Posted on April 23rd, 2020
Originally from Canada, Jeremy Tusz was introduced to Pyramix during his time at McGill University, the Banff Centre, Tanglewood, and during a spell in Europe at Polyhymnia and Galaxy Studios. After returning to Canada and freelancing as an engineer/editor/producer on well over 100 albums, it soon became clear that if he had his own equipment, there were additional recording assignments that could be tackled. Soon after the Merging Horus was introduced in 2012, Jeremy had the opportunity to try one on a session, and he liked what he heard. That led to him purchasing a Horus fitted with 32 input and 8 output channels and two laptops running Pyramix Native. As I/O demands increased for larger orchestral film score work and clients began asking for DXD/DSD capabilities, a Hapi was added along with a PT64 card (for interfacing with a Pro Tools HD Native system), 16 channels of Premium AD and 8 channels of Premium DA to “mix n match” according to the session requirements.
In 2015 the opportunity to join the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra as staff audio producer presented itself and Jeremy ensured that the symphony was equipped with enough Merging gear for most eventualities, freeing up his personal equipment for freelance work. Now in 2020, construction of the MSO’s new hall, The Bradley Symphony Center, is well underway and includes more comprehensive facilities for recording not only the orchestra, but a small studio for interviews, podcasts and the like. However, for now the latest addition to the Merging family of products is the Anubis and this has been something of a revelation.
Jeremy’s first impression of Anubis was “seems like a neat little box” but it proved quickly to be much more than that. “I certainly didn’t think it would completely change the way I think about my remote setups. It has added new value to my Horus and Hapi! Now I think of every input and output as a source or a cue or a monitor. It has brought even more capabilities and efficiencies to remote sessions.” In addition to the expandability of the Merging family that has been demonstrated many times over the last six years, there are several other notable benefits that have become so apparent:
“Reliability. I always run a backup, but in the past 5 years I have never had to use it.”
“Robustness. My gear has been shipped on pallets, travelled on roughly 30 flights as checked baggage (and we know how baggage handlers treat equipment), and has been dropped from high enough to bend the front panel of the Horus, but it still works!”
“Configurability. I can have 48 channels on stage and surround monitoring in the booth, or 16 channels in the catwalk, 32 on stage, and stereo in the booth. Or for a smaller chamber recording 16 channels in a Hapi on stage and stereo in the booth with the Anubis. The kit can scale to whatever the situation requires. This cuts down on the length of analog cable runs, size and weight of the kit, baggage fees, etc…
“Workflow. Everyone always talks about specs, and Merging gear certainly has great specs, but a great sounding recording isn’t made with specs alone. Being able to control and recall preamps from the software, peak log and great metering to check levels, amazing file management, means more time to spend positioning microphones, and less time that the musicians have to stand around waiting. In sessions, especially orchestral sessions, time is your greatest enemy.”
After working with the Anubis for a while, Jeremy amplifies his comments; “I have mostly been using it at my home studio for monitor control, but last week I used it on an orchestral session with a tenor soloist and it was incredibly versatile!”
“We had monitors and three headphone feeds in the control room, talkback to the orchestra, a footswitch controlled closed talkback to the conductor’s earpiece, headphones on stage for the tenor so that we could playback what he had just recorded. We had two Pyramix machines as sources and also live microphones (the main pair) as sources so that the producer could continue conversations with the conductor while I was cueing up a take for playback.”
“And then there are the little details that make all the difference. The ability to name all of your sources, monitors, headphones as something meaningful to the users who are often not engineers (e.g. our headphones were named Denise, Brian, Marc, David, and Jeremy). And a further convenience was being able to control all of these features from the laptop without bothering the producer who had control of the physical device. In the future I will be adding a tablet to the mix.”
“This is truly impressive. The Anubis, along with my Hapi, has taken the place of a Cranesong Avocet, SPL surround monitor control, Benchmark DAC-1, and DirectOut producer.com, and it is far more powerful and configurable than all of them combined. It’s also way smaller and I’ve been able to remove a road case from my kit which further reduces shipping and extra baggage costs.”
March 2020 saw the COVID-19 epidemic wreaking global havoc and live performances cancelled in concert halls and other public places. Jeremy was asked at the very last minute if it would be possible to livestream a concert without audience and this was done very simply. “All I did was plug a laptop into the switch, download the Mixlr app, and route everything in ANEMAN. With the Anubis I was able to switch between the outputs of my two recording machines, the send to the livestream machine, and the return stream. Once again, Anubis to the rescue!”
The prospect of an extended period of cancelled performances provides opportunities to be inventive and to come up with alternative projects. There is the current WFMT radio season which will likely need to be filled out with historic recordings, but the Milwaukee Symphony has also started a new weekly podcast hosted by its music director Ken-David Masur, and just released a virtual performance video of Elgar’s “Nimrod”. Life goes on.
tm stagetec systems is the Australian distributor of Merging Technologies’ pro-audio hardware and software. Contact us for more information or a demonstration.