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Our New Demo Room(s)

Posted: June 28, 2017

Typical procedures:
As employees of Performance Audio we are dished out different tasks by department. Members of the sales team, which I'm a part of, are tasked with the opening and closing of the retail space. This includes switching on the lights, turning on the sales stations, opening the doors to our demo rooms, firing up the gear, and we finish up with the opening of our store doors and ensuring our OPEN sign is on. Then at the end of the work day it's all in reverse. Typical of a brick and mortar right? Someone has to open and close the business.

Diverse equipment:
For me, nothing is more satisfying than having access to a professional grade environment and a location to demo the gear at hand. Performance Audio is very diversified in the equipment we carry and have access to. Our foundation as a company is professional audio equipment but in the past three years we have acquired a theatrical supply company, GTS, and a backline rental company, Backbeats Drum & Backline. If you combine the three like we have; you have pro-audio equipment, theatrical stage equipment and an abundance of musical instruments. That's enough equipment to keep any company busy simply trying to find a place to store it all, let alone trying to learn all the nuances of each piece of hardware.

If only there was a place to see and listen to all that equipment:
Back to our demo rooms we go... As we open the demo rooms in the mornings, I personally get a sense of gratefulness. The gratitude stems from years of demoing various gear all in one room at concurrent times. Trying to demo studio reference monitors parallel to a coworker demoing a pair of the latest and greatest loudspeakers doesn't bode well for all parties involved. This is no longer the case here at Performance Audio.

Our new demo rooms include the hybrid production demo room, where you'll be able to demo recording hardware, music production equipment and studio grade or stage microphones. This is specially enticing for the shy performers who want to test out a microphone without the pressure of having our entire staff stroll through while your belting out the harmonies of an original song. We actually enjoy these demos because this is a great way to meet local artists. Our studio reference monitor room is where you're able to listen to a wide array of studio monitors, in a studio control room environment. Within the monitor room we house studio reference monitors from JBL, Focal, Yamaha, Presonus & Adam Audio and have access to many others. The studio monitor room also includes a full ProTools rig with recording hardware that is rack mounted in a studio desk, which adds to the real world feel. Our studio monitors are strategically positioned for optimum sound quality within our space. This will ensure you have a true sense of what each pair of monitors can sound like.

We arrive to what I call the "crown jewel," the live sound and lighting demo space. Aside from the inviting nature of a wall stacked with live powered speakers and subwoofers, the trussing beaming with lighting fixtures completes the space. We also have keyboards ready to demo for those musically inclined. Our wall of sound includes speakers from Electro-Voice, JBL, Yamaha & Presonus. The trussing includes fixtures from American DJ, Chauvet, Martin and Blizzard Lighting. One of the many benefits of having Crestron certified techs within the company is having certified Crestron techs that are easily accessible. Our contracting and integration division was able to program our wall of sound and lighting fixtures to run at the touch of an index finger. Yes, we have the ability to demonstrate the latest and greatest gear in our showroom via a Planar touchscreen. Speaking of programming, a few of our employees put the mans hours in to program a lighting show with the fixtures on the trussing rig. This alone should interest you in seeing the demo room! Pssst there's plenty of fog included.

Now that was plenty to take in:
With the expansion of our demo space into three diverse demo rooms, Performance Audio is now abled to handle multiple demos with multiple pieces of gear simultaneously. Now don't fret, you don't have to belt out any harmonies or talk studio jargon if you're in the market for a mic stand, which are also displayed within our demo floor. You can just take it all in and know that at Performance Audio our demo rooms are merely a tool for which you can take advantage of when the time comes. Or you might even be able to participate on an inside training within these demo spaces. For Performance Audio this was the goal for our new and improved demo rooms, to help our customers.

If you're in the Salt Lake area and shopping for pro audio, theatrical equipment or MI accessories we encourage you to stop by.

July's Mic of the Month: AEA R84

Posted: June 22, 2017

In 1976, AEA began servicing ribbon microphones, by 1998 they were manufacturing 100% of the parts for the RCA 44. They then released their own version of the 44, and at that moment AEA Ribbon Mics was born.

I hadn't owned many ribbon microphones until I purchased my first AEA, the R84. The R84 is a passive ribbon microphone that shares the same big ribbon, tuning, and transformer as the historic 44. The audio that I had been trying to capture for many years was finally unraveling in front of me. The big 2.35" by 0.185" by 2-micron pure aluminum low-tension ribbon element gives this microphone a very smooth and natural sound. The fine folks at AEA have named this microphone among other things, a Swiss army knife, your "desert island mic", or just "The Workhorse". I can confirm that the R84 is indeed all of the above. I couldn't believe my ears when I plugged this "workhorse" in. I had found the sound that I had been looking for.

I first tried the R84 with male vocals. Hearing the playback, I felt like I was standing in the room listening to the vocal right next to me. Amazed and thrilled with the results I immediately started trying it on other applications: female vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar amps, drum overheads, piano and brass. My ears were smiling! I was disappointed in myself that I hadn't tried the AEA mics sooner but was glad that I had finally made the leap into the pool of silky greatness.

At 165+ maximum SPL this microphone does extremely well in close proximity circumstances. I placed the mic close to the guitar amp grill, toms, horns and vocals with no handling issues at all. A lot of ribbon microphones can be very sensitive when placed too close to the application as it can be extremely hard on the ribbon inside the mic. AEA mics have been designed to be flexible and practical in most situations.

Not only were my ears smiling, but my eyes were smiling when they saw the intricate design of the mic. Cosmetically it reminds me of the classic RCA 77-DX. For what you get out of this microphone it is very affordable, and I can tell you that you won't be disappointed if you are looking for a buttery, silky smooth sound for your recordings. Wes Dooley, the owner of AEA stated that the R84 is the "R44 for us married guys". The result is a new microphone with a classic sound.

Do you want to try to win one of these microphones? You've come to the right place. AEA has generously agreed to give an R84 to one lucky winner! Visit our twitter page July 1st for more information about the giveaway.
🔗 AEA R84 Ribbon Microphone
July's Mic of the Month: AEA R84

How to Train an Ear for Good Audio

Posted: June 21, 2017

In order to be an audio engineer, the most important equipment that you can have isn't anything that we can sell you here at Performance Audio. What is more important than anything is having trained ears that can not only hear the difference between good audio and bad audio, but can distinctly hear what is wrong with the mix. Few people can do this naturally. To really develop a good ear, it takes training. Here are some tips for how to train an ear for good audio...

Listen to well-mixed music
First of all, you need to know what masterful audio production sounds like, so that you know what to strive for. Seek out great albums, from a production standpoint, and listen to them regularly. Listen to these albums and take notes about what you are hearing, so that you can recognize it in your own studio work. Some good albums to start with are Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, My LIfe in the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne, and Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

Use good listening equipment
While we said that a good ear was more important than any equipment that you can buy, it is still necessary to have good listening equipment to train your ear. If the headphones you are listening with can't pick up the subtle nuances of the mix, then you are missing out on part of the educational experience of listening to good sound mixes.

Listen for critical components of sound
Here are some of the critical aspects of good sound design to listen for when you are trying to train your ear:

Balance: The balance of a mix is how all of the instruments sound when played together. Is one particular instrument dominating the mix? Is there a good reason for that? If no, then the mix is out of balance.

Frequency: The frequency range of a mix determines if there is important musical action going on in every frequency range. Ideally, each range is being used effectively, but certain tracks may not need lower or higher frequencies, especially if only one instrument is being played.

Dynamics: The dynamic range of a mix needs to vary, to keep the listener at attention. Aspects of the mix need to change, whether it be volume level, frequency, or timing, among other things. If a song has the same timing and decibel level for the whole song, then the listener can get bored, quickly.

Dimension: The dimension of a mix makes it feel like there is more going on around the mix. Mixes with good dimension will feel like each instrument has its own space in the recording, and adds some texture to the listening experience.

Panorama: Panorama is a stereo term that determines where an instrument sits in the stereo mix (left or right). Listen to any of The Beatles' remastered albums to get a sense of extreme panorama done well.

Emotion: This is one of the hardest to train, but should come naturally to many. At the end of the day, every mix needs to take into account the emotion of the music itself. If every track were mixed the same on every album, then music would be a very boring art form. Get a feel for what a song needs, and allow idiosyncracies to elevate the track.

June's Mic of the Month: Lauten Audio LA-320

Posted: June 05, 2017

I'll never forget the first time I purchased a microphone with a hard case-the sound of the latches flipping up and the case de-pressurizing may as well have been a chorus of angels proclaiming to the world what I felt I already knew: I've made it. It wasn't simply about owning a piece of equipment whose cost merited a hard case, it was that my ears had evolved to the point that I could hear the sonic qualities of a tube mic and the impact it could have on my recordings.

My time spent with Lauten Audio's new LA-320 left me in a state of wistful reminiscence--if only this had existed when I bought my first tube mic! The LA-320 instantly set itself aside from the similarly priced tube microphone I had bought years prior in that inside the Lauten is a full-size dual-triode 12AX7B tube. This was important to me because the 'tube' microphone I had been sold by an associate at a certain big box music store cost me $100 more and was really only a tube microphone in designation. Sure, it had a tube, but it was a micro pentode tube, which hardly has any perceivable harmonic effect. I felt cheated out of what I was assured would be a classic tube sound. Where is that microphone now? Performing its only useful job: adding height to a computer monitor stand.

Lauten Audio waited a long time to enter the budget friendly microphone business because they wanted to make sure their products still met their standards of excellence, and as an enthusiastic Clarion owner, I'm thrilled with the result. The low-mids on guitar and vocals exhibited that characteristic tube warmth without sounding clouded and muddy, while the highs began to roll off around 15k without my source losing life and luster. My mix came out clean and flush with character. This is the budget friendly tube microphone I had once ached for.

The LA-320 is designed with the home studio in mind: a balanced output transformer provides a higher output level, thus calling for less reliance on noisy consumer-grade microphone preamps. While a low frequency rolloff is fairly common practice nowadays, the engineers at Lauten Audio have also elected to include a high frequency rolloff to help compensate for that typical 'square bedroom' brightness that we all love to hate.

Any manufacturer considering a run of low cost tube microphones should take note. Lauten has shown us that affordability doesn't exist in a vacuum (pun intended) separate from quality. This is where professional recording begins.
🔗 Lauten Audio LA-320 Tube Condenser Microphone
June's Mic of the Month: Lauten Audio LA-320

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