Dear Sound Enthusiast,
Like many other people, you may have asked yourself what makes an audio electronic device sound great. You have heard units with excellent specs, but couldn’t confirm this by listening. Nice numbers – no sound. Is this an exception, or can we “read” any information about sound quality by reading the specs? From my side, I must tell you that you can’t. Let’s have a look at some of the usual tech specifications picking out two typical parameters: frequency linearity and distortion.
Frequency linearity provides no definitive answer here. It can be influential in evaluating the character of a loudspeaker or microphone (mechanical mechanism), but not an electronic device. Here, absence of low end or too much “mid” would be regarded as a “fault”, requiring the device to be sent for repair. Even the cheapest, poorest-sounding electronic device will be “linear”.
Distortion: the quantity of total harmonic distortion, in terms of percentage, is also irrelevant. The 2nd harmonic sounds nice, the 9th sounds horrid. 1% of the 2nd can just be heard as a slightly more “juicy” effect; 0.02% of the 9th can also just be heard as a dissonant harsh effect. Audio products with extremely low THD should also be avoided. These low values result from extreme negative feedback, which makes the sound flat and boring by cutting down the attack time. Few other parameters refer so specifically to the ”sound” itself.
The most important “parameter” for sound excitement, musical emotion, purity and accuracy of information is the transient behaviour of any electronic device, i.e. how fast the electronics can accelerate and stop. However, you will not find a number for the transient in any spec. Why? Firstly, transient velocity is difficult to measure, although it’s easy to hear. There’s no “standard” so that numbers can be compared. Secondly, the industry appears to have little interest in writing or speaking about this, seeing that most devices are built with cost-effective integrated circuits but poor transient behaviour.
All SCHERTLER electronic circuits are built renouncing any negative feedback in order to favour an extremely fast transient behaviour. This “mechanism” is difficult to engineer, but any people “in the know”, such as sound techs and musicians, can tell you something about the 3rd dimension: the transient time brought to the maximum possible acceleration. Check out an ARTHUR module to hear what I have just tried to put into words.
(photo by Outsiers)
SCHERTLER AROUND THE GLOBE
Schertler and ARTHUR at Soundmit 2017, Turin
Schertler recently exhibited for the first time at SOUNDMIT in Turin - one of southern Europe’s largest international electronic music equipment trade shows. With ARTHUR taking centre stage on the booth and featuring in two workshops, there was plenty of attention for the flagship modular mixer.
Schertler’s Drago Dujak reports: “Schertler’s first SOUNDMIT in Turin was a very positive experience, with many large- and small-scale electronic designers and developers attending the show. The level of visitor ‘know-how’ was impressively high and made the event really enjoyable.
ARTHUR attracted attention from everyone, with a surprising amount of interest coming from the “synth world”. Once again, this mixer has proved that analogue is not dead. Many people out there are still focussed on the quality of the sound - it’s not only about the features …”
Two ARTHUR workshops were held during the 3-day event: In the first of these, Stephan Schertler explained the philosophy behind the electronic design that is applied to all Schertler products.
The second workshop was a practical audio presentation featuring synth artist Massimo Mattea who connected his Moog synthesiser to the ARTHUR mixer with some astonishing sound results. “I have never heard my Moog sound like this”, he commented. “Now I’m finally able to hear all the sounds my synth can actually produce.”
(photos by Outsiers and Soundmit)
SCHERTLER AROUND THE GLOBE
And the Winner is …
The recent Ultimateguitar.com-Schertler giveaway attracted thousands of participants. Up for grabs was a special package comprising the GIULIA Y (link) amplifier and M-AG6 (link) acoustic guitar pickup. Great news for the lucky winner, Evan Bradley from Pennsylvania, who is pictured here with his prize.
The ultra-compact, 50W, 2-channel GIULIA Y amplifier is perfect for small venues, home studios and practice. The amp features XLR/Jack inputs accommodating a range of pickups, phantom power, intuitive controls, digital reverb, an insert for external processor/pedal and separate DI/Line outputs.
The M-AG6 uniquely combines Schertler electronics and active multiple coil technology. The pickup fits inside the guitar’s sound hole: A volume control and input for a second pickup enable sound from both pickups to be blended as required.
High-quality sound from start to finish!
SCHERTLER AROUND THE GLOBE
Domenico Brioschi and Schertler at Un Paese a Sei Corde Festival, Italy
For 12 years, sound engineer Domenico Brioschi has handled the technical side of the Un Paese a Sei Corde Festival - a complex event involving numerous concerts in different locations with various bands. At this year’s festival, Brioschi put several Schertler products to the test and now shares his experiences:
“Try to imagine handling the technical side of a festival with 24 concerts in 24 different places (squares, gardens, large courtyards, etc.) Add to that 24 musicians or bands that you are often meeting for the first time, each with different needs and a commitment to offering the best of their music to a knowledgeable and passionate audience. It’s all about inventing, adapting, improvising and struggling with the most diverse environmental and weather conditions. Sounds like a nightmare? Well, this is more or less what I have been doing for the last 12 years at the Un Paese a Sei Corde Festival.
For the 2017 festival, I had an opportunity to use SCHERTLER equipment and it turned out to be a great deal! Let’s start with the PA: I had a TOM (1000W - one sub and two satellites) system available. Actually, as insurance (having to set up at events with 300/400 places) I had two systems available! Needless to say, the second was left in its packaging. Even for the larger spaces we only used one system, plus two small SR Mon X, 180W amplified boxes to create homogeneous volume levels at the sides. In short, TOM’s 1000W proved more than enough! The sound flows and expands maintaining outstanding transparency, with a bass that is powerful and round but not “devastating”: Key features, especially for those who are amplifying acoustic music … not to mention the fact that TOM is lightweight, space-saving and easy to use.
On stage we had a beautiful and very well designed monitor: TEDDY. It was the thing that most impressed the musicians ("What a cool device! I want it ... how much does it cost?”). Both the sound fidelity and directionality are outstanding: From the "wrong" side, sound is reduced by several dB limiting the risk of unwanted feedback while playing. On the other side (both standing and sitting) TEDDY is a sound mirror with a huge reserve of power. Frankly, I would say that “it’s made for a grand stage”.
And finally the "brain": the ARTHUR mixer. I do not want to go into too many technical details, I can just say that: it's all completely analogue, it has a unique flexibility, highest levels of sound quality and extremely precise controls that allow you to adjust at any point in the signal chain. The quality of construction shows real “craftsmanship” in the true sense of the word. It offers virtually infinite setups and can work both live and in the studio. Its “transparency” is like few other mixers. Each module is independent, with a variety of controls. The faders are extremely accurate and adjustments can be made with a finesse that can only be found in some high end studio mixers. The reverb module (analogue with spring) offers great performance and can "build" the sound without you having to adapt the factory presets.
All system elements (ARTHUR, TEDDY and TOM) harmonised and complemented each other perfectly. Goodbye to mountains of equipment to control everything!
Another thing that impressed me was Schertler’s willingness to listen to my concerns and suggestions and to take into account any product improvements (and I am not even the Pink Floyd sound engineer!). For example, I found that ARTHUR (being a Class A device) tended to heat up. As summer 2017 was particularly hot, it was sometimes a bit difficult to put your hands on the mixer. Now, after listening to advice from myself and other engineers, they are already preparing a cooling module for better heat dissipation.
Schertler also knew that by requiring more than the (3) standard AUX lines available for monitors, I was relying on a workaround. So, after struggling in some situations with the 3 Aux Sends, there will soon be a chance for us to have 6 (!) Auxiliary lines directly available in ARTHUR.
In conclusion, I'm delighted to have tested and used these devices in the most diverse and complicated conditions and, thanks to Schertler’s advice and suggestions, have improved the quality standards of our concerts. Not bad at all!"
(photos by Roberto Aquari e Leonardo Baldo)
Dario Fornara Demo Concert at Six Bars Jail, Florence
Dario Fornara’s recent performance at the Six Bars Jail Club in Florence proved an ideal opportunity to showcase some of Schertler’s flagship products. The acoustic guitarist and Schertler Ambassador delighted his audience by demonstrating how the various products are now becoming key elements of his on-stage setup and sound.
The small theatre in Serpiolle is considered a “benchmark venue” for the acoustic guitar in Italy. Some of the greatest names on the international scene have played there including John Renbourn, Peter Finger, Don Ross, Beppe Gambetta and Alex de Grassi to name just a few. Dario Fornara’s concert, organized in collaboration with Schertler, would prove no less of an occasion.
A particular feature of Dario’s performance was his use of an entire audio chain made up of Schertler components. Starting with the Magnetico M-AG6 pick-up mounted on his guitar, the chain also included an ARTHUR modular mixer in a specially assembled 4-channel configuration to suit Dario’s needs, a TIM PA system and the new TEDDY stage monitor.
During the concert, the potential of the compact Giulia Y amplifier was also demonstrated: Dario played a few songs using it as the only amplification system. Its sound filled the small theatre perfectly, to the amazement of those present.
The new TEDDY monitor also proved highly interesting to the numerous guitarists in the audience. For Dario, TEDDY represents “the ultimate in timbre, dynamic response, sound and aesthetic diffusion!”
Finally, Dario used Giulia Y with the M-AG6 pickup and the S-MIC-M microphone set to “minimum”, representing about 15% of the final sound in the mix. Here, the amplifier settings were: Gain 12 o'clock , Low 12 o'clock, Mid 7 o'clock, High 12 o'clock, Warm inserted filter, Reverb 1 o'clock, Master 12 o'clock.
(photos by Nello White)
NEWS FROM THE LAB
PRIME news from the Lab
As development of the new ARTHUR PRIME series continues, we look forward to previewing these new mixers at the NAMM and ISE shows in 2018. The series initially offers 3 non-expandable, competitively priced mixing solutions designed for a range of audio applications.
Available in fixed 5-, 9- and 13-channel configurations, PRIME series mixers are built using the same high-quality components found in the flagship ARTHUR (Format 48) modular mixer. Each model is equipped with high-quality preamps, two aux sends, a built-in digital reverb and other essential features for great sound quality and straightforward production.
Additionally designed with ease of use and quick setup in mind, PRIME mixers are perfect for smaller-scale performances, home studios, conference facilities and installations where space is at a premium, or where fewer input channels and aux sends are required.
More to follow …