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Posts Tagged ‘Presonus’

Aphex Channel – Keep It!

August 3, 2021 Comments off

If you have an Aphex Channel Voice Processor, KEEP IT!

Of all the mic or voice processors out there I find the Aphex Channel one of the best for studio use. There are many good ones, but this one works the best. My major beef with this unit, and the company, is the lack of support for the hardware. So, let’s get into it and I will end with why I like it and how I set it up.

You will find that your unit will die. Yes, power cycle that puppy and it will not come back to life. Make the mistake of pulling a phantom powered mic, or plugging one in, and it will kill the unit. Why? Crappy power supplies. The power supply is easy to replace. Stay tuned for a tech note on how to do so as I start to make notes and lists of things to add here. You paid for this unit, for about $75 you can make it good again. You can purchase the power supplies through distributors like Broadcasters General Store (BGS). How bad is this issue? I replaced 15 of them in the last couple months. A new processor will last about 3 to 4 years before the power supply decides it doesn’t want to work again. BTW, the tube should last a good 10 years as one of my now retired 230s has proven.

I know I worked with Marvin with the 230 and Channel before Aphex sold the company. Rode, the maker of the now famous RodeCaster, purchased Aphex. It is very obvious that they do not care about the hardware and purchased Aphex for the technology as it is incorporated into the RodeCaster for mic processing. I say they are missing out on a lot of money by ignoring the hardware side of life. The design is the same as the original and that definitely includes the power supply. My suggestion to them is to make some minor tweaks and continue to supply and support us in the field. One tweak is cooling. Maybe include vent holes near the power supply as the single set of vents next to the tube is not conducive to air flow through the unit. I also suggest a little better support system. I’ve tried email via the web page, and direct contact. The latter is tough as they make it very difficult to speak to a human. As two new units were sent through “under warranty” and came back not working, I felt it was easier to just take care of it myself, and it has always been a power supply.

What I like and I cannot seem to find in other voice processors is a gate. Many do not even have a gate. Why? Studio and even live performances do use gates. Maybe in today’s world of production all this is done on the computers, but live stuff is live and needs such features. I have tried a replacement Presonus voice processor. It is a good unit, but the first and only complaint I received is no gate. Maybe these “talent” are spoiled, but I found it interesting that is what they noticed. If there is a main reason to keep the Channel is the gate.

For studio use, set that unit up with moderate level and put that release around the 9pm position, or slow. Set that gate threshold and the depth you wish so it doesn’t chop in and out. Set the Big Bottom and Aural Exciter for about 12 o’clock and adjust from there. Use the parametric EQ to get rid of that annoying air conditioner or some other background mess. Set the output drive to your best level on the console and you are done. You will find the Channel is smooth at controlling the peaks and the slow release helps keep a constant level for the talent.

Keep that Aphex Channel. Spend a couple bucks to replace that power supply. Enjoy. Until I find something that I like better, I am keeping with the Aphex even with the lack of support. Why mess with a good unit. Maybe someday Rode will find it in their best interest to improve on this piece of hardware.

Cheers!

Our New Remote Broadcast Case

July 1, 2014 Comments off

Having worked many live broadcasts for radio I have seen many setups. Our setups have ranged from the complex to the most simple. A wide range for sure. We have broadcasts which require four or more mics down to simple “call-in” type hits using the Tieline Report-IT application. Now we put together something for the simple end such that any air talent can set it up.

What does this remote broadcast case contain?  Here’s the list:

Apple iPad running Tieline Report-IT Enterprise equipped with Verizon 4G LTE wireless
Alesis I/O Dock
Fostex amplified speaker
Presonus headphone amplifier
2 Shure SM58 mics
2 headphones
associated cables and 25′ extension cord.

Remote Setup

Report-IT application running on iPad install in Alesis I/O Dock

The speaker and headphone amp are items we had in house that were either spare or used in other applications that are no longer necessary.  Mr. Bill was along to assist in the setup and make sure everything ran smoothly.  The headphone amp is used just in case of a two person setup, and noted later as an interface to mono the audio feed.  We have found in many cases if the environment is not too noisy a guest does not use, or need, headphones.  It adds additional gain for the deaf air talent, too.  If the air talent does not need the amp, just plug into the headphone output of the I/O Dock.

We did find in another broadcast test that the iPad will smoothly transition between 4G LTE  wireless and WiFi connections.  This was discovered when checking out a new site.  A little added bonus.

After doing an initial broadcast and testing, we discovered that the Alesis I/O Dock is designed around two independent channels.  Input 1 is the left channel and Input 2 is the right channel.  These channels are independent throughout the system with no mixing or mono-button capability.  The Tieline Report-IT application, being a mono or one channel application, only “saw” Channel 1, so a mic plugged into Channel 2 did not feed audio to it.  I voided the warranty.  Since the device only cost us $177, I decided to open it up and modified the I/O Dock.  This first modification, and I have others planned, was to make sure two mics fed the application.  No schematic was available, but I was able to research the chip-sets used and found the AD-DA (Analog to Digital/Digital to Analog) converter chip.  Armed with the pin-outs I used my oscilloscope to trace the signal at that point with the goal of making sure the summing occurred after the pre-amplifiers for the inputs.  I located a convenient locations, soldered in a jumper, and all was good.  An instant mono, or summed, source for the iPad.  This modification does not affect the headphone or main out feed of the I/O Dock, just the feed to the iPad, so each channel is in separate ears of the headphones if plugged directly into the headphone outputs.  The Presonus headphone amp has a mono button on it, so the device acts as a nice interface for the picky talent.  Return audio from the Report-IT application is not affected and feeds both output channels.  I do plan on modifying the modification to included a switch so at a push of a button a mono signal is produced and feeds all outputs.  Where and how to implement this switch is the tricky part as there is not a lot of space to add it to the I/O Dock, but I will find a way.

Another added benefit of this setup is to allow recording on the iPad using either a third party application like WavePad or even the Tieline application for feeds later.  Using WavePad the talent can record and do basic editing, and once complete, email the audio clip back to the studio.  If using Report-IT the talent can record a report and either feed it down the connection or, if FTP is setup, upload to the studio.  We are currently researching ways to incorporate the FTP feature in Report-IT such that we can upload clips with specific file/cart numbers and have them automatically import them into a RCS NexGen log.

Why not just use a mic adapter and Report-IT on a phone or iPad directly?  We do that, too.  In this setup the ease of incorporating two microphones was ideal.  In addition the comfort level of the air talent increases as they have that physical something in front of them.  Some of our staff has embraced this new technology, but others seem to be less forgiving.  As we easy them into it, we make it simple and functional for them.  Soon they will be able to run out with a setup on their own and not think twice of it.  Getting things done.  That ‘s what it is all about.

Alesis makes a product called the I/O Mix which is a 4 channel mixer.  We are looking into that, but this is taking things backwards.  There may be a use for such a setup in the near future.  For a more complex setup, Mackie makes the the DL608 and the DL1608, 8 and 16 channel, mixers for iPad.  These are sweet as they incorporate the features of the Mackie VLZ series of mixers.  I know of a station that uses this setup for their NFL broadcasts.

As the technology and connectivity continues to improve, applications like Tieline’s Report-IT simplifies the ability to provide for quick, live broadcasts, and news gathering.  We are always looking to simplify and utilize emerging tech to our advantage.  The package seen here does not cost that much and the flexibility makes it more desirable.  The elimination of bulky and confusing mixers appeals to air talent and promotions alike.  Improved audio quality for “call-ins” over a standard cell phone call makes us stand out over the competition.

 

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