Centrance’s Mixerface in crowdsourcing mode

by Carl. 0 Comments

Crowdsourcing is everywhere. Now, it’s Centrance’s turn. The manufacturer of professional audio equipment launches a crowdsourcing project for its future Mixerface, a compact two channel USB audio interface.

Centrance MixerfaceThe Centrance Mixerface is a 24-bit/192kHz professional recording USB interface for Mac, PC and iDevices. It features two discrete, studio-grade mic preamps with 48V Phantom, Pan/Mixer/Monitor and a rechargeable battery. Continue reading »»

Tascam’s Portastudio on iPad

by Carl. 0 Comments

Who ever was in the music industry in the eighties has bumped into Tascam’s Portastudio.

Believe it or not, modern times see the introduction of Tascam’s Portastudio on iPad. Reproducing the look and feel of the Porta One cassette based multitrack recorder that revolutionized recording in 1984, the Portastudio app records up to four tracks.
Tascam's Portastudio on iPad
The application allows to record one track at a time using the built-in mic or a headset microphone. A simulated cassette transport with position counter tracks your position while you mix with level, pan and EQ controls. When you’re ready to mix, the built-in mixdown function saves your song as a CD-quality WAV file. Your mix appears in iTunes when you’re finished, ready to share with friends and bandmates.

Idealistics will hope some hardware extension will soon allow for higher quality standard than the built-in microphone. Others will think this is a gadget lacking numerous features at times of powerful multitrack recording software…

Sony Soutina glass speaker

by Carl. 0 Comments

I don’t know how they sound but the Sony Soutina glass speakers really look awesome.

They feature a transparent organic glass tube which vibrates and expands sound to 360 degrees. A short glance at the specs:

  • Frequency response of 50Hz – 20,000Hz
  • Input line, coaxial, and optical connectivity (means active speakers)
  • Subwoofer (13cm)
  • Medium speaker (7cm)
  • Tweeter made of organic glass

Last but not the least, the price hurts (6,500 €)…

Radio Automation by Google

by Carl. 1 Comment

In the world of radio automation, here is a product that will probably announce some changes to come. Google Radio Automation is an all-in-one radio automation system that seems to include everything needed for modern broadcasting including podcasting.

The Google Radio Automation user interface is widget based for easy customization of the workspace.

Google Radio Automation comes packed in a 19″ rack enclosure featuring ability to cope with up to 3 removable drives but can also handle Google’s RED external RAID to support up to 12 drives for a max of 7.5Tbytes storage. Considering that one minute of CD-quality audio roughly represents 10 Mbytes, that’s quite some room to store audio files.

Last but not the least, Google Radio Automation natively supports Google AdSense for Audio.

If interested, just have a look at the show roadmap planned for the coming year.

What about the relevance to the radio uses, the performance of the product, its business model and finally its adoption by the radio broadcast industry? The future of Google Radio Automation will be interesting to follow.


Live Sound gets automated one more step

by Carl. 0 Comments

Part of the Queen Mary University of London, Departement of Electronic Engineering, the Centre for Digital Music works on Automatic Mixing Tools.

Let’s see how they describe their project:

The Automatic Mixing Tools project aims to implement several independent systems that when combined together can generate an automatic sound mix out of an unknown set of multi-channel inputs. The research explores the possibility of reproducing the mixing decisions of a skilled audio engineer with minimal or no human interaction. The research is restricted to non-time varying mixes for large room acoustics. This research has application to live sound music concerts, remote mixing, recording and postproduction as well as live mixing for interactive scenes.

The automatic mixer research distinguishes the engineering mixing from the subjective mixing. Therefore the current research is focused on a constrained rule mixing layer and a subjective mixing layer. The rule-based section is based on engineering constraints while the subjective layer is based on a target mixing style. This target style can be extracted from previously mixed songs based on feature extraction. Two approaches are under study. One is a modified automatic mixer, whose settings can be adapted based on target features and the other is based on a multilayer feedback network. The target mixing methods rely on output feature similarity to the reference features of the target mix. It is the current belief of the author that the use of expert training data can be used to increase the convergence rate of the system.

Currently automated mixers are capable of saving a timeline of static mix scenes, which can be loaded for later use. But they lack the ability to adapt to a different room or to a different set of inputs. In other words, they lack the ability to automatically taking mixing decisions. In the current research approach the starting point is a target mixing style, rather than a fixed prerecorded setup. This has the advantage of being able to blend a mixing style of a completely different song into an unknown set of inputs.

The justification of this research is the need of non-expert audio operators and musicians to be able to achieve a quality mix with minimal effort. Currently mixing is a task which requires grate skills, practice and can be sometime tedious. For the professional mixing engineer this kind of tool will reduce sound check time and will prove useful in multiple music group and festivals where changing from one group to another should be done really quickly. Currently large audio productions tend to have hundreds of channels, being able to group some of those channels into an automatic mode will ease the mixing task to the audio engineer. There is also the possibility of applying this technology to remote mixing applications where latency is too large to be able to interact with all aspects of the mix.

This research is pursuing the knowledge required to develop automatic mixtures comparable in quality to those performed by professional human mixing console operators. Implementation, subjective comparison and error distance measure between a target mixture style and the automatic mixture will measure the success of the results. By style we refer not only to a certain genre of music but also to a producer or engineer subjective contribution to a mix.

Future end for sound engineers? Although automated mixing consoles such as pioneering Innovason’s digital audio mixing consoles have brought extreme flexibility for live events how will this translate into usability? Future will tell.


HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray

by Carl. 0 Comments

And the winner is… Blu-Ray!!!

It was just another battle between formats, remember the BetaMax vs VHS war.

Since Toshiba, the main driving force behind HD DVD, recently announced it would no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players, we’re settled for Blu-Ray. OK! But is it really the end? Is Blu-Ray really the winner? And for how long?

This war, maintaining confusion in the customers’ mind and thus delaying possible mass adoption, has helped a third party actor, online video, to move-up. While online video is still not a strong actor, it will probably challenge DVD and Blu-Ray pretty earlier than planned.

Let’s have a look at what happened and happens on the music market and let’s try to learn from it.

The story is quite different but the outcome may be the same. While the audio industry was happy with the Audio CD, new formats have been introduced to fight against piracy. SACD on one hand, DVD-A on the other but no one really cared about what the consumer wanted, access to a lot of music at a reasonable price. Downloadable music answered the need, legally or not. We now have a situation where “hardware” music sales drop down every year. And the only lacking step for downloadable music to win the battle is the definition of a true standard for each change of player.

While music can be listened to several times, this is less true for movies. Therefore, downloadable video or online VOD will probably win the battle even faster, probably as soon as the proper broadband Internet access bandwidth allowing it will be widely available. An EC report forecasts that, by 2010, almost 90 percent of Europe’s home Internet users will use broadband, among which 33 percent will be connected using fibre optic networks. With download bandwiths up to 100 Mbits/s allowing for HD TV to be streamed in realtime, no doubt the fibre optic network customers will switch to downloadable or online video rapidly.

So I’m afraid the golden days of Blu-Ray won’t last long. Once again, everything is in the hands of the content providers. Will they try to protect their old fashioned business model as music majors did? Or will they manage to take customers’ expectations into account and come out with updated business models? It caused severe damages to the music industry not being able to do the right choice in the right time…

When Open Source and Pro Audio meet

by Carl. 1 Comment

We had the Audacity project for a powerful audio recording and editing environment. We now have the ardour project for a true audio workstation that targets to compete the major options available.

According to the Ardour project web site: “Ardour capabilities include: multichannel recording, non-destructive editing with unlimited undo/redo, full automation support, a powerful mixer, unlimited tracks/busses/plugins, timecode synchronization, and hardware control from surfaces like the Mackie Control Universal. If you’ve been looking for a tool similar to ProTools, Nuendo, Pyramix, or Sequoia, you might have found it.

Ardour currently runs on Linux, Solaris, and Mac OS X.

More, SAE recently announced its support to this project.