LOS LOBOS CORRECTIONS
I enjoyed the article on Los Lobos in the June issue. I did notice a couple of factual errors I'd like to comment on. The modules in Cesar's console are mostly 33114 and a few 33115s. Although I have informally chatted with Tchad Blake in over the years, I have never worked with him. So I have only been “schooled” by him insofar as his work has influenced me from a distance.
UPMIXING WITH DIGNITY
In the April 2002 issue, Hank Neuberger remarked on the downside of “up-mixing,” pointing out the “baloney” of taking a 2-track mix, passing it through some process, and then misrepresenting it as a 5.1 DVD.
I, too, am concerned about producers “rechanneling” 2-channel material and passing it off as 5.1. And surely this will happen. It already has. But there are two sides to every story. I have invented a patent-pending algorithm that is a very powerful “up-mixer,” together with that superb DSP programmer and inventor, Glenn Zelniker, who licensed my K-Surround process for Z-Systems Model ZK-6.
This is a true psycho-acoustically based ambience-extraction algorithm, which separates out the inherent ambience in recorded material and sends it to the surround channels, among other facilities in the ZK-6.
There are many legitimate uses for such a box, e.g., television mixes in surround that need to incorporate and “expand” original music that was originally produced in stereo and is not available in surround. Also, motion picture mixes where the mix engineer wants to expand and envelop original 2-channel music recordings, or surround mixes for record albums where the original multitrack tapes are damaged or unavailable.
Recently, the original mix engineer for an album that was being remixed for surround realized that two tunes for the album had been extensively edited on the 2-track. It would have been prohibitively expensive for him to remix and then re-edit this material, and the album could not have come out. He used the Z-K6 and was very happy with the results in 5.1. Note that the up-processing was performed by the original engineer in the same studio, with the same integrity, creativity and monitoring context as the rest of the 5.1 album that he was remixing. This is the way to approach such a problem with integrity. And that is the way in which the Z-K6 is marketed. It is not a “plug-and-play” tool that just anyone can operate; its parameters require the skills of an experienced mixing or mastering engineer. We have about a 50% success record turning 2-tracks to 6; not every one is suitable, and it would be a miracle to expect better.
There is a competing algorithm from TC Electronic that also performs “upmixing” and has other sonic attributes. Sometimes mixes that do not work well with our system are better suited for the other, and vice versa. But what both systems have in common is the need for the taste and skills of an experienced producer, preferably the original producer of the record. Do I agree with Hank that this kind of approach is “disrespectful to the artists, their music and the audience”? Not in this case — not when it's done with integrity and professionalism.
INSECURE ABOUT SECURITY
As an avid Mix reader and Internet-addicted audio professional, I am quite surprised by the lack of coverage of the content industries' lobbying efforts directed at your country's legislators. Laws such as the DMCA and bills such as the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA), formerly known as the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), are designed to give downright ludicrous and devastating legislative powers to Hollywood, the record labels and the like.
The Broadcast Protection Discussion Group (BPDG), for instance, is proposing that all A/D converters be fitted with technology that allows them to shut down if the data they are processing is watermarked and, therefore, deemed copy-protected by Hollywood (see http://bpdg.blogs.eff.org/archives/000113.html). Can you imagine the implications this would have on our industry? Your new Telefunky MR3205 would actually shut down if the converters detected a watermark from, say, a show from the TV that's on in your control room. All the fancy gear with A/Ds in your control rooms would be illegal, because they do not possess watermark-detection circuits.
The content industry would like to slip all these changes under the radar of the American people and make them into law, thereby increasing their monopolistic stranglehold on content, and I feel it is the responsibility of your publication to keep your readers informed. Our industry's technological side is borne from innovation and free development. We need fewer restrictions, not more.
Audio systems coordinator
Corel Centre/Ottawa Senators Hockey Club
Copyright legislation, security and rights-management issues are undergoing constant revision as technologies develop. For the newest developments in copyright and digital rights-management schemes — and their implications on the audio industry — check out this month's “Bitstream” and Paul Lehrman's take on the latest “copy-protected” CDs in “Insider Audio.” — Eds.
A letter in the May issue titled “Apples or Oranges?” questioned Eddie Ciletti's statements with regards to compression and limiting in his January “Tech's Files” column. I believe Eddie's statements, taken within the context of the article, were in reference to VU meter response for different types of material and compressor/limiter action. Also seldom mentioned with older variable-mu compressor/limiters is the fact that attack time does somewhat dictate whether you get compression or limiting, due to the speed and level of transients causing limiting in most program situations. This also is completely dependent on the release time setting, as well as the threshold/ratio setting; for instance, a fast enough release at any ratio for most units will lower the ratio to nearly unity again. That is why this circuit type generally has only a few presets; wide control functions allow for wildly different results and a very steep learning curve.
One can understand early engineer's yearning for a compressor/limiter with discrete control functions. I suspect many early poorer-sounding units were sales successes on the merits of their control functions alone, despite having inferior overall sound.
Electromagnetic Radiation Recorders
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