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Tag: studer

The usual way vs. the old way

Recently we had a 3-day long live broadcast, and instead of doing it our way with Pro Tools and the S6, for various reasons we had to mix the 3 days through with a Studer Vista console and some outboard gear. Namely with a TC System 6000, a Lexicon 960 and a Tube-tech multi-band compressor. I know now some of you might be surprised that I call this the old way, but for me, for the last 1-2 years it is. Let me explain.

The new way for me

You might know that I mix many broadcast events with the help of Avid’s S6 and Pro Tools HD. I’ve got carefully crafted template so I can do whatever the production need, well-thought-out routing with multiple paths, audio buses, VCAs, effects, a stellar master chain at the end. I really invested serious time and tests to fine-tune the template so much so in the last year there wasn’t any occasion that I couldn’t solve something within a few seconds. In my opinion, working with the S6 gives you so many benefits, flexibility, speed and efficiency that once you really get familiar and comfortable with this way of working, you’ll never look back.

Some of the benefits of working completely in the box:

  • one complete system, you don’t have to set up many different equipment to be able to work
  • total recall in a second
  • one save saves all your data including presets
  • at the end of the day you’ve got detailed automation data recorded right into your session, meaning you’ll start the post production with a pretty good mix
  • changing, re-doing anything is fast and easy

Well, I admit that I’m biased, but keep in mind that my bias is based on real world experience, which I think is crucial in this industry.


The old way of doing things

So, the old way, which I treat with kind of a nostalgia. I still love it, but definitely think that it has its drawbacks. I’d never say it’s a bad way of working, I mixed more than a thousand shows this way. I still dearly love it, though really prefer the new way if I had to choose.

The equipment used to mix this broadcast is some of the best available. I won’t argue over gear preferences and fetishes here, I think anyone can agree on that the Studer console, the TC and Lexicon effects and the Tube-tech is world class, if anyone can’t mix on these, he won’t be able to mix with anything else either.

The first thing I had to re-realise is that you need much more time to set everything up properly. While it’s easy to instantiate a plugin in Pro Tools, if you insert something on a real console, you need to check the routing and if the inserted equipment working properly. Then, obviously you need to set up the gear you just inserted into the chain. This might seem too obvious, but think about it for a second. This means you leave a certain type of system, do your thing on a maybe very different one, then come back to continue your work on the console. This essentially means that you have to operate possibly widely different menu structures with different methods, workflows, not to mention you have to save your presets on many different locations. This is not dreadful of course, but definitely makes your day go slower. And this is even more true if you want to change something.

TC system 6000

So, in my opinion, these are the drawback of this method:

  • longer setup times
  • harder, or longer change if something needs to be changed
  • much longer recall time
  • the necessity to save at different stages on different equipments
  • the lack of unified backup
  • the lack of recorded automation
  • the lack of flexibility
  • number limitation (you can’t have 12 Tube-tech or 20 mastering grade compressors for example)

The experience

With all that said, I thoroughly enjoyed mixing and doing things the “old” way. As I said earlier maybe it’s part of a strange nostalgia, and the always exciting outboard patching and tweaking. From time to time it’s great to work like this, but as I wrote this I realised that I couldn’t really go back and work like that all the time. I prefer the speed and flexibility that technology gave us.

Both methods has advantages and disadvantages and I’m not here to decide which is the absolute best because I think there’s no such thing exist. Both methods can lead to excellent result. For me, I choose the new way.


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How a birthday party looks like #2

Thought to share some technical details, hope you find it interesting. Won’t go into deep technical explanations, rather just give some general idea how we use some of our gear during these two days.

Studer, Lexicon, TC and Pro Tools

The Studer Vista8 serve as a live broadcast and remote gain console. On the first two layers we mix the current show with 82 inputs from the big hall. If necessary, we can remote control the Studer from the other studio, but honestly you need to constantly check if the remote is working fine, because it’s not the most stable software…
The Lexicon 960 serve as a four engine reverb, while the TC system 6000 serve as a two engine reverb, a multi-band mid/side compressor and a limiter on engine four. All the channels goes into a Pro Tools HDX2 system which also records two complete broadcast mix, one is processed (quasi-mastered on-air) the other is unprocessed.
If it is necessary, the Pro Tools system can also serve as a main mix system with a S6 surface, recording the multitrack, the mixed on-air outputs while recording the mix automation during the performances. We have a few detailed template session for this.

Where it all comes together

The centre of the whole multi-room system is the Direct out technologies m1k2, which is a very clever routing matrix for 1024×1024 audio channels. Although the whole building operates at 24 bit 48kHz, if we happen to have any additional equipment which operates at any other sampling rate, this system is able to handle that with its poly-sync feature.

We have 3 studios operating at full throttle during these two days, serving the web-radio, the live broadcast, the OB van, and of course the HD video studio. All the recordings are being stored not only on the local recording drives, but right after each show, a safety backup is created onto a huge RAID storage. Because we record enormous amount of data daily, after double-checking the backup, we have to clean the record drives to have ample space for the next day.

So far, we have very minor issues, nothing showstopper, but experienced strange drop-outs on two Nuendo workstations. Fortunately the errors only occurred during rehearsals but the on-air shows went without issues. At the end of the day we’re going to do some tests to make sure that the two problematic workstations don’t have any hidden errors which could ruin tomorrow’s recordings.

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3rd workflow

Last time as I introduced the second workflow, you might have thought that life is all sunshine and if you’re good enough, you’ll have a hard time spend the enormous amount of free time you have. Well, this is not the case.

Today, I introduce you one of the most used workflow which involves much more work than the previous one.

3rd workflow – real post production

In this case we still have our trusty big Studer Vista system for two reasons. One is to have enough preamps for all the things we need to record, and the second is to mix a well balanced usable audio guide master so the picture department will be able to start editing after the event. It doesn’t matter what type of act/show/concert, it is your job to make solid mix. Not only the picture guys need this, but all the parties involved in the production are going to use your mix to evaluate and make decisions. Decisions about additional recordings, possible retakes, if it’s a music project then the band is going to use this mix to decide if they need some corrections. While this might seem like a too big thing to ask, honestly I love this part for several reasons.

First, you’ll become familiar with the material, when you’re going to start the post process, you’ll already know the possible weak spots.

Second, after the event, because you spent long hours with the production, you’ll have the knowledge to make a really efficient master session.
Third, if you made notes during the event (or you have such a good memory that you can remember every tiny detail) you know what things you need to correct. For example who are the actors or interviewees who needs special treatment, etc.
Four, because you’ve been involved from the start, your mix sessions going to be really enjoyable as you know every detail, you’ve already went through the material multiple times so you have more time to experiment and be creative.

So, you’re ready with the recording part, have your raw tracks and your stellar guide mix.

Post production

The guide track is good for everyone involved in the production, and it can also serve you if something seems to be missing or in question. So for safety and reference you should keep that muted in your session, maybe hidden in the track list. The next thing is editing. To clean out the junk from the tracks, make the fades, etc. As you can see, from now on, it’s the usual post process:

  • editing
  • temp mix
  • final mix
  • approval


So you literally recreate the show from scratch. The workflow can be modified if enough stem had been recorded, but most of the time, because of the complexity of the show that won’t help.

One tip. Always compare your finished final mix to your guide mix. You may be surprised! Believe it or not, it’s absolutely possible that your guide mix will blow the finished one out of the water. If that happen, you might want to work harder. The spontaneity and creativity of a live mix can be spectacular sometimes.

This is one of the most used workflow here, although we’re working on some change to make the whole thing more efficient.

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2nd workflow

Last time I wrote about the multiple workflows we must maintain in our studios. Today I introduce you the second workflow which require an even better mixer than the first one.

Second workflow – have to be lucky and nail the mix

This method still includes the big Studer Vista. The first part is the same as with the 1st workflow, the DAW gets each input unprocessed, additional groups and the main mix being recorded simultaneously with the channels.


Here comes the part which involves luck and a very good day so you really, I mean really nail the mix. This means:

  • You’ve got a stellar sounding mix from the first frame to the last
  • Haven’t missed anything, no accidentally left out instruments
  • The mix is almost completely r128 ready
  • No one needs serious tuning, replay, etc.

If all these things are true, and only then, you can choose this workflow. If this is the case, you’ll already have your mix in the DAW, so now the only thing left is some mastering.

I know in a perfect World a professional mastering engineer would treat your mix, but here we don’t have the luxury and time. So, the mixer is going to be the mastering guy as well. To be honest, the thing is, if you really have a almost perfect mix, the only thing you need to do is polish the already stellar stereo or surround mix and make it completely r128 compliant.

For this, it’s your choice if you would like to use some high-end analogue hardware or stay completely in-the-box. It’s completely your decision, but watch your back, the deadline is approaching.

This second workflow (obviously) only works with some classical concerts, small acoustic shows and easier galas and talk shows.

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Screwing on

This pretty much sums up my last few days. It’s never easy to rebuild something, integrate new technology in a way so older things and workflows remains the same as before.

Planning, screwing, moving up and down, checking the ventilation, re-examining patches, installing software and updating firmware.

Almost ready, but still has lot to do. Next week I’m going to have a busy week mixing, so only a few days left to finish everything. Exciting times.

While we build and test everything, I think I’ve found a bug in the Avid S6. This is our second S6 install, and the metering simply doesn’t work at all. It’s almost identical to the first install, the only difference is this is an HDX2, the other is HD Native. Otherwise both has the very same type of Mac, softwares, etc.

So far I’ve tried to:

  • Trash prefs & databases
  • Switch Eucon on & off
  • Quit and restart the WS control app
  • Restart both the Mac and the S6
  • Re-update the S6 modules
  • Changing the playback engine

If I’m going to have time, I might try to reinstall Pro Tools. Right now I don’t know what can cause this. All things are supported, only approved software has been installed.