Richie Hawtin, KiNK + More Discuss Role of Live Production In A DJ World

Amsterdam Dance Event is an electronic music conference/festival that brings together the most influential people in the industry. DJ TechTools' contributor Akhil Kalepu was there to document the event - including one panel about the role and future of live production in a DJ world. 

The post Richie Hawtin, KiNK + More Discuss Role of Live Production In A DJ World appeared first on DJ TechTools.

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NightBird Recording Studios brings in ATC 150 main monitors

NightBird Recording Studios brings in ATC 150 main monitors

NightBird Recording Studios has added ATC SCM150ASL Pro main monitors to its room setup.

Positioned half a block off the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood and tucked into the basement complex of the luxurious Sunset Marquis Hotel, NightBird’s client list includes the likes of Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Damian Marley, Kayne West, Keith Urban, Lionel Richie, Roger Waters, Skrillex, Sting, and more.

The facility is already using a Pro Tools HD system with Avid HD I/O and a whole host of analogue outboard gear from API, Avalon, Drawmer and Neve. The ATC mains have been installed in NightBird’s Studio B.

“With the sounds that have been coming out in the last five years or so and looking into the future, our previous mains simply weren’t able to handle both the volume and – with increasing regularity – fidelity required to be both a great modern main monitor and a great modern mixing monitor,” said NightBird studio manager Angelo Caputo.

“We wanted to get something that would excite our clients (and us!) and handle some more modern music styles and workflows as well. I was impressed with how well the sound and overall imaging stayed consistent across the line. This made it an easy decision, and we went with the largest ATC model that would work well in the room.”

NightBird paired the new ATC mains with two Subwoofer Pros 18-inch subwoofers, which are manufactured and distributed in alliance with ATC’s US distributor TransAudio Group.

Since their installation, the new ATC/Subwoofer Pro system has been used by Jesse J, LL Cool J, Chris Lane, Playboi Carti, Skrillex, Usher, and Murda Beatz. “The ATC’s are able to handle the volume without an issue,” Caputo remarked. “As an engineer, I appreciate the clarity at low volumes – in both the top end and the bottom end – in particular when paired with the Subwoofer Pros subs. These monitors do not need to be pushed hard to get the detail we’re looking for, so it makes it much easier for an engineer to track and mix at various volumes for longer periods of time without getting fatigued.”

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Review: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

Review: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

Alistair McGhee began audio life in Hi-Fi before joining the BBC as an audio engineer. After 10 years in radio and TV, he moved to production. When BBC Choice started, he pioneered personal digital production in television. Most recently, Alistair was assistant editor, BBC Radio Wales and has been helping the UN with broadcast operations in Juba.

Beyerdynamic has a long and distinguished history in studio microphones and headphones.  The DT100, 770 and 990 headphones are ubiquitous enough to be considered industry standards and so any new product from Beyerdynamic aimed at the studio user is bound to be of interest.  And when that product is pitched into the burgeoning market for high end cans then a positive frisson of excitement is guaranteed.  And that brings us neatly to the new Beyerdynamic DT1990 PRO, which sit proudly at the top of Beyer’s range of professional studio headphones. First the DT 1990s are open backed so you’ll be sharing a little of your audio with the room, if you are on location or need more isolation then the DT 1770 PROs offer a closed headphone featuring the same driver as the 1990 model.

A quick whip round the spec sheet provides some interesting design features. I wept tears of joy (nearly) when I discovered that Beyerdynamic had opted for a mini XLR connector on the headphone end of
detachable cable, probably familiar from Sound Devices gear. The TA connectors are exactly the right choice for a professional headphone connector: locking, reliable and standard.  In the box you get a choice of curly or straight cables, both high quality items with commendable ruggedness.

Also in the box is a choice of ear pads - and a choice that offers audio options. If you fit the dark grey EDT 1990 B ear pads and you get what Beyerdynamic describe as a ‘balanced’ presentation, swap on the other hand to the EDT 1990 A pads in light grey and you get the ‘analytic’ expression.  One obvious difference between the two pads acoustically involves the number of holes in the pad, twenty in the balanced option and only twelve in the analytic. More of the sound options later. 

The finish of the DT 1990s is of the highest standard, Beyerdynamic claim they are ‘hand crafted in Germany’ and they certainly exude quality in assembly and materials. Having broken the yoke on an expensive pair of headphones from a well known competitor I was particularly impressed by the anodised aluminium yokes on the DT 1990s. The attention to detail can be seen in design details like the method for replacing the ear pads which is simple yet beautifully effective.  The DT 1990s are a higher impedance headphone at 250 ohms so you’ll want to drive them with something that has a little grunt, or a big grunt if you listen to Back in Black and would like to share the love with your neighbours. Driving them with the Marenius DAC-S2 was not a problem.

Plug DT 1990s into DAC-S2, set volume to stun….   Initially we got off to an inauspicious start, I struggled with the sound, there was something about the DT 1990s that I couldn’t immediately process.  They were ‘dry’ - was there something missing? No, no, after a little more considered listening I realised there were two things going on. First like all great transducers the DT 1990s ruthlessly expose failings in the source material.  If your mix is crap, if you’ve squeezed the compressor to the last dB, then the DT 1990s will faithfully unveil the flatness of the finished product. If your mic placement was poor and you put audio soup on to tape - then you’ll get an earful of mulligatawny. 

Secondly the DT 1990s have low end energy at the bottom that is simply startling.
As already noted the high end headphone game is a competitive field with huge dynamic range, you can get excellent headphones for under two hundred quid, but then can six hundred quid headphones be good value? What about sixteen hundred quid cans? Well, I have a really good pair of headphones that cost about half the price of the DT 1990 PROs - and two minutes side by side listening assured me that the Beyerdynamics are nearly twice as good! 

Value can be a slippery fish. I reached further up the food chain for cans from a similar price band.  Ultrasone Signature Pros.  The Ultrasones’s have established a fearsome reputation at a slightly higher price point.  And for this stern test I fitted the DTs with the analytic pads which keep the bass a little more honest. Talking of bass, the headphones have authoritative low end presentations, not sagging like a veteran props pot, but taught and firm and low, low, low.  I dug out the Sound Devices headphone amp and the Castle SPL meter to more closely match levels.   

Having moved to the analytic ear pads I felt two aspects of the DT 1990s performance stood out a little more. First their dynamics - which are absolutely top notch, their is a crispness to the transients that is outstanding, if your recording has dynamic range then you’ll feel the benefit on the DT 1990s.  And secondly
a more exposed top end. Of course these two things are probably connected, but more noticeable with the analytic ear pads.  The open backed DT 1990s spread a soundstage that makes isolating instruments and
voices a morsel of madeira, they are a first rate studio mixing tool. With a finish and comfort fit that are absolutely top notch the DT 1990 PROs declare that Beyerdynamic have still got their mojo.  You should hear them.

Key Features:

  • Choice of ear pads
  • Mini-XLR connection
  • Comes with two cables: 3-meter straight and 5-meter coiled.

RRP: £599


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Studio design tips from John Storyk, the designer of Jimi Hendrix’ Electric Lady Studios

Studio design tips from John Storyk, the designer of Jimi Hendrix' Electric Lady Studios

Legendary studio designer John Storyk, a founding partner of Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG), has been designing recording studios for nearly five decades, starting in 1970 with Jimi Hendrix’ iconic Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village, New York City. WSDG has created nearly 4,000 recording, broadcast and audio/video production studios around the world since then, for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys and Jay-Z, to NYC’s Jazz At Lincoln Centre, Le Poisson Rouge and Switzerland’s KKL Luzern Concert Hall. Here, Storyk shares his thoughts on how not to build a recording studio...

What steps need to be taken when designing and building a studio?
The most important step is to spend as much time as possible directly with the client on programming. Basically learning how to answer the key questions such as what they are really trying to accomplish. Most mistakes later on in the studio creation process can be traced back to not taking the time in this step.  

Critical issues, though not necessarily in this order, are: How much sound isolation is required for bothersome external noises for recording, music being recorded in the studio that would impact on neighbours, etc. and, real-world noise occurring outside the studio that needs to be kept from impacting on the recording process.
It’s very important to determine the exact sizes required for the room (or rooms) that you need. Bigger does not always mean better. I like the Buckminster Fuller axiom of trying to arrive at the bare maximum.  And of course these decisions are generally dependent on budget. The amount of square footage you desire is directly related to your real financial situation.

Control room or mix position orientation and ergonomics: All studios need to deal with this critical layout issue.  I find that laying out in exact detail how you want to listen and mix audio (either stereo or advanced immersive) is a primary issue in creating the rest of the studio design.

Which of these steps would be most detrimental if they were to be missed?
The client and the studio designer must determine the most accurate isolation requirements and size. When full isolation is required, this usually results in the single largest budget issue.  
The next mistake we frequently encounter is simply not paying attention to low frequency behavior, particularly in small listening environments (which of course is the vast majority of today’s studio control rooms). The smaller the room the more difficult it is to install large traditional bass absorbers. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the world of prefab thin (less than six inches) pressure absorbers, such as membranes, resonators, etc. has expanded significantly in recent years. There are a lot of cool solutions on the market. The trick is in knowing where to use them.

How important is the choice of building for a studio?
There is an old saying in studio design:  “Quiet studio, quiet site.”  Noise and sound isolation are often the single largest construction cost for studios. 

Try to avoid wood structures whenever possible. Studio locations that are “slab on grade” are usually a bit easier to deal with, particularly with low frequency sound isolation issues.

You cannot really have too much height when analysing a potential site.  Built up floors, isolated ceilings; additional ceiling treatments, HVAC ductwork etc.  All of these elements eat up the available height.  In some basement studios we have been able to create additional ceiling height by excavating the floor.  For a recent project in an old brownstone building in Brooklyn, NY, we dug down six feet and actually found an old Revolutionary War cannonball!

Non-acoustic issues.  I for one am not a big fan of studios that do not have daylight.  Hours and hours of working without daylight – yeeks.  In certain countries in Europe, this is actually illegal.  Anne Mincieli’s iconic Jungle City Studios are a prime example of incorporating daylight and accessing amazing New York City views in the live and control rooms.  Same with Paul Epworth’s Church Studios in London and Grammy award-winning engineer, Cynthia Daniels’ Monk Music Studios in East Hampton, Long Island, NY.

What are the most common problems you’ve encountered in music studios?
With respect to internal room acoustics (IA), the most common problem is lack of successful Low Frequency Response. LFA is often a step that is simply not taken in studio design. As studio environments have gotten smaller and smaller, which is good news concerning overall construction budgets. LFA becomes all the more important. It’s a simple matter of math as first order Eigen Tones (standing wave frequency) become higher and higher.

Geometry - I have always loved this subject. I am always amazed at how often the simplest geometric mistakes are made in early studio layout and planning. This does not mean that parallel walls are bad. (Actually this is a common misunderstanding – there is really nothing wrong with parallel boundaries if they are treated correctly).  Room ratios count (no squares or cubes please!) and there are always best and worst locations for speaker and listener positions in mix environments.

The Church Writing Studio

John Storyk on Paul Epworth’s Church Studios, Writing  Room in London:
“I love the use of daylight as well as the ability to have virtually an unlimited amount of colour in the rooms. Almost 50 years ago, Jimi Hendrix asked for the same thing – we have been chasing this idea ever since. Notice how small the writing room is.  This is made possible by targeted low frequency control on the walls and ceilings (very specific perforated thin panels).”



John Storyk on Ovasen Media, New York City:  
“The two mastering film mixing control rooms are possibly the smallest and even the least organized geometry we have used in many studio examples.  Why? This was the only way we could squeeze all of the rooms and support spaces in a very tiny 1,200 square foot  loft in mid-town Manhattan.   We make these mix rooms work by using electronic corner LF absorbers (mfg. by Bag End) -  clearly a last resort, but part of the designer’s job is to know what tools are available if and when we need them. 


Jungle City Studios NY

John Storyk on Jungle City Studios, New York City:
“It took founder and creator, Anne Mincieli over a year to find the perfect location - high above surrounding buildings; high ceilings; concrete  construction; and (most importantly) lots of glass. When recording and mixing, artists and engineers can enjoy (and be inspired by) panoramic views of Manhattan and by turning around in the control room see the World Trade Centre through a clear / transparent rear wall diffusor system.”


Monk Music

John Storyk on Monk Music, East Hampton, New York:
“Geometry and room proportion are the keys here as well as obvious symmetry. Glass is certainly not the enemy and in fact is used to optimise reflection control to rear room diffusor elements. Originally, owner Cynthia Daniels only wanted one iso booth. We championed the idea of two (for obvious symmetry) and Cynthia has smiled every day since the studio opened with those expanded capabilities.”

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A&H dLive firmware update the ‘biggest release yet’

A&H dLive firmware update the 'biggest release yet'

Allen & Heath has released firmware V1.6, code name Fistral, for its flagship dLive mixing system.

The company’s biggest release yet, V1.6 adds powerful Automatic Mic Mixer (AMM) features, Multi-Surface capability, support for a range of new installation hardware, and new DEEP processing models.

dLive’s new advanced AMM can handle up to 64 microphones, with the facility to assign mics to four different AMM configurations when running multiple conference rooms or panel discussions. The system offers two distinct AMM modes: classic gain sharing and a Number of Open Mics (NOM) algorithm.

Multi-Surface capability with gain tracking allows up to four independent dLive surfaces to control a single MixRack, opening new possibilities for installed and touring systems, including FOH/Monitor splits, sidecar mixing and surface redundancy.

V1.6 also adds support for the recently launched range of dLive hardware for installed sound, including the ultra-compact DM0 MixRack, GPIO interface, IP1 wallplate controller and new DX expanders, hubs and modules for flexible I/O distribution. The new firmware also enables internet access to dLive systems for remote control and diagnostics.

Allen & Heath’s DEEP suite of embedded plugins has been bolstered with the addition of a Tube Stage preamp offering different valve topologies on one dial, and a new ‘Mighty’ compressor emulation, recreating a ‘legendary’ aggressive compressor.

“V1.6 Fistral focuses on installed sound by enabling solutions for countless applications, from distributed audio in corporate environments to invaluable tools for managing conferences and panel talks,” said Allen & Heath product manager Ben Morgan. “At the same time, we’ve packed in some really exciting new processing models and a number of other enhancements that the dLive community has been asking for. This huge firmware upgrade represents a $1,495 value, but all these new tools are free for our loyal dLive customers.”

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TVBEurope strengthens content coverage with new digital platform

TVBEurope strengthens content coverage with new digital platform

NewBay has launched a brand new digital platform for TVBEurope to enhance the brand’s coverage of the evolving media, entertainment and technology market.

Launched today, the new website features improved functionality, navigation, and readability to significantly enhance the user experience. The increased bandwidth and flexibility of the new platform will enable TVBEurope to expand the scope of its editorial coverage to be even more embracing of the technology and products that are helping to pioneer change in the marketplace.

The platform upgrade and broadening of content focus will see NewBay’s TV Technology Global and NewBay Connect assets migrated onto the new TVBEurope platform. What’s more, the PSNEurope website has also been fully redesigned to offer a premium user experience on both desktop and mobile devices, making it easier than ever to navigate the latest news, views and interviews shaping the professional audio industry.

“Upgrading our digital platforms gives us a significant opportunity to apply the same treatment to our content, both in the scope and context of the subject matter, and in the presentation of that content to our readers,” explained James McKeown, content director, NewBay. “This upgrade, allied to the September magazine redesign, demonstrates our commitment to providing high-quality services to our readers and partners, and channelling our efforts in a more focussed manner through a single, dedicated broadcast title puts us in the best position to deliver that strategy.”

The enhancements will see TV Technology Global and NewBay Connect content brought into the TVBEurope stable over the coming weeks, with the monthly magazine and the new website hosting a broader range of technology content, white papers, and market intelligence.

For more information about editorial opportunities across TVBEurope’s platforms, please contact editor Jenny Priestley ( For commercial opportunities, contact Pete McCarthy (

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