Monday, May 05, 2014
SFL Outfits New Testament Church Of God In UK With Midas PRO1 Console
Replaces previous FOH console, as well as on-stage sub-mixers, effects and graphic EQs
New Testament Church of God in Leeds, UK, which hosts a congregation of 270 worshippers with up to 50 people on-stage including a band and the choir for Sunday services, has been outfitted with a new Midas PRO1 digital console courtesy of Mark Payne, technical director of Sound Foundation Ltd. (SFL) of Reading, a UK sound, light and audio hire company specializing in house of worship applications.
The new console came at the direction of Pastor “Prince” Chambers and volunteer A/V supervisor Brother Neville Higgins to replace the previous FOH console, on-stage sub-mixers, effects and graphic EQs with an affordable yet high-quality digital audio mixing system.
“I’m a big fan of the sound of the Midas PRO Series consoles and the entry model PRO1,” explains Payne. “While being very compact and affordable, it has exactly the same sound as the rest of the range. Same mic pres, converters, processing and EQ.”
In addition to the great sound, Higgins loves the simplicity and security of the PRO1: “The effects and all other settings are saved internally, so set up is instant and my ‘secret weapon’ is the Scene Lock function. Sometimes, in my absence, the musicians will make changes to the console and forget what they did or forget to tell me. So I have a special locked scene which I recall before I start, so I am always starting from the same set-up.”
The New Testament Church of God also owns a TriCaster Video system and creates DVDs of the services, edited live, for immediate distribution. “The sound for the DVDs is a dedicated feed from Aux 15 and 16 on the PRO1,” says Higgins. “The whole system now sounds so much better – but the biggest difference was in the record feed. I was shocked at how much we were able to improve the audio quality of the DVDs.”
As part of the commissioning, SFL included an on-site training session, and now Higgins trains others. “The PRO1 can be used in a very simple way, which is great when you first get started,” he notes. “Now, as I’m getting more into it, I keep finding more and more features. I particularly like the choice of five compressors on every channel which can be compared instantly – without the need to patch and interrupt the sound.”
In The Studio: An Interview With “Bassy” Bob Brockman
“Bassy” Bob Brockman has a wide range of awards and credits, including more than 30 Grammy nominations with two wins, and an Oscar nomination.
His many credits include Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Brian McKnight, Faith Hill, Korn, Christina Aguilera, P Diddy, Santana, and Sting among many others.
In this excerpt from The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook 3rd edition, Bob discusses what he uses for plug-ins and his use of the mix bus compressor.
Bobby Owsinski: Can you hear the final product in your head when you begin to mix?
Bob Brockman: Yeah, probably. I think that I probably make some subconscious and non-verbal judgements when I first hear a song. I make a judgment on style and then go through a couple hours familiarizing myself with all the parts, then I try to see what’s really crucial and what could be wallpaper. I then find whether there’s something that’s really important that I should make the listener aware of.
The first 20 years of my career I had a producer standing right next to me, telling me what parts were important. It’s less so now because I see so fewer people. I get sent digital files and I sort of end up making those mix/production decisions on my own and end up delivering a more or less finished mix to the producer or the band, then I’ll get notes on what to tweak.
Are you mixing on a console or in the box?
I can mix in the box if I have to but it’s certainly not my preferred way of mixing. What I’m into is a sort of hybrid mixing. I have a Neve 8816 [analog console] with 16 channels coming out of an Avid 192 D/A with an Alan Smart C2 compressor across the mix buss. 16 channels of analog makes a big difference to me in terms of power and depth of field. I still do mix quite a few things in the box though, especially when I’m out traveling.
How much of the DAW do you use?
I’m very deep into the whole digital mixing process and do all of my work in Pro Tools. The plug-ins have stepped up a lot in the last few years, with the distortion and saturation plugs having improved immeasurably. They’re now more transparent and not adding a lot of phase shift or distortion when you insert them.
That was my problem with plugs before and why I would tend not to use them on phase dependent things like drums and guitars. At a certain point, maybe the seventh or eighth hour the mix, the whole thing would start to sound crunchy to me, so I would go in and bypass the plugs and realize that I was using them as crutch to make things speak. Once you get things dialed in, by the end of the mix you don’t need them as much, so there’s a lot more sonic purity.
I often encourage young mixers to bypass their plugs and listen to what they have, especially in a program like Logic where when you open up a session it’s already got three or four things inserted across every channel as a default.
Do you have certain effects that you always set up before you begin a mix?
I typically transfer all of my effects from one song to the next. I’ll usually use an [Soundtoys] Echo Boy or a [Massey] TD5 for delay. The [Waves] H-Delay and the [PSP] lexicon PCM42 are really nice as well. I usually have four or five delays which vary from very tight to slap delays to timed things. I tweak the timing so its either pushing or dragging a bit behind the beat. I usually have four or five reverbs all plugged in as well. I don’t have any analog effects processing. It’s all done in the box.
I do have a pair of Neve 1073’s that I might insert across the stereo buss, but for the most part I’ll just leave the equalization to the mastering guy. I try to get the EQ and the sound from what I’m doing to the individual tracks in the mix.
I’ve never been much of a user of equalization over the years. I’ve worked with a lot of master buss equalizers like the Massenburg stuff, but there are so many equalization things that happen to the sound just by making adjustments on the Alan Smart [SSL-clone compressor]. It’s such an amazing compressor with the way it grabs the low end and accentuates certain parts of the mid-range or upper mid-range depending upon how fast or slow and the ratio.
I usually spend the last two hours of my mix not doing much mixing but listening and then making little adjustments to the master buss compressor and hearing what the impact is to all the parts. I definitely don’t have a stock compression setting. I’m always moving the setting around on everything that I do. Each song has to have it’s own contour I guess.
How hard are you hitting it?
That depends on the music. If I’m doing a dance record I’m probably hitting it pretty hard. If I’m doing an aggressive rock record then I’m sinking into it about 3 or 4 dB. If I’m doing something much more open or acoustic I’m barely hitting it. Most of the effect is how it’s putting the low frequency information in check, which it does without the meter moving at all. Even when you’re hitting it very lightly it still has a dramatic effect on the music.
Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. For more information be sure to check out his website and blog. Get The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook 3rd edition here.
Church Sound: Why Doesn’t My Mix Sound Right?
Be organized and structured when building a mix -- random mixing leads to random results...
“I’ve done this before, I’m not an idiot,” I thought while making the third pot of coffee in three minutes.
The first time, I put in the coffee grounds but forgot the filter. The second time, I’d rather not publicly discuss. Let’s just say hot water sans coffee. I’ve made hundreds of pots of coffee, usually while barely awake. Why was time different?
Similar to making coffee, mixing can become second nature; set the gain, blend the volumes, blend vocals, clean up an instrument’s signal, etc.
But then it happens. Mixing the same song for the 10th time, with the same band, with the same arrangement, wearing the same lucky socks, and the mix doesn’t come together. I’ve been there, without the lucky socks.
There are two paths to resolving mix conundrums. But first, before attempting either, walk out of the sanctuary for five minutes so your ears can re-boot.
1. Isolate, Isolate, Isolate
—Check the channels. The mix may not sound right because of a single channel or multiple channels. Mute a channel, listen for impact, and then un-mute and move to the next channel. If the problem is related to a single channel, this method will identify it.
—Kill group and board-wide effects. Gates, compressors and other effects can be applied to groups or a board-wide mix. Turn off these features one at a time. Listen to the mix difference.
—Look for cross-channel conflict. A mixing rule of thumb is each instrument/vocal should own their defining frequencies. Two channels should not be competing for the same defining frequencies. I’ve inadvertently boosted the same frequency area in two different instruments. It wasn’t until reviewing the changes that I realized my bone-headed mistake.
2. Rebuild From Scratch
Turn off effects; reverbs, compressors, gates, etc. Re-set channel EQs. Push faders to unity and check all channel gains. Think clean slate. Balance the channels so instruments and vocals sit in the right spaces. Clean up channels; notch out those offending frequencies.
From here, use YOUR standard mixing process. For example, add in gating before setting channel EQ’s. Or, set the channel EQ’s and then use gating. Use your standard process.
I work slower when rebuilding a mix and believe that contributes to fixing my original problem. As math teachers the world over say, “Go slowly and check your work.” And if they didn’t say that, well, they should have said it.
The Take Away
Sometimes a mix doesn’t come together. The problem can be a single mis-mixed channel, conflicting channels, group or board-wide problems, or a foundational mixing mistake.
Isolate the potential problem area and listen for a dramatic difference. Once the area is identified, work on a solution. If that doesn’t work, rebuild the mix.
Just make sure to first reset your ears by spending five minutes outside the sanctuary—this cannot be emphasized enough.
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, and can even tell you the signs the sound guy is having a mental breakdown. Chris is also the author of Audio Essentials For Church Sound, available here.
Dayton Dragons Hit A Home Run With Soundcraft Si Expression 3 Consoles
Significantly expands digital capabilities of broadcast and production team
Mandalay Baseball, parent company of the legendary Dayton Dragons Minor League Baseball team, contracted integrator Alpha Video Sports & Entertainment Group to completely renovate the video control and broadcast room at their Fifth Third Field Ballpark. The new setup now comprises two Soundcraft Si Expression 3 consoles, significantly expanding the digital capabilities of the broadcast and production team.
The ballpark holds the record for consecutive sold-out games, which include all American professional sports teams. As a multi-use facility with seating for 7,800, it’s used for baseball as well as various specialty events. Thus, the new digital system is fine-tuned to be flexible and expandable: the Si Expression 3 was installed in the production control room, feeding live signals to the audience, while the console in the broadcast room is responsible for broadcasting 25 games every season to local CBS affiliate networks.
“We wanted to move away from complex analog structures, and decided that the Soundcraft Si Expression 3 was the best choice,” says Scott Rohrer, creative technologist for Mandalay Baseball. “When compared with a Yamaha LS9 console, the Si Expression blew it out of the water, in terms of digital options and what we could do with it. From my experience with the Si Compact line and this console, Soundcraft has earned a well-deserved reputation.”
Given the limited size of the booths where the operations take place, the Si Expression 3 consoles fit the bill by providing great power in a reasonable form. Also, both consoles are configured with a Dante option card, which adds huge expandability and provides a 64- x 64-channel interface to any Dante-compatible device from Harman or other third-party manufacturer.
“The new consoles allowed us to play around with many digital options; MADI links, and the functionality of the Dante card was a big advantage,” according to Rohrer. “Having 10 games under our belts so far with the Si Expression, the digital flexibility has been simply amazing. Our system now has a much more simplified integration of networks and gear than before, without compromising the audio quality.”
Darren Whitten, account executive with Alpha Video Sports & Entertainment, adds, “We are honored that Mandalay Baseball chose us to provide the integration services for their new control room. Even though they’ve never had problems filling seats at Fifth Third Field, the new control room will definitely enhance the game day experience for their fans.”
Friday, May 02, 2014
Sound For The British Music Embassy
While the British Music Embassy at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin has consistently featured UK artists supported by systems with key components from manufacturers based in their homeland, this year’s event was marked by a different audio approach.
Latitude 30, the venue that’s been home to the showcase for seven years, provides tight quarters for a live music experience, with a total capacity of about 250 topped by a low ceiling. The previous tactic of utilizing line arrays as mains was less than optimum, so promoter Cato Music of London sought a different approach and contacted Scotland-based Tannoy, seeking a more compact, point-source oriented solution.
“We needed to provide coverage and adequate SPL for the venue, but without taking up the whole room,” notes Colin Studybaker, TC Group tour sales manager. “We also didn’t want to bring additional equipment and cabling that would require more set-up time.”
A New Thing
Studybaker and Josh Evans, Lab.gruppen technical sales manager (tour division), were onsite to work hands-on with front of house engineer Fabrizio Piazzini and monitor engineer Chris Kmiec over the 6-day run at SXSW. The team rode herd over efficient systems headed up by Tannoy VQ Series loudspeakers for the house and Tannoy VX stage monitors, both driven by Lab.gruppen amplification.
A look at the house loudspeaker set as well as the Tannoy VX monitors on the compact stage.
Just two VQ60 loudspeakers (60-degree horizontal dispersion), flown at the stage in a split parallel left/right configuration, were needed to cover the entire room, which is wider than it is deep.
The 3-way loudspeakers delivered plenty of coherent full-range output for the application, with a design that effectively combines the company’s unique Dual Concentric coaxial driver approach with a proprietary PSW (Point Source Waveguide) that aligns the acoustical centers of the transducers to produce a single coherent wavefront. Low-frequency energy is supplied by dual 12-inch woofers, and for this project, this was further bolstered by three low-profile Tannoy VS 218DR (dual-18-inch) subwoofers distributed horizontally on the deck.
Over his 15 years as freelance mix engineer, Piazzini has done FOH for acts such as Kula Shaker, Patrick Wolf, Calvin Harris and Amy MacDonald, among others. “It’s been a while since I’ve mixed a club gig, and Tannoy was quite a new thing to me,” he says. “I owned some of their studio monitors and always liked them, and Tannoy has always been very good at what they do. But these speakers (VQ Series) were a revelation.
A stage-side view in concert showing one of the main Tannoy VQ loudspeakers.
“Point-source loudspeakers are not dead, and in this application, were really nice – smooth, not harsh at all, and when you walked out of the beam, it sounded natural,” he continues. “You could feel it when you weren’t in the beam, but there was still coherence, so when you walked into the venue it was a very smooth transition from the entrance to the middle where it really hit you.”
Both the mains and subs were powered by two Lab.gruppen 4-channel PLM 20000Q amplifier/controllers with Lake digital processing, sharing just a single rack at the stage with five 1RU Lab.gruppen IPD 2400 amplifiers for the monitors.
House engineer Fabrizio Piazzini at an Allen & Heath GLD-112 mix surface.
The efficiency of the amplifiers was key in avoiding any undue strain on the venue’s electrical infrastructure. In fact, the PLM amplifiers include breaker emulation limiters that limit current draw to protect the venue’s circuit breakers.
“We wanted as much power as we could get with as little current draw as possible,” Studybaker notes. “We chose the IPD 2400s based on the amount of house (AC) power available. That was a big thing because there’s no generator and we had roughly 40 amps total to tie into.”
“I mix bass heavy and like heavy mixes,” Piazzini says. “We peaked a couple of times – where we drew about 80 percent – but I never felt like the power draw was limiting me.” Adds Kmiec: “This was the first year I’ve been involved where we didn’t trip the venue power at any point.”
Both Lab.gruppen amplification platforms proved valuable in the application. IntelliDrive Controller software onboard the IPD amplifiers saved rack space usually dedicated to outboard processors, providing control for ringing out monitors.
And each PLM 20000Q contains two full-featured Lake Processor modules, each offering settings for gain, delay, crossover slope, equalization, and limiting that can be applied to the loudspeakers.
Lake Controller 6.1 software, available on laptop computers tablets that allowed the engineers mobility, supplied a unified source for overall system control, offering things like digital input gain and attenuation as well as comprehensive load verification and monitoring.
The Rational Acoustics Smaart v7 test and measurement platform was also implemented in conjunction with Lake Controller, delivering a fluent single interface for comprehensive system optimization.
Beyond the fact that they originate in the UK and thus meet one of the specific criteria for the stage, the choice of an Allen & Heath GLD-112 console at FOH and a GLD-80 console for monitors was also due to their Dante networking capability, implemented here with the addition of optional Dante cards.
“Dante was key to this project because it allowed Smaart and Lake to co-exist on the same signal platform, along with routing Dante channels to the measurement platform,” Studybaker says.
Piazzini notes that this networking approach, unveiled for the first time here, proved highly effective. “It worked seamlessly from the first,” he says, “so we could focus on the system and the job at hand rather than the infrastructure.”
Lab.gruppen PLM 20000Q amplifiers driving the mains. Above them in the same rack are the IPD 2400s for monitors.
Because the venue had windows right behind FOH that open, a single Tannoy VX 8.2 loudspeaker – driven by an adjacent PLM 20000Q and time delayed to the main loudspeakers – was placed on a windowsill behind the console to cover the crowd in the street.
“I set up that amplifier so it wouldn’t pull more than five amperes, because the outlet we were using was powering everything at the FOH position,” Studybaker explains. “I could have used another IPD 2400, but it was cool to be able set a 20,000-watt amp so it pulled that little power.”
The small stage meant that stage monitoring was limited. AKG wireless in-ear monitoring systems were available, but for the most part, artists utilized five Tannoy VX 12HP coaxial monitors (bi-amped), joined by a single VSX 15DR sub for drum fill. There wasn’t space for side fill.
Making system adjustments via Lake Controller on a tablet.
“The VX monitors are a very clean-sounding speaker straight out of the box,” Kmiec says. “The advantage to the coaxial configuration is that they sound the same at the left and right of the speaker, which was a big advantage in a small venue like this where many band members had a single speaker rather than a pair. With a traditional format speaker, you often force yourself into using a pair per musician to get the sound even across their plane of movement.”
On stage, the microphone package was all AKG, including a D12 VR on kick, D40 cardioids for snare top/bottom and toms, C 451 condensers on hi-hat and overheads, and P4 dynamics on guitars cabinets. All vocalists were provided with D7 dynamics except drum vocals, which received a D5 with tighter supercardioid pattern to limit bleed.
In addition to his work as an engineer, Piazzini is a Waves Live product specialist, and he relied heavily on the technology during the week. “I put Waves NLS analog summing plug-ins on every mic input; a different plug-in on each input to give different flavors to the mix,” he says. The ability to use an iPad in tandem with the GLD at FOH also allowed him not only the freedom to move and to tweak the system remotely, but to do so on occasions when other engineers were setting up without disturbing their workflow.
Monitor engineer Chris Kmiec at a GLD-80 in his world to the side of the stage.
“I used to mix on an Allen & Heath iLive but hadn’t used the GLD yet, so I was looking forward to it because I hadn’t had a chance to play with one before,” he adds. “It was spot on.”
In a multi-band situation, maintaining a fluent workflow and staying on schedule is also part of the challenge. “To deal with the amount of bands in a small space of time, you really have to go back to the analog mindset of how you lay everything out, with a set patch list that everyone fits into,” Kmiec says. “There’s no time during a 15-minute changeover to re-patch. The digital advantage is that you can move how these channels appear on the desk to match any preferences.”
In addition, the amount of inputs on the GLD-80 proved useful given that he was swapping between the stage monitors and IEM systems.
Most importantly, beyond ease of setup and meeting the challenges the venue presented in terms of space and power, the system was a hit with concertgoers who’d come to hear British artists like The Wytches, Slaves, Temples, and Dinosaur Pile-Up.
It did that job admirably, Studybaker concludes, adding that over the course of the six-night festival he received numerous complements. “Actually, I was told that this is one of the best-sounding venues of this size at the festival this year. We’ll be doing it again next year.”
Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.
DiGiCo SD10T Console Playing Huge Role In Production Of “Here Lies Love”
Digital console developed specifically for intricate theatrical applications deployed by Masque Sound
Here Lies Love, which officially re-opened May 1 at Public Theater’s LuEsther Hall on New York City’s Off-Broadway circuit, tells the story of Imelda Marcos, the widow of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marco, in song with lyrics by Talking Heads founder David Byrne and music by both Byrne and Norman Cook, a.k.a. DJ Fatboy Slim.
The production was born as a music recording with performances by artists including Cyndi Lauper, Tori Amos and Allison Moorer, and the music propels the narrative as the cast moves from one end of the theater to the other, with dozens of loudspeakers in a complex sound system design keeping the audio in phase and in focus.
Holding it all together in the re-launched production are the signal management capabilities and sonic quality of the DiGiCo SD10T—the “SD Ten Theatre”—a digital console developed specifically for intricate theatrical applications. Supplied by Masque Sound, the console is one of three new SD10T desks recently purchased by the East Rutherford, NJ-based theatrical technology vendor—the other two being used on Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman’s Harmony in L.A. and the touring production of the ABBA-soundtracked musical Mamma Mia!
“This is really an incredible production, visually,” says Cody Spencer, who serves as co-sound designer, along with M.L Dogg, for Here Lies Love. “But the sound is every bit as amazing.”
Spencer describes a multi-speaker sound system that spotlights sound around the performance space, keeping it with actors as they move from stages at either end of the room, yet evenly distributed across the audience. The audio is comprised of music stems used as backing for the vocals (taken from the original album that was pre-mixed by Fatboy Slim) and some vivid sound effects that inject nearly 110 dB of realism into the show, including an imagined version of the helicopter that whisked Marcos and her husband away from the Philippine capital as their reign came crashing down.
Working in conjunction with QLab 3 live show control software and DiGiCo’s UB MADI USB-to-MADI converter, which can add up to 48 channels of MADI-format digital I/O to a Mac or PC via USB, the SD10T allows Spencer to insert time delay functionality within the crosspoint matrix of the console’s router. This essentially lets the sound system be constantly adapted to the show’s performance as the actors change position through the space but without changing the overall level of the system.
“Imagine standing directly between two speakers in a room that are at the same volume, and you add delay to one speaker,” Spencer says, explaining the Precedence or Haas Effect. “The speaker without the delay is perceived as being louder even through the volume level on both speakers remains the same. Imagine that taking place across dozens of speakers as actors are moving all over the space, but you have the ability to add delay exactly where and when you need it. That’s what the SD10T brings to this show. The versatility and flexibility of the console’s matrix is the main reason we chose it. I can’t think of another console that has that kind of capability without having to use external processing.”
Spencer further says that the show’s FOH mixer, Craig Freeman, takes advantage of the SD10T’s ability to move any of its metering to its large overview screens. Due to the nature of the production, Freeman has to mix the show from what would be the monitor position in any other theater in order to keep track of levels visually.
Onboard processing includes 16 Dynamic EQ processors, all of which can be assigned to any of the input or output channels, plus 16 assignable multiband compressors and 16 assignable DiGiTuBes, DiGiCo’s tube emulation software, which Spencer says has become critical to the show’s sound quality, taking the edge off the brightness of the AIFF files the music tracks use. “DiGiTuBes really warms the tracks up,” he says.
Spencer, who has worked with renowned Broadway sound designer Brian Ronan on hit shows such as American Idiot, Beautiful and The Book of Mormon, says the DiGiCo SD10T console offered him an unprecedented level of control even as it provided exceptional sound quality. “I also have to credit Zac Jac Duax at Group One [DiGiCo’s U.S. distributor] for his help. He really got us comfortable with the console quickly. DiGiCo brought us a great console with excellent support. That’s what you want behind you on opening night and every night.”
Church Sound: Putting Together A Broadcast Mix
Effective approaches for mixes that leaves the building, whether via actual broadcast or internet delivery...
As more churches put their entire services online, the need for a quality broadcast audio mix becomes more critical.
By “broadcast,” I’m referring to a mix that leaves the building, whether by actual broadcast or internet delivery. It could also be the same mix sent to the lobby, overflow rooms and other areas.
Why not use the main mix? While it’s technically possible to just take the L/R mix from the console and send it to video, the result usually isn’t ideal. This is true for several reasons.
The first – and biggest – issue is dynamic range. In a typical modern service, you’re likely to have 30-plus dB of dynamic range in the room. That sounds great – in the room. But on a laptop or in a cry room, people will be reaching for the volume control. A lot.
The second issue is the contribution of ambient sounds. There may not be a lot of drums in the main mix because they’re are already pretty loud in the room. (I hate seeing a video shot of the drummer when I don’t hear any drums.) The same may be true for guitars. Smaller rooms are more prone to this problem, but it’s an issue for everyone at some level.
Finally, the main L/R mix doesn’t have much, if any, ambience in it. Without some sense of what is going on in the room, the mix will feel dead. We’re not capturing sound in a studio; we’re in a live worship setting. Thus we need to hear people worshiping.
There are several ways to arrive at a good broadcast mix.
Use The House
This is the easiest approach, but for the reasons mentioned above, it’s also the least effective way to do it. Some house microphones could be fed to a matrix to add some ambience, but that means a lot of the aforementioned dynamic range. Subsequently running it through a compressor will likely make the music feel squashed. There are leveling products available and they work “OK,” but there really are better ways to go about it.
Some would argue this is the best way to get it done. A separate console is set up in another room with access to all the inputs from stage. A split – either analog or digital – provides all of the inputs the house console sees. An operator mixes these together with complete freedom with processing, mixing and effects.
Stems are an alternative when a full split and large broadcast console aren’t in the budget. The broadcast position might get a set of mono or stereo mixes: drums, guitars, keyboards, vocals, speaking mics, playback channels, etc. The broadcast engineer mixes and level-balances these stems while adding in some house mics. It’s a good way to go, though it does eat up groups or auxes on the house console.
The downside is that another console is still needed, as well as a room and an operator. For some churches, staffing another mix position is tough to do. But there is another approach.
This method is like a board mix, but it does differ. Basically, it involves taking the inputs and splitting them up into groups. These groups don’t go to the main L/R bus, but rather, feed into the matrix mix of the console.
Inside the matrix, they’re combined at the proper level so that when they come out, it feels right. We’ll talk more about that in a bit.
How the inputs are arranged into groups will depend on the band and your equipment. Currently, I’m using two mono and three stereo groups, and I also add several direct channels for walk-in music and audience mics. The beauty of this approach is that each element of the service is level-balanced to the correct perceived volume.
Different processing is also available at each stage of the mix. This provides more control and keeps the processing more transparent.
I had several goals in seeking to create a high-quality broadcast mix. First, I wanted it to sound good, even when I’m not mixing FOH. Second, the process has to be pretty seamless, and must work regardless of who is at the console.
Third, I wanted to create an accurate representation of what’s happening in the room – capturing the live energy is important to me. Finally, I wanted to do as little post production on the mix as possible, and doing the hard work up front helps in achieving this goal.
These groups (on a DiGiCo SD8 console) form the basis of the author’s broadcast mix.
In The Grouping
What follows is my approach, which I offer here to get you thinking. This is descriptive, not prescriptive. The worship team splits into two groups, stereo band and stereo vocals. I typically add an extra 1-2 dB on vocals, which helps them stand out on video. I also do a little compression on each group.
A mono speaking mic group includes the pastor, plus any interview or announcement mics. Another stereo group handles playback of videos and the occasional Skype interview. A recent addition is what I call “Worship Leader Speaking.” When the leader talks during the worship set, it’s usually a lot quieter. This works in the room but feels (sounds) weird on video, so this mono group gives a little boost when they talk. Snapshots or macros are used to get those inputs in and out of the group.
Finally, a stereo pair of mics in the house picks up the audience and some ambience. The walk-in music playback channel is also routed straight to the matrix at the appropriate level. Because it’s post-fade, our opening transition is now cleaner.
On The Level
As noted earlier, it’s not uncommon to see a dynamic range of 30 or more dB (SPL) in a typical service. Speaking mics might run in the mid to high 60s, while music may be anywhere between the mid 80s to the low 100s (all dB SPL). The matrix mixing approach is designed to narrow that gap.
The initial temptation will be to balance out all of the various groups so they meter the same. So let’s say you want to hit the recorder at -12 dB FS (full scale). You’ll be tempted to set the levels for the music first, then dial up the speaking mic group until it hits -12 dB FS. But if you do that, the pastor will likely feel too loud.
That’s because in the real world, we don’t experience music and talking at the same volume. So don’t make them the same on video. Close is OK, but speaking will have to be less. I usually shoot for the speaking to be somewhere between 6 and 12 dB lower than the music, but that’s just a starting point. You have to listen to it and make adjustments accordingly. It has to feel right, not just meter right.
So that’s a little glimpse into my process. Next time I’ll share some of the “secret sauce” that has taken the mix from good to even better.
Mike Sessler is the technical director at Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo, CA. He has been involved in live production for over 25 years and is the author of the blog Church Tech Arts.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
Highland Park Texas Church Installs Yamaha NUAGE DAW, CL Digital Console
Digital audio workstation for recording and post work along with a digital console for front of house mixing in the sanctuary
Highland Park (Texas) United Methodist Church (HPUMC) recently installed a Yamaha Commericial Audio NUAGE digital audio workstation for recording and post work along with a Yamaha CL5 digital console for front of house mixing in the sanctuary.
Audio DAWg of Irving, TX, installed the NUAGE system, while Mike Mason of Clair Systems - Dallas installed the CL5. The 900-seat contemporary worship space where the NUAGE and CL5 systems are housed has three services on the weekend with an average of 2,200 attending. The congregation consists of 5,000 who regularly attend five different contemporary and traditional service locations.
Audio DAWg began offering DAW systems solutions about seven years ago focusing on turn-key audio recording packages for studios, post, broadcast, houses of worship, and educational facilities. “The NUAGE installation began as a request from Bruce O’Leary, director of production at HPUMC,” states owner Spunky Brunone. “The church installed Dante networking throughout the sanctuary and recording studio, so NUAGE was a perfect solution for them.”
O’Leary first heard about NUAGE via social media and contacted Audio DAWg for a demo at the company’s office. “I wanted a solution that allowed me to mix live and track at the same time while writing automation, and would have enough ‘virtual horsepower’ for generous use of third party plug-ins,” he says.
“I was super-impressed with the workflow the console portion of NUAGE facilitates and the integration of Nuendo’s channel strip (with the basics that I need already inserted on each channel—4-band fully parametric EQ, gate, comp, saturation, etc.,” he notes. “And, the fact that it ‘looked’ similar to a live console and had Dante integration made our decision very easy. No other manufacturer has an option that fit our needs more perfectly.”
O’Leary made the jump to the Yamaha NUAGE from Pro Tools having heard its praises sung by colleagues in Nashville.
The NUAGE system at HPUMC is a 16-channel unit (8a/8d), with a Yamaha Dante sound card. “I’m loving what I’m seeing so far,” O’Leary says. “The edit functions are all within easy reach in the center of the workspace; very well thought-out for real-world work. The surface just feels killer too…again…no one else has anything close to this.”
HPUMC is planning on using NUAGE for audio for video mix as well as for post-production projects. Also on hand are four channels of Rascall Audio V2 mic pre-amps and two channels of classic API 312DI in a Radial Engineering Workhorse rack, with an additional eight channels of Audient that will come into the DAW via the eight channels of AES on the Nio8a8d.
“In addition to the great plug-ins, Nuendo has out of the box,” adds O’Leary. “We’ll be using plug-ins from Waves and Universal Audio via an UAD2 Octo PCIe card installed by Audio DAWg.”
The new Yamaha CL5 digital console is installed at the FOH location in the sanctuary. HPUMC converted the entire room to Dante networking (also running 16 channels of Shure ULXd wireless mics also on Dante) and will soon integrate a LiveMix personal monitoring system using the Dante network for both live and studio use. The church uses four Yamaha Rio1608-D input/output racks along with two Ri8-Ds and one Ro8-D.
“The CL console has more inputs than our previous console with great onboard effects,” says O’Leary. “The Premium Rack is a really great feature. I have so many options right inside the console I do not have to purchase third party products.
He adds, “The integration with CL Editor and the CL StageMix make it the complete package. Again, I looked at a lot of manufacturers, but kept coming back to the Yamaha CL5 because of its flexibility, feature set, proven durability, and value.”
Church amplifiers are fed from BSS London Blue with Dante cards, for a left-right hang of Clair i208 line array boxes and five dual-18 subwoofers (two on the floor and three hung center in cardioid pattern), as well as front fill/under balcony areas.
Highland Park United Methodist Church
Yamaha Commericial Audio
In The Studio: Rage Against The Pedalboard Machine
Troubleshooting wimpy tone on your next session; and always remember, the part dictates the sound...
There will most definitely be a point in your production career where a bassist or guitarist shows up with a pedalboard. It could be a small, seemingly harmless one or a flat bed sized mammoth.
There is nothing wrong with wanting a variety of sounds. As a guitarist, I want options too. I’m no purist, but In the studio I have a tendency to deconstruct pedalboards.
Here’s why: No matter what circuitry or wiring they claim to have, the sound changes when you run through pedals or multiple connections. Even a true bypass looper affects the tone.
To get a focused sound, I try to get to as close to the source as possible. I only patch the effects I’m using during tracking.
I’ve tried most cables, buffers, loopers and they all impact the sound in some way. Mostly in a negative way for my tastes.
There are a few occasions where I find the change agreeable. One is using a tape delay (a real one, not a pedal with a tape preset on it). I like the preamp in tape delays. You can bypass the delay effect and just use the preamp section. I use it to push the front end of an amp a little harder. You can try this with bass or guitar.
The other time I might like the color is from various real spring reverbs. Again, it’s has to do with the preamps. So far to date, this has been the only occurrence where I break my rule and leave them in the chain.
I’m not implying for any second that you should discourage a bassist or guitarist from using their effects. Sometimes it’s crucial for inspiring a performing or part.
But as much as you may think your fancy outboard gear may do a better job, it’s not always the case.
There is a special chemistry that happens when an effect runs before the amp. It sounds quite different compared to adding after the recording. Both have a place. It’s dependent on the situation.
Try this experiment next time a guitarist or bassist is on on a session:
1) Plug them into their pedalboard and have them play with all effects bypassed.
2) Now, unplug from the pedalboard and play straight into the amp.
Do you hear a difference? Most likely you will say yes. There is more punch and strength to the sound.
You will most definitely notice a difference in tone. Its also worth mentioning that some people like the loss of tone associated with long cables and pedal boards. This is why I suggest you A/B them to hear the difference.
At Arms Length
Cable length—I also try to keep cable runs as short as possible. Long cables change your tone as well as cable brand. I wouldn’t get so obsessed with the cable brand. Length is an issue though (ask any woman…rim shot!!).
My preference is to use 10-foot cables. A 15-footer may appear in my live setup, but not for studio. A 50-foot cable may be long enough to allow you to walk to the coffee machine between takes, but will weigh down your sound.
It’s possible you may like this tone alteration (Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes does). I’m not telling you what to like, just stating the facts.
In live situations, you don’t have much flexibility with routing. You’re not going to disconnect anything between songs. You have to live with the signal loss. This is why we go to great lengths to limit the coloration.
There is no reason to settle in the studio. Because of the nuance recordings can capture, we can hear the little things we wouldn’t notice live.
Dismantle The Machine
Let’s say someone has a pedal board with a wah, volume, tuner, overdrive, chorus, delay and reverb on it. On the song you’re tracking the guitarist or bassist is only using a delay. Unhook the delay from the pedalboard and make a direct connection from the guitar -> pedal -> amp.
Notice you don’t see a tuner there? I never put a tuner in the chain while recording. I use a tuner called Stayintune (or the TC Electronics Polytune app) on my iPhone. One of those Snark type clip on tuners work well too.
Tuners have a way of messing up your chain in the tone department. Only the essentials please!! This doesn’t mean the guitarist or bassist shouldn’t be checking their tuning after every take. It just means it’s not at their feet.
Tip: It’s a great idea for everyone to use the same tuner. That way everyone’s tuning is using the same calibration.
It’s likely you’ll get moans and protests from the guitarist or bassist, but stick to your guns. You’re making a record, it’s better to get the best sound at the source.
I’ve been on sessions as an engineer where a guitarists rolls up, unpacks a huge pedalboard, plugs in to a really nice amp and the tone sounds dull. Often they don’t even check the amp tone before plugging in.
Back To The Start
Which leads me to mention, ask the guitarist or bassist to plug directly into the amp before adding any effects. Get a really good sound happening before you plug in any effects. Guitar to amp should sound killin’. The effects are the icing, not the cake.
This should be the case for every effects change. Always stay in touch with your inner self (in this case that’s the amp).
The little things add up. Mind you, none of it will compensate for a poorly written or executed part.
In theory, you could have the world’s largest pedalboard in bypass with 100 feet of cabling, but if you have a great player you can get an amazing sound. Gear doesn’t make great music, great artists make great music.
Now you can troubleshoot wimpy tone in your next session. And always remember, the part dictates the sound.
Mark Marshall is a producer, songwriter, session musician and instructor based in NYC.
Be sure to visit The Pro Audio Files for more great recording content. To comment or ask questions about this article, go here.
Church Sound: Mixing Like A Pro, Part 8—Listening
In order to mix music well, you must become a fan of all types of music...
Over the past few months we’ve discussed much of the mechanics needed to become a better front of house(FOH) operator and what your mix should sound like. Mechanics and process is necessary, but won’t quite get the mix you’re looking to achieve. One of the most outstanding traits that great pro audio people have is a passion for listening.
We all use our ears everyday to listen, whether to our surroundings, to speech to music. The difference between the average listener and pro audio folks though is the intentionality of their listening. Great audio people listen more carefully and intently. They listen to the nuances of natural acoustical sound, especially sounds that need to be reproduced in a sound system.
To achieve a musical mix, it’s simply not enough to make louder sounds.
Being A Fan
When it comes to music, I find the best FOH people are also some of the biggest fans of music, period. It’s not about knowing one style of music or even one generation of music, but becoming such a fan of music that your musical base includes a wide variety of styles, artists and even decades of release.
Some of the most creative, expressive and artistic music can be found from decades ago. My friend Mike Sessler, a technical director in southern California hosts the podcast Church Tech Weekly that I’m often a guest on, and once we ended up devoting an entire episode with an all-star audio panel to discussing how important it is to become a great fan of music in order to become better at mixing FOH.
I highly recommend listening to the episode, which you can find here.
More Than Listening
While it’s a great thing to crank up the tunes and listen to the artistry of another’s musical creation, great audio people will often dig deeper into the music. Critical listening is a great skill to learn. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had a new instrument to mix into a band setting with little clear instruction as to exactly how to mix them in.
In order to be prepared for every occasion, I often listen to music that incorporates a wide range of instruments, carefully listening to the different ways they sound and can be used in a mix. I apply the same level of thinking when I know I’m going to be mixing a band I’ve never worked with before.
If available, I spend a decent amount of time listening to their own music (or something similar if they don’t have anything recorded) so when I get behind the console I have a good idea of what I want the instruments to sound like and how I want them to interact with each other.
My friend Dave Stagl, audio director at North Point Church in Atlanta, discussed some of the strategies he likes to use when listening to music critically. His list, found here, looks at many different angles of what you are hearing when you listen to produced music.
The difference is instead of listening at the surface of the finished product, spend some time listening with a focus on each instrument. Critically listen to music that is similar to the style of music you mix and listen to the nuances of how the lead instruments blend with the rhythm of the bass and drums, and how the spacing of the music was crafted.
If you’re like me, you’ll find exercising critical listening will help shape your view of how you EQ, compress and mix every instrument.
The Main Idea
Great audio people love great music. By great, I’m not talking simply about high fidelity recordings, but music that moves them and elicits emotion.
After all, we want art to move and inspire us. If we’re going to create mixes that are moving and inspiring, we must be moved and inspired yourself. It doesn’t have to match our personal preference of style, but great musicians and audio folks love getting lost in the artistry of all kinds of music.
If you looked at my iTunes list of music, you’d see every kind of rock there is in addition to pop, folk, gospel, southern gospel, movie sound tracks and yes, even a little bit of country. Many of the artists are well-known, while some are most decidedly not. Some are moving scores from blockbuster movie hits and others simply are independent artists that I felt made great art. And I go through seasons listening to different music.
In order to move, you must be moved. In order to inspire, you must be inspired. In order to elicit emotion, you must experience emotion yourself. In order to mix music well, you must become a fan of great music.
Become a lover of all kinds of music and a frequent critical listener, and I promise you’ll see your mixes improve dramatically.
Duke DeJong has more than 12 years of experience as a technical artist, trainer and collaborator for ministries. CCI Solutions is a leading source for AV and lighting equipment, also providing system design and contracting as well as acoustic consulting. Find out more here.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Sound In The 70s: Memories Of Mayhem, Mischief & Mishaps
"The reverberation of the hall became the dominant signal as the PA system died..."
Touring around Britain and Europe during the early 1970s was quite a challenge; most bands carried their own public address (PA) system and used it for every gig, as “house PA systems” simply didn’t exist.
Local work crews didn’t exist either so this meant that you and your fellow roadie carried the rig in and out of the venue one piece at a time; the wheel hadn’t been exported to the UK at this time, or they cost too much, and the upside was that you were incredibly fit and agile.
The most popular PA equipment used for touring was made by Watkins Electric Music (WEM) and was used by all the major players, from Pink Floyd to Gary Glitter. As shocking as it sounds today, most national touring acts carried PA systems that were only around 1 kW and used a 5-channel mixer, also some bands were known to carry two of these mixers for a whopping 10-channel mix(!).
The usual circuit in the UK involved clubs, pubs, town halls and universities. The UK has many venues, but they are typically quite small—even the very famous Hammersmith Odeon only has a sitting capacity of around 3,700—and so it can get depressing doing these labor intensive, up the stairs, down the stairs, challenging load-ins for small (but keen) audiences.
About six months after I gave up my budding telecommunications career to join the crew of an up-and-coming band, we got word that we would be on the bill of a 24-hour non-stop rock n’ roll festival at a 10,000-12,000 seat indoor arena in Essen, Germany.
Manfred Mann & Uriah Heep crew, Central Park July 1974. (click to enlarge)
In those days I couldn’t imagine a facility being that big for an indoor concert. Forget about advance production; it simply didn’t happen. Somehow we’d get it sorted on the day.
On the other hand, one of the easier aspects of touring at that time was that there was no portable lighting to get in the way of things, which was just as well because none of the facilities carried the power required for any additional loads. It was challenging enough trying to plug in 10 amplifiers plus the hack line.
The other thing that hadn’t been invented was monitor systems: no monitors, no monitor engineer, no feedback, no grief (I still have the utmost respect for you Davy). Some facilities had rudimentary lighting supported with follow spots.
There were some exceptions to this rule, one of them being a group named Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, a 14-person collective of poets, singers, musicians, dancers, sound and lighting technicians. As I left my dependable telecommunications position behind me, one of the members from another local band from Coventry, Asgaard, said to me, “If ever you are on the same bill as Principal Edwards be sure to give my best regards to the lighting designer.” Sure enough, Principal Edwards was scheduled on the bill for Essen.
Left to right, Mick Whelan, Mick Tucker (Sweet-drummer), Terry Price (Taseo), Hong Kong 1973. (click to enlarge)
How do you do sound for 12,000 when you’re only carrying enough for 3,000? You cooperate, that’s how.
A quick study of the schedule showed that I knew a few of the sound guys from bands playing both before and a little after my band’s slot.
As each of us used WEM systems, linking up was simple. It was common practice on a regular three-act show for each band to use a different system: all three rigs would be set up in position, and as each band finished, their PA was torn down and moved off stage.
In combining our three WEM systems, we would have enough PA for the gig and be able to rent the system to any band that needed it.
One of the headliners was Atomic Rooster, with Carl Palmer on drums. As this was one of my favorite bands, I decided to watch them from the FOH position instead of the side of the stage.
About one minute into the band’s set, the reverberation of the hall became the dominant signal as the PA system died. The soundman jumped up and started checking connections real quick. The audience was getting very impatient, and an uneasy air filled the room (I’d never seen a riot at this stage of my career).
As this was my first overseas gig, I was very nervous about assisting the troubleshooting team; after all, I’d only been in the business for 10 minutes.
The crowd was now getting ugly and the system was the same make as mine so I offered my services. “Go ahead,” said the engineer. Thirty seconds later the rig fired up, the crowd settled down and I saw one of the best bands of the ‘70s play a great set: back to the dressing room to celebrate.
One of the great things about Germany is that great beer is in abundance; it was also free to the crew. Unfortunately food was not free, and if I remember correctly, unavailable. Free beer and no food is not a good combination for a 24-hour festival.
Back in the dressing room, shared between my band and others from the same agency, enterprising musical discussions were taking place. The door opened and a slender male walked into the room.
“Hey,” I said. “Who are you? Are you with Principal Edwards?” “Yes,” the visitor replied, and then he left, only to return a minute later with two cases. I asked him if he was the lighting guy for Principal Edwards, which he affirmed. I asked a series of technical queries but received no response.
“Can you tune a guitar?” he finally asked, handing me a Stratocaster. “Of course,” I responded, when in fact I could not. So I held the guitar, strummed the strings, listened to the notes and pronounced, “this one’s good.”
While I was doing this, he was putting on a black silk shirt with a laced-up neck. I noticed the room had gone quiet—too quiet when a dozen musicians are present. He handed me a second guitar, and I repeated the effort—strum, listen, and pronounce it in tune.
He pushed open the door, held it with his foot, picked up both guitars, and left. The bass player from my band, Pete Becket (more recently with Player) asked, “Mick, do you know who that was?”
“Well, it wasn’t the flippin’ lighting guy from Principal Edwards,” I responded.
Ritchie Blackmore, circa 1977. (click to enlarge)
“Mick,” he replied, “That was Ritchie Blackmore.”
In the span of two milliseconds I went from feeling as good as you can possibly feel (like when you’re mixing a top talent, they do something outstanding, and chills go down your spine) to as bad as you can possibly feel (like leaving the channel muted after a clothing change). I had messed with the headline act, and in Europe, at that time, no one was bigger than Deep Purple.
Ritchie Blackmore, Ritchie Blackmore—how could I have taunted one of the guitar gods and not known it? This wasn’t fair; there should be a warning label about the dangers of being burned.
But before I actually crashed at the absolute bottom of my world, the door opened slightly, and a black-silk covered arm snaked through the opening, extending an open hand of friendship.
We shook hands and he said something like “Hey, nobody’s given me that much grief in years, thanks.” I exhaled, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and went out front to watch the show. And yes, they were incredible.
Mick Whelan designed and commissioned touring and installed sound systems for more than 30 years, with credits including Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, the Beach Boys, Carole King, and many others. He now serves as the director of U.S. operations for Adamson Systems.
New Behringer X32 Network Expansion Cards Now Available
Dante, MADI and ADAT cards provide increased I/O options
Behringer has announced that the new X-DANTE, X-MADI and X-ADAT high-performance network cards for the X32 digital mixing console are now available from authorized dealers and online resellers. The cards are easy to install and configure, making the X32 compatible with more digital and audio distribution networks.
The X-DANTE expansion card brings a 32-channel, 48 kHz bi-directional audio interface, making it ready for integration with Dante-enabled IP networks using either standard 100Mbit/s or Gigabit Network infrastructure with DSCP-based QoS, with support for mixed sample and bit rates coexisting on the same network.
The X-DANTE card utilizes 24-bit signal transmission with sample-accurate synchronization and low latency, ensuring high audio integrity, plus a secondary input for setting up a seamless redundant network.
The X-MADI expansion card integrates the X32 with MADI networks, providing 32-channels of bidirectional audio. X-MADI accepts optical duplex SC-plugs (IEC874-19) to connect with fiber optic MADI devices, with multimode fiber optic cable lengths of up to 2 km supported.
Designed to support digital integration of the X32 with any equipment featuring ADAT connectivity, the X-ADAT expansion card provides 32-channels of I/O on its eight fiber optic Toslink connectors.
The X-ADAT card provides 24-bit signal transmission and operates at both 44.1 and 48 kHz sample rates. The use of light-pipe fiber optics also ensures signals are protected from potential ground-loop interference.
“We know a lot of audio pros who want to upgrade to the X32, but they still want to keep the rest of their setup,” says Behringer product support manager Joe Sanborn. “Now thanks to our new X-DANTE, X-MADI and X-ADAT network cards, the award-winning X32 family of products can be integrated easily and seamlessly into virtually any networked performance or studio system.”
The X-DANTE, X-MADI and X-ADAT expansion cards are available at a suggested U.S. MAP of $499.99, $299.99 and $299.99, respectively, and are covered by MUSIC Group’s 3-year limited warranty program.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Moog Music Unveils Emerson Moog Modular System
On the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Moog Modular, the first voltage controlled synthesizer, Moog Music is proud to honor Keith Emerson and his seminal collaboration with Bob Moog.
At Moogfest 2014, Moog Music revealed its three-year effort faithfully recreating the iconic Emerson Moog Modular.
In the intervening 50 years since the advent of the first Moog synthesizer, people have steadily come to appreciate the power and flexibility of the early Moog modular systems.
Now in 2014, 60 years after Bob Moog started his electronic musical instrument compa-ny, with great respect for the tradition, design, and craftsmanship of the original Moog modular systems, Moog Music proudly announces the recreation of arguably the most famous synthesizer in history — Keith Emerson’s Moog Modular System.
Over the last three years Moog Music has set out to research and build a faithful recreation of this highly complex, custom instrument. Using the original documentation as well as circuit board and art files for nearly every original Moog module, Moog engineers have painstakingly recreated the original Emerson Modular System.
The new Emerson Moog Modular System is comprised of handcrafted Moog modules built from the original circuit designs and are true recreations of the originals, utilizing the same hand assembly methods used in the Moog Music factory in Trumansburg, NY in 1969. The modules in the new Emerson Moog Modular System are built just as the originals were, by hand-stuffing and hand-soldering components to circuit boards, and using traditional wiring methods.
Even the front panels are photo-etched aluminum (a rare process now), which is the classic and durable look of vintage Moog modules.
Moog Music is proud to partner with Keith Emerson and salute his pioneering artistry with the announcement that Moog will build a handful of these incredible, custom handcrafted Emerson Moog Modular Systems.
To celebrate the introduction of the new Emerson Moog Modular System, Moog Music featured Emerson as a headliner at Moogfest 2014, where he played a special performance on Thursday, April 24th.
Posted by Julie Clark on 04/28 at 12:28 PM
Florida’s Deltona High School Updates Theater With Allen & Heath GLD Digital Mixing System
GLD set up with configurations for each application that are password protected
Deltona (Florida) High School offers a variety of fine arts activities and electives, ranging from band, chorus and computer arts, to drama, video production and theater technology. Many of these classes and activities take place in the school’s live theater, a fan-shaped auditorium that seats 975 with an elevated sound and lighting control booth at the rear of the audience area.
Much of the theater’s audio equipment dates back to the school building’s opening 1988, with Signature Systems of Florida, headed by Dan Lee, contracted to provide improvements and updates, including a new Allen & Heath GLD digital mixing system, including a GLD-80 control surface and an AR2412 Mixrack, to join new loudspeakers and DSP.
Several different departments use the theater, so Lee helped the school set up the GLD with passwords and configurations customized for each application. Users can log into the system, go to their own setup, and make changes and adjustments without affecting the work done by other departments.
In addition, the school wanted to move the mixer from the control booth to a mid-audience location for certain productions. “The GLD’s built-in digital snake made that easy,” says Lee. “Instead of a multi-channel analog snake, we just ran a Cat-5 cable from the booth to the audience location. And, the mixer is compact and lightweight so it’s easy to move.”
Deltona also takes good advantage of the GLD’s signal processing capabilities and touchscreen. “We re-used a number of existing microphones,” Lee notes, “and the per-channel processing really helped with those mics and their wireless mics.”
Jeff Carson, the school’s auditorium manager notes that the school teaches theatrical sound and lighting design. “Now, we’ve got an up-to-date digital audio mixer for our own productions and it helps the students prepare for theatrical competitions,” he says, adding that the audio system performance at Deltona was greatly improved by the updated audio system and the GLD mixer.
“Digital was a big change for us,” he concludes, “but the GLD was easy to learn and it’s a great teaching tool.”
Allen & Heath is distributed in the U.S. by American Music & Sound (AM&S).
Allen & Heath
American Music & Sound (AM&S)
Friday, April 25, 2014
Multiple Consoles For Live? Top Engineers Weigh In
The where, when, why and how, with problems and solutions differing.
A few years ago, my company developed a prototype of a console switcher that would enable an engineer to quickly switch to a backup should the main desk go down, or quickly switch between multiple consoles at events such as festivals.
But when we showed it to various engineers, the response was all over the place. Some thought it was a great idea, others felt that with modern processors, the need was no longer there, and some suggested fixes such as increasing the size to accommodate larger systems.
We decided to table the idea, but I thought it would be interesting to reach out to some of the same engineers to get their take on using multiple consoles and the concerns they encounter.
And just as above, the problems and solutions differ. The cast includes James Warren (Radiohead), Sean Quakenbush (Robert Randolph), Dave Natale (Rolling Stones), Brad Madix (Rush) and David Morgan (James Taylor).
The most common situation where multiple consoles are used together, of course, is connecting a support band to the main system. Other uses include festivals where multiple bands share the same PA, corporate shows, TV shows, and performances where large orchestras increase the channel count.
According to Natale: “When subbing one mixer into the other, the main console will usually act as the master. We also see many situations where a matrix switcher is used to feed the PA.”
Subbing consoles together is done using the sub-group inputs, channel strips, or sometimes even using the mic inputs. Madix: “If bringing one mixer sub or mains out into sub ins, there’s usually not any problem. If bringing into line-ins, there might be issues with matching gains as line ins tend to have less adjustment range level-wise.
“Coming into mic inputs can present challenges from impedance matching to level mismatches where mic preamps might not have the range to handle the levels, even with pads inserted. It’s something to steer away from, for sure, but sometimes the only option.”
Quankenbush: “We sometimes encounter noise from different power systems such as generators and there are often gain issues between some analog consoles and the digital boards. For instance, one console’s 0 dB may not be the same on another desk. I’ve found that some digital consoles do not ‘play well together’ due to gain stage issues where one may be so hot that it overloads the other.”
Natale: “Hum, buzz and level discrepancies can pose problems. I usually have transformers in hand to solve noise problems.”
There are other ways to switch and combine consoles such as using a matrix switcher or an audio processor. And with today’s digital desks, even more options come into play.
Warren: “When combining consoles, since most bands are now using digital desks, we usually connect the sub support console into ours via an AES connection. We give a festival either analog or AES from our system processor. In both cases, we will often be giving a separate sub feed.”
Quankenbush: “Most festivals have switching systems for the left, right and sub fills, but you do still see some festivals where they want you to drive in to the main console with stereo. The big problem is you will load in early, EQ and sound check for your band with their EQ bypassed or flat.
“Eight hours later, the house system engineer or other mixers will have hacked the EQ to all hell and all of the sudden your show sounds way different than your sound check earlier in the day. My preference is to bypass all of that by connecting directly to the audio processor and then save my own page.”
As noted earlier, noise problems do arise, and the most common problem solver is inserting an isolation transformer into the signal path.
A transformer is a magnetic bridge that converts the audio signal into a magnetic field at the primary winding, employs a core made from laminated nickel, steel or a combination as a conduit for the magnetic field and then this excites a secondary winding which in turn generates current.
The beauty of a transformer is that the input and output are completely separate. This stops tray DC current from traveling between the input and output which helps eliminate the hum and buzz caused by so-called ground loops.
Morgan: “For years, Yamaha and Midas consoles did not like to be combined. One often needed to lift the AC ground on one of the desks and rely on audio ground only.
“As long as the consoles share the same AC and audio ground, transformer isolation is not usually necessary. If I’m unsure of the system AC ground, or if there is too much going on electronically at FOH, I do prefer inserting transformers.”
Madix: “I’ve had to use transformers occasionally when feeding to lawn delays and the system for the hearing impaired. For this, we use a box with two transformers, plus ground lifts.”
Both Warren and Natale note that they always carry transformers in their kits. Quakenbush adds: “Back in the day, I was the lawn guy for a large amphitheatre and always had pockets full of isolation transformers. I still have tons of in-line transformers in my workbox. They don’t come out a much as they use to, but I still use them for delay towers or sometimes when I sub another desk into mine.”
One of the most common concerns that folks have with digital technology is the stability of the console’s internal computer. Thus, adding a second console would seem to be a natural solution.
Interestingly enough, this no longer seems to be as prevalent as it once was. I was recently at a Bob Dylan concert and front of house engineer Jim Homan was working with a new digital console that was having some software conflicts. I asked him if he had a backup, and he said that he didn’t, but if he had to, he could quickly patch in the support band’s mixer and be up and running fairly quickly.
Warren echoes this approach: “In a touring situation, I would refuse to use a console that I felt needed a permanent instant backup option. On Radiohead at the moment, I have the opening act’s console loaded with my show and plug-ins in case of catastrophe, but it’s not online or standing by during the show.”
Morgan: “We carry a backup computer for the console, but I haven’t needed it in over six years.” Madix replied with the same sentiment. However, Natale had a different take: “I generally go analog for just that reason. I’m not prone to nearly as much instance of console failure as my much more daring counterparts that use digital consoles. When I do TV, I have to use a digital console and the only fail-safe (ha, ha) device is a UPS on the console.”
All of this to say…there are many ways to connect consoles together or to share the PA system. Most engineers carry line level isolation boxes in case noise is encountered, and today’s digital desks seem to be less problematic than they were just a few years ago.
Peter Janis is president of Radial Engineering, and has worked in professional audio for more than 30 years.