want to pull this crap then they also need to sell licenses instead of a CD or download. You buy the license to own it forever. That way when your CD gets scratched, or your hard drive fails. You still own the rights.

Second, No evidence that it hurts any industry.  There are lots of music that I would like to have and share, but wouldn’t definitely wouldn’t pay money for it.  Most people would just rather not have it.  If people start getting prosecuted for downloading music, bands will be forced to give away their music for free. Many bands are already doing this. In the age of being able to stream music all day (pandora) everyday on your computers and phones, why pay for it when you stream it all day long, with video for free.   This is useless wasted effort on the government’s part. I feel like enough of that is wasted already.

Being a recording engineer and musician, I want bands to have as much money (to record with me) as possible. Fighting the inevitable is useless. If you are a good musician, you’ll make plenty of money from live shows. As for the record companies, nobody cares about you because you screwed musicians for years. no sympathy.

I would like to hear you thoughts on this people. Repost if you agree. Especially if you download.

FYI (I bought over 90% of the music I currently use)

Posted July 2, 2010 by bluewatersound in Uncategorized

First You-Tube video; Bob Marley “positive Vibration” playing along on drums   Leave a comment

I ended up getting a really nice drum sound with only 3 mics.  I will post some original music with this setup soon.  I had some subs stacked in that room about 12-16 inches apart.  I set the bass drum facing the space between then so that when I set up the bass drum mics I can add sound absorbent material around it therefore sealing off the bass drum mics from the rest of the kit.  I used a Shure KSM137 and Beta 52 about 4 inches from the resonant head.  The third mic was an Audix SCX25A which I used for oveheads.

Subscribe to this blog or our You-Tube to stay  “in the know”.  I qarrauntteee it!

Posted June 25, 2010 by bluewatersound in Uncategorized

Bluewater Sound is blogging?!?   Leave a comment

Hi!

Welcome to our new blog.  We look forward to sharing with you, information about us, what we are doing, and to discuss audio related issues and concepts.  Mic shoot-outs, pre-amp shoot-outs, analog and digital processing shoot-outs, will be common place here, so feel free to subscribe.

Also check out our website www.bluewatersound.com

Posted June 21, 2010 by bluewatersound in Uncategorized