Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Coal Chamber Tours With Behringer X32 Digital Console

Engineer takes the X32 on the road after experiencing it at Whisky a Go Go

The recent tour by American nu metal band Coal Chamber offered mixes courtesy of a BehringerX32 digital console.

Coal Chamber sound engineer Leonard Contreras, decided to take the X32 on the road after experiencing it at LA’s Whisky a Go Go, where he is the club’s production manager as well as front of house engineer.

Contreras found the X32 suited to touring because it can be controlled remotely using an iPad.“The navigation, the feel, the lack of latency between the console, and iPad was a big factor — I was impressed by that,” he notes.

“I got to explore all the features and hear it through multiple PA systems in different venues, and the sound was phenomenal,” he adds. “After that tour, I was sold.”



Posted by Keith Clark on 10/30 at 10:31 AM
AVLive SoundNewsVideoAVConcertConsolesDigitalEngineerMixerSound ReinforcementPermalink

Dubai World Trade Centre Debuts Meyer Sound LEO At Music Week

System marks first LEO purchase in the Middle East.

The Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) recently introduced its new Meyer Sound LEO linear large-scale line array system during Dubai Music Week with a line-up that included, Selena Gomez, and Timbaland performing at the DWTC Arena.

DWTC’s system marks the first LEO purchase in the Middle East. “LEO stood true to its specifications in uniformity, extended frequency response, and sheer power,” says Ashley A. Rodrigues, DWTC manager of technical production. “There was very little that needed to be tweaked. The response was linear and transparent throughout the arena, and we measured levels of 116 dBA continuous at 65 meters from the stage.”

The system at Dubai Music Week comprised left and right main arrays of nine LEO-M line array loudspeakers over three MICA line array loudspeakers as down fills, supported by dual flown cardioid arrays of nine-each 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements.

Five MILO line array loudspeakers on each side supplied out fill, and the entire system was driven by a Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system with two Galileo Callisto 616 array processors and two Galileo 616 processors. On-stage foldback was supplied by 12 MJF-212A stage monitors, four MINA line array loudspeakers, and one 700-HP subwoofer.

“I’ve heard practically all the other high-quality brands on the market, and LEO’s quality stands above the rest,” says Rodrigues. “It engulfs you in a way that is difficult to express, but a pleasure to experience. The system certainly did justice to the excited crowd of 8,000—in fact, all the performers’ FOH engineers reported that they were awed by LEO’s performance.”

DWTC’s LEO system will be used for all large-scale concert events inside the complex, and will also be available as a rental system for major events throughout the Emirates.

The DWTC is a multi-faceted business complex that encompasses office towers along with event facilities for conferences, conventions, exhibitions, and entertainment.

Meyer Sound

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/30 at 10:24 AM
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SES Supports Southern Ground Festival With Martin Audio MLA

Largest MLA system ever deployed for this type of event

Besides the finest in American music and cuisine, Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Music & Food Festival featured the largest Martin Audio MLA system ever deployed for this type of event.

More than 15,000 people a night attended the outdoor event at Nashville’s Lawn in Riverfront Park to see headliner Zac Brown Band, Willie Nelson & Family, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Eli Young Band, Kacey Musgraves, The Head and the Heart, and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Special guests Kenny Chesney, John Fogerty, Jason Mraz and others also sat in with Zac Brown each night.

SES (Special Event Services) of Nashville and Winston Salem deployed a Martin Audio MLA setup for the event consisting of 22 MLA, two MLD (down fill) and 12 MLX subs flown per side. Twelve MLX were ground-stacked under center stage with three W8LM per side for lip fill. A DiGiCo SD7 console was at FOH and two DiGiCo SD10s were used for monitors.

The crew included Zac Brown FOH engineer Eric Roderick along with ZBB monitor engineers Mark Frink and Andy Hill. The crew from SES included system tech Preston Soper, Alex Ritter and Joe Lefevbre.

SES director of touring operations Michael Brammer says, “Eric always has a good night when he’s behind MLA and even though Zac was having some vocal issues because of a head cold that weekend, we were able to compensate for that with the PA and really make those problems disappear.

“Then the fact that we could walk outside of the festival site and have no noise pollution in terms of the nearby residential areas and hotels was ideal. We never got a phone call about it being too loud.

“All the guest engineers were absolutely blown away, especially when they walked the field and found out the mix still held together 600 feet away from the stage with no delays.”

Martin Audio

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/29 at 03:52 PM
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Sound Reinforcement Or Reproduction? It’s All About The Intent

What do you want the audience to hear?

One of my first jobs in the pro audio business was to make cables, do simple repairs and be a general “tech” at the USC film school audio department. I was one of those destitute students who asked around about “anything I could get” in terms of work. And this was it.

It was a good experience for a number of reasons, foremost of which was that THX guru Tomlinson Holman was one of the main teachers at the film school, and he was often around the department. I had taken a class from him and knew who he was.

One day at the shop, he was hanging around a bit and I decided to ask him about his thoughts on tube vs. solid state amplifiers, figuring that A) he knew a lot about the subject, and B) he would have some interesting insights for a budding engineer like myself. His answer surprised me but gave me something to chew on for many years after that. He said “what you have to think about is the difference between ‘reproduction’ and ‘production’ in terms of what the two different designs accomplish.”

In terms of live sound, I think this same concept is very important to consider. It is fairly common to debate the issue of “reinforcement vs. amplification” and this is close to what I’m getting at. So that these concepts can be more thoroughly examined, I would propose naming three different categories: reproduction, reinforcement, and production.

Reinforcement: The Most Basic Approach
Generally, most music begins with acoustic instruments of one form or another. Even the electric guitar is usually paired with an amplifier which is a very important component of the sound. And thus, the first goal of sound reinforcement is just that: to reinforce the existing acoustic sound so that A) a larger audience can hear the music – i.e. the sound is capable of filling a larger space, or B) that certain instruments can be brought up to the level of other instruments on the stage. This second category is quite common when mixing drums or electric instruments with acoustic sources such as horns or strings. Of course most often, reinforcement is a combination of these two things: some amplification of quieter sources to balance the louder ones, and an overall boost to fill a larger space and project to a larger audience.

An additional thing to consider here is that not all audio frequencies propagate equally. Low frequency sounds generate standing waves and are difficult to absorb, while high frequencies are absorbed easily. Often, along with doing internal balancing between instruments, it is necessary to add or subtract certain frequencies from specific sounds so that the resulting impression is one of “natural-ness”. For instance, you may want to add overhead mics to the drums just to bring out the upper harmonics from the cymbals and hi-hat, even though the drums are plenty loud on their own. In order for this to work, of course you may want to cut everything in the overhead mics below about 400 Hz…

Reproduction or Production?
This is where things get interesting. For certain types of music, reproduction is the goal of reinforcement. In other words, the FOH engineer is attempting to re-create the original event on a larger scale or in a different venue. Exactly what he or she is trying to re-create is an interesting question in itself. If the original event is purely acoustic music such as from an orchestra, an opera singer, chorus, or big band jazz group, then usually the goal is to do what was described in the paragraph on reinforcement. This includes some internal balancing with the addition of greater volume for a larger space. In other words, the original intent of the music is preserved.

A very different situation, but still reproduction in my opinion is when the original event is a recording. In many cases, a touring act wants to present a live sound event that is similar to the recording in many ways. The same vocal effects, drum sounds, basic mix, etc. are all part of this approach. Often times, FOH engineers listen carefully to the recordings in order to glean these specifics so that there is a good starting point.

Where the live sound becomes production, in my opinion, is when the engineer makes choices that take the overall effect in a different direction than either the original acoustic event or the reference recording. The reasons for this approach are many, and include trying to achieve an effect, perhaps the original would be considered “dated” or just the fact that the artist wants to present something unique to the audience. Often this is accompanied with new arrangements or “extended” versions of songs. It may also coincide with other production effects such as lighting or pyro.

In fact, this reminds me of when I saw the Metallica tour in the late 1990s. Although the overall mix was reminiscent of their albums (I’m thinking of Master of Puppets, And Justice for All, and the “Black” ablum specifically), there was a decidedly different element to the live mix that simply couldn’t be captured on the recordings. Some of that effect was just simply that it was friggin’ LOUD.

But in contrast to a lot of shows that I’ve seen that were loud, this one was very clear, punchy, and had the effect of transporting the audience to another planet: the Metallica Planet. The lights, the pyro and the arrangements of the songs were specifically designed to accomplish this goal along with the mix done by “Big” Mic Hughes. I’ve seen a lot of good shows over the years but this one sticks in my mind as being excellent. It didn’t hurt that Suicidal Tendencies was one of the opening acts… they rocked, too! My only disappointment was that Alice in Chains had just fallen apart and thus was replaced by Candlebox, who did not fill the admittedly large shoes very well. But I digress…

It’s All About Intent
To me, it all comes down to making decisions about how you will approach your craft of live sound, and it should be different depending on the various types of music and different audiences. If you are trying to create the illusion of Glenn Miller on stage for the blue hairs, well, I’d advise reproduction so that the audience hears what they expect to hear. But for different audiences and different acts, it’s really up to the artist and up to you how to best approach this question. And it goes beyond mere mixing – it extends into the speaker system design, what effects you might want to bring, and your selection and placement of microphones. Think holistically and realize that you are the key to what the audience ultimately hears. So what do you want them to hear?

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/29 at 10:17 AM
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VUE al-4 Line Array Takes Flight At White Eagle Rock n’ Roll Hotel

Opened in 1905, Portland Oregon’s White Eagle Café and Hotel boasts a long and colorful history adorned by legends of underground poker, Shanghai tunnels, and resident spirits.

Today the White Eagle continues under the thoughtful ownership of Mike and Brian McMenamin-the savvy brothers who grew their first brewpub into a successful chain of microbreweries, hotels and music venues across Oregon and Washington State.

Like so many historic McMenamins properties, the White Eagle embraces and celebrates its roots. Today the hotel and café is known for its unique vintage charm and nightly rock n’ roll shows—a tradition that’s seen countless local acts as well as international talent like Robert Cray, the Isley Brothers and ZZ Top.

With music playing a central role, White Eagle management recently decided to install a Vue Audiotechnik al-4 line array as the centerpiece of a major sound system overhaul. Eric Iverson of Rose City Sound worked in partnership with the White Eagle’s in-house production staff on the new design. 

“Management was clear that they wanted a state-of-the-art system that would make the venue more attractive to local and national acts alike,” explained Iverson. “At the same time, maintaining the vintage aesthetics was also important, so the system had to deliver sonically while being relatively compact.”

While aesthetics dictated size requirements, the White Eagle’s narrow shape and highly reflective brick walls called for exceptional pattern control as well.

“I immediately thought that a small line array would be perfect,” admitted Iverson. “I’d heard about the VUE al-4, so I contacted the company to see about a demo. Within a matter of days I not only had an al-4 to try, but VUE’s Jeff Taylor came out personally to help us hang it.”

“Right out of the box and without any EQ, the al-4 sounded absolutely amazing,” said Chris Heinzelmann, resident sound engineer at the White Eagle. “The frequency response was exceptional from top to bottom, and the output was really impressive for such a small system. We knew pretty quickly that the al-4 was perfect for us.”

With the decision made, Iverson designed a permanent system that includes an eight element al-4 array with a single VUE V4 Systems Engine providing all amplification and DSP functions.

A VUE a-8 is mounted just behind the al-4 array for nearfield downfill, while a VUE is-18a powered subwoofer provides low frequency extension. An Allen & Heath MixWizard 16:2 handles the mix.

“Pattern control from the al-4 is exceptional,” added Iverson. “With such a long and narrow room I was really concerned about coverage. The al-4 was really easy to assemble and aim. It delivers more even coverage than anything we’ve tried in this room before.”

Feedback from the White Eagle’s technical crew has also been overwhelmingly positive, and for Iverson and the Rose City team, that’s music to their ears.

“The room has never sounded better,” Heinzelmann concludes. “And the word is definitely getting out there as more and more acts experience it first hand. We got exactly what we hoped for-great sound and a great reputation.”

Vue Audiotechnik

Posted by Julie Clark on 10/29 at 09:27 AM
Live SoundNewsConcertInstallationLine ArrayLoudspeakerSound ReinforcementSubwooferPermalink

Hoevenaars Debuts New Adamson Energia E15 System At 90’s Concert

Hoevenaars utilized a total of 36 Adamson Energia E15 line array modules to full reinforce the "We Love The 90's" concert.

Hoevenaars LGV BV, a top live event production company located in the Netherlands, recently added Adamson Systems Energia E15 enclosures to their production inventory.

“We were looking for a new stadium size line array system to take our sound department to the next level,” explains Patrick Hoevenaars, CEO of Hoevenaars. “The transparency, range, headroom and sheer SPL of this system is just amazing. As soon as we heard it we were sold.”

The new line arrays were immediately put into service for the “We Love The 90’s” concert held in Goffertpark Nijmegen in the Netherlands. More than 23,000 people were in attendance for the 8-hour celebration of the music of that decade.

The audience was treated to live performances by many popular artists from the 90’s including SCOOTER, Paul Elstak, Captain Jack, Flamman & Abraxas, 2 Brothers on the 4th Floor, and DJ Flo.

Hoevenaars specified two arrays – each consisting of 12 E15s – for the main PA of the outdoor event. The arrays were hung in scrim-covered scaffolding located to the left and right of the stage. Two more Energia arrays, this time consisting of 6 E15s each, were flown further down from the stage for outfill.  Lab.gruppen PLM amplifiers with integrated DSP were chosen to drive the system. Due to its high integration and performance the PLM platform is a perfect match for an unpowered Energia system.

“The sound for the show was incredible,” adds Hoevenaars. “It was a large audience to cover and it sounded terrific throughout the entire area – even far away from the stage. The artists were very pleased. This is a great addition to our rental stock – I’m sure it will help grow our business.”

Adamson Systems

Posted by Julie Clark on 10/29 at 09:10 AM
Live SoundNewsConcertLine ArrayLoudspeakerSound ReinforcementSubwooferPermalink

Audio-Technica Debuts BP894 MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone

MicroSet models are ideal for church/house of worship, educational and commercial applications, including corporate A/V presentations, broadcast and theater sound reinforcement requiring outstanding audio quality and inconspicuous design.

Audio-Technica has debuted its BP894 MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone.

Inspired by A-T’s popular BP892 MicroSet, the BP894 features a rotating capsule housing with talk-side indicator for use on either ear and perfect polar pattern placement.

The MicroSet BP894 takes headworn microphones to the next level, by allowing the cardioid capsule to be aimed directly at the sound source (i.e. the microphone faces the mouth, rather than facing forward like other options on the market).

The uniform pickup pattern provides excellent rejection of outside noise, with exceptional gain-before-feedback when used with live sound systems and stage monitors.

Featuring an inconspicuous and ergonomic design, the BP894 MicroSet (available in black and theater beige) rests comfortably behind the ear and can be worn for hours without fatigue. Its contoured earpiece stays in place even on the most animated performer/presenter and does not interfere with the user’s eyeglasses.

The BP894 comes with the AT8464 Dual-Ear Microphone Mount which can be attached to provide maximum stability. The microphone provides superior intelligibility and clean, accurate reproduction for the most demanding church/house of worship user, lecturer, broadcaster or theater performer.

With its high-SPL capability (135 dB), it is particularly ideal for high-volume motivational speakers/lecturers, pastors and stage actors. Frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz.

The BP894 will be available starting in October in the following configurations:

BP894 MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone with AT8539 Power Module; US MSRP $639.00.
BP894-TH Beige MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone with AT8539 Power Module; US MSRP $639.00.
BP894cW MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone with Locking 4-Pin Connector (HRS-type); US MSRP $499.00.
BP894cW-TH Beige MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone with Locking 4-Pin Connector (HRS-type); US MSRP $499.00.
BP894cT4 MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone with TA4F Connector; US MSRP $539.00.
BP894cT4-TH Beige MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone with TA4F Connector; US MSRP $539.00.
BP894cL4 MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone w/Lemo Connector; US MSRP $579.00.
BP894cL4-TH Beige MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone with Lemo Connector; US MSRP $579.00.
BP894c MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone; Unterminated; US MSRP $479.00.
BP894c-TH Beige MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone; Unterminated; US MSRP $479.00.
BP894cLM3 MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone with Locking 3.5 mm Connector; US MSRP $539.00.
BP894cLM3-TH Beige MicroSet Subminiature Cardioid Condenser Headworn Microphone with Locking 3.5 mm Connector; US MSRP $539.00.” title=“Audio-Technica” target=“blank”>Audio-Technica

Posted by Julie Clark on 10/29 at 08:23 AM
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Los Angeles School For The Arts Opts For Shure Wireless

Shure ULX-D Dual and Quad Receivers, Combined with PSM900 Monitoring Systems, Deliver Flawless Audio in Crowded Los Angeles RF Environment

When the new school year started at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), the 600-student community started classes with a dramatically new on-campus theater.

Supporting the school’s visual and performing arts training curriculums, the premier public arts high school turned the top level of its building into a state-of-the-art black box theater.

Used for classes, performances, and, at times, a gallery space, the new facility features detailed lighting and an intricate microphone design to accommodate the day-to-day demands of LACHSA’s dance, music, theater, and visual arts courses.

Focusing on the theater’s audio needs was Senior Technical Consultant, Michael Dannenberg of Vantage Technology Consulting Group, and full-service systems integration company, Western Audio Visual.

In analyzing the layout of LACHSA’s black box theater, the Western A/V team opted to install Shure ULX-D Digital Wireless Microphone Systems with dual and quad channel digital receivers. Located just outside of downtown Los Angeles on the Cal State Los Angeles campus—a mere 500 feet away from the University’s performance theater—Western A/V knew LACHSA required systems that could combat the area’s many RF challenges.

ULX-D enables multiple transmitters on the air simultaneously on one TV channel, making the most of available spectrum. It also features optimized scanning that automatically finds, prioritizes, and deploys the cleanest frequencies to transmitters using IR sync. This RF signal stability and efficiency, combined with space-saving racks and unmatched sound quality, made ULX-D a must-have for the LACHSA Theater.

Gary Evans, the Western A/V systems engineer who supervised the microphone design commented: “The Theater’s front of house is suspended up on a catwalk in the rear of the room, and there isn’t much space to fit a lot of equipment.

“Being able to operate up to 26 channels from just seven ULX-D systems—six with quad channel receivers, one with dual—in a tight area is huge. The form factor of fitting four channels in a single rack space was something we couldn’t ignore during the gear selection process.”

Avoiding RF interference was also an important factor for the LACHSA Theater’s personal monitoring systems. Evans selected the PSM900 Wireless Personal Monitor System from Shure for its robust RF performance. PSM 900 systems feature front-end RF filtering that provides a cleaner, stronger RF signal, reducing dropouts and audible artifacts.

“I chose the ULX-D and PSM 900 for similar reasons,” added Evans. “They are both very intuitive, feature-packed, and offer incredible sound quality and reliability. For LACHSA, reliability and quality were important because the school has one theater manager who relies on students to operate the equipment.

” ULX-D and PSM 900 can handle the wear-and-tear students will throw at the gear. With proper training, the systems are also simple to use and with features like IR sync, students can quickly grab and sync bodypacks—an important factor for productions and large performances.”

In addition to Shure wireless technology, the LACHSA Theater relies on a variety of Shure wired microphones, including the SM58 and Microflex Gooseneck mics.


Posted by Julie Clark on 10/28 at 01:25 PM
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Snapped On The River Music Propels Forward With Soundcraft Si Expression Series

Production Company Snapped on the River Music recently invested in a Soundcraft Si Expression 1 console for use in the company’s support of live music productions.

Production Company Snapped on the River Music recently invested in a Soundcraft Si Expression 1 console for use in the company’s support of live music productions.

Joe Michaels, President of Snapped on the River Music, is a seasoned veteran in FOH and live production, and naturally sought a device that could mirror his decades of experience.

The Soundcraft Si Expression 1 is a versatile board that combines power and performance with a compact form factor.

“I record the majority of my music in multiple studios,” Michaels said. “This little Soundcraft console allows me to travel without hassle between locations, and yet bears an amazing resemblance to its bigger counterparts due to the quality of the sound that it produces. Sixteen inputs are more than enough for my needs.”

Besides the mic inputs, the Soundcraft Si Expression Series comes fully loaded with all the features that artists and producers need, including but not limited to analog style digital controls, 66 processing channels, BSS GEQ on every bus and the famous Lexicon FX processors.

“The sound from this console is absolutely superior to others in its price range,” Michaels explains. “I love the pre-amps and the Lexicon effects, and everything is so easy to use. Unlike other brands, which sound overly mechanical, the Si Expression sounds sweet, warm and happy.”

The company currently uses the console for local and national shows, while accommodating studio projects as well. The Si Expression 1 is truly a well-rounded console that can be deployed anywhere with minimal set up time. It gives ease-of-use a whole new meaning with controls that are digital, but feel like analog, due to its 1 Control = 1 Function feature.

Michaels added, “There is nothing in the digital realm that is both inexpensive and comfortable to record with. This is the first console I have bought that provides all that plus unbelievable results equivalent to $10,000 counterparts.”


Posted by Julie Clark on 10/28 at 01:04 PM
Live SoundNewsConcertConsolesDigitalSound ReinforcementStagePermalink

Meyer Sound Constellation At Cohan Center Facilitates Communication For Musicians

Home of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, the 1,289-seat Christopher Cohan Center has recently installed a Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system.

Home of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, the 1,289-seat Christopher Cohan Center has recently installed a Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system.

Featuring a retractable active acoustic canopy formed by 40 miniature loudspeakers, the Constellation system provides an environment that helps musicians hear each other better and hence improve their sense of ensemble.

“The orchestra plays on a thrust stage in front of the proscenium, under a very high ceiling,” explains Fred Vogler, principal sound designer at Sonitus, a Los Angeles-based audio and video consulting firm that handled venue demo, as well as the design and commissioning of the final system at the Cohan Center.

“The distance between the orchestra and the walls and ceiling created the opportunity for Constellation’s virtual canopy to add early reflections to the stage and front seating areas. The result is improved communication among the musicians and conductor.”

Jim Black, executive director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, says: “The reaction of the musicians has been remarkable. Now they are just beaming at one another while playing. Their ability to hear other parts of the ensemble has been greatly enhanced, and this has improved their overall performance.”

Constellation has also enhanced the overall audience experience. “Now you can hear more subtleties, and the sound just blooms better,” says Black. “There’s more color to the orchestra without it sounding at all amplified.”

The installed system is driven by a D-Mitri digital audio platform with six processors, including two that run the patented VRAS acoustical algorithms.

Completing the system are 16 suspended compact cardioid microphones, a combination of 40 Stella-8C installation loudspeakers, UP-4XP 48 V loudspeakers, and UPJunior VariO loudspeakers, and six UMS-SM subwoofers.

Both the microphones and Stella-8C loudspeakers are suspended by small lift motors, allowing the system to be raised out of sight with the press of a button when not in use.

Fred Vogler worked with the venue, orchestra, and integrator on the final design and implementation of the Constellation system. Vogler also designed a new sound reinforcement system for the hall, in collaboration with Roger Phillip, the center’s audio lead. The system is anchored by twin arrays of 11-each MICA line array loudspeakers, and includes two UPQ-2P, eight UP-4XP, and six UPJunior loudspeakers as corner, front, and balcony fills, respectively. Low end is supplied by eight 600-HP subwoofers. Installation was handled by the Los Angeles office of Miami-based integrator Pro Sound & Video.

Located on the campus of California Polytechnic State University, The Performing Arts Center, San Luis Obispo incorporates two venues: the Christopher Cohan Center, housing the main concert hall and two smaller halls; and the 498-seat Alex & Faye Spanos Theatre.

Meyer Sound

Posted by Julie Clark on 10/28 at 12:59 PM
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Cut ’Em Off At The Pass: Effective Uses Of High-Pass Filtering

Applications and benefits of one of the most under-utilized features on the console

So there I was, system engineer at a county fair gig. The act of the day was a traveling ’60s reviews with three or four artists who were, shall we say, past their prime.

They weren’t carrying engineers, so we got the duty.

Soundcheck went fine. The artists cruised through their paces and the hired back-up band was surprisingly good. Nothing to do but hit catering and wait for the “white hair, blue hair and no hair” crowd to show up.

Show time. The band started the intro, everything was rocking in an old school sort of way and the emcee/star came out. He was much more animated than he had been at soundcheck – running around the stage, exhorting the crowd to put down their walkers and dance, generally getting them in the mood.

Suddenly I heard a phantom kick drum that was waaaay off the beat. I cued up my cans and began to solo channels.

The offending thump came and went, but I finally put my eyes and ears together and realized that the star, we’ll call him “Frankie” for the sake of this article, was running around clapping his hands while holding his SM58.

At first I tried riding the mute button on his microphone, but I was spending so much time on him I couldn’t mix the rest of the show.

So I reached for the variable high-pass filter knob and ran it up to 300 Hz. It thinned his voice out a bit but I doubt anyone noticed but me.

Problem solved.

Combat The Unwanted
High-pass filters are probably one of the most under-utilized features on the console. The most common use has traditionally been to combat unwanted proximity effect, which is the tendency of directional mics to increase their output at low frequencies as the sound source gets closer to the mic.

Cardioid and hypercardioid mics get their directional characteristics from ports in the mic capsule that allow sound to impinge on the rear of the diaphragm as well as the front. The added length of the ports creates a difference in path length between sounds hitting the front of the diaphragm and the rear.

Pressure differences between the front and rear of the diaphragm are what make it move. These different path lengths cause a difference
in pressure because of two factors: phase and amplitude.

The phase component is dominant at higher frequencies. A 20 kHz wave is slightly more than a half-inch long. The path length difference from the front of the diaphragm to the rear is large as a percentage of the wavelength, so almost complete cancellation can occur.

This is one reason why microphone directivity breaks down as frequency decreases, and it is also why the diaphragms of cardioid mics are damped at about 6 dB per octave as the frequency rises. Remember: more pressure difference equals more diaphragm movement.

But the key to proximity effect is the amplitude disparity. The inverse square law tells us that every time we double the distance from the source to the diaphragm, we lose 6 dB. This is very powerful at short distances; for example, the difference between a singer being a quarter-inch from the mic and a half-inch from the mic is 6 dB.

It also means that the difference in path length from the front of the diaphragm to the rear becomes more and more significant as the source gets closer.

Since phase cancellations are a fixed percentage of amplitude at any given frequency the amplitude factor becomes much more dominant at close distances than the phase factor. The phase part of the equation has less and less effect at longer wavelengths while the amplitude part holds true at all frequencies.

Hence proximity effect.

Proximity effect can go as high in frequency as 500 Hz depending on the mic, although 200-300 Hz is more common. The amplitude gain can be as much as 16 dB! This is probably why high-pass filters were put on mics and into consoles in the first place.

Another Benefit
But sweepable high-pass filters can also be used to help you clean up your overall mix.

One of the things we learn from audiology is that lower frequency sounds obscure higher frequency sounds, but not the other way around. This is one of the principles that makes sound masking work.

It’s useful in sound masking systems, but in a live performance situation, not so much.

Many live mixers react to this unconsciously when they reach for the house graphic and hack away at 125 Hz and 160 Hz. True, many rooms react poorly in that frequency range, but the room is only one part of the problem.

Let’s think about the physics of low frequency sound waves.

A 100 Hz wavelength is 11.3 feet long (at sea level, at 72 degrees Fahrenheit etc., etc.). This is typically above the crossover point for subwoofers, so it’s probably being reproduced by the main arrays.

In order to provide good directivity at any frequency, the array must be larger than the wavelength. If the array is not larger than the frequency of interest, the sound waves wrap around the array and it behaves as an omnidirectional source.

Even if the line array is fairly long, you only get the directivity benefits in the vertical axis. Chances are, the array is four feet wide (or less), which means that in the horizontal plane, pattern control starts to break down at around 250-300 Hz.

What is in close proximity to the array on the horizontal axis? The stage. And the mics on the stage.

Even if the subs are being run from an aux send on the console (which I highly recommend), there is still energy from the sources being routed to the subs that finds its way back into the stage mics.

Because the same laws of physics hold true for stage sources as for main arrays, the mics are picking up the desired musical content in these frequency ranges – plus the adjacent instruments and floor wedges, plus the room resonances, plus the wraparound from the main system in the longer wavelength frequencies below about 300 Hz.

This is happening even if we don’t consider the artist clapping with a mic in his hands or tapping his foot on the mic stand base. And to compound the problem, the cardioid pattern of the mics breaks down in the lower frequencies as well.

The inverse square law (minus channel compression) is your only friend at this point!

Incremental Steps
So, what’s a poor sound engineer to do? Directional cardioid subs and cardioid sub arrays can help enormously with the least directional part of the mains, which is often closest to the stage.

We’ve already made gains in cleaning up the stage sound (at least in some cases) with tools like in-ear monitoring and instrument amplifiers located off stage in isolation cabinets.

While these techniques are incrementally helpful, there’s another tool at our disposal: the console channel’s variable high-pass filter.

The earlier we can deal with these issues in the signal chain, the better, which is why high-pass filters are found on many outboard mic preamps as well. If your mics have a shelving filter, try that first. If it doesn’t degrade the instrument sound, leave it switched in.

Next, at soundcheck, start your equalization process for each mic by sweeping the high-pass filter up until you hear it affect the sound. Obviously, there are some inputs that might be left out of this process like the kick drum, bass guitar and a low piano mic. DIs and other direct feeds don’t count because they aren’t picking up ambient sound.

A sharper knee and a steeper slope will allow you to set the filter to a higher frequency without degrading the natural tone of the source up to a point. Too steep of a slope can cause a filter to “ring.” Filters have resonances too.

Then, during the show, solo each mic with headphones that provide good low frequency isolation and response (I like beyerdynamic DT770s), and you may find you can cheat your high-pass filters upin frequency a little higher.

Oh and by the way, have the monitor engineer try this too, only he/she can be quite a bit more aggressive with it. The performers on stage don’t have high-pass filters on their IEMs, and many ear molds don’t do a great job of isolating lower frequencies.

The Payoff
Using this approach should lead to cutting less in the 125-200 Hz range on the system EQ because you are solving the problem at the source.

You’ll also be surprised at the increased clarity in your overall mix. The system will have more headroom as well since the frequency ranges we’re dealing with are real energy hogs.

Remember, garbage in garbage out. Why deal with it in your mix when you can cut it off at the pass?

The high pass, that is.

Bruce Main has been a systems engineer and FOH mixer on and off for more than 30 years. He has also built, owned and operated recording studios and designed and installed sound systems.

Posted by Keith Clark on 10/25 at 04:17 PM
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PreSonus Star Of Shane & Shane/Phil Wickham Christmas Tour

Shane & Shane and Phil Wickham Christmas tour to utilize PreSonus.

Touring artists Shane & Shane and Phil Wickham will deliver fun, family-friendly nights of holiday cheer and worship on their fourth annual Christmas tour, and PreSonus will be with them from start to finish.

The artists will use the new PreSonus StudioLive 32.4.2AI digital mixer the entire tour and will use the StudioLive AI-series PA loudspeakers at most locations.

“We’re extremely impressed with the StudioLive products’ audio quality, features, and ease of use,” explains tour engineer Travis Brockway. “These products make my job easy, and the audience will hear every nuance perfectly.”

Before each show on the tour, PreSonus will host special workshops where attendees can learn how to set up and operate the company’s new, state-of-the-art StudioLive AI-series mixers and PA systems, including the basic features, live recording, wireless remote control of both the speakers and the mixer, using Smaart audio analysis tools, and more.

“Many of us at PreSonus are part of worship teams in Baton Rouge, and a lot of churches use StudioLive,” notes PreSonus VP of Sales Rick Naqvi, “so we have a deep personal appreciation of Shane & Shane’s and Phil Wickham’s work and message. We’re honored and excited to be part of their tour.”

This inspirational Christmas tour kicks off on December 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and winds up on December 15 in San Diego, California.

Workshop Schedule

Posted by Julie Clark on 10/25 at 01:43 PM
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Dynamic Event Group Takes Delivery Of D.A.S. Audio Aero Advanced Line Array System

Dynamic Productions takes delivery of D.A.S. Aero 40A Advanced Line Array System.

D.A.S. Audio is pleased to announce that Dynamic Productions USA, a full event production, sound, lighting and staging company headquartered in Orangeburg, NY with offices in Miami, FL and New Jersey, is the first firm in the nation to take delivery of a new Aero 40A Advanced Line Array System (ALAS™).

With a comprehensive range of advanced features, the new Aero 40A marks the beginning of a new breed of line arrays incorporating the latest in waveguide design, power electronics, and digital signal processing.

Brian Rosenblum, owner of Dynamic Productions USA, purchased twenty-four Aero 40A enclosures and placed them into service almost immediately—and with great success.

The system’s first use occurred in Ramapo, NY. The concert included performances by the legendary rock band .38 Special as well as country and southern rock extraordinaire the Charlie Daniels Band.

“For this project, we had to provide coverage for an audience of roughly 6,500 people,” Rosenblum explained. “To accommodate this, our setup included all twenty-four Aero 40A loudspeakers—flown with twelve elements each for the right and left hangs.

“For low frequency support, we used sixteen D.A.S. LX-218CA high performance, powered subwoofers at ground level. For front fills, we deployed four Aero 12A powered, 2-way line array elements, and we also used another twelve Aero 12As for the outfills.

“We also deployed eight D.A.S. Road 15A powered, 2-way stage monitors for the performers.”

“I love the fact that the entire D.A.S. system is self-powered,” he said. “By using powered loudspeakers, there are never any issues about using the right amps for the various loudspeakers.

“Equally important, the self-powered design eliminates the need for racks of amplifiers, which can be very heavy. Not only does this solve the issue of where to place the amp racks, it also reduces the weight that we have to transport considerably—and this helps us contain transportation expenses.”

Bob Workman, FOH engineer for the Charlie Daniels Band, was very impressed with the performance of the Aero 40A system, “The 40 is the ‘baddest’ single 12 box on the planet. It has amazing extended, smooth response on both ends of the spectrum. I love it.”

Rosenblum was impressed that the Aero 40A incorporates connectivity for remote monitoring and control and has a package of integrated electronics that includes the digital signal processing engine and a new 2,000 W (4,000 Wpeak) amplifier.

“The system has excellent horizontal and vertical dispersion characteristics that make it much easier to provide consistent coverage throughout the audience area and the rigging hardware makes flying the system quick and easy with lots of options for splay adjustment,” he adds. “But most importantly, these loudspeakers sound great!”

During the period when his company was considering the purchase of the Aero 40A line array system, there were many questions that needed to be answered.

“The entire D.A.S. team was great,” he reports. “Carlos Henao, D.A.S. Audio’s U.S. Accounts Manager, is the ultimate professional. He came out, showed us how the gear worked, and made sure that we were comfortable using it. He made it a great experience.”

Rosenblum concludes, “I am very pleased with the new system. The sound is excellent, the hardware makes rigging and break down much easier, and D.A.S. Audio’s support has our back every step of the way. I am one very happy customer!”

D.A.S. Audio

Posted by Julie Clark on 10/25 at 06:47 AM
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Firehouse Productions Brings Extensive Riedel Artist Intercom System To MTV Video Music Awards

During the MTV video music awards a full complement of Riedel equipment supported communications.

Riedel Communications announced that Firehouse Productions used a substantial deployment of Riedel’s Artist digital matrix intercom systems to provide flexible broadcast-quality communications throughout the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“The VMAs are a very fast and dynamic show,” said Mark Dittmar, vice president of design and engineering at Firehouse Productions. “Seven separate shows are put together to create the entire experience, and each of these shows has its own communication needs, as well as the need to communicate with the larger group.

“These demands make the Artist system, with its inherent usability and flexibility, a perfect choice.”

During the show, the complement of Riedel equipment supporting communications included six Artist 64 frames, one Artist 128 frame, two Artist 32 frames, and 44 Artist control panels, along with 50 C3 beltpacks, and 49 BTR-800 beltpack systems.

Firehouse relies on the Artist intercom system, as well as the Riedel RockNet audio network, for nearly every live television show for which it provides sound and communications systems. The Artist digital matrix intercom system is based on a dual optical fiber ring to form a single large full-summing, non-blocking distributed matrix.

While the system “feels” like a single unit, it has no limitations in the number of cross-points within or between the different nodes of the system. The Riedel solution allows for rapid setup of a flexible backbone that can be adapted easily to support each show’s unique communications requirements.

During the VMAs, the communications crew accessed the Artist’s user-friendly yet powerful Director configuration and control software to make changes instantly, with the simple click of a mouse.

“At Firehouse we have been using the Riedel family of products for years, and they are an integral part of our operations,” added Dittmar. “In our opinion, working with the Artist intercom system is the only way to do a TV show. Its flexibility and reliability are unparalleled.”

Riedel Communications

Posted by Julie Clark on 10/24 at 12:28 PM

FOH Engineer Bob Coke Uses Metric Halo’s SpectraFoo To Mix Black Crowes

Black Crowe's FOH engineer uses Spectrafoo software from Metric Halo.

FOH Engineer Bob Coke – most recently out on tour with the Black Crowes – originally stumbled upon Metric Halo’s SpectraFoo after complaining to Marco de Fouquières of Dispatch/Dushow (the largest sound company in France) that there seemed to be no Mac-based sound analysis software.

Fouquières alerted Coke to SpectraFoo, which is proudly and only Mac-based.

“At the time, there was a huge shift in our approach to system installations with the arrival of the L-Acoustic line array, concurrent development of sound analysis software, and the way that sound analysis software was being applied in the field,” recalled Coke. “Every system tech here in France was using the same software, but I opted for SpectraFoo.

“I quickly recognized SpectraFoo to be a more precise measuring tool that proved equally useful in the studio environment. The Dolby Lake EQ corrections I make are the exact same frequencies Spectra Foo indicates, whereas the PC software frequencies at the time were generally off by several Hertz.

“This was a cause of consternation with several of my system techs. They went so far as to upgrade their ADDA audio interfaces… but still without achieving a more accurate reading!”

These days, Coke runs SpectraFoo on all of his tours. He uses it to align the mains, the subs, front fills, side hangs, and delays, and he uses it to analyze room acoustics and the room’s response to amplified sound. For both live and recording applications, Coke uses SpectraFoo to verify phase rotation and to visualize tonal balance.

“SpectraFoo gives me a visual reference for what I’m hearing and can help me identify in real time what’s occurring acoustically,” he said. “It is an invaluable aid in live sound reinforcement because the working environment is extremely fluid and composed of constantly changing variables.

“As well, any changes in the sound are immediately perceived by the audience though perhaps not always consciously. I refer to a broad palette of tools in SpectraFoo from the moment I’m powered up and running in an empty venue until the end of the show and I’m measuring audience applause after the artist has departed the stage.”

Although The Black Crowes represent a return to straight-up rock ‘n’ roll and although Coke mixes them in that vein, he asserts that modern sound reinforcement equipment would not respond well to a retro approach to system tuning.

“Live sound has evolved dramatically in the past twenty years. As the precision of FOH sound systems has increased, the room for error has decreased. Nowadays, speaker technology and system tuning can be very unforgiving to a bad sounding mix – or even a mediocre sounding one.

“In our modern day-to-day lives of digitized mp3 sound and small speakers, going to a rock concert can and should be a felt experience. SpectraFoo helps me dial in that experience quickly by providing an accurate visualization of what my ears are hearing, thereby complementing my aural understanding with a purely scientific visual reference.”

Metric Halo’s

Posted by Julie Clark on 10/24 at 11:45 AM
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