Phil Peters, Director of Audio Services and FOH Mixing Engineer for Christian Broadcast Network, chooses the eMotion LV1 Live Mixer, the Waves Tracks Live recording software, and Waves plugins for CBN broadcasting.
On the live side, CBN has four studios: one for domestic programming, one for international programming, and two smaller spaces for news and talk shows. Audio between the studio control rooms is a combination of networked Hydra2, AES and MADI, along with some analog for intercom and dry tie line. Approximately 25 shows per week are completed between the studios – most of which are magazine style, with the flagship The 700 Club combining news, talk and music. Ten video edit bays and four audio post-production rooms prep video packages for inclusion within the live programs, as well as material shot post-edit.
CBN also produces live corporate style in-house events. Since the network is donor-based, meetings are frequently held both on-site and at locations central to donors outside of the network’s home state of Virginia. On campus there are several event spaces: a 1000-seat chapel, an 850-seat ballroom and an 800-seat theater space. The audio group is tasked with providing support services at all these locations.
Phil Peters and CBN's eMotion LV1 system on the set of The 700 Club
Peters comments, “We initially looked at the Waves eMotion LV1 as a supplement to our PA consoles, but over time we have used it in ways we hadn’t initially expected to, for example as both front-of-house and monitor consoles for our concert events. We currently own two systems. One uses DiGiGrid IOX preamps running on a Mac Mini with Windows 10 and two touch screens. The second system, which we put together for monitors, is MADI-integrated with a Dell all-in-one PC. We use the LV1 as a monitor console for in-studio bands, both live to air and pre-recorded, driving combos of ear and wedge mixes. Integration with the Calrec broadcast consoles has been done both with traditional splitters and/or MADI, and both worked equally effectively. We also track studio productions with the Tracks Live recording software. Several in-studio bands have requested traditional consoles, but we needed a way to easily capture the performance for a possible later remix if needed. Taking a third split and recording the individual elements to Tracks Live was a seamless process.”
Peters discusses the network’s particular audio needs: “At CBN, our content dictates several requirements: excellent sonic quality, small footprint, ease of use, digital integration, and ideally the ability to run Waves plugins. After demoing the eMotion LV1 software with a Surface Pro and a single DiGiGrid MGB, we all agreed that the mix engine sounded great and the software interface would be beneficial to our workflow. We could also purchase the building blocks of the system and grow as our use of the LV1 developed. After one of our first ‘live’ productions, we found ourselves with internal discussions over who would get to use the LV1 on the next show, which led to the purchase of the second one.”
On the reasons for choosing the Waves LV1, Peters adds, “Sound quality is definitely near the top of the list. After the first shows, we received lots of positive comments from audience members and the production staff. Also, for us, scalability is crucial. We have the racks set up in a modular fashion so we could take the engine and screen with one DiGiGrid IOX audio interface and work a small show. Or for the larger productions, we simply bring in more DiGiGrid IOX units and DiGiGrid MGB MADI interfaces for connection to both the stage mics and control room feeds. Add in a laptop for recording to Waves Tracks Live, and it becomes a fairly large configuration within the same small footprint. In addition, having the software offline and being able to add in virtual I/O units is a substantial benefit, since the mixers here will often build a show on their laptop. This makes any on-site adjustments less time-consuming as the basic show is already built.”
Peters comments on his favorite Waves plugins: “The Waves C6 Multiband Compressor, Waves API 2500 compressor, and Waves Renaissance Vox vocal processor are the three plugins that I find myself reaching for most often. I use the C6 for dynamic adjustments for sources that I don’t want to just EQ, but follow/adjust musically depending on whatever the source is doing. The API 2500 is used for drums and some group dynamics, as it gives impact to instruments while still sounding very musical. And of course the Renaissance Vox is a workhorse for vocals with a simple interface. Having a stage with a dozen vocalists at times, this is an easy plugin to manage that really adds character to a vocalist’s sound.
“Being a broadcast facility we have to adhere to FCC best practices as well as standards for loudness,” Peters concludes. “Constant transitions between speech and musical material, especially a live band in the studio, are challenging at best, and attempting to keep both within the bounds of LKFS standards are where Waves plugins help a great deal. Having transient shaping tools like Waves Trans-X and the Waves Vitamin Sonic Enhancer, vocal plugins like Renaissance Vox, and also limiting tools like the Waves MaxxVolume or even the Waves C6 Multiband Compressor help keep the sonic impact higher while leaving the LKFS levels within the bounds of our house standards. Also, for sonic ‘fixes’ where audio is less than pristine due to things like light ballast noise and external ambience noises, Waves plugins like the WNS Noise Suppressor really help clean up and make usable audio from a not-so-usable source. We are also finding the newest addition to our toolset, the Waves Primary Source Expander, very valuable for cleaning up stage noise/background ambiences in a musical manner.”