Monday, October 14, 2013
Parr Sound & Lighting Rolls Out RCF Line Arrays For Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Parr Sound & Lighting deploys RCF HDL 20-A line arrays at two venues during Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Nestled in the foot of the Black Hills, hundreds of thousands of bikers converge on the small town of Sturgis, South Dakota to take part in the biggest biker rally in the world.
For the last seven years, Parr Sound & Lighting, located in Great Bend, Kansas, has been on hand to assist with the sound reinforcement needs of two of the larger campground/resorts in Sturgis during the 10-day rally.
“It is a huge event for us,” explains Gary Parr, owner of Parr Sound & Lighting. “Both of the campgrounds have extremely large live entertainment venues that require sound reinforcement. They typically bring in national acts, so it’s important the sound is top of the line.”
This year Parr added 26 RCF USA HDL 20-A line arrays to his inventory and quickly put them to use for the rally in both venues.
“We’ve run a lot of gear over the years and I would compare the HDL 20-A against any of the mid-sized boxes I have ever used,” Parr adds. “The horsepower, lack of power consumption, the definition – the SPL they produce is phenomenal. We have done everybody from the Go-Go’s to Montgomery Gentry, Big & Rich and more and we have never had single engineer walk in front of these boxes and not love the product.”
The Glencoe Campground and Resort Pavilion is an enclosed bar/restaurant that seats 3,000. Parr hung left-right arrays – each consisting of 6 HDL 20-A modules – off of a load bearing roof support using half-ton motors. He ground stacked double 18-inch subs below for added low end.
“That is another nice thing about the box,” he adds. “You don’t need a big motor to hang them and you don’t need a lot of people to get it done. I’ve hung 8 per side and have been able to get all 16 boxes in the air, flown and patched, in less than an hour by myself.”
Parr also used 2 HDL 20-A stacked on top of double 18-inch subs on each side of the stage for side fill. Another pair of HDL 20-As were used for front fill.
“There is nothing this box doesn’t do well,” continues Parr. “It’s an unbelievable front fill box – engineers are thrilled because can put the full mix in these boxes without a problem – there’s enough low end to handle it.”
The Broken Spoke Saloon at the Broken Spoke Campground Resort is the other venue in town that benefits from Parr Sound & Lighting sound reinforcement. The 30,000 square foot Saloon is a two story building that accommodates 4,000. The stage is on the first floor, the second floor is a wrap around balcony that covers three sides of the building.
In this venue he hangs two more RCF HDL 20-A line arrays – this time 5 modules per array – using half-ton motors from steel ceiling girders.
“They covered the room and had plenty of headroom to spare,” Parr says. “We had some serious rock-n-roll bands including Korn, Saliva, Black Crowes, Queens of Stone Age performing – and they sounded amazing. We threw some double-18 subs under them and it was incredible.”
Parr had leased other line arrays for years before deciding to invest in a system. He was attracted to the HDL-20A because of their fidelity, headroom and size.
“The company got us a demo rig of four boxes to play with in our warehouse,” he continues. “We put some subs under them and just couldn’t make them sound bad—that helped our decision process immensely. The have been such an outstanding product for us that we are planning on expanding our inventory again next spring.”
Friday, October 11, 2013
Where It Should Be: Getting The B3/Leslie Combo Into The Mix
Battling the beast to capture and amplify the signature sound
For as long as I can remember, there has been a sound created by an instrument that spells rock ‘n’ roll with just a letter and a number: B3. That’s the Hammond B3 organ to those who don’t know the code.
The B3 was first used by churches to stand in for far more expensive pipe organs, and at about one-hundredth of the price, it (as well as its fancy sister C3 and home version A-100, which all have the same electronics) owned the South Side of Chicago’s storefront gospel churches.
In the early 1960s, the Brits decided the B3 needed to be included along with electric guitars and harmonicas that were part of the blues revival when they took the sound of Chicago Blues/Chess Records and re-upped it into the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and finally, the Spencer Davis group fronted by 17-year-old Steve Winwood on B3. In 1966, Give Me Some Lovin’ raced up the radio charts just as fast as any of the guitar-driven American surf bands.
By 1968, a new group out of the UK called Deep Purple (sounds so quaint now) put a B3 thru a Marshall stack (usually reserved for the outsize ego’d guitarist) and created a new sound with a cover of an American blue-eyed soul tune called Hush. Rock ‘n’ roll was never the same, and the incendiary sound of the speaker level output of the B3 driving the guitar level of the Marshall is still a much sought-after sound today.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and we’re seeing vintage B3s on stage again with all styles of bands, including the country circuit (although strangely enough, not the western circuit). The B3 is the gravy that makes any band of chops players have soul in their stew. As John Mayer once said, “Playing in a power trio is really tough. It’s not like having a big fat B3 I can fall back on to hold the band together.”
In my band, the B3 plays a big part in providing the dressing for our salad. The problem is that many sound techs don’t know how to mic an organ correctly, and therefore, they don’t put it up front in the mix where it belongs.
And since they’re used to keeping it in the background in the mix, they make the problem worse by mixing all keyboard sounds equally under. Check me on this: the only time you really hear a keyboard up front and center is solo grand piano with a vocalist, and the band is out back having a smoke. In other words, mostly on the intros to big sappy hit ballads.
How did this happen? Probably 99 percent of today’s B3 players use a Leslie speaker. That’s the big wood box with the two rotating cone transducers inside that looks like something from your parents (and your grandparents, and my) living room. And in most cases, that’s exactly where the keyboardist found it, or in the garage after being moved from the living room for the estate sale.
A Leslie speaker is only rated at 35 watts. With a spinning horn and a spinning 15-inch cone driver, it’s output is roughly the equivalent of a small powered loudspeaker that you would use for your patio. But it’s a giant box, because it’s full of motors and pulleys to make it all work. The amp is tubes and is equal to the boutique guitar amp the lead player paid $3,000 for that is only loud enough to use in a recording studio.
Most seasoned techs capture the sound of a Leslie with two mics on the top panned hard left and right, and a kick drum mic on the 15-inch cone panned center.
The problem is that when it’s cranked up to rock levels, you hear the spinning rotor horn “whoosh” by the top mics, while the bottom rotor mic captures an irritating rumble as the wood cabinet shakes the stage.
Then if you get it up loud enough to be heard over the band, the whole rig takes off into low rumbling feedback. So most engineers just get it as loud as they can without getting into trouble and leave it at that.
John Lord from Deep Purple took matters into his own hands when he dumped the Leslie in trade for the Marshall stack, and he got it heard. But that sound is only good for early metal – think Smoke on the Water.
I’ve seen B3 players use two Leslie cabinets, and have even seen players put a Leslie on each side of the stage next to the PA stacks! Keith Emerson from Emerson, Lake and Palmer had extra rotors so he could stack them on top of stock Leslies to double the top end.
What it looks like inside a Leslie cabinet. (click to enlarge)
Send In The Clones
In the last decade several companies, including the re-worked Hammond Company outside of Chicago (where the B3 originated) and the Swedish company Nord, have come up with portable keyboards that have all the audio attributes of a real B3 without the weight and giant wood case. To get past having to carry the big wood-box Leslie, they’ve developed software that emulates the sound, built into the programming.
In a quest for the “real sound,” German company Neo has developed an outboard pedal called the Ventilator, which I’ve been impressed with enough that we’re distributing it in the U.S. It’s an exact replica of a 122 Leslie programmed into a computer chip, and even has an overdrive control to emulate the tubes distorting in the Leslie amp, as well as stereo mic simulation with a knob that “adjusts” how close the “mics” are to the “rotors.” Put into two direct boxes panned left and right on your console and you can crank it up as loud as you (and, well, I) like.
I encourage you to go here, where Danny Abelson provides a hands-on report on the Ventilator, which a growing number of sound and stage techs are carrying. As you’ll read in Danny’s report, Chuck Leavell of the Rolling Stones uses one, and there are also units with jazz burner Joey DeFrancesco, mainstream rocker Bob Seger, blues rocker Steve Miller, Victor Wainwright with Southern Hospitality, and even John Mayer (on his guitar).
The newest hot setup is a real vintage Hammond B3 on stage (looks cool and feels like you’re driving a Peterbuilt truck) into a Ventilator to the PA and monitor desk in stereo over two DI boxes. Sounds like a miked Leslie in the studio on a set of headphones.
It’s a way to be the hero when the organ player gives you the look that says, “Hey, crank it UP!” – you can give it the gas and get it up where it should be.
Gary Gand is president of Gand Concert Sound in Glenview, IL. GCS has been on the forefront of large-scale audio since the 1970s and are known in some circles as the “NEXO guys.”
New Frontier: A Legitimate Leslie Substitute?
Inside the Neo Ventilator, as well as an evaluation
I don’t typically write about products, mostly because I’m more interested in the human element in sound reinforcement.
To me, gear is the lesser part of the equation. Seventy percent of great sound is your contribution; the accumulated skill and experience of the show’s engineers and crew. Manufacturers create great tools for our industry, but I’m convinced that talented, experienced personnel using average gear will deliver consistently better results than average crews using the finest equipment available.
However, I do appreciate new gear when it makes the daily lives of engineers easier. Recently I was in Boston to review a performance of the Rolling Stones 50 and Counting tour, as the guest of Dave Natale, who has mixed the band since 1994 (Read about it here).
The evening before the show, Natale mentioned the Stones had been using a new device that simulates the sound of a rotating Leslie speaker on the Hammond B3 organ, and he stressed that it solved many problems and made the crew’s day easier.
Rising & Falling
Technically speaking, the Leslie speaker is not a reinforcing or amplifying device, it’s a sound enhancement device that uses Doppler shift to apply frequency modulation to the audio program coming from the instrument. This modulation adds a depth to the sound that, depending on the rotation speed of the horns, sounds floaty and dreamy when set at low speed or offers a rich bubbly vibrato at high speed.
The change of pitch occurs as the horn spins towards and then rotates quickly away from the listener. Physically it’s the same effect as the whistle on an approaching train, which rises in pitch as it nears and falls as it passes.
Most Leslie models feature a woofer that loads face down into a rotating drum, and a high frequency phenolic diaphragm compression driver mounted face up coupled to a rotating horn. Speed-switchable, belt-driven motors provide the rotation.
Although they share similar driver configurations, the balanced-in model 122 was typically paired with the B3, while the unbalanced model 147 was used by legions of guitarists in the 1960s and 70s to add depth and space to their signature sound.
Top and I/O panel views of the Ventilator. (click to enlarge)
As many of you likely well know, a Leslie presents challenges. For one, miking it can be a hassle, usually done with three mics on a pair of panned high channels and one low channel. In highly ambient environments, one often has to place the Leslie in an isolated spot offstage to control leakage.
Also, the belt-driven mechanics make noise, and the “wuh wuh” caused by rotating horns cutting through the air is particularly prominent if the speaker is tightly miked. There is a great variance of frequency response from cabinet to cabinet. Finally, most Leslies were made in the 1950s and 60s, and after decades of road use they often break down at inopportune moments.
Doppler effect is remarkably difficult to simulate. Many companies have attempted to provide an adequate Leslie substitute with varying degrees of believability. Clearly though, if someone successfully modeled that belt-driven Doppler-shifting tube-smacking dreamy Leslie sound in a stomp box, it would solve a lot of problems. Crews could be spared carrying, repairing, miking, and isolating an organ speaker whose technology hails from 60 years ago. It would make the lives of sound and backline crews much easier.
Fortunately, the smart designers at Neo Instruments of Germany have created the Ventilator. Chuck Leavell, the Rolling Stones keyboard player for 30 years, is responsible for elevating the profile of the Ventilator to a group of talented and seasoned audio professionals.
“I was introduced to the Ventilator by a very good Hammond technician in this part of the world named Greg Black (blackhammond.com),” Leavell explains to me. “One day he called and asked if I had heard about the Ventilator. My usual reaction, because I had tried every Leslie simulator over the years, was ‘yeah right.’ He assured me that this unit was special and encouraged me to listen to it. I tried it, was amazed, and thought to myself, ‘Is this as good as I think it is?’
“At the time I’d been working some with John Mayer, who works with a very talented engineer, Chad Franscoviak,” Leavell continues. “Chad just loved it and I have nothing but the highest respect for him. That really confirmed my thoughts about the Ventilator.”
For years Leavell has kept his Leslies in road cases that convert to iso booths, with mics permanently mounted inside the units. The obvious advantage of the Ventilator is elimination of the closed-in sound that happens with an iso booth situation, which still sounds like a Leslie in a box. The other problem the Ventilator solves is the wind noise (from the rotating horn and drum). There isn’t the need to use wind screens or to worry about mic placement.
“For those that may be wondering,” he adds, “I haven’t talked to anyone from Neo. I don’t have any kind of endorsement arrangement or anything, I don’t even know them. I bought the four units I own.”
When approached by Leavell about using the Ventilator with the Stones, Natale confirms that initially he wasn’t very excited about trying the box.
“You know I don’t like anything, so I don’t look for anything new because what works still works,” he states. “We were rehearsing in Paris, and when Chuck brought it in, I went ‘oh my what is this thing? Why do I have to try it?’ And then I thought ‘don’t be a jerk. He brought in this piece so let’s listen to it.’ So we set it up. Chuck played about two chords and I came running back in the room screaming ‘it’s amazing!’.”
According to the manufacturer, the Ventilator is a “digital FX device that simulates a Leslie model 122 rotary speaker cabinet miked up with a stereo pair for the highs and a single mono mic for the lows.” This configuration mirrors the mic setup used by most touring engineers I know. The folks at Neo have done a remarkable job of developing algorithms that recreate the rotating Doppler effect.
• Independent emulations of bass and treble rotors
• Reproduction of the Leslie’s mechanical properties
• Emulation of the 122’s frequency response
• Identical 800 Hz crossover point as found in the 122
• Adjustable rotary speed and acceleration
• Adjustable drive section that simulates distortion and power tube saturation typical of the Leslie’s amplifier
• Variable placement of virtual mics
• Relay-equipped true bypass circuit
• Port for a remote footswitch or organ-mounted “half moon” speed switch
• Full rotary stop
Natale states, “In this case I think it’s justified to tell people about this device because it gives you more consistency. It’s one less thing you have to worry about. What happens if the catering staff walks across upstage and knocks one of my mics off?
“You can adjust the drive without maybe blowing up the speakers in your Leslie like we used to do. You can control the acceleration, which I grant you is maybe a bit subtle of an effect for an arena with a million cubic feet of air, but it’s cool.
“I would always record with a Leslie. It’s a wooden box. It has a tone and a certain frequency response. But for live, now I don’t need a harness of three 100-foot mic cables to the edge of town to isolate the box. With the Ventilator, the unit is right next to all the keyboard DIs. It’s consistent. There’s no leakage. You should be able to deal with leakage if you’re a live engineer, but if the mics are in different positions from day to day it won’t be very consistent.
“Another great thing is there is no wind noise, that’s really great. (The Ventilator does model wind noise, and this is audible if you adjust the distance setting to the closest-to-the-cabinet position). I think it’s a really good product. Solid metal construction, small, weighs a lot less than a Leslie, no moving parts except knobs and switches.”
The Home Trial
I’m fortunate to own several vintage instruments, including a B3 and 122 and 147 Leslies. Even after glowing confirmation from two experienced engineers and a world-class musician, before writing this article I still wanted to do an A-B comparison of the Ventilator against the real thing in a listening environment I trusted.
So I set up a rotating “speaker” shoot-out in my music room, and in this setting, the Ventilator passed my 14-day home trial. Of course the B3 through the simulator did not sound exactly like my 122. I’m sure the Neo folks listened to a line-up of 122s before they selected the particular speaker they modeled. Considering the previously-mentioned variance in frequency response from one Leslie to another, no doubt the unit they modeled does not sound identical to the 122 I own.
Most importantly though, the Ventillator provided a realistic and legitimate alternative to the vintage device. The frequency response, timbre and overall instrument envelope were darn close, close enough that within a band’s ensemble mix I doubt a trained ear could consistently pick out one device from the other.
Composer musician Dr. Lonnie Smith, a true guru of the Hammond B3, working with a Ventilator.
I admit my tests were completely subjective – one listener, non-scientific. And I confess I wouldn’t choose to use it in an organ trio with jazz artists like Joey De Francesco, Ben Sidran, or the late great Jimmy Smith. In those settings, where the Hammond is the centerpiece of the program, the Leslie is probably the appropriate choice. But in many of the large venue presentations we support, including those with accomplished players like Leavell, practitioners of the live audio craft could recommend the Ventilator to their artists and reap the benefits of this well conceived and executed tool.
“I just love the thing, I really do,” Leavell tells me in parting. “As much of a vintage head as I am, whether it be a Wurlitzer or a Fender Rhodes or a Clavinet, it’s hard to find instruments that come that close to the real thing. But the Ventilator certainly does.”
Besides providing sonic legitimacy, the Ventilator doesn’t have any moving parts beyond pots and switches, only weighs a couple of pounds, takes no truck space, is not likely to break down, and you don’t have to mic it. It’s a very good substitute for a Leslie, and a problem-solving tool that could make your day easier.
Finally, for those who might wish to read the pre-eminent pro audio discussion of the Leslie speaker, I suggest Cliff Henricksen’s “Unearthing The Mysteries of the Leslie Cabinet.” Henricksen is a talented loudspeaker designer who grew up playing the Hammond in R&B bands.
After 40 years of playing with speakers, Danny Abelson is still infatuated with why things sound the way they sound. In his day job he is a consultant specializing in the electronic systems installed in college and professional sports facilities.
Editor’s Note: Neo has informed us that it is coming to market with two new mini Vent models, one for guitar and the other for organ. There will also be a new “pro” version in the coming months. Cabinet simulation for the Leslie 122 is included in all of them, of course, just like in the original.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Sennheiser Microphones, Wireless For Bruno Mars Moonshine Jungle Tour
After trying various Sennheiser combinations, engineers choose SKM 5200 handheld transmitter with MD 5235 capsule
Bruno Mars just finished the North American leg of his Moonshine Jungle Tour, a run that consisted of over 40 U.S. and Canadian dates, and now continues on to Europe before setting out to Australia and New Zealand in early 2014. Both Mars and his band are utilizing Sennheiser microphones and wireless systems on the tour.
“When I took on the Bruno Mars gig over two and a half years ago, he and the background singers were using a competitor’s model. I just knew there was a better microphone and capsule combination for him,” recalls James Berry, monitor engineer for Bruno Mars. “I began transitioning the background singers first, then worked with the front-of-house guy to get Bruno to try a Sennheiser microphone. Now you couldn’t pry that microphone out of his hands if you tried.”
Derek Brener, who has been Bruno Mars’ front-of-house engineer for three and a half years, recalls a point where Bruno’s audio infrastructure took a huge step forward: “One of the main turning points was when James came in and said he would not use anything else but the Sennheiser wireless that’s when everything changed,” he says. “James is such a heavy hitter having worked with Beyoncé, Weezer and lots of other great bands, I trusted his opinion.”
After trying various Sennheiser capsule and transmitter combinations for some time, Berry and Brener eventually settled on an SKM 5200 handheld transmitter with an MD 5235 capsule.
“For me, the MD 5235 capsule punches through the PA system better than any other microphone we’ve used on Bruno Mars,” says Brener. “Bruno is very involved with Derek and me on the way things sound and has very clear ideas on what he wants and what he expects,” Berry adds. “Now, it is a comfort thing. Whether we are playing arenas, stadiums or awards shows, there is no debating he wants Sennheiser, and that’s what he’s going to get.”
For vocals and horns, the band’s wireless consists of 10 channels of Sennheiser EM 3732-II receivers, seven SKM 5200-II transmitters with MD 5235 capsules and three SK 5212-II bodypack transmitters.
Berry says that one of the primary reasons they chose the EM 3732-IIs was because of the AES3 digital output with external word clock synchronization: “We are clocking our wireless devices at 96 kHz to get the best sound quality we can. We didn’t consider anything other than this unit because we knew it would give us the best sound quality and reliability on the RF side.”
“For me, clocking at 96 kHz opens everything up so it sounds more full,” Berry continues. “You have the entire frequency expanse in there, and what you put in is what you get out. Therefore you can hear the Sennheiser MD 5235 microphone capsules we are using with even greater fidelity.”
The band also relies on Sennheiser for its wireless monitor systems, of which Berry has six channels of SR 2050 IEM. This covers the entire band, as well as off-stage technical staff. “I’ve used a lot of in-ear systems, and the reason I chose Sennheiser is because of sound quality,” says Berry. “The wireless IEMs deliver a wide stereo image so I can put things right into place where they need to go in my mix. For me, there is no other option than the 2k series because of that.”
For wireless audio at a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York during the tour, one particular challenge was the large LED walls at the rear of the stage. “We had to shoot the wireless signal right through the LED walls,” Berry recalls. “We did a lot of pre-planning on antenna placement when we got there. It was all rock solid and performed flawlessly.”
The monitor crew used Sennheiser’s WSM software to save set-up time: “We used WSM to preload all the frequencies we were sent, so when we arrived, we just booted up the system and were ready to go in about 10 minutes. In the past, we would have had to go to every individual unit and program all this information in.” Berry also used the software to monitor each wireless element in real time: “I rely on WSM to see my battery and RF levels, as well as all the inputs and outputs,” he says.
All in all, over the course of the entire North American tour, the Sennheiser equipment has performed flawlessly, reports Brener: “We have never, ever experienced a drop out as long as we have had the Sennheiser wireless. It is all rock-solid. I have major confidence in Sennheiser.”
Journey Concert Series Served By JBL VTX Line Arrays Driven By Crown I-Tech HD Power
JBL HiQnet Performance Manager software further helped optimized the rig
Legendary rock band Journey recently completed a series of concerts with JBL Professional VTX line arrays powered by Crown Audio I-Tech HD 12000 amplifiers. The VTX system was deployed for five performances, including two with Rascal Flatts (with a system provided by Sound Image) and other dates in Lake Tahoe, Aspen and San Francisco.
According to Jim Yakabuski, Journey’s front of house engineer, the band has few stipulations when it comes to its sound. “Journey is pretty hands-off for the most part,” Yakabuski explains, “although they do ask me to keep the low end off the stage, so I try to keep the subwoofers from folding back onto the stage and keep the stage nice and clean.”
Journey’s latest tour started in June 2012, touring with Clair Global and the I5 loudspeaker system. This summer, Journey didn’t carry PA as there were many festivals and “one-off” shows, enabling Yakabuski to listen to a variety of line array technologies on the market.
“I have to say that loudspeaker technology has really come a long way the past few years,” he states. “The VTX system was definitely one of the best we used this summer and we had five great shows with it. It wasn’t a problem at all keeping the low end off the stage with VTX.”
“The VTX system has a very nice clean and crisp high end,” Yakabuski adds. “The whole midrange to high-end seemed really coherent and held together. There was also plenty of power, so we had no problems there.”
According to Yakabuski, a major advantage of VTX is how good it sounds right out of the box. “We used the JBL HiQnet Performance Manager software as well, which allowed us to take the low-end frequency response all the way down in the main V25 loudspeakers,” he says.
The five shows with the VTX system were a success. “[Clair System Engineer] David Quigley and I would like to thank [Plus 4 Marketing members] Keith Erickson and Jim Mathews, Alchemy Concert Systems [who provided the audio system in Aspen], as well as [Technical Support Lead, Tour Sound, JBL Professional] George Georgallis. They all put a lot of effort and time into making sure the system was set up properly. It makes it so much easier.”
ALT-J Tours With New Elation CUEPIX Panel Featuring COB (Chip On Board) Technology
The JL tour is out with Elatioin CUEPIX lighting panels.
Everything about the British indie rock quartet ALT-J says “unique”—from their cryptic name (when typed on an Apple Mac OS X keyboard, it produces their trademark delta Δ symbol), to their seamless layering of multi musical genres.
It was ALT-J’s distinctive sound that got New York City lighting designer Jeremy Lechterman (JL Designs) “hell bent on finding the opportunity to design for them.”
ALT-J was opening for another of Lechterman’s clients, Grouplove, on a tour last fall, so he pitched a design to their management and got his wish: first being hired for some select dates on the band’s initial US headline run, then asked back to design their second tour in support of An Awesome Wave.
Lechterman just completed touring with ALT-J as Lighting Operator, with Dylan Novicky from Felix Lighting, his gear supplier, serving as Crew Chief. Given pretty much free rein on the creative front, the LD envisioned an outside-the-box design that would encompass ALT-J’s seemingly polar elements.
To create a lighting experience as unique as the band itself, he used the brand-new CUEPIX Panel from Elation Professional, which features advanced COB (chip on board) LED technology.
“To complement ATL-J’s ethereal, driving and percussive sound, I wanted to create something dreamy and airy, but also very angular and aggressive,” explained Lechterman. “The end result was an almost exclusively backlit show, allowing the band’s silhouettes to float through the haze, while pulsing patterns and rhythms dance across the upstage wall.”
Matt Talent, his account rep at Felix Lighting, suggested using the new Elation CUEPIX Panel in place of a tungsten matrix. Featuring 25 x 30-watt 3-in-1 RGB COB LEDs and a 60° beam angle, the CUEPIX Panel’s COB technology provides improved performance and reliability compared to surface mount (SMD) LEDs.
Since multiple COB LED diodes are directly mounted on and electrically connected to the circuit board as one lighting module, interconnection lengths are shortened and thermal resistance is better, resulting in greater output from a smaller illumination source, more even light distribution, better color homogenization and better heat dissipation.
The CUEPIX Panel also features RGB color mixing, individual control of each COB module, variable/selectable dimming curves, and strobe and zone chase effects.
Still, Lechterman was “initially hesitant,” given the CUEPIX’s lack of road experience.
“I was eventually won over by the color mixing ability and Matt’s insistence that I wouldn’t be disappointed. He was right. They are a phenomenal fixture. Their size, ease to program, color mixing, intense brightness and the fact I don’t need a media sever all contributed to them being a perfect fit for this tour.
“I always wanted some sort of ‘video’ on this tour. Turns out that super low-res, mostly lighting-based ‘video’ was the perfect solution.”
Lechterman used a total of 28 CUEPIX Panels on the stage, arranged in 7 columns of 4 each. The panels were hung from curved truss, alternating heights to create a “wall” upstage behind the band. They floated about 3’ off the deck and maxed out at about 19’.
“In many ways, the panels were the core of the design,” said Lechterman. “Because of their speed – no dimmer delay – and color mixing, I could do pretty much whatever I wanted with them. Sometimes I had moving images playing across them, sometimes there were linear chases, sometimes fire-fly-like random pixels pulsed around, and sometimes the whole thing cranked up into a strobing, pulsing blaze.”
The panels, which feature integrated rigging points, have been very road-friendly too, according to Lechterman. “The coffin key method of locking the panels together is rather painless, and even rattling around on our set carts they seemed unfazed,” he reports. “Programming was a breeze.
“Everyone – band, our staff, local staff, fans – noticed the panels and was impressed. Artistically, everyone appreciated how different they look from a traditional video wall, and how many diverse ways they can be used. Everyone on the production side was grateful for how easy they were to load-in/load-out and how reliable they have been.”
Dan Efros was Media Content Creator for the ALT-J tour. Victor Zeiser served as Programmer. Steven Taverner of East City Management is ALT-J’s manager, and Sarah Moir is the band’s Tour Manager.
Posted by Julie Clark on 10/10 at 01:56 PM
Joan Baez Tour Of Australia, New Zealand Utilizes DPA Microphones
Folk musician uses d:vote 4099 instrument mics to highlight instrumental portions of her music
American folk singer/songwriter Joan Baez recently went on the road in Australia and New Zealand with DPA Microphones d:vote 4099 instrument microphones.
The musician’s audio engineer Jason Raboin uses the mics to for the sound of the grand piano, mandolin and violin that are prominently featured in her music. He also brought them with him to Baez’s special performance in late July with Jackson Browne and Emmylou Harris to benefit Downtown Streets Team, an organization aiming to end homelessness.
With two d:votes originally purchased for Dirk Powell—a multi-instrumentalist in Baez’s band who wanted free range of movement while playing his guitar, violin (fiddle) or mandolin—Baez’s rig now features a total of four d:vote mics. With the ability to mount the wireless microphone directly onto the instrument, Powell can perform with the gusto of a typical fiddle or mandolin player.
“Dirk’s request sent me on a hunt for a mic system that not only does what he wanted, but also sounds good and is useable in monitors,” says Raboin. “The d:vote 4099s were a clear choice. Since the mic mounts right onto the flat surface of the string instruments, I was initially worried that gain and monitors would be an issue, but the microphone has been really great.
“We are able to get plenty of gain. Sometimes Dirk plays fiddle right in front of the monitors and we’re fine. I think that’s something that every engineer worries about, not getting gain in your monitors if you use a condenser mic, but that’s definitely not the case with the d:votes.”
After the success of the d:votes with the string instruments, Raboin chose to add to the collection with a stereo pair for Baez’s grand piano. “Another thing that’s great about the d:votes is that when I’m using them for the piano, I can arrange the mics so the piano can be played with the lid closed,” he explains. “People usually come up with all sorts of whacky solutions to accomplish this, but DPA has a mount that lets me affix the mics without any harm to even the most expensive instrument. And they still sound just as good. That was actually also one of the main selling points for Dirk.”
The small size of the d:votes play an integral part in this arrangement. The compact size also proved a valuable feature during Baez’s Australian tour, for which the crew flew, rather than drove, to each stop. To meet the travel budget, Raboin had to pack only the audio essentials into a few pelican cases. Each could not exceed the 50 pound weight limit set by today’s travel standards, and it is for this reason that the miniature microphones were helpful.
“The d:votes are so tiny, they barely take up any space or weight,” continues Raboin. “Also, while the mics are more expensive than the average condenser mic on the market, when you think about it in terms of return on investment—how many different places they can go, and so easily, because of their modularity and all the mounting options—it ultimately makes them less expensive than other solutions.”
In addition to all of Baez’s performances, Raboin also uses d:votes when he’s engineering for folk singer Judy Collins. A sound engineer for more than 15 years, Raboin has worked with artists such as Modest Mouse, Luna, Cowboy Junkies and Devendra Banhart. He also currently owns Camden Sounds, a sound company based in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
In Profile: TC Furlong, Always Seeking A Better Way
Respect for the music, for the audience and for musicians
Based just north of Chicago in Lake Forest, IL, TC Furlong Inc. is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, marking the occasion in various ways that all relate to the company’s long-time slogan: “Better Audio By Design.” Although they serve clients throughout the U.S. and occasionally Canada, the primary focus remains on regional business, founder and president TC Furlong emphasizes.
“We think renting locally and regionally is still a good thing because of our ability to provide high level service, particularly if someone needs something last minute,” he states. “It’s about respect. You respect your client by giving them good service and being responsive. That’s why we have a rule that everyone gets called back in five minutes, no matter what.
“And because the curtain doesn’t come up during regular business hours, we have a 24/7 Emergency Audio Response (EAR) service,” he continues. “It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, we’ll dispatch somebody to help. There are always opportunities to offer better service and always a better way to do something and we’re always digging in to find a better way to do audio.”
In fact, finding a better way to do things has long been a preoccupation for Furlong, one that informed his passion for both music and audio from the outset.
A Good Experience
Born in Cincinnati, Furlong moved to Illinois at age nine – about the time he first picked up the guitar. “I never really studied formally, but I was always learning how to play better.” His initial experiments with loudspeakers were also somewhat informal. “In fifth grade I was taking radios apart, putting the speakers in different enclosures and experimenting with every kind of loudspeaker I could. I’d seen The Beatles on TV and got into music, but I was always fascinated with loudspeakers, because that’s the link between performer and audience.”
At a time when live concert audio was a blend of musician’s amplifiers and acoustic drums, supplemented by reinforcement of vocals and quieter instruments, he adds: “How to get that blend and provide the audience with a good experience really intrigued me.”
That led him to indulge his twin passions in equal measure. In 1973, at age 18, Furlong rented an industrial space in Highland Park, IL and started Steamer Sound. Around the same time, he adds, he fell in love with the steel guitar. “During the day I’d run the business and build speakers. At night, I’d gig. I worked a lot,” he notes, laughing, “but it allowed me to understand the artist’s side of the equation and fold that into what the company provided.”
Originally, Steamer Sound was purely a manufacturer that built and sold loudspeakers integrated with protective road cases called Steamer Cabinets. The chief designer was Tom Danley, Furlong says. “I always mention Tom because he’s gone on to great notoriety and still lives a few miles from me.”
Originally, he hadn’t intended to offer rentals, but soon began to do so in order to meet client demand. “But quantity wasn’t our focus – we’d build a certain number of speaker boxes in order to be able to supply local events and concerts. Providing quality gear and having quality people work with us was the most important thing.”
As the business grew, Furlong remained active as both a musician and audio supplier, but as a member of Chicago based country-rock band Rio Grande and later The Jump in the Saddle Band, became so busy with music that he decided to shut down his commercial space and continue to build custom orders in his basement.
By the late 1970s, however, he abandoned building proprietary gear in favor of offering other manufacturer’s products to clients. Still, he was able to run the business from his property when not touring with the band, which had a major hit in 1983 with “The Curly Shuffle.”
Natural & Organic
While the band’s international notoriety was relatively short lived, they remain active to this day and Furlong is still in demand as a live and session player.
That said, in 1990 he cut down on touring to start a family with his wife, children’s author Mary Gauthier Furlong. “She’s a musician as well – a wonderful bass player and singer,” Furlong adds, “and we actually met when were hired for the same band.”
He characterizes the company’s growth since as natural and organic. “Our client list has grown 100 percent by referral. We’ll do a live rental for somebody, then become their go to sound person. Then they’ll say, ‘Can you help us find a solution for this?’ and we’ll say, ‘Yes, we’ll do our best’ and grow to meet their needs.”
Expansion of services was often a result of consciously expanding into areas underserved by others. “Theatre, corporate theatre, wireless microphones, loudspeaker alignment; those things weren’t available in our region,” he notes. “In 1989 we started getting into wireless microphones in a big way, made a sizable investment and tried to become as expert in that as we could.”
“Before I arrived,” adds general manager Jeff Cech, “the company was known for expertise in wireless microphones, and renting wireless systems and intercoms was and is a major part of our business, but earlier no one was doing it.”
A youthful TC Furlong with a Steamer Sound cabinet. (click to enlarge)
Growth was further fueled by Furlong’s ability to identify other emerging areas of business and apply the company’s expertise to creating better solutions for those markets specifically.
“When corporations started to embrace audio as part of their presentations, we were right there trying to do more elaborate designs than what a lot of A/V companies were doing,” Furlong says. “After we got into wireless microphones and corporate A/V we noticed there was an unfilled opportunity in Chicago for theatrical sound. We continue to do a lot of it, but all of these things naturally evolved out of each other.”
The company also began designing and commissioning systems, but the concentration continues to be on special events and maintaining long term, mutually beneficial partnerships. “We have clients who’ve been with us for 20 to 30 years, and we’ve built those relationships, slowly and carefully, by putting our efforts, not only into marketing to potential clients but into keeping the clients we have by providing a very high level of service.”
One of the milestones of the late 1990s was the development of a relationship with Meyer Sound that continues going strong to this day. While the company carries a wide range of other loudspeaker systems, Meyer is the primary brand.
Also during that time, the company began providing audio for television concert broadcasts for shows such as Soundstage on PBS, with Furlong mixing many of those shows.
He says that mixing and system alignment have always been an integral part of his personal contribution to the company’s work. “Sometimes the equipment is secondary. Sometimes the live mixer is secondary. It depends on the client, but often we’d get hired because they wanted me or one of our excellent engineers to mix.”
“Another milestone was TC foreseeing the importance of digital consoles in 2001-2002,” Cech states. “We bought early versions of a lot of different mixing consoles from many manufacturers, and developed the expertise in-house to rent, deploy and use them on shows. Today we have more consoles and more types of consoles than any other provider in the region.”
Cech did freelance work for the company for 15 years and also often rented equipment while managing Northwestern University’s Performing Arts Center before officially coming onboard 2000. “We call that era ‘the Garage Days’,” Cech says, referencing the warehouse Furlong built on his property that served as the company base through the 1980s and 90s.
With Cech signing on, Furlong was able to concentrate more fully on developing strategic partnerships and indulging his passion for system alignment, which, Cech says, “He has both a love and a gift for.” The subsequent move to the current facility was a catalyst for further growth, but Furlong’s desire to relocate had other motivations as well. “I just decided one day, when I saw 14 cars parked in my driveway, that it was time to move,” he says, laughing.
A “sound isolation helmet” circa 1974 that was designed, built, and deployed by the Steamer Sound team to isolate from the main system in order to mix on headphones for a live radio broadcast. Note the built-in “life support system” – boxer fans that would draw fresh air through the helmet to prevent suffocation and heat exhaustion.
Since, the company has continued to work with long-term clients like Willow Creek Community Church and Northwestern University – for whom they’ve provided audio for commencement ceremonies for 20 years in addition to serving the needs of the university’s athletic, performing arts, radio, television and film departments.
Fitting his mantra to provide complete, appropriate solutions without fail is a commitment to education. This drives the company to host monthly events aimed at educating clients and potential clients about everything from the operation of digital consoles to RF coordination and system alignment
It’s a way of giving back, Furlong notes, which is something that also drove his creation of an entirely separate company, TC Furlong Custom, and the development of the TC Furlong Custom Split, a recent product but one he began developing way back when he was building Steamer Cabinets.
“The Split is my effort to give something back to the steel guitar community – a way to get the fantastic sound of tubes from a really lightweight amp,” he says. “As musicians get older they don’t want to carry heavy equipment, so if I can provide an amplifier that’s light but still provides big sound, I think I can help people continue to be inspired to make music. And being able to contribute to a musician being inspired to play – either more often or longer – that’s an honor.”
For Furlong, Cech and the entire company, the most important part of the equation comes back to respect. “Respect for the music, for the audience and for musicians. Most people working here are musicians. We often say that if you’re not a musician you should start taking lessons if you want to mix live sound. If you have experience as a musician, you understand the position of the person on stage whether they’re a performer or presenter, and that’s something I think we’re known for.
“When we meet someone – an artist, a technician or a client – our first question is, ‘How can we help you have a better day?’ It’s been that way from day one. Anybody can provide equipment; it’s the way you implement that equipment and the attitude you have that makes for a successful event.”
Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.
Adamson E15s Support China’s Inter City Music Festival In Qingdao
Adamson Systems Engineering's distributor in China and Hong Kong, Real Music Acoustics & Lighting, supplied an Energia E15 line array system for the two-day festival.
Pilot Record’s Inter City Music Festival recently took place at the Golden Sands Beach in the Huangdao district of Qingdao, China.
Many of record label’s acts performed including Reflector, Zheng Jun, CMCB, Twisted Machine and headliner Miserable Faith.
Real Music Acoustics & Lighting Technology Co. Ltd., Adamson Systems Engineering’s distributor in China and Hong Kong, supplied an Energia E15 line array system for the two-day festival.
“The record labels artists represent many different genres of music,” explains Richie Wang, GM for Real Music Acoustics & Lighting. “We provided a substantial Adamson E15 PA in order to accommodate their heavy metals bands as well as pop and folk music acts.”
The E15 line arrays – 12 enclosures per array – were hung from scaffolding erected to the right and left of the stage. Under each array were a stack of six T21 subwoofers sandwiched between double stacks on each side—a total of 10 subs per side.
Stage monitoring was serviced by two M212 low profile monitors while frontfill was provided by eight M15 placed equidistant along the lip of the stage.
“The system really sounded fantastic,” Wang adds. “No matter who was playing, the sound quality was unmistakable. The Pilot Record management team were extremely impressed.”
Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival Deploys Outline GTO
The White Stage was equipped with an Outline large-format line-source rig: 24 GTO elements, 2 GTO-DF (Down-Fill) and 18 ground-installed DBS 18-2 subwoofers.
Japan’s 2013 Fuji Rock Festival utilized 24 Outline GTO line array modules on the White Stage. of the world’s most important: there were 24 GTO at the White Stage of the 2013 Fuji Rock Festival.
Since it’s inception in 1997, Fuji Rock has been a start-studded event. Weezer, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Massive Attack, Prodigy, Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers have all graced the stages of the Festival. The 2013 event attracted more than 100,000 fans.
The 2013 edition featured performances by top names on the Japanese and international alternative rock and electronic scenes including Bjork, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Vampire Weekend, XX, Skrillex and Tame Impala.
The White Stage was equipped with an Outline large-format line-source rig: 24 GTO elements, 2 GTO-DF (Down-Fill) and 18 ground-installed DBS 18-2 subwoofers.
Masaaki Azuma - pro audio veteran and sound engineer at the event - is the owner of well-known Japanese rental company Try Audio, which was responsible for the Fuji Rock project. The company’s equipment stock already includes forty-eight Butterfly systems, eighteen Mantas and thirty-six Subtech 218, with relative Outline T Series power amplifiers.
Azuma states, “Before purchasing Outline’s large-format system, I had the opportunity of testing it personally at several large concerts in Asian stadia with famous bands from both east and west. Thanks to the enormous dynamic range, I realized that - as well as Rock - the system can easily handle the nuances of any genre, including orchestral music”.
He concludes, “Its intelligibility is unrivalled at astonishing distances: what I heard at Fuji Rock during the mix confirms the objectivity of Outline’s claims regarding the long-throw performance of this ‘contraption’. I’m really impressed.”
“The presence of GTO in Japan, the super-technological Far East nation, is an important strategic ‘tessera’ in our expansion plans”, commented Giorgio Biffi, CEO Outline.
“As is already the case in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, and elsewhere soon, from now on it will be easier to meet the numerous requests for our products – regularly included on riders – in that part of the world, which has such a dynamic live sound reinforcement sector. Welcome to the Outline family, Try Audio!”
Røde Microphones Makes Major Donation To Sydney Festival Anniversary Fund
Røde Microphones founder and president, Peter Freedman, has made a substantial donation that will form the founding capital of a Sydney Festival Anniversary Fund.
Røde Microphones founder and president, Peter Freedman, has made a substantial donation that will form the founding capital of a Sydney Festival Anniversary Fund.
The fund is set up to support performing arts projects at the annual Sydney Festival from its 2016 anniversary edition onwards, with a special focus on, but not limited to, international collaborations and the creation of opportunities for artists under the age of forty.
Freedman and the Sydney Festival encourage other philanthropists to match his donation and become fellow founding donors.
Swedish-born Freedman emigrated to Australia as a child in 1966. His parents, Henry and Astrid Freedman, started Freedman Electronics, the first professional sound equipment company in Australia offering high-end European equipment.
Freedman successfully turned their business into Røde Microphones, now one of the world’s leading manufacturers of microphones, proudly manufacturing their specialist products in Silverwater..
The Company, managed by Freedman and his wife Lou Freedman, has since diversified into other professional audio equipment including iPhone mics, apps, sound for video and loudspeaker manufacturing.
“I am really proud to be supporting Sydney Festival because it brings together two of my passions: the joy of Sydney in summer, and exciting performances from local and international artists,” Freedman explains. “Sydney has been fantastic to me and my family, and at Røde we are always inspired by the performers who use our products. This is an opportunity to give back to my city, and support the Sydney Festival as it reaches new heights.”
This donation marks the start of Sydney Festival’s preparations for what promises to be exciting celebrations in 2016. Festival Director, Lieven Bertels, whose contract was recently extended to include this landmark Festival edition, is excited about this donation:
“With a background in music recording and production myself, I am quite a passionate collector of new and vintage microphones, so I knew and admired Peter and his company before I moved to Sydney,” Bertels adds. “Knowing what it feels like to move to Australia from abroad, Peter was one of the first NSW business leaders to personally welcome me to Sydney.
“Last year, Røde Microphones came on board as a sponsor for a fun concert with Indonesian grunge rock band Navicula, and I am grateful Peter has decided to make this new substantial personal contribution to Sydney Festival.
“We promise to develop this Fund and align it to his passion for innovation and international collaboration. It is wonderful to have business leaders such as Peter who are passionate about performing arts and entertainment.”
Sydney Festival, Australia’s foremost summer festival, is proud to be a leader in its approach to corporate partnerships and philanthropy, and this pledge allows the Festival to start preparing for its 40th anniversary.
Freedman’s donation was pledged at a small function hosted by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of NSW and patron of Sydney Festival.
Head of Development Malcolm Moir commented: “We are delighted to welcome Peter to our important circle of private supporters of Sydney Festival and encourage others to support one of Sydney’s most loved celebrations - a festival that reflects the depth and breadth of the city it celebrates each year. There is nowhere better to be than Sydney in January!”
Sydney Festival 2014 will be held from 9 to 26 January across greater Sydney.
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Two Meyer Sound Rental Houses Join Forces For Metallica’s Malaysian Debut
EHQ Projects and SES Sound & Lighting create 146-loudspeaker system based on MILO line arrays
Two of Malaysia’s leading rental companies came together this summer to ensure Metallica’s first-ever concert in the country would be a memorable event. By merging their Meyer Sound inventories, Kuala Lumpur-based EHQ Projects and Selangor-based SES Sound & Lighting created a huge 146-loudspeaker system based around MILO line array loudspeakers.
“There were no delays, but the sound was clear and very loud even 100 meters back from the stage,” recalls Jay Neil, technical director of EHQ Projects. “Afterwards, I had people telling me it sounded like a CD on a great stereo.”
In order to cover an audience of 30,000 in Kuala Lumpur’s Stadium Merdeka, the two companies configured a system of 72 MILO loudspeakers, including 40 for main hangs, 30 for side hangs, and two for out fills. Front fill was provided by 12 M’elodie line array loudspeakers, and 40 700-HP subwoofers provided ample low end.
System drive and alignment was supplied by a Galileo loudspeaker management system with two Galileo 616 processors. Dual side fill arrays featuring five-each MILO loudspeakers over two-each 700-HP subwoofers combined with 26 MJF-212A stage monitors to provide on-stage foldback.
FOH mixing duties were handled by “Big Mick” Hughes, Metallica’s long-time engineer. Monitor engineer Bob Cowan and assistant monitor engineer Adam Correia handled the band’s on-stage mix.
“After the show, the media reported that it was the first time they’d head really great sound at an outdoor rock concert in Malaysia,” says Neil. “Big Mick deserves a great deal of credit for mixing Metallica as only he can.”
Andrew Warren, managing director for EHQ Projects, worked closely with Neil, while Frankie Lau, Marcus Koay, and Frando Ho coordinated logistics for SES Sound & Lighting under the supervision of managing director S.T. Ho.
“Metallica was the show of a lifetime,” says Neil. “We want to thank SES for coming on board as a partner to make it a great success.”
Metallica’s Malaysian appearance was produced and organized by Galaxy Group, in association with LAMC Productions and Rockstar Touring.
Antelope Audio Clocking Plays Key Role In Systems For Rihanna “Diamonds World Tour”
Clocking for playback for synchronization, lighting, MIDI, sound effects and vocals
Already well into its U.S. leg, Rihanna’s “Diamonds World Tour” features several performances in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, and at the core of the production system is Antelope Audio, whose products facilitate clocking for the entire rig, including playback for synchronization, lighting, MIDI, sound effects and vocals.
“This is the best sounding tour I’ve ever been a part of and we’ve been running really hard,” says Demetrius Henry, playback engineer for the Diamonds World Tour. “We didn’t think we could get our playback rig to sound any better, but the Orion32 interface has taken things to another level —the difference was like night and day.”
Currently, the tour is running two Antelope Audio Orion32s and a 10M atomic clock on playback, in addition to a Trinity | 10M combination at front of house (FOH). The Trinity | 10M combination is a favored selection among top mastering engineers, and serves as the primary clocking duo for the entire production.
In addition to playback and FOH, there are two Antelope Audio Zodiac+ converters being used in conjunction with the keyboard rig on stage, providing artifact free, high-resolution audio for the duration of each performance.
The playback rig for the Diamonds World Tour includes two Antelope Audio Orion32 interfaces and a 10M atomic clock.
Kenny Scharetts, keyboard technician for the Diamonds World Tour, appreciates the piece of mind that comes with using the Zodiacs: “We have the Zodiacs racked up directly beneath the keyboards and they are so compact and rock solid. When I turn them on, I know they are going to be there for me — it is a dream to have this kind of stability and reliability.”
Before hitting the road, the production crew put all of the equipment through its paces with several rehearsals, including two full dress rehearsals in Buffalo with a full PA before hitting the road.
At front of house on Rihanna’s Diamonds World Tour, an Antelope Audio Trinity | 10M handles clocking for the overall production.
“Every department was able to get a full testing of their gear to make sure it was show ready,” says Kyle Hamilton, FOH engineer for the Diamonds World Tour. “From the beginning, the Antelope gear has been running smoothly.”
The tour is large-scle in both musical content and technical scope. With a runtime of 97 minutes and a total of 36 songs, including interludes, the production team is running about 115 inputs in total.
With such an extensive rig, the production team decided to take a holistic approach and clock the entire rig using Antelope, in addition to using its premium quality converters across nearly every part of the audio system.
“Sonic changes don’t just occur at the console,” observes Hamilton. “It also has to do with the converters that are used throughout the system, in addition to the clocking. Also, it would not make any sense to have just one aspect of the system clocked — clocking the entire rig with Antelope gives us a consistently high quality result.”
An Antelope Audio Zodiac converter sits beneath the keyboard rig onstage.
On the Diamonds World Tour, the production team is focused on not just quality, but efficiency too. “Rack space is a precious commodity out here on the road — it’s like real estate: you only have so much land.” says Henry. “The fact that we are able to fit 32 channels of I/O on the Orion32 is a dream come true.” At playback, two Antelope Orion32s and a 10M are run through a pair of Apple MacBook Pros, which Henry says are lightning fast.
With a rock solid production team and reliable, great sounding equipment in place, FOH engineer Kyle Hamilton couldn’t be happier with the results they are achieving night after night. “It is immensely satisfying for us to be setting new standards in the quality of our live sound productions,” he says. “Every time we plug in another Antelope device, everything goes up a notch.”
Cerwin-Vega! Loudspeakers Boost Audio At Hollywood Music Venue
The Cerwin-Vega! setup at AMPLYFi features two P-Series stacks, which each include a P1500X two-way, bi-amped, full-range bass-reflex speaker and a P1800SX powered subwoofer.
Popular Hollywood music venue AMPLYFi recently upgraded to the new P-Series Professional PA system and CVA Active Series Speakers from Cerwin-Vega!.
Though the all-ages nightclub has always had a reputation for unfaltering, high-quality sound, when owner Kota Wade first heard the P-Series system, she decided to make the switch to the Cerwin-Vega! System.
The Cerwin-Vega! setup at AMPLYFi features two P-Series stacks, which each include a P1500X two-way, bi-amped, full-range bass-reflex speaker and a P1800SX powered subwoofer.
Equipped with a large woofer and amplifier, each P1800SX offers high-level bass punch with extreme low-end response. The hemi-conical horn of the P1500X gives the venue enhanced sound clarity over an even and wide coverage area.
“Changing the entire sound system was a huge decision for me,” says Wade, who is also a musician and AMPLYFi’s FOH engineer. “I was just so stunned with the clarity I heard from the P-Series and CVA at every volume level, even when I ran it through multiple music genres. That was when I knew I had to make the switch.”
Rounding out the audio setup at AMPLYFi are several Cerwin-Vega! CVA-28s, two of which are strategically facing the audience at center fill, and four being used as sound monitors.
Primarily a live music venue, AMPLYFi is home to Wade’s two bands—Girl Radical, managed by ‘N Sync’s JC Chasez, and Bad Wolf, an alternative rock band – as well as several renowned artists, such as Echosmith, The Maine, the Brobecks, the Bolts.
The 800-square-foot space features music of varying styles, including ambient, electronic and rock, and groups of all sizes, from acoustic outfits to big bands, which is why Wade especially loves Cerwin-Vega!’s sound control.
“When I decided to make the switch to the P-Series and CVA, I didn’t just change my gear, I changed my setup,” adds Wade. “I included subwoofers, which I had never used in this space before, because I felt safe knowing that the P-Series allows me to have total control over the sound, which is very important in a room this size.
“People of all ages can stand less than a foot away from the speakers when a band is playing, and I know that I won’t blow out their ears because I can control the sound levels.”
The Cerwin-Vega! P-Series delivers a new standard in power and bass punch and is suited for any sound reinforcement application, from live performances to public speeches.
The P1500X speaker employs a 15-inch woofer and high-frequency compression driver, powered by a custom 1500W Class-D amp.
The P1800SX powered subwoofer features an 18-inch woofer with a custom 2000W Class-D amp.
Both pieces include a built-in mixer with I/O connections, allowing for simple and fast setup, while enhanced EQ, VEGA BASS boost and high-pass filters enable exact tuning and exceptional performance for any event.
Situated in the heart of Hollywood, AMPLYFi is an all ages live music venue. Over 1,500 bands have graced the club’s stage since its opening, with many more scheduled to perform in the upcoming months.
L-Acoustics And Robbie Williams Take The Crown
The full equipment inventory for the Robbie William's tour included a full complement of L-Acoustics gear.
Robbie Williams’ “Take the Crown” European stadium tour, his first solo tour for seven years, kicked off on June 14 of this year, taking in 11 countries across June, July and August.
Sherif el Barbari, Audio System Designer and System Engineer for Robbie Williams, designed and specified the entire PA system around the requirements of the tour. Britannia Row, who had already serviced Robbie Williams’ tours for almost two decades, supplied the all of the audio equipment for the tour.
The full equipment inventory included a full complement of L-Acoustics gear including 64 K1, 32 K1-SB, 44 SB28, 24 V-DOSC, 240 KUDO, 24 KARA, 12 ARCS II and 150 LA8 amplifiers.
According to Joshua Lloyd, Brit Row’s PA Crew Chief, “K1 is one of, if not the best, systems in the market currently.” It was deployed in full for this special tour.
To match the video screen backdrop and extensive gold stage scenery and design, the K1, K1-SB and ARCS II enclosures were all customized with gold grills.
“How could the K1 grills be any other color than gold?” el Barbari asked. “This top of the pops high end sound reinforcement system deserves no less than a gold finish. Everyone was extremely satisfied with the looks and I’m not alone in saying that finish is just the perfect match.”
A flown ring delay system was also deployed in the stadiums where the roof structure allowed the system to be hung, dramatically improving the quality of sound right to the back of the stadium audiences.
The largest deployment of ring delays was at Wembley Stadium, London.
“126 KUDO were used to cover the upper bowl, distributed into 14 hangs of nine cabinets,” el Barbari explains. “The selective horizontal coverage of the KUDO made it the perfect choice to minimize triangulation time path problems when using multiple sources, which overlap in coverage.
“The 50-degree horizontal K-LOUVER setting was used wherever possible to overcome these problems. We received high praise for the sound quality in the upper bowl in each stadium where we used the ring delay system, especially notable in the Wembley Stadium in London.”
Lloyd agrees, “The ring delay system made a huge difference in the large stadiums where every seat in the house got the best coverage we could achieve. It provides a very different experience going to the back of a stadium and having that vocal in your face. Overall, it meant that everyone had great audio and felt involved in the show as they could hear every word.”
Visiting 11 different countries with such a big production poses challenges even for the most experienced of system engineers. Thanks to the help of L-Acoustics’ SOUNDVISION software, these challenges could be predicted and resolved ahead of set up at each venue.
As el Barbari noted, “The extensive simulations that I was able to do beforehand in SOUNDVISION proved once again to be the most powerful tool to cope with the time limitations one faces in such a big stadium production when it comes to aligning a system comprising of more than 36 arrays and clusters.
“Without it, I can’t think of how we would have been able to run our first show of the tour in the Dublin Aviva stadium where we had a tight noise window of only two one-hour sessions over two days to align and tune the PA system in a challenging environment.”
Lloyd concurred noting that “the reviews were all good and everyone from the musical director to production seemed very pleased with the results.”
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of the Britannia Row Audio Crew,” el Barbari concludes. “They have worked hard to make it all happen. Their efforts and determination are highly appreciated and I will be looking forward to a new challenge to master with such a talented and professional crew.”