Established in 1995, broadcast sound company Transmix Ltd works on the biggest music and TV productions in Finland. We recently toured the company’s recording van and met with sound designer Timo Virtanen, who told us about the van’s equipment and about how they use the VENUE | S6L live mixing system when working on large TV productions.
Timo Virtanen has vast experience in the field of sound. He came to work at Transmix in 1999, and he tells that he and the founder of the company, Jukka Nykänen, both have a background in live mixing, which enabled a smooth transition to working in broadcasting.
Virtanen says that the work requires not only technical skills, but also sharp ears and especially good nerves. Live broadcasts are seen by hundreds of thousands—even millions—of people, and mistakes cannot be undone.
“This work demands swiftness, and there’s barely any time to rehearse. In live concerts they maybe go through a song once in rehearsals. After that there is the dress rehearsal where the whole show is gone through. Then, if you’re lucky, there’s maybe an hour to listen to the soundcheck and check what you’ve done. After that is the live show. You have to grasp the whole thing in very little time”, Virtanen says.
“We usually do everything in one day. We arrive in the morning, build, do the sound check, do the broadcast and go home. The workdays are long and you have to be on top of everything the whole time”, he adds.
Transmix Ltd is currently working on TV shows including Voice of Finland, SuomiLOVE and Tähdet Tähdet. According to Virtanen, big productions, especially live ones, call for equipment and software that works fast and without problems.
VENUE | S6L speeds up the workflow
By the end of 2015, Transmix Ltd fitted their recording van with a VENUE | S6L. Virtanen says that the transition was natural due to the fact that it replaced a VENUE | Profile system.
He calls the move from Profile to S6L a clear jump forward, and praises the console’s sound and modularity.
“The software is basically very similar, but the interface on the mixer is completely different. The Avid VENUE | S6L is perfect for us. Now we have more I/O and processing power at our disposal. We also appreciate the introduced modularity of the E6L [engine] with the MADI and Dante-cards”, Virtanen says.
He explains that the S6L has made his work easier, that the touch screen is easy to control, and the customizability of the control knob assignments speeds up the workflow.
“S6L lets you organize the encoders the way you want them. Workflow is sped up when the interface can be built according to your needs”, he adds. “In this work you have to be fast. Unlike in the studio, we don’t have the time to tweak things forever.”
Virtanen also praises S6L’s programmable user layouts. “We can load every fader strip with whatever inputs, outputs, auxes or VCA’s we choose. That is really important. After the latest update, I started working with various different layout layers. On one layout I have one band, on another layout I have another one, and snapshots to go along with them. I can easily control two stages on the S6L by choosing either the stage A or stage B layout. Pro Tools works great with this as well”, Virtanen describes.
S6L has already seen heavy action with Transmix. It has been used in Hartwall Arena shows of Elastinen and Antti Tuisku, on the TV programs The Voice of Finland, Tähdet, tähdet and SuomiLOVE and also on the 40th anniversary show of Eppu Normaali, Radio Aalto’s Helsinki Day shows and the Roosa nauha concert.
Virtanen says that both the Transmix staff and the music producers in the field have been very satisfied S6L’s sound qualify, and that the difference compared to previous sytems is significant—the sound is rounder and warmer.
The sound is right in Finland’s biggest recording truck
The Transmix recording van is reportedly the biggest remote truck used for audio production in Finland. The Mercedes Benz Atego 1228 is Transmix’s third large remote truck.
“The size of the truck has a positive effect on the sound. This one is 40 centimeters wider and 20 centimeters taller than the previous one. The truck is properly acoustically treated and the listening space is set up right. Depth has been increased in order to allow more air between the monitors and the mixing space”, Virtanen explains. “The truck also has good sound isolation. At outdoor concerts there is hardly any extra sound coming in. A bitumen roof has also been added to block the sound of rainfall”, he continues.
Virtanen describes working in the van is easy. “It’s easier to work in a familiar space, with familiar equipment, and most of all, with a familiar listening environment”, he summarizes.
According to Virtanen the space inside the recording van is kept as simple as possible. The truck was designed to hold only the essentials. The usage of external hardware has decreased significantly due to plug-ins. Transmix has two Avid Pro Tools systems fitted in the van, which can currently take in 128 inputs, which is important when working with large productions. According to Virtanen, it is now common for big productions to exceed 100 inputs. “The other Pro Tools rig is for the backup copies. We also have a JoeCo Blackbox MADI recorder if needed.”
Transmix’s monitor controller of choice is the Grace Design m905. “We are usually parked next to the van where the video is worked on, and we route the audio there from our van. With the monitor controller we can choose to listen to the return, mixer or something else.” Virtanen elaborates.
The truck also has a production space equipped with a VENUE | S3L-X live system. This enables the routing of all necessary audio from the recording van to the video van. This way both music and speech can be mixed in Transmix’s recording van if necessary. Or if the amount of inputs gets too big, the S3L-X can be used to sum a choir or a string section while other sounds are mixed with the S6L.