Monday, February 17, 2014
Ultra-Luxury Club Pangaea Chooses Outline
White Eagle Entertainment Ltd. brings Outline’s Doppia and DBS systems to exclusive New Delhi nightclub
Located in Delhi’s Ashok Hotel, Pangaea is the latest addition to the numerous world-famous exclusive clubs owned by Michael Ault, a pre-eminent club operator with more than thirty nightclubs operating in key markets such as New York, Miami Beach, Los Angeles, Bermuda, Sao Paulo and Marbella.
Ault recently decided to expand to Delhi after noting that many of the clients in his Singapore club were Indian billionaires, who asked him to bring the brand to India.
One of them (Spice Group’s owner BK Modi) entered into a partnership with Ault to establish Pangaea on the Indian nightlife scene. Early on Ault decided only to participate on a consultancy basis (designing, branding, building, training, publicising, marketing, promoting, booking, setting up systems and controls, and opening the venue), after which the Spice Group took over the club’s operation.
Wanting the very best for the exclusive club—kept that way with a limited capacity of 450—Ault brings in top DJs such as KasKade to keep the atmosphere hot with a cutting edge sound reinforcement system featuring Outline loudspeakers and subwoofers.
Ault and his project manager Garry Lawrence brought in New Delhi-based White Eagle Entertainment Pvt Ltd (Outline’s distributor for India) to supply and install the audio, lighting and laser equipment at Pangaea.
WEE’s team was led by MD Arun Kalra, who was responsible for specifying a system with “high energy sound that would encourage everyone to dance.” Arun utilized Outline’s Open Array software to determine the optimum configuration and mounting positions.
The main system comprises six Outline Doppia II 9075P three-way loudspeakers, four Outline DVS 15 wide range loudspeakers, two Outline DVS 12 high efficiency loudspeakers and two Outline Eidos 10 two-way loudspeakers, all of which are equipped with passive low-loss crossovers, catering for mid-high frequencies.
Beefy bottom-end punch is courtesy of a sextet of Outline DBS 18-2 subwoofers that extend the low frequency response and the two Outline Eidos 118S subwoofers ensuring deep low frequencies are compact enclosures with an impressive peak SPL of 135 dB at one metre.
Outline amplifiers drive the system. The high-impact set-up is driven by nine amplifiers: a combination of five Outline T-Five and two Outline T-Eleven and two Outline DPA 1004 digitally processed models.
According to Ault, the club, which was completed ahead of schedule and below budget, is “Unquestionably one of the most beautiful clubs I have ever seen” and has received unprecedented media coverage worldwide with extensive articles and reports by top periodicals and TV networks.
Clef Productions Deploys DiGiCo For Top Malaysian Artists In Concert
Three SD10s for Anuar Zain's recent "Three Decades" at 8,000-capacity Stadium Melawati
Selangor-based Clef Productions Sdn Bhd is one of the leading companies in Malaysia’s live production industry, with owner Alvin Koh a fan of DiGiCo’s original D5 consoles before he started working with the SD Series. And, he’s already specified DiGiCo for live shows by some of Malaysia’s biggest artists this year.
One of the company’s most recent projects is Anuar Zain’s Three Decades of Music, Love and Passion, where the singer (famously also a steward for Malaysian Airlines) celebrated 30 years in the music industry and enjoyed the benefits of three DiGiCo SD10s as he sold out the 8.000-capacity Stadium Melawati earlier in the year.
With one SD10 at front of house, another for monitors and a third doing a separate multitrack recording mix for broadcast and future release, the consoles deliver the balladeer’s wistful songs.
Dubbed by some as ‘Asia’s Simon Cowell’, although a key difference between Eric Moo and Cowell is that he is also an established singer and songwriter. Moo had no trouble in selling out 8,000 seats at Kuala Lumpur’s Stadium Putra in September, where a pair of SD10s were used at the FoH and monitor positions.
One reason why Koh likes DiGiCo consoles is their ability to handle a large input channel count in a single desk and this was a deciding factor in choosing a SD7 at FoH for four consecutive nights of performances by Siti Nurhaliza at Kuala Lumpur’s Istana Budaya (Palace of Culture). A regular winner of Asian vocal competitions and music awards in Malaysia, her career has included live shows in the UK and Australia. Complementing the SD7 was an SD10 on monitors.
“What I most like about DiGiCo is the sound quality and the flexibility of how you can customise the work surface. Yet, at the same time, you have the benefits of the DiGiTuBes and the ‘analogue’ style of the console’s layout and workflow,” says Koh. “It’s also so easy to record shows, either using a DiGiCo UB MADI interface (for up to 48 channels) or with the new DiGiGrid MGB for up to 128 channels, direct to an Ethernet port on a PC or Mac running any DAW.”
The high profile of these artists in their home country meant that Alvin and his team were under a lot of pressure to deliver exceptional sound. As well as the DiGiCo consoles helping to do just that, he also had the peace of mind that high quality technical support was only a phone call away.
“I’ve been spoiled by DiGiCo’s support, both technical and production related,” he concludes. “James Gordon and Dan Page have been great, while distributor Team108 never fails to support me whenever I need it. I get to talk to real people who share the passion and understand the needs of a production. I feel they are always there, virtually next to me, whenever I use DiGiCo.”
Posted by Keith Clark on 02/17 at 10:53 AM
Friday, February 14, 2014
Bruno Mars Delivers Record-Breaking Super Bowl Halftime Performance With Sennheiser
Bruno Mars sang through his Sennheiser SKM 5200 handheld transmitter, coupled with an MD 5235 dynamic microphone capsule, ensuring crisp and detailed sound for millions of fans around the world.
The stars aligned during Super Bowl XLVIII on the evening of February 2 as Bruno Mars delivered an unforgettable halftime performance to a record-breaking broadcast audience of 115.3 million viewers – the largest in Super Bowl history.
For the duration of the performance, Bruno Mars sang through his Sennheiser SKM 5200 handheld transmitter, coupled with an MD 5235 dynamic microphone capsule, ensuring crisp and detailed sound for millions of fans around the world.
Working alongside veteran production provider ATK Audiotek, Bruno Mars’ production team – including monitor engineer James Berry and front-of-house engineer Derek Brener – specified Sennheiser SKM 5200 handheld transmitters and MD 5235 capsules for each of the three vocalists on stage, including Bruno Mars.
In addition, all of Bruno Mars’ performers were equipped with Sennheiser 2000 Series wireless monitoring systems.
It was rock solid perfection, just as we expected,” says Berry. “Everything just worked, and we had no problems.”
In preparation for the event Beery was onsite Monday ensuring all of his Sennheiser products were there. “Bruno came in on Tuesday,” he adds. “Then we ran through rehearsals three or four times a day – everything was easy and we didn’t have any problems.”
“You’ve got to let go of the pressure in the moment,” adds Brener. “We must have rehearsed upwards of ten times so we knew what we were doing and we knew that it sounded great. Thankfully, with Sennheiser, you don’t have to worry about the ‘What if’ moments, since Sennheiser virtually never fails.”
Brener was grateful to have ATK Audiotek by his side as well. “They are so well prepared for the scale of this kind of production – especially on the biggest show of the year.”
Cutting Through the Mix
Wherever Bruno Mars is on stage – including at the Super Bowl – his Sennheiser SKM 5200 transmitter with MD 5235 capsule is always nearby. “It’s very imporant to us that Bruno is on the SKM 5200,” says Berry. Derek Brener explains how the MD 5235 capsule is especially well suited to Bruno Mars’ voice: “There is something special about this capsule,” he says. “It just punches through the PA better than any other mic we’ve tried on Bruno. There is a special quality in the timbre of his voice, and how this aligns with the MD 5235. It’s a great match.”
“I am grateful we are able to use the products that we want on a high-profile broadcast production like this, because on some other TV shows, you are at the mercy of having to use other equipment that is provided,” adds Berry. “We hear the quality of these microphones every day while we’re on tour and it’s always reassuring to know that Bruno’s vocals come across perfectly in a broadcast mix.”
For Brener, the ultimate test of the audio quality is the broadcast mix itself. For this reason, Bruno Mars’ team hand picked legendary record producer/engineer Brendan O’Brien to supervise this. “For a broadcast going out to nearly 120 million people, this was a really smart move,” observes Brener. “He’s already done a Super Bowl with Bruce Springsteen and has produced so many great records – this allowed me to concentrate on delivering a great house mix.”
While Bruno Mars’ halftime performance during Super Bowl XLVIII may have astounded millions of audience members around the world, Berry says that Bruno Mars’ team approached the performance just like any other show. “This show was no different than any of our other stage shows,“ he says. “Bruno puts out the same amount of energy whether he is in a club or whether he is performing for millions of people. We took that same approach as a crew. It is all a matter of making him feel comfortable, and for Bruno to feel comfortable, he needs the right microphone. That’s always a Sennheiser.”
For front-of-house engineer Brener, the Super Bowl performance was a resounding success: “When people would ask me who I was rooting for, I would say ‘Bruno’. And Bruno won!”
Miller Pro Audio Utilizes JBL VTX Line Arrays and Crown Amplifiers To Add Pop At Fun Fun Fun Fest
System served festival’s main (Orange) stage, which hosted performances by Snoop Dogg, MIA, MGMT, Slayer, and more
For the eighth straight year, Miller Pro Audio supplied JBL Professional line arrays, powered by Crown Audio I-Tech HD amplifiers, for the Fun Fun Fun Fest in downtown Austin, TX. The system was deployed for the festival’s main (Orange) stage, which hosted performances by Snoop Dogg, MIA, MGMT, Slayer, Television and more.
The main PA system this year offered a left-right configuration of 10 VTX V25 full-size line array elements per side, with an additional six V25 elements for front fill. There were also nine ground-stacked G28 subwoofers, with 12 S28 subwoofers hung as a center cluster.
Crown I-Tech 4x3500 HD amplifiers powered the V25 loudspeakers and S28 subs, while I-Tech 12000 HD amplifiers powered the G28 subs. The system was controlled via JBL HiQnet Performance Manager software.
According to Aaron Oliver, corporate comptroller/corporate trainer for Miller Pro Audio, the challenges of the event ranged from the large number of acts to staying within strict noise limits from the city. “We try very hard to find a happy medium that keeps everyone as happy as possible,” he says.
With offices in Austin, Dallas, Lubbock and Oklahoma City, Miller Pro Audio was founded more than 20 years ago by Danny and Leslie Miller, growing from one truck and a small shop on a dirt road to averaging well over 1,000 shows per year spanning from clubs to top 10 shed tours.
“We’re a turnkey company, meaning we stock a full inventory of audio, backline, lights, video, staging, truss-built roof systems and stage lines,” notes Oliver. “We also provide production management, stage management, event planning and have a thriving install department.”
This year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest marked Miller Pro Audio’s first use of the JBL VTX line array system. “We found the VTX to have great, smooth response while remaining very musical,” he says. “The output power of the V25 was killer, and the subs were powerful yet smooth and punchy. We really liked the VTX system and would love to experience what it has to offer again.”
Miller Pro Audio also owns Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers and have been pleased with the products’ performance. “We utilize the I-Tech amps to power many other products we supply and all in all, we love what the I-Tech’s allow us to achieve,” Oliver adds.
In addition, he says Performance Manager has proven beneficial to Miller Pro Audio’s business: “We used Performance Manager for the Fun Fun Fun Fest and we use it on many other shows as well. The control it provides really helps us cut back on the need for additional hardware, which means less cases, less labor and lighter trucks—all of which translate to savings in budget.”
Miller Pro Audio
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Martin Audio MLA Takes Leading Role At Britain’s National Television Awards
Key to the design a system that could deliver consistent audience coverage while reducing on-stage sound
A Martin Audio MLA (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array) system was deployed for the first time to deliver enhanced intelligibility and coverage to the live audience at the 19th Britain’s “National TV Awards,” held recently at the O2 Arena in London.
The event, initiated in 1995, featured Dermot O’Leary host this year and celebrates the most popular TV shows of the past year.
Stewart Chaney’s London-based Plus 4 Audio handled the audio in the venue, specifying MLA for the main system. The company decided to try a different approach with the array design after talking through the system capabilities with Martin Audio Application Support specialist Andy Davies.
“Key to the design was finding a system that could deliver consistent audience coverage while dramatically reducing the on-stage sound,” explains Davies. “With most of the acceptance speeches given from an open lectern position, gain before feedback was critical to the live sound mix.”
MLA helped attain this goal, and combined with it’s optimization software, also assisted system tech Mark Edwards in reducing reflections from the glass-fronted VIP sections.
The Plus 4 team fielded 22 MLA enclosures and two MLD Downfill cabinets for the main system, with in fill and out fill duties handled with existing cabinet stock.
Using a self-powered cabinet meant the unobtrusive MLA distro racks could be concealed in the roof of the O2, significantly cutting down cable and mains distribution requirements.
“The MLA really proved itself to us on the very first challenging show we had used it on,” states Plus 4 Audio senior engineer Mark Ballard. “We pride ourselves on achieving excellent sound quality in difficult situations and this year’s NTA show was a great result for us.”
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Unique Situations: Console Applications For Monitors
Monitors for touring and at festivals present a unique set of conditions and challenges, with digital console technology helping engineers rise to the occasion. It’s also interesting to see the ways that networking is serving to more closely ally house and monitors.
Here’s a look at some recent applications.
Fitz and the Tantrums On Tour
Monitor engineer Aaron Glas has been mixing on a Soundcraft Vi1 during a recent U.S. concert tour by indie pop band Fitz and the Tantrums (pictured below).
“A few years ago, I was looking for a small-format digital console that could handle 24 outputs and there aren’t many,” he says. “The Vi1 looked perfect. I’ve toured with it for several years now and I’m thrilled to continue mixing on the Vi1.”
Yet while he has plenty of experience working with the Vi1 (and other Vi Series models), his work with Fitz and the Tantrums marks the first instance where he’s used the cue/snapshot feature, something he has found to be an advantage.
“Using the snapshots with the Vi1 has been a great learning experience,” Glas notes. “We’ll always have the full band at sound check and it’s nice that I can recall what we’ve done the previous night and tweak the mixes based on the band’s requests. With the snapshot feature, I’m able to fine-tune the sound more specifically with each successive performance.”
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In addition, the snapshot feature enables Glas to quickly and easily adjust to any changes the band makes from show to show.
“My cues can change with the set list and all the levels can be recalled nightly so it makes for a pretty consistent performance each time,” he says. “The band has a great comfort level knowing they can achieve the same quality audio night in and night out.”
CMA Music Festival
Morris Light & Sound (Nashville) handled audio production for the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage at this year’s CMA Music Festival in Nashville, including providing Yamaha CL5 digital consoles and Rio3224 input/output boxes all connected via Audinate Dante networking. The site was the event’s largest outdoor free stage, with numerous engineers on hand to supply mixes to more than 50 top artists.
For example, freelance engineer Russell Fischer, who among others has mixed Taylor Swift, The Mavericks and Toby Keith, handled monitors for several different bands. He enjoyed working with the CL5 in the large festival situation: “I like the flexibility and ease of use of the Custom Fader Banks; it made for very quick navigation of critical inputs during the festival at the monitor mix position. Also, I found the Premium Rack devices very useful.”
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Meanwhile, Eric Elwell (pictured here), who mixed front of house for Joe Nichols, also used the Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5043 compressor across the stereo bus just to add some final “glue” to the mix. Elwell adds that he used a CL5 console once before, subbing for a friend on a tour last fall.
“I was impressed then by the purity and clarity,” he states. “The mic pres are fantastic, and the plug-ins give you everything you need to add ‘a little something extra.’ The sounds of the plug-ins are just like the real hardware I’ve used in the studio…glorious.”
Frankie Beverly & Maze On Tour
Gemini Light Sound & Video (Dallas) recently added its first DiGiCo console, an SD8 accompanied by an SDRack.
Both were immediately pressed into service by monitor engineer Dustin Rains for R&B legend Frankie Beverly & Maze on a 6-week U.S. tour.
“We were in the middle of prepping the Frankie tour, and I was already committed to using another desk,” Rains says. “The first thing I liked about the SD8 was that the level of customization available was incredible. I could have anything where I wanted it and that was exactly what I was looking for.
“Some fader banks have input faders, output faders, and control groups—all on one fader bank—which has cut down on how many times I have to bump between layers and pages,” he continues. “I have a few fader banks set up for cue-intensive songs, which allow me to execute multiple cues quickly without leaving the fader bank, going to another layer, or switching screens.
“Also, I use most of the DiGiTuBe and dynamic EQs for added control of overly dynamic channels. In fact I use most everything onboard, and it’s a fairly straightforward approach.”
An all-d&b audiotechnik stage monitor set is deployed for Beverley’s 7-piece band, including 20 M4 wedges, three Q-subs in a cardioid pattern topped with two Q-7s for side fills, and two Q-Subs for drum fill. “In my opinion, DiGiCo and d&b make the job really easy,” Rains adds.
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Pictured left to right in the photo are audio crew members Trae Sales, Dustin Rains, Jason Delatorre, and Jimmy Butera.
Stanford Jazz Festival/Workshop
The Stanford Jazz Workshop has been nurturing talent for over 40 years, bringing in some of the world’s greatest artists to mingle with students of the Jazz Camp by day, followed by performances at the Stanford Jazz Festival by night.
Most of this year’s performances were held in Stanford’s Dinkelspiel Auditorium, with Bay Area live sound veteran Lee Brenkman, who’s been associated with the festival for more than a decade, again taking on sound reinforcement responsibilities.
Brenkman chose the new Avid S3L for this year’s festival, with the modular, networked system enabling a simplified setup while insuring sound quality. He strategically used the layers of the S3L’s compact surface to handle a variety of mixing tasks.
“I mix the for the house, I mix the monitors, and I’m doing a completely separate mix for the recording, because at Dinkelspiel [Auditorium], for example, the amount of trap drums I need on the recording is much more than what I need in the auditorium,” Brenkman explains. “So what I did is assign all the head amps to two layers. The top layer of 16 [channels] was for the PA, and then I could switch to [channels] 17–32, and those were my recording mix. On average, I was doing four monitor mixes, and in some cases, six. I did not feel at any time that the console was too complicated to grab at something fast.
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“All of the festival techs were really fascinated with the system, really liking the size, the Cat-5 snake—the things that make setting up and tearing down a system a drag,” he says. “We ran a couple of runs of Cat-5 and were able to keep the snake in place, just striking the stage boxes at the end of the night to get them out of the way of the classroom kids.
“Just changing out our usual console for this was an enormous improvement in sound quality—it was really audible. Everybody agreed that it just sounded noticeably better.”
Saxon On Tour
Mix engineer Ben Hammond is traveling with Allen & Heath GLD and iLive digital consoles for both monitors and front of house on the U.S./Canada tour by iconic English heavy metal band Saxon, with American band Fozzy also on the bill.
The iLive system at monitors includes an iLive-T112 surface and iDR-48 MixRack that routes its direct outs, via Audinate Dante networking, to the GLD channel inputs. Hammond is then sending talkback and a split of the iPod channels for the intro back down Dante to the iLive surface, which gets piped into the bands’ IEMs. Dante controller software is also routing the audio into Reaper for multitrack recording via the Dante virtual sound card.
“I’m currently running a 39-input ‘festival patch’ type channel list to fit both Saxon and Fozzy, and GLD has coped fantastically,” explains Hammond. “I’m using all eight on board FX engines, which sound stunning—the EMT250 and ADT presets are personal favorites of mine.
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“As well as the FX, so many great iLive features have been included in GLD, one of which that I find incredibly useful is the filter on the compressor section,” he adds. “I’m using it for Saxon’s frontman, Biff Byford, to hit his vocal pretty hard from 800 Hz to 4 kHz, which keeps his voice sounding thick and full right into the higher registers. I’m putting the vocals into a subgroup where I apply full band compression with the Manual Peak setting.
“The GLD Editor has been great on this tour especially for programming shows for the various press and TV appearances where we have taken the GLD, and run a much more cut down channel list, with me doing the IEMs also, and mixing L+R for the TV feed,” he concludes.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Boston College Taps Shure Wireless To Optimize On-Campus Audio
Top-Ranked University Relies on Wide Selection of Shure Audio Equipment, including the ULX-D Digital Wireless System, for Nearly All On-Campus Events
To produce more than 1,100 events over the course of a year, Jonathan Sage—who leads the Audio and Event Services area of the Media Technology Services department at Boston College—needs an inventory stocked with professional audio equipment that is easy to move around campus and is extremely versatile.
Whether preparing for one of the university’s high-profile speaking engagements—which have featured a wide range of guests including then-Senator Barack Obama, Boston Mayor, Marty Walsh, actress Amy Poehler and poet Maya Angelou, among others—or completing an in-classroom audio installation, Sage has used Shure wireless technology for almost every event and classroom installation at Boston College.
Beyond facing the challenge of navigating Boston’s congested RF environment, Sage is required to cost-effectively maintain a gear inventory that can deliver crystal-clear audio at events of every size.
When the Shure ULX-D Digital Wireless System was launched, Sage was intrigued by the combination of the system’s affordable price point and extensive features, especially given his success using other Shure wireless systems on campus such as the UHF-R Wireless Microphone System, ULX Professional (ULX-P), and SLX systems.
With new facilities being built on Boston College’s nearby Brighton Campus, and an increasing number of highly-attended events happening every year, Sage decided to purchase four channels of Shure ULX-D, AXT900 battery charging system, four beltpacks, and four handhelds, to ensure that his audio equipment inventory was ready to take on complex projects.
The ULX-D system is combined with the ULXD4Q Quad Channel Digital Wireless Receiver and the ULXD4D Dual Channel Digital Wireless Receiver and installed in classrooms and other event spaces across campus.
“ULX-D is easily one of the best sounding wireless systems I’ve ever heard,” he said. “The WL185 Lavalier Mics are amazingly clear. Even when we put them head-to-head with other, more expensive brands, the Shure lavs sound the best, by far. The system helps us achieve our goal of having zero feedback, which is invaluable.”
Sage has also found the ULX-D integration of Dante Digital Networking a substantial feature for simplifying his day-to-day operations. By using the system in the campus’ Conte Forum arena, Dante-enabled classrooms, or with an SCM820, he is able to transmit and receive multiple channels of audio over a single Ethernet cable.
Additionally, through the integration of Dante, Sage can perform discovery and patching operations from a Yamaha CL series console. “Whenever I need to record an event’s audio, it’s so easy to add my SCM820 to the mix,” Sage said. “The networkability is incredible, and the Dante virtual soundcard just makes life so much easier.”
Providing AV support for the entire Boston College campus, the Media Technology Services department requires gear that is not only reliable, but also durable and easy to use. “We’ve been a Shure facility for many, many years, and with a system like ULX-D, I know we’ll continue to rely on the Company’s equipment for the vast majority of our on-campus audio needs for years to come,” Sage concluded.
ATK Audiotek Unleashes Custom Subwoofers Driven By Powersoft M-Force Transducer Technology
Prototype subwoofer cabinets utilize the innovative M-Force transducer technology significantly outperforms conventional subwoofers.
ATK Audiotek of Valencia, CA, production sound provider for the annual Grammy Awards telecast for the past 14 years, augmented its audience PA system for this year’s ceremony with prototype subwoofer cabinets utilizing Powersoft’s innovative M-Force transducer technology.
The proprietary sub bass system, designed and developed by ATK in collaboration with consultant Mario Di Cola of Audio Labs Systems in Italy, offers a package that significantly outperforms conventional subwoofers and produces a natural and controlled sound with negligible power compression even at the highest sound pressure levels.
ATK first began evaluating its new subwoofer design on the audience PA during production of the most recent season of “The X Factor” television talent show in Los Angeles.
Each cabinet incorporates an M-Force moving magnet linear motor with a 30-inch polypropylene cone and is driven by a single Powersoft K10 class D amplifier generating 9,000W.
According to Scott Harmala, ATK Audiotek’s CTO and VP Engineering, as the company continues to develop the design, the next iteration will incorporate a specially developed Powersoft amplifier module capable of delivering 15,000W that has been designed specifically for integration with M-Force by Claudio Lastrucci, Powersoft’s head of R&D and co-founder.
“The thing that was shocking to us was how it sounded, the quality of the low end and how tight it was. It’s the tightest sub bass we’ve ever heard,” reports Harmala. “I think that largely has to do with the fact that the motor is such an over-dampened design. There’s instant acceleration and de-acceleration. It sounds like nothing anybody has heard before.”
ATK has implemented M-Force in a short transmission line cabinet design, he elaborates. “The design does load the cone but it doesn’t have the characteristics of a bass reflex ported enclosure, where you have a fairly reactive port resonance.”
While a conventional ported design can extend a cabinet’s usable range down by a half-octave and requires precisely tuned high-pass filtering, he says, this new subwoofer offers low frequency extension in excess of one octave.
“We’ll probably set it for a low frequency cut off around 20 Hz. There’s not much content below that,” he says.
“Because the M-Force motor has so much travel and its cone has so much surface area, this design allows it to create a tremendous amount of SPL at very low frequencies and still be within its operating parameters,” he continues. “The motor’s strength is somewhere in the order of 50 to 60 times greater than even the best 18-inch driver on the market. At 25 Hz it has 8 dB more output than two of our double-18-inch subwoofer boxes.”
Unlike conventional loudspeakers, the magnetic field of M-Force’s genuine push-pull engine interacts in a linear fashion to provide a controlled force to the moving elements. The nature of the design means that, unlike conventional loudspeaker drivers where the voice coil can hit the back plate or jump out of the magnetic gap under extreme conditions, M-Force is self-limiting.
“As the magnet moves back and forth in the magnetic field there’s a magnetic braking effect, so it can’t mechanically damage itself due to over-travel,” says Harmala.
The subwoofer project began when Harmala and business partner Michael McDonald, president of ATK, visited Powersoft’s facility in Italy.
“They revealed to us some of their research and secret projects—one of which was the M-Force driver. We started talking about how we could utilize it as a development piece. We were really interested in gauging the true real world performance. Does it sound good? Will top mixers enjoy mixing with it?
“So we got involved with Mario Di Cola and he started working with me on a prototype box for proof of concept and in order to qualify its performance envelope. The current test box is the result of that collaboration.”
The next step is to finalize the cabinet configuration so that it can be easily flown and arrayed, and can be more efficiently packed into a truck.
“Currently the box is unpowered. We’ll be receiving some power modules to test with it before we engage in designing a production box,” says Harmala. “But all-in-all the performance should be similar to our test design.”
Once the production package is complete, he says, “I could see us using it as our premier sub bass with any PA system. The secondary reason to use it is for low frequency effects. We do a lot of movie premieres and other events where they want a lot of low frequency information. This would be the champion of all the alternatives that we could use.”
Monday, February 10, 2014
Blackhawk Audio Supplying Meyer Sound LEO For Current TobyMac Tour
System is proving to be the right vehicle for artist's blend of contemporary Christian music influenced by rap, hip-hop, hard rock, and reggae
TobyMac’s “Hits Deep” tour is playing to audiences in arenas across 32 American cities, using a Meyer Sound LEO linear large-scale sound reinforcement system.
Supplied by White House, TN-based Blackhawk Audio, the LEO system is proving to be the right vehicle for TobyMac’s blend of contemporary Christian music influenced by rap, hip-hop, hard rock, and reggae.
Ryan Lampa, FOH engineer for the artist over the past nine years, first experienced LEO during TobyMac’s performance at a benefit concert in 2013.
“As soon as the quick sound check started, I was amazed,” Lampa recalls. “I could hear everything very accurately—I first thought that would be very unforgiving, because nothing would be hidden. But mixing during the show, I quickly appreciated LEO’s clarity and headroom. I knew I wanted LEO for the coming tour.”
The current “Hits Deep” tour features twin arrays of 10-each LEO-M line array loudspeakers over four MICA line array loudspeakers for down fill. Twenty M’elodie line array loudspeakers provide house outfill, and low-end punch comes from 12 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements.
“With LEO, I’m finding myself in a comfortable spot where I can trust the PA and not have to manipulate it,” says Lampa. “I can concentrate on working the console without having to compensate for what the PA might do to the mix. The 1100-LFC is warm, full, and accurate. It has so much headroom that I can actually find a spot I like, then turn it down a bit.”
System drive and alignment are provided by a Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system comprising one Galileo 616 and two Galileo Callisto 616 array processors.
“I’ve become a huge fan of Galileo lately,” notes Lampa. “It’s accurate and flexible, and parametric EQ doesn’t exhibit the degree of phase shift I sometimes hear in other processors.”
Stage foldback for the tour includes four flown JM-1P arrayable loudspeakers and four 700-HP subwoofers for side fill, one 700-HP subwoofer for the drums, and two MJF-212A stage monitors. Blackhawk Audio has also provided Avid Profile consoles for FOH and monitor mixing and a Shure UHF-R wireless system with Beta 87A capsules. Shure hard-wired and PSM 1000 wireless in-ear monitoring systems are part of TobyMac’s own production kit.
The 2014 leg of the “Hits Deep” tour kicks off on February 13 in Sioux Falls, S.D. Supporting acts are Matthew West, Mandisa, Brandon Heath, Matt Maher, and Capital Kings.
Eccles Center For Performing Arts Chooses Lectrosonics
“Wired” sound quality with dropout-free performance ideal for busy venue
Opened in 1998, The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center is part of the Park City School District, Park City, Utah.
The venue serves as the anchor facility of the renowned Sundance Film Festival and is host to a wide range of student and professional cultural events. With the facility’s diverse program schedule, wireless microphone technology is integral to many of the performances that take place here. Recently the venue invested in Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless technology to ensure flawless delivery.
David Hallock, production manager at Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, is responsible for all general venue oversight, which includes purchasing, scheduling, and design. He also oversees technical direction for all school district sponsored events.
Hallock recently approved the purchase of eighteen Lectrosonics LMa beltpack transmitters, six HH handheld transmitters, three Venue mainframe receiver systems fully stocked with Lectrosonics’ VRS receiver modules, and a pair of ALP650 Log Periodic Dipole Array (LPDA) antennas.
“We purchased our Lectrosonics equipment in the fall of 2013,” Hallock reports. “From an audio quality perspective, Lectrosonics’ lack of companding offers truly un-colored audio performance and excellent response.
“Equally important, the very narrow band transmission capabilities of the transmitters, along with the rock-solid stability of the company’s Digital Hybrid Wireless system made this equipment the ideal choice for future proofing ourselves against the expected sale of the 600 band of wireless spectrum.”
Among the many projects at Eccles Center, Hallock recently utilized the new Lectrosonics equipment with the Park City School District’s staging of Bye Bye Birdie, the popular musical inspired by the phenomenon of legendary singer Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the Army in 1957.
“We used the new LMa transmitters and Venue receivers on our production this past November,” Hallock said. “Using the Lectrosonics system in combination with our existing sub 600 MHz wireless equipment, we were able to run 36 channels for two and a half weeks with absolutely no dropouts.
“I was also very impressed with the durability of the equipment. The LMa transmitters held up to everything the students had to offer—without so much as a scratch.”
“For this production,” he continued, “the extremely flat frequency and phase response of the Digital Hybrid Wireless system made for a very high feedback threshold. Given that we had 34 mics on the deck at one time, this was a huge benefit.
“At one point, we had two lead characters standing directly in front of the house mains having an intimate conversation, and we had no problem getting enough level for them to be heard. Combine that with Lectrosonics’ almost non-existent noise floor, and the mix was greatly simplified.”
Hallock adds that he was very impressed with Lectrosonics support.
“Scott Woolley, the Lectrosonics sales manager in our territory, was incredibly supportive,” he said. “Scott even made an on-site visit to help us set up and frequency coordinate the system with our existing wireless equipment. He was very helpful.”
“The Lectrosonics system has surpassed every claim,” Hallock concludes. “The audio quality is as good as having a wire, and the stability, quality, and ability to tight pack the frequencies means that we will be set on wireless for a long time. We are very pleased with our new equipment.”
DPA Microphones Debuts Shiny Facelift For d:facto Vocal Mic
DPA now offers grids with gold and nickel finish for the d:facto vocal microphone.
DPA Microphones has unveiled new grids with gold and nickel finish for the d:facto vocal microphone.
The new grids are available as accessories to existing systems and can be purchased as metal grids only or as total solutions with foam and pop screen.
Additionally, the nickel option matches the finish available on the Sennheiser 2000, 5200 and 9000 wireless mic systems and comes complete with corresponding adapters.
“We are very excited to present the new gold and nickel d:facto grids for the first time ever here at the NAMM Show,” says Christian Poulsen, CEO of DPA Microphones. “We saw a demand in the market to attain the d:facto sound with more than just the traditional black adapter systems, and now we have just the solution with the d:facto, which follows DPA’s continued commitment to providing the best vocal microphone on the market.”
With a true studio sound for the live stage, the d:facto line offers an extraordinarily natural sound with high separation and extreme SPL handling, giving users unlimited possibilities for their performances.
In addition to use with the wired DPA handle, the d:facto II provides singers and engineers with the added benefit of a state-of-the-art adapter system, which allow for seamless integration with many professional wireless systems. With these latest color options are sure to make the d:facto even more popular among live sound engineers.
With its superb linearity in frequency and phase, both on- and off-axis, the d:facto offers impressive definition and accuracy in reproducing a singer’s voice effortlessly, improving audio performance. Its simple plug-and-play features allow it to reproduce an extraordinarily natural sound, capable of achieving the extreme sound level handling of 160 dB.
As with all DPA mics, the d:facto provides superior gain before feedback and a robust three-stage pop protection grid built into the microphone to remove unwanted noise. It also boasts exceptional isolation from handling noise as well as the ability to accommodate extreme sound levels.
The new gold and nickel grids will be available starting February 2014
Avid Customers Take Center Stage At 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Award winners created with Avid’s proven and trusted, industry-leading audio solutions include Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year
Avid today congratulated its many award-winning and nominated customers at the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards for their outstanding achievements in the recording arts.
At the ceremony on January 26 in Los Angeles, the preeminent peer-recognized awards for music excellence were bestowed on numerous artists, producers and engineers who use Avid audio solutions.
Avid audio professionals created GRAMMY Award winners including Album of the Year Random Access Memories by Daft Punk, Record of the Year Get Lucky by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, and Song of the Year Royals by Joel Little and Ella Yelich O’Connor (Lorde).
GRAMMY Award nominee for Producer of the Year Ariel Rechtshaid has produced records spanning indie/alternative, hip-hop, reggae and R&B. His 2013 releases include Best Alternative Music Album, Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, as well as Haim’s Days Are Gone, Snoop Lion’s Reincarnated, and Sky Ferreira’s Everything is Embarrassing.
“The GRAMMY nomination for Producer of the Year is an honor,” he said. “I share it with all the artists I’ve been fortunate enough to make music with. We’ve always strived to make music that sounds unlike anything out there and it’s fantastic to be recognized by The Recording Academy. We couldn’t have done it without Avid ProTools®.”
Other GRAMMY Award-winning projects by artists, producers and engineers who use Avid solutions in their studios include Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive (Best Rock Performance), Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox (Best Pop Vocal Album), and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist (Best Rap Album).
“It is a great honor that the world’s most talented music professionals choose Avid Pro Tools and our entire line of industry-leading audio solutions to record and produce the best music across all genres,” said Avid president and CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. “As a company that’s passionate about and inspired by world-class content creation and technical innovation, we congratulate our GRAMMY Award-winning and nominated customers on their outstanding artistic and technical achievements.”
Friday, February 07, 2014
Focusrite RedNet Routes Audio For Custom 27.2 Surround Sound Production
Getting audio where it was needed due to the plug-and-play Dante Ethernet-based networking
Focusrite RedNet Ethernet-networked studio interfaces recently helped provide a solution for Andreas Renhorn, chief sound engineer at the GöteborgsOperan in Gothenburg, Sweden, when he was tasked with playing back 32 channels of high-quality audio, including feeding a custom 27.2 audio system, in the Opera’s modern riverside performance complex.
The production “The World To Darkness And To Me” is a new dance work by New York-based choreographer Richard Siegal, with electroacoustic music composed by Lorenzo Bianchi Hoesch of IRCAM in Paris.
Hoesch’s abstract, percussive electronic/sampled music directly complements Siegal’s “If/Then” dance method, which combines written choreography with options for the dancers to co-create in an almost game-like environment where they pick up and improvise around each other’s moves.
Hoesch’s music, which was created with visual music programming language Max, required enormous dynamic range to convey a great deal of light and shade, and was designed to be played back in three dimensions via a special 27.2 loudspeaker array installed for the production. Using MSP audio extensions and 3D spatialization plug-ins, he was able to achieve extremely powerful manipulation of the audio.
Hoesch utilized Ambisonic’s surround-sound system, which can recreate a three-dimensional sound field where sounds can be placed anywhere in space completely unrelated to the loudspeaker positions.
To replay this remarkable music in this advanced way, in this unique environment, was Renhorn’s primary challenge: “I needed to find equipment that was able to achieve the highest possible quality of digital conversion.” He also needed to get 32 channels of audio easily from one place to another.
Renhorn soon found that Focusrite’s RedNet 2 A/D – D/A units offered a solution. With 16 channels of line-level A/D - D/A conversion per unit, a pair of RedNet 2s provided the right number of channels for the main system plus auxiliaries, and made it easy to get the audio where it was needed due to the plug-and-play Dante Ethernet-based networking.
For the performances, audio was sent from a MacBook Pro running QLab, a cue-based multimedia playback software system designed for theater and live work.
Using the Dante Virtual Sound Card (DVS) driver – which is provided free of charge with any RedNet unit – the MacBook Pro’s internal Ethernet port was used to carry digital audio to the RedNet units via a standard NetGear GS716T switch, which sits between the RedNet units and the computer.
The analog outputs of the RedNet 2s were fed into the 29-channel d&b-based replay system via DB25 cables, with two additional channels for stage foldback and one more for voice.
Gothenburg-based firm AV-1 handled the supply and installation of the RedNet components as well as the playback system. AV-1’s Göran Blomgren states, “This was one of the fastest and smoothest installations ever. Supplementing the Opera’s existing front speakers, we installed 22 additional loudspeakers on the balconies plus five mounted 25 meters up in the ceiling – yet including the loudspeaker and Ethernet cabling, it was completed in under six hours. I look forward to our next RedNet installation.”
The Ethernet-based functionality of RedNet had some other unexpected benefits. Renhorn explains, “Hoesch was impressed at how easy it was to set up his laptop at the center of the auditorium on a 50-meter Cat-6 cable so he could fine-tune the feeds to the playback array. And he was also impressed at how easy it was to hook up a second laptop to the same network for recording by simply connecting an Ethernet cable between the laptop and the switch.”
The result was an impressive multimedia experience. Sound elements, often derived from samples of the Opera’s musicians, tumble around, across and up and down the 1,300-seat auditorium, in sync with the dancers in large and small groups and dazzling lighting effects. For similar performances in the future, Renhorn plans to use a RedNet PCIe card in a Thunderbolt PCIe chassis for better performance and minimum latency.
Shure UHF-R, PSM 1000 Systems Take Center Stage At 2014 GRAMMY Awards
Shure wired mics also see heavy usage at "Music's Biggest Night"
For the third consecutive year, all of the artists and bands who performed using in-ear monitors during the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards utilized Shure PSM 1000 personal monitor systems.
Highlights from the evening at the Staples Center in downtown LA, site of the show, included a number of GRAMMYs presented to Shure endorsers, from Imagine Dragons’ victory in the “Best Rock Performance” category and Kacey Musgraves’ double win for “Best Country Song” and “Best Country Album” to Black Sabbath’s success in the “Best Metal Performance” category.
In addition to the exclusive in-ear use of PSM 1000 for live performances, a combination of Shure SM58, BETA 58, and KSM9 microphones were also selected by artists for their performances.
“It’s always great to see so much Shure equipment on a big production like the GRAMMYs by our endorsers and loyal users,” states Cory Lorentz, artist relations manager at Shure. “Even better than what you see on the show itself is all of the thanks and praise we receive for our products and the support we’ve offered year after year.
“This level of support gives the production team more confidence to say ‘yes’ to any request that may come—whether it’s last year’s request to dump 30,000 gallons of water on a mic from fun. during the band’s GRAMMY performance, or Imagine Dragons’ request to have a mic freshly dusted with red powder coating. Shure products perform reliably and as promised.”
As part of the show’s opening act, Jay-Z helped kick off the night with a Shure UHF-R wireless microphone system. Other GRAMMY performers who relied on UHF-R and Shure handhelds included Shure endorser Hunter Hayes (UR2/SM58); Robin Thicke (UR2/SM58); Keith Urban and Gary Clarke Jr. (UR2/SM58); Shure endorser Imagine Dragons (UR2/KSM9HS), who performed with Kendrick Lamar UR2/SM58); The Highwaymen (UR2/SM58); Daft Punk with Pharrell and Stevie Wonder (all on UR2/SM58); Nate Ruess (UR2/SM58), who performed with Pink; Ringo Starr (UR2/SM58); Chicago (UR2/Beta 58); and endorser Sara Bareilles (UR2/KSM9), who performed with Carole King (UR2/SM58). Shure endorser Kacey Musgraves— who took home two awards—performed on a Shure UR2/Beta 57A.
Shure’s UHF-R systems performed flawlessly, even in the congested Los Angeles RF environment. GRAMMY Broadcast Mixer, Tom Holmes was impressed by UHF-R’s sound quality and reliability: “With 15 of 20 artists using microphones and wireless systems front and center, it was a comfort to me knowing I could count on consistent sound quality,” he said.
New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde, who spent much of the past year in the spotlight and at the top of the charts, captivated the crowd with her performance of “Royals” on the legendary Shure SM58. Lorde was among a handful of GRAMMY performers such as Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor (Beta 58), John Legend (Beta 58), and Paul McCartney (Beta 58), who relied on wired Shure microphones for their sets. Other artists who opted for wired mics included Shure endorser and nine-time GRAMMY-winning band Metallica (Super 55 BRC), who performed with Lang Lang (Beta 181/C) on piano.
Music Mix Mobile’s John Harris and engineer Eric Schilling were the designated music mixers for the evening. “For this years’ show, Eric Schilling and I discussed using the Beta 181 on Lang Lang’s pianos,” Harris says. “Combined with the A75M clamps, they provided a great solution for us, both sonically and aesthetically.”
Dave Bellamy of Soundtronics coordinated RF for this year’s broadcast. “We’re working in a high RF noise environment with a large channel count,” Bellamy notes. “All the horns were using Shure UR1 on high power in spectrum with a high noise floor, and the equipment worked perfectly. Musicians like using them [Shure microphones], and I do, too.”
Thursday, February 06, 2014
RE/P Files:The Coming Of Age For The Once-Maverick Touring Sound Business
This article, from the archives of the late, great Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, provides an in-depth look at a concert sound milestone tied into a tour by Neil Diamond in 1985. The text is presented unaltered, along with the original graphics.
First introduced to the public in 1985 by JBL Professional, the new Concert Series represents what is perhaps the first attempt by a major manufacturer to address the growing need for pre-manufactured speaker systems, complete with all accessories.
In recent years, several firms have introduced factory-built enclosures that have found acceptance in both the touring-sound and installation-contracting industries, and a few of them included accesories such as cables, dollies, and flying hardware.
The significant development is that the Concert Series systems are complete and ready to operate with the addition of only program source and mixing equipment. As part of the new series, loudspeaker cabinets, power amplifiers, electronic crossover and loudspeaker signal processing equipment are available, as well as equipment racks. The systems are pre-wired, tested and ready for immediate use, with road cases available for touring applications.
Typically, touring sound firms have steadfastly clung to the development of proprietary loudspeaker systems, maintaining that the established manufacturers do not build what they require. Firms such as Meyer Sound Laboratories, Eastern Acoustic Works and Turbosound have been changing that. Each of these companies has made significant inroads into the touring sound market with mass-produced enclosures.
The new Concert Series systems, which come complete with power amplifiers and signal processing, add a new dimension to the pro sound marketplace, with potential applications in installation-contracting as well as the rental sound business.
This article will examine the development of these new JBL systems, and their first large-scale use by Stanal Sound for Neil Diamond’s recent arena concert tour.
Touring Sound Company Involvement
In early 1985, JBL Professional’s VP of Marketing, Mark Gander, examined possibilities for a new product line that would address the market need for pre-built loudspeaker enclosures. A decision was made to offer systems that incorporated both direct-radiating and horn-loaded designs.
A new two-box, direct-radiating system developed by Stanal Sound, Ltd. (North Hollywood, CA, and Kearney, NE) and a one-box, horn-loaded enclosure assembled by Electrotec Productions (Los Angeles, CA) were deemed to have good potential for market development. OEM agreements were reached, and the concept of entire pre-built systems developed.
“Touring sound evolved over a period of years from a pile of parts used by inexperienced persons, into the sophisticated tour companies we see today using modular speaker packages,” Gander explains. “JBL builds the components used in the majority of touring sound systems on the road. The fact that two of those [sound-rental] companies can come to a major manufacturer, with proprietary enclosures that can be incorporated into our product line, shows just how far the concert-sound business has come.”
Gander feels that the time is right for the commercial development of entire packaged systems. “Audio equipment manufacturers are selling end-users the promise of good sound,” he offers. “It takes a certain amount of education and expertise to take raw components, and assemble a quality sound system. Offering a correctly engineered system, made up of individual components that can stand alone on their own merit, is a step in the direction of consistently good sound for the end-users.”
JBL Professional VP of Sales, Ken Lopez, stresses that the new Concert Series systems are well-integrated. “For a matched system to be available off-the-shelf is a new concept,” he concedes. “Users have the ability to go to one source for everything… cables, racks - all that is
needed to be up and running. Our recent distribution agreement with Soundcraft mixing consoles can make the package idea even more attractive.” (See News item in the February 1986 issue of R-e/p regarding JBL’s acquisition of the sales and marketing responsibility for Soundcraft products in the U.S.—Editor.)
Stanal Sound Involvement
With its production wood/fiberglass shop in Kearney, NE, and considerable experience in the development of hanging sound systems and the application of fiberglass for road use, Stanal Sound was particularly well-suited for helping to develop this first commercial concert-system package.
“I have always maintained that a market existed for correctly-designed concert sound systems,” advises Stanal president Stan Miller (read more about Stan here). “Many sound companies try to keep their speaker systems secret. We felt that ours had more potential than that.”
StanaI’s two-box system, with trapezoidal cabinetry and integral hanging points, was incorporated into JBL’s product line with very few changes. Miller considers that his experience with touring-sound systems for nearly 20 years has paid off: “We feel it is important for the primary enclosure that a system is built around to be a stand-alone device. The 4870 loudspeaker system is a full-range device with 15-inch speakers. The 4845 18-inch low-frequency box, while matching the 4870 in size, is essentially a subwoofer. Additionally, we have developed half-sized, long-throw horn boxes and two-way, down fill devices.”
The JBL Concert Series Model 4870 is a bi-amplified speaker system comprising dual l5-inch Model 2225H loudspeakers in a ported enclosure tuned to 40 Hz. The large circular ducts incorporated into the box design allow complete freedom from vent compression over the cabinet’s operating range (Figure 1, below).
A Model 2380 Bi-Radial flat-front horn loaded with a Model 2445J two-inch compression driver provides mid/high frequency coverage beyond 16 kHz. For systems requiring increased high-frequency power above 10 kHz, mounting provision and wiring are included for adding a pair of JBL Model 2404 ultra-high frequency transducers. Cover plates for these extra mounting holes and wiring for the tweeters are standard.
The sides of each enclosure taper from front to back at a 15-degree angle. Fourteen system hanging points with Aeroquip hardware are included on each box. These points are stress-rated between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds each, depending on the angle of pull. Each Model 4870 box weighs 214 pounds and measures 49.5 by 29,5 by 19.75 inches (HxWxD).
Coverage angles are said to be 90 degrees horizontal by 40 degrees vertical, with a frequency response of 35 Hz to 20 kHz (-10 dB). The cabinets are externally finished with a dark gray, impregnated fiberglass-reinforced plastic, A black nylon protective grill completes the package.
With a 20 to 800 Hz usable frequency range, the Concert Series Model 4845 cabinet is a very low frequency companion piece to the Model 4870. It also has identical exterior dimensions, and houses a single Model 2245H 18-inch loudspeaker in an enclosure tuned to 27 Hz (Figure 2).
Figures 1 and 2. (click to enlarge)
The enclosures are designed to a trapezoidal pattern that allows several boxes to be assembled into tight clusters for wide-angle coverage, a configuration that also improves the coupling at low frequencies (Figure 3). The integral certified hanging points enable the quick and easy assembly of cluster arrays.
The enclosures are supplied with ITT/Cannon EP-8 type connectors, one each male and female, mounted on recessed steel plates for protection (Figure 4). Every loudspeaker enclosure is equipped with aircraft-style pan fittings that terminate in a round-head stud.
Figure 3. (click to enlarge)
Designed by Stanal Sound, the mating hardware for rigging and hanging is available to purchasers of the new JBL cabinets. The entire system has been designed with both the structural integrity and sonic characteristics of large-scale arrays in mind.
“I have always felt that the all-in-one composite speaker boxes that were common 10 years ago were not the ultimate solution,” Miller explains. “In assembling large arrays for arena use, there are many times when one needs to point certain components in a specific direction for optimum coverage. We have come up with a ring and stud hardware system that gives one the ability to assemble very sturdy clusters that, if so desired, can be permanent.
“Our half-sized companion enclosures for long-throw and down-throw applications give us more tools to use in quickly assembling arrays that are custom-tailored for each specific use.” (Figure 5)
Figure 4. (click to enlarge)
JBL’s Model 4866 cabinet, which houses a pair of Model 2386 40-degree horns, is approximately one-half the size of the Model 4870 full-range enclosure. A small mid/high box (Model 4860) and bass box (Model 4847) are also available (Figure 6).
According to Miller, the Concert Series enclosures were stress-tested before the box designs and construction techniques were finalized. “Whenever you suspend anything in the air above people’s heads, safety is the prime consideration. The structural engineering is just as critical as the audio; a mechanical system is only as strong as its weakest link, We have designed this system to have no weak links.” (See accompanying sidebar titled Stress-Testing the Hanging System—Editor.)
Figure 5. (click to enlarge)
The modular speaker boxes are easily transported on a specially designed dolly (JBL Model 4870DL). For protection, the boxes travel face down (Figure 7). When portable systems are transported by truck, the boxes can be stacked up to four high.
Stanal On Tour
In December 1985, Stanal took the first full-scale Concert Series arena system on tour with Neil Diamond. The brief tour played to capacity crowds in such venues as Kemper Arena (Kansas City), Riverfront Coliseum (Cincinnati), and Joe Louis Arena (Detroit).
Figure 6. (click to enlarge)
A total of 64 Model 4873 enclosures (three-way versions of the Model 4870) were suspended in the flying array. Additionally, 32 Model 4866 long-throw packages and Model 4860 down-throw packages were carried. Subwoofer enclosures were placed at floor level.
Of specific interest with Stanal’s arena array configuration for Neil Diamond were two additional clusters to supplement the main left and right hanging groups: eight Model 4873 boxes were suspended above the center-stage line, and angled downward into the forward seating sections; another separate cluster was suspended behind the stage to provide optimum sound coverage for the rear seating areas.
Figure 7. (click to enlarge)
The two main speaker arrays were fed discrete left and right stereo program material, while the auxiliary center cluster was given a combined left/right mix. “Oftentimes in large venues, the best seats in the house have traditionally received less-than-ideal sound because of the ‘hole’ between the left and right stacks,” Miller explains. “The center cluster helps to fill that gap, and let the closer audience areas hear a true stereo mix.”
The rear cluster comprised an amount of gear equivalent to one-half of a main left or right array. Configured for 180-degree coverage, the cluster was made up of 12 Model 4873 boxes, six Model 4866 long-throw boxes and six Model 4860 down-throw boxes. To provide more than just a stereo mix, a separate mixing console, with operator Richard Albrecht, was positioned high above the backstage area, facing the rear-fill cluster. Albrecht did a remix of 16 separate subgroups fed directly from Miller’s main house mix position.
“Some time ago, I noticed a hook-and-ladder fire truck going down the street,” Miller recalls. “Because the truck is so long, they used a separate driver with his own steering wheel. Well, we like the people in the rear seats to get their money’s worth. If I am out in front of the stage [mixing the show], I certainly can’t hear what is going on back there. The separate mixing board gives us much better control for that different acoustical environment and, using subgroup feeds, still gives me a certain measure of control over the mix.” (Figure 8)
An aside from the author: To my knowledge. this is the first instance of a sound reinforcement company supplying a separate mixing console and operator for a rear speaker cluster used for large venues. Stan Miller has traditionally used Neil Diamond’s show for unveiling new techniques and innovations in live sound system technology. Over the past 15 years, these have included such new strategies as stage mixIng, flying speaker systems, subwoofers, and delay-line speaker towers for large audiences. While other live sound companies have been on similar development tracks over the years, Miller’s consistent list of “firsts” with a single artist—in this instance, Neil Diamond—is perhaps without parallel.
Figure 8. (click to enlarge)
For the Diamond tour, Stanal supplied an extensive stage monitoring system that rivaled the main speaker system in complexity. Although a standard central monitor mixing area existed, three of the on-stage musicians (including the band’s musical director) received subgroup feeds, and were provided with auxiliary mixers. These three individuals had control over the program material content in their own stage monitor speakers. (A complete description of the stage monitor system for Neil Diamond’s tour is beyond the scope of this article.—Author)
“It has been interesting for me to note, over the years, that the things we develop for Neil often work so well that they end up being adopted by the live sound industry at large,” Miller says. “It is quite an honor to have been able to mix the same artist’s show for 18 years. When that level of trust is developed on the part of an artist and his sound engineer, those are the situations where it is possible to advance the overall ‘state of the art.’ Instead of having to rush things into development for last-minute tours, we are able to take a good, hard look at what direction we want to take things next. It is a mutually beneficial situation.”
Table 1. (click to enlarge)
Concert Series Systems
The new Concert Series system enclosures have each been given a 4800 series designation (Table 1). In addition to the series 4800 of speaker enclosures and accessories, such as cables and dollies. JBL Professional has completed formulation of the 4900 series for complete, packaged sound systems. Both direct-radiating and horn-loaded systems will be available, complete with dedicated signal processing and power amplifiers. Electronics racks and road cases also are available.
The system packages include fully loaded enclosures, JBL/UREI electronics, and pre-assembled racks and cables. The heart of each system’s drive rack is the Model 5234A electronic-frequency dividing network. A variety of signal-path variations are available to accommodate different numbers and types of enclosures (Figure 9).
Figures 9 and 10. (click to enlarge)
“Our system design philosophy is to use a high-quality class of matched components,” advises JBL’s Mark Gander. “Some people today are using crossovers with bandwidth shifting and independent limiting and compression for protection on the system sections. Our approach is not to do bandwidth shifting because of the radical changes in power response which can be incurred, and not to do limiting or compression unless every crossover section is linked to the others, to prevent wild psycho-acoustic anomalies.” (The Model 5234A, used for the Concert Series, has a custom-designed, plug-in crossover card, incorporating power-response equalization and high-pass filter for low-frequency driver protection.)
Within the 4900 series systems, increasing numbers of multiple cabinets and companion electronics are available to achieve pre-specified acoustical power outputs. The 4943 system, for example, comprises all components needed to supply a maximum of 140 dB (measured at one meter, continuous program) of full-bandwidth (20 Hz to 20 kHz) audio frequency sound reinforcement from a program material input (Figure 10).
Stanal Sound and JBL’s joint venture development of the Concert Series systems with JBL may be significant for several reasons. The fact that a touring sound company—an end-user of a manufacturer’s loudspeaker components—has developed a packaging concept attractive to JBL for inclusion in the latter’s product line, helps to mark the maturity of the touring sound industry.
Two decades ago, sound companies looked to speaker manufacturers for enclosure concepts; 10 years ago, those same companies were hard at work developing better-sounding, more roadworthy speaker systems. Today, a new product line for mass production and marketing by a major speaker manufacturer has been developed and tested by such a touring sound firm. The research and development cycle has gone full circle.
“Sometimes, the touring sound companies are like our racing teams,” Gander offers. “It is nearly an exact analogy to the Formula race car situation, where different drivers try out new tires and other automotive technology. We manufacture products. The touring PAs that go around the world give those products the roughest test imaginable. Having a product accepted in that industry ... that’s our proving ground.”
New lines of sound systems developed through a dialog between manufacturer and end-user will have a market much broader than just the touring sound industry in which it was born. “These systems are available through two different avenues of distribution: the pro audio dealer that caters to the entertainment industry, and through qualified installation contractors,” explains JBL’s Ken Lopez. “Also, there will be those who bridge the gap, the tour sound accounts. It may very well be that some of the more experienced PA companies will be the model for the contracting company of tomorrow; they already have the experienced technicians in place, the fabrication abilities and the expertise in on-site troubleshooting.”
When coupled with the variety of different yet compatible new enclosures available from JBL, the hanging hardware fittings for the Concert Series systems, available through Stanal Sound, point the way toward a concept that may change the process by which major venue sound system installations are bid, designed, contracted, and completed. The contractor that has the ability to quickly assemble a road-proven, modular sound system available from a reputable manufacturer in off-the-shelf form may have a distinct competitive edge.
Click for a larger view of the image of the Concert Series rig out with Neil Diamond.
Touring sound company operators, installation contractors, and audio equipment manufacturers cannot help but benefit from the increased dialog and sharing of ideas that comes from such collaborative projects as the new Concert Series. A complete, pre-tested, modular loudspeaker system available for shipping from stock, and assembled into massive arrays for large-venue use, was once only a dream.
The successful completion of this project, from idea to available product, marks the coming of age for the once-maverick touring sound business, and the receptivity of an audio manufacturing industry leader to new ideas. Scribbled drawings on hotel restaurants napkins and dreams over cups of coffee have turned into engineering blueprints—from such dreams, sometimes, come future realities.
If systems such as these do turn out to be compatible with market needs, Stanal Sound’s years of carrying loudspeakers around from city to city would appear to have been well spent.
Editor’s Note: This is a series of articles from Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, which began publishing in 1970 under the direction of Publisher/Editor Martin Gallay. After a great run, RE/P ceased publishing in the early 1990s, yet its content is still much revered in the professional audio community. RE/P also published the first issues of Live Sound International magazine as a quarterly supplement, beginning in the late 1980s, and LSI has grown to a monthly publication that continues to thrive to this day. Our sincere thanks to Mark Gander of JBL Professional for his considerable support on this archive project.
Read more RE/P Files here.
Stress-Testing A Hanging Speaker System
Hanging sound system technology for both touring and installation use can pose some very serious questions. One of these is related to hardware stress, because the methods and equipment chosen to suspend heavy loudspeaker arrays above the ground vary from venue to venue. Portable systems often rely on nylon straps and chain motor hoists, while permanent installations require more solid suspension fittings.
The temporary system places a dynamic or changing load on the rigging hardware. As the speaker array moves up and down, great force can be developed. Permanent installations are usually static, non-moving loads, although some facilities provide for the raising and lowering of arrays.
To ensure the structural integrity of Concert Series enclosures, Stanal Sound commissioned the services of an industrial testing laboratory. “It is imperative to know just what the limits are, and when the breaking point is going to occur ,” explains Mark Engebretson, an electro-acoustical consultant involved in design engineering work on the CS enclosures. “Certification of industrial hardware requires more than guesswork.”
Osborne laboratories, Inc. of Santa Fe Springs, CA, was assigned the task of trying to pull apart one of the new enclosures. With 600,000 pounds of test pressure available, any weak spot in the cabinet’s construction would show up.
A “sacrificial” Model 4870 system was strapped into the firm’s Tinius Olsen model Universal Testing machine, comprising extremely powerful hydraulic screw·cylinders pushing in opposition. Force was gradually applied; the results are shown below.
“The device was calibrated to be accurate within 50 pounds,” recalls Engebretson. “As it turned out, the box was actually stronger than some of the rigging hardware typically used to suspend such speaker systems in the air.”
The series of three ultimate-load destruction tests on the 4870 cabinet were postponed when a nylon strap used to attach the load fasteners separated. A heavy metal clevis was then used in replacement, and the test continued.
“Eventually, the test rig just pulled the box apart,” notes Engebretson. “However, it is impressive that this ultimate failure did not happen on the end-to-end test until a point well past two tons, which is beyond the capacity of the very chain motors that are typically used to support hanging speaker systems.”
Such extreme stress testing is required whenever a hardware manufacturer, or a user of hardware, needs an answer to a very important question: Mow strong is it? Many hanging sound systems use the structure of the loudspeaker cabinets themselves to support the weight of other enclosures. Verifying the structural integrity of an enclosure is one of many required steps along the path that leads to the development of safe, reliable hardware systems.