Allen and Heath GLD-80

Haven’t ever used one. I’ve worked on all sorts of consoles over the years, from the big SSL and Neve desks all the way down to the small Soundcraft and Mackie mixers.

On the digital side, many churches install the Behringer X32 console. Decent board, easy to navigate.

I have only just started seeing the GLD-80 in churches. It is being used in the church I attend down in Florida and at the church I attend in Canada. I don’t have any data points to determine the relative popularity of the GLD over the X32 consoles in churches so it could well be that I haven’t been attending the right churches!

I’ll get to work with it in early July for a week.

To get familiar with the console, I downloaded the GLD editor, a software app that mimics the functionality of the board very closely.

Aside from the routing, which would vary considerably from site to site, the basics are conceptually similar to most any digital console. The workflow looks pretty straightforward as well. The installation uses an L-C-R system design, not all that common in live sound, and that will be a fun environment in which to mix.

Mixing the Low End

Getting the low end right in a mix is challenging especially if you are listening in a compromised sound field. There are tactics that you can use to get the low end of a mix to fit well into the bigger picture. iZotope posted seven tips for the mixing the low end.

At some point, every engineer has had difficulty taming the beast that is low end. Why? Multiple factors are involved. For one, imperfect rooms treat low-end information imperfectly””and many rooms are imperfect. Another factor compounding the issue is monitoring, especially in project studios; nearfield monitors, often utilized in home-based mixing rooms, tend to taper off below a bass-hound”™s favorite frequencies; subwoofers are untenable in certain situations (ones involving neighbors, often); and cans tend to over-exaggerate the lows, leading to a cure that might be worse than the disease.

The third factor is experience, or a lack thereof. Yes, it takes time to learn how to identify low-end issues, to tell them apart from your room and monitoring issues, and to find practical, actionable solutions.

If you are running into some issues with the low end, give these tips a try especially tips 1, 5 and 7. I use those all the time.

iZotope makes the following observation in their post:

Stephen King once gave some particularly apt advice on receiving writerly feedback. To summarize, he said that if you hand out a story to a bunch of readers, and they all give back different, conflicting critiques, discard it all. However, if they all gave back the same critique, you need to address that one issue.

The post goes on to suggest that you listen back to your mixes on a variety of monitors. Good advice but they did not emphasize the importance of getting others to listen to your mixes. I always get the artist and a few trusted ears to give me feedback on mixes. If there are problems with the low end, they will no doubt come up in their review.

From Demo to Master

I know, I know. The folks at Waves provide these courses as a way to sell you their plugins. And that is fine with me. I’ve found that even if I don’t buy the plugins, and right now I have way too many of them on my Pro Tools rig, there are always some good ideas to be found in most of their courses.

I particularly enjoyed Dave’s course From Demo To Master. He is a very practical and down-to-earth teacher. His mix template is very straightforward and, if you are just getting into mixing, an excellent template to use.

The course is lengthy. Eight sessions weighing in at over eight hours in total so you will want to break the course down over a few weeks.

I found the course to be very interesting and I learned some new techniques from a proven master in the field.

You can find the course on the Waves site right here.


Having recently retired, I thought I would get all of this free time back into my life.

In a way, that much is true.

Only I have been filling it up.

Big time.

This weekend I will be recording and doing front of house for a concert event on the Saturday evening and then an audio training session on the the Sunday afternoon.

Fortunately, the console I am using for the Saturday evening event is the same console that I will be working on for Sunday’s training session.

The problem with all of the new digital consoles these days is that they are really software platforms with physical controls.

And learning the ins and outs of digital boards is more and more like learning the ins and outs of software applications.

Back in the analog days, most consoles had somewhat familiar control structures. A bit like going from one car to another. It didn’t take much time to get a handle on the basics.

With digital boards, well that all has changed.

I find that the software platforms, although very powerful, can also be somewhat cryptic in terms of the user interface. Inconsistent terms, menu trees, and proprietary user interfaces can make for a bit of a tense experience when using some of these boards on a more casual basis.

I’ve spent most of my years working on analog Neve and SSL desks and I am very familiar with how they operate. With live sound, anything from analog Midas to Soundcraft boards. Oh, and a lot of time on smaller analog desks from Allen & Heath, Mackie and others over the years.

But now, the digital desks from Yamaha, Midas, Digico, Avid and others all have very different approaches to the workflow of audio engineering whether live or studio.

It’s almost like once you have learned one platform, you really don’t want to learn another. It can be like starting over.

At least this weekend will be on desks that I can work around pretty well.

But I spent most of the day today programming the console for Saturday’s event.

Yup. Programming a sound board without the soundboard in front of me.

Just like running a software application. In fact, it was a software application. Offline configuration.


And complex.

Audio Work

In a few weeks time I will be doing some work on a live recording project.

I think part of this work includes me doing the actual recording on site. Which I am fine to do. Except that I have no remote recording equipment.

I had sent a note out earlier to clarify whether I was expected to bring a remote recording rig — which I would rent for the event — and I have not yet heard back from the event itself. I guess I’d better get busy on that one. Enough of being retired and sleeping all the time.

I’m doing an audio training session the next day in the same city. Fortunately, for that session, I don’t require a recording rig.

I will require a bit of help though. A lot of material to cover in a couple of hours and trying to teach audio engineering without doing any audio engineering is very challenging. The best approach is hands on with a live band. But it will just be me. I might try doing a few things with my laptop as a proxy.

Getting ready for the upcoming work gave me a chance to look back on some of my material, doing before and after passes and the difference that a mix can bring to recorded tracks.


Laptop Mixer

When I retire in July and I start traveling more extensively, I won’t be leaving my mixing work behind. Here is as quick walkthrough of my new portable mixing rig. I am pleasantly surprised with how well this rig performs. Amazing technology.

Bounce Stems In Pro Tools

“Hey Richard, could you get me stems for that project we did in 2006?”

Back then I was running Pro Tools 7. Bouncing tracks to create stems was really time consuming and I used to avoid producing them. I would create mix minus tracks which consisted of one single stereo bounce, the mix print, minus selected instruments or vocals. Those would be run in real time.

First, a bit of context. Some artists will request stems if they are intending to use studio tracks as backing tracks in a live performance. In the session pictured above, we might choose to create the following stems:

  • Bass Guitar Stem
  • Drums Stem
  • Percussion Stem
  • Keyboards Stem
  • Guitars Stem
  • Lead Violin Stem
  • Backing Violins Stem
  • Click Track Stem

By cutting them separately and ensuring that they all start at the same time, the artist can use a laptop running Ableton Live, Logic or some other DAW, and create a live mix based on whatever instruments might be needed.

Back 10 or 15 years ago, making stems was a real pain and there were few requests for stems in music production. Pro Tools was real-time bounce only which meant that at a bare minimum, 8 stem tracks would take about an hour or so to record as multiple passes were required to create the stem tracks. And setting up the session so that stems could be created was a real pain.

With Pro Tools 12, life is so much easier.

My workflow looks like this. The first thing I do is put the session into grid mode so that my markers will be precise. I mark the entry and exit points for the stems by going to my master output fader (or whatever output bus prints the overall mix). I ensure that there is a two-bar count-in for the click. And I select the area to be printed for the stem tracks on the output bus like so:

Let’s say I want to create stems for the Drums. I start by selecting all of the tracks that I do not want to include in the stem.

I make all of those tracks inactive.

All of the selected tracks are now inactive leaving just the drums and any of the processing tracks (e.g. reverbs) open.

I have to select just the master track now making sure that I still have the in and out section highlighted.

Time to bounce the stems for the drums.

A dialog will come up prompting me for the filetype, name and location for the bounced track.

And that is it. Pro Tools will bounce the active tracks to a stem in faster than real-time. All I need to do is repeat the process for the balance of the stems. So, if Bass was the next stem, I would make it active, ensure the unneeded tracks were made inactive, select my Master track and do another bounce. I would repeat the process for all of the stems.

With Pro Tools 7, I would have had to spend 20 hours or so creating stems for the session from 2006. Including retrieval from the archives and session setup, it took me less than 5 hours to bounce all the stems in Pro Tools 12.

The Day MP3 Died

On April 23, 2017, Technicolor’s mp3 licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS terminated. News release here.

Although I cut most of my CD library in AAC — somewhat redundant now that I rarely even see a CD anymore — I still cut mp3s when working on studio projects. I suspect the format will live on for many, many years.