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Pro Audio Esoterica. Help Needed!

This is a somewhat arcane post, but I’m hoping that the astute readers of my blog might be able to connect me with someone who has expertise with Yamaha digital mixers and Aviom personal monitoring systems since I need to make some buying decisions in the near future and I’ve been unable to get all my pre-purchase questions answered.

I run a Pro Tools HD3 Accel system in my recording studio and currently use a Hearback system to allow musicians who are laying down tracks to adjust their own mixes. This works very well, save for the fact that the Hearback system is only eight tracks and is monophonic but for one stereo pair. I’m ready to move up to something a bit more powerful.

My fellow music geeks Jason and Carl and I have been going to NAMM for years, and a few years ago we discovered the Aviom personal mixing system, which offers 16 channels of fully controllable/customizable stereo mixes to every musician in a studio or live setting using one of the Aviom personal mixers. And they sound great.

When I moved from Portola Valley, CA to Boulder, CO last summer, I left behind a 600 square-foot fully soundproofed recording studio that had once been a detached two car garage. It was a great space and sonically isolated from the house. In our new house, my very understanding and supportive wife has turned over two rooms on the lower level to my musical activities to use as a recording studio. I’ve got one great control/mixing room and one “live” room for the band. The only problem is, despite my best efforts to soundproof the live room using Quiet Solution’s excellent and effective THX-certified QuietRock, the fact that it is directly under my three-year-old son’s bedroom means that the days of the late-night rehearsals with the amplifiers turned up to eleven are over.

So given this new reality, my next project is to create a “silent” jam room. OK, it won’t be totally silent; you will still hear vocals and the sound of drumsticks on trigger pads, but nothing else, and this will not be the least bit audible from my son’s room right above. In this era of multichannel digital audio networking technologies, personal monitoring systems, virtual modeling of physical instruments and analog electronics, personified by Aviom’s Personal Mixer, Roland’s incredible V-Drums and Line6 modeling amplifiers, it is possible for all electric instruments (keys, bass, drums, guitars, etc) to jack directly into a mixer and still produce realistic sounds without actually setting up an amplifier and putting a microphone on it.

So on music nights, my bandmates will simply walk in to the jam room, turn on their personal mixers, don their headphones and plug in their instruments. And we’ll be treated to a nearly silent jam session with fully engineered album-quality sound (assuming I am a good enough audio engineer).

Aviom has a card, the 16/o-Y1 A-Net Card, that plugs into Yamaha digital mixers, allowing Yamaha mixers to route audio into the Aviom personal monitor system. Yamaha’s digital mixers range in cost from $2k to well over $100k. I’m most interested in the mixers at the low end of that price range, since I’m saving my pennies for a Tesla Roadster. But I digress…

I’ve looked at the Aviom and Yamaha documentation and spoken with their tech support people, but I cannot determine yet exactly how the Aviom integrates with the mixers and whether I can easily send output from any track on either the 01V96V2 mixer or the LS9-16 mixer to any of the channels on the Aviom card.

Presumably I should be able to, but I am concerned that the number of mix busses on the mixers might limit how many tracks I could send to the personal monitor mixes. The 01V96V2 has 8 mix busses, while the LS9-16 has 16. If I can only send 8 tracks into the monitor system on the 01V96V2, it won’t suffice and I will need to buy the LS9-16, which is more expensive. Also, the 01V96V2 can act as a ProTools front-end and runs at 24 bit / 96 khz resolution as opposed to 24/48khz on the LS9-16. So I’d prefer to buy the 01V96V2, but I need to talk to someone who understands these mixers and understands how they integrate with the Aviom system before I pull the trigger.

If anyone out there can help me, I’d be much obliged.

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May 21st, 2007     Categories: Uncategorized    
  • TJ

    email me for some help on the soundproofing if you would like.

  • Brandon Smits

    I’m so late to the game on this post that by now if you haven’t selected a monitoring solution you never will! However, I’ll take on the risk of assuming that you’ve never shopped with Sweetwater Sound, out of my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
    Truth be told, I worked there in sales for a year before leaving to start my own company. Before that I spent 3 years working at Guitar Center, the industry Goliath as you likely know.
    The problem is that the phrase “mix bus” may confuse most the guitar center staff. Yikes. That’s why Sweetwater’s highly trained staff is there to help answer these questions quickly.
    It’s a great business model, you get one sales guy who learns who you or your band/studio/church/backline company are and is there to handle your audio questions much like the ones posed here.
    I’d recommend Mike Picotte (now my sales guy) for any recording technology questions you have.
    Back to your question, though I’ve never personally used Aviom with the Yamaha mixers, it should be possible to send a submix (i.e. drum mix) as a single output channel, so I doubt you would need the full sixteen. I’m not positive, though you probably know by now.
    One more thought is that the sample rate at which you record will rarely matter unless you intend to slow down your recordings.
    Music gear companies have often touted the 96k spec as a huge feature, (often 192 now!) but the reality is that in a blind a/b test you won’t hear a difference thanks to the nyquist rate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist_rate). It will make your recordings bulkier, but the audible quality will not improve. It’s also worth it to say that in my opinion, those Yamaha mic pre’s won’t satisfy your ears sonically(go outboard!).
    The biggest thing I want to reiterate here is that Sweetwater will help you make sound decisions. Pun intended. It was sad to leave the company because the culture was so amazing, but my startup wants to do what they do in the SaaS market.
    Stay tuned on that, but for now please check out Sweetwater, the geniuses you seek for gear advice.