Barry Zate in Michigan talks with Technical Director Rebekah Wilson in Spain using Source-Connect over Sprint Mobile Broadband. They were both recorded live in Chicago via a Source-Connect hub by Mac.
Download and listen to the audio interview, recorded live on Source-Connect Pro:
Barry Zate is a voice actor who splits his time between Los Angeles California and Michigan. Barry’s warm vocal style is heard on promos and commercials for TV, Radio, Film and Multimedia projects nationwide. Just some of his recent projects include: Microsoft, Wal-Mart, The Associated Press, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, US Army, Barbara Walters, Seattle Mariners and imaging work to radio and TV stations across the U.S. Barry is represented by CESD Los Angeles.
- Source-Connect Standard
- Sierra Wireless AirCard 595U
- Windows XP
- Pro Tools 7 LE, Mbox2
- Sennheiser 416 microphone
- Neumann U-87 microphone
Hi, I’m Rebekah with Source Elements and I’m connected here with Barry Zate. Where are you right now Barry?
I’m actually in a suburb of Detroit, in Michigan, about 25 minutes North of Detroit.
Sounds great. How’s the weather there right now?
It’s superb, it’s just about 80 degrees and tons of sunshine and we are enjoying a wonderful summer.
Sounds fantastic, it’s about like that here in Spain right now, I’m in Barcelona.
One of my favorite places in the world.
Not surprisingly. So, we actually had a fun time connecting. You’re connected on a Sprint Wireless card, is that correct?
Yeah, I’m using a Sprint Aircard. The brand name is Sierra Wireless. It’s a 595U through Sprint, and it’s basically a Sprint data card that I’m using, and that’s what we’re connected on right now.
Wonderful. How does that work exactly, do you plug something into your computer?
It is a USB device. It is about the size, height-wise, of a pack of cigarettes, width-wise maybe about a half the size of that. It just slides right into the USB port. I have my laptop configured so that as soon as it sees it, it recognizes it, it connects and we get a full connection right away. There’s nothing that I have to do on this end to do the connection, although you can manually set it up to do that as well.
So, by “manually,” does it come with some preferences that you can set. Like you could set up a VPN network, or…
Well, I’m not really how that portion of it works. When I purchased it, it did come with a CD that was some basic software and there’s a little interface that they have that shows you the signal strength just like on a cellular phone. It shows you the speed at which you are uploading and downloading, a history of connections and of course the preferences that you can set for whether you want it to be automatic, whether you want it to connect on your switch when you press on and off, and I can disconnect anytime. Basically, it works just like a cellular phone, it just connects the data path. It’s wonderful.
It’s amazing. I know when we first put out Source-Connect, this was a dream, for me at least. To be able to really travel around and work from anywhere and not be limited by what kind of bandwidth you could get in a hotel or something.
Actually, one of the reasons why I did purchase it was that reason. You know, when I travel to NY or LA, some of the places offer free connection, but generally speaking it’s anywhere between 7 and 24 dollars a day, depending on the kind of hotel you’re at. What I’m paying through Sprint is $39.95 per month. By the way, they gave me the connection card for free, so I didn’t even pay for the hardware. It’s on a 2 year contract and it has unlimited connections so I could leave this on day or night, night or day, there’s no additional charge per minute. They do offer a per-minute one at a lower rate but I figured the unlimited was the way to go. So, when you add a week’s stay at a hotel at let’s say $14.95 a day, you certainly outweigh the cost of $39.95 a month.
Absolutely. What kind of bandwidth are you getting?
Actually, just before we connected I did a speed test, I think at speedtest.net and I was getting 1.1mb on the download and I was getting about 720kbps on the upload. Pretty good for a wireless connection.
That’s about twice as good as my connection in Barcelona, so I’m envious, and you can use yours on the beach.
It’s true. I was just in Los Angeles and I used it in the car all the way out in Calabasas and then also in the city of Los Angeles proper. I used it in the airport and actually while we were waiting to take off, in the airplane I used it and I got a similar connection. Certainly wasn’t doing a Source-Connect session but I was downloading some mp3 files and it worked just like my connection at home.
Fantastic. So what kind of work do you do? Are you coming from an ISDN / phone patch background or is Source-Connect your first introduction to remote recording?
I’m a voiceover talent and ISDN is what I’ve always used. Most of the session work that I do for commercials, radio, television all use ISDN with the studios. We do use phone patch from time to time for sessions or producers who don’t either have ISDN or don’t want to, it’s something fast, but mostly it’s all ISDN. This is my first venture into Source-Connect and it came about where I have been travelling more and more and needing to do regular session work with the production studios that I work with and what my intention originally was, after some conversations with Joe Cipriano was to get Source-Connect at the office and on the road, and then bridge through my ISDN. I found that it was actually easier to work through a bridging service, like Steve at OutOfHear, than it was to try to use my studio, and then more of the studios… the studio that I work with – Harvest Music and Sound actually just got Source-Connect and then we did a direct Source-Connect session working perfectly and we were able to do our weekly sessions for our grocery store.
That’s great, and you could do it from the grocery store if you wanted.
I suppose you could. You would get some ambient issues with your microphone.
Yeah, well it saves them from doing it in post-production.
There you go.
What kind of environment are you in now? Are you in your home studio?
I’m actually in my office, we’ll call it home studio… I am in my office so I’m in a nice environment but all I did was I brought my laptop into the booth and connected my microphone to my MBox Mini – I’m using a Sennheiser 416 short shotgun, the processing I’m using is only on Pro Tools, so I’m using no outboard processing I’m just using a very simple limiter on there and that’s it.
Well as we can all hear, it’s coming through flawlessly.
I think it’s so cool. I can’t wait to be able to do this remotely, anywhere. It opens a whole world of possibilities for me where limiting my vacations to the nearest ISDN studio or being able to do a session via phone patch and then having to mp3 it… this opens a whole world in flexibility for me because I can go anywhere on a moment’s notice and just take it with me.
Yeah, we look forward to mapping the areas where this works so we will definitely be doing some research into it.
It will be cool to see where it pops up.
Yeah. So, when we first connected, I think it was a couple of weeks ago, I was in Chicago at the time and I was surprised that we just connected straight out. …like the ports, there’s no firewall. So Sprint gives you a public IP address and they really allow you to do anything on there.
Yeah, it was very easy. Actually, the only issue I had was with the ilok, which had nothing to do with Source-Connect. Once I figured out the nomenclature of how they worked and set it up, it literally popped up without a problem. I think I blew you away because you were rather reluctant, you didn’t think we could really connect well with the aircard and then ‘boom’ it came up. You were pretty surprised, so was I – I was delighted.
Yes, more delighted than surprised, and it’s really, really fantastic. What’s as fantastic is the fact that you don’t have to do any firewall configuration, and nothing to your network. I assume that the airport card is just connected via DHCP, you don’t have to set up an IP address or anything, you just plug and go.
That’s it. We had nothing that we had to do at all. Simply plugged it in, I think it maybe took two or three minutes for us to just configure the Source-Connect the way we wanted it to and for me to understand how the plugin works with Pro Tools, other than that there was nothing from the Sprint Card side that I had to do, at all. There’s no special setup or configuration at all.
That’s fantastic. So during our first test, I decided to force some dropouts. The signal was so clean that you know we’ve got this new technology with Source-Connect 3 that does Auto-Restore, so that if you are on a connection where you might get some drops, or say you decide to go to the mountains where your signal might not be getting one and a half megs down, you might only be getting 500 or 300 and you still want to be able to work. With the Auto-Restore it means that you really can just rely on using Source-Connect for monitoring, and then anything that is recorded is going to come through perfectly for the studio. We did notice that there was one small technical issue, but we get around that by defaulting to the FTP setting, and that really worked great. Did you find that setting up the Q Manager was really easy for you?
It was actually very easy. You guys are very helpful on the phone. What I found easiest as a voiceover and not an engineer is that I really didn’t have to do much at all. You simply open it up, click a few things and boom it was done. There was really no massive configuration, no code that I had to put in, it was rather simple. Again, as a voiceover – delighted.
And again when we connected, my being in Spain, we found the issue with… it’s purely speculative at this point… but we found we can’t make a connection to Spain, so what I’m doing right now is I’m bridging through Chicago and what was apparent to me was that the issue was at my end and that you really didn’t have to do anything and that was great.
Yeah, it was wonderful. Amazing technology, the fact that we’re connecting through Chicago, then through Barcelona and even the delay between the talkback I’ve actually found minimal and actually very comparable to a normal ISDN session.
Yeah, I think we’re having a perfectly fine conversation here.
Yeah, and again this didn’t seem to be anything we did special, we just happened to connect up and there we went, kind of cool.
And I’ve got the Q Manager running in Chicago, so I’m recording you there, more for my sake in case I get any issues on my line being sent to the States. Sometimes going across the Atlantic can be more of a problem. So I’m running the Restore in Chicago and recording both of our signals there so that they come in at the same time and so we do see the Q’s Auto-Restore feature as being integral to being able to work remotely. We feel it really completes the whole remote recording set. Do you feel that the Restore feature makes Source-Connect easier for you to work with, knowing that you don’t have to worry about your internet bandwidth issues?
Again, as a voiceover not an engineer, it’s wonderful knowing that that is humming in the background, fixing any issues that would’ve come up is a terrific peace of mind, and for the studios that I work with I’m sure that their viewpoint of it is great as well. So it’s nice to know it’s working and I really didn’t have to do anything – it’s just there.
So, back to the Sprint Wireless, when we started Source Elements we really had mobile roaming in mind and it’s great to see that these tools are now available. Is there anything you would like to see in the future with remote recording?
Well, certainly more studios using Source-Connect so that there’s no need for any bridging (sorry Steve), but no bridging at all, just simply connect and get the best quality signal possible. But you know, my wheels started to spin immediately: to have a hand-held device that has built into it the application of Pro Tools and simply a jack on the side that you can connect your microphone. Can you imagine the possibilities for news gathering people to be able to click in and get live feeds that way, using that. As well as voiceover talent, recording from any broomcloset in the world that would be a cool scenario, rather than having to carry around… can imagine a Blackberry or some kind of device with software on it that you literally just plug in a microphone and configure the same way?
That really sounds like a fantastic idea. With Source-Connect as a piece of software, is there anything that you think that you would like to see in that?
Well, off the top of my head I can’t think of anything else. It looks like you guys have really thought this out. I love the instant messaging thing. When there’s a situation where you need to send something back and forth to the studio but don’t want to say it down the line with a client listening, that is a wonderful thing, and because it highlights with a yellow/orange bar you know it’s coming in so you don’t miss it. So off the top of my head I can’t think of anything else that you guys can do. I’m sure you will think of something and improve it even more, but it’s pretty amazing and the fact that I’m able talk to you on a standard laptop computer using Pro Tools and an aircard is just wonderful
Well thank you so much for your time, it’s been great. I’m really glad that we can share how fantastic this wireless card is working. It makes me very happy to be able to let people know that they can really rely on this.
My pleasure, I’m glad to share my experience and can’t wait to use it even more and see what’s coming up next!
Recorded and transcribed by Mac in Chicago on an Mbox2, Pro Tools 7.4 on Mac OSX with Source-Connect Pro. Thanks to Barry for his time, and thanks to Mac for the opening music.
You can find more about Barry here: http://www.barryzate.com