“What the #%&@ Are You Doing with Auria?” Video Contest Launches

October 27, 2013 by  

Love your audio platform? Say it with VIDEO.

The first place package from Auria's contest includes gear from AKG, Apogee, and JBL Professional.

The first place package from Auria’s contest includes gear from AKG, Apogee, and JBL Professional.

That’s right, the people of Wave Machine Labs – the makers of the Auria 48-track DAW app for iPad – are inviting all of their sonic peeps out there to go all out on the visuals.

But it’s not just an exercise in synesthasia: this is the name of “The Really Big ‘WHAT THE #%&@ ARE YOU DOING WITH AURIA’ Video Contest“, which they’re putting on in conjunction with a host of co-sponsors — AKG, Apogee, and JBL Professional.

This is worth sharpening your video skills for: the contest is offering up first, second, and third prizes with a total value of $11,000.

To compete, users are invited to submit a video up to 4 minutes in length showing how they use Auria and how it is changing the way they work.

The first place winner will receive a pair of JBL LSR6328Ps, an Apogee Quartet for iOS, an AKG C414 XLS, an AKG C1000S, and AKG K712 headphones, with a total value of over $7,000.

The contest has officially begun, and all submissions must be received by November 22, 2013. Visit here to enter and for the full rules.

Entries will focus on how the contestant is using Auria, whether as an artist, producer, or engineer. They can be shot with smartphones or other simple cameras and edited with consumer editing apps, and the judges will include Grammy Award winning composer/producer/engineer David Kahne and elite producer/engineer Bob Bullock.

Submissions that have the most interesting and engaging content, in the opinion of the judges, will be moved into the final round, where the winners will be chosen by registered visitors to the video contest website.

Auria Device Requirements:
* Compatible with iPad
* Requires iOS 5.0 or later
* 292 MB

Auria 1.140 is $49.99 USD, available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Music category.

New Studio Alert: Room 17 in Bushwick, Brooklyn

April 24, 2013 by  

When Adam Lasus decided to partner up with Joe Rogers and Scott Porter at the new Room 17 in Brooklyn, it was something of a homecoming. Until high rents and new opportunities convinced him and his wife to move to LA in 2006, Lasus had run his Fireproof Recording Studio Ghostbusters-style, out of a converted 19th century firehouse in Red Hook. Between that space and an even earlier studio in Philly, Lasus had worked with a long line of indie rock artists like Helium, Yo La Tengo, Ben Harper, Dawn Landes, Matt Keating, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Although his own personal studio and Neotek Elan console still live on the West Coast, Lasus seems thrilled to be commuting back east, sometimes staying for a week or more in order to work on projects in this new room. When we met, he was in town to record a new solo album for a songwriter named Aaron Lee Tasjan. “In L.A. there are maybe 20, 30 really awesome indie bands doing great things,” Lasus says. “Here in Brooklyn there are that many on this block.”

Lasus is a youthful-seeming 44. He’s ginger-haired and gregarious, with a charming, almost boyish sense of enthusiasm for both his tools and for the people he records with. One of those people is Joe Rogers, a young label-owner, songwriter, and a former client who now runs day-to-day operations at Room 17 and engineers the bulk of the sessions. Rogers started putting out records over 10 years ago, working out of a makeshift studio in the Bronx, and has recorded with artists like The Shivers and Kelli Scarr.

The control room at Room 17 Recording

The Room 17 control room

The two of them sit together for an extended interview in a cavernous yet surprisingly well-controlled mix room, and occasionally finish each other’s thoughts and sentences. They share some central ideas: That trust and camaraderie are the most important aspects of the client/engineer relationship; That digital is fine but tape is more fun; And that smashing mic signals through cheap old transistor stereos is a badass thing to do.

Unable to make this meeting is a third partner, the musician and investor Scott Porter. Like Rogers, he’s a close friend and former client of Lasus’, who has made the transition from performer to producer/engineer in his own right.

When I stop by, he’s off tending to his other businesses – a pair of nearby Bushwick venues called “The Wick” and “The Well.”

Room 17 sits on a revitalizing Bushwick block, part of a once-industrial strip close to the border of East Williamsburg. The studio is located just down the street from local “DIY” venue The House of Yes, and not far from 3rd Ward, Shea Stadium, The Sweatshop, and essentially, the whole burgeoning Bushwick art and music scene.

As I walk toward their building, I pass an old minibus, parked about dozen yards from their door. It’s spray-painted in technicolor graffiti and stuffed full of the Brooklyn equivalent of hippies (presumably psych-folk fans) brandishing iPhones and acoustic guitars. They’re perhaps indicative of this new Bushwick, although by no means emblematic of it.

As austere and industrial as the area might seem to the outside eye, the three studio partners still had a hell of a time finding a 10 year lease here (perhaps one of the only arrangements that really makes sense for a fairly high-cost, low-profit business like an affordable music studio.) New York landlords know the deal: Once the artists start moving in, residential rents start going up, and soon after, commercial rents will follow. In real life, just as in the online world, art and culture are perhaps among the biggest drivers of perceived value and economic growth. (If only more artists knew how to capitalize on that).

The inside of the studio mirrors the area itself. It’s a large warehouse space that blends thrifty professionalism with a sensible minimalist build. Rather than re-imagining the concrete raw space, the studio instead re-purposes it, keeping much of the site’s lofty, wide-open appeal intact.

The live room

Room 17 live room

Each of the rooms is huge, and somewhat spare, with stone floors and a few strategically placed carpets. But they are also unexpectedly well-balanced. There’s barely a parallel wall in the whole place, and the 14-foot-high ceilings are stuffed full of 6-12 inches of insulation, practically eliminating the need for additional trapping. Otherwise all that’s there is cement, glass and drywall, allowing the space to retain some subtle reflections that make the room sound airy and alive.

The main tracking space is enormous on its own, and it connects to two ample iso booths that are larger than some other studios’ live rooms. Even the control room by itself is bigger than many Brooklyn apartments. All these spaces are linked by immense glass doors, and downstairs there’s a makeshift echo chamber that sometimes doubles as an additional live room. Put together, it’s well over 3,000 square feet of recording space.

Trident 80 Series console

Trident 80 Series console

Gear at Room 17 is as distinctive as the space. The console is a rare Trident – an early 80 series refurbed with a newly upgraded master section. The main recorder is an equally unusual 2” Otari, once property of Manhattan’s legendary Unique Recording Studios, and it comes equipped with both the 24- and 16-track headstacks.

Naturally, there’s also a Pro Tools HD rig, and an island of rack gear is stuffed with some interesting and esoteric pieces from Valley People, Manley, ADR, TapCo, Focusrite, MXR, Allison Research and Symetrix. The mic locker is full of vibey old dynamics and some great-sounding, cost-effective mics from Peluso, Gefell, AKG, Oktava, Michael Joly Engineering and Mojave.

The idea here is to keep things affordable while offering a larger, less intimidating space that bands might otherwise find in a similar price bracket. To Lasus, one of the few challenges is helping the kinds of bands he loves working with understand that they can afford to work with him:

“A lot of bands will see something like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on my discography and just assume we’re going to be too expensive,” he says when the subject of rates comes up. But what they tend to forget is that when Lasus recorded them, CYHSY were just like so many other Brooklyn bands: unknown and inexperienced weekend warriors, uncertain about just what to expect from some of their first real studio dates.

Lasus recalls giving their drummer Sean Greenhalgh a beer early on in their first session. They had been nervous about playing earlier in the day than usual, and that move seemed to set him at ease.

It was a way of communicating something Lasus tries to make clear in every session, one way or the other: Getting great recordings isn’t about judging the artists. It’s about understanding them. It’s about making them feel relaxed and capturing them in their most natural and un-reflexive state.

If there’s some deeper purpose to all Lasus’ high-spirited chatter and convivial energy, it’s probably that.

The live room with views into two iso booths and control room

The live room with views into two iso booths and control room

Justin Colletti is a Brooklyn-based audio engineer, college professor, and journalist. He records and mixes all over NYC, masters at JLM, teaches at CUNY, is a regular contributor to SonicScoop, and edits the music blog Trust Me, I’m A Scientist.

AKG Launches Newly Designed D12, Limited Edition C451 Condenser Mic & K702 Headphones

September 11, 2012 by  

This week, AKG introduced a newly designed version of its classic D12!

The new D12 VR large-diaphragm cardioid microphone has been rebuilt specifically for kick drum recording and live applications.

AKG’s newly designed D12 VR

According to AKG…

The D12 VR (vintage sound re-issue) offers a thin diaphragm within its newly designed capsule, which enhances low-frequency performance. With phantom power disabled, the D12 delivers accurate, pure character from the sound source. With phantom power enabled, one of three switchable active-filter presets can be used to quickly adapt the mic’s response to suit the user’s desired kick drum.

The “vintage-style” premium bass microphone offers three active sound shapes for recording: open kick drum, closed kick drum and vintage sound. D12 is manufactured with the original AKG C414 transformer from the 1970s.

The AKG D12 was originally introduced in 1953 – the world’s first dynamic cardioid mic with a unidirectional design. The AKG D12 VR is expected to retail for around $560 and to ship in October 2012.Click for more details!

Additionally, to mark its 65th Anniversary, AKG has also launched Limited Edition C451 condenser microphone and Limited Edition K702 headphones.

Both the Anniversary Edition C451 microphone and K702 headphones are available for 599 Euro, or $766 at today’s exchange rates. They are now available globally.

Anniversary Edition AKG C451 condenser

Since it’s AKG’s big day, we’ll let them do the talking – here’s all of the details from AKG on their latest launch:

AKG’s C451 65th Anniversary Edition condenser embodies sound from the legendary C451 EB with the CK1 capsule delivering stunning quality and precision accuracy. Since its introduction in 1969, the C451 has been continuously improved and has demonstrated its durability under the harshest onstage environments. The C451’s transformer-less preamp enables high sound pressure capability, allowing for close miking of high-energy sound sources up to 155 dB SPL without distortion.

The reference small-diaphragm is an excellent tool for capturing the smallest details of any instrument due to its lightweight membrane and sophisticated acoustic design, which makes it the perfect choice for accurately capturing drums, percussion, acoustic guitar and overhead miking.

The K702 Anniversary Edition headphones bring a new level of precision to the line with newly designed genuine leather headband and soft velour ear pads for maximum comfort during long recording or listening sessions.  With its patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm and revolutionary flat-wire voice coil, K702 delivers pristine sound with incredible impulse and treble response.

K702’s reference-style headphones boast an over-ear, open-back design, with extremely accurate response. Its sophisticated technology allows for spacious and airy sound without compromise.

AKG’s C451 and K702 65th Anniversary Limited Edition sets both stun with a new Titan semi-gloss finish.”

AKG Introduces Three New Perception Headphones: K44, K77 and K99

March 24, 2012 by  

AKG’s Perception line of microphones has been joined by three new headphones for musicians and engineers. All three are over-ear models intended to affordably deliver high performance.

The K99 is the flagship of AKG's new Perception line.

Here’s what AKG had to say about each of their new headphone offerings – prices have not yet been announced:

“The over-ear, semi-closed design of the K44 Perception provides a powerful low end and clean highs for an excellent sound, ranging from project studios to home recording.

The K77 Perception is an over-ear, semi-closed headphone with powerful and convincing sound at an amazing value – ready to use for home or project studios.

Both products include comfortable leatherette ear pads and a self-adjusting headband for extended wear, without discomfort and a 3-meter fixed, straight cable and convertible jack.

K99’s high-performance, over-ear, semi-open headphones combine excellent sound quality with an astounding price-to-performance ratio. Its large, 40mm speakers provide a natural, uncoloured sound, ideal for the studio. K99 Perception is lightweight and self-adjusting for a pleasant fit for long sessions.”

Project Studio Toolbox: The Best Mid-Priced Condensers for $500-$1500

March 22, 2012 by  

Last week, we covered some of the best large diaphragm condenser mics around at an entry-level price of $300. This time, we’ll move up a bracket to review some of the most useful condensers available from $500 to $1,500 new.

Keep in mind that this list is no way conclusive. It only promises to offer a proven handful of options that I’ve used time and again, and which have consistently performed as some of the best in their class.

Also remember that this list focuses only on new condenser mics, and does not include ribbons, dynamics, or a whole array of used and vintage microphones that can be equally good options.

With that out of the way, here’s the roundup:

The Workhorse LDCs

Audio-Technica
AT4050 ($700 street)

Audio-Technica AT4050

As we mentioned last week, Audio-Technica was among the first companies to make condenser mics ubiquitous with their AT4033. They would ultimately take what they learned from the success of that mic and apply it to the slightly more expensive, significantly more well-rounded AT4050.

This is a mic that repeatedly fails to sound bad. It may never have the shimmer of a C12, the body of a U47, or velvety response of a U67, but it was never intended to. The 4050 was designed as an affordable, transparent, swiss-army knife and at that, it succeeds without question.

It’s a workhorse of a microphone that’s become a staple at pragmatic studios, where it’s routinely used on percussion, voice and acoustic instruments. It now occupies a niche once monopolized by the AKG C-414, and although it’s a mic may not always dazzle, it will never disappoint.

AT4047 ($700 street)

Eventually, Audio-Technica decided to build a condenser mic that would offer a little more character and attitude than the decidedly neutral AT4050.

The resulting AT4047 is a design that’s loosely based around Neumann’s classic FET 47. This mic has a bit more midrange “push” than the 4050, and I like mine on kick drums, bass amps and guitar cabs. It also suits plenty of male vocals, especially when a little body and edge are called for.

AKG
C-414 ($800-$950 street)

There may be more distinct versions of the AKG C-414 than any other major microphone in history.

C-414 XLS

For those of you who are confused by all the models, I recommend the audio history of the C414 I wrote for Trust Me, I’m a Scientist. And for those of you who are in the market for a new mic, just know that there are currently two versions of the 414 available: the relatively flat XLS and the intentionally brighter XL-II.

I’m still a fan of my vintage versions of this mic, but the newest models are well-built, and address some issues I had with the original pattern switches. Their self noise has also been brought down significantly.

To my ear, these new versions sound a little leaner and tighter than some of the originals, but this might be well suited to modern tastes. It’s also worth remembering that the differences can sound slight to some ears.

However your tastes run, the 414 has been a studio staple since it was first introduced, and it’s still a natural choice on drum overheads, stringed acoustic instruments, horns, pianos, amps, and just about anything you can throw at it. I tend to like the brighter “II” versions on acoustic guitars and voice.

M-Audio
Sputnik ($700-800 street)

M-Audio Sputnik

The Sputnik is a funny-looking, affordable tube microphone that’s much better than I expected. According to its product literature, it was designed to sound like a hybrid of two of the most classic mics in history, and aims to deliver the upper midrange bump of the U47 and the high-end lift of a C12.

This can be a recipe for disaster in most inexpensive mics, but somehow the Sputnik pulls it off. It has a sound that’s forward and clear with just a bit of attitude and tube grit. It may not a great choice on already bright-sounding instruments, but the Sputnik can add life to dull-sounding tracks without taking them into the realm of irritation.

The Sputnik is a good character condenser for a mic locker in need of some zest on the cheap. It sounds more balanced than many affordable, bright condenser mics and there a closeout deals on this now-discontinued model at several dealers.

The SDCs

AKG
C 451 B ($580 Street)

For some reason, people seem to have forgotten all about the AKG C 451 B. It’s a small-diaphragm design that hasn’t changed too much over the years. At one time it was one of the best bets in small diaphragm condenser mics. Today, it still delivers a sound that’s pretty, clean, and crisp, and still does well on acoustic stringed instruments and in all sorts of tight places. The price hasn’t risen too much over the years, either.

Oktava
MK-012 ($380+ street)

Oktava MK-012

The Oktava MK-012 has become one of the most popular small diaphragm condensers of the past ten years, thanks in part to rave reviews in Tape Op Magazine and online. These mics are affordable, versatile and a great deal when purchased in pairs.

To my ears, the sound of the MK012s is a bit more broad and “throaty” than some of the other popular SDCs on the market. I like them on hi-hats, toms, and on sensitive acoustic instruments that don’t agree with brighter-sounding condensers.

Neumann
KM-184 ($850 street)

Neumann makes a few mics for under $1,500, but the one I think deserves serious consideration at most studios is the KM-184.

Detractors say that this mic isn’t as silky or smooth as the original KM84. That’s true, and by design, the KM-184 offers a bit more presence than the originals. This seems to be a general trend across microphone brands, and some engineers argue that using a slightly brighter mic saves them from applying the equalizers they’d reach for otherwise.

Despite the changes over the years, the KM-184 remains a well-balanced mic that can be great on acoustic guitars, string instruments, snare drums and others. If you can find an original at a good price – then yes – those are definitely nice too.

Also worth a look: the beyerdynamic MC 901 and 903, Earthworks mics, and anything from Schoeps.

The “Blue Collar Boutiques”

Bock 195

Bock Audio
195 ($1,000 street)

The Bock Audio 195 is a big, clean-sounding mic with a special “fat” switch designed to deliver extra heft. It’s a good deal on a good FET condenser from one of the best makers of high-end boutique microphones in the world.

Mojave
MA-200 ($1000 street)

Want a bright, airy, affordable microphone that sounds really good? The MA-200 has one tube, one polar pattern and one sound that works especially well on voice. This mic has quite a bit of lift in the high band, but it never sounds sizzly, spitty or harsh.

The MA-200′s silky, enhanced top-end is what I often want a mic to sound like when I’m done EQing it. It’s not always the right mic, but when it is, it can be the perfect mic. Try it on voice, overheads and acoustic guitar.

Peluso
22 251 and 2247 ($1,300 street)

Peluso 22 251

Peluso makes excellent re-interpretations of the classic Neumann U47, AKG C12, and others for a fraction of the price. Models start at a list price of around $1,500 and go up from there. In a similar vein, Lawson and Telefunken are also worth a look, although both companies tend toward at a higher price-point.

That’s it from us from now. Stay tuned for future roundups featuring favorite dynamics and ribbons. And as the economy continues to improve, don’t be surprised to see us run features on some of the most coveted condensers around.

In the meantime, feel free to share your own favorites in the comments section below.

Justin Colletti is a Brooklyn recording engineer and studio journalist. He is a regular contributor to SonicScoop and edits the music blog Trust Me, I’m A Scientist.

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