Audio Technology Rules at Annual Event
Even the unseasonably mild fall weather cooperated for the arrival of nearly 16,000 production professionals for the Audio Engineering Society convention, held in New York from October 20-23, 2011. This year’s event did not disappoint, with more than 300 exhibitors showing the latest in audio technology, so there was plenty to see—and hear. Covering everything would be impossible, but here are our top picks for products for audio for video/film applications.
The Big Buzz
By far the biggest talk at AES was Avid Pro Tools 10 software and Pro Tools|HDX DAW system, which offers greater performance, improved sound quality and faster workflows. It’s offered either as native Pro Tools 10 software ($699 for PC/Mac) or as various turnkey Pro Tools|HDX systems (available after Nov. 18, 2011) with FPGA-based, DSP-accelerated hardware, delivering up to five times more DSP per card, up to four times the track counts and double the I/O compared to its Pro Tools|HD Accel predecessor. And it’s expandable—up to 768 tracks, with three HDX cards and multiple Pro Tools HD Series interfaces. Debuting with PT HD 10 is the new AAX (Avid Audio eXtension) plug-in format, enabling better workflows and sound parity when sharing sessions between DSP- accelerated and native-based Pro Tools systems. Hardware systems start at $9,999, and Avid is offering trade-ins from customers with previous PT HD systems.
Visit www.avid.com or watch this video demo.
Not to be outdone, iZotope wowed attendees with the debut of Ozone 5 Advanced as well as Ozone 5, new versions of its critically-acclaimed software mastering suite for Mac or PC. The updates focus on pristine sound, enhanced DSP, optimized workflow, and an innovative interface that emphazsizes visual feedback.
Visit www.izotope.com/ozone5 or watch this video demo.
In The Field
When you’re doing field work, lightweight, portable tools are the key to success, and AES offered a number of solutions for on-the-go production.
Tascam‘s DR-40 recorder features simultaneous 4-track recording, with two condenser microphones, XLR mic/line inputs, phantom power, adjustable limiter, low cut filter, 24-bit/96kHz resolution, and storage of WAV/BWF (or MP3) files on SD or SDHC cards (up to 32GB max). The mics are adjustable from X/Y to A/B positioning, and when used in stereo, a Dual Recording Mode captures a safety track at a lower level to avoid distortion. Powering is via three AA batteries, USB bus or optional AC adapter. Street price is $199.
Visit www.tascam.com or watch this video demo.
Nagra was showing the SD, its latest handheld field recorder, which stores stereo 24-bit/96kHz WAV files to removeable SD media and features a clever system of interchangeable mic heads and an accessory breakout cable for attaching standard professional mics with XLR jacks. It operateson two AA batteries and is priced at $975.
Visit www.nagraaudio.com or watch this video demo.
With three switchable mic/line inputs, the Audio Developments AD 071 mixer ($1,525) is intended for DSLR/DV on-camera mounting or belt clip use. The 5.4 x 3.5 x 1.6-inch unit features XLR and 1/8-inch outputs; limiters on mic inputs and all outputs; a 1kHz tone generator; headphone monitoring; and LED ladder meters. Powering is via an external source or separate 9-volt battery pack.
Visit www.independentaudio.com or watch this video demo.
Housed in a tough red aluminum chassis, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2-in/2- out USB interface ($149/street) is ideal for direct to laptop recording. Features include 2 mic/line preamps with phantom power, 24-bit/96kHz resolution, direct (no-latency) headphone monitoring and bus powering.
Visit www.focusrite.com or watch this video demo.
Soundfield (now distributed by Wohler Technologies) showed its DSF-3 Remote App, a free PC software control application for the hardware DSF-3 Digital Surround Processor and multichannel stereo/5.1 microphone. The app gives users at-a-click remote control of the DSF-3, along with several parameters not accessible from the hardware front panel, including Snap/ Tilt, which allows the mic’s Front and Rear Surround signals to be independently “tilted” without physically moving the mic—perfect for tweaking distance ambience recording of say, audience sounds in a stadium or large auditorium.
Visit www.soundfield.com or watch this video demo.
After extensive beta testing at Skywalker Ranch, Meyer Sound Labs and musician Bob Weir’s Tri Studios, Telefunken Elektroakustik unveiled its ELA-M260 Tele-Tree Tri-Mono system, designed especially for Decca Tree- style multichannel miking of orchestras and ensembles for film/video scoring. The kit consists of a three matched ELA M 260 small-diaphragm tube microphones, a rackmount M 963 TRI-MONO three-channel power supply, and a set of interchangeable adapters that fit over the mic capsules to emulate the effect of the Perspex spheres in vintage M50 microphones.
Visit www.t-funk.com or watch this video demo.
In the Suite
Ideal for under-screen use, the ADAM Audio A77X is a high-performance, self-powered monitoring system in a low-profile, horizontal cabinet. This triamplified 3-way design features two 7-inch drivers each driven by onboard 100-watt amps. Highs are handled by ADAM’s X-ART folded ribbon tweeter/50-watt amp combination, for a 38 Hz to 50kHz response and 122dB peak SPLs. Each 28.2-pound enclosure measures 9.5x21x11 inches (HxWxD), has XLR and RCA inputs and a $1,399 street price.
Pelonis Sound demoed a powered subwoofer option for its Model 42 monitors, which use a 4-inch coaxial speaker with the high-frequency driver mounted behind the center of the woofer cone. Four 100-watt Class- D amps and DSP control (Mac/PC software accessible via a USB port) are located in a external rack unit to minimize the size of the speaker enclosure. Ideal for video applications, the 42′s unique rhomboid shape allows for various placements—on desktop facing upwards, pointing in from the side, or above the listener, facing downward.
Radial Engineering launched the MC3 monitor controller ($250), a clever interface that lets users switch between multiple input sources and route it into a passive volume control for clean “straight wire” and then off to switches for selecting up to three sets of reference monitors. It also features trim pot matching of the output levels, a subwoofer in/out switching and an onboard headphone amplifier. Shipping is slated for December 2011.
Also coming in late 2011 is the Hilo Reference A/D D/A Converter System from Lynx Studio Technology, offering two channels of analog to digital conversion, up to eight channels of digital to analog conversion, a secondary monitor output and independent headphone amp in a desktop enclosure. An innovative 480×272 touchscreen provides a simple, flexible
interface for metering or visual monitoring. Digital or analog inputs can be routed to line output (with eight trim settings), main monitor out (with volume control), and the headphone out. Digital connections include AES/EBU inputs/outputs, S/PDIF coax or optical and the latter double as ADAT I/Os. Hilo’s 12 total inputs, 16 total outputs and 32 channels via its LSlot accessory port are all under FPGA control and its internal 32 channel mixer. A standard 4-pin XLR power connector accepts 9 to 12 VDC sources using standard video battery packs for location work or it handles 100 to 230 VAC for worldwide use. Retail is $2,495.
Visit www.lynxstudio.com or watch this video demo.
More to Come
We’ll cover more products from AES in upcoming editions of HDVideoPro/ CineSoundPro. But meanwhile, the next U.S. AES Convention is scheduled for October 26-29, 2012 in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Mark your calendars now.
Interested in creating great audio for video/film?
Check out George Petersen’s current and archived articles from HDVideoPro/CineSoundPro magazine.