113th 2002 L.A. AES Show Report


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After many orbits around the Los Angeles Convention Center main hall, I chose these as my new recording gear faves shown at this year's AES Show.

Plugzilla from Manifold Labs

A truly original idea, Plugzilla obliterates the boundaries between software and hardware processing with a two-rack-space stand-alone hardware unit that runs VST 2.0 plug-ins.Essentially a way to use any VST processors and VSTi instruments outside of your computer (and freeing up CPU resources), Plugzilla has two independent machines that'll run up to eight plug-ins simultaneously and enough processing power for up to 16 channels of reverb. Internal flash memory storage will hold thousands of plugs and setups and the unit uses front panel rotary controllers, MIDI, USB, and assignable footswitches for instant access to all operations and parameters. You'll have many questions about this one, so check: www.plugzilla.com/.

GML 2020 and 2030 Processors
George Massenburg was always on hand to chat enthusiastically about his two latest analog processors. I have always considered GML gear the last word in discrete transistor audio signal processing. The 2020 (shown) is a recording channel made up of a 8300 mic preamplifier, one half of a 8200 parametric equalizer, and a mono channel of a 8900 dynamics processor in a totally configurable chain most engineers only dream about. Announced only days before the show was the 2030, a stereo mastering dynamics processor with high-resolution resetable controls, increased dynamic range and very low noise floor specs demanded by mastering perfectionists. Much more at: www.transaudiogroup.com/gml.shtml.

Universal Audio 6176 Channel Strip
Nobody would question the wisdom of putting a UA 2-610 mic preamp and 1176LN in a single box, yet Universal Audio has somehow improved the individual performance of each unit in the 6176 Channel Strip. The 2-610 mic pre-amp now has a 15dB attenuator pad and a pumped up power supply said to improve and "tighten" the bottom end. The 1176LN compressor section is in classic form but now has an improved noise floor. Check: www.uaudio.com/.

Telefunken North America
Telefunken North America is alive and well in Connecticut producing exact replacement parts for Telefunken mics, including the famed ELA M-251 microphone. Actually, you can also buy the whole mic and it looks great! It was as if I stepped into a time machine at their booth and traveled back to Berlin, Germany ready to pay $300 for an original ELA. About the only difference I discerned was a different cable connector at the power supply end only (good riddance to that funky DIN connector!). Made "one at a time" by hand in the U.S., these guys are really bucking an emerging trend of shipping off labor-intensive manufacturing to some third-world location. I have my name on the list when Telefunken NA announces shoot-out listening tests in LA! Go to: www.telefunkenusa.com.

Anthony DeMaria Labs ADL 670
Well it had to happen…the ultimate vintage “reissue/remake”: a reverse engineered Fairchild 670 stereo compressor. I think Anthony DeMaria is the right guy to research and develop this perfect copy of the legendary, 'big hunk of burning love' tube compressor. Priced somewhere around half as much as those 30-plus-year-old units sell for these days (working or not), you get the whole package contained in the original boat anchor/room heater: 20 tubes, 14 transformers, the same circuit design and parts all hand-assembled in the USA, plus variable-mu gain reduction, same original front panel controls and nomenclature, and a new (with the ADL670) remote power supply. Soon detailed at: www.anthonydemarialabs.com/.

Chandler TG1 Limiter/Compressor
Also in the realm of reissues and or recreations, the TG1 stereo limiter/compressor is a copy of the EMI unit used in EMI/Abbey Road recording and mastering consoles and therefore on later Beatle recordings and Pink Floyd albums like "Dark Side of the Moon." With all Class-A discrete circuitry and transformer balanced in and out, the sound (when the unit is hard pressed) is described as "rubbery" or "squishy". You must hear this one working on a drum kit or an unruly vocal track! Check out:

Roland M-1000 Mixer
A real problem solver and worthwhile solution comes from Roland in a single rackspace called the M-1000. This is a ten-channel mixer that has four stereo S/PDIF inputs (coaxial and optical), stereo analog input and USB audio input jack. With 24/96kHz operation and 56-bit internal processing, the M-1000 lets you mix all these sources using Word clock and automatic sample rate conversion if you require them. With both analog and S/PDIF (coaxial and optical) Master outputs and Monitor outputs and the ability to link multiple M-1000 together, the mind reels at the potential of this $700 MSRP box! Go to: www.rolandus.com/.

Tamura Qolle Mixer
Tamura's analog consoles have been mainstays with Japanese broadcasting companies over the last 30 years. The Qolle (I think it's pronounced Quallé) is their feature-packed but diminutive 5.1 surround mixer for field recording on Film/TV shoots. On the analog side, this completely portable, battery-operated eight-channel mixer has: eight output busses; +4dBm Master and Monitor stereo and mono outs; a headphone jack and phantom powering. The equalizer and compressor on each of the eight mic inputs make life for production sound recordists much saner but what separates this unit from the rest are the extensive digital and computer interfacing options. There are AES/EBU and TDIF I/O jacks and two IEEE 1394 Firewire/mLan jacks for connecting to any laptop computer or standalone hard disk recorder. RS-422/Sony 9-pin, MIDI and time code reader and generator complete this wonder's all pro facilities and a backlit touch screen makes configuring and storing all your setups and routings a breeze. More at: www.qolle.com.

Soundelux ifet7 Studio Microphone
David Bock was proud to show me his new cardioid ifet7 condenser. More than just looking like a remake of the Neumann U-47fet, the ifet7 could be thought of as two mics in one familiar and compact package. The V/I switch changes the head amplifiers from an 87fet sounding Class-A in V mode over to a 47fet type Class AB amplifier in I mode. In addition to Class-A, the V position has a LF contour and 15kHz sibilance roll-off making it the right position for vocals. Mode I makes good use of the punchy sound characteristics of a Class AB amplifier adding a slight LF roll-off for close instrument miking, no HF roll and higher SPL capability---read this as it's OK to put this condenser mic right on top of a snare or bass drum. Both modes use a larger core output transformer for improved low frequency headroom. Check the whole Soundelux mic family at: www.transaudiogroup.com/soundelux.shtml.

SRS Circle Surround
Surround sound recording, playback and delivery options are more pervasive than ever at AES Shows and SRS made a major announcement for their encode/decode technology. You'll soon be able to watch ESPN sporting events in surround sound by way of SRS's technology that encodes full 5.1 sound streams into any standard stereo audio pair. Broadcasters do not have to modify any transmitters or audio equipment…just supply the SRS CSE-7 Circle Surround Encoder with a six-channel audio source and transmit it as a compatible stereo signal. When you watch the game at home, turn on your SRS CSD-07 Circle Surround Reference Decoder and route the outputs to your home theatre system. The SRS decoder also takes care of Dolby Pro Logic or Dolby Digital audio streams as well. Look for the SRS logo when the game starts or just keep that SRS decoder on all the time…stereo or mono sound will still come through as is. Check: www.srstechnologies.com

AMS Neve 88R
No shortage of updates, improvements and additions from AMS Neve! Their enhanced flagship 88R console is overwhelmingly impressive with a doubling of cue mix output capacity, eight splittable aux busses, a new mapable automated dual joystick option and enhanced remote mic amp control software. Shown is the 88R remote mic pre-amp pack with a yummy row of 1081 modules. All at: www.ams-neve.com/.

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