AES Section Meeting Reports

Toronto - January 30, 2019

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The Toronto AES held it's second meeting looking at the State of the Art of Microphones. The first was over 20 years ago.

Alan Clayton (SolutionZ/The Presentation Source and Toronto AES Executive Chair) made the first presentation "Beamforming Microphones in AV Installations". Via PowerPoint, Alan's talk was a basic background including concepts, the technology that makes Beamforming possible, and uses (such as teleconferencing, podium micing, etc.). An audience member noted it was like a line array speaker system backwards. Alan had a sample for audience members to inspect. Because of extreme cold weather conditions on the evening of this meeting, Alan presented first so that he could leave shortly after.

Earl McCluskie then formally introduced the meeting topic and gave an overview of what to expect.

Peter J. Moore (The ERoom Mastering) gave a talk entitled "The Microphone as a Creative Tool". Peter recorded the Cowboy Junkies many years ago using a one-mic technique. His thoughts: "The best vocal mic is the one that works with the singer." He felt that it's in the mixing stage which determines how good the mic used in the session, worked. "You use the mic that works best to the application." The preamp has much more to do with the sound - he'd rather listen to a "plain mic" through a high end preamp than vice versa. It's the mic system (mic and preamp) that's the most important. As Peter had a session later that evening, he had to leave early as well. Vice-chair Anthony Kuzub presented Peter with a Toronto AES Certificate of Appreciation.

Frank Lockwood (Lockwood ARS) gave a talk entitled "Design Trade-offs in Microphone Design". He discussed the science and physics behind mic design. One of the 'trade-offs' looked at was frequency response vs. resonance. He went over and compared different mic specs. He utilized many slides to illustrate his main points, and provided short audio samples of music passages from recent projects. A brief Q&A followed.

John Vanderkooy (Audio Research Group at University of Waterloo) talked about measurement microphones for acoustic research, looking at designs, physics, and construction. He also looked at the many and varied models available to do test measurements. Measurement microphones, response-wise, need to be flat for a wider frequency range handle higher SPL's than mics used for performance mics. He acknowledged that lack of flatness of some performance are what give those mics their distinct character and desirability. Finally, there are mics available that do double duty: they work as measurement mics and performance mics "but they ain't cheap!"

After a short fifteen minute break, post-production engineer Damian Kearns, presented "Microphone Modeling" specifically the Sphere L22 microphone system from Townsend Labs . His demonstration walked the audience through various possibilities available with this system: mic choice, adjusting off-axis response and polar response. He noted these options were available not just during the recording phase but in post-production as well. The models are created via impulse responses.

Robert DiVito (Society of Sound) talked about "Double MS technique", and how he utilized it in a recent recording project involving a choir. It basically involves adding a second cardioid mic opposite the original, with the figure-8 mic doing double duty for both the "front and back" sides. He also showed the free Schoeps double MS plugin and gave a demonstration of its post-production possibilities which included the capability to create 5.1 surround mix from the stems. The audio samples came from the raw tracks of his choir recording.

Recording Engineer Mariana Hutten discussed "Unconventional Mic Techniques" sharing some of her recent discoveries including micing a drumset with a figure-8 outside the kick and under the toms (among other placements); and using Schoeps mics on drums especially the snare: the overload distortion adds a nice "crack". Her presentation included session pics and audio samples.

Earl McCluskie (Chestnut Hall Music) shared a recent concert video his company produced as part of his presentation topic "The Invisible Microphone". The objective was to produce a great sounding recording and video without microphones distracting the audience's or video cameras' views. Until Earl actually pointed them out on the screen, they were quite difficult to locate. Because of the nature of the project, there were just three pairs of stereo mics used for the entire recording.

This ended the meeting and Earl concluded by announcing the upcoming meetings planned for the rest of the season.

Anthony Kuzub handed out Toronto AES certificates of appreciation for all the remaining presenters.

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