Monday, September 08, 2014
d&b audiotechnik Lights Up Banffy Castle For Weekend Of Music In Transylvania
J-Series rig meets unique needs of the Electric Castle Festival in Romania
Most nights of the year, Banffy Castle sits dark in the heart of Transylvania. After centuries of hosting only the most elite in Romanian society, the fortress has been left to face recent years alone.
That is, until the castle was plugged into the current generation earlier this summer when nearly 80,000 people flooded what was transformed into the Electric Castle for a weekend of DJs and dance music, with entertainment on five stages from 130 artists.
“To get ready for Electric Castle, we traveled to many different festivals throughout Europe,” says Teodor Negrea, autistic director of the Electric Castle Festival. “I always pay attention to the sound. I have to say, once we got Set Up, the local d&b audiotechnik system provider on our team, we were able to bring our festival to the next level. Our audio was on par or better than any festival I’ve been to.”
Andy Loy, front of house engineer for Slovenian/American DJ artist Gramatik, walked the audience before his show. “I heard everything from a full orchestra to EDM acts and the rig performed great throughout the whole audience space. I have always really liked d&b systems, the B2 is still one of my favorite sub cabinets because of its nice, punchy, round low end. But now, with the J-SUB I can really get the super low frequencies that come along with working with an EDM artist like Gramatik.”
According to Dan Belivan of distributor dB Technolight, who first sold the d&b J-Series system to Set Up, “Romania has been gaining
increasing traction in the EDM market, our own Sasha ranks easily alongside DJ Fresh, while Subcarpati find themselves on many a live stage around Europe these days. Set Up saw the potential of this emerging market in Eastern Europe and moved in to action. I was really glad when they finally made their choice to buy the first d&b J-Series for Romania.”
Set Up system technician Ionut Croitoru adds, “The cardioid J-SUBs are immense. We had to cover an area of 70 by 35 meters, so decided the J-Series was best for the space and the electronic music. Working with the ArrayCalc and R1 Remote control software, it was so easy to set up the arrays in a smooth and accurate design.”
“It was such a wonderful week,” concludes Negrea. “This year the Electric Castle Festival was one of the biggest in Eastern Europe. People couldn’t help but dance and have fun, which was our goal from the start. One great party.”
Mohegan Sun Casino In New England Installs Second Meyer Sound M’elodie System
New system headed by two main arrays of six M’elodie loudspeakers each, two side arrays of four each, and four for front fill
Building on the success of its first Meyer Sound M’elodie line array loudspeaker system installed seven years ago, Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CN recently implemented a second M’elodie system in its 300-seat Wolf Den showroom.
“We bought 16 M’elodies to use as main arrays in our Cabaret Theatre, and that experience made me a big fan of Meyer Sound,” says Mat Diamond, head of audio at Mohegan Sun. “So when it came time to upgrade the Wolf Den, choosing M’elodie again was an easy decision.”
To cover the 300-degree audience area, the new system features two main arrays of six M’elodie loudspeakers each, two side arrays of four each, and four for front fill. Four 700-HP subwoofers provide low end, with system drive and alignment provided by a Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system. The system was supplied by HB Communications of North Haven, CN.
The architecture of the Casino of the Earth, the building housing Wolf Den, has strict weight limitations. “The structure couldn’t really support much more weight for the speaker hangs,” says Diamond. “But when I looked at the numbers, I was pleased to find that the self-powered M’elodies actually weigh 20 pounds less per box than the conventional boxes we were replacing.
“I love the fact that M’elodie is plug-and-play, with power and processing on board. It’s a great-sounding box that you don’t have to mess with,” he continues. “Versatility is one of the things I like about Meyer Sound systems, and that’s why I’m pushing for more of them here. The same rig really works for anything we do, from heavy metal to country to hip-hop and pop.”
Acts that have played in the Wolf Den since the audio renovation include heavy metal bands Queensrÿche and Slaughter, rock bands Eddie Money and Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, doo-wop group Little Anthony and the Imperials, and hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa.
The upgrade also includes 12 UM-1P stage monitors in addition to a UPA-1P loudspeaker and a USW-1P subwoofer for drum monitors. Yamaha CL5 digital mixing consoles are installed for FOH and monitor positions.
EAW Avalon Loudspeakers Deliver Dynamic Audio At New Nightclub In China
Avalon CLUB.two loudspeakers deliver broadband directional control that generates high SPL on the dance floor with minimal spill onto walls and ceiling
The new S.Muse nightclub in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin, China recently opened with a dynamic sound system headed by Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW) Avalon loudspeakers.
Since the first S.Muse outlet was launched in 2005, 17 more locations have opened in second-tier cities across China. Each venue offers customers a range of audio and visual entertainment.
Specifically, the new two-level club in Tianjin is outfitted with four flown Avalon CLUB.two full range loudspeakers, firing downward on the dance floor. The CLUB.two offers broadband directional control that helps generate high SPL with minimal spill onto walls and ceilings.
Four Avalon Sub.two subwoofers drive the low end. A hybrid subwoofer, the SUB.two delivers extreme extension and the physical impact sought for club applications.
Four compact CLUB.four loudspeakers serve as nearfield monitors in the DJ booth, while 14 EAW JF59 and 10 EAW LA128ZR loudspeakers deliver music to the lounge areas on the first and second floor. Dual EAW UX8800 digital signal processors provide Avalon presets for maximum optimization.
“I think the performance of the EAW Avalon loudspeaker has pushed the sound effects of our club to their extremes,” says Mr. Sun, manager of the Tianjin club. “Avalon is the most amazing dedicated sound system I have heard so far.”
Pascal Introduces Power Scalability With S-PRO Amplifier Extension Modules
Provides a range of new cost-effective power configurations for self-powered loudspeakers and multi-channel amplifier applications
Pascal has announced the launch of two new extension modules for its S-PRO2 power amplifier module, with immediate availability: the 2 x 500 watt S-A2 and 1x 500 watt S-A1.
The new boards enable a range of new cost-effective power configurations for self-powered loudspeakers and multi-channel amplifier applications.
The S-A2 and S-A1 extension modules function as additional identical amplifier output channels for the S-PRO2, powered by the S-PRO2 power supply.
The new modules incorporate proprietary UMAC class-D technology for high signal-to-noise, low distortion and exemplary frequency response. In addition, Pascal UREC power supply technology and PFC functionality provide universal mains and regulation for worldwide AC mains compatibility and consistent power performance.
With the new extension modules, the S-PRO Series now offers a wide range of scalable power rating and output channel configurations for OEM self-powered and other integrated amplification applications, specifically: sound reinforcement and portable PA loudspeakers, studio monitors, installation distributed 19-inch rack amplifiers, and home theater amplification.
Typical applications for the new extension boards are for loudspeakers with 2 or 3-way power configurations, as well as deploying the S-PRO2 in bridged configuration with the addition of an S-A1 or S-A2 module to provide either 500 or 1m000 watts to the LF section.
Further, self-powered studio monitors, the addition of an S-A1 or S-A2 module to a bridged S-PRO2 configuration will provide either 3x or 4x 500 watts per channel. In distributed 19-inch rack and home entertainment rack systems, a single S-PRO2 + S-A2 configuration will provide 4 channel (250 - 500 watt) outputs (at 8 ohm—4 ohm load), or 8-channel outputs with a dual S-PRO2 + S-A2 configuration.
“We were the first to introduce the world smallest 1,000-watt amplifier module with the S-PRO2, which is today an acknowledged blockbuster in the pro audio market,” states Pascal sales director Peter Frentz. “With the new S-A2 and S-A1 extension boards, we bring a new level of competitive advantage to our customers, in performance, price and time to market.”
Based in Denmark, Pascal is an OEM manufacturer of power amplifier modules for the professional audio industry.
Friday, September 05, 2014
Genelec Active Monitors Fill Multiple Roles For Updog Studios At Inspiration Academy In Florida
Studio serves both the school’s needs and those of the Updog Studios production company, which operates independently
Genelec active monitors were recently chosen by Bradenton, FL-based Crown Design Group for the new Updog recording studio at Inspiration Academy, a Christian college preparatory academy also located in Bradenton.
The studio serves both the school’s needs (classes, A/V applications, athletics, etc.) and those of the Updog Studios production company, which operates independently of the school. This unique arrangement required some creative planning in terms of equipment and studio configuration.
For monitors, Crown Design Group co-founders Garrett Walker and Ben Graham recommended an LCR system consisting of Genelec 1037C tri-amplified monitors, as well as a 6.2 surround system consisting of six 8050A bi-amplified monitors and two 7070A active subwoofers. Other gear includes an Avid S6 control surface with Pro Tools rig, Symetrix DSP, power sequencer control units from Furman and much more.
Walker notes, “Obviously, we needed a gear setup that could do a lot of things, on account of the fact that this would be used for classes, extracurriculars and independent production. They asked for a space where they could have walk-in turnkey solutions for students to be able to use the gear without too much fumbling, but also a professional, world-class room that they could use for themselves for editing movies and audio.
“What we ended up with is the perfect blend of state-of-the-art technology and user-friendliness,” he continues. “And the sound is amazing. Those Genelec monitors do not tell a lie. With the custom programming in the Symetrix touch panel, the students can click a ‘simulated surround’ button, plug in a stereo mix from their device, and hear it in a newly-created surround mix. They just love that.”
Graham adds, “I’ve been in the music industry for 12 years, and I’ve recorded and worked in a number of studios across the country, and this one sounds the best. I love watching people walk in for the first time. Their jaws drop – it can be overwhelming. And then we press ‘play,’ their eyes get big and they hold their chest as the sound hits them. They can’t help but smile. The client was blown away with the sound quality right way, even before anything had been fine-tuned yet. We can’t wait to do our next project – we’re definitely going Genelec.”
Bose Pro Holding RoomMatch Demo Sessions In Houston Area Next Week
Sessions are scheduled for 10 am, 1 pm and 3 pm in Cypress, TX, northwest of Houston
Bose Professional Systems will be hosting demonstrations of its RoomMatch loudspeaker systems at the Berry Center Arena and its theater in Cypress, Texas (northwest of Houston) next Tuesday, September 9, 2014.
Bose has been providing regional demos showcasing RoomMatch loudspeakers, along with PowerMatch amplifiers and ControlSpace digital signal processing, with next week’s events continuing the program.
Sessions are scheduled for 10 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. The events will include presentations and demonstrations of two Bose RoomMatch loudspeaker systems in two unique rooms, the Berry Center’s arena and its theater. Attendees will also be able to have discussions with Bose sales and field engineering personnel.
Location: Berry Center Arena and Theater (30 min. northwest of Houston)
Address: 8877 Barker Cypress Rd., Cypress, TX 77433
Bose Professional Systems
RCF Line Arrays Upgrade The Sound Of The Sage Gateshead In UK
New system helps venue save on cost while offering a more adaptable solution for a wide range of live performances
The Sage Gateshead, an iconic multi-arts building in the northeast of England (Gateshead Quays, UK), is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a new sound reinforcement system in it’s 1,700-seat Main Hall that’s headed by RCF HDL 20-A line arrays.
The new system was installed by British contractor Nitelites following a period of evaluation by the facility’s head of technical operations, Chris Durant, during several occasions when HDL20-A arrays were flown on a temporary basis to support the house system.
Home to Royal Northern Sinfonia and host to a vast concert agenda that includes jazz, folk, country and rock, the venue’s original system had rarely kept pace, so Nitelites found themselves increasingly hiring in its RCF TT+ and HDL rigs.
Eventually managing director Jamie Moore proposed that flown HDL 20-A arrays be installed on a permanent basis, both to save the Sage Gateshead hire costs and to enable the system to be purpose-tuned via a series of preset scenes accessed via a custom panel.
Nitelites co-director Andy Magee states, “With HDL we were confident we could get even coverage around the building, whether for speech or classical. The system is so easy to deploy, quick to rig and fast to wire.”
The new PA covers the main floor and two balcony tiers, split into 12 coverage zones. Nitelites recommended 12 HDL20-A enclosures for each flank, with three more HDL 20-As per side for portable ground stack on custom dollies, atop an RCF SUB 8004 subwoofer.
Another sub stack includes three SUB 8006s in a reverse cardioid pattern (one rear facing), with an HDL 10-A on top. In addition, HDL 10-As supply underbalcony fill and front fill. On the sides of the main hangs are four discreet RCF TT08s for out fill.
Durant adds that he believes that Nitelites’ attention to detail in tuning the system has enabled them to get a higher level of performance from the system. “We’ve had pretty much every big system in here, and our new in-house RCF house rigs sounds better because temporary systems have to be set up so quickly,” he says. “This been tuned to within an inch of its life.”
Durant presented Nitelites with a matrix containing different performance scenarios for which gain structure presets were created. Via the DSP, zones can be turned on and off at will.
“It’s far more efficient than changing the angles of the boxes every time we needed a new configuration,” he notes, adding, “The great thing about the HDL 20-A is that it goes down to 55 Hzm so for jazz and classical there are no subs at all. In fact the first time I heard it I thought our subs had been switched in by mistake.”
The new system has “future-proofed” performance requirements for the foreseeable future. “We are now making engineers aware that they can leave their kit on the truck,” Durant concludes.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Grund Audio Adds Active Models To ACX Series Of Loudspeakers
Onboard amplifier’s inputs include an XLR balanced mic input, a 1/4-inch line input, and RCA inputs for use with CD players and similar equipment
Grund Audio Design has announced the expansion of the ACX Series loudspeaker line with the addition of four new active models: the ACX-2A, ACX-5A, ACX-2MA, and ACX-5MA.
Designed as a budget friendly sound reinforcement solution for 200- to 400-seat churches, as well as smaller meeting/presentation facilities, and similar applications, the new active ACX Series loudspeakers carry the benefit of power amplification that is optimized for the enclosure along with streamlined system cabling.
All ACX Series loudspeakers utilize MDF (medium-density fiberboard) enclosures and provide component concealing grilles for visual aesthetics and protection. Color options include black and white for all models.
For the self-powered (active) ACX Series models, the power amplifier’s multichannel inputs include an XLR balanced microphone input, a 1/4-inch line input, and RCA inputs for use with CD players and similar equipment. Any two sources can be mixed internally.
The ACX-2A and ACX-5A are available with handles and a pole mount as well as three 2 x 2 flypoints. The ACX-2MA and ACX-5MA are available with handles. A comprehensive range of accessories, including eyebolts, crank style speaker stands, adjustable stands, dual mount poles, and both crank style and adjustable poles are available.
“The ACX line has always represented exceptional value for those sound reinforcement applications in smaller spaces,” says Frank Grund, president of Grund Audio Design. “Now, with the addition of our self-powered models, our customers have greater choice than ever. I’m confident the expanded ACX product line will be well received.”
All models are available now.
Grund Audio Design
Five Creative Uses Of Loudspeakers That Can Enhance Recordings
1) Adding More Snares to Snare Drums
If you’re presented with an “inherited recording” to mix (one you didn’t engineer) with live drums where no bottom mic was used on the snare drum, or the track sheet says “snare” but all you’ve got to work with is a dull thump, try this: Route an aux send bus output from your mixing console to a small powered loudspeaker (or, if you have an extra power amp, a regular small passive loudspeaker) you’ve placed out in the studio room or vocal booth.
I’ve done this, putting my small, powered 5-inch Yamaha loudspeaker right on top of a decent sounding snare drum sitting on its stand. Use a spacer so the loudspeaker itself does not dampen the snare drum head too much.
I used the plastic protective ring from a 2-inch reel of tape for a spacer, strapping it and the loudspeaker down to the drum’s shell with gaffer’s tape. Then I put my favorite bottom snare drum mic on the bottom, and brought it up in the mix on another mic input fader.
While sending on the aux send bus from the original snare track, slowly add in the bottom mic. I sometimes “hard gate” the aux send signal to the loudspeaker if leakage causes too much snare buzzing in between snare hits.
Also be sure to do equalization, and also try flipping phase—one way will sound better than another, and you shouldn’t need much of this to “vibe up” that dull snare.
2) Recording Sympathetic Vibrations
The strings inside a piano can be energized with a loudspeaker as well. Use non-residue tape to clamp down the piano keys in the key of the song. I usually hold down all the octaves of the key of the song, but you can experiment with forming chords too. You also need to put something heavy on the sustain pedal to keep the damper off the strings.
If you place the loudspeaker (or attached it) underneath the piano right up under the soundboard, you’ll hear it vibrating the harp and strings. I usually send the bass, guitars and keyboard tracks, but try sending only vocals for a very interesting vocal effect.
Of course, you’ll want to place a couple of microphones over the harp on the other side of the soundboard and add them to the mix as a stereo pair.
3) Adding Unique Room Ambience
Another trick is to place the loudspeaker out in a room and pick up it’s sound with a mic—a basic echo chamber. Some mixers routinely set up two loudspeakers with a stereo send and stereo mics just to add more “room” to sounds that are too dry or were recorded direct.
If it’s a good sounding room, this is a winner.
4) Kick Drum Mic
I’ve used old Auratone loudspeakers when recording kick drums—the small 5-inch woofer gets a low mid-range sound quality when placed close to the kick drum. Moving further away produces a more hollow sound good for special effects.
I’ve also used the woofer out of the ubiquitous Yamaha NS-10M since I usually find them around the studio in various stages of disrepair. The 8-inch Yamaha woofer gets a lower tone—almost a TR-808 (drum machine) sound with a lot of “hang time” (that’s ghetto-speak for decay length).
After soldering a mic cable to it, I prop it up on tape boxes and place it about a foot in front at an angle since air blasts from the drum can cause trouble.
These “microphones” are not going to give you anything above about 2 kHz, so you’ll have to mix in a real microphone for the rest of the drum’s sound.
5) Bass Drum Tunnels
A lot has been written about bass drum tunnels, and I’ve seen a few versions. The usual way is to build a tunnel using standard studio gobos or baffles, which I’ve seen as long as 15 feet.
A long tunnel presents the option of using more distant miking and still maintain isolation from the rest of the kit. Tunnels must have a roof made of more gobos and cartage blankets laid on top of all of it.
I’ve also read that a heavy cylindrical cardboard concrete casting form works as a prefab tunnel, and various diameters of these (up to about 24 inches) can be acquired at home improvement centers in just about any length you want. They’re much quicker to set up than dragging out all those gobos.
The mic should be put in the normal place—maybe just inside the hole of the front head or right in front of the drum. Then put a distant mic down near the end of the tunnel. Achieve a balance and sound with just two mics: the distant one down the tunnel, combined with the close mic.
Flip phase around and try different positions before reaching for EQ, and if you’re recording to DAW, you can shift (in time) the distant mic’s recorded waveform closer to the close mic’s signal waveform timing. This sometimes helps and sometimes hurts.
And, I’ve used a shotgun mic for the distant mic for a faraway sound yet sonorous presence.
Barry Rudolph is a veteran L.A.-based recording engineer as well as a noted writer on recording topics. Visit his website at www.barryrudolph.com.
“Reclaimed” Electro-Voice System Delivers At Lancaster PA’s Tellus360
Home furnishing store transformed to two stage live club, both outfitted with vintage EV loudspeakers
Tellus360, which began in 2010 as a downtown Lancaster, PA store for home furnishings, is a sideline for owner Joe Devoy, whose Maryland-based ARA Construction Corporation is best known for building in-store fixtures and interiors out of reclaimed wood for Whole Foods.
“The furniture in the store was all made using reclaimed wood,” says general manager Mairtin Lally, “and we started adding items like organic clothing and jewelry, and also sourcing antiques from Ireland.” Lally was raised in Ireland, where his pub-owning family regularly presented live music, and he’d also worked in event production in his college days in Galway. Before long, that background started proving useful at Tellus360.
“It turned out that many of the people working for us in the store were either artists or musicians,” Lally explains. “So we started to put on small shows right in the store, with maybe 20 to 60 people in the audience initially, and then growing to 80, 100, 120. For each show we had to flip the store into a venue and then back. Eventually it was obvious that with the extra space we had in the building we should use it for music.”
At first, Lally says, the plan was to create a space on the building’s second floor that would support performances on the same level that they’d already been doing, but with higher production values and without having to flip the store for each show. Seeking advice about how best to design and equip the venue for high-quality sound, they turned to Clair Global, located in nearby Lititz. In fact, several Clair employees live in or near Lancaster, among them consultant Harry Witz, formerly president of dB Sound Image in Chicago.
Among other achievements, Witz provided sound design and installation services at nine House of Blues locations and was deeply involved in the design of many key Electro-Voice loudspeaker lines including MT, X-Array, XLC, and X-Line. He took an interest in Tellus 360 and advised on many aspects of the project, and a more ambitious plan took shape. The goal became to create a venue that is not only a downtown destination for Lancaster’s 60,000 residents but also a draw for the half-million people living within a half-hour drive.
The result is a reconfigured building—now topped with a living roof—that features two distinct venues for live performance, as well as a lounge area upstairs in back. The various spaces are used not only for live music shows, but also for community dinners, receptions, yoga and dance classes, black box theater performances, and writing workshops.
Tellus360’s two music rooms can be loosely described as pub and club. The front room, accommodating up to 200 on the main level and mezzanine, is a warm pub with food, drink—and a 100-year-old antique bar reclaimed bar from a pub in Ireland’s County Waterford. The room features live music, often acoustic, several nights a week.
A separate room, dubbed The Temple, handles 350 seated or 550 standing for an eclectic range of larger shows, typically two to four per week. Genres include Americana, Irish, newgrass, rock, blues, soul, and jazz. Audio lines from the Temple stage run to a 64-track recording studio in the basement that can be used for live recording.
Given Devoy’s overall emphasis on reclaiming rather than buying newly manufactured goods, it’s no surprise that the Electro-Voice sound system in the front room was previously owned. “Their approach to the design was all about using reclaimed materials — doors, windows, railings, whatever they could,” Witz says. “So one of the things that they were looking for in their sound systems was some kind of history. The DeltaMax DML-1152 full-range two-way loudspeaker was a model that I had designed as part of a reciprocal consulting arrangement between dB Sound and Electro-Voice. These particular boxes, which had updated drivers, had been used on the Riverdance tour as well as AC/DC, and had come to Clair Bros with the dB Sound inventory.”
Two of the 1152s are hung over the front of the pub’s stage, each four feet to the side of stage center. The boxes are oriented for 40-degree horizontal coverage to minimize reflection off of the hard walls of the relatively long, narrow room. The main system also includes two subwoofers, originally built by dB Sound, that are based on the Xsub design but use a single 18-inch woofer.
Two more 1152s hang as delays under the stairs that serve the mezzanine; the same model is also used for delays in the Temple. Coverage in the mezzanine itself is provided by two Electro-Voice Sx200 two-way full-range speakers. The pub system is powered by Electro-Voice P3000 Precision Series power amplifiers and crossed-over by DeltaMax DMC-1152 controllers.
While newer designs offer advantages in terms of size and weight, Witz says, “I don’t think we could have any better performance in the front room than what we’ve got with this system.”
Lally agrees. “Our system has completely changed the way I listen at concerts and shows,” he says. “Having been around it all the time, I can really appreciate the quality when I contrast it with the systems that I hear in other places. And we’ve had nothing but positive feedback. We want to be sure that the artists that play here have a great experience, and the bands love the sound of this system. We couldn’t be happier.”
Studio Sound On A Grand Concert Scale
Before embarking on a 40-city summer tour co-headlining with the Steve Miller Band, Journey spent nearly a month in intensive rehearsals at Fantasy Recording Studios in Berkeley.
While honing his mix in a world-class studio was a pleasure for Journey FOH engineer Jim Yakabuski, the experience presented an implicit challenge. How do you take what you hear in a controlled studio and recreate the mix in a high-energy live concert environment, and deliver a consistent listening experience show after show despite the nightly variables?
In this Q&A, Yakabuski reviews the tools and techniques he employed to deliver a studio-quality experience for the live audience.
Bruce Borgerson: Journey rehearsed in the closed environment of a studio. From a mix perspective, how did those sessions help prepare for the live shows?
Jim Yakabuski: The rehearsals took place in Fantasy studios, where Journey’s Escape album was recorded and mixed. With my DiGiCo D5 front of house console, we rehearsed all the songs in a great acoustic environment. The band would come into the control room and listen to the multitrack playback through Meyer Sound HD-1 studio monitors.
We would tweak the mix and the individual instrument tones to a level that the band members and I were thoroughly happy with before getting to the first show. The magic of getting to work on my mixes in such a sacred place was not lost on me.
BB: Mixing rehearsals in a studio is different from mixing live.
JY: Indeed. It’s one thing to do some critical listening of a mix on headphones or studio monitors; translating that through a full concert PA system at high SPLs is totally different. In a studio environment, it is easier to make good choices in EQ and tonality, so that when all the instruments are mixed together, the result is a full, powerful sound but with enough space to still hear everything clearly.
It all changes once you’re on the road. With venue challenges like wind and humidity, and the acoustics in big boomy room or amphitheaters with tin roofs and flat surfaces at the rear, it’s much harder to focus in on the details of the mix. Sometimes you’re just trying to survive the day! Any kind of distortion or “artifacts” in the sound system makes it much more complicated.
I approach concert mixing in a way that the console mix is “king,” and the PA should just be an extension of the tones and blends created on the mixing console. If the mix sounds like the recording on a pair of studio monitors, then it should sound like that through the PA – only with more power, energy, and kick.
BB: Not all PA systems “translate.” Can you walk us through what usually happens with a “typical” PA system?
JY: Many sound systems are far from “transparent” or “linear,” but instead carry their own “signature” sonic qualities that are favored by some FOH engineers.
Much like Strat and Les Paul guitars each has its own individual qualities—with another level of difference when played through a Fender or Marshall amp—PA systems today still sound a little bit different from each other.
Therefore engineers have to creatively adopt their own methods to attain the desired result.
BB: How do FOH engineers and system techs handle sound systems that don’t “translate”?
JY: When a sound system colors the sound of your mix in comparison to what’s heard through quality headphones or studio monitors, we then have to alter how we tune and mix the system.
For example, if the system is not capable of producing the extreme highs and lows that are present in the console mix, or add harmonic overtones or distortion, then the system engineer or FOH mixer has to start “fudging” things to keep the integrity of the mix intact.
This also applies to stereo imaging and perceived depth of the mix. It’s a roundabout way to “morph” the console mix to cater to the sonic signature of the PA system and its characteristics. That’s why (Meyer Sound) LEO with its precise translation is such a different animal. I can approach my mix with the confidence that the sound system will give me a neutral palette to work with.
Knowing that the smallest details of my mix will be translated as accurately as one could hope gives me a lot of incentive to really dive into the tones and textures of each instrument. The result is a very transparent, un-colored reproduction of what the console is sending.
BB: Taking Journey as an example, how does “translation” from studio to live apply?
JY: Journey’s music is very rich and complex with lots of layers of guitars, keyboards, and a solid foundation of drums and bass. Also, the lead and background vocals are extremely important, so emulating the placement of each instrument and vocal relative to the albums is a lofty goal. Working in a studio control room on the front end allowed me to tweak the mix so it’s as good as it can be.
The LEO system simply and consistently reproduces my mix and all its nuances at high SPLs, despite the chaotic concert environments. I can occasionally record the shows in multitrack, play back through the console, and touch up the mix in headphones, knowing that when I open up the full system, the EQ and tonality choices will be accurately translated. I don’t have to compensate for speaker “peculiarities” with my console mix, and that’s fantastic.
With LEO’s clarity, any space I can create in the mix has a chance of making it through the muck the venue creates. On open-air days, it’s stunning how crystal clear the system sounds. It’s funny, but I find myself sometimes applying additional FX and adding a little “growl” to fill in the spaces a bit as it can be a little “too real.”
BB: What does the touring audio team do during setup of each show to make sure that the system translates?
JY: Careful system design and implementation. System tech Greg Mahler (pictured below) and I work as a team to make measurements and EQ the system to achieve a flat transfer function from around 300 Hz and up. We time-align the subs to match the phase angle of the LEO, and then bring them up to extend the low end of the main PA.
We take more measurements to blend in the side arrays and all of the front fill zones, and then play some tunes and walk around. During the show, I occasionally call out a frequency or two that requires adjusting, and then Greg grabs the tablet and walks the venue to see if any of the zones need touching up.
BB: Moving on to bass. Sub energy is quite different in the studio and in large-scale concerts since studio recording rooms and control rooms are acoustically designed to control bass. That’s not the case in arenas and amphitheaters.
JY: I’ve always been bothered by the huge lobe down the middle of the venue, and the null occurring slightly off center. It’s maddening to have to mix knowing you have to “surf” in the huge wave of sub energy at mix position to make it right throughout the venue.
I’ve been trying various methods for years to equalize the sub energy so that the audience is hearing a relative reference of what I’m hearing at FOH.
I’ve pretty much tried everything, from craftily designed sub stacks and center sub floor clusters—which I often couldn’t get away with because of objections from the artist or set designer—to time offsets to help steer bass energy off center and outwards.
BB: Did you employ different techniques for indoor versus outdoor venues?
JY: Cardioid arrays are great for controlling side and rear sub energy. In general, most methods work similarly indoors and out, but in tall arenas the vertical coverage issue has to be addressed as well.
Journey likes a “clean” stage sound, so keeping the low end off the stage is a major objective. We use nine-deep arrays of 1100-LFC cabinets per side, with the middle cabinet of each group of three facing backwards to facilitate the cardioid pattern. We turn the subs outwards at about 20 degrees so that the rear cancellation point aims toward the musicians on stage, instead of straight back into monitor world or the side of the stage. It works great, and our musicians are very grateful for it!
BB: Has your perception of low-end control changed over time?
JY: It still seems to be the “final frontier” of great audio. There has been a renewed focus on cardioid sub arrays lately, which helps out hugely on stage, but the greater problem in my opinion is the large expanse of the audience and how to cover that area evenly with reduced lobe and null effects. I’m hopeful that the entire audio industry will direct more effort to this so that the low-end experience will continue to rise for the audience and musicians.
With more than 25 years of touring experience as a systems tech and FOH engineer, Jim Yakabuski also has worked behind the board for Van Halen, Jon Secada, Ted Nugent, Engelbert Humperdinck, Whitesnake, Julio Iglesias, and Matchbox Twenty, among others. He is the author of the book “Hal Leonard Professional Sound Reinforcement Techniques.”
Also, noted engineer Buford Jones will be interviewing Jim in an upcoming mixing workshop webinar, discussing his mixing career as well as techniques. The sessions are taking place on October 1 and 2, and are open to registration here.
And, VER Tour Sound supported the Journey/Steve Miller tour as the audio supplier and provided a Meyer Sound LEO linear sound reinforcement system.
Bruce Borgerson has been a freelance journalist and audio industry communications consultant since the 1980s. He has written numerous feature articles for Mix, Pro Sound News, Sound & Video Contractor and Church Production, as well as for ProSoundWeb.
Roscoe Anthony Named President Of Renkus-Heinz
Will spearhead company's continued evolution, working closely with founder and chairman Harro Heinz
Renkus-Heinz has announced the appointment of Roscoe Anthony to the position of president.
Anthony joins R-H after a lengthy and successful tenure as president of Califone, a provider of audio and multimedia solutions for education. His 12 years at Califone saw the company through a period of record growth, including the transition of the company’s product lines from analog to digital.
Anthony’s resume also includes stints as division manager with Tascam, as well as executive positions at JBL Professional and SKB. Also an experienced advertising executive, he presided over ad agency Reeds & Farris and was named one of the “Top 100 People in Advertising” by Advertising Age magazine.
Anthony joins Renkus-Heinz during a period of unprecedented growth for the company. Throughout the recent economic downturns, Renkus-Heinz has seen a continued surge in sales, and has made significant additions to its engineering staff. Anthony’s new position will see him spearheading the company’s continued evolution, working closely with company founder and chairman Harro Heinz.
“Roscoe brings with him an extraordinarily wide-ranging skillset, with deep expertise in business, marketing, and manufacturing, along with a powerful grasp of today’s complex technologies,” Heinz states. “We are truly pleased to welcome him, and are looking forward to working together.”
“Renkus-Heinz is one of a handful legendary companies that has paved the foundations of professional audio,” Anthony says. “I’m honored to be joining the organization at such an auspicious time, and I look forward to helping guide the company to a path of even greater growth and success.”
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Church Sound Files: Equipment Should Be Seen As Well As Heard
Let’s play hide the sound equipment! Sounds like a child’s game, eh? Maybe so, but unfortunately, it’s also a reality that I’ve seen played out in too many churches.
A primary purpose of a church’s existence is the delivery of spoken word and music, so it begs the question: Why place sound equipment that is so important to this purpose in locations where it cannot be seen?
More importantly, sometimes it’s even placed where the sound operator is totally out of earshot of anything going on in the church sanctuary, where the operator can’t even see the platform and pulpit, and where it is completely inaccessible to the operator.
Here are some of the oddest places I’ve found sound equipment hidden at churches:
—In a nursery three rooms down the hall from the sanctuary. Nursery volunteers, by listening to a five-dollar ceiling loudspeaker, adjusted the entire church sound system with no physical contact with the space. The church was regularly plagued by feedback and “too soft-too loud” complaints. I wonder why…
—In a closet behind the chancel area of the church, with the door constantly locked and only the pastor had a key! Adjustment to change levels or avoid feedback was impossible.
—On a shelf in an alcove well behind the pulpit next to the organ. The elderly organist couldn’t hear very well and was always was fiddling with the system - to no avail, of course, particularly since there was no loudspeaker that provided any audio signal to that area of the church. Again the system regularly howled with feedback and distortion.
—Behind the last row of seating in the auditorium (which seats nearly 800 worshipers) against the back wall under a 30-foot balcony. The system operator, at a quite-large console, regularly used headphones to listen to what was going on because he was completely out of the coverage range of the primary loudspeakers.
—In the basement. And who was designated to adjust levels? Why, the custodian of course! He listened via the cheapest of cheap ceiling loudspeakers, this time mounted on a blank panel in the equipment rack.
—In a small cabinet located under the last row of pews where an usher had to get down on his hands and knees and adjust the level of the system if there was a problem… Best wishes!
—And our first place winner: In a stairwell to the right of the platform (with door that was always closed), placed on top of shelves that were positioned directly beneath a leaking eave of the roof, where over the course of a couple of years, water had seeped into all of the electronics. Fortunately no one ever seemed to adjusted the system, so no one was electrocuted.
You’re probably thinking, “These examples have to be from the 1950s and 1960s, right?”
Sadly, no. These are things I’ve seen within the last 10 years, and in a number of cases, the systems were installed by so-called church sound “specialists”.
Asking why this happens leads to a couple of logical answers: aesthetic concerns and lack of understanding about the function and purpose of a sound system.
It also leads to another question: “Where should the sound equipment be located?” And this leads to the opposite answers - aesthetics cannot be allowed to overrule everything else, and the function/purpose of the system has to be understood.
Loudspeakers must be properly placed to properly perform. Beautiful architecture enhances the worship experience, but so does quality sound. Often there are choices that can be made based upon the art of compromise.
For example, if a highlight of a sanctuary is a 12-foot cross centered above the platform, do not seek to fly a big loudspeaker right in front of it. Very likely, there are other feasible loudspeaker locations to facilitate solid coverage to every seat within the space.
But it must be made clear that this central location is indeed often the optimum position, and thus the sound team is already making a compromise due to an aesthetic concern, so a reasonable alternative for optimally locating the loudspeakers needs to be accommodated.
In other words, if choice A is off the table, then choice B should be given due priority in the shared goal of the best overall presentation of worship services.
Many manufacturers offer custom finish services that do wonders in helping loudspeakers “blend in” with their surroundings. And if the loudspeakers must be covered, make sure the covering material (“scrim”) does not degrade performance.
The system operator position must be located in the primary listening area. Period. Mixing my metaphors, you don’t want a pilot flying blind, and you don’t want a system operator mixing deaf.
With this issue, two factors come into play: our old friend aesthetics (“people don’t want to see that ugly mixer”), and taking up too many “good seats.”
First, there are all sorts of ways to make the operator position attractive, ranging from custom carpentry to off-the-shelf cabinetry that is purpose-designed for AV equipment.
Second, the definition of “good seats” must also include sound quality, not just sightlines. Simply put, if system operators can’t do their best, there are far fewer good seats for the entire congregation.
Other key system components must also be easily accessible to the sound operator, because if there’s a problem, it should be able to be addressed immediately.
It is true that there are audio components and systems designed to be “set and forget”—largely run without an operator.
But these are usually for applications without the dynamics and variables of worship services—conference rooms and boardrooms, to be specific, and even in churches in the form of distributed audio to ancillary rooms outside the sanctuary.
These types of systems usually cannot account for the wide range of factors involved with worship services, where a pastor experienced with public speaking can be immediately followed by a layman who’s never used a microphone, where a soft soprano singer performs a duet with a robust tenor singer, where dramas involving several participants all need microphones and then this diverse range of speaking styles all needs to be clearly heard through the sound system.
A hidden, inaccessible sound system and/or components leads to a lot of grief, and more importantly, runs counter to our primary mission. We can buy components of the highest quality, but if we can’t use them properly and optimally, the only guarantee is disappointment.
Charlie Moore has been involved in management positions at various professional audio manufacturers and large installation contractors for more than 40 years. He also has first-hand experience in live mixing, system design and installation and has been active as a volunteer in a number of church sound system operations.
Bose Panaray MA12 Serving Important Role At Atlanta History Center’s Woodruff Auditorium
Meets key requirements to provide highly intelligible coverage throughout the seating area while fitting with the auditorium's architecture
Cape Dixson Associates (CDAI), an Atlanta-based AV and acoustical consulting firm, chose Bose Professional Panaray MA12 modular line array loudspeakers in a recent upgrade to the audio capabilities at the 400-seat Woodruff Auditorium at the Atlanta History Center, which strives to preserve the legacy of the U.S. south’s largest city and its surrounding region.
CDAI, which has worked with the center on its audio and acoustical needs for 25 years, helped upgrade the acoustics of the 1960s-vintage space when the auditorium was renovated in 2001; however, that renovation budget did not include upgrading sound reinforcement capabilities, leaving the venue dependent on the original audio system.
The new system, installed by local firm Sound Design & Innovation, incorporates two stacks of three Panaray MA12 modular line array loudspeakers, wall mounted at each side of the stage, with two MB12 modular subwoofers soffited under the front of the stage. The loudspeakers are powered by a single Bose PowerMatch PM8500 8-channel amplifier.
Rogers Dixson, president of CDAI, states, “The Bose system not only meets the key requirements to provide clear, highly intelligible and even sound coverage throughout the auditorium seating area, but it does so with a narrow, low-profile design that fits in discreetly with the auditorium’s architecture.
“One of the key things for this project was the need to have excellent coverage of the entire seating area and full control of the sound system’s dispersion pattern,” he continues. “In a typical auditorium of this type we would have specified an LCR cluster to achieve desired coverage, but the architectural design of the space and its low ceiling prevented that approach. In addition, the Bose system provides surprisingly consistent coverage even in the front rows. Fill speakers would likely have been needed with a more traditional speaker cluster design.”
Jackson McQuigg, vice president of facilities at the Atlanta History Center, adds, “The Bose speakers more than met our expectations and we are thrilled with the result.”
Cape Dixson Associates (CDAI)
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
JBL Professional Debuts EON 206P All-In-One Portable PA System
Includes a pair of 6.5-inch passive loudspeakers powered by 160-watt power amp, integrated 6-channel mixer
Harman’s JBL Professional has introduced the EON 206P, an all-in-one portable PA system for a variety of applications, including small band/solo acts, coffeehouses, clubs, schools, worship events, meetings/seminars, presentations, health clubs, and more.
The EON 206P includes a pair of 6.5 inch passive loudspeakers, each with a 6.5-inch woofer and a 1-inch neodymium black nylon dome tweeter, powered by a 160-watt power amp section (80 watts per channel). The EON 206P has a stated maximum SPL output of 113 dB, with a nominal coverage pattern of 100 x 80 degrees.
The EON 206P also has an integrated 6-channel mixer with two balanced mic/line channels with XLR/quarter-inch combo jacks (channels 1 and 2) and two stereo inputs (channels 3 and 4, RCA and 1/4-inch). Channels 5 and 6 have 1/8-inch mini jacks. The mixer also has stereo monitor out (1/4-inch left and right out) with volume control (for an external sub or stage monitors), master volume control, reverb on channels 1 and 2, bass/treble control, and universal power (100-240 volts; 50/60 Hz).
The EON 206P system weighs 25 pounds, offers a durable road-tough enclosure and convenient internal cable storage, and comes in a suitcase format for transport and storage. It also has a 36 mm pole socket for easy mounting.
“With best-in-class performance, easy setup and portability, the EON 206P allows anyone to deliver their performance, presentation, class or message with legendary JBL sound technology,” said Andy Flint, senior manager, portable PA marketing, JBL Professional. “It’s also so easy to use and lightweight that anyone can operate the system, making it possible to enjoy great sound in any environment.”