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World First Jazz Multitrack DXD Recording Through Horus

  The Chapel of Sound in Sydney proves the value of high sampling rates

Puidoux, June 2013: Renowned local engineer, Ross A’hern is somebody that has been striving to improve the quality of his recording for more than 30 years. Specialising in top class Australian improvised music, The Chapel of Sound records most of their projects on location while mixing and mastering is done back at base. A Pyramix enthusiast since 2006, Ross has accumulated many classic items of equipment over the years to ensure the best possible results.

The concept is to have a mobile system that will adapt to any recording situation and an accurate monitoring environment to bring it back to for mixing and mastering. With this second aim in mind, careful attention was paid to acoustic treatment of the control room and a Smart AV Tango was chosen as a control surface, both because of its seamless integration with Pyramix, and because its small profile minimised the amount of necessary equipment (and acoustic interference) between the engineer and the primary (front) monitors. The Tango’s ability to quickly bring needed channels to the engineer, who never has to leave the sweet spot, coupled with further visual monitoring of what Pyramix is doing, is a very fast and powerful way to mix within the box. The sonic integrity of Pyramix makes it one of the few DAWs where this is a comfortably valid option. Any desirable analogue colouration can be accessed via inserts and so allows the ability to combine the best of both worlds.

Ross recently added DXD and DSD multitrack capability to his portable Pyramix recording system, using a Horus fitted with 24 channels of premium analogue in and out. This makes him one of the few recording services in Australia offering high resolution multitrack recording capable of DXD and DSD; the natural next step in a quest to provide the best quality recording possible. The portability of the system means it is suitable for both studio and location recording, while the high resolution capability is ideally suited to the capture of improvised and classical music which benefit from the added realism and spatial presence that such a system delivers.

The rig was recently used to record a jazz album at Sydney’s Studio 301 for Ben Gurton and his producer Greg Simmons and was later mixed at The Chapel. The recording took a rather purist approach, with mics unconventionally bypassing the studio’s Neve 88R console and feeding the recording system directly with a monitor mix fed directly via a pair of analogue outputs. To preserve the captured resolution, the mix was done on the original system, with analogue feeds sent to a second Pyramix set at single sample rate, for access to small amounts of reverb from a TC6000. The choice of 44.1 kHz for the low res. system was based on the fact that one of the delivery mediums was to be CD and had the added benefit of enabling direct comparison between the 2 resolutions while mixing. Mix monitoring was via a Grace 906 controller and ATC SCM speakers.

And the verdict? Is there much of a difference and is it worthwhile? “The differences aren’t immediately dramatically apparent, but there is a beautiful and effortless openness to the top end in DXD and this effect has a ripple-down effect through the whole frequency range. For example the acoustic bass, placed unbaffled in an open room with drums, piano, sax and trombone, (usually a move which is asking for trouble) and with DPA mic pickup about 12 inches away, just above the bridge, sounded real and present in the mix, without any need for EQ or compression. In fact, not only was there very little need for any processing on anything at all to get the desired mix, we found that making small level adjustments of 1dB to an instrument was often and instantly perceptible, as too much! Having worked at this resolution for an hour or so, your brain obviously adapts because if you then switch back to a low sample rate, the effect is instant and undeniable. The ‘size’ of the audio picture suddenly shrinks and hardens slightly. The top end becomes slightly granular and everything sounds less satisfying. In fact, it is this sense of satisfaction that was the most common factor in this exercise. Musicians in the studio left smiling broadly because their instruments sounded real and at the end of a day of mixing, the engineering team was smiling broadly too because what they were listening to was effortless, nourishing music.”

The mix team, from L to R; Ross Ahern (engineer), Greg Simmons (producer) and Ben Gurton (trombone/client).     The mix team, from L to R; Ross Ahern (engineer), Greg Simmons (producer) and Ben Gurton (trombone/client).  
The CPU case has a free unit space for later addition of a Ravenna-capable monitor breakout box, so the single Horus can be used as a stage box.     The CPU case has a free unit space for later addition of a Ravenna-capable monitor breakout box, so the single Horus can be used as a stage box.  

About Merging Technologies

Merging Technologies SA is a Swiss manufacturer with over 20 years of experience in developing groundbreaking, professional Audio and Video products for a wide range of entertainment and media industries. With a dedicated user base in the elite end of the music, film, television, mastering and performances industries, Merging is committed to developing product ranges with unrivalled quality and flexibility, no matter what the application. Merging builds tools for people who want more from their systems, have an inherent need to push boundaries, and believe that quality always comes first, every time.

About Chapel of Sound

The Chapel of Sound is a mixing and mastering room set up primarily to facilitate the projects of long time Sony Music Studio engineer Ross A’hern and mastering engineer Paul Bryant, and has been a dedicated user of Pyramix since 2006. More information can be found at