I am currently refurbishing three radio broadcast desks at the moment: Two are Sonifex Sovereign MX25 models, the third is a Soundcraft Series 10.

Now Sonifex are still going strong, in fact they have expanded many-fold in recent years, with an ever-increasing range of products; they are most definitely the exceptional success story in what was once, relative to the size of the market, a buoyant industry. Soundcraft on the other hand, in terms of radio studio kit: Who remembers them?

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Recording choirs is an art.

Frankly anyone can run a microphone or two out and capture a sound, the number of Smartphone recorded performances on Youtube is testament to that.

But very few actually capture the “warmth” of a choir’s performance: The “zeitgeist”, the “je ne sais quoi”. Call it what you will.
Capturing that elusive sound is what I call “getting close to the candle”.

You know that feeling, and the look, when you get so close to a candle you feel an even warmth coming off it?
Its light is so bright it seems to radiate rainbow colours in the tip of the flame. It fills your whole view as the flame slowly moves in the air. 

Now I’ve seen website forum questions enquiring as to “The best microphones to record a choir with”.
The answer is both simple and complex at the same time: It’s the one that sounds right for the job.
So how do you get that elusive sound? That “warmth”?

Candle Flame

Well there is nothing inherently “secret” about it: No ceremonial passing down of knowledge from Master to Apprentice. But skill, experience and (sometimes) a bit of luck do play their part.
For the recording engineer, that is something that is only gained through time, application and product know-how.
But watch a cable burning, feel its heat and listen to some choral music.

If the engineer has captured the warmth of the choir’s performance, you will understand what I mean by “getting close to the candle”.

Pure Sound Recording Services is an arm of AV Resilience. It offers location recording and CD production services to choirs and classical musicians.

Please call Iain Betson on 07966 239391 or email to discuss your recording project.


VMR: Virgin Megastores Radio & My Part in It (Part 2)

In part 2 of this blog about my time at Virgin Megastores Radio (VMR) I recall some of the higher profile events that I was involved with, the stations wind-down and subsequent closure.

Outside events
From 1996 to 1999, Virgin Retail signed a sponsorship deal with the V and the Reading Festivals. To support this, VMR, during shop opening hours, was broadcast live from Reading and Chelmsford leg of V.

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VMR: Virgin Megastores Radio & My Part in It (Part 1)

This blog came to being after a post I saw on a forum enquiring into what became of HMV Radio, the in-store station for the chain of UK based HMV record shops.

One of the posts mentioned Virgin Megastores Radio, the equivalent, and I would stop short at saying rival, service produced by Virgin Retail for their store outlets. In the early part of my freelance career, resulting from me being made redundant from a studio installation company, I gained the station as a client.

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"Hmmm. Nice lampshade."

How to Improve the Credibility of Your Skype Contributions to Broadcasters

"Hmmm. Nice lampshade” or similar sarcastic words to that effect is a phrase I have heard on more than one occasion in a TV studio gallery. They are said during those contributions, delivered by experts, or a reporter, over Skype or similar systems, usually via the contributor’s laptop. We see their head and shoulders and, due to the angle of the screen, the light in the centre of the room, or perhaps a crammed book case against a wall. Frankly it looks naff.

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So Norway has taken the world’s lead in radio broadcasting: To be the first country to switch off FM radio. With big fan fare they started the process in the northern county of Nordland earlier in the month.

I’m not surprised. I’ve known since 2008 they were going to do it, when I had first-hand experience of the shape of Norwegian broadcasting to come.

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On the face of it the title of this blog may seem like teaching your parents mothers to imbibe an ovum. After all, connecting a piece of wire to that most universal of audio connectors is simple enough, is it not?

Well it is. But to do it well and not making a mess of it in the process does take a little practice and the learning of a few tips. Ok, I accept pre-wired cables are readily available, but sometimes you will have to reach for the soldering iron  to make a bespoke cable up, or repair an existing one. So when you do, you may as well make sure the job properly. (Top Tip: For your own sanity steer clear of the IDC connector versions of the XLR – they are simply horrible)

The accompanying photos are all real-world examples of good and poor XLR wiring, forming a step-by-step guide on good practice and what not to do.

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There no doubt that video streaming is now an everyday event on the web. No longer do you have to plan well in advance and use expensive equipment that requires rigging and meticulous operation.

Periscope and Facebook Live are two of the higher profile platforms to deliver a live video experience, whilst cameras and apps such as Mevo and RecoLive are two methods to capture the video content. The video manipulation is truly staggering. High pixel-count cameras allow zoom and close-ups from a wide shot, meaning for simple shoots multiple cameras are no longer required.

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A Bad Workman Always Blames His Tools

Is, in what seems is half the World’s perception, Donald Trump, at the very least, a gaff-prone buffoon?

Now there’s a question.

I can’t in all honesty say one-way or the other. I accept that he is obviously excellent at creating wealth for himself and, probably, jobs for many people. He also appears to have views on a great many things not to his liking, which I find offensive.

But is he an idiot? I'm not sure.

Hang-on, yes I am. I do know he is an idiot in one area I am qualified to comment on.

His microphone technique is utterly useless.

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Part 2 of a 2-part blog on IBC 2017 

The biggest stand in the Future Zone was home to 4K's Voldemort, namely 8K. NHK had a huge screen (composed of 4 discrete screens) showing 8K coverage of the Olympics. And mightily impressive it was too. I’m not a betting man but I would put a tenner on 8k overtaking 4k before the latter can get mass market penetration.

The Future Zone tied me neatly into what I was really over in IBC for, namely those exhibitors is Hall 8: The audio hall. Sennheiser were demoing their new product, the Ambeo, a four-capsule surround sound microphone. It records to four channels and then by use of associated software, the audio field can be manipulated accordingly. Having written a review on their surround-sound Esfera product a couple of years ago, I hope to get a review model for evaluation at a later date.

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Every year at IBC there is always a buzz about “this year’s big thing”. In 2013/14 it was 3D TV (remember that?) last year it was 4k TV and drones. I recall that Sony had a massive presence with the former and the whir of the latter was everywhere.

Well this year said drones were firmly on the display stands, I saw none in action. I suspect not just for H&S reasons but in all honesty, since I saw my first one fly at the show in 2010, the novelty has kind of worn off. Perhaps it was also because the payload some of the “flying spiders” were carrying was of more interest; you see it was part of this year’s “big thing”: Namely AR and VR (Augmented and Virtual Reality).

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I have big list.

That’s not a boast. It just is.

The email circular list I send my newsletter and other e-based mail-shots to I add to pretty much on a daily basis.

This blog is not a master-class on list building, suffice to say I use all the regular and legitimate methods to add subscribers and send them information about AV Resilience.And every time I send a circular via my list I get emails back stating “Someone has unsubscribed from the AVR Prospect List”.

And you know what? I am glad about this.

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For the holiday season I offer this blog as a bit of light-hearted fun with some industry history mixed in.

This year saw the Betson family on a Baltic cruise that included a stop–off in Stockholm. Having first visited the city 34 years ago I had a dream to see the Wasa. This is the 16th Swedish warship that sank in Stockholm harbour, was raised in the 1960s and put on display. It’s like our own “Mary Rose” except a lot more intact. When I saw it in the 1980s it was covered in plastic sheet and being sprayed with preserving chemical, but now with the preservation complete, I wanted to see the finished article.

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Idly looking though Youtube the other day I found a complete concert by Oasis, staged in 2005 at, obviously, the City of Manchester Stadium. (As if the Gallagher brothers would have stepped into that place in Salford to do the gig!)

As the Jimmy Jib camera zoomed over the audience, I saw their hands in the air, some holding the electronic equivalent of the cigarette lighter, phones with the flash light on, swaying along to “Wonderwall”.

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(or why, when you are spending $250,000, you choose wisely)

Ohh! Controversial words and metaphorically shoot me down in flames if you like, but with his lyric-play and less commercial ear, John, possibly, wrote the better songs (Sorry Paul, but Octopus Garden?) and sure The Beatles were, and will remain, mega-popular but, with one exception, I think their recording output wasn’t exactly ground breaking.

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This blog is the result of hearing a radio report about the redevelopment of Trent Park, a former stately home in North London, into a number of luxury flats. Of particular interest to me was the its use as a Prisoner-of War camp in the Second World War to hold captured German Generals.

Trent Park

Trent Park: Holiday (Prison) Camp for Hitlers Henchmen

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Or "Don't Try These, You May Not Like Them"

When the time comes to take your business to the next level I strongly recommend you consider signing-up with your local Sandler Sales Training franchise and use their system in part of your “sales winning armoury”.

I’m really at the start of this journey, but already it’s been highlighted to me that, one of the things that hold us back from converting prospects into sales, is ourselves and the baggage we carry around in our heads.

For instance, a fear of rejection making us paralysed at the thought of approaching a prospect or even, heaven forbid, cold-calling. (In fact Sandler teach you that, if you do your preparation properly, there should be no such thing as a cold call.)

Talking about money could be a big issue too. You may feel uncomfortable talking about the prices you charge, or your hourly rate.

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