AES Section Meeting Reports

Swiss - September 21, 2019

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In September just over 20 VDT and AES members met in Lucerne's famous Hofkirche. Organ sounds moved the churchgoers and the group that had gathered at the altar. The sound of the great Organ with its additional remote control (in the attic of the church) and echo unit (north of the high altar) surprised the listeners with its balance and dynamic range as well as with the localisation of the highly different timbres and sounds. This made one aware of the use of dramatic elements by the church in earlier times before entertainment electronics existed.
Although the echo unit was only built five years ago and the remote mechanism (built in 1862) was used less in the past, the name "Queen of Instruments" is obvious. The wonderful acoustics of the church are characterized by a uniform reverberation time over the entire frequency range. This means that there is no booming in the basses and that the organ music always sounds balanced and to a certain extent transparent. Lasse Nipkow, who delighted the audience with amazing 3D audio mixes at past Tonmeister meetings, introduced the group to the host and collegiate organist of the church Wolfgang Sieber. He has been working in the church as organist since 1992 and is known for his commitment to the Hofkirche Organ. He founded the Society of the Organ Friends of the Hofkirche to collect money for the organ and was thus able to enlarge the setting machine of the Hofkirche organ and to start planning the echo chamber organ.
Their mutual friend Harry Pawel brought Wolfgang Sieber and Lasse Nipkow together. Sieber wanted to make a surround recording of organ concerts in the church and was looking for a suitable sound engineer. One thing led to another and Lasse Nipkow planned to lay very long cables. In the current configuration there are about 90 Gotham GAC4 (AES/EBU) digital lines, which can be used for analog signals over a long distance of up to 80 meters due to the double spiral shielding. Normally about 40 microphone channels are available on the 64-channel recorder 970 from Sound Devices. The microphones are always mounted in pairs, either via a stereo rail with a microphone distance of 17 cm, or they hang spatially at the mirrored position in the church. These pairs of microphones are placed hard left/right in the mix to achieve the most natural sound impression possible. The room microphone pairs are spaced very far apart from each other to achieve a correlation around zero even at the lowest frequencies. This allows a room impression when mixing with the gallery main microphones. These consist of two Sanken microphones on the Rückpositiv of the Hofkirche Organ. A stereo pair of Ehrlund microphones was also placed there for the occasion in order to be able to compare the recordings later.

Now the representatives of Gotham Cables, Ehrlund Microphones and RME Audio Professional Solutions had the opportunity to present their philosophy and especially their latest products. The companies have contributed in a most grateful manner to make the event financially feasible and to facilitate the exchange between companies and members.

The group was allowed to walk along the quays of the city of Lucerne, past the KKL (Kultur und Kongress Zentrum) to the Soundville Multimedia Studios. There the group was divided: One group went on a tour of the various studio sections and departments, the other was allowed to join René Zingg, the founder and owner of the studios, in the large control room A. There he explained his self-developed and built mixing console, which can be freely equipped with 500 cassettes or 19' devices. The center is a Quad HD screen, on which the DAW, in this case Pyramix from Merging, was displayed. To the left and right of it was a mockup of various Avid S6 control units. The idea behind this is to create an organic mixing console concept that is appropriate for the customer and also for the sound engineer, which can also be adopted by others. After a detailed inspection of the console, we went to the large recording room to view the various preliminary studies of the console from the 3D printer. One of these was also placed next to it and was also developed by René and his brother. Meanwhile, Lasse Nipkow played the approximately 50 tracks of the recording of the court church into the Pyramix in the B-control room. Since both are set up in surround, he was able to create a basic surround mix there and group the microphone groups for comparison. As soon as the other group in control room A had also inspected the mixing console, the project was loaded there so that everyone could enjoy the audio samples. The microphone comparison between Sanken and Ehrlund was revealing, the Ehrlunds emphasized the bass range a bit more, the inherent noise of both was, as expected, lower than it would have been disturbing. The audio samples lasted into the early evening until the group left for dinner and a cosy get-together in a nearby restaurant.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society