Tuesday, January 26, 2016
TEC Award Winners & GC Pro's Unofficial Runners-Up
Another NAMM Show is behind us, and while we could complain about our sore feet after walking 27 miles of aisles over the past four days, instead we’d like to tip our hat to winners and nominees from the recent TEC Awards, held during NAMM to recognize the technical and creative achievements in our industry. We’re also including our own picks for runners-up in each category, in a completely unauthorized and unofficial way, because we’re like that.
You can get more detailed information on any TEC Award-worthy product listed below by contacting Guitar Center Professional at 877-687-5404.
AMPLIFICATION HARDWARE - STUDIO & SOUND REINFORCEMENT
Antelope Audio: Satori Monitoring Controller
The winner in the amplification category is a worthy one. Satori is a true analog monitoring and summing system that is one of the best ever made. Great for both commercial and project studios, Satori has carefully-designed analog circuits and fast, transparent relay attenuators to ensure the audio integrity throughout the whole signal path. Everything about the Satori, from its gold-plated relays and precise resistors to its features that include four independent headphone amps, analog summing functionality, and eight stereo inputs and four stereo outputs in a 1U rack space should tell you that this is worth our attention.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: QSC’s GXD Series, power amps that are ideal for portable sound reinforcement applications and installations with demanding DSP requirements and flexibility at a cost effective price.
Rupert Neve Designs: RNDI Active Transformer Direct Interface
It always seems like “Ancillary Equipment” is a catch-all category for audio products that can’t be wedged into other definitions (because that’s pretty much what it is). But in this case, the winner is something that will be valuable in any studio or live sound environment. The RNDI is a direct box that goes above and beyond the norm with custom Rupert Neve-designed transformers and class-A biased, discrete FET amplifiers. It delivers a powerful and vibrant direct sound capable of reproducing the full harmonic depth of basses, guitars, acoustic instruments, and professional line level sources.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Radial Engineering JDX-48 Reactor Guitar Amp Direct Box. We love the wide range of utility products made by Radial, and the JDX-48 is definitely one of them. It captures the sound of both the head and the cabinet of an amp, and works equally well on electric guitar and bass with 100% discrete class-A circuitry.
COMPUTER AUDIO HARDWARE
Universal Audio: Apollo 8p Thunderbolt 2 Audio Interface
Thousands of GC Pro customers already are aware of the power of Universal Audio’s Apollo line of audio interfaces. Since their introduction, this product series has continued to get even better, and the TEC Award-winning Apollo 8p is one of the best ever made. It delivers a 16 x 20 Thunderbolt 2 interface featuring eight onboard mic preamps, making it perfect for mobile rigs and tracking full bands. Apollo 8p also features powerful UAD-2 QUAD Core processing, letting you run UAD Powered Plug-Ins in real time.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: There were so many great products nominated in this category, like Waves DiGiGrid iOS, Apogee’s Ensemble Thunderbolt, and Dangerous Music’s Convert Series, that you almost couldn’t go wrong no matter what you choose. We’re giving the unofficial runner-up award to Focusrite for the Clarett 8Pre, a box that is renowned for excellent sound with up to 119dB dynamic range, superbly low noise, precision 24/192 conversion and eight specially-designed mic preamps.
HEADPHONE / EARPIECE TECHNOLOGY
Audio-Technica: ATH-R70x Pro
When we found out that Audio-Technica was creating their first pair of open-back reference professional headphones, we wondered, “What took you so long?” And then we listened and understood. They are the new flagship for A-T’s lineup of professional studio headphones, and they feature specially designed drivers and acoustically transparent housings fashioned from aluminum honeycomb mesh, and provide even greater comfort during the prolonged use often required in professional settings.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Shure’s PSM 300 is an excellent choice in personal monitoring for musicians, houses of worship, and other live sound situations where a powerful but affordable system is required.
Manley Labs: Manley FORCE
Mic preamps are extraordinarily difficult to judge... what sounds perfect for one source might not be right at all for another, which is why the best studios and production facilities in the world often have a multitude of preamps to choose from. We certainly can’t argue against this year’s TEC Award winner; EveAnna Manley and her company make fantastic preamps, and Manley FORCE is a meticulously hand-crafted box that offers four channels of vacuum tube microphone preamplifiers, housed in an exquisitely gorgeous chassis.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Once again, it’s hard to say that any of the 2016 TEC nominees in this category wouldn’t serve as excellent preamps, from the AMS Neve 1073DPX to the Focusrite RedNet MP8R and the rest. However, our unofficial runner-up is the Chandler Limited REDD.47. Decisively old-school in design, it’s a recreation of the original tube line amplifiers used in Abbey Road Studios’ heralded EMI REDD.51 recording consoles circa 1959-1968, with an unmistakably punchy, aggressive character that you associate with Beatles tracks recorded in the mid-60s.
MICROPHONES – RECORDING
Neumann: U47 FET
It can’t be a surprise to anyone that this recreation of a coveted mic is a winner out of the gate, and voters for the TEC Awards this year apparently agreed. This collector’s edition of the famous Neumann U47 fet is based on the original mic’s production documents and schematics. This world-class condenser cardioid microphone, available via GC Pro, offers a wide dynamic range, a switchable low-cut filter, and switchable attenuation.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: So... hard... to... choose! Microphones are one area where studios of all sizes should have a variety to accommodate the wildly different vocal and instrumental sources that they may encounter, so there’s rarely a right or wrong answer at this level. The Audio-Technica AT5045 is an outstanding side-address mic with a huge diaphragm surface area. The Blue Microphones Hummingbird is a fantastic small-diaphragm mic that’s both innovative (with a 180-degree rotating head) and super affordable. But we’re going to give our prize to Royer Labs’ R-122 MKll Active Ribbon Microphone. Sure, it may just be an update to the original R-122, but this industry-standard ribbon mic now adds a switchable -15 dB pad and a switchable bass-cut filter, making it even more flexible for more sound sources.
MICROPHONES – SOUND REINFORCEMENT
Shure: 5575LE Unidyne 75th Anniversary Vocal Microphone
Talk about a classic! The Shure 5575LE is a limited-edition mic that you probably associate from its days starting 75 years ago on the desks of announcers and talk shows. Designed specifically for vocal and speech miking, we’re pretty sure that its combination of vibe-filled sound and great design is what captured the votes for this year’s TEC Award.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: There are many great mics to choose from in a category that can span from hand-held mics for bands up to the podium mics that will spread the word to thousands at a large house of worship. Our pick is the Earthworks High-Definition 40kHz FlexMic, which is a series of some of the finest high-definition podium microphones ever made. Available in multiple lengths and both cardioid and hypercardioid patterns, these mics will handle up to an astonishing 145dB SPL with high rejection of sounds to the rear of the microphone, and incredible gain before feedback.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT AMPLIFICATION & EFFECTS
Eventide: H9 MAX
Okay, this may look like a typical small stompbox at first glance, but it’s actually like some crazy effects device from the future. The H9 Max includes tons of algorithms from Eventide’s acclaimed effects from over their long history, including Time, Mod, Pitch, and Space, and even includes all future algorithms created for the platform at no additional charge.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Two of Moog Music’s great stompboxes in their “Minifooger” range, the MF Flange and MF Chorus, both got well-deserved nominations. But our choice is the Grace Design FELiX Studio Quality Instrument Preamp/EQ/DI, a two-channel design that blends acoustic instrument and mic preamp for working musicians, engineers, sound companies or venues looking for the highest quality solution for amplifying stringed instruments. With more and more venues looking for quality of sound over quantity, FELiX brings open, musical and nuanced preamplification to any performance situation.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT HARDWARE
Moog Music: Modular Recreation
Moog stunned the synthesizer world last year by releasing three incredible recreations of their classic modular analog synthesizers with the System 55, the System 35, and the Model 15. It’s no surprise that this limited-run return to the original world standard in music synthesis captured the fancy of TEC Award voters and GC Pro customers alike.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Roger Linn Design’s LinnStrument is an incredibly innovative 200-pad MIDI controller that captures three dimensions of each finger’s movement for subtle and precise control of note volume, pitch and timbre, polyphonically. It is about as mind-blowing as any kind of instrument controller we’ve ever seen, and opens the door to entirely new areas of creative expression. We love it.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT SOFTWARE
iZotope: Iris 2
Who said that a great software synth has to be exorbitantly expensive? iZotope’s Iris 2 lets you create sounds that have never been heard before and to discover sounds you've never heard. An inspiring sample-based synthesizer, Iris 2 is immediately playable, combining the power of a sampler, the flexibility of a modular synth, and the fun of spectral filtering.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Spectrasonics’ Omnisphere 2 offers a massive variety of new synthesis options, a staggering audio library with over 10,000 sounds, a new interface with an enhanced sound browsing capability, a new and enhanced arpeggiator, 25 new effects units with flexible attributes, and more. For producers, composers, and sound designers, it doesn’t get much better than this. Contact GC Pro for details.
Zoom: F8 MultiTrack Field Recorder
Hats off to Zoom for a worthy TEC victory with this 10-track, 8-channel multitrack field recorder, which offers eight XLR inputs with independent gain control, limiting, panning and delay, and support for 24-bit/192kHz audio.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: A perfect audio recording solution for filmmakers, TASCAM’s DR-70D is a four-track recorder with four balanced XLR mic inputs, and is designed to work in conjunction with DLSR cameras.
SIGNAL PROCESSING HARDWARE
Tube-Tech: HLT 2A Equalizer
Even in a field crowded with great nominees, the Tube-Tech HLT 2A is a very worthy victor. It’s an all-new kind of equalizer, combining high and low shelving EQ plus hi and low cut filters with an innovative T filter “tilt” midrange EQ… the first time this combination of filters has been designed in the analog domain, with a resulting ton of very nice EQ shaping possibilities.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Greg Scott of Kush Audio describes his Tweaker Sidechain Shaping Compressor as “... my masterpiece, four years in the making. I haven't found a style of compression it can't do masterfully – clean, gritty, subdued, hammered, whatever.” We can’t argue this. Contact your GC Pro rep to learn more about this fantastic dynamics processor.
SIGNAL PROCESSING HARDWARE (500 SERIES MODULES)
Solid State Logic: 500-Format LMC+
It’s pretty sweet that SSL took their Listen Mic Compressor from the legendary SL4000E console and made it available in a 500 Series format. They also enhanced it with high pass and low pass filters, a side chain feature, and more.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: 500 Series processors have been among the most popular items for GC Pro customers over the past five-plus years, and this year’s crop of TEC nominees were filled with great products like LaChapell Audio’s 583S mk2 and the Space Heater 500 from Radial Engineering. Our pick for runner-up, if you force us to make one, is BAE Audio’s 1073MPL, a simply stunning hand-wired Class A mic pre in a 500 Series format.
SIGNAL PROCESSING SOFTWARE (DYNAMICS/EQ/UTILITIES)
iZotope: RX 4 Complete Audio Repair & Enhancement
This kind of software blows our collective minds. iZotope’s RX 4 is noise reduction software that allows you to repair, enhance, and restore problematic production audio — from plosives to microphone bumps to inconsistent levels — and dramatically improve sound quality and clarity. iZotope has already introduced an updated version RX 5, by the way.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Lots of great nominees in this category, from Focusrite’s Red 2 & Red 3 Suite to Universal Audio’s Neve 88RS Channel Strip Collection. We’re going with the Waves Butch Vig Vocals plug-in that faithfully recreates some of the signature vocal sounds this producer achieved with Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, Green Day and his own band Garbage.
SIGNAL PROCESSING SOFTWARE (EFFECTS)
AMS Neve: AMS RMX16 Digital Reverb Plug-In For UAD-2 Platform
Designed for the Universal Audio UAD-2 platform, this sweet plug-in offers the reverb sound from thousands of seminal recordings form the ‘80s, with an instantly recognizable lushness found from music by U2 and Peter Gabriel to Radiohead and Rihanna.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: We are digging McDSP’s FutzBox Rack Extension Plug-In, a distortion and noise generator plug-in for creating low fidelity versions of audio signals, like simulations of radios, cell phones, and televisions. But our unofficial runner-up award goes to Audio Ease’s Altiverb 7.2.6, the latest and greatest version of their industry standard convolution reverb plug-in. It features top quality samples of real spaces to create reverb, ranging from Sydney Opera House to the cockpit of a Jumbo Jet.
SMALL FORMAT CONSOLE TECHNOLOGY
Avid: Pro Tools | S3
No one was surprised at the TEC Awards that the Avid Pro Tools | S3 took home the curvy gold prize at the TEC Awards. The S3 is a compact, EUCON-enabled, ergonomic desktop control surface that offers a streamlined yet versatile mixing solution for the modern sound engineer, delivering intelligent control over every aspect of Pro Tools and other DAWs. It’s the perfect solution for everyone from project studios to the largest, most demanding facilities.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: If for no reason other than its uniqueness, we have to hand it to Radial Engineering for their Space Heater, an 8-channel tube overdrive that can be used as a stereo summing mixer or as multi-channel studio distortion. With complete control over each tube circuit, the Space Heater can provide everything from subtle transformer warmth to full on harmonic distortion. Your GC Pro rep can fill you in on the rest of the details.
SOUND REINFORCEMENT LOUDSPEAKERS
Meyer Sound: LEOPARD
A company that deserves the utmost of respect in live sound, Meyer Sound’s LEOPARD is ideally suited to everything from mid-sized touring and live theatre to worship and live performance installations, and from symphony music to heavy metal.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: An excellent and affordable choice for musicians, DJs, houses of worship and more, Electro-Voice’s EKX series combines legendary EV sound quality and reliability with the latest technology, all in a compact package that is suitable for a wide range of sound reinforcement scenarios.
Genelec: 8351A SAM
A leader in studio monitor innovation for decades, Genelec took home the TEC Award this year for the 8351A, a totally unique monitor speaker that produces controlled directivity over a very wide bandwidth. It’s an outstanding choice for music studios, post-production houses, edit suites, radio, TV and outside broadcast applications.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Here’s a case where a product category is so subjective, it’s impossible to offer a consolation prize to any of the other excellent nominees. But we will say that GC Pro’s account representatives are experts in all professional-quality studio monitors, and can set up a demo or offer suggestions for a system perfectly suited to your space and your tastes. Contact us for details.
Sennheiser: Evolution Wireless D1
For vocals, instruments, headmics, and lavaliers, Sennheiser’s Evolution Wireless D1 is a simply terrific system for any environment where no-compromise live sound is a necessity. It can run up to 15 output lines in parallel and independently adjust the sensitivity of every transmission.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: While excellent systems from AKG and Audio-Technica were nominated, we’re throwing our runner-up vote toward Shure’s QLX-D Digital Wireless System. Available in a wide number of configurations, it’s a fantastic wireless system for bands, churches, presentation rooms, and much more.
Avid: Pro Tools 12
Come on, what else did you expect? The industry choice for composing, recording, editing and mixing pro audio for music, film and TV remains as vibrant and pervasive throughout the world of audio today as it always has been. More artists, producers, and mixers use Pro Tools than any other DAW. With the redesigned Avid Audio Engine and 64-bit performance, you get multiple times the processing power Avid Audio Engine of previous versions of Pro Tools on the same hardware configurations.
GC Pro’s Runner-Up: Pro Tools isn’t the only DAW in town. There are always more choices than you first realize when looking for the right workstation software platform. Another nominee this year was Steinberg for their Cubase Pro 8/Artist 8 apps, with their exceptionally intuitive workflow in a sleek, efficient environment. GC Pro will help with any question you have regarding which DAW is right for you... contact us today!