Monday, May 05, 2014
Road Test: 10EaZy From SG Audio
Evaluating an innovative new SPL measurement platform, distributed in the U.S. by the "Smaart" folks at Rational Acoustics...
If you need a class compliant sound pressure level (SPL) monitoring and logging system or just want a great way to keep track of SPL at gigs—keep reading. SG Audio of Denmark has developed an SPL measurement system called 10EaZy, and the folks at their exclusive U.S. distributor, Rational Acoustics, were “Smaart” enough (see what I did there) to send me a system for review.
SG Audio offers measurement systems designed to meet the needs of those who require IEC/ANSI Class 1 or Class 2 compliance, as well as a basic system for those that do not require compliance but still want a full-featured logging SPL rig.
This is a particularly timely series of new products because, increasingly, venues and municipalities are establishing SPL limits for concerts, events, and businesses (think manufacturing). Handheld portable meters, laptops with measurement software, and certain smart phone apps can do basic SPL measurements, but they may not be entirely accurate.
Also, most of these options don’t offer a means to log the data over time or offer the user an easy way to archive any data. To get reliable results, especially if you need to be compliant with local codes or laws, higher quality equipment is required, and further, the entire measurement chain should be properly calibrated.
A 10EaZy Class 2 system.
10EaZy offers a turnkey solution by providing tamperproof hardware and a measurement microphone that are calibrated as IEC/ANSI compliant, combined with easy-to-use software that offers a host of features. Systems are available in four versions: Class 1 compliant, Class 2 compliant, RT (Class 2 compliant with a reduced feature set), and SW (a software- and dongle-only system that requires users to provide their own quality measurement microphone, I-O, and calibrator).
The differences are as follows. Class 1 and Class 2 systems offer all the same software features but are tailored to the different classification of measurement specifications. RT and SW, the reduced feature-set versions, do not offer a running order, an event log, or a minute-by-minute resolution logfile for post processing of measurement results. However, they do provide a file, listing a compilation of key measurement results. And given the variability of the hardware that can be used with the SW dongle, measurements made using the SW version cannot be guaranteed IEC/ANSI compliant by the manufacturer.
Specifically, Rational Acoustics supplied me with a 10EaZy Class 2 system. It consists of a small (approximately 4.2 x .5 inches) measurement mic that comes with a nice, compact aluminum storage case, a 15-foot BNC-to-BNC mic cable, a tamper-proof plastic interface box (compact at approximately 5 x 3 x 1 inches), a 6-foot USB cable, and the software.
I noticed that the measurement mic wouldn’t fit any mic stand I owned, but I took another look in the box and discovered an Audix McMicro clip with a 3/8 - 5/8 threaded adaptor. Rational Acoustics also offers an upgrade kit for the Class 2 & RT systems which includes a sturdier mic clip with a 3/8 - 5/8 thread adaptor, a special 1/2-inch bushing to securely hold the 10EaZy mic, and a windscreen.
The next thing that caught my eye was that the mic sported a BNC connector instead of XLR connectors that I usually deal with. The cable that ships with the unit is 75 ohms, high-resolution/low-loss, and of very high quality. At 15 feet long it may be a little short for some uses but in my shop and at the gigs where I used 10EaZy, I was within feet of my laptop, so it wasn’t an issue. Per the manufacturer, a cable length up to about 250 feet can be used without a problem, if properly isolated.
Right out of the box, installation is straightforward. A CD is provided that will work with Windows systems XP and above, and with just a few clicks, the software is installed. The software then prompted me to plug in the hardware, and the system was all set.
To begin measuring, I simply set a destination for the log file and gave it a name. If you have a known target Leq limit and time period for the session (for example, 103 dBA for 3 hours), you can enter this upon start up. The software is very intuitive and easy to use.
Within a few minutes I was confident that the system was working correctly and started to do some testing, comparing 10EaZy’s readings to my usual handheld SPL meters (a mid-priced professional measurement unit) as well as a few SPL apps on my iPhone.
Using a steady 1 kHz tone, I compared my trusty meter to the readings of 10EaZy, and was pleased to find that it was within .5 dB of the laptop display. My iPad apps didn’t fare as well. One was off by 1 dB, while another was off by about 2.5 dB (To be fair, that’s still pretty good for a free app using a built-in mic on a mobile phone).
Next, I used 10EaZy to help check out some new powered loudspeakers that were just shipped to our shop. I ran a variety of tones through my signal generator into a Mackie 1604VLZ4 mixer and then into the loudspeakers, checking to see if any unit varied widely from the others. Happily, all were in proper working order, so it was time to crank up the music and see what the loudspeakers, as well as 10EaZy, could do.
10EaZy dedicated USB interface.
The display is very easy to read, large green letters against a black background. There are four buttons on the screen: Event Log allows you to add a time stamp with a simple click to the log; Running Order lets you add band names, playing times and duration to the log; History shows what’s been happening since the measurement session started, and it also allows you to change the plot and look to a variety of styles and colors; and finally, Full Screen toggles between normal and full screen views.
The MaM (Maximum Average Manager) is particularly interesting. This display shows you how much above or below you are from your target SPL over time, in 1 dB increments. What this means for a festival, for example, is that if one band engineer runs their entire set 4 dB above the target level, they effectively use up available loudness for the duration of the Leq. Other acts would have to run lower in level to even out the Leq and get back to your target level.
A closer look at a 10EaZy screen.
I took the system out to several gigs and basically used it the same way every time, setting up the mic and laptop at FOH and then using 10EaZy as a reference for the overall show volume. I found I could also run the program in the background and it would still log what was happening, and I could also run a music playback program at the same time. Nice.
The 10EaZy feature set is plentiful. Right now, with much of my present work focused on corporate shows/events, I’m rarely encountering (at least as of yet) the need for sophisticated SPL metering or logging, but for those working in the touring and festival sector (where they’ll be encountering increasing SPL restrictions), this is a great system to have in the toolbox. It’s also perfect for venues needing to comply with local noise ordinances.
The display is easy to read, and the logging will come in handy when a neighbor complains about the noise level. And because it’s a calibrated system, the data will stand up to governmental and organizational scrutiny.
U.S. MSRP: 10 EaZy Class 1 system—$2,793; Class 2 system—$2,360; RT system—$1,742; SW software dongle—$299; Class 1/RT system clamp & windscreen upgrade kit—$50.
For more information about 10EaZy, including in-depth descriptions of class compliance and the various 10EaZy systems, check out the U.S. 10EaZy website at 10eazy.us. And to purchase 10EaZy, go here.
To comment on this review and/or ask Craig questions, go to the PSW Road Test Forum.
Senior contributing editor Craig Leerman is the owner of Tech Works, a production company based in Las Vegas, and he’s also the moderator of the Road Test Forum here on PSW.
PreSonus Unveils New Monitor Station V2 Desktop Studio Monitor & Source Controller
Provides easy desktop management of multiple audio sources and up to three sets of monitors
PreSonus has introducerd the new Monitor Station V2, a major redesign of its desktop studio monitor control center, easy desktop management of multiple audio sources and up to three sets of monitor loudspeakers.
Monitor Station V2, which is shipping, provides a S/PDIF digital input and has a more ergonomic, intuitive layout than the original Monitor Station.
Features include four stereo inputs-two pairs of balanced 1/4-inch TRS and one pair of unbalanced RCA Aux inputs with gain control-managed with a source-select switch. A 1/8-inch TRS unbalanced input is summed with the RCA Aux inputs.
The S/PDIF stereo input supports 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz digital audio; a button switches between the Aux and S/PDIF inputs.
Three left/right pairs of balanced, 1/4-inch TRS speaker outputs and a Speaker Select switch enables the A/B comparing of audio through up to three sets of reference monitors. A variable, rear-panel control enables fine-tuned calibration of loudspeaker-output levels.
Outputs include left/right pair of balanced 1/4-inch TRS Main outs, left and right balanced 1/4-inch TRS Cue outputs with level control, and four 1/4-inch TRS stereo headphone outputs, each with a Main/Cue source selector and individual output-level control.
Monitor Station V2’s built-in talkback microphone offers variable input gain and is activated with a Talk button. An eight-segment, three-color LED meter indicates left and right levels. Other features include a Dim button with variable attenuation level, Mono and Mute buttons, and an external DC power supply and rocker power switch.
The Monitor Station V2 is available immediately with an expected U.S. MAP/street price of $299.
Friday, May 02, 2014
DiGiCo SD10T Console Playing Huge Role In Production Of “Here Lies Love”
Digital console developed specifically for intricate theatrical applications deployed by Masque Sound
Here Lies Love, which officially re-opened May 1 at Public Theater’s LuEsther Hall on New York City’s Off-Broadway circuit, tells the story of Imelda Marcos, the widow of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marco, in song with lyrics by Talking Heads founder David Byrne and music by both Byrne and Norman Cook, a.k.a. DJ Fatboy Slim.
The production was born as a music recording with performances by artists including Cyndi Lauper, Tori Amos and Allison Moorer, and the music propels the narrative as the cast moves from one end of the theater to the other, with dozens of loudspeakers in a complex sound system design keeping the audio in phase and in focus.
Holding it all together in the re-launched production are the signal management capabilities and sonic quality of the DiGiCo SD10T—the “SD Ten Theatre”—a digital console developed specifically for intricate theatrical applications. Supplied by Masque Sound, the console is one of three new SD10T desks recently purchased by the East Rutherford, NJ-based theatrical technology vendor—the other two being used on Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman’s Harmony in L.A. and the touring production of the ABBA-soundtracked musical Mamma Mia!
“This is really an incredible production, visually,” says Cody Spencer, who serves as co-sound designer, along with M.L Dogg, for Here Lies Love. “But the sound is every bit as amazing.”
Spencer describes a multi-speaker sound system that spotlights sound around the performance space, keeping it with actors as they move from stages at either end of the room, yet evenly distributed across the audience. The audio is comprised of music stems used as backing for the vocals (taken from the original album that was pre-mixed by Fatboy Slim) and some vivid sound effects that inject nearly 110 dB of realism into the show, including an imagined version of the helicopter that whisked Marcos and her husband away from the Philippine capital as their reign came crashing down.
Working in conjunction with QLab 3 live show control software and DiGiCo’s UB MADI USB-to-MADI converter, which can add up to 48 channels of MADI-format digital I/O to a Mac or PC via USB, the SD10T allows Spencer to insert time delay functionality within the crosspoint matrix of the console’s router. This essentially lets the sound system be constantly adapted to the show’s performance as the actors change position through the space but without changing the overall level of the system.
“Imagine standing directly between two speakers in a room that are at the same volume, and you add delay to one speaker,” Spencer says, explaining the Precedence or Haas Effect. “The speaker without the delay is perceived as being louder even through the volume level on both speakers remains the same. Imagine that taking place across dozens of speakers as actors are moving all over the space, but you have the ability to add delay exactly where and when you need it. That’s what the SD10T brings to this show. The versatility and flexibility of the console’s matrix is the main reason we chose it. I can’t think of another console that has that kind of capability without having to use external processing.”
Spencer further says that the show’s FOH mixer, Craig Freeman, takes advantage of the SD10T’s ability to move any of its metering to its large overview screens. Due to the nature of the production, Freeman has to mix the show from what would be the monitor position in any other theater in order to keep track of levels visually.
Onboard processing includes 16 Dynamic EQ processors, all of which can be assigned to any of the input or output channels, plus 16 assignable multiband compressors and 16 assignable DiGiTuBes, DiGiCo’s tube emulation software, which Spencer says has become critical to the show’s sound quality, taking the edge off the brightness of the AIFF files the music tracks use. “DiGiTuBes really warms the tracks up,” he says.
Spencer, who has worked with renowned Broadway sound designer Brian Ronan on hit shows such as American Idiot, Beautiful and The Book of Mormon, says the DiGiCo SD10T console offered him an unprecedented level of control even as it provided exceptional sound quality. “I also have to credit Zac Jac Duax at Group One [DiGiCo’s U.S. distributor] for his help. He really got us comfortable with the console quickly. DiGiCo brought us a great console with excellent support. That’s what you want behind you on opening night and every night.”
Shure Adds Flush-Mount Discussion Units To DDS 5900 Line
Designed for meeting rooms and spaces where styling and performance are equally important
Shure has added new flush-mounted discussion units to its DDS 5900 Digital Discussion System that are designed for meeting rooms and spaces where styling and performance are equally important.
The DC 5900 F offers a modular design that provides numerous configuration options. The complete unit consists of a base unit, front plate, button overlay, gooseneck microphone, and an optional external loudspeaker.
By selecting different combinations of components, the system can be configured with the controls, loudspeaker placement, and alternate language selection capabilities that the installation requires.
The optional LS 5900 F loudspeaker module may be installed adjacent to the base/microphone unit to provide sound reinforcement of both the microphones in the system and external audio sources such as a presenter’s wireless microphone or audio from a videoconferencing system.
In rooms that utilize conventional wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted loudspeakers, the LS 5900 F loudspeaker can be deleted for an even more compact footprint.
“The DC 5900 F flush-mounted discussion unit combines sleek appearance and unparalleled ease of installation with the proven capabilities of the DDS 5900 Digital Discussion System,” says Stephen Kohler, senior director of marketing for the Americas Business Unit. “The flush mount design offers a cleaner appearance with no visible wiring and helps installers to reduce installation time and labor cost.”
The DC 5900 F is compatible with the GM 5923 (40 cm/16 in) and GM 5924 (50 cm/20 in) gooseneck microphones as well as microphones from the DCS 6000 series.
System designers can also choose Shure Microflex MX405RLP (13 cm/5 in), MX410RLP (25 cm/10 in), or MX415RLP (38 cm/15 in) gooseneck microphones, which attach to the DC 5900 F using the new AC 5901 XLR/Microflex adapter. The Microflex gooseneck microphones are available with an omnidirectional, cardioid, or supercardioid polar pattern.
“The Microflex adapter gives system designers expanded options to tailor audio performance to the room by selecting the polar pattern that is most appropriate in consideration of the room acoustics, table dimensions, and seating arrangement,” Kohler adds.
The DC 5900 F is the first conferencing unit on the market to use optical sensing to automatically configure the unit’s functionality. Byattaching the appropriate button overlay, the unit is automatically configured as either a Chairman or Delegate unit with a specific feature set. Sensors in the front plate detect which button overlay has been attached to the unit, which dictates how the unit operates.
The DC 5900 F is available through select Shure authorized dealers and Shure distribution centers worldwide.
U.S. MAP Pricing:
DDS 5900 F with interpretation (microphone not included)—$302
DDS 5900 F without interpretation (microphone not included)—$264
LS 5900 F loudspeaker—$45
Thursday, May 01, 2014
Engineer Paul Sandweiss Utilizing Focusrite RedNet 6 As System MADI-to-Dante Bridge
Interfaces Yamaha CL5 consoles with system for high-profile broadcast events, including the recent 86th Academy Awards
Broadcast mixer Paul Sandweiss (founder of Sound Design Corporation) is utilizing a Focusrite RedNet 6 MADI-to-Dante bridge to interface his Yamaha CL5 consoles with the rest of his systems on the road and in broadcast mixing situations.
RedNet, which utilizes Audinate Dante Ethernet audio networking, offers flexibility in a wide range of applications. So far, Sandweiss has used his system with the RedNet 6 units on the recent 86th Academy Awards (with long-time associate Biff Dawes mixing the music performances on the live broadcast), the BET Awards, the EMMYs, the American Music Awards, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 50th Anniversary Special, The BET Celebration of Gospel, and a recent Conan O’Brien broadcast from the road in Dallas.
His flight pack systems house a Yamaha CL5 console that works on the Dante network. To record from the CL5, signal is basically pushed through a RedNet 6, which converts Dante to MADI, which then feeds two Fairlight Xynergi recorders.
“I wanted something that easily converts Dante to MADI and MADI back to Dante, and that is exactly what the RedNet 6 does,” Sandweiss says. “It’s so convenient. They have a RedNet controller that talks to the RedNet 6, and it’s very easy to set up. It’s a very easy box to get up and running real quickly for what you need to do.
“It needs to be flawless in the signal back and forth, and it manages to do that very well,” he continues. “And aside from that, it has that classic cool red look, it’s only one rack unit and it’s priced right. What more can I say?”
Bill Whitlock Presenting “Effective Audio Grounding Design” In Chicagoland Next Week
Tutotial to focus on proper audio grounding techniques to keep systems quiet and problem-free
Jensen Transformers president Bill Whitlock is presenting “Effective Audio Grounding Design,” a tutorial focusing on proper audio grounding techniques to keep systems quiet and problem-free, at the upcoming Sound Marketing Tech Expo on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, IL, just outside of Chicago.
Specifically, Whitlock will present effective audio grounding and signal interface design to keep systems free from hum and buzz. “I firmly believe that the technical concepts in this class are best taught using analogies and intuition rather than complex mathematics,” he explains. “In my opinion, the audio business, especially the audiophile portion, is simply awash in misinformation and bad advice. Therefore, the remedial part of my task is to debunk myths perpetuated as ‘tradition’ among practitioners and as unintentional—but often self-serving—misinformation from manufacturers.”
Whitlock has served as president of Jensen Transformers for almost 25 years, and has also authored numerous technical papers and magazine articles as well as chapters in several books. He lectures at universities and industry trade shows and was named Technical Instructor of the Year by NSCA students in 2009 and 2010. And, he holds five patents and is a Life Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society and a Life Senior of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.
The expertise Whitlock shares has received accolades from those who have attended his previous presentations. Steve Roth of Michigan-based Roth Electric Sound states, “Even though I’ve been before and drove five hours to hear Bill, I may drive five more hours and go to Chicago to hear him again. I cannot recommend this heartily enough to everyone anywhere near Chicago. This is the absolute shiznit if you wish to understand this subject.”
The session is free of change. Find out more and RSVP here.
The Sound Marketing Tech Expo is also presenting several other technical sessions, including a focus on using digitally steered arrays for maximum speech intelligibility in acoustically challenging spaces, a discussion of differences between the various audio protocols (AVB, Dante, etc.) and design scenarios for each, and more.
RF Venue Releases RF Explorer RackPRO Spectrum Analysis Platform
Designed to manage and monitor any size wireless audio system from a USB-connected laptop or directly onboard a wireless equipment rack
Boston-based wireless audio manufacturer RF Venue has released the RF Explorer RackPRO, a unique hardware/software spectrum analysis platform designed to manage and monitor any size wireless audio system from a USB-connected laptop or directly onboard a wireless equipment rack.
The RackPRO is an easy to use, affordable RF spectrum analyzer in a standard 1RU housing with included RF coordination, monitoring, and management software.
“The ability to visualize, monitor and manage RF has never been more critical as the wireless spectrum becomes a more hostile and unpredictable place for wireless mics and IEMs,” says RF Venue CEO Chris Regan. “To date this capability has been limited to expensive test equipment and the expertise of trained RF system coordinators. We are thrilled to finally bring this capability to the broader wireless audio market in a system tailored for live production and installed sound.”
The RackPRO can provide a quick assessment of RF activity in standalone mode via an onboard LCD screen and front panel hardware controls, or connected via USB to a Windows or Mac computer for expanded functionality.
With the included Clear Waves software, users can see spectrum activity in their venue, calculate sets of intermodulation distortion-free frequencies, and export it all to PDF report files or to compatible Shure Wireless Workbench® and Professional Wireless Systems IAS file formats. Individual transmitter frequencies can also be labeled and monitored to catch dropouts or interference before they ruin a performance.
“Clear Waves strikes the right balance between ease-of-use and powerful functionality for Windows users. We will also soon be releasing a RackPRO compatible native application for Mac OSX,” continues Regan. “For our dealers and customers routinely frustrated by the unpredictable nature of wireless audio systems, the RackPRO will provide greater reliability and long overdue peace of mind.”
The RF Explorer RackPRO is now shipping and is priced at $849 MAP. For ordering information or to join the fast growing community of RF Venue dealers, go to www.RFVenue.com or call 1-800-795-0817.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
SurgeX International Merges With ESP/SurgeX
Brand's founders are carrying on in a consulting capacity with the North American company
SurgeX International (Blue Bell, PA) announces that it has merged its global interests with SurgeX North America, owned and operated by Electronic Systems Protection (ESP) of Knightdale, NC.
With all of SurgeX International’s intellectual property effectively now transferred over to ESP/SurgeX, the brand’s founders—senior principal Michael McCook, director of engineering Andy Benton, and operations manager Kevin Bromberger—are carrying on in a consulting capacity with the North American company.
The recent merger frees up McCook, Benton and Bromberger to focus on their latest endeavor, Outerlimits Technologies, a new company dedicated to continued invention, manufacturing and marketing consulting.
“When we established SurgeX through New Frontier Electronics 20 years ago, we were confident that it would eventually be recognized as the AC power conditioning field’s leading technology,” says McCook. “As Andy, Kevin and I now turn our attention to creating innovative solutions for a variety of industries, we’ve seen SurgeX International seamlessly transition into ESP/SurgeX and know that the brand is well positioned for continued success both here and abroad.”
SurgeX North America president Shannon Townley adds, “We’re excited to extend our partnership globally and look forward building on the success of SurgeX International. This is an exciting time for SurgeX.”
SurgeX North America
New Behringer X32 Network Expansion Cards Now Available
Dante, MADI and ADAT cards provide increased I/O options
Behringer has announced that the new X-DANTE, X-MADI and X-ADAT high-performance network cards for the X32 digital mixing console are now available from authorized dealers and online resellers. The cards are easy to install and configure, making the X32 compatible with more digital and audio distribution networks.
The X-DANTE expansion card brings a 32-channel, 48 kHz bi-directional audio interface, making it ready for integration with Dante-enabled IP networks using either standard 100Mbit/s or Gigabit Network infrastructure with DSCP-based QoS, with support for mixed sample and bit rates coexisting on the same network.
The X-DANTE card utilizes 24-bit signal transmission with sample-accurate synchronization and low latency, ensuring high audio integrity, plus a secondary input for setting up a seamless redundant network.
The X-MADI expansion card integrates the X32 with MADI networks, providing 32-channels of bidirectional audio. X-MADI accepts optical duplex SC-plugs (IEC874-19) to connect with fiber optic MADI devices, with multimode fiber optic cable lengths of up to 2 km supported.
Designed to support digital integration of the X32 with any equipment featuring ADAT connectivity, the X-ADAT expansion card provides 32-channels of I/O on its eight fiber optic Toslink connectors.
The X-ADAT card provides 24-bit signal transmission and operates at both 44.1 and 48 kHz sample rates. The use of light-pipe fiber optics also ensures signals are protected from potential ground-loop interference.
“We know a lot of audio pros who want to upgrade to the X32, but they still want to keep the rest of their setup,” says Behringer product support manager Joe Sanborn. “Now thanks to our new X-DANTE, X-MADI and X-ADAT network cards, the award-winning X32 family of products can be integrated easily and seamlessly into virtually any networked performance or studio system.”
The X-DANTE, X-MADI and X-ADAT expansion cards are available at a suggested U.S. MAP of $499.99, $299.99 and $299.99, respectively, and are covered by MUSIC Group’s 3-year limited warranty program.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Florida’s Deltona High School Updates Theater With Allen & Heath GLD Digital Mixing System
GLD set up with configurations for each application that are password protected
Deltona (Florida) High School offers a variety of fine arts activities and electives, ranging from band, chorus and computer arts, to drama, video production and theater technology. Many of these classes and activities take place in the school’s live theater, a fan-shaped auditorium that seats 975 with an elevated sound and lighting control booth at the rear of the audience area.
Much of the theater’s audio equipment dates back to the school building’s opening 1988, with Signature Systems of Florida, headed by Dan Lee, contracted to provide improvements and updates, including a new Allen & Heath GLD digital mixing system, including a GLD-80 control surface and an AR2412 Mixrack, to join new loudspeakers and DSP.
Several different departments use the theater, so Lee helped the school set up the GLD with passwords and configurations customized for each application. Users can log into the system, go to their own setup, and make changes and adjustments without affecting the work done by other departments.
In addition, the school wanted to move the mixer from the control booth to a mid-audience location for certain productions. “The GLD’s built-in digital snake made that easy,” says Lee. “Instead of a multi-channel analog snake, we just ran a Cat-5 cable from the booth to the audience location. And, the mixer is compact and lightweight so it’s easy to move.”
Deltona also takes good advantage of the GLD’s signal processing capabilities and touchscreen. “We re-used a number of existing microphones,” Lee notes, “and the per-channel processing really helped with those mics and their wireless mics.”
Jeff Carson, the school’s auditorium manager notes that the school teaches theatrical sound and lighting design. “Now, we’ve got an up-to-date digital audio mixer for our own productions and it helps the students prepare for theatrical competitions,” he says, adding that the audio system performance at Deltona was greatly improved by the updated audio system and the GLD mixer.
“Digital was a big change for us,” he concludes, “but the GLD was easy to learn and it’s a great teaching tool.”
Allen & Heath is distributed in the U.S. by American Music & Sound (AM&S).
Allen & Heath
American Music & Sound (AM&S)
Friday, April 25, 2014
Multiple Consoles For Live? Top Engineers Weigh In
The where, when, why and how, with problems and solutions differing.
A few years ago, my company developed a prototype of a console switcher that would enable an engineer to quickly switch to a backup should the main desk go down, or quickly switch between multiple consoles at events such as festivals.
But when we showed it to various engineers, the response was all over the place. Some thought it was a great idea, others felt that with modern processors, the need was no longer there, and some suggested fixes such as increasing the size to accommodate larger systems.
We decided to table the idea, but I thought it would be interesting to reach out to some of the same engineers to get their take on using multiple consoles and the concerns they encounter.
And just as above, the problems and solutions differ. The cast includes James Warren (Radiohead), Sean Quakenbush (Robert Randolph), Dave Natale (Rolling Stones), Brad Madix (Rush) and David Morgan (James Taylor).
The most common situation where multiple consoles are used together, of course, is connecting a support band to the main system. Other uses include festivals where multiple bands share the same PA, corporate shows, TV shows, and performances where large orchestras increase the channel count.
According to Natale: “When subbing one mixer into the other, the main console will usually act as the master. We also see many situations where a matrix switcher is used to feed the PA.”
Subbing consoles together is done using the sub-group inputs, channel strips, or sometimes even using the mic inputs. Madix: “If bringing one mixer sub or mains out into sub ins, there’s usually not any problem. If bringing into line-ins, there might be issues with matching gains as line ins tend to have less adjustment range level-wise.
“Coming into mic inputs can present challenges from impedance matching to level mismatches where mic preamps might not have the range to handle the levels, even with pads inserted. It’s something to steer away from, for sure, but sometimes the only option.”
Quankenbush: “We sometimes encounter noise from different power systems such as generators and there are often gain issues between some analog consoles and the digital boards. For instance, one console’s 0 dB may not be the same on another desk. I’ve found that some digital consoles do not ‘play well together’ due to gain stage issues where one may be so hot that it overloads the other.”
Natale: “Hum, buzz and level discrepancies can pose problems. I usually have transformers in hand to solve noise problems.”
There are other ways to switch and combine consoles such as using a matrix switcher or an audio processor. And with today’s digital desks, even more options come into play.
Warren: “When combining consoles, since most bands are now using digital desks, we usually connect the sub support console into ours via an AES connection. We give a festival either analog or AES from our system processor. In both cases, we will often be giving a separate sub feed.”
Quankenbush: “Most festivals have switching systems for the left, right and sub fills, but you do still see some festivals where they want you to drive in to the main console with stereo. The big problem is you will load in early, EQ and sound check for your band with their EQ bypassed or flat.
“Eight hours later, the house system engineer or other mixers will have hacked the EQ to all hell and all of the sudden your show sounds way different than your sound check earlier in the day. My preference is to bypass all of that by connecting directly to the audio processor and then save my own page.”
As noted earlier, noise problems do arise, and the most common problem solver is inserting an isolation transformer into the signal path.
A transformer is a magnetic bridge that converts the audio signal into a magnetic field at the primary winding, employs a core made from laminated nickel, steel or a combination as a conduit for the magnetic field and then this excites a secondary winding which in turn generates current.
The beauty of a transformer is that the input and output are completely separate. This stops tray DC current from traveling between the input and output which helps eliminate the hum and buzz caused by so-called ground loops.
Morgan: “For years, Yamaha and Midas consoles did not like to be combined. One often needed to lift the AC ground on one of the desks and rely on audio ground only.
“As long as the consoles share the same AC and audio ground, transformer isolation is not usually necessary. If I’m unsure of the system AC ground, or if there is too much going on electronically at FOH, I do prefer inserting transformers.”
Madix: “I’ve had to use transformers occasionally when feeding to lawn delays and the system for the hearing impaired. For this, we use a box with two transformers, plus ground lifts.”
Both Warren and Natale note that they always carry transformers in their kits. Quakenbush adds: “Back in the day, I was the lawn guy for a large amphitheatre and always had pockets full of isolation transformers. I still have tons of in-line transformers in my workbox. They don’t come out a much as they use to, but I still use them for delay towers or sometimes when I sub another desk into mine.”
One of the most common concerns that folks have with digital technology is the stability of the console’s internal computer. Thus, adding a second console would seem to be a natural solution.
Interestingly enough, this no longer seems to be as prevalent as it once was. I was recently at a Bob Dylan concert and front of house engineer Jim Homan was working with a new digital console that was having some software conflicts. I asked him if he had a backup, and he said that he didn’t, but if he had to, he could quickly patch in the support band’s mixer and be up and running fairly quickly.
Warren echoes this approach: “In a touring situation, I would refuse to use a console that I felt needed a permanent instant backup option. On Radiohead at the moment, I have the opening act’s console loaded with my show and plug-ins in case of catastrophe, but it’s not online or standing by during the show.”
Morgan: “We carry a backup computer for the console, but I haven’t needed it in over six years.” Madix replied with the same sentiment. However, Natale had a different take: “I generally go analog for just that reason. I’m not prone to nearly as much instance of console failure as my much more daring counterparts that use digital consoles. When I do TV, I have to use a digital console and the only fail-safe (ha, ha) device is a UPS on the console.”
All of this to say…there are many ways to connect consoles together or to share the PA system. Most engineers carry line level isolation boxes in case noise is encountered, and today’s digital desks seem to be less problematic than they were just a few years ago.
Peter Janis is president of Radial Engineering, and has worked in professional audio for more than 30 years.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
SoundTools Debuts New CAT Snake At Coachella
Units create a cost-effective 4-channel analog snake that can alternatively carry up to four AES/EBU digital feeds utilizing common Cat-5 cable.
SoundTools debuted its latest product, the new CAT Snake, in prototype form at the recent 2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA.
CAT Snake units create a quick and cost-effective 4-channel analog snake that can alternatively carry up to four AES/EBU digital feeds utilizing common Cat-5 cable.
“The CAT Snake is a wonderful solution for the analog lines we run to delay clusters at Coachella,” says Dave Rat, president of Rat Sound Systems, the primary audio vendor for the event. “We literally entrench thousands of feet of analog and digital audio cable that invariably gets destroyed during load out. By switching to the CAT Snake for analog backup lines, we can just leave the shielded Cat-5 in the ground and the cost per foot is so affordable, it’s easy to replace.”
The application of the CAT Snake at Coachella showcased it’s functionality for live sound as well as its potential use in recording, commercial, and home projects.
“It’s simplicity at its best,” says Bryant Poole, lead engineer on the project. “You can run four lines of audio down a simple shielded Cat-5, Cat-5e, or Cat-6 cable. It’s a passive unit that provides the added versatility of having an EtherCon input or feed through connection on either side.”
Rat Sound Systems
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Extron Updates Hideaway Series Enclosures With Digital Connectivity & USB Power
Provides a convenient connectivity point for today's most common AV signals
Extron Electronics has introduced the HSA 300, the latest addition to the company’s Hideaway Surface Access Enclosure Series of furniture-mountable enclosures and providing inconspicuous access to AV connectivity, AC power, and USB power.
The enclosure’s tilt-up faceplate features connectors for HDMI, VGA, PC audio, and network pass-through, an AC power outlet, and two 5 VDC USB power outlets for charging mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. AC power outlets are available for the U.S. and central Europe, as well as a multi-region outlet that supports a variety of plug types. It’s housed in a durable, stylish black anodized finish that blends seamlessly with most furniture and decor.
“The rapid rise of mobile devices for AV presentation has created some interesting challenges for integrators and users alike,” says Casey Hall, vice president of sales and marketing for Extron. “We designed the HSA 300 to provide a convenient connectivity point for today’s most common AV signals, and then added both AC and USB power outlets to keep laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other presentation devices working through the longest presentations and planning sessions.”
HSA Enclosures are available in three primary configurations that complement most room designs and furniture types: compact, tilt-up enclosures with fixed AV and network connectivity; tilt-up, modular enclosures with configurable connectivity; and vertically lifting, double-sided enclosures that provide access to connectivity and power from either side of the table.
Operation is simple - pressing down on the top releases the HSA, slowly lifting connector combinations into view. The enclosures are designed for easy mounting into tables, desks, or other AV furniture, and once installed, they fit nearly flush with the furniture surface, storing power and AV connectors out of sight until needed.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Tech Tip Of The Day: What Is Tinning?
Q: I want to start repairing and making some of my own cables. However, I came upon a term I’m sure is such common knowledge that my question really shows my ignorance. That said, here goes: what is “tinning”?
I know it’s part of the soldering process, but can you explain why it’s important, etc?
A: Thanks for the question! While it’s indeed common knowledge, there’s no reason for you to know what tinning is unless you’ve soldered before.
So to answer your question, tinning is the process of pre-applying a layer of solder to a wire before it is actually soldered onto another wire, component or circuit board. The idea is to apply solder to the bare strands of wire, consolidating them into one easier-to-manage unit.
For example, if you’re soldering an XLR connector, it’s a good (most would say required) idea to tin the leads of your wires and connections before making the final connection. This makes the final step of the connection simpler, and also keeps errant pieces of wire under control within the tinned piece of the conductor.
For more tech tips go to Sweetwater.com
Posted by Keith Clark on 04/16 at 03:36 PM
Friday, April 11, 2014
Dangerous Music Products In Demand At Busy New York Music Production Group
Top producers & songwriters at 'The AND Group' use Dangerous Music gear.
The AND Group, a collection of music management and media companies who are working with some of today’s top music insiders and hit makers, have found the demand for Dangerous Music products grow as more artists, DJ’s and other like-minded professionals use them. .
“We’re a hybrid between a traditional artist management company, a publishing licensing company, and an experiential marketing company for brands,” says company co-founder Lucas Keller. “The marketing we do is specific to music and entertainment, a field that we already understand well on the management side.
“We started The AND Group last summer as a boutique company, but additionally we have access to licensing in TV and film, the commercial ad world, and directly to brands.”
Their artists are loving the Dangerous gear already,
“I haven’t found anything out there like Dangerous Music. Their D-Box ties my whole studio together,” says multi-Grammy winner David Hodges (Evanescence, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Christina Perri). “As a monitoring system, it is intuitive and versatile, clean and powerful. As a summing unit, it gives a warmth and clarity to everything I work on - from pop tracks to country sessions, to rock mixes. The fact that I get two vital pieces of hardware in one without sacrificing any quality makes the D-Box a must-have.”
Keller adds, “Some of our artists are using the Dangerous gear in the studio and we are introducing it to some of the other artists we manage when they get together with those guys. I’m about to get our client, DJ LA Riots, turned onto Dangerous Music too, as there’s a need for gear of this quality in the DJ world.
“We are finding that a lot of our guys that we put together, they go in the studio with someone like David Hodges or Nolan Lambroza (Pit Bull, Christina Aguilera, Justin Beiber), and afterwards they are asking about getting the Dangerous gear for themselves. There’s a hundred pieces of rack gear in the studio and they say: ‘Hey, I was at Hodges’ place today, tell me more about Dangerous Music’ - which I found exciting! I actually am getting lots of calls and emails from our artists about Dangerous gear and wanting to put it into their own studios and production work flow.”
Other artists at The AND Group also love the gear.
“The Dangerous D-Box brings depth and adds tasteful separation that you simply can’t achieve in the box,” states PJ Bianco (Demi Lovato, Sean Paul, Mya, Iyaz, Jonas Brothers).
Steven Miller adds, “I love the Dangerous D-Box. No other unit that I’ve seen accomplishes what it does. Between the monitoring, headphone amp and summing mixer, it makes my job increasingly easier; and the music I make sounds 100-times better.”
Miller has worked with Pierce the Veil, The Veronica’s, and Skillet among many other acts.
Lucas is using the Dangerous Source monitor controller with his speakers at his desk, and agrees that having a sound controller that you can trust and will really let you hear the music track is important.
“The Dangerous Source is amazing. It’s important for us that we’re listening through the right amps and monitors and systems, so we hear the music as clearly and accurately as possible. For our work with Sol Republic headphones it’s all about audio, with very, very picky DJs, who are very choosy about which headphones they’ll use or not use. And it’s all about music. We’re creating everything from commercial spots, and syncing our music in them, to doing deals directly with these guys that are DJs and producers and creatives. People are constantly listening to music at our company - we have music in the hallways!”
Posted by Julie Clark on 04/11 at 09:34 AM