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In this episode of Sound Design Live my guest is freelance sound engineer and audio entrepreneur, Ed Kingstone. We discuss streaming events, remote mixing, and staying in business during a pandemic.
- Where do you see the demand right now? What are the most common services people are hiring you for?
- What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making who are new to remote mixing?
- Tell us about the biggest or maybe most painful mistake you’ve made on the job and how you recovered.
Zoom is the next set of tools to learn.Ed Kingstone
- All music in this episode by Lily J.
- The New Normal? Working remotely. Live Proof of Concept.
- Mics: Sennheiser 421 and 441
- Spiritfest SF20, All About Love Gatherings
- Books: Microphones: How they work & how to use them
- Wayne’s World is the backdrop of my youth.
- Just take all the work that God sends and it’ll be fine.
This transcript was automatically generated. Please let me know if you discover any errors.
I’m Nathan Lively, and today I’m joined by freelance sound engineer and audio entrepreneur Ed Kingston. Ed, welcome to Sound Design Live.
Hey, thanks, Nathan. How are you doing?
Doing good. How do you feel about that intro? I was reading all the stuff about you, and I was like, you know what the simplest thing is like? Freelance sound engineer, audio entrepreneur, how do you self identify?
Well, I have been doing this for over 20 years now, and I’ve done so many different. I’ve got a grey beard, and my hair is going great, and I last cut it in 997. And when people ask me how long I’ve been doing this, I usually pull my hair down on my backside and. Av, about this long? Yeah. It’s a passion that I’ve had since I was a kid. I have fond memories of my dad coming home from work with one of those old little plasticky tape recorders that you put a cassette in.
And my uncle had a modular sound system in his front room with a really nice old turntable and a good selection of vinyl. And my grandfather was an electrical engineer. Av, between those three things, I ended up developing a taste for music and mucking about with electrical stuff and wiring, and it’s turned into what I. Av, awesome.
Well, let’s get into that. So I definitely want to talk to you about we’re going to talk about streaming events today and sort of remote mixing and painting speakers. But before we do that, just to get to know you and your musical tastes a little bit here. Ed, after you get a sound system set up or maybe a speaker put together, what’s one of your first go to favorite pieces of music to put on to just get familiar with it.
I’ve got a selection of about five or six tracks, and each one shows me something that the system is doing, and what I try to do is turn it on and play something and then look for things that aren’t supposed to be there and get rid of them. So I’ve got two tracks that I use. Let me just find them here by Salmon. Av, and they’ve got this really kind of bright Bow Town five K thing that really shows up. If there’s anything wrong in the high mid in the vocal region, I put on a gorilla track called Sunshine in a Bag.
I believe it’s called it’s just on. My playlist is Gorillas. And that’s got something in around the 3400 that tells me the bottom end of the vocals. Right or not, I’ve got a Rega track called track number eight off of block 16. And the CD that I ripped it from has a scratch on it, so I have to forward through the first 30 seconds, AV, it pass the scratch, and then this fog Horn, this fog corn baseline, comes in that does the two notes, and then it does a third note that some systems just don’t do.
And that tells me what the bottom end is doing in the system, and I can get that all sitting nicely. I quite like The Prodigy, the Queen’s not favorite tune, Smack My Bitch Op, because when it drops, it drops. And it’s got all that distortion stuff that I like from my previous heavy metal days when I was a kid and an Alanis Morissette being Canadian. And it’s the secret track at the end of Jagged Little Pill. And if you go to the very end and then just let it play for a couple of minutes, there’s an acapella thing about her singing to an ex lover in the shower, and it’s just acapella with this tremendous Reverb, and that will let me know whether or not the room’s behaving well for me.
And there’s some stuff about 800 in there that I can fix.
Do a queuing, and I don’t play the whole track. I just play snippets of each track. And now I’ve got this down to five minutes of just clicking through and going did five minutes of clicking through and going, Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick. And I can make the room or the PA or whatever it is sound reasonable. And then I got a few other go to things, but.
Oh, that’s great. Do you think there’s anyone listening right now who might be young enough that they don’t know what a secret track is?
That’s quite possible.
You grew up when there is from CDs.
I remember having a fake Sony Walkman made by Sanyo and listening to The Queen’s Greatest Hits, just about the time that Michael Myers would have been learning how to drive. And he grew up a few miles away from me. I never met the Man, but Wayne’s World is the backdrop of much DB youth in Scarborough, Ontario, suburban Toronto in the nineties the same adventures. The name of the bar comes from Toronto. No, go ahead.
This is a perfect example of live streaming issues, right? Because I’m calling in on my phone because I’m in my new office and we don’t have Internet yet. The latency, I guess, is pretty significant. And so we end up talking over each other. And this is just one of the problems that come up when you’re trying to connect with people around the globe and you don’t have any control over everyone’s Internet connection. So we’re going to talk about that a little bit more, but go ahead and finish up what you’re saying.
And then I’ll explain what a secret track is.
Well, yeah, I grew up in and around the Toronto area in Canada in the 1980s. Av a teenager and I got over to England in the early nineties and wants to work in a pub. And these guys came in and started talking about this guy with long hair, head banging with a red check shirt, headbanging in a little blue hatch, back to a Queen song. And I thought, how does he know what I did when I was 15? This is Michael Myers taking the piss out of my teenage years in Toronto.
And the bar in the movie is called The Gasworks. And I used to play there before I was all enough to drink. I’d do the er real it’s upstairs. It was yeah, it’s now a surplus shop. I went back last summer and saw a year ago last summer and saw it’s now a surplus shop. But it was actually a bar called the Gas Works where all the heavy metal bands played. And it is literally tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. All of the stuff I did when I was 15.
That’s hilarious. What about Stan Makita’s Donuts?
Stan Macros? No, that’s Tim Hortons.
You’ve heard of Timmy’s?
I was really shocked. I was in the Middle East on a gig and I walked into the shopping center and found Tim Horton’s. Donuts. And I was like, Yay.
Okay. And I was going to explain for anyone who met young enough to not AV ever experienced CDs for a while, I think in the Net, it was popular to put AV secret track at the end of the CD so you could have a total of 72 minutes on a CD. I can’t remember. But if you didn’t have enough material to fill the CD, then it was popular to just put a bunch of silence at the end of the last track and then have another. Like, what you would normally play is like a B side or something at the end of the track.
So my high school band, we did that. We had some, you know, weird Inspector Gadget cover at the end, and lots of people did that. So when you rip that CD and put it onto your ipod later, you AV this one track that was super long because it just had all the silence on it. So that’s what the secure track is. Nostalgia DB, how did you get your first job in audio? Like, what was your first pan gig?
My first pan gig was club in the infamous Hawkstone Square called the Blue Note. And I kind of I’d finished high school and we lived outside of the city and I moved back to the Toronto area and went to Trees, which was a recording art school. And then I dropped out of Trees after about six months because having a job, a girlfriend, a band. Av school where I wanted to learn how to mix and they were trying to give me communication lessons. I fuck fuck this, screw this or whatever.
So this works. And then and then I went and did some repair work and learn how to fix stuff at George Brown College for a couple of years. And then almost immediately moved to England because my English girlfriend ran away from Winter. And my buddy from College lived on a boat over here with his girlfriend. And I moved in with my girlfriend. And we kind of, you know, we hung out for a bit. And then I split up with my girlfriend and I stayed a couple of years later, I was pushing boxes for the local crew company.
And this guy came up to me while I was painting some staging one day. And he said, do you want to work for do you want to paint some speakers? And I said, sure. And I went into this warehouse for a company called Brittania Ro and learned how to spray paint speakers. And the network a huge right.
That’s one of the biggest production companies in the UK.
Yeah. And the next day I got a phone call from somebody saying, do you want to come and mix a band? And I said, sure. And I walked in and they had the same brand of speakers, the same turbo sound stuff. Av slightly older model. And it was a guy named Eddie Pillar who owned Acid Jazz Records that ran the club. And he liked what I did with the band and said, do you want to come back tomorrow? And that was it. I was in DB DA.
I knew that you knew how to mix a band. I mean, how did you get that job Besides just in the right place at the right time?
A friend of mine that was hanging out with Eddie said, oh, I know somebody. He’s just got a job at a PA company. And I went in and I plugged stuff in and I figured it out and made it sound okay. And they asked me to come back and I was there until the place closed a couple of years later. Okay.
And I know a lot of things have happened since then. Your life and your career. Av had all these twists and turns. But I was wondering if we could Zoom in on one particular moment when you feel like things really took a turn for you. And I find that with a lot of people, there’s a moment when they make a decision like, okay, I’m not going to do this thing anymore. Okay. I’m going to move to London or I’m going to do something different with my life.
So I’m wondering if looking back on your career so far, maybe you could tell us about one of the best decisions you made to get more of the work that you really love.
Well, I’d been working for this company for several years, and I’m not going to mention their name because they no longer exist. And they basically had a bad reputation for client service and paying their employees and I was stuck in a trap with them where I’d go into jobs only to be told that the money’s coming next week and then the money’s coming next week. Av spent years living in squats in London because I couldn’t pay the rent regularly and had did free parties on the weekends when I didn’t AV gigs on and it was all very hedonistic in the nineties and great fun.
And then a decade went by. So the Pink Floyd song says, ten years has gone by and nobody told me when to run. So I just spent about a month and a half getting ready to do this festival with these guys and they were doing dance music and I was getting kind of tired of staying up all night and doing babysitting DJs and things. I was very good at it. But I wanted to mix bands and I got a phone call from somebody that I AV worked with before and they said, do you want to come and work for use of Islam?
Av, the Live Earth concert in Germany on the same weekend as this festival and I was at loggerheads with the owner of the company. I walked into the warehouse to look at the prep sheet and pull all the equipment for the festival. And there wasn’t a single piece of equipment on the prep sheet in the warehouse. And that’s when the phone rang and I had to fight with the guy that was in the office at Take as the owner of the company was somewhere else and went to the calf to have a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich.
And on my way to the calf there was Thunder and lightning inhale and I walked into the calf and this guy’s song is playing on the radio in the calf. And I thought, I can’t ignore any of this. So I called up the company and I said, you know what? I’m going to be going to Germany. And I went to Germany and I think it was the front of house guy that squeaked, but it squeaked on the second track and he wasn’t touring or anything. He just did a one off and I never saw him gain.
But that walking away from those that enterprise was the best thing I ever did. So sometimes saying no, sometimes saying no is best. You know, I had this idea that you just take all the work that God sends and it’ll all be fine. And I was just getting pigeon holed into this place. I didn’t want to be anymore. That’s probably the biggest one that’s happened more than one one, but never on that scale.
Alright. So AV, this year’s Lifetime summit, you AV, a great presentation and a demo of remote mixing. You AV a couple of different people at different locations and you showed how you can remote in to control their mixes, listen to them, do recording, do editing, do overdubs. And if people want to watch that, they can do that. Av, Live Town Summit 2020 DB Sound An AV Com But what I would love to ask you about related to this is kind of just where the business side is a little bit, because the thing that you said during that presentation that really caught my ear was that we AV sound engineers should be thinking about how to help people customers, clients solve problems that they’re dealing with now, starting trying to do live streaming events, trying to figure out how to do their events with social distancing and put them online.
And one of the things that you mentioned, for example, was helping people figure out how to charge for a live event that they’re streaming to Facebook, for example. And so I’ve sort of been keeping my eye out for that, and, like, looking for products that are turning up. And I’ve been seeing solutions for that specific question. And so I don’t know if we want to specifically talk about that, but my real question for you is from just looking at a business and demand perspective, like, where do you see the demand for this right now when you’re getting calls?
Av, you’re seeing other people getting work for this kind of stuff. What are the most common services that people are hiring you for related to remote mixing?
Well, the demo that I did, I basically figured out how to do that from a history of using Yamaha equipment, the Yamaha mixers and wifing to them. And I’ve been doing it for over a decade now. When the first M seven came out and I saw somebody plug a WiFi box into the back of the M seven and then link to it, I’m like, oh, wow. I can tune the monitors without having to run back and forth and play with faders and stuff. So I did that.
I figured that all out, and then I just expanded on that. But the monetization of it, I’m still kind of struggling with I haven’t actually done any mixing in the way that I demonstrated, because most of the people that I’ve been working with don’t actually have one of these mixers at the other end of the Internet, you know? Yeah. So what I’ve been doing is to go online beforehand and have, like, a pre Zoom meeting and go through all the Zoom settings and go through the mixer or equipment or whatever it is they’ve got there and try to optimize that so that it’s stable and doesn’t fall over.
And one of the things that I’ve noticed was Zoom is once you’ve unticked the automatic stuff that, you know, gets rid of persistent and background noise and things like that and turned on your original sound and gone through all of that, that you can’t actually turn the volume up very much on the Zoom call because of the feed to the Zoom from their end, because the logarithm that they’re using is designed for audio that’s speech based. And when you start putting full spectrum music through it, it gets glitchy and starts guttering and falls over and stuff.
So what I’ve tried to do is get people to mostly just turn down their Zoom feed or turn down what they’re feeling to Zoom. And that fixes a lot of stuff. You know, yesterday I did another sound check for somebody that AV did a gig for a couple of weeks ago where they raised £2000 for a charity that plants trees in the Amazon. Were trying to reforest the Amazon because it’s all being burnt down at the moment. And they called me up because they’re doing another gig tomorrow and they said, oh, I’ve got all this new stuff.
And they had a nice Neyman large diaphragm condenser and they bought a new Universal Audio Apollo Twin, and they got their MacBook and stuff. And I spent hour and a half 2 hours with IEM yesterday just going through the set up. And at times I’m having a WhatsApp call with them AV video call saying, can you show me this thing and show me where the connection is and just going through everything in detail with them and making that work? And they’re sending me some hair care products from one of those sponsors.
So the previous gig I did for them, I got 75 quid for a couple of hours of my time, sat here with headphones and a microphone, and just I did that. I did all the pre work, I guess, pre production work the day before and set up the Zoom meeting with them. I found that using Zoom, if you pay the 40 quit or 30 quit or whatever it is for the Zoom webinar, you get HD sound, AV HD video, and you can.
And that’s a much better option than just the 15 pound upgrade. And you can do custom streaming with that as well, rather than just to Facebook or to YouTube. But yeah, set it all up, make a DB. What else I’ve done is I’ve made a dead space on one of my Facebook friends Facebook page, and basically it’s not published. So if I need to check something, I can stream to that, and I’m an editor on it, and I can stream to that and then go back and check what it’s like.
And that’s been very helpful as well. Okay.
This is actually really helpful. Sorry to interrupt you. I’m just realizing that what you’ve actually been doing a lot is a lot of consulting, and it sounds like where the demand is is number one, helping people set up their equipment, but also kind of understanding just how to get the most out of Zoom. And one of those things is just like paying for Zoom webinars so that you have HD audio, but then also having, like, an unpublished Facebook page so that you can stream to that and no one sees it, and then you can look at it later.
That’s a great tip.
Yeah. And I set up a PayPal. We did one streaming event for these guys called All About Love. And there’s a page called All About Love Gatherings on Facebook, and you can see a couple of the events I’ve done there with them. One of them is with a guy named Kyle Murray and Susie Row. And they actually sang together on Zoom. And they threw away the whole concept of timing. Just did kind of AV acapella bit where one of them did a drone, and the other one busked a melody over top of it.
And that sounded really, really nice. And that worked. And then they went back and forth with their stuff instead of using the spotlight on the Zoom meetings. Av done. We let them mute and unmute their cameras. And when you’re streaming to Facebook, that lets them join in, and you can have two or three people up at once, and then everybody leaves, and it just leaves the audio. Remember that spotlight, but they’re doing it all themselves. And make sure that you tick the box in the Zoom settings under Meeting Settings Advanced.
And you can no, sorry. The recording settings, and you can tell it to record the Gallery view rather than the spotlight view. And then you get that AV a recording that you can then do other things with later. Yeah.
The only way that I figured out how to make this work for me is because I find the settings and Zoom not to be particularly intuitive. What I’ll have to do is I’ll check one box, then I’ll start a session, hit record, and then stop it and watch it and see what that setting does. And then check the next setting and hit record. And AV like it takes a while, but you have to go through all of them to kind of learn what they are, what you want, this particular.
And then Zoom does an update, and it all changes. Go back to the beginning.
I want copying a lot of calls about this stuff. Right.
Well, yeah. Av didn one weekend long streaming event where we basically did a festival onto and these guys set up their own TV station, online TV station called Spirit Fast TV. It’s got they basically put a field up for the festival called Spirit Fest 20, and you could go into different tents and see different things happening at the same time. So it was more like a real festival rather than just sitting and watching somebody perform on Facebook. And we get a slightly better quality video out of that.
And we set all of this up. And we went into a yoga studio in Brighton, which is a beach town about an hour south of London that was donated by one of the artists who lives in the yoga studio and the tent up in the back garden and put a control area out there with a bunch of Macs. And I had my streaming setup that I’ve cobbled together out of some bits that I’ve managed by for about a grand and a half and some old stuff I had lying about.
I borrowed some old Cal RECs off of my flatmate and bought a wide angle camera for 18 quid from China that took ages to arrive and set all of this stuff up in the yoga studio and used that as our base. And we had a band come in and I set it up so that it’s like, unplugged. So there’s not everything’s miked up. I had the two Cal races room mics, and everybody’s gain to sit there being very quiet in the space when we’re doing the streaming.
And then I put two vocal mics up and I ran them through a sound craft EFX that’s got a Lexicon Reverb unit in it. It sounds quite nice. And I put the left and right output into my edit role. And then I put 258 up and ran them through a couple of Bol ones that were just either side that one of the other artists brought in and made this setup so that we could have some Reverb and some effects and stuff on it if we wanted to.
And it’s, you know, mostly acoustic things. But one guy turned up with a keyboard and another guy’s got instrument, a traditional instrument called the Cora from Africa that’s basically the gourd from a calabash with stick attached to it, and it’s got about a dozen strings on it, and it’s a really beautiful sounding instrument, but his plugs in, so we plugged that in and he’s got a little effects pedal that he runs some effects through and stuff and brought that into the room and then sent the room mix through the Cal Rex out.
And it sounded really good. Unfortunately, when we tested this all and I was doing two streams at once, so I’ve got a Zoom meeting streaming, some yoga classes running in the back. And then I’ve got in the space the artist practicing. And I had two streams running all afternoon on Friday when we were testing and things. It was great. We had this fat broadband installed specifically for this gig. And then Saturday came and it was 30 degrees and everybody went to the beach from London, and there was thousands and thousands of people on the beach on their phones, and it swamped the local broadband and what can actually speed.
Av died from like 11:00 on Saturday. We started at 10:00 and 11:00. Everything just ground down to a hat where I could basically just stream the live room. I couldn’t bring any Zoom in and stream that back out because I was using OBS to do the live stream, and I could manage to get one of the streams stable after about 06:00 in the afternoon when people started going away. Unfortunately, we had enough prerecorded stuff that people had given us that we’d already uploaded to the server, that we could slot that in.
And like, I we had a guy in Bristol, which is the other side of the country who was running all of the background stuff and doing all of the Facebook, you know, advertising and bring people in and stuff like that, trying to get people’s attention. And he was uploading these videos, placing them at the right time on the right channel and things like that for us. And there was another chap in the back or there were two chaps in the back in the tent doing similar stuff, and we managed to pull it off.
Okay. So for people who don’t know or haven’t used it yet, OBS is open broadcaster software, and it is the really cool, free, open source, cross platform streaming switching recording solution. And a lot of us AV been getting for video to it now that a lot of things are going online. Yeah.
Yeah. It’s a really handy video stuff.
Another thing that you said that I thought was really cool is that you had backups. So that’s one of the questions we are going to get into a little bit later. But one of the things that people have been asking about is, you know, what to do about latency and what to do about connection issues. And we’ve all seen this online, even, like, these big sort of what seems like high value, expensive, high production value events, like they can’t do anything to ensure the connection quality of people at their homes.
So, for example, I watched a live reading of the original cast of Princess Bride a couple of nights ago, and my friends and I were texting back and forth, and one of them, AV said, hey, this looks as bad as basically any Webex meeting I’ve had to go to for work. And I was like, yeah, that’s true. They’re having the same audio and video issues that we all have all the time. So it’s really kind of leveled the playing field. It doesn’t matter how good your technology, AV, how good your team is.
Like, you still can’t fix people’s connections on their end. You can’t control everything. And so it sounds like one of the backup solutions that we should have and that you had is to have some pre recorded content. So in case everything goes wrong, you can throw that up. Was that the situation?
Well, the pre recorded content came about kind of accidentally because we gain into the event a week beforehand. We you know, I started trying to contact all of the artists and do my preproduction stuff and trying to do sound checks and things or video checks or whatever you want to call them, and found that there was a lot of people that were AV, not in the same place that they were going to be in B didn’t have access to the equipment that they were going to use on the day when I was available to do the sound check or C, we’re just like, oh, I’ve used Zoom on these things before, and it was really crap.
Can I just send you a recording? So we started accepting prerecorded bits, and as they came in, they were getting uploaded onto the server for the TV channel. The AV been uploaded. And when it all fell to pieces were like, what are we going to do? Wait a minute. We’ve got a piece of stuff from these guys. And having the guy in another town that wasn’t being swamped by all of these people coming to the beach was a godsend, you know, because he’s on the other side of the country.
And this is another thing is, you know, I’ve done stuff where I’ve done the pre sound check the day before, and I’m doing with a guy in Australia, and he’s in a different time zone and a different thing. And all of this and the throttling that happens because it’s kind of like airplane seats, you know, they oversell the airplane because they know some people aren’t gain to turn up. And then when it’s too full, they just basically say, oh, sorry, you can’t get on. And they oversaw the broadband subscriptions because they know that not everybody’s gain use it all the time.
And then at 06:00 on Friday afternoon, when everybody gets home from work and school and goes to switch on Netflix and check their email and do whatever it is that they do at 06:00, it slows down everywhere, and it’s like traffic. It never happens the same twice in two weeks. You know, it depends on what’s going on. So I’ve done a sound check one day, and then the next day, I’ve gone to log on with the guy and his broadband connections. Absolutely rubbish. The day before, it was solid.
The best one I’ve had was a guy up a mountain in Columbia who’s paid 300 quid for a mast to be put up. And he’s got six up and six down, which seems really small, but it was so stable and so clean he could actually get some good volume out of it without a glitching.
And then just before his last song, one of his dogs kicked the plug out of the wall and his brother shut off. And I just like I just said, I think that we’ve lost him, you know, and he’s popped back in Gain and done one more song. It was great. So it doesn’t matter how much pre production stuff you do. The last one I did, the other chap in the room had left his microphone open, and I just handed over to the artists to do their preamble AV introductions.
And I’m trying to get one more guy logged into the meeting, and I’m shouting instructions to somebody over the phone to the other guy and it’s coming up his onto the meeting. They’re like, Ed, we can hear you. And I’m like me. No, because we’ve got three people in the same space, all on a Zoom meeting, all on headphones. And we’re all trying to have a chat beforehand and go through how it’s all gain to flow. And then we’re trying to bring in the host from somewhere else.
And he wasn’t AV his PC and was trying to get Zoomed to work on somebody else’s machine. And, you know, he’s not attack, and it caused a little bit of delay, so it’s really kind of bite the bullet and just go with it. I think from my point of view.
Yeah, it reminds me a little bit of the conversations that I’ve had over the years with other podcasters who we’re always trying to figure out. How do we get you AV the interview? E to have a solid recording. And so, you know, from the emails I’ve been sending you, I have this list of all these things that I try to get you to do. Please use headphones. Please be in a quiet room, et cetera, et cetera. I have this whole list, and then someone will follow all those rules, and then they still figure out some way for the recording to sound terrible.
There’ll be some loud clock in the background or something will always go wrong. So it’s just part of the surprises that come up when you’re trying to connect with people like we’re doing now. And so we’ve already sort of been talking about this for a while, but I wonder if you could maybe go over some of the biggest mistakes you see people making who are new to either remote mixing or live streaming events. So like having your dog near the plug, that’s a mistake. What are some of the other common mistakes that you see sort of messing up live events?
Well, when I was setting up to do this recording, I pulled out up four to one that I had laying about that I borrowed off of a friend for something I did a couple of weeks ago, and I popped it up and I sounded absolutely glorious. And then my computer started updating in the background and the fan kicked in and I could hear the fan noise cause the four two ones so wide. So I swapped to I think this is a four four one, which means that if I move my head just a little bit off access, I get quiet, but it doesn’t pick up the fan noise.
So picking your equipment is quite important. Trying to making sure that the WiFi is plugged into your PC is a number one place of flower connection, a wired connection. Go through the settings and turn off the stuff in Zoom. So I’ve talked to so many people through this. You got to turn off the automatic adjust microphone volume to start with.
Okay, that’s under audio.
Under settings, that’s in the audio settings. And for some reason, on Max that pins it all the way to Full all the time, which is really boring. But then you have to do some stuff with the sound card and fix it that way. But on my PC, I can turn that up and down. Then you go into Advanced, and they’ve now removed the two options that I used to always get people to turn off, which was the suppression for background noise. Leave the Echo cancellation on, and then there’s a button show in meeting option for an able original sound.
And if you’re using a sound card, make sure that’s ticked, cause then you get what’s coming out of the microphone without any crap. And then the trick is to not overdrive Zoom. And I know that it’s got a little blue line or on the Max, it’s got a green and red line that shoots back and forth like an Led display.
Yeah. Has a little neater there. Yeah.
Yeah, but it because the algorithms designed for speech, when you start putting full spectrum audio through it, it craps out. When you get much past half and starts glitching, and lots of people will try to do that thing of getting it as loud as they can. And that’s the big, big, big thing is turn it down and you’ll get a better audio quality out of it. It won’t be that lovely, rich, full thing that everybody wants, but at least it’ll be clean and stable from the beginning to the end.
Just ortion free.
Yeah, well, it’s not distortion as such. It cutters. So there’ll be a dynamic bit in the music, and suddenly you’ll get, like a half a second where it’s gone away to think, and then it comes back and the music’s there again, you know, and you can get rid of that by just turning the volume down. So it’s not like flipping or anything. It’s just literally a break in the tune, like the Max headroom kind of thing. You know, for anybody that’s old enough to know who he is.
Do you know about this enabled stereo setting? Can I ask you a question about that?
I found it in the PC one, but apparently it’s unavailable on the Mac version. I don’t mind a Mac, so it’s on yours. Okay.
So, yeah, it’s buried somewhere in the settings, and I’ve picked it on all three of my versions because I’ve got three machines, and sometimes I’m doing testing, and I have to have all three of them running at once, and I’ve just gone through and I’ve made all the settings the same on all of them because I got three accounts. I only have one upgraded at the moment, but I use the other two for testing and things like that.
Okay, so the problem that I ran into this year’s Lifetime summit is that Ken Putman Jutan wanted to share some live mixing with us, and that worked well enough. We figured out a trick. I don’t know if it’s really a trick, but the problem that we had Lifetime Semi, 220 and 19 is that we were trying to mix voice and music into the same gain to the same pipe and then put that into the microphone input. Av, Zoom and Zoom does not like that. If you put anything that’s not voice into the microphone input, then it thinks that there’s background noise and it’ll just turn the whole thing down.
But if you share your screen and then choose include computer audio, then you have a second input and then you can put music into that.
Now I’ll probably even come across that yet. I know about the sharing the computer audio trick to get gain videos and things like that. I didn’t have that ticked on one of my presentations, and that caught me out. Sure.
So one thing we figured out this year, AV Lifetime Summit is that if you share screen and choose Enable computer audio, then you have the second input that shows up, and then you can put music through that, and it works great. Enable stereo also works most of the time. And so we were able to share a stereo mix. It was streaming. It does not get recorded, though. So we’re recording to the cloud.
And have you tried to record the machine because you have two options. When you go into the record settings, you have two options. One is recorded to the cloud and the other one is recorded. Call to your machine. So if you’re recording to your machine, does it behave the same way?
No, I couldn’t get it to record either way in stereo.
Unfortunately, Zoom is so busy now that their support is terrible. You can’t call them, and if you email them, they’ll just send you this automated response that says, hey, we’re really busy. And so they never got back to me about that question. So if anyone knows the answer to how you record in stereo, I’d love to figure that out.
I think probably doing what we’re doing here with Audacities the one.
Yeah. That mean that’s what I ended up doing in this situation is I ran a separate app in the background. I think I use audio hijack Pro, and I just recorded everything that was going on so I could have my own stereo recording. And then I just edited that in later. But it was very extreme stereo.
But not recorded in the recording settings. There’s also an option to record AV MP three of the audio, right. As a separate track. Av, you listened back and see what’s on that.
Yeah, I did try that. And that was all still in mono. It.
Yeah. I’m not using Zoom so much as a recording platform. I’m using it as a way of streaming to Facebook or, you know, if I want to do something more complicated or I’m doing something in the room, because the problem with OBS that I found is it’s really good and it’s really high quality if it’s all in your space. But to try to get AV remote camera feed into it and then stream that there’s OBS Ninja, but that that’s really, really dependent on somebody else’s server, and whether it’s busy or not, as to the quality that you’re getting there’s, stream Yard, I think, is one of them.
Okay, I’m looking at DB Ninja. So it says Add Group Chat camera, so you can bring in all of these other sources that I guess normally aren’t included in OBS.
What DB Ninja does is like with Stream Yard and Stage ten, that’s it. So with Stream Yard and Stage ten, which are browser based streaming options, you can log in from multiple sources and then combine them so you can have three people in three different locations streaming to you, and then you can mix them together like you do with OBS, with your different inputs. But with OBS, you don’t have that option as such. And this guy is a Canadian guy’s name I can’t remember at the moment has put this OBS Ninja together.
And if you go on your phone and type OBS Ninja into the search and click Add Camera, you get a little key that you then it’s a URL with a key in it, and you can then put that into the OBS in the browser setting. I think it is in your sources, and that then streams into DB from that camera. But it’s not greatly stable. It’s not stable enough to do much more than those kind of quick interview things that you see on the news when they’re holding their camera up and going, yes.
And there’s a fire in the Houses of Parliament today, an AV. Somebody threw petrol over the Prime Minister. Oh, no. Sorry. I didn’t say that online, did I?
Okay, cool. So, yeah, I’m looking through these things that you just mentioned, and they’re all kind of just different solutions for basically input and switching. So getting different inputs from different people from all over the world and helping you sort of AV a one man show, because I guess that’s what a lot of people are doing now. Like, how do I change?
How do I do my a lot of this is from Gain.
So I think it’s a gain develop. It’s been developed around Gain, so you can have I don’t know what it is, but lots of gamers like to watch other gamers gain and learn tricks and things, and they stream their gain. And there’s a lot of this kind of stuff has come from gaming. So IEM kind of hacking gamer tech. Or I was trying to hack game or tech to make it work on for music and found that it’s not really working yet. It’s not fast enough yet.
The Internet is not stable enough. And my first machine, I had to go out and buy a new computer with like I had 500 quid that I could spend. And I bought myself a a Dell that’s got an Ie seven in it and 16 gig and 500 gain on the hard drive. And it works. And I’ve got another couple of weeks later I had another 100 quid and AV bought. I think it’s AOC that plugs in AV a second screen on a USB three and powers off of the USB three.
And I got AV Gigabit switch that’s got 16. It’s a managed Gigabit switch that’s got 16 inputs on it. I’ve sectioned that off into two different switches, one of them’s limited, one of them’s not, and an old Ederal. And this all fits in my laptop bag and I can take it with me, you know, and just go and set this up anywhere with a couple of microphones and do a Gig. So and I’ve been actually going to somebody else’s house to do the streaming for a couple of these things because he’s part of the community and he’s got Gigabit Internet and they haven’t got the fiber to my house yet here.
And I’m in London and the fiber is not coming yet. So when it does, I won’t have to walk 40 minutes to his house, but it’s nice to go and see him. And it’s a lovely walk down the river. And I get to say to the Swans on the way. And it’s great. Get my email.
This is going to be so boring for some people. I got to share with you that I’m so excited about our new house because although I am now calling to you Ted through my phone because we don’t have our Internet set up. When my wife was asking me like, okay, when we’re looking for houses, like, what are your criteria? What are you interested in? And I said, hey, all I care about is that we have actual fiber fiber because our old place is only a mile away.
But we were just talking about Lifetime Summit. And every year what would happen is we finished Lifetime Summit. And then I have these Gigabytes and Gigabytes and Gigabytes AV video that I have to upload to YouTube and other places. And it would just take days, days to upload from my place because all I had was fucking Comcast like a DSL or whatever. But I could walk like half a mile down the street to my friend Dave’s house who had fiber and upload it in like 30 seconds.
It was crazy. So I was like, okay, this is all I care about for our new place.
This is the thing that I was struggling with with the Spirit Fest event that I did where I had somebody who was literally up a mountain in Switzerland trying to they recorded an HD video because I got asked by the guy, give me HD, and it’s like four gig of video for an hour on performance. They’ve done it on their phone and they’re trying to upload it and it’s too big. And the other thing is there’s things like Mel, big file com, and we transfer and there’s a bunch of them that let you upload or send large files to different people.
And we tried Dropbox. Dropbox is too complicated for some people because you can send them a link, but they have to then go into the Dropbox and open up there, open up a Dropbox account and then agree to the link and accept this and do it. And it’s like five steps. And they just they’re musician people and they’re not technically minded and that’s they get frustrated and put it down and walk away from it. So it’s like, you know, the other big problem that I had with all of this is trying to find a quick, easy way to get high quality video from somebody gain faraway land on a really, really bad connection, like the phone to, you know, the guy who put this all together, he lives in a trailer park down by the seaside, and they’ve got a super big connection at the trailer park.
But really it then beams all over the trailer park by WiFi. And he’s got like this little tiny sliver of it. And he found that he was actually having to go to the local McDonalds and sit in his car outside the local McDonald’s and log into the free WiFi and McDonald’s, which is something I’ve done around the world because McDonald’s has free WiFi around the world and you can sit out or go in and buy a coffee and use the free WiFi models to do stuff because the hotel Internet where I was so poor that somebody bought a new Mac and bought nice Neyman and bought a sound card and bought the Pro Tools license.
And I went into the hotel to try to set this all up, and I couldn’t get it to download Pro Tools overnight on the hotel WiFi, even though we are the upgrade. So I went to the McDonald’s and used the free McDonald’s WiFi at 02:00 in the morning. It took 40 minutes. It’s just totally nuts. So, yeah, broadband is find it where you can and use it where you can.
So, Ed, we’ve been talking for a while. I just wanted to try and sum up some of the things I’ve been getting from you and to really make these live streaming events work. Sounds like some of the most important things are. Number one, make sure that your set up is solid. So you have a good computer, you AV fast Internet, you have a wired connection. Make sure that your site is solid. Number two, you are doing pre production meetings with everyone who’s gain to be online ahead of time, at least like the day before, running through all the steps, making sure that they’re connection to thousand number three.
Oh, go ahead.
And during that preproduction thing, I’m doing my sound check using their equipment, and I’m just talking them through it. So patients, I keep getting told how patient I am. And yesterday, one of the girls that we did the two £0 for the trees, the Tree Sisters, three sisters, org if you want to go and have a look at it or look at their site, and she called me up and she says, oh, I’ve got this new mic and I’ve got a new sound card, and I’ve got to Zoom on Friday.
Can you help me get this all set up? And basically, I spent 2 hours going through every connection and trying to figure out why her new Universal Audio wasn’t outputting sound. And she hadn’t turned on the software in the computer that lets the Universal Audio there’s a little mixer, and that makes it work. And then once we got that on, I did the remote desktop thing like I did during our presentation and went into it and found one of the freebies that took a little while to find which the freebies.
We had to get her to log in and go through the list and stuff and found the free compressor or AV free audio channel with it’s a valve audio channel with little bit of EQ and some Reverb. And set that up for her remotely in the software for the Universal Audio and saved it for so that when she turns up AV the next place because she’s in an Airbnb somewhere else, and she’s streaming from somebody else’s house, you know, for the next event. And when she turns up and plugs her computer and she can hit recall and gets that those settings back on.
And that is the core of it. One of the people had one of the little Zoom mixers that goes with the L one, and it’s got a compressor and EQ. And I’m talking people through, so if you press the EQ button, what do you see? And they’re saying, yeah, well, I’ve got gain. And then I’ve got QY. And then I’ve got frequency. And I’m like, okay, put the frequency at 250, put the queue at .3 and then take it down a little bit. Yeah. And suddenly the guitar becomes clear and they can’t hear any of this.
And then I’m like, yeah, just touch a little bit of Reverb onto that. And I’m actually doing I’m talking people through. I’m mixing by proxy using a musician AV, my proxy, who’s never actually touched one of these things before. And, you know, having the Zoom meeting going and then taking the phone and having a WhatsApp video call so that they can show me what actually equipment they’re working on. And I can then say, oh, yeah, you see the third dial down, turn that one a little bit to the right.
And then I’m like, no, no, no, too much. Just back a little bit. And then it’s like, yeah, that’s good. And I seem to be getting good results. And people keep asking me, it’s not paying very well, but, you know, that can only improve as this becomes more of the new normal or we’ll start doing more gigs. But I’ve got a feeling we got a second lockdown coming. I’ve just been on a trip through Holland and Belgium and France for I got a place over in the north of France and I had to see some people in Holland about some potential work.
And while I was out there, they changed the rules. Gain, And I had to do two weeks of quarantine when I got back and AV come at a quarantin on the day that they’ve changed the rule from you can have meetings of 30 people to an AV, our gatherings of 30 people, too. You can have gatherings of six people. Gain, and so a couple of small things where there’s like, a group of people. Gain, to get together and do a gig. And you can have 30 people in the room.
So you can have, like three or four bands in the same place at the same time and do something and then stream that that’s gone. That’s gone again. You know, it’s just finding things that work and making it work. The PayPal PayPal is great. Friends did the last the Three Sisters gig. I set up a PayPal what’s it called. It’s a PayPal money pool. And I just had somebody on the other computer in the room and I’m showing Adam numbers as the donations are coming in on my phone and saying, we just got another £10.
Just got another £50. We’re up to 400 quid. And then somebody dropped 500 quid all in one go. And he’s putting that up on the Facebook well, this is all well, the people are playing and I’m typing instructions on the Zoom chat to the people that are singing, saying, you know, can you move back from the microphone inches, please? Because they’ve gone off well, it wasn’t there bit and come back in and they’ve sat down there. It was great. They were given this great big, huge empty room and they’ve got one large diaphragm condenser and an acoustic guitar and a voice.
And it sounded brilliant. And then they got too close and it started doing that glitchy thing. So I’m like, Can you just move back, please? And you have to wait until they’re looking at the screen to hit the send because it kind of drifts up middle of the screen and they’ll miss it if they’re looking somewhere else. And you wait till the end of the track with it Typed in and hit go, and it appears and they’ll go, oh, and you can see their eyes go light and they move back six inches.
And suddenly it was nice. Gain, sure.
Yeah. So many little details to keep track of and figure out how to do the jobs that we’ve always done in person. But over the Internet. And the third point that I just to wrap up this discussion, gain having some backup recorded content in case everything goes wrong or you can’t get someone. And it sounds like one way to make sure you do that is just have that on your checklist for pre production. So you do the preproduction call, you make sure that the person’s connection as well, and then maybe record something with them and say, hey, record some of the things that you were going to say, and then you have that as your backup.
Yeah, that’s a good plan. Recording the soundtrack, get them to play a little bit of stuff. The other thing is the guy that we had on the other side of the country, he was going on to YouTube and taking stuff that AV been posted on their channels and just dropping it in because it’s already been published and it’s the right act, and we cheated a little bit, but we did have quite a bit of prerecorded stuff from different acts, and we change the scheduling around a little bit, but be fluid with it.
This isn’t like AV, where you can have every single minute of it written out on a script and it’s going to get followed. And you’ve got a big team of people that are going to make sure that happens. It’s all really kind of a new thing. It’s getting better. My friend John Brown that I had on that did the electronic music side of it. I was just talking to him and he’s just put a fiber network and AV Land network into something called the Guild Hall School of Music in London, which is quite famous.
And they just did a 90 piece Orchestra playing together from four different places in the school. Now, this isn’t using the Internet, and all of the audios being done on Dante and the latency is very, very slight, but they got 90 people in an Orchestra playing in four different spaces playing together, and it worked cool. The trick that he said was don’t worry about syncing the audio and the video, because the 40 milliseconds of latency they’ve got on the video by the time it goes out and comes back, that’ll screw up everything and people will hear that.
So leave the audio as it is and let there be some latency with the video. So when the conductor is doing his thing, that’s not too bad, because the musicians are listening to each other and they’re playing with each other. It’s not all about the video. So.
So I wanted to mention you mentioned two Thin Haze microphones, and I just had to look them up to make sure I remembered what they were. So the 421 is a cardioid polar pattern in the 441 is super cardioid.
Yes, this is the four and one I saw one on a high hat the other day on a video that was done about some Motown stuff. It’s super flat. It’s almost like Bardy AMIC 201 and its flatness goes very high. It’s got a small condenser in it are not a small condensed or a small dynamic in it, and it does quite good high end. And the four two ones got a slightly bigger diaphragm and it can make strings sound good. And they’re both kind of old school mics.
But a lot of the people I know have these and they’re floating around.
Let’s talk about pain. I would love to hear a story from you about the biggest AV, maybe most painful mistake that you’ve made on the job and what happened afterwards. Oh.
That’S there’s been a lot of pain in my world, the biggest and most painful thing I’ve ever done. I don’t know whether that’s gain to be physical pain of getting in the truck with a bunch of people that didn’t know how to lift and trying to hold that box up so that that young kid didn’t get crushed. Or it could have been the day that I smacked somebody in the pub after work for being I was too drunk. Okay.
Yeah, that sounds painful. Which one do you want to talk about?
Well, yeah. One of my biggest clients dropped me like a hot potato after that one. I don’t have a great recollection of the incident other than I was in Barcelona on a corporate gig. And we’d all gone to the bar across the road and we’re drinking stuff that AV think it was Astrella it AV started early in the afternoon because we AV finished early that day and went to the beach bar and then carried on in the evening. And basically drinking at work has been, you know, and there’s been other things that I’ve done at work over the years, but I try not to do those anymore, but drinking at work is something that’s used to be cool, used to be part of the pay package.
I remember my first job at the Blue Note. I got two free drinks. I would get two free drinks and drinks tickets for a pound after AV pound to go afterwards. And that’s just not how things are anymore. You know, the industry’s changed. There’s a lot of people now that have gone to College and University and come straight out into a world full of guys that have been lifting heavy shit at the back of trucks for 20 years and go and get pissed afterwards because it hurts and the two are really related.
Actually, I think because when I started doing hot yoga a couple of years ago and straighten my back out and discovered I’ve been walking around with chronic back pain, and I’d been drinking and smoking and doing all sorts to try to mask that and take care of yourself physically. It will help take care of yourself mentally. As well. You know, number of times I’ve gone through an airport and AV breakfast beers at 06:00 a.m. Just so that I can get another hour’s Kip on the plane before I get to the next gig.
And you get back afterwards. And you have two or three weeks of this post tour depression. And one of the things that’s quite easy to do is just go and go to the pub and see your mates at the pub. And there’s a couple of guys that do touring. One of them is a video guy. One of them is a lighting guy. And one of them is a drummer that live local to me. And I saw one of them playing in the local pub the other day.
It was quite nice to see everybody, and there were no microphones involved. It was a jazz for a kind of gig.
Thing that happened to Barcelona was this sort of a wake up call for you. And you’re like, okay, I can’t can’t keep going on the phone. Real.
Hit was another one of those kind of epiphany moments, like when the hail storm and the Thunder and lightning came. And then I walked in and there was that tune on. And I was, you know, on my way to the next gig and I got a phone call. And I didn’t actually recall the incident until somebody reminded me of it. And basically, AV bought somebody a drink. And they, you know, they’d been given it the large salad. And their dad was somebody high up in the firm.
And he was a bit of a noob. And he didn’t get on well with the client. And I was giving him a hard time in the bar about it afterwards because he needed an ego adjustment, I suppose. I thought he needed one swathed in beer and I was giving him a hard time. And one of the other guys that in his age group from the warehouse, AV. And I know him from time. And he was cool. He stepped in and poked me in the chest and said, oh, behave.
And I I smacked him outside the cheek, not tremendously hard, but it was enough that the guy who I’d been, you know, giving a hard time went back and told his dad. And his dad told the owner. And the owner told my line manager. And by the time I got through all of that, I was not flavor of the month anymore. Yeah.
There you go.
So yeah. But, you know, as one door closes, another one opens. And it opened up time for me to do other things.
And, you know, I ended up going touring with these Pakistani guys around the world for six years. That’s a whole other side of stories.
Well, AV to schedule another interview just to talk about touring with Pakistan musicians. That’ll be great. And is there one book you could recommend that AV been really helpful to you?
Yes. As I mentioned earlier, I went to a recording art school for about six months when I was just out of high school. And it was one of the books that I got. And it’s called Microphones by Martin Clifford third edition. And I think the subtitle is how they work and how to use them. And it’s not just a book about microphones. It goes through it’s a paperback about an inch inch and a half thick. And it goes through all kinds of things about acoustics and reflection, reflective surfaces, and just a lot of the really basic things that I absorbed.
That when I started doing live stuff, I could actually understand and walk into a space and understand how is the space gain to react. And I ended up doing a few kind of studio mods where we’ve gone in and done soundproofing in Studios and things and how parallel walls work to create standing waves. And then discovering that standing waves are actually a little bit kind of simplistic because there are 2d thing, and we work in a 3d world. So there’s eigenmodes, which is three DB standing waves that’s more like bubbles of high and low pressure or pressure and rarefaction that occur at sub in the subbase region, depending on the size of the space.
You know. And then the other thing that I discovered is that I went into my friend’s studio and did some measurements because he was having some trouble with the low end in his monitoring room and discovered that it’s not the flat walls that you’re looking at. It’s the corners, because that’s where the distance in the corners is where you get your first problem, because you’ve got three faces joining together and three is joining together. And the standing wave develops between that opposite corners rather than the walls.
Just think, okay. And, you know, so you get a lump when you look at it, when you pink noise with smart, you get a lump where you get a doubling, and then you get a sock out. And when you do the math, it’s the distance of that corner to corner rather than the length of the room or the width. So this is all way before there was computer modeling that was accessible to us. When I was in the warehouse, it was still analog control gear. And I remember being at the Albert Hall.
And we hung something in the round for the Cliff Richard’s 40th anniversary gigs. And it was in there for like a month. So they wanted to do a proper job. And they had turbo sound, flood, and flash hung around the center stage, all pointing each one. Each row was pointing at a different balcony. And then up on the top, they had some JBL kind of near field stuff that was all. And it’s an Oval, so it’s not quite a circle. And it was all being fed off of one matrix through an SPX 90 and he just, you know, took a Sharpie and AV condenser and put the condenser on the desk and tapping the Sharpie on the desk.
And there was a guy with a radio up in the gods saying, One more, one more click down, one more click down, one more click on going around trying to find the sweet spot so that it sounded nice when you walked around the hole because it wasn’t into sections and there was no fiber with thousands of outputs on Dante that you could tweak each different channel on. It was basic stuff and see IEM put in. Then there’s no laser measuring device and time alignment. That’s how they did it.
And seeing them put in a bunch of flood and flash around the pitch at twicking and rugby ground. And we ran three 7 km of soccer PEX cabling in the drains for two days. And then these boxes on their sides pointed up the sides of the the tiered seating and then incorporating that in with the enhanced Hanoi system and, you know, and then watching them clip lapel mic on the backs of people shirts in the marching band, so that when the guys playing the trumpet, the guy in front of IEMs picking up the trumpet behind him as they’re marching around the pitch and just all these really old school ways of doing stuff to make things work.
And I got to see all of this. And that was gave me inspiration to be creative with EQing, with time alignment, with so many different things before we had the tools available. And then as the tools became available, it became easier and quicker to do these things, you know, and now the next set of tools is Zoom.
And it’s just the next thing to learn.
Yeah, next thing to learn. And I’m sure something’s going to come soon, and it’s going to be ten times better than Zoom. But for the moment, zooms, the next tool in OBS and these other, you know, everybody’s stage ten. I haven’t heard much great stuff about it falls over quite easily the stream yard. Lots of people have been using that because it’s a little bit better than you get a better quality out of it than the Zoom. If everybody’s got a good connection, but you’re going through their server and your control and stuff like that, and it’s just not quite you got to have the people at the other end a little bit techy savvy.
They’re not quite ready for that yet, I don’t think.
Well, Ed, where is the best place for people to follow your work at the moment?
I would say go and have a peruse of the Spirit Fest AV 20 festival. I think that’s still up. Okay. And then I’ve got a couple of things on all about Love Gatherings, which is a Facebook page. And then I did another one for Bright Sky, which is on Facebook. I’ve always been the guy in the background behind the camera, trying to stay out of short and not not using these tools to publicize myself and be the guy that everybody. I’ve got a group of people that call me.
And every once in a while, somebody I haven’t seen an age call me up or somebody refers me to somebody new. But I haven’t really taken advantage of, you know, advertising. And this is probably the first thing this and the demonstration we did during year seminar was the first thing I’ve done online. So I don’t have a lot of stuff that’s labeled as mine and up there.
Yeah, well, so people should definitely check that out, and they can take a look at your presentation from Lifetime Summit. So, Ed Kingston, thank you so much for joining me on Sound Design Live.
Thank you so much for having me.