Thursday, December 05, 2013

Church Sound: Twelve Steps To Christmas Program Survival

Critical tips to keep in mind as we wade into the most hectic season of the year...

‘Tis the season ... In honor of the classic holiday song “12 Days of Christmas,” if you’re in the midst of Christmas programs right now, please take advantage of at least some of the tips offered in the following “12 steps” survival guide.

12: Start organized with a plan

You know the saying, fail to plan and you can plan on failing. Guess what, it’s true. Talent will only carry you so far. 

The really great musician, technicians and artists know how to make things happen. Whether it’s a written plan (which I recommend) or just a mental plan you’ve thought through in advance, the process of planning can make all the difference is both the success of the event and your own sanity.

11: Check your gear to make sure it’s all in working order

This goes with planning. There’s nothing more frustrating than pulling a bad mic cable, or using a broken mic that hasn’t worked for six months, or suddenly needing an extra console channel only to find that the only one left doesn’t work.

10: Work ahead, work the plan

Think ahead and do the tasks ahead of time that you can. For instance, checking gear two weeks in advance leaves ample time to get items repaired or replaced.

9: Identify what’s really important and focus on those things

Don’t get caught up focusing on that “cool effect” you want for one song and miss the more important stuff, like doing a line check before the band shows up! 

A couple of years ago, this one almost got me, but fortunately sanity prevailed and I gave up on the “really cool” edge-blended video screen backdrop that captured way too much of my attention for a few days. 

I was ignoring the truly important things, like making sure the main P.A. was in top shape and getting the lighting cues recorded, aspects that are much more important and ultimately led to a successful program.

In the end, nobody but me (and my tireless volunteer Wayne) even knew we weren’t deploying the super-cool video thing.

8: Invest in those around you

Tech folks and musicians can get so focused on the tasks at hand that we tend to forget about those around us. Instead, use this time to let some of the less experienced folks shadow you. Teach them by showing what you’re doing and explaining why.

And it never hurts to bring chocolate…

7: Have fun and smile

Everybody wants to be on a winning—not whining—team. If you win overall, people will come back and continue to work and volunteer, pouring their hearts into the event.

6: Be flexible

Stuff happens. It just does. At a Michael Card concert I worked, the piano player became very ill the day prior to the concert. Rather than panic, the promoter of the event recruited a very gifted pianist to sit in. 

Was it ideal? Was it what Michael wanted? Did it turn out great? (The answers in order are NO, NO, YES)

The pianist hit the ball out of the park, he sight-read the music during rehearsal, practiced between rehearsal and show time, and absolutely nailed it!

5: Know when to say “no”

OK, back to that “cool” edge-blended video backdrop… Sometimes you have to just reel it in and say no and move on. I always say that it’s better to do 75 percent of the program (cut out the last 25 percent) at 100 percent quality rather that 100 percent of the show at 75 percent quality.

4: Pace yourself

The older I get, the more important this becomes. The adrenaline rush is great, but the crash after it is terrible.

Know your limits—take breaks, eat healthy (and regularly scheduled) meals, go for walks, take some “chill time” when things hit a fever pitch…

3: Don’t overdo the caffeine

My overall intake of caffeine tends to spike around Christmas production time. The short term gain in energy is not worth it in the long haul. (Althought I must admit that sometimes I forget this one…)

2: Ask for help, call an expert

Why do we hate to do this? Almost every time I break down and call tech support or ask an informed friend to help out, the problem gets fixed rather quickly, and then I’m invariably left asking myself why I wasted five hours before making the call.

1:Maintain the right spirit

We can’t give what we don’t have, so if we don’t have the right spirit, we will fail. This comes in the form of being lousy to work with while not being of help and inspiration to others. We must show up ready to serve.

I hope your Christmas productions go off without a hitch, although realistically, that’s hardly ever the case. Keeping this survival guide in mind can help make things better from a technical standpoint, but more importantly, it can help us enjoy and appreciate the spirit of the season, and this transmits to those around us. And that’s the real point.

Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound and production at his church for more than 30 years.

Posted by Keith Clark on 12/05 at 08:21 AM
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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

14th Annual Latin GRAMMY Award Winners Perform With Shure

Marc Anthony, Carlos Vives and Draco Rosa shined among the top winners of the 14th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards

The 14th Annual Latin GRAMMY awards show, televised on Univision, took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Since the annual Latin GRAMMY telecast debuted entirely in Spanish on Univision in 2005, the Latin GRAMMYs have become one of Univision’s most watched and highest rated shows, delivering strong social media results thanks to its high regard among Hispanics.

The award show featured live performances by some of the biggest stars in Latin music including Marc Anthony, Carlos Vives and Draco Rosa. The vast majority of the live performances featured Shure microphones for their vocals and backline.

The show was co-hosted by actors Omar Chaparro and Blanca Soto along with actress/singer Lucero. Together they showcased a number of distinguished performances including Carlos Vives (UR2/SM58), Alejandro Sanz with students from Berklee College of Music (UR2/SM58), Pitbull (UR2/SM58), Marc Anthony (UR2/KSM9HS) and Carlos Santana with Juanes (UR2/KSM9).

As the night’s biggest winners, Marc Anthony, Carlos Vives and Draco Rosa—who was considered the comeback of the night—took home awards for Recording of the Year (Vivir mi Vida), Song of the Year (Volvi a Nacer) and Record of the Year (Vida).

Shure endorsers that won a Latin GRAMMY include artists like Bajofondo (Best Alternative Song and Best Alternative Album), and Alex Cuba (Best Short Music Video). Other artists that made history that evening were Gaby Moreno (Best New Artist) and Beto Cuevas (Best Pop/Rock Album).

Another highlight of the evening was legendary singer Miguel Bosé, who was honored as the Latin Recording Academy’s 2013 Person of the Year, and was armed with a black Shure UR2/BETA58.

“Miguel is a profoundly generous human being. He is convinced and convinces with his ideas,” said Gabriel Abaroa Jr. President/CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, on his introduction remarks.

For this tribute performance, multiple artists performed some of the classic hits by Bosé like “Linda” by Gian Marco, Alex Cuba and Santiago Cruz, followed by Ricky Martin who performed “Bambú,” Laura Pausini who made an elegant version of “Te Amaré,” Juanes and Bosé indulged in a duet on “Nada Particular” and Natalia Lafourcade/Illya Kuryaki who sang with a touch of ‘ska’ on “Morena Mía.”

On performances and broadcasts like the Latin GRAMMYs, reliability and quality are the two areas where there can be no compromises. The mixes have to be pristine, and that starts with the microphones. For that reason Shure microphones were selected for the majority of the evening performances obtaining outstanding results.

Tom Holmes, Broadcast Production Engineer said, “The Shure RFs were all rock solid for me the whole week. I was impressed in particular with the sound of Natalie LaFourcade’s acoustic guitar with your Beta 181 microphone. I know she went through a whole slew of guitars before she found one she liked, but she was happy with that mic from the start.”

Usually the choice of lead vocal mics is left up to the performers as a matter of policy. Past and present ceremonies have included either a Shure KSM9 or a Beta 58A. Other Shure microphones used were the Beta 181 on acoustic guitars and the KSM313’s on horns. Of course, Latin music uses a lot of percussion – another application for Shure was the SM57 on congas and bongos. And for monitoring the leading choice were Shure PSM®1000 in-ear monitors.


Posted by Julie Clark on 12/04 at 12:14 PM
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Earthworks Microphones Capture Singing Christmas Tree Performances

Highland Baptist Church utilizes 22 Earthworks High Definition Microphones for Singing Christmas Tree Performance

Franklin Denham, Minister of Music at Highland Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi, has been conducting Singing Christmas Tree performances since 1985. The history of singing trees goes back to the outdoor presentations in 1933 at Belhaven College, Jackson, MS, which is considered the first and oldest outdoor Singing Christmas Tree event in America.

At the time, indoor performances were rare, as it required a rather large church to accommodate this type of performance. All of the tree performances at Highland Baptist Church have been continually held indoors and are performed 6 times each year. Over the past 29 years, there have been approximately 2,800 attendees per season. Depending upon the year, there will be from 65 to over 100 singers on the tree. It stands 35 feet high, with nine rows of singers and weighs 21,000 pounds fully loaded.

“Over the years we had used conventional condenser microphones for sound reinforcement on the tree,” explains Denham. “About four years ago we converted to Earthworks and placed 16 SR30 High Definition Microphones on the tree. The Earthworks microphones make 60 singers sound more like a hundred.

“We are able to get more gain-before-feedback. This allows us to bring the choir sound up to a level that will balance well with our 21-piece orchestra and organ. An immediate bonus of the Earthworks microphones is a dramatic improvement in intelligibility. If a choir can be heard and understood, what can be better than that?”

The choir begins each program singing on risers directly behind the orchestra.  For these selections, Denham utilizes 4 Earthworks FW730 Flexwands.

“The Flexwands provide us excellent coverage of the choir, more gain-before-feedback and more intelligibility,” says Denham. “The rear rejection of the Flexwands keeps the leakage of the orchestra into the choir microphones at a bare minimum. The Flexwands are almost invisible from the congregation when the house lights are up.

“When house lights are dimmed, the Flexwands become completely unnoticeable. One of my favorite features of the Flexwands is that the microphone connector is in the base and there are no visible wires above floor level. The Flexwands are light years ahead of our previous microphones.”

“I would also like to mention that we have an Earthworks PM40 PianoMic, which is just stellar. We use a few extra SR30s for solo instruments. The recent addition of an Earthworks podium microphone allows us to hear the spoken word with incredible detail and clarity either on, or off-axis. The use of Earthworks High Definition Microphones™ has made an incredible improvement in our church services and music performances.”


Posted by Julie Clark on 12/04 at 11:20 AM
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Walter Eugene (Gene) Clair: May 6, 1940 – December 3, 2013

Co-founded live touring company that has blazed numerous trails in concert sound reinforcement over several decades

The professional audio industry is deeply saddened at the passing of Walter Eugene Clair, who died yesterday (December 3, 2013) at the age of 73. With his brother Roy, he co-founded leading live touring company Clair Brothers, which has blazed numerous trails in concert sound reinforcement over several decades.

From the Clair Brothers Audio Systems website:

“Walter Eugene Clair, one of the Clair Brothers Audio entrepreneurs, died December 3, 2013. He was 73. Gene, as everyone knew him, was born May 6th 1940 to Roy B. Clair and Ellen Mae (Ulrich) Clair, in the Lititz area and lived here all his life. He graduated from Warwick High School in 1958 and was awarded as one of the top athletes of his class. He went on to get a two year degree in Engineering from the Penn State York campus.

While working in the Foreign Language lab and general electrician at F&M College, Gene and his brother, Roy, set up the sound for a visiting musical group – The Four Seasons. The group was so impressed with the sound they asked the brothers to tour with them, and so Clair Bros. began. Gene continued to be a sound engineer/mixer for bands such as Elton John, the Moody Blues, Michael Jackson and Peter Wolf, to name a few, and travelled all over the world.

Gene sold his end of the business to his son Troy in 1995, and split his time between Lititz and his mountain home in Sinnemahoning, Pa. Gene joined the Pennsylvania Forestry Association as the Board of Directors, and spent every Penn State home game entertaining friends and family with tailgating extravaganzas.

He is survived by his brother Roy Clair; his partner of 23 years, Betty Shenenberger; the mother of his children, Joan (Klopp) Clair; his children Troy (Katy) Clair and Gina (Stan) Zeamer; his grandchildren Shaun (Nicole) Clair, Matt (Natalie) Clair, Gail Clair, Kyle Keener, and Taylor Keener; and his Great Grandchildren, Bella, Lilly and Otto, who was born on Gene’s birthday. Preceding him in death were his parents and son, Cory Clair.

A service will be held at the Charles Snyder Jr. Funeral Home at 3110 Lititz Pike, the details of which will be available once finalized. Interment will be at the Moravian Cemetery in Lititz. In lieu of flowers, we ask that a donation be sent to any of the following: Moravian Manor, which took incredible care of Gene during his final days, 300 West Lemon Street, Lititz, PA 17543; Hospice of Lancaster 685 Good Drive, P.O. Box 4125, Lancaster PA 17604-4125; or the Lititz RecCenter, 301 Maple Street, Lititz PA 17543.”

More about Clair Bros here.

Posted by Keith Clark on 12/04 at 08:09 AM
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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Outline Welcomes New Partner In Turkey

Outline Welcomes New Partner In Turkey

Outline is pleased to announce the appointment of Display Sound & Light Systems as their new official distributor for Turkey and Northern Cyprus.

Located in Istanbul and established in 1994, the company is one of Turkey’s premier professional audio companies whose portfolio of work includes sales and installations throughout the country, in a variety of applications and projects.

The diversity of their line card highlights the range of markets they serve, and already includes several major international brands. The addition of Outline actually strengthens their entire market offering as the Italian manufacturer’s product selection includes solutions for most touring and installation projects.

Outline Sales Director Chris Hinds commented, “Our ability to attract long-established market leaders like DS&LS speaks volumes about the growing recognition and market awareness Outline is enjoying now. Distributors like this are in demand among manufacturers because they are in touch with their national markets and are the best conduit for products into their territories.

“DS&LS have a proved track record with high-end loudspeaker systems in Turkey, and the combination of their credibility and our products should be a winner - we’re delighted to welcome them to the Outline family.”

Hakan Tamer, Managing Director of Display Sound and Light Systems adds, “Our new partnership with Outline shows our faith in their concepts, designs, sound quality and product innovation. We will celebrate our 20th year in 2014 and as part of the celebrations we will combine our expertise and skills with Outline’s 40 year experience and success to increase our market share in Turkey - as a result and in future, Outline’s products will feature in the highest-profile projects here.”


Posted by Julie Clark on 12/03 at 12:12 PM
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L-Acoustics Delivers “Philly Sound” For Theatre Of Living Arts

Clair Brothers Audio Systems installs ARCS II rig at intimate Live Nation venue

Although the Theatre of Living Arts (TLA) was best known in previous decades as a host for art house films and campy touring Broadway shows like Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the TLA has steadily evolved into Philadelphia’s premiere small concert venue for edgy, up-and-coming artists.

Owned and operated by concert promoter Live Nation, the intimate 1000-capacity club recently bumped up its production values with the addition of a new ARCS II loudspeaker system from L-Acoustics.

The loudspeaker system, installed by Manheim-based Clair Brothers Audio Systems, Inc., replaced a large 18-year-old Clair R4/S4 house PA. The new system features left and right arrays each comprised of four ARCS II loudspeakers flanked by two flown SB18 subs per side.

For additional low-end reinforcement, four more SB18 are permanently housed under the stage and are complemented by two larger, portable SB28 subs that are kept at the ready for bass-heavy EDM shows.

A compact cluster of two ARCS FOCUS enclosures is flown between the ARCS II arrays for front-fill, while two tiny coaxial 5XT “cubes” are positioned under the acoustically shaded bar area at house left. Three LA8 and two LA4 amplified controllers power and process the entire system.

“We worked closely with L-Acoustics and Dan Schartoff, Live Nation’s VP of production, to come up with a new plan for TLA that would improve sight lines while providing better coverage and clarity,” says Dustin Goen, system designer and project manager for Clair Systems. “ARCS II’s razor-sharp directivity in the horizontal plane minimized reflections off the walls providing maximum clarity and impact for the audience, and the center ARCS FOCUS arrays eliminated the need for having any front-fills on stage.

“By flying everything, aside from the subs under the stage, we were able to remove all of the speakers from the deck and create more space on the dance floor. Plus, audiences on the far left and right sides of the room can now see everything on stage, whereas before the view was blocked by big PA stacks.”

Rob Tauscher, TLA’s production manager and FOH engineer, confirms that everyone is enjoying the new system. “A lot of bands return to play our room, so I’ve talked to dozens of engineers that have now mixed on both our old and new systems, and the response is 100 percent positive,” he says. “The audio quality here at TLA has improved almost immeasurably and they’ve been overjoyed to see and hear our new PA.”

“Clair and L-Acoustics really did a great job of spec’ing the right system for the space,” he adds. “The asymmetrical horn of the ARCS II allowed us to splay the cabinets in such a manner that coverage was maximized with very little wasted energy, and the center hang of ARCS FOCUS more than does the trick of covering the pit.

“I’ve found the ARCS Series systems to be very efficient and robust, and, combined with the flown SB18 subs, our PA acts like a three-way system plus auxiliary sub. The smooth directivity and constant tonal balance throughout the audience is really nice, and everything sounded great from the start with very minimal tuning adjustments.”

Schartoff is equally pleased with the results. “My mantra when designing systems has always been to find the gear that best suits the space, regardless of what it may be,” he says. “In this case, L-Acoustics’ ARCS Series solution is absolutely the most appropriate choice for the TLA and everyone has been thrilled with it so far.”

Goen, Schartoff and Tauscher note that TLA’s entire install and commissioning process was competed in only three days—from load-in to load-out, including moving the FOH mix position forward to just under the font edge of the balcony. A few of the very first acts to benefit from the new system included Hole’s Courtney Love, J. Cole, Glee’s Darren Criss, and Brothers In Arms, a new side project featuring D’Angelo and ?uestlove.


Posted by Julie Clark on 12/03 at 11:15 AM
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Monday, December 02, 2013

Sound Company Adds Yamaha CL5 To Arsenal

Event Pro adds Yamaha CL5 to rental and services inventory.

Event Pro, Inc. of Hastings, MN has recently upgraded its digital console arsenal with a new Yamaha CL5 Digital Audio Console and Rio3224-D and 1608-D input/output boxes. The purchase was facilitated by Metro Sound and Lighting, St. Paul, MN.

Event Pro supports regional and national productions, and is a technical services provider for touring, corporate, civic, and educational events. The company began 14 years ago, however, owner Neal Wallace started his career prior to that in the 1980s as a touring engineer. Although the basic focus for Event Pro was (and still is) providing state-of-the-art audio services, the company also provides full lighting, video, and staging services.

“Our focus is on pre-production planning and heavy client involvement in the execution of an event or concert,” states Wallace. “We also provide high school theatre sound instruction and support for school events that are often very complex in nature, some with up to 30 wireless systems, 48 audio channels, and multiple scenes programed on the consoles.

“With our training and the use of Yamaha digital consoles, students are able to handle 100% of an event’s audio operation.

Wallace said the new Yamaha CL5 will be used for many Event Pro productions, and Yamaha console familiarity was key to its purchase.

“It was a logical step for all technicians familiar with Yamaha consoles, says Wallace. We have been avid fans of Yamaha digital consoles, but the decision also came on advice from our techs along with other production company owners, as a great usable product to own, with the expectation of providing our customers a solid new platform for superb sound.”

Wallace added that another reason for the purchase of the Yamaha CL5 is its digital snake system and the ability to “drag” only pencil thin Cat5 cables across ballroom ceilings and concert grounds instead of the heavy split analog snake systems they currently use.

“The technical aspects of the Rio units and Yamaha’s attention to digital pre amp issues for split monitor dual-console systems was also was a factor,” Wallace notes.

Early spring projects for Event Pro, Inc. consist mainly of corporate and non-profit event use, while the summer season focuses on outdoor college events and many festivals where the CL5 will be particularly useful, along with theater, tour rentals, and installed sound business. “Our audio department takes much pride in supplying the ultimate in production requirements for our clients.”

Event Pro, Inc.Metro Sound & Lighting

Posted by Julie Clark on 12/02 at 03:00 PM
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Cerwin-Vega! Provides Audio Upgrade To San Fernando Valley’s Fonogenic Studios

Fonogenic studios upgrades performance space with Cerwin-Vega! loudspeakers.

Fonogenic Studios, a recording studio and live music venue located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, recently upgraded its sound system with Cerwin-Vega! P-Series Professional PA system and classic CVA Active Series Speakers.

The new system has received numerous compliments from both A-list musicians and audiences about the superior sound quality of the live venue.

The studio’s owners, Rami Jaffee, founding member of the The Wallflowers and now keyboardist for the Foo Fighters, and music producer Ran Pink, who has produced for PiNk & NoSeWoRthY and has composed for TV shows such as Happily Divorced and The Fran Drescher Tawk Show, are thrilled with the new system.

Together Jaffee and Pink operate half of the building as a recording studio and the other half, which features a big sound stage, as a live performance space.

“We’ve hosted crazy parties, with performances by big-name musicians, ever since our launch,” says Jaffee. “Now, we’ve been doing it more frequently, with parties every two weeks. We even live-stream the concerts to the web.

“We wanted Fonogenic to be an environment where artists felt comfortable emotionally investing in their music. We’re a family here and we want our clients to feel like this is their home too. We want it to be a creative haven for them. They shouldn’t have to worry about the sound quality we’re providing them.”

To ensure adequate sound coverage at the space, Jaffee and Pink hung four Cerwin-Vega! P-Series P1500X speakers from the ceiling and positioned two additional speakers as center-stage monitors.

The setup was completed with CVA-118 subs for front-of-house and CVA-115 subs for the drums.

“When we compare our previous arrangement to our P-Series setup, it’s like night and day,” says Pink. “Getting the levels of the vocals and of the mixes of the music just right used to be a challenge for us because of the elongated shape of the room.

“But now, since we deadened the room and installed the larger P-Series system, we’ve had no problems.”

Fonogenic Studios visitors, including top-notch producers and such renowned musicians as Stevie Wonder, often remark on the space’s flawless sound quality, which Jaffee and Pink attribute to Cerwin-Vega!.

“It’s just such a great feeling to hear all these music heroes mention how incredible the sound is right from the get-go,” continues Pink. “That’s the most satisfying feeling you can get, and it’s thanks to the P-Series.”

“Ross Hogarth, one of the biggest producers of our time, watched a band here at one of our events, and said the sound was just superb,” adds Jaffee. “And Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett had his side project band play one of our parties.

“He said he’d never heard stage sound that amazing in his entire life. In fact, when artists play at our venue now, they worry about living up to the sound quality, because it reflects the true sound of their music.”

A sound system that boasts exceptional clarity, the Cerwin-Vega! P-Series delivers power and bass punch for sound quality suited to any sound reinforcement application. The P1500X speaker employs a 15-inch woofer and high-frequency compression driver, powered by a custom 1500W Class-D amp.

Overall, the compact size and clarity of the P-Series speakers make them ideal for everything from permanent installations to on-the-go rehearsals. In fact, Jaffee himself trusts the speakers so much that he even takes them on the road with him.

Additionally, the CVA Active Series Speakers deliver tremendous power output and exceptional full-frequency response. The striking aluminum grills on the subwoofers minimize power compression and optimize driver performance.

Jaffee and Pink started Fonogenic Studios six years ago as a place for musicians to record their albums, rehearse and perform live sets. In addition to Wonder, Shiflett and Hogarth, Fonogenic has also hosted artists such as Allan Parsons and Minnie Driver, as well as The Foo Fighters and The Wallflowers band members.

View a video tour of the venue:



Posted by Julie Clark on 12/02 at 10:39 AM
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SSL Appoints Amber Technology As Live Console Distributor In Australia & New Zealand

SSL appoints Amber Technology as Australia and New Zealand distributor.

Solid State Logic is pleased to announce that its long-standing partner Amber Technology has been appointed as its Live console distributor in Australia and New Zealand.

Amber is the latest company to join SSL’s growing commercial distribution network for the live sector.

“We have been waiting for the SSL Live with great anticipation,” says Leon Hart, Business Unit Manager at Amber Technology. “Here at Amber, we have been carefully adding to our live production equipment portfolio to increase our presence in this market.

“The SSL Live is a technology platform with a fresh approach to how a live console should sound and operate giving engineers a control surface that helps them deliver exceptional performances. It is exciting for us to be able to build on our successes with SSL consoles in the music and broadcast industries through Live.

“The Live console has been a couple of years in the making and we are very confident that Live is a console that engineers will love.”

“We have forged a powerful partnership with Amber Technology, which has years of success delivering SSL consoles to music and broadcast clients in the region,” says Paul Lindsay, Area Sales Manager for Solid State Logic. “Now, with SSL’s new Live console, we will be able to build on Amber’s wide product range and market experience to address both the live and install sectors, which are new territories for SSL, but are markets that Amber has successfully served for many years.

“It is a pleasure to be working with such professional and experienced partners, expanding our portfolio of solutions for professional audio requirements. I am very much looking forward to broadening the Live console’s presence in Australia and New Zealand with the help of the Amber team.”

Solid State Logic
Amber Technology


Posted by Julie Clark on 12/02 at 10:17 AM
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Free Pre-Concert Sound Workshops On Current Shane & Shane/Phil Wickham Tour

Workshops hosted by mix engineer Travis Brockway, who is utilizing PreSonus AI loudspeakers and mixers

On the current Christman 2013 tour by noted Christan praise and worship band Shane & Shane as well as Phil Wickham, which utilizes PreSonus Active Intregration (AI) loudspeakers and mixers, mix engineer Travis Brockway is hosting free behind-the-scenes workshops.

Highlights include:
• Microphone placement techniques for both groups
• “Shooting the Room” with Smaart and StudioLive Remote for iPad
• Virtual soundcheck with Capture 2 and the StudioLive 32.4.2AI mixer
• How he uses the StudioLive AI double Fat Channel signal processors
• Loading and storing presets from Virtual StudioLive
• How Shane, Shane, and Phil use QMix to control their in-ear monitor system
• Audience Q&A

The workshop begins before the scheduled Shane & Shane/Phil Wickham concert at each location. Attendees must purchase a ticket to attend the concert.

Workshop Dates

Charlotte, NC; December 3, 4:30 PM. CharlotteONE
Senatobia, MS; December 4, 4:30 PM. Lifepoint Church
Shreveport, LA; December 5, 4:30 PM. Church at Red River
Baton Rouge, LA; December 6, 4:30 PM. Woodlawn Baptist Church
Benton, AR; December 7, 4:30 PM. First Baptist Church of Benton
Deer Park, TX; December 8, 4:00 PM. Central Baptist Church
Albuquerque, NM; December 11, 4:30 PM. Calvary Chapel Of Albuquerque
Prescott, AZ; December 12, 4:30 PM. Heights Church
Fontana, CA; December 13, 4:30 PM. Water of Life Community Church

Visit CCI Solutions for more information.

Posted by Keith Clark on 11/27 at 01:33 PM
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Common Purpose: Approaches To Effectively Working With Artists

If you're new to the biz or working a modest one-off, this should speak to you

I recently penned a piece for a musician’s magazine entitled “Working with the Sound Engineer.” It coaches musicians about arriving at the gig with an open mind, a cooperative attitude, coming prepared with supporting documentation (input lists and stage plots), and being ready to work with the audio personnel so that the show will sound the best it can.

This piece presents the other side of the same coin, looking at things from the perspective of the audio engineer. If you’re new to the sound business, or if you’ve been doing large, well-organized tours with plenty of advance planning and suddenly find yourself at a modest one-off, than this should speak to you.

Suspicious Minds
Many bands that play weekend gigs in small clubs, and the occasional party or wedding, are not likely to have a good understanding of how to interface with the sound guy or gal who’s “out front.” More than a few are suspicious of this new character who has temporarily entered into their world. Not uncommonly there is a measure of hostility – perhaps incurred by recalling a bad past experience – and sometimes there is even a downright lack of civility.

But as long as we remember that we’re engaged in what is predominantly a “follow-on” trade; that is, being of service to those who are making the music, giving the speech, or otherwise entertaining the audience, we can usually deflect animosity and turn it into good will, merely by being communicative. Not always, but it’s always worth aspiring to.

The first moments when meeting the performer(s) will probably define how the rest of the gig will turn out. I suggest taking the initiative. Introduce yourself and make a few short comments about being glad that you’re working with him, her, or them, and clearly identify that your role is to help the show sound great and function smoothly. You can say you’ll make them “loud and proud” (perhaps for a rock band) or “clear and distinct” for an orator or comedian – or whatever other encouraging words might apply to the specific situation. Conversely, it’s never a good idea to threaten inferior results if they behave badly, even though some occasionally will. It will only reflect badly on you. 

Keep in mind that the performers might be a bit nervous, especially if they’re not used to working with an audio engineer. This could be an unusually large gig for them. Maybe it’s a multi-act lawn party or a small festival, and they have little understanding of how to navigate set changes with other acts. I’ve seen seasoned performers fall apart when their normal routine is altered or when they’re faced with sharing the same stage with another act that intimidates them.

Figure 1: A sample stage input list.

In The Details
Being prepared is always a good thing. Start by having an input list “template” available, and ask that someone from the band fill it out, if possible. This is much more professional, as well as being a timesaver, than writing on a blank sheet of paper. Figure 1 provides basic input list format.

If the act you’ve just greeted is not the first (or only) act, draw out a quick stage plot (Figure 2) so that you know what goes where, even if you won’t be situating the band gear yourself. After five hours in the sun, it’s really easy to forget who’s who, and what instrumentation each act will be using.

Discuss stage monitoring and miking so that you know what each member of the ensemble needs. I’ve been in situations where not a single person thought to tell me that side fills are critical because the lead singer moves all over the stage – until about one minute before show time.

The brief here is do not wait for an impending disaster. Have a checklist ready and work through it. Prompt the talent. Do they need side fills? Who needs a wireless? Do they need any additional mics other than those they’ve brought with them? Will there be any guest artists called up? And so on.

Figure 2: A sample stage plot.

All too often a band member will tell you where to place his or her mic but completely fail to mention that it must be a certain type of wireless, headset, or other special requirement…or even where it’s supposed to be sourced from.

Further, bands will often call up a guest performer with no pre-warning and expect that somehow, some way, a guitar and vocal mic will magically appear.

Ground Rules
While remaining cool and collected, make it clear up-front that last-minute requests for stage monitors, extra mics, DIs, and other equipment cannot necessarily be accommodated.

Equipment requirements must be stated in advance. Someone in the band might suddenly remember that two more mics are needed, and the sax player’s wireless needs to be patched in just as the band is tuning up and getting ready to play. Head this off at the pass, Lone Ranger. Discuss such needs in advance.

In the heat of the moment, while preparing to perform, it’s the rare musician who is able to realize that you can’t pull rabbits out of a hat. Performers are focused on themselves, completely forgetting that the mics and DIs have to come from somewhere –  and need to be connected by someone – who quite likely should be completing a line check rather than running around backstage locating more equipment.

This approach may not stop the talent from making unrealistic requests, but at least you’ll keep your own integrity intact by anticipating as many problems as you can at the outset. A good policy is to always have a couple/few extra mics on hand, located side-stage, cabled, tested, and ready to use. Ditto for stage monitors. Of course, on budget gigs, extra mics, extra stage monitors, and unused console inputs are not always available.

Steady & Focused
Make it (politely) clear that the PA system is not to be adjusted, re-positioned, re-aimed, or even touched except by yourself or one of your team. And by all means discourage that band member who decides to plug an “extra’ stage monitor into the paralleled output of a main bi-amped loudspeaker, causing its amplifier to shut down, resulting in only HF on one side of the stage.

Overall, learn to not take comments from performers too seriously, either before the show or after. A good deal of their perception of a good sounding gig is more about how they felt emotionally while performing, what the monitors sounded like, and how their friends and the audience reacted than it is about the quality of your services, the mix, or how the system sounded out front. 

Finally, be humble but never humiliate yourself. Don’t be talked into doing something that won’t serve the common purpose. And even if something goes wrong, and at some point it will, stay as cheerful as possible so that everyone goes home having made the best of it. 

Senior technical editor Ken DeLoria has mixed innumerable shows and tuned hundreds of sound systems with an emphasis on taming difficult acoustical environments, and he’s also the founder and former owner of Apogee Sound, which developed the world’s first intelligent power amplifier equipped with an embedded microcontroller (DA-800), as well as the TEC Award-winning AE-9 loudspeaker.

Posted by Keith Clark on 11/26 at 07:08 PM
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Martin Audio MLA Mini Makes Its First Commercial Outing

New line arrays deployed in challenging Westpoint environment for annual conference of major UK retail company

In October, the Martin Audio MLA Mini stepped out onto the world stage in its first commercial outing, and at a challenging venue.

The event was the annual conference of the UK retail company SPAR, and the venue was Westpoint, otherwise known to those in the sound community as a “soulless shed” located just off the M5 in Exeter.

While Westpoint offers acres of space for trucks, and therefore easy load in, the venue itself, originally designed for the trading of Devon’s finest livestock, is known for having a reverberation time of at least seven seconds. Both MLA and MLA Compact have previously taken on this challenging space with great results, and this time it was the MLA Mini’s turn.

The event is a also major cornerstone in the calendar of Plymouth-based Pyramid AV, under the directorship of Nic Black, which deployed 24 new MLA Mini enclosures, six MSX subs and three flying frames.

The system was deployed in three hangs, with two main purposes––one was full range, intelligible coverage of speech and music for the seated conference area at one end of the hall, and the other was coverage of the entire hall for general announcements throughout an exhibition––measuring approximately 260 x 160 feet. 

Front of house engineer Simon Honywill and Martin Audio applications engineer Andy Davies opted for an eight-deep, left/right configuration for the conference, which was flown upstage of a thrust where all presentations would take place, and a central third hang of eight approximately 100 feet out into the hall. 

The third hang was optimized to cover approximately 165 feet to the far end of the hall, and the left/right was loaded with two optimizations, one to cover just the seated conference and the second to work with the central hang to cover the entire hall.

“I would go so far as to say that Westpoint has never sounded so good,” Honywill states. “It was actually gorgeous to behold. This little system has something that I have never heard in a small format line array before, real depth and control across the entire spectrum, and a genuine ability to throw some distance.

“It is warm, smooth and extremely well behaved, requiring little or no EQ on all the head mics, except for a bit of LF roll-off,” he continues. “There was loads of gain before feedback, and I was actually enjoying the very simple task of mixing a little playback, speech and VT––everything sat just right.”

Pyramid AV’s Black adds, “Having the Mini MLA system at Westpoint this year reaffirmed that it is possible to have beautiful sound in a challenging space. It was a great opportunity to have demonstrated the simple fact that well engineered audio can enhance the experience of the listener. We have had much positive and complimentary feedback regarding the sound and it was without doubt the best we have had.”

Martin Audio

Posted by Keith Clark on 11/26 at 03:18 PM
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Monday, November 25, 2013

C. Vilar Rolls Out Adamson E15s For Justin Bieber Colombia Concert

C. Vilar provides Adamson Energia E15 PA for Justin Bieber concert in Bogota Colombia.

Sound company C. Vilar was recently tapped to provide sound reinforcement for the Justin Bieber concert held at Estadio Menesio Camacho El Campin in Bogota, Colombia.

One of many dates on Bieber’s “Believe Tour”, the artist performed for a crowd of 40,000 in the outdoor venue. 

“Gordon Mack, the FOH engineer on the tour was given the choice between a d&b audiotechnik, Meyer or Adamson E15 system for the concert and he chose the E15,” explains Mauricio Vilar, owner of C. Vilar. “He has traveled all over the world on this tour, using a variety of systems but when given a choice he chose Adamson – I think that speaks volumes for the Energia system.”

C. Vilar provided left-right line arrays for the house PA, each consisting of 15 E15s and 4 SpekTrix. Outfill hangs of 24 Y18s covered seating on each side of the stage. Front fill was handled by 16 SpekTrix spread out across the lip of the stage. Adamson M15 monitors – 12 in total – were in use on stage.

Low end was driven by two left-right clusters – groundstacked below each array – comprised of 7 Adamson T21 subwoofers, along with four additional subs for outfill. 

Left-right delay mains covered the elevated seating in the back of the arena roughly 150 meters away from the stage. Each array consisted of 12 Adamson Y10 enclosures . Two hangs of 8 Y10 enclosures were employed for outfill delays to cover remote upper balcony side seating.

“After using the Adamson P.A in Colombia I was blown away,” adds Gordon Mack, FOH engineer. “The P.A had balls, in your face-ness, and cutting vocal clarity. It was absolutely awesome.”

The C. Vilar team along with Adamson representatives on site utilized both the Adamson Shooter and Blueprint software. “The accuracy of the Blueprint software in terms of calculating 3D coverage of all arrays present was instrumental in landing the account,” adds Vilar.

The system was powered by an assortment of Lab.gruppen fP 3400, fP 6400 and PLM 20,000Q amplifiers. Lake LM26 processing offered the flexibility to drive the E15 systems along with monitoring and control.

“Since we added the E15 system to our inventory we have heard nothing but positive reviews from everyone that has used it,” concludes Vilar. “Once again the people involved in the event were absolutely thrilled – it was another successful Energia event.”

Adamson Systems

Posted by Julie Clark on 11/25 at 12:19 PM
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Friday, November 22, 2013

OneRepublic Brings Pop Rock To The People With DiGiCo

A DiGiCo SD5, two SD-Racks and an SD-Mini Rack at FOH run at 96kHz via Optocore, in tandem with a d&b PA rig helps FOH engineer Zito maintain pristine audio 

With the release of OneRepublic’s third studio album, Native, this past spring, the Colorado-based pop-rock band have taken to the road to bring its music to the people.

The international tour began in February and is slated to run through September of 2014, with audio production resources being handled by VER Tour Sound.

Production manager and FOH engineer Zito chose a DiGiCo SD5, with an additional pair of DiGiCo SD-Racks and an SD-Mini Rack for FOH. Everything is run digitally at 96kHz from the inputs to the power amps and they’re employing Optocore from the two stage racks to the MiniRack.

“I’d been hearing great things about DiGiCo’s SD line and wanted to try it out,” says Zito, who has also handled FOH duties for Backstreet Boys, Babyface, Billy Currington and Sum 41.

“I was especially attracted to the console being 96kHz and able to handle the Waves plug-ins internally,” he adds. “The SD5 gave me a great platform to mix on, that I was able to learn quickly. I want to give a special shout-out to Matt Larson and Ryan Shelton with Group One Ltd. for the great support, too.”


Posted by Julie Clark on 11/22 at 12:58 PM
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Countryman Microphones Integral To Wisconsin Singers Performance

Countryman ISOMAX headset mics delivers warm, pleasing audio performance with a secure, comfortable fit

Founded in 1967 by Arlie Mucks Jr., the Wisconsin Singers has evolved into a professional entertainment company focused on Broadway-caliber productions, hands-on educational opportunities, and community service.

Featuring the most talented singers, dancers, and instrumentalists from the University of Wisconsin (UW), the Wisconsin Singers is a financially independent non-profit organization that receives no funding from the university. As a program of the Division of Student Life, it is run almost entirely by the students themselves.

Performing in 35+ communities around the nation and working in clinics with more than 1,000 grade 5-12 students, the Wisconsin Singers helps to raise tens of thousands of dollars each year for community initiatives through family-friendly entertainment.

To ensure clear, natural vocal performances, they rely on ISOMAX headset microphones from Countryman Associates.

Robin Whitty-Novotny has served as the Director/Producer of the Wisconsin Singers/University of Wisconsin-Madison for the past 23 years. Being responsible for all music and administrative direction of the Singers as the only full-time professional staff member, she understands that quality sound reinforcement has a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of many musical performances.

“We’ve been using Countryman ISOMAX headset mics for nearly twenty years,” Whitty-Novotny reports. “Currently, we have seventeen vocalists outfitted with the microphones for our current show Hot! Hot! Hot!—written by Robert Dietz and choreographed by Broadway professionals.

“The show features selections from timeless legends like Ella Fitzgerald and the Beatles to current pop icons like Maroon 5 and Katy Perry. We use our ISOMAX headsets with Shure ULX wireless systems and, together, they make a compelling package.”

As a choral educator with strong opinions on the importance of a quality vocal sound that can be enjoyed by our audiences, Whitty-Novotny finds Countryman ISOMAX microphones to be consistently reliable with a warm and pleasing sound.

The group performs in more than thirty different venues each year, including state-of-the-art theaters, high school auditoriums, convention halls, gymnasiums and outdoor venues. The ISOMAX mics are responsive in all acoustic environments and easy to EQ in a variety of different situations.

“Our vocalists are dancing throughout the show and they find the mics provide a secure, comfortable fit that stays put for the duration of a ninety-minute performance,” Whitty-Novotny continued. “The ability of the ISOMAX to fit the way it does is critically important.

“You certainly don’t want a microphone to detract one’s focus from the performance. The mics are very robust and knowing we can count on the headsets to function well on a consistent basis is very reassuring.”

Whitty-Novotny has been equally pleased with Countryman’s customer and technical support services.

“Our student sound engineers have received exceptional guidance when needed and consider Countryman’s technical support a great resource,” she adds.

Over the course of almost two decades, there has been, of course, the occasional need for servicing of our equipment. Whitty-Novotny notes that they have never had to return a mic that has been repaired and are always impressed with the level of service the company provides.

=“With the amount of travel, performances, and variety of venues we perform in, Countryman is a perfect ‘fit’ for the Wisconsin Singers,” Whitty-Novotny concludes. “We have never considered going elsewhere for our microphone requirements because we know we are working with a company that values our business, respects our needs, and goes above and beyond normal customer service.

“The sound quality for voices is exceptional and we look forward to hearing from our audiences how the show sounded ‘better than Broadway.’”

Countryman Associates

Posted by Julie Clark on 11/21 at 10:57 AM
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