Review: Electro-Voice Evolve 50M
As one of the most revered names in all of audio (and especially in PA), it’s an understatement to say that Electro-Voice knows a thing or two about speakers. The American brand has been there since the very beginning, with a reputation for sound and build quality that is basically unsurpassed in the space.
Boasting an eight-channel integrated digital mixer, onboard effects and remote capabilities via Electro-Voice’s QuickSmart Mobile application, the new Evolve 50M may just be one of the most flexible portable column setups out there at the moment, with an impressive 1000W of power courtesy of the advanced Class-D amplifier.
Catch up on all the latest music gear reviews here.
Portable speakers, along with providing quality sound, have to do one thing well: be portable. These Evolve 50M speakers come in at 26.25kg, which is very manageable considering the speaker array and sub are easily detachable and can be carried separately.
Each Evolve 50M unit has eight channels of input available with four XLR/TRS combo mic/line jacks, stereo RCA, 3.5mm or XLR/TRS line inputs along with a Hi-Z instrument line input and stereo Bluetooth streaming. Three combo microphone inputs and Bluetooth are always available, with the remaining input selections sharing the remaining three channels. This Bluetooth connection is an essential feature for professional performers who want to perform to backing tracks or for use as interim music between sets.
For sending audio out of the unit (to an in-house PA, for instance), there’s an XLR out, along with an aux out for foldback uses, making this a versatile speaker with plenty of use cases.
This versatility is further bolstered by its ability to provide phantom power from the balanced inputs, bringing with it a broad array of micing options, in turn making the Evolve 50M a standout for natural sounding acoustic performances, small bands and open air applications.
The upper array holds eight high quality 3.5-inch neodymium drivers, with a 12-inch Electro Voice subwoofer underneath, connected by a lightweight aluminium ‘stick’ style mount. This connection is easy to use and pretty much plug and play, with no extra cables needed to connect sub to top box or vice versa.
The back of the unit features an LCD screen and single knob for controlling all available mixing parameters, including the four speaker presets which are Music, Live, Speech and Club, specially designed for those uses. Now, most people wouldn’t want to mix a full gig on the back of a speaker (which you could hypothetically do here if you please), but it’s nice to have a bit more nuanced control over the sound.
Through Electro-Voice’s QuickSmart app, you can change channel levels, EQ, send levels and choose from thirty studio-quality effects to add into one of their two FX channels. You can use a three band EQ on each channel and a 7-band graphic on the master, a nice touch. Not only can you have wireless control, but also wireless monitoring over the system, perfect for sound checking in quiet before the gig.
Connecting two Evolve 50Ms through their RJ45 (ethernet) ports allows for complete sharing of inputs and mixing parameters through QuickSmart Link. With just two (which is what you’d use for a stereo pair at a gig anyway), you now have enough inputs to hook up a small band which can be controlled via Electro-Voice’s QuickSmart Mobile App on both iOS and Android devices. This feature means you can run a full gig without thinking about an external mixer, controlling everything through the 50M’s DSP.
Touring and professional musicians will know that more equipment means more setup time and increased chances of equipment malfunctioning. For guitarists, you can utilise the onboard effects such as chorus and reverb to hone in your tone and maybe not even bring your pedalboard?
But what about the sound? Electro-Voice have utilised the electronics engineering team at Dynacord which are their sister company, providing high quality DSP and pro-grade preamps, resulting in a full range, quality sound. The array has a horizontal coverage of 120 degrees and vertical coverage of 40 degrees, very suitable for most live performance applications. The Evolve 50M can push out a sizable 127dB SPL which is sure to rock wherever you take it.
With its eight channel mixer, quality built in effects and ability to provide phantom power, the Evolve 50M is an absolute no-brainer for acoustic buskers and/or vocal groups who want more oomf than the 30M offers. The single-trip portability of the unit will no doubt also lend itself to the demands of itinerant DJs, travelling speakers and a whole host of other mobile performance and speaking/entertainment applications (as well as one hell of a clouty, premium bluetooth speaker to win friends and influence others).
The name Electro-Voice bares with it an assumption of premium quality drivers, rock solid finishing and incredible sound quality. The Evolve 50M more than lives up to this premise, albeit reimagined in the very modern, very ‘now’ context of lightweight portable speakers with onboard Bluetooth connectivity.
As one of the most trusted names in pro audio, the Evolve 50M bears with it all the hallmarks of a truly premium product. From the detail of its white or black finishes right through to the remarkable projection and sound quality of its output (especially given its small stature), it’s a top shelf offering from one of the most reputable names in public address. As classy and as functional as portable PAs get.
Check out the Electro-Voice Evolve 50M via Jands.
Baker Boy, James Blake + more, our favourite records of the week
This week, Baker Boy dazzles in his debut album Gela, James Blake continues to produce incredible music on Friends That Break Your Heart and Danika shows her true colours on a raw debut EP When Love Comes.
This week’s top picks:
- Baker Boy – Gela
- James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart
- Danika – When Love Comes
Read all the latest music news here.
Baker Boy – Gela
Gela, which is Danzel Baker’s skin name (an indigenous name that indicates a persons bloodline) is his identity, which shines true on this debut album. Fresh off performing at the 2021 AFL Grand Final, Baker Boy has unleashed this album to the world in which he floats effortlessly between english and Yolngu Matha, his native tongue.
The album features catchy pop songs with collaborations from G Flip, Yirrmal, Lara Andallo, JessB, Jerome Fatah and even a spoken word verse from Uncle Jack Charles on ‘Survive’, which the accompanying music video has been released that takes cues from ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ with a one take scene behind a white backdrop to draw attention to Danzal’s raw emotion on the politically charged track.
Highlights from the record include ‘Meditjin’ which is possibly the catchiest song on the record that features a large didgeridoo presence in the verses with Baker Boy showcasing some fantastic rhymes and ‘Cool As Hell’ which leans into pop sensibilities with a funky bassline and laid back bars.
Check out the new video to single ‘Survive’ below.
James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart
James Blake is back and in fine form with an emotional and open new record Friends That Break Your Heart. His unique vocal delivery is still present on a record that features lush and rich compositions that invoke a sense of intense emotion. There’s a few features across the record including SZA, JID, SwaVay and Monica Martin with a few top producers helping out behind the scenes including Metro Boomin and Rick Nowels alongside longtime collaborator Dominic Maker.
Highlights from the new effort include ‘Funeral’ which is Blake at his most raw and approachable with a cool feature from slowthai that appears as a bonus track on the album and opener ‘Famous Last Words’ that features an interesting electronic composition with James Blake’s now inimitable falsetto vocals.
Check out the video for bonus track ‘Funeral’ below.
Danika – When Love Comes
When Love Comes is the first release from Melbourne via Northern Rivers artist Danika. After turning down a record deal at the age of 16, she migrated to Melbourne and ended up singing backing vocals for future jazz collective 30/70. The result of this was a collaboration with Nick Herrera of Hiatus Kaiyote, in which the first single, ‘Suit of Armour’ released in 2019 to praise. This record is an indie folk record that features soul and jazz components which culminate in a beautiful EP.
Across the six track EP, Danika bares all surrounded by stripped back arrangements where her voice is front and centre. Highlights from the new release include the first single ‘Suit of Armour’ that is a cool and groovy downtempo song and ‘Old Man’ which is reminiscent of Julia Jacklin if she opted for a more lo-fi production style.
Check out a live rendition of ‘If You Call My Name’ which is the first track off the EP below.
Review: NUX Mighty Bass 50BT
It wasn’t that long ago when modelling technology was a myth. Something that was used by niche audio professionals in specific applications that required lots of computing power for something and provided nothing anywhere close to the feel, response and natural saturation of an actual amplifier. Well, it’s now 2021 and look how far we’ve come!
Modelling technology is improved in leaps and bounds, and combined with the various innovations taking place in the VST and plugin realms have resulted in a golden age for modelling and emulation both in the software and hardware realm alike.. But, wait a second, why would you want to model something that you already physically have?
Catch up on all the latest music gear reviews here.
Well, through Impulse Response technology, it’s now possible to make your small footprint, practice sound like a more expensive, more sought after and larger amp to the point where, even the most humble of practice amps can now be loaded with enough sophisticated technology to transform them into a totally versatile tonal machine, with a voicing and character to fit practically any application—which is exactly what makes the NUX Mighty Bass 50BT such an exciting prospect.
This compact, feature-packed bass amp goes over the top with its functionality, especially considering its entry level price point. It features a 50 watt Class D power amplifier, Bluetooth audio streaming, USB connectivity, a four channel EQ, inbuilt effects, amp modelling, a footswitch for triggering loops and that’s just scratching the surface of what this thing can do.
The speaker itself is 6.5” which contributes to its small form factor, which makes it a prime candidate for miking up or running the direct out and doubling up through the board for live gigs, but for playing at home or recording, this will more than hit the spot. It’s voiced loudly enough to hold it’s own in a stripped-back rehearsal or small venue, while the quaint size of the chassis means you’ll have no issues lugging it between locations or finding a spot for it in the room. The whole thing weighs a very light 7.2kg, which is stunning if you’re planning on transporting this amp between the studio and home frequently.
Connecting to the amp via Bluetooth allows you to play along with your favourite songs, another plus for home bass players. This jack of all trades amp also features looping and drum playback functionality, through the bundled NUX NMP-2. You can record loops with one footswitch and trigger drum loops with the other, which adds another level of practicality as you could write a cool bass line and want to learn how to play it before you head to your friends place or maybe you just like experimenting with bass loops.
Utilising their free MightyAmp Mobile App is where this amp really stands out. Some music tech manufacturers tend to cop flak for their app-paired modelling amps, usually due to the app having a clunky interface or the inability to register with your gear. As such, I was pleased to see the Might Bass 50BT pair well with the MightyAmp app upon use, and the app was simple and swift in use.
Unlocking the potential of the MightyAmp app is easy. First off, you can pair just by placing your phone on the amp, and then unlock all the features this thing can do. Then, you can add a gate, then a virtual FX pedal, choose an amp simulation, then an Impulse Response, before adding Modulation, and Reverb and saving them on one of the three provided channels.
With these features, you can quickly swap between a fuzzy, over distorted funky bass tone into a clean jazz tone with the press of a button. Neat. Oh, and did I mention that each stage of audio processing has multiple sliders available to tweak to your heart’s content?
For the real audio buffs out there, how about loading in your own Impulse Response to use with this amp? That’s right, if you can track down the IR for that ultra rare vintage Fender cabinet you’ve been dreaming about all year then this thing can replicate it. Pair that with one of their three amp simulations including an Aguilar, a Fender BassMan and one titled ‘MLD’, which is their Melvin Lee Davis signature and you’re grooving now.
Regarding recording capabilities, the NUX Mighty Bass 50BT has some options for you. Firstly you can utilise the DI out to plug into your audio interface of choice or alternatively, plug the amp straight into your computer and you’ll be able to record audio directly.
You can select to send the Impulse Response output to the DI and/or the amp individually which is handy for recording a clean bass sound out of the DI with plans to reamp it later whilst hearing a crunchy tone in person. Very cool.
This might be one of the most intriguing offerings for practicing musicians as there is nothing that I’ve seen that can do so much, and be used in multiple settings while sitting at this price range. For home playing, practice and recording applications, it has all the makings of an awesome workhorse, and multi faceted, small scale bass rig.
Another potential use of this thing would be busking, as the amp, although small, punches well above its weight in terms of diver throw and dispersion. Pair that with the easily changeable tones, the convenient stand to deliver sound upwards and looping capabilities, and you have an awesome and versatile mobile solution for ad-hoc performance.
Considering everything on offer here, it’s apparent that the NUX Mighty Bass 50BT might just be one of the best practise amps on the market. It’s a seriously impressive unit that showcases the fundamentals of amp modelling brilliantly, and the fact that it’s loaded with so many useful features just helps sweeten the deal even further.
Head to Pro Music Australia to check out the NUX Mighty Bass 50BT
Music industry pushes for live music insurance + all the biggest industry headlines from the week
Been out of the loop with everything that’s been going on in the music industry recently? We don’t blame you. Here’s a wrap-up of all the biggest Aussie music industry news stories from the past fortnight.
The top headlines:
- Music industry responds to Four Corners’ exposé on Sony.
- Major brands tack on to Our Soundtrack Our Stories movement.
- Push from the biz to push live music insurance through parliament.
Keep your eyes peeled on our Industry News page to stay updated on all the latest headlines.
More Major Brands Swing Support Behind Aussie Music
Commonwealth Bank, Nissan Australia and Bonds are the latest to commit support for homegrown music.
In August, after an Instagram post by Jack Rivers which has now reached 340,000 views, the music industry launched its Our Soundtrack Our Stories push for major brands to give it profile while it struggled during the pandemic.
First off were Channel 7, Qsic, 7Eleven, Coles, Channel 10, Rebel Sport and Bank Australia.
ARIA and PPCA CEO, Annabelle Herd, said: “The support from our nation’s corporate sector has been really amazing to see, even more amazing is that it shows no signs of slowing down, with plenty of announcements still to come.”
Commonwealth Bank’s new StepPay campaign features Confidence Man and Sycco, after working with Thelma Plum and Birds of Tokyo last year.
Its head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Monique Macleod related, “We know the pandemic has been a challenging time for all Australians, particularly those in the music and arts industries. We are proud to play a small role in driving more representation of Australian artists.”
After committing to 100% homegrown music in all national dealerships, Nissan Australia further moved to “a new local Spotify playlist accessible by QR code for customers, further driving the brand experience through music.
“One of the major components of Nissan Radio is that it’s heavily influenced by Australian and New Zealand artists”.
Underwear and clothing brand Bonds pledged to playlist all homegrown music in their stores across Australia.
Its Head of Marketing, Kelly McBride, commented: “At Bonds, supporting homegrown artists has long been part of our DNA. We couldn’t be more excited to get behind Our Soundtrack Our Stories with our 100% Aussie artist playlist, which will be played in Bonds stores nationally.”
Music On Seven’s 2022 Slate
Seven will offer a lot of music in 2022, the network revealed in its programming slate to advertisers.
These include The Voice (which drew 1 million viewers for each episode this year and 2.42 million for the grand final), The Voice: Generations, Australian Idol (back after a 12 year sleep-in) and Australia’s Got Talent.
Special events will be the 64th Grammys and the 94th Oscars.
Music Industry Responds To Four Corners’ Sony Exposé
The ramifications of Four Corners’ expose of the decades-long “toxic” and “bullying” culture at Sony Music Australia under its sacked CEO/chairman Denis Handlin was quick.
ARIA, where Handlin served as long time chair, rushed out a statement: “No one should feel unsafe, harassed, discriminated against, or bullied in the workplace.
“ARIA will continue to work towards safety, inclusion and equality across the music industry including through the cultural change process that was started in May this year.”
APRA AMCOS, which in 2009 presented Handlin its Outstanding Services to Australian Music called the program “distressing and disheartening viewing” and reiterated it wants to “be part of a music industry that upholds a high level of professional respect, conduct and integrity, and does not condone any form of discrimination, harassment or bullying.
“We recognise and accept there’s still much work to do in this space. ”
There were calls from some executives for Handlin to be stripped of his music honours as well as his Member of the Order of Australia (AM) medal in 2005 and Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2017.
The committee behind the medals confirmed it will not take action. But Queensland’s peak music association QMusic revoked the Honorary Award it bestowed on the Brisbane-raised Handlin at the 2020 Queensland Music Awards.
“Following ongoing reports of systemic bullying, discrimination and misconduct under Handlin’s leadership, we cannot let QMusic’s acknowledgement and celebration of his career stand,” they said.
“Toxic workplaces, be they in the office, boardroom, on stage or behind, have no future in Australian music.
“We cannot, and should not, accept nor celebrate this kind of culture. The future of music must be one that is safe, supportive and equitable for all.”
Among claims made on the TV show which drew 600,000 metro viewers—and denied by Handlin—were bullying, harassment, intimidation and abuse over decades.
A staffer who was attacked in a toilet by a naked executive left with a $80,000 pay-out while the perpetrator remained.
Staffers were followed by private detectives, and a PR exec was told to bare her breasts to radio executives as part of a promo gimmick after the ‘model’ hired to do it failed to show.
The Kid Laroi/ Tame Impala Collab?
Two un-captioned black and white photos posted on Instagram Stories by The Kid Laroi of him in a studio with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker has led to speculation a collab might appear on Kid’s debut album next year.
In the meantime, his duet with Justin Bieber, ‘Stay’, topped the US charts for its sixth week. It ties with 1983’s ‘Say, Say, Say’ by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson for third longest run by two co-billed male artists.
At seven weeks is 1982’s ‘Ebony & Ivory’ by Stevie Wonder and McCartney. They have a long way to go to catch up with ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee (feat. Bieber) with 16 weeks in 2017.
KISS For Darwin?
When KISS finally tour Australia in 2022, will they also be making it to Darwin. 20 year old fan Charlie Mavros started a Change.org petition to get enough signatures for the tour promoter to consider it.
The push has the blessing of Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis who said he’d make the same effort as when he successfully got Elton John to play there.
New Home For TheMusic.com.au
TheMusic.com.au has been bought by Brisbane-based SGC Media. Its previous owner was Melbourne’s Handshake Media which set it up from the amalgamation of Drum Media (Sydney and Perth), Inpress (Melbourne) and Time Off (Brisbane).
SGC Media hasn’t indicated what changes it will make but it could do well to reboot the music industry directory which Handshake bought from Phil Tripp’s Immedia! when it was an essential contacts resource.
Bomba Gets The Drum
Multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer and songwriter Nicky Bomba has a good deal for anyone who pre-orders his October 22 album Food & Shelter. They’ll be eligible to win a Gretsch Catalina Club drum kit and UFIP cymbals with additional prizes as vinyl test pressings with personalised artwork, a limited release framed picture of Nicky’s artwork from his ‘Sunflower Sounds’ exhibition, and Nicky Bomba pencil drumsticks, t-shirts and tea towel.
Biz Pushes For Music Events Insurance
The music biz has been pushing for the Australian government to follow the lead of the UK government to work with insurers to underwrite big music events and tours which are cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19.
The Federal government has thrown money at the sector to get back on the road but it needs such a scheme to bring the certainty to move ahead. WA and Tasmania has introduced versions of this, but because of state border closures, the scheme has to be a national one.
The Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young has moved to legislate Live Performance Federal Insurance Guarantee.
She said, “The live performance sector isn’t asking for a hand-out, it is asking for a product that simply isn’t available right now so that they can plan gigs, festivals and events with confidence they won’t keep taking massive financial hits with ongoing restrictions and lockdowns.
“This situation is not unique to Australia and yet the Morrison Government sits on its hands while governments in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and other countries underwrite insurance schemes for their live music and entertainment sectors.”
On October 14 artists, promoters, artist managers and music associations spoke before a Senate committee to drive home the urgency.
Promoters Fuzzy, for instance, explained how they went in 12 months from a thriving business to one that would topple over if it had one more cancellation.
Their co-founder Adelle Robinson revealed that a sudden cancellation of the Sydney leg of the 35,000-capacity Listen Out festival would cost it $4 million.
Parliament is scheduled to vote on this in November.
Active Noise Cancelling (ANC): What is it and how does it work?
Originally developed by Bose, Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) has become one of the most used features in headphones and earbuds on the market currently. From small to large manufacturers, it has been a staple in recent years, ensuring that when you’re listening to music, you’re not hearing the outside world.
With the current climate of new consumer and professional products offering ANC, we’re taking a deep dive into how it works and how it’s being used across the board.
- Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) uses microphones generate a phase inverted audio signal that nullifies external noise.
- The technology was thought of in the 1930s and put into practise by Bose for the US military in the early 1980s.
- ANC is a primary selling point for headphones in the present day and will continue to be a major factor in consumer decision making on earphones.
Read all the latest features, columns and more here.
How Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) works
ANC technology was implemented for the US military as a way to combat their US$200 million a year payments to veterans with hearing loss developed during their service. The first product Bose introduced, was used by pilots on the Voyager aircraft which was particularly noisy. The technology is similar to how modern Active Noise Cancelling products work today, by using a microphone to record external sounds and phase invert the signal within the headphones to nullify the external sound.
This works, because when a wave, and an inverse of a wave arrive at a source at the same time, the output produced is net zero. In the case of ANC, the external noise must be processed extremely quick to be able to replicate the external sound. The speed of sound is 343 meters per second at 20°C and generally the distance between a microphone and the headphone driver is only a few centimetres, if not less. At a 2cm distance, the DSP or circuitry that processes the audio must function in less than 0.000059 parts of a second (59µs) to successfully counter external noise.
Due to the way our ears function, Active Noise Cancelling targets lower frequencies more than higher frequencies. Within all headphones, there is some passive noise cancellation, done through the choice of materials that cover our ears, with higher frequencies being the easier to target due to their shorter wavelengths. The lower the frequency, the larger the wave length with 20Hz being the lowest frequency able to be heard by humans measuring at 17 metres long (!) which would be impossible to target through passive noise cancelling within headphones.
One way to imagine Active Noise Cancelling outside of the technical jargon is to imagine two people hitting a tennis ball at the same time with the same force from opposite sides. In practise the net force would be zero and instead of the ball flying across the tennis court, the ball would fall to the floor. Now this ball is representative of what we hear with one person being the external sound and the other being Active Noise Cancellation. It applies the equal and opposite force (sound wave) to the ball (our ears), cancelling out the force from having an effect on the ball.
How Active Noise Cancelling is used
In the present day, ANC is offered in basically all modern wireless headphones and earbuds. Products from Apple’s Airpods Pro to Nura’s range of earphones utilise Active Noise Cancelling to provide a clearer picture of the sound, excluding people chattering away on your train commute to work from your favourite songs.
There’s three common types of ANC—feed-forward, feed-back and hybrid. Feed-forward utilises a microphone on the outside of the headphone, feed-back uses a microphone on the inside of the unit and hybrid is a combination of the two. Apple’s wireless earphones use an external microphone (feed-forward ANC) while Bose chose both internal and external microphones to get the job done (hybrid ANC).
Modern products, mainly over ear headphones, offer a function called transparent or social mode which utilises the microphone used for ANC but doesn’t invert the phase, to allow you to have conversations and hear the outside world like you weren’t wearing headphones. Now I’m definitely in the camp of just taking off your headphones but this might be useful when you’re ordering a coffee and don’t want to stop listening to your favourite mix.
There are even some products that allow for a sliding scale of ANC, which allows you to inherently turn up the effect from doing nothing to a fully immersive audio experience.
It’s been over twenty years since Active Noise Cancelling was introduced in consumer products by Bose and if things continue the way they are, the technology will continue to play an active role in headphone design for years to come. For accurate music mixing and critical decision making, a quiet space will beat ANC every time, but for consumer products that are used everywhere from the office, to the train and the gym, they provide a step away from outside distractions, allowing you to hear your music in full.
Check out this video for more on Active Noise Cancelling.
UnitedMasters collaborate with Coinbase to pay artist royalties in crypto
Want to get paid for your music streaming royalties with crypto? The time is now apparently, with UnitedMasters collaborating with Coinbase to provide royalty payments in a cryptocurrency of your choosing.
What you need to know:
- United Masters and Coinbase have teamed up to pay artists their streaming royalty fees with cryptocurrency.
- As the artist, you can choose from a select number of cryptocurrencies to be paid in, in conjunction with FIAT currency.
- As cryptocurrency fluctuates quickly and significantly, this could be very good or very bad for artists.
Keep your eyes peeled on our Industry News page to stay updated on all the latest headlines.
UnitedMasters, which is a distribution service for artists has announced it will allow their users to be paid in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and Ethereum through a partnership with Coinbase.
Steve Stoute, CEO of UnitedMasters says “Working with Coinbase to give independent artists the ability to be paid in crypto is a natural next step for us, using technology to ensure that the economics of the music business favor the creators behind it. As the financial sector continues to evolve and innovate, we’re committed to putting our artists in the best position to benefit from these changes.”
The move may prove to be a good one for artists as there is generally a small barrier to entry with fees or below market exchange prices when first depositing money into a crypto exchange. This move will allow users to put all, some or none of their earnings into cryptocurrencies. Once paid in crypto, artists can spend, earn, trade or borrow through the Coinbase app.
With the market fluctuating regularly, the move could serve to be both great and not so great for artists depending on when they get paid.
Check out UnitedMasters for more information on the service.
Tannoy Gold and the birth of ‘The London Sound’
It cannot be overstated the kind of massive sonic influence that geography plays in the conception, capture and playback of all recorded material. Whether it be culturally, in the veritable melting pot of local and overseas musical traditions that inform all artists in their musical decision making process—these same signifiers which allow those with a discerning ear to instantly locate where a piece of music is from after just one listen.
Architecturally, it’s in things like ambient characteristics, room size and recording environment- factors in real estate and the open air that no doubt impart their sonic influence on proceedings, in turn affecting everything from the positioning of drum mics, to whether or not a live drum kit is even feasible in the first place- the general rule being the higher density the area, the drier/more in the box the recording practice will likely be.
Read all the latest features, columns and more here.
Technologically, it’s in the access and implementation of certain instrument and recording technologies both homegrown and introduced, and the subtle effects these differing circuits have on the sonic output of a particular locale. Things like guitar/synth tones, console/preamp choice (and availability), learned traditions in studio workflow and mixing style passed down from one engineer to the next, which create a sort of standardised, communal approach to some of the key considerations which go into the sound of a recording. It’s these kind of audible signatures that can be used to differentiate one piece of music from another at the production and geographical level.
While it might be a difficult thing to imagine this in the context of placeless modern DAW and VST based recording, rest assured, there was a time when these geographical differences were as clear as day and nowhere was this more apparent than in the very different monitoring approaches that typified the early days of American and British popular music and the effect this had on the recorded output of the era.
Prior to the mid-1970’s, studio monitoring was an extremely parochial and location dependent affair, with European state owned broadcast services and the American studio system exhibiting much more of an influence on monitoring standards than what we see in today’s market.
For the Americans, it was Altec/JBL-monitors renowned for their broad projection, low distortion and high SPL numbers (traits that would no-doubt parlay well into Hollywood post-production). Across the pond, it was Tannoy’s revolutionary coaxial designs (and the incredibly detailed and accurate response this allowed for) that ushered in an approach to monitoring that is still in use to this day—the quest for reference standard accuracy and translatability.
Whereas the evolution of American monitoring had its roots in amplification and horn/compression driver technology (a trait no doubt influenced by similar advancements in the high octane world of outdoor PA), Tannoy’s radical dual-concentric driver designs were a much more nimble and application specific affair. Their expertise in home hi-fi meant that the company were already well versed in designing speakers for mid-field, indoor use and this understanding of fidelity and playback environment were pivotal to their early successes in the studio realm.
It didn’t take long for Tannoy to become the monitor of choice for the BBC, cutting it’s teeth on Parkinson and the London Philharmonic, before finding its way into the control rooms of the classic British recording studios like Abbey Road, Decca and Air Studios during the late 60’s.
This acceptance of Tannoy, especially the brands iconic ‘Monitor Gold’ as an industry standard throughout the UK would prove a vital component in the emergence of the so called ‘classic school of British Recording’, their incredibly nuanced and detailed voicing proving the perfect vantage point for the many advancements in studio effects and creative recording techniques emerging at the time.
In production slang, ‘The London Style’ came to mean one of rich detail and open dynamics, with a layered use of effects and a sophisticated arrangement that approached pop music as a borderline symphonic affair. Critical applications like Pink Floyd’s legendary album Dark Side of the Moon were made on a trusty pair of Tannoy Gold Monitors, their peerless transparency helping to create an era-defining, high definition listening experience still lauded by many purists to this day.
But what is it about the Gold’s dual concentric design that made them so effective, to the point where they were able to subtly alter the artistic trajectory and unique sonic signature of one of the world’s most fertile musical hotspots?
While it may seem like a lifetime ago for many, the story of the dual concentric driver definitely didn’t begin with the Gold series. This approach to driver design had already gone through many incarnations before officially breaking through in the 60’s and 70’s. The first dual concentric monitor, designed by Ronnie H Rackham, was launched at the London Radio Show as far back as the late ’40s and the idea was routinely refined and improved, before finally landing on the design found on the iconic Monitor Gold series launched in 1967.
What separated the Tannoy Gold’s dual concentric driver from all others wasn’t so obvious at face value. On the contrary, at first glance, the Gold series bears all the familiar visual cues of coaxial designs past and present, with its high frequency and bass drivers mounted concentrically, within a single unit. What made the Gold Dual-Concentric drivers so unique was the way in which Tannoy took this existing concept, and significantly altered the internal workings and order of components to maximise the Gold Series performance in regards to imaging, phase distortion and uniform dispersion.
As a by-product of their coaxial topography, the Tannoy Golds were already at an advantage when it came to phase and directionality, it was the genius decision to have the tweeter diaphragm placed behind the driver’s magnet and use it to power both the bass and tweeter diaphragms, which afforded the Gold Series greatly improved phase coherence and synchronisation between the two drivers, with less issues with crossover points and driver mass. This made the Tannoy Gold series the most phase coherent and balanced monitor design in the world at the time, providing a level of accuracy and transparency that had not been achieved up until this point. It was with this release that Tannoy went from being a respected name in studio monitoring, to the world leader in studio monitoring.
In addition to this, the high frequency driver was also positioned in inverted phase, with the airwaves travelling through a pepper-pot phase plug and then amplified in the metal horn throat (magnet) before being amplified further by the bass diaphragm. The phase plug enabled extending high-frequency response by preventing the cancellation of high frequency waves. The combination of these breakthroughs at the electro-acoustic end, combined with natural tendency for our ears to perceive coaxial drivers as a single point, meant that the Tannoy Gold are still seen as a high mark for stereo imaging and directionality in the field of studio monitoring. The quality of the drivers and the 10”, 12” and 15” options also made the Gold series an extremely broadband monitoring option even by the standards of today, with an average frequency response of 23Hz to 20,000Hz across the three variants.
With such an enduring legacy, there was a sense of anticipation with the announcement that Tannoy would be bringing back their acclaimed dual concentric design by way of a re-release. The latest product, the Tannoy Gold 7 continues the tradition of dual concentric design in a modern, bi-amped 300W package. This version of the studio monitor fundamentally delivers the same design principles first applied by Tannoy in the original Black, Red, Silver and Gold monitor releases. These 300W nearfields revisit the dual concentric design using a 1” titanium HF driver with their patented tulip waveguide design, working within a 6.5” low frequency driver, making them suitable for all studios, great and small.
Combining the power of Class A with the efficiency of Class B amplifiers, the monitor packs a significant punch in the sub $1000 studio nearfield monitor range and is worth a look for anybody looking to get industry standard levels of accuracy while keeping their kidneys intact. The Gold 7 also incorporates HF attenuation, bass adjustment and auxiliary 3.5mm input for easy connection to phones or laptops. It’s fantastic to see the Tannoy dual concentric legacy continued in this format, with affordability within the budget of both project studio and professional studio set-ups.
Check out the Tannoy Gold monitors through Australian distributors Australis.
Electro-Harmonix Nano Deluxe Memory Man: New pedal new tricks
There’s no shortage of delay pedals on the market, but this all analog small stature pedal, deserves to be here. The Electro Harmonix Nano Deluxe Memory Man is a recreation of a classic that defined what delay effects pedals should be, in a smaller enclosure with added modulation capabilities.
What you need to kn0w:
- Electro-Harmonix have unveiled a micro version of their iconic Memory Man delay.
- The Electro-Harmonix Nano Deluxe Memory Man is an analog delay pedal that runs in mono with a max delay time of 550ms.
- Building upon the legacy of the original, the new delay pedal can modulate signals as well with new rate and depth knobs.
Read all the latest product news here.
Building on the iconic Bucket Brigade Delay (BBD) pedal, Electro-Harmonix have added to the Deluxe Memory Man with new rate and depth knobs for increased modulation tones. Rate controls modulation speed while depth sets the amount of modulation that is added which can create vibrato and chorus effects with ease.
Delay time on the Nano goes from 30-550ms with feedback that can go from subtle to completely fed back. There’s a dry/wet control that allows the pedal to add subtle to intense mono delay effects to your pedal board.
Courtesy of an internal switch, the Nano Deluxe Memory Man can produce true and buffered bypass feedback trails. There’s a gain knob for altering the incoming signal level plus a couple LEDs to let you know the pedal status and if you’re clipping.
This little box is capable of producing all those classic analog delay tones we know and love but in a pedalboard friendly size.
The Nano Deluxe Memory Man pedal is out now and is retailing for US$203.10.
Fender Jag-Stang: A re-release of Kurt Cobain’s odd guitar
With the 30th anniversary of Nevermind approaching, Fender have decided to reissue Kurt Cobain’s famous Jag-Stang hybrid oddity. The Nirvana lead signer and guitarist had the idea to mesh the two guitars (which were his favourites) together to create this strange looking guitar.
What you need to know:
- Fender have released the Kurt Cobain Jag-Stang guitar in light of the 30th anniversary of Nevermind.
- The guitar, which is part Jaguar, part Mustang, comes in two colours with both left and right handed versions available.
- The reissue of the guitar which was released in 1995 features all the same specs as the original to honour Cobain’s creation.
Read all the latest product news here.
The Fender Jag-Stang takes elements from the Jaguar and Mustang guitar models and fuses them together, as per Kurt Cobain’s specifications (see image below). The guitar has a 24″ scale length with a 7.25″ radius rosewood fingerboard and vintage-style single-coil and custom humbucking pickups. The alder body, which is one of the most common Fender tonewoods, is present here with the guitar available in the original Fiesta Red and Sonic Blue colourways.
“Ever since I started playing, I’ve always liked certain things about certain guitars but could never find the perfect mix of everything I was looking for” said the late Kurt Cobain in a 1994 Fender Frontline interview.“The Jag-Stang is the closest thing I know.”
The Fender Jag-Stang was originally designed by Kurt alongside the Fender Custom Shop just before his untimely passing in 1994.
“When we took a look at the sketches Kurt Cobain had drawn up for his dream guitar, we were impressed by how intricate his design was. We honored the original model-all the specs on the new Jag-Stang areas they were. Nothing new was done to it, we really wanted to keep it aligned with Kurt’s vision” said Justin Norvell, EVP of Fender Products.
The models, which are available in both left and right handed versions are retailing for AU$2,299 (US$1,249.99).
Check out the Fender Jag-Stang on their website.
Review: Baby Audio TAIP – Tape saturation plugin
‘There’s just something about Tape’ is a phrase so often thrown around, that it has well and truly crossed into cliche at this point. Not that this isn’t ultimately a truism (rest assured, there definitely is something about Tape—many things in fact which the Baby Audio TAIP plugin addresses), but more an indication of the kind of difficulty the audio industry has traditionally had in articulating this point any further.
Regardless of whether you are an old head dusting off your much loved Ampex ATR 2 inch or an ITB zoomer who’s never actually seen a physical tape machine in the real world, one thing that we can all agree on is that tape and digital are very different beasts, both in sonics and in workflow.
Catch up on all the latest music gear reviews here.
For most, the gold standard exists somewhere in between, a way of replicating tape’s inherent musicality and forgiving nature with all the convenience and ease of editing that typifies the modern DAW setup. This is exactly where Baby Audio’s new AI powered tape emulator, TAIP positions itself, and it proves an awesome addition for anybody requiring an antidote to the icy coldness of binary.
Contrary to popular belief, part of the aforementioned ’special something’ commonly associated with tape isn’t necessarily an inherent drop in fidelity (in fact many higher-end Tape formats offer fidelity on par with what we are used to in the modern digital world). It’s more about how the sympathetic character of the medium itself ushers in an inherent musicality—one that works in concert with other stops in the recording chain to connect (glue) disparate sources, increase steady-state volume properties (fatten) and round off (flatten) harsher transients, into something better suited to the overall composition.
Compare the above to a common digital recording chain featuring a lightning-fast, but sonically harsh condenser mic feeding into the kind of transparently linear stock preamps found on most consumer interfaces (which we are running at 192kHz for no discernible reason) and you kind of understand that we are talking about a different end game here.
One is all about committing to well-considered musical decisions through every step of the recording process and the other is about casting as wide a net as possible at the front end, even if only part of this capture is usable in the grand scheme, then trying to process our way out of it after the fact.
And then of course there is the saturation. That beautifully fragile and wonderfully flawed harmonic saturation that digital has had such a hard time nailing up unto this point.
In the context of modern digital recording, somethings got to (for)give and this is precisely what makes Baby Audio’s new AI-powered TAIP Saturation plugin such an awesome and intriguing prospect for anyone looking to breathe subtle life into their digital works, whilst also having an excellent creative tool at their disposal for when things get freaky.
Sympathetic, malleable and above all else, incredibly musical, the Baby Audio TAIP plugin offers one of the finest sounding audio engines we’ve ever encountered for this kind of thickening and sweetening, with enough flexibility and scope in the parameters to pull off some serious sonic weirdness when required.
More than just a PR gimmick, the decision to incorporate AI into the design of TAIP (in this circumstance, to essentially decipher the invisible nuances of complex analog circuits) is an innovation that is sure to open up all kinds of experimentation and growth within the digital audio sector.
By utilising advanced AI algorithms to essentially reverse engineer the plugin by analysing the finished audio first and working back from there (as opposed to traditional DSP modelling), the Baby Audio team have landed on something truly special here, with the TAIP plugin offering some of the finest, idealised, ‘analogesque’ Saturation sounds you are ever likely to find in the digital realm.
True to form, the graphic interface found on TAIP follows the brands well developed visual sense, as is evident on other recent Baby Audio offerings such as the ‘Smooth Operator’ with its dulcet pastel colourway or ‘Spaced Out’s’ highly stylised ode to 80’s sci-fi.
This time around the look is post 2000s futurist, with a sprinkling of early ’90s cassette culture thrown in for good measure. The illuminating Drive and Output functions are a particularly nice touch that serves as an important visual aid regarding the amount of saturation being applied at any given moment.
More than just a pretty face, Baby Audio’s TAIP is an excellent tonal shaping and sound design tool with a highly organic and flexible feature set that allows for plenty of creativity and control at the mix stage.
The auto gain function is a super handy way of keeping track of our level matched listening habits, which is particularly important in the context of harmonic saturation. After all it’s nice to know what the plugin is actually doing without any of the inherent biases that come from discrepancies in playback volume.
Wear (which is a sort of hybrid of Wow, Flutter and various other side effects generally associated with Tape degradation) is a great way to add subtle modulation and warble effects to your highly saturated sound. This has the effect of providing perfect periodic grit at low levels or full-blown Boards of Canada style distortion when cranked up. There is also a Noise function which controls the amount of tape hiss evident in your saturated sound, for added authenticity.
The Lo-shape and Hi-shape parameters are an extremely useful and pleasant sounding addition to the plugin’s already expansive tonal shaping capabilities. The tactfulness and naturalness of these aforementioned bias shapes provides an awesome starting point from which to work from.
With plenty of interactivity between the plugins internal parameters and the tastefulness of the pre-drive bias, every combination of Hi and Lo brings its own distinctive vibe, in turn providing a saturation palette for basically any application.
There is also the option for single or dual modes which emulates our source being passed through one or two tape machines thus adding further harmonics and saturation/drive characteristics to our signal.
Perhaps most importantly, is the way in which Baby Audio TAIP never veers into harshness or any kind of overt digital clipping, even when pushed to its limits. Just like the tape machines of old, it continues to heap on the harmonic richness and fire, without ever descending into digital camo mode, which is a sign of an extremely well oiled audio engine. In terms of sonics, it is truly top-shelf and the extremely affordable price-point means a borderline instant return on investment for anyone in need of some artful obfuscation.
For us millennium Babies born into an already 24-bit digital world, our understanding of tape comes not from a nostalgic hands-on account with the recording medium itself (to be honest even hearing stories about people manually cutting tape is enough to give me immediate anxiety), but more as a creative effect, to shade and shape our isolated, static recordings with subtle warmth, saturated harmonics, light compression and even the occasional bit of harder edged musical distortion when required. For this, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better suited to the mission at hand than Baby Audio’s new TAIP plugin. It truly is one of the best plugins in recent memory for this kind of multi-purpose harmonic treatment.
If Baby Audio TAIP’s stellar recreation of analog saturation sounds are anything to go by, AI might well be the answer to truthfully replicating the sonic musicality of analog in the digital domain once and for all. Watch this space.
Check out TAIP via Baby Audio’s website.
Waves V13: Apple M1 and Windows 11 compatibility for the full suite
Waves plugins have just received a quality of life update which allows them to be used on new Apple and Windows systems. The new Waves V13 plugins are officially compatible with M1 and Windows 11 which is fantastic news for those who are using the newer systems.
What you need to know:
- Waves have updated their range of plugins to version 13, adding Apple M1 and Windows 11 compatibility.
- Additionally, three plugins have been given a HiDPI makeover alongside various bug fixes and improvements.
- The Waves V13 update is out now and available to all users of Waves plugins.
Read all the latest product news here.
The update allows for compatibility with Apple M1 processors, which seems to be what most plugin developers are focusing on as of late, and the newly announced Windows 11 operating systems. This is across the board with all plugins fully functioning across the two platforms.
New features within this update include hi-resolution graphics for Abbey Road RS124, Scheps Omni Channel, and Kaleidoscopes plugins, Unicode support allowing for non-english characters to be used on preset names and the location of sample libraries plus a direct link within each plugin to the product page.
Alongside the new features, there is a range of bug fixes and improvements across the board to provide a smoother workflow whether you’re working on a new or old computer setup.
The updates carry over all the improvements from V12 including resizable plugins, instant text search presets and extra plugins added free to existing Platinum, Horizon and Diamond plugin bundles.
For users wanting the new upgrade, ensure you have a Waves Update Plan (which is kind of like purchasing an extended product warranty), then you’ll be able to update to the new versions of the plugin.
Is TikTok the future of the music industry?
There’s no doubt that sites like Instagram and Facebook are some of the most important when it comes to the music industry, but TikTok is quickly becoming one of the most important promotional tools for both beloved and emerging artists.
If you’re unaware of the app, users create short videos about absolutely anything, it could be something about live music to something about religion. But the main intent of the app is to bring music and people together, through users predominately using a small audio clip from a song that relates to their video.
Read all the latest features, columns and more here.
With the app still being in its infancy, many are still trying to further their understanding of the service and how it works. TikTok’s algorithm isn’t as complex as that of Instagram or YouTube, songs can rise on this app organically, much alike that of Spotify—the more people that listen to a song, the more likely you are to come across it in some form.
Many artists can even just solely depend on the use of TikTok, with it recently being said that artists will find more people interact with their works on the platform than Facebook and Instagram combined. It can truly start your career.
We’ve seen a number of older songs move their way back into the mainstream due to their popularity on the app, these are songs like ‘Rasputin’ by Boney M, ‘Put Your Head On My Shoulder’ by Paul Anka and ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ by Queen. Each of which had a unique element that piqued a TikTok users interest.
Each of these subsequently saw a noticeable impact on the charts, with the songs rising on the American and Australian music charts. At this stage, Tiktok doesn’t contribute to music charts, so this shows that there is a strong indirect impact on the music industry, as it leads people to stream and purchase the music in other areas.
Label heads and management companies in Australia and abroad have seen the power TikTok holds for an artist’s career in 2021. It heavily contributes to the musician’s overall visibility and defines their virtual personality. It’s also integral from a marketing perspective, as many younger people use the app to discover new performers, so it’s important that any emerging musician creates their own TikTok page.
The trends on TikTok are usually thanks to a viral video from a dance, which can be artificially created, through musicians or music labels paying a Tiktok user to try and make the song big.
This is quickly becoming a big area in the partnership between the music industry and TikTok, the service could make someone’s career, as Tiktok users can earn up to thousands of dollars from a music industry partnership.
One of the most popular users on TikTok is Charli D’Amelio, who charges a whopping $30,000-$40,000 for a song feature on her video, but it has proven to be very beneficial for those willing to fork out the money, with her alone making a song trend, and eventually helping the song move up the charts across the world.
According to CNBC, TikTok holds around 1 billion users every month and any of those could become the next biggest thing overnight. So, music labels aim to not only work with the biggest users on the app, but rather up and coming users, who only charge a few hundred dollars, as their video may become a high-viewed video, subsequently causing the song used to rise dramatically in the charts.
We’ve seen rapper Flo Milli launch her career through these means, paying a TikTok user around AU$500 to use her song in one of their dance videos, which subsequently gained around 100,00 views, and lead her to be signed with the popular RCA records, showing just how much power the social media site has.
Something that’s also important to note is the musical careers that have come from the app. A large proportion of the users use Tiktok to showcase their dancing skills, but in recent times we’ve seen users attempt to start their own music careers to a great degree of success.
Many TikTok users have made other people’s songs big through dancing to it, so it makes sense that they can make their own songs big through showcasing them on the app.
We’ve seen that take place with popular user Bella Poarch, whose song ‘Build A Bitch’ has reached the top 100 in pretty much every chart across the globe. Another popular user Addison Rae, has seen her song ‘Obsessed’ be one of the most streamed tracks in 2021, and led to her performing on The Tonight Show, showcasing the song to millions of homes across America.
One of the most recognisable trends on the app has been at the hands of the song ‘Driver’s License’ by Olivia Rodrigo. The teen star’s target audience is heavily similar to that of TikTok, so when she released her global hit earlier this year, it made sense that it made such an impact on TikTok.
Users immediately stuck to her heartfelt lyrics and emotional singing, creating a bevy of different videos relating to it, some analysing the lyrics and trying to discern who she was talking about. Some people covered the track, some danced to it, some just simply mouthing along with the lyrics, and many making memes and joke videos relating to it.
This shows that with the right background and preparation, you can create the next hit song on the service.
It also speaks volumes to the way people consume music in this day and age. Gone is the day of the music listener who listens to a full album front to back, without any skips. Many of us have become accustomed to listening to a single song, adding it to a playlist, and skipping the boring parts to get to the good guitar solo, great chorus or catchy rap break.
Tiktok clearly plays into this in a major way, we’ve gone from the album, to the song, to just the popular or cool snippet from a song. What’s could possibly be next?
For more, check out this guide on how to add your own music to TikTok.
Kali Audio IN-8 2nd Wave: Improved transient response with new DSP
Californian based Kali Audio have unveiled the newest version of their Independence IN-8 studio monitor. The new iteration improves on transient response, signal to noise ratio and features a new DSP for better optimisation of the loudspeaker.
What you need to know:
- Kali Audio have announced the 2nd wave iteration of their IN-8 studio monitors.
- The 3-way speaker design has been tweaked to make less self noise, produce less distortion and comes with new lighter drivers.
- These improvements add to the already quality product which features a front firing bass port and flexible dip switch controls.
Read all the latest product news here.
Improving on their last speaker was bound to be a challenge at this price point—especially for a 3-way monitor—but the new Kali Audio IN-8 seems to be significantly better in a few key areas.
First off, they have reduced the internal self noise from the speaker by 12dB, which marks a large improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio on the monitors. Kali Audio have also introduced a new DSP which boasts a smoother high frequency tuning, and while above 400Hz, THD (total harmonic distortion) is less than 0.3% which is a step up from the 1.1% present on the older model.
With regards to actual materials, the woofer and mid range driver are now lighter than before, offering an increased level of transient response. Their soft dome tweeter is touch resistant, which means it will bounce back into place if you actually touch it—great news for the clumsy engineer in all of us.
Features that made this monitor a good choice in the first place are still here, like the front firing bass port and dip switches for flexible placement and tuning of the monitors. Kali Audio have added an additional dip switch to the IN-8s that allows them to be placed horizontally, not just vertically.
Check out this video below for an introduction to the 2nd Wave Kali Audio IN-8 monitors.
What is DSP? Digital Signal Processing explained
Within the modern age of recording, mixing and mastering, built-in DSP effects are becoming a more regular feature for audio interfaces. Universal Audio has been leading the charge in this respect but there are now a plethora of manufacturers creating interfaces with effects processing able to be printed onto incoming audio signals at zero latency.
What makes all this possible are DSPs (Digital Signal Processors) which have become more and more necessary in the world of audio throughout the digital audio revolution. In light of this, we’re taking a deep dive into DSP today, asking what it is, how it is being used and why it’s important.
- A Digital Signal Processor is a computer chip that manipulates incoming signals based on mathematical equations and outputs a result in real-time.
- DSPs are used anytime audio is processed in the digital realm which could be within a DAW, speaker, interface or even your phone.
- The importance of DSPs are evidently true within the current context of digital audio, where our computers can perform tasks that were usually relegated to physical hardware units such as compressors and recording consoles.
Read all the latest features, columns and more here.
What is DSP?
In a nutshell, a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) takes an incoming signal, manipulates it based on mathematics, and outputs a result. You can think of a DSP as a very fast calculator that performs complex equations in very fast time frames. A common example of DSPs in the audio realm is Universal Audio’s range of interfaces that utilise an in-built DSP to add compression and other effects onto your input signal at zero latency without using precious processing power within your computer.
DSPs within the space of computer audio are usually independent chips that work in tandem with a CPU and GPU, taking on the brunt of signal processing. They are built specifically for real-time data streams and are designed to be fast at specific mathematic calculations.
On a deeper computing level, a DSP is also used in the recording and output of audio. An analog-to-digital converter (ADC) will take an input (a microphone for example) and convert the analog signal into binary digits before feeding that information to the DSP which will process the now digitised audio signal and allow it to be recorded to disk. The same can be said for going in the opposite direction, in which the DSP receives recorded audio, processes it and subsequently feeds it to a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) to play the audio back on speakers.
With this last example, the processing done by a DSP can be as simple as decoding it for playback, but in more complex cases can be used to alter the frequency response through EQ or compression and even enable active noice cancellation (ANC).
How is DSP being used?
Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is the basis on which DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) function. In other words, without DSP, there would be no DAWs. Every change you make to an audio signal within the DAW environment uses DSP. This makes sense right? As we are changing a digital audio signal using computer processing power. Every plugin added to a DAW uses processing power on your computer or interface and allows you to add effects like reverb and saturation effects in a digital space.
Some uses of DSP are more computing heavy than others. For example a native plugin effect within Ableton uses a lot less processing power than an external Waves plugin due to the native plugins being optimised for use within that environment.
Even in live audio, most audio is now connected through ethernet cables to transmit digital audio from the stage to the digital console. Using these digital consoles, DSPs are at the forefront of their existence, allowing for the complete mixing process to be completed in the digital realm, a definite step away from running multicore cables long distances to the mixing position at a festival.
As processing power continues to improve as time goes on, DSP is being used in increasingly more ways throughout audio products. Examples that stand out would be Nura’s range of headphones, that use DSP to alter the frequency response of their drivers based on a unique hearing profile or Genelec monitors which utilise DSP to correct room anomalies and correctly delay speakers based on their placement.
Within more consumer audio products, smart home devices such as Alexa or Siri utilise DSP to convert our voice into digital commands that can be used to change the lighting in your home or even search the internet.
This is really just scratching the surface of the uses for DSP within audio as inherently, every digital audio product and software, uses digital signal processing in some form.
Why is DSP important?
In the modern sphere of digital audio, DSPs are the main component that we use everyday (whether we’re aware of it or not), to create, alter and hear music. The 3.5mm jack output on your computer is run by DSP and allows your headphones to receive the correct information so that you can listen to Lorde’s new record on repeat all day.
DSP also allows our phones and computers to take in the analog signal of our voices and process it for transmission over the internet, via Zoom for example, which in turn utilise DSP to suppress background noise and optimise the playback of your voice by learning how your room sounds.
Within modern speakers, digital signal processors allow for EQ, filters and compression to be applied alongside more computation heavy usages like Genelec’s GLM processing. Even your wireless earbuds will have some form of DSP, acting as the link between your Bluetooth connection in and the physical audio waves generated by the small devices (not to mention the active noise cancelling present in a few models).
All in all, DSPs are the number one most important link in the digital audio chain, and allow audio products to function more efficiently through the specialised chipsets. Next time you’re listening to your favourite record, think about how DSP was the thing that likely made that possible.
For more on DSP, check out this video explanation of the process.
Review: Warwick RockBass Corvette Double Buck ($$) Bass in Natural Satin
In the gear world, there’s only two truths: everything can Djent, and all the best products are designed in Germany. This sentiment rings particularly true when it comes to brands like Warwick, who’ve been responsible for some of the best bass guitars made over the past 25 years.
Renowned as pioneers of creating versatile basses with exceptional tonal precision, Warwick have just released the latest entry into their affordable RockBass range, the Corvette Double Buck ($$) Electric Bass in Natural Satin. It comes with an oddball design that combines a bizarre (yet very comfortable) body shape with an upgraded 24-fret fingerboard, making for a commanding combination that bassists of all calibers will come to appreciate.
Catch up on all the latest music gear reviews here.
Straight out of the case, it’s clear that this bass has form, function and comfort. The Corvette shows off an impressive sustain of intonation and tuning from one fret to the next and sports a beautiful flat ash body, three ply maple neck with ekanga veneer stripes, and a wenge fingerboard. It is also paired with Warwick’s ergonomically angled machine heads, chrome hardware and a two-piece Warwick bridge, all of which help to round out a pretty impressive spec sheet.
The RockBass Corvette Double Buck has a bolt-on maple neck with ekanga veneer stripes, which means that sustain is its middle name. The instrument’s ability to hold consistent tuning from one fret to the next is a standout feature with 24 extra high jumbo nickel silver frets, a 34″ scale length and a 20″ fingerboard radius.
The tonewood that Warwick has opted to use for the body on this particular model is ash, creating a transparent, fluid tone that is perfectly suited for styles like rock and metal. It sits really nicely and is comfortable to play with its flat body shape and of course, as Warwick would ensure, its weight is a perfect 4kg on average for optimal low-end sounds.
Now, let’s talk about that body shape. Some of the more immature bassists among us may laugh at the Corvette’s curious contours, and the bass has unfairly been the butt of many phallic jokes on the internet. However, the Corvette is actually one of the most comfortable body shapes available today: the ergonomic curves of the body allow for a breezy playing experience whether standing or seated, and the unique design will almost certainly provoke conversation with the support act at your next gig.
The Warwick Corvette Double Buck also has Just-A-Nut III Nut and a quick access truss rod cover for intricate adjustments to tone and intonation, but even better still is its two-piece Warwick bridge. This bridge, a feature on all Warwick basses, allows you to adjust on all four points, up and down, and back and forth, for intonation and comfort adjustment, right down to string spacing so you can adjust the feel to suit your playing preference. The strings also come over the top of saddles and angle back into the body into the tail piece for vibration and sustain, ticking all the boxes of function, form and comfort.
This bass is one that really accommodates the trained ear, making it suitable for audio and recording enthusiasts and those in need of a flexibly built bass to cover all… bases. The selections available for fine tuning sound are vast with its passive EQ with two push/pull volume and a single tone control. This allows exceptional control of its two passive MEC MM-style humbucking pickups, which lets you access a huge range of classic low-end tones.
Bass frequencies can be one of the more difficult things to mix in a band or recording setting, naturally, our ears have a little more trouble hearing it, so when you find people sweating the small stuff on their bass rig, it’s probably warranted. Warwick does not mess around when it comes to solving many of the hurdles faced by bassists and audio engineers in this field.
The two passive MEC MM-style pickups have ceramic magnets and are chunky in appearance to match their thick, punchy and massive tone, popular with metal and bass guitarists. These pickups have a simpler circuitry to active pickups as they are passive, but they deliver a much clearer sound and will be far more touch-sensitive. Its accompanying switches are simple yet highly effective, with two push/pull volume knobs and one single tone control.
Bass can be rather temperamental when it comes to sitting correctly in a mix, so the more options to fine tune there are, the better. The option to switch the pickups from series to parallel is a fantastic addition that expands your tone control tweaking options, making it optimal for recording. In series mode because impedance is combined, you can get a very high output and more prominent low and midrange timbres. On the other hand, parallel wiring will give you the option of more clarity and transparency with your tone.
At the end of the day, this Corvette bass is exceptionally considerately designed for such an accessible price point! It’s hard not to appreciate Warwick’s dedication to the finer features in low-end frequency instruments to ensure they get the best fighting chance at making a perfect contribution to your mix.
Check out the Warwick RockBass Corvette through their Australian distributor Amber Technology.
Pond, Client Liaison + more, our favourite records of the week
This week, a bunch of beloved acts are back with new music. From psych-pop favourites Pond delivering their ninth studio album to Melbourne’s beloved electro-pop outfit Client Liaison returning with the highly-anticipated follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2016 debut LP, Diplomatic Immunity, there’s plenty to get excited about.
Here are our favourite new records out this week.
This week’s top picks:
- Pond – 9
- Hard-Ons – I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken
- Client Liaison – Divine Intervention
Read all the latest music news here.
Pond – 9
On their ninth studio album, Pond were ready to shake things up a bit. With a collection of polished psychedelic pop albums in their arsenal, they decided to make a record that was spontaneous, divisive and “completely fucked”.
Birthed from improvisational jam sessions that were recorded and whittled into nine short and sharp tracks, 9 is messy yet focused. Zagging between the Queen-on-acid style rock opera opener ‘Song For Agnes’, jittery psych-pop earworm ‘Rambo’ and electro-jazz slowburn ‘Toast’, the record is eclectic and exciting from start to finish.
Listen to ‘Human Touch’ below and for more Pond content, check out our interview with Jay “GUM” Watson.
Hard-Ons – I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken
The first taste of Sydney punk icons Hard-Ons’ latest record, I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken, saw the band’s new frontman Tim Rogers adding his own flavour to the outfit.
Titled ‘Hold Tight’, the single is an instantly catchy pop-punk singalong. But don’t be fooled into thinking the addition of Rogers equates to a softening of Hard-Ons’ classic sound.
Packed with racing, riff-heavy crackers like ‘Fucked Up Party’, ‘Shoot Me In The Back’ and ‘Humiliated Humiliator’, I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken is gritty, heavy and proof that Hard-Ons’ new vocalist is the right man for the job.
Listen to ‘Hold Tight’ below.
Client Liaison – Divine Intervention
Groove kings Client Liaison are back with Divine Intervention, a shimmering, retro electro-pop record made for the dancefloor.
Doused in warm synth, Monte Morgan’s buttery vocals, and an infectiously upbeat energy, Client Liaison’s long-awaited sophomore LP is just a big bag of fun.
From club bangers and disco-tinged beats to uplifting ballads, Divine Intervention is brimming with caviar, champagne and corporate affairs. But while glitz and glamour is all well and good, Client Liaison know there’s more important things than a high-rise lifestyle.
Expect to hear a bunch of these tracks belted out at parties and festivals this summer.
Listen to ‘Elevator Up’ below.
Audio Test Kitchen unveil ATK Player
Audio Test Kitchen have pioneered a new approach to testing products remotely, offering a range of information including audio samples for a range of audio products. The 2021 TEC Award nominees have just launched an embeddable version of the player ATK Player, for audio companies to use on their own websites for customers to compare their products.
What you need to know:
- Audio Test Kitchen have just announced an embeddable version of their quick change product tester.
- The ATK player allows products to be cross comparable showing their frequency responses and audio samples.
- This tool will be available for product manufacturers in a similar fashion to the way chat bots appear.
Read all the latest product news here.
The new ATK player allows users to have interactive and guided audio demos available on websites in their own space, with no pressure from sales consultants as you might experience in some professional audio shops. It allows you to compare products that you may already have and know with new ones to provide a better insight into how a product functions before purchasing it.
“Having built and operated one of the world’s top physical pro audio showrooms, I’ve seen how each customer needs a unique mix of information, from emotional to technical, to feel inspired and confident to make a purchase,” relates Jeff Ehrenberg, Audio Test Kitchen’s Head of Sales. “We very consciously built an online tool that puts the proof each individual needs at their fingertips while enabling the manufacturer to accurately represent what their products can do.”
Manufacturers and distributors can implement the new offering on their websites through a subscription based service through Audio Test Kitchen. They have previously collaborated with brands such as Shure, Antelope Audio, Lewitt and over 60 more.
Don’t be surprised if you see this starting to pop up on your favourite audio manufacturers website.
Head to Audio Test Kitchen’s website for more information.
Beyerdynamic PRO X Series: headphones and microphones built for creators
Announced through a virtual experience last night, Beyerdynamic have officially launched the PRO X series of products. Four new offerings (two microphones and two headphones) were announced as part of the range which are designed for content creators and musicians alike.
What you need to know:
- Beyerdynamic have unveiled a new series of products dubbed the PRO X Series.
- The range includes two new microphones and headphones that are handcrafted in Germany and aimed for creators.
- Being aimed at creators, the new headphones and microphones are still high quality products as is standard for Beyerdynamic.
Read all the latest product news here.
DT 700 PRO X and DT 900 PRO X headphones
Starting off with the new headphones, Beyerdynamic have reinvented the wheel for this new range. Rebuilt from the ground up, both the DT 700 PRO X (pictured above) and DT 900 PRO X feature a new driver, STELLAR.45, which is made of a copper plated wire that weighs approximately 40% less than pure copper and neodymium magnets which allows for the headphones to operate at a lower impedance (48 ohms). This lower impedance is in line with the creator aimed approach, which makes them more suited to use with consumer grade outputs like laptop and phone 3.5mm connection ports.
According to their CEO Edgar van Velzen, these new headphones were benchmarked against their own range of products to ensure the new offerings are of utmost quality. Another Beyerdynamic staff member also mentioned during the Q&A after the official launch that due to the newly designed drivers, the PRO X headphones can reproduce a deeper bass response while still maintaining a sense of air on the top end on the audio spectrum.
They weren’t joking, as both the DT 700 PRO X and DT 900 PRO X headphones frequency response reaches from 5 Hz all the way up to 40kHz, which although is outside our the standard human hearing range, ensures that the frequencies we can hear are clean. The 700 model is closed-back while the 900 is open-back to suit different listening environments. The connection points on the new models are mini XLR jacks which provide an interchangeability not present on Beyerdynamic’s entry-level studio headphones.
M70 PRO X and M90 PRO X microphones
Moving onto the microphones, there’s the M70 PRO X (pictured above) and M90 PRO X. The 70 is a dynamic front address microphone which has a frequency response of 50 Hz to 18 kHZ while the 90 is a side address condenser which reaches from 20 Hz to 20kHz. In line with their focus on creators, both microphones ship with an elastic microphone mount and pop filter so they’re ready to go out of the box.
The M70 PRO X has a cardioid polar pattern, which is standard for dynamic microphones to reject noise not directed at the front end of the unit. This model is optimised for speech, directed at podcasters and streamers boasting an optimum attenuation of popping sounds and ability to reproduce the classic broadcast sound.
Finally, the M90 PRO X, which is a true condenser also featuring a cardioid polar pattern. They sport a low signal to noise ratio of 88.4dB, zero-distortion transmission and a maximum sound pressure level of 133 dB (which is impressive). Being a condenser microphone, the M90 PRO X is more flexible with its usage, able to conquer instruments as well as it does vocals.
The range seems to be quality, and are priced at 249€ for the headphones and 299€ for the microphones with Australian prices yet to be announced.
Stay tuned for an in-depth look of Beyerdynamic’s new products for Content Creation Month.