Transmix Achieves High-Quality Mobile Recording Acoustics Thanks to VENUE

As one of Finland’s premier audio recordists, Transmix Ltd provides mobile recording services for television and radio broadcasts. When Timo Virtanen, technical director and sound designer at Transmix, joined the company ten years ago, his first assignment was to update the company’s outside broadcast (OB) truck from ADATs to a Pro Tools|HD Accel system with four 888/24 interfaces. “That was huge,” he recalls with a laugh. “I couldn’t imagine that one could ever need more than 32 tracks.”

Of course, that hasn’t been his experience, especially since the team works on some of Finland’s most popular shows, where track counts these days often climb into the triple digits. To keep up, the company recently upgraded the truck with a 96-channel VENUE Profile System, giving the team more technical prowess to handle the demands of music broadcasts.

“We decided to focus on music productions with this OB truck,” Virtanen says. “You can mix speech and game shows almost anywhere, but to mix music you need to have a better room and acoustics. We wanted the truck to sound like a real sound studio. VENUE let us do that and it’s very music-friendly. Also, it’s compatible with Pro Tools, so we can use a lot of different plug-ins, and its quick and easy to use for freelance engineers and us.”

Plus, he adds with a laugh, “With VENUE, you don’t have to be a German engineer to solve the audio patch!”

Because VENUE offers direct Pro Tools integration and features VENUE Link, enabling the team to automate session setups between VENUE and Pro Tools, recordings have run much more smoothly. “When we did The Voice of Finland’s blind audition, I had over 80 mixed songs,” Virtanen explains. “When the music producer said that he wanted to listen to songs 2, 75, 13, and 54, I just pressed Snapshots and with VENUE Link, our Pro Tools [system] followed the timeline to get the right songs. It’s very fast. The producer noticed that immediately.”

In addition to The Voice of Finland, Transmix has worked on many high-profile Finnish television shows, including So, You Think You Can Dance, Idols, Talent, X Factor, Jussi Gaala (the Finnish Academy Awards), KultainenVenla (the Finnish Golden Globes), and Pitkä Kuuma Kesä (a summertime music/play show). The company has also been tapped to record music DVDs, festivals (Radio Aalto, NRJ in the Park), and the 2012 European Track & Field Championships Opening Ceremony in Helsinki.

Such prestigious assignments make audio clarity and fidelity crucial—another reason why Transmix purchased the VENUE system. “VENUE’s mic preamps are silent and neutral,” Virtanen says. “It’s important to us that the whole signal flow is full digital, because when you make gain adjustments during a live show, you don’t hear little crack noises in VENUE’s preamps, like you do with some other consoles.”

As the team looked at other console choices, Virtanen found some to be “too complex,” adding, “VENUE was familiar to me and Jukka Nykänen [one of Transmix’s founders], because we had toured with different bands with the VENUE [system] before.”

Virtanen chose to customize a Profile System with two Stage Racks to handle up to 96 inputs and outputs, five DSP cards for maximum performance, two MADI Option Cards for interfacing with Pro Tools and other systems, an ECx Ethernet Card for remote control, and an IOx Option Card for connecting outboard gear. “We record through MADI to Pro Tools, and we split the signal with RME's MADI Bridge to record simultaneously with our JoeCo's MADI recorders as a backup system,” he explains. “I also use one MADI card to send audio to the camera truck.”

Transmix uses a Pro Tools|HDX system as its main recording unit with two HD MADI interfaces and a SYNC HD. “We can record up to 128 channels—96 through the Stage Rack and 32 through local analog and AES/EBU lines. For stage box connections we use fiber links.”

That said, Virtanen explains that there have been only a few big shows where Transmix has needed more than 64 inputs. “At the Track & Field Championships last year, we had somewhere around 110 mic inputs, and at The Voice of Finland, we are going to have about 80—with 50 or 60 of those from the band and vocalists. We also just worked with recording engineer MIkko OInonen from Finnvox and producer Antti Murto to record the Vantaan Viihde Orkesteri for CD and DVD release using 82 inputs.”

The beauty of using a VENUE system, Virtanen says, is that, “We don’t ever have to say to clients that we don’t have enough inputs anymore.”

As far as plug-ins go, Transmix uses the Waves Diamond bundle and VENUEPack 4. “I have used Waves for many years [doing] post production, so it was very cool to have those in the mixer, too. Although VENUE’s own EQ and dynamics are very good sounding, it’s nice to have [Avid] Smack! on bass and the [Waves] Renaissance EQ for vocals.”

That said, the team still uses a handful of outboard effects processors in the truck, including the Waves MaxxBCL and TC Electronic System 6000. However, there are plans to ultimately replace the gear with plug-ins.

Virtanen and the rest of the Transmix team are thrilled with the possibilities now that the VENUE system is up and running. “It surely gives us a greater possibility to do big shows better, easier, faster, and with full trust in the system.”