Skip to content

Tag: nuendo

Marathon

This weekend we’re going to have a Brahms marathon. From about 10 at the morning till 10 at night we’ll have 11 concerts. From piano pieces through clarinet quintet to the great symphonies. This definitely sounds interesting, but not only because we love Brahms, but it is also exciting technically.

Preproduction

We have to consider all the various needs of the different crews. We have the three separate crews from the National Radio, three video crews and our main crew. Why so many? Because the whole act will be broadcasted live through the Radio and online. All the concerts. Besides that we record everything (obviously).

The National Radio uses a Studer Vista 8 console and another very old vintage Studer for the interviews. All the video crews will receive sound from us as we mix live from two studios. As we already did it like this last year, the two main rigs will be a Pro Tools HD 12.6.1 and a Steinberg Nuendo 7. Control surface will be the Avid S6.

As you can guess at this scale we need serious backups. Two Joeco MADI recorders and one Pro Tools and one Nuendo will serve as safety backups so both stages has its own main rig and double-backup just in case.

All the complicated routing is going through the DoTec MADI router which has its own backup. I think we don’t use any equipment without a proper backup that day.

Templates

As we receive all the technical details a few days before the live broadcast we make master templates in every workstation. This way no matter who’s going to mix a particular concert, everyone knows where to find things. At this scale you simply cannot let chaos prevail.

This year I thought we might have the chance to do a very interesting experiment. In Pro Tools all the channel strips will be the Brainworx bx console which is a fantastic Neve emulation. Basically I built a “Neve console” inside Pro Tools. First I modified the default preset. No gate, compressor is active but start to work from -10 dBFS with a 2:1 ratio, eq is engaged but flat, lo-pass off, high-pass engaged at its lowest setting, noise off.

I took the time and set up the whole session like if it was a real console, all channels have different channel numbers in the Neve emulation. If you are even remotely familiar with this old console, it’s a pretty clean console with gorgeous filters. I already tried it on a few different sources, but now I think the time has come to really experience what this channel strip emulation can offer when we really use it as it is intended to be used. Let’s hear if the new Tolerance Modelling Technology has that intangible plus sonically.

All the input channels goes through at least one audio subgroup, then from that particular group all the audio groups routed to a sum bus. All instrument mics goes through at least one audio subgroup and the sum group except the audience and announcer mics, those directly goes to the final mix group. With this I can separately adjust the balance between the orchestra, the audience and the announcer. Although everything is planned properly usually life always entertain us with some unexpected surprises. That’s why I planned separate groups for everything.

The audio subgroups has the very same processing:

After those there is a final master processing chain:

The Active-fixed EQ is our housekeeper, removing any nasty frequency build-up or resonance, maybe subtly adding a tiny amount where needed. The TLA is really there for very soft massage, just kissing the needle or as we say “slowly nodding a bit” and even that is with 50-50 dry-wet ratio. The Brainworx is doing some M/S magic and a little mono-maker helps too. The Vertigo is optional, sometimes it’s the real magic dust, sometimes it just stays there in bypass. The Maag EQ is one of our favourite tone shaper while the API 2500 is my first choice for 2bus compression. The ProLimiter is there as a true peak limiter and has a fantastic metering so no other 3rd party meter is needed during the mix.

It might seem too much but keep in mind that these plugins are are doing very little things. But I decided I rather put them into the template than try to improvise during the rehearsals or the live broadcast. With this there’s no situation you cannot solve easily.

The effect chain has been selected to serve every possible need. Those are tried and tested. The room is the Eventide 2016 Stereo room, the plate, the chamber and one hall is made from Exponential Audio’s Nimbus, and the last hall is Exponential Audio’s R2 reverb.

Here’s the simplified structure of the session:

session structure

This is the first time I try to mix with a console emulation live so now I check and practice the Eucon mapping daily to get accustomed to it. The beauty of a proper control surface is that you become much faster because of muscle memory. There are still some black spots but it seems that the Bx console is nicely mapped. One tricky spot is its dynamics section as you have to learn and feel the threshold, but once you get familiar with it, it’s great.

Of course, all the mixes must adhere to the latest EBU standard with a target loudness of -23LUFS, while the online broadcast is going to be at -18LUFS.

I hope everything is going to be flawless with this much preparation. Wish me luck.

Comments closed

Upgrade day

During the busy Christmas season it’s very hard to find time to upgrade software, and normally I try to avoid such rapid upgrades, but as we planned, it was clear that if we don’t do it now, we won’t have time for this for months. Not that we couldn’t live without upgrade, but as we have multiple S6s, Pro Tools and Nuendo workstations, Artist series controllers, everybody felt the need of the new functions, only available in the new software versions.

Plan, prepare, execute

Before the big upgrade, honestly weeks weeks before that we started to test everything. Installed Nuendo 7 demos, upgraded one S6 and one Pro Tools workstation and used them constantly to find out if something weird happen.

As usual, I was the test dummy for the Pro Tools & S6 rig. But frankly, the upgrades has been so stable so far that I wasn’t worried a bit. Tested this rig in many situations from live broadcast mix to post production chores and it was really flawless. Honestly I can’t really remember the last time I had a crash with Pro Tools and the S6 (knock on wood…).

So finally, the day has come. Well, we searched for it…

We had a full day “offline” without any need for those studios. It was a fully official upgrade day!

S6

I started with the S6 as it needs not only a simple install, but a tedious authorisation process in order to use the new software version. I think it’s because of the new subscription model, Avid need to check if we have a support plan. I could live without the long activation numbers, but it doesn’t take that long to active the new version, and if your S6 is happened to be connected to the internet, then it’s a much easier process. The whole process went as usual, after the software upgrade I needed to initiate a module update as well.

S6 upgrade in progress… #Avid #S6 #ProTools

A photo posted by Tamas Dragon (@tamasdragon) on

 

Workstations

A bit of maintenance on the OSX side and I was already into Pro Tools and plugin installation for a while as we received some plugins with the Pro Tools annual plan. One thing to remember though, the additional plugins are not the same as if you bought them. They are tied to your subscription, so you can use them as long as you pay the monthly/yearly plan. Still, I think it’s a nice addition as for example we didn’t have to buy all Pro series plugins for all the workstations, we got them with the yearly plans. If you do the math, it’s a really good deal to us.

Everything went well, although I was wishing for a bundle installers with the plugins…

On the Mac, all went well, however, the Windows side needed some trickery. By default, the HP workstations only had one network card, we installed the second in order to have a separate data and controller network. But it turns out that during the boot process the two cards initialised at different times, so we need to delay the Eucon startup a bit to gain ample time for the operating system to get the hardware ready. Once the Eucon is delayed, all things came to life perfectly at every boot up.

During the tests everything seemed to be working perfectly, just as we hoped and tested before. Right now, all the Windows machines run Win7 with Nuendo7, all the Macs has Yosemity with Pro Tools 12. So far so good. 🙂

2 Comments

How a birthday party looks like

At least here, in the Palace of Arts Budapest. Well, it looks like chaos from the outside. Lots of things to see and hear, so many concerts and cultural activities that you can hardly select your favourites. Behind the scenes though, all the studios are on full throttle. It’s like a huge festival on steroids. We record almost everything (multitrack) while mixing for live web-stream and internet radio and serving the OB van outside the building. Yes, although we have the largest in-built studio department in the country, during the next two days we’re going to have so many things to record-mix-stream that we need additional OB van to take care some of the occasions.

I thought it would be interesting to know what arsenal we use for this huge marathon. So, in a nutshell, here’s the equipment list:

2 Nuendo with RME audio cards with Artist series controllers
1 Pro Tools HD native with S6 controller
1 Pro Tools HDX2 with S6 controller
2 JoeCo MADI recorders for safety backups
1 Studer Vista 8 console with a Lexicon 960 and a TC system 6000
1 DoTech MADI router for main distribution

This arsenal only for the broadcast-recording part of the equation, have a few other things in the OB van, some more at the video side. Looks like chaos, but we have a strict plan, which seems to be working. As I’m writing this, we’ve done 7 broadcasts, went without a hiccup. So far so good.

Comments closed

Minor problem with one of our S6

Recently we had a tiny issue with one of our S6 surface. After the latest update, it started to behave strange. All the functions worked perfectly, but for some unknown reason, after the boot sequence, the master modules’s fan kept on spinning at the highest speed. When you boot up the surface, it’s natural to hear the fan for a few seconds, but after that, it’s just adjust the fan speed so you can’t really hear that it’s working. But with this unit, the fan kept on working at the highest throttle all day.

Tried multiple re-boots, but that didn’t help. Then I decided to ask about this issue on the DUC. Then Brandonx1 suggested this:

Just log out and log back in. That fixes the fan issue for me

Which is a very good advice, and it seems this solution worked for many who had the very same issue, but it didn’t solve our issue. Next I’ve tried to update the internal modules to see if that solve it. But sadly, that didn’t help either. As a last attempt, I reinstalled update 1.4 and voila, the loud fan problem disappeared. When I started the reinstall process on the master module, the installer offered a repair option. I chose that, and it perfectly solved this tiny problem.

So, if you’re an S6 user and have a problem like this, try these two simple things I wrote, hopefully it will solve your fan problem too.

And by the way, we still don’t have proper softkeys under Nuendo…

Comments closed

Continuing the Nuendo saga

After the first screaming loudly for help post last week I really tried to dig every possible source on the internet to find out what may cause our problems with Nuendo.

In case you missed the first post, basically we cannot record multitrack audio reliably with Nuendo 5 or 6. The issue is quite nasty as the DAW is “pretending” to be recording, but after a while it stops drawing the waveform, then drops the waveformless part of the recording completely.

Issues, bugs and possibilities

Since the first post I’ve been contacted by many active and former Nuendo users who know something about these bugs. Although I won’t mention everyone by name, but a huge THANK YOU for all of you for trying to help us out, give us valuable suggestions.

  1. Draw waveform during recording option. A very good idea is to turn off this option. Makes sense as we all know that drawing waveform during recording requires computing power and RAM. The only problem is after these recording failures we insisted on the visual feedback. Only had time for very short tests with this option turned off, everything seemed to be ok. Though I found users who turned it off and still had the problem.
  2. Switch off Multiprocessing. Nuendo has a long history of inefficient multithread usage. We’re still investigating the possibility, although it would require us to completely abandon some of our well working methods. Still, I won’t rule out the possibility that this may cause our issues, so I marked this as a necessary thing to check and test.
  3. RAM issues. I don’t mean the hardware. But as my research got deeper, I’ve found many users suffered from a insane RAM thirstiness from Nuendo version 4.

Investigating the RAM issue

I’ve found multiple tests and research at different forums (some archived) about the RAM usage of Nuendo from version 3 to 6. It seems certain that Nuendo 3 used much less RAM for the very same tasks. It seems quite obvious as from Nuendo 4, Steinberg improved the waveform resolution and started to make nicer GUIs. Though the test results made me wonder if this increase might have serious effect on our systems.
Some deep testing by long time users revealed that Nuendo 5 uses 400% more RAM than version 3. Yes, it’s not a typo, 400%!!!

For example, the peak file size in Nuendo 3 is 1/4 the size of Nuendo 5 peak files. Just to feel how serious this can be, it mean that if I record something with N3 and it would have a peak file size 25MB, then the same peak file would be a 100MB in Nuendo 5 or 6. It might seem small enough for a workstation to handle, but keep in mind that we try to use Nuendo to record 128 tracks simultaneously. Add up the numbers and you’ll see that there’s not enough RAM in the World.

Sadly the official response is more than embarrassing to put it at its mildest. Denial, banned users from their forums and not accepting that there is some problem.

What’s next

The plan is to schedule some more tests at our facility and to contact Steinberg about our findings. The problem is though we have a very packed schedule so somehow we must find time to make these tests happen. Honestly I don’t know if we would be able to sort this out, or at least to find some leads, but I’m seriously think that the software developer should take these issues much more seriously.

Before anyone ask: I won’t post any names involved in these older or recent tests. Anyone with research can find the forums and archives on the web. Frankly I don’t know if I’m allowed to cite forum users freely, so I rather just don’t do this.

On a positive note, I’m back to my lovely Pro Tools world (I know we our problems too…) as I have many things to do there including blog posts. Stay tuned!

6 Comments