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131st AES for the mortals!
Everyone that works in the music business know that today, we’re on a time where the old standards doesn’t apply anymore and the new standards are yet to be defined.
And this is how I’ll approach my review of the 131st AES convention in New York.
This is a different point of view because I’m not a gear reviewer and don’t own tons of gear (although I managed to have a modest set of modest outboard and mics after 10 years as a alternative/underground engineer/producer but I don’t own it anymore), I don’t get paid big bucks to mix a record… you’ve got the point, I want to spend my money where it will be more useful and where I KNOW it will last!
So, I’ll show you only what I think it’s a good value for the money, sounds good and is versatile (from what I could hear on a loud convention floor using headphones).
Radial showed all their great tools that have been around for a while, like DIs, Reamp Boxes, etc., AND showed their new Workhorse 500 series rack, a lot of 500 series modules and a brand spanking new, 500 series tube mic preamp.
I tried their PowerPre, the Komit (VCA compressor) and the Q3 (Pultec Style EQ) and all sounded great, going from clean to dirty if you want to. I would easily get one of each!
They also described to me most the functions of the Workhorse and I just think it’s the most intelligent 500 piece of gear out there right now.
The Workhorse is an 8 slot 500 rack, but not only that, it’s also an 8 channel mixer with transformer balanced outs, 2 headphones outs, a fat power supply, sturdy construction, dual XLR and 1/4” i/o for each module, plus D-Subs i/o, plus an extra “Omniport” that is a 1/4” input that can be used for whatever the manufacturer of the slot wants, like a sidechain input for example and it also has a little switch that makes on module feed the other from left to right.
Let’s say for example that you have a pre on slot1, a compressor on slot2 and an EQ on slot3.
You can make a badass channel strip just flipping 2 switches… that’s all, no patching, nothing! Very clever!
More info on http://www.radialeng.com/whbeta/re-workhorse.htm
I always wanted to test their ASC 4 band EQ, specially the transformer output version, and there it was waiting for me!
It’s called ASC-T and it has a smaller (more expensive with bigger transformers) brother called ASC-V that fits on the 500 racks.
I loved them both! Sweet and punchy (if there’s such a thing)!
Although I would say that spending money on the 500 series is the right choice, somehow I felt the 1/2 rack version sounded fuller… but I probably messed up with the settings and it’s $200 bucks cheaper to have a stereo pair (and would leave two free slots on your 500 rack LOL)
More info http://www.speck.com/
That’s a boutique company from France that makes great stuff, not at cheap prices though!
I tried their EQ5 (3 band EQ, that started based on a 1081 but went its own way after that) and the KOMP5 (an opto compressor, kinda based on their big Dynax2, but without the same versatility)
Loved the EQ5, and just liked the KOMP5. The thing is: it’s VERY hard to like another compressor after trying the Dynax2! That thing just made me laugh like a kid on it’s “AntiDyna” setting! Amazing!
More info on http://www.alsoaudio.com/
If you take some guys that worked for Allen&Heath, Crest Audio and Trident, put them together, do you think they’ll make an ordinary product? Hell no!
Their APB consoles are very versatile (so many connections!!!), silent, sturdy and just work and sound great.
I spoke with Chuck Augustowski their Product Manager (came from Crest Consoles and was Allen & Heath USA Vice President before that) and he’s a guy with so much passion for his stuff!!! Great to feel that!
Did I mention their consoles are designed for FOH? I didn’t because it doesn’t matter, you can use them at your recording studio anytime!!!
They also have an 8 channel 1U pre amp, that has BurrBrown IC’s on every channel for the price of the Sytek that only have 4 channels with only 2 BB…
Their stuff is also made in the US!
More info on http://www.apb-dynasonics.com/
Purple has so much going on that it’s hard to remember.
Their line of 500 modules is great! I tried the Odd EQ and the Action compressor and loved’em both! The Action has the 1176 vibe, and the Odd EQ is just great… not harsh, just great!
Purple also have GREAT prices on their modules!
Purple is also making some sort of modular mixer system that I didn’t understand exactly what it was, but you can go to their website and find out http://www.purpleaudio.com/
Mix With The Masters
I must say that this company had THE BEST product on the AES floor!
I know it’s hard to spend money (and it’s not little money I must say!) on something that you won’t turn it’s knobs for a few years and show to your clients, BUT, investing your time and money on a seminar with Mix With The Masters is just one of the best thing you can do to your career.
Think about spending a week with some of the top mixers, engineers and/or producers on our business, this will make you evolve in a way no piece of gear will ever do!
On a seminar like this, you will spend a week (from monday ‘til sunday) with a master of your choice, and from 10 to 15 engineers (handpicked by the guys from MWTM) from all over the world… it’s so much information that you’ll need a few months to digest!
Some of the names that already “spoke” there:
Next year, you will also have Chris Lord-Alge, Eddie Krammer, Joe Chiccarelli and others!
I’ll say again, it’s not cheap, but it’s worth it!!!
More info on http://www.mixwiththemasters.com/
To me, Tonelux is one of the most “connected” companies around.
They built their own modular system, which is AMAZINGLY versatile and sounds GREAT. It’s not cheap though. But it’s really, really great how you can build your system as you wish (and when you can) with great options.
They also make modules for the 500 series!
To me, their automation system is the great catch!
More info on http://www.tonelux.com/
Solid State Logic
SSL showed products for all people! From the Duende Native plugs to the Duality console (which is awesome by the way).
To me, their most important piece of gear today is the X-Rack series with recallable modules!!! Great stuff!
More info on http://www.solidstatelogic.com/
GAP showed their line of rackmount and 1/2 rack products like the 1073 based PRE73, their compressor and EQ (all Neve based) and have just release the new PRE-573, a 1073 pre-line-DI amp for the 500 series for an unbelievable low price!!!
They also think about porting the other modules (comp and EQ) to the 500 series! Great stuff!
More info on http://www.goldenagemusic.se/
Harrison showed their Mixbus DAW, talked about its future updates, why Mixbus sound the way it does and also showed their new 950m consoles, their new 8 channel preamp and the 32C EQ made by… Great River… can you understand that??
Anyway, Harrison has to me, the best DAW platform to grow on and I hope they do!
More info on http://www.harrisonconsoles.com/
Magma showed their new PCIe to ThunderBolt expansion case!
It’s a 3 slot to TB case (actually it’s 4 slots, but one is used for their controller) that will turn your Macbook Pro, MacMini or iMac on a much more audio useful workstation, where you can use UADs, Avid cards, RME cards, etc…
Great stuff and priced right below a thousand dollars!
More info on http://www.magma.com/
Metric Halo Labs
Metric Halo showed some of the plugins that will be available on the new Avid/Pro Tools format that I don’t even know the name.
But, that means, in the future we might have the same plugins in VST/AU format which is great!
More info on http://www.mhlabs.com/
What else? Should I say something about Avid? Their stand was always packed with people… that’s all!