Friday, January 16, 2015
Making It Invisible At The DeWitt Theatre
More often than not, there’s more than readily meets the eye when it comes to purpose-designed-and-built sound reinforcement systems in performing arts venues.
Certainly these systems include traditional audio components and concerns, but they also come with a host of structural and infrastructure issues that present additional challenges – often formidable – to the system design and installation team.
Case in point is the culmination of a system project for the Main Theatre at the DeWitt Center on the campus of Hope College in Holland, MI.
Originally opened in 1972 and renovated 25 years later, the 464-seat venue offers both thrust and proscenium configurations, hosting rehearsals and performances by the college’s renowned theatre department as well as a variety of regional groups.
It’s an intimate space affording excellent sightlines, with gently raked main floor seating on three sides of the thrust stage (which can be removed) and a balcony (also with raked seating) opposite the proscenium. Devoid of acoustic treatment, all wall surfaces are painted a very dark gray, and there’s no artistic adornment around the proscenium, signifying the stage as the primary focus.
Looking out into the seating areas from the DeWitt Theatre stage.
A grid of catwalks and support structure spans the front half of the room, about 30 feet above the main floor, and it’s here where most of the venue’s production equipment resides, including audio components and lighting fixtures.
Resident sound/lighting designer Perry Landes, who also serves as facilities manager in addition to being an associate professor of theatre at the college, worked in tandem with Ann Arbor Audio to develop and implement a new main loudspeaker system within this space. Led by John Malek, the design-build firm, which is based in Brighton, MI, brought more than 30 years of experience to the project, proficient in sound design, installation, acoustics, modeling, measurement, and as we’ll see, much more.
John Malek of Ann Arbor Audio at the system rack in the catwalks that contains new Alcons Sentinel 3 amplifier/processors.
The loudspeaker system is the culmination of a 5-phase multi-year sound system replacement project at the theatre, involving infrastructure upgrades, power conditioning, source and signal processing devices, wireless microphone systems, hearing impaired systems and communications.
Landes had done a lot of homework on loudspeaker solutions before Ann Arbor Audio was brought on to the project, formulating a design concept of either main left/right or left/center/right line arrays, accompanied by a voice ring of loudspeakers.
Resident sound/lighting designer Perry Landes at the Yamaha M7CL console at front of house.
“John and I were able to get to realizing that plan quickly, which was one of the truly marvelous things about working with him,” he notes. “After spending time there with me and looking at the challenges, he basically agreed with the ideas I’d come up with in my 25-plus years at Hope.”
In presenting an informed, comprehensive proposal, Ann Arbor Audio first performed an analysis of coverage and structural issues, using EASE Focus 2 modeling along with, as Malek notes, “a whole lot of CAD drawings.” All of this work paid off, resulting in a better grasp of the true scope of the project.
A key factor was loudspeaker location; they were to be heard but not seen, expected to deliver full-bandwidth coverage to all seats while residing at the catwalk level, at or above the top of the proscenium.
But first, the specific loudspeaker types, and then models, needed to be selected, with several top candidates evaluated within the space.
Sonic quality was also a primary factor, of course, along with coverage patterns fitting the unique configuration and issues such as overall footprint, rigging, and adaptability.
Alcons Audio loudspeakers emerged as the consensus choice from this process. They’re noted for a proprietary high-frequency approach that utilizes a ribbon driver in tandem with a “Morpher” lens to provide almost total frontal radiation, resulting in a seamless cylindrical (Isophasic) wavefront.
“These are very precise loudspeakers, with the ribbon transducers resulting in absolutely no coloration,” Malek states. “The additional result is a wallpapering of sound, a ‘wall of sound’ – as opposed to lobes of sound – that is consistently solid and present.”
The new loudspeaker set at the theatre, including Alcons LR7 line arrays installed within the I-beam and a voice ring above the house. When the lights are set for a production, none of the loudspeakers can be seen.
Specifically, the Alcons LR7 (4-inch ribbon, 6.5-inch cone, vented) line array platform and footprint played into a key design aspect on the project “wish list,” which was to locate main left and right arrays within custom-fabricated acoustical chambers attached to a 1-inch thick steel I-beam running directly behind the proscenium arch. The location is optimal for evenly distributing sonic energy to the majority of the venue.
Working with an engineering firm, Landes had done an analysis to verify that large-enough openings could be cut out of the beam without compromising its structural integrity. These cut-outs would be backed by custom-built chambers housing the arrays.
All of the data, as well as the dimensions for the arrays (including enough depth to accommodate a “J” array shape), was provided to the engineering firm, which assembled the custom chambers, constructing them of very dense wood that’s both cross- and diagonal-braced.
A drawing showing the structure and arrays, as well as plenty of other details.
The chambers were secured to the I-beam by the engineering firm, followed by the sound team using the contractor’s scissor-lift to hoist and assemble the arrays. The painstaking preparation proved to pay off, with the arrays fitting within the chambers just as intended, their positioning optimized with final mechanical adjustments.
“The success of this project really started with getting very accurate measurements, and then translating them to the CAD realm,” Malek says. “We had to be meticulous and precise, including exact data for all of the custom mounting frames, speaker brackets and rated hardware associated with the arrays.”
A closer look at one of the line arrays in the I-beam.
Alcons LR7 modules are very compact, measuring 6.9 x 14.1 x 10.7 inches (h x w x d). For this project, modeling had shown optimal coverage could be attained with arrays of six modules, with 90-degree horizontal dispersion for the (longer throw) top modules covering the balcony and 120-degree horizontal dispersion for the (wider throw) lower modules covering the main floor.
The full-range loudspeaker complement is completed by a “voice ring” of additional loudspeaker modules optimally positioned via custom fabricated steel mounting structures attached to the catwalk grid – dual sets of LR7s for the balcony and main floor, as well as each of the side seating sections.
Subwoofer selection and location proved to be another challenging facet of the project. These too were required to be “up and out of the way,” but the I-beam couldn’t be further modified, and the structure immediately above it was too congested.
Malek scouted for alternative locations, considering various subwoofer models and configurations, again using modeling to help predict results.
A centrally located position, both in relation to the catwalks as well as the theatre below, was identified and found to be feasible from an acoustic perspective, and further, it didn’t impede or otherwise impact any of the lighting fixtures and other elements in the grid.
However, it too needed infrastructure, this time in the form of a custom frame of back-to-back channel strut beams across the span.
The steel frame was designed to accommodate four Alcons BF115i (install version) subwoofers, each with a single front-loaded, 15-inch long-excursion cone driver, tightly packed, two next to two, firing downward. Every surface of the frame that comes in contact with a subwoofer is lined with 1/4-inch rubber gasket so that there’s no metal to wood vibration. Further, heavy-duty springs at the attachment points to the beams serve to provide additional vibration isolation from the surrounding structure.
“From day one, wanted to make sure this didn’t cause any problems and so went all-in with the structural design,” Malek notes. “It’s completely isolated from the structural steel of the building, so it’s absolutely silent in terms of any additional noise and sympathetic vibrations.”
The four Alcons BF115i subwoofers in the custom frame in the catwalk. Note the springs at the attachment point that provide additional isolation from the structure.
Getting these larger cabinets in place at the ceiling level wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. They were brought up to the catwalk level via a tall scaffolding erected on the stage, and from there were wrangled into the steel frame. It also shouldn’t go overlooked that a whole lot of planning and subsequent work went into cabling the entire loudspeaker contingent.
Four recently released Alcons Sentinel 3 amplifier-processors drive all loudspeakers, mounted in a rack positioned by the main door to the catwalk area to keep cable runs at an acceptable length while also being easy to access. All parameters can be dialed in and accessed via the front panel on these units, and they can also be remotely adjusted and controlled via networked PC.
At the heart of each 2RU Sentinel 3 is a SHARC digital processor joined by proprietary class D amplifier stages. It has 192 kHz capable AES/EBU inputs, custom-designed sample-rate conversion, and remote-selectable input sensitivity. Loudspeaker DSP functionality includes a 6-band parametric per channel, delay, and factory presets for all Alcons systems and configurations.
“Sentinel is just a phenomenal package, and it’s perfectly matched with the loudspeakers,” Malek states. “There aren’t many amplifier/control options with this type of capability, and they significantly enhance clarity.”
The system’s remaining primary component is a Yamaha M7CL digital console that anchors the front of house position that’s centrally located on the main floor. Landes notes that this unit continues to perform well, but may be subject to an upgrade to a newer model at a later date.
Via an option card on the console, all audio signal (12 channels) is sent via AES/EBU to the Sentinel amplifier/controllers. “It’s a very crisp, sharp, clean way to handle the signal, especially in relation to analog,” Malek says. “Digital not only enhances things sonically, especially with respect to speech intelligibility, but it’s also cut way down on the infrastructure that would have been required to run analog signal cabling through this EMI & RFI jungle that comprises the catwalk space.”
The digital advantage also applied to the system tuning and optimization process, with the sound team able to make adjustments from within the venue rather than needing to run back and forth to the racks or posting someone full-time at the racks and communicating via radios.
“We performed extensive measurements – edge to edge, top to bottom, across the balcony – and there’s very little variation in the overall sound pressure level of the entire area,” Malek says. “It’s amazing how smooth it is. With compression driver/horn systems, you typically see a lot variations and major notches due to coupling in the crossover range, as well as the coverage of the horn versus that of the woofer as they narrow in the upper range of the crossover – it’s the typical ‘wooshing’ sound we’ve all heard while walking through coverage. This isn’t as noticeable when you’re seated, but it’s still a factor.
“Then in the effort to eliminate this lobing problem, you typically work it, and work it some more, crossover points, slopes, delays and so on, but it’s a challenge and rarely feels quite ‘done’,” he concludes. “What we’ve got here is invisible transition between the loudspeakers, appropriately as invisible as the actual loudspeakers are to the eye. It’s what the ribbon tweeter brings to the occasion, and in our view, it’s spectacular.”
Keith Clark is editor in chief of ProSoundWeb and Live Sound International.
Celestion Launches New FTX Range Of “Common Magnet Motor” Coaxial Loudspeakers
Ferrite magnet coaxial loudspeakers available in 12-inch, 8-inch, and 6.5-inch chassis diameters
Celestion has announced the introduction of the new FTX range of common magnet motor coaxial loudspeakers, and they’ll be on display at the upcoming 2015 NAMM Show in Anaheim at booth 4674.
Coaxial loudspeakers offer a full-range frequency response in a single self-contained driver and by concentrically aligning low and high frequency drivers, act as more of a “single source” that can provide improvements in signal alignment and off-axis response when compared to a traditional two-way system.
Celestion’s FTX range of cast aluminum, ferrite magnet coaxial loudspeakers are available in 12-inch (305mm), 8-inch (200mm) and 6.5-inch (165mm) chassis diameters.
They offer combined LF and HF components powered by a “common magnet motor” assembly (where the same magnet is used for both the LF and HF elements). This enables the voice coils and hence the acoustic centers of the two drivers to be brought closer together, delivering further improvements in signal coherence and time alignment, for a more natural sounding audio reproduction.
The use of a single magnet assembly also means lighter weight and a more compact profile, compared to more conventional dual motor designs.
Each of these models has a polyimide film HF diaphragm, enabling them to provide greater high frequency power handling. Next-generation Sound Castle soft clamping assembly decreases diaphragm stress for further reduced distortion and even greater reliability of performance.
Both HF and LF voice coils are edge wound using lightweight copper or copper clad aluminium. Not only does this increase barrel stiffness, it enables a closer coil wire packing density, leading to improved cooling and increased motor strength.
Additional features include demodulation rings that minimize the effects of power compression, as well as reducing the harmonic and intermodulation distortion that is commonly associated with voice coil displacement.
Texas High School Football Facility Gets A Sonic Upgrade Via Community Professional
R6 high-output, horn-loaded loudspeakers deliver the necessary extra-long throw at 8,400-plus capacity stadium
Home to the Conroe (Texas) Independent School District’s numerous High School athletic teams, Buddy Moorhead Stadium continues a proud tradition of Texas high school football with a modern facility seating over 8,400 fans, recently outfitted with a new sound reinforcement system headed by Community Professional loudspeakers.
TASC A/V of Conroe provided the new system, designing it with Community R6-51 high-output, horn-loaded loudspeakers. TASC project manager Anthony DiDonato explains, “Our only real option for locating the loudspeakers was at the scoreboard. So, we needed an extra-long-throw box to cover over 150 yards. Plus, this is Texas football – we needed high SPL at long distance to get over the crowd.”
Lab.gruppen amplifiers power the loudspeakers, with other key system components including a Montezuma DSP mixer and Shure ULX wireless microphones for field use and game announcements. Two Symetrix Radius DSPs provide processing and loudspeaker management, communicating over a dedicated Dante V-LAN network.
TASC also installed twelve Community C6 ceiling loudspeakers in the press box with zone volume controls and a shotgun mic on the outside of the press box to monitor the game and half-time events.
DiDonato says the response to the new system from the school district has been highly enthusiastic, with director of athletics Danny C. Long stating: “TASC A/V really went the extra mile to design and install a rock-solid system and ensure that it produces quality sound in every part of the stadium.”
Grund Audio Design Announces New GP Series Self-Powered Loudspeakers
Include XLR microphone, CD player, and line level XLR and 1/4-inch inputs, as well as individual volume controls for each input as well as master tone controls for output
Grund Audio Design has introduced the new GP Series of self-powered loudspeakers, housed in lightweight injection molded enclosures and designed for a wide range of applications. They’ll be on display at the upcoming 2015 NAMM Show in Anaheim at booth 6332,
The four models—GP-08A, GP-10A, GP-12A, and GP-15A—are all 2-way systems with a 1-inch compression driver mated with an 8-, 10-, 12-, or 15-inch weather treated low frequency transducer in a reinforced, ribbed, two-piece molded, low flex enclosure. The onboard power amplifiers range from 200 watts to 700 watts of output.
GP loudspeakers include XLR microphone, CD player, and line level XLR and 1/4-inch inputs, as well as individual volume controls for each input as well as master tone controls for output. In addition, they’re outfitted with isolated outputs for connecting multiple enclosures.
Enclosures incorporate M8 rigging points for convenient suspension, a pole mount cup for use with floor stands (available separately), and floor monitor feet that ensure secure placement.
Frank Grund, president of Grund Audio Design, states. “Our new GP loudspeakers are a versatile solution to a wide range of common sound reinforcement applications. With their lightweight, injection molded enclosures, these loudspeakers offer exceptional value for any application where announcements, music, and AV presentations occur—including corporate meetings, church picnics, small clubs, and ‘club date’ musical engagements. Their self-powered design simplifies system cabling and their versatile input capability make them easy to use with excellent audio performance.”
The new Grund Audio Design loudspeakers are now shipping.
• GP-08A —$349.95
• GP-10A —$399.95
• GP-12A —$469.95
• GP-15A —$499.95
Grund Audio Design
On The Waterfront: Harman Professional Outfits The Brando Hotel On Tetiaroa Island
Three networked audio systems installed by Total Video of Tahiti to serve new luxury resourt built around a lagoon
Located in French Polynesia on the Tetiaroa atoll, which was once legendary actor Marlon Brando’s private island, The Brando luxury resort surrounds a completely enclosed lagoon and is accessible only by plane, and it’s outfitted with networked audio systems made up of Harman Professional components.
Total Video Distribution of Tahiti installed the systems at the new resort to serve three primary locations, the biggest in the main part of the hotelm which includes the reception area, indoor and outdoor shops, two restaurants, two bars and other sections. A large meeting room has a separate audio system, and the spa was considered separately because of its environmental considerations.
“We determined that the best solution was to go with separate installations that were optimized for each location rather than one all-encompassing system, as this would best serve the needs of each facility and would be the simplest, most flexible and most cost-effective way to meet the Brando’s needs,” said Jacques Lilin, general manager of Total Video. “That said, we standardized on all-Harmanbrands in each installation because we knew it would be a guarantee of perfect communication between the different system elements and compatibility between inputs and outputs.”
The main system is networked via two BSS Audio Soundweb London BLU-800 signal processors. The BLU-800 handles source selection, volume control and distribution for a variety of audio sources and distributes music and announcements throughout multiple zones.
Amplification is provided by Crown CTs 600 and CTs 280A power amps and a variety of JBL Control 24CT and 23T loudspeakers mounted in the beams, ceilings, walls and in various other locations. An AKG D542ST-S microphone is used for announcements and each zone is managed locally via a BSS Audio BLU-6 wall-mount controller.
All of the equipment is housed in a dedicated equipment room located near the Brando’s concierge area. The control room also has a BSS Audio BLU-10 programmable controller for general control of all the zones.
The meeting room’s separate audio system is managed by a BSS Audio BLU-800 signal processor, with JBL Control 26CT in-ceiling speakers powered by Crown CTs 600 amplifiers. Four AKG WMS450PRESENTER+D5 wireless microphone systems are available, along with a DVD player and custom-built A/V connectors near the video projector to accommodate a computer, iPod or other device. Two AKG wireless antennas are located in the ceiling to provide optimum reception for the wireless mic signals.
The spa system had a very specific requirement: the equipment had to be simplified to the maximum degree because of its exposure to salt and humidity.
“We needed to install components that have proven themselves in such conditions,” said Lilin. Because of the harsh environment, four separate systems were installed to accommodate four spa areas, hammams (steam rooms), tea room, shops, locker rooms, fitness and massage rooms. The four systems each have only an iPod as a music source, connected directly to a Crown 280MA mixer-amp with their volume operated by either the iPod or a Crown 1-VCAP in-wall volume control.
“Now that the system is in place, it’s apparent that having separate systems was the right approach for this installation,” Lilin concludes. “Everything operates in a manner that’s easy for the hotel staff, and the Harman components provide the flexibility and functionality the Brando needs.”
D.A.S. Audio Launches The AERO 20A Compact Line Array
System joins new generation of DASnet capable powered line arrays
D.A.S. Audio has launched the new Aero 20A compact powered line array, joining the third generation of Aero line arrays systems born with the introduction of the Aero 40A in 2014. Incorporating the company’s ALAS philosophy, the Aero 20A also draws from the success of the “all-purpose” capabilities of the Aero 12A, launched in 2009.
The Aero 20A incorporates a new D.A.S. 12-inch woofer loudspeaker optimized to provide high output and reliability. A light aluminum voice coil bonded to a new fiberglass reinforced cone, an optimized magnet circuit, and a new suspension design, have contributed to the performance of the 12AN4 in terms of distortion, power handling and maximum SPL.
In addition, the 12AN4´s new voice coil venting scheme is effective in dissipating voice coil heat providing a high thermal rating and low power compression.
The high frequency response relies on the M-75N compression driver and a new waveguide assembly developed specifically for the Aero 20A. The compression driver employs a neodymium magnet structure, a titanium diaphragm and 75 mm (3-inch) voice coil. The M-75N is attached to an injected aluminum waveguide optimized in conjunction with the driver.
Audio power is supplied by a compact Class D amplifier that combines the power supply, output stage and connectors in a single, lightweight chassis. The 2-channel (800 watts plus 400 watts) amplifier makes use of switch mode technology to provide high predictability and immunity from intermodulation artifacts, thanks to the innovative design of the Pulse Width Modulation controller.
Brick wall FIR filters have been used to provide optimized alignment between “ways” to achieve uniform coverage all the way down to the crossover point. High-quality AD/DA converters have been employed allowing for improvements in dynamics, lower distortion and low noise levels.
The Aero 20A is DASnet capable, allowing for remote monitoring and control by way of DASnet, the audio management application for D.A.S. powered cabinets and processors. Based on the RS-485 protocol, the software offers users instant and intuitive view of the system status as well as remote control over a range of parameters of up to 256 devices.
Enclosures are constructed of birch plywood and finished with an ISO-flex coating offering protection and durability. Two individual aluminum assemblies comprising the high frequency waveguide, and a carrier for the 12-inch woofer are attached to the front of the cabinet. An aluminum heat sink housing the amplifier and related electronics is attached to the rear of the cabinet.
A new captive rigging mechanism has been designed to provide enhanced ease of use, allowing angle selection to be made while stacked on the transport dolly. A locking system can be triggered to secure angles between adjacent enclosures during the stacking and lifting procedures. Safe rigging and precise aiming is achieved due to the AX rigging system and the low-profile fly-bar that reduces the space needed between the upper rigging point and the top of the array.
PreSonus Appoints Blaine Wilkins Inside Sales Coordinator For WorxAudio
Responsible for interfacing with prospective customers, providing product information and data, and providing support for the company’s authorized dealers
PreSonus has appointed Blaine Wilkins to the position of inside sales coordinator for the company’s WorxAudio division, where he is responsible for interfacing with prospective customers, providing product information and comparative data, and providing support for the company’s authorized dealers.
In addition, Wilkins will support WorxAudio sales representatives with their technical queries, order information, training materials, as well as answering inbound emails from end users, sales representatives, and dealers. And, he will review all purchase orders for accuracy; i.e., ensuring that proper rigging and accessories are on order.
Wilkins served as an audio engineer for Advanced Audio & Stage Lighting of Denham Springs, LA, a design/build firm active in the AV installation market, where he was directly involved in the design, integration, programming, and installation of corporate and large scale church audio, visual, and lighting systems. He also served as the technical director for Parkview Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, LA.
“As our WorxAudio division is a premiere manufacturer of high end loudspeaker systems for a wide range of sound reinforcement applications, PreSonus is committed to providing the very best customer service and sales support,” says PreSonus VP of sales Rick Naqvi. “In his new role as Inside Sales Coordinator for WorxAudio, Blaine has a very hands-on role when it comes to these responsibilities and I am confident he will be a valuable addition to our company’s efforts. All of us at WorxAudio and PreSonus are pleased to have him onboard.”
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Meyer Sound Constellation Transforms Oregon’s Newport Performing Arts Center
Tailored acoustical enhancement is delivered using 78 loudspeakers, with low end from six subwoofers
The Newport Performing Arts Center (PAC) in Oregon recently installed a Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system in its 398-seat Alice Silverman Theatre.
“The result of Constellation is subtly but fundamentally transformative for both audience and performer,” says David Ogden Stiers, resident conductor for the Newport Symphony Orchestra (NSO), who has more than 20 years of experience at the PAC. “We have gone from an okay performance space to an actual, audible concert hall. Frankly, I was skeptical about the system at first—but am now totally won over.”
The proposal of the Constellation solution initially came from acoustical consultant Russ Altermatt, who heard a demonstration at University of California San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Music Center during an Acoustical Society of America (ASA) conference.
“The flexibility of Constellation and the natural acoustical environment it created in the space were astonishing,” says Altermatt. “Constellation is able to simulate much larger rooms—I could not believe how natural the three and four second RT’s sounded. Newport would have to spend tens of millions to achieve that symphony sound with architectural acoustic solutions, but then the other performance groups would suffer.”
At the core of Newport’s Constellation system is a D-Mitri digital audio platform that hosts all system I/O, signal processing, and control logic. The room’s acoustic is picked up by 18 miniature condenser microphones and processed by patented VRAS algorithms to deliver early reflections and reverberation to the room. This tailored acoustical enhancement is delivered using 40 Stella-4 installation loudspeakers, 26 MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers, two CQ-1 loudspeakers, 10 HMS-10 surround loudspeakers, with low end from four MM-10XP subwoofers and two 500-HP subwoofers.
When needed, a Meyer Sound reinforcement system uses the CQ-1 and HMS-10 loudspeakers and 500-HP subwoofers in addition to one UPA-1P and two UPJunior VariO™ loudspeakers. The integrated systems provide tremendous flexibility to support acoustic, reinforced, and cinema events. An Apple iPad provides an easy-to-use interface for the system operator to change settings.
“Performers now get an incredible amount of response from the hall, which not only allows them to hear themselves better, but also greatly enhances their perception of audience response,” says Mark McConnell, a former Newport mayor who chaired the project’s capital campaign. “The system is very subtle and extremely effective because the audience is never really aware that Constellation is there and working on their behalf. It’s like having a brand new space—there’s no comparison to what we had before.”
Adam Flatt, NSO musical director, says: “From the podium, the sound has more life and color from the point of production. From there, the bloom carries to the audience—something that was lacking before. We now have a much improved ‘instrument’ in which to make music.”
The Newport PAC is home to a collection of companies known as the PACRATS (Performing Arts Center Resident Artists Team), which includes producers of music, theatre, and dance events. In addition to the PAC’s concert schedule, Constellation supports Broadway-style productions including Young Frankenstein by Mel Brooks.
The audio systems were designed and installed by Eugene, OR.-based George Relles Sound. With the upgrade, the venue joins the likes of Moscow’s Svetlanov Hall, The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and more than 50 other prestigious venues that rely on the variable acoustics of Constellation.
In The Studio: Acoustics & Soundproofing Basics
The science of acoustics is something that tends to alternately baffle and intimidate most of us.
Outside of a handful of highly trained individuals, the aspects of what makes a room sound a certain way is looked upon as a sort of black art.
Performance venues and upscale recording studios routinely include acoustic designers in their construction budgets, spending considerable sums of money in pursuit of sonic perfection.
But for the average musician, budgeting for acoustic treatment has traditionally ranked well below the more tangible fun stuff like instruments, mics, recording gear, plug-ins, toys and more toys.
Even if you’re at liberty to physically alter your space without incurring a landlord’s wrath, budgeting for two-by-fours, sheetrock and caulking doesn’t tend to hold the same appeal as that new channel strip plug-in or 12-string you’ve been pining for.
Fortunately, the same technological revolution that has brought multitracking into spare bedrooms and one-car garages has also created low-cost solutions for many of the common acoustical issues facing the average project studio.
Just Scratching The Surfaces
Let’s start off with a disclaimer: the purpose of this article is not to give you an education on acoustics. There are plenty of authoritative books on the subject, among them F. Alton Everest’s classic “How to Build a Small Budget Recording Studio from Scratch,” as well as a wealth of great articles and web posts.
Rather, our goal here is to talk about some of the most common issues we encounter in our musical spaces, and some of the means available to address them.
That said, let’s divide the concept of acoustic treatment into some basic categories. There’s insulation, which usually entails keeping the sounds of the outside world out, or keeping your own sounds in. Closely related is isolation – the art of keeping individual sounds from bleeding too heavily into each other.
The other challenge is a bit more subtle, and has to do with how our rooms affect the sounds we’re creating in them. In any given space, the characteristics of that space have a direct effect on what we’re hearing. That’s why an instrument will sound different in a large hall than it will in a small club. It’s also the reason your mix sounds so different in your home studio than it does when you’re squirming in your chair in that A&R guy’s office.
The average home studio or rehearsal space rarely does well in addressing any of these issues. Most times we’re dealing with a spare bedroom, converted garage, basement or loft, none of which boast construction aspects that are in any way conducive to good sound. Thin, parallel walls, boxy shaped rooms, low ceilings and rattling window frames are only some of the enemies we face.
Even a few short years ago, the only way to address these issues involved massive amounts of money, materials and frustration. While the ultimate solution is still to plan and construct a purpose-built environment from the ground up, these days there are a number of ways to markedly improve your odds of making your workspace sound better without having to sell your instruments or smash your fingers.
Soundproofing & Insulation
One of the most frustrating aspects of sound is that it will go where it wants to, and find its way through any space via any available path. That’s why it’s so important (and so difficult) to block any potential points where sound can leak through. In all cases, mass is your friend – the thicker and more dense your walls are, the better they’ll be at stopping sound.
Even more effective is mass combined with air. The most common construction technique is what’s known as a “floating room,” where an entirely new set of walls, floor and ceiling are built within the existing space, detached and separated by several inches from the outside walls (and, in the case of flooring, by rubberized “floaters” that lessen the transfer of vibrations).
If you’re constructing your own space, there are companies that offer soundproofed doors and windows, as well as soundproof wall panels in pre-set or custom sizes.
Even if you don’t have the luxury of new construction, sealing areas of potential leakage in your existing structure will go a long way toward keeping the inside sounds in and outside out. For doors and window frames, look for the thickest, most dense weatherstripping that will fit in the allotted space. Use caulking to seal around areas like heating and air conditioning ducts, electrical outlet boxes, lighting fixtures, unfinished drywall joints and, if you’ve got them, tiled ceilings.
While there are countless varieties of commercially available caulks and sealants, consider a latex sealant designed for acoustical applications.
You can also accomplish a lot by adding sound blocking layers to your existing walls. Several companies offer low-vibration materials which are exceptionally dense but surprisingly thin and lightweight.
If You Can’t Do The Whole Room…
For many of us, especially those who can eschew live drums, the toil and expense of insulating the entire room can be avoided by simply isolating only those elements that need it. In traditional studios, isolation booths have long been used to separate the vocalist or drummer during a live take.
While these tend to be of the permanently-constructed variety, a number of companies offer various sizes of portable, lightweight “iso-booths” that can be assembled quickly and easily when and where you need them. Alternatively, you can search the web and find plans to build your own.
Another variation on the iso-booth that has become increasingly popular is the amplifier chamber. These can vary from small, soundproofed boxes just large enough to hold your guitar amp and a mic stand, to cabinets with speaker and mic (XLR) jack built in.
Your Biggest Fan
Your computer can be one of the biggest contributors of noise in your studio space. Particularly if your room is otherwise relatively quiet, the background hum of one or more computers can adorn your delicate acoustic tracks with all the ambience of a runway at Heathrow.
If you’re reasonably computer-savvy (or know someone who is), replacing your computer’s stock fan with a whisper-silent one is a quick way to reduce the noise. Another option is to look into sound-dampening cases with quiet cooling systems, which can knock off several decibels of noise, as well as cabinets that will completely enclose your computer’s CPU.
In many cases, complete isolation is neither necessary nor desirable. As anyone who has ever recorded a live band will tell you, a little leakage can be a good thing, adding a natural sounding element that’s sometimes lost by separating things too much. Sometimes a bit of baffling between players and/or amps is all that’s necessary to provide enough separation for a decent recording.
This is typically accomplished with a gobo, a small portable wall panel around four or five feet tall. Many people build their own, sometimes covering one side with carpet or other absorbent material, the other with a reflective surface like parquet, and putting them on wheels for easy maneuvering. You can also find pre-manufactured versions of these, as well as transparent acrylic panels to surround the drummer but still allow for that all-important eye contact.
Sonex computer case
Fixing The Vibe
Let’s shift gears now and talk about the other major challenge in any studio: controlling the sonic characteristics of your space. Every acoustic environment’s sound is dictated by a number of factors, including the distance between walls, the height of the ceiling, the angles at which the walls meet and the materials comprising the surfaces, not to mention the composition and placement of tables, pictures and other surfaces, furniture, curtains, etc.
For the vast majority of us, our creative environments end up being places like basement rooms, garages or second bedrooms – typically smallish boxes with parallel walls. These types of spaces tend to encourage the buildup of standing waves, resonant frequencies and other sonic anomalies that can substantially color what we’re hearing, rarely for the better. The hard surface of a side or rear wall can create reflections that can significantly change the sound of your mix.
Step One – Identify The Problem
Many of today’s software programs offer tools to help identify some of the most common issues. Spectral analyzers, also known as Real Time Audio (RTA) meters, are basically meters that break the sound down by various frequency groups, and can tell you a lot about what your room is (or isn’t) doing to your mix.
By using a reasonably sensitive microphone in various spots throughout the room, an RTA can help to identify areas where there’s an excess buildup of certain frequencies. Some audio software applications have RTA’s built into the program. You can also get dedicated software or hardware units that can perform the same function.
One important caveat here: meters can be invaluable when used correctly, but meters don’t mix music – your ears do. Trust your ears first and foremost. Listen and compare, then use the meters to verify what you’re hearing.
Stop And Reflect
Generally, your best defense against unwanted reflections is to attack problem areas with a combination of absorption and diffusion.
Absorptive materials prevent or greatly reduce reflection, while diffusers break up the reflection, scattering the waves in a multitude of different directions and greatly lessening their impact.
Much can be accomplished using common sense and everyday materials. The rear wall of my office/project room has a large, floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, fully stocked.
Heavy carpeting and thick, theater-style curtains also work well, and you’d be surprised at the difference a strategically placed overstuffed sofa can make. But a number of commercial (and slightly less unwieldy) products are also available, including acoustic foams, fiberglass panels and blankets.
Also available are a number of diffuser products – geometrically-shaped panels and materials that, attached to your flat surfaces at strategic locations, can go a long way toward breaking up and eliminating reflections. And a number of companies offer products created of dense, uneven materials that will both absorb and diffuse sound waves, giving you the best of both worlds.
As I mentioned at the top of this article, the science of acoustics can be wide-ranging and confusing. While we know a lot about how sound behaves and what to expect out of a given space, there are always enough variables to keep it interesting. A new instrument, more bodies in the room, even changes in the weather….everything can influence the way things sound.
What works for one situation may not be ideal for another, and the best we can do is to try and create as neutral and objective a listening environment as possible. Arm yourself with good monitors, meters and spectral analyzers, identify and correct obvious problem areas, and listen to as many different types of music, mixes and instruments as you can. But at the end of the day the most important tools you have are your ears – if it sounds good, it probably is good.
Daniel Keller is a musician, engineer and producer. Since 2002 he has been president and CEO of Get It In Writing, a public relations and marketing firm focused on audio and multimedia professionals and their toys. Despite being immersed in professional audio his entire adult life, he still refuses to grow up. This article is courtesy of Universal Audio.
Variety Of EAW Loudspeakers Upgrade Sound At Boston College Alumni Stadium
Project includes custom passive steerable column array loudspeakers created by Kenton Forsythe of EAW
Alumni Stadium, home to the Boston College Eagles football team, recently installed new EAW loudspeakers to upgrade the game day experience for fans. Time, weather and wind had taken their toll on the previous system making its replacement a necessity before the start of the 2014 season.
Boston College’s Athletic department called upon Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams (WJHW) to design a new upper deck sound reinforcement system that would “weather the weather” and upgrade the rest of the stadium system at the same time. All Pro Sound, headquartered in Pensacola, FL, handled the installation of the system.
“We decided to utilize a custom steerable column array loudspeaker solution from EAW,” explains Kevin Day of WJHW. “We looked at active arrays but given the weather, thought a passive solution would be a better fit. We had worked with Kenton Forsythe at EAW to create a passive steerable column array loudspeaker for another installation that we knew would be ideal for this situation – and it has been.”
A total of 14 weatherized column array loudspeakers – each consisting of one LF and one HF multi-channel loudspeaker module – were installed on poles to cover the north and south end zones and west upper deck seating areas. All Pro Sound installed custom hardware for mounting the main loudspeakers to cover the upper seating areas.
“The new column loudspeakers provide higher quality sound and more even coverage of the seating area while minimizing spillage to nearby neighborhoods during games,” adds John Fuqua, vice president All Pro Sound. “The steerable capability of the arrays allow the sound to be aimed to cover the desired seating without compromising adjacent areas.”
Because the upper deck seating on the east side of the stadium did not require a pole mount loudspeaker solution, All Pro Sound refit new, custom mounts to the superstructure and installed five EAW QX364-WP to cover that area.
During the renovation the lower deck loudspeakers were also upgraded. A distributed system with EAW MK Series loudspeakers blanket the main seating area.
“The MK loudspeakers have always been a quality product and work well in conjunction with the column arrays in this application,” Fuqua explains. “EAW products are known for their “voicing” or the characteristic to sound similar when used together in a given application. This is a great example of that working exceptionally well.”
All Pro Sound
Eminence Introduces Two New Lightweight Neodymium Compression Drivers
New 1.4-inch-exit N314T-8 and 2-inch-exit N320T-8 will both be on display at upcoming NAMM Show
Eminence has introduced two new lightweight neodymium compression drivers: the 1.4-inch-exit N314T-8 and 2-inch-exit N320T-8. and they’ll be on display at the upcoming 2015 NAMM Show in Anaheim (booth 4334).
Both models have 3-inch titanium diaphragms with a geodesic rib pattern for increased stiffness, while the polymer surrounds proprietary new D3 (Damped Diametric Drive) technology to provide a smooth, clean, and extended response while still allowing a low crossover point.
“Think of putting your finger on a bell,” explains senior design engineer Matt Marcum. “Our new Damped Diametric Drive technology accomplishes a similar feat by reducing spurious dome resonance and cancellation modes that often plague typical compression drivers, resulting in a more coherent summation of sound energy at the exit of the driver.”
With a power rating of 100 watts (AES) and a sensitivity of 110 dB, the 8 ohm N314T-8 and N320T-8 weigh in at five pounds while providing a broad usable frequency range of 800 Hz to 20 kHz. Each model utilizes an optimized neodymium motor and copper shorting ring.
Posted by Keith Clark on 01/15 at 02:44 PM
Modern Pioneers: The History Of PA, Part 2
In the first half of this article (here), we explored the history of the modern electric PA system and it’s application in the reinforcement of live music and events over the first 90 years – from the invention of the microphone in 1875 to the first stadium concert in 1965.
That first stadium concert, featuring the Beatles at Shea Stadium in Queens, showed that while there was the demand for bands to play large shows, the sound reinforcement systems of the time were simply not up to the task. Most bands carried their own small self-operated systems, which were little more than glorified vocal amplifiers.
Clair & Watkins
Thankfully there were pioneering individuals on both sides of the Atlantic willing to up the ante and usher in the era of the large PA. Notable pioneers included Charlie Watkins of WEM (Watkins Electric Music) in London and Clair Brothers in Lititz, PA.
Gene and Roy Clair received their first system as a Christmas present from their grocer father in 1954, and for the next few years they hired it out to local dances and events. In 1963 they purchased a loudspeaker re-coning business that gave them access to the latest developments and led to them providing the sound system for regular headline acts at the 4,000-capacity Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.
Roy and Gene Clair.
In 1966 the brothers impressed Frankie Valli enough for him to hire them to go out on tour, thus forming one of the first touring PA hire companies. What made Clair stand out from the competition was a knack for piecing together the right bits of equipment to provide the loudest and clearest output. It led to the company working with Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane and Cream – for whom they did a prestigious gig at the Spectrum in Philadelphia for an audience of 18,000 in 1968.
Meanwhile over in the U.K., Watkins unveiled his “Slave” PA system at a festival in Windsor in 1967, so called because one amp is the slave that feeds into another to increase the output of the second. Using 10 amplifiers that generated 1,000 watts of power to 20 loudspeakers, the system was able to produce a volume level that saw it’s creator in court for a breach of the peace – thankfully the case was dismissed.
The WEM Audiomaster 5-channel mixer.
In 1968 WEM introduced the Audiomaster mixer and it instantly became a classic, even though it only offered 5 channels (each channel had controls for volume, bass, mid, treble and a spring reverb).
More importantly, the development of the mixer encouraged the move away from passive mixing (i.e., “set and forget” type operation) and paved the way for a generation of roadies to be elevated to the position of live sound engineer.
However, due to the use of high-impedance microphones, signal loss was a major issue so cable runs were kept to a minimum, which meant the mixer was typically located close to the rest of the system. Fortunately in New York at the Fillmore East, Bill Hanley developed the first multi-core “snake” that enabled the mix position to be moved away from the sound system.
This is something we take for granted now but at the time it was a revelation, as Dinky Dawson (Fleetwood Mac’s engineer) noted: “Up to that moment I had never seen any group mixed from anywhere other than the side of the stage. This was revolutionary!”
Hanley and technical engineer John Chester came up with the idea that placing transformers at the ends of a cable run would facilitate the ability to send high-impedance microphone signals down a balanced line over greater distances without picking up any interference or losing level.
At the time this approach was too large to take on tour, but the development of low-impedance mics that had a built-in balancing transformer, such as the Shure Unidyne III (1965), SM57 (1965) and SM58 (1966), allowed multi-core snakes to become portable.
A portion of the Crown DC300 spec sheet.
Shortly thereafter, Dawson became one of the first touring engineers to set up shop in the new “front of house” (FOH) position, located centrally amidst the audience.
The next key step was the development of bigger amplifiers. Despite being 20 years since the invention of the transistor, the most reliable large amplifiers of the late 1960s were still vacuum tube designs where a unit providing 50 watts per channel was considered “hefty” and one capable of delivering 100 watts per channel was “industrial.”
Then in 1967, Crown released the solid state (transistor) DC300 amplifier, so named because it utilized a Direct Coupled (DC) design that was capable of delivering 300 watts of power. What was key to the success of the DC300, above and beyond power, clarity and low distortion, was it’s size at 7 inches tall and weight of 45 pounds, less than a quarter the size and weight of an equivalently powered tube amplifier.
Making A Way
At this point most concert loudspeaker systems were quite simple, comprised of either multiple instances of the same model of loudspeaker (often arranged in a column) or combinations of cone loudspeakers and horns (to handle the low and high frequencies, respectively). Being as any given loudspeaker has difficulty delivering a range of more than three to four octaves with clarity and low distortion, these systems could not be considered high fidelity.
A Heil Sound traveling system circa 1973.
What was needed was a way of splitting up the signal into multiple frequency bands that could be more efficiently handled by individual amplifiers, and then recombined in a manner that was pleasing to the ear. And the emerging PA companies were falling over themselves to accomplish just this.
In 1969, Watkins unleashed the Festival Sound System, one of the first 4-way sound systems, splitting signal into bass, lower-mid, upper-mid and high-frequency portions. A short while later (early 1970), Bob Heil was called into service to build a monstrous 4-way system for the Grateful Dead at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. He estimated that the total audio power of this system was around 20,000 watts (despite being powered by home hi-fi amplifiers!).
Clair Brothers developed its first 4-way system by splitting the sound up into bass, mid, high and super-high bands, and in 1971 McCune Sound Service (San Francisco) employees John Meyer and Bob Cavin created a loudspeaker known as the JM-3 (named after John Meyer). This was a 3-way system that also enclosed the amplifiers and all of the integrated electronics in an external equipment rack.
Thus at the dawn of the 1970s, we entered the golden age of the ground-stacked PA system – so called because the bass loudspeakers were placed on the ground or stage, with the mid and high loudspeakers stacked on top.
Many of the those early big PAs were based on aging loudspeaker models such as the Altec “Voice of the Theatre” Series (from the small A8 through to popular A4 and the large A1), which were designed more for use in cinemas and theatres.
Gradually PA companies such as Clair and Heil Sound shifted toward use of transducers (cone and compression drivers) developed by JBL Professional, a company with a rich heritage extending back to its origin in 1945. Notable developments include the D130 15-inch cone (introduced in 1947), which was the first commercial use of a 4-inch voice coil (a variant of which remained in production for the next 55 years), and the model 375 (introduced in 1954), the first commercially available compression driver with a 4-inch diaphragm.
The “36kW Flying System” from Malcolm Hill Associates of the U.K.
Mix & Monitors
Live mixing consoles as we know them today came with a big assist from the recording side of audio. Bob Heil adapted a Langevin studio console for his fledgling large-scale PA in 1970, and he was also an early user of the Mavis console from IES in the U.K. as well as working closely with the Sunn engineering department on the first 8-channel Coliseum mixer (which was hand built).
A few years later, Ron Borthwick and Bruce Jackson, working with Clair Brothers, developed an unusual mixing console, the CBA 32, that went on to become the company’s mainstay into the 1980s. It was the first console to offer plasma bargraph meters, which displayed both average and peak sound levels, and the meters were conveniently located beside the faders. In addition, it was the first live console to incorporate parametric EQ.
Another key step was the development of more complex stage monitoring systems. Prior to this point musicians had either relied on carefully balancing their levels so they could hear everything they needed or they placed loudspeaker stacks at the side of stage which “folded back” the main mix (as those early mixers didn’t have auxiliary outputs capable of providing monitor mixes).
But the increase in the size of the PA systems meant monitors were becoming more of a necessity for the performers to not just hear and feel the performance, but also to be able to sing in tune. Pretty soon, curious wedge-shaped loudspeakers started appearing on stages, and once musicians heard them, they all wanted one (or more).
It’s interesting to note that such additions were not always welcomed by front of house engineers. For example, Pink Floyd engineer Mick Kluczynski observed that wedge monitors spread “like a virus” and he quickly found himself battling a secondary sound system, struggling for control of the main mix.
Loudspeaker capability developed and grew throughout the 1970s, with the 3- and 4-way ground stacked system dominating and then gradually taking to the air over the next 25 years or so. While hanging or suspended systems were developed, the basic template remained the same.
These systems are often referred to as “point source,” meaning they propagate sound equally in all directions, but that can be misleading. In reality, they only behave like a point source at lower frequencies and gradually become more directional as the frequency goes higher.
As a result, they tend to “spray” a lot of bass and lower mid range energy in all directions – against the ceiling, floor and side walls – causing delayed reflections that can muddy the sound and make it difficult to manage.
Point sources also conform closely to the inverse square law, meaning that the sound level drops by a quarter for each doubling of the distance from the source due to the fact that the expanding sphere of sound energy is spread over an increasingly larger area. This is another easily observable property as we all know that the sound is typically louder at the front, near the loudspeakers, and quieter at the back.
During this period, numerous manufacturers entered the concert market, presenting increasingly sophisticated loudspeaker systems. JBL Professional, Meyer Sound, Martin Audio, EAW and Turbosound are just some of the names, with the growing number of local and regional sound companies now having the opportunity to purchase “off the shelf” packages instead of designing and building their own loudspeakers.
EAW KF850s deployed for Cheap Trick in the late 1980s.
EAW in particular enjoyed huge success with the KF850, a 3-way “arrayable” loudspeaker designed by Kenton Forsythe – for several years it was tough to find an equipment rider that didn’t include the KF850. Meyer Sound lead the way in developing self-powered live systems, with amplification and electronics matched to the specific loudspeaker parameters and physically housed in the same enclosure.
Line ‘Em Up
Then in 1993, Christian Heil and his team at a company based in France named L-Acoustics launched the “modern” line array era with the introduction of the V-DOSC system. I say modern because the principals behind the line array have been known and used (in a limited sense) for quite some time.
Harry Olson first published his findings on the subject in 1957, and the benefits of column loudspeakers (where vertically aligned drivers in a single enclosure produce mid-range output in a wide horizontal and narrow vertical pattern) had been utilized in the Shure Vocal Master PA and Marshall columns that were available in the 1960s and beyond.
Flying L-Acoustics line arrays.
L-Acoustics refined the science and exploited the constructive interference caused by closely aligned loudspeakers to push sound energy further, and with a more even frequency response. The company’s “cylindrical wave generator” also focused output more in the horizontal plane and wasted less energy in the vertical plane, resulting in a more even distribution of sound throughout the space.
Line arrays are very much a product of the computer age, with precise modeling and precision deployment key to getting the required result. However, it’s important to note that line arrays are not the ultimate sound system; there are still many situations where a traditional flown or ground stacked approach is better suited.
The driving force behind every pioneer highlighted in this fascinating journey has always been the desire to provide a pleasing experience for the audience. As the technology advances, we as audio professionals are more able to place the sound precisely where it’s needed to provide the visceral experience that only a live performance can provide.
But it’s important to remember that the PA is merely the conduit for the performance. If you were able to directly compare the concert experience of someone in 1964 with someone in 2014, chances are they would express the same degree of joy and excitement at what they had witnessed, despite the obvious gulf in fidelity. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about the music.
Based in the UK, Andy Coules (www.andycoules.co.uk) is a sound engineer and audio educator who has toured the world with a diverse array of acts in a wide range of genres.
Martin Audio MLA Meets The Challenge Of Alfie Boe’s “Serenata” In London
Main PA hangs were based around 14 MLA elements (plus two MLD Downfills) on each side, with side hangs of 10 MLA
Alfie Boe’s Serenata tour recently arrived at the O2 Arena in London. where the popular tenor and actor was supported by a 5-piece band, a 16-piece orchestra, the New Zealand musical trio Sol3 Mio, and Martin Audio MLA (Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array) provided by Capital Sound (London).
Veteran producer/engineer Matteo Cifelli (owner of Fastermaster Studio) handled the front of house mix, supported by system tech Joseph Pearce. With 86 inputs at the console (including 80 mic channels), there was plenty to challenge the sound team as Boe worked through an Italian-based romantic repertoire, assisted in one instance by Rick Wakeman on keyboards.
The same sound team had just come off a six-month stint with Il Divo, who shares the same management (Vector) as Alfie Boe, and Pearce had taken the opportunity to tweak the design in order to optimize the sound and further improve rear rejection.
Part of this optimization included providing 11 slim F8+ enclosures from Martin Audio’s Blackline+ series as lip fills along the stage front, while also specifying a pair of the unobtrusive DD12 (Differential Dispersion) horns on either side of the stage.
The approach met the approval of Cap’s project manager, Robin Conway, who described the loudspeaker as “a really supercharged [Martin Audio] W2,” adding, “these fill in all the near out fills, and because they are powered, you can put them on the network, which is a huge bonus.” He adds that the deployment of the F8+s perfectly filled the triangle of seating immediately in front of the stage.
The main PA hangs were based around 14 MLA elements (plus two MLD Downfills) on each side, with side hangs of 10 MLA.
Although the show was virtually all acoustic, and hardly dependent on LF overkill, Pearce had set four MLX along the front—left, right and a split pair in the center—while flying a further eight (four each side), with the top and bottom enclosures in each hang rear facing.
Cifelli names MLA as one of his favorite systems, having first encountered it during British Summertime at Hyde Park last summer (where he was mixing Sir Tom Jones), while later, at the Hong Kong Convention Center he was amazed to discover that just 12 enclosures a side would throw a distance of 330 feet. He had no hesitation in requesting MLA for this tour, particularly after such a long and positive experience with Il Divo.
“It was a logical choice,” he says. “I was confident we could achieve the perfect vocal sound and the clarity required for the orchestra. Tom Jones had sounded brilliant through MLA. Alfie has a more powerful and complicated voice––but thanks to the use of multiband compression the vocal never becomes harsh as it does through other systems, which just don’t sound as good.”
The challenge had been to shape the voice to deliver warmth and presence via the EQ in the face of loud stage monitoring. The vocal then had to nestle in the midst of a conventional band but with the addition of a 100-year-old Dulcitone and accordion, and the orchestra when it came in.
“With the changes we have made the PA now sounds absolutely great, and the subs are also impressive,” Cifelli notes. “It’s now completely silent behind the hangs. One of the best qualities of the PA is that I can get the sound I’m looking for straight away. It reacts very well to the way I EQ instruments and I find it is an extremely musical PA that throws huge distances without losing any detail. The clarity at 200 to 260 feet is fantastic.”
The sound team agrees that the new [reverse] sub configuration is also much more practical. The show was driven all-digitally all the way to the speaker boxes via AES3, from Matteo Cifelli’s Avid D-Show and sidecar, with all five DSP card slots fully populated, which made the signal path noiseless. An EQ station, used as a master EQ and compressor, was the only sign of outboard dynamics.
“To have produced a self-powered, networked speaker system, with some serious companion software, has been a big step up for Martin Audio,” concludes Pearce. “The idea of this system is awesome, and it’s definitely the future.”
KRK Systems Presenting New ROKIT Generation 3 Studio Monitor Series At 2015 NAMM Show
Two-way active monitors available with five-inch, six-inch, or eight-inch drivers
KRK Systems is presenting the new ROKIT Generation 3 (ROKIT G3) studio monitor series at the upcoming 2015 NAMM Show in Anaheim (Gibson meeting room 300B, level 3).
The new line of ROKIT G3 two-way active monitors are available with five-inch, six-inch, or eight-inch drivers.
The lightweight yellow composite woofer helps ensure dynamic impulse response, while a unique tuning process treats the woofer, cabinet, and port as a single, integrated whole that provides extreme vocal clarity with extended bass response.
The bi-amplification system has also been optimized to maximize headroom with very low distortion.
In addition, the upgraded one-inch soft-dome tweeter provides response up to 35 kHz, while KRK’s optimized, proprietary waveguide technology delivers superior stereo imaging with a wider “sweet spot.”
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
SynAudCon Welcomes Innovox Audio As Latest Sponsor
Company offers range of professional loudspeakers
SynAudCon has announced that Innovox Audio has joined the organization’s sponsorship program.
St. Paul, MN-based Innovox offers a range of professional loudspeakers that are designed to provide exceptional speech intelligibility and musical detail, incorporating ribbon HF technology, MF drivers optimized for the voice range, dipole LF steering, cardioid sub bass and enclosures that blend into architectural surroundings.
“Over the years we’ve gotten to know and respect these high-quality products,” states Pat Brown, president of SynAudCon. “We’re extremely pleased that Innovox has joined our sponsor program.”
“We’re huge fans of SynAudCon,” adds Chris Oswood, CTO of Innovox Audio. “We believe that our quest to do things the right way aligns perfectly with Pat and Brenda’s commitment to excellence in education and training.”