— Waves’ critically acclaimed plug-ins allow remote recording specialists Music Mix Mobile to keep the workflow moving every time —
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL, February 8, 2010 — The 52nd Annual GRAMMY® Awards, broadcast live from L.A.’s Staples Center in 5.1 audio on CBS-TV on the evening of January 31, 2010, once again earned its reputation as “Music’s Biggest Night®,” as the year’s hitmakers sang their biggest songs and shared the stage with music legends for several once-in-a-lifetime collaborations. Creating a consistent sonic context for such a wide range of performers was the challenge faced by Music Mix Mobile, a New Jersey/California-based remote facilities company combining the talents of award-winning production professionals and state-of-the-art audio solutions. The Music Mix Mobile team includes industry veterans John Harris, Jay Vicari, Joel Singer, Mitch Maketansky and newly added West Coast-based partners Bob Wartinbee and Mark Linett. In the company’s dual M3 trucks (now known as “M3” and “M3 West”), the GRAMMY Award Show Broadcast Music Mixers John Harris and Eric Schilling, along with Music Mix Mobile Engineer-in-Charge Joel Singer, were on site to ensure the audio would be of the highest quality. For this prestigious event, they relied on plug-ins from Waves Audio, a leading provider of digital signal processing solutions.
The team responsible for the audio at this year’s GRAMMYs once again included a who’s who of broadcast audio. The broadcast music mix was handled by Harris and Schilling and was supervised by Hank Neuberger, a noted member of The Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing® while ATK/Audiotek provided the sound system with FOH (front-of-house) Engineers Ron Reaves and Mikael Stewart.
Co-Music Mixer John Harris notes that they used an extensive selection of Waves plug-ins, including Waves Renaissance Equalizer, Waves Renaissance DeEsser, Waves Renaissance Vox (vocal compressor), Waves Renaissance Axx, Waves CLA-76 (from the Chris Lord-Alge Classic Compressors), Waves UM226 Stereo-to-Surround Processor and Waves MV360º Surround Dynamics Processor.
States Harris, “We use the Renaissance EQ on the overall equalization on all the music. And then as far as the vocal chain, we have Renaissance DeEsser, Renaissance EQ, Renaissance Vox and the CLA-76. All four of those on every vocal – that combination in that order lets us have all kinds of flexibility. We can really hang onto vocals for rock bands like Bon Jovi, giving us an in-your-face sound, or scale it back for Andrea Bocelli or Mary J. Blige for a more open sound. Also, we use the CLA-76 on the kick and snare, and definitely the bass. For acoustic guitars and violins, we use the Renaissance Axx. Such a great thing – they’ve got pre-set dynamics for string instruments – things that are picked, plucked and sustained – and I rarely have to alter the pre-sets to get the sound we need.”
As Harris notes, there is rarely time to change the settings anyway. They have “maybe five or six minutes” to do a 60-input band, and then they have to move on. “I need things that will work exactly how I want them to as soon as I drop them in the chain. That’s what Waves gives us, and that’s why we continue to rely on them for live broadcast scenarios.”
Since the show is broadcast in 5.1 surround sound, Music Mix Mobile uses Waves UM226 on stereo elements within the performance to fill out the 5.1 mix. States Harris: “For this, we use Waves UM226. We can up-mix any stereo track to either LCR or full 5.1, and it works really well. The thing that this plug-in does that no other manufacturer has been able to accomplish is that when the overall mix is folded back down to stereo for non-surround home viewers, those tracks that had been up-mixed and down-mixed again sound exactly like they started, when a lot of other up-mix plug-ins from other manufacturers end up coloring the sound in various ways. With Waves, if you do an A/B test between the original stereo track and the down-mix after the plug-in, they’re exactly the same.”
Additionally, Harris and the rest of the team use Waves’ MV360º Surround Dynamics Processor. “This is really the key to the show,” he notes, “because in digital TV and the demands of home delivery, we have to be very precise on what we deliver, and it needs to land within a certain dynamic range. The MV360º compressor is so adaptable – it can very easily be molded for different performers. We’re able to really keep dynamic control in such a great way with this 360 plug-in.”
Lastly, Harris reiterates, “We know we can rely on Waves. I have great confidence in them and their plug-ins, with their current product line and as they continue to innovate with new offerings. They’re developed by engineers for engineers, and they’re always very musically thought-out.”