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Uttlesford Business Awards 2018

Uttlesford Business Awards 2018

I am very pleased to announce that I am a finalist in the Uttlesford Business Awards 2018! What? The awards celebrate businesses and entrepreneurs in the Uttlesford area. The studio is a 2018 finalist in the “Online Innovator of the Year” category. Last year’s winner in this category was Saffron Screen so I’m in good company! More information on the awards is available here: http://uttlesfordbusinessawards.co.uk/ When? The awards ceremony will take place on 14th June 2018 at Parklands near Saffron Walden so I have all our fingers and toes crossed! It’s nice to have an excuse to dust-off my tuxedo to be honest… Why? In my line of work, most business leads come from the internet. It’s how most people find out about the studio and so it’s very important to have a good online presence. I spend a lot of time updating Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and also trying to make sure I rank well online. I also upload regular videos and tutorials to YouTube. It’s great to have the recognition of all my hard work and I’ll keep you posted on the...
C12/251 Tube Mic Build for Client

C12/251 Tube Mic Build for Client

I recently received a phone call from Cardiff. Huw had seen my blog post on modifying an Alctron MC001 microphone and wanted me to build him some mics. He was after a couple of valve/tube microphones based on the AKG C12/Telefunken ELA m251. “Sure,” I said, “Why not?” The 12/251 mic mod kit The “12/251 Mic Mod Kit” as supplied by Microphone-parts.co.uk Huw had chosen the silver-finish mics and had opted for a pair. Nothing else is needed as part of the build. It has everything you need except a UK mains plug as the units ship from the states.   The Mic Kits The mics are almost identical to the Apex 460 kit I bought. A difference is that there is no branding on the PSU. Also, the mic body has received a rather fetching silver paint finish.   The mic kits took a couple of weeks to arrive as they ship from the USA. There was also a £200-odd tax bill to pay this side of the pond which held up proceedings still further. It’s good that the mic boxes hold everything you need for the build. All components are in bags ready to go and a booklet contains clear, precise instructions. Components The 12/251 tube mic kit comes with all these components to create the mic. You don’t need anything else except solder, time and patience.   First Things First The first thing I did was to change the power supply unit. To do this you swap out a couple of low-quality diodes – simple enough. This also comes set for 120V mains current and needs changing. – see...
Threecircles has Pro Tools HD|2 Accel!

Threecircles has Pro Tools HD|2 Accel!

Admittedly a bit late in the the day – seeing as Avid have moved over to the new HDX system – we are now using a Pro Tools HD 2 Accel system running Pro Tools 10. A new HDX system would require a new Macintosh computer to run as well as around a £15,000 in new hardware – something that wouldn’t give our clients the best value for money as we would have to raise fees! We also have many years of use left in our current Mac Pro and stepped off the upgrade train some while ago! This system is rock solid and gets around a lot of the problems we were encountering with the Apogee Symphony system running Logic Pro 9 – mainly hanging and crashes and the system not being ready to record when we were! This is all a thing of the past now and we are able to use lots more plugins due to the DSP processing on the 2 HD Accel cards – plugins from Waves and Sonnox can now be run with next to no latency while recording and are not taxing the native CPU so projects can be larger and more complex. We also now have a TDM copy of Cranesong Phoenix – a lovely saturation plugin, as well as the GML EQ option for the Sonnox EQ – a lovely algorithm based on the Massenbourg 8200 EQ. We now have 2 Digi 192 interfaces and one of the original Rosetta 800 AD interfaces we were using with the Apogee Symphony system – giving us a total of 24 physical inputs...
Leigh-on-Sea Location Recording

Leigh-on-Sea Location Recording

I was recently invited to travel to Leigh-on-Sea near Southend to record a small baroque quartet who wished to record a song cycle of 9 German arias by George Frideric Handel. The quartet contained a Harpsichord which was the main reason for doing this recording on location – they are difficult things to move! I agreed to meet at the house at 10am and setup before the rest of the performers arrived at 11.30, giving me plenty of time to get ready. The Leigh-on-Sea Quartet The “Leigh-on-Sea Baroque Quartet” that I was tasked with recording; consisting of Harpsichord, Cello, Flute and solo Soprano. Location recording was requested due to the inability to move the harpsichord. This, however worked in my favour as the room lent itself to recording – lots of soft furnishings that meant that the acoustic was musical but fairly dry. Not knowing what to expect, I inevitably packed more much more equipment than I ended up using but this afforded a certain amount of options during the recording. The musicians were set up in the music room towards the rear of the house – affording some distance from road noise – and I set up in the front room. I ran a small 8-channel multicore between the rooms which afforded me some acoustic separation. This is really beneficial as monitoring on headphones when tracking without any speakers can be rather troublesome. Control RoomMy makeshift control room for the recording.   I used my trusty Presonus Studiolive 16:4:2 digital desk which fed my Macbook running Logic 9. A pair of PC speakers were utilised for playback duties. Once...
Studio Upgrade to 64 Bit

Studio Upgrade to 64 Bit

The wait is finally over – Threecircles Recording Studio has finally upgraded to 64Bit! “A bit late?” I hear you cry? Well I subscribe to the old adage of “If it ain’t broke….” My system was moving along quite nicely on relatively old Mac OS (10.5 – Leopard) and I didn’t want to rock the boat. Upgrading the OS of a studio computer usually means a lot of down-time while you check every plugin and combination to make sure that you won’t face a crash during a session (not cool!). Upgrades came and went and I couldn’t see the point in upgrading as I never really stressed out the machine when running fairly heavy arrangements and the potential benefits were small. The main problem with NOT upgrading was that there was a 4Gb ceiling on Logic when running at 32 bit – meaning that any processor-hungry plugins or software instruments would hog system resources and crash or slow-down sessions. With a 64-Bit system, the ceiling of 4Gb goes away meaning that you are free to utilise however much RAM you have in your system. Apogee Symphony 64 Card Thankyou eBay – a mint condition 64-Bit Apogee symphony card from only £121 delivered, instead of £900! The card is also half the length of the 32-Bit card, meaning fitting it in the PCI chassis is much easier! The main issue was that my Apogee Symphony card was 32-Bit only and could only run up to OSX 10.6.7 – not good if I wanted to upgrade to the latest versions of UAD for example – to make use of the new...
Eventide H-3000 upgrade

Eventide H-3000 upgrade

You may have seen on our Facebook page that I recently managed to get my grubby hands on an Eventide H-3000. “A what?” I hear you cry… The Eventide H-3000 is what’s known as a Harmonizer – a unit capable of effects like flanging, phasing and chorus by splitting the incoming signal and applying varying degrees of detune and delay to create a thickened sound. The units is synonymous with the wide 80’s guitar sounds from Eddie van Halen and many, many others and that sound is making a comeback….. In fact my most popular videos on YouTube (over 60,000 views and counting!) is a tutorial on how to create a split harmonizer effect using software. You can see it here:  The unit I have is the original from 1988 and has seen various upgrades in the past two decades – the problem being that the upgrades are usually on the rather expensive side – the newest model – the H-8000, retails for around £4,500…… The is where eBay comes in. For around $60 and a two-week wait you can get hold of the upgrade chips to convert your unit into one of its newer siblings in all but the name. The units all contain the same algorithms – it’s just the presets that change. Threecircles Recording Studio - H3000 Inside Here you can see what the H-3000 looks like on the inside – pretty daunting! the area for modification is in the top right near the power switch. A PCB trace needs cutting and the ePROM chips needs swapping over – made a lot easier by removing the...