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Transcript: Digital Production Buzz – October 13, 2016

Larry Jordan

Achim Gleissner, Commercial Manager
Broadcast and Media, Sennheiser Electronic
Bob Alumbaugh , Owner, President, Single Bullet Productions, LLC
Chris Eschweiler, Audio Visual Supervisor, Freelance
Ed Golya, Owner, MixxTreme
Robert Krueger, Managing Partner, Lesspain Software
James DeRuvo, Film and Technology Reporter, DoddleNEWS


Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we have a show dedicated to audio. We start with Sennheiser who just announced their new Action Mic for GoPro cameras. This innovative system goes wherever a GoPro goes, even underwater. Achim Gleissner, commercial manager for Sennheiser, joins us to explain their new mic, and how to pick the right mic for your project.

Larry Jordan: Chris Eschweiler mixes audio for live events. Probably his most well known gig is the behind the scenes production for all the Supermeets. Tonight he tells us about the challenges of creating a live mix.

Larry Jordan: Ed Golya is a multi Emmy award winning audio post production mixer. Tonight he shares his thoughts on the audio post process, and describes what audio mixers need to know to be successful.

Larry Jordan: Robert Krueger is the managing director for Lesspain Software, the developers of a brand new media management software for Final Cut and Premiere called Kyno. Tonight he explains what it does and why they took six years to create it.

Larry Jordan: Next, Bob Alumbaugh owns Silver Bullet Productions. He specializes in high end stadium sound for major music groups such as Steely Dan, The Black Crows, Megadeth, Aerosmith, Blues Traveler and many others. Tonight he shares the secrets to making music rock.

Larry Jordan: All this, plus James DeRuvo with a DoddleNEWS update. The Buzz starts now.

Announcer: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking – authoritative – one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals – current – uniting industry experts: production, filmmakers, post production and content creators around the planet – distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.

Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry, covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. This year we are celebrating our 17th year of podcasting. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan and tonight we’re devoting our show to audio which, I guess, is not surprising because we’re an audio podcast. Now whether you’re interested in new gear, mixing for live events, mixing for concerts, or post production, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we’ve even added a segment on tracking your media once you’ve captured it. By the way, I want to invite you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter, at website. Every issue, every week gives you an inside look at The Buzz, quick links to the different segments on the show, and curated articles of special interest to filmmakers. Best of all, every issue is free.

Larry Jordan: Now it’s time for a DoddleNEWS update with James DeRuvo. Hello James.

James DeRuvo: Hello Larry.

Larry Jordan: It’s good to have you with us, what is the news today?

James DeRuvo: Well, we were kind of surprised this week as drone maker 3D Robotics closed their doors this week and laid off almost all of their staff.

Larry Jordan: Oh no, what happened?

James DeRuvo: They had the sole goal of burying DJI which was a real lofty goal admittedly, and they created this fabulous drone called the Solo. It was dubbed ‘the smartest drone in the industry.’ It had some really great features like cable cam, follow me mode, circle me … all these advanced mode features, and 3D Robotics was trying to make it future proof, so that all you’d have to do is update the firmware every couple of months, and you’d have even more capability.

James DeRuvo: Problem was that there were delays in development of the camera gimbal, and so they ended up releasing it without a camera gimbal, which, if your major clientele is the filmmaker, having a camera gimbal is kind of important. Then on top of that, DJI cut the price of their Phantom 3 at the time, and by the time they recovered and got the models out with the gimbal, the market had passed them by and they were selling them at a loss. They were hemorrhaging cash. They burned through $35 million in seed capital in just a few months and on top of that, they over estimated their sales projections and next thing you know, they were out of business.

Larry Jordan: That’s too bad. But do we have some good news this week?

James DeRuvo: Yes as a matter of fact. RED shipped two new cameras this week, based upon the new Super 35 8K HELIUM sensor. The new DSMC cube cameras are the RED EPIC WEAPON and the HELIUM WEAPON. Both have the Super 35 HELIUM 8K sensor, capable of 16.5 stops of dynamic range, file transfer speeds of up to 300 megabits per second, and they can shoot at up to 120 frames per second at 2K, or 8K at 30 frames per second. But the really incredible news is that they also announced upgrade pass for their 4.5K RED RAVEN, their SCARLET WEAPON and even the Mysterium-X platform which is one of their oldest ones. You can actually upgrade starting at 9,500 bucks, which is incredible to get into 8K.

James DeRuvo: It’s pretty clear to me that RED is doing everything they can to get their clientele into the latest hardware to prepare them for what lies ahead, so if you’re a RED shooter, now’s a good time to buy.

Larry Jordan: Alright, so we’ve got a drone that’s got a problem. We’ve got RED that’s got new cameras. What else?

James DeRuvo: Well, you’re talking about audio tonight so I thought I’d talk to you about the iZotope Neutron app which is the first step in automatic audio mixing. Audio mixing and mastering has become pretty democratized lately. You don’t need the million dollar studios any more, you just need software, a laptop and your bedroom closet. I happen to know that Roger McGuinn of The Byrds does all of his recording in his living room and so the iZotope Neutron app would be ideal for that type of audio recording. It uses machine learning and algorithms to analyze the multiple tracks. It can detect instruments and recommends EQ settings, and identifies when there is a frequency flash between instruments and tracks, so you can fix it. It also uses spectral sharpening to provide a more subtle clarity between each instrument so each instrument doesn’t get lost in the cacophony of the background. It also offers surround sound support, and for 199 bucks, it’s ridiculously cheap.

Larry Jordan: That is very cool, and yet this is only the tip of the iceberg of what happened in news this week. For people that want more information, where can they go on the web?

James DeRuvo: All these and other stories can be found at including a series going on right now reviewing RODE’s line in microphones, including the RODE’s filmmaker kit, the RODE Videomic Pro. There’s a ton of really good reviews there…

Larry Jordan: Thank you James DeRuvo, senior writer for DoddleNEWS.

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Larry Jordan: Achim Gleissner is the commercial manager for the broadcast and media group at Sennheiser. Normally when we talk about Sennheiser, we’re talking about high end microphones but recently, Sennheiser released a series of new mics that are totally different. So we invited Achim to explain the new arrivals. Hello, welcome.

Achim Gleissner: Thanks for being your guest again, always a pleasure to talk to you Larry.

Larry Jordan: I just realized the last time that you and I spoke was at NAB when you made the trip across the pond to be in Las Vegas. Now we’re talking to you from Germany, and Sennheiser is famous for the quality of their microphones and has been making them for a long time, so what’s the new news from Sennheiser now?

Achim Gleissner: For the very first time, we are expanding what you could expect from Sennheiser in terms of high quality audio to more and more cameras. Sennheiser’s probably the only manufacturer in the world that can provide an audio solution or microphone solution to any camera on the market, and this is the driving force behind it with the consumerization trend. Broadcasters are using smartphones and are applying action cameras and therefore we are requested to provide an appropriate Sennheiser audio solution for smartphones and action cameras primarily. We’re looking at the GoPro here.

Larry Jordan: Tell me specifically what you’ve done for GoPro.

Achim Gleissner: GoPro is very well known for their action cameras but there are accessories and add ons that you would need to come up with a proper solution and a proper production quality. One part of these issues is the audio part, so whenever you experience working with a GoPro within the protective cover, the housing that is shipped with a GoPro 4 and we’ll specifically talk now GoPro 4’s, both the black and the silver, the GoPro has a built in microphone, but if you put a microphone in a can and close the can, the audio is more or less gone. So every GoPro user had this issue with the built in microphone, recording audio when filming that you literally did not have any sound. A bit of rumbling noise was all you’d get because the microphone was in a sealed cabinet. GoPro approached us earlier last year saying, “Can you solve this issue?” We were of course delighted to work with a premium brand like GoPro, and came up with a solution that was presented for the very first time as a preview at NAB.

Achim Gleissner: It is based on microphone technology we are using for theaters, like the clip on microphones or mounted to the forehead of the actor in theaters. These guys have to be sweat proof. By being sweat proof these mics are also to a certain extent, waterproof, and we went from there and created a product which is a back door for the Hero 4. Take off the original back door, take on this as the back door, and this has an external microphone within a complete new windshield which is more fiber rather than this typical furry. The result is that the user can now record proper audio in a quality that you would expect from a company like Sennheiser, in any environment where you typically use the GoPro as such in the protective cover. It is resistant against mud, snow, water, wind, every environment that you record when you do sports or action recordings. It’s not necessarily better audio in this case than we typically do. It is audio on a GoPro recording, on a Hero 4 recording.

Larry Jordan: I love how you not just simply have a microphone, but you’ve replaced the door with something much more audio friendly and yet been able to keep the water resistant character of the GoPro. That is very clever.

Achim Gleissner: You will find some external microphones on the market to work with a Hero 4, but none of them is working when the GoPro is encaptured in the protective cover. The Action Mic, as we call it, is the very first one that gives the full protection to the camera while recording in these extreme environments. It looks a little bit like a snowball next to the housing, the size of a table tennis ball with fiber protection against wind, and the reason why we had to create a new back door is of course the entire thing, the microphone is outside and the connection to the GoPro inside had to be absolutely sealed against primarily water. So therefore we had to create more than just the mic. As soon as you put a plug on the mic you give up the waterproof protection of the protective cover and therefore we came up with the entire back door which for the end user is very easy, very quick. Within a couple of seconds you take off the original back door, connect the mic, put on the new back door and it even gives enough space for the spare battery because we also learned that most of the users working with GoPros are using them with the additional auxiliary battery to get more battery life to the GoPro.

Achim Gleissner: It even works to a certain extent underwater, and you hear the bubbling noise of the water, you hear the voice of somebody on a surfboard when going into the waves. That was unheard of so far. The GoPro guys themselves love it. We’re very much looking forward to bringing it to the market early next year. We also have now a proper solution, not just for end users having a GoPro for their private use, but also for our established customers when it comes to broadcasters and professional products.

Larry Jordan: I want to talk more about mics in a second, but before I leave the Action Mic for the GoPro, have you announced a price for it?

Achim Gleissner: The price is not yet announced, but it will be in the same area we typically have in terms of camera mics for DSLRs or smartphones, so it will be reasonable, but the final price has not been announced yet.

Larry Jordan: This gets me to a bigger question. I want to shift gears out of this particular microphone into microphones in general, because Sennheiser has a whole range of microphones. What’s the tradeoff between price and quality? What does a Neumann have that a lower end, lower cost mic does not? What are we spending the money to get and how do we make a decision on which microphone to pick for our project?

Achim Gleissner: It really depends on what you are trying to record. Of course, when talking about Neumann, what professional studio artists and singers appreciate with that is the sound character. The warmth of sound with a Neumann microphone is appreciated for decades.

Larry Jordan: I accept that, but in addition to the color of the sound, and I accept that Neumann and other high end mics do that, what is the relationship between price and audio quality? Do I always have to buy the most expensive mic to get the best quality or what’s being lost as we bring out less expensive mics?

Achim Gleissner: Let me say it this way. It always depends on the situation and what you try to record. And if you know your mic, you know how to use your mic, and I’m not talking really cheap stuff, but if you have a reasonable microphone from Sennheiser or any other known brand that you know how to handle, you will get much better audio quality that what an inexperienced user would get with an expensive microphone. So using the right microphone, and also the right accessories. To give you one example, if you have a very expensive mic and you do a recording like a report outside in wind, you will get wind noise. If the guy next to you who paid a fraction of what you paid for your expensive mic, but he knows how to handle a mic in wind, with proper wind protection, you will get much better audio quality at a fraction of the price. Get used to your tool, used to the mic, know your enemies, structure borne noise, wind, cell phones, things like that. Do a test recording, find the right gain setting on your recording device, that is the key element rather than going into a shop and buying the most expensive mic. If you don’t know how to handle a camera, then it doesn’t help if you buy an expensive camera.

Larry Jordan: Advances in technology have been swift. Is the technology driving microphone technology or the interface technology, say a mic with a Lightning connector, a mic with a USB connector or is microphone technology itself changing?

Achim Gleissner: The microphone technology is not changing as much as the interfacing technology. It is the sensor that converts vibrating air into an electric signal, and that’s pretty much the same when it comes to dynamic mics or condenser mics for decades. But technology in the reporting devices, and you just mentioned smartphones with digital interfaces like Lightning on IOS devices, of course that changed the interfacing technologies, the converters, a lot. That is also the reason why we teamed up with Apogee when it comes to IOS devices. So getting the electric signal amplified and then getting it into your recording device has been the swift changes in the industry, not necessarily the microphone technology as such, because vibrating air remains analog, as human beings remain analog when it comes to sound reproduction.

Larry Jordan: Then what criteria should we use to determine what mic to use for our project? What are the most important specs that we need to look at?

Achim Gleissner: First of all, you have to look at what is your recording device? So are you recording on a smartphone, a portable recorder, in a studio? Let me take the example of smartphones. If you record on a smartphone it’s always better to use the digital boards rather than the analog board. The most important thing on microphones which differ is noise floor. You have to invest a certain amount of money to get to a low noise floor. Then get close to the sound source and use the proper mic and the proper distance. And there is no one size fits all, so for example when you record on cameras like DSLRs, it is better to have a reasonable priced handheld microphone, a clip on microphone close to the speaker, close to you when you do your report, rather than having a little shotgun microphone on the camera which is probably ten feet away. So it’s always good to get close to the sound source and always do a test recording. Never trust your meter. Listen to the test recording, and find the right gain because this is like working with cameras. You have to find the right exposure. If you have too much sound pressure level, you get distortion. If you have too little sound pressure level, you get noise floor. So you have to find your ideal gain setting to be in the optimum range of the dynamic range of your recordings.

Larry Jordan: Achim, where can we go on the web to learn more about the microphones that Sennheiser offers?

Achim Gleissner: When we talk about the US, you will find all information on HYPERLINK “”

Larry Jordan: Achim, thank you very much. Achim Gleissner is the commercial manager for broadcast and media at Sennheiser microphones, and it is always fun to chat. Thank you so much for your time.

Achim Gleissner: You’re more than welcome, and hope to chat with you again.

Larry Jordan: Chris Eschweiler combines a love of media with a passion for computers. He’s overseen all the technical aspects of every Supermeet around the world since 2006. In between meets he freelances for a worldwide collection of audio visual companies handling graphics, projection, video, sound and even a bit of lighting. Hello Chris, welcome.

Chris Eschweiler: Hi Larry, how are you?

Larry Jordan: I’m doing great talking to you. So my first question is, let’s shift right into the Supermeet. How do you go about staging a Supermeet? How much time, ahead of time, and what’s part of the plan?

Chris Eschweiler: It starts with the selection of the venue. Before I can really look at technical aspects, we have to figure out what space we’re going to be at. Of course the most common one that we’re familiar with is the NAB one that’s held in Las Vegas during the National Association of Broadcasters Conference. We don’t have one particular venue, so every year it’s a bit of a discovery to find out what we’re going to need, and how big of a room we’re going to fill, and start working our way forward from there. It takes about three months of planning.

Larry Jordan: What makes a Supermeet different from a typical music event?

Chris Eschweiler: Most of what we’re doing is, from the stage anyway, just spoken word. We don’t deal with bands, we don’t have to worry about amplifiers or anything like that. It’s mostly people who are onstage doing demos of software or hardware. We do have playback of various clips depending on who’s presenting at these events but for the most part, it’s spoken word. But we do try and provide a full range experience for the attendees.

Larry Jordan: Where does audio fit in your planning process? Do you have standard kit you go to, or do you need to customize it for every show?

Chris Eschweiler: There are a few standards. One of the things that’s helped us out is the advent of line array speakers. Instead of having stacks of very large speakers and brute forcing the audio, line array speakers have allowed us to use smaller cabinets that have a very predictable and narrow pattern, and can be set up to accommodate the room and accommodate the audience size. That’s helped us focus the audio and not have to worry about overpowering the vendor room next door for example.

Larry Jordan: True enough.

Chris Eschweiler: The other thing we’ve gone to is using over the ear microphones. We’ve used a variety over the years, but we’ve kind of settled on as our baseline the Countryman E6i microphones just on standard wireless belt packs. That allows freedom of movement on stage, nobody is wired to anything or limited to a podium. The presenters like it because they can work at a computer then step to center stage to talk to the audience.

Larry Jordan: So how big a team do you have, and who does what?

Chris Eschweiler: It depends on the Supermeet. Some of the smaller ones we’ve done, it’s been myself and one other person. The bigger ones will have up to a dozen people on the show. That includes lighting, audio, projection, playback, graphic switching, that sort of thing.

Larry Jordan: What’s some of your most memorable Supermeet experiences?

Chris Eschweiler: They’re all memorable for one reason or another. They all have a place in my heart. Some are more favorite than others. The ones in Amsterdam tend to be a lot of fun just because of the international audience that’s there. It’s a rather intimate venue. I think it’s about 450 chairs that we start squeezing in there and go up from there. It’s hard to pick a favorite.

Larry Jordan: It’s hard to pick a favorite but there’s ones that stick in your memory forever, I truly understand. Chris I understand you do freelance work around the world, and I want to thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us today, and wish you all success and I’ll see you at the next Supermeet.

Chris Eschweiler: Thanks Larry, looking forward to it.

Larry Jordan: You take care, bye bye.

Chris Eschweiler: Bye bye.

Larry Jordan: Ed Golya is a multi Emmy award winning sound re-recording mixer and ADR specialist with more than 40 films and television shows to his credit. He got his start doing ADR for ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ and he’s worked for both Universal Recording Corporation in Chicago, and Fox Studios in LA, among many others including his own company called MixxTreme. Hello Ed, welcome back.

Ed Golya: Hello Larry, glad to be here.

Larry Jordan: We’ve just been listening to what it’s like to do a live event audio mix. How would you describe the difference between mixing for live events, versus post production?

Ed Golya: Live events scare the heck out of me because if you make a mistake, everyone can hear it.

Larry Jordan: So what are the challenges of doing post audio? I mean, one it takes the stress away, and you’ve got longer deadlines, but it’s got to be stressful in its own way?

Ed Golya: The stresses there are usually your time constraints to finish the project, not knowing the project completely going into it, and now keeping it correct for broadcast.

Larry Jordan: By that you mean the new loudness standards where you’ve got to keep it to certain specs for average level, not just peak level?

Ed Golya: Yes. And in some cases the quality of the mix suffers because of that.

Larry Jordan: How do you balance what the client thinks they want with your knowledge of what’s actually needed?

Ed Golya: That’s more of a professional agreement and understanding between you and your client. So you have to sort of take that with a grain of salt, learn how to turn around and smile and say, “Yes, I know what you mean.” Look like you’re doing what he wants you to do, and continue making the best that you can out of it.

Larry Jordan: Just reflecting back, years ago you were responsible for rebuilding one of the largest and best known recording studios outside of Hollywood, which is Universal Recording in Chicago. What are the key elements to keep in mind when you’re creating an audio studio?

Ed Golya: Number one, the acoustics. When Universal had to move from the great Bill Putnam studios that they were, we moved into a new building that originally was a handball court, and we split the handball court in half to build two theaters. The first thing I said was “Please do not make the walls parallel.” So we focused the walls with a slight angle and kept breaking up the angle, going toward the screen. It was almost the size of two floors high, and then we did the acoustic padding around the sides. We literally put up a small tray and slid in fiberglass panels wrapped in burlap, but it did work. We had enough in there that we actually, when I would do ADR, we did not put them in the booth. We would set them right outside in the middle of the theater and we would do everything on headphones but we could use the room itself as an acoustically good studio.

Larry Jordan: You mentioned that you’ve done a lot of ADR work, that’s where you replace audio that’s recorded on set with audio recorded later in the studio. What first got you interested in ADR?

Ed Golya: My career has always been that I was at the right place at the right time. The first studio I ever worked in was in a little studio in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a small studio, it was literally one music room, one sound for picture, and a girl at the front desk. The gentleman’s name was Tom Peterson, and he had the company called Motion Picture Sound. I did not know about sound for picture at that time, and this is before video tape and digital and all that, but he had a Magnatech ADR system which had won an award, I don’t know if it was an Oscar, but it had a major award on it for being a relay based computer. You dialed in the footage and frames, and it did the record in, record out, the beeps, everything for you. When I moved to Chicago I worked at a company called Sonart/Db. The sound for picture rooms were all Magnatech and because of that, and because I knew how to use it, and also I think because of artistic aspects of my musical ability which helped quite a bit, I eventually became the person that they would call. If Hollywood had anyone in the mid west shooting a picture, but they needed to fix something that was done prior to, as something they were working on was in post in Hollywood, they would call us up and send them over. I just took it on as a very natural aspect of the industry, and tried to make it sound as equatable to the production sound, so that the mixer didn’t have too much problem with it.

Larry Jordan: Well the industry’s changed a lot since you got into it. What attributes does someone who’s getting into audio now need to be successful?

Ed Golya: Number one, they need to have a very open mind. Whatever they learn is going to change within five years. But they also need to know the basis of what they know, and why they know it and why the changes come about. The more they understand the whys of that happening, the more they can analyze how to do something and to make it work better. Take audio, even though it is a technical aspect of the industry, accept it as an art form. Make sure you understand that you’re painting with sound. As I’ve always said, if you didn’t hear what I did, then I must have done it right.

Larry Jordan: Ed Golya is a multi Emmy award winning sound re-recording mixer and ADR specialist. He has his own company at MixxTreme. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ed for a couple of years, and always a delight. Ed, thanks for joining us today.

Ed Golya: Thank you very much Larry.

Larry Jordan: Robert Krueger has worked in the media industry as a software professional for 20 years. Currently, he’s the managing director for Software which developed Kyno, a brand new media management tool for Final Cut and Premiere. Hello Robert, welcome.

Robert Krueger: Hi Larry, thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: Well thank you for joining us. We’re talking to you live from Germany and I won’t even begin to ask what time it is right now, so instead, how would you describe Kyno?

Robert Krueger: Well Kyno as you said is a media management and workflow app. It helps you find, browse, screen, log, organize and transcode your media files and it’s integrated well with Final Cut and Premiere. The basic concept of it was to integrate the most important software tools for typical organization tasks in one app that’s easy to use because switching apps in workflow slows you down all the time.

Larry Jordan: Why did you decide to develop it? There’s lots of media management tools that are out there. What was the driving force?

Robert Krueger: It was really by experiencing the problems ourselves in film projects and thinking, “Well this can’t really be it.” I mean, things were so complicated and inefficient and we didn’t really see anything on the market available to do a decent job doing those very basic things that take up so much time when you make a film. So we thought what kind of tool would you want to really be efficient in those tasks?

Larry Jordan: How long did it take to develop the software?

Robert Krueger: It took six and a half years.

Larry Jordan: Wow. Give me an example of some of the key features. What would I specifically use Kyno for?

Robert Krueger: I think the key feature of Kyno is really it’s combination of features. You have all the tools like fast file browser that lets you find your things without having to ingest or catalog first, industry standard media player that supports basically every broadcast format out there. A powerful transcoder and the integrated audio and image support. It is essentially a video tool, but we also have decent audio and image support which you need in the video world, and this combination makes data wrangling post shoot organization or even quality checks during a shoot, so fast that you don’t want to go into a shoot or post production without Kyno once you’ve tried it.

Larry Jordan: One of the things that I like is you’ve got two different views. You’ve got a grid view which allows you to see thumbnails, and not just thumbnails in a single folder, but thumbnails across all folders. Second is a list view which gives you all kinds of sorting capability. What was the idea behind providing so many different ways of viewing the media?

Robert Krueger: It depends on the task. Sometimes you select your things visually, that’s what the grid view is for, and so having as many of your media files in view directly and the ability to scroll them quickly and to select the right things because you can see what scene it is, that was the most important application of the grid view. Then there are other applications where you need to quickly scan files by technical metadata, like frame rates for example. I have this 25p or the 60p shot and then list view is the fastest way of organizing and finding your media based on those technical metadata.

Larry Jordan: What’s the price?

Robert Krueger: The price is 159.

Larry Jordan: Where can we go… go ahead.

Robert Krueger: I’m sorry, that’s 159 for a single license, but you can install it on your laptop and on your editing machine, iMac, whatever with one license.

Larry Jordan: Where can we go on the web to learn more about the product?

Robert Krueger: That’s

Larry Jordan: And Robert Krueger is the managing director for Lesspain Software which developed Kyno, and Robert thanks for joining us today. I enjoyed your visit.

Robert Krueger: Thank you so much Larry.

Larry Jordan: Bye bye.

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Larry Jordan: Bob Alumbaugh is the owner of Single Bullet Productions. This is a full service audio engineering and consulting firm for touring acts and AV installs and all kinds of really cool audio stuff. Hello Bob, welcome.

Bob Alumbaugh: How are you Larry? Thanks for having me.

Larry Jordan: I was reading a little bit about you and I’m having trouble figuring out whether you consider yourself more of a designer and installer, or an operator?

Bob Alumbaugh: I consider myself an operator first and foremost. Design is something that is offered as a secondary concern which is generally when people have come in with large productions or large events, and they really don’t have a direction that they want to take.

Larry Jordan: You have worked with some of the largest musical acts that are out there. When do you get involved with a major concert tour? How much advance warning do you need?

Bob Alumbaugh: Normally it’s like 24 hours. 48 hours, sometimes maybe three days. Other times you’ll get a month. It just depends on how that all shakes out.

Larry Jordan: Do they have an audio kit that they’ve already designed? I mean, if they’re giving you 24 hours notice, how are you going to put all the gear together?

Bob Alumbaugh: Generally what happens is you’re going to have a company like Schubert or Production Resource, one of these large regional or international companies that has been contacted by the artist or the management company, and says, “Hey this is what we want to do, this is where we’re going. We’d like you to put in a bid for gear,” and then the gear would either be front of house, control, monitors, onstage molds, RF wireless and TA, if you’re carrying PA racks and stacks. So at that point then this company in particular for the tour for Brian Wilson, Schubert Systems out of Hollywood, they would open up the Rolodex, it’s normally a very short list, and he makes a phone call and says, “Hey Bob are you available, this is what I’ve got.” And I say yes, or no at that point.

Larry Jordan: Basically you walk in, and they dump all this equipment on you and they say “Get it working.”

Bob Alumbaugh: There you go. Pretty much. No, I will say this much for Schuberts. They are a boutique shop, they handle Bonnie Rait and other acts, but they’re really boutique in that their gear is smaller format, it’s not as large and generic as most other companies. So they don’t just throw me to the wolves, I generally get an opportunity to fly into Burbank and lay hands on the gear and make sure everything is where I need it to be prior to putting it on the truck and sending it out for the first show.

Larry Jordan: Are you worrying about such things as who’s wearing which mic, and what mics they’re using? What level of granular control do you have, or is all of that stuff decided before you even get involved?

Bob Alumbaugh: As a front of house engineer, you have very much a say so on what’s happening on stage. The way it generically goes is your front of house engineer will pick all of your mics, for everything from percussion all the way up to vocals. And the monitor engineer on stage will just kind of wrangle artists and prepare the mixes for them. But the front of house engineer is the one that normally comes up with the mic list, after talking with the artist, trial and error, things that you already know work really well. Maybe the performance of the singer’s voice and what have you, so that’s a decision made by the engineer himself.

Larry Jordan: The front of house engineer then determines the mix the audience hears? And the monitor engineer determines the mix that the artists hear and those two are not the same, correct?

Bob Alumbaugh: No they are not, they are worlds apart. The front of house mix is that mix you hear as a consumer, going into sit in a balcony or an orchestra or what have you, that’s your temporal experience. The monitor engineer is someone who’s on deck and he’s dealing with anywhere from two to six to 12, sometimes more, in-ear stereo mixes, sometimes monitor mixes, individual artists with molds. And then on top of that, you’ll have confidence monitors, wedges on the stage that for some reason some artists like to have those and in-ears. We call it a confidence wedge, so if something happens, he can always pull out his mold and listen to the wedge. But the monitor engineer handles all of that, all the head amp space there, and each individual mix for the artist on stage as it were.

Larry Jordan: Let’s put your front of house headsets on for just a second. How would you define the difference between a good mix and a great mix?

Bob Alumbaugh: A good mix is a mix that you can listen to at a very low level, and I’m going to throw out a number here, like 93db. Anytime you start getting above that level, sonically, the human ear gets compressed too quickly and you don’t hear all the detail. For me, a good mix is something that is dynamic, expressive and something that you can listen to at low level and hear all of the content.

Larry Jordan: But I don’t think there’s a touring band on the planet that believes in low levels. It’s like, if they can’t pin your ears to the back wall, they’re not loud enough. Why are the concerts so loud?

Bob Alumbaugh: Agreed. For the most part you are correct, unfortunately in the industry. It tends to be louder is louder. However, the artist that I’m currently supporting, Brian Wilson, and that whole Beach Boy discography, that is music that you do not blow out patrons. You do not give that to them at 100db. You give that to them at a very palatable 90, 93, 92 and it’s an excellent experience. As a matter of fact, on this tour, I had more instances of patrons coming up after the show and thanking us for not only a good mix but just saying, “You didn’t blow us out, and I can’t believe you didn’t do that.” So once again, it’s what are you presenting? Is it classical music, temporal rock, heavy metal? Well that’s going to dictate what your sound level is going to be.

Larry Jordan: I’m not going to ask you what your favorite mic is because the first answer is for what? But for vocals, for singing, do you have a preferred mic?

Bob Alumbaugh: I do love the Sennheiser line with a 52… I love the Telefunkens also. I’m a big Neumann fan. It just depends on the type of voice that I’m really going for. If it’s an opera, I’m going to go with Neumann. If it’s pop, I’m probably going to stick with just a generic BETA, like a Shure BETA, 58 or something like that. So once again it’s artist dependent. What do I want to hear in my inner ear? What does the album sound like, because most of the time I’m going to try and recreate as close as I can to the album.

Larry Jordan: By the way before we leave the loudness thing completely, I have listened to many concerts two blocks away inside a concrete building. So I am very glad that I can actually come and attend one of yours, that’s a good thing.

Bob Alumbaugh: I tell you, this is a great show. It’s bucket list stuff. Everybody comes here, has a moment with Brian Wilson, and I’m just so happy and fortunate to be a part of it. He’s 74 and he’s still just kicking it out every day.

Larry Jordan: Cool. How do you find a happy medium between your sense of what the music mix should be, and what the performers want?

Bob Alumbaugh: That’s an excellent question. The happy medium always defaults to the artist. More than likely what happens is they’ll have someone from their envoy, a wife, a friend, a trusted source, will come out and they will ride shotgun and listen to the mix and see, and then they’ll report back. Generally if you can get into their head and you know what they’re looking for, what kind of a vibe they want, you can generally give them that, or pretty close to it, and keep everybody happy and still stay true to your mantra of keeping it dynamically expressive and not overpowering any one particular element.

Larry Jordan: A performer that stands on stage crooning is a fairly easy miking experience. But if you’ve got a performer that’s got a lot of movement, or a lot of dance, how do you mic and still get quality?

Bob Alumbaugh: Normally those individuals that have a lot of movement, you know, you’ve got a couple of choices. You’re either going to go with a headset like a Countryman, or a GTA but most of the time those people who do that, they’re fairly well versed, so in other words when they’re up there dancing or ball and chain or they have a group of dancers or what have you, those really wildly gyrating moments are in between phrases that they’re singing. So they know that they have to stop and the body hit the mechanism, it’s only going to work so many ways so they try to plan it out. But for the most part, that’s up to the artist now. Even in a situation like this, we have times where he’s sitting down at a piano or someone’s sitting at a piano and they’re just not on access on the mic. There’s not a whole lot you can do with that, you just have to kind of muddle through it and do the best you can with the performer.

Larry Jordan: In other words, you’re tweaking EQ during a performance?

Bob Alumbaugh: Constantly, yes. It depends on the room, now you’re getting into room dynamics, systems, EQing, that’s a whole other kettle of fish for live sound. Most of the time I’m going to come in and tune the room with the PA, and then once the band gets on stage, I will tune it again to how the room sounds with them, and when that’s an empty hall it’s very bright, very… Until we get bodies in the hall, we don’t get anywhere near what the show sounds like. So you’re constantly adjusting that, and as you get more experienced, you can get it close, and know what it’s going to sound like when people get in there. And once again, when the first downbeat comes and the performance starts, I’m again reassessing, tweaking, adjusting this, adjusting that, giving suggestions to people and what have you. It’s dynamic, it’s never static.

Larry Jordan: We’ve mentioned the fact that you’re a fan of Sennheiser and Neumann and the world famous Shures, which I think not only pound nails, but are on more stages than anywhere else.

Bob Alumbaugh: Yes sir.

Larry Jordan: Do you have a preferred mixing console?

Bob Alumbaugh: That is an excellent question. I am personally a fan of DiGiCo. I am … Digidesign but that is because that was on the rider. So in my position one must know all of them. To answer your question, DiGiCo is a favorite of mine. I also love the Midas consoles, they just sound great.

Larry Jordan: I think I could spend the next three hours talking with you. This is just so cool, I love this insight, but before I let you go, do you have a website that people can go to learn more and insist on hiring you for their next gig?

Bob Alumbaugh: I do, and you can find me on

Larry Jordan: Bob, this has been fun, thank you so much for sharing your time and enjoy your mix tonight, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Bob Alumbaugh: Thank you sir, thank you for having me.

Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye. Alright, I confess, I love audio, I love talking to people that do audio and this has been a fun show where we’ve had a chance to take a look at different elements of audio from how we create the microphones for it, to doing a live mix for such an event as a Supermeet to doing live mixes for music and post production and tracking. This has been fun. I could spend probably another three hours here, but I think we better wrap it up while we’re all feeling cheerful.

Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests tonight, Achim Gleissner from Sennheiser, Chris Eschweiler, freelance technical director, Ed Golya, award winning post production mixer, Robert Krueger, the Lesspain Software managing director, and Bob Alumbaugh from Single Bullet Productions, and of course James DeRuvo from DoddleNEWS.

Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online, and all available to you today. And remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Friday. Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at

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Larry Jordan: Our producer is Debbie Price. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.

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