Grace Design Newsletter - March 2004
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<<Grace Design News>>

Gateway Mastering and DVD Installs a new m906 system-

Brian Lee at Gateway with his new m906

Music mastering and DVD authoring facility Gateway Mastering and DVD (Portland, ME) has purchased the newly released Grace Design m906 5.1 reference monitoring system. The unit was installed in Gateway’s DVD authoring suite where it will be used as the primary surround monitoring controller for DVD-Audio, DVD-Video and SACD work. The system is also sourced from a Pro Tools|HD digital audio workstation.

The m906 has an MSRP of $5,995 (USD) and is now shipping. The unit is a stand-alone, high-fidelity, 5.1 surround monitoring system designed for professional audio applications. The system comprises three main components: a 2U, 19-inch rackmount I/O and processing mainframe, remote-control unit and an external half-rack linear power supply. Multiple analog and digital inputs are provided for both 5.1 and stereo sources. Digital formats include AES3, ADAT, S/PDIF and Optical, and incorporates Grace’s latest generation, ultra-low distortion 24-bit, 192kHz D/A converter technology. Two 5.1 control room outputs and up to three stereo pair outputs are provided with individual channel solo/mute capability.

Comprehensive system calibration tools allow users to fine tune input levels, individual interchannel balance and control room output levels. Other features include a built-in reference headphone amplifier with two headphone outputs and a talkback mic input with an associated TB switch for communicating with talent in the studio. Control room and headphone output levels are precisely controlled via a pair of stepped rotary encoders, each with a 100dB level range adjustable in 0.5dB steps. Two large seven-segment blue LED shows output levels.

“We’re doing a lot of final quality-control work in the DVD suite, which demands a monitoring system that’s both highly accurate and detailed. We also run quite a number of source machines from DVD and SACD decks to Pro Tools and the m906 easily accommodates them all. It also just sounds great!” explained Brian Lee (pictured), lead designer/DVD authoring engineer at Gateway.

Gateway Mastering and DVD's Website is located at:


2004 marks our tenth anniversary in the pro audio industry.

We are now shipping the m904 and m906 high fidelity monitor systems!

As the our industry continues to embrace high resolution DAW's, the need for high quality monitoring solutions has become very clear. I wanted to address this need by designing full featured monitor controllers which would provide a high level of functionality while providing ultra-transparent sonic performance.

The m904 and m906 are the products of an intensive R&D cycle and represent giant steps for our company's engineering department. These two units are the absolute state of the art in analog and digital design. I am proud to have my name on these units and am confident that everyone who hears them will be simply thrilled.

Michael Grace

the m904 high fidelity monitor system

the m906 high fidelity 5.1 monitor system

Contact your local Grace Design dealer today to schedule a demo of these amazing new monitor systems and find out how great your studio can sound!

Our model 901 reference headphone amplifier has been honored with the 2004 EQ Magazine's “Exceptional Quality” Award. Click here to learn more about the model 901 and find out why the staff at EQ magazine calls it "the best headphone amp we’ve ever heard".

<<Tech Talk >>

One of the most common questions asked about our mic amplifiers is: What are the main differences between the model 101 and the model 201 (or model 801)?

The model 201 and model 801 are our top of the line analog mic preamplifiers. And while the model 101 uses the same amplifier architecture* to achieve the same essential sonic character as the model 201/801, it is manufactured to be affordable for musicians and/or project studios.

The model 201/801 uses our highest quality 24 position gold-contact rotary gain switches (very expensive, but simply the best gain control there is), which provide precision gain adjustment in 2dB steps. The model 101 uses an precision 11 position silver-contact gain switch (less expensive) and comes standard with a 10dB trim control.

The model 201/801 uses our finest quality linear AC power supply with custom wound toriodal AC transformers (very expensive), while the model 101 runs off an external 6VDC supply.

The model 201 and model 801 are both endowed with robust, high current output sections, capable of driving very long lines (1500') and loads down to 50 Ohms, while the model 101 has a bit less output current and is more suited towards standard studio applications. This difference results in a greater amount of output headroom for the model 201/801 (+28dBu balanced) than the model 101 (+25dBu balanced).

*All of our preamplifiers use ultra-fast and musical transimpedance amplifier architecture. Click here to learn more about the benefits of this unique type of microphone preamplifier design.


<<User's Spotlight >>

Mike Pappas

Recording engineer extraordinaire Mike Pappas has spent many years helping develop and using the latest cutting edge high-resolution recording technology. When DSD technology became available, Pappas was one of the first to put this technology into play, and works tirelessly to capture some of the finest high-fidelity recordings of big bands and jazz combos available.

Mr. Pappas is a devoted user of the Grace Design model 801R microphone amplifier, so we thought we would catch up with him and pick his brain about some of the outstanding recordings he has engineered.

Q. You recently completed a new recording of the Count Basie Orchestra with Hank Jones and the Manhattan Transfer in 5.1 DSD. Can you give us an overview of your technical approach to this session?

My approach is to use the least amount of mics necessary to capture the spontaneity and energy of the live performance. Typically we use 6 mics for a 5.1 session with the addition of the vocal mics. Call it minimalist or audiophile, but the less mics I use the better it sounds.

Q. Why have you have chosen to use the model 801R on your sessions? What sets it apart in your mind from other available mic preamplifiers for the work you do?

There are a couple of thing that come to mind. First the Grace series of mic preamps are the only mic preamps that I have heard that don't add anything to the sound of the microphones we are using (Sennheiser MKH-800 and Neumann M-150 for L/C/R, LFE and Neumann KU-100 for rear). You can hear every nuance of the the mics and not hear the mic preamp which for our application is critical.

Secondly, they are remote controlled so we can place the mic preamps right on stage (where they should be) and run line level signals from the stage into our DSD A to D converters in the control room. This makes a huge difference in audio quality, one which you have to experience to truly appreciate.

Third is support. I have received world class support from everyone at Grace Design from Doug Wood in sales to Michael Grace, to the technicians who build the units. Everyone there understands what I do and how critical every aspect of what I do is and everyone at Grace Design is willing to do whatever it takes to make our live to 5.1 DSD surround sessions a huge success. There are very few manufacturers who really care about their customers, Grace Design is one of the few..

Q. How have recent technological innovations, specifically higher resolution, multi-channel recording media affected the way you approach a recording date?

For the first time ever I can hear the correct harmonics of the horns on playback and until we started using DSD there wasn't any format digital or analog that was capable of doing that. The downside is that I can now hear everything in the recording chain and that means that every part from mics to preamps to cables to A to D converters is under a sonic microscope.

The "bar" has been raised sonically speaking and that means what you could live with at 44.1/16 doesn't cut it with DSD or 192/24..

Q. We have been blown away by your listening demos at the past two AES conventions. How has the industry at large reacted to your work?

Folks who have heard the demos we have done at the LA and NYC AES Shows have had the "deer in the headlights stunned look" which I guess means they are impressed!

I find it tremendously gratifying to have audio industry luminaries come up to me after a demo and tell me how knocked out they were with the sound that we are getting. It makes all of the hard work and superhuman effort to make these live 5.1 DSD recordings worthwhile.

Q. Considering the gloomy future of the present day record industry, what is your opinion regarding the future of purist, high-fidelity recordings? Will the niche for this kind of work remain strong?

There is a market for our kind of super high quality audio and the response from the consumers and artists has been outstanding. There is always a demand for quality and I never want to be anything less than the "state of the art" when it come to audio quality.

Q. Any noteworthy recording sessions in your near future?

I will be doing a series of 5.1 sessions with the Count Basie Orchestra for the centennial of Count Basie over the next 18 months with special guest stars and I am sure it will be life altering!

Mike's 801Rs on location with the Count Basie Orchestra

About Grace Design

Grace Design was established in 1994 and is a leading manufacturer of world-class hardware for the professional audio industry. Grace Design’s mission is to provide audio professionals with exceptionally engineered and built products coupled with best-in-class customer service. The product line currently consists of the model 801, 801R, 201, 101, Lunatec V3 microphone preamps, the model 901 reference headphone amplifier and the m904, m904B and m906 reference monitoring systems. The company’s customers include audio professionals in the music, film, television, live sound, education and corporate markets.





Thanks for your continued support!
-The Grace Design Team

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