Our guide to audio monitoring solutions

Our guide to audio monitoring solutions

Making sure you’re compliant with loudness standards has now become just as important as the quality of your output. Whatever medium you work in – from audio for post-production to broadcast TV – it’s essential you have an audio monitoring and metering solution in place. Bearing that in mind, we’ve put together this guide to monitoring hardware, software and speakers, picking out a range of products from top manufacturers like TC Electronic, Waves, DK, Yamaha and Genelec that will suit all workflows and budgets.

If you’re new to the noisy subject of acceptable loudness standards for broadcast audio, this article on why ‘PPMs are not enough‘ gives background on why it’s now a must for broadcasters to maintain consistent volume. Essentially, watchdogs have clamped down on jumps between levels, especially on TV, which has led to the introduction of loudness level metadata (dialnorm) and an international standard for loudness measurement (ITU-R BS.1770).

Most studios will now have a solution in place to monitor loudness levels, and these can range from low-cost software plug-ins that complement your DAW to high-end external hardware. Either way, you also need to couple these with decent quality reference monitors to hear your content back. Here are the top solutions we recommend to fit in with your workflow, from outside broadcast to small studios.

Loudness monitoring hardware

TC Electronic DB6 Broadcast Loudness Monitor

TC Electronic DB6 Broadcast Loudness Processor. A TV and OB Broadcast processor that allows you to handle every aspect of loudness management, from monitoring to processing, to ensure complete compliance. Up- or down-convert to output both stereo or 5.1 streams simultaneously and deliver to any platform and any codec, be it HDTV, Mobile TV, Digital Radio or Podcast using AAC, Dolby, Ogg Vorbis, Lossless or Linear. £5995 ex VAT. Learn more.

TC Electronic TM7 Loudness Meter

TC Electronic TM7 TouchMonitor. Our most popular solution, this is a fully configurable standalone monitor, compatible with all major broadcast standards  including ITU-R BS.1770, EBU R128 and ATSC A/85. Optional Loudness Radar software lets you see how loudness varies over time, which is vital for long programme material. The TM7 is suitable for both surround and stereo material. £2735 ex VAT. Learn more.

RTW TM3 TouchMonitor Loudness Meter

RTW TM3 TouchMonitorA 4.3″ touchscreen stereo loudness audio meter which is ideal for smaller edit suites, offering loudness metering to the following standards:  EBU R128, ITU BS.1770-2/1771, ATSC A/85, and ARIB, with bar graphs and numerical readouts. A 6 channel version is also available and all models feature analogue and digital inputs. £1155 ex VAT. Learn more.

DK Technologies DK1 Master Stereo Loudness Meter

DK Technologies DK1 Master Stereo loudness meter. Simple, compact and expandable, the DK1 is about the size of a smartphone and is easily positioned to show you a realtime loudness readout, via Horizontal/Vertical Bargraph, FFT, Vectorscope, Phase correlation, StarFish, JellyFish and Horizontal/Vertical Moving Coil Emulation. The DK1 is compliant with all major loudness standards (BS1770-2. A/85, R128, ARIB and more). £929 ex VAT. Learn more.

Loudness monitoring software

Dolby Media MeterFeaturing Dialogue Intelligence technology and conforming to ITU-R BS.1770-1, the Dolby Media Meter is an ideal tool for monitoring loudness in dialogue-heavy transmissions. £599 ex VAT. Learn more.

TC Electronic LM6 Loudness Meter. The LM6 plug-in brings TC’s cutting edge Loudness Radar Meter technology to any DAW or NLE edit station, making it perfect for anyone creating output in Avid Pro Tools or Media Composer. £429 ex VAT. Learn more.

Waves WLM Loudness Meter. The WLM Loudness Meter from plug-in makers Waves provides ITU, EBU, and ATSC compliant loudness measurement and metering for broadcast, movie trailers, games and packaged media. £279 ex VAT. Learn more.

Nugen Audio LM-Correct Loudness Correction. This plug-in shows true-peak, Integrated Program Loudness and Short Term Loudness and support EBU R128, ITU B.S 1770-2 and more. £229 ex VAT. Learn more.

Monitor speakers

We offer a huge range of studio monitors from the likes of Focal, Genelec and Yamaha, so get in touch if you’re looking for something specific, but by far our best selling speaker bundles for loudness monitoring are the following. All of them are available in either stereo or surround setups.

Focal Full Surround Monitoring Bundle – £3699 ex VAT

Genelec 8030B Surround Bundle with 5.1 controller – £3139 ex VAT

Genelec 8030 Pair and Presonus Monitor Station – £899 ex VAT

Yamaha HS5 5.1 Monitoring Bundle – £1145 ex VAT

Yamaha HS5 Stereo Monitoring Bundle – £299 ex VAT

Why Jigsaw24?

We provide a whole range of solutions to give your production professional sound, from recording right through to the final edit. As an Avid HD Dealer, we can offer their full ‘One Avid’ production line-up, so you can seamlessly integrate your audio (Pro Tools) with video (Media Composer and Symphony). We also provide a range of shotgun mics, radio mics, wireless field recorders, full voiceover kits, and metering and loudness monitoring solutions – as well as consultancy, installations and preflights.

Want to know more about loudness monitoring and metering solutions? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. You can also follow @Jigsaw24Audio on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Apple release Logic Pro X

Apple release Logic Pro X

For the first time since Logic Pro 9 four years ago, Apple have released a major update to their professional music recording and production software for Mac, with Logic Pro X. The numeral-savvy among you may have noticed that Apple have gone with an X rather than ’10’, mirroring video-editing app Final Cut Pro’s name change to FCPX.

As with Final Cut Pro X, it looks like this time round Apple have revamped the user interface of Logic Pro X, making it a bit more intuitive and user-friendly (think a more advanced version of GarageBand). It’s not just a cosmetic change though – new tools and a broader collection of virtual instruments and effects make Logic Pro X the most advanced and feature-packed version of Apple’s DAW to date. Here are a few of the standout features we’ll be most looking forward to…

Drummer. Logic Pro X now comes with its own virtual session drum player that will play along with you in a range of styles and techniques. Apple say, of the 15 drummers from the rock, alternative, songwriter and R&B genres, “each drummer has a custom kit, delivers his or her own signature sound, and can perform over a million unique groove and fill combinations”. There’s also Drum Kit Designer for creating your own deeply sampled, realistic-sounding drum kits.

MIDI Plug-ins. Logic Pro X features a number of MIDI plug-ins that can be applied to software instrument tracks, including a chord trigger, arpeggiator, transposer, randomiser and modulator. The MIDI plug-in engine is also scriptable which opens up a whole wealth of possibilities for the ardent programmer.

Track Stacks. Helping you manage complex sessions, Track Stacks allow you to consolidate tracks together either as a simple folder or summed to an Aux bus for sub mixing

Arrangement Track. Now you can use markers in the Arrangement Track to define sections such as verse, bridge and chorus, and then easily move or delete sections from your arrangement.

Flex Pitch. The Flex Pitch plug-in means you can now fine-tune pitch when you’re tuning instruments or vocals, and manipulate melodic content in pitch and time domains. Roll over each note so the parameters show up, then you can adjust the gain of individual notes without excessive compression or time-consuming automation editing.

Logic Remote. Now you can control your Logic Pro workflow wirelessly from anywhere using iPad, and even play instruments directly on iPad using the multitouch interface.

One of the caveats of Logic Pro X is that it is now exclusively 64-bit, and compatibility with third party plug-ins is limited to those which have 64-bit versions. While Logic Pro X is backwardly compatible with sessions made using 32-bit versions, and plug-ins that are 32-bit only won’t run, tread carefully if you have a lot of older plug-ins. This might be a short term bugbear, but hopefully it will prompt developers to update their plug-ins to 64-bit sooner rather than later.

We’re going to be taking a more in-depth look at how Apple’s Logic Pro X really performs soon, but in the meantime don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions in the box below, or get in touch with one of the team…

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. You can also follow @Jigsaw24Audio on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Avid Pro Tools 11: What you need to know

Avid Pro Tools 11: What you need to know

Since Avid announced Pro Tools 11 and Pro Tools HD 11 at NAB 2013 in Las Vegas, we’ve now had a bit of time to let the news sink in, and properly inspect all the new features, CSI-style. With improved performance, enhanced support for video and video hardware, as well as a cheaper upgrade path, Pro Tools 11 is shaping up to be Avid’s most impressive version of their digital audio workstation yet.

Improved metering and efficiency

Firstly, the audio engine in Pro Tools 11 has been completely rewritten as fully 64-bit. There’s also improved comprehensive metering, with 17 different metering types and views available, so it’s now easier to keep your levels in  check.

Efficiency-wise, how the processor works with plug-ins and virtual instruments has been given a welcome boost in Pro Tools 11, with system resources dynamically allocated for the first time. In other words, the CPU only allocates resources to a plug-in when there’s audio running through it, whereas before all plug-ins would use up resources even when idle. Further improving efficiency is the fact that offline bouncing is now faster than realtime (150 times faster, no less!), so you can deliver mix downs and stems much more quickly than before. There’s even been an improvement to the Workspace Browser, making searching for files a breeze.
Better video support…

In Pro Tools 11, Avid have really thought about their customers who are working in audio for video. The Avid video engine is now built in, so you can play and edit HD Avid video files directly on the timeline, rather than transcoding to QuickTime as you previously would have had to. There’s also now far improved support for Avid video hardware. As well as the existing support for Blackmagic cards, pro Tools 11 now has support for Avid Mojo DX and Nitris DX cards, plus AJA Kona 3G, Kona 3, Kona LHi, Kona LHe Plus, Io Express, Io XT and T-Tap hardware. This further tightens the integration between Pro Tools and Media Composer, just as new features in Media Composer 7 enable easier sharing to Pro Tools. Both post-production and studios with multiple operators will also be pleased to know that Satellite Link and Video Satellite LE syncing software are now included with Pro Tools HD.

… and new audio hardware

Also announced at NAB 2013 are two brand new Fast Track audio interfaces – the Fast Track Solo and Fast Track Duo. These are rugged metal-chassised audio interfaces with either one or two audio inputs, which ship with Pro Tools Express and are also iPad compatible. Ideal for recording vocals and instruments in the studio or on the go.

Cheaper upgrade path

Now for the really important bit: how much does it cost? Happily, upgrades are now actually cheaper than upgrading to Pro Tools 10 was. Upgrading from Pro Tools 10 to Pro Tools 11 will set you back £199 ex VAT, and going from Pro Tools HD 10 to 11 costs £399 ex VAT. Both will be available at the end of May, so keep checking back for more news on pricing, availability and more.

Want to know more about Avid Pro Tools 11? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

RME announce Fireface and Babyface compatibility with iPad

RME announce Fireface and Babyface compatibility with iPad

In interesting audio interface news, RME have announced that they have made their Fireface UFX, UCX and Babyface class compliant with a new firmware update, meaning they’re all now compatible with iPad.

When operating under class compliant mode, the Fireface UFX supports 22 inputs and outputs from an iPad – that’s the highest IO count of any iPad-compatible audio interface! So you get the UFX’s quality microphone preamps with EQ, dynamics, professional balanced line outputs, and a high power headphone output, level and gain adjustments, SPDIF and ADAT I/O, reverb, echo and zero latency monitoring, in addition to all the multitouch goodness of Apple’s iPad.

RME have also added class compliant mode to their more portable interface option, the Babyface, making it a very flexible option for any iPad musicians on the move. You simply hold down the Select and Recall button while powering up the Babyface to switch it to class compliant mode.

You can find out more and download the new firmware here.

Want to know more about RME’s Fireface and Babyface interfaces? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. You can also follow @Jigsaw24Audio on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

 

Tascam’s DR-60D offers DSLR filmmakers affordable, professional audio

Tascam’s DR-60D offers DSLR filmmakers affordable, professional audio

Anyone wanting to shoot video on a DSLR has just been given a bit of a boost, with the arrival of Tascam’s new DR-60D 4-channel audio recorder and mixer. Whereas before you would have had to use an external box with preamps or a location recorder to capture audio, the Tascam DR-60D  gives you great recording quality and monitoring at an affordable price.

The DR-60D attaches directly to your DSLR, so you can screw it on to any tripod and use it unnoticed. You can then simply plug in all your mics, lavaliers, booms etc and record up to four separate channels simultaneously, while it mixes down the audio in realtime and sends a stereo feed to the camera. That means you get your four channel recording, and a separate copy which you can use as a ‘rough guide’.

Good, professional sound

The main points to remember though are quality and price. Tascam have a reputation of manufacturing very good sounding professional hardware, and the DR-60D sounds miles better than recording directly to your camera. Able to record up to 24-bit 96k audio directly to SD/SDHC cards, the DR-60D also acts as a mixer, passing through a stereo mix down to the camera. It features two XLR inputs with phantom power and an additional stereo line input, plus headphone monitoring directly off the unit.

Very affordable option

Then we get to price – at only £265.83 ex VAT, the Tascam DR-60D costs about the same as traditional XLR adapters (such as the Beachtek DXA range) but offers a lot more functionality, failsafe audio  and higher quality sound, making it a very attractive and affordable option for serious DSLR shooters. It’s already proving popular in the US, especially with those who have an eye on getting a new Canon 7D or Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera, and we’re going to have some of the first shipment in the UK in May, so get your pre-orders of the Tascam DR-60D 4 channel audio recorder and mixer in now!

Want to know more about the Tascam DR-60DGive us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. You can also follow @Jigsaw24Audio on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

NAB 2013 news: Genelec add Intelligent Signal Sensing to speakers

No massive hardware updates from Genelec at NAB 2013, but they have announced that a new eco-friendly power saving mode will now be rolled out across the whole of their 8000 series speakers – their Intelligent Signal Sensing (ISS) system.

The new Genelec speaker models are exactly the same as the old ones, performance wise, it’s just that they now incorporate a standby mode which is engaged when no audio has been passed through the speaker for an hour, causing them to go into a low power mode (1/2 a watt) to ensure we all stay green, and in pocket too!

“The typical idle state power consumption of an active loudspeaker, or any other audio amplifier system, is between 10 and 20 watts,” said Lars-Olof Janflod, Marketing and Public Relations Director at Genelec. “If left in standby, this level of consumption is maintained by the amplifier system and released as heat. Over time this can total a significant amount which results in both negative fiscal and environmental costs.”

Genelec aren’t actually unveiling the Intelligent Signal Sensing feature until the ISE show later this month, but if you’re in Vegas, you could probably go and bug them about it at NAB 2013, stand C1633.

Want to know more about our full range of Genelec speakers and studio monitors? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest NAB 2013 news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter‘Like’ us on Facebook or check out our roundup post

NAB 2013 news: TC Electronic’s DB6 Loudness Processors and Adobe hook-up

Loudness monitoring is now an imperative part of all broadcast, and no-one does it better than TC Electronic. Their latest DB6 solutions are made specifically to fit in your rack between the output of whatever you’re transmitting and input of whatever you’re transmitting to. They’re going to be premiering at NAB 2013 in Las Vegas and, more importantly, are now available to pre-order from Jigsaw24…

The TC Electronic DB6 Loudness Processors come in two varieties – single channel and multi-channel – and are designed to make sure all your audio is in check, by letting you monitor and adjust your output on the fly. Both models are fully compliant with all major broadcast standards, including ITU BS.1770-3, ATSC A/85, EBU R128, ARIB TR-B32, OP-59 and more.

Powering both is TC’s Loudness Wizard software which takes care of all the correction and format conversion (stereo, 5.1 etc), as well as TC’s LM6 Loudness Radar Meter, the output and logging of which can be monitored via a connected PC or Mac.

TC Electronic DB6 Single Broadcast Audio Loudness Proccessor. This single channel version of the DB6 lets you process a single stream of SD/HD/3G and gives you two 5.1 capable processing engines per SDI stream, each able of delivering to any platform and any codec; be it HDTV, Mobile TV, Digital Radio or Podcast using AAC, Dolby, Ogg Vorbis, Lossless or Linear. Housed in a single rack space, this makes DB6 one of the most compact and powerful solutions on the market.

Pre-order the TC Electronic DB6 Single now.

TC Electronic DB6 Multi Broadcast Audio Loudness Proccessor. As the name suggests, this version of the DB6 lets you monitor multiple channels. It’s expandable to cope with up to three streams of audio simultaneously, letting you monitor values of each stream completely independently. Because of this, it’s ideal for live broadcast, and especially OB trucks, where you need to handle multiple channels of audio at once.

Pre-order the TC Electronic DB6 Multi now.

LoudnessRadar now integrated into Adobe

If that wasn’t enough metering goodness from TC Electronic for you, you’ll be happy to know that TC have now hooked up with Adobe to offer their LM6 loudness monitoring software in Premiere Pro and Audition. LoudnesRadar gives an easy-to-read overview of loudness over time, displaying Loudness History on a revolving radar, Momentary Loudness on an outer ring, True-Peak clips, Program Loudness and Loudness Range in a single view. All very handy for keeping on top of your levels all within your Adobe apps.

TC Electronic will also be playing host to a number of audio loudness seminars at NAB 2013. If you’re lucky enough to be in Vegas, head over to Central Hall, Meeting Room C204 for what will surely be some interesting advice on loudness.

Want to know more about the TC Electronic DB6 Broadcast Audio Loudness Proccessors? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest NAB 2013 news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter‘Like’ us on Facebook or check out our roundup post

Steinberg Cubase reaches 7th heaven

Steinberg Cubase reaches 7th heaven

Steinberg have released the magnificient seventh edition of their Cubase music production software to a chorus of trumpets, synths and a whole host of other virtual instruments. It’s certainly one of the most popular DAWs out there, but is Cubase 7 the most feature-packed version yet? Let’s take a look…

What’s new in Cubase 7?

Perhaps the most salient points to pick out in the new Steinberg Cubase 7 music production software are an all-new mixer, on-board monitoring and better collaboration features. To start, themixer – which supposedly sounds better than ever – also has customisable views to speed up mixing by keeping your most important controls on show. There’s also a new channel strip with EQ and dynamics.

Cubase 7 also has its own built-in EBU 128 loudness monitoring, which is a first for any DAW. In an industry increasingly governed by acceptable loudness standards, having monitoring tools right there in your DAW without having to fork out for expensive hardware or plug-ins is a real boon – especially for smaller broadcast studios.

Other useful features to pick out include the ability to collaborate with people in other studios in realtime via VST Connect SE. In terms of music-making, the new VariAudio system and Chord track interact to let you create perfect harmonies easily, and there’s simple drag and drop plug-in support, which makes adding effects and instruments a breeze.

When and where can I get Cubase 7?

Steinberg’s elves have been working away to get this out in time for Christmas, and you’ll be able to get your copy or upgrade in the first week of December. You can pre-order Cubase 7 from Jigsaw24 now. If you’ve only just bought Cubase 6.5, don’t worry, Steinberg are offering a free upgrade grace period to v7 for anyone who’s purchased after October 26th (just sign in to your e-Licenser account after the first week of December, and v7 will be waiting for you).

– Pre-order your copy of Steinberg Cubase 7 music production software now!

To find out more about Cubase 7, email audio@Jigsaw24.com, call 03332 409 306 or keep up with the latest audio news and offers on our Twitter (@Jigsaw24Audio) and Facebook page.

Who wants to see a Magma ExpressBox 3T Thunderbolt Chassis in action?

Who wants to see a Magma ExpressBox 3T Thunderbolt Chassis in action?

Avid created quite a buzz at NAB when they demonstrated Pro Tools HDX running in a Magma Thunderbolt expansion chassis. What was on show was very much a pre-release version of the chassis and a beta version of Pro Tools, but it garnered a lot of interest from those looking to either get a full-power Pro Tools HDX or HD Native system in a portable format, or to opt for an iMac or Mac mini rather than a tower-based system.

In the intervening months we’ve been fielding plenty of questions from excited Pro Tools users. The only information we’ve been able to pass on up to now was that we’d seen the demo version running, and that Avid had confirmed that they will be qualifying the Magma 3T chassis as their approved Thunderbolt solution. (This was always a contingency in the event of Apple’s Mac Pro ceasing to be available, and the relationship between the two companies goes way back to the qualification of the original PCI CardBus chassis.)

Magma 3T expansion chassis

Magma 3T expansion chassis

Finally, however, the Magma 3T is shipping…

Stock is expected imminently and we’ve had a chance to test one of the first units. The Magma ExpressBox 3T, as its name suggests, is a 3-slot expansion chassis for PCIe cards, with two of those slots being x8 and the other x4. The unit is powered via a standard IEC cable and there are internal power cables for cards such as the HDX cards, which require more power.

Getting the unit up and running has been simplicity itself

Simply fit the Pro Tools HDX or HD Native card(s) in the slots as you would in a Mac Pro, connect a Thunderbolt cable between your computer and the chassis, and turn it on. The chassis itself fires up as soon as you turn the computer on, and the latest version of Pro Tools HD (10.2) just sees the cards straight away. There is absolutely no difference in the user experience between this setup and a traditional Mac Pro / Windows workstation.

You do need to have Pro Tools HD 10.2 software in order for this to work, and I need to draw attention to the caveat on Avid’s website – namely the one that states that Thunderbolt chassis are not supported in this release. Avid have confirmed this is because official testing has not yet been completed and there may be some permutation still to be tested before they finally make this a supported solution. In use (and I have been using this setup for a week now and demonstrating it to customers in a variety of scenarios) I haven’t found anything that trips it up, it has been completely solid in performance. As well as running it with an HDX2 system, ours also has a Decklink Intensity card for video playout (click on the gallery link below to take a closer look).

We’re happy to arrange a demonstration for anyone who is interested in seeing the Magma ExpressBox 3T chassis running a full Pro Tools HDX / HD Native system. If you would like a demonstration, please give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com.

Why you need TC’s LM2 Radar Loudness Meter

Why you need TC’s LM2 Radar Loudness Meter

TC Electronic know the importance of loudness in broadcast audio, being renowned for their top TM7 and TM9 metering hardware, and LM6 metering plug-in. Now they’ve made it much more accessible, with an affordable LM2 Radar Loudness Meter plug-in that works with all major DAWs.

What sets the LM2 apart from the competition is the Radar view. Instead of the usual (pretty dull) numeric or histogram readout, the meter is displayed as a funky radar – with the main view showing you loudness history, while the outer ring displays momentary short-term loudness. It’s much easier to get an idea of loudness at a glance, but also displays an accurate readout too.

The LM2 plug-in looks set to be a good addition for anyone working in broadcast, as it will work in pretty much any DAW (in stereo), and most digital video editors on Mac OS X or PC. It supports all major plug-in formats, including AAX, RTAS and Audio Suite for Pro Tools, as well as AU and VST. At the price point ($99 until the 1st July), there aren’t really any competitors on the market which can match the LM2. Apart from TC’s LM6 native loudness meter, which you’ll need if you’re working in surround rather than just stereo.

Why do I need loudness metering?

“As TV broadcasters complete their transition to an all-digital delivery, content providers may soon have to embrace a new means for monitoring audio output in order to conform to acceptable loudness standards. Just as what the move from the analogue of tape to the digital of CD did for music, the move to digital TV broadcast has brought about a delivery system capable of much greater dynamic range. While that…” read more

Visit our store to find out more about TC Electronic’s range of loudness metering hardware and software options. You can also call us on 03332 409 306, email audio@Jigsaw24.com or keep up with the latest audio news and offers on our Twitter (@Jigsaw24Audio) and Facebook page.