Honolulu, Hawaii (August 22, 2017) — When a group of friends got together in 2011 to create HI*Sessions, a YouTube music video channel featuring intimate live performances of local Hawaiian musical talent, they had one main goal – the video and audio had to be absolutely the best quality. HI*Sessions’ YouTube channel currently has over 140,000 subscribers and features 660 videos, some of which have been viewed over one million times. Most recently, the HI*Sessions team has relied on the pristine audio quality and easy-to-use workflow of the of the QSC TouchMix-8 compact digital mixer as an integral part of their production process.
HI*Sessions was founded six years ago by Jon Yamasato, an award-winning Hawaiian musician, and Dave Kusumoto, a fellow singer-songwriter now working in web and video production. Yamasato won five Na Hoku Hanohano Awards from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts at the turn of the millennium as a member of Pure Heart, a trio that also included ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, who has since gone on to worldwide fame. Inspired by the old Hawaiian tradition of kanikapila -- impromptu jam sessions involving family and friends -- Yamasato and Kusumoto decided to start a webcast with the same casual vibe, and help expose Hawaiian homegrown talent to a global audience.
The pair called in Vance Morimoto, who had worked as an engineer for several years in the recording studio with Yamasato, to handle sound for the productions. But while the resulting audio recording quality was good, achieving quality sound required Morimoto to carry and transport a lot of gear. “I had the computer interface, a computer plus a mixer that would feed the speakers. “Dragging around all that equipment was killing me. Now it’s all been replaced by a single TouchMix,” says Morimoto.
“The sound quality of the TouchMix is fantastic,” adds Morimoto. “The pre-amps are super clean. Plus, the rock solid multitrack recording and tight integration with our QSC speakers make working with the TouchMix an awesome experience every time.”
The compactness of the TouchMix-8 doesn’t immediately reveal its powerful features, which include a total of 14 inputs, six outputs, four auxes, on-board processing and 14-channel direct-to-hard drive recording and playback capabilities. “I run two mixes on the TouchMix,” Morimoto explains, “one monitor mix and a main mix. I record the main mix as well as all the vocals and instruments. The main mix recording is used as a reference track for our video team so that they can edit the video while we work on post-production of the multitrack audio.”
He continues, “I take all the tracks and do a bit of clean up and then send the files to our main mixing and mastering guy, Darin Leong,” a Grammy- and Hoku-nominated recording engineer, musician and practicing attorney. “When he's done, Darin sends the final stereo mix to the video team to add to the finished product.”
“By the way”, says Morimoto, “Darin liked my TouchMix so much he had to get one too.”
The performances are typically recorded in the living room of Kusumoto’s house, outdoors at a local country club or in a nearby theater. Since the sessions are not produced in front of an audience the monitor mix is used solely for the artists. To manage the monitor mix, another member of the sound team, Dayton Watanabe, uses his iPad to connect to the TouchMix mixer remotely while working with the artist. Watanabe also supplies the monitor speakers for the productions, a pair of self-powered QSC K10 loudspeakers.
One of the best features of the TouchMix is its ability to save scenes, says Morimoto. “The TouchMix presets make things so much easier. I have a preset scene for my HI*Sessions recordings; I press one button and everything is reset. With TouchMix, I don’t have to fiddle with knobs every time, or worry if the compressor is on or off.”
“It’s great that we can feature local talent and showcase instruments like the ukulele. And if we want to feature a guy playing a crazy guitar and ukulele combination — like Bolo Rodrigues, which we just posted — we can,” add Morimoto. “We try to keep it light and fun and the artists see how much fun we’re having and how goofy we are. They relax, start feeling comfortable, and we get some fabulous performances that we probably would have never been able to had it been all business and not so much fun.”
Watch the full series of HI*Sessions music videos at: https://www.youtube.com/user/hisessionsshow.
Founded nearly five decades ago, QSC is a globally recognized leader in the design, engineering and manufacture of award winning high performance audio products including power amplifiers, loudspeakers, digital mixers, digital signal processors (DSP), and the Q-SYS™ networked audio, video and control platform. Uniquely leveraging a broad range of technologies located under one roof, QSC products outperform the sum of their parts by delivering reliable, scalable and flexible solutions for professional installed, portable, production, corporate and cinema customers worldwide.