AES Section Meeting Reports

Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences - January 31, 2017

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The talk began with introducing CRAS AES, where co-presidents CJ Smith and Josh Badger spoke about student AES activities. Then, they passed the mic onto Luke.

Luke opened with features of Waves products, including the LV1 live mixing software, the SoundgGrid protocol, DiGiGrid desktop interfaces, DiGiGrid DSP server, MultiRack live plug-in. Waves envisions the SoundGrid network to be used for seamless sharing of audio, presets, and so on. Waves also announced that pricing will be the same for all users, consumer and pro alike. He then moved to focusing on the LV1 software, based on Waves SoundGrid technology. Personal laptops running Pro Tools can be put on the SoundGrid network as an IO. Luke walked through the overall user interface of the LV1 software, then moved on to Eddie for a monitor mix demonstration.

Eddie first played a live performance of the Gwen Stefani song "Make Me Like You". We listened to her in-ear monitor mix, with the music slightly up for the workshop. Then we moved onto plugins that he liked to use. Essentially, the SSL rack is being used on every channel. For drums he likes using parallel compression to make it pop without necessarily making it louder. Parallel compression can be used for other instruments, vocals, etc, but he likes to use it in particular for drums.

Eddie emphasized that need to continuously be learning—even after 20 years he is learning something new everyday!

Performing artists may ask for specific plugins or things that they are used to in the studio. Artists that are accessible, it is essential to talk to them to see what they want in their monitors. With Waves plugins, Eddie is able to give the artists what they need. There are even anti-feedback plugins! He enjoys the Chris Lord-Alge plugin on the bass. Then he opened the PSE (Primary Source Expander) which reduces on-stage bleed. It was useful on back-up singers, since they only sing at key moments throughout the song. On Gwen's vocals, there is also an SSL channel plugin to start. Then, the C6 multi-band compressor is used to control specific frequencies.

Ken came up and first noted how far live sound has come—from hoping the audience would hear the vocals to expecting record-quality mixes, only with more impact. He got a scholarship at Berklee then worked in studios. Then, in an unexpected turn of events he was hired as FOH mixer for Warrant. Ken emphasized that plugins are a tool, just like any other. He recommends the Renaissance Axx plugin for those new to Waves plugins.

Ken likes Waves plugins in live setting because of the analog distortion modeling. The LV1 comes bundled with the Waves Emo series plugins. Engineers often fail because they try to use plugins to fix all of their problems. Step 1 should always be mic placement. Then, gain structure and high pass filtering. Identifying with the artists is key to being a good FOH engineer. A good engineer can be up to 90% psychological, 5% talent, and 5% intellect.

He played back a live Linkin Park performance. He highlighted the C6 multiband compressor as his "desert island" plugin. He even has a few presets of his own. However, he noted that presets are starting points. Every Waves plugin has a question mark icon where you can pull up the users manual. There are two kinds of plugins: model plugins are faithful recreations of real analog equipment, such as the 1176 compressor; proprietary plugins are specialized Waves plugins, such as the C6.

On the vocalist, he pulled up the MaxxVolume plugin. It has a lookahead circuitry for compression/expanding. He also uses the DNS (Waves Noise Suppressor) plugin. Finally, he uses the Jack Joseph Puig vocal processor. The parameters on some plugins are mysterious, but the underlying code sometimes use expensive Waves plugin algorithms. The Infected Mushroom Pusher has some SSL modeling code in the background.

Ken has two parallel compression channels, and the same plugins are used to synchronize the latencies. Delay plugins are especially hard on processors, increasing latency. HReverb is DSP-efficient through sampling and other techniques.

InPhase plugin can pinpoint phasing between two signals, and align them. Monitor mixer is very concerned about latency, since it can directly affect the artists' performance. FOH engineers are less concerned, as moving speakers can introduce delays of 20ms. In fact, delays can improve a mix. Ken noted that inserting a plugin on just the lead vocal, introducing around 2ms, can actually make it pop. Ken cautions about using too many plugins, since in the digital world it is easy to get temped to overload a mix with plugins.

Finally, there is a demonstration with multiple people. They inserted the PSE, X-FDBK, and the Dugan Automixer plugins. They purposely feedback to show how easily feedback can be managed with X-FDBK. The Dugan Automixer decides who is the primary speaker, which could be great for corporate events, stage shows, etc. The three plugins worked flawlessly to suppress feedback, and focus the sound on the primary speaker, and minimize background noise!

There was a question about iPad apps which could control LV1 remotely. For the time being, an iPad controller with Mackie controls could be used. Official Waves app is coming soon.

There was another question about how to get established in the field. If you are pleasant to work with and do good work, you can make it one day. As for recommended readings, Eddie and others agreed on the Sound Reinforcement Handbook by YAMAHA. They recommend to just explore and play with what sounds good to you. It's all about experimentation and practice.

The final question was about the affordability of their upper tier plugins, and whether a subscription model could be available. There are subscription plans for Silver and Mercury plugin bundles. Platinum is coming soon.

We than Luke for bringing the Waves team to CRAS, and look forward to another mixing workshop soon!

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