Kia ora ai i te reo Māori – Māhuru Māori. Māori language month.

E rere ana te mihi whakaute ki e koutou mā.  Ki e koutou ngā kaitiaki o te whenua nei, ki e koutou te mana whenua o ēnei whakaahua o te tūpuna, e tukuna nei te mihi kauanuanu, te mihi aroha ki e koutou mā.

Nau mai hoki ki te hunga ako, kia kaha, kia manawanui, kia ora ai te reo.

Its ‘Te wiki o te reo Māori’, and Māori Language Month.  Fantastic kaupapa, with the goals of using, hearing, valuing and learning te reo.

From a pākehā perspective there is a lot to do.  Here are some links to start:

For more challenging kōrero nei rā i  ētahi tuihono:

Kia kaha e te whānau rā.  Piki mai i te kōrero nei.

Sean Curham


Lighting Plans for KMC 820 – 318

Kia ora e koutou mā

This post looks at the lighting setup in the KMC.  The following set of plans can be used to create a basic lighting rig that would cover almost every event in the venue.

The plans were prepared by Dylan Sheehan in 2014 and are still relevant, however I will look to update the details.

Perhaps more importantly these drawings can be used to develop alternative designs for projects with more specific requirements.

KMC Lighting Plan

KMC Electrical Plot – Use these venue drawings to produce new plans.

House Lighting Rig 820 318


Free Video and Audio Software

Looking for free audio and video editing software?

Studying at Auckland University is great but what happens when you leave and need to do work on creative jobs without access to Auckland University software licenses. Here are some great free software options.



Audacity is an easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux and other operating systems.

Download: Audacity


REAPER is a complete digital audio production application for computers, offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset.
REAPER supports a vast range of hardware, digital formats and plugins, and can be comprehensively extended, scripted and modified.

Download: Reaper

Pro Tools First

In my past life, I worked for New Zealand main reseller or Avid Products. Avids main claim to fame is Media Composer. But they later moved into audio purchasing Pro Tools from Digidesign. In recent years they


Download: Pro Tools First

Garageband – Mac only

GarageBand is a fully equipped music creation studio inside your Mac — with a complete sound library that includes instruments, presets for guitar and voice, and an incredible selection of session drummers and percussionists. With Touch Bar features for MacBook Pro and an intuitive, modern design, it’s easy to learn, play, record, create and share your hits worldwide. Now you’re ready to make music like a pro.

Download: Garageband


iMovie 2021

With iMovie for iOS and macOS, you can enjoy your videos like never before. It’s easy to browse your clips and create Hollywood-style trailers and stunning 4K-resolution movies. You can even start editing on iPhone or iPad, then finish on your Mac.

Download: iMovie


Media Composer First

Avid Assistant – Free Foundation Course | CauseandFX

Download: Media Composer First


VLC – Media Player

VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

Download: VLC


Video & Audio Combined

DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve is the world’s only solution that combines editing, colour correction, visual effects, motion graphics and audio post-production all in one software tool! Its elegant, modern interface is fast to learn and easy enough for new users, yet powerful for professionals. DaVinci Resolve lets you work faster and at a higher quality because you don’t have to learn multiple apps or switch software for different tasks. That means you can work with camera original quality images throughout the entire process. It’s like having your own post-production studio in a single app! Best of all, by learning DaVinci Resolve, you’re learning how to use the exact same tools used by Hollywood professionals!

Download: DaVinci Resolve


Nau mai, piki mai, haere mai kake mai e te whānau nui

Nau mai, hoki mai e mumu mate korona.  Welcome back Covid survivors.

Ko te tūmanako e noho haumaru ana ,e noho āhuru rā, e koutou katoa.

We hope you are feeling safe and well supported.  Our goal is to offer all the assistance we can to ensure that your online learning is as productive and positive as it can be.

Please contact us with any technical questions or problems you might be facing. If we are unable to help we can advise as to where to look for support.

Music Technicians email:

One of our first tasks will be to review all the suppliers (and cost) of essential gear from our last Level 4 lockdown.  For example on Theo’s excellent post entitled “USB Microphones Purchase Options for Home Recording” (click image below) you can find all the info for the “BLUE Snowball iCE Versatile USB Microphone with HD Audio”. (The worlds most popular usb mic??) The details on the purchase and use of this mic are still current.




820-106 Studio Specification Manual

Welcome to 820-106! 

Studio 820-106 is suitable for recording, editing and mixing sound projects and offers a small vocal booth with good acoustic isolation of vocals and smaller instruments such as an acoustic guitar from the control room.

This guide covers the fundamental specifications, signal path and operational aspects that may come in useful for various recording and project specific situations.

Fixed Equipment list:

  • iMac with Protools and Logic Pro
  • Apogee Symphony MKII
  • Genelec 1031A
  • SPL Model 2381 Monitor and Talkback Controller
  • Avid S3 Control Surface


Guide Contents :

  1. Signal Path in 820-106 and vocal booth
  2. Apogee Symphony MKII  and Patchbay configuration
  3. Using the SPL 2381 Monitor & Talkback controller (MTC)


  1. Signal Path in 820-106 and vocal booth
  2.  Apogee Symphony MKII and Patchbay Configuration

The Symphony MKII is our central hub in 106 and does all our analogue to digital and digital to analogue conversion (total 32 in/32 out) via thunderbolt. It has a front touch panel where you can control some of its core function such as levels, and engaging soft limit on the input channels.

1. Headphone level (touch to focus)

2. Monitor Speaker Level (touch to focus)

3. Headphone Output, controlled by 1.

4. Home Tab

5. Monitor Tab, you can mute, dim, mono sum either HP/Monitor

6. Input Tab – You can engage soft limit on/off on each individual channel.

7. Main Knob, follows focus

8. Power on/off


Patchbay Configuration

Most of the outboard units including the Monitor Speakers are all connected via the patchbay setup in 106. This is the current layout and may change in the future to accommodate upcoming needs. For now it is worth noting the following.

  • UA-710d Outputs 1-4 are half-normalled into Symphony Input 25-28 (This means Either Protools/Logic Pro Input 25-28)
  • Symphony Out 1-2 are half-normalled into MTC Mix In
  • Symphony Out 3-4 are half-normalled into MTC Musician In
  • Cue Mix Output from MTC is half-normalled into HP4 in booth

More on half-normal vs full-normal patchbay configuration on another post! (coming soon)

3. Using the SPL 2381 Monitor and Talkback Controller (MTC) 

1. Listening source for the control room (Mix = Computer/DAW, Musician = separate Cue mix if setup).  Note when both Mix and Musician buttons are engaged you can control the blend of the 2 signal by adjusting 10.

2. Speaker select (select SP1 for the Genelecs)

3. Mono button, push to check your mix in mono

4. Dim – attenuates 20dB

5. Needs to be turned on for 11. to work

6. Main volume knob for Speakers and/or Headphones connected to 11.

7. built-in Talkback mic

8. Cue mix blend section, here you can adjust level between Cue/Mix

9. Talkback toggle button and level

10. Blend of Cue/Mix level in control room


To book this space –

conditions of use – max 3 hours per session (especially during assessment periods) and please no clean after use for the considerations of others. 

820-102 Studio Specification Manual

Welcome to 820-102! 

Studio 820-102 is suitable for recording, editing and mixing sound projects and allows stereo recording within the room via the front panel inputs on the interface. When used in conjunction with 820-101 as a live room, up to 8 channels can be recorded simultaneously. Good acoustic isolation is provided between the rooms enabling you to record and assess the recordings with clarity.

This guide covers the fundamental specifications, signal path and operational aspects that may come in useful for various recording and project specific situations.

Fixed Equipment list:

  • iMac with Protools and Logic Pro
  • Focusrite Pro40
  • Genelec 1031A
  • Presonus Monitor Station
  • M-Audio Code series 69 Midi Keyboard


Guide Contents :

  1. Order of powering on/off equipment (health and safety checklist)
  2. Signal path in 820-102 (and through 820-101)
  3. Using the Focusrite Pro40 and Mixcontrol software
  4. Presonus Monitor Station


1. Order of powering on/off equipment

When you enter the studio, ideally all equipment would be turned off (Please do so at the end of your session). Before you turn on any equipment it’s generally best to follow these rules/order for your safety. (It is vital that you check the volume knob on the Monitor station is all the way down before you begin!)

Powering on order: Audio Interface → Computer → Mixer → Monitor controllers → Speakers

Powering down order: Speakers → Monitor controllers → Mixer → Computer → Audio Interface (Yes.. Exact reverse!)

In Studio 102, this would translate to:

Powering on order: Focusrite Pro40 → iMac → Presonus Monitor Station → Genelec 1031A

Powering down order: Genelec 1031A → Presonus Monitor Station → iMac → Focusrite Pro40

While following this procedure (especially during powering on) again please allow me emphasise that you check the volume knob on the Presonus Monitor Station is all the way to Nil!

** This ensures the equipment will last but more importantly this procedure will protect your hearing, which should come first before anything else! **



2. Signal Path in 820-102 (and through 820-101) 



3. Using the Focusrite Pro40 and Mixcontrol software

The Focusrite Pro40 is a multichannel audio interface that allows us the record up to 8 analogue channels (more through digital IO) and is our central hub in 102.

  1. Mic/Instrument Input 1-2 (either XLR or instrument cable/lead input)
  2. 2x 48V Phantom switches (top button channels 1-4. bottom button channels 5-8)
  3. Inst button switches between Microphone (XLR) input and Instrument (lead) input. red light on means Instrument input is engaged.
  4. Pad – attenuates signal input by 20dB – great for recording high level input without peaking (e.g. drums)
  5. microphone gain/sensitivity level per channel
  6. FW active – this represents that the interface is communicating with the computer properly and needs to be on (if not, the connection should be checked and/or a restart may be required)
  7. locked – this means the clock (whether internal/external) is synched and needs to be on. If not, this may mean the clock is set to external. In 102, this needs to be set to internal which can be set via the Mixcontrol software. (more on Mixcontrol below)
  8. Monitor volume knob – in 102, this volume knob is set to be irrelevant and it is simply set to a line level output via Mixcontrol. (Please see Mixcontrol for a more detailed explanantion)
  9. Headphone levels – again in 102, we suggest that you use the Monitor station for HP use.
  10. Power button – when powering on, first! when powering down, last!

Mixcontrol software

Mixcontrol software is the main control hub for the Saffire Pro40 and allows flexible routing. A good example would be to utilise this in 102 would be to setup a cue mix with lower latency than monitoring via the DAW of choice.


  1. Routing Presets. In most cases, you will find DAW tracking mode most sensible, transparent. Once selected the Output routing section (2) will change accordingly as below.
  2. Output Routing. Here, the software allows you to assign different sources. Using the above DAW tracking mode preset routing as an example, you can see it automatically assigns DAW1 and DAW2 (aka Protools output 1&2 or Logic Main Stereo output) into subsequent Line Outputs 1&2, 3&4…. 9&10. This means, your DAW main output will be present in all of the physical outputs. This can be changed individually, such as you could change into something like DAW3 to Line Output 3 and DAW4 to Line Output 4 allowing you to send a separate mix from your DAW if you see the need but for now, it’s ok to leave it as the preset (More on this in the advanced section below). Also, notice the headphone sign on 7&8 and 9&10? Yes, these outputs are mirrored on the HP outputs on front of the interface.
  3. The colour of these boxes mean what status the output levels are set as. 1&2 are the main outputs.Grey – line level output, independent of monitor volume knob (8, on the front panel image)
    Blue – Level, dependent on the monitor volume knob (8, on the front panel image)
    Red – Muted
  4. 7&8, 9&10 are set up as HP/cue mixes at line level here as displayed.** In 102, 1&2 should be grey, and also 7&8, 9&10 should also be left grey. ** These settings work best with the Monitor station. Shift+click to turn grey if there are blue/red**
  5. In this section, you can choose your sample rate (44.1, 48kHz..), clock source should be set to internal.


3. Presonus Monitor Station. 

This unit is next in the chain in terms of signal flow after the Focusrite Pro40 and receives channels 1&2 and 9&10 from the

  1. Speaker Trim level – this is intended to level match with other monitors, which is a useful feature but not so relevant in 102 at this stage as we only work with 1 set of monitors. Best to leave it around mid way.
  2. Main Source – This is our source selection for the main speakers in 102. Selecting ST1 means we are listening to output 1&2 from the Pro40 and ST2 will mean we are listening to output 9&10. Aux is the mini jack cable you will see on the desk which can be used to monitor your phone or laptop directly.
  3. Cue Source – This is our source selection for the HP sends to 101 and again, you can choose to select ST1, especially useful for sending back the mix you are listening in from 102 or select ST2 to send through a separate cue mix which is setup in your DAW via output 9&10. And yes, you can also send an external source through the Aux mini jack to 101.
  4. On the top section of the Monitor station, you also have 4 headphone outputs, which enables you to listen to the either the main mix or cue(HP to 101) mix by toggling the Main/Cue switch under each HP output. This is especially useful when setting up a HP mix for the performers as you can listen to the exact same mix as them in 102.
  5. Speaker select button – We only have 1 set of monitors so please select A
  6. Cue Output level – This also should be set to max without any attenuation.
  7. Main speaker volume knob – Please set this to 0 before and after your session.


To book this space –

conditions of use – max 3 hours per session (especially during assessment periods) and please no clean after use for the considerations of others. 



Lighting with Max/MSP

Max/MSP/Jitter – more on DIY Lighting for musicians and artists. 

One of the easiest ways to control your own lighting setup is via Max/MSP.  I am certain all are familiar with Max but if not heres a link

The site promo describes Max as “an infinitely flexible place to create interactive media software. With in-depth tools for audio, graphics, interaction, and communication, Max is an environment to explore and develop your own ideas.” 

I think of it as an appealing graphic representation of tools for the control and composition of media, having originally been created for sound.  However it is described, its good fun and easy to use.  Or relatively easy to use.  Making simple ‘patches’ or programs is straight forward, which is all that is required for lighting.  Once you have a basic vocabulary, Max becomes a limitless, and increasingly complex resource.

Lighting: To start you do need a couple of pieces of equipment.

  • Max software
  • A DMX interface
  • An LED light
  1. Max software is installed on all the SoM computers. If COVID returns and we are again working from home, you can rent Max for $14 – per month.
  2. DMX interfaces.  Similar in many ways to an audio interface that you might use to send and receive sound data, this will allow you to connect to your lights via a usb to 3/5 pin connection.  Cost approx $100.  Here are two options that are readily available.










3. LED of your choice.  Beg or borrow one, or try TRADEME or Surplustronics.



One of the best things about MAX are the endless supporting documents, examples and great community feedback/input.  As a beginner almost every patch you might imagine will already exist.  This of course is the case with lighting.  Although it is now dated here is a link to a fantastic series of introductory tutorials on lighting.

The basic patch for lighting control is straightforward and can be downloaded from OLAF MATTES( ) who made a much copied version. Or you can find it here on the community pages At the bottom of the discussion you will see the link.

The other thing you need to know about is the Max Objects Database . This is a free library of existing patches that you can download.

Heres the patch.

The good stuff sits inside the box labeled p DMXalt. This is a ‘patcher’ object which is essentially another window or patch that has been ‘encapsulated’, so that it can be reduced to this simple object.  Helps keep things tidy.

Heres what sits inside p DMXalt.




  1. Connect your DMX driver. Then connect this to your light. (Only one at this stage). Use XLR for this. Apologies I forgot to mention the xlr in the equipment list.
  2. Open your DMX patch. It will look like this.

3.  Refresh the serial port menu. Then open the lower blue menu and you will see your driver. Select. You are now good to go.

Using the sliders shown below you can control up to six channels. This can be expanded to 512 seperate channels.  We will look at that process in the next post.

Lighting 103 – Practical

Finally the good stuff.

Whats the goal?  The goal is to start to think about (and put into practice) how lighting reflects or further expresses the ideas a musician or artist is exploring.

Following this idea, lighting becomes an aesthetic, conceptual medium that can embody the interests of an artist. There is an overlap here between the disciplines of music/sound and light.

To progress a conversation about light you need two elements. Time to play and darkness.  Plus a light source, but that is the easy part.

The most important element is darkness. The best place to start a lighting project or collaboration is in the dark. With no light present.  I am not sure about the analogy, but it’s like starting a sound project in silence.  An absolute blackout is so rare it almost never experienced. In public spaces this is impossible due to health and safety requirements.  There will always be an EXIT or safety light present.  Plus all the incidental light from the lighting and sound equipment.



Like all research projects the trick is in the research question.  Complete darkness is a very provocative experience. In a truely lightless space you can’t see your hands. There is no floor, no sky or ceiling, no horizon. Proximity disappears, proprioception is disturbed, time is unsettled.  It’s all about sensation.

Conceptually this can be exciting.  Focus is forced back on the question making, whereas in a light space the lack of a solid question can be buried in our stylistic habits or cultural/social preferences.  We can end up simply working to make something ‘look good’.

Its hard to be current, or relevant or even liked in darkness.

Darkness is subversive.  And methodical.  The introduction of light becomes a rupture. Any lighting gesture will create a problem or question.  The slow addition of light can be a very productive process.


Dont get stuck on the abstract. Get working.

Set up a completely ‘lightless space’.  Its not hard to do.

Now introduce some light.  Tiny 2 Dollar Shop lights are a perfect place to start. They are safe and easy to control. By control I mean limiting or increasing the amount of light that is present. Using your hands you can control the focus, position, direction and intensity of the light.

Think about your favourite music videos or performances.  Where was the light coming from?  At the feet of the singer or from behind as backlight? Was the light hanging close to the performers head or did they use a giant follow spot from way back in the space.  Scale becomes important. Linked to this is proximity, meaning how close the artist is to the light fitting/light itself. With this proximity goes intensity, the closer the artist to the light the greater the intensity of the light on them.  Scale, proximity, intensity are a good place to start.

All of this is done with one small light.







Lighting 102

DIY Lighting for bands and sound artists.  Basic setups.

The first section is all about power.  If you want to get started straight away go to EASY SOLUTIONS (see below).

You will need:

  • Some lights. You can use any form of light fitting you like. It could be domestic, commercial, natural, or theatrical. Common theatre lights include parcans, blinders, floodlights and specials or profiles. See here for the basics – Theatre Light Types BasicHEALTH and SAFETY ALERT.  If you are using any electrical fixture in a public place or venue, it must be tested by a certified electrician and have an up to date TAG certifying its use. There is no escaping this requirement.
  • Power. In theatres and established venues this will be taken care of.  However in smaller venues and halls you will need to think about the power supply and the ‘draw’ of your setup.  Essentially how much power will each light use.  Inevitably you will find yourself performing in a hall with a domestic power supply only.  Normal circuits or wall plugs are 10A(amp). (Sometimes 20A).  This is important information as its going to limit how many lights can be used. For example, you can only use two (2) parcans per wall plug (or circuit.  Circuit is used to describe the light and its power supply – ie all the components together form a circuit).  Anything beyond this will trip the fuse.
  • To work out how many lights you can safely plug into one plug (or circuit) you need to know how much power it will consume.  A simple way, is to work with the ‘wattage’ (w) of each unit.  For example a parcan is 1000w unit.  To figure out how many parcans you can plug into a domestic wall plug you simply divide the ‘watts’ of the light by the ‘voltage’ of your power supply.  In NZ this is easy as all domestic power arrives as 240 volts.  So here is the equation.  We have a parcan which is a 1000w light.   The power at the wall is 240v.  Watts/volts = amps.  In this case the parcan uses 4.16A.  The wall plug can handle 10A maximum. Final answer is that we can plug 2 x parcans into a single wall plug or circuit.  Its not many.
  • A second explanation. Electricity arriving at your wall plug is described in terms of voltage. You can think of the voltage as a river that is consistently flowing – its a constant river of electrical potential.  The wall plug (or circuit wiring) is the device measuring or limiting how much of this voltage will flow. It is because of the wall plug(circuit) that the flow is limited to a certain number of amps(amperes).  In the case of our domestic wall fittings in NZ this limit is 10A(amps). The last part of the equation is the wattage or energy requirements of the light itself.  To function the light requires a certain amount of electricity.  Or it will consume a certain wattage, in order to work.



The following offers some simple and pragmatic steps to getting started with lights for a gig.  Note however, the question of design is completely absent from these solutions.  if you want to start to think about lighting from a critical or design perspective please go to Lighting 103/Blackout.

Start with LED light fittings.  They draw very little power, they are generally smaller and they produce almost no heat.  Much SAFER all round.  For example a small Chauvet LED light like the ones in KMC need 42w.  So that means you could plug 50 lights (or thereabouts) into a single domestic wall plug.  More than you will ever need.

  1. Almost all LED lights can be set up to run in ‘auto mode’.  This is the most basic way of using lights to support your gig.  In practise it means that the lights will shift through a variety of states or ‘looks’ automatically. Very basic.
  2. To add to this, hire 2 parcans and a small single channel fader.  This will let you fade the parcans while the LEDS remain as a constant ‘background’. Cheap option.
  3. The next step up is to have control of all of the lights. This requires some form of lighting control software, console or desk.  There are free and/or cheap apps available for hire, which are software only versions of the normal desks you might see at a gig with faders etc.  These are easy to use, and inexpensive.  Try Lightfactory, MagicQ(free), ShowMagic(free).  All require a DMX connection(DMX interface) from the software to the lights.  A small single universe (512 channels) connector or ‘dongle’ costs around $100.  This will immediately enable control of your LEDS.
  4. To upgrade and integrate control of LEDS with normal or incandescent/TUNGSTEN lights (ie lights with a filament, thanks to Thomas Edison and his peers), requires the use of a ‘dimmer rack’.   The normal or filament lights are then all plugged into the dimmer which can then be connected to the LEDS.   The signal from the lighting control connects to both these elements(Ref #3).
  5. The most basic version of a dimmer can be plugged into a domestic wall plug.  However you will still only be able draw the same amount of power from that plug as calculated above.  BE CAREFUL with this part.  Its very easy to draw to much power which will trip the venue fuses. Established venues will have 3 phase power which solves this problem.



  • Lights. Choose LEDS.
  • Plenty of extension leads.  50m is a good amount to start with.
  • XLR to connect LEDS.  Again start with 50m.
  • Tungsten or filament lights.  Parcans, floodlights, PCs, profiles, fresnels etc.
  • Single/double fader. Cheap and easy to use.
  • Step up, would be a small lighting desk or software only control from laptop.
  • Software. Hire or use free version.
  • DMX dongle. Connects software to kit.
  • Dimmer packs.  10A versions can be used in venues with domestic power only.
  • Step up again. 3phase power.  This will allow the use of 12 channel dimmer packs.  Each channel essentially acts as one domestic plug. (So thats a maximum of 24 parcans).  A small venue is likely to have one or two 3 phase power outlets.



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