Chris Lord-Alge chooses Focusrite RedNet interfaces
Posted on: Tuesday 14th of June 2022
Five-time GRAMMY-winning mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge has upgraded Studio A at his MIX L.A. complex for Dolby Atmos work, facilitated by an interface and converter infrastructure based on Focusrite RedNet components. The Dante-networked RedNet setup helps interconnect two Avid Pro Tools workstations and a new 9.1.4 Ocean Way Audio speaker system with Lord-Alge’s beloved Solid State Logic SL4064E mixing console.
Lord-Alge has had to rethink his long-established workflow (read about it in his Resolution V8.6 interview) with the addition of the new immersive audio capabilities in Studio A, where he has mixed and remixed projects by the likes of Green Day, Keith Urban, Madonna, Rod Stewart and so many others over the years. But with encouragement from various industry colleagues, he says, “I decided to make the leap into the unknown and finally eliminate all the vintage gear that was connecting my audio to the console.”
For many years, Lord-Alge’s mixing workflow required projects to be initially transferred to a 48-track Sony DASH tape machine, which he favored for the performance of the converters and the metering (he eventually eliminated all use of tape and just used the machine’s converters). He has now replaced that machine with a Pro Tools HDX rig, operating at 96 kHz/48-bit, that feeds a pair of Focusrite RedNet HD32R 32-channel HD Dante network bridge. Using Dante Controller, Lord-Alge selects the tracks for distribution over the Dante network through four Focusrite RedNet A16R MkII 16-channel analogue interfaces and into the mixing desk. Lord-Alge’s stereo mix from the console is then routed back through one of the A16R MkII units and an HD32R HD Bridge and captured in the Pro Tools computer.
The converters in the A16R MkII units offer a noticeable improvement in performance over the DASH machine, Lord-Alge says, plus he no longer has the hassles of his former setup, where he had to synchronize the DASH machine and two Pro Tools rigs. “Once I figured out what level worked and the headroom, I found the sound of the A16R MkII was much better and clearer and more open,” he reports.
A second Pro Tools system is now dedicated solely to mixing in Dolby Atmos, which is natively 48 kHz/24-bit. “I get a great stereo mix of the record with all my colors of analog gear and an analog console and we break that out. Once I’ve done my stereo mix and I’ve created all the stems I need for Atmos, into computer number two they go. So my Atmos mixes are made from stems that are created with all the vintage outboard gear. Then computer number two with the Dolby renderer becomes my second playback system,” stated Lord-Alge.
“The second Pro Tools system doesn’t need I/O because it’s all in-the-box,” he continues. “All I need is one RedNet PCIeR Card, which gives me 128 channels over Dante at 48/24, connecting through a Mac Mini as the Dolby renderer. So Pro Tools can send 128 objects to the renderer and the monitoring. None of this would be possible without RedNet.” Monitor control of the 9.1.4 speaker rig is handled by Avid’s MTRX system.
While it does take some time to print all the stereo stems from his mix and create a session for the second Pro Tools system for mixing in Atmos, Lord-Alge says, “At this point in time, that is the way that works for me. I use the Atmos computer and the renderer for the object placement and the three-dimensionality of the mix. But for the actual nuts and bolts of creating the sonics inside the mix, I use my stereo rig.”
The MIX L.A. complex is now fully wired for Dante and RedNet, he says. “The whole room is networked with RedNet and so is my new studio next door. We can capture from there; they can capture from here. I’m able to use Dante to connect to my other studios and move forward into the future. And it works seamlessly.”