Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Morris Light & Sound Outfits CMA Music Festival Stages With NEXO And Yamaha
Yamaha CL5 and QL5 digital audio consoles pair with NEXO STM line arrays for 4-day festival in June.
Morris Light & Sound supplied production support on four stages at the The CMA Music Festival in Nashville, choosing the NEXO STM at the festival’s premier location.
The Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, which housed the STM, also used four Yamaha CL5 digital audio consoles - two at front of house and two at monitors with four Rio 3224-D input/output boxes.
On the majority of the four day festival, the Riverfront Stage saw a capacity crowd of over 22,000 concertgoers with performances including the Swon Brothers, Diamond Rio, Phil Vassar, Jack Ingram, and Tanya Tucker.
The STM system layout consisted of 42 M46s, 42 STM B112 sub bass for the main and side hang, four STM M28s for down flll with 32 STM S118 subs, and six PS10s for front fill.
“The beautiful thing about the NEXO STM is that when it is out of the box, it is already nearly up and running,” states Mark Bollenberg, system tech and front of house engineer.
“We confirmed the whole set up with SMAART staying coherent and in magnitude and then phase aligned the S118 subs to the main hang which was very nice because you can actually see where your phase is going.”
There were A and B Yamaha console systems at the Riverfront Stage so while one act was performing, the other was open for the next act’s engineer to work on drums and bass sounds. During the 15-minute changeover, either Trey Smith system tech or engineer at the A console, or Bollenberg at the B console would assign the necessary channels to a custom fader layer and off they’d go.
“What I love about the Yamaha CL5 is the ability to do the custom fader banks, and as the patch is called, to be able to assign what faders we need on the customs by quickly clicking through and selecting the faders I want to be in,” says Smith. “And, all of a sudden we’ve got everything we need; it’s all there for the guest engineer to come up and start mixing his show which is amazing because of the quick 15 minutes for set changes between each act.”
The BMI and Close Up stages each used Yamaha CL5s, and the Durango Stage used two Yamaha QL5 digital audio consoles. The Close Up Stage featured Little Big Town, Hunter Hayes, Kellie Pickler, Jo Dee Messina, and others. Lee Roy Parnell, Bellamy Brothers, and Mickey Gilley were some of the Durango Stage headliners, and the BMI Tail Gate Party stage featured Kane Brown, Chris Lane, DJ DU, and more.
“There are several things I really love about the Yamaha CL5 console, states guest engineer Jason McLaren, front of house engineer for Jack Ingram, who performed on the Riverfront Stage mixing the CL5. The head amps and the console sounds fantastic! But what I love the most about the console is how good the workflow is; when a workflow is intuitive, it means you can think about the music and about how you’re trying to mix instead of thinking about your tools. This makes a big difference to me and the quality of the work I’m able to do. I just love this console.”
The El Portal Theatre Upgrades To Ambisonic Line Arrays
Built in 1926, the historic El Portal Theatre has been host to musical acts like American Idol semi-finalist Todrick Hall, Debbie Reynolds and Smokey Robinson.
The El Portal Theatre in the heart of North Hollywood, California has completed its recent audio renovation of its 360 seat auditorium.
Ambisonic Sound Technologies provided a complete STX loudspeaker system, utilizing the company’s proprietary Coaxial Line Array loudspeakers and subwoofers.
Since it was built in 1926, the historic El Portal Theatre has been host to a long list of entertainers, including musical acts like Debbie Reynolds and Smokey Robinson.
But even theatre manager Jay Irwin admitted that the room “Had always been a very challenging one for audio.”
With its parallel concrete walls and lack of significant absorption, Irwin seemed to think he couldn’t tame the hall’s reverberant nature without compromising the classic art deco architecture.
This was also a concern for Godspeed producer Sammy Oriti, who wanted his scripture-based rock musical to sound as good as it could. So Mr. Oriti introduced Mr. Irwin to the capabilities of Ambisonic Sound Technologies’ STX Series speakers and it’s True Coaxial Column Line Arrays and Jay knew that this was the system he needed.
Ambisonic Sound Technologies’ CTO Tom Harrison echoed Jay’s sentiments, “Our line array products are uniquely suited for these types of highly reverberant spaces. The fixed-curve single-cabinet arrays produce high-output levels with audiophile sound quality and tightly controlled vertical directivity for more direct versus reflected sound and superior speech intelligibility.”
To provide the clarity and coverage needed for a theatre of this shape and size, the system design started with one array on either side of the stage consisting of an STX6620 and STX4625 Line Array Loudspeaker in each array.
The 6620 Articulated Column employs six (6) of the company’s advanced Planar Magnetic Ribbon Driver (PMRD) tweeters that are coaxially-aligned with a proprietary, neodymium magnet-driven 6.25-inch mid-woofer. The 4625 is a smaller array with 4 of these coaxial driver pairs in a greater articulation. In both cases, the ribbon drivers feature the lowest mass-moving system in the industry for unparalleled transient response and faithful signal reproduction. Their proprietary construction and increased power handling provide superior reliability and improved dynamics, as well. The mid-woofer’s stiff, low-mass Kevlar/paper cone material, as part of a stable and balanced moving system, insures low distortion and linear performance with high sensitivity.
Utilizing Ambisonic Sound Technologies’ Array Optimization System (AOS) software to model the system and seating area indicated that the system needed an additional STX4625 array cabinet to cover the front audience area. The AOS allows the system designer to see exactly how the loudspeaker output and coverage pattern will reach the audience. In the case of the El Portal’s steep stadium-style seating, this additional line array cabinet was needed at the bottom of the array to increase the vertical coverage required for even sound pressure level from the first row to the last row.
Both the 6620 and the 4625 speakers utilize proprietary Waveguides for the tweeter and mid-woofers that increases the horizontal coverage pattern to a wide, 110-degrees. Combining this wide dispersion with the Line Array’s ability to provide even coverage from front to back to within +/- 2dB, and the entire audience in the El Portal Theatre hears the same sound no matter where anyone sits.
A DRM212 woofer cabinet was flown with each array to increase low frequency output and overall system dynamics. The two 12-inch woofers in each cabinet improve the integration between the flown arrays and the two DRM215 subwoofers that are installed under the stage. The DRM215 subwoofers add a total of four (2 each) 15-inch, high-output subwoofer drivers to contribute deep low frequencies at high volumes. All the subwoofers utilize massive motor structures combined with dual-layered inside/outside voice coils that provide for exceptional heat dissipation and reliability. Their efficient bass-reflex enclosures are uniquely braced for maximum output with less distortion.
And manager Jay Irwin agrees, “The sound is amazingly even throughout the house, so that every audience member hears the same exact thing - from the front row to the back row it sounds exactly the same,” he noted. And not only is it even, he remarked, “The speakers have punch and excitement, but never seem harsh or brittle. They have a wonderfully organic and natural sound.” Long considered the jewel at the heart of the NoHo district, the El Portal Theatre has a rich history in bringing arts and entertainment to the San Fernando Valley. With Ambisonic Sound Technologies’ STX System, the Theatre will reach its full sonic potential.
To most of us working in professional production, rigging refers to flying loudspeakers, truss, lighting and scenery in the air.
It’s a black art performed by a secret society of stagehands called “riggers” who somehow have managed to defeat the laws of physics and get things to stay aloft. Rumor has it that these riggers even have their own handshake and a secret underground temple where they sacrifice old shackles into a volcano to ensure a good rigging season next year (or something like that).
The fact is that rigging pertains to anything not placed directly on the ground, including things like a loudspeaker on a tripod stand. It’s also not a magical art full of secrets, as every one of us in entertainment production can learn a little about proper rigging practices by reading books and articles, as well as asking riggers (who may have a secret handshake but will always answer your questions).
But reading and asking questions will only provide a basic amount of knowledge on the subject. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the U.S. (and other such governmental bodies in other countries) want to see “competent” and “qualified” persons performing rigging, and that requires knowledge along with training and experience in the job.
A competent person is described by OSHA as one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings, which are dangerous to employees and has authority to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them. Meanwhile, a qualified person is defined as one who by possession of a recognized degree, certificate or by extensive knowledge, training and experience, has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve problems relating to the subject matter and the project.
A qualified person is the one who designs a rigging system to fit a particular application, and a competent person is the one who installs and monitors the rig, and inspects its components.
Becoming competent requires knowledge, training and experience. Today, the knowledge part is pretty easy as you can go on the internet and research the topic in general as well as visit the websites of manufacturers to learn about the specific safety, rigging, operating and maintenance instructions for their own products. (In audio this is primarily loudspeakers.) Books are another valuable way to gain knowledge of the subject, and a great one is Entertainment Rigging by Harry Donovan.
Training programs from manufacturers, rigging companies and/or rigging schools can provide valuable lessons on how to do things correctly while also offering hands-on training. Working with a production company, labor agency or local union can result in the experience needed to be a competent rigger. The Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) from trade association PLASA offers two rigging certifications, one for theatres that mainly deals with installed fly rail type systems and one for arenas that’s primarily focused on truss and chain motor type systems.
Not all working at a gig may be at the level of competent or qualified, but everyone should be focused on safety. Anyone on a production crew who sees a problem with rigging (or any other safety issue, for that matter) can call “stop” and point out the issue so it can be addressed and corrected to prevent an accident or injury.
To avoid problems a competent person should inspect all rigging hardware, stands and equipment before each use and periodically do a major inspection for signs of wear, abuse and general adequacy, as well as perform any manufacturer recommended preventive maintenance on schedule.
Never exceed the “Safe Working Load” (SWL), the “Working Load Limit” (WLL) or “Maximum Rated Load” (MRL) of any rigging, support or hoisting equipment. These terms all mean basically the same thing, the maximum static weight the piece of rigging equipment will safely hold continuously, when used as intended. Note the term “static load” – it’s a load that is not moving. One that moves, i.e., a loudspeaker array swinging in the wind, puts additional stresses on rigging equipment.
Use only loudspeaker cabinets designed by the manufacturer to fly and follow all manufacturer recommendations concerning their individual products. Make sure all hardware is designed for overhead use and only use items as they are intended. Never modify any rigging hardware as it may affect the weight loading capacity of the item.
In addition, only finger tighten shackle bolts, never use a tool. If you’re worried that a pin might vibrate out, mouse (secure) the pin in place with twine or wire. Always load a shackle pin to end, never from side to side.
Factor in enough time to do rigging correctly and make sure the crew isn’t tired – rushing and fatigue cause accidents. Double check everything before it goes up in the air. Follow the rules and don’t cut corners when it comes to rigging. Once items leave the ground, they better be rigged properly or gravity will demonstrate why it’s the most powerful force in the universe!
Since we’re focused on the audio side of things, let’s look at some of the common methods of supporting loudspeakers.
Tripod Stands. The most common way of doing a small show is to place loudspeakers on tripod-type stands. As noted earlier, check them before use to make sure they’re in working condition. Pay extra attention to the clamping collars and the braces on the legs because these items seem to get damaged more than others.
In use, the tripod legs should be extended to their largest footprint to provide maximum stability. Make sure the top of the stand is correctly sized for the loudspeaker socket or the cabinet can tilt and its center of gravity will not be directly over the pole. Do not exceed the weight loading for the stand. Position it where the legs won’t be a trip hazard – a fall could cause a person injury as well as possibly knock over the stand (and loudspeaker).
Use fixed leg tripod stands only on firm level ground. If outdoors and the ground is a little soft, place a square of plywood under each leg to spread out the load and keep the stand from sinking into the dirt.
Saddle-style sandbags can be used with tripod stands to add a bit of weight to the bottom for increased stability. The sandbag should straddle the leg, not hang from any bracing. To avoid crew injury, larger loudspeakers should be hoisted onto stands by two people.
Pole-Mounted From A Subwoofer. On shows where a little more bottom end is needed, it’s very common to see full range loudspeakers mounted over subwoofers on poles. These poles can be fixed in length or adjustable. Some slip into a pole socket on the sub, others screw into the sub.
Make sure to use the manufacturer’s recommended pole because others may not be compatible or as stable. Check the collars and any height adjustment pins before use. As with any stand, make sure the subwoofer is on stable ground and level.
Ground Stacked. If the subwoofers are tall enough, full range loudspeakers can simply be placed on top of them. While a stack of loudspeakers can look solid and secure, they can fall due to vibrations.
Truck straps can be employed to keep the stack together, but strapped stacks can be top heavy, and again, vibrations from the subs or a crowd pushing to get closer to the stage can cause them to topple. Using a larger subwoofer that provides a bigger footprint as the base of a stack can add stability.
Stabilizing a ground stack with straps.
Scaffold Supported. To get a stack of loudspeakers higher in the air, they can be placed on or flown from scaffolding. This was a common practice before line arrays and flown horizontal arrays became the norm, and is still quite common at festivals and fairs where there are no ceiling points (usually in tents and outdoors.)
Make sure the structure is level and all decking and cross bracing is in place before loading the tower. Stacked loudspeakers should be secured to the decking with ratchet straps so they don’t vibrate off. Outdoors, all scaffolding should be guyed down to ground stakes or sufficient ballast in case of winds, and screw jack legs should be used to level the structure.
Line arrays can be flown inside scaffolding towers, with the chain motor for the array usually connected to a beam secured across the top of the tower. Make sure the beam is secured to the tower and not just held in place by the weight of the PA.
Note: Signage and banners placed on the scaffolding act like sails and will transmit high wind loading to the system. Using an open weave fabric for the signage will allow some wind to blow through, reducing loading on the tower. Also, banners should have a quick release system in place so they can be removed rapidly in case of unexpected high winds. A person should not have to climb the tower in high winds to remove the banners.
Verify the structure before dead-hanging loudspeakers.
Line Array Tower Truss. One of the newest options, they’re made of truss sections and specialty hardware fittings. Make sure all of the bolts are put into place and tightened down to the manufacturer’s recommended torque settings, and level the tower before use. When deployed outdoors, the towers must be guyed to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Some tower trusses allow subs to be placed on the outrigger legs, and these can act as additional ballast.
Truss Totems. A single loudspeaker or multiple smaller boxes may be flown from a vertical stick of truss bolted to a base called a truss totem. These are popular on corporate gigs for delay loudspeakers and lighting, but can be top heavy so additional weights like sandbags can/should be placed on the base for added stability.
If mounting a single loudspeaker on top, make sure it’s center of gravity is directly over the truss. When used with a column-type model bolted to one side, additional weight should be placed on the base on the opposite side of the tower to offset any imbalance.
Crank Towers. These come in all sizes, from small units that look like standard tripods to large, heavy-duty structures that can hold 600 to 800 pounds.
Smaller models may just have a spigot on top for a single loudspeaker and larger units may have forks that can be used to attach an array (or a truss). Make sure to level the tower and extend all outrigger legs as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Crank Towers With Truss. A common way to support both loudspeakers and lighting is to span a truss across a pair of crank towers. Make sure the truss is secured to the tower forks, and never overload the structure. Factor in the weight of any lighting and cables, plus the weight of the truss and any rigging hardware when determining the total weight these are supporting.
Dead Hang. This refers to an item like a loudspeaker that is attached to a building temporarily, but not with a chain motor. A man-lift is needed to get the installer and loudspeaker(s) up in the air and attached to the building component, usually a beam.
Only a competent or qualified person should install dead hang items, and a structural engineer should determine the weight capacity of the point before use.
Chain Motors. They’re used to support truss, video systems, and of course, loudspeakers. Motors can be placed up in the air with their chains hanging down, or more commonly, the dead end of the chain is hung from the rigging point, with the motor climbing the chain, hauling its load to height.
Chain motors are great because the rig can be built on the ground and lifted to height, with height adjustments easy to make if needed. Only competent or qualified people should hang and operate motors, especially when used in multiples.
Before use, check the motor hooks and inspect the chain for any signs of damage. Be sure the chain bag is attached correctly and is in good shape. Before any motor is operated, make sure that everybody on the deck is aware that something will be moving. And before an array or truss is lifted, a competent person should double check all rigging hardware and fittings.
Follow all manufacturer recommendations and rigging best practices when utilizing towers.
Construction Lifts. They’re sometimes used to elevate or fly loudspeakers at festivals and lift personnel inside buildings to attach items like motors to ceiling points or beams. All people in boom lifts should be wearing the proper fall protection equipment, and fork lifts should never be used to lift people.
Scissor lifts are popular when small horizontal arrays need to be raised, moved or relocated at events like air shows. Larger festivals might utilize construction cranes or large extendable boom forklifts to fly the main PA system. Make sure the equipment operators are certified for that model unit, and that an operator is monitoring the equipment continuously during use.
Weight capacity changes depending on the angle of the boom, so it’s vital to not overload the equipment during use. Tag lines should be used to keep an array from swinging in the wind. An engineer should determine the maximum wind speeds the systems can operate in, and if the wind reaches that limit, the PA should be lowered immediately to the ground.
Obviously, safety is the key. By using the right equipment and following the rules, what goes up will stay up!
Senior contributing editor Craig Leerman is the owner of Tech Works, a production company based in Las Vegas. He’s also a U.S. Navy trained and certified rigger.
Sweden Rock Festival Puts Meyer Sound LEO On Main Stage
The system supported headliners such as Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Slash and Toto without the need for delay towers.
For the 2015 Sweden Rock Festival, production manager Pelle Åberg selected a Meyer Sound LEO linear large-scale sound reinforcement system for the main stage.
The system was used to support headliners such as Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Slash, and Toto without the need for delay towers.
“I talked to many sound engineers that I trust about our options, and I decided to go all the way on our biggest stage with LEO,” says Åberg.
“We have very strict limits on sound outside the festival grounds, with fines for any breaches, so we needed a system that could effectively cover large areas at high levels, but with precise control. The LEO system achieved this goal—I could hear clear, powerful music all the way to the back of the huge crowd.”
Main hangs for the Festival Stage were 15 LEO-M and two LYON-W wide-coverage line array loudspeakers per side. Out-fill hangs were five LEO-M and two LYON-W loudspeakers per side, two JM-1P arrayable loudspeakers provided front fill, and 36 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements were deployed in two end-fire arrays.
A Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system with four Galileo Callisto 616 and two Galileo Callisto 616 AES array processors provided system drive and alignment. System provider was Starlight, part of the Bright Group.
Starlight/Bright’s Fredrik Arwidson was system engineer for the Festival Stage, with Anders Häggblom serving as front of house system tech.
“The sound from the LEO system was excellent,” reports Bright Group’s HåkanAlfredsson. “Several front of house engineers expressed great satisfaction with the results. Martin Walker with Judas Priest told me he was very happy with what he heard, and I saw Ken Freeman, Toto’s front of house engineer, shaking Fredrik’s hand and smiling ear to ear.”
RG Jones Deploys Martin Audio MLA At Glastonbury Festival
System design included MLA for the main hangs, MLA Compact for stereo infill and six delay positions of both MLA and MLA Compact loudspeakers.
For the second year running, RG Jones Sound Engineering deployed Martin Audio’s Multi-Cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA) system on Glastonbury Festival Pyramid Stage.
MLA’s unique ability to control noise meant that front of house engineers could simply focus and enjoy mixing their artists to entertain crowds of up to 120,000 people.
System tech, Andy Davies, explains, “We drove each acoustic cell in each MLA to direct sound at the audience, and then cut it off sharply just beyond the perimeter of the field to dramatically reduce noise pollution.”
“As a result, acts including The Who, Florence and the Machine, Kanye West, Paul Weller and Motorhead could comfortably play at 104-105dBA. When a front of house engineer doesn’t have to constantly worry about sound levels they focus on what they do best—mixing—and so they enjoy the experience more and that translates to the audience experience too.”
One of the many artists that packed the Pyramid field from front to back was James Bay. His front of house engineer Rob Sadler commented, “I used the system during Rock in Rio and it was great then and it was fantastic today. I barely had to touch anything on the EQ and in very little time I got my show up and running––fantastic. Vocal clarity is so important with James Bay, I can’t really hide the vocals in the mix and with the MLA today it was clarity all the way. I can’t fault the system, no sound check and yet everything I needed on that gig was pretty much there from the start. Brilliant.”
Front of house engineer for Motorhead Arnie Annables was pleasantly surprised; “I wasn’t looking forward to Glastonbury because of the noise restrictions; as you can imagine we like to play loud. However, things went surprisingly well and I was very happy with the outcome. The system sounded good, not what I am used to, but my ears were pleased. The RG Jones guys did a fantastic job looking after me, as did everyone on stage; it’s been a real pleasure.”
Christopher Lee, front of house engineer for Pharrell Williams, had to be his usual meticulous self at Glastonbury and was pleased that the accompaniment of MLX subs was up to the challenge. Mixing on the DiGiCo SD7 he said, “Pharrell likes the bass and mix to be identical to the record so the subs were a real surprise to me, right up there where I needed them every time. I was really impressed, not just with the configuration, but also with the excellent tuning of the system.”
System design was similar to last year, including 72 MLA for the main hangs, eight MLA Compact for stereo infill at the pit barrier and a total of six delay positions of both MLA and MLA Compact as required.
One key change this year was the addition of two extra delay systems. RG Jones’ Project Manager, Simon Honywill, explains, “This was primarily because Glastonbury production decided to split the front of house control platform from one to two platforms located left and right in front of the stage. They also moved the platforms closer to the stage and along with them the first set of delay towers.” With the center of the field opened up visually, the aim of the festival site was to increase the experience for the audience right at the back of the field close to the camping area, a space previously regarded as out of coverage for the Pyramid stage, These changes necessitated the extra MLA Compact delays.
There was also a massive broadside array of 38 MLX stretched across the entire width of the stage to provide sub-bass support to the entire system. “The system has knitted together really well,” continues Davies. “It has allowed us to put more energy through the middle two delays and push a big thrust of power up the center of the site. We then use the outer delays to fill in and keep coverage going out to the edge, which has worked really well.”
Huw Richards, front of house engineer for Paloma Faith, was delighted: “I’ve used the MLA system many times and I love it. There are some lovely PAs out there but I honestly can’t fault this one. Paloma is a complex sound and it’s hard to thin it out and get some space in the mix but the MLA enabled me to do this. From the get go I didn’t feel in the least bit uncomfortable, I had a great day. So often with festivals you’re transposing a mix from a completely different venue so it can feel a bit shaky at first but not with the MLA, I love it, it’s a great PA and the coverage up the field is excellent.”
Iain Slater, working with surprise act The Libertines, warmed quickly to the system, “This is the first time I’ve used MLA and it sounded impressive. I didn’t have to do any tuning at all, everything I needed was there.”
During Kanye West, Honywill reported that at 800 ft. from the stage his clothing was physically moving, achieved by the tried and tested broadside sub cardioid array. “We had 22 MLX cabs facing forward and another 11 facing backwards to give us cancellation and to make sure we’re not disturbing the other stages on site,” explains Davies. “We also electronically arc’d the array so there was delay time incrementally added from the middle box out giving coverage to the sub array that matches up with the site really nicely.”
Toby Francis, front of house engineer for Kanye West certainly enjoyed his moment: “I thought it went really well but I also listened to all the other bands during the day and they sounded great. Kanye was on a crane right in front of the PA for a number of songs, and it still sounded tight and controlled. What I really liked about the PA is that even at the volume limit for the festival it sounded big and full. The Glastonbury limits are considerably lower than Kanye would prefer it, so yes I was really impressed.”
For John Carroll, managing director of RG Jones Sound Engineering, Glastonbury has been the affirmation of what he’s known for some time: “There really isn’t anything out there to match the clarity and warmth of the MLA system. Again the continued support from Martin Audio has been second to none which makes it a robust investment from all perspectives.” Summing up, Honywill said, “We have had a remarkable festival with praise not just from the engineers but from the audience too. It once again made me very proud of MLA and what it can achieve for festivals worldwide, but also illustrated to front of house engineers what a superb sounding box it can be for their touring needs too.”
Masque Sound Supports Canadian Production Of Kinky Boots
Masque Sound provided a DiGiCo SD7T console along with an L-Acoustics dv-DOSC line arrays for the Toronto show.
When the six-time Tony Award-winning show Kinky Boots recently made its Canadian premiere at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre, Masque Sound provided a custom audio equipment package for the musical.
This marks the third time Masque Sound worked on a production of Kinky Boots with sound designer John Shivers and associate sound designer David Patridge.
The two first worked together for the original Broadway show, for which Shivers won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Sound Design of a Musical.
Having built a strong working relationship with the sound design team, Masque Sound also collaborated with Shivers and Patridge on the national tour in 2014.
Inspired by a true story, Kinky Boots follows Charlie Price, an aspiring young businessman forced to give up his dreams of living in London in order to save his late father’s shoe factory in Northern England. Their story, directed and choreographed by the Tony Award-winning Jerry Mitchell, is brought to life with a score by Grammy Award-winner Cyndi Lauper and a book by Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein.
“With the great success we experienced in working with Masque Sound on the previous two productions of Kinky Boots, they were naturally our vendor of choice for the Toronto production,” says Patridge.
“It’s very reassuring to know that with Masque Sound we can bring an audio system to an international location, in this case Canada, and the equipment is going to be well thought out and arrive in full and in excellent working condition. As usual, Masque Sound provided us with the raw materials and support to be successful.”
For Kinky Boots in Toronto, Masque Sound provided a DiGiCo SD7T live digital console, the same desk that the sound designers used for the Broadway production and the U.S. tour. The continuity with the console was a decision made by the sound designers to match the programming across all Kinky Boots productions. However, new to the Toronto production is the fact that the sound designers are running the show at 96 kHz sampling rate in the SD7T, which is different from the Broadway sampling rate of 48 kHz.
“To our ears, there are audible improvements at the 96 kHz sampling rate,” says Patridge. “It feels like a cleaner sound and a better resolution on the sound stage on the high end. The interfacing between some of the equipment proved challenging, but Gary Stocker at Masque Sound came up with a few creative solutions to get around those potential obstacles, and it works extremely well.”
Also new to the Toronto production is the addition of Waves audio signal processing. “Coordinating the DiGiCo theatre software with Waves is very effective and allows us to use plug-ins for analog pre-amps that we use on vocals,” he adds. “With Waves, we have a lot of tools at our disposal and the technology has really improved, so we never have to worry about reliability.”
One challenge faced by the designers on this production was the layout of the theatre. Though the theatre seats approximately 1,500, the architectural challenges required a more in-depth, elaborate PA sound system. Working with three levels, they used three independent sets of main speakers, along with more surround and delays for each level, in order to ensure complete coverage.
The custom speaker system provided by Masque Sound included L-Acoustics dv-DOSC line arrays for the upper and lower balcony, as well as center cluster. An assortment of d&b audiotechnik speakers were used for delays, fills and subs. In addition, a pair of KV2 Audio’s ESR215 loudspeakers were supplied directly from the manufacturer to the sound designers for evaluation. The speakers were used as part the main left/right system at the orchestra level. Masque Sound also provided a custom microphone package featuring a selection of DPA microphones and Sennheiser MKE1s for back up, as well as a Sennheiser wireless package and frequency coordination package for the more than 36 channels of wireless for the show.
“We are thrilled to be able to work again with Masque Sound in bringing Kinky Boots to Toronto,” says Patridge. “The collaboration with Masque Sound and our wonderful team, including Kevin Kennedy, production engineer, allowed us to once again create a wonderful audio package that sounds amazing. It’s a great show in a great theater, and Toronto is a great theatre town.”
Hull University Installs PMC Loudspeakers In New 5.1 Studio
The company's IB2S-A & AML2s speakers have been selected for the University's School of Music, Drama and Screen.
The University of Hull has recently completed work on a new 5.1 recording studio, part of a larger expansion of music facilities in the School of Music, Drama and Screen, designed to ready the University for Hull’s year as the UK City of Culture in 2017.
PMC supplied all the reference monitoring in the new studio, including a pair of IB2S XBD-As and AML2s to handle the 5.1 audio.
The University began a program to unite its traditional on-site music facilities with its Creative Music Technology studios two years ago, the aim being to provide facilities for musicians of all kinds on the main Hull campus, whether in the tradition of classical or contemporary music, or performing arts.
Prior to this, all music technology courses were taught on the University’s Scarborough campus, over 40 miles from Hull.
As part of the move, the existing Salmon Grove music studio in Hull was refurbished last year in collaboration with audio consultants The Studio People, and two new studios were planned and built from scratch: an Ambisonics studio and the 5.1 facility now containing the PMCs and an SSL Duality mixing console.
Working with direction from Dr Andrew King, the University’s Senior Lecturer in Music & Technology, the Studio People were also responsible for executing the design and construction in the two newly built studios.
This is the first time PMC monitoring has been installed at Hull. “We have many kinds of speakers here,” explains Andrew King. “We try to give our students access to as many different types as possible, and we wanted something new. Also, we had made the decision to put our funding into a small number of very high-specification facilities rather than spreading it thinly over a larger number of studios. We already had one studio with an SSL console in, for example, and we decided we’d have another, the Duality. And then Mike Banks of SSL recommended we try some PMCs to go with it.”
King contacted PMC and asked to audition some loudspeakers, which resulted in Ian Downs bringing up a pair of AML2s.
“I tried them in one of our existing studios, replacing a pair of monitors that I had never been happy with,” continues King. “They sounded superb, so we then went down to Metropolis Studios to hear some of the larger monitors. The level of detail is the first thing you notice, both with their smaller and larger speakers. They just seemed to have such life and clarity to them.”
Following the Metropolis session, the University elected to install the full-range IB2S XBD-As as main monitoring in the surround studio, with the AML2s providing the 5.1 monitoring in conjunction with an SB100-A subwoofer. Everything was installed by The Studio People and tuned by PMC.
“We are very happy with our choice,” concludes Andrew King. Meanwhile, Peter Keeling, managing director of The Studio People, was so impressed by the sound of the new studio at Hull that he recommended that PMC speakers accompany another SSL console at another installation his company were just starting work on, which became the recent installation of PMC’s innovative new QB1 large-scale reference monitoring at Westminster University, London.
Following completion of the Ambisonic and Surround studios at Hull, the next phase of upgrades in the School of Music, Drama and Screen is getting underway, involving a comprehensive refurbishment of the Middleton Hall auditorium, including further mixing and live rooms, state-of-the-art cinema, film and TV production facilities, and learning and teaching space. Once complete, students will have access to the music studios 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The work is scheduled to be completed in Summer 2016.
Russia’s Gnessen Academy Of Music Chooses Renkus-Heinz IC Squared
The new 150-seat performance venue includes recording facilities and IC2 digitally steerable line arrays with IC212S-FR subwoofers.
Russia’s Gnessen Academy of Music was formed in 1946, with the original Gnessen Institute founded in February of 1895 and has alumni that includes Boris Berezovsky, Aram Khachaturan, Alla Pavlova, and t.A.T.u.‘s Julia Volkova.
Audio/video integrators Avallon designed and installed systems for the new 150-seat performance venue, including recording facilities and a sound system featuring left and right Renkus-Heinz IC2 digitally steerable line arrays, each paired with IC212S-FR subwoofers.
“The Renkus-Heinz IC2 system was the ideal choice for this venue,” explains Avallon’s Sergey Vashchenko.
“Because of the hall’s low ceiling, hanging a line array would have been impractical. With the ICONYX steered beam technology, we were able to ground stack the system at the sides of the stage and still aim and focus the sound precisely on the audience, minimizing reflections from the walls and other surfaces.”
Avallon reports that the school’s faculty and students have been exceptionally pleased with the new system. “The IC2 system delivers excellent, full-range performance with more than enough power,” says Vashchenko.
University Christian Church In Indiana Selects WorxAudio TrueLine
Two TrueLine X3i-P line arrays and two TL118 subwoofers deployed in new multipurpose facility
University Christian Church of Muncie, Indiana recently upgraded its gymnasium into a multipurpose facility that measures 120 by 60 feet, with a ceiling height of 25 feet and seating for 400 to 450 people.
The gymnasium includes a new sound-reinforcement setup with loudspeakers drawn from the TrueLine catalog of WorxAudio Technologies, a division of PreSonus.
After consulting with church management to ascertain their goals and preferences, the Force Technology Solutions team deployed two WorxAudio TrueLine X3i-P line arrays and two TL118 subwoofers.
Force Technology’s AJ Fager and Alex Moon served as the project’s design and system engineers, respectively. Ron Groves, the company’s director of business development, discussed the project.
“University Christian Church’s services are very contemporary in nature,” Groves explains. “Music plays an important role in their services. There is a praise band that includes drums, piano, keyboards, guitar, bass, and a variety of wind instruments. The instrumentalists are augmented by a four- to six-person vocal praise team. In addition to solid music reproduction capabilities, it was very important that the new sound system exhibit a high level of speech intelligibility.
“Once the necessary modifications to the gymnasium were completed, we installed the two X3i-P line arrays and the TL118 subwoofers, which are deployed in a left-right configuration over the front edge of the stage area. We chose the X3i-P line array because of its compact, all-in-one design and the fact that the single Schedule 40 pipe for the array’s suspension creates a very clean-looking setup. The pipe coupler has an exit point through which the array’s wiring can pass, and because of this, wiring is not visible from the audience perspective. The two TL118 subs are flown with aircraft cable just to the outside of the mains. We had originally spec’d a center-flown dual 18 sub, but the building’s infrastructure wouldn’t support it.”
The WorxAudio XL3i-P has a vertical throw of 40 degrees and an exceptionally broad 160-degree horizontal dispersion pattern, enabling the system to reach further to the sides than many competing systems. “We’ve been very pleased with the XL3’s wide coverage pattern, which doesn’t sacrifice sound quality or create the impression that the speakers are trying to cover too much area,” Groves reports.
“We were able to use only two XL3s to cover the entire room, whereas most competitive solutions would’ve required us to use three. The rigging hardware also made these boxes install much easier than competing systems.”
Groves is equally impressed with WorxAudio’s support services. “The folks at WorxAudio really helped us out when we needed it,” he says. “One speaker arrived with a dead amp that we suspect was damaged during shipping. The company overnighted us the replacement part, and we were up and going the very next day. That level of responsive customer service is rare these days.”
University Christian Church’s new loudspeaker system was installed during October 2014 and was placed into service in early December. Groves reports that the system has exceeded expectations.
“Our client has been very pleased with their system,” he said. “We’ve had no issues with any aspect of the install, and everything has been rock solid. Due to our great experience with these boxes and working with WorxAudio, we’ve since installed these same boxes in another venue. Our experience with WorxAudio has been extremely positive, and we look forward to continuing our relationship.”
Foo Fighters Out With L-Acoustics For Tour Of North America
Delicate Productions deploys K1 and K2 line array enclosures for North American Tour in its fifth year as sound provider for the band.
The Foo Fighters are on the 43-date North American leg of their Sonic Highways tour, which “kicked off”—with singer/guitarist Dave Grohl seated on a massive motorized throne, after falling off stage and breaking his leg in Sweden.
Accompanying the band on this latest stretch running through November is an L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA system fielded by Delicate Productions, which has been Foo Fighters’ SR vendor for the past five years.
“We have partnered with Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Special Event Services (SES) for the K1 enclosures,” says president Jason Alt, noting that Delicate has taken the same approach for tours in the past based on the broad acceptance of L-Acoustics’ K1 system.
In fact, Alt’s success with K1 prompted him to order a K2 system for his own company.
Now, as Foo Fighters head out to play the remainder of their tour, the system’s main hangs used for stadium dates consist of 16 K1 enclosures atop four K2 down enclosures per side, buttressed by either three delay towers using 16 K2s or two towers using 20 K2s, depending on the layout of the venue.
In arenas, the system is slightly scaled back, with 14 K1 enclosures atop four K2 down boxes, 12 more K2 for out fill arrays, five Kara enclosures for front fill across the stage lip, and Kara and ARCS boxes for side fills. A total of 42 SB28 subs are deployed for the stadium shows and 14 for the arena system configuration. These are stacked, as per Foo Fighters’ longtime front of house mixer Bryan Worthen’s preference. LA8 amplified controllers housed in 12 LA-RAKs power and process all systems.
With Delicate Productions taking delivery of the K2 boxes at the end of June, Alt says it feels good to be part of the L-Acoustics “family.”
“The way we had been doing it in the past had been part of a strategy that saw us invest in other directions,” he says, explaining how sub-renting the L-Acoustics systems had enabled them to balance themselves in the larger ecosystem of tour sound. “It created some important strategic relationships with other companies. But it was a good time to make the move with the K2. Not just for the band, but because of L-Acoustics’ market acceptability, which was the main reason—it’s the number-one name we see on riders now.”
Alt describes the K2 acquisition as a strategic advantage, citing the fact that the K2 delivers the K1 sonic signature in a smaller, lighter form factor, which reduces transportation costs. “That’s also going to be important for corporate shows, which make up the next largest part of our business,” says Alt, who adds that clients had been asking about the availability of the K2s even before they arrived at his warehouse. “It’s going to be a very busy system,” he says. “It’s turning out to be a very promising investment.”
As for Foo Fighters’ opening show in D.C., which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the band’s debut album and followed sets from Buddy Guy, Gary Clark Jr., Heart, Joan Jett, LL Cool J, Trombone Shorty and RDGLDGRN, Alt adds, “The show went great. Bryan had a good show and was very happy at the end of the night. I got to mix the opening act, so it gave me chance to evaluate the system as well. I couldn’t be happier with the K2 investment that Delicate has made and was blown away by the performance.”
Sebastian Studnitzky Selects VUE Audiotechnik For German Tour
Studnitzky's scope of music extends far beyond traditional, incorporating elements of acoustic and electric jazz with classical, EDM and pop.
Jazz trumpeter and pianist Sebastian Studnitzky recently won Germany’s prestigious Echo Jazz 2015 Award in the National Brass Instruments category.
Studnitzky selected VUE Audiotechnik loudspeakers to deliver audiophile-quality sound for his recent tour through Germany.
Studnitzky and his varying size groups, ranging from the full Memento Orchestral Experience to the smaller Studnitzky Trio-featuring the Berliner Camerata String Quartet, performed in 150- to 1,100-seat venues with VUE as its exclusive loudspeaker of choice.
Studnitzky’s scope of music extends far beyond traditional, incorporating elements of acoustic and electric jazz with classical, EDM and pop.
The diverse nature of his musical performances demands a PA system capable of reproducing the subtleties and dynamics generated on stage from a wide variety of acoustic and electronic instruments.
To account for the eclectic sound, Studnitzky and his team relied on VUE Audiotechnik’s al-Class and h-Class components in a stereo configuration, with two arrays of four al-4 subcompact acoustic elements, along with two h-Class hs-20 dual 10-inch ACM subwoofers per side. A pair of h-8 high definition full range systems was used on stage for electronic instruments.
Studnitzky first heard VUE Audiotechnik loudspeakers in December 2014, when he was performing warm-up shows with Memento at the Neue Heimat, a hipster Cultural Center in Berlin.
“I was impressed with the extreme linearity of the high-frequency reproduction as well as the system’s lightweight and compact size,” he says. “VUE Audiotechnik was able to deliver the wide dynamic range necessary for my string section and grand piano, as well as the punch I needed for my laptop beats. What’s more, VUE helped us achieve the highest sound quality possible, whether we were in smaller venues or in large philharmonic halls. The superb sound quality had been noted on several times by both artists and audiences throughout the tour.”
All loudspeakers in the VUE h-Class range are active with onboard amplification, thus eliminating the need to carry additional amp racks, removing guesswork from system processing, and greatly reducing setup time. The beauty of the a-Class al-4 line array elements is that only one VSeries V4 amp is required to drive both arrays of four two-way active boxes. The al-4 and the h-8 both feature one-inch exit compression drivers with Truextent® beryllium diaphragms, providing high-frequency extension and linearity that cannot be obtained through use of traditional aluminum or titanium driver designs.
“If you break down the musical style of what Sebastian does, it is very unique,” explains Holger Kuno de Buhr, managing director, VUE Europa. “You have Sebastian playing piano and trumpet, Paul Kleber playing acoustic bass, a classical influence of the Berliner Camerata String Quartet is then mixed in with modern EDM-style beats. This music demands the best possible quality in terms of the high-frequency response and system linearity with a punchy dynamic low-end.”
Studnitzky’s performance at the 1,100-seat Berlin Kammermusiksaal (chamber music hall) employed his main touring system augmented with additional VUE Audiotechnik line array components.
“We had a larger audience area with an almost 360-degree seating to cover for this performance.” says Kuno de Buhr. “So, we added two more arrays of four al-4’s, plus hs-25 Dual 15-inch ACM™ Subwoofers.” The hs-25 features VUE Audiotechnik’s patent pending Active Compliance Management technology combining band-pass and vented alignments into a single enclosure taking frequency response down to 32Hz.
“Sebastian has a great understanding of how his music should sound in live context,” adds Kuno de Buhr, “and this is why he trusts VUE Audiotechnik.”
Miami-based Revelation Sound travels 700 miles to install church system that has to be simple and dependable.
Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake destroyed the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, one of the struggling nation’s prized architectural and cultural landmarks.
The Catholic Church recently completed 1,600 seat, steel-frame open-air cathedral adjacent to the old church’s ruins as a temporary sanctuary until the historic cathedral can be rebuilt.
Miami-based Revelation Sound designed and installed the sound reinforcement and electronic clarion systems for the steel-frame cathedral, counting on Ashly Audio to give its operators, who are far from technical, both intuitive and reliable performance.
“Haiti is five hours away from Miami, but economically, it’s worlds away,” said Michael Melcher, president of Revelation Sound.
“The U.S.-based NGO that funded the steel-frame cathedral was able to meet our fees, but after the project was completed, the church would be on its own. They wouldn’t be able to fly us out to fix problems or make changes. Thus, reliability and ease-of-use were paramount. We have always had great success with Ashly processors, amplifiers, and user interfaces. Their set-up is predictable, and once they’re up and running, they keep running. The Protea DSP’s automatic microphone mixing and feedback suppression would allow the church to have sophisticated services without requiring a skilled sound tech. There are plans for an Internet connection, and once that’s up, we’ll tie into the network-ready Ashly gear so that we can make adjustments remotely.”
Melcher and his crew had assumed that the sound reinforcement system would be the heart and soul of their work. The electronic clarion system seemed like a nice add-on. It consists of a Technomad Schedulon, which plays the chimes at prescribed times, an Ashly KLR-3200 two-channel amplifier, and four Atlas loudspeakers.
“When we first fired up the clarion system, we played a Westminster chime set and all the workers stopped what they were doing and went outside to listen,” Melcher recalled. “The drywall crew leader spoke English, and I went to him to ask what was going on. He had a tear in his eye. He explained that it was the first time in Port-au-Prince that bells had sounded since the Earthquake, nearly five years ago. The bells were a hugely emotional symbol of the city’s restoration, both for Catholics and for non-Catholics alike.”
All of the surfaces in the church – concrete, drywall, and Masonite – are highly reflective, and the large windows and doors are open to the elements during services and events. A generator powers the sound reinforcement and the lights during services.
Eight inputs, including several Shure wireless units, wired microphones, and the output from a reconditioned choir mixer, feed an Ashly ne8800M 8-in x 8-out Protea digital system processor. Its output in turn feeds a self-powered Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC16 steerable line array system and two more Ashly KLR-3200 two-channel amplifiers, which power under-balcony speakers and a choir monitor system. Three Ashly neWR-5 programmable remote controls allow the church to easily select presets for different types of events, with individual level control of each input if needed.
Brian Neff, lead tech for the project, said “The Ashly neWR-5 controls are simple to program and easy for the customer to operate.”
Although Revelation Sound was present for the contractor’s dedication, the crew had to return to Miami before the official dedication, which would be attended by all the Catholic dignitaries and, among other high-ranking officials, Haiti’s president, Michel Martelly.
“We knew we had installed a solid, reliable system, and we knew that they knew how to operate it,” said Melcher. “But still, we were somewhat uncomfortable. We were 700 miles away and of no help should anything go wrong. Happily, everything went exactly as planned, and the system worked perfectly.”
Of the project, Melcher says, “Our customer is happy with our work, so the NGO that sponsored the project is happy with our work and that good work brings honor to our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Symetrix SymNet Supports Ian Schrager’s Luxury Hotel Audio Experience
EL Media Group selects SymNet Radius 12x8 open architecture Dante-scalable DSPs and SymNet xOut 12 I/O expansion units for elaborate project.
New York City’s Marriott Edition Hotel is one of the latest projects created by US entrepreneur Ian Schrager, who originally rose to fame as co-owner and co-founder of club Studio 54 in the late 1970s.
To take care of the audio solution, Schrager’s director of development, Michael Overington, enlisted the services of Ernie Lake’s AV firm, EL Media Group and Symetrix DSP.
“We knew exactly what was needed from the start,” says Lake.
“Working in cooperation with Schrager’s designers and the head of branding, Ben Pundole, we were asked to put together a system able to handle a DJ and other general audio duties, which could perform well and at different levels. Quality and even sound dispersion were an absolute must. The client also requested remote access for volume and source.”
As a long-time Symetrix system user – “we’ve been specifying their processors for many years now and love their products.”
It was a fairly easy decision to select two SymNet Radius 12x8 open architecture Dante-scalable DSPs. These were augmented by two SymNet xOut 12 I/O expansion units, with a handful of ARC-2e control panels also installed to provide the necessary remote control capabilities.
The installation covers a large number of areas across the facility – among them lobby check-in, bar/lounge, pool room, restaurant bar, three dining rooms, three meeting rooms, gym, spa, penthouse suites, restrooms and hallways – with suitably flexible audio distribution and processing. As part of its work in these spaces, EL Media Group also installed K-array speakers (“they were found to be suitable because of their slimline design and controlled dispersion”) and amplifiers, along with Tannoy in-ceiling speakers and Lab.gruppen amplifiers.
The end-result is a 360-degree package of high-end audio brands, with durable SymNet Radius DSPs from Symetrix as the bedrock. Responses from the owner/operator of Marriott’s NYC Edition property have been enthusiastic, and point to the prospect of further similar projects at other sites in the future. “They really love the system and we’ve been asked to design a few more,” reveals Lake.
Martin Audio Releases DX0.5 Loudspeaker Management System & EASE Data For CDD
DX0.5 adds affordable loudspeaker system management for the existing range of DX loudspeaker controllers.
Martin Audio has released the CDD Loudspeaker Management System & EASE data for the installation series loudspeakers.
Offered to partner the new CDD range, DX0.5 adds affordable loudspeaker system management for the existing range of DX loudspeaker controllers.
Delivering EQ, crossover, processing and system protection, the DX0.5 2x6 speaker processor provides complete optimization for both passive and powered loudspeaker systems.
Each input and output is loaded with a wide range of digital processing including flexible EQ, crossover, delay and limiting solutions, delivering everything needed to professionally optimize loudspeaker systems of nearly any size.
The DX0.5 utilizes high-end 24-bit AKM AD/DA converters with 120dB dynamic range for class-leading sound quality. With 24 memory locations, users can recall CDD pre-set files via the front panel, or using the free software application and front panel USB, users can define and store their own settings. With simple I/O routing and configuration, the DX0.5 is a flexible processor, ideal for a wide range of portable and installed applications.
In addition, Martin Audio has also announced the availability of EASE data for the six CDD models which can be downloaded from their Loudspeaker Measurement Data web page.
David Morbey, Martin Audio product manager, said, “CDD has taken the install market by storm and we wanted to ensure everything was in place to make life easier for consultants and installers. DX0.5 provides an affordable turnkey management system for the range while the availability of EASE data provides essential tools for system room design.”
Big Mick Hughes On Mixing Metallica, Low End And LEO Line Array (Video)
In a recently produced video from Meyer Sound, he talks about his role as a front of house engineer and his love of low end.
Front of house engineer “Big Mick” Hughes has mixed more than 1,500 Metallica shows.
In a recently produced video, he talks about everything from his role as a front of house engineer and his love of low end to his experience with the Meyer Sound LEO linear large-scale sound reinforcement system and the 1100-LFC low-frequency control element.
“I’m a bit of a bass monster, and I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a sub like 1100-LFC, ever… It does it all. The spectrum is there. It’s like having a blank canvas now—where before you could only paint on half of it, and now you can paint on the whole thing,” says Hughes.
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