Life with Zero-Latency
David Kalmusky is an award-winning, platinum-record producer, songwriter, engineer, and guitarist. The list of artists he’s worked with reads like a who’s who in the music business. Names like Keith Urban, Megan Trainor, Justin Bieber, Journey, The Sisterhood, Vince Gill, John Oates (From Hall & Oates) Motley Crue, and Carrie Underwood (just to name a few). You don’t get to achieve that level of success in the industry without having a knack for picking and working with not only the best people, but the best tools. OWC had an opportunity to speak with him via Zoom from Addiction Sound, a facility he helped design, build, and operates. In our conversation, David shared some insights on his music production workflow.
Pro Tools of the Trade
With regards to using the latest tools of the trade: “I tend to get myself in before the gear is even widely available” he says with a laugh. “Working with technologists like Avid and OWC, we’ll implement something new… and maybe work outside of my comfort zone.” It becomes apparent quickly that David is something of a gearhead. His studio is covered with a multicolor array of patch cables. Instruments and effects boxes are piled in every corner of the room.
Recently, David adopted the OWC Envoy Pro Elektron and has made it a central storage component in his workflow. “It’s offered me great capacity, speed, and reliability. Normally I would be very precious about carrying around hard drives and traveling with them. Now, with a drive that fits in the palm of my hand, I have everything that I am working on with me at all times.”
Portability, as well as speed and reliability, is very important to him. “I used to take really big hard drive enclosures to lunch, out of the worries of having a safety copy with me.”
The OWC Elektron is extremely durable – it is IP67 rated, which means it can be submerged underwater up to 3’ (a meter) deep for half an hour. Yet, the drive is so small and light it can fit in the palm of your hand. At 2 x 3 inches (5.08 cm x 7.62 cm) it is smaller than an iPhone. The drive is bus-powered, so there is no power brick to carry around either.
“It can fit on the inside of my jacket pocket. I can use it on a new laptop, or a legacy system. It interfaces with every Mac I’m working on right now”David Kalmusky
At the center of his studio is industry-standard recording software Pro Tools by Avid Technology. While his main studio is based on an Avid HDX system, capable of sub-1ms latency playback, David has been secretly testing out the new Avid Pro Tools Carbon audio interface at his home studio. “Latency for musicianship is everything. We really feel it in the studio. With Carbon, it’s the lowest latency interface available.”
Avid Carbon Interface
What makes Carbon unique is that the audio interface by Avid has DSP (digital signal processing) chips built onboard. Usually, DSP processing is found exclusively on PCI cards that are reserved for only the highest-end installations and out of reach for most home studios.
David explains: “It’s the first version of Pro Tools where the mixer engine gets dynamically routed through DSP chips for zero-latency, real-time performance. It can switch between DSP and Native modes on each track, so I can take a session home and work on my laptop without having to worry about the plug-ins”.
The Carbon interface can use DSP acceleration on any AAX plug-in, even if it is from a third-party. On-the-channel mixer operators can designate if a plug-in is to be rendered with DSP processing, or Native CPU-bound processing, and monitor the resource usage of both. Carbon utilizes onboard ethernet ports for connectivity and can connect to any Apple Mac with an ethernet port, or a Thunderbolt port with an ethernet adaptor.
The interface comes with eight microphone preamps which are exceptional in quality. “I’ve completed three commercial projects on the Carbon, here in a multi-million dollar studio equipped with the best preamps in the world, which means, I am choosing to use this.”
Along with the introduction of Carbon was the 2020.11 release of Pro Tools, which includes a new dark theme UI, and audio-to-MIDI translation. With regards to the new UI “It’s been tricky hiding the new dark mode, keeping that one a secret; I’ll flip it back if someone is going to enter the room.”
David feels comfortable being able to work no matter where he is. He regularly takes sessions to his home studio, using an OWC Elektron drive and connecting to an Avid Carbon interface. “It doesn’t matter if I’m working on a guitar part, or producing an entire album, I’m trying to make whatever I’m working on the absolute top of my ability and technology is a part of that, working with Avid and OWC.”
As David continues to grow and evolve as a producer and entertainer in his own right, OWC is proud to play a small part in his continued success.