In my fourteen (!) years teaching and lecturing at RMIT University’s Sound Production program in Audio Engineering I have had the pleasure to meet many wonderful people. But the time comes when creative choices begin to outweigh the financial decisions made prior to meet the needs of parenting and raising two children. In 2020 there will be a Changing of the Guard so to speak as I reduce my teaching tenure to a few days per week allowing more time for making records and playing jazz. Academic life has regrettably supported a focus on narrower and narrower aspects that underly our creativity, so I now yearn to address this imbalance. Over the next year my graduate from many years ago and now colleague, Mark Kelson will be gradually prepared to take over the duties I shall step away from. This gives me great pleasure to know the program I have developed with a wonderful team of others will remain in hands that are inspired and engaged in the art of engineering… whilst I again focus upon actual creativity. I need to acknowledge and pay utmost respect to my fellow team members at RMIT who have been absolute stalwarts in the success of this program: Michael “Smasha” Pollard, Timothy Johnston, John Phillips and Paul Thomas. Previous program managers Jen Anderson and Bruce Jacques were also instrumental in both developing this program but importantly assembling this particular team of awarded engineers and creators; all of whom are still fully engaged outside of their teaching roles. Thank you x
Well, it’s been nearly six months of “no studio” status - profoundly affecting my general outlook on life and definitely impacting my creative output. Relocating the teenagers and myself to my partner’s home was never going to be an easy or simple task, so the December 30th flooding of the house that rendered the allocated studio space, master bedroom, ensuite and laundry uninhabitable certainly added a few more layers of complexity that none of us could possibly have prepared for.
But we are somehow nearly there and beginning with the studio, finally commence putting all our plans into action - only then will we really have any idea of how this “tree-change” has worked. It is when faced with unimaginable hurdles that dealing with the other elements in our lives becomes exaggerated and amplified. I am the first to put up my hand and state I’ve not dealt with it very elegantly at times and sitting in the studio space for the first “listen” last night was profoundly confronting.
So here’s a very sincere message to those I dearly love. Those closest to me who have literally put up with me during this studio-hiatus and soul-searching period. The same people who actually feed my heart and soul with the very reasons I have to create - you are each my muse and my sustenance. To each of you, for all you’ve done for me over the last six months… THANK YOU.
Next post: Re-Opening special rates on Mastering.
New home for my pair of Quad Eight CL22's. Proudly sharing the ToKwerX right-hand rack with the Harrison 32C's. Both units were racked and modified by Rob Squire @ Proharmonic in Adelaide. Even passing signal through the CL22's adds a density and low-mid body to the signal. Very reminiscent of the UA1176 and Empirical Labs Distressor. One Happy ToK!
Take 1 Bad Cat, 1 Cool Cat, 1 Warm Console, 3 Excellent Microphones. Blend them together and ensure phase coherence...then turn it up!
Nico Di Stefano is a wonderful guitarist and a very cool cat. His new amp is cool too, but it's a Bad Cat - which is still a very good cat. Exploiting the Neve Genesys console tracking solos for the upcoming debut EP for REBELLIOUS BIRD. Due for release this Spring...stay tuned.
Thought a few of you addicted to AP (Audio-Porn) would appreciate seeing the workmanship of this gorgeous console. Swapped out Channel 9 due to a noisy Pre-Amp.
Phew! A few hectic days relocating the ToKwerX system, but it gave me the opportunity to commission the new custom console I had built last year (thanx Mark Robins!). So, I started with this...
Then a number of days later ended up with this - Yay. I'm making noise again! Now to finish cleaning up the rest of my archives at Coloursound - thank you so much Mat Robins for having me there for the last three years.
A couple of things to connect but the system is running and sounds great. Just in time to mix and master the next jazz release for Chris Young, add ISRC codes to the recent Jo Dawson masters and commence post-tracking editing on the upcoming Rebellious Bird EP.
The next week will be spent commissioning our new SSL room. Frankly we're against the clock on this one, but off to a great start today; the AWS console is up and running!
We had to go almost underground at RMIT to find a new place ...
For this ...
Happy Mr Thomas!
Yes, these are lyrics from a song on the debut Strumpet album, circa 1995. And they perfectly describe today's activities at RMIT Sound Production. Our beloved NEVE Genesys console was in need of some special attention; an issue with the last eight channels not operating as expected. I thought many of you would enjoy seeing the construction quality of such an iconic and expensive console. All good now - NEVE has benefited from the Love!
Faders modules 17-24, 25-32 swapped out. Ribbons re-seated, firmware updated.
A wonderful day tracking of the upcoming EP release for Chris Magira. A Melbourne based country/blues solo artist, who was recently Unearthed by JJJ with his previous release. (Mastered @ ToKwerX)
The AWA console @ Coloursound is divine for tracking, with the Rupert Neve designed topology the tones are thick and warm. Although there's no Dynamics processing on board the recorded signal results with a dynamic range similar to that usually achieved with subtle soft-knee compression. A unique character from this last intact console of its kind. Mat Robins at Coloursound studios has provided a truly special sound for engineers seeking depth and warmth in their recordings.
A sonically wonderful start to the new year. Thanx to Chris Magira also of course!
Ok, so I had a rant about the lack of supporting documents from NEVE on the utilisation of the HUI protocol when communicating with ProTools software. Whilst NEVE have graciously "acknowledged the issues" with their User Manual they have since informed of an "update of documentation." This is welcome news for anyone looking to spend around $100k or more on one of their beautiful consoles. For the rest of us it is a timely reminder that even the high-end companies in our industry have the same issues as those further down the ladder when it comes to Customer Support. Today I sent a sincere email to NEVE in the UK with our setup details for their Genesys console, which we at RMIT have deduced after much frustration due to poor supporting documents in this area. The final result however should not be overlooked and I wish to acknowledge the quality of this console and it's functionality - yes, even when communicating with software via HUI. If a strict startup procedure is adhered to then the Genesys works exactly as promised, although this procedure is one significant omission from the manuals. Perseverance is required sometimes, even when information is not available. Once we finally got a clear picture of the exact way to setup the two devices we were elated to find - it was exactly what we had done! NEVE Genesys and ProTools together form an awesome studio centrepiece. This is, albeit belated, one very happy customer.
One of my best known pieces of advice to anyone learning a new program or device: "Read The F----ing Manual." Trouble begins when the device you're attempting to learn has a later version of operating software than the manual on the company's website; this happens to be the case with the AMS-Neve Genesys console. However I did realise the "Quick Guide" that came with the console had some clearer descriptions of setups and functions than the currently available User Manual. So, apologies to AMS-Neve for dissing their Manual but it is still essentially NOT the latest version. My new girlfriend "NEVE HARRISON" is now talking to Protools like She is supposed to, although the HUI protocol (the language the two of them use to communicate) is a pretty old codec and at times cumbersome and clunky. Unlike the newer "Eucon" protocol (which AVID acquired when they bought Euphonix) HUI does all of it's comm's across MIDI-via Ethernet and does not update faders with the same resolution that ethernet-based control-surfaces. I am frankly a little disappointed that AMS-Neve went with HUI and not the EUCON protocol as it does hobble the abilities of the interface between hardware and software. Maybe AVID is playing hard-ball in releasing the codec to 3rd party developers - I hope not.
Anyway, "She" is up and running, just in time for me to run off ... into the distance and across the horizon.