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At AES: Capricorn Records, Dolby Atmos Music and a Few Black Boxes

By Tom Kenny. The editor of Mix shares the insights and inside info he’s gleaned from his travels on the AES show floor.

New York, NY (October 17, 2019)—On a visit to Muscle Shoals a few months back, in preparation for an upcoming Mix cover story on Glenn Rosenstein and the Hall family’s reconditioning of FAME Studios Studio 2, they kept asking me if I had been over to Capricorn Records in Macon, GA, to see what they had been doing. No, I hadn’t, but …

In the first 15 minutes of the show opening, I stopped by the API booth to apologize for having to miss their 11 a.m. press conference. Dan Zimbelman said, “Hold on, have you heard about what they’re doing down at Capricorn Records? They’re here. They just bought the largest 2448 console we’ve ever built. That’s the press conference.”

Tom Kenny on “A Few of My Favorite Things…at AES”

So I was introduced to Larry Brumley, vice president of Mercer University, which has become a partner, and informal owner, in the world-famous studio founded by the late Phil Walden (a Mercer grad with a degree in economics) during the Capricorn label’s heyday at the epicenter of southern rock, and Steve Ivey, a Mercer grad who has served as studio adviser on the reconditioning. Rob Evans will be studio manager. Oh! And the console will be entirely solar-powered. For real. The grand opening is Dec.r 3, and legendary Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones keyboardist-vocalist Chuck Leavell (who also founded the popular jazz-rock ensemble Sea Level) will be there. Look for another Mix cover within the year!

After leaving the API booth, on my way to a meeting with Avid, I ran into John Loose, who runs the studio operations at Dolby. He was getting excited for the Wednesday night party down in SoHo at the 20,000 square-foot Dolby Experience Center, where, jointly with Avid, they’ll be celebrating 60 years of Island Records and running Dolby Atmos Music tracks all night long.

Dolby Atmos for Music is a big deal right now, with tracks already being released and a call for at least 3,000 more from the Universal Music Group by the end of the year.

Speaking of which, my Avid appointment was with Rob D’Amico, and we talked about next month’s Pro Tools 2019 update, which will allow in-the-box mixing, along with multiple mixes in a single WAV file. Users can now send 130 channels from Pro Tools to the Dolby Atmos Renderer. It’s all about workflow, and the 4k video resolution and higher-resolution frame rates.

And in a couple of side notes, Avid has become an official member of the Netflix Post Technology Alliance, Avid Link is up to 400,000 members (adding roughly 2,000 a day). And the Avid Play music streaming service, whereby for a small fee of $5 a track or $20 for 20 tracks, they will distribute to all streaming services, properly formatted, and the artist gets 100% of the scrilla.

Then came Facebook Live Streams with Mackie and the ProFX V3 mixers, followed by a look at Prodigy MP, the new Swiss Army Knife multifunction processor from DirectOut Technologies. Stop by Booth 350, it’s quite a box.

One more thing…. I just now heard that Phil Wagner, after 10 years, is back at SSL, which just released the Origin analog console. Congratulations, Phil!