Chris Papastephanou And RedNet

Chris Papastephanou has the well-earned reputation of being a pro audio handyman when it comes to studio design and system setup, gear installation/integration, and other technical aspects of highly specialised projects for a wide range of clients. Under the banner of his company ChrisMix, which provides expert computer and audio installation and integration for a wide range of pro audio clients throughout the Los Angeles area, Chris Papastephanou might be working on a post-production facility one day and classic recording studio the next, in between serving as the recording engineer and audio guru for Songwriters Hall of Fame member Carole Bayer Sager, or something entirely new and different.

These are just a few of his recent projects, and the common thread running through these diverse applications is how the RedNet range of Dante™-networked audio interfaces from Focusrite has made things easier for all of his clients by streamlining their workflows and future-proofing their setups.

Papastephanou recently finished constructing and wiring a matrix for the huge synth collection of Dave Porter, the score and theme composer for such television hits as the groundbreaking Breaking Bad, as well as its EMMY® Award-nominated prequel spinoff Better Call Saul, and other hits including Preacher and The Blacklist. The challenge, as one might predict, was connecting together this large arsenal of analogue and digital instruments into one seamless infrastructure – a challenge that Dante and RedNet met with ease. “We connected a RedNet A8R eight-channel analogue I/O interface to Dave's Eurorack modular system, and then from there to a RedNet 5, which connects a RedNet system to Pro Tools | HD," he explains. Up to six units can be connected to one Pro Tools | HDX system, supporting up to 192 channels at 96 kHz, which provided Porter with a way to connect and route between a slat-wall rack full of classic synthesised keyboards and an array of rack-mounted ones. “Everything can come through a single Ethernet cable, which gives Dave an extremely efficient routing system," he notes.

Then there's the new Blue Room Post at Raleigh Studios, one of Hollywood's most venerable film studios. The Blue Room opened on the studio lot in 2008. A recent upgrade to a Dante network infrastructure provided a streamlined, future-proof setup, which has already saved the studio time and money. He says the studio's throughput has been positively impacted by the efficiency of RedNet, and that's what everyone in Hollywood is looking for these days.

Another vintage facility, The Complex, was the recording studio home base for legendary R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire. While the facility is currently owned by a local television station, its two recording studios have been brought back to life by ChrisMix. Studio C, also known as Revival, instantly modernised its workflow with a Dante network and the implementation of RedNet Pro Tools® HD bridges, a PCIeR card used as a transfer interface between a sequencing computer and a Pro Tools recording computer.

“Studio B at The Complex is the room where Earth, Wind & Fire did so many of their hits years ago," says Papastephanou. “With the Red 8Pre, we were able to be installed and get the studio up to speed for a computer-based recording session. For instance, we used the RedNet AM2's Dante output and connected it to a Cisco switch with PoE, and that gave us a cue system that let each musician get exactly the mix they wanted to hear. That really shows off how RedNet can transform a facility: it took a great studio from the 1970s and instantly made it work for a contemporary production. We also recorded all of the ensemble tracks for Marlon Martinez's debut 'Yours Truly' using the preamps in the Red 8Pre and augmenting it with the Clarett OctoPre. The Preamps were amazing, requiring very little EQ during the tracking process."

Hit songwriter/composer Carole Bayer Sager has been working out of a music room in her home for years, using it to flesh out song ideas and create fast but effective demos. Papastephanou has been working with her for two decades, engineering recordings there and guiding her technology choices – the most recent of which involved an upgrade to a Dante infrastructure and the installation of a RedNet eight-channel mic pre and A-D converter and other Focusrite components. “RedNet can interface between Pro Tools and Thunderbolt I/O, creating a transparent system that lets her creativity flow," he says.

As if that wasn't enough, film and television composer Layla Minoui (Vampirina, Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce, and most recently The Mad Whale) just installed a Red4Pre in her studio. This is providing a significant sonic upgrade over the Avid 192 interface she had been using with her Pro Tools | HD system. It also allows her to route audio from multiple sequencing systems into one Print Rig.

And finally, GRAMMY award winning producer and musician Larry Klein installed a Red4Pre in his home studio as a complement to his Pro Tools | HDX upgrade. Using the Dante Virtual Soundcard on his laptop, he has the ability to transfer up to 32 tracks simultaneously in real time from his laptop (or the laptops of the many artists and composers he works with) into Pro Tools | HD.

“In all of these cases, RedNet boosted efficiency, cost-effectiveness, creativity and productivity", he adds. “At The Complex, they now have a cue system, set up in a few hours, with all the right features, and Dave Porter can meet the demands that Hollywood puts on music today, when a composer might have to create as much as 80 minutes of music in a single week. RedNet gives them the tools to meet those deadlines."