Nautilus Master Technology

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Nautilus Master Technology
Nautilus Extended Monitor Options Series
NEMO DMC-8 Owners Manual

Congratulations on your purchase of the Nautilus NEMO DMC-8. As a mastering engineer, I've often heard recordings that would have sounded better if the engineer had an easy way to A-B their mixes with great commercial recordings. I've always been personally willing to compare and learn from the sonics of other engineers, but today it's not convenient like it was back in the analog days. The DMC-8's high sonic resolution and level-matching will assist you in making the most out of audio references to optimise your mixing (and tracking) skills.

The DMC-8 accommodates the variety of available recording systems today by allowing the recordist to adjust the individual levels of different playback sources on the front panel. When you level-matching the sources, you can reference next to other big names in the business without it being a volume contest. This referencing technique can be the key to developing a deeper sonic understanding of balance, texture, dimension, level, eq and more - if you're willing to listen, compare, adjust, innovate, and repeat.

Key: Set your mix levels for the proper gain structure of your console or Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Have good healthy signal output, but leave some headroom and don't try to achieve the loud levels of today's hot albums. Trust that the mastering process will be the place to bring up the volume levels and shape the frequency balance in the context of the whole album (and the context of other commercial albums). Concentrate on making a great mix for each song - then the mastering engineer can take it to the next level.

I hope the DMC-8 gives you insights into your mixes (and tracking) so that you achieve the frequency balance and fidelity that you want. You can reference to your own previous mixes as well as commercial recordings - in order to keep a consistency in vocal levels and instrumental qualities. As in any mixing process, you'll still want to go check your mixes in the car or on home systems. Keep using the "listen, compare, adjust and innovate" method and watch the ever-improving results you'll create.

SET-UP PRECAUTION: When installing your DMC-8 be sure to turn off the power on your power amplifiers or powered speakers. For your first set-up, be sure all volume controls on the DMC-8 are turned all the way down. Once you have connected the DMC-8, turn on your equipment in the order of the signal flow: (1) console first, (2) DMC-8 second, (3) power amps/powered speakers last. Use care when plugging in the Virtual Dynamics power cord.

The reverse rule applies when powering down the equipment - turn off the power amp first, the DMC-8 second and the console last. In all cases, turn off your power amplifiers or powered speakers whenever you turn on or off the DMC-8. If it's not convenient to reach your power amps, another idea is to unplug the DMC-8 speaker outputs before turning it on or off. Even though I only recommend turning off the power amps, that can be another way to protect your speakers from transient thumps. Use caution if you have your DMC-8 in a rack with switchable power strips.

2nd IMPORTANT PRECAUTION: The DMC-8 may be rack mounted. Use adequate ventilation for all equipment, including the DMC-8. If you set the DMC-8 directly on a producer's desk or tabletop, I recommend that you set the unit on top of vibration isolators or rubber feet (included) to keep surfaces free from scratches or marks. If you set CD players or any other equipment on top of the unit, carefully use flattened glass marbles (available at any pet store in the fish section), rubber feet or other vibration isolators to separate and protect your equipment. Use caution so that any stacked equipment is stable and does not slide or shift from any light physical contact. Click here for information on vibration isolators.

Front Panel

Meters

At the left are 2 VU meters for left and right stereo - these are standard in their operation. 0 VU represents a +4 calibrated line output level. The meters are lit by LEDs for long life.

Buttons

• The first button - "Stereo Buss" sends your mix to either "Speaker A" or "Speaker B," depending on your speaker selection. The stereo buss button toggles with the 2 Track 1, 2 Track 2, and 2 Track 3 buttons. Only one button will light at a time sending only that selected signal to the Speaker A or Speaker B outputs. There are 2 pad switches on the back of the DMC-8 in case you need to lower the level of this input.

• The next button - "2 Track 1" sends the balanced audio signal from a 2 track recorder, such as an analog machine, DAT machine, Masterlink or stand-alone CD burner to the "Speaker A" or "Speaker B" outputs. Again, only one source button at a time will send a signal to the speaker outputs.

If you are using a mixing console, this input can receive the console's monitor buss* output (you may have to increase the output of the console's monitor buss). This will enable you to hear any channels you solo on the console. After you solo, re-select the stereo buss input for more precise sonic resolution. The sound of the stereo buss is better because there are fewer electronics in it's circuit path compared to the console's monitor buss output.

• The next button - "2 Track 2" functions identically to "2 Track 1." It can select either another balanced 2 track machine or digital audio converter (DAC).

• The next button is labeled "2 Track 3" and functions identically to "2 Track 1" and "2 Track 2" but the connectors are RCA's designed for a consumer CD player, MiniDisc, computer or other unbalanced audio signal.

• The next button is labeled "Speaker B" which determines whether the "Stereo Buss," "2 Track 1," "2 Track 2," and "2 Track 3" signal goes to the Speaker A output or to the Speaker B output. When the button is selected (lit), the 2nd set of speaker outputs receives the stereo audio signal from the source switches described above. When this button is depressed a second time (unlit), it goes back to the default setting which sends the stereo signal to the Speaker A outputs. It does not interact with any other buttons on the unit.

• The next button is labeled "Mono" and when depressed (lit), it sums the stereo left and right signal into one mono signal that is being sent to Speaker A or Speaker B. When depressed again, it returns the signal to the original stereo sound. These changes only affect the sound coming through the studio monitors. It does not interact with any other buttons on the unit.

• The next button is labeled "Mute" and when it is depressed (lit), it turns off the audio signal selected by the source buttons so that there is no audio output to either set of speakers. When it is depressed again, it toggles back to the "on" setting.

• The next button is labeled "Dim" and when selected (lit) it lowers the volume of the studio monitors somewhat (per your adjustment) so you can still hear what's playing back, but more quietly. Like if mom walks in the room.

Knobs

• The first knob is a "Meter Range" selector switch. It is a detented switch with 5 positions, each one giving a different appearance of signal strength displayed by the VU meters.

-The first position to the left selects the -4 position, which means that the meter sensitivity has been reduced by 4 dB. A normal signal strength of 0 VU (+4 dBu) would appear to read minus-4 VU on the meter, even though there is no change to the audio level at all. This is a meter adjustment only.

-Moving the switch to the second position toward the right selects the -2 position. A normal signal strength of 0 VU (+4 dBu) would appear to read minus-2 VU on the meter, even though there is no change to the audio level.

-The third switch position pointing straight up selects the 0 position, which means that the meter sensitivity is standard and there is no change in it's sensitivity. A normal signal strength of +4 dBu would read 0 VU.

-The fourth position going to the right selects the +2 position, increasing the meter sensitivity by 2 dB over standard 0 and the fifth position going to the right selects the +4 position, increasing the meter sensitivity by 4 dB over standard 0 VU.

• The second knob is the "2 Track 1" volume knob. This controls the level of the 2 Track 1 source. This knob is active only when the 2 Track 1 button is selected. Turning this knob up all the way gives unity gain.

• The third knob is the "2 Track 2" volume knob. This controls the level of the 2 Track 2 source when the corresponding button is selected. Full up is unity gain.

• The fourth knob is the "2 Track 3" volume knob for the unbalanced RCA inputs. Unity gain is around "18" on the dial face, giving extra gain. There is a switch on the back of the unit that pads down this input in case you need to lower the level of this input.

• The fifth knob is the "Speaker B" level control. Unity gain is all the way up, so it is intended as a trim control to adjust the signal strength going to the 2nd set of speakers, in case the 2nd set is louder than the 1st set of speakers. If you find that the first pair of speakers is louder than the second, switch the outputs so that the louder pair of speakers is set to "Speaker B." When the "Speaker B" button is not selected (unlit), this volume knob has no effect, because it only applies when "Speaker B" is selected.

If you are not using a 2nd set of control room speakers, you can use this feature for studio speakers by connecting the Speaker B outputs to the appropriate amp or powered monitors in the recording studio. (This is an either-or feature. Both sets cannot be selected at the same time.) This enables musicians to hear a playback over speakers instead of their headsets. Use the Speaker B level control to adjust the studio speakers to a comfortable level when the musicians are listening.

Some engineers like to have a set of speakers in a lounge or other room to reference the sound in a different environment. This feature can be used for that purpose, which can be a good way to remain more objective at mix time by going in to the lounge to see how the mix sounds on a different system.

• The sixth knob is the "Dim Level" volume control so you can adjust how low the control room speaker volume goes when you press the dim button (lit). This is handy when you need to comfortably talk to someone sitting in the control room for a moment, and then return to the exact previous listening level when you press the button a second time. Unity gain is when this control is up full.

It's also a handy feature if you want to switch to a softer listening level at mix time to see how the mix hold up at a softer volume - in case you want to return to the previous volume quickly. The optional Nautilus MBR-8 remote triggers the dim function when the talkback button is engaged, and undimmed when talkback is un-engaged. While the DMC-8 does not have talkback, forthcoming Nautilus gear will have it. Only use a Nautilus Master Technology remote to operate this feature correctly.

The big volume knob

The last knob to the far right of the unit is the volume knob for the control room speakers. It is the last volume control in the audio chain, and is always engaged unless the "Mute" button is depressed. Even if the "Speaker B" button (and corresponding volume knob) is selected, the big knob still controls the final overall gain sent to the speakers. However, if the volume knob of "Speaker B" is selected and turned all the way down, there will be no signal available at the large control room knob, simply because the Speaker B knob (when selected) is in front of the large knob in the circuit. Keep this in mind if you happen to use the Speaker B function for speakers in the lounge area or recording studio area. With a little experimenting, you'll find the right settings.

The back panel

Graphics notwithstanding, the back panel from left to right includes:

- IEC connector for AC power with super-beefy strain relief for high-end power cords - the four holes accommodate tie wrap-style securing straps in case you are rack mounting the unit at an angle.

- On-off power switch - It's common in many studios to leave the audio power supply on to a console or other primary piece(s) of gear - the DMC-8 is a good candidate to leave on 24 hours a day. Bulb life is excellent in this unit - you may want to "stagger" the selected source (Stereo Buss, 2 TR 1, 2 or 3) left on at the end of a day, that way the "over night" bulb usage will be spread out and extend the time before a replacement is needed. I've used the same switches for years without needing a bulb replaced. (Remember... turn off power amps for on/off use!)

- Voltage selector switch (for 220 European voltages)

- Remote control switching socket (for switching the first 4 functions/buttons on the front panel)

- Dim logic phone connector intended for use with the Nautilus Master Technology MBR-8 remote talkback unit, or connections from forthcoming Nautilus gear. The Dim Logic input allows dimming of monitors connected to the DMC-8 when a talkback "trigger" signal is enabled. When using a qualified technician, a console's dim command can be connected to the DMC-8 so that the monitors dim even when using a console's built-in talkback feature. Future Nautilus products will include talkback and studio headphone control that will interface with this unit.

Always use the best possible cables to connect your DMC-8 - cables make a difference in the sound!

- Stereo XLR balanced line-level output connectors for "Speaker B" which sends the selected source to the designated 2nd amplifier or self-powered speakers. These speakers can either be for the control room, studio speakers or other alternate speakers. These XLR outputs are disabled when the front-panel "Speaker B" button is deselected (unlit).

- Stereo XLR balanced line-level output connectors for "Speaker A" which sends the selected source to the designated 1st amplifier or self-powered speakers. These outputs are disabled when "Speaker B" is selected.

- Stereo XLR balanced line-level "Source Select" outputs. Important: This output is sending full line level at all times. If you connect this signal to any other device other than a Nautilus product for which it is intended, only use audio equipment that has it's own proper level adjustment capability.

This is simply a line-level output of whatever source is selected, either Stereo Buss, 2 Track 1, 2, or 3. Aside from being a great way to send a signal to an external recorder for copies, the Source Select output can be connected to an external talkback /headphone distribution amplifier that has it's own level controls. It can be used (simultaneously with standard control room operations) to send audio to a speaker system in another room - but that other speaker system must have it's own volume controls. This is perfect if you have a consumer stereo system in a lobby or meeting room that can accept line level signals.

- 2 Track 3 - RCA connectors for a typical CD player to be plugged directly into the unit. This can also receive the unbalanced outputs from a Masterlink or other professional unbalanced device. These connectors are active when "2 Track 3" is selected on the front panel. Note: When any professional equipment is plugged into the RCA connectors, set the level-adjustment pad switch to the proper level to avoid overloading the input. When the pad switch is down, the level is lower.

- 2 Track 2 - XLR connectors for the stereo return (output) from a line-level mixdown machine such as a DAT recorder, an analog tape machine, a stand-alone Masterlink or CD recorder, etc. These connectors are active when "2 Track 2" is selected on the front panel.

- 2 Track 1 - XLR connectors for the stereo return (output) from a mixdown machine such as a DAT recorder, analog tape machine, stand-alone Masterlink or CD recorder, professional cassette recorder, etc. These connectors are active when "2 Track 1" is selected on the front.

* Optional: When not in use with a Digital Audio Workstation, the DMC-8 can accept the monitor buss output from a console. This enables the user to switch to a source selection (like "2 Track 1" - with the monitor buss connected) and solo on the board during tracking or mixing. You may need to raise the console's monitor pot in order to match the gain of the stereo buss. This is normal. Then when a more precise audio path is desired, simply switch back over to the Stereo Buss selector for the highest resolution signal. However, it limits the number of 2 Track return sources, but you will know which feature is more purposeful.

- Stereo Buss unbalanced (1/4" phone) connectors to receive the audio output of an unbalanced "studio in a box" recording unit such as a Roland VS unit, or D-A converters (or a computer digital card) with unbalanced audio outputs (an adapter may be required as such cards usually have RCA outputs) or other audio console that does not have XLR outputs. When these connectors are used, the balanced XLR stereo buss connectors are disabled.

- Stereo Buss balanced XLR inputs to receive the analog output of a professional analog or digital audio console, or balanced outputs from a professional D-A converters (such as those offered by Prism, Apogee, Pro Tools, MOTU, etc.), or any other source that is intended to be the final audio output that goes to a mixdown machine. The two 6 dB pads enable you to lower the input level. When the pad is engaged the audio level out of the stereo buss thru is also lowered (lower position is lower gain).

Option: While it is not advisable, these "Stereo Buss" inputs can also receive the outputs of the console monitor buss as described above. This will enable you to use both "2 Track 1" and "2 Track 2" as stereo returns. In this case, you can put either 2 Track machine in the input mode to monitor a more accurate stereo buss signal, while retaining the solo functions of the console monitor buss. When used in conjunction with the DMC-8, the Nautilus DMC-2 can be used to allow additional monitor and headphone functions while retaining the integrity of the DMC-8's stereo buss as your primary listening source.

- Stereo Buss Thru 1 & 2 (through) sends the analog stereo buss signal directly to two dedicated mixdown machines. This enables the highest quality stereo buss to be made available at the control room monitoring stage, while sending the stereo buss signal onto the dedicated machine it was intended for.

If you are not using dedicated mixdown machines:

Even though I prefer the sound of a dedicated Masterlink or other mixdown machine, digital audio workstations often do not need this since they can "render" or "bounce" a stereo mix internally. The computer (or digital console) can then burn a CD, thereby eliminating the need for a mixdown machine. However, DAWs and digital recording desks (like Roland VS-1680's, AKAI or Tascam units) still must send an audio signal to the speakers, and so they are equipped with their own monitor buss outputs which provides the analog signal intended for the speakers.

These units also have a digital output which can be plugged into a dedicated digital mixdown machine or into a D to A converter (DAC) for better quality sound. This analog output from a DAC is ideal for the DMC-8 stereo buss input (either balanced or unbalanced). The Stereo Buss Thru then enables the stereo signal to be routed to a patch bay, stand alone mixdown machine, cassette deck, or other equipment meant for analog stereo signals.

Using excellent D-A converters, an analog signal to a dedicated mixdown machine can sound quite good, perhaps superior, depending on the system being used (particularly if outboard equipment such as compressors, reverbs, or analog summing mixers are being used in the mixdown process, thereby requiring analog to digital conversion).

The Stereo Buss Thru is similar to the "MIDI Thru" commonly found on synthesizers. However, the Stereo Buss Thru audio signal is in no way related to a MIDI signal.

The DMC-8 can be a very powerful tool for making level-matched comparisons. Listen to the sound of a "rendered" or "bounced" stereo file from a DAW and compare it with a Masterlink's analog or digital recording (without the "bounce" process). If you have a digital patch bay, you can send one digital signal to 2 sets of D-A converters and compare the sound. Check your previous mixes with your current mixes to be sure you like where the vocal level sits in your latest mix (every song has a "life" of it's own and can end up with different over-all levels, even though all the sounds and gain structures are relatively the same). Compare an analog tape deck (gotta love that) with a 96K or higher A-D converter-to-digital recorder.

Click here for information and insights about effective A-B techniques

The DMC-8 is also a powerful mastering tool. While the individual level pots are not detented, they are precision-tracking and will stay in place if they are not tampered with. If you calibrate your outputs levels from different sources, you can compare your mastered product with other sources to examine the tonal and level differences. The discrete Class-A resolution sound speaks for itself (and problems associated with long cables and passive systems are not an issue).

Nautilus Master Technology warrants this product to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a period of 1 year. Any servicing requires the unit to be returned to Nautilus for repair by qualified service personnel. Parts and labor during the one year period are free of charge, except for any shipping charges.

Any damage to the DMC-8 other than normal professional usage voids this warrantee. When shipping the unit to Nautilus for any reason, use original packing box and materials, or other similar or better care. Nautilus is an Earth-Aware company. Please recycle and re-use plastic or any non-biodegradeable materials.

Repairs beyond the warrantee time period will be charged a repair fee for parts, labor, and shipping. The quality of design and component integrity of this unit is of the highest standards, and you may expect to enjoy the use of it for many years. Any questions or comments, please contact us and we will be happy to take care of your needs. We are committed to sonic and service excellence.

Best wishes, and now go cut a hit! Yikes... did you actually read all of this? Cool!

John Vestman

 

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