Monday, January 26, 2015
Mic Techniques For Taming The Live Stage
Approaches for controlling feedback and leakage as well as fostering delivery of clean, natural sound
Let’s face it—the live sound reinforcement realm presents some microphone challenges that regularly threaten sound quality.
Look at the conditions. The monitors feed back. They leak into the vocal microphones and color the sound. The bass sound leaks into the drum mics, and the drums leak into the piano microphones.
And then there are the other mic-related gremlins breath pops, lighting buzzes, wireless-mic glitches, and even electric shocks.
So let’s have a look at solving at least some of these problems. Based on the experiences of live sound mixers and technicians, these suggestions will help control feedback and leakage while also fostering a clean, natural sound to the audience.
Get In Close
The first tip is to try to get in close to sources with directional mics. To start, place each mic within a few inches of its sound source. Close miking increases the sound level at the microphone and makes the sound system louder.
Use unidirectional mics to reduce feedback and leakage. They reject sounds to the sides and rear of the mic, such as floor monitors. Some examples of unidirectional patterns are cardioid, supercardioid, and hypercardioid.
Sometimes locating a mic right at the source can help. (By the way, that’s a SP25B condenser from Applied Microphone Technologies.)
Most directional mics boost the bass when you mic close. This is called the proximity effect. At low frequencies, it provides free gain (extra volume without feedback). If you want to roll off this excess bass with your mixer EQ, you also reduce any low-frequency leakage picked up by the mic.
Next, here’s an extreme way to get plenty of level into the mic: place the mic near the loudest part of the musical instrument. Some typical positions are near the sound hole of an acoustic guitar, in the bell of a sax, or inside the shell of a tom-tom.
Use this method as a last resort because close miking tends to color the tone quality, giving an unnatural sound. Here’s why: most musical instruments are designed to sound best at a distance (say, 1.5 feet or more away). So a flat-response mic placed there tends to pick up a natural or well-balanced timbre.
But when you get close, you emphasize the part of the instrument that the mic is near. The tone quality that is picked up very close may not reflect the tone quality of the entire instrument.
For example, the sound hole of an acoustic guitar resonates strongly around 80 Hz to 100 Hz. A mic placed close to the sound hole hears and emphasizes this low-frequency resonance, producing a bassy, boomy timbre that does not exist at a greater micing distance.
This placement likely emphasizes low-end resonance.
The close-miked sound is harsh, too. To make the guitar sound more natural when mic’d close to the sound hole, you need to roll off the excess bass on your mixer, or use a mic with a bass roll-off in its frequency response. Also dip out some 3 kHz to reduce harshness.
A sax miked in the bell sounds like a kazoo. To mellow it out, cut around 3 kHz and boost around 300 Hz. And if you can get adequate gain-before-feedback with mic positions that sound more natural, by all means do so.
Another approach is to use contact pickups in tandem with the mics, which can help solve feedback problems because it’s sensitive to mechanical vibrations, not sound waves.
A pickup for an acoustic guitar usually sounds good near or under the bridge. Unfortunately, the guitar sounds electric with a pickup because it misses the acoustic string sounds.
Many engineers have had success with a hybrid method that combines a pickup with a mini mic. A pickup mounted under the bridge picks up the lows and provides volume and punch. A mini hypercardioid mic is mounted just inside the sound hole facing in. It provides the treble and the clean acoustic string sound.
The pickup and microphone are mixed in a small two-input mixer provided as part of the system. The combination of the pickup and microphone provides a loud, punchy, yet natural sound with all the crispness of a real acoustic guitar.
It often helps to send the pickup signal just to the stage wedges (where feedback is worst), and send the mic signal just to the house speakers. Using as few mics as possible can also be helpful.
The more mics in use, the more likely you are to run into feedback. The gain-before-feedback ratio decreases 3 dB each time the number of open mics doubles. Two mics at equal levels have 3 dB less gain than one mic; four mics have 3 dB less gain than two mics, and so on.
To reduce the number of open mics, turn off any mics not in use at the moment. You might prefer to turn them down about 12 dB, rather than off, so you don’t miss cues. Instead of using 10 mics on a drum set, try using a single miniature omni mic in the center of the set. A mini mic is recommended because it has excellent high-frequency response in all directions unlike a larger microphone.
Clip the mic to the right side of the snare drum rim, about 4 inches above the drum, and centered in the set. It will pick up the toms and cymbals all around it. You’ll be amazed how good that single mic can sound. Boost the bass to add fullness. If the cymbals are too weak, lower them a few inches. You can hang another mini mic in the kick drum, and it will sound full because omni condenser mics have deep bass response, no matter what their size.
A drawback of this system is that you can’t control the balance among the toms and snare except by mic placement. On electric guitar and bass, try using direct boxes instead of mics. Direct boxes pick up no feedback or leakage. You can plug the direct box into a connector following the musician’s effects boxes. This method, however, misses the distortion of the guitar amplifier, which is often an essential part of the sound.
Could a DI box be a better approach than what’s being done here?
Cancel At Distance
Finally, try noise-canceling mics. A noise-canceling (or differential) mic for vocals is designed to cancel sounds at a distance, such as instruments on stage or monitor loudspeakers. Such a mic provides outstanding gain-before-feedback, and almost total isolation.
The differential mic was designed to cancel sounds beyond a few inches away. As a result, many users have reported that their house mixes have improved because the mic’s isolation is nearly complete. In other words, “Mic 1” is no longer vocals and some drums, guitar and bass; “Mic 1” is vocals only.
Singers must use a differential mic with their lips touching the grille; otherwise, their voice gets canceled. This restriction is not a problem because many singers already kiss the mic. But it can be a drawback if the singer likes to work the mic for effect.
A cardioid differential mic also rejects sound behind the microphone, say, from a floor monitor. Not only does this prevent feedback, it also reduces the sonic coloration caused by monitor sound leaking into the vocal mic.
Give these techniques a try, and you’re likely to find improved results by using one or more of them.
Bruce Bartlett is a recording engineer, live sound engineer, audio journalist and microphone engineer (www.bartlettaudio.com). His latest books are Practical Recording Techniques 6th Edition and Recording Music On Location 2nd Edition.
Friday, January 23, 2015
New CADLive Vocal And Instrument Mics Debut At Winter NAMM
CAD announces new vocal and instrument microphones join their CADLive line.
CAD Audio is expanding its critically acclaimed CADLive line with a number of new vocal and instrument microphones at Winter NAMM 2015.
The new CADLive D32 is a Supercardioid dynamic handheld vocal mic with a QuietTouch on/off switch. Its Neodymium capsule design produces a powerful signal in different live sound applications. Exceptional sound quality and durable all metal construction round off this versatile performer. The 3-pack D32X3 is outfitted with carry case and mic clips
Also a Supercardioid dynamic handheld mic, the CADLive D38 includes a high performance Neodymium capsule for exceptional accuracy and sound quality. Clear and articulate with an extended frequency response, the D38 overachieves in virtually any live sound application from lead vocals to spoken word announcements. The 3-pack D38X3 is outfitted with carry case and mic clips.
The CADLive D89 Supercardioid dynamic instrument mic is designed to produce a powerful, articulate response in live sound miking situations. Equipped with a Trueflex diaphragm and PowerGap high gauss Neodymium magnets, the D89 is an ideal choice for miking electric instruments, drums, guitar cabinets, brass and strings.
Also equipped with a Trueflex diaphragm and PowerGap high gauss Neodymium magnets, the CADLive D90 Supercardioid dynamic vocal mic is engineered to produce a powerful, smooth and detailed performance in a variety of high SPL live situations. The D90 features a durable and road-ready case for maximum protection and survival on the road.
Midas Introduces New M32 Family Products
Midas Introduces New M32 Family Products
Midas is pleased to announce the addition of the M32R and M32C digital consoles, and the DL32 32 x 16 stage box to the Company’s well received M32 platform.
Both the M32R and M32C are 40-input / 25-bus digital mixers with a host of connectivity options sure to appeal to audio professionals in need of advanced live sound and recording solutions.
The M32R features the same award-winning Midas Microphone Preamplifiers and “1-million cycle” motorised faders as the PRO Series consoles. The mixers also feature ULTRANET connectivity for “Acoustic Integration” with the new Turbosound active loudspeakers and P-16 personal monitoring systems.
Expanding on the functionality and connectivity of the highly successful DL16, the DL32 stage box doubles the I/O in a rugged 3U rackmount chassis with 32 Midas PRO Series microphone preamps, 16 XLR outputs, two AES50 ports, AES/EBU stereo outputs, MIDI I/O and dual ADAT connectivity.
“The M32R takes the elements crucial to our highly-acclaimed PRO Series console range and puts them into the hands of new Midas digital customers – at an exceptional price point,” said Graham Rowlands, Music Group Vice President of Global Sales. Professional Division.
Rowlands continued, “The M32C puts the processing and channel/bus count of the M32 console into a 1U solution! Installers, Corporate A/V and those desiring the utmost in compact portability now have a Midas solution. Pair it with the DL32 stage box and you have a 32 x 16 solution that can fit in a 4U rack! These wonderful new products along with the existing M32 and DL16 stage box offer users a truly unprecedented amount of flexibility, quality – and value.”
The Midas M32R, M32C and DL32 are available at an estimated U.S. street price of $ 2,999, $ 999 and $ 1,999, respectively – and are covered by a generous 3-Year Warranty Program,
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Sennheiser Launches evolution wireless D1
Sennheiser has launched evolution wireless D1, a range of digital wireless microphone systems that lets bands go wireless the easy way.
Sennheiser has launched evolution wireless D1, a range of digital wireless microphone systems that lets bands go wireless the easy way. The announcement was made at the 2015 NAMM show in Anaheim.
With systems for vocals or for instruments, a band’s life is made simpler: transmitters and receivers automatically pair and select suitable transmission frequencies, while multiple D1 systems can automatically coordinate themselves. ew D1 operates in the 2.4 GHz range, which is license-free worldwide.
“D1 instantly readies you for making music – and takes the complexity out of wireless,” summarizes Martin Fischer, product manager at Sennheiser.
Bands can now just forget about frequency setting, matching transmitters and receivers, and getting the gain right – evolution wireless D1 offers true ease of use by doing all these time-consuming and sometimes error-prone chores for them.
“All that is needed is to switch the system on”, said Martin Fischer. “The rest will happen automatically. In no time at all, you’re all set to start jamming – with all the levels right, and a stable wireless link.”
D1 operates in the 2,400 to 2,483.5 MHz range, which is license-free worldwide thereby eliminating the need to register the system or pay for the use of bandwidth. Region-specific particularities are catered for in the respective country variants. To allow co-existence with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other 2.4 GHz systems, the D1 receiver continually scans the RF environment, and will inaudibly and seamlessly hop to another frequency if it detects any interference.
Two channels are always available: besides the actual audio transmission channel, the system runs a redundant back-up channel, thus providing frequency and time diversity. Transmission reliability is further increased by fast-switching antenna diversity.
Summing up, Fischer said, “ew D1 uses triple diversity to protect the wireless link between radio microphone and receiver.”
The evolution wireless D1 also employs the industry-leading aptX Live codec that ensures excellent audio quality and wide dynamics for vocals, speech and instruments over the entire audio frequency range. Overall latency is a low 3.9 milliseconds, which is ideal if wireless monitors are to be used. To ensure optimum levels, ew D1 automatically sets the correct microphone sensitivity.
Via the ew D1 menu control, bands have a range of audio effects at their disposal. These include a 7-band graphic equalizer, low-cut filter, automatic gain control and de-esser. The D1 vocal systems come with dynamic evolution microphone heads but can naturally also be combined with the condenser capsules from the acclaimed series, which are available as accessories.
ew D1 systems coordinate themselves fully automatically. For multiple systems, receivers will synchronize themselves to accommodate up to 15 channels in an ideal RF environment.
Where local frequency regulations allow, for example in the USA and Canada, Sennheiser has fitted its evolution wireless D1 systems with adaptive transmission power, with up to 100 milliwatts of power ensuring an extra-reliable link and extended range. For this, the receiver continuously informs the transmitter about how much RF output power is actually needed for a stable signal. The transmitter adapts accordingly and transmits at the requested power.
“This feature not only increases the range if, for example, the singer moves further away from the receiver but it also saves battery power in those instances where the transmitter is very close to the receiver,” said Martin Fischer.
D1 transmitters can be powered by either standard batteries or rechargeable “accupacks” that are available as accessories. These rechargeable lithium-ion packs recharge via USB or a docking charger and offer the additional advantage that the remaining battery life is indicated on the transmitter and receiver. Where required, the ew D1 system can be controlled by Apple or Android devices using a dedicated app.
evolution wireless D1 comes in complete, ready-to-use systems or can be tailor-made by combining individual components, which is especially attractive for vocal systems. Besides the vocal and instrument systems, the D1 series comprises headmic and lavalier systems. Available in your local music stores from March 2015.
Posted by Julie Clark on 01/22 at 11:25 AM
Garth Brooks Tour Goes Digital With DiGiCo
Dan Heins and Troy Milner both manning SD7 desks on Clair Global-reinforced world tour
After more than a dozen years in retirement, Garth Brooks has returned to the road with his wife, Trisha Yearwood, for a global tour that has already sold over one million tickets. DiGiCo SD7 digital consoles lie at the heart of both the front-of-house and monitor positions.
The trek, in support of Man Against Machine - Brooks’ first new studio album in 13 years - formally kicked off with 10 shows in Chicago on September 4 and is now moving through an ever-growing list of multi-day runs in various cities across North America.
Sonically reinforced by Clair Global, the tour finds Brooks’ longtime FOH engineer, Dan Heins, once again manning the artist’s PA mix, as he has for a quarter of a century. Newer to the team, yet no less experienced, is monitor engineer Troy Milner who joined on after several years at stage right with Bruce Springsteen. But newest of all is a pair of DiGiCo SD7 digital consoles used at both the FOH and monitor mix positions.
This is a camp that can literally have anything it wants, and the decision to go with the SD7 duo was not one made lightly. For Brooks’ big tours in the ‘90s, house and monitors were both on API Paragon desks - hardly standard issue even for a superstar tour. And since then there have been a few smaller outings all on analog. This is the first tour ever for Brooks on a digital console.
The call for the SD7s was driven by a couple of requirements that sound familiar: the sheer number of inputs (124) and outputs (including 16 stereo IEM mixes) needed for a large band doing arenas and stadiums, as well as audio quality and ease of use - a huge consideration for a group used to high-end analog gear.
The selection of the DiGiCo console pair was also attributed to a newer reason, but one that is certainly becoming more important by the day, especially for giant tours like this.
“The ability to put the DiGiRacks and consoles and everything on one fiber loop was huge for us,” says Heins. “We premiered the tour at a stadium in Ireland and the DiGiCo was really the best option to put all of the audio and control, including delays, on a single transport system.”
“I switched to the SD7 a few years ago because I needed more ins and outs, and I haven’t looked back,” Milner chimes in. “Monty Carlo and I moved to the SD7s on Springsteen’s last big tour in 2009 since we had a lot of unknowns about band requirements when we were starting and knew we needed room to grow. I’m glad we made the switch because we added a lot of stuff and it worked out perfectly.”
Heins echoes the thoughts of several other FOH engineers when he notes the ease of use and much-lessened need for channel EQ. “It did not take me long to get very comfortable with the flow of things on the SD7 and now I am just as fast on it. And when it comes to EQ, you plug in a mic, bring it up and you are already close. For example, my kick drum mic has almost no EQ on it at all. With the SD7 there is just no need to really dig into the EQ on any channel.”
In addition to the ins and outs, Milner notes some lesser-known features that he leans on. “There are lots of cool things,” he says. “Macros can do just about anything you dream up. I have them dim all the screens and lights so that, between songs, I can see the band on stage better in the dark. Listen to Copied Audio is an awesome playback feature. Being able to put any input or output or control group on any fader is cool. I also put my talkback mic on one of the master faders so that when I need to talk to one band member in his ears, I just select his mix and my TB is always right there.”
Just like that speed being important to Heins, Milner notes it as well. “I feel like I’m so fast on the SD7 now. When a band member starts to look my direction, I just cue up his mix on faders and I can make any change he asks me for crazy fast. I love that my artists don’t have to wait on me to find things and make adjustments.”
The tour, supported by Clair Global, is a beast that harkens back to the legendary Garth tours of a decade-plus ago. Out front is a massive rig that includes 40 i218M three-way line array elements and an additional 16 i218-LT long-throw elements and 48 i212 medium format line array cabs. Onstage is a veritable a sea of 44 CM22 wedges (the band is on in-ears while the boss is all about the wedges), the volume - both onstage and off - can get “pretty rockin’ but not out of control by any means. That CM22 wedge is a beast and I’m always amazed at what comes out of that box and how great it sounds,” Milner reports. “It’s a game changer.”
And game changing is what this tour, team and artists are all about. From bringing country from clubs and theaters into stadiums to collaborating with rock legends KISS, Brooks has always pushed the boundaries. This tour is going to go on a long time; some reports put it at three years. And instead of moving all the time, the camp arrives in a city and may stay for two weeks and do at least six shows in that time - including two a day on Saturdays.
“It is about balancing supply and demand,” says Heins. “At this point in Garth’s career he does not care if he sells out every show. But he does want to make sure that tickets stay out of the secondary market and remain affordable to his fans. And if adding shows in a city makes that happen, then shows are added.”
When Brooks isn’t touring, Heins stays busy working directly for Clair Global out of Nashville and, as previously noted, has spent a huge part of his career supporting the “best-selling album artist in the United States.” Milner has a unique perspective having mixed monitors for Brooks and Springsteen - two of the biggest and most fan-beloved artists on the planet.
“They are both amazing artists to work with and they both keep me on my toes,” he says. “Both feed off the crowd and it’s all about the connection with their audiences, and neither one of them follow the set list. The big difference would be that one wears a hat and the other one doesn’t. But on this tour, Garth’s vocal is the show, period. But when he plays four notes of a certain song on his guitar the crowds go through the ceiling. It’s pretty amazing.”
And being able to hear those four notes with clarity and definition in every part of venues ranging from large to gigantic is one of the key reasons for choosing DiGiCo.
“It all comes down to sound,” sums Heins. And after having his choice of the best-of-the-best for the better part of three decades, he could have chosen anything. “When it comes to digital, the DiGiCo just sounds great.”
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Atomic Pro Audio Reinforces John Fogerty With Adamson
Atomic Audio provides Adamson PA for John Fogerty tour.
American music legend John Fogerty continues to entertain fans around the world with regular touring throughout North America and overseas. His most recent tour marked a complete departure from his regular audio system of many years – this time going on the road with the new Adamson Energia PA provided by Atomic Pro Audio.
“I’ve been working with Atomic for almost 20 years,” explains Tim Schad, production manager working with John Fogerty since 2006. “I was sold on Adamson the first time I used it and have started working in different pieces of their gear with John over the last 6 years, but this was the first time we went out with 100% Adamson PA and monitor rig. The new Adamson Energia PA was “way better sounding” than any PA available out there at any cost.”
Atomic Pro Audio, located in Rutland, Vermont, has been a supporter of Adamson since 2002. Most recently they expanded their huge Adamson inventory with the addition of Energia E15 and E12 line array enclosures as well as E218 and E219 subwoofers. They have been providing audio equipment for John Fogerty tours since 2009.
“Atomic owner Kevin Margolin did an amazing job putting together a complete audio and video package for us this year that included the new Adamson PA and monitor system” adds Schad, “Atomic’s crew headed up by system-tech George Perone is easily one of the best I’ve ever worked with in my 35 years in this business. Ingenious packaging, great gear and a talented, caring team make all the difference out here and both Adamson and Atomic do beautiful work in engineering their systems assuring we have great sound, ready in time for doors… every night.”
John Fogerty is known for his attention to detail, particularly when it comes to the sound quality of the audio system. He regularly walks the room working with the system tech, Schad and FOH Engineer Felix Brenner, to make sure that every seat in the house has the same high fidelity sound.
“The move to the E15 rig is a huge change – it sounds so good John doesn’t comment on system tuning anymore. It completely eliminates the need for me to walk the room with him and the system tech, freeing up valuable time,” Schad says. “He basically just works with drummer Kenny Aronoff on his snare sound for the day, then gives George a thumbs up and heads to the stage – we are all very, very happy with the new Energia PA.”
The main PA consists of up to 32 E15s for the main arrays and 20 E12s for outfill. Twelve E218 subs were flown – six per side – while ten E219s were ground stacked (5 x 2) placed equidistant across the width of the stage. Ten SpekTrix front fills complete the package.
“I’m a big fan of Adamson’s T21 subs but I have to say that the E218/E219 combo was perfect for John’s music style,” explains Schad. “For old school rock they’re just super tight and extremely punchy.”
The monitor rig also featured Adamson gear. A total of 26 M15 monitors were used on stage. Fogerty uses an array of nine M15 wedges on stage along with flown left/right arrays of six Adamson Y10 side fills to surround his performance space. Band members also use multiple M15 wedges.
“The new Energia rig provides us with impeccable clarity throughout every seat in the venue,” concludes Schad. “The sound is absolutely amazing and the system goes up and comes down very quickly. We’re all looking forward to taking it out again this coming summer.”
Grant And Smith ‘REACH’ For The Stars With NEXO And Yamaha
NEXO and Yamaha support the Amy Grant/Michael W. Smith concert in Minneapolis.
Two of the most recognized Christian artists, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, performed “Christmas with Michael W Smith & Amy Grant” at the Target Center in Minneapolis in early December, and REACH Communications (Champlin, MN), was there to support the audio production.
REACH provided their NEXO STM rig and Nuar amps along with a Yamaha PM5D-RH for front of house and dual CL5s digital audio consoles – one for the orchestra and one for the artists, and four Rio3224 input/output boxes.
“We knew we needed perfect coverage for the target center as it was a sold out show,” states Dan Brown, REACH Communications. “We have had the new NEXO STM M46/B112 for about nine months now and knew it was up to the task for the main hangs. We recently added the new M28 boxes to our inventory, and after looking at the NEXO NS-1 simulator, could see that it would be a perfect fit for side hangs on this show.”
Brown said they were under a very tight load in and setup schedule for the one-off event. “The STM rigging and NUAR amp racks allowed us to get things up, checked very fast, and stay on schedule throughout the day.”
The NEXO main hang rig consisted of 24 STM M46 – 12 per side, 24 STM B112 – 12 per side, 6 STM M28 – three per side for down fill, four STM B112 – two per side and 24 STM M28 – 12 per side for out fill. Twelve RS18 Ray Subs, four per side in cardioid mode and four spread across the stage perimeter. Six NEXO PS10-R2s and two NEXO GEO S1230s were used for outer front-fill along with ten NEXO Nuar racks.
“I was able to walk the upper seating area with Russ Long, the FOH engineer for Amy Grant and Michael W Smith,” Brown says. “The coverage to the upper seats was very good even with the long throw of the mains and no delay speakers. The main speakers were throwing about 300+ ft. It was very impressive!”
He notes that “NEXO has done a great job of making the voicing of all of their boxes very similar to each other,” as the transition from the main to the side hangs was very clean even with the cabinets being a different driver compliment.
Brown said the artist engineers requested a Yamaha PM5D-RH at FOH and CL5 for monitors. “We were tasked with providing what we preferred for the orchestra console and knew that the CL5 would be a great fit in this role as well.”
The entire system for the concert was run into two Lake LM26 for zone control and was routed via Dante to all of the NEXO amps. “Our client was very happy with the results and sound coverage throughout the room. We worked closely with the venue manager and the artists’ crew to make sure we had the maximum seating capacity for the sound coverage and sight lines in the room.”
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Alcons Audio Amplifies Skjærgårdsgospel Worship Conference In Norway
LR16 pro-ribbon line arrays help overcome event’s difficult acoustics at Langesund’s Skjærgårdshallen arena
The Norwegian port of Langesund annually plays host to the annual Skjærgårdsgospel worship conference, a weekend-long festival of music and meetings, with Alcons Audio equipment helping to overcome the event’s difficult acoustics over the past three years at Langesund’s Skjærgårdshallen, a multi-purpose arena and conference facility.
“It’s a difficult event for sound reinforcement, because the side and rear walls of Skjærgårdshallen are highly reflective. It’s made worse by the fact that the Skjærgårdsgospel stage is located on one of the ‘long’ sides,” says Eivind Fossnes Dahl, general manager and sound engineer at Audiopol Live, the company tasked with the event’s sound production.
Founded in 2007, Audiopol Live is a sister business to recording facility Audiopol Studio, based in Skien. “We supply all kinds of events, but mainly jazz, acoustic music, worship, choir, theatre and musicals, all of which require high resolution and speech intelligibility,” says Eivind. “We have no attachment to any manufacturer. When we buy equipment, our only criteria is that we want systems that can do the job in the best possible way.
“We listened to many different loudspeaker systems and chose the Alcons LR16 compact pro-ribbon line-array system purely because we knew it would be the right choice for the events we service,” he continues. “It has been such a success that we have since supplemented it with LR7 micro line-array, VR12 and VR8 compact monitor systems. We have never regretted choosing Alcons.”
Having known the Skjærgårdssgospel worship leaders for many years, three years ago Audiopol Live was asked to supply the audio system for the event. They—and an Alcons system—have been fixtures ever since.
“They were well aware of the audio quality that Alcons systems deliver before they asked us to get involved and now every year it is just assumed that Alcons is what we will use,” says Eivind. “Alcons is an excellent solution; because of the very fast transient response of the pro-ribbon’s mid-and high frequencies, the intelligibility is excellent, even with such difficult acoustics.
“Meanwhile, the horizontal spread is so clear and sharp that you can be very accurate with which zones you want the speakers to cover, while other zones will be silent,” he adds. “Setting up the cardioid subs as a end-fire array also means that the rearward low frequency reflections don’t cause a problem.”
This was the first year that AudioPol live had used Alcons Sentinel amplified loudspeaker controllers at Skjærgårdsgospel, and Eivind is pleased with how they performed.
“We have used Alcons ALC amplified loudspeaker controllers from the beginning and been very happy with what they provide,” he concludes. “So, we have been excited about how the new Sentinel amplifiers could compare to the ALCs. We found that the sound quality was every bit as good, but with the weight of an amplifier rack being about 10 percent of an ALC rack and the integrated digital system-drive processing, it made our job a lot easier.”
Monday, January 19, 2015
Scotland’s FE Live Audio Seeks Out New Frontiers With d&b audiotechnik V-Series
Opted for full system, including V8s, V12s and V-SUBs driven by D80 amplifiers, using R1 Remote control software
FE Live Audio, a growing sound company based in Glasgow, Scotland, recently added a d&b audiotechnik V-Series rig to its inventory, acquired from local d&b distributor The Warehouse Sound Services.
The company is headed up by Andrew McMillan and Ryan McIlravey, who have been partners in enterprise since their school days. Still both only 25, they’ve recently appointed a new co-director, Andrew Baillie, who, at the grand old age of 28 brings with him problem solving and system tech expertise.
Together they’re developing FE Live Audio, building on their successes since first venturing into full sound production with sold-out Twin Atlantic shows at the Glasgow Barrowlands in 2012.
“After establishing FE Live as a limited company, we took the decision to invest any profits into purchasing the very best equipment possible,” states McIlravey. “It was clearly apparent that there was a growing demand for quality audio solutions in an industry where audiences are demanding a superior live sound.
“Having stuck to our principles, with a determination to provide the best shows possible, we now provide audio solutions to some of the UK’s biggest artists and events. Over the last couple of years we have supplied audio systems to the likes of Lily Allen, Travis, and Chvrches as well as venturing into corporate events such as the VIP zone at Radio 1’s Big Weekend and the Live @ Ryder Cup 2014 Stage.”
Feeling the time was right, the company invested in a concert-sized PA, purchasing d&b audiotechnik V-Series last October.
“It was great to be able to help FE Live with their purchase decision; they’re a young, vibrant company and proof that you don’t have to relocate to London to make your mark in the pro audio sector,” says Neil Osborne, technical support at The Warehouse. “Ryan and Andrew came to us with a very clear idea of what they were looking for in such an investment. They opted for a full V-Series system: V8s, V12s, V-SUBs, driven by D80 amplifiers and of course using the R1 Remote control software to maximize the system’s performance wherever it is located.”
McIlravey adds, “The system is state of the art and is ideal as a scalable touring package. With the trend of live music being the big earner for the majority of modern day artists, we felt it was crucial to invest in a system that would be perfect for touring 2,000- to 5,000-capacity venues, not looking to pay London prices in order to do so. It’s really adaptable, sounds great and is powered using only two D80 racks, which helps as truck space is a primary concern on many tours.”
FE Live Audio
Friday, January 16, 2015
Church Sound: But Does It Sound Right?
Recently I took a compact line array rig out for a demo that was also a live event.
The system included six full-range line array modules and four 18-inch-loaded subwoofers, driven by 12,000-watt amplifiers—and there were four more 18-inch subs sitting in the corner.
The demo room wasn’t all that large, and when I walked in and saw the size of it, and then pondered the scale of the system and those four extra subs, my first thought was, “We have way more PA than we’ll ever use—I hope we don’t hurt anyone.”
I was then introduced to Rick, who was running the event and also serving as the front of house mixer, and after exchanging pleasantries, I mentioned that we wouldn’t be needing the subs. Rick simply gave me a tight smile and said, “We’ll see.”
We finished setting up the system and Rick patched in his iPod, and we began listening. By the conclusion of the first measure of music, I realized my statement about not needing the subs was wrong. The music was hip-hop, and while the full-range line array had a solid, balanced attack, it was having a hard time going as deep as the program material demanded.
The combination of the 18-inch subs handling the deep, really low frequencies combined with the overall solid performance of the full-range boxes was the right ticket. This was furthered because Rick divided the subs into two groups, each with its own aux send so that they could be further tailored and optimized.
The system rocked the house; the only problem was the occasional tripping of a breaker because there weren’t enough separate electrical circuits to spread out the power load.
Another issue was that I had to eat humble pie, but Rick was nice about it and chose not to rub it in. (Maybe it was because I brought a free sound system for him to use.)
This brought to mind a similar experience…
A few years ago, I was providing a system and doing front of house for an outdoor event, and one of the opening acts for the day was a Tex-Mex band.
As we got them wired up, the guy playing the acoustic guitar started playing to do a monitor check. I was busy and didn’t pay much attention, but I do remember thinking that what he was playing didn’t sound like an acoustic guitar to me.
When the band launched into the first song of their set. I did my usual PFL (pre-fade listen) check on vocals, bass and drums, and was just about to PFL the acoustic guitar when someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You need more guitar in the mix.”
I thanked him, raised the guitar about 10 dB, and then PFL’d the guitar channel—and was very confused by what I was hearing. It didn’t sound at all like an acoustic guitar, plus the guy was playing it like he was Eddie Van Halen.
Luckily for me, the gentleman who asked me to turn up the guitar was still standing next to me, so I asked him to listen to the guitar through the headphones because I was pretty sure something was wrong.
But to my surprise, he said it sounded good. After my initial shock, I realized that I couldn’t put together a good mix for this band since I had no clue as to what they and their music were supposed to sound like!
At this point I again turned to my new friend asked him if he’d ever mixed before. “A little bit,” he replied, “but I don’t know my way around the board that well.”
To which I responded, “That’s OK—I can drive if you tell me where we’re going.” So I spent the next half hour getting a lesson on what Tex-Mex should sound like as my friend and I co-mixed the group.
The moral of both of these stories is simple: always know what you’re getting into ahead of time so you can be properly prepared both in terms of having the right gear for the gig and to do justice with the mix.
Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 30 years.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Modern Pioneers: The History Of PA, Part 2
In the first half of this article (here), we explored the history of the modern electric PA system and it’s application in the reinforcement of live music and events over the first 90 years – from the invention of the microphone in 1875 to the first stadium concert in 1965.
That first stadium concert, featuring the Beatles at Shea Stadium in Queens, showed that while there was the demand for bands to play large shows, the sound reinforcement systems of the time were simply not up to the task. Most bands carried their own small self-operated systems, which were little more than glorified vocal amplifiers.
Clair & Watkins
Thankfully there were pioneering individuals on both sides of the Atlantic willing to up the ante and usher in the era of the large PA. Notable pioneers included Charlie Watkins of WEM (Watkins Electric Music) in London and Clair Brothers in Lititz, PA.
Gene and Roy Clair received their first system as a Christmas present from their grocer father in 1954, and for the next few years they hired it out to local dances and events. In 1963 they purchased a loudspeaker re-coning business that gave them access to the latest developments and led to them providing the sound system for regular headline acts at the 4,000-capacity Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.
Roy and Gene Clair.
In 1966 the brothers impressed Frankie Valli enough for him to hire them to go out on tour, thus forming one of the first touring PA hire companies. What made Clair stand out from the competition was a knack for piecing together the right bits of equipment to provide the loudest and clearest output. It led to the company working with Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane and Cream – for whom they did a prestigious gig at the Spectrum in Philadelphia for an audience of 18,000 in 1968.
Meanwhile over in the U.K., Watkins unveiled his “Slave” PA system at a festival in Windsor in 1967, so called because one amp is the slave that feeds into another to increase the output of the second. Using 10 amplifiers that generated 1,000 watts of power to 20 loudspeakers, the system was able to produce a volume level that saw it’s creator in court for a breach of the peace – thankfully the case was dismissed.
The WEM Audiomaster 5-channel mixer.
In 1968 WEM introduced the Audiomaster mixer and it instantly became a classic, even though it only offered 5 channels (each channel had controls for volume, bass, mid, treble and a spring reverb).
More importantly, the development of the mixer encouraged the move away from passive mixing (i.e., “set and forget” type operation) and paved the way for a generation of roadies to be elevated to the position of live sound engineer.
However, due to the use of high-impedance microphones, signal loss was a major issue so cable runs were kept to a minimum, which meant the mixer was typically located close to the rest of the system. Fortunately in New York at the Fillmore East, Bill Hanley developed the first multi-core “snake” that enabled the mix position to be moved away from the sound system.
This is something we take for granted now but at the time it was a revelation, as Dinky Dawson (Fleetwood Mac’s engineer) noted: “Up to that moment I had never seen any group mixed from anywhere other than the side of the stage. This was revolutionary!”
Hanley and technical engineer John Chester came up with the idea that placing transformers at the ends of a cable run would facilitate the ability to send high-impedance microphone signals down a balanced line over greater distances without picking up any interference or losing level.
At the time this approach was too large to take on tour, but the development of low-impedance mics that had a built-in balancing transformer, such as the Shure Unidyne III (1965), SM57 (1965) and SM58 (1966), allowed multi-core snakes to become portable.
A portion of the Crown DC300 spec sheet.
Shortly thereafter, Dawson became one of the first touring engineers to set up shop in the new “front of house” (FOH) position, located centrally amidst the audience.
The next key step was the development of bigger amplifiers. Despite being 20 years since the invention of the transistor, the most reliable large amplifiers of the late 1960s were still vacuum tube designs where a unit providing 50 watts per channel was considered “hefty” and one capable of delivering 100 watts per channel was “industrial.”
Then in 1967, Crown released the solid state (transistor) DC300 amplifier, so named because it utilized a Direct Coupled (DC) design that was capable of delivering 300 watts of power. What was key to the success of the DC300, above and beyond power, clarity and low distortion, was it’s size at 7 inches tall and weight of 45 pounds, less than a quarter the size and weight of an equivalently powered tube amplifier.
Making A Way
At this point most concert loudspeaker systems were quite simple, comprised of either multiple instances of the same model of loudspeaker (often arranged in a column) or combinations of cone loudspeakers and horns (to handle the low and high frequencies, respectively). Being as any given loudspeaker has difficulty delivering a range of more than three to four octaves with clarity and low distortion, these systems could not be considered high fidelity.
A Heil Sound traveling system circa 1973.
What was needed was a way of splitting up the signal into multiple frequency bands that could be more efficiently handled by individual amplifiers, and then recombined in a manner that was pleasing to the ear. And the emerging PA companies were falling over themselves to accomplish just this.
In 1969, Watkins unleashed the Festival Sound System, one of the first 4-way sound systems, splitting signal into bass, lower-mid, upper-mid and high-frequency portions. A short while later (early 1970), Bob Heil was called into service to build a monstrous 4-way system for the Grateful Dead at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. He estimated that the total audio power of this system was around 20,000 watts (despite being powered by home hi-fi amplifiers!).
Clair Brothers developed its first 4-way system by splitting the sound up into bass, mid, high and super-high bands, and in 1971 McCune Sound Service (San Francisco) employees John Meyer and Bob Cavin created a loudspeaker known as the JM-3 (named after John Meyer). This was a 3-way system that also enclosed the amplifiers and all of the integrated electronics in an external equipment rack.
Thus at the dawn of the 1970s, we entered the golden age of the ground-stacked PA system – so called because the bass loudspeakers were placed on the ground or stage, with the mid and high loudspeakers stacked on top.
Many of the those early big PAs were based on aging loudspeaker models such as the Altec “Voice of the Theatre” Series (from the small A8 through to popular A4 and the large A1), which were designed more for use in cinemas and theatres.
Gradually PA companies such as Clair and Heil Sound shifted toward use of transducers (cone and compression drivers) developed by JBL Professional, a company with a rich heritage extending back to its origin in 1945. Notable developments include the D130 15-inch cone (introduced in 1947), which was the first commercial use of a 4-inch voice coil (a variant of which remained in production for the next 55 years), and the model 375 (introduced in 1954), the first commercially available compression driver with a 4-inch diaphragm.
The “36kW Flying System” from Malcolm Hill Associates of the U.K.
Mix & Monitors
Live mixing consoles as we know them today came with a big assist from the recording side of audio. Bob Heil adapted a Langevin studio console for his fledgling large-scale PA in 1970, and he was also an early user of the Mavis console from IES in the U.K. as well as working closely with the Sunn engineering department on the first 8-channel Coliseum mixer (which was hand built).
A few years later, Ron Borthwick and Bruce Jackson, working with Clair Brothers, developed an unusual mixing console, the CBA 32, that went on to become the company’s mainstay into the 1980s. It was the first console to offer plasma bargraph meters, which displayed both average and peak sound levels, and the meters were conveniently located beside the faders. In addition, it was the first live console to incorporate parametric EQ.
Another key step was the development of more complex stage monitoring systems. Prior to this point musicians had either relied on carefully balancing their levels so they could hear everything they needed or they placed loudspeaker stacks at the side of stage which “folded back” the main mix (as those early mixers didn’t have auxiliary outputs capable of providing monitor mixes).
But the increase in the size of the PA systems meant monitors were becoming more of a necessity for the performers to not just hear and feel the performance, but also to be able to sing in tune. Pretty soon, curious wedge-shaped loudspeakers started appearing on stages, and once musicians heard them, they all wanted one (or more).
It’s interesting to note that such additions were not always welcomed by front of house engineers. For example, Pink Floyd engineer Mick Kluczynski observed that wedge monitors spread “like a virus” and he quickly found himself battling a secondary sound system, struggling for control of the main mix.
Loudspeaker capability developed and grew throughout the 1970s, with the 3- and 4-way ground stacked system dominating and then gradually taking to the air over the next 25 years or so. While hanging or suspended systems were developed, the basic template remained the same.
These systems are often referred to as “point source,” meaning they propagate sound equally in all directions, but that can be misleading. In reality, they only behave like a point source at lower frequencies and gradually become more directional as the frequency goes higher.
As a result, they tend to “spray” a lot of bass and lower mid range energy in all directions – against the ceiling, floor and side walls – causing delayed reflections that can muddy the sound and make it difficult to manage.
Point sources also conform closely to the inverse square law, meaning that the sound level drops by a quarter for each doubling of the distance from the source due to the fact that the expanding sphere of sound energy is spread over an increasingly larger area. This is another easily observable property as we all know that the sound is typically louder at the front, near the loudspeakers, and quieter at the back.
During this period, numerous manufacturers entered the concert market, presenting increasingly sophisticated loudspeaker systems. JBL Professional, Meyer Sound, Martin Audio, EAW and Turbosound are just some of the names, with the growing number of local and regional sound companies now having the opportunity to purchase “off the shelf” packages instead of designing and building their own loudspeakers.
EAW KF850s deployed for Cheap Trick in the late 1980s.
EAW in particular enjoyed huge success with the KF850, a 3-way “arrayable” loudspeaker designed by Kenton Forsythe – for several years it was tough to find an equipment rider that didn’t include the KF850. Meyer Sound lead the way in developing self-powered live systems, with amplification and electronics matched to the specific loudspeaker parameters and physically housed in the same enclosure.
Line ‘Em Up
Then in 1993, Christian Heil and his team at a company based in France named L-Acoustics launched the “modern” line array era with the introduction of the V-DOSC system. I say modern because the principals behind the line array have been known and used (in a limited sense) for quite some time.
Harry Olson first published his findings on the subject in 1957, and the benefits of column loudspeakers (where vertically aligned drivers in a single enclosure produce mid-range output in a wide horizontal and narrow vertical pattern) had been utilized in the Shure Vocal Master PA and Marshall columns that were available in the 1960s and beyond.
Flying L-Acoustics line arrays.
L-Acoustics refined the science and exploited the constructive interference caused by closely aligned loudspeakers to push sound energy further, and with a more even frequency response. The company’s “cylindrical wave generator” also focused output more in the horizontal plane and wasted less energy in the vertical plane, resulting in a more even distribution of sound throughout the space.
Line arrays are very much a product of the computer age, with precise modeling and precision deployment key to getting the required result. However, it’s important to note that line arrays are not the ultimate sound system; there are still many situations where a traditional flown or ground stacked approach is better suited.
The driving force behind every pioneer highlighted in this fascinating journey has always been the desire to provide a pleasing experience for the audience. As the technology advances, we as audio professionals are more able to place the sound precisely where it’s needed to provide the visceral experience that only a live performance can provide.
But it’s important to remember that the PA is merely the conduit for the performance. If you were able to directly compare the concert experience of someone in 1964 with someone in 2014, chances are they would express the same degree of joy and excitement at what they had witnessed, despite the obvious gulf in fidelity. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about the music.
Based in the UK, Andy Coules (www.andycoules.co.uk) is a sound engineer and audio educator who has toured the world with a diverse array of acts in a wide range of genres.
Martin Audio MLA Meets The Challenge Of Alfie Boe’s “Serenata” In London
Main PA hangs were based around 14 MLA elements (plus two MLD Downfills) on each side, with side hangs of 10 MLA
Alfie Boe’s Serenata tour recently arrived at the O2 Arena in London. where the popular tenor and actor was supported by a 5-piece band, a 16-piece orchestra, the New Zealand musical trio Sol3 Mio, and Martin Audio MLA (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array) provided by Capital Sound (London).
Veteran producer/engineer Matteo Cifelli (owner of Fastermaster Studio) handled the front of house mix, supported by system tech Joseph Pearce. With 86 inputs at the console (including 80 mic channels), there was plenty to challenge the sound team as Boe worked through an Italian-based romantic repertoire, assisted in one instance by Rick Wakeman on keyboards.
The same sound team had just come off a six-month stint with Il Divo, who shares the same management (Vector) as Alfie Boe, and Pearce had taken the opportunity to tweak the design in order to optimize the sound and further improve rear rejection.
Part of this optimization included providing 11 slim F8+ enclosures from Martin Audio’s Blackline+ series as lip fills along the stage front, while also specifying a pair of the unobtrusive DD12 (Differential Dispersion) horns on either side of the stage.
The approach met the approval of Cap’s project manager, Robin Conway, who described the loudspeaker as “a really supercharged [Martin Audio] W2,” adding, “these fill in all the near out fills, and because they are powered, you can put them on the network, which is a huge bonus.” He adds that the deployment of the F8+s perfectly filled the triangle of seating immediately in front of the stage.
The main PA hangs were based around 14 MLA elements (plus two MLD Downfills) on each side, with side hangs of 10 MLA.
Although the show was virtually all acoustic, and hardly dependent on LF overkill, Pearce had set four MLX along the front—left, right and a split pair in the center—while flying a further eight (four each side), with the top and bottom enclosures in each hang rear facing.
Cifelli names MLA as one of his favorite systems, having first encountered it during British Summertime at Hyde Park last summer (where he was mixing Sir Tom Jones), while later, at the Hong Kong Convention Center he was amazed to discover that just 12 enclosures a side would throw a distance of 330 feet. He had no hesitation in requesting MLA for this tour, particularly after such a long and positive experience with Il Divo.
“It was a logical choice,” he says. “I was confident we could achieve the perfect vocal sound and the clarity required for the orchestra. Tom Jones had sounded brilliant through MLA. Alfie has a more powerful and complicated voice––but thanks to the use of multiband compression the vocal never becomes harsh as it does through other systems, which just don’t sound as good.”
The challenge had been to shape the voice to deliver warmth and presence via the EQ in the face of loud stage monitoring. The vocal then had to nestle in the midst of a conventional band but with the addition of a 100-year-old Dulcitone and accordion, and the orchestra when it came in.
“With the changes we have made the PA now sounds absolutely great, and the subs are also impressive,” Cifelli notes. “It’s now completely silent behind the hangs. One of the best qualities of the PA is that I can get the sound I’m looking for straight away. It reacts very well to the way I EQ instruments and I find it is an extremely musical PA that throws huge distances without losing any detail. The clarity at 200 to 260 feet is fantastic.”
The sound team agrees that the new [reverse] sub configuration is also much more practical. The show was driven all-digitally all the way to the speaker boxes via AES3, from Matteo Cifelli’s Avid D-Show and sidecar, with all five DSP card slots fully populated, which made the signal path noiseless. An EQ station, used as a master EQ and compressor, was the only sign of outboard dynamics.
“To have produced a self-powered, networked speaker system, with some serious companion software, has been a big step up for Martin Audio,” concludes Pearce. “The idea of this system is awesome, and it’s definitely the future.”
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Adamson Provides Clarity For Pharrell Williams Dear GIRL Tour
Adamson Energia line arrays perform for Dear GIRL tour throughout Europe.
The Dear GIRL Tour is the ongoing debut concert tour by American singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams. Williams kicked off the tour in Manchester, England, with a full Adamson sound reinforcement system.
The European tour was spearheaded by Sound Image out of Escondido, California, with UK-based Wigwam providing the Adamson PA.
Kyle Hamilton, FOH engineer for Williams, specifically chose the Adamson Energia line arrays to support performances at major arenas throughout Europe.
“They asked me what PA I preferred when we were preparing for the tour and I immediately chose Adamson – it’s the system I always wanted to tour with,” explains Hamilton. “I couldn’t let that type of opportunity go by, it was definitely Adamson.”
The main PA consists of left-right line arrays each made up of fifteen E15 and three E12 enclosures. Outfill is provided by two more line arrays, this time consisting of twelve E12s followed by four SpekTrix enclosures.
Low end is handled by twenty T21 subwoofers – eight subwoofers stacked under each array with four located in the center of the stage. Two more SpekTrix enclosures on top of the left-right sub stacks handle front fill duties.
“The E15 sounds exceptional – all of the nuances in the mid-range are extremely clear,” adds Hamilton. “I hear actual notation, not just a lot of rumbling. The clarity is incredible – it’s like being able to see everything in a picture. The Energia system has incredible depth.”
“And the T21 subs have a LOT of horsepower,” Hamilton continues. “I was amazed. Once I got them dialed in they were terrific and provided a very musical sounding low end.”
The European leg of the Dear GIRL tour wrapped up at the end of 2014. The Pharrell Williams team is currently gearing up for North American dates, which will also utilize Adamson sound reinforcement.
“I always wanted to tour with the Energia PA, I put it at #1,” Hamilton concludes. “It is giving me everything that I expected and more. I’m looking forward to using it again.”
D.A.S. Audio Keeps Audience On Their Feet During Daddy Yankee Concert
Puerto Rican reggaeton singer/songwriter/producer and actor Daddy Yankee recently performed his version of urban music to an enthusiastic audience of approximately 18,000 people at the Center Court of the Hotel Lifesyle Holiday Vacation Club with sound reinforcement compliments of D.A.S. Audio line arrays.
The Center Court is one big outdoor performance venue, so when the crowds approach the maximum 20,000 person capacity—as they did for the Daddy Yankee concert—a serious sound reinforcement system was required. Dominican Republic-based Enlab, a technical production services company specializing in audio, lighting, video, and staging for concerts, tours, and special events, provided a sizable assortment of loudspeakers from D.A.S.’ Aero Series 2 and Road product lines.
Ultimately, the Enlab team deployed a setup consisting of forty D.A.S. Aero 40A powered, 3-way line array elements, twenty-nine LX-218CA powered, high performance subwoofers, ten Aero 12A powered, 2-way line array enclosures, and two Road 12A powered stage monitors.
The main stage setup included thirty-two Aero 40A line arrays—16 enclosures each for the left and right hangs. Low frequency support was handled by six LX-218CA subs per side beneath the left – right hangs plus another twelve LX-218CA’s across the center of the stage—with front fill covered by Aero 12A’s.
A delay setup of eight Aero 40A’s—positioned four enclosures each for left and right. The side fill setup included six Aero 12A enclosures along with four LX-218CA subs. The DJ was equipped with two Road 12A powered monitors along with an LX-218CA subwoofer.
“This is a very potent system with impressive sonic quality throughout the frequency range,” explains Enlab CEO Emmanuel Martinez, who served as a system technician for the concert. “The system delivered impressive low end while the high frequency sound was just right. The sound quality of the D.A.S. equipment is exceptional, with broad horizontal dispersion and excellent throw. This resulted in a system that delivered consistent coverage throughout the venue.”
“I also love the fact that the entire system is self-powered,” Martinez continued. “The self-powered design means that you needn’t be concerned about matching suitable amps for the loudspeakers and there’s no need to worry about where the amp racks will go. Further, this arrangement streamlines system cabling and helps with more efficient truck pack. Perhaps best of all, the D.A.S. equipment is extremely reliable.”
Monday, January 12, 2015
Church Sound: 10 Tech Tips For Portable Churches
Approaches to foster a faster setup and teardown...and help the sound guy keeps his sanity!
Recently I attended service at a portable church. After the service I helped clear the stage area, which is when the idea for this list started.
Here are 10 tips that will help any portable church with a faster setup and teardown…and help the sound guy keeps his sanity!
1. Mark all cables with colored electrical tape. Venues often have existing equipment available for use so using colored tape on your cables helps separate out your cables from theirs. You might even mark your name with a permanent marker on the tape.
2. Mark any duplicate equipment. For example, if the venue provides music stands, microphone stands, or any other basic equipment (even microphones) that look like yours then mark your equipment with colored electrical tape. This way, you don’t spend 20 minutes trying to figure out what to pack up and what stays at the venue.
3. Record EQ settings. The venue I was at on Sunday had the house mixing unit on the side of the stage. Therefore, the only way to tweak the EQ was to tweak and then run out front, listen, run back. Recording the EQ settings for the next week will save you a lot of running.
4. Use a stage plot for quicker setup. You might even simplify this by saying you should set up the singers and musicians in the same place every week. This way, you can drop cables, DI boxes, and stands in the area where they will be performing.
5. Bring your own fresh batteries. Don’t rely on the venue to have new batteries in their wireless equipment, or even to have a box of batteries present. You can save money by having a battery tester so you can re-use your batteries from week to week. You can also go the rechargeable route. Just don’t rely on the venue for fresh batteries.
6. Use small crates for packing cables and small equipment. Yeah, I’ve worked gigs where the cables were tosses in a huge tote that took two people to carry. That’s fine until one person decides they can carry it themselves and next thing you know, they hurt their back or get injured in a nasty fall. Milk crates are a perfect size.
7. Have spare cables handy. In the portable environment, you are putting more wear and tear on your cables so you are more likely to have one go bad. Besides, you should have a few spares in any situation, portable or not.
8. Store microphones in cases. This means do not throw them in a box! Microphones contain sensitive components. You also don’t want to be hauling out a box of unprotected microphones to the car while it’s raining. Ya know what I’m sayin’?
9. Establish a setup crew and a routine.
—Everyone shows up at 8 am for the load in.
—Bob sets up the stage cabling.
—Steve sets up the mics.
—Steve and Carl unroll the snake.
Everyone should know what they need to do. Remember, those musicians are waiting for you so they can practice and you can set their mix right.
10. Have a process so that damaged equipment or cables don’t sneak back into service. I was setting up for a concert gig a few months ago and an electric extension cord started sparking when I plugged something into it. The guy running front of house at the time told me to tie a knot in the end of the electrical cable and toss it in the front of his truck. It’s a simple process that guaranteed that cable would get fixed before the next event.
Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.