On Monday last week, I visited Audix at their facility just south of Portland OR, first of my stops on a ToneMatch Quest (see Breedlove visit, this section also). I worked for a day with Audix cofounder Cliff Castle and we did presets for a bunch of their popular vocal mics. We also added a few surprises later on. When we first approached Cliff about doing this work, he was sort of puzzled. "The OM5 sounds great-we love what you did. What work?". It turns out they bought one of our systems as a reference and everyone was borrowing it, trying it at the gig and loving it. I think all the employees are in bands out there. Amazing. Cliff himself is in this big EWF-type band with some really great singers and world-class players. We did the tone work in a large performance room being revised for doing big shows, recording, etc. I heard some of their recordings and it sounded like a record. These people are totally living their work.
But I stressed the importance of doing this work in collaboration with them, so that they would have a hand in the work and actually approve the results. Plus, there were a bunch of mics that we didn't have presets for, some I didn't even know existed. Cliff, probably under the usual time crunches of a growing business, finally relented and we set a date.
We started by listening to the OM5 and its preset. "We love it" was Cliff's reply. So this became a "reference" of sorts for the others to come. We ended up getting really good presets for the OM2, 3 and reaffirmed our love for the 5 and 6. Then we went on to their new condenser, the VX5 and an older vocal condenser, the VX10 (oh...my...goh...idd...). These two actually sounded great flat, so we did some "enhanced" presets at my suggesion, to make them sound spectrally similar to the OM5/6 and dump some of the very low frequencies, always a good idea for two good reasons: less re-broadcasting of onstage bass signals and normal speech does not have a lot of 40Hz. So, I added a highpass and a little upper-mid sweetening to give a really exceptional vocal delivery and something that was similar to the OM5, a really exceptional combo with our #5 preset and a big fave in our live music theater. We have a bunch of these in the mic closet. But, oh baby, the VX10 is all there, totally organized. More on this. I now have one to use and will report as I get more miles on it.
They had a 6' Kawai grand piano, which drew me like the bees to the honey. When we took a break, Cliff left the room and I played the Kawai. It turns out they have a very interesting large-diaphragm condenser mic (SCX25), sold in pairs for live piano. The mics clip on the harp frame, so you can actually close the lid. Important, I thought. So, at the end of the afternoon, we decided to do some presets for it. I was skeptical, having had little luck with miking grand pianos and having them maintain tone once show levels were acheived. My opinion has increasingly been "get the digital". But, we had an hour or so left of the day (I had to fly to Bend that evening, visiting Breedlove) so, might as well. Playing around with position and mixing strategy, I ended up with the following for a mono pickup: Mic #1 is over the bass strings and, with tone adjustment, picks up most of the instrument. Mic#2 is over the higher strings with most of the low end and mid-midrange dumped. It too pucks up most of the instrument, with emphasis on the nearby strings and becomes a "treble control" of sorts. With the ch1 and ch2 presets in place, get mic1 up to show level, then bring up mic2 to make the whole instrument bright to taste. I'll attach a photo. I must say it sounded like the piano when I was finished and I could play it louder than I would want to. Also, it sounded way better on the short stick, closed-lid was not as good. On the short stick, I could still play it loud as I wanted without feedback. And so, this is the first live piano setup I ever had a real experience with that actually worked well without feedback.