20 years of VDT activities

I have recently put my name up for candidacy in the northern region of the Association of German Audio Professionals. What better time to reflect on my activities at VDT events and as a representative of German Tonmeister culture 😉

  • 2004 Accepted into the VDT
  • 2006 VDT International Convention / Tonmeistertagung (TMT) (Leipzig)
    “Observations by Walter Murch Jr. and their application to recording and working with sound”
  • 2007-05 Forsythe Company (Frankfurt am Main)
    Workshop on acoustic analysis
  • 2008 TMT (Leipzig)
    “Sonic aesthetics by the `balance engineer´”
    “XYtri – From stereo to surround, and back!”
  • 2010 TMT (Leipzig)
    “The evolution of surround sound”
    “The return of the album / Apple’s iTunes LP”
  • 2011 Appointment to the department “New Media” of the VDT
  • 2012 TMT (Köln)
    “Live A/V recording with a 1 person crew” – Including a field recording session
    “Less room 4 more music – Applying the ambisonic paradigm to spaced symmetrical mic-setups”
    “Working with centralised microphone arrangements”
  • 2013-03 Workshop @ Prins-Claus-Konservatorium (Groningen)
    “A/V-recording for musicians“
  • 2014-11 TMT Köln
    Goldener Bobby of the VDT – Classical, instrumental
    (and 2nd prize in the category “Sound for picture“)
    Appointment to the department “Music and word production“
  • 2015-10 Convention of the Analog Audio Association (Krefeld)
    “High quality digital audio recordings”
  • 2016-04 ProLight+Sound (Frankfurt am Main)
    “Miking-101”
  • 2016-04 2-day workshop @ SEA Berlin
    “Video for Audio-People”
  • 2016-09 Convention of the World Federation of Amateur Orchestras (Oslo)
    “Orchestral recording”
  • 2016-09 @ Convention of the Bund Deutscher Liebhaberorchester (Regensburg)
    “Orchestral recording”
  • 2016-10 International Film and Technology Alliance / IFFT convention #1 (Shanghai)
    “The evolution of 3D-Audio”
  • 2016-10 ProLight+Sound (Shanghai)

    “Miking-101”
  • 2017-04 ProLight+Sound (Frankfurt am Main)
    “Miking-101”
  • 2017-09 CHOR.COM (Dortmund)
    “High quality sound recordings for choirs”
  • 2017-10 IFTT #2 (Shanghai)
    “Zwischentöne – Details of Recording”
    Also: Expert reviewer for the “Art & Craft Award” of IFTT
  • 2017-10 China University of Communication (CUC) (Beijing)
    2-day RecShop
  • 2017-12 AV-Alliance (Stuttgart)
    “Stereophonic recording”
  • 2018-02 ISE (Amsterdam)
    “Miking for stereo, surround and 3D”
  • 2018-04 Lectures @ CUC (Beijing) & Shanghai Normal University
  • 2018-04 Zhejiang University of Media and Communication (Hangzhou)
    2-day RecShop
  • 2018-05 ProLight+Sound (Guangzhou)
    “Miking-101”
  • 2018-10 IFTT #3 (Shanghai)
    VDT-representative
  • 2018-11 TMT (Köln)
    “No Compromise Sonics – Optimising the recording chain” together with Attila Czirja’k
    “The DECCA-tree has more than three branches”
    “Chinese Audio roundtable” – Featuring Chen Chen of CCTV and Prof. Zhang Yilong of CUC
  • 2019-10 CUC (Beijing)
    3 lectures
  • 2021 TMT (Düsseldorf)
    “Producing electronic music” – Together with Ströme
    “Oops – Mistakes in recording”
    I also joined Ströme with the Continuum at the Get Together music event
  • 2021 My article on the XYtri was published in Pfanzagl-Cardone: “The Art and Science of Surround and Stereo Recording” (Springer)
  • 2023 TMT (Düsseldorf)
    Moderation for “Electronic Music“, “AI in audio“, and “Sound’in China”

Sonic spaceXtension

My friend, the organist Jakob Schönborn-Dietz invited me to check out the acoustics at his church St. Johannis Baptist in the heart of Jena.

Panorama © Jakob Schönborn-Dietz

The space is rather dry sounding, especially obvious with an organ of this size. The question was if it could be improved electronically.

So I visited with some microphones, audio interface and laptop. We explored the interior of the organ and placed two spots.

DPA 4060 taped to the ceiling above the “Hauptwerk”. Photo © AL
DPA 4060 on a rod above the “Schwellwerk”. Photo © AL

The two mics were fed into a Metric Halo 2882 (+ DSP & 3D) audio interface and into the Cockos Reaper DAW where AudioEase Altiverb did it’s magic.

The Metric Halo Console. Photo © AL
MacBook Air running Altiverb. Photo © AL

The resultant output was time delay compensated and routed to three speakers facing towards the wall to increase diffusion.

Front stereo pair. Photo © AL
Sidefill opposite the organ. Photo © AL

After tweaking the direct-reverberant ratio, experimenting with different impulse responses and carefully adjusting the levels Jakob and I were very happy with the results. The audience of our improvised evening session was also very appreciative of the results of the first trial run of this “sonic spaceXtension”.

My setup of electronic instruments. Photo © AL

2003-2023… 20 years of environmentally friendly travel

Recording Festival OBOE at Maison d’Italie, Paris © 2012 Olivier Gascoin

My first trip to Festival OBOE was in 2009 where I recorded three concerts. One year later I documented the 10th instance of the event. Eight concerts at five locations, the Cathédrale Americaine, the subterranean Auditorium de la Cité des Arts, the glass enclosed Conservatoire du Centre at Les Halles, Bateau Daphné on the Seine and the venerable Schola Cantorum. And in 2012 I added video to the mix. Check out this clip from the Dhun in raag Bhairavi featuring Sanjeev & Ashwani Shankar (shennai), Anand Shankar (tabla) and Alain Lutic (surshehnai), performed at the Centre Mandapa.

Traveling light © 2009 Stephen Levine
Traveling with my “BIG RED BOX” @ 2010 Olivier Gascoin

In the meantime I have explored other options as well, a golf caddy for medium sized gigs (housing the microphone stands and cables) and even a large aluminum suitcase that I just had retrofitted with high duty wheels to be able to take the strain. Bottom line: It is possible to realise amazing, award winning audio and video productions* while protecting the environment.

Images © Olivier Gascoin & Thibaut Baissac. Montage © Arnfried Weiss

(* Goldener Bobby 2014 for a recording with Quatuor BRAC)

Goldener Bobby of the VDT 2014

I was thrilled to receive this prize for my live recording of the improvising “Quatuor BRAC” during the VDT International Convention / Tonmeistertagung in Köln / Cologne.

Photo by Vincent Royer

“This recording mesmerizes through the vividness of its sound, the naturalness of the timbres, the absolutely realistic imaging of the instruments in the stereo panorama.

Apart from the breathtaking directness of the sonic textures, it is fascinating to perceive the artists’ perfection, free from any disturbances. The enthralling sound event clearly is the result of a deliberate configuration by the recordist. Not only did he fulfill his function as a mediator in an ideal fashion, but also skillfully created an auditory perspective that transcends the sonic boundaries of the reception of a live event in the sense of the music, creating a level of music perception only realizable by a true master of his craft.“

Prof. Bernhard Güttler (ETI HFM-Detmold), Christoph Franke (Creative Producer der Berliner Philharmoniker) and Prof. René Möller (UDK Berlin). Cologne, 11/21/2014.

Photo by Vincent Royer

In 2015 the Trierischerer Volksfreund published this article on account of my winning the “Goldener Bobby” award of the German association of Tonmeister / audio professionals (VDT): „Ausgezeichnetes Gehör eines Weltenbummlers” / Golden ears of a global traveler 😉

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