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Omigosh! New Focal SM9 monitors RAWK! (while being accurate!)

June 1, 2011 in Gear, Music, Updates

The Focal SM9 is the only monitor we know of that is designed to be a loud, ultra-accurate and musical sounding 3-way monitor with an additional 2-way monitor built in.

In the 3-way mode (which also has an 11″ passive radiating woofer on it’s top side – similar to the $15K/pair SM11s) the cleanliness and detail are stunning, all the way to the 108 db that we heard them at!  Really!  The published specs (in and of itself a revolution in published specs for studio monitors!) max the volume at 116db, but honestly at 108 db (in a beautifully-treated acoustic space) it was already too darn loud for our ears, although we detected zero distortion.  Totally amazing to hear that kind of clarity and freshness at that kind of volume.  Focal demoed them for the Sweetwater sales engineers on Tuesday morning and all were blown away.  Also at nominal and low levels the perspicuity is still amazing as expected from a Focal.   And now you know a new word too!  :)
The 2-way switch disables the powered woofer and turns the Focal into an alternative monitor that is similar to other small powered 2-ways.  Also, the wattage changes at that point from 600 watts total in the 3-way config. to 200 watts per each 2-way speaker.  The design and construction are such that the stereo imaging maintains integrity between the 3-way and 2-way monitoring as well.  In the 2-way mode, we heard a considerable lessening of the volume (ok, that’s reasonable 600 watts and 3 speakers vs. 200 watts and 2 speakers) and the passive radiator did not move hardly at all.  The 2-way mode gives an excellent reference for small speaker systems and consumer systems.

OK and the bass!  That’s where the ‘Omigosh!’ comes from really.  To hear the full richness of the 11″ radiator in harmony with the 3-way powered speakers is a joy to behold.

ALSO these two features (2- / 3- way and passive radiator) really reduce the footprint normally required to produce this kind of sound.  Really one would have to have two sets of monitors and a subwoofer to accomplish this prior to the SM9s.  Now, all one needs is the SM9s, which is a huge benefit to most home and project studios (and many commercial studios too) that just don’t have the room for multiple speaker setups.

What a deal at only $3595 each?  Well, yes, they are not cheap but not really that bad when you add up two speaker sets (one set of world-class monitors and one set of  not so world-class but not horrible), a subwoofer, and monitor contoller-switch.   Another cool studio monitor from Focal, keep up the great work!

Here’s a link to the full specs data – click here!

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Neumann Speakers! Really? Wow!

March 29, 2011 in Gear, Updates

Well, the title says it all and mostly – Wow!

The recent acquisition of Klein&Hummel (2009) speaker company by Sennheiser/Neumann made this possible.  K&H is a brand known world-wide for the highest quality audio monitors and speakers, and similar to Sennheiser and Neumann, they’ve been doing it since 1945.   Neumann is committed to maintaining the highest level of quality and continuing the K&H tradition of producing the ultimate in studio monitors.
The first Neumann offering – the KH120 – is a great example of how they are doing it.  We were lucky enough to be at Sweetwater when Neumann unveiled and demonstrated the new KH120 – amazing!  In a theater that seats 250, a pair of the KH120 literally rocked the house with musically accurate and beautifully precise imaging. (OK, full disclosure time – the Sweetwater Performance Theater is one of the most beautiful 250-seat acoustic spaces on the planet. Click here for a pictorial tour of the Sweetwater Theater.)
Besides musically accurate sound and the hugest sweet spot we’ve heard in a near-field studio monitor (is ‘hugest’ a word?) click here for more cool features embedded in web flash. If you are even considering new studio monitors - you’ll be glad you checked them out and feel free to click here to buy them at Sweetwater.

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Blackstar Amps Make a Big Bang at Sweetwater!

March 22, 2011 in Gear, Updates, Video

Loren Molinare and Dan Hansen came by Sweetwater last week to show and play the newest addition to the Sweetwater excellent guitar amp offerings – Blackstar!

OK, WOW!  First thing that was apparent is that these amps are For Real.  From the ‘Four Bald Guys’ that escaped from the Marshall camps to the really cool speaker emulation that makes a great recording on direct input, these amps are fast turning into THE amps to rock on.   OH yeah, the Four Bald Guys – click here to read about the founders of Blackstar,  they rock hard daily and wanted to build amps that earn respect in the hard rock world too!   Gus G, Paul Allender, The Church, and lots of really heavy guitarists are using Blackstar, including long-time friend of TheK2BShow Neil Zaza.  Click here to read all about the Blackstar Artists.

CHECK THIS OUT!!  These amps have a proprietary and patented control circuit called “ISF”, which stands for Infinite Shape Feature, and is way too cool to explain with mere words so watch this video that explains the flexibility and the power of the ISF, pretty amazing -

Also these amps are, of course, real tube (‘valve’ in UK-speak) amplifiers and Blackstar makes three lines – The Artisian Series, The Series One, and the HT Venue Series which all rock, Rawk and ROKK! OK, and NOW for the actual killer sound of these things! Check out this demo by Blackstar Artist Gus G from the band FIREWIND -

Check out all the Blackstar videos on their site here.
Blackstar Amps are widely distributed (through Korg in the US) so check them out, but be careful – you’ll want one immediately!   They rock so hard, you’ve been warned! :)

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COOL New AutoTune7 Features and Info!

February 3, 2011 in Gear, Updates

Here’s a great list of neat tricks and benefits whilst using AutoTune7  that comes directly from our good friends at Antares. Amazingly (but not surprisingly), AutoTune7 has just been named “one of the top ten most valuable trade secrets by Daily Finance” (with the Coca-Cola recipe and Google’s search algorithm), Wow and Congrats!!!!  Here’s some killer tips and features of AutoTune7 -

(Auto-Tune 7 is available for Mac and Windows in VST, AU, RTAS, and TDM formats)

Pitch Correction

• Auto-Tune has been the professional standard in pitch correction for over 12 years.

• Go from Vocal Effect (e.g., T-Pain-style) to true Pitch Correction transparency with ease.

• User controllable Humanize function for natural sounding pitch correction.

• Over 25 different scales available.

• Excellent in both live and production environments.

• Use MIDI notes in real-time to set your pitch scale on the fly.

• Correct, add, edit, or remove vibrato. Auto-Tune 7 can also ignore vibrato from incoming live or recorded vocals.

• Pitch Correct stereo tracks while preserving phase coherency.

• Sophisticated Formant Correction to preserve natural voice characteristics when using Auto-Tune 7’s pitch shifting feature.

• Non-Destructive editing – up to 20 levels of Undo.

• Switch from easy-to-use Auto Mode to detailed Graphical Mode with a single click.

• Intuitive, user-friendly MIDI object-style editing while in Graphical Mode.

• Comprehensive editing features available while tracking or correcting pitch in real-time.

• Throat Modeling Control based on Antares AVOX Throat allows users to modify vocal characteristics by passing the effected signal through a precise physical model of the human vocal tract. (Users can also individually modify throat characteristics on a note-by-note basis or on an entire vocal track. Available in both Auto and Graphical Mode).

• Real-time displays of currently detected pitch and correction amount.

• Auto-Tune 7 syncs to your DAW’s internal clock (if supported by your DAW) so you can move around your track at will without breaking sync.

Time Shifting (not available in TDM, use RTAS instead. Auto-Tune 7 TDM includes the RTAS version)

• Time Expansion / Compression range up to ten times (expansion) or 1/10th (compression) of the original length.

• Completely non-destructive – simply turn off the Time Control to revert back to your original timing.

• Envelope Graph display provides visual feedback for intuitive time-shift editing.

• Easy to toggle back and forth between original audio and time-edited audio for comparison.

• Intuitive and user-friendly – simply drag amplitude waveforms to make them longer or shorter.

• Elegantly simple Data File Management for managing time-shifted audio data.

Of course, more great info is available at the Antares website, click here to go to the Antares website. And also, in keeping with their coolness, downloadable demos of most all of their products are available, click here to go to the Antares AutoTune7 and other products downloadable demos page. Thanks again Antares, and keep up the great work!  (P.S. – You can get AutoTune from KennyKenny at Sweetwater – 800 2222 4700 ext. 1270 or most any good audio retailer.)

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Annie and the Beekeepers vid “In the Water” from our friends at Benchmark and Masters From Their Day!

December 28, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates, Video

Thanks to our friends at Benchmark for this cool video of Annie and the Beekeepers song “In the Water”. A trio of guitar/voice, cello and upright bass, these Berklee grads sound great, and even greater using Benchmark gear.

Music studios are catching on and in recent years Benchmark mic pres and converters are cropping up in studios across the country.  As an historically ‘engineering-driven’ company, Benchmark is realizing the power of the web so they’ve started a really cool video marketing series called “Masters From Their Day”.  You’ll see all of them here on TheK2BShow site or if you can’t stand the wait for each episode, check them all out at the Masters From Their Day website. Click here for the main home page for Benchmark.


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Alain Le Kim’s documentary on Dave Hill and Cranesong!

December 20, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates, Video

As promised, here’s the first installment of the documentary called “Crane Song – Superior Gear, The story of Dave Hill”, that originally aired on TheK2BShow, Nov. 17th.  We’ll post another new installment of this film each month until it’s all been previewed and then we’ll move on to Alain’s documentary on EveAnna Manley called “Manley, Rule of Tubes”.  These are greatly informative docs that are well done and quite interesting.  See all of Alain’s films here and check back for new installments.  Dave Hill is a friend of TheK2BShow and a real audio genius.   See Cranesong gear and read about Dave here. Enjoy!!!

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The First Show! Wow! Sneak Peek Photos!

November 19, 2010 in Gear, Music, Photos, Updates, Video

Backstage at TheK2BShow

OK!  The pilot for TheK2BShow is finally in the can!  Thanks to EVERYbody that helped on the show and also to the great audience members that saw history being made!  After all, it’s REALLY about the audience and serving up some great entertainment, which is what happened.

Even KennyKenny didn’t look that bad on TV, who’da thunk it?  (And, his monologue was actually funny!  Kinda.)  Fantastic musical guest Carson McClain wowed the audience with some Detroit Electro using the real, vintage 808, etc.  Marcel James, of Antelope Audio came all the way from LA to give us a scoops on the soon-to-be-released awesome A/D and D/A converters called the Zodiac and newest Michael Jackson record and there was even a live, onstage guitar lesson that was very enlightening (thanks to guitar student Jim Burge for graciously being a guinea pig on that!).

The show is being edited now and of course will be posted here soon on the upcoming “Full Episodes” page, as well as segments from the show in various places.   For now, check out the great slideshow done by our very own DJTrend, a popular photographer and DJ in the area, by clicking here –  TheK2BShow SlideShow by DJTrend! Thanks again, and check back soon for the show video!

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OH Wow, ProTools 9!

November 9, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates

Well, if you haven’t heard yet, ProTools is officially at Version 9 now!  AND it works on ANY audio interface hardware – ASIO, Audio Units, ANYthing!  Does it mean that we’re old because we still have an unopened box of Sound Designer 1.0 from 1984?  :) (For you youngsters, Sound Designer was the great-grandaddy of ProTools and the first product ever to come from what was known then as Digidesign.)   Old is good sometimes, but mostly new is better in the case of software.

There’s a ton on new features in ProTools 9, see an overview here and then click here for detailed info on the new features.  One of the MOST requested and exciting features of the new PT9, other than working with non-Avid hardware, is ADC, which stands for Automatic Delay Compensation.   Basically, that is when one adds a plugin into the session, the DAW software now polls the plugin for its inherent latency and then compensates the timing of the playback accordingly, giving a much more phase-coherent and solid-sounding track.

Not sure which ProTools is right for you?  Click here for a comparison chart of all the new PT9s and the previous PT8s. There is no more ‘LE’, only ProTools9 and ProTools9HD, with the addition of the Complete Production Toolkit 2 option for PT9 only (PT9HD already contains the features of the Complete Production Toolkit 2).

OK, what a deal!  How much for it and can one get an upgrade from older versions of ProTools?  Click here to find out (and don’t get sidetracked – they are ‘upgrades’ meaning one must own previous ProTools to qualify, Avid calls them ‘crossgrades’.)  Even though they are called crossgrades, they are not ‘crossgradeable’ from competitive products, only from previous versions of ProTools.  Just sayin’…

Have fun!

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New ‘Music to Listen to’ Page added!

November 5, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates

OK, well now we’re in big trouble because we have a page that is for LISTENING TO MUSIC!  There’s a cool concept.  After all the talk and demos and products and specs, there’s the actual music!   We’ve added this page for anybody that wants to send us music to post on this page.  Soon you will be able to upload it yourself to this page, which will really be rad.   Check out the offerings and that page by clicking here.  Have fun and thanks for any comments you can post about the music.

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Very Cool Rubblebucket Vid by Benchmark

November 2, 2010 in Gear, Music, Updates, Video

Benchmark has been producing ultra high-quality audio gear for the production studio for the past 27 years.  When the audio is critical, (and when is it NOT?) broadcast and film guys insist on the pristine sound of Benchmark gear .  Music studios are catching on and in recent years Benchmark mic pres and converters are cropping up in studios across the country.  As an historically ‘engineering-driven’ company, Benchmark is realizing the power of the web so they’ve started a really cool video marketing series called “Masters From Their Day”.  You’ll see all of them here on TheK2BShow site or if you can’t stand the wait for each episode, check them all out at the Masters From Their Day website. Click here for the main home page for Benchmark.

This first video from Benchmark is an excellent band from Brooklyn – Rubblebucket.  It’s a good-looking video directed by Isaac Deitz and if you’ve not been in the studio yet as a recording artist, it’s a great slice of life inside the studio.  All converters and mic preamps are, of course, Benchmark, and the un-compressed .wav file is available for free download here.  Also,  -VERY COOL Alert! – they posted for free the individual tracks for you to download and remix the entire song!  Get those tracks here – Rubblebucket remix page. If you remix this song and want others to hear it, email us and we’ll post it here and you get a free K2BShow, glow-in-the-dark guitar pick, the collector’s edition!   Enjoy!   :)

To see if Rubblebucket is playing near you, click here – The Rubblebucket dates page.

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