Friday, February 10, 2017

Building the Perfect DAW
 with GC Pro

There are a number of “right” ways to set up a computer for digital audio recording and/or production, but many more wrong ways that could end up becoming a massive source of frustration for you that never allows you to create to your full capacity.

Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro) has a technical services group devoted to the goal of helping you create the best possible digital audio workstation (DAW). The very best DAWs are purpose-built, meaning that it takes into account your exact needs as a music and audio professional. With the myriad combinations of hardware, software, RAM, types of drives, plug-ins and interfaces available today, one of the most valuable services offered by GC Pro is the ability to work with you to help choose and implement those elements to create the ultimate system which functions above your expectations from day one.

In this article, we’re going to look at four distinct Mac-based systems, and give you some suggestions on the various elements that you might specify to your GC Pro rep so that we can handle the often tedious job of setting up your computer, taking care of any conflicts, and ensuring that your system is ready for you to do great work from the day it’s plugged in and turned on.

building the perfect DAW with GC Pro

A typical digital audio workstation (DAW) setup will include a computer, an audio interface, and a means of monitoring your audio. Many factors will come into play regarding how many simultaneous inputs you need, what kind of processing power is necessary for the type of work you do, and the level of quality required.


In most cases, putting together a recording and simple music production system for a singer-songwriter is easier than most people think. These types of artists don’t need an elaborate amount of inputs and outputs. Often a simple, user-friendly tabletop solution suits the purpose. In some situations, we take into account that a singer-songwriter might benefit from a setup that allows for travel and mobility. In this scenario a laptop, a high-quality yet portable interface (like the Universal Audio Apollo Twin), and some quality headphones may be the best solution.

While your choice of DAW software is important in terms of the way you prefer to create music, you’ll find that for singer-songwriters, there are plenty of options that are very affordable, or even free. Entry-level software like Avid’s Pro Tools | First, Apple’s Garageband, and Cockos’ Reaper can get you rolling with almost no investment required, and you can save your money for the important interfacing and monitoring tools you’ll need.

building the perfect DAW with GC Pro
Singer-songwriters rarely need an extravagant amount of inputs and outputs for their audio interfaces. Manufacturers like Universal Audio, Apogee, Focusrite, PreSonus, MOTU, and others offer the combination of affordability, portability, and quality you want to capture your creativity.

Film Composer
Modern day film and television audio composition tends to be quite resource intensive. Many of today’s composers utilize a variety of virtual instruments and sound libraries. These critical applications heavily rely on RAM, along with the fast read and write specs of Solid State Drives (SSDs). For example, when loading a virtual instrument (VI) within a DAW, many VIs cache (buffer) into RAM. This great increases the responsiveness/triggering of the given instrument. That’s why we set up computers for film composers with the RAM maximized for the most beneficial results.

On the other hand, many VIs require a substantial amount of disk space to store and access their libraries. The good news is that solid state drives have become much more affordable and larger in capacity over the last few years. Utilizing SSDs for library storage drives is a huge benefit when switching through a collection of thousands of samples. If you’re a working film composer, there is no such thing as too much RAM, or too large a hard drive.

building the perfect DAW with GC Pro
One of the best technological advances in recent years for audio professionals has been the advent and continual price reductions of SSD (Solid State Drive) drives. With faster read and write times than any standard HDD (Hard Disk Drive), SSDs have been of tremendous benefit to film composers, who often need immediate access to thousands of sounds.

Music/Sound-for-Picture Engineer

There was a time not very long ago that recording sessions were limited to the amount of tracks and channels available in an analog or early digital recording and mixing system. With the exponential growth and advancements of modern day computers and audio hardware, sessions have concurrently grown larger in size and complexity. Audio engineers, whether they work on music or in the sound-for-picture realm, are dealing with more track counts and amounts of layered plug-in processing than ever before. At GC Pro, we can help build a system that makes use of external DSP solutions such as Avid Pro Tools | HDX or Universal Audio Apollo to yield world-class results. These systems go as far as possible to allow you to work with larger sessions and more plug-ins while still maintaining low latency performance to maximize the speed and efficiency of your workflow.

For large-scale projects, some engineers turn to multi-computer setups that allow each processor to focus on specific tasks to speed up the workflow and get jobs done more efficiently. GC Pro’s technical services group can be of tremendous assistance in putting together a multi-computer system; you’d be amazed at what a bank of several affordable purpose-built Mac minis are capable of.

building the perfect DAW with GC Pro
If you’re like most people, you haven’t had to use multiple computers running in parallel, and might not have an understanding of how to set up and make the best use of such a system. GC Pro’s technical services group are experts at this kind of advanced method to go beyond the limitations of a single computer.

building the perfect DAW with GC Pro
For serious professional engineering, you never want to accept compromises in how music and audio gets created. Interfaces and digital converters of the highest level of audio quality and with plenty of inputs/outputs are of paramount importance in pro studios. Some systems also offer external DSP processing, taking some of the load off of the computer itself.

Music Producer

The role of producer bridges the gap between the creative and technical aspects of music making, and modern music producers use a variety of technologies to achieve their desired results. The focus of these resources can be divided into several categories, starting with the signal chain. This is where one of the most critical steps in the process happens: analog to digital conversion. Selecting the correct combinations of microphone and preamplifiers can be a big part of this, but the end result is only as good as the conversion process that allows the audio to get into your DAW as flawlessly as possible.

Both the quality and price of professional-caliber A/D converters have have become much more financially accommodating in recent years. Brands such as Apogee, Universal Audio, Lynx, Antelope, Prism, and others offer some great choices in this regard. Available in both large and small form factors, and with a variety of connectivity options, the right conversion selection can yield noticeable quality results.

The second part of this choice is the digital audio workstation itself. This is rarely a “one size fits all” situation. Start by doing your research, and look into your own way of working. Is the DAW merely a tool to capture and manipulate audio, or do you plan on having it be the centerpiece for all your work in music creation as well? Start by doing your research, and then talk to your GC Pro representative, who in many cases can arrange for you to test-drive DAWs including Pro Tools | HD, Logic Pro, and Digital Performer, or can answer any questions that might come up in the process.

building the perfect DAW with GC Pro
In a serious music or film/TV post-production studio, even the form factor of the computer itself comes into play for maximizing your workflow. Companies like JMR Electronics, Sonnet Technologies, and others make rack-mountable chassis solutions with easy access to removable drives and more. GC Pro can tell you about your options and help you choose the right solution for your facility.

The Next Step
As you can see, there’s no single solution for “the best DAW” for music and audio applications that can address everyone’s needs. GC Pro and our technical services group are here to help in every step of the process. Whether you are starting from scratch or building up from an existing system, contact us for a personal consultation.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

GC Pro Helps Church at Viera Keep Up with their Fast Growth

GC Pro, house of worship, audio, live sound, installation
Standing in front of the Allen & Heath dLive S7000 at Church at Viera are (left to right) Pastor of Worship Arts Trevor Hislop, Technical Director Doug Schaefer, Production Director Eli Higginbotham, and GC Pro Account Manager Jeffrey Aldrich. The church recently expanded their audio systems in both their main auditorium and youth sanctuary with the help of GC Pro.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, February 8, 2017 -- Located in Melbourne, FL, Church at Viera is growing quickly. With the help of Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the business solutions division of Guitar Center providing highly customized service for professional accounts, the place of worship met their goals of expanding their live sound systems on time and under budget.

The church recently worked with GC Pro’s Jacksonville-based account manager Jeffrey Aldrich, who specified and assisted with the installation and setup of an Allen & Heath dLive S7000, the largest of the company’s dLive family of control surfaces, along with a DM64 MixRack processing and audio I/O stage box. At the same time, new stage trussing was planned and installed.

“I just don’t have the time to deal with all the install logistics,” says Church at Viera Production Director Eli Higginbotham. “I’ve got to prioritize my time and attention to production. Jeff and GC Pro worked directly with the installer and handled the integration. He arranged for the gear to be shipped in advance so there would be time to configure everything and troubleshoot the system. All I had to worry about was learning new gear.”

Higginbotham also pointed out the biggest benefit of the DM64 MixRack, which was the doubling the number of output busses from 16 to 32. For the new stage trussing, GC Pro specified Global Truss for its reliability and flexible designs.

GC Pro, house of worship, audio, live sound, installation
Church at Viera's main auditorium, featuring recently upgraded audio systems specified and provided by GC Pro along with their installation affiliate Stellar Audio Visual.

Aldrich, working with GC Pro installation affiliate Stellar Audio Visual, was happy to help. “This upgrade to the church’s systems was on a very strict timeline. There were events upcoming that meant the entire systems had to be done quickly, so we had the gear shipped from the manufacturer directly to our Orlando store. The church schedule had to stay seamless to not interrupt ongoing services. By having the gear arrive early and held on station in one of our Orlando store locations, it allowed the client and the installer to operate without downtime.”

Church at Viera continued its growth over the course of 2016 when Aldrich and GC Pro also assisted Church at Viera on the expansion of their youth sanctuary with new PA and lighting systems. Aldrich recommended loudspeakers and subwoofers from Electro-Voice, including the EKX-15P, ELX-112P, and ELX-118P. The church chose Shure QLXD as their wireless microphone systems for the sanctuary, as well as high-quality Jands Vista lighting systems.

GC Pro, house of worship, audio, live sound, installation
Church at Viera's youth sanctuary was upgraded with new PA and lighting systems with the help of GC Pro.

Higginbotham continues, “We just came out of the busiest part of our season, December. All the stuff that Jeff was able to do for us put us in a position to host our largest crowd in 25 years, with over 3500 people in attendance. The entire process of working with GC Pro was very, very smooth. The integration of our systems was superb. Jeff made it very easy to perform all the services. I should add that the new system is also volunteer-friendly, which is important to a church like ours.”

Aldrich adds that GC Pro offers a tremendous advantage for houses of worship under typical challenging circumstances. “It’s more than a matter of selecting the right mix of products and arranging for installation. We are often tasked with working within volunteer schedules, taking pre-production time into account, and doing everything possible to not hinder normal church workflow. The only way this can be accomplished is with the flexibility and operational power offered by GC Pro.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mic Choice and Techniques for Live Sound

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Live sound venues and events can be a chaotic environment where things that seem to work just fine in one place don’t work at all the next night in another venue (or ten minutes after sound check in the same venue). Having a number of microphones and techniques for using them in your bag of tricks can prevent a whole lot of panic when you need immediate solutions.

The overall goals of miking techniques for live sound are easy enough to understand: get a good sound on the source that you’re miking, avoid picking up other sound sources in close proximity and prevent feedback. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It turns out that choosing and using microphones is both an art and a science that can take years to fully master. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Choosing the Right Mics
Choosing microphones for live sound has different criteria than that you’d use for studio recording. Your first big choice is the main classes of microphone types: dynamic versus condenser. Dynamic mics are more rugged and more likely to handle the rigors of live use. They also handle higher SPL (sound pressure level, a.k.a. the loudness of the signal) better than condenser mics. However, condenser mics as a whole provide a much higher degree of sensitivity and fidelity to the original signal, along with extended high-frequency response.

guitar center professional, live sound, microphones, gc pro
The most classic live sound reinforcement microphones are the Shure SM58 and SM57. Used on everything from lead vocals to snare drums to guitar amplifier cabinets, nearly every venue, live band, and touring company has a good number of these relatively inexpensive, reliable tools for live sound.

Giving Direction
Each microphone has a specific sensitivity to sound coming from various directions, known as the mic’s polar pattern. In most mics, this is permanently built into its design, while in others, different types of directionality can be selected on the microphone itself.

The main types are omnidirectional (which pick up sound equally in a 360-degree radius) and unidirectional (which pick up sounds from certain directions while rejecting others). These mics have polar patterns like cardioid, super-cardioid and hyper-cardioid. This can be tremendously useful in a stage setting. Let’s say you’re miking a horn section, but the guitar amp is nearby. Simply using a mic with a cardioid polar pattern instead of an omni mic will help reject the guitar from bleeding into the horn signal.

guitar center professional, live sound, microphones, gc pro
This graphic, courtesy of Shure, shows a 3-D representation of omni, cardioid, and hypercardioid polar patterns. You can see the direction from where each pattern picks up and rejects signals.

Pad It Down, Roll It Off
Some mics have a built-in attenuator (“pad”) that allows you to instantly lower the signal by a preset amount, which is handy when dealing with loud sources like kick drum. Some mics may also have a low-frequency filter which helps to reduce the inevitable background noises—feet stomping on stages, wind, audience sounds and more. Pads and filters can really come in handy in a live setting.

Danger Zones
There are some common problems in live sound that are based on the way you use microphones. One is proximity effect, where a mic behaves differently when positioned very close to the source. When you do a sound check with lead singers, make sure they are using the mic just as they do during the performance.

Another caution area is using multiple mics. Unless you have a good understanding of mic placement, you may run into audible issues like phase cancellation and comb filtering. Problems generally occur when two or more mics are placed on the same source at different distances. Use only the mics you need. Learn the “3-to-1 rule,” which says that the distance between the mics should be three times the distance to the source.

General Good Ideas
First, never point a microphone in the direction of a PA or monitor speaker, which is the fastest way to cause feedback. Second, use directional microphones whenever possible, since you can orient them toward the source, helping to get a good signal, reject leakage from other sound sources and avoid feedback.

Perhaps the most important concept for live sound miking is that even a slight repositioning of a microphone can make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to experiment by moving the mics slightly to solve issues.

Quick Mic Choice and Technique Guide

Vocals: Dynamic mics are still the most popular choice here, and there are a wide variety of impressive handheld vocal mics from manufacturers like Sennheiser, Neumann, Electro-Voice, Beyerdynamic, Audix and Blue, in addition to the ubiquitous Shure SM58. Since every vocalist's voice and mic technique is different, it's good to keep a variety of mics available.

Drums: While kits can be miked effectively with as few as three mics, you'll get better control over the overall sound with a pair of condenser mics as overheads, and closely placed dynamic mics for the rest of the kit. The kick drum needs a mic that can stand up to very high SPL. The snare mic is the one most likely to be inadvertently hit by the drummer, so make sure it's something especially sturdy, like a Shure SM57. Usually the snare mic picks up enough of the high hat, but you can supplement that with a small-diaphragm condenser for extra sizzle.

guitar center professional, live sound, microphones, gc pro
Choices in drum mics include kick drum mics like the AKG D12VR and the Heil PR48. A longtime go-to mic for toms is the Sennheiser MD421.

guitar center professional, live sound, microphones, gc pro
Some snare and tom microphones can be easily mounted to the drum shell or other convenient attachment point, like the Sennheiser e604, CAD TSM411, Audix D2, snd Audio-Technica ATM230.

Guitars: For electric guitars, a unidirectional dynamic mic placed 1–4" from the grill is standard. Close to the center of the cone gives you more highs, and you can mellow a "spiky" amp by moving the mic towards the edge of the speaker or using a modern, sturdy ribbon mic. For acoustic guitars without built-in preamp/pickup systems, try a small-diaphragm condenser about 6" from the sound hole, slanted towards the top edge of the fretboard. Bass guitars are frequently covered with a D.I. (direct injection) box, but if miked, the same type of mic used for kick drum would be preferred.

guitar center professional, live sound, microphones, gc pro
There are many mics that can be used for miking guitar amplifier speaker cabinets, like the Royer R-122 MKIIL and the Sennheiser e906. Miking live acoustic guitars is a little more challenging; try out the Shure SM81, Neumann KM 184, or the Mojave Audio MA-101fet.

Piano: To cover the full range of a grand or upright piano, you need a pair of mics, usually small-diaphragm omnidirectional condensers. Best placement is inside the lid, about a foot from the strings and about the same distance away from the hammers, one covering the bass strings and the other handling the treble strings. Remember the "3-to-1 rule" when placing these mics.

The final tip is to use your ears and adjust mic positions to try and solve problems before resorting to EQs or plug-ins. The better you get it to sound without adding processing, the better the final sound will be.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Signal Processing for Stage: Dynamics

This "Application Series" article gives advice toward the specific areas of business serviced by Guitar Center Professional, including studio recording/film sound, live sound, house of worship, clubs/restaurants, business sound/lighting systems, and more.

The proper use of signal processing in many settings can be confusing even for experienced engineers. To be clear, there are creative uses of signal processing with effects like reverbs, delays and more, but we won’t be getting into that here. Instead, we’re taking a look at one type of signal processing that’s necessary for a positive audience experience (and the safety of your sound system) -- dynamics processing.

Getting Dynamic with Compressors
The easiest way to understand what a compressor does is to imagine a tiny little audio engineer who lives in a box. His or her sole job is very clear: to keep the perceived volume (loudness or quietness) within a certain range. Our imaginary little engineer has incredibly fast fingers that are always on a fader, and can react faster than any real human to adjust the signal up or down, keeping it within a range that sounds good for the overall performance.

Let’s look at a specific example. In a rock band, not all sounds are created equally. A bass player can be thumping along and then decide to start slapping in the chorus, creating a much higher perceived volume. A singer can be practically whispering throughout a verse, and then start screaming his way through the bridge. You get the idea. Music itself is dynamic, and we agree that using a full dynamic range is a good practice! However, we’ve all been through the unpleasant experience of hearing a poorly-mixed band, where the drums overwhelm the rest of the music, or the vocals can’t be heard at all over a feisty guitar player. What compression does is help even out the volumes of these individual sources so that the live sound experience is a little bit closer to the smoothness of recorded music.

Compressors are the key to creating this professional live sound presentation. They are particularly important for sources that have the highest levels, such as kick drums and bass. They are also crucial for sources with the widest range of dynamics, like the human voice. Please be aware that a compressor is not just a limiter, which is a device that stops audio signals from going above a certain range. Compressors also can raise the level of quieter sources so they, too, can be heard clearly.

Finally, from a practical point of view for live sound, compressors can be crucial to protecting the rest of your live sound system. A sudden burst of a very loud signal can damage everything from your console or mixing surface to your entire main PA and stage monitoring system, as well as having a deleterious affect on the audience’s ears. It’s very important to use compression for this reason, if no other.

Under Control
One interesting thing about dynamics processing: if a high-quality compressor is set correctly, you shouldn’t hear it working. It will just do its job, and everyone will appreciate its work (whether they notice it or not). Let’s take a look at what kind of controls are offered on a typical compressor, and how they work together.

“Threshold" allows you to tell the compressor the level at which it can start reducing the amplitude of a signal. “Ratio" lets you set the gain reduction with a ratio. Example: a 3:1 ratio means that if the signal is 3dB over the threshold you set earlier, the output will be 1dB over the threshold. "Attack and Release” lets you control how quickly the gain reduction starts and stops working. “Knee” allows you to choose how the compressor responds to signals that cross the threshold. Finally, "Output Gain” or "Makeup Gain” takes the compressed signal and boosts it so you have the right amount of volume to fit into the mix.

The dbx 166XS, an affordable dynamics processor that's popular in live sound, shows many of the common controls of a compressor including threshold, ratio, attack, release, and output gain.

Plug It In, Plug It In
For a long time, live sound was an area where only hardware devices were trusted for their essential purposes. However, like most other areas of professional audio, software-based plug-ins have made their foray into live sound in recent years. Technology such as Avid’s VENUE live sound systems have allowed performers and engineers to take advantage of the software-based signal processing that they use in studios while playing live. Companies such as Waves, McDSP and others have created software-based dynamics processing plug-ins that work exceptionally well.

Recommended Dynamics Processors

Dangerous Music Compressor

Software-Based Live Sound Processing Bundles


Can’t I just have a single compressor that covers the entire mix?
While it’s important to have a compressor available for the complete mix as needed, each source is different in terms of its need for compression. Some instruments and vocalists might not need any compression at all. Others (kick drum, bass, often vocals) need their own types of compressors, each with their own settings, for a professional stage sound presentation. Also, different players tend to play… differently. Some hit the drums or strings harder; others don’t. It’s a wise plan to have compression available based on the style of the player, rather than an overall plan based only on the types on sound sources.

I once used a compressor and it made everything sound terrible!

As we said above, compression is perhaps the most misunderstood tool in the audio engineer’s arsenal. Two things can cause a compressor to do more harm than good: the use of a poorly-made, cheap compressor which doesn’t have enough quality in its parts or design to meet your needs, or (more likely) having an inexperienced engineer who doesn’t understand how to best set a compressor for each source and/or the mix itself. The most common way to mis-use a compressor is to overuse it. Be conservative with your approach to compression, and it will be your friend.

Can software-based dynamics processors really be trusted for live sound applications?

Live sound—both touring and fixed installations—was one of the last holdouts for use of software-based processing, especially for needs like compression. However, over the last decade or so, plug-ins have proven themselves in the largest venues and most high-profile tours. It’s safe to say that if you want to build a system that uses either software exclusively or in combination with hardware gear, you can trust these tools on your most important live sound jobs.

For more information on live sound processors, consult your GC Pro rep. Visit to find your local representative.


About Guitar Center Professional/Guitar Center
Guitar Center Professional is the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on the needs of professional users. Its clientele includes recording studios, audio engineers, producers, recording and touring musicians, live sound venues, post production facilities and more. Emphasizing extraordinary individualized service via local account managers, GC Pro offers expert consultation and a comprehensive selection of the world’s finest equipment for music and audio professionals. More information on GC Pro can be found by visiting

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ocean County Vocational Technical School System

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A student from the Audio Technology Program at the Ocean County Vocational Technical School System, in Lakehurst, NJ, works at a workstation comprising gear sourced through GC Pro.

— GC Pro has been the Ocean County Vocational Technical School Audio Technology program’s partner since its inception, providing it with the right products, platforms, systems, advice and support to enable it to expand and increase its accreditation —

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, August 31, 2016 — The Audio Technology Program at the Ocean County Vocational Technical School System (OCVTS), in Lakehurst, NJ, provides a challenging academic curriculum for college-prep and adult courses, along with a major in audio production for full time students. The program is literally in its second generation: it was established in 1997 by the late Dennis Bourke, a noted studio owner and engineer in the region and since 2015 has been led by his son, Bill Bourke, along with Zack Slater, himself a graduate of the program and a former student of Dennis’. The mission of the Ocean County Vocational Technical School system is to prepare students for careers or further education, and to that end, the Audio Program has always strived to keep its curriculum and its equipment at the cutting edge, to ready students to enter careers in a fast-changing industry. Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the business-to-business (B2B) division of Guitar Center providing highly customized service for professional accounts, has been its close partner for that entire time.

“GC Pro has been our go-to for equipment and expertise for years now, first for my father and now for me,” says Bill Bourke. “Most recently, they were here to upgrade our two Pro Tools systems to Pro Tools HD, which has enabled us to become an Avid Learning Partner and able to provide certifications for our graduates. But my dad was an old-school analog guy, and GC Pro had everything he needed, too. As we grow, they’re there for us.” That’s evident in TechFest, an annual live music festival, a fundraiser that provides scholarship money for the Audio Program. Its sixth edition was held last April in nearby Brick, NJ, and GC Pro provided most of the live-sound technology for the 20 local bands on two stages that operated by the Audio Program’s students. “Now, our students are learning audio for the studio and live, and GC Pro is a big part of that,” says Bourke. Slater adds, “We have always dreamed of giving our students the best real-world experience we can while they are still in high school. GC Pro has helped take our production to the next level and has really enabled us to achieve our goal.”

gc pro, education, ocean county vocational, guitar center professional
Students in the Audio Technology Program at the Ocean County Vocational Technical School System, in Lakehurst, NJ, get real-world experience in all aspects of audio engineering, including tracking live bands in an acoustically treated environment with gear sourced through GC Pro.

The Audio Program’s growth has been considerable: the two-year, fulltime day course is offered to high school and post-secondary students who can now receive college credit for taking the course. In 2017 it’s scheduled to expand to a four-year full-time academy through the OCVTS Performing Arts Academy. Rick Rivera, GC Pro Account Manager based in East Brunswick, NJ, says it’s been a pleasure to have served the program for so long and watch it grow. “Their TechFest is a great event — the music is great and it helps provide scholarship money for the students, so we’ve been contributing gift certificates and other things to help it along,” says Rivera. “We have more than just a sales and buyer relationship — we care about what they’re trying to do, which is give students a first-class audio technology education that really prepares them for a career in music or theater or live sound or whatever they want to pursue.”

The Audio Technology Program at the Ocean County Vocational Technical School has one very unique aspect that students won’t find anywhere else: This campus of the school is located in Hangar One on the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, the very hangar where the ill-fated Hindenburg zeppelin crashed on landing in 1937 (historically seen on the cover of the Led Zeppelin II album). That disaster took place nearly 80 years ago, but what it left behind is intriguing: a massive hangar whose walls produce incredible reverb effects that Bourke has been sampling over the years, using microphones and systems purchased through GC Pro. “We’re talking about ten-second reverb times,” he marvels. “It would make an amazing plug-in — we’ll call it the Hindenverb.”

For more information, please visit


About Guitar Center Professional/Guitar Center
Guitar Center Professional is the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on the needs of professional users. Its clientele includes recording studios, audio engineers, producers, recording and touring musicians, live sound venues, post production facilities and more. Emphasizing extraordinary individualized service via local account managers, GC Pro offers expert consultation and a comprehensive selection of the world’s finest equipment for music and audio professionals. More information on GC Pro can be found by visiting

Monday, August 22, 2016

Keyboardist Peter Levin

Peter Levin, keyboards, gc pro, guitar center professional
Peter Levin. Photo credit: Vernon Webb © 2012.

— Best known for his studio and live work with Gregg Allman, Levin’s links with GC Pro’s Judd Goldrich were forged decades ago —

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, August 16, 2016 — Peter Levin’s discography is both lengthy and deep. The keyboard wizard is known for his piano and clavinet work that offsets the Hammond played by Gregg Allman in his current band, which Levin tours and records with. But his history also includes a genre-busting who’s-who of music: Allen Toussaint, Aaron Neville, Levon Helm, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Bernard Purdie, Lou Reed, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Christian McBride, God Street Wine, Merl Saunders, Phil Lesh and Jackie Green, Vassar Clements and the Oak Ridge Boys, along with session work for Korn, Train, Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. When not on tour with Allman, he has his own gig with the band Moon Palace Revival. He also finds time to work in his personal Brooklyn studio, also dubbed Moon Palace. Another thread running through Levin’s career is Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the business-to-business (B2B) division of Guitar Center providing highly customized service for professional accounts, which has been part of Levin’s story for years. GC Pro Account and Artist Relations Manager Judd Goldrich has a personal relationship with Levin going back decades, to when Goldrich was a younger man but still a fixture in the NYC M.I. scene.

The two formed a long-lasting bond that transcended just a transactional relationship. “When I got serious as a touring and studio musician, Judd was the guy I went to when I needed instruments or equipment of just good advice,” Levin recalls. That relationship was strengthened in recent years, when Levin was playing with Gregg Allman on the Mississippi coast and a fierce gulf storm raged through. The storm wiped out a stage, taking with it all four of Levin’s keyboards. “I called Judd, who was then at Guitar Center, and he had a new Yamaha CP-300 piano — the focal point of my rig — and some Moog pedals on the way to me immediately,” he says. “It’s been that way ever since. Whether I need gear for touring or for my studio, I call Judd and GC Pro and it’s taken care of.”

Most recently, Levin bought a Sequential Prophet-6 synthesizer at GC Pro and a Fender silver-face reissue Vibrolux amplifier that he’s using for his clavinet and Wurlitzer electric piano. When he realized that the Vibrolux’s two 10-inch speakers couldn’t deliver enough low end, GC Pro’s specialists suggested a Vibro-King 2x12 closed-back extension cabinet that did the trick. “Anywhere I am in the country, I call GC Pro or go into a store, they have what I need when I need it,” he says. “GC Pro is just the best.”

For more information, please visit


About Guitar Center Professional/Guitar Center
Guitar Center Professional is the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on the needs of professional users. Its clientele includes recording studios, audio engineers, producers, recording and touring musicians, live sound venues, post production facilities and more. Emphasizing extraordinary individualized service via local account managers, GC Pro offers expert consultation and a comprehensive selection of the world’s finest equipment for music and audio professionals. More information on GC Pro can be found by visiting

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Stage Monitoring for House of Worship

This "Application Series" article gives advice toward the specific areas of business serviced by Guitar Center Professional, including studio recording/film sound, live sound, house of worship, clubs/restaurants, business sound/lighting systems, and more.

Unless you’ve spent some time onstage playing in bands of the spiritual or secular variety, the whole concept of stage monitoring might be hard to understand. The most simple way to get it is that if a musician or speaker can’t hear themselves (or other members of their band or choir) while onstage, it’s terribly difficult to put on a top-notch presentation or performance. Therefore, you need a solution in your house of worship that allows musical performances or spoken word presentations to be heard onstage as well as in the audience.

There are two general categories of stage monitoring systems: speaker monitors (also known as floor wedges) and in-ear monitors (IEMs, sometimes called personal monitors). Traditional stage monitors are wedge-shaped speakers that are placed toward the front of the stage, facing back toward the performers. In-ear monitors are exactly as the name implies: like the ear buds in an iPod, they fit into the external ear canals of the person addressing or performing for the audience.

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Some worship facilities use a combination of traditional floor wedge stage monitors along with in-ear monitors for the best of both worlds. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church (Newport Beach, CA).

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Houses of worship that opt for in-ear monitors (IEMs) over stage wedges enjoy a clear, uncluttered stage that can be an advantage for both performers and audiences. Grace Family Church (Lutz, FL).

Wedges vs IEMs
Floor wedges have been around for decades and are very simple in design; they are merely speakers that connect via audio cables to a mixing surface. There is an inherent level of reliability with this low-tech (but time-proven) solution. In choosing between floor wedges and IEMs, be aware that some performers simply don’t like the aspect of having things tucked into their ears while they play. They might find it too isolating from the natural acoustics of the stage and the room as a whole.

But in today’s world, it’s hard to pose an argument against in-ear monitoring. Using them, the performer gets a level of control of volume, panning, and other elements that is simply not possible in wedge monitors. In-ear monitors will never be a cause of feedback, which is always a danger when you have live speakers on stage that can direct sound back into open microphones. Finally, since most IEM systems are wireless, those performers can move about the stage more freely, since their mix is always right there with them. This can be especially good for dramatic performances.

Guitar Center Professional’s account representatives are experts at specifying monitoring systems for houses of worship. In many cases, they can even visit your place of worship to determine what will work best for you.

How many floor wedges or IEM systems will our house of worship need?
The answer is dependent on several factors, including the size of the stage and the number of performers/presenters that will using them at once. With wedge monitors, each monitor will disperse sound over a certain area of the stage. In a typical worship band-type music event, it’s a good idea to have at least three wedges at the front of the stage for singers and instrumentalists, and more near the back for drummers, keyboardists, backing vocalists and the like. With in-ear monitors, the answer is more simple: each performer will require his or her own set of IEMs.

Is it complicated to set up and use a wireless IEM system?
No. It can be set up quickly and easily. However, making the most of an IEM system’s advantages (like setting up personalized levels and other settings for each performer) requires a level of aquired skill. In the professional live sound world, there’s a role called a “monitor mixer” whose sole job is to do just this. Your GC Pro rep can assist you in getting your IEM system set up and ready for use.

If we’re building a new facility from the ground up, is it important to take stage monitoring into consideration?
Stage monitoring is of vital importance to the quality of the performance or presentation, and therefore impacts the experience of the audience as well. It should be thought of on an equal degree of importance as your facility’s main PA system, lighting, and more.

What if we can’t afford our stage monitoring system all at once?
First, Guitar Center Professional has excellent financing programs tailor-made for houses of worship. Second, with both wedge speakers and IEMs, your monitoring system can be built and then added to as your budget permits.

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About Guitar Center Professional/Guitar Center
Guitar Center Professional is the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on the needs of professional users. Its clientele includes recording studios, audio engineers, producers, recording and touring musicians, live sound venues, post production facilities and more. Emphasizing extraordinary individualized service via local account managers, GC Pro offers expert consultation and a comprehensive selection of the world’s finest equipment for music and audio professionals. More information on GC Pro can be found by visiting