Monday, January 04, 2016
RE/P Files: Toto World Tour 1985
From the August 1985 issue of the late, great Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, David Scheirman takes a look at the touring setup for the international tour of the legendary band, Toto.
Take one of the music world’s best-known, Grammy Award winning pop rock groups, a custom-tailored concert sound system, 136 stage inputs, computer controlled stage instrumentation, a new concept in monitoring, six (6!!) veteran live sound mixers, and several months’ worth of international touring . . . and the recipe exists for one of the most complex concert sound projects to be out on the road this year.
Starting in February of this year, The Toto Entourage kicked off its 1985 World Tour in Japan.
A complete stage-monitoring system, and a house mixing package equipped with a regulated power distribution system, were shipped to all international dates.
For the Japanese portion of the tour, a house reinforcement system was contracted through Hibino Sound. All North American dates were handled by Schubert Systems Group, of Gardena, CA.
On March 19, 1985, Toto’s U.S. tour began at the Arizona State University Activity Center in Tempe, Arizona. This writer journeyed to the site for a first-hand look at the group’s advanced audio system, which features multiple mixing consoles with six operators.
David Bowers, Dirk Schubert, and Ed Simeone
Toto is a notable group, comprised of some of America’s busiest working studio session musicians. The group’s albums have often featured innovative recording techniques and instrumentation. Collectively, members of Toto — David Paich, Steve Lukather, plus Jeff, Steve and Mike Porcaro — have probably participated in the playing, arranging and recording of more recent, American popular rock music than any other similar group of musician/technicians.
Several of the band members operate personal-use recording studios, which are stripped of gear when the group does one of its infrequent tours. Shep Lonsdale, a recording engineer and audio mixer who has collaborated with the group on such recent ventures as the film soundtrack for Dune, is involved in all aspects of Toto’s sound.
“Having been involved with the actual recording to Toto’s music in the studio gives me a much different perspective on doing the live shows than many concert mixers might have,” explains Lonsdale. “Traditionally, a gap has existed between live and recorded sound.”
“That gap is starting to narrow, as the technology becomes available to recreate the sound of an album in a live performance setting. Stage technology is improving, and concert-sound systems are now beginning to offer the fidelity that has been lacking in the past. The sound of the recorded music and the sound of the live show are important to the members of Toto.”
The Live Concept
Dirk Schubert, of Schubert Systems Group, was actively involved in assembling Toto’ s custom studio monitoring system and performance hardware. When the band chose SSG to provide full sound reinforcement services as well for the group’s live tour, Schubert went along as a monitor mix engineer.
“One of the most important things to understand here is that these guys know what they want,” states Schubert. “They craft their musical packages in the studio, and they are used to a certain way of hearing everything . . . stereo keyboard monitors, special vocal monitors, and instrument submixers. It was up to us to figure out how to take the whole thing on the road in an easily-transportable package.
Stage plot for Toto’s 1985 tour.
“Our touring accounts get something that other sound companies are not often able to address: if the gear doesn’t exist to give them the sound or the operational functions that they want, we build it for them.”
To make Toto’s live show happen, 136 stage inputs were funneled down to house and stage monitor mixing positions, each with two Gamble consoles (and two board operators) by using separate, manned stereo keyboard submix positions (Figure l).
Hidden offstage, these two consoles gave both keyboardists David Paich and Steve Porcaro an individual audio mixer for submixing the multiple stage rigs (with banks of MIDI connected keyboards), as well as a “private” stage monitor man for each musician’s own musical program material. Personal computers assisted in the MIDI-switching of the two rigs.
Figure 2: Stage-left keyboard mix position — Gamble SC-24-24-11 console, manned by Ed Simeone..
The instrument submix for Steve Porcaro was handled by Ed Simeone, who gained a great deal of experience with complex keyboard setups during his several years of touring with Electric Light Orchestra.
Simeone mixed on a Gamble SC24-24-II board. Designed and built by Jim Gamble Associates, the transformerless console features 24 inputs and 24 outputs, and seemed to be ideally suited for use as a stage instrument mixer (Figure 2).
“Basically, what we are doing here is giving the musician access to a wide variety of electronic instrument voicings, and using MIDI-switching technology to keep the stage clutter to a minimum.” Simeone explains.
Several primary keyboards are located on stage at Steve Pocaro’s position, including a Yamaha DX-7. Interface cabling connects the stage area with Simeone’s setup, and those performance keyboards can access the additional instruments, including a pair of E-mu Systems Emulator IIS and an Oberheim X-Pander.
“Some of the latest electronic keyboard gear now available is being used with this show, and the factory support from companies such as Yamaha, Oberheim and Emulator has been tremendous,” Simeone confides.
“Things could get pretty complicated with this many keyboard units.” Having the auxiliary keyboard racks off-stage gave the stage a much cleaner appearance,” he offers.
To help the complex setup work smoothly, Simeone uses a Compaq personal computer placed next to his mixing desk (Figure 3). The screen editor displays a “menu” for each musical arrangement, showing what keyboard device is patched through which MIDI switch for each tune (Figure 4).
In addition, the computer program (arranged by keyboard expert Ralph Dyck) sends a pulse to a JL Cooper MS-II MIDI match-box device, when authorized by the engineer. Yamaha MIDI rack panel modules are hooked up to the various keyboard devices. A customized voltage-controlled attenuator module was designed by Jonathon Little of Village Recorder, Los Angeles, to provide a direct interface for level changing of the keyboard instruments.
Figure 3: A Compaq personal computer located at the stage left submix position. Each song in the show has a “menu” showing which instruments are in use, as well as MIDI patches. Figure 4: The Compaq display screen, showing an informational display designed by keyboard expert Ralph Dyck.
‘“This is a very high-quality way to control levels,” noted Simeone. “It would be counterproductive to put a very clean signal from a $50,000 console through a $1.50 volume pot! Steve Porcaro uses the VCA to control his whole rig, while David Paich uses his to fade different synthesizers in and out of the piano mix.”
Effects devices available to Simeone included a Yamaha REV-I digital reverberator, a DL-1500 digital delay unit, a Roland Super Jupiter, and a Lexicon Prime Time Il digital delay In addition, a Dynacord CLS-222 was available for an electronically-created Leslie rotor effect.
Figure 5: Stage right keyboard mix position.
The entire keyboard mixing rig was streamlined, and seemingly well designed as a synergistic package. All inputs and outputs to and from the VCAs are patched, and a 42-pair multicable connects the synth rack and console. For fail-safe operation, a 16-channel manual switching panel can take over in case of MIDI “hangup.” Additionally, a MIDI “Panic Button” is supplied just in case a glitch in the complex control-signal path line causes the system to disregard a computer instruction to change over to the next song’s settings.
“On this side of the stage, Steve likes to wait until I do the changes, and then he kicks it over himself with an on-stage switch,” explains Simeone. “On stage right, I think they did have a hangup once or twice during the shows in Japan, but a quick tap of the panic button sent out a burst of signal pulses in about 30 milliseconds, and that cleared it up. The button interrupts the signal bus, and gives the circuits a chance to clear.”
David Bowers, who has worked with the Doobie Brothers and Kenny Loggins, among others, mixed David Paich’s stage-right keyboard rig. Bowers also commanded a Gamble SC24-24-II desk that was located offstage right (Figure 5). Here, a bank of MIDI-connected keyboards was directly controlled with an IBM personal computer. (Figures 6 and 7) An Oberheim DSX synthesizer with Digital Polyphonic Sequencer, Oberheim OB-8, Oberheim X-Pander and Emulator Il were all controlled by either a Yamaha DX-7 or Paich’s concert grand piano. A cut was made into the piano frame, and the DX-7 nested snugly on top (Figure 8).
“The computer, the keyboard audio mixer, and MIDI technology make things a lot easier on stage than they used to be,” states Bowers. “Instead of mountains of keyboard instruments and miles of spaghetti-like cables, you just see a man up there with his piano. But, you are hearing many of the exact voicings and synth parts that appeared on such classic tunes as ‘Africa’ and ‘Hold The Line’. The grand piano keyboard can trigger sounds that have been stored in the Emulator, which were taken directly from the album masters.”
Bowers used a Lexicon PCM60, Roland MKS-80 Super Jupiter, two Yamaha D1500 digital delays, two Roland SRE-555 Chorus Echos, and a Lexicon 224 digital reverb for special effects processing. In addition, an Aphex Compellor compressor-limiter and an Eventide H949 Harmonizer were available in the equipment racks.
As on stage-left, a JL Cooper MIDI Match-Box and a custom VCA panel formed part of the setup, along with a Yamaha MIDI Rack.
“An important part of assembling this stage-monitoring system was the concept that the performers wanted small, bright-sounding boxes placed up at ear level,” explains designer Dirk Schubert.
“Also, nobody in this band wants to hear much of anything below 150 Hz on the vocals coming from these boxes. It is like a ‘closefield’ mini-monitor approach. What we basically had to come up with was the Yamaha NS-IO or JBL 4401 speaker concept that could put out concert sound pressure level an be able to hold up on the road.”
Sets of compact, custom-built stereo keyboard monitors and interface electronics were designed and assembled by Schubert Systems Group to present the complex mixes to the performers.
For console monitoring, both David Bowers (stage-right) and Ed Simeone (stage-left) used a pair of cabinets that were identical to those placed on stage.
Figure 9: David Paich’s stage monitors.
The miniature loudspeaker columns each house two J BL Model 2118H eight-inch speakers with a passive contour network on each, and a 2404H tweeter.
The eight-inch speaker’s frequency response is essentially flat from 150 Hz to 4 kHz, at which point the tweeter is brought in with a passive crossover network.
The boxes are trapezoidal in shape, and fitted into the stage set with small metal support stands (Figure 10). Yamaha PC-2002 amplifiers power the keyboard rigs, while Metron A-400 amps drive the vocal monitors.
The small keyboard columns proved 80 popular during rehearsals that other performance areas also were supplied with them, including the sax/background vocal riser.
“The concept really makes sense,” explained sideman Scott Page.
“The little boxes give us bright reference information to sing with, right there in front of us. The kick and bass sound, the main rhythm section mix, comes from a little farther away in the bigger slant, instead of blasting me in the face like a lot of stage speaker system do. It works great.”
Critical keyboard, vocal and solo instrument program information is fed through the compact speakers.
Figure 11 (left): SSG’s custom low-profile vocal monitors each house two JBL 2118-J eight-inch speakers, and a 2425 one-inch compression driver on a modified Bi-Radial horn. Figure 12 (right): A protective cover latches onto the mini-monitors for travel protection.
Additional rhythm section material requiring better low-frequency presentation is fed to the various performers through separate larger floor slant monitors that house JBL K-140 15-inch speakers, 2441 drivers with 2445 diaphragms, and 2405 tweeters.
Block Diagram of Keyboard Monitor Signal Flow.
Where floor monitors are required for vocals, including Steve Lukather and Mike Porcaro, SSG’8 low-profile vocal slant monitors were used (Figure 11).
These tiny boxes pack a pair of JBL 2118-J eight-inch speakers and a 2425 one-inch compression driver mounted on a modified JBL 2344 BiRadial horn.
Actively crossed over at 1.5 kHz, the cabinets sit hardly 12 inches high, and offer an extremely smooth, yet bright, vocal reference mix; they also have a power contour network on the horn.
A protective cover latches into place for travel, and wheels make moving the package very easy. (Figure 12)
The main monitor mixing area (down-stage right) was handled by Dirk Schubert and Alan Bonomo (Figure 13).
A Gamble SC40-16 served as the primary board, while an SC32-16 was used as a drum and percussion submixer. (The latter also served the opening act). What started as 136 discrete stage inputs ended up as 58 combined channels at the house and stage monitor positions, plus various effects returns.
Yamaha Q-1027 third-octave graphic equalizers were available for some of the 16 monitor mixes, although the Gamble boards feature on-board parametric equalizers across each output mix.
A Lexicon 224X reverb with LARC remote, Yamaha REV-I digital reverb, Lexicon Prime Time, Eventide H949 Harmonizer, and a Roland SDE-2000 digital delay unit were available for processing use on vocals, drums, keyboards and saxophone. dbx Model 160 and 160X compressor-limiters were channel inserted for lead vocals, background vocal mix, piano and kick drum.
Flying overhead stereo, tri-amped sidefill cabinets flanked both sides of the downstage area. Lead singer “Fergie” Fredricson, using a Nady 701 wireless microphone, does not rely on any floor slants. The cluttered look of a half dozen slants along the front of the stage is changed here to a completely wide-open performance area.
“We have been using one of our PA cabinets as a box on each side, hanging from the lighting truss,” notes Schubert. “The stage-sound level on this tour is much lower than it has ever been: it is about 6 to 10 dB down from when we used a traditional loud monitor system. With less sound up here on stage, we are finding that everyone hears more clearly.”
Of Schubert’s 16 monitor mixes, two went to the tiny floor slants; three mixes fed the miniature keyboard speakers; and five went to full-sized 15-inch slant monitors as rhythm mixes. Additionally, three mixes were used as effects sends for the vocals and drums, while a headphone mix was sent to the piano area, and stereo sidefills completed the monitor board’s output assignments.
“Toto has been using the Gamble boards in the recording studio,” notes Alan Bonomo. “Since this whole complex setup has been created around the keyboard submixers and the different types of monitor cabinets, we are duplicating that on the road so the performers have the same system that has worked well for recording.”
“It is important to note that a monitor system designed around the needs of a recording studio seems to work well in a live performance situation,” Schubert explains. “The rolled-off low end, the smaller cabinets, the lack of floor slants for the front singer . . . it has all helped to cut down the stage noise tremendously. Things sound very clean up here.”
Vocal microphones comprised Shure SM78, Beyer M88 and a Nady 701 (fitted with an SM87 capsule). The drum kit featured a host of Sennheiser MD-4218, while Countryman Isomax Il miniature condenser mikes picked up the congas, bongos and timbales. A hybrid Fender/Yamaha wireless body pack unit was installed on the saxophone to allow freedom of movement.
International Tour Package
The North American concert dates posed no particular logistical problems for Schubert Systems Group, since the firm regularly handles nationwide touring assignments for a
variety of clients, including the Tubes, Willie Nelson and Jefferson Starship. However, much thought was given to the many concert dates to be performed in Europe and Asia.
“Toto wanted the entire stage instrument package and monitor system to be self-contained and consist of a recording studio seems to be consistent,” recalls SSG’s David Morgan. “Due to the great number of signal processors, crossovers and amplifiers, it was important that all of the racks be standardized, while travelling as compactly as possible.”
The standard-sized electronics racks were fabricated by Flag Systems of thick birch plywood, and covered with a tough charcoal-gray exterior nylon carpet material. An inner, foam surrounded birch frame protects the delicate electronic equipment. The racks measure 30 by 24 inches, and fit either three across in a 90-inch truck, or four across in the new 99-inch trucks.
Due to the microprocessor-based functions of many electronics devices, a clean, consistent source of AC power was considered essential. A compact regulated power supply was designed and fabricated by SSG (Figure 14).
“This distro serves the stage area, the monitor system and the house mix area,” explains Schubert. “Each performer and console area has two 20-amp legs of clean, regulated electrical power. Every man is on his own breakers. If the AC starts to drop or surge, the regulators automatically compensate, and can be set to allow up to a 12 percent ‘window’ for the optimum voltage lever.”
A custom-designed stage input panel/ splitter system was assembled for the group, with separate record/ broadcast capabilities for taking 96 lines on-stage into two 48-pair snakes.
A variety of unexpected difficulties can arise when taking such a complex live show to other countries. “We got to Japan, and were not even able to use our new Nady 701 wireless system because it turned out to be right in the middle of a Japanese television station frequency,” Schubert recalls “Over there, however, products are available for use which cannot be purchased here in the States.”
Shep Lonsdale and Clive Franks share mixing duties for Toto. The primary mixing console was a Gamble HC40-24, and a Yamaha M1516.
A submixer was set up to receive drum and percussion inputs (Figure 15). A separate Soundcraft Series 400 desk was provided for use by the opening act (Figure 16).
Effects processing devices included a Lexicon Prime Time Il, AMS 15-80S and RMX-16 delay units, Yamaha REV-I, Lexicon 224X digital reverb, and an Eventide 1-1949 Harmonizer. Ten Valley People Kepex Il noise gates were channel-inserted for drum and percussion inputs.
Channel-inserted compressor-limiting for vocal microphones was assigned to dbx model 160 and 165 devices. Four Yamaha C200 stereo cassette decks also were supplied for taping the show (Figure 17).
“This is my first time using this particular sound system,” explains mixer Clive Franks, known for many years of touring with Elton John.
“It’s pretty exciting. One can get better live sound results from a custom-tailored and correctly-engineered system such as this one. It’s good to have the designer out here with us, though… [Dirk Schubert] — that makes things go more smoothly, since some of the devices such as the crossovers are not off-the-shelf, familiar products.”
Like Shep Lonsdale, Franks felt that sound systems for live-concert use have been improving over the years. “We seem to be getting more sound from a fewer number of cabinets than what you would have seen several years ago,” he notes. “Improved array design and increased amplifier performance are all part of it.”
Lonsdale concurs: “Years ago, we made the best out of whatever we had. If you were good at what you did, you learned how to get the best sound out of anything, because so many of the available systems were poor in quality. It’s pretty easy to find good systems these days, as we all keep learning about what it takes to do the job right.”
Schubert Systems Group’s loudspeaker arrays comprise multiples of a three-way rectangular “column” cabinet, each of which houses two JBL Model 2220 15-inch speakers, a Bi-Radial horn with a two-inch compression driver, and four JBL 2402 tweeters.
The cabinets are easily assembled into hanging arrays (Figure 18).
Large subwoofer cabinets, each housing four J BL Model 2245 18-inch loudspeakers in a ported rectangular box, provide low-frequency reinforcement below 100 Hz. Stacked on the floor next to the stage, ramps also allowed these boxes to serve as an additional performance area for the acrobatic lead singer (Figure 19).
Figure 17 (left): House equipment racks held a variety of signal processing devices, including a Lexicon Prime Time Il, AMS 15-80s and RMX-16 delay units, and dbx compressor-limiters. Four Yamaha C200 stereo cassette decks were available for making reference recordings of each concert. Figure 18 (right): A total of 36 three-way loudspeaker enclosures, each housing two JBL 2220 loudspeakers, a Bi-RadiaI horn with 2441 driver, and four 2402 compression tweeters, were supplied to the tour.
Amplifier racks house five stereo units each. Three 1,200-watt, one 800watt and one 400-watt specially modified Cerwin-Vega amps are currently employed, a combination that yields 300-watt8 to each 18- and 15inch speaker, 150 watts to each 2441 driver, and 25 watts to each 2402 tweeter (Figure 20).
“Having enough amplifier headroom to adequately drive the loudspeaker system and the reserve to respond to transient peaks is very important to us,” observes SSG technician Mike Ferrara.
A 200-amp, three-phase power distribution system drove the C/M Lodestar hoists used to “hang” the sound system, and supplied the main amplifier racks. A neat, modular I-beam system with heavy nylon straps suspended the speaker arrays; one rigging point with a one-ton motor suspended a single beam and four speaker cabinets. For venues averaging 10,000 seats, SSG supplied Toto with 36 three-way cabinets and eight subwoofers, giving a total of 32 18-inch speakers, 72 15-inch speakers, 36 two-inch drivers and 144 compression tweeters.
Conclusions: Performance Sound
With enough consoles and digital signal processing gear in this one touring system to fill a couple of audio rental supply houses, one begins to wonder where the trend towards extensive hardware for live-performance use will stop.
A concert sound setup such as this one is extremely costly, and is far beyond the average system on the road today in terms of its complexity.
However, the extra care taken to assemble the audio tools required to achieve live duplication of recorded music deserves more than a few compliments.
The concert that this writer attended at the Arizona State University Activity Center featured an extremely well-crafted mix, with subtle nuances and effects not often heard in live rock concert settings, particularly of the one-nighter variety.
The stage-area submixers were perhaps instrumental in achieving the excellent end result.
The SSG system presented the detailed mix to a lively college-age crowd with power to spare.
Full-frequency coverage was well distributed throughout the listening area.
Twenty years ago, a “rock and roll” show had one soundman, perhaps 12 stage microphone inputs, and whatever house-sound cluster was available that night.
As I sat and listened to six experienced board operators mixing down 136 inputs on $300,000 worth of consoles and effects into high-fidelity hanging speaker arrays, the distance that the concert sound industry has traveled in those two decades was remarkable to behold.
Now, if we can only “fix” those sporting-arena acoustics!
Editor’s Note: This is a series of articles from Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, which began publishing in 1970 under the direction of Publisher/Editor Martin Gallay. After a great run, RE/P ceased publishing in the early 1990s, yet its content is still much revered in the professional audio community. RE/P also published the first issues of Live Sound International magazine as a quarterly supplement, beginning in the late 1980s, and LSI grew to become the monthly publication that continues to thrive to this day.
Our sincere thanks to Mark Gander of JBL Professional for his considerable support on this archive project.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Selects DPA Mics For “‘Keyboards and Carols at Christmas”
Texas-based school chooses d:vote Instrument and d:facto Vocal Microphones for fourth annual performance of "Keyboards and Carols at Christmas"
The School of Church Music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) continues to turn to DPA Microphones for its annual ‘Keyboards and Carols at Christmas’ event.
As with previous years, the production team once again relied on d:vote 4099 Piano Microphones on each of the pianos, this time opting to install three microphones in the grand pianos and two microphones in the baby grand pianos, utilizing 30 microphones in total.
The school also selected four d:facto Vocal Microphones with Shure wireless adapters for the event’s soloists and presenters.
Now in its fourth year, the holiday concert featured four Steinway Grand Pianos, nine Steinway Baby Grand Pianos, one organ, an adult choir and a children’s choir.
This group of student and professional musicians, which ranged in age from four to 70, performed holiday songs for the event’s biggest audience to-date, over 2,500 attendees.
“This is the third year we’ve been using DPA microphones, and we’ve found our sweet spot,” says Brad Powers, assistant director for audio and chapel production in the newly established Audio Visual Arts Department at SWBTS.
“We pretty much stick to tradition at this point. When I came on, I was informed that we had used DPA microphones for two years in a row. I gave the mics a listen, and I honestly wouldn’t have used anything else.”
The consistency of the sound has been the major draw that brings the school back to DPA each year.
“I was surprised at how little EQ it took to get the microphones set up,” continues Powers. “It minimizes time to get the production miked up. The d:vote mics were so easy to install in the piano because of the magnetic mount, which allows you to place them wherever you need. They have an impressive natural sound and flat response, which makes it easy to get the pianos sounding great very quickly. The design of the mics also ensures that you can’t see them, which is crucial in a production like this where there is so much to mic on one stage.”
In addition to using the microphones to amplify the pianos through the PA system, the school also “had a main piano that pumped through the stage monitors placed near each of the pianists,” adds Powers.
“I was surprised at how much gain before feedback I got with that setup; those monitors were blasting. The microphones performed wonderfully and like every year prior, we received rave reviews about how good the pianos sounded. With the existing audio system in place, I was able to get the sound especially perfect this year. I don’t think it could have gone any better.”
The audio team at the seminary are such fans of DPA microphones, that they also have d:vote microphones installed in the main piano at the school’s chapel. “We own eight of the instrument mics and we are working on purchasing more,” says Powers. “I’m also planning to demo some choir microphones because that’s something we’d like to incorporate for next year’s performance. We’re aiming to be a complete DPA presentation.”
SWBTs’ new Audio Visual Arts Department is different from the AV communications department that previously oversaw the concert in that the former is run by the music school, whereas the latter is part of the communications department.
“This new arrangement will allow them to “work more closely with the music school to ensure that they get the sounds they want and be able to help with any AV needs more efficiently,” explains Powers. “We’ve been really fortunate to have a crew who has an ear for sound and music, so that’s been very helpful.” The school also has a music academy for weekly vocal or instrumental lessons for younger children who also performed during the concert.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone at DPA Microphones for working with us for all of these years and providing a means for us to use your microphones for each performance,” concludes Powers.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
DPA Microphones Support Sinatra Tribute In London
Cardiff-based Stage Sound Services provides d:vote Instrument Microphones for “Sinatra: The Man & His Music” at the London Palladium
DPA Microphones’ d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones played a key role in a highly unusual theater project that marked the centenary of Frank Sinatra’s birth by bringing him back to the stage of the London Palladium.
Entitled “Sinatra: The Man & His Music,” this multimedia show took footage of Sinatra’s performances over his entire career and mixed them with a live 24-piece orchestra and cast of dancers.
The result, which was described by reviewers as a cross between a tribute and a musical, was well received by audiences who packed the theater for the show’s limited run of three months.
Sound designer Dan Samson chose d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones because they offered audio quality and could also be used by every musician, regardless of the instrument they played.
“The musicians were one of the only live human elements in the show, so it was important that they were not static,” says Samson.
“We were trying to make it feel like a real concert where the band was backing the real Frank Sinatra, so we wanted the musicians to move around and be part of the performance. We had them standing up for solos, standing on a pallet that formed part of the bandstand, performing shout choruses and generally being very visible to the audience.”
DPA’s d:vote 4099s were used across the entire range of instruments, from percussion, drums and bass, to piano, the string section, woodwind and trumpets.
“They were undoubtedly the stars of the show,” says Samson.
“They are so versatile and come with a great range of clips and mounts, allowing us to use them on everything. Some of the microphones were connected wirelessly to our Shure system and they delivered a consistent signal regardless of their location, which meant that the musicians had complete freedom of movement. They also offered great isolation and, thanks to their tiny size, we were able to position them really close to the sound source without interfering with playability.”
As an experienced sound designer who has worked on numerous shows such as “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita,” “The Glenn Miller Story,” “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Blood Brothers” and “The Sound of Music,” Dan Samson is very familiar with DPA’s product range and uses them on all of his shows.
“DPA’s d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones are great for most instruments but I particularly like them on acoustic guitars because they sound so natural and warm,” he says. “They are versatile enough to mount on a range of different guitars and I have used them on steel acoustics, nylons and 12 strings, all with great success. The players love the way the guitars sound in their monitoring and are always pleased to see them.”
Samson also uses d:dicate 2011C Cardioid Microphones for percussion, stating their ability to handle very high SPL and sound consistency sounds great across a range of different instruments as the main reasons for his choice.
“If I need a miniature microphone, I use d:screet 4061 Miniature Microphones or d:fine 4066 Headset Microphones,” he says.
“The d:fine 4066 is better for rock and roll shows because of how consistently close to the source you can position them without compromising the sound quality. This allows for high levels of vocal foldback. The mics are also popular with performers because they are very comfortable to wear, even whilst the performers are dancing. They do a great impression of a rock vocal microphone but without the constraints of a handheld. The d:screet 4061, on the other hand, is much more suited to traditional shows because they deliver a really natural and detailed sound. They are also really easy to hide on a performer.”
The 40-plus d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones required for the Sinatra show were supplied by Cardiff-based Stage Sound Services, which has been a DPA advocate for over 10 years.
“From a rental point of view they are incredibly popular microphones and are often specified by sound designers for a wide range of live sound and theater projects,” says Phil Hurley, managing director.
“We have been supplying them since they were first introduced and we are really happy with their audio quality. As the range has developed, they have become even more versatile because they can be used on so many different instruments.”
Hurley adds that Stage Sound Services has over 200 DPA microphones in its rental stock, including over 70 d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones, over 50 d:fine Headset Microphones and a number of d:screet Miniature and d:dicate Recording Microphones.
“They are theater staples,” he says. “And frankly they are a very good rental earner so I am happy to invest in them.”
Monday, December 21, 2015
Harman Professional Solutions Support Las Vegas Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon
AV Vegas Concert Sound and Lighting deploys JBL VTX line arrays and Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers for more than two dozen stages along Las Vegas Boulevard.
Harman Professional Solutions recently teamed with AV Vegas Concert Sound and Lighting to provide a comprehensive audio and lighting system for the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.
The first Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon took place in 1998 as a simple race with bands along the course to celebrate and inspire each participant.
It has since grown to 30,000 participants running in dozens of cities across the country, with the race in Las Vegas recognized as the signature event.
For the third year in a row, AV Vegas relied on Harman’s JBL VTX line arrays and Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers for the event’s sound reinforcement system, and Martin by Harman fixtures for the lighting production.
During the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, Las Vegas Boulevard is closed to all traffic and turns into a brilliantly lit running track. Runners pass more than two dozen stages with live bands and DJs, whose songs and beats inspire them to the finish line.
This year, headlining performers included Kid Rock and Matt and Kim. While entertainment and the energy of a festival weekend define the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon experience, runners have also raised more than $300 million for participating charities since its inception.
AV Vegas Concert Sound and Lighting has been the marathon’s chief audio and lighting provider for three years. This year, the company brought in new JBL VTX V20 line arrays powered by Crown VRacks as well as JBL CSR-82L Custom Shop subwoofers for the start line. The crew also installed pairs of truss-mounted JBL VRX932LA Constant Curvature loudspeakers every 200 feet down the boulevard. The VTX system, accompanied by the delays, served to pump up the runners before the start of the race.
Hansen says the addition of the JBL VTX V20 line arrays was a critical improvement. “The V20s are a huge step forward for us,” Hansen said. “They are really stout, and with the limiting that is built into the Crowns, you don’t really have to worry how hard you push.”
After the Las Vegas Strip closed at 2 p.m. on race day, Hansen and his team set up a stage in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard in the shadow of the Paris Las Vegas hotel.
Hansen selected four JBL SRX 835P loudspeakers on four JBL SRX 818SP subwoofers for the main system and six JBL SRX 812P wedges for on-stage monitors.
“The system set-up time was minimal, since they are powered loudspeakers, sound really good right out of the box and require very little tweaking,” Hansen said. Hansen lined the stage with Martin MAC Auras and MAC 350s. “There were two high-energy bands playing the stage,” he said. “The MAC Auras and MAC 350s worked great, because they are fun to look at from any distance. We got a great response from the runners.”
Further down the Las Vegas Strip, AV Vegas built towers of JBL loudspeakers lining the runners’ route. This “Mile of Music” concept has been in place for three years and has proved an enormous success. The AV Vegas staging department built four 6-foot tall platforms and placed them 500 feet apart on the Las Vegas Strip. Hansen and his team installed a pair of ground-stacked JBL VTX V25 loudspeakers facing north and another pair facing south on each platform, with antennas sending the audio signal wirelessly.
“We chose the VTX V25 loudspeakers because they had enough low end that they did not require subs to sound convincing,” Hansen said. “Not laying down subs cut down on set-up time and truck space considerably. Those things become really important when your crew is setting up 16 stages of audio and lighting equipment all over town in a very short time.”
Another signature Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon mile marker is the Las Vegas World Market Center, which includes three 1,500-foot white canvas tents. AV Vegas used Martin MAC Viper Profiles with gobo wheels to project onto the tents, dazzling the runners on their route. The extensive palette on the Martin MAC Viper Profiles accentuated the energetic vibe of the race.
“The color mix on the Martin MAC Viper Profiles is fantastic,” Hansen said. “It’s smooth with really nice pastels. The originality of the designs of the gobo wheels help make the light show that much more creatively charged, providing a great display for the runners.”
Hansen has been using Harman products for many years and says the reliability of each of the company’s products offers him enormous peace of mind.
“There are always hurdles when it comes to this event,” Hansen says. “There are so many different things to coordinate, and I’m often caught worrying that we might not pull it off. Not having to worry about any of the Harman Professional Solutions gear is invaluable and a big reason why I keep returning to these products, year after year.”
Harman Professional Solutions
Allen & Heath’s dLive Makes Chinese Debut On Hins Cheung Tour
A Team Plus selects dLive S5000 Control Surface with DM64 MixRack, and ME monitor system cantopop singer and songwriter.
Chinese Cantopop singer and songwriter, Hins Cheung, recently kicked off his tour ‘Live in Passion’ at Guangzhou Gymnasium with the help of a monitor mixing system comprising Allen & Heath’s new dLive and ME personal monitor mixing systems.
Hong Kong production company, A Team Plus, managed audio for the tour, selecting a dLive S5000 Control Surface and DM64 MixRack, and ME monitor system provided by Allen & Heath’s Chinese distributor, EZPro.
“Due to the size of the band, there is 64 inputs to manage. Fortunately, dLive’s control surface is very user-friendly and intuitive. Two screens on the surface provide a fantastic overview of what’s going on, and around the screens there are some physical knobs for compressor, EQ, and gate, which are extremely helpful when I mix. I can operate very quickly thanks to the Harmony UI, which integrates screen and wrap-around control,” explains monitor engineer, Faymum Man.
The band on stage includes a drummer, bass, two guitarists, one programmer, three key boards and four vocals, each equipped with a ME-1 personal mixer to control their own mix on stage.
“dLive is smooth and natural, and this is the very reason why Allen & Heath mixers are my favorite. I have to mention that the built-in FX are fantastic. There are 16 FX engines with reverb, delay and many plug-ins such as De-Esser. While I have to pay for these effects in other consoles, I can get them free in dLive. I just love it,” says Faymum Man.
Allen & Heath
Friday, December 18, 2015
HK Audio CONTOUR On The Road With Deep Purple
CT 112 loudspeakers and CT 118 subs continue to be the stage monitor of choice for original drummer Ian Paice on the band’s 2015 fall/winter tour.
HK Audio’s CONTOUR Series continues to be the stage monitor of choice for Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, who used his favored pair of CT 112 loudspeakers and CT 118 subs on the band’s 2015 fall/winter tour.
Deep Purple co-founder Paice, who is the only continuous member of the band since it formed in 1968, has the setup placed directly behind his kit for live shows, a solution he prefers to in-ear monitors.
“I’ve been using HK Audio for 20 years, and there’s something in the way the systems are put together which for drums just seems to work,” Paice says. “They pick out the depth and the sweetness and the clarity at the top end that you need. The drums just seem to stay in balance and the frequency response seems to be working perfectly for everything I need. When you’ve got that, it just makes the whole process of playing an instrument you can’t physically hear a lot easier.”
During an exclusive interview with HK Audio before the band’s show at Trier Arena in Germany, Paice also explained – among other things – just why he and the other members of Deep Purple continue with traditional monitors in the face of more modern options like in-ear systems.
Rob Hodgkinson, Deep Purple’s longtime monitor engineer, is also a big fan of the CONTOUR setup. Hodgkinson spoke at length to HK Audio about his history in the industry and his continued satisfaction with the HK Audio monitor systems he controls for Paice, and also for Deep Purple keyboard player Don Airey, who uses a CONTOUR CT 115 monitor setup for live shows.
Hodgkinson said: “It’s a good, reliable system – it works well, travels well, and is well-built. It’s great: you just plug them in and turn them up. I’ve not had to use any EQ on the drum fill at all, and it just sounds great! Which is exactly what you want…”
Watch the Ian Paice interview here.
Watch the Rob Hodgkinson interview here
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Ultravox Frontman Midge Ure On The Road With Behringer
For the 20th anniversary of the platinum record, Breathe, Ure takes the X32 digital console and a full band along for the celebration.
The Behringer X32 digital console hit the road with former Ultravox frontman Midge Ure, along with a full complement of S16 stage boxes and splitters.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Midge Ure’s platinum record, Breathe, so instead of performing solo he decided to take a full band out for the celebration.
Ure’s front of house engineer for more than two decades, Berenice Hardman has typically relied on analog setups for the solo shows.
However, due to the need for more channels, effects returns on faders and maximum versatility on the tour, she naturally turned to the X32.
“I needed 16 channels plus effects returns, and I have to be particularly flexible with these shows as we are taking in such a variety of venues – from proper theatres to a tithe barn, would you believe,” she says.
“All the gear has to go either in cars or a splitter… so I needed something small enough to squeeze into tight spaces. I’d already used a Behringer X32 last year, and thought it sounded great – plus it was easy to structure to the way I engineer. It’s also very affordable, so it becomes an absolute no-brainer.”
The same X32 setup was used for the live album, Breathe Again, Live and Extended, which was released worldwide through Oblivion/SPV.
PK Sound Deploys Trinity For MDBP Tour
Mad Decent Block Party tour supported by Trinity arrays at over twenty different outdoor concerts across the US and Canada.
Mad Decent Block Party attracted major crowds, some as large as 16,000, to more than twenty different outdoor concerts across the US and Canada this summer. According to the popular website dancingastronaut, “Mad Decent Block Party has become a quintessential music event for fans across the continent. By incorporating a wide variety of artists that reach outside the bounds of the typical Mad Decent roster, the Block Party gives many major US festivals a run for their money.”
At every event, PK Sound was there to demonstrate Trinity’s power, durability and flexibility.
The MDBP tour was a feast of live music, with over 60 acts including top headliners like Die Antwoord and Skrillex. The variation in performers from one show to next meant that each day was a new day on tour for the front of house engineers. Not only new performers, but also different genres, demanded the quality and live concert flexibility that Trinity provides.
“The tour had the most diverse lineup of any tour I’ve worked on,” says Rory Stewart, production manager. “We featured a variety of genres including EDM, drum & bass DJ’s, and trap, along with live vocalists.”
To ensure each artist was able to deliver their very best performance, PK Sound configured a Trinity line array of 10 per side, 36 PK CX800 Dual 18-inch subwoofers, two PK VX12 line arrays for front fill, and ten PK VX10 for alternate line arrays. All of the equipment had to withstand the inevitable rainy days, but that wasn’t a concern for Stewart and the crew, or Trinity’s weather-resistant amplifier plate and IP43 cables and connectors
The limited time for set-up and tear-down wasn’t a concern either, nor was the challenge of having to make quick adjustments to optimize the quality of the various performances.
“The line array could be quickly deployed and removed, plus we could control the throw once it had been flown,” says Stewart.
“With a conventional line array, the speakers must be taken down in order to adjust any of the vertical dispersion angles, which can be time and labor intensive, and ultimately cause you to compromise on audio quality because you don’t have the time to re-adjust. With Trinity, you could adjust the dispersion even when the show was running.”
Precise control of the sound field is achieved through electrically actuated systems inside each module, which allow continuous horizontal adjustment between 60-120° degrees with 10° resolution and continuous adjustment from 0-6° with 0.1° resolution. Because Trinity’s 3D Wavefront Control lets you focus the sound, you can reduce the spill into adjacent zones and direct sound away from reflective surfaces. If even coverage over long distances is the challenge, Trinity’s patent-pending Coherent Midrange Integrator (CMI) has the unique ability to focus high frequency energy.
PK’s system also won kudos from guest engineers who were working directly with the major acts like Jack U, Major Lazer, Skrillex and Odesza.
“Their feedback was extremely positive,” says Stewart. “We had lots of compliments on how loud and clear the audio was, and they said how impressed they were with the ability to cover large audiences of up to 16,000 people.” The long throw capability of Trinity’s patent-pending Coherent Midrange Integrator wave guide has the unique ability to focus high frequency energy; this ensures even coverage over long distances.
Stewart also noted that West Coast EDM performer TJR was particularly impressed with the ability of the PK system to reproduce for a live concert the sound he was able to achieve in the studio. This level of quality, for him, created a connection to the audience at Mad Decent Block Party.
MDBP was a major tour and a major success. For PK Sound, it was an ideal showcase for their system’s performance and flexibility - no matter who the artist, no matter what the weather, regardless of the size of crowd or challenges of the venue.
PK Sound is an owner-operated audio manufacturing and production company headquartered in Calgary, AB, Canada, with offices in San Francisco, CA, USA and Victoria, BC, Canada. The PK brand of audio system is well known for its full bodied and intelligible sound; a result of implementing high efficiency components, new technologies and focusing on the current demands of artists and fans.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Jurassic 5 Tours US And Europe With Solid State Logic
Hip Hop act selects SSL L300 live console for 18 tour dates, including 5 festivals
Hip Hop act Jurassic 5 has been on the road again, taking a Solid State Logic L300 console along for their 2015 US and European tour.
Rappers Chali 2na, Akil, Zaakir aka Soup, and Marc 7, plus DJs Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark bring an energetic mix of vocals and decks to stage, along with some inventive toys that include Chemist’s infamous record-guitar and Nu-Mark’s record-necklace.
The band’s front of house engineer, Aron ‘M-Sound’ Mandelbaum, has been travelling with an SSL L300 live console and ML 32.32 Stagebox, using them on 18 tour dates, including 5 festivals.
Inputs for the main show include all vocal mics (and spare), plus the outputs from the DJ mixers. “The environment I get to work in is not only super-consistent, but I have rappers that have excellent mic technique,” he explains. “...So my channels come back the same way every day… The band is a kind of litmus test for a PA. I can tell you what’s going on in your processing, I can tell you what’s happening with the console…”
According to Mandelbaum, the L300 showed its true colors at the festivals - where direct comparisons with other consoles, both analog and digital, were inevitable: “It blew the doors off everybody else. There’s nothing that can touch it. Nothing.
“Most of the other consoles have a brash top end… You can hear there is a dissonant, transient, mild distortion.. to the point where you’ve got to pull 4k, 6k - one of the higher range frequencies. It was as if the L300 had a shelf in there that’s not actually there, because it’s clearly going all the way up the range… It’s so true dynamically that I was generally riding the vocals well beneath my music - ‘settling them in’ as you would in a studio.
“There’s just one artist with a slightly ‘bitey’ vocal, so I went in and added the multi-band compressor to him, and away it went - it was dynamic and accurate and really very sweet.”
The console’s processing gave Mandelbaum an edge when it came to an issue specific to the material that Jurassic 5 uses on stage.
“Many of our DJ tracks have a kind of a mid-nineties happy face dip in the mid-range to make room for where the vocals were, he notes. “It was very common practice back in the day. I’ve had to make up for that quite often in the channels of other consoles in a really deep way…. A wide Q, turning up everything from 2k in a huge band… Just a massive whale’s bump.
“The difference was in the accuracy on the L300… It was incredible. I found the zone that needed to be pushed and at about 3 to 4dB up it made up the difference nicely. On another console I might have to add another layer of compression, or another parametric EQ to really get at that zone. That’s not an issue on this console. You go straight to the channel and do something to it, and it works… And that’s everything.”
Another aspect that Mandelbaum considers a major contributor to the console’s performance pedigree is its flexible and responsive control scheme. “That’s one thing I came away with every day,” he reports. “Even though it’s digital, the console responds as if it’s analog. That’s a big deal.
“I’m an explorer on a console. Depending on where I’m at or what I’m working on I might for example end up using the encoder section because I’m in the middle of doing something else on a screen. I like to use all the areas as much as I can, and even though I have a short input list I still use VCAs. I have three stereo faders on the DJs and I have all the artists on their own faders on the right. That way I can control input channels on the left, or open up an EQ, or do a bunch of other things over on my left,..”
Overall, Mandelbaum says the console is a ‘Lovely environment to work in’, with exceptional sound quality: “Everybody else has a timbre,” he notes “It’s as if there’s an actual flavor to other consoles. If you were to call the L300 a flavor, I would say that it’s ‘true’... It’s definitely going on my rider. I’m excited by it.”
Solid State Logic
AVID Supports Christmas At Adelaide’s Carols By Candlelight
Novatech Creative Event Technology deploys the first S6L digital mixer for hire in the Asia-Pacific region.
Novatech Creative Event Technology sent out the first AVID S6L digital mixer for hire in the Asia-Pacific region to handle the high channel and bus count of Adelaide’s Carols by Candlelight, set in the beautiful surrounds of Elder Park.
As the crowd was entertained by stars such as Anthony Callea, Rhonda Burchmore, Samantha Jade, Nathanie land Peter Combe, the S6L used all 64 inputs, as well as 16 outputs which fed eight front of house audio zones to the system and eight orchestral submixes to the AVID SC48 monitor console.
Australian sound engineer Jon Lemon, who has worked on the global stage with artists as diverse as Seal, Christina Aguilera, Smashing Pumpkins, Pink Floyd, INXS, and Sia, was full of praise for Novatech and the S6L.
“The S6L only arrived in the warehouse last Tuesday; it was the first one in the country.” Lemon reports.
“I was suitably impressed, and I think it’s a wise investment for Novatech, who I believe are in the premiere class among Australia’s production companies.The S6Lmade a monster gig easy. We built 65 snapshots over six hours of rehearsal, and operation was completely intuitive. I particularly liked the Custom Layouts feature, being able to choose what channels are on the surface’s 32 faders for each Snapshot.”
“I also found having three customizable control modules makes life easier. And sonically, running at 96kHz makes such a difference.”
With over 300 processing channels, plug-ins and Pro Tools integration, the newest member of the AVID family can mix, distribute and record audio at the largest of events. The S6L’s networked, distributed I/O via AVB on Ethernet means even large outdoor events like Carols by Candlelight are easy to set-up and operate, with physical inputs and outputs located wherever they’re needed, all connected with light, portable, off-the-shelf Ethernet equipment and cabling.
To ensure full and clear coverage around Elder Park, Novatech deployed a distributed PA system from L-Acoustics.
24 elements of their K2 line array system covered the crowd, augmented by eight SB28 subwoofers. Four L-Acoustics KIVA modular line source cabinets provided in-fill, while six KARA modular line source loudspeakers covered the back of the crowd as delays. Fourteen L-Acoustics 115XT HiQ stage monitors provided crystal-clear audio to the performers.
The whole rig was powered by just eight L-Acoustics LA-RAKs, which house three LA8 power amplifiers each, plus signal and power distribution.
“The new S6L was perfect for this application,” says Nick Gates, audio technical lead at Novatech.
“We utilized the console’s flexibility for the large number of stage inputs, sub groups and stem mixes required for the event. Reinforced with L-Acoustics K2 and the phase linear tools in LA Network Manager, I was able to ensure amplitude integrity across the entire park.”
Carols by Candlelight was attended by an estimated 40,000 people, with funds from the folded-note entry donation and merchandise sold at the event going to Novita Children’s Services. Novita provides child development, rehabilitation and disability services to more than 3,800 young clients, as well as support for their families and carers in Adelaide, regional South Australia and beyond.
FBT Pumps Up Trump Rally In Knoxville
M & M Productions deploys Muse 210LA arrays for 10,000 at the Exhibit Hall of the Knoxville Convention Center.
Recently, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Mike Brown, president and CEO of M & M Productions USA, took on the important job of producing a Trump rally, which included making sure that the presidential hopeful was completely satisfied with every detail of the event.
For Donald Trump, those details included a sound system featuring FBT loudspeakers to carry both his message and the music he likes to pump out before he takes the stage.
On November 16th, ten thousand attendees packed themselves into the Exhibit Hall of the Knoxville Convention Center – a 120,000 square foot space – and listened while the businessman-turned-politician fired up the crowd, supported by twelve FBT Muse 210LA’s. Trump, known in some circles for being very particular, was notably impressed.
“Setting up sound in a ballroom of that size, for a stage in the round, presents some challenging issues,” said Brown of the event.
“We shot over to the sides with six Muse210LA’s on each side, and filled behind and to the front of the stage with a few smaller point-and-shoot boxes just to warm those areas. The FBTs did all of the heavy lifting, though, and they really rocked the event.”
When asked why he chose the FBT brand for the rally, Brown elaborated.
“For starters,” he said, “Mr. Trump has his own playlist on a personal iPad that he wants played at his rallies. And he wants it loud. I’m talking everything from Phantom of the Opera to Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones and Adele. FBT gives you a full-range response, and that’s what’s so amazing about them, even to our own engineers that use them pretty regularly.”
“For the rally, we flew them in full range mode without a single subwoofer, and the low end that came out of them was just incredible. Meanwhile, when the music was over and we got down to just his voice, the sound was clean and totally natural, all while throwing out about 215 feet in each direction. They’re great for anything you use them for, which is why I wasn’t going to consider using anything else at this rally. We’ve had demos come in from multiple other manufacturers, all in the same price range. They’ve just never come close to the quality we get out of FBT Muse, which just chews them up and spits them out.”
That quality didn’t escape “The Donald,” either.
In fact, according to Brown, a visibly impressed Trump approached him right after the rally, saying, “The sound was amazing today. Just great. Incredible job.” Further discussions with his campaign staff indicated that they felt the sound quality was far superior to other venues on their tour. Based on these comments, Brown anticipates they’ll be picking up more of Trump’s events in the future.
Brown, whose company specializes in broadcasting and video, as well as corporate and political events, says they typically produce over 400 events a year, often supporting live entertainment as part of the mix. FBT has become a “go to” brand, not just because of its quality, but also because of the customer service he receives from FBT’s U.S. Distributor, Italian Speaker Imports/FBT USA.
“When we’re talking about competitors in our market,” said Brown, “I tell people all the time: Anybody can go buy audio visual equipment and do a show for you. The difference between one company and another is the people ‘in’ that company, and the customer service they’ll provide to you. M & M Productions USA is all about quality and service. We love dealing with everyone at Italian Speaker Imports because they have the same philosophy we do. John Krupa, the owner, has an incredible reputation in our industry and when you work with him you see why pretty fast. The ongoing level of personal attention and the desire to make sure you have everything you need for an event to be successful is pretty amazing. You’re dealing with an outstanding Italian product, but because you have someone so dedicated here in the states, everything runs that much more smoothly. FBT, John and his company have just blown us away compared to other big name brands we’ve used prior to this. You can have the best speaker product in the world, but you’ve got to have the people to sell it, support it and stand by the product – At Italian Speaker Imports, they do.”
Monday, December 14, 2015
Firehouse Selects Yamaha Consoles For The Wiz
For the third year in a row, Firehouse Productions supports NBC December live events, with CL5 consoles.
For the third year in a row, Firehouse Productions (NY) has provided audio production for the NBC December live events of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and this year, The Wiz.
With a celebrity-heavy ensemble, including Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Uzo Aduba, Common, Ne Yo, Elijah Kelley, and David Alan Grier, this year’s production again included three Yamaha CL5 Digital Audio Consoles, each utilizing two Rio3224-D input/output racks.
“The CL5s worked great, states Mark Dittmar, Firehouse Productions, who functioned as the audio producer for the show.
“The reason we decided to use the CL consoles again this year is because The Wiz was a major live performance on TV, and the reliability of Yamaha consoles is legendary. The built-in Dugan auto mix and array of premium plug in’s, means we need no outboard gear at all.”
Dittmar said the set up of each CL was identical, all using 56 inputs.
The monitor CL console used 24 outputs and the two CLs used for dialog used 12 outputs. All of the Rio racks were connected via DANTE, but for added redundancy they used three separate networks. Dan Gerhard engineered the dialog mix, Charles Vorce handled the RF pre-listen, and Erik VonRanson mixed monitors.
Firehouse provided all audio gear required for the production of The Wiz including the Monitor System and IEMs, 44 RF mics, 160 speaker actors call system, and a Riedel Intercom System.
Posted by House Editor on 12/14 at 03:41 PM
RME Interfaces On Tour With Roger Hodgson And His Band
Front of house engineer Howard Heckers utilizes the MADIface USB interface for former Supertramp vocalist.
Roger Hodgson, the co-founder of Supertramp and singer-songwriter of the classic hits Dreamer, Breakfast in America, and Give a Little Bit, is currently on tour throughout Germany, the U.K., Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Norway, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, the U.S. and Canada.
Hodgson has strong production values and, to ensure the best audio quality, he, his band members, and his front of house engineer rely on several RME music production interfaces, including the MADIface USB, Babyface Pro, Fireface UFX, and Fireface UCX—all of which are distributed throughout North America by Synthax of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Howard Heckers has been Hodgson’s front of house engineer for the past 12 years. A seasoned professional with over 30 years’ experience, Heckers resume includes stints with Liza Minnelli, James Taylor, Christopher Cross, and Randy Newman to name but a few.
In his work with Roger Hodgson, Heckers regularly uses his RME MADIface USB interface. He discussed not only his fondness for RME’s production tools, but also that of his associates.
“I’ve been using the MADIface USB for a good four-plus years, ever since we switched over to a DiGiCo console at front of house,” Heckers explained.
“We’re on the road a lot and I have to tell you, I’ve never had the slightest issue with it. My MADIface USB has been rock solid. My MADI setup includes the DiGiCo 192 KHz SD-Rack using the AUX split out for recording with my computer. The MADIface stays with me at front of house. I use the system for recording our live shows using REAPER 5.1 software on a Mac Book Pro with 52 recording channels. It’s pretty amazing that the MADIface USB runs 56 channels over USB.”
“We used to take two Alesis ADAT recorders on the road with us,” Heckers continued, “but working with just the MADIface and a computer makes it so much easier. There’s less weight to be carrying around and the better sound quality that I get from the Mac and the MADIface USB setup makes this the perfect solution.”
Heckers was also quick to point out that he isn’t the only enthusiast of RME’s production tools.
“Roger [Hodgson] uses the RME Fireface UFX 60-channel USB and Firewire interface for his keyboard rig and his grand piano sounds,” Heckers reports.
“He had been using another interface previously, but when we switched over to the Fireface UFX, the sound quality was so much better we couldn’t believe our ears. Roger and I both agree this is the best unit available in the industry. And we’re not the only ones using RME gear. Keyboardist Aaron MacDonald uses the Babyface Pro 24-channel USB interface for his keyboard rig with a computer running Apple’s MainStage recording software and Kevin Adamson, our other keyboard player, is using the Fireface UCX 36-channel USB and Firewire interface for his keyboard rig—also running MainStage on his computer. As should be quite obvious, RME gears plays a vital role in our music.”
When you’re on tour and the show must go on, the ability to receive capable technical and customer support services in timely fashion is crucial. Here, too, Heckers was very complimentary of Synthax’ support services.
“All four of us have been very happy,” he notes. “I believe these units are the most solidly build and best sounding products available. We fly around the world on this gig and the RME gear survives all the travels. It’s built really well and we’ve never had a unit break on us. On those rare occurrences when we’ve had questions, the Synthax team has taken great care of us.”
Before turning his attention to the business of the day, Heckers offered these parting comments regarding his experience with the various RME interfaces he and the band use.
“Roger Hodgson produced all the Supertramp albums as well as his solo albums,” Heckers said. “Roger knows exactly what he wants. As I’m sending in-ear mixes from front of house, it shows that Roger trusts me and my judgement regarding the products we use both in the studio and on stage. The latest album, Roger Hodgson Classics Live was recorded using the MADIface USB from dates performed around the world. RME has always helped us create the perfect sound.”
Eurovision Winner Mans Zelmerlöw Tours Europe With Mackie DL32R And Dante
Meyer Production Sweden provides dual digital mixers for five-piece band at front of house and monitors.
Even before his win at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, singer Måns Zelmerlöw was already a star in his native Sweden, with a decade-long career that spans recording, television and theater.
Since winning Eurovision, Zelmerlöw has been expanding his base, touring throughout Europe and beyond in support of his current album, Perfectly Damaged, using Mackie‘s DL32Ri digital mixer.
Handling front of house and monitors on dual Mackie DL32R iPad controlled digital mixers is Sebastian Meyer of Meyer Production Sweden. As Meyer observes, networking the two mixers via Dante has been a powerful and effective way to mix the five-piece band.
“We’re using all 32 inputs for the band, and all 32 outputs to create stereo mixes for in-ears and additional monitor wedges,” he begins.
“By networking the mixers via Dante, I can use one DL32R for the house mix, and the other for monitors. Everyone likes a different mix, and this enables me to create completely different mixes for each musician, with different EQ and dynamics, and as many effects for each mix as I need.”
Meyer even uses the DL32R to interface with his laptop running an external DAW. “I’ve got some nice high-end reverb plug-ins, and the DL32R enables me to connect my DAW and use it as an FX loop. It’s fantastic.” A hard disk connected to the second USB port captures a multi-track recording of each show.
Meyer’s mix rig comprises dual iPad Minis on a small wedge. “I could run it all on one iPad or use both for a bigger display, but I like to have a different device for each one, so if someone wants to make a quick adjustment it’s all right there,” he offers. He keeps a larger iPad onstage for convenience, and gives each of the four backing musicians their own iPod Touch to control their individual monitor mixes.
“A lot of engineers on tour see my setup, and they ask me how I can work on just a Wi-Fi connection,” Meyer says. “I run two routers and two DL32R mixers, and with the Dante connection it’s completely redundant, so if anything goes down, I have a seamless backup. So far, in over 100 dates, we have not had a single dropout or problem.”
Having literally grown up backstage - his father founded the touring company they now both run - Meyer has had his fingers on the faders of all manner of mixing consoles, from analog to digital, massive to petite, For him, the DL32R represents a whole new way of mixing.
“It’s really fast, really easy to use. Setting up other mixers, getting around them, making changes - it takes time. With the DL32R, I can just come to the gig, set up, and I’m ready to go.”
Friday, December 11, 2015
d&b audiotechnik Supports Muse And Lollapalooza Berlin
Berlin based production house TSE AG deploys ArrayProcessing with J-Series arrays and subs for inaugural festival.
The main stage at the inaugural run of Lollapalooza Berlin featured a headline performance by Muse as well as sets by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Bastille, and Sam Smith, supported by a house system headed by d&b audiotechnik arrays.
“It was because Muse were the headliners that the obvious choice for main stage PA was a d&b audiotechnik system,” explains Silvio Koenig, project manager for Berlin-based production house TSE AG, which supplied sound reinforcement for the festival. “We have already been investing in d&b and chose this event to have our first try out with d&b’s new ArrayProcessing tool.”
TSE AG’s system design saw J-Series hung left/right of the stage, with J-SUBs and J-INFRAs; delays used V-Series and Y Series.
“The throw distance from stage to the furthest audience was over 110 meters,” Koenig explains. “This being an old airfield the audience area was mainly concrete and very flat, so getting the accurate measurements needed to correctly apply ArrayProcessing was easy and relatively quick. Our first time with ArrayProcessing and it was straightforward to implement and easy to use, but does take more time in the planning stage.
:We did receive a lot of help from Michael Weiss and Sven Duske at d&b, so the support was very good. More importantly, the results were well worth the extra time spent: our client, the festival organizers, were very pleased with the results.”
The main focus of ArrayProcessing is to enable system engineers to optimize the level and tonal performance of d&b line array systems over the entire listening area. For Marc Carolan, front of house engineer for Muse, this was his first experience with the latest ArrayCalc feature.
“Of course as a regular user of d&b systems I was already familiar with the potential of ArrayProcessing,” Carolan says, “but this was still my first experience of it in a real world situation. I’m happy to go on record saying it was a great system and I was impressed by the musical detail at front of house, which was at sixty metres. I didn’t really get the chance to walk the field but Eddie O’Brien, my system tech did, and was very impressed.”
Carolan also reveals he will be deploying ArrayProcessing for Muse’s upcoming in-the-round tour.
“This was a very successful first try for us,” Koenig concludes. “ArrayProcessing has made a significant improvement to the standards and quality of sound delivery we can give to our clients.”