Useful Arts was born out of an aesthetic quest for vibrant, living sound straight from the source — not merely a technically clean sound that needs enhancement after enhancement to speak in a mix. Back in the days when the U-47 was a commonly-used “standard” microphone, there were no “standard” preamps — studios used hand-built consoles with custom tube preamps designed to capture the personality of the recording. In the same way, our hand-built products are designed to enhance dynamics and perceived tonal richness, not simply to make a small signal electrically bigger. We invite you to hear for yourself the difference that philosophy makes.
We hand-build Class A tube gear in the United States for recording professionals and musicians. We don’t build “clones” of classic gear — our designs are created from the ground up and thoroughly optimized to achieve specific sonic goals. We use circuit topologies inspired by some of the most treasured gear made during the 40s, 50s and 60s, coupled with modern design techniques to ensure reliability, compatability and feature sets that meet the needs of the digital age. This approach requires expensive, bulky and heavy components, but as a small company we don’t have to cut corners to meet the rigid cost constraints of mass-produced brands. (We don’t make washing machines or cell phones, nor do we report to those who do). Our engineering mandate is to create the best-sounding equipment possible, not to figure out how to get acceptable sound at a retail price point. The result is gear that captures the sound of microphones and instruments not only with clarity, but with beauty.
There is plenty of usable gear out there that will give reliable performance with amazing specs. So who needs yet another option? People who want their recordings and live performances to sound intimate and powerful without the need for further processing. Plugins can do incredible things, but they can’t create raw data that isn’t there. Our devices ensure that every nuance and every transient is translated in a way that excites the ear.
BigAmp is a small sized, high quality jfet instrument preamp which performs equally well on stage as it does in a studio environment. It has a 1/4″ female jack input which accepts signals ranging from the pickup of an electric bass or (acoustic) guitar to the line level output of a synthesizer. BigAmp’s low noise class A amplifier provides high end amplification and converts the instrument output signal from unbalanced to balanced.
Bring your own high quality DI everywhere. No hassle with batteries because BigAmp’s circuit is powered with 24v/48v phantom power. The small form factor combined with the ease of use makes that every touring musician should have a BigAmp in their case or gigbag.
Fidelice by Rupert Neve Designs – Studio sound comes home.
Since the late 1960s, Rupert Neve has been the most trusted name in sound.
And chances are, most of your favorite albums from the last fifty years were recorded, mixed or mastered with his legendary studio gear.
With the new Fidelice® line of playback equipment, the classic sound of Rupert Neve’s designs is now available to bring true studio-quality audio to your home.
“I love Rupert’s philosophy that we need to have a frequency response in our sound system that goes beyond human hearing – and he was the one that really pioneered that whole notion. His name is just synonymous with quality.”
Free, on-going DP10 webinars are now scheduled through the end of July. Become an expert DP10 user with these interactive training sessions. We’ll start each session with a lesson on a particular feature or workflow, followed by interactive Q&A with MOTU product specialists. Check out the schedule below and follow the instructions to get connected.
API Audio has always been synonymous with large sounding American rock records that have lots of analog warmth. One of the key elements of that sound is the API 312 mic pre, which API has just announced is coming back to regular production in 2020.In celebration of API’s 50th anniversary, the brand released a limited edition hand-wired version of the 312 in 2019. The new version of the famed preamp announced today is a standard production version that costs $795 and offers the same classic API sound in a 500 Series format.The 312 circuitry is based on Saul Walker’s original designs and utilizes 2520 op-amps and proprietary transformers. Many of the same features that made the 50th Anniversary edition such a hit are intact here, including the beautiful analog VU meter, 20 dB pad switch, and peak LED. This version of the 312 offers a maximum 69dB of gain.
Are you ready to hear that classic API sound in action? We got our hands on the new 312 mic pre a few days prior to today’s announcement and put it to work in the Vintage King demo studio. Watch below to hear the preamp used on several different sound sources, including acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums, and vocals.
JUNE 2020: JOIN MANLEY IN CELEBRATING MASSIVE PRIDE!
In celebration of LGBT Pride Month 2020, Manley Labs is extremely liberated to announce the MASSIVE PRIDE: a special edition of our classic best-selling MASSIVE PASSIVE Stereo Tube Equalizer with rainbow cosmetics derived from the original 1978 gay pride rainbow flag.
At Manley Labs, we believe in equality for all human beings regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, and thus we will be donating our proceeds from sales of this unit to the Human Rights Campaign: https://hrc.org
From EveAnna Manley:
“In the spirit of social inclusion and recognition of our desire for the supportive embrace of all people, I invite everyone to help celebrate Gay Pride Month 2020 with us. May unification, peace, and calm be eventually restored to our planet with love, appreciation, and understanding for all of our fellow humans.”
50 units of the MASSIVE PRIDE are available now for pre-order through authorized Manley dealers and distributors worldwide, and will be shipping in late June. This is the current version, featuring the new MANLEY POWER® switch-mode power supply. Pricing is the same as the standard Massive Passive.
Jacob Shea on Using the Eventide H9000R In Film Scoring
Eventide H9000R Powers Theme and Score Composition for Bleeding Fingers Music’s Jacob Shea
The BBC Natural History Unit’s Seven Worlds, One Planet wildlife documentary series, filmed over nearly five years across all seven continents, features a theme and score composed by Hans Zimmer and Jacob Shea of Emmy- and BAFTA- nominated Bleeding Fingers Music. For this latest series, Shea, who also worked alongside Zimmer on the music for the BBC’s Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II series, made a significant change to his workflow, implementing Eventide’s flagship H9000 multi-effects processor and Emote control software.
“The H9000 is just so deep, and so thoughtful, in terms of the way that these effect algorithms are built. I’ve had it for a year now and I feel like I haven’t scratched the surace,” says Shea, who integrated the processor into his studio at Zimmer’s multi-room Remote Control complex in Santa Monica, California, where he has worked for the past 12 years. Bleeding Fingers, a composer collective based at the facility, was launched by Zimmer with business partner Steve Kofsky and Extreme Music’s Russell Emanuel in 2013 to provide custom music to television and film projects.
Shea opted for the H9000R, a version of the 2RU processor unit with no front panel controls that mounts in a machine room or other remote location. Control of all the settings and parameters is handled by Emote, which is available as a standalone Mac and Windows application and as an AAX, AU and VST plug-in. When instantiated as a plug-in, all of Emote’s parameters may be automated within the DAW session. “I use a two-screen system; one screen has Logic and the other has Emote in full view. So the chains of effects are all editable on the screen next to my main workspace,” he says.
The H9000 is loaded with 1600 unique algorithms from Eventide’s H8000 and H9 processors with over 500 presets offering a menu of reverb, delay, modulation, pitch shifting, distortion and other settings. The unit introduces a new paradigm, FX Chains, that allows the user to connect any set of four effects, with flexible routing, to create a channel strip, guitar pedalboard or other processing combination.
Shea, who is a guitarist, continues, “What I enjoyed doing when I first got it was just building weird chains of stuff. I did one where it went to the SP2016 [reverb], then the Q-Wah, then the Reverse thing, to make it all psychedelic, and then the TremoloPan, to get some modulation in there. You could spend three hours just messing with this stuff, which is the joy of it.”
Offering another example, he says that with the Synthlike Filter algorithm “You can use it as a high pass and a low pass filter and really sculpt where you want the effect to be ‘speaking.’ It’s little things like that that you can insert in this chain of four that all of a sudden makes something super extreme [into something] a lot more usable or a lot more subtle. You can have this crazy chain, and because you are able to superimpose some of these more utility-style building blocks, it’s just awesome.”
Shea has been particularly inspired by the reverb algorithms in the H9000, he says. Multi-channel algorithms available in the unit include 5.1 halls, chambers, plates, rooms, booths and various ambient spaces. Shea uses a Session preset loaded with eight reverb algorithms including halls, rooms, plates, Blackhole and Shimmer (Sessions are the top level in the H9000 software control hierarchy; a Session saves the entire state of the hardware and software at a given moment). “A lot of times, when I was working on an emotional piano and strings piece, those H9000 algorithms beat out anything that I had in-the-box. I feel like you can get these very long tails that don’t make the drive signal feel like it’s not defined. Anyone that’s walked in the room has said, ‘How the hell did you get that reverb to sound so good?’”
Shea began using Eventide plug-ins long before adding the H9000 and says that one of his favorites is still the SP2016 Stereo Room. “I use that all over,” he says, typically to reposition a close-miked source in a larger space. “It feels like you recorded it in a more expansive place than where you actually recorded it. Alan Meyerson hipped me to that process on Planet Earth II, when he mixed the score for that series. I’ve been using it that way ever since, and it’s tremendous.”
As a composer, Shea says that he really appreciates the musicality of the H9000, which enables him to beef up the sound of an instrument harmoniously. “Each pitch can have its own settings, and its own time with which it’s to speak; you can pick the scale for each thing,” he explains. “You can make it so much more musical than an off-the-shelf pitch thing, where you wind up doing endless passes of automation in Logic to force it to be musical” — because it isn’t a musical tool but rather a utilitarian effect.
“So it was a breath of fresh air when I pulled up the pitch shifting algorithms. I can just focus on my idea as a composer and not have to worry about a wrong note jumping out and taking me out of it, and making me try and solve a problem that doesn’t have anything to do with the creative ideas that I’m focusing on. It has made playing with the thickening of harmonics really effortless.”
Over 1,500 people worked on the seven-part Seven Worlds, One Planet, which involved more than 90 shoots in 41 countries. Of the three BBC Natural History Unit series to feature music by Bleeding Fingers, “I’ve been a composer,” says Shea. “I was lucky enough to be paired with some amazing composers on those projects. This one was the first one where I had a more omnipresent role in the music, save for Anže Rozman, who helped me write a couple of cues.” Shea also co-wrote the main theme for this latest series with Zimmer. The series debuted October 2019 in the U.K. and is narrated and presented by naturalist Sir David Attenborough. It debuted on multiple outlets in the U.S. in late January 2020.
Rupert Neve Designs 15th Anniversary, a new 5088 video, and more!
15 Years of Rupert Neve Designs
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been fifteen years since Rupert Neve Designs was founded by Rupert, his wife Evelyn, and Josh Thomas.
In 2005, Rupert Neve Designs began with the original Portico modules, taking concepts he began with the original Neve Company, Focusrite, and AMEK, and combining them into a new line of outboard equipment that took Rupert’s vision of high-fidelity audio and adapted it for a more modular, modern workflow.
The Portico Series was followed by the 5088 console – the pinnacle of Rupert’s console design philosophies, and the only modern console with the same level of build quality as his legendary 80-Series consoles from the early 1970s. To this day, those desks are still regarded as perhaps the greatest vintage consoles ever built, and the 5088 is the only console currently in production that carries their design philosophies onwards without compromise. With higher voltage and lower noise than the beloved vintage desks, custom transformers on every single input and output, and a truly stunning amount of headroom, there is nothing else like it being made today.
And with users ranging from Alan Parsons to deadmau5, Historic RCA Studio B to Jack White, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to Willie Nelson’s Pedernales, the 5088 has firmly cemented its position as the console of choice for artists, engineers, studios and universities who require the best sound quality in the world.
Mix Engineer Joey Raia (Run The Jewels, Travis Barker, Aesop Rock) gives us his thoughts on getting out of the box and away from a screen, and how his 5088 has made the mix process that much more enjoyable.
Our #washandlearn Campaign
The first week of April, we started an Instagram campaign to inspire, educate, and encourage health & charity in the recording community during these difficult times. These short videos feature producers, artists, engineers, studio managers and more, all washing their hands on camera while teaching our fans something about recording, mixing, creativity, or music business.
These videos have garnered over 100K combined views, and all include links to MusiCares, Help Musicians, and other charitable organizations.
Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University recently installed several RMP-D8 Dante-connected microphone preamplifiers and converters to provide a high-end AoIP recording solution for their entire campus.
Here, Kevin Muldoon (Recording Engineer) and Brian Loney (Sweetwater Sales Engineer) discuss why the RMP-D8 was the ideal solution for the school, and the advantages of this new networked audio system.
The Whitestone Audio P331 Tube Loading Amplifier was developed to bring professional tracking, mix and mastering engineers versatile, elegant, precise and repeatable audio circuit variation. There’s nothing like running a signal through a well-designed piece of analog gear, at “unity” gain without any “processing” applied at all. Simply exploiting the sound of some of these analog input and output gain circuits with processing bypassed is often-times just the thing to help bring subtle life or enhanced depth to recorded audio. That’s what the fully balanced P331 is all about; giving you control of how an audio signal passes from input to output and how it can be enhanced throughout its journey.
In 1939, just a few weeks after the start of WWII in Europe, RCA Radiotron introduced the 6SN7 octal (8-pin) double triode tube to the American market. This was the birth of the true common ancestor of all modern double triodes used in high fidelity amplifiers. The 6SN7 is still in production after over 80 years, for good reason.
6SN7 vacuum tubes of the 1940s vintage were chosen for this amplifier due to their lower distortion capabilities that exceed that of the standard and ubiquitous 12A*7 variety. The 12A*7 varieties were incarnated due to commercial needs such that they were “better, cheaper, lighter” at the expense of embodying more distortion. With the advent of feedback, tube amplifiers could be mass produced with these less expensive 12A*7 style tubes using more feedback to reduce distortion.
While feedback reduces distortion, it also lowers overall amplifier gain. It might have been considered heresy to reduce the gain through feedback (and reduce distortion) in earlier tube designs since minimal gain was still extremely expensive prior to the 1950s. Thusly, earlier tube designs were lower distortion on purpose; especially for their critical role in modulation based communication systems that had more stringent requirements than the average 1950s guitar amplifier tube.
Notwithstanding, ultimate circuit topology can bring out more second harmonic characteristics than usual with any tube design. Hence the impetus for the variable circuit topologies within the P331 Tube Loading Amplifier to allow the user to do so as necessary or not at all.
(Ray LaMontagne, Bonnie Raitt, Aimee Mann, The Barr Brothers, Joe Henry)
Below is an email from Ryan after just 48 Hours with his new P331…
Here’s a note from the first client that gets to use the Whitestone. I told him I reprinted everything just because I needed to make a little change:
Damn, What did you change? These all sound like they are sitting perfect now! I can sign off on them, so good Ryan!
It’s a good start! Hopefully this project will be crossing Kim’s path soon.
For any amplifier to be truly great you have to start with good clean power. The P331’s linear power supply is the most critical “component” for audio integrity next to the actual gain structure and circuit topologies within this amplifier. High voltage plate/anode tube power supplies start at around 320V DC and are filtered (up to 6 times) and smoothed with active regulators. It only uses film capacitors and real inductors (chokes) to remove ripple and noise from the high voltage power supplies.
We’ve taken the very best of vintage analog technology and married it to the best of modern computer-optimized circuit design. This allows a level of precision and clarity which was simply unimaginable when tubes of this vintage were originally developed.
The P331 is full digitally controlled analog. Each parameter is fully repeatable and can be recalled via front panel rotary and toggle switches commanding over 80 sealed precision relays. No audio runs to the P331’s front panel and only the finest components are used throughout the audio path.
The LOADING circuit is part of the fully differential (balanced) Class-A tube amplifier. It was designed to coerce an audio signal to hit the tube at different points on its response curve. As the gain increases through the tube, the signal is padded down in equal measure. This helps to ensure minimal audible level gain or loss, allowing you to audition the enhancement the tubes are imparting without drastic changes in level.
There are two modes of operation for the LOADING circuit.
“CLEAN” = Feedback Mode – Utilizes the manipulation of feedback to affect internal tube gain, subtle non-linearities and even order harmonics.
“BLOOM” = Feedforward Mode – Utilizes the manipulation of plate loading to affect internal tube gain, slightly-less-subtle non-linearities and even order harmonics.
AUTO-PADDING (PRE, POST, OPEN) – One of the key elements of the P331’s LOADING circuit is its auto-padding feature. As gain increases through the tubes, the signal is padded down automatically in equal measure. It’s a cool feature and essential to the concept of the unit. To make it even cooler, we provide the ability to control where in the circuit that padding occurs (PRE or POST) or disable the auto-padding all together (OPEN). When in PRE, the auto-padding occurs to the signal before it hits the tube. In POST, the auto-padding occurs after the tubes. While in OPEN the auto-padding is disabled and your Loading knob allows you to crank it up while using your output Gain as a “master volume” of sorts similar to how a guitar amplifier with a master volume would function. It’s all about experimenting and letting your ears guide you.
The LIFT circuit is a gentle parallel filter that enhances the highs, lows or both the highs and lows of the signal. Audio passes through the LIFT circuit before the LOADING circuit. With any of the LIFT filters engaged, the audio is passed unscathed through the fully balanced P331 circuitry and blended with harmonic content of the LIFT and LOADING circuits working in concert.
The P331 is designed to run fully transformerless in its default state. This provides the purest, cleanest and most unaffected audio path through the unit. However, in keeping with the P331’s versatility, the operator may switch in output transformers and select two optional settings to load them in different ways. This provides additional options for enhancing the subtle textures of recorded audio.
To faithfully reproduce the sound of the audio passing through the tubes and other circuits in the P331, we implemented a low distortion, fully balanced solid state amplifier for the output gain section. The output gain circuit offers 11dB of boost or cut in 1dB increments. However, for even finer control, the “Resolution” switch allows the operator to “back-off” .25dB or .5dB from the current setting.
Each section of the P331 (with the exception of the Loading circuit) can be fully hard-wire bypassed. There is also a global hard-wire bypass to remove the entire unit from your signal chain…although, we’re fairly confident you won’t want to use it much.
The video below goes through the P331’s features and controls. Sound examples begin at the 6-minute mark.
The 1073OPX continues the 1073® lineage through to the new generation, packing eight legendary preamps into a 2U rack unit. Front-mounted XLR/TRS connection and rear D-type give ultimate connectivity to any Studio/Live/Broadcast environment and its modern remote-control software gives two-way control over its features and Total Recall® of all settings.
Mic input sources benefit from the Marinair® transformer-coupled input stage and sources can be connected directly to the front Mic/Line/DI input for recording in the studio control room. The 1073OPX’s unique Analogue monitor signal path allows for use as a complete standalone I/O interface or as a live room remote preamp with full latency-free monitoring cue mix signal path.
Its new, powerful digital card comes with Neve’s industry-revered mastering-grade converters. This option gives up to 192kHz/24-Bit A/D conversion over USB connection for use as a Primary Audio Interface to any connected DAW-enabled computer as well as Primary and Secondary Dante® connectivity for a multitude of Audio-over-IP applications. The 1073OPX modern, elegant hardware and software design takes the classic Neve sound into the future.
8 Channels of remote-controlled 1073 Mic/Line/Instrument Preamplifiers
Exclusive Neve® Marinair® transformers on the Microphone input
Class-A transformer-less DI input
Remote control software can control up to 8 1073® OPX racks at a time (64 preamps!)
Automatic Total Recall™ of all settings
Front Mic/Line combi input
Rear Mic/Line D-Type connection
80Hz High pass filter
Smart Phantom Power control
Hi/Lo Impedance selector from 300Ω to 1.3KΩ
Separate stereo monitor path with Independent level control
Latency-free monitoring of all signal sources
Eight front D.I inputs for instrument tracking
Front-mounted Headphone output
Digital Option containing:
USB connection for use as a standalone primary audio interface/core audio device
Dante Primary and Secondary connection for Audio-over-IP application
Word Clock Sync In/Out
electable Headroom from +18, +24, +26dB