Pucho's 2012 aes report

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pucho812

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Well once again another AES show has come and gone. It's time to take a brief breather and write up the AES report for 2012.  Note that all opinions are of the author and do not reflect in any way the opinions of gdiy or management and the like. I dunno isn't that how disclaimers are supposed to sound.  So where do I start?

the beginning is usually a good place and since I already started off with a show stopper might as well repost that.
got into town Thursday evening,catching a great jazz band and having a mint Julip. Spent Friday getting my aes badge and scoping the city. Found out marijuana is smoked everywhere and getting caught with it is as serious as a parking ticket, it's an infraction.  Not that I do that or ever did but interesting to know and definitely explains the odor. I also had the unpleasant experience of seeing a random stranger(male) walking down the street completely naked except for a back pack and shoes. He was totally oblivious to the whole world. I come to find out from a taxi driver that it is complete legal in public and that the city council voted it legal in public provided that if they choose to sit down,they must sit down on a towel. Nothing I want to see and if it was a lady I still would not want to see it. Friday evening was met with a gathering at coast recorders. I was unaware that the studio was originally designed by Bill Putnam. Is there any town/city he did not design a studio in? It was a very nice place and lately has been converted into Michael Romanowski mastering having two mastering suits as well as  still keeping the original Putnam tracking space and using it for recording/mixing. Coast boasts my fave in console a RND 5088. For those who may remember, I installed one at a private studio only to have it removed less then a month later due to it not having the best in sonics for audio as well as the mechanical fan noise in each bucket. Funny how the main tracking guy mentioned the fans to me without even me starting down that road. 8) The solution of course is to run lower voltages with the surface mount parts inside but that's a whole other story all together. Anyway The michael and the rest of the gang at coast were very gracious hosts and they do have a very nice spot that is not over the top but just the right amount of everything. I felt very comfortable there and it was easy to hear how great the putnam room sounded. A bite to eat at the stinking rose Friday evening and a night cap.

Saturday started the first Day the exhibit floor was open, the home studio expo and the usual lectures/seminars.  I hit the exhibit floor with very specific things in mind and wanted to catch key exhibitors early before any of the usual knuckle heads would show up. Every year the exhibit floor seems to get smaller, long gone are the days of console after large analog console and huge booths by Mercenary and the like. It's sad but I guess a sign of the times, plus it's a good way to separate from Namm. I first headed off to the undertone audio booth. You may remember them and me discussing their crazy console. It's crazy in a good way. Over 6 years in development. Anyway fast forward to now 8 years in development and they have finished what will be a mic pre/eq outboard channel strip. It's the exact eq's used in the console and has a mic pre attached to it. I was unable to test the mic pre but the eq alone is worth it. Plus the mic pre can be completely separate from the eq so you could be using the preamp side on one thing and then eq something else.  A very useful feature. Cost will be fairly inexpensive coming in around 2K. But I am not 100% on that. IIRC that is what they were saying.  Speaking of Undertone, they have gotten into the fairchild market. They make a really cool looking 670 vibe called the unfairchild. It is basicly a 670 on steroids offering many unique options that the originals didn't have, for example they had a feedback/feed forward switch.  :eek: all in all these guys have done their math and are doing some great stuff. I would have them best in show if it wasn't for the boys from Tree Audio. B-lined it to the tree booth to see what I had heard rumors about and to see what's in puchos went dreams. The guys from Tree are making a tube hybrid console where each channel has tubes and the summing to stereo/mono is done via doa's. They come in flavors of 8 and 16 channels and I cannot stop showing off the pic I took of their booth. Everyone who sees it goes holy crap I want it or something along those lines. Boy does it sound great and even better for the average person like me who may not be able to afford such an item, they will be doing channel strips.  the console and the strips both have mic pre, eq, limiter which just sounds awesome.  From there I had to go see the Raven by steven slate digital. I heard such a buzz about it that it peeked my interest even though most digital has me running for the toilet. But went by the Slate audio booth to see this thing. It's a big touch screen surface that they stuck some vu meters on it, added a monitor section, and made a nice looking gui for pro tools. The touch screen is about the size of your standard flat screen tv I am guessing 32 inches. It is multi-touch but not capacitive touch like a ipad. I found it to lag when making real quick moves and I found it hard to determine the sonic quality of the master section. I will be nice and say it was because they were using monitors that no one had heard before, slate monitors.  But anyway  it didn't do it for me and once you get over the cool toy factor it's nothing more then an Avid Icon. By that I mean it controls pro tools and has a monitor section. Now the one question I didn't get to ask Slate was what protocol he was using to control pro tools. I would hate to think his fancy expensive touch screen is controlling pro tools via HUI protocol. I didn't get to ask and the gathering of the young who were praising him drove me away with my head shaking.  leaving that place I ran into the man the legend Dave pensado. We caught up a bit on what's new and such, grabbed a photo op and talked with his producers of the show about a future episode or two.  Left pensado to chat up Mike Spits from ATR service. Mike is awesome and pretty funny. Plus he is way to the point, nice to hear that they now are getting a yield of over 90% when making tape runs. I spoke to him about some other tape brand and how it wasn't cut to the right width when we were given a reel to test. It left a bad taste in my mouth.  I am used to other problems with tape but never had a reel from any company cut to the wrong width. Basically had a 2" that was not exactly right so the tape was moving slightly up and down as it didn't fit the guides right. it caused all kinds of issues as we thought we had a major alignment problem. But it was the tape and my atr tape never did that. More over it was only for the first minute in. ATR tape for me, I say. Mike was a pleasure to chat up and if you guys ever have tape questions, he is the guy to talk to. A few more booths and lunch. After lunch got back to the show and hit up the boys at api. Man their vision console is pretty cool and far less expensive then i thought it would be. their might be one in pucho's future. maybe maybe? Aside from the usual convention center happenings there is always a demo at other studios in the area as well as the technical tours. We left to go to a studio for a demo of blue mics and some other manufactures. We were sold on the idea of  free beer. We got there and the place looked like it was falling apart, their old neve was missing all kinds of things and the empty buckets were covered with thick plastic. Plus the console was missing the wood trim. That says a lot right there, so we didn't stay long. The day came to a close and it was studio parties in the evening. Started off at the GS afterglow party which is always good for free drinks and laughs. It was hosted at Studio trilogy again. That studio is quite the sexy looking studio, the obviously spared no expense when constructing. It was a good evening until I ran into a mastering engineer, who loved to talk over you and basically if you didn't hear what he heard you were inferior. For example he was going on about how he can hear the difference between 2 different hard drives, which is beyond me because after writing and error correction how do you really know? but instead of trying to explain it to me, he basically talked down to me as if I was inferior for not hearing it. It was crazy, and not nearly as packed as they promised. The usual crowd was there and it was an o.k. time. From there we went to hyde st studios for another AES after party. They do this one ever year in SF and yeah it was the same crowd there too. The Studio looks run down  but it is a classic(wally hider from back in the day) and they offered me a tech job if I wanted to move. With the way things are right now, I'm content where I am at.

Started Sunday with a few things on my mind. Bob ludwig and is seminar about mastering for Itunes and the new Mfit things and leaving town at some point. Hit the show and grab photos of some things as well has a long coffee breakfast discussion about where the industry is heading, etc, etc... You know the usual stuff Audio professionals discuss. Right now it's a great time to be around as there is so many tools available to the average person yet at the same time all these tools are not creating better music. Pet sounds and Sgt. Pepper's both done using limited gear and recording techniques yet both are amazing and timeless. I often say that I own a hammer but I am not a carpenter. Why is it that everyone who owns a recording daw calls themselves an engineer?  But I dunno, there is a lot to look forward too.  Sunday was rushed all around as were most of my days there. I missed the mastering for itunes and the whole mfit. Although that is data you can get online something more official when Bob is talking about it. Alot of companies I didn't see this time Some I knew would not be there, others like Avid were a shock to not see there. All in all it seemed real low key this time, as if people were hunkered down for the impending storm or something. Some bright moments for sure but  it just didn't seem to have to usual spark aes has. Maybe it's because I am used to it being bigger, who knows. Anyway aes 2014 is in L.A. whoever is out here for that, hit pucho up. I will post some pics tonight when i get in and I may edit some of this who knows.
 

tommypiper

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Pucho, post the pics!  I swear I saw you on the floor Monday several times.  Were you wearing a Slash top hat?  Good thing I didn't go up and make a fool of myself. 

I was out of sorts all weekend and didn't make the show until Monday.  It was the most deserted I'd ever seen at an AES.  Everyone said Saturday was packed, though. 

I didn't keep notes or have an agenda and was not into Gear Nerd Mode™ or Schmooz Mode©™ so at first I felt like I was in a time-warp and wondering, what the hell am I doing here and why are there all these shiny metal cylinder thingies on stands everywhere?

Of course they were microphones.  The trend I mentioned many shows ago continues, like every third booth was selling microphones.  Only one or two new companies that I spotted, and some companies were absent, but everyone had new models.  Man it was overwhelming, just the number and variety.  Telefunken, Wes Dooley's ribbons, Dave Royer, Cheapo-but-good Cascade, Oliver Archut with his stunning U47 bodies and parts, just for starters, ad infinitum, etc, on and on. 

The second trend I spotted several shows ago is also still in force, which is the boutique analog makers, which you focused some highlights on, Pucho.  I find it a positive sign, so many companies making so many different things, very close to hand-made, or even hand-made in the USA, one by one.  Established examples of course are DW Fearn, Shadow Hills, etc.  Seemed like everyone is doing a Fairchild 760 take, or a Pultec, even a Neve clone, etc.  Plus many inventive designs.

One quick example, I really enjoyed trying out the Cloudlifter Z box which varies the impedence of your pre line for micrphones, using a small buffer amp running on phantom.  Radical different tones were available just rotating the Z pot.  Lots of gadgets everywhere, each with its own story to tell, many of them interesting.

Had some good chats with many.  There was virtually no floor traffic Monday afternoon, so it was easy to strike up chats with anyone.  I warmed up to the show, but by closing I was ready to go.  I didn't miss not making any of the parties.

Avid not being there, even though they were a sponsor, could be a signal of financial stress.  So many other DAWs are competing successfully.  Final Cut Pro was eating Avid's video lunch until recently, but in any case the gravy days seem to be over for Avid.  Combined with the boom in Chinese manufacturing, mikes of all varieties, boutique analog makers, overall, I think it's all a sign of the times.  Diversification, eclectic and varied products, and of course plug ins, still strongly based on the original analog models (consoles, channel strips, comkpressors, etc) are spreading out the market for many musicians and project studios.  The old big commercial studio model has crashed.  It still survives, but without robustness.  Apple, "the computer for the rest of us" revolution it helped bring, has opened up professional quality recording and producing to the masses.  Or at least everyone can buy a basic rig make a CD and sell it on the web.  The result, as Pucho said, is not better music.  But the bottleneck of recording, the centralized control (by labels and studios), which used to require a hefty budget and a big studio and a trained engineer, and ideally a record deal -- has gone.  I say (as someone who regularly picked fights with boneheaded engineers) that's all for the good.  No one is making a great living on music or recording anymore, though, yet decentralization is generally better and at least we are all having more fun and access to recording is finally democratized to a greater degree than before.  Anyway, it's all good, and it's all right there one hand shake away at AES.
 

desol

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Thanks for the report guys! The mastering engineer sounds like schmuck...even if he could hear a difference between drives.
 

JohnRoberts

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If you can hear the hard drive, it's probably broken.. time to replace it.  I wouldn't let that puke master anything.
------
Thanks for the report... Sorry you got exposed to the "freedom" that SF cherishes.  8)

My biggest disappointment about SF happened years ago when I ran into two pretty girls in my hotel bar, and found out that they were already set for the evening (with each other)...  :'(

JR
 

pucho812

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Thanks John, To be honest it wasn't that bad but just odd ya know.

Anyway as per request here are some photos.

For starters the AES bookstore had some great books worth picking up
IMG_0005.jpg

IMG_0006.jpg


It's nice to see some companies still promoting large format analog consoles.

Here we have an API and an ssl. The SSL has the optional winged frame they are known for and is now available if you wish to spend the extra money. On the bright side for existing duality owners there is new software upgrades with a host of new features. Most notable focus fader which can make the master fader in the center section control  any of the channel faders. Handy for when you are mixing and do not wish to leave to mix position. The API is just bad ass. Nothing new on that end but I come to find out they are less expensive then I thought. the one in the photo is around 550K.
IMG_0011.jpg

IMG_0012.jpg



Next we have the moog doing what they do best. On the right is the moog filter in a 500 series format. On the left is the new moog analog delay in a 500 series format. Talk about cool and boy did it sound awesome. it also boast the ability to change delay feedback via control pedal if so desired. way cool option.
IMG_0016.jpg



Here we have one of the two contenders for best in show undertone audio
This is their channel strip that was designed after their unique console. Only difference is the console does not have mic pres.  The second photo is their unfairchild, a 670 on steroids. It has a lot of unique features that a regular 670 does not have.
IMG_0017.jpg

IMG_0018.jpg


Next we have the other contender for Best in Show and I must admit  if I have to pick a winner it's this right here. This is a custom tube/doa hybrid console made by the guys at tree audio. It sounds every bit as good as it looks and the rotary faders are stepped.  This console plus an 8 trk 1" machine is all I need. Seriously it sounds bad ass. For the light on the pocket book, there will be an outboard channel strip with the same stuff coming soon.
IMG_0026.jpg



Lastly we have the slate raven. A nice big fat touch screen with vu meters and monitor section. The raven is designed to control pro tools. It has multi-touch but is not capacitive touch so who cares. I was not impressed and once you get past the cool toy factor it really is not that special.
IMG_0021.jpg



I have other photos but those are the ones I wanted to highlight,

you can catch the photos here at photobucket.
http://s6.photobucket.com/albums/y236/pucho812/AES%202012/
 

fazer

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Thanks Pucho for report and Pictures.  Great Job!

The Tube hybrid console makes me think about a full version of Ians Tube mixer. 

Michael
 

Matt Ward

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"Final Cut Pro was eating Avid's video lunch until recently, but in any case the gravy days seem to be over for Avid."

TBH that's just rubbish.  One doesn't have to be a fan of Avid to acknowledge that in the professional arena they are still eating everyone for breakfast.  Final Cut died in the serious video stakes with X and pretty much destroyed any good will they may have earnt (and quite rightly too - Apple took their market for granted and thought they could dictate how people worked).

On the audio side, unfortunately AVID don't have to turn up to AES.  They've saturated most of the pro market and now their potential growth lies lower down the food chain.  I'd love to see someone give them a real run for their money but no-one big enough has the appetite.  I'm enjoying playing with Reaper but I wouldn't want to record an orchestra with it.
 

tommypiper

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Matt Ward said:
"Final Cut Pro was eating Avid's video lunch until recently, but in any case the gravy days seem to be over for Avid."

TBH that's just rubbish.  One doesn't have to be a fan of Avid to acknowledge that in the professional arena they are still eating everyone for breakfast.  Final Cut died in the serious video stakes with X and pretty much destroyed any good will they may have earnt (and quite rightly too - Apple took their market for granted and thought they could dictate how people worked).

On the audio side, unfortunately AVID don't have to turn up to AES.  They've saturated most of the pro market and now their potential growth lies lower down the food chain.  I'd love to see someone give them a real run for their money but no-one big enough has the appetite.  I'm enjoying playing with Reaper but I wouldn't want to record an orchestra with it.

Avid was charging astronomical pricing for its video editing suites prior to FCP.  When FCP arrived, Avid's product pricing plummeted, as did its stock price.  It never recovered.

FCP X is ahead of its time and is steadily regaining all the features everyone bitched about being dropped from the previous FCP (which had many, many fans).  Many pro editors are using X.  (The fact everyone bitched so loudly shows you a hint about the extent of its user base.) 

Your interpretation of "took their market for granted and thought they could dictate how people worked" is absurd and pure opinion.  Every software maker builds what they think works, and therefore could fit your quoted opinion to "dictate how people worked."  Even this message board would fit that opinion, because the software requires you to post a message with their tools, the way they have made it work, thus "dictate(d) how people worked."  ;)

Actually, Avid took the video market for granted, and Apple showed them they had to lower their pricing and adapt when FCP was introduced.  The numbers prove that.  It's known history.

It's a similar story with PT.  Pricing has dropped.  (Hardware sales, particularly.)  I don't see much of a growth market lower down the food chain, which you mention.  Between Reaper and Logic and DP and others, where's the growth and margin going to come from?

Sign of the times.  Diversity and eclectic products.  Just sayin.

Pucho, thanks for the pics and captions!
 

fazer

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From Pucho:  which one? the one at 16 tone recording.


I was thinking about Ian from ruff records Tube console.  I see his modules turned into a console that looks like Audio Tree's Tube Hybrid console. 

Audio Trees Metalwork reminds me of the green UA tube console  that Heider had that was sold to Neil Young.  I see Ians mic/eq modules built in that kind of frame.    I'm not familiar with 16 tone recording.

Michael
 

pucho812

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oh we were thinking of two different Ian's. 16 ton recording is a studio in nashville that the guys from tree audio built them a custom tube console.


here it a pic

25298d1160817714-remember-cool-console-pic-music-row-small.jpg
 

Matt Ward

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Sorry Tommy, I just don't agree with you.  Of course it's just my opinion, but it's not absurd.  Sure, Avid's pricing and share price may have plummeted but they're doing fine, and in serious facilities eating FCP / Logic / Reaper for breakfast.  That's just my opinion formed from what I've seen every day over the last 5 years.
 

fazer

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16 Ton.  That is a thing of beauty and practical.  It could heat my basement in the winter.  Colorado you know. 
 

pucho812

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fazer said:
16 Ton.  That is a thing of beauty and practical.  It could heat my basement in the winter.  Colorado you know.

Yes  it is a tube doa hybrid with 24 tube input strips and 24 monitor section that is all DOA.

did I ever tell you about my trip to lone tree. Yeah it a suburb of Denver but I had family there for a while. flew into denver and nearly had a near miss because the air traffic control guys tried to land my plane on top of another plane parked on the runway. Good thing  the guy flying my plane caught the error in time and aborted the landing with about less then 20 feet to ground, and the engines at full. It was a moment i will never forget.
 

Gold

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I like that the conventions are getting smaller. In the earlier part of the decade when I went to a booth it generally took more than a few seconds for the person manning the booth to realize I was asking real questions. Not so for the last few. The quality of attendees seems to be going up if the numbers are going down.

My favorite thing were the offerings from this company http://www.studiosixdigital.com/  Pretty amazing test stuff for very little money. Especially is you have an iOS device already. I haven't tried them yet but i will soon.
 

fazer

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Puncho: Thats a scary flight.  I remember hearing something on the news about that.  Might do it for me.  My daughter won't fly.


Gold:  Don't have an iPhone but those programs look great.    I see there are some android apps.  Bookmarked it.
 

Gold

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fazer said:
Gold:  Don't have an iPhone but those programs look great.    I see there are some android apps.  Bookmarked it.


That the hardware and software are calibrated is impressive to me. Calibrating the calibration equipment isn't something I want to do. That's the problem with software only.  $199 for a decent calibrated test microphone and another $79 to run Smaart. That's practically free. $400 for a line, mic  and spdif  interface. There's a Josephson calibrated mic for about $430. I have no connection to the company.
 

mushy

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Matt Ward said:
Sorry Tommy, I just don't agree with you.  Of course it's just my opinion, but it's not absurd.  Sure, Avid's pricing and share price may have plummeted but they're doing fine, and in serious facilities eating FCP / Logic / Reaper for breakfast.  That's just my opinion formed from what I've seen every day over the last 5 years.

Regardless of ones opinion, Avid is NOT doing fine. Market share does not equal profit.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-10-22/avid-technology-shares-tumble-on-3q-outlook
 

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