Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The Foundation Of The Perfect Worship Mix
The instruments you select as the foundation of your mix can make all the difference.
Guest Post from Derek Sexsmith
The title on this post is a little misleading, as the “perfect mix” could mean different things to different people.
But, I think most would agree the foundation for the perfect mix, when mixing a typical “rock” band (drums, bass, guitars, keys, vocals) would be the kick drum and the bass guitar.
Robert Scovill, a very experienced and very talented engineer said, at the Gurus of Tech conference in Chicago in February, that “no one goes home humming the kick drum.”
Very true. But, that kick drum, mixed properly with the bass guitar, is what gets people into the music.
Next time you’re doing sound, try turning down the bass guitar for a chorus in a driving song, then bring it up for the next chorus and I would bet there is a noticeable change in the way the audience/congregation reacts.
When I mix the kick and the bass together there are a few important things to note.
First, is having a competent drummer and bass player. They need to work together and the bass player needs to follow the kick drum.
Secondly, EQ. I’ve seen a lot of sound people just take the kick drum and the bass and turn up the low EQ knob.
Some more experienced ones will turn up the high EQ knob to get some clarity. I find just doing that ends up making them sound muddy because you are now boosting them in the same frequency range and you get no definition of which one is which.
When I am EQing them, if on a digital board with sweepable EQ’s, it’s real simple, I boost the Kick at about 50Hz with a fairly slim curve so that I can then cut that EQ by somewhere around 80 or 100Hz.
Cutting that Kick drum in the 80-100 range allows us to then boost the Bass guitar in that range, and then you don’t get them overlapping each other in the low range.
I also add a Hi Pass Filter to the bass to cut anything below about 60Hz, so I don’t get any unwanted overlap there.
I will also boost the bass guitar around the 1-1.5kHz range which helps add clarity to it, while boosting the Kick drum around 2-3kHz helps add a good slap to it.
Those really depend on the exact sound you want from those instruments as to where and how much you boost. A good boost in the mid-hi or high frequency range really adds some clarity, making the kick and bass not just sound like a thud coming out of the subs.
One comment on the EQ. I am currently using an analog board, an Allen and Heath ML3000. I don’t have the ability to change the bandwidth or “Q” on the curve. I also have fewer options for which specific frequency I am boosting.
What I tend to do is on the kick drum, I actually turn the low EQ knob down, to cut that frequency. It is commonly anywhere from 60-100Hz on an analog board. Then I boost the mid-low at 50Hz. So I am still boosting at 50, I’m just using the mid-low sweepable mids to do it.
Then I boost the bass guitar with the low EQ knob. From there I can use the Mid-Hi sweepable EQ to boost the highs.
I just wanted to point this part out for sure though, so that people know that just because it’s the bass guitar or the kick drum doesn’t mean you have to boost the low EQ, you can still find those low frequencies and dial it in more precisely using the Mid-Low sweepable EQ.
Gating and Compression
On the kick drum I will also add a gate as well; this again depends on the sound you want on the kick.
For real punchy sounding upbeat songs, a fast attack with a 3-4:1 ratio and a slower release time. The more dynamic the sound, the slower you will want that attack.
A compressor setting with a ratio again around 3-4:1 sometimes even more, with again a fast attack time and a slow release time will just add to that punchy sound on the kick.
Be sure not to “over” compress it though, we don’t want to lose all the dynamic of the kick drum.
Bass players tend to hate hearing that you’ve compressed them at all, and it isn’t always necessary.
If they’ve got their own compressor with a foot pedal, or they are just very controlled then you can get away without one, but I generally have one either way, I just may be very generous with it.
I won’t say any settings on here for a bass compression because that all depends on the bass player and how they play. You have to listen and see if you need them to be compressed.
Driving the Music
Once you get a good EQ and comp/gate setting on the bass and kick drum, listen to them during one of the more upbeat songs and the two instruments should be able to drive the song.
Notice the difference when you lower those two channels, and as I said before, I am certain that you will see a noticeable change in the audience/congregation’s response to the music.
Don’t be afraid of the low end. I was afraid of it when I first started, but if it’s EQ’d and compressed right, people will feel it and it’s often what captures them into a song.
I don’t mean to lessen the effect of a great vocalist or a well tuned guitar with a great amp tone…or even just some great lyrics.
All these things have the potential to be the driving force of a song, but I will say that the kick/bass combination will often be the foundation on which the best mixes are built.
How do you typically build your mix? On what instrument do you build it? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!
Derek Sexsmith is the Director of Technical Services at Heritage Park Alliance Church in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Check out his blog which chronicles his experience working on the technical aspects of a Church at dereksoundguy.com or follow him on twitter @dereksoundguy.
Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
On Stage: Catering To Multiple Needs
Inside the mic box of touring engineer Matt Vice.
Working primarily in the Midwestern U.S., mix engineer Matt Vice stays very busy, working with bands from the thriving Indianapolis music scene as well as artists hailing from such far-flung locales as New Orleans and the U.K., including New Mastersounds, Old Union, American English, Zoogma, and several others.
Like many in the regional scene, Vice finds himself catering to multiple markets.
Around a third of his time is spent on running corporate gigs - the world where “production crew” turns into “A/V staff,” where fly-in shows are the norm, and where the engineer is often at the mercy of the equipment provider.
Faced regularly with unfamiliar territory, Vice finds it helpful to have a small but worthy microphone collection on hand.
In a pinch, he overcomes holes in a rider with his Shure Beta 52, a pair of Oktava MK-012 condensers, an ART (Applied Research Technology) M-Five ribbon, a variety of CAD clamp-on drum dynamic drum mics, as well as pairs of Samson C05 condensers and Audio- Technica AT4050 stereo condensers.
When Vice isn’t traveling to “exotic hot spots” like Atlantic City and Tampa for corporate work, the kit he deploys for both house and live recording is expanded, centered around a Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2 digital console.
He’s particularly fond of the StudioLive’s digital signal processing, and favors the consoles versatile channel strip for nearly every input and output, especially when recording.
Matt Vice mounting an Oktava MK-012 prior to a recent gig.
Facing changing conditions from one gig to the next, Vice rarely relies on a “standard” setup. Rather, he generally makes the best use of the house kit, such as during a recent evening at The Mousetrap live club in Indy.
He dealt with two very different bands - Fresh Hops and IndigoSun - which presented some challenges, in addition to the fact that the venue records the board mixes and sells them to the crowd, with commensurate quality expected.
For IndigoSun, Vice took bass (fretless and otherwise) direct with Whirlwind IMP 2 DIs, with keyboards also taken direct. The drummer was mic’ed with Vice’s Beta 52 on kick, CAD clipons for snare, and his two A-T AT4050s as overheads.
The second band, Fresh Hops, required a more elaborate approach, with Vice using an expanded version of his original input list for the seven-piece ensemble.
Lead vocals were handled with the house Sennheiser evolution e 835 dynamics. Bass and keys were again, and Shure SM57s were applied for guitar mic’ing as well as saxophone.
The CAD clip-on mics came in handy for the percussionist, and rounding out the approach were the Beta 52 on kick, more CAD clip-ons for snare, and dual AT4050s as overheads.
Kyle P. Snyder is Associate Editor of ProSoundWeb and Live Sound International.
D.A.S. Audio Loudspeakers Selected By Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal Church
Major factors that contributed to the selection of D.A.S. were the loudspeakers sound quality, self-powered design, and long throw characteristics.
Recognized as the largest non-denominational, Pentecostal church serving the Hispanic community in central Florida, Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal M.I. Church is an impressive organization.
With its large, upbeat, music-rich services, the church recently moved into its new sanctuary.
With seating capacity for 2,600 worshippers and weekly services running near full capacity, the former gymnasium is now the proud home of an impressive, and extensive, audiovisual setup that encompasses lighting, video, acoustic treatment throughout, and a new sound system based upon the D.A.S. Audio Aero Series 2 and Avant series..
Mick Hall, Account Manager for GC Pro (Guitar Center Professional Division), oversees a large percentage of the company’s house of worship market projects and was intimately involved in both the design and installation of Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal’s installation.
“This project was an extensive facility upgrade of a building the church recently purchased,” Hall explained.
“Management’s goal was to create an immersive worship experience and, as such, they were looking to acquire a comprehensive setup that integrated audio, lighting, and video for their new sanctuary. For sound, there were numerous conditions that led to the selection of the D.A.S. equipment.”
“A high level of speech intelligibility and solid music reproduction characteristics were a huge consideration in the selection of the loudspeakers,” he continued.
“Services are very upbeat and contemporary. There’s a huge praise band and vocal ensemble that augment the church choir, so music is a key element in the services. After auditioning a number of loudspeaker systems, the decision to deploy D.A.S. Audio was made.”
“Simply put, D.A.S. offered superior sound quality, was entirely self-powered (which eliminated the need to house racks of power amplifiers separately and also simplified system cabling), and offered the long throw characteristics essential to properly fill the space. Top this off with the system being a great value and it essentially sold itself.”
The sanctuary’s seating area measures roughly 180 feet in length, is 130 feet wide, and has a ceiling height of 28 feet. To provide consistent coverage throughout the space, fourteen D.A.S. Audio Aero 12A powered, 2-way, mid-high line array modules—flown seven elements per side over the stage / altar area—serve as the House mains.
These are augumented by several Avant 12A powered, 2-way enclosures. A single Avant 12A—each one positioned at the extreme left and right sides of the front area, serve as downfills to provide coverage for the extreme sides of the space. Another two Avant 12A loudspeakers serve as center downfills for the area immediately in front of the stage.
Additionally, a single Avant 12A is mounted to the rear of each flown Aero 12A loudspeaker cluster and is aimed down at the stage area. These serve as monitors for those on stage. Finally, two additional Avant 12A enclosures provide delay fill to the rear balcony.
Low frequency support is provided by six D.A.S. Audio LX-218A powered subwoofers. There are three enclosures per side—housed in specially built, recessed cubicles beneath the stage front area. For on-stage monitoring, eight D.A.S. SML-12A powered, multipurpose monitors are available. These can be freely positioned depending upon the nature of the activity on stage.
Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal’s AV system installation took place during the latter three months of 2010, with the bulk of the audio system installation taking place during December. The church had its grand opening service on New Year’s Eve.
With the new audiovisual system in place and fully operational, Hall reports that everything is working exceptionally well. “Our client is ecstatic,” says Hall.
“We’ve received numerous compliments about the sound system’s performance. With the incredibly capable and responsive support from D.A.S. Audio of America’s Miami-based staff, we assembled a sound system that exceeded the customer’s expectations.”
“In the months following the installation, our client has given GC Pro numerous referrals. When a project leads to repeat business, that’s as good as it gets!”
Nexo Selected By The Gordon College A.J. Gordon Memorial Chapel
The GEO system was a perfect choice to provide audiences with clear and intelligible speech while also meeting the expectations of professional and touring artists.
The A.J. Gordon Memorial Chapel at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts is among one of the top Christian colleges and the only non-denominational college in New England.
The chapel seats 1,600, making it one of the largest venues on Boston’s North Shore. Recently, MFI Productions of Hooksett, New Hampshire, installed a 21st century audio system based around a new, white NEXO GEO S12 line array.
“The Chapel on campus is the largest performance venue on campus, bringing international speakers, scholars, musicians and events to its stage annually,” states Chris Imming, director of media services.”
Along with the Gordon’s academic curriculum, the space hosts Chapel services, Convocation programs, and special events, to promote learning, Christian community and opportunities for engagement. Students gather in the Chapel for large services and presentations throughout the week, but the space also serves as a performance stage.
Large-scale ensembles, choirs, and bands often practice and perform there. Gordon’s worship teams include four to eight musicians, vocalists, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, bass, violin, and percussion. “We needed a system that would meet all of these components, “ said Imming.
“We wanted to provide audiences with clear and intelligible speech reproduction while also meeting the growing expectations of professional and touring artists.”
Over the years, Gordon’s Chapel has offered sold out performances to several touring artists, including Third Day, Caedmon’s Call, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Jars of Clay, the Art Music Justice Tour (Sara Groves, Charlie Peacock, Brandon Heath, Derek Webb), and Jeremy Camp.
“Often there is little to no time to flip the space,” said Imming, who helped research solutions to support the venue’s needs. “Having a system with the NEXO GEO S12 at its core allow us to continue to host touring artists with less dependence on outboard gear.”
“We hope this reduction in production set up time and expenses will allow us to host additional tours in the future.”
“The primary goal of the new system design was to address both coverage and intelligibility issues,” states Denis Gosselin, MFI Productions. “Both had been lacking since the facility’s construction in the early 1990’s.”
“The initial system was designed to support speech since the use of the venue was more traditional during that period. As praise and worship performances increased, a ‘portable’ system was purchased for use when the praise team was leading worship.”
“That system relied heavily on a pair of single 18” subs and a single 15” 2-way cabinet on the stage platform. While that system did provide full range audio support, it was never intended as a long-term solution since components were undersized for the venue and left huge gaps in coverage.”
The College researched their system analysis and design needs in-house—a testament to their passion for the space, its need, and the needs of the community. As an educational opportunity, students were also involved in the design and installation process.
“Both InfoComm and NSCA training was essential in our ability to carry the project from the design stage through completion,” notes Imming.
“Throughout the design process, we evaluated both point source and linear array systems from six or seven companies.”
“While linear arrays are certainly not the best solution for every venue, we chose to pursue compact array designs for the project after completing some EASE modeling of the hall.”
“Satisfied by the computer modeling, we felt that arrays would provide a cleaner install and, in white, disappear into the stage proscenium.”
“We narrowed the list of manufacturers down to three and scheduled onsite demos. Each demo system came in for two days to allow time for flying and tuning.”
“The extended demo period also allowed us to utilize each system for a worship team rehearsal, a regular chapel with a full house, and critical listening demos with various faculty and staff members whom regularly utilize the space.”
Gosselin added that one of the challenges in a space like the A.J. Memorial Chapel was to balance system design with aesthetics by maintaining the clean look of a traditional New England chapel.
“Considering no existing rigging was in place, previous touring groups always had to ground support arrays or utilize speaker stacks on the stage, taking up real estate on the stage and providing a disproportionate amount of SPL to the front section.”
“Several months into the design stage, we came up with a rigging platform that would provide us with great flexibility to accommodate system demos and fine-tune array placement during the install.”
“With limited weight capacity of the rigging platform, the NEXO GEO S12 Series provided an aesthetically pleasing install while maintaining intelligibility and musicality.”
The complete system includes 14 white GEO S1210 boxes and 14 GEO S1230, two NEXO RS15 white subs, four NEXO PS8 speakers and two NXAmps 4x4 and one 4x1.
“We were all very impressed with how the GEO S12s made it all the way to the back of the room and remained warm and clear even under the balcony,” notes Gosselin.
“Since this building has a wide range of audio demands ranging from traditional services, full theatre productions, and full concert applications, it was extremely important to get a box and design that would fit the bill.”
“The NEXO rig delivered the sound to the room in a very specific and predictable manner, which helped to cover the listening area evenly and keep as much reflection off of the hard surfaced walls as possible.
Lloyd Kinkaid, Yamaha design specialist, and his knowledge of NEXO’s GeoSoft was a huge time saver and allowed us to play around with SPL and pattern options before the first GEO S12 box was hung.”
“Most importantly, it was accurate, with the end result reflecting what was predicted on our laptop! To an audio contractor, Lloyd and GeoSoft are a very powerful source of knowledge, instrumental in getting it right the first time.”
For the upper balcony, MFI Productions chose to hang two NEXO PS8 speakers to the ceiling to help restore any high frequency loss after the 100 throw. “Despite their small size, Gosselin says, the PS8 puts out an amazing level of full frequency sound.”
“The asymmetrical high frequency horns allowed us to dial in coverage to both the upper and lower sections of the balcony without throwing extraneous sound on the back wall and added just a little extra sparkle at the very top of the balcony. Perfect!”
MFI also installed an Aviom Pro16 Digital Snake, Aviom Pro 16 Personal Monitoring System, Sennheiser IEM300 G2/G3 Series, Sennheiser Antenna Combiner, Professional Wireless Helical Antenna and Low Loss cable, Sennheiser EW335G2 Wireless Handhelds Microphone, HME DX200 Wireless Intercom System, HSA Rolltop Desks, Bag End Floor Monitors, and a Listen Assisted Listening System.
“It was a pleasure to work with MFI Productions on both the demo and install as they were very accommodating when it came to partnering with us on the install.”
“Our students had the opportunity to get some real hands-on experience flying and installing our tour-grade system. Now that the new system is installed we finally have an audio system that is up to par with the rest of the video, projection, and lighting capabilities.”
Alto Professional Names Jay Schlabs To The Position Of Executive Director
The 20-year industry veteran looks forward to driving the innovative sound reinforcement brand.
Alto Professional has announced the promotion of Jay Schlabs to the position of Executive Director.
Acquired in December 2010, Alto Professional is the most recent addition to Numark Industries.
Schlabs has been with Numark Industries for the last 9 years, previously serving as the Director of Sales for Numark, Alesis and Akai Professional.
As Executive Director of Alto Professional, Schlabs will be responsible for the brand’s global market development and sales strategy. Schlabs’ long history with live sound products and knowledge of global distribution channels make him the perfect choice to grow the Alto Professional brand worldwide.
As a 20-year veteran of the Pro Audio Industry, Schlabs has extensive experience in sales, marketing and product specification and will utilize all of this expertise to further distinguish Alto Professional as a world leader in live performance reinforcement.
Schlabs’ new position is effective immediately and he will report directly to CEO Jack O’Donnell.
“I am very excited about this new opportunity with Alto Professional, and I’m convinced that our investments in technology, innovation, and top-notch engineering expertise will be the keys to our success”, said Schlabs.
“With the launch of the TRUESONIC series of speakers, Alto Professional has an opportunity to make a huge impact on the industry.”
Gefen Announces The New High Definition 1080p HDMI Scaler
The new scaler from improves multi-display system performance with switchable digital audio inputs
Gefen has announced the availability of an ideal solution for integrating audio/video systems using displays with different native resolutions.
The Gefen ToolBox HD 1080p Scaler will automatically scale up or down any high definition signal to meet the maximum resolution supported by the connected HDTV display.
When used in an installation with more than one display in the room, such as in digital signage or home theater, it allows 1080p resolutions to be viewed on displays with 1080p full HD capability, while scaling the lower resolution display to its maximum resolution.
For example, when sending a hi-def signal to four displays, one display may support 720p maximum resolution, while the other three displays support 1080p full HD.
Previously, installers would have to set the source to 720p, the lowest common resolution among all four displays, to ensure a seamless distribution.
But when the HD 1080p Scaler is connected to the 720p display, it will accept a 1080p input and downscale it to 720p, while all other displays receive 1080p full HD.
In a home entertainment scenario, you might have a 720p projector and 1080p display both connected to the same audio/video source.
In this case, the HD 1080p Scaler can be connected to the projector to automatically downscale the signal to 720p, while the display will receive a full HD signal.
All video resolutions can also be manually scaled up or down to accommodate any type or size display using HDMI.
Three switchable digital audio inputs and outputs support coax, optical and HDMI devices.
You can input coax or optical audio and bypass the HDMI audio or output it as HDMI audio; you can input HDMI audio and output it as coax, optical and HDMI.
All three audio outputs are live. Users select their audio using the menu button, RS-232 or IR remote.
Monday, May 09, 2011
L-Acoustics K1/KUDO The Latest Addition To The Redline Enterprises Inventory
The new K1 system already has a busy summer schedule, including the world’s biggest AIDS charity event in Vienna, Life Ball.
Redline Enterprises of Austria has announced the purchase of an L-Acoustics K1/KUDO system consisting of 48 K1s and 36 KUDO WST line source cabinets, 24 K1-SB and 24 SB28 subwoofers and 18 LA-RAK with 54 LA8 amplified controllers.
This is the first K1 system in the Austrian market.
“The reason we bought the K1 system was the quality and its high international standard,” says Jack Langer, CEO of Redline.
“Our new L-Acoustics K1 system will push our company to a much higher level. Apart from the sound capabilities of the system, we particularly like the handling of the rigging as well as the digital network integration.”
Adds L-Acoustics trainer Sherif el Barbari, who carried out training, “Yet again another highly professional provider, who’s already been using L- Acoustics products including V-DOSC and DV-DOSC, has made the step to the top level of large scale sound reinforcement.”
“During the three training days in Vienna, I was happy to work with a group of experienced engineers who are responsible for designing and operating the biggest shows in Austria.”
“All attendants proved to have a thorough understanding of WST and it was a pleasure to introduce them to the newest guidelines and improvements of K1, and how to benefit most when using the systems in their future applications.”
Redline’s new K1 system has a busy summer ahead. First up is the world’s biggest AIDS charity event in Vienna, Life Ball, with special guest Janet Jackson, which is being broadcast live to TV. It will also be used at the Konzert Für Europa classical concert at the Castle Schönbrunn, Vienna, featuring the Austrian Philharmonic Orchestra before an audience of 150,000; also a live TV broadcast.
Other major events for Redline’s K1 are Austrian rock festivals Nova Rock and Frequency.
Renkus-Heinz Iconyx The Choice Of St Michaelis Church
The church in Hamburg's open central hall is surrounded by acoustically complex areas, making Iconyx an ideal choice.
Hamburg’s iconic St Michaelis church was recently outfitted with one of Europe’s largest Iconyx digital beam steering systems.
Churches and cathedrals often pose challenges for acousticians and sound system designers, but few surpass the architectural complexity of the cavernous St Michaelis, originally built in 1750.
Its interior is ornate Baroque at its most florid. White painted walls are endowed with gilded ornamentation and its architecture, advanced for its time, supports a soaring roof without columns.
Destroyed by fire in 1906, then rebuilt virtually brick for brick, it has an important role in German culture, regularly hosting televised services, most recently a memorial service for Loki Schmidt, wife of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, in November 2010.
Emphasizing the importance of the pulpit in Protestant churches, where the sermon is central to worship, the visitor handbook notes the ceiling of the marble pulpit was designed to reflect sound downward towards the congregation.
It adds: “In those days sermons lasted one to two hours…we can understand why, in the days before microphones, so many clergy complained about problems with their vocal chords.”
Those issues have now been eliminated by the new Renkus-Heinz Iconyx system, accompanied by a variety of Sennheiser wireless and Neumann wired microphones.
St Michaelis’ open central hall is surrounded by acoustically complex areas including tall, deep balconies that recede into semicircular cupolas, in some areas out of direct sight of the pulpit. A cupola on the north side houses an electronic organ and tiered choir stalls.
Across the hall tiered balcony seating rakes back some 15 metres. Sermon intelligibility in these areas, and in the deep under-balcony areas, was poor.
Roland Bruder, IT and Technology manager for St Michaelis Church, comments: “The old sound system wasn’t specialised enough for our demands, which means the spoken word. Three systems were presented to the church community and they chose the system proposed by ASC.”
The Hamburg branch of ASC (Amptown System Company) handled the installation with sales and marketing manager Dierk Elwart and project managers Rüdiger Aue and Jörn Wehmeyer in charge.
Elwart explains: “We demonstrated Iconyx loudspeakers in the church, and the effectiveness of the digital beam steering convinced the church community.”
“It’s ideal for this huge, complex room shape with recesses and balconies and a very long reverberation time, because you need to focus the sound very exactly into each area.
“This solution provided that focusing ability, and delivers high power from architecturally discrete and color-matched loudspeakers.”
A total of 17 Iconyx columns was installed, with a pair of IC16s either side on the ground floor level with the pulpit, a further pair of IC16s for the sides and a delay pair of IC8s, all digitally steerable. Upstairs, digitally steerable IC24s flank the archway of the altar, forming the main balcony system, supplemented by a mechanically steerable IC7 stack either side for the rear balcony, a further pair of IC7s for the balconies’ outer areas, and finally two more IC7s on marble pillars to cover two upper level balconies.
Audio routing is handled by a BSS Soundweb London with analogue audio distribution to the loudspeakers, while system control has been intentionally simplified to a basic, custom designed control panel for use by non-technical staff.
Concludes Elwart: “The toughest thing in doing a system like this is waiting for feedback from the public. And there’s been no feedback at all, which is precisely the response we were hoping for.”
Friday, May 06, 2011
On Stage Audio Purchases 54-Box Martin Audio MLA Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array System
OSA joins North Carolina-based Special Event Services as key North American members in the growing MLA worldwide network
Martin Audio and On Stage Audio (“OSA”) have announced OSA’s purchase of a 54-box Martin Audio MLA Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array system.
With this purchase, OSA joins North Carolina-based Special Event Services (“SES”) as key North American members in the growing MLA worldwide network. OSA plans to station its MLA system across both its Chicago and Las Vegas facilities.
“OSA and MLA are a perfect fit,” says Mark Graham, LOUD’s CEO “Show after show, the MLA has drawn enthusiastic attention from the pro audio community and audience members alike. By delivering an unprecedented level of coverage, consistency, and fidelity through its true generation-2 technology, MLA has reset the standard, and expectations, above legacy live sound equipment.
“And true to their first-to-move strategy, Mario (Educate, OSA president and owner) and Jim Risgin (vice president) immediately saw the potential that MLA offered them to reinforce OSA’s reputation as the premier technology provider for their discerning clientele.”
“At OSA we’re always on the lookout for technology to enable us to deliver increasingly clear and focused messages that meet our clients’ audience expectations,” explains Risgin. “With MLA we will be able to deliver frequency response, SPL consistency, and sonic quality never before achievable with traditional line array technology – across any type of venue – and set an entirely new standard of performance for OSA customers.”
Jim Risgin of On Stage Audio.
MLA features multi-cellular format has six individual cells in each enclosure, each with its own DSP and amplification. With up to 24 enclosures, each MLA array has up to 144 cells—too great a number to optimize manually, or by ear. Instead, Martin Audio’s proprietary Display2 system design software automatically calculates FIR DSP filters for each cell and a redundant-ring audio network (U-NET) downloads the settings into each array enclosure. Martin’s VU-NET software provides real-time control and monitoring of the system.
MLA delivers a frequency response and SPL consistency never before achievable; a very high system output (140dB peak, per cabinet @1m); Automatic optimization of the array, both physically (splay angles) and electronically (DSP); Computer control and monitoring of the entire system, and total control of sound system balance for engineers and sound technicians.
MLA is fully integrated, with Class D amplification, DSP and U-NET digital audio network built into each enclosure. MLA complete systems are ready-to-use, with MLA, MLD and MLX enclosures, flying hardware, software, cabling and training all supplied. All ancillary items — from tablet PC and Merlin controller to network interconnects and mains distro — are also included in the complete system package. This ensures full compatibility worldwide, down to cabling and accessories.
Additional features include 90- by 7.5-degree dispersion; a compact size (1136mm wide x 372mm high x 675mm deep), one-box-fits-all (festivals to theaters) application range and a global voltage, power factor corrected power supply.
MLA’s compact size and very high output allows it to be shipped using smaller trucks, offering considerable savings and reduced carbon footprint. The system also includes the MLX powered, flyable subwoofer capable of an unprecedented peak output of 150 dB at 1m; MLD downfill cabinet, and Merlin 4-in/10-out system controller and network hub. Audio input is via analog, AES3 or U-NET.
On Stage Audio Website
Martin Audio Website
Live Sound At Tammany Hall In NYC: A System Designed To Fit A Unique Space
A system designed to fit a unique performance space.
Located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Tammany Hall is a new music venue that’s quickly established itself as a formidable player on the local scene, hosting live performances every weekend and on select weeknights.
Named for the political machine that played a major role in New York City politics for more than 150 years, the venue delivers music on three floors: a main room at street level, an upstairs balcony, and a lounge located on the lower level.
Formerly occupied by long-time club The Annex, new ownership, which also runs popular live venues such as Crash Mansion and BLVD NYC, has completely transformed the space with an all-new interior design, a process topped by a new sound reinforcement system designed and installed by PBell Sound of Queens, headed by owner Paul Bell.
“Because the owners have other club locations, they understand the value of a quality sound system,” explains Bell.
The stage can be outfitted with as many as four Turbosound wedges.
“At the same time they were interested in repurposing some of the high-end gear they had on hand from other locations – so I created a system that used the best of both worlds, new and otherwise.”
Covering The Space
The main room at Tammany Hall, with a capacity of more than 300, has a 30-foot long stage in one corner, opposite a formidable bar that runs the length of the room.
Plenty of standing room is provided around the stage, with a seating area in the back half of the room parallel to the bar. Because of the stage size and is location, bands typically perform facing the standing area rather than the main bar and seating area.
As a result, Bell’s design has dual McCauley ID3.115-53 full-range loudspeakers for stage mains, flown left and right, to cover most of the house.
But to bolster coverage to patrons standing near the stage, a McCauley ID2.112- 65 full-range loudspeaker was added, flown horizontally near the entrance of the main room and receiving a mono, slightly delayed feed.
Although the upper balcony receives a fair amount of output from the main system, Bell bolstered this with two EAW SM200 monitors, mounted upside-down on the ceiling above the upper lip of the balcony.
A view of the layout of the main floor of Tammany hall from the balcony.
At the rear of the main floor listening area, a bit of boost is supplied by two EAW J8 compact loudspeakers, mounted left and right on the back wall and delayed in relation to the output of the mains.
Two Turbosound TSW-218 subwoofers are tucked under the stage, delivering plenty of low end while not occupying valuable audience real estate.
Stage monitoring is provided by up to four Turbosound TDX-15M wedges that can be placed where needed.
The power amplification and digital signal processing for this diverse slate of loudspeakers comes from a surprisingly small footprint based at the house mix position.
An Ashly Audio Protea ne24.24M modular DSP provides input conditioning, signal routing, and loudspeaker conditioning for the stage system, including all monitor and distributed signals.
Bell configured it for 8-in to accommodate the bus architecture of the house Yamaha LS9-16 digital console and 12-out to match the needed amplifier channels.
“I use the Ashly ne24.24M in almost all of my designs,” Bell notes. “I love that the input and output count is completely modular so that I can scale it to the needs of a particular project without wasting money on unused channels.”
An Ashly 2-channel KLR-4000 amplifier drives the pair of ID3.115-53 main loudspeakers, while a KLR-3200 handles the ID2.112-65.
The recently introduced KLR Series, featuring Switch Mode power supplies, presents an efficient, lightweight and accurate option for sound reinforcement applications.
“I’ve been really impressed with the new KLR amplifiers,” adds Bell. “They can run all night without a problem and provide tons of clean power.”
Two Crown Audio Macro-Tech MA2400 amplifiers are reserved to drive the stage monitors, with a single Crown MA3600 capable of driving both Turbo subwoofers. And, an AB Systems 6300 powers both sets of balcony- and rear-fill loudspeakers.
Perspective of the lounge, which largely hosts DJs in addition to offering a feed from the main system at select times.
The system mix/control position is in a small booth carved out of the wall, fronted by a large opening that allows the engineers to clearly hear the house system.
As noted, it’s home to a 32-channel Yamaha LS9-16 that also provides most of the effects processing, including gates, compression and EQ. The compact console fits well within the tight quarters, in addition to being light enough to be moved by one person when necessary.
“The booth is very, very small - you probably can’t even get two people in there at the same time,” Bell says. “The LS9 has a small footprint, and besides, it’s a console that virtually every guest engineer is familiar with, making it a perfect ‘fit’.”
A USB memory-drive recorder/player is also available at this location for capturing live recordings as well as playback of background music.
Out Of The Way
The lower level, meanwhile, is served by its own discrete system, usually offering house music spun by DJs.
Ashly components again were the choice for the system backbone, with an LX-308B stereo 8-channel line level mixer that accommodate all sources, as well as facilitating a feed from the house system when wanted.
The main system’s Ashly Protea DSP along with KLR Series and Crown Macro- Tech amplifiers.
Ashly KLR Series amplifiers, this time two KLR-2000s, drive four McCauley AC28 subwoofers that split into groups of two located to the left and right of the DJ booth.
“They really rock the system,” Bell says of the subs. “The room is small, so we pretty much put them anywhere we could fit them while still being out of the way. It sounds fantastic.”
Dual EAW MK2364 2-way loudspeakers are positioned above the bar for primary coverage, with additional emphasis at the dance floor provided by two EAW JF8 loudspeakers flown to the left and right of the DJ stage.
Two more EAW MK2364s are hung to the left and right of the triple-door entrance to the secondary lounge seating area, with all of these components powered by a single AB 6400 amplifier.
“The owners are very pleased with the new system. We repurposed some still-viable equipment and added new key components that really pulled it all together,” Bell concludes.
“The club is really taking off, and I have to think that the sound systems have something to do with that success.”
Julie McLean Clark is a writer and marketing consultant who has worked in the pro audio industry for more than 15 years.
Acid Test: Up Close And Personal With The Focal CMS 40 Monitors
By all indications, these monitors should to be of interest to mobile studio owners or or those with limited production space. How did they sound? Read on!
Focal is known for their top-range speakers with undeniable qualities but, unfortunately, not for affordability.
That’s why the manufacturer decided to launch a more affordable series a couple of years ago.
It included two models, the CMS 65 and the CMS 50 equipped with 6.5” and 5” woofers respectively. A subwoofer is also available for brown noise fans.
Both models received a warm response from users, so now Focal recently launched an even smaller and less expensive speaker that benefits from all the qualities of its big brothers. The big question is did they succeed?
Small but Powerful
When we were unpacking the speakers, the first thing that surprised us was the very compact size of the CMS 40: 9.39” x 6.14” x 6.10” and about 12 lb.
In other words, these speakers are very small and can be easily transported — which is good news, particularly considering they provide the same high manufacturing quality as their big brothers.
On the other hand, they are also quite heavy — the price to pay for good quality manufacturing, I guess…
You get the same reinforced and damped aluminum housing, black powdered paint and protection grills for both drivers: a 4” woofer made out of a polyglass membrane and an aluminum/magnesium reversed-dome tweeter.
Once you comfortably set up the speakers, you can remove the protection grills and fix the tweeter phase plugs. According to the manufacturer, this improves their response.
Since Focal is generous with accessories, you’ll also find a decoupling table stand and four rubber feet in the box, as well as two height-adjustable spikes to tilt the speakers forward or backward, or even to the sides!
It’s important to mention that all CMS are magnetically shielded so you can easily place them next to a cathode screen monitor.
Regarding speaker position, Focal advises the user to keep at least 1.3 ft from the CMS 40. The rear-panel fixing points allow you to mount them on a wall or any other support.
The rear vertical connections allow you to mount the speaker directly against the wall, which is acoustically possible since the bass reflex housing is front ported.
A very good feature for home studio owners who work in a “closet.” You can use the CMS vertically, horizontally or upside down in order to keep the tweeters at the same height as your ears.
In short, the small CMS is adaptable to almost any environment — a great asset. The manufacturer states that this speaker is not very sensible to the critical acoustic environments of non-optimized rooms!
Settings and Features
Let’s start with some good points: the power on/off switch and the volume control (-66 dB to 0 dB) are conveniently placed on the front panel, where you also have power and clip LEDs.
On the rear panel you’ll find a balanced XLR input (10 kOhm), an unbalanced RCA input (47 kOhm) and the power socket.
You can set the input level to +4dBu, -10dBV or 0dB.
Adjusting the speakers’ response is very simple with two filters: a low shelve (0 Hz - 450 Hz) with -/+2 dB amplification/attenuation and a high shelve (4.5 kHz -20 kHz).
The frequency response stated by the manufacturer is 60 Hz to 28 kHz (-/+3 dB). Two integrated amps of 25 watts each (one per transducer) deliver 97 dB as maximum SPL level (@ 1 m).
Unlike the CMS 50 and CMS 65, the CMS 40 has no real low-cut filter so you’ll have to set the cutoff directly on the subwoofer (the CMS Sub for instance!) at approx. 60 Hz.
However, we tested the monitors without a subwoofer since we had already tested it with the CMS 50 earlier this year.
Monitor controls. Click to enlarge.
Let’s listen to the sound…
Sound and Mix
We compared the CMS 40 with three other monitor speakers: M-Audio DMS 1, Tannoy Reveal 601A and ADAM A3X. We listened to well-known songs and used the speakers in several home-studio situations (mixdown, recording, etc.).
From the very first notes we were pleasantly surprised by the amazingly powerful and well-balanced sound coming from these small boxes.
The low-end is far from ridiculous and we even had to check several times that the sound was actually coming from the CMS 40, rather than from a bigger monitor speaker in the studio. The small Focals show no mercy when mixing down thanks to some very present and detailed mids.
Unlike many small-sized monitor speakers, the small Focals have no hollow response, which makes them seem a bit dull in the beginning. Actually, the sound is very well balanced and the middles are not masked by the high frequencies.
The low-frequency response is much more limited than on 8” speakers, but it goes down deep enough and stays clear all the time. We noticed no masking effects (which usually make a mix sound blurry and unintelligible).
The CMS 40 revealed some details, especially on vocals, we couldn’t notice with other speakers. Very good! Moreover, our final mixes with the CMS 40 translated very nice and well-balanced into other sound systems, with no ugly surprises.
You’ll probably have the feeling that the frequency response of these speakers is narrower — they certainly have less low-end and high-end than other monitors we’ve reviewed.
But behind this feeling, there is the fact that the CMS 40 is often straighter: don’t be taken in by the hollow sound of other models!
If you listen carefully to speakers that seem to sound better, you’ll notice that some details are missing in the mid frequency range.
Generally speaking, the CMS 40 have a better dynamic response than other models we’ve reviewed: certain signals really cut through the mix, providing a more authentic depth feel.
Another good thing is that the sweet spot of this model is pretty wide so you can move around in your room without too many surprises. What’s more, the speakers seem to not be affected by the (sometimes bad) room acoustics.
Now it’s time to listen to our first song —Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”— and compare the ADAM A3X ($600/pair) with the Focal CMS 40 ($800/pair).
They have almost the same size and, besides, Audiofanzine will publish a full review of the ADAM A3X in the coming weeks.
Cash’s voice sounds closer to the listener with the Focals, but the guitar sounds brighter with the ADAMs.
The overall mix is more hollow with the A3X, while high-mids are more accurate with the CMS 40. The depth of Cash’s voice gets a bit lost with the ADAMs.
Although you’ll have the impression that the CMS 40 sound “boxy,” at first, in the end they seem more linear than the ADAM.
Let’s go on with “Angel” from Massive Attack. The monster bass in this song reveals that the ADAMs can deliver a wider lower end, however the bass does sound more precise and has a more “intelligible” attack with the CMS 40.
It might be that the ADAMs low-end tends to mask or blur certain frequencies.
The drum kick sounds dryer with the CMS, it has no resonance at all and you can only hear its attack. The electric guitars in the middle of the song sound a bit more like a “bee nest” with the ADAMs.
We switch to Raconteurs’ “Consolers of the Lonely,” a song with vintage-sounding guitars and very powerful drums.
The bass drum sound seems to be less controlled and a bit softer with the ADAMs, while the Focals reveal a very dynamic response and produce punchy transients.
Rear panel connections. Click to enlarge.
Sibilants of vocals cut through with the A3X and the Focals emphasize the mid frequencies of the guitars.
The latter seem to have a more linear and controlled response. In comparison, the ADAMs mid range seems to be way back.
Next we listened to Michael Jackson’s “Liberian Girl.” During the soft intro both monitors have quite the same response, but as soon as Michael’s voice comes in, we noticed a lack of low-mids with the ADAMs.
Regarding details in the mix (like reverb decays) both speakers sound alike while the Focal scores higher on stereo imaging.
The ADAMs have more “air” but the stereo image seems overemphasized and the high frequencies are way too upfront.
With Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” the Focal show their lack of low frequencies so that the bass guitar and the resonance of the toms stay in the background.
On the other hand, the different guitar tracks are easily identifiable. The hi-hat sound is very different with both speakers: the ADAMs have a much brighter sound. Altogether, both models do a very good job with this song.
On Gorillaz’s “Feel Good,” the drum kick is drier with the Focals, while the megaphone effect of Damon Albarn’s voice seems a bit exaggerated with the ADAMs.
The bass sounds more “boomy” with the ADAMs and it is less intelligible than with the Focals.
And what about the double bass on “Walk on the wild side”? The resonance of the instrument is not audible with the CMS 40, you can only hear the strings!
Lou’s vocals seem closer and more present with the Focals. On the other hand, the snare drum cuts better through with the ADAMs.
On Miles Davis’ “Seven steps to heaven,” the double bass seems shier with the Focals but the trumpet sounds smoother and warmer than with the A3X.
The ride cymbal has a sharper attack with the CMS; in general, dynamic response and transients are more faithful.
With the ADAMs, the attack of the double-bass notes is a bit inhibited by the resonance of the body, which is not the case with the CMS 40. But the sound of the instrument’s body is almost inaudible with the Focals!
On “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” the brass sound is tinier with the ADAMs and we noticed the same basic differences as on the other songs.
Kettledrums have more depth with the ADAMs, while the Focals reproduce almost only the sound of the skin.
Focal brought to market a very surprising compact speaker to extend their CMS range, whose previous models were very appealing.
The CMS 40 is no exception with its irreproachable manufacturing quality, plentiful accessories and remarkably well-balanced sound.
Considering its 4” woofer, the CMS 40 delivers a clear and dry low-end and very present and analytic mids.
The high-frequency response is also good, just like the CMS 65 and CMS 50. We noticed that the sound is less hollow than with other speakers and that the CMS 40 sound more linear than the ADAM A3X, even if the frequency response of the ADAMs is wider in the low and high ends of the spectrum.
The CMS 40’s do a very good job when mixing and they reveal details you could miss with other speakers.
We had no surprises listening to our mixes through other speaker systems, which is a very good point.
Moreover, the CMS 40 has a wide sweet spot and can be used in a room with poor acoustic properties.
At $800/pair, this monitor speakers are highly recommended for mobile studio owners or people working in a very small room who want to buy a well-built and faithful speaker pair.
Well balanced sound
Limited but precise low frequency response
Sturdiness and manufacturing quality
Adjustable spikes, removable grills and decoupling table stand
Very compact size
On/off switch and volume control on the front panel
No 1/4” jack input
For more audio/sound related content and resources, go to Audiofanzine.
The Battle Of Powered vs. Passive Speakers For Church Sound
There are numerous reasons why nobody is wrong. In the end, it just boils down to your individual requirements.
One of the most common questions heard from churches is whether they should purchase powered speakers and subs, or use passive (unpowered) speakers with amplifiers.
This is, of course, entirely dependent on the situation.
Just a few of the questions we ask in return are:
“Will the system be portable or installed?”
“Will the connections on the installed speakers be easily accessible?”
“Will the people using the portable system be able to lift the speakers?”
“Where is electricity more readily available?”
“Is there an air-conditioned spot close to the where the amplifiers will be?”
...and so many more.
The long and short (or the “light and heavy”) of it is that you need to think about your application. I personally love using powered speakers for portable church systems, since there are fewer cables to lug around, and I’m strong enough to manhandle the speakers on and off poles.
I’ve seen portable setups become semi-installed setups because the people using the system were not able to move the speakers.
I tend to prefer the use of passive speakers for installation, but there are many cases where powered speakers are much more practical.
Here are some of the pros and cons of powered vs passive for your consideration:
Predictable: the amplifier is matched to the speakers, and the factory has tested it.
Negates the need for an additional equipment rack for amplifiers. All components are in one convenient package. They can be connected directly to a mixer or sound source.
Greatly reduces audio quality & level loss over longer cable distances, due to the differences between balanced audio wire and speaker wire.
Portable powered speakers require more lifting power. Installed powered speakers require additional rigging and support in the room.
Often the amplifier is tuned to the speaker, so little to no equalization is necessary.
In powered speaker installations, amplifier service must be done at speaker location.
Simple setup and easier to understand for people unfamiliar with sound systems.
Flexible: allows for potential upgrades without replacing both the amp and speaker.
More gear to keep up with, and the amplifier must be located relatively close to the speaker.
More potential for signal loss over long distance, but gets signal from standard speaker wires rather than needing both XLR and power.
Lighter weight, simpler to rig in an installation, and easier to lift for portable systems.
The amplifier needs to be matched to the speaker for proper sound quality and volume.
Service of the amplifier or speaker is more straightforward. The amplifier is easily accessible, and either component can be exchanged for a temporary one.
Traditional method, so more people will be familiar with the setup.
Hopefully you are now armed with a little more knowledge, so now here’s a little help for your decision making.
First, if you are working with a consultant or A/V installation company, describe your situation and concerns and see what they would recommend.
They work with this gear day in and out, and are used to dealing with the benefits and drawbacks of powered and passive speakers.
Prioritize your requirements and desires. Even if you feel a powered speaker is better for your portable system, it’s not a good choice if you or the person using it can’t lift it or move it.
On the other hand, you may be slightly uncomfortable with the concept of powered speakers, but if there’s no good location for an amp rack and the speakers would be reasonably accessible, powered speakers may be a better installation choice.
If either powered or passive speakers would meet your requirements, then see which type satisfies more of your desires.
Finally, if you’re still struggling with the decision, and you’ve done your due diligence on choosing the best option for your church, then pray and let God do his part.
Most importantly, try not to stress! Just pray and go as you feel led.
Mark Helms is a Systems Designer and Certified Church Consultant for Church Audio Video.
Church Audio Video specializes in the design, installation and support of high-quality and affordable custom audio, video, lighting, broadcast and control systems for worship facilities. For more information, visit their website.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
RCF Digitally Steerable Vertical Line Arrays The Choice Of Saint Mark’s Basilica
A new audio system was required by the historic site which totaled more than forty loudspeakers.
At Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, a true treasure of history, art and faith visited every year by at least 1.5-2 million people from all over the world, an extensive new RCF sound reinforcement system was recently installed, with forty loudspeaker enclosures that include no less than ten of the new VSA 2050 digitally steerable vertical line arrays.
Many of the countless tourists visiting this marvelous example of Romanesque and Byzantine architecture also take part in the religious ceremonies held inside, so the audio system had to meet various requirements, as is explained by Marco Mazzon, founder of the company of the same name, based in Meolo (Venice), which installed the system:
“The brief I got from the client was above all to ensure a considerable increase in intelligibility and flexible control of the various sectors - there are approximately thirty microphones used by officiates and singers in seven different zones of the church.”
As he had detailed knowledge of the Basilica and its logistics, Mazzon designed the signal management system, whereas, for the actual acoustic design, he contacted RCF’s dedicated in-house division, in the person of Francesco Venturi, who presented a detailed report and acoustic simulation documentation along with the definitive design.
The main problem to be solved consisted in the different sound coverage required from the system (ranging from a few meters to thirty), which had to ensure considerable spl as well as extremely even distribution, achieving better intelligibility without increasing the reverberation problems typical of this type of location.
Due to the building’s architectural classification, each array had to have a color that ensured it was almost invisible.
“The VSA systems provide the ideal solution to both these aspects, thanks to their remarkable sound pressure and precision and a ‘custom’ finish, which solved the aesthetic problems.”
The ten VSA 2050 arrays cover the “congregation” zone of the Basilica and are mounted on the church’s impressive columns, forming a main sound front made up of six systems covering the front area of the naves and the transept, while the other four are mounted twenty metres further forward and appropriately delayed, to cover the rear portion of the naves.
Two compact RCF MR 33WT enclosures installed below the ambos optimize the coverage of the first rows of worshippers.
Thanks to the its powerful DSP circuit, connected directly digitally to the twenty Class D 50W amplifiers, the VSA 2050 processes the audio signal fed to each of its twenty loudspeakers to control their vertical dispersion, driving them with the necessary power for ensuring excellent dynamics and addressing the appropriate area to be covered.
Various other types of RCF enclosures were installed in the Basilica, both indoors and outside: seventeen two-way passive loudspeaker columns (versions CS 6940 and 6520) are installed in other seven zones if the huge church, including the entire area of the presbytery and the Pala d’Oro (the high altar’s splendid retable), the Baptistery, the chapel of St. Isidore and the narthex.
Three MR33T “service” enclosures are positioned at the two organs (as monitors for the organists) and in the vestry.
On particularly important occasions, six H6045 fiberglass multi-cell long-throw exponential horn speakers, each fitted with four D5076 drivers, are mounted outside the basilica with special fast-lock hardware and cover the entire square.
When installation work was completed, RCF technicians took a series of measurements to ensure that the system’s performance perfectly achieved the acoustic objectives set by the client.
On Sunday, 8th of May at the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, the Pope will host the third Assembly of the Church of the Patriarchate of Venice arranged for the closure of the Pastoral Visit of the Patriarch and his main collaborators of the different parishes.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Church Sound Files: Isolating Instruments In Innovative Ways
Like many things in live sound, some isolation techniques are filled with compromises, but that's still better than doing nothing at all.
For our Good Friday/Easter stage set up, we really change things up from our normal set up.
Instead of the band being clustered in the middle of the stage, we opened them way up, and spread them out on varied height platforms all across the stage.
We did this because a key point of our Good Friday service centers around a very powerful dance during Lead Me To The Cross. It’s a good look, but it does create some problems.
We normally don’t have both woodwinds and percussion together on a normal weekend, but we do for Good Friday. Logistics dictate that percussion be right next to winds.
In the past, we’ve gotten away with it, but this year our winds player has changed up his micing, and with the addition of three toms at percussion, we had some issues.
When the percussionist laid into the toms, it actually started clipping the input on the winds player’s rig; and he was supposed to be playing sax at that point!
As seen from the Sax platform
This problem was aggravated by the fact that the percussion platform is a foot higher than the winds platform, putting the toms right at mic level.
This problem came up during rehearsal the night before the service, so we couldn’t re-configure. So we had to improvise. We have a giant, 6’ high drum shield that we don’t use that often (though we were using it around the Leslie cabinet), as well as some other, shorter shields.
We pulled two sections of the 6’ shield and found that they fit perfectly in place between the two platforms. However, since we didn’t have enough room to Z-fold it, it wouldn’t stay up. We tried one of our stage stands, but we didn’t have room for that either.
As seen from the Percussion platform.
Someone hit on the idea of pulling a few panels off the short stands and using them as “wings.” Since the shields are made by the same manufacturer, the hinges are compatible.
As you can see from the pictures, we used two short sections to fold onto the percussion platform, which added enough stability to hold it in place. Some quick testing showed it seemed to work pretty well, so we went with it.
I spoke to our winds player between rehearsal and the first service and asked him if it was better. His answer surprised me; he said, “It’s not better, it completely solved it!” So I guess that was a win.
Click to enlarge.
We did find that it effected the toms a little bit, since we were not close-mic’ing them. We wanted those to sound a little more distant, so I had an X-Y mic set up about a foot over the toms.
The shield created a bit of phasing and slightly effected the tone, but it was a trade off worth making.
If we had more time, I may have added some absorption to try to tame that, but we were under the gun.
Like many things in live sound, this was a compromise. However, I think the end result was better than had we done nothing at all.
So how about you? What creative means have you used to isolate instruments onstage? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!
Mike Sessler is the Technical Director at Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo, CA. He has been involved in live production for over 20 years and is the author of the blog, Church Tech Arts . He also hosts a weekly podcast called Church Tech Weekly on the TechArtsNetwork.
JBL Loudspeakers The Choice Of IMS Audio/Visual In Supporting Presidential Town Hall Meeting
IMS supplied JBL VERTEC, VRX and SRX loudspeakers for President Obama’s town hall meeting in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania.
President Barack Obama held a recent town hall meeting at Gamesa Technology Corporation in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania.
The town hall meeting addressed a variety of issues, while focusing largely on reducing foreign oil imports and creating jobs for the future.
A high-profile contract for Garnett Valley-based IMS Audio/Visual, the rental company provided a variety of JBL Professional loudspeakers for live sound reinforcement including VERTEC DP Series line arrays supported by VRX and SRX Series systems.
For the meeting, IMS Audio/Visual deployed left/right main arrays, each containing five JBL VERTEC VT4887ADP-DA compact powered line array elements with JBL DrivePack technology.
For out fill, IMS provided four VRX932LAP constant curvature loudspeakers per side, as well as two SRX712M stage monitors. Signal processing, control and monitoring for the entire system was accomplished via a dbx DriveRack 4800 Loudspeaker Management System and HiQnet System Architect software.
Managing this event was a challenge for Chris Leonard, Director of Audio for IMS. Creating the perfect audio environment in the 100 x 700-foot steel and concrete venue with 70-foot ceilings was difficult enough, but to make all audio reinforcement equipment visually discreet while suspending no temporary equipment over the President or his security team posed the greatest challenge.
“We had to hang them high and aim nearly straight down over the crowd, but the VERTEC line arrays are designed for this type of application. The system was easy to set up and sounded great,” said Leonard. “The entire event was a tremendous success.”
Deploying HARMAN equipment for an event of this nature was an easy decision for Leonard. “HARMAN gear is always reliable and provides the best audio quality,” Leonard continued.
“I love the JBL VERTEC DPDA input modules, which allow for AES digital audio input with analog backup. We can also quickly set rotary-encoder switches on the JBL DrivePacks as we set up to pre-stage the arrays and individual boxes without having to make sure the amplifiers’ IP addresses are coordinated.”
“Utilizing HiQnet, we were able to fine-tune the entire rig wirelessly with a tablet computer.”
A video of President Obama’s speech is available here.