IN THIS ISSUE:
- EARS NETWORKING PARTY V.3 at SCHUBA'S
- Message from the new President Eric Roth:
- TRIPLE REWIND: AES After Burner Party / ProTools 10 event at CRC / EARS Holiday Party
- The Need For Health Insurance
- An Editorial Review of ProTools X
- A Remembrance for Michael Giampa by Jim Tulio
- And more EARS in the news...
Fran (The LJETPRO) Allen-Leake
Danny (The URBAN G) Leake
John (The Eye) Christy
Volume 26, Number 12 • December, 2011
Volume 27, Number 1• January, 2012
Please join us for
EARS NETWORKING EVENT V.3
AN EVENING AT SCHUBA'S
3159 N. SOUTHPORT AVE. CHICAGO
(Click here for more event details...)
Dear Fellow EARS Members,
I hope you are having a very happy and healthy 2012.
We have some very fun and interesting events planned for you this year, as well as some new out-of- the-box initiatives you will like too. Earlier this week the Steering Committee met for a very productive meeting. We passed a couple of new bylaws designed to strengthen EARS and then discussed some new initiatives we will be rolling out. Indeed, 2012 is going to be one hell of a year. Our new Secretary, Rachael Wogsland will be providing a summary in next month’s EARDRUM.
I would also like to take a moment to congratulate our own Fran Allen-Leake on her remarkable recovery and the progress she has made since personally experiencing a serious health scare earlier in December. We wish her all the best and look forward to seeing more of her as she continues her recovery.
We also should take a moment to remember a very well-known and much-liked local engineer, Mike Giampa whose battle with cancer ended in December. (Please see below as others who knew him well have briefly written about him.)
One of the campaign promises that I made to you a few months ago, is that I would seek out a Group Health Insurance plan for members of EARS and their families.
The benefits of this cannot be overlooked. The fact is that in many artistic fields, the individual is left to fend for themselves while burning the midnight oil to establish themselves. Many go without health insurance all-together or they have to rely on another job to provide benefits. As things progress, a lucky few fall into the category of “self-employed” or become the sole proprietor or partner of a studio. Even then, you can find yourself in a situation where the cost of Health Insurance is out of reach. The current state of our economy is not good, and although there has been talk of National Healthcare coverage "Obamacare" coming in 2014, the government is apparently losing confidence in this idea and a lot can change between now and then.
The bottom line is that it is really tough for the individual, but together as a group, we could come up with something that might help. Therefore I feel it would be beneficial to look into getting a group health insurance plan for members of EARS, and their families.
In order to be effective, I need to ask you for information. Are you even interested in such an idea? Would you be interested in a comprehensive plan or something that you can use in the case of a catastrophe? I'd like to get a ballpark idea of how many people would be interested.
Therefore please click this link. It is a quick survey with just several questions to get the ball rolling. Please take a moment to fill this out and submit it. I promise to do the research and report back to you with my progress.
EARS is looking forward to the vibrant future of Chicago’s recording industry, and this is something which would have a positive impact for all of us.
Thanks much, Eric Roth
Greetings from the new EARS Secretary! I am proud to be a member of the organization and now the cabinet!
The energy at our November meeting was jubilant and boisterous as we elected our new president for 2011-2012. As the presidential baton was passed from two-year prez Blaise Barton to former treasurer Eric Roth, light-hearted banter was exchanged around the room. A reference was made to roasting, and something about former president Harry Brotman’s anatomy, although I didn’t quite get the joke.
The members of the new EARS Cabinet are: Eric Roth as “El Presidente”, Co-Vice Presidents Blaise Barton and Reid Hyams, Treasurer Sam Rodgers, EARDRUM Editors Fran Allen-Leake and Danny Leake, and Secretary Rachael Wogsland.
November's meeting, the AES Chicago After-Burner Party, was held at Strobe Recording and hosted by Angie Mead and Jamie Wagner, and our own Jeff Leibovich from Vintage King. EARS ordered pizza courtesy of Vintage King and Shure and supplied three coolers of beer and wine, all of which were consumed. The event was an opportunity for EARS members and friends to demo gear showcased at this year’s AES Convention in New York City, from Rupert Neve Designs and Vintage King.
Neve/sE Electronics representative, Jonathon Pines from Fingerprint Audio, brought an array of sE microphones and mike preamps. Attendees were excited to put on headphones and test the equipment.
In Strobe’s control room, members experimented with mastering equipment brought by Vintage King Representative Jeff Leibovich. Equipment included the ACME Opticom XLA-3 Optical Limiter, the ADR Compex F760X-RS compressor/limiter (especially prized for drum sounds), Chandler Little Devil 500 Series Modules (pre-amp, EQ and compressor), the Inward Connections TSL-4 Vac Rac for smooth limiting, the Neve 500 Series Modules, Retro Instruments Doublewide 500 Series Tube Compressor, and a Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor. Members were encouraged to test the equipment with their own tracks.
A great turnout showed for the event and we welcomed quite a few new members into EARS. Our three new EARS interns were also present. EARS meetings are always valuable networking events and the November meeting didn’t disappoint. I met new faces and collected business cards, and I saw many others doing the same. I look forward to an exciting year of working with the new leadership on projects and events!
AVID’s release of Pro Tools 10 was met in Chicago with a packed reception hosted by EARS, AVID, Vintage King, and Chicago Recording Company at CRC on December 15th. Through a live demonstration, the evening showcased the software’s new features and the recently released DSP-accelerated HDX interface. A full house of audio engineers and enthusiasts attended the event. They were welcomed with pizza and an ample amount of beer and by the beginning of the presentation there was standing room only.
Collyer Spreen of AVID gave us an excellent demonstration of the new Pro Tools 10 features. Spreen worked in post production with Filmworkers Club and then Red Car before joining AVID. Based in Dallas, he is a drummer and an avid cyclist. (Guess he is just an avid guy....) Jake Schaefer and Jeff Komar were also there representing AVID. Jake Schaefer is a cyclist and Komar is a drummer.
The new Pro Tools features improved efficiency, workflow and project quality for engineers. “Clip gain” allows for easy volume adjustment of individual regions within a track on a clip by clip basis instead of using automation and individual faders. Pro Tools 10 increases headroom by supporting 32-bit floating point audio files, and we can now import files of differing types and resolutions without converting them into new files before bringing them into our sessions. The new disk cache function allows the user to work entirely off of RAM instead of on a hard drive, which means that a session will operate quickly and powerfully on a computer with lots of memory. Another new feature is the real time fade function, which allows fades to be adjusted during playback in real time. Mr. Spreen also introduced Pro Tools’ new AAX plugin format, which supports DSP and Native interfaces (as well as the old TDM and RTAS).
Another significant improvement is the EuCon controller, which allows the user to access all Pro Tools functions using EuCon commands as programmed to Artist Series or System 5-MC controller buttons. And now, Pro Tools has made it possible for engineers to export their sessions directly to iTunes and SoundCloud. (ED Note: VERY cool in this Internet Age.)
After the presentation, Mr. Spreen answered questions posed by eager, prospective buyers. One lucky attendee even won his own copy of Pro Tools 10 from the night’s raffle! We were happy to see that attendance was a raging success, and the event was informative and fun for all!
Happy New Year to all! Our 25th Annual Jeff Hamilton Memorial Holiday Party was a blast. I enjoyed myself thoroughly - from the time I arrived to hang decorations, to my last sips of wine. This year EARS held the event on December 27th in the rustic, elegant party room at Reza’s, a Persian restaurant in River North. We enjoyed an open bar of wine and beer, and the cuisine was cultural and delicious. With many members bringing guests, attendance was approximately 60 people.
VP Blaise Barton’s video projector provided an entertaining slide show of EARS photos, and Valentine Azbelle contributed a PA for audible toasts and speeches. There were threats of roastings of certain past presidents, although we instead had a meaningful time listening to the presidents talk of their past experiences, our history, and the pride they all share for the oganization.
After the speeches, the cabinet raffled off of items including t-shirts, bags, mugs, iPod speakers, headphones, and a bunch of cool stuff.donated by Sweetwater.
I had a great time. I was delighted to sit at the check-in table alongside our Treasurer, Sam Rodgers, and one of our interns, Rio McBride. As we registered everyone for the raffle, I had the opportunity to meet every person who walked in the door. I enjoyed an endless stream of entertaining conversations with so many people!
The evening was another fabulous networking experience, and I was yet again inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of the group. The party went smoothly and everyone had lots of fun.
Food For Thought…….An Editor’s Opinion
It is ironic that one of my first assignments in the new EARS administration would be the insurance initiative. I was to gather the initial information and contact info for a few agents and companies that offered group plans and report back to Eric and the Steering Committee in early January. Just as soon as I had finished that Aussie tour; begun prep work for the next one; begun prep work for another concert presentation while fielding calls from the last one from suppliers who had not been paid; begun work for the Christmas taping on December 9 (That I ultimately would never make). Little did I know that my life would radically change on the morning of December 9, 2011….I suffered a stroke. Not bad enough to totally incapacitate me: but enough to put me in a 2-month rehab program, on the “fast-track” for a healthier lifestyle, and twice-daily blood pressure meds for the rest of my life.
I am both lucky and unlucky..lucky enough to have survived what could have been a seriously disastrous fate…Unlucky because I had no health insurance. Lucky that a small inheritance from my parents will help to defray the cost as well as a hospital that’s willing to work on a “Pay as you go” plan. In all likelihood I’ll be paying for this for the next eight to ten years. I needed a group health insurance plan much like we are investigating for the EARS membership. There may be those of you who are in need of a health plan or additional health coverage for yourselves and/or your families.
We hope to have more concrete information within the next several months. We hope that you will find what we present both interesting and beneficial.
The Need For Health Insurance
At the age of 30 and working 18 hours a day at Universal Recording I cut spots during the day, beginning Hip Hop and R&B in the evenings, and Punk rock/Heavy Metal at midnight and the weekends. Looking back I wondered “When did I sleep?” I thought I was indestructible. I never gave a thought to things like health insurance. Now, much older and much wiser, I realize I am not and never was indestructible. In 2010 I had a situation that required open heart surgery for me to survive. After 40+ years in the business I had plenty of gear but no health insurance. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I was a US Army Veteran and the Veteran’s Administration took care of the operation and my subsequent care.
I dodged a bullet one but how many working Engineer/Producers out there are veterans or are covered by health insurance? Most of the ones I know are self employed and uninsured or working without benefits…a dangerous situation.
I highly commend our President’s idea of using EARS to help procure health insurance for our members. Our growing membership gives us clout and hopefully a path to health for our people in the future.
It’s like what a friend once told me while visiting me in the hospital, “It hard to make hit records when you’re dead!
through EARS, please fill in this brief questionnaire.
The Death of ProTools
Editor’s note-- Chris “Godxilla” Taylor is a Studio owner, Producer/Engineer, Instructor out of Madison, Wisconsin. Chris interned at my studio a few years ago. This is a person who I have seen grow immensely in that time. This is also a person whose opinion I respect highly so when, after attending the 2011 AES Convention, he wrote a piece on Protools 10 and the new HDX interfaces I thought I’d share:
(The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the opinion of EARS or it's constituents.)
Hello citizens of the planet earth, today’s post takes a darker turn than I have previously used in my blog posts. You see I am an Avid Certified Pro Tools Expert and I have formal training on versions 7-10. With Pro Tools training going back to 2008, I consider myself to be somewhat of an insider on the topic. That backlog stated, I would like to inform you all that we are in the midst of the biggest digital product collapse since the dot bomb annihilated America Online. The worst part about this product biting the dust is the fact that it is self-inflicted. Friends, join me as I present to you Avid and the death of the Pro Tools brand. Set to music by all of the ticked off engineers in the industry, so yes unfortunately this is a musical.
Let’s roll the clock back to 2008 when I began my training on the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) known as Pro Tools. The company was robust with a strong following and a great product line. The software was the program that allowed the hardware to function. See Pro Tools was all about selling you hardware, and the software was what allowed it to run. Digidesign was the owner at this time. It had a respected line of professional and pro-sumer interfaces that the entire landscape of users were familiar with and respected. (pro-sumer is how we describe products that are lower grade offerings by manufacturers for those who can’t afford their more expensive professional line of products) It was on its second generation of products and poised to launch its third generation of hardware.
The third generation of hardware launched around 2009 with the release of Pro Tools 8. This included the mighty Digi 003 interface, which debuted at a price of around $2,500. The professional line of Pro Tools was an HD system. An HD system consisted of a core card and two accel cards with 1 to 3 hardware interfaces for ins and outs (i/o) from your computer. Typically 8 channels of i/o per box. A completely awesome system would cost around 28k with 24 i/o and a full compliment of processing cards for your computer.
At the same time, the company was being brought into AVID which is the manufacturer of the AVID video editing machine and Media Composer software, which allowed the AVID hardware to run. In a quest to increase profitability, AVID separated its Media Composer software from its hardware and obviously found it successful because in 2010 AVID released Pro Tools 9 about a year and a half after they’d released version 8. Version 9 of Pro Tools was the first time Pro Tools had been allowed to run without its proprietary hardware. This was a welcome shift because we could now pull pro tools up anywhere without an AVID interface and be ready to rock on any computer. (I frequently just pull it up on my laptop computer and use the internal speakers if I needed a quick reference.)
Enter the release of Pro Tools 10 in 2011 just one year later. In 3 years we got 3 releases with minimal changes to the DAW. I was told in confidence by an insider that “gone are the days of Pro Tools being on a version for years at a time”, and to be prepared for an annual version release. This is where the company begins to tie the knot in its own rope, which I might add we as users have given it plenty of. The release of Pro Tools 9 was immensely beneficial to pro-sumer users as it unlocked some HD functionality at a discount. The benefit to HD users was minimal as I found myself struggling to remember what the release even offered us.
In my training for Pro Tools 10, I was ecstatic to hear that there was going to be a major upgrade for HD users. Pro Tools was going to allow you to load audio into ram, it was going to extend delay compensation times and a bunch of other great stuff too. Oh, but it will require you to buy entirely new HD hardware, and update all of your TDM plug-ins to the new AAX protocol. “SAY WHAT?!?!” Yep Pro Tools 11 will launch at AES next year and it will not be compatible with your current hardware. AVID launched what we call the “Blackface” (Because they’re black in color) hardware interfaces last year with Pro Tools 9 which no one was readily buying because we all had interfaces from previous versions of Pro Tools. At this event they also informed me that Pro Tools 11 would be a 64 bit DAW and none of the hardware would be capable of running it if it wasn’t blackface. That means Pro Controls, Control 24’s, 192’s, 96’s, M-box 2’s and Digi 002’s and 003’s will not be allowed to run Pro Tools 11 next year, which immediately devalues all of those devices. So my HD system, which cost me 13k used last year only had a market value of 7k last week. That is how much I sold it for. Why would I keep it when I know the company is going to devalue it to a point where I can’t get any more money out of it. But wait, there’s more.
In the new HDX system, which it is no longer just an HD system, one HDX card is as powerful as the three card systems that most of us owned. (I’m past tense) Here’s the kicker and ultimately the death sentence, You can’t buy the HDX card alone, you are being forced to buy the new HD i/o interface with it, AVID will not separate the two. Now of course you no longer have to buy 3 interfaces to have 24 i/o you can get that in two i/o boxes. One standard HD i/o box and the HDX card are 12k and the system can be expanded from there that’s 8 i/o to start with.
I emphatically say damn this. Why would I pay this ransom to run HDX when I can run Pro Tools 10 with an SSL interface for 3k and have 24 i/o in the Alpha Link. Upgrade prices for software versions are even more ridiculous. If you want to upgrade from 9 to 10 HD, the price is 1k. If you want to upgrade from 8 to 10 the price goes up considerably. I was told that if you need to upgrade from version 7, you might as well just buy the license outright because it isn’t worth the upgrade cost. I don’t see studios embracing this and I just see the landscape being littered with the remains of Pro Tools carcasses that I have to now help students and studios to find their way out of and into compatibility for today’s world. I can first hand tell you that the amount of information that I have to try and teach people just so that they can get from one system and version to another is insane. I see everything from Pro Tools 6 to Pro Tools 10 being used by engineers and when 11 comes out this is only going to get more complicated.
Knowing that this writing has borderline taken the position from being informational to rant, I will summarize this post by saying this. I have only spoken to 1 engineer out of about 10 who is even remotely interested in HDX. AVID has the executioner’s hood over Pro Tools and I am waiting to see the trap door be opened on it. If it wants to avoid my next post about it being what just replaced Pro Tools as the next industry standard, it may want to get on board with a few concepts. Don’t force me to buy your interface with the HDX card, that says to me that you’re quite confident that I won’t buy it because it’s not the best i/o box out there and the only way you’re going to sell it is to make me buy it. Improve the damn thing! When AVID specked it out in a webinar for instructors, it was compared to a host of mid-grade interfaces, not flagship interfaces. Lower the cost of the hardware and you will sell more. Stop releasing versions of Pro Tools just to sell the upgrades to people with just a couple of new functions, deliver some wow with it. We should still be on version 8 and what’s taking place on versions 9-11 should have been one release.
Finally re-staff your education department and show that you are committed to continuing partnerships with the educational institutions. If you’re not in education then you don’t know that one week after AES this year the Master Trainer for North America quit and the education program for the entire Western World has been in disarray ever since. I mean no good what so ever, no new tests, no dates on when curriculum will be prepared, it’s just an absolute mess to behold. This is indicative of what Pro Tools has become and I don’t see it improving any time soon.
It's been a month since I wrote the post about Pro Tools X and since then, I have gleaned further information on a few more things that don't quite make much sense to me. Before I go into the additional issues I have with the way that AVID has chosen to conduct business, I wanted to clearly state that I am still and will always likely be a Pro Tools user on some level. I am not a tool hater and don't enjoy arguing Pro Tools / Logic, or Mac / PC. I like using what ever sounds best and gets the job done within a reasonable amount of time. So while 2" tape sounds awesome the efficiency of digital leads me more often than not to choose it. That said, let's take a look at the new issues that I have learned since I last wrote about the issues that I have with Pro Tools X.
When manufacturers roll out a new product, it is created by the labor of a crack engineering staff. The engineers are typically not the trainers and when you roll out a new version of software annually, there is an emphasis placed upon new features and not new complications. Unfortunately there is a new complication that won't please many people very much. If you plan to make the move to Pro Tools HDX, you must have a newer Mac Pro to put it in. Yep I said it, you need a newer Mac Pro to place the place the HDX card in. These include: the 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor, 2.4GHz Quad- Core Intel Xeon and Westmere processors, Two 2.66GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon and Westmere processors. If your Mac Pro does not have one of these processors you will be in need of a new computer to run the HDX system.But wait, there's more!
If you have an ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB Graphics Card, You have an issue as well. This card requires you to plug two cables up to it to supply more power than your Mac Pro's bus system will deliver. The problem with this is, your computer only has two of these connections available for the card inside of it. Well, this new HDX card requires one of those two connections. Soooo, if you want to run HDX you will be in need of a new graphics card. Now I am not entirely sure how that completely shakes out, I just know that this is a note worthy issue. Let's tackle another tech issue.
Pro Tools X is not immediately backwards compatible. Yep, take a session out of Pro Tools X and try to run it in Pro Tools 9 and it wont work. If you want to run that X session in 9 or earlier version of Pro Tools, you have to perform a File>Save Copy In. I haven't checked to see if you need to add the audio files, which you probably shouldn't have to. You can probably just get away with saving the .ptx file as a .ptf file and sending the session along. (ED Note: That is not entirely weird as you have the same work around protocols in SADiE, Wavelab, and many other long used DAWs)
All that said, I know that AVID is preparing for a bigger and more robust version of the DAW and the afore mentioned technical issues may be a necessary inconvenience that we as users have to experience for the DAW to be competitive within the next few years. This fact I am OK with and with people stumbling into this knowledge regularly, it sooner or later will become common knowledge and we will all immediately be able to identify the fixes and work around protocols.
Here is what I am bugged out about.
You all are familiar with AVID.com and the support button right? (If you aren't, just agree with me and ask someone about it later!) That's where you go download the updates to Pro Tools. Well that has been taken out of the AVID website. Yep, you can no longer go there and download the updates; this is for a couple of reasons. Now when you buy Pro Tools X, there won’t be a disc in a box. There will be a download code issued to you, that doesn't bother me because many manufacturers are doing that. The second reason is what bothers me, and it is because they have added a proprietary web browser to Pro Tools X. A web browser? Yep a web browser, who takes me to places that I was too pissed off to remember what they were. Here's what I do remember, they are now selling tech support. Hmm, I think that's a great idea, just not in the damn program. Who ever took the time to make sure that it became part of the DAW was more interested in the bottom line than they were the user, and that's why I am here in front of you writing again my friends.
Who at AVID is concerning themselves with the user? People look at "Real Engineers" as a beacon of hope on the horizon. I couldn't be who I am today if complete strangers hadn't invested their time and energy in my interests and the culture of engineering. They took me from a beat making novice engineer, to a Professional Recording Engineer. They didn't do this because they owed me or even cared about me personally, but because they respected the culture that we as engineers represent, they taught me as they once had been taught. They cared about the user, the legacy and the fact that if they didn't teach me right, 20 years from now, I couldn't ensure that their techniques, ideas and art would live on through me.
That is what is missing at not only AVID but at multiple manufacturers and from multiple people in the world of professional audio in general. I would have loved to have really discussed my last blog with someone at AVID. Sadly though, no one from there contacted me, and I understand that. Someone speaking their mind usually isn't popular and I try not to be condescending or indignant, I just want to express the emotions that some actions make me feel. Nothing more, nothing less. After my last post, Abelton called me and said they wanted to talk. (Thanks to Dave Hillel and Thomas Faulds) This kind of action is based upon respect for the user and deserves to be mentioned. As a result of that we just did a big Abelton clinic at my school last week with about 50 attendees and are discussing doing another one, this time we need more time and should have a workshop not a clinic.
P.S. I want to send a personal thank you to Eric "Big Fuzz" Taylor, Joe Warlick, Danny Leake, and Dan Harjung. I respect these engineers immensely and I know and love a lot of great engineers, not taking anything from anyone else I love all of you and there are too many to name, but these guys have spent a lot of personal time with me showing me what it means to be an engineer and I cannot thank them enough. Google their credits and when you see them buy them a bottle of water or something, because if I have helped you in any way, written, or recorded anything with you, for you, or for you to read, it was because their selflessness gave me the tools to share with you . ~Respect
Chris "Godxilla" Taylor
Lead Instructor, Recording and Music Technology
Avid Certified Pro Tools Expert
Very interesting viewpoints to say the least.
I’m sure there are other opinions out there and we would like to hear them and possibly print them in the upcoming EARDRUM.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the opinion of the EARS management.
September 9, 1965 - January 9, 2012
Mikey G was a rare bird, a skyscraper among all of us. I never knew anyone with quite the audio/musical knowledge that he had. Butcher Boy Studios would certainly not be what it is without him. Mikey rebuilt over twenty vintage Neumann microphones for me and numerous vintage AKG mics, and they've never sounded better. I've come to realize that there are only a handful of people in the world that can do that. He also built a killer 1950's UA (Universal Audio) preamp arsenal that's second to none, not to mention all the miscellaneous repairs and additions that he had done for the studio. But what really made Mikey so special to the world, was his musical genius. He earned a BA in music from Memphis State and applied his musical knowledge to everything he did audio-wise. Not only was there nothing he couldn't figure out technically, but he used his passion and genius for music with everything he did and that is a rarity! I will miss him terribly and I am honored to have known and worked with him...
God Bless You Brother.
Butcher Boy Studios
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