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Tamas Dragon Posts

New rig

There are times when the family have to grow. We knew that for some time now, as many times we got stuck with the current mix and edit stations. So, from today, another Pro Tools HD Native rig is serving as an edit and premix station with an Avid Omni interface.


We choose the HD Native Thunderbolt because with this we can simply grab the box and go out with a laptop and a Madi i/o, just as we did with the Domingo recording. For a more compact and possibly relocatable station we used the Sonnet xMacPro Server with the additional MacPro migration edition. With that we can easily have more hard disk if needed.

The MacPro inside is the same 6-core with 64GB of Ram as the others in our studios. All Macs has the very same OS version as well as the same Pro Tools and plugins installed hence all systems are interchangeable and could serve as a backup or replacement.

The Sonnet case is very quiet and obviously the rack mountable feature is a huge plus. I still think that not everyone needs a mountable option like this, but it’s good know that the Sonnet one for example has plenty of options.

The new kid performs very well, already recorded 6 concerts and edited at least 8 without any issue. Also probably it will become one of our early release test rig.

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Upgraded to Nimbus

As you probably know I’m quite a big fan of Exponential Audio’s reverbs. Beside the fact that they are amongst the very best sounding reverbs, it always amazes me when a small shop deliver something that truly change the scene, and does this only with their product. Without overly loud obnoxious marketing. Without unnecessary and unkept promises. Exponential Audio is in fact does the opposite. They not only keep their promises, but gives us more than their promised.

Before the release

First of all, anyone who’s ever owned any of their product is eligible for the discounted upgrade, although the introduction price is very fair in my opinion.

Since they announced Nimbus was coming, I was excited. Honestly I thought I didn’t need another reverb, but at the same time I knew Michael wouldn’t announce something that is only a minor facelift. Then, as more and more information came to light, I started to plan, what if it’s really that good I’ll want to upgrade at the minute is coming out? Then heard the examples on their page and felt that this is probably going to be my next purchase. But, I’m really a picky old cynic when it comes to choosing my reverbs.


So while I was really liked all the things I’ve read and heard, it was obvious that I need the demo to test it in my lab. Literally minutes after the official launch I immediately grabbed the demo. Loaded my trusty test session to hear what Nimbus could do.

For me two basic things are very important about reverbs. One is of course it must sound fabulous, and it must be very easy to achieve the best result easily. It’s not about laziness. It’s about maintaining the focus. If you have to tweak things endlessly, all your energy will be wasted on technical details instead of the creative side. So, achieving great results rapidly is a must.

Welcome to the preset library. Tons of spectacular presets are there to get you started. The navigation makes it even easier to find the right one. Up and down arrow let’s you change the category (plate, hall, etc.) while left and right arrow goes through the presets.

Without further ado, after about an hour of testing, I immediately bought the upgrade.


What it can do for us

Well, honestly I think the time has come to unplug your hardware reverbs. I mean it! The immediate feeling when I instantiated the plugin was that it is all that many felt missing from the plugin reverbs. It is such an amazing thing that it can be dirty, old-school, more modern or even unbelievably clean. After a day it has a permanent place in my template sessions.

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S6 software 2.2 new things #3

From the inception of the S6 I thought this was going to be the smartest surface on the planet, and frankly, it nearly already is. Here’s another addition which makes it even more valuable.

Virtual strips

As early adopters, for more than a year we had the simple layouts. Those are simply custom layers, a kind of build your own custom fader bank and save it type feature. From the start, it was huge. Having multiple layouts, able to easily create and recall them is a huge time saver during a mix.

The only limitation was we could only build layouts the size of our real surface. For example we have 24 faders, so I could build layouts that has 24 slots, that’s it. I think this was a feature request by many of us to have so called virtual layouts that go beyond the real hardware.

With version 2.2 we have the ability to build bigger layouts. To have them, first we need to change a setting on the S6. Go to the track view, then tap the local option (gear) icon. There you can see the option slider Number of strips in Layout. Here you can define your desired number.

virtual layout settings

My method. We have 24-fader units, so I choose to have 48 strips in one layout. Why? Because this way the layout is still small enough to see through while big enough to handle many things at once, and as an added bonus, with one button I can navigate from 1-24 to 25-48 and back. It’s simple and efficient.

Quick tip

As a goodie now we can also bank from the surface with the User buttons, no need to reach for the buttons on the Master module. This way it’s even quicker to fly through my 48 strip layouts.

This new User button banking also works in normal mode, without any layout defined. As you can find these on every fader module, it really doesn’t matter where you sit.

Modifying layouts

Also some very nice improvements here. The first and probably most valuable for me is that they hidden the Clear All command. It was there all the time and honestly I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally deleted my whole layout. It’s available if you need it, you have to use the Master Module’s shift and it appears on the screen.

layout editing 1

Some other truly great add-ons are the Insert, Delete and Clear Strip commands. Now we can modify our precious layouts with much more freedom than before. On complicated live broadcast mixes and score mixes I deliberately planned the layouts ahead because modifying them was somewhat inconvenient. It was possible, but not as easy as now. Forgot something? Insert it and the rest will adjust automatically. The same goes if you have more than you need. Just one command and the extra channel disappears from your layout, the rest, of course, readjusts. Stay tuned for even more!

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Slate VMR lack of mapping

Early on I liked the sound of Slate plugins, although we had many issues with them, it really seemed that they care and will make things right. After a certain amount of time it wasn’t really encouraging that their support always answered every question or request with one not really informative sentence.

For example I reported to them the fact that their VMR is practically unusable because the mapping is not telling you anything about the inserted processor. So instead of displaying Neve Low-Gain, it only shows A01. And it still A01 if you change the process order.

When I reported this to them, the answer was simple: “yes, it’s a known issue, please read knownissues.pdf”

And the rest is silence…

I commented on forums how bad this mapping is, but it seems they really ignore this issue. Even got messages telling me that according to some insider info, they are working on this.

Well, few days ago Slate released a new update and guess what, they didn’t do anything with the Eucon mapping. This is their idea of mapping in 2016:

slate eucon mapping

I think it’s sad. I know there won’t be a billions of control surfaces, but these issues certainly alter the decision process about what to buy and what to leave alone.

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S6 software 2.2 new things #2

The next thing that I think many active users love or going to love is some new Soft keys. Some of it could be done already but only if you took the time to look them up and then program them to a custom page. Now, some very important ones are already there to use them.


More and more manufacturers adopt the S6 as a monitor controller option. This means that now not only Xmon users enjoy the benefit of the monitor section, but many more, like DAD, Trinnov system (based on Xmon), Cranesong working on it, Colinbroad.

Now we have a custom page just for the monitoring options.

soft key monitoring

We could only do this from the dedicated monitoring section of the S6, which is fine but I’ve found it a bit more distracting and more importantly it was slower. Now, on the Soft keys, we can easily choose the sources (can’t rename them yet) and the speakers (custom names can be added).

soft key monitoring 2

During a score mix it’s a great help when I focus on different speakers for checking certain things. It’s right in front of me so no distraction during the mix process.

New features

Some new features added to the Soft key set like freeze, commit and bounce for example. In my opinion it’s really important that the developers constantly improve the workflow with the S6 and Pro Tools, not just adding random new things to the feature list.

Some other factory app set changes include the new Wheel behaviour. These are the new mapped functions:

s6 wheel mapping

Now this is a very convenient and simplified version, prior to this update we had to use the shift key on the surface to access some of these functions. Now we only have to use the purple shift key next to the wheel.

Other very nice add-on is if you build your custom sets, Eucon command now auto-named, which is great as it really speeds up the process.

If you made a really good custom Soft key set, then it’s a good idea to save it. You can find it here: C:\ProgramData\Avid\App sets

This way you can save and reload your own Soft key set anytime you need it. Stay tuned for more!

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