Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Church Sound: Inside Automatic Microphone Mixers

Every time the number of open or active microphones in your church system increases, the system gain (or volume) also increases.

The effect of this is greater potential for feedback as more microphones are added, just as if the master volume control were being turned up.

In addition, unwanted background noise increases with the number of open microphones. Here, the effect is a loss of intelligibility as the background noise level rises closer to the level of the desired sound.

A good solution is to activate microphones only when they are addressed and to keep them attenuated (turned down) when not being addressed.

In addition, when more than one microphone is addressed at a time, the system volume must be reduced appropriately to prevent feedback and insure minimum noise pickup.

An automatic microphone mixing system can be a lot of help in this situation. Essentially, it’s comprised of a special mixer and an associated group of microphones, and it’s function is twofold: to automatically activate microphones as needed and to automatically adjust the system volume in a corresponding manner.

In some automatic microphone systems, ordinary microphones are used and all of the control is provided by the mixer. In others, special microphones are integrated with the mixer to provide enhanced control.

There are several techniques used to accomplish channel activation or (gating) in an automatic microphone system.

A look at a basic automatic microphone mixer setup. (click to enlarge)

In most systems, a microphone is gated on when the sound that it picks up is louder than some “threshold” or reference level.

When the sound level falls below the threshold, the microphone is gated off. This threshold may be fixed, adjustable, or even automatically adjustable.

In any case, the threshold should be set so that the microphone is not activated by background noise but will be activated by normal sound levels.

Traditional threshold systems distinguish between background noise and the desired sound only by level.

However, if background noise becomes sufficiently loud, it may activate microphones unless the threshold is adjusted to a higher level.

Subsequently, if the background noise decreases, normal sounds may fail to gate the microphones on unless the threshold is lowered as well. Threshold adjustment is critical to automatic mic systems of this type.

Some recent automatic mixers incorporate noise adaptive threshold circuitry. These have the ability to distinguish steady signals such as background noise from rapidly changing signals like speech.

They can automatically and continuously adjust individual channel thresholds as ambient noise conditions change.

In addition, some designs can recognize that the same signal is being picked up by more than one microphone.

In that case, only the channel with the strongest signal is activated. This prevents both microphones from being activated when a talker is in between two microphones for example.

Certain other automatic systems, with integrated microphones, can actually sense the location of the sound source relative to the ambient noise and activate microphones only when the sound comes from the desired direction. These “directional gating” systems do not require any threshold adjustments.

There is another circuit within every automatic mixer that continuously senses the number of open microphones (NOM) and adjusts the gain of the mixer accordingly.

With a properly functioning automatic system, if each individual microphone is adjusted to a level below the feedback point, then any combination of microphones will also be below the feedback point.

Many automatic microphone mixers have additional control circuitry, often in the form of logic connections.

These are electrical terminals that can be used for a variety of functions, including: microphone status indicators, mute switches, loudspeaker attenuation, and the selection of “priority” channels.

Some automatic mixers have an adjustable “off attenuation” control: instead of gating the microphone completely off, it can be “attenuated” or turned down by some finite amount, to make the gating effect less noticeable in certain applications.

Another control included on some units is an adjustable “hold time”: when the desired sound stops, the channel is held on for a short time to avoid gating the microphone off between words or short pauses.

In addition, a function which locks on the last microphone activated insures that at least one microphone is on, even if no one is speaking.

Finally, most automatic mixing systems are able to be expanded by adding individual channels and/or by linking multiple mixers together to control large numbers of microphones simultaneously.

An automatic microphone system should be considered whenever multiple microphones (four or more) are being used, particularly if the sound system is intended to run hands-free, that is, without a live operator.

This is often the case not only in the worship facility itself but in fellowship halls, conference rooms, and auditorium systems.

Microphones should be selected and placed according to the normal guidelines (integrated systems require a microphone choice from the selection available for those systems).

It is recommended that the manufacturer or a qualified installed sound professional be consulted on the details of a particular automatic microphone system.

(Copyright Shure Incorporated, used by permission.)

Posted by admin on 07/22 at 11:00 AM
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In The Studio: An Engineer Analyzes His Mix Process

Most engineers have their own systematic approach to their craft, with the end goal of creating specific illusions.
This article is provided by BAMaudioschool.com.

I’ve come to realize that many of my mixes follow a specific approach. The decisions made, directions pursued, imagery, sounds achieved, and overall production approach in each mix will vary greatly based on the musical genre and even my mood. The vocal on a lush ballad will most likely sound and feel very different from the “hype” vocal in a rap song. 

Regardless, I will have probably used some or all of the following approach to get both sounds to their final state. Of course, there are always exceptions where I approach the mix in completely different ways, but for the most part this seems to be my pattern:

1. I usually start by trying to understand the overall feeling of the song (or at least my own interpretation of that feeling). This means listening to the song over and over again with general levels that let me feel the vocal and the groove. If I don’t have any clue as to what the song is supposed to feel like, I can’t do anything more than go for a basic “band” image.

I will often spend time working on the vocal sound first in order to define and understand the space I want for the entire mix.

Sometimes I will think of something interesting to do with a particular track that can push the song in a specific direction. A good example is adding a delay to the drums to add a side-rhythm that pushes the song in an interesting way. The delayed room that ET Thorngren put on the kick of “Hyperactive” from the “Riptide” album changed the whole song. 

Once I was mixing a song for a band that was intended to be a Country Western mix, but I felt it would work like a Phil Specter mix. I added tremelo to the melody guitar by automating a fader going up and down quickly, and that defined the direction of the mix.

2. Once I get an idea about where to go with the mix, I break it down and spend some time with the drums, getting them appropriately punchy, transient, bright and ambient for the mix direction. I then toss up the bass quickly and then get the vocal back up. While I adjust the basic vocal sound, I may tweak the bass more. I have to be able to feel the song at this point.  If not, then I started wrong. Some mixes must start with the vocal, or vocal and piano/guitar in order to be right to the feeling of the song.

3. I may add background vocals at this point, but nothing more than a rough sound.

4. Otherwise, I will fill in main rhythm instruments such as piano, guitars, keyboards, etc. This is the part where I go for more depth as I process and place things in the stereo image. Here is where it’s possible to obtain depth that appears to sound from behind (or on the sides of) the loudspeakers. I like lots of movement in volume and stereo placement, as if all the sounds were either breathing in place, shifting positions to make a better statement, or outright dancing.

5. Don’t forget to keep going back to how this whole thing relates to the vocal. Sometimes a great sound by itself will interfere with the vocal when heard in the mix. Be careful of building up in midrange frequencies and be sure to use stereo placement to help keep things clear. I personally like to try to leave a space in the middle for the vocal and solo instruments.

6. Once the overall band is up (drums, bass, vocals, rhythm instruments), it’s time for the solo stuff. I like to go for a sound on the solo instruments that will stand out, because I will want them to grab the attention of the listener when the vocal is not the main focus. If the solo instrument is also playing when the vocal is singing, I expect them to fight until I get a chance to automate the level of the guitar (starting with “down when it should be in the background”).

The same goes for other instruments. Very often I must automate instrument levels just to get them to make their important statement then back off a little to make room for others.

Once they’re under control, I can fine tune sounds and then levels. Sometimes I’ll automate instruments for creative reasons (so the dynamics of the instrument follow and exaggerate what I perceive to be the dynamic of the song or vocal). Remember the breathing, shifting and dancing mentioned in step 4.

7. Back to the vocal. Vocal processing and riding is very important. A small ride change can make a big difference. I ride vocals for several passes on a variety of loudspeakers in order to be sure of how things feel.

8. I then re-ride all of the background instruments to support and exaggerate the automated-vocal’s enhanced expression.

9. Next, I re-ride the solo instruments to work around the automated-vocal.

10. Almost done! The next step is to tweak the vocal rides by going through them carefully and improving what I can based on the automated background instrument tracks. This includes background vocal rides.

11. After an ear break and listening for obvious things to change on different loudspeakers and in different listening situations (next room, car, etc), I make any final changes I think the song needs. Usually at this point I’m listening for problems rather than creating new images.  Sometimes I’ve made drastic changes at this point.

12. Finally, the fade. I find the places where the song feels like it should start to go and where it should already be gone. I then go back and try to start the fade so people do not notice (due to either the fade start time or the gradual initial slope of the fade) and fade the song out in a way that it continues to pull people in while it drifts off. Sometimes I’ll change some rides due to the fade so certain parts are the very last things heard.

Then I send it off and hope that the client does not disagree with the direction I went in during step 1. Sometimes I think that the song needs to go in a direction that is obviously different from what the artist had intended. In those cases I’m obligated to give the artist “Take 1” in which I use everything in the obvious way and also “Take 2” in which anything goes. In all my decades of mixing, “Take 1” was chosen only a few times. “Take 2” usually involves going back to step 1 and making drastic changes. Although sometimes you can salvage work from Take 1, often you have to start over…even with the vocal sound.

Mixing is an art, and can be an emotional rather than technical process. Mixing is about creating an illusion, regardless if the illusion is of a band on stage or something never heard before. I know when a mix is going well if I’m believing the illusion as I’m building it, and each new thing inspires the next.

Final word: Although different styles and songs will require completely different approaches, never forget that most listeners will never get past “hearing” only the vocal. The entire mix should support the vocal in every way possible, regardless of whether that means making a hard rhythm to push it or a lush rolling carpet for it to ride on.

Bruce A. Miller is an acclaimed recording engineer who operates an independent recording studio and the BAM Audio School website.

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/22 at 06:58 AM
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fall Out Boy Touring With DiGiCo

Co-headlining “The Boys of Zummer Tour” with rapper Wiz Khalifa, using one of Clair Global’s many SD5 desks for front of house and an SD10 for monitors.

“The Boys of Zummer Tour” pairs rockers Fall Out Boy with rapper Wiz Khalifa, an alchemy that Billboard called “a night of music and an opportunity to exercise its right to be young, and wild and free.”

The tour is being mixed on a DiGiCo SD5 front of house console, manned by Chad Olech, and a DiGiCo SD10 desk guided by Kevin Dennis for monitors.

Olech, who has mixed front of house for a wide array of major touring artists like Demi Lovato, Robin Thicke, Joe Jonas, Anthrax, Survivor and the Deftones, was new to the DiGiCo SD5 when he went to the tour SR provider Clair Global’s headquarters in Lititz, PA last fall.

While there, he asked Clair to set up a shootout between half a dozen consoles, including the SD5, using the Clair i3 cabinets and CP218 subs they’d be using on the tour.

“I’ve been using another manufacturer’s console for the last seven years and it’s a great console functionally, but it often needs some help sonically,” he explains, adding that for this tour he was looking for a desk that’s operationally intuitive but also sounds amazing. The SD5 fulfilled all of those wishes.

“The workflow on the SD5 fits the way I work perfectly,” he says. “I like to have everything in the same spot every time. I don’t want to have to think when I mix; I just want to mix. The SD5 lets me do exactly that.”

“For instance,” he continues. “I can have the entire EQ strip in front of me and don’t have to page through to find things. I know exactly where the knobs are; it’s muscle memory. The same goes for the compressors; everything is where I put it and where I want it.”

Olech also has good things to say about the Waves MultiRack, which hosts the dozen or so Waves plug-ins he’s using for the shows, and is far fewer than he’s ever needed before. “I like having some of the Waves stuff here, and the SD5 is set up to integrate them nicely,” he says. “But the SD5 also has a four-band EQ on its inputs, and I’d bet that if I were to just use that, the audience wouldn’t notice the difference. That’s how good the console sounds.”

Monitor mixer Kevin Dennis is equally happy with the DiGiCo SD10 console he’s using. Sonically speaking, the SD10 is “completely transparent—the pre-amps, the EQ, all of it,” says Dennis, who has also mixed monitors for Green Day and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

“There’s no coloration of the sound. A band at this level works very hard to get the tone of its backline exactly right. They don’t want to hear your version of that sound. And I’m a minimalist. I only want what they want to come through back to them. The SD10 lets me do just that.”

Just as importantly, Dennis says, the SD10 has also become a communications hub for the entire operation.

“We have an extensive talkback system, with everyone on in-ears, including the techs, and no speakers on the stage,” he explains. “Instead of hand signals, the techs can easily get onto the comms and let me know what they need, or vice versa. It’s all matrixed through the SD10, which makes it very streamlined. And Chad’s connected to this as well since we’re using the same rack and it’s all on fiber.”

This sophisticated comms infrastructure lets the show proceed smoothly, even if bandleader Pete Wentz decides to change up the set list on the spur of the moment. “Everyone’s in the loop, through the consoles,” says Dennis. “Doing that on the fly without it would be way more difficult.”

Finally, he adds, DiGiCo’s tech support has been magnificent. “This tour is going a lot of places and I know when I call DiGiCo with a question, I’ll get an answer or a phone call back within five minutes,” he says. “The support is just top notch. They’ve covered all the bases.”

Clair Global

Posted by House Editor on 07/21 at 02:16 PM
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Thurn-and-Taxis Festival Mixes With Lawo mc²56 Digital Console

Concert hall ambience for the performance of Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème” created in open air with complex mixing techniques.

The courtyard of the castle St. Emmeran in Regensburg, Germany, has provided the location for the Thurn-and-Taxis festival (“Schlossfestspiele”) since 2002.

Tonmeister Carsten Kümmel created a concert hall ambience for the performance of Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème”, even though it took place in the open air, using a Lawo mc²56 mixing console.

The natural listening experience of a concert hall was created by using monitor speakers situated below the venue’s tribune.

These were used to direct effects channels with a high amount of early reflections towards the castle walls, which diffusely reflected them towards the audience.

The orchestra itself was not on, or even close to, the stage, but in a ballroom in the castle, where regular microphone techniques were used to pick up the instruments.

The audio was transmitted between the ballroom and stage, and up to the conductor along with video feeds used for communication.

Additionally, Kümmel used a panning technique, which, contrary to conventional panning, brings a correct balance of the instruments in the stereo mix to listeners sitting at the edges of the auditorium.

“For a festival like this we have more than 100 inputs and more than 40 busses, so I need a large-sized mixing console if I want to avoid scaling down my demands”, Kümmel says, explaining his choice of the Lawo mc²56. “With this console, these demands are no problem at all, while other consoles would have reached their limitations.”

Other advantages of the console are the flexibility regarding the choice of workflow and its ability to record audio to a PC via MADI using the console’s displays to control the recording software. The difficulty presented by having the front of house position situated below the tribune meant that Lawo’s remote control iPad app was essential in achieving a perfect sound balance remotely from the location of the mixing desk.

“The mc²56 performs flawlessly with regard to all requirements of such an ambitious mixing concept and excels by high reliability. And it is a console that additionally is a joy to operate”, says Kümmel, who has been responsible for the live sound at this event since its first staging, thirteen years ago.

As the Thurn und Taxis Festival program took everything from opera and classical music to Xavier Naidoo and Zaz up to a children’s musical, the sound requirements changed every day.

This means that detailed advance planning starts in January for each year’s show. The event’s technical provider – “Sugar”, based in Regensburg – is then provided with a detailed Excel spreadsheet that specifies the equipment needed on each day.

“I had three DALLIS stage boxes on stage: two mobile ones that I would fit to the requirements of every day, and a static one that I set up with the standard requirements like communication, sound for the wardrobes, the gong for the breaks and emergency announcements”, Kümmel explains.

“The equipment was delivered by Lawo’s rental company ‘Audio Broadcast Services’ and arrived on time and in perfect working order and very well prepared. Even the configuration files of the 2014 event had been installed on the console before delivery, so only fine-tuning was required. On Wednesday my crew and I could do the miking of the orchestra, the choir and the soloists and the whole Thursday was left for final touches to the sound. Supporting this, the production was attended to also by the Lawo’s product management team.”

“The festival was again a great success. In spite of – or maybe because of – the many possibilities that the console provides, the technical workflows were actually more clearly arranged and easier to handle than in the years before we used an mc²56 desk. So I was able to concentrate on the real focus: the music”, Kümmel concludes.


Posted by House Editor on 07/21 at 09:50 AM
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Yamaha Releases MonitorMix App For TF Digital Consoles

The MonitorMix app offers individual wireless AUX mixing from up to 10 iPhone, iPad or iPod touch devices simultaneously.

Yamaha announces the availability of the MonitorMix app designed to enhance the capabilities of the company’s new TF Series digital mixing consoles.

Available as a free download in the App Store, the MonitorMix app offers individual wireless AUX mixing from up to 10 iPhone, iPad or iPod touch devices simultaneously, giving performers convenient control over the AUX buses assigned to them, without having to master complex settings or parameters.

They can also create personal Group settings for even easier adjustment, including the ability to set all levels on just one fader, for example.

Since up to three devices running TF Editor or StageMix and up to 10 devices running MonitorMix can be connected at the same time, even large bands can have the personal control they need, reducing demands on the sound engineer.

“There is a strong demand for personal monitor mixing solutions for digital consoles,” said Ken Hiraoka, department manager, Yamaha Pro Audio. “Sound engineers and onstage performers will appreciate the MonitorMix app for the TF series, since this new solution makes monitor mixing easier and faster.”

The TF series now features three dedicated apps–TF Editor, TF StageMix and MonitorMix–that enhance the interaction with the user interfaces and seamlessly extend the console’s capabilities on any device.


Posted by House Editor on 07/20 at 07:07 AM
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Summer’s Leading Edge At The BottleRock Festival

Having successfully brought its third season effort to a close, BottleRock Festival (Napa, CA) flexed its muscles and showed its mettle, shaking off financial adversity, dodging various other obstacles, and jumping through hoops to land on its feet with one of the country’s biggest Memorial Day launches of the summer festival season.

More than 100,000 served as witness to the 70-plus acts crossing its stages at the downtown Napa Valley Expo Center, including the likes of Imagine Dragons, Public Enemy, local favorite Michael Franti, Los Lobos, No Doubt, Robert Plant, Snoop Dog, and Passion Pit. Sound, lighting, and video was provided by Delicate Productions, which has served the event since its beginning.

To accommodate the sheer size of the festival, Delicate drew upon the skills of 52 techs, three runners, a project manager, individual department heads for sound, video, and lighting, and the project’s account manager, industry veteran George Edwards.

George Edwards (left) of Delicate Productions with company president Jason Alt on the BottleRock grounds.

Proper Place, Right Time
“One of the biggest challenges at BottleRock was focusing the arrays,” concedes Edwards, who additionally wears the title of general manager at Delicate’s Bay Area facility in Hayward, CA. “Working with production to coordinate all of the performances was the second most difficult task. With three sizable stages and a steady stream of acts going day and night, it was a 12-month undertaking to make sure everything was in its proper place at the right time.”

In the past, BottleRock has been the target of local noise complaints. Sensitive to the issue and seeking to maintain good community relations, administrators have taken over-and-above measures to both keep sound inside the park and monitor levels. Presiding over the monitoring efforts was High-Tech Audio’s Sidney Wilson.

Using a B&K system operating over cell towers and test stations set up across the grounds and its perimeter, Wilson recorded levels, integrating Google Maps to detail temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speeds and more at every test position. Data collected was stored and can be recalled to produce a forensic report designed to stand up as testimony in any court.

The Miner Family Winery Stage at BottleRock, with VUE Audiotechnik line arrays flanking the stage and Avid VENUE and DiGiCo SD9 consoles at front of house.

Bringing tight focus to the arrays to avoid spill into surrounding areas was a carefully calculated plan integrating the multiple line arrays present into a separate, but unified whole. If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, well it is, but Edwards is quick to explain: “Each rig had to cover its area of coverage, and contain its sound within those boundaries,” he says. “At the same time, it couldn’t be considered an island unto itself, we had to take the collective whole of all the systems into account and steer each away from interacting with any other. Achieving anything other than that results in a condition I call audio collision.” 

Tried & True Plus New
Delicate has had very good results achieving goals like these in seasons past using Martin Audio’s multi-cellular MLA loudspeaker arrays, and that continued (see sidebar). This year, al-Class line arrays from VUE Audiotechnik were added to the equipment manifest as well, deployed at the Miner Family Winery Stage. “The VUE rig worked out OK,” Edwards reports. “The moment we had it trimmed, it became instant buddies with everybody else – muy simpatico.”

A closer look at the main system loudspeaker set, incorporating VUE arrays and subwoofers, at the Miner Family Winery Stage.

A relative newcomer on the scene, VUE technology is developed under the engineering aegis of Mike Adams, who co-founded Audio Composite Engineering (ACE) and played key roles in the creation of JBL VerTec and QSC WideLine components. Representing the company’s first real exposure on the national festival circuit, BottleRock’s Miner Family Winery Stage received an al-8 hang running 10 high over four al-4 cabinets for its mains.

“The al-8s are double-8-inch-loaded boxes, and most people are used to seeing double-12s in these kinds of applications,” notes Jeff Taylor of VUE. “We’re not saying there’s any replacement for displacement necessarily, but this system was custom-engineered to deliver the best performance in as compact of a package a possible.”

In addition, the compression drivers in these loudspeakers use proprietary beryllium diaphragms, bringing that material to professional applications. The loudspeakers are integrated with matched power and 64-bit DSP that also now offer Dante networking. 

At the Winery Stage, the gear broke down further like this: al-4 cabinets deployed in mono arrays for front fill and under hangs, four h-12N stereo side fills, four powered, wide-throw h-12W enclosures on a yoke system serving the VIP punter section running on a matrix from front of house, and a half-dozen hs-25 subs lined up in front of the stage. Wedges onstage were hm-212 models.

Working from an Avid VENUE Profile console, Delicate’s Sebastian Poux was the house mixer for the stage, stage and monitor tech was Jake Gowalsky. A DiGiCo SD9 console was supplied at FOH for guest mix engineers.

Monitorworld events were orchestrated by the capable of hands of Lindsay Smith, who had a Yamaha PM5D-RH console at her disposal.

Turn & Burn
Edwards reports that the SystemVUE network control and monitoring package interfaced neatly with Delicate’s own Lake primary front end.

“We tweaked the rig with Jeff (Taylor) for 20 minutes and we were done,” he says. “The network package handled crossover points, everything you’d expect. When guest engineers arrived, we’d hand them a tablet with a flat curve and let them build what they wanted.

Jeff Taylor (left) of VUE with Sebastian Poux of Delicate at front of house.

“When you’re dealing with eight bands per day on a single stage, you don’t want to have to give them an education, you just want to turn and burn,” he continues. “We had all kinds of engineers pass through over the course of the festival. Sixty-year-old veterans would just hand us a thumb drive and say ‘here’s my starting point, you tweak the rig for me,’ and then we’d have young guys who want to play with everything. Everyone on the planet has used a Lake, so it was seamless from one act to the next.”

Audio power for the stage arrived in the form of VUE V6 (house) and V4 (monitors) amp rack engines. The V6s offer stereo triamplification, while the V4s deliver stereo biamplification.

Input was all Delicate-supplied, with the bulk of the microphones being hardwired. Only four channels of Shure wireless were kept at hand, while the rest of the input list read like a typical stage pack with e609 and other Sennheiser offerings for guitars and horns, and Shure SM57s, BETA 98s and 52s for drums.

Rolling risers facilitated the fast-paced tempo of the shows. With sets going from 40 minutes to an hour and getting longer as the headlining acts approached, acts were turned-over in 20 minutes with the help of four local union stagehands.

Los Lobos in concert, served by VUE wedges on stage with front fills on the flip side.

Jeremy French was the stage manager for the rolling parts of the stage (“the El Jefe of all moves” in Edwards’ words), most of the acts were sound checked and had their settings stored into the desk, but as can be expected, travel times and delays prohibited others from affording this luxury.

“This system did everything we expected it to do and then some,” Edwards says. “You can always take this stuff and set it up back in your warehouse, throw some compressed playback through it like everyone’s old Steely Dan CDs or some MP3s we’ve all been using for 100 years, and you’ll only hear so much. There is no substitute for taking something out and putting it in front of an endless stream of bands for three days and seeing what it does.

“We saw a lot of talented engineers put this rig through its paces at BottleRock, including our own Sebastian Poux. The results made everyone happy. No matter how long you’ve been doing this, every year you learn more and get a little better. That’s how life is supposed to work, right?”

Meanwhile At The Main Stage
Delicate Productions also utilized Martin Audio MLA and W8LC systems for the main (Intel) and second (JamCellars) stages respectively at this year’s iteration of the BottleRock Festival.

The main stage system included 16 MLA enclosures joined by two MLD enclosures per side for the main hangs. These were accompanied by 24 MLX subwoofers, 12 W8LM cabinets for front fill and 8 W8LCs for the off-stage VIP hang. Sixteen MLA Compact enclosures were deployed as delays.

The real-time monitoring by High-Tech Audio, combined with the steering control afforded by MLA, enables meeting the town’s strict noise ordinance. On property at front of house, it’s 105 dB C-weighted, and beyond the festival ground it’s 65 dB C-weighted.

“The use of MLA, particularly on the main stage, which is less than 200 feet to the nearest house, has been incredibly helpful,” Delicate president Jason Alt states. “We do a broadside array for the main stage and steer the subs almost 90 degrees away from that side of the property because of the control Display gives you and the efficiency of the MLX.

“So you still literally get subwoofer in front of the barricade, but what is aiming at that house is almost a 30 dB drop-off because of the way it’s steered. And we have full coverage including subs to the edge of the property because of what we can do with MLA. That’s a big part of it.”

Interesting Times
Between its two offices (its sister location is south in Camarillo, CA), Delicate Productions does some 1,000 shows per year. Since the cratering of the economy during the Great Recession, Edwards notes that festivals as a whole haven’t been all that profitable until recently, especially with events like BottleRock that incorporate a full sound, lighting, and video package.

Delicate trucked in 720,000 pounds of gear for BottleRock and spread it over three stages. Nine semis were used, making his shrug-of-the-shoulders assessment that it “was a lot of gear” a modest understatement at best.

Martin Audio MLA arrays flying at the main stage at BottleRock.

As for the rest of its summer plans, the company is currently out with the Foo Fighters on their North American tour, with other gigs including Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago, and the Killers.

“We like to keep things diverse,” Edwards adds on a parting note. “Festivals, tours, auctions, corporate events, they all make life interesting. It’s going to be a great year. I think we’re back to where we were in about 2006, finally. Anyone who weathered the storm is doing OK. The ‘take the loot and scoot’ companies are gone, and I think everyone is better off for it.”

Gregory A. DeTogne is a writer and editor who has served the pro audio industry for the past 30 years.

Posted by Keith Clark on 07/20 at 06:29 AM
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Harrison Audio Releases Mixbus Version 3 DAW (Video)

Support added for unlimited MIDI tracks & virtual instruments with 64-bit optimizations and more.

Harrison Audio has announced the release of the Mixbus Version 3 DAW. 

Support for unlimited MIDI tracks & virtual instruments has been added along with multi-core and 64-bit optimizations that provide increased track counts across all OS platforms (Mac, Windows, and Linux). 

Mixbus 3’s third-generation Harrison True Analog Mixing processing engine has been updated with enhanced compressor/limiter algorithms, built-in side-chain bussing, and increased flexibility for AudioUnit, VST, and LV2 plugin input/output configurations.

It also includes hundreds of workflow and operational upgrades, and a refined graphical interface. A brand-new virtual instrument, “SetBfree”, modeled on the Hammond B3 organ is included.

Over 50 ‘MIDI filter’ plugins, including functions such as transposing and velocity scaling have also been added, along with experimental support for video timeline, video window, and audio+video exports.

Harrison has also announced a new Mixbus Plugged-In Membership program to coincide with the release of Version 3. Full details are available on the Harrison website.

Ben Loftis, Mixbus project manager says, “Mixbus is the only DAW that is optimized for an analog console mixing approach - allowing an engineer to use Harrison DSP for EQ, compression and tape saturation without the need for plugin windows.  All of the tools that engineers need or use most often are readily available in the default mixer window of Mixbus.”

“Version 3 is the next step on our Mixbus development roadmap, but this is just the beginning,” continues Loftis. “Our roadmap for Mixbus is long and marked with exciting new Harrison technology, software, and hardware along the way… more software versions targeted for specific workflows; a hardware control surface incorporating many Harrison console innovations; more Harrison plugins; console style automation, bussing, and monitoring features including expanded mixer features; and specialized DSP imported from Harrison consoles.”

Mixbus 3 and the Harrison suite of plugins are derived from the company’s analog and digital console processing technology and provide mixing DSP typically reserved for high-end audio installations.  Harrison has been in digital audio technology for nearly 40 years.  In fact, they were the first company tasked with converting a full-analog console to digital technology (Sony Pictures Harrison MPC, 1992).

Mixbus 3 is now available for $ 79 from the Harrison Online Store.

Harrison Audio

Posted by House Editor on 07/17 at 09:04 AM
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

AKG Partners With burn Residency DJ Competition

burn Residency is a DJ competition, helping up-and-coming DJs to jump-start their careers by winning a residency at Ibiza’s top clubs.

In continued support of electronic music artists and their millions of fans around the globe, AKG by Harman has joined forces with burn Residency.

As one of the world’s biggest DJ competitions, burn Residency helps up-and-coming DJs to jump-start their careers by winning a residency at Ibiza’s top clubs.

Each year, burn Residency gives international DJs the opportunity to learn from top industry names and compete for career-making prizes.

Last year, the competition attracted more than 6,000 DJ contestants from 134 different countries, drawing a total of 1.7 million fan votes.

This year’s finalists will each win a pair of AKG K181 DJ UE headphones, and the top winner will land a prize package including a 100,000 Euro contract to launch his or her career.

“burn is thrilled to welcome AKG to burn Residency and share our passion for supporting the next generation of DJ talent across the globe,” says Andy Battman, global director of burn Energy.

“We’re excited to join burn Residency in giving new talent an opportunity to break through and be heard,” said Karam Kaul, director of marketing for AKG. “Our K181 DJ UE headphones provide the sound quality and reliability they’ll need to make an impact in Ibiza, and wherever their careers take them. May the best DJs win.”

Designed for professional DJ use in any club environment, the K181 DJ UE (Ultimate Edition) headphones feature a closed-back design and deliver enough power to withstand even the strongest PA speakers, especially for pre-fader listening. For loud working conditions, the Bass Boost makes it easier to hear low frequencies, while the headphones’ coiled cable offers freedom to move without stepping on a cable.

burn Residency

Posted by House Editor on 07/16 at 12:01 PM

DiGiCo Selected For Ordway Center’s New Concert Hall

Audio Logic Systems supplies three SD9 consoles for the new home of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota inaugurated its new Concert Hall in March 2015 with a month-long grand opening celebration, Rock the Ordway, which featured an eclectic selection of music.

Built at a cost of over $40 million and now the new home of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), the Concert Hall features three DiGiCo mixing consoles—an SD9 at front-of-house, an SD9B at the monitor position and another SD9B in the studio—on an Optocore fiber-optic network.

“The primary console is the SD9B that went into the recording and broadcast studio, which is used primarily by MPR,” says Andy Luft, Ordway Center production director and construction project manager for the new Concert Hall.

“The room is set up not only with a broadcast studio but there’s also a host booth, so they can grab the conductor or the musicians for interviews.”

The SPCO, the only full-time chamber orchestra in the United States, frequently broadcasts on Classical Minnesota Public Radio and is often featured on “Performance Today” and “SymphonyCast,” which are broadcast nationally by American Public Media, Classical MPR’s parent company.

The 1,100-seat Concert Hall was built in almost the exact same footprint as the former McKnight Theatre, a 306-seat venue that was torn down to make way for the new music performance space. The new hall is intended to relieve some of the scheduling pressure on the Ordway’s 1,900-seat Music Theater, enabling the larger venue to accommodate longer performance runs of Broadway-style productions, operas and so on.

“We have an SD9 at front of house for when we do electro-acoustic work,” continues Luft. “It’s located on an open mix porch—it’s actually a great place to mix—dead center behind the people on the first balcony. So you have to be extremely quiet, but at the same time you can see not just the room but also the speaker systems in a good perspective.”

Luft repurposed the McKnight’s original Meyer Sound speaker system for the new space for the relatively few events annually that require sound reinforcement.

“We have another SD9B that functions as a monitor desk on stage when we need it. It functions as the backup desk to both the front-of-house and the broadcast studio, and also is a backup to the Music Theater,” he says. “This is a DiGiCo facility—we have a D5 Live in the Music Theater and a DS-00 in its broadcast studio.”

Luft was brought onto the project to examine the plans and make the Concert Hall operationally efficient.

“I said we had to put our money into infrastructure, so we went down the path of fiber-optics. DiGiCo has a good deployment of Optocore, and the SD software and operating system is extremely flexible and absolutely exploitable.” In fact, he adds, “Had we known more about the depth of the software, I probably wouldn’t have purchased some of the outboard gear that we have in the broadcast studio.”

Although Luft and his team did their due diligence on alternative consoles and networks before the purchase, “We all felt—and I felt very strongly—that we’d get the biggest bang for our buck sticking with DiGiCo. Plus, we have had good support here.” Audio Logic Systems of Eden Prairie, Minnesota supplied the consoles, and Matt Larson, national sales manager for Group One, DiGiCo’s US distributor, is based in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

He continues, “We have a DiGiCo SD-Rack off stage left, and an SD-Mini Rack up in the catwalk, where a remote Grace preamp feeds directly into the local rack; we have local racks at every station. This being primarily a classical music venue, the front-of-house console often has to be turned off, as it has a fan. So we’re always taking out parts of the loop but having to reestablish it. We worked with Audio Logic Systems to install and ensure that the fiber loops were working correctly.”

In addition to the 7.5 miles of conduit and 750,000 feet of electrical cable that was installed in the new venue, 150,000 feet each of fiber-optic and high bandwidth copper were also run, along with 375,000 feet of structured Cat6 cable.

“We made sure that there is isolated power connected to all the audio systems and I made sure that there’s enough rack-to-rack communication everywhere,” Luft elaborates. “All the recording booths and all the rack rooms are connected. We have made it such that we can now connect the entire facility through fiber-optics, including the loading dock, where there is also isolated power for recording trucks, if desired.”

Tim Carl, CEO of HGA Architects and Engineers, a nationwide firm headquartered in Minnesota, designed the Ordway’s new addition, which was built by McGough Construction. From a-kus-tiks in Norwalk, Connecticut, Paul Scarborough and Chris Blair consulted on the Concert Hall’s acoustics and broadcast studio room design while Anthony Nittoli and Jordan Lytle provided electro-acoustic consultation.

The opening month at the Concert Hall allowed Luft and the staff to experiment with electro-acoustic reinforcement in the new space.

“We had a hardcore Latino rock band out of L.A., La Santa Cecilia, who won a Grammy a few years ago; flugelhorn player Hugh Masekela and guitarist Vusi Mahlasela from South Africa; Sounds of Blackness, who are local to Minneapolis; and some local singer-songwriters. We took what we learned every time we did a show and we changed the way that we dealt with the electro-acoustics,” Luft reports.

“So far, the consensus is that the room is incredible. The best review I heard was from one of singer-songwriters, Haley Bonar, who said it was the first time she could actually hear what the audience heard. She soon realized she could do anything she wanted with her voice and guitar, and the room responded automatically to what she was doing. So it’s fun.”


Posted by House Editor on 07/16 at 11:09 AM
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Acoutech Supports Billboard Latin Music Awards With Soundcraft

Acoutech uses Vi3000 consoles for the first time along with trusted JBL VERTEC and Crown I-Tech amplifiers.

For the 14th consecutive year, Acoutech of Miami provided a sound reinforcement system featuring Harman’s Soundcraft Vi3000 digital consoles, JBL VERTEC line arrays and Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers for the Billboard Latin Music Awards.

The Awards were held at the Bank United Center in Coral Gables, Florida and aired on the Telemundo Network, with music performances by top Latin artists including Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Daddy Yankee and more.

For the first year, Acoutech deployed a pair of Soundcraft Vi3000 digital mixing consoles, one for the front of house music mixing and one for monitor mixing.

The front of house board featured 96 inputs, while the monitor console drove 16 stage mixes, plus another eight stereo hardwired in-ear mixes over MADI.

In addition, Soundcraft Stageboxes fed 16 stereo wireless in-ear monitors.

“The two Soundcraft consoles shared the same I/O so we were able to distribute and manage all the signals between the consoles and the production and music trucks,” said AJ Perez, president of Acoutech. “We haven’t worked very much with the Vi3000 so it was a new experience for us. The consoles performed great.”

“The Lexicon processing and built-in effects with the Vi3000 consoles were very impressive,” added JC Aguila, audio and network supervisor for Telemundo. “I’ve found these desks to be very user-friendly, and the overall quality of sound is top-notch.”

The main PA system for the awards featured JBL VERTEC VT4889 and VT4888 line array loudspeakers, along with VT4880 arrayable subwoofers. JBL VRX932LA Constant Curvature loudspeakers were used for front fill and side fill monitoring, while SRX712M stage monitors rounded out the loudspeaker system.

“VERTEC is always our first choice because we trust them,” Aguila said.

According to Aguila, this year’s awards show was particularly challenging because the stage production featured more visual components than ever before, including a giant LED wall. However, the VERTEC line arrays enabled Acoutech to find an optimal balance between acoustics and aesthetics.

“We’ve used the VERTEC loudspeakers for many years now because they continue to allow us to do particular setups that not all loudspeakers can accomplish,” Perez noted. “The VERTEC line arrays are able to deliver a high amount of output while maintaining a low visual profile, so we can meet the directors’ and producers’ requirements of keeping the audio system out of the camera shots.”

“VERTEC is absolutely a phenomenal piece of equipment,” said Raphael Alkins, production A1 mixer for the Billboard Latin Music Awards. “It’s amazing to see and hear a 14-year-old box that still has an unbelievable sound and can run side by side with anything on the market today.”

Crown I-Tech 4x3500HD amplifiers powered the loudspeakers. The amplifiers feature a variety of DSP capabilities including V5 preset tuning support for the VERTEC line arrays. “We have upgraded with I-Tech 4x3500HD and more advanced presets, so through the years, little by little, we’ve been able to give the VERTEC boxes more life by keeping the system up to date and the system continues to perform great for us,” Perez noted. “We usually fly the amp racks behind the loudspeakers, so we keep the cable lengths short and out of the way.”

“The Crown I-Tech 4x3500HD amplifiers made a big difference in the sound, and the system engineer was also able to make critical adjustments at my request, within the cluster via the amplifiers to make mixing the show much easier for me,” Alkins said.

“Since I oversee broadcast audio as well for past years I’ve been in the broadcast truck; this year I was at front of house,” Aguila said. “I was very impressed. The quality of sound and the dynamic of the room was amazing.”


Posted by House Editor on 07/16 at 08:23 AM
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Robertson Art Space Mixes And Records With The Mackie DL32R (Video)

The converted 1920s cinema houses music and movement workshops, art and songwriting classes as well as live performance events.

Among the regular events at Robertson Art Space (RAS) is a monthly showcase called Live at RAS, where local singers, songwriters, and other performers can come in and present a short set in front of a live audience.

And thanks to their new Mackie DL32R digital mixer, every performer gets to leave with a full multitrack recording of their set.

Like a lot of people, artist and musician Ilan Laks came to Los Angeles with a dream.

The owner of Audio Cinema, an art space in Portland, OR, Laks moved to Los Angeles with a goal of establishing a similar space to cater to the thriving Southern California art scene.

Honing his focus to a few square blocks along the artistically fertile Pico-Robertson corridor, Laks found the space he’d been dreaming of - a former 1920s cinema house that offers a cozy and welcoming vibe with the versatility to cover a wide range of uses.

“We offer music and movement workshops, art classes for kids and adults, songwriting classes, we hold performance events, parties, and a number of other functions,” Laks explains. The storefront that is home to RAS has long ago been converted from a cinema to a more multi-purpose use, but the stage itself retains its original character. “The stage just sounds amazing,” Laks enthuses.

“We were originally looking at the DL32R at the NAMM show and thinking it was an ideal fit for RAS,” recalls Matthew Shterenberg, RAS technical director and songwriting teacher. “And the more we looked into it, the more certain we were.”

“We were originally drawn to the DL32R because of the iPad control,” says Laks. “This is not a very large space, and there’s really nowhere to feasibly fit a full size Front of House console. So the concept of having the rack on stage and being able to mix on an iPad from anywhere in the house was very appealing.”

“At NAMM, the Mackie guys were showing us through the DL32R’s feature set, and the more we saw, the more perfect it was for us,” Shterenberg continues. “Usually there are two of us, myself and another engineer, and the idea that one of us could be mixing the mains from somewhere in the house and the other up on stage doing monitors would really make a difference.

But it was the DL32R’s plug-and-play recording functionality that has become the icing on the proverbial cake. “I can just plug in a drive and get a multitrack recording, or I can plug the DL32R directly into my laptop and capture and edit the show in Logic,” says Shterenberg. “It really streamlines the whole process. We can literally give people a recording before they leave.”

Laks agrees. “For our performers, it’s great for them to know that anytime they play here at RAS, they can come away with a great sounding recording. For an artist, that’s just ideal, and for us, it’s such a wonderful thing to be able to offer our performers and our students.”


Posted by House Editor on 07/16 at 07:11 AM
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Some Vocals Are Hard To Mix

This article is provided by Behind The Mixer.

Churches aren’t packed with angelic voices, at least from an audio engineer’s perspective.

Instead, there’s a variety of vocal talent; from the first-timer to the experienced singer and if one’s lucky, a trained singer.

But the real problem isn’t the talent level, it’s what they’re tasked to do.

A common production phrase says the quality of the mix depends on the quality of sound coming from the stage. It’s for this reason microphone selection and usage is of critical importance. But today, we’re going past the mic and past the talent to the real source of mixing difficulty: poor song arrangement.

Home On The Range
Some vocals are hard to mix because the vocalist is asked to sing outside their range. The term range refers to the full spectrum of notes a singer’s voice is able to clearly produce, starting from the bottom-most note (lowest pitches) and reaching to the upper-most note (the highest pitches).

People cannot all sing in the same range. Untrained singers have a limited range compared to trained singers who can rely on technique and vocal exercise to extend that range. For some, their full range is a few octaves while for others, their range spans four-plus octaves.

Given any time a pitch cannot be carried by the singer then it’s considered out of their range, look at how many times untrained church singers are singing out of their range. Just listen for it.

Singing outside of the range creates a rather unattractive sound. And when a song arrangement includes octaves outside a singer’s range, it’s time to start the vocal EQ process from scratch.

No matter how perfect the vocalist settings are on an in-range song, when anything else comes along, the EQ settings need to go out the window.

General EQ
Take for example a male voice. My generic male vocal mix build goes as follows. I hit the HPF (high-pass filter) and roll it to around 100 Hz. Later, I’ll tweak to the optimal setting. Next, I use a low-end cut in the 250-350 Hz range to clear up muddiness common with male vocals. Lastly, I remove the primary offending frequencies.

That three-step process works on analog and digital consoles. The only limitations now are what else I can do given technological limits.

Start Over
Back to the vocalist’s range. The above process works but the moment a song requires them to sing out of their range, it’s time to start over.

The offending frequencies will be in a new place, the HPF point might be different, and certainly the later extra EQ work will be in different areas.

The vocalist should own the frequency band in which they’re singing and when they start singing at an extreme, that frequency area will change and the rest of the mix needs to be adjusted.  Don’t have other dominate sounds fighting for that space.

Engineer Kim Lajoie says of lead vocal mixing, “Make sure it sounds exactly how it needs to, and then bring the other instruments back in around the vocal. The vocal is the most important part of the mix and the song – don’t compromise it by jamming it into a sans-vocal mix.”

A lead vocalist may not be the worship leader and therefore, expect times for this to happen whereas the worship leader has a handle on their own voice. But what about times when it’s a backing vocalist? Use the same process but if it still doesn’t produce a usable sound then tuck the voice behind the others.

There’s no such thing as a perfect vocal EQ setting that works all the time. What works today might not work tomorrow. What works for one song might not be right for the next and that’s even when it’s within range as a song arrangement can call for effect changes and vocal EQ changes. But when a song arrangement requires a vocalist to sing outside their range, it’s time to start their vocal mix from scratch.

Ready to learn and laugh? Chris Huff writes about the world of church audio at Behind The Mixer. He covers everything from audio fundamentals to dealing with musicians. He can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown.

Posted by House Editor on 07/16 at 07:01 AM
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Learning Mixing For Musicals

This article is provided by SoundGirls.org

Wherever you are in your career, I believe there’s always something new you can learn. It’s a bit of a buzz when you encounter a new skill, then master it for the first time.

At the start of this year, near the top of my list of skills-to-learn was mixing large-scale (West End, Broadway or touring) musicals. The majority of my experience as a theatrical sound designer and operator so far has been soundscape design and mixing for plays, live variety and dance productions.

Although I have experience mixing for small musicals and bands and music ensembles, my experience with large-scale musicals has been limited to backstage tours and being an enthusiastic member of the audience.

It was a gap that I felt I needed to fill. After all, if I want to work at a high level in theatrical sound design, it makes sense that I know as much as I can about all aspects of theatre sound.

For those who haven’t worked in large-scale theatre in the UK before, here’s a brief overview of the sound team structure. It is similar for touring productions and I imagine probably for large-scale theatre in the US as well. The sound designer is at the top and handles both the live sound and the prerecorded sound – systems, mics, soundscapes, backing tracks and liaison with the creative team.

Under the sound designer, is the production engineer who fulfills a similar role to a system tech: what goes where and how it all fits together. The Sound No.1 reports to the sound designer, is primarily responsible for mixing the show and manages the No.2 and No.3. The Sound No. 2 is based backstage and is in charge of radio mics and will also learn how to mix the show so they can deputise for the Sound No. 1. Larger shows will have a Sound No. 3 (and some have a No. 4) who will deal with radio mics as well and will dep the No. 2 when necessary.

The established route to becoming a No. 1 (the person who mixes the show) is to rise through the ranks. Starting as a No. 3, moving up to a No. 2 on the same show (or a different show), and after enough experience, moving up to work as a No. 1. Many drama schools and universities in the UK which offer technical theatre courses provide students the chance to work as No. 3 or No. 4 as part of practical placements. It is common for technical theatre graduates who specialize in sound to go into No. 3 positions when they graduate, and then work up the hierarchy from there.

This is great if you trained in London or at a drama school with links to London theatres. For those of us who come to London from countries without a large theatre scene or who are based in smaller theatres outside of London, the opportunities to work as a No. 2 or No. 3 on a large show may be few or non-existent. It was certainly that way for me. I’m also at a stage in my career and my life where I can’t afford the time it takes to work up from a No. 3 position.

So how could I learn how to mix musicals? Enter the Orbital Sound course Mixing for Musicals, held over a two-day period at the Orbital Sound facility in south London. I found out about the course via the Association for Sound Designers and it seemed exactly what I was looking for. A chance to get my fingers on faders and practically learn about what it feels like to mix potentially 80-plus channels in one show.

Arriving on the first day, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Orbital Sound is an established and respected hire company who provide sound systems and sound design services for high-level productions around the world. I wasn’t worried about the quality of training, but I was slightly concerned whether I had potentially signed myself up for two days of debating the pros and cons of the config of DiGiCo versus Yamaha desks. There’s only so many acronyms I can take before my brain hurts.

Thankfully, I had nothing to fear. One of the best aspects of the course was that it catered to most levels by establishing the level of knowledge of the group, then structuring the amount of time spent on theory, questions and practical experience accordingly.  There was plenty of time spent on establishing the basics of modern musical sound systems, speaker placement, matrixes and VCAs. There was also time made for those in our group who did want to talk about DiGiCo T automation versus Yamaha recall safe. Best of all, over half of the course was hands-on experience of programming a desk and learning how to mix line by line.

The biggest learning curve for me was VCAs (also known as Control Groups or DCAs, depending on what make of desk you use) and automation.

Modern musicals are all about mixing line by line – when someone isn’t speaking or singing, their mic is completely off. They typically use over 40 radio mics for the cast (including two for each principle performer), 30-plus band mics, then add in soundscape and backing tracks, sound effects, and the monitor mixes.

It becomes impossible to mute and unmute each track at the right moment, let alone ride the faders at channel level. This is where automation comes in, with the programming of the desk becoming vital to the effective mixing of the show.

The DCAs act as remote controls for the channel faders. Instead of the operator having to call up a specific channel in the layers of the digital desk each time they need to alter the level, that channel is remotely operated by one of the 8-12 DCA faders. 

For any given scene in the show (with the desk “scenes” corresponding to changes in what the audience needs to hear, rather than scenes in the script), the operator needs to have the control of the mics that will be live in that scene routed to the DCAs. They then can pull each fader up and down as each performer, or group of performers, speaks or sings. When the scene changes, the DCAs will control a different set of channels, so while DCA 1, 2 & 3 controlled Chorus 1, Narrator and Steve in (desk) Scene 1, they might control Chorus 2, Susan and Steve in Scene 2.

On top of this automation is another level of automation involving EQs, reverb sends, other effects, whatever is specific to the show. And once you’ve programmed everything into the desk, you get to see whether it all works during the tech or in our case, using the multitrack recording of the live show.

The practice of recording live musicals onto multitrack is the reason courses like the Orbital course can teach people how to mix musicals. Many large productions now budget for a DAW system as standard, both for commercial show recordings and as a teaching resource for Sound No. 2s or touring sound ops learning how to mix a show. A No. 2 can load up any scene on the desk, find that scene on the multitrack recording, hit play on the multitrack and mix that scene as if it was live. They do not have to inconvenience any performers or musicians.

On day two of the course, we had the chance to mix scenes from the Dutch touring production of We Will Rock You, the most recent West End production of Evita and a semi-pro production of Rent, on three different desks, all without leaving the Orbital premises.

The course also covered radio mics, A/B systems, score reading and speaker zones in theatres (e.g., stalls left & right, circle left & right, center, fills and delays). Also, how to use the desk matrix to route different sources to zones at different times, which is a totally different way of looking at speaker placement compared to a modern rock gig.

Overall it was a challenging, enlightening and fun two days. I left with a much better understanding of what goes into designing and operating a large-scale musical, and the confidence to look at expanding my musical design and operating experience. Although I’ll probably start with panto, rather than the West End.

(Note for non-British readers, an explanation of pantomime theatre is here.) Yes, it’s a valid and thriving form of musical theatre in the UK. Don’t worry, I don’t quite get it either.

SoundGirls.Org supports women working in professional audio and music production by highlighting their success and providing a place for them to connect, network, and share advice and experiences, in addition to providing career development and tools to help those working in the field advance in their careers.

Posted by House Editor on 07/15 at 12:40 PM
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Wisycom MCR42 Firmware Update Field Tested By ToneMesa

The updated firmware allows a collaboration with Sound Devices 688 mixer/recorder and SL-6 SuperSlot powering and wireless accessory.

Wisycom announce that the first user of its MCR42 UHF camera receiver with new firmware, Jesse Parker is having great results with the product.

The updated firmware allows a collaboration with Sound Devices 688 mixer/recorder and its SL-6 SuperSlot powering and wireless accessory.

Parker, a production sound mixer at Los Angeles-based ToneMesa, finds the MCR42 with new firmware update to be an asset on projects ranging from reality television to episodic to full-length feature films all over Hollywood and Los Angeles.

ToneMesa is a location/post audio service and technology rental company and was the first adopter and integrator of Wisycom products in North America on broadcast television.

Parker employs the MCR42 for audio input for his recorders in every production he does.

“The Wisycom MCR42’s are present in each of my kits and I always have one with me,” Parker says.  “A key advantage to working with the MCR42 is the ability to quickly find clean frequencies across many channels with no interference, no matter if I am working on a set or in the studio. The MCR42s have also improved the quality of my workflow being that I am accustomed to working digitally.”

The new firmware update [3.5] enables the MCR42 to connect with Sound Devices 688 mixer/recorder, which gives the user new possibilities including audio mixing,  recording and wireless receiver control directly from the mixer.

With the addition of the 688 mixer/recorder and SL-6 accessory, the MCR42 can use two analog channels or a digital AES3, or it can be managed and monitored by the SuperSlot to use all its advanced features, like the ability to probe TV channels for interference on a wide spectrum.

The MCR42 comes with Wisycom’s patented PTT [push-to-talk] feature, as well as operation on a wide frequency, up to 230MHz.

The DSP board allows analog and digital (AES3) output, with multi-commander compatibilities and other digital features. Parker utilizes many different pieces of equipment depending on his production needs. A typical set-up includes a Sound Devices 633, 664 and most recently 688 production field mixer with integrated 12 channel recorder coupled with the SL-6. Parker relies on Wisycom as his primary receivers and also employs Wisycom’s MTP41 Pocket UHF transmitter and MTP40S Wideband bodypack transmitter with DPA 4061 lavaliere microphones. 

“The MCR42 receivers and the MTP41 and MTP40S transmitters are critical to my workflow,” Parker continues.  “I am in full control when I am working on a production. The Wisycom MCR42’s have improved many aspects of my work. I am confident in the Wisycom equipment because of their high sound quality and durability. This peace of mind allows me to focus on the many other responsibilities I have on set. I know that no matter where I spend a production day, I am connected to my work, thanks to Wisycom.”


Posted by House Editor on 07/15 at 12:31 PM

Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia Production Selects Allen & Heath

iLive digital mixing system employed to manage front of house for the recent production at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Allen & Heath’s modular iLive digital mixing system was employed to manage front of house for the recent production of Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia, taking place at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

A classical reworking of The Who’s 1970s album, Quadrophenia, Townshend’s production featured the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Oriana Choir, and guest singers Billy Idol, Phil Daniels and Alfie Boe.

“The brief was to emulate the Quadrophenia studio album, and provide clean, open sound, so I knew I had to choose iLive because it fits the bill exactly - it has a very open, clean sound, great audio processing, is super flexible, networkable, and is customisable so I can make it work for me, rather than the other way round. With an 80-strong orchestra, 90-strong choir and various guest celebrity singers, there was a lot going on, so iLive is just what I needed,” explains front of house engineer, Ian Barfoot.

The PA was provided by Capital Sound, and the iLive system comprised two modular iDR10 MixRacks installed on stage and linked using ACE, with an iLive-112 control surface at front of house position linked to the racks using fibre optic and cat5 working in tandem.

The system needed to manage a total of 128 inputs, with approximately 12 outputs, 16 DCAs, and providing orchestral stems to the monitor board, left and right to the main venue system, and recording feed to the mobile broadcast trucks.

“The iLive-112 surface has a compact footprint which is ideal for theatre situations but the impressive thing is that I can run the console as a 224 strip surface, using the soft keys to recall different control strip configurations as scene recalls, greatly expanding the scope of what I see in my layers. By programming various soft keys to provide completely different control strip setups for different parts of the orchestra, I can instantaneously recall a different channel configuration all at the touch of a button. In fact, I could multiply up to 9 times the 112 channels… but that’s madness.” says Barfoot.

Barfoot also used a laptop running iLive Editor as an extra meter bridge so the system technician could monitor the first 50 microphones, mainly the string section, where most sound reinforcement problems occur. He also used an iPad with the app as a remote control during rehearsals.

Allen & Heath

Posted by House Editor on 07/15 at 08:56 AM
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