Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shadow Hills Mono Optograph 500

"This Single channel discrete optical compressor, in the API 500 series form factor, takes its cues and much of its design from the optical stage of its behemoth Big Brother, the Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor. The Optograph's front end is balanced by an original Jensen input transformer. The output utilizes our specially recreated Nickel transformer. The essence of the compressor's character comes from our custom electroluminescent cell and discrete op-amp combination. The high quality circuit is pristine enough for bus compression, and yet has a unique character reminiscent of an antique world class compressor, that has just now been discovered. It's also perfect for squeezing drum busses and massaging vocals. It's the perfect glue for tracking and mixing anything that needs to sound more finished, more like a record.

Just like The Mastering Compressor, the Optograph's threshold and make up gain are controlled by discrete attenuators, made from custom twenty-four position Elma switches. The tactile feel and quality of these controls are unrivaled. They are of the highest quality and will last forever.

Built into the side chain, are a very powerful series of filters: 90 hertz, 150 hertz, 250 hertz, and band pass. By engaging a specific filter, you choose at which point the onset of compression occurs. First position, nothing below ninety triggers compression. Second position, nothing below one-fifty. Third, nothing below two-fifty. The fourth position is a musical bandpass filter. In this position, compression is triggered by the program's mid-range frequency content, ignoring the highest and lowest frequencies. The filters are amazingly useful for shifting the focus of what should be more compressed and creating compression curves on purpose.

Another unique feature for sculpting the overall sonic character is the Transformer Desaturate mode. In this mode we cancel out any distortion and frequency non-linearity’s caused by the output transformer. The result is a pure, almost transformer-less sound, whilst still receiving the benefits, of limiting transients that can only come from magnetics."

FMR Audio A.R.C

"The FMR Audio A.R.C.—an acronym for “Articulation, Resonance and Clarity”—is named for its perceived effects on the sound of many instruments. The A.R.C. allows you to easily alter how more transient notes “stand out” against sustained ones (articulation, resonance), while increasing the overall perceived clarity of the sound. The A.R.C. offers sonic performance, along with a unique combination of other features, that you will find equally useful in the studio or on the stage.

Specifically, the FMR Audio A.R.C. provides: 

1) A boost function that buffers and amplifies instrument signals to a higher level. 

2) A compressor that enhances your instrument’s tone and dynamics. 

3) A direct box to interface your instrument to live or recording studio equipment. 

4) A studio effect that may be used to process audio tracks from your favorite Digital 

Audio Workstation (DAW) or recorder."

Aurora Audio GTQC Channelstrip

"The GTQC combines the GTQ2 mic preamp and EQ circuit with a new compressor which features both Fet and Opto compression. Perfect for vocals the GTQC sets the new standard in the channel strip segment of the market. This box is a monster with several transformers and amplifier stages to add that vintage British character.

GTQC Preamp/ EQ Section Features :
The same transformer balanced Class A mic preamp/ EQ from the GTQ2
Direct input with 10dB gain and 10Mohm input impedance
Three band EQ provides + 15dB adjustment at 80Hz (Bass), 12KHz (Treble) and mid frequencies of 400Hz, 1,600Hz and 3,200Hz
80Hz 18dB/octave High Pass Filter

GTQC Compressor Section Features :
Both Fet and Opto compression
Hybrid combination mode which allows the use of both compression circuits on the same signal Auto Attack & Release function that is well suited for vocals, bass, etc.
Compressor is also transformer balanced & utilizes the same Class A amplifier stages as the GTQ2 Internal fully regulated power supplies with ample power reserves."

Tech Tues.: Microphone Pop Filter tips (updated).

I had posted this some years ago and decided to re-post it. Many artists are now recording in their home studios and I've been having conversations lately regarding microphones and pop filter placement when recording vocals.

Here is the post with updated links and pics:

Always use a pop filter when recording vocals. It should be placed at least 4 to 6 inches away from the microphone. Never place it directly on the windscreen of the mic as this will defeat the the purpose of the filter. A pop filter is necessary to prevent sibilance (Ssss sounds), pops (b and p sounds), blasts of air and moisture from hitting the diaphragm of the mic. This will degrade the sound of the vocal and possibly damage the mic. It will also alleviate the proximity effect (When a mic is placed too close to a sound source the low end response is exaggerated) and the vocal will sound much more natural. 
Another reason to not place the pop filter too close to the mic is that the artist tends to move around a little when performing and the vocal will change greatly in level and tone if they don't stand perfectly still and keep the same exact distance on every syllable or phrase (No artist can deliver a great performance this way). Movement affects the sound less when the mic is a foot away from the talent. There's also less chance of microphone overload from too much level. Besides, we don't listen to singers or instruments by placing our ear directly next to them.  
A quick way to find the approximate distance to place the pop filter without using measuring tape or ruler is to use the length of your hand as a guide. Place your index finger near the diaphragm and extend your thumb so that your hand makes an L shape similar to the image below:

Then place the pop filter at that distance.



Here are some links to various pop filters:

For more great info/tips on pop filters (and many other audio related topics) make sure to visit E-Home Recording Studio's website for their post on the "7  best pop filters for recording vocals".