Tuesday, August 04, 2015
Engineer Aaron Glas Utilizing Soundcraft Vi3000 & Realtime Rack For Fitz And The Tantrums On Tour
Front of house engineer Aaron Glas is utilizing a Harman’sSoundcraft Vi3000 digital console and Realtime Rack as centerpieces of his work on the current tour by Fitz and The Tantrums.
Led by vocalists Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, the rock/soul/R&B group is noted for its unique sound and for high-energy live performances “Each show is a kaleidoscope of sound and a non-stop dance party demanding fan participation,” Glas notes. “Each band member is a force to be reckoned with, and you just can’t take your eyes of Fitz and Noelle.”
The tour is in support of the band’s 2013 album More Than Just a Dream. “The production design for the show is fantastic, where the album art is recreated live with video content into an enormous set piece,” Glas says.
Matching the visual impact of the band’s performances with dynamic audio, he’s been using a Soundcraft Vi3000 with a Realtime Rack at the FOH position. “The Vi3000 shares a Compact Stagebox with the Vi1 at monitors, so it’s really efficient. We don’t have the need for an analog split or analog snake and it’s worked very well for us.”
While the eclectic nature of Fitz and The Tantrums’ music is one of their distinctive qualities, it also poses a series of challenges. “The band can change vibes quickly: they’ll move from an old Motown sound to an electronic synth-y feel, and I need to be able to switch instantaneously to keep the sound consistent for the audience,” Glas explains. “The snapshots on the console help me with that. I also make changes on the fly right along with the set list and even during different verses and choruses within the same song.”
Prior to moving to front of house, Glas handled monitor duties for the band, and he notes that audio quality is the main reason he has chosen Soundcraft consoles for both roles. “Soundcraft consoles always sound incredible compared to other digital consoles out there,” he states. “I’m also really enjoying the Realtime Rack. Universal Audio makes the best-sounding plugins and now I have an entire library at my disposal. Being able to set it up with the touchscreen and make changes on the fly is a tremendous advantage.”
Another challenge is the differences in vocal range and style between the band’s two lead singers. “I have to keep up with their dynamic ranges and movements of Fitz and Noelle on stage,” Glas says. “That’s where a cool plugin chain comes in handy. Before using the Realtime Rack, I had an analog plugin chain with a series of compressors and EQs. Now I can achieve the same result or better with the plugins.”
Miner Family Winery Stage features al-Class line arrays, h-Class subwoofers, side-fills and stage monitors with V Series system engines for amplification.
BottleRock Festival in Napa Valley welcomed over 100,000 fans and more than 70 acts featured Robert Plant, Snoop Dogg, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Public Enemy, No Doubt and Imagine Dragons performing on five different stages.
One of those stages - the Miner Family Winery Stage - featured an exclusive lineup of VUE Audiotechnik products including al-Class line arrays for mains, h-Class subwoofers, side-fills and stage monitors, and V Series system engines for amplification.
The immense undertaking of complete technical production for BottleRock from staging to sound to video & lighting was provided by Delicate Productions, with Jason Alt, president of Delicate Productions, and George Edwards, GM of San Francisco facility of Delicate Productions at the reigns.
Fans of acts performing on the Miner Family Winery Stage - which included Los Lobos, AER, Xavier Rudd, Napa Crossroads featuring David Pack, Grizfolk and Lettuce - were treated to VUE’s al-Class line array systems paired with VUE’s V Series systems engines for amplification and networked DSP.
Each side of the main PA was outfitted with ten al-8 high output line array cabinets hung over four al-4 subcompact line array cabinets used for front- and down-fill. Additional front-fill was provided by four stacks of two al-4s arrayed along the stagelip. The al-8 employs dual 8-inch woofers, four 4-inch Kevlar/Neodymium mid-frequency drivers and dual 1-inch high-frequency compression drivers, while the al-4s each house dual 4-inch Kevlar/Neodymium woofers and one HF compression driver. The high-frequency elements for both models utilize VUE’s proprietary Truextent beryllium driver technology, which reduces mechanical breakup while improving linearity and high-frequency extension.
Audio engineers manning the desk for acts on the Miner Family Winery Stage were impressed with the results.
Tib Csabai has been mixing front-of-house for 15 years, the last year and a half for alt-rock act Grizfolk. “Given this band and my personal taste,” Csabai says, “I want what’s coming out of the PA system to be about as flat and representative as what’s coming from the console. Good coverage is important too, but a neutral-sounding PA is key. If I want it to rock a little harder, have more edge, or have it be smoother when I’m mixing jazz, I like to be able to control that.”
“The guys in Grizfolk do a lot of harmonies so the vocal range needs to be on top,” continues Csabai. “I didn’t have any issues getting the vocals up on top of the band. Two areas where PA systems tend to be trouble for me are the high-mid area (2 to 4 kHz tends to be kind of stabby), and then there’s usually some funny business going on in the low-mids, which doesn’t sound right. I found myself not having to make corrections to those areas on the VUE PA because it was so smooth. I’ll definitely be happy to see this PA again.”
“I mixed on the VUE system tonight and it sounded great,” agrees Mark Allsbaugh, front of house engineer, Lettuce. “I loved it. The VUE system was nice, clean, and rich. I had a good experience mixing the show and I look forward to the next time I can mix on a VUE system.”
As Deanne Franklin, front of house engineer for Napa Crossroads at the festival, with an impressive list of bands she’s mixed since 1982 (Tom Waits, David Byrne, Sonic Youth & The Breeders), reveals, “It’s really important to have a PA that’s powerful, meaty, yet clear everywhere, without mud. My first impression of the VUE al-Series was the clarity. Sometimes that clarity can be almost unforgiving. I’ve only mixed on this system once but I felt that it was more forgiving, that it had more ‘meat’ to it. The midrange sounds really sweet. I enjoyed mixing on it and I would mix on it again.”
Sebastian Poux, a freelance engineer supplied by Delicate Productions, was systems and front of house engineer for the Miner Stage. “The angles are easily moved once the cabinets are rigged together, the system actually rigged pretty fast.” he observes. “I am very sensitive to high frequencies. I like a well-tuned PA right out of the box, a PA that is very round at the edges - and I can hear that out of the VUE al-Class.”
The combination of twenty al-8s and eight al-4s elements in the main hangs, another eight al-4s on the stage lip for front fills, twelve powered hs-28 Dual 18-inch ACM subwoofers arrayed on the ground in front of the stage, and VUE V6 and V4 System Engines boasting a 96 kHz sample rate, 64-bit digital processing and ultra-premium converters provided the PA system with plenty of headroom. “The first thing I noticed,” explains Aaron Gittleman front of house engineer, AER, “was the full dynamic range and power. I had my master fader at half and actually even my sub-masters too. Usually when I walk into a festival situation I have to push, push and push those faders but with the VUE system here, I had all I needed. I actually ended up backing faders down. It was awesome.”
VUE Audiotechnik gear was also used for the stage monitor system, which included four h-12N high definition systems as side-fills stacked atop of a single hs-28 subwoofer and a dozen hm-212 high output stage monitors. The drum riser had two hs-25 subwoofers with a single hm-212 on top for additional drum fill. Adam Deitch, drummer for Lettuce and Break Science, found the hm-212 to be “crispy clear with just the right amount of thump. It felt like a record on stage. I had a great night.” Chris Bargie, monitor engineer for Lettuce adds, “The monitors sounded really great, and the guys were very happy and if the guys are happy, I am happy.”
Following a successful sold-out weekend, BottleRock Festival announced that a limited quantity of tickets is already on sale for next year.
Here’s one of those situations that make you wonder about your career choice or where you are in your life path.
Pay close attention, our buddy Brian is showing us how to keep the disgustedness in check and not resort to a brick through the front window of this fine establishment…
O.K., try this one out…
Hit me with it, Bri! Let me have it!
You just found out the band you regularly mix for has a gig at a “new” or “never played there before” club…
Surely this is not an unknown experience for you.
So you lock out the night for the gig, then the band calls back and says “uh, the club guy says ‘no outside soundman touches the board’ but you can stand next to him and assist.”
Ah, that’s brutal, Brian! I can see why you’re ticked off. But don’t freak out if I tell you that this is exactly what happens if you and your band go on Conan or Letterman or “The Tonight Show” or any of the 99,000 awards shows.
So in a weird way, what you’re faced with is good training for the big time! Although those broadcast mixers usually have a conscience and spend a little time studying the record.
I’m actually going to have my own awards show next year! It’s going to be called “The People’s Radio Scene Superstar Vibe-A-Thon For Players and Soundpeople.”
All of the servile tools-of-the-manufacturers audio mags are going to cover it, and my co-hosts will be Ann Wilson of Heart, Martha Davis of the Motels and the chick from Evanescence.
I’m pretty sure she has a “thing” for me! (But don’t tell the Old Soundwoman.)
And I reply, “Did you mention to the club I’m a ‘professional’ and do this for a living, know the band’s material backward and forward, and have special cues for each song?”
Of course your pals did! Didn’t they?
They reply, “Sorry, we get too many boneheads running the board and screwing things up.” (Gee thanks, boneheads.)
Yeah, thanks a lot, boneheads!
So at the gig, I’m supposed to tell the house guy, “O.K., on this next chorus, hit the lead vocal with a 360 ms delay to trail off on his last note, then a big snare hit, followed by a guitar solo… ?”
May I make a suggestion, Brian? Go to this club as a customer one night, and strike up a conversation with the soundman.
Tell him exactly who you are. Have a couple beers with the guy, and tell each other some tales of the soundman life.
Of course, if the club is far from your home, this may not be practical. But if it’s nearby, go ahead and do your best to make friends with this individual who you’re busy demonizing, just as he is demonizing you.
Because, really, we all know he has a point – there are so many boneheads out there running around ruining sonic life for everyone within earshot of their ham-handed hijinks.
But – he is taking it pretty far. After all, he’s not controlling a major network program going out to millions of people every night.
Ahh, forget it – I’d rather stay home and watch reruns of “The Twilight Zone.”
Can I come over and watch with you? How about the one with William Shatner as the nut who sees the ape out on the wing of the old airliner?
Yeah, you know exactly what I’m talkin’ about! You’ve now established yourself as a soundman of great taste and discernment.
I’m sure this is only a tiny, momentary stumbling block in your rampage to greatness!
The Old Soundman
There’s simply no denying the love. Read more from the Old Soundman here.
Critiquing your mix is one of the best ways improving your mix.
You’ll improve the mix for the next week but you can also immediately improve your mix for the song you are critiquing.
Today, I’m kicking out the questions you must ask, concerning your mix, as well as a new method I’ve been using.
Top 11 Questions to Ask of Your Mix
1) Can I hear all the musicians and singers? Close your eyes and try identifying each musical instrument and each vocal. If you can’t hear something in the mix, ask yourself why.
Can you not hear the instrument because the volume is too low or because another instrument is so sonically similar that you can’t distinguish the instruments? A good example would be drums and bass. Also, electric guitar and keyboards can sometimes do that to each other.
2) Can I hear the lead vocalist and understand what they are singing? The congregation is listening for the lead vocals above everything else so those have to be clear and present.
3) Is it clear which instrument is leading the song? It can be said for most any song that one instrument is clearly the lead instrument. It’s the instrument in which all other instruments are layered under.
This isn’t to say the lead instrument needs to be twice as loud. Listen to professional recordings of each song and note the lead instrument and how the EQ and effects of the other instruments are set to make room for this instrument.
4) Does the mix fit the genre of music? You don’t want to make a pop band sound like a country band. Worship bands tend to have their own particular sound but at the same time, you do have to permit them the ability to change up the song styles from time to time. Don’t make the band sound like something it’s not.
5) Does the mix fit the music the congregation likes? This isn’t so much a mix critique as much as it is a reminder that your music mix has to sound like what the congregation expects to hear.
They can’t fully engage in worship if they expect a well-balanced contemporary style and you’ve got the drums so far out in the mix that you’ve got them running for the hills.
6) Do the instruments have distinct sounds? Each instrument and vocal should have a distinct sound.
It’s OK if frequencies overlap, but if you have seven instruments that sound like three, then you need to give some clarity to your instruments. Tighten up the frequency characteristics of each instrument.
For example, if you have a drum kit, a bass, and two electric guitars, you’ve got a lot of low-end frequencies. Cut quite a bit of the lows of the guitars until you gain the clarity you desire.
7) Does the mix vary within the song? This is a tough one because some worship song arrangements are great and therefore the song naturally has movement. ongs, however, can grow stale between the first verse and the final chorus when there is no movement or arrangement / mix changes throughout the song.
Think of this as a song with all the instruments and all the singers playing together at the same tempo for the whole song. When this is the case, look for mix changes you can make in the chorus of the song or the bridge.
What if you held the drums back a bit during the verses but then boosted their energy during the chorus? While most arrangement should be done by the band, there are mix arrangements you can make so the song has movement. This is especially helpful when you have a 3-song set and all songs are relatively the same tempo.
8) Does the effect benefit the sound? Effects should be added last to your mix. If you’re not sure if an effect is helping the mix, turn it off and listen to the difference. If it’s better without it, leave it out. Don’t use effects just because you have them.
9) Does the vocal sound squashed? I had this very thing happen this weekend. The problem was there was a bit too much compression on the vocal. I cut back the compression and the vocal came to life.
10) Does the mix fill the whole sonic space? A lot of instruments and vocals have their primary frequencies in the mid-range area. You have the whole frequency range to work, from the low end all the way to the high end.
Listen to how the mix is appearing in those extremes. Sometimes the mix improvement doesn’t come from a huge boost in the high end. You might need only a little more sizzle in the cymbals or the acoustic guitar.
11) Do the backing vocals sit in the best place in the mix? A lot can be done with the backing vocals so they benefit the lead vocalist.
I could easily list out several more questions but I think it’s better if you consider the above list and then consider this statement; a mix needs to have emotion, energy, and clarity. Consider those three areas when critiquing your mix.
But Wait, There’s More!
If you followed my writing last year, you know I’m now attending a new church. After a few months, I’ve begun the transition to their audio team. It’s a slow transition as there is a lot to learn, but I’m having the best times ever behind the mixer. That being said…
This week, I was in the church sound booth on Wednesday, for practice, and then on Saturday and Sunday for the sound check and church services. All this time, I was with the lead front of house guy, Steve. While he did a lot of the work, there were times he’d kindly step aside and let me mix. And the beauty of it all is that the two of us are comfortable sharing the mixer and asking each other “how does that sound?”
Sometimes, our mixing differences were because of personal preference. I’d boost a little here but he’d boost a little there. Sometimes, I’d boost a little too much of the high-end and was reminded of the difference between what it sounds like in the booth and what it sounds like to the congregation.
Honestly, you can take a step out of the sound booth and instantly here the difference. And sometimes, we learned from each other. It could be an EQ setting or a concept for consideration.
All that to say working side-by-side with another tech will open your eyes (and ears) to new ideas, new considerations, and constructive criticism.
The Take Away
Live audio production isn’t the same as studio engineering. In the studio, there is a lot of time spent on the above questions as well as a host of others.
Additionally, the engineer has a lot more time to consider the questions. Mixing live, you’ve got a lot less time and fortunately, a lot less questions.
But the concept is the same: create the best music possible. The next time you’re mixing, be it during the sound check, a practice, or during the church service, critique your own mix with the above 11 questions.
Pull in another tech to work alongside you so you can learn from each other. And keep in mind those three words; emotion, energy, and clarity.
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. To view the original article and to make comments, go here.
L.A. Opera Premieres The Ghosts of Versailles With Lectrosonics
Soundmirror’s Grammy Award-winning team takes 24 channels of Lectrosonics wireless to the Music Center campus in Los Angeles.
Classical music recording and production company Soundmirror took the new Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless bodypack LT transmitters straight from the production line to the stage earlier this year to capture L.A. Opera’s West Coast premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles.
Soundmirror utilized 13 of the new L Series Large Bandwidth transmitters in combination with 11 Lectrosonics SMQV transmitters and 4 six-channel Venue receivers for a total of 24 channels of wireless to record composer John Corigliano’s opera, which was being fully staged in the U.S. for the first time in two decades.
“We got the first 13 LTs ever straight off the production line,” confirmed John Newton, who founded Soundmirror in Boston, MA in 1972 to provide digital recording services to the major record labels.
Newton had no concerns about putting the first production models straight into service, he said: “We have used Lectrosonics products so much over the years that we know that the reliability and ease of use is there. Sound Mirror is known for being an innovator, and our clients want the very best. Lectrosonics equipment sounds good and is of the quality that we require.”
Soundmirror’s veteran Grammy Award-winning team capturing the production at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, part of the four-venue Music Center campus in downtown Los Angeles, included producer Blanton Alspaugh, recording engineer Mark Donahue and Massachusetts-based independent wireless specialist David Williams.
Operating out of a temporary control room at the venue, the team recorded three of the six performances of The Ghosts of Versailles, which was being produced in repertory with The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, the two classic “Figaro” operas that inspired it.
The 24 channels of Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless were paired with DPA 4071 lavalier microphones, positioned at each performer’s wigline.
“The 24 wireless got paired up with another 30-something Schoeps mics in the orchestra pit, and 15 or so mics on the stage and buried in the set,” reported Donahue.
A total of 80 tracks passed through Merging Technologies Horus interfaces to a SmartAV Tango control surface then into redundant Merging Pyramix DAWs, with a laptop for back-up, recording at 192 kHz.
“My job, when I’m mixing, is to mix the wireless,” said Donahue. “I have my 24 wireless mics and I have eight channels of VCAs if I have to rebalance the orchestra. I don’t pan the wireless mics—they all go into the center and support the zone mics to add a little bit of dialogue clarity. As Blanton is listening for audio quality issues and marking the score he’s also giving me on/off cues when people leave the scene and come back.”
The ability of the new LT to tune to as many as 3,072 selectable frequencies across a 75 MHz range—three standard Lectrosonics blocks—allowed Williams to successfully navigate the hostile RF environment in downtown L.A. “It was really nice to have the LT,” said Williams, who initially planned to evenly distribute the 24 channels across three Lectrosonics blocks before discovering that there was no space available in block 23. That necessitated squeezing 10 channels into block 22, he said. “The SMQVs are locked into a block, but the LTs have that three-block range,” which enabled them to be tuned to fit into the available frequency spectrum.
“Lectrosonics’ sound quality has always been superior, the reliability has been great and the cost is reasonable,” adds Donahue. “They were also the first to wade into the digital hybrid market, which gave us more channels with greater fidelity. You factor in all those things, and how many channels you need, and Lectrosonics really does rise to the top.”
Soundmirror’s orchestral, solo; opera and chamber recordings have received over 80 Grammy Award nominations, with the company’s staff collectively winning 25 Grammys. John Newton has won seven Grammy Awards, Blanton Alspaugh is a four-time Grammy Award-winner, including one for Producer of the Year, Classical in 2012, and Mark Donahue has five Grammy Awards to his credit.
High Kirk Presbyterian Church Installs Allen & Heath GLD Consoles
Church in Ballymena, Ireland purchases GLD-112 desks for front of house and recording plus an AR2412 and two AR84 IO expanders.
High Kirk Presbyterian Church in Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Ireland, recently installed Allen & Heath GLD digital consoles as part of a major refurbishment project.
The Church purchased two GLD-112 desks – one for live sound and one for recording – plus, an AR2412 and two AR84 IO expanders.
The two desks were fitted with M-Dante network cards, providing simple to use multitrack recording capabilities.
The Church needed to satisfy a variety of operators with the choice of console. Some only use the desk one or two times a month, while others are professional sound engineers.
“During the demo, the more we looked at it, the more we realized how perfect the GLD was for our requirements – a single solution which totally eliminated our need for outboard equipment. Furthermore, all of our operators have their own preferred “layout” but with 28 faders and 4 layers, it turns out that everyone can have the desk arranged to suit their personal preferences.” says head of sound, Brian Adams
The capacity to easily reconfigure the desk could lead to confusion, so to avoid this, one of the early agreements the team reached was how they would use the channel LCD displays.
“When it came to our purchasing decision, the LCD displays were one of the most important features of the desk. With multiple operators, and the need for different fader layouts, the last thing we wanted was a dependence on rolls of camera tape and Sharpies. Not only do the channel names change as we switch layers but we use the colour coding to great effect.”
The technical team was impressed that only a single Cat5e cable was required in the route to the front of house position.
“During the refurbishment, we had to relocate to another part of the church for a few weeks – you can imagine how difficult this would have been with our old copper multis. With the GLD, we screwed a few hooks into the ceiling and ran in a couple of temporary Cat5e cables and were up and running within minutes.”
Apart from regular Sunday services, High Kirk is used as a venue for worship events, many of which are aimed at a young audience, and which are technically more challenging. In the past this often meant abandoning the “house” PA system and bringing in an alternative one. Much to the delight of the in-house tech team, that has become a thing of the past.
Avid Congratulates Customers Nominated For 67th Annual Emmy Awards
Nominees created with industry-leading Avid Artist Suite solutions include Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, and Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways.
Avid congratulates its many customers recognized as award nominees for the 67th Annual Emmy Awards for their outstanding achievements in the television industry.
The ceremony for television excellence will honor numerous editors and audio mixers who have embraced Avid, using the Avid MediaCentral Platform and Avid Artist Suite creative tools for behind-the-scenes crafts in television production.
The ceremony will take place on September 20, 2015 at the Microsoft Theater L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles, California.
Avid editing professionals nominated for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series include Kelley Dixon and Chris McCaleb for Better Call Saul, Tim Porter and Katie Weiland for Game of Thrones, and Tom Wilson for Mad Men: Person to Person.
Avid audio and video professionals used Avid Artist Suite creative tools to create Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways, Seattle. Fred Stuben, Jeff Fuller, and Eddie Kim have been nominated for Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera), while Justin Lebens has been nominated for Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera).
“It’s an honor to be nominated for these awards, and for us to be able to share these stories with the world,” said Jim Rota, executive producer of Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways. “We used Avid Artist Suite solutions for both the audio and video post-production of Sonic Highways and we had absolutely no glitches with it throughout the entire production. The results were stellar and we couldn’t have done it without Avid.”
“It’s an honor to have the world’s most talented audio and video professionals embrace Avid Everywhere and our industry-leading creative solutions to produce some of the most popular shows on television,” said Jeff Rosica, senior vice president, worldwide field operations at Avid. “As a company that’s passionate about and inspired by technical innovation, we congratulate all of our Emmy-nominated customers on their outstanding achievements and wish them the best of luck on the day.”
The installation in the Long Center took place in the Debra and Kevin Rollins Studio Theatre, an adaptable venue with seating configurations for up to 229 patrons.
The Long Center itself has a variety of stages some of which can accommodate up to 2,442 guests.
Production supervisor, Blake Addyson, said the Allen & Heath GLD-112 he installed was put in an elevated booth about 15 to 20 feet off the stage floor.
“I really wanted our new console to have all the bells and whistles we needed so it could be fully utilized. Previously, we had a 40-channel analog (console), now it is time to go digital.”
According to Addyson, the Rollins Studio Theatre offers performers a flexible and unique environment for their productions.
“Allen & Heath develops products that not only help to upgrade our theatre sound system, but also provide an incredibly intuitive stress-free setup. Analog lines still run through the walls. We use the fan-out from our analog runs to patch out into an Allen & Heath AR2412 IO Rack, which is connected to the GLD-112 console via Allen & Heath’s dSNAKE protocol over Ethernet,” said Addyson.
The president and general manager of StageTech, Bill Mester, supplied the equipment installed in the Rollins Studio Theatre.
“The theatre has a lot of different users. Many of those users come in with their own operators. The flexibility of the GLD-112 allows experienced and non-experienced sound engineers to move around easily,” he said.
Addyson concurs with Mester. “I have a soft spot for the A&H brand. The GLD is made for faster mixing on the fly. There are plenty of layers, but you don’t have to scroll through everything, it is already in the right place so there’s no need to dig around - it’s my new favorite!” he concluded.
Thailand’s Emquartier And Emporium Luxury Malls Connect With JBL
Two malls are architecturally interlinked with an outdoor area that now features an elaborate audio system.
A/V systems integrator PM Centre turned to local Harman distributor Mahajak to provide audio for new twin luxury malls—Emquartier and Emporium (collectively called The District EM)—with JBL loudspeakers, Crown amplifiers, a Soundcraft mixing console and BSS Audio signal processors.
The partnership between PM Centre and Mahajak allowed for an audiovisual system that is part of an extensive project, which also involved outdoor projections and LED displays.
While the two malls are separate complexes, they are architecturally interlinked with walkways and the Sky Train.
Thanks to Mahajak, the sound systems at Emquartier and Emporium are now also unified under the same system.
Extensive fiber networks and a control room were established to enable monitoring of the entire system from one location.
The audio system features 58 JBL Control 25AV loudspeakers, 20 Control 29AV loudspeakers, six JBL AWC129 loudspeakers, four JBL AW526 loudspeakers and six ASB7118WRX subwoofers. It is all powered with three Crown DCi 2|600N amplifiers, five DCi 2|1250N amplifiers and three Crown I-Tech 9000HD amplifiers. Two BSS BLU-806, one BSS BLU-326 signal processors with two BLU-BOB2 output expanders were also added for additional network bandwidth.
“Our experience in designing and installing outdoor systems, combined with the reputation of Soundcraft, JBL, Crown and BSS was the main reason that we were approached to develop this system,” said Alan Archer, project manager of Mahajak. “A very flexible system was needed to cater to a wide range of outdoor activities in multiple locations, so we used these products to enable delivery of high-quality sound to many locations at the same time.”
In addition to being a haven for shoppers, the District EM also serves as a promotional venue for many international companies and fashion pre-shows.
“We could not use other brands for an integrated system such as this one,” said Archer. “We have to convince the developers that we could produce a working system that will last within a certain budget. Thanks to the fact that JBL, Crown and BSS work so well together, we were able to achieve this.”
Manhattan’s YASI Piano Salon Retrofitted With Yamaha And NEXO
The 4,000 square-foot YASI Piano Salon features a performance venue housing concert-ready pianos, Yamaha digital consoles and NEXO loudspeakers.
Established in 1987 in New York City, Yamaha Artist Services (YASI) provides a wide range of professional services exclusively for performing artists, concert venues, performing arts organizations and educational institutions.
In 2005, it relocated to the heart of midtown Manhattan, to a historical landmarked 1925 building that originally served as Aeolian Hall, the headquarters of the Aeolian Piano Company.
Occupying over 4,000 square feet, the YASI Piano Salon features an elegant performance venue housing a large selection of concert-ready premium pianos.
In 2005, the Piano Salon installed a Yamaha Active Field Control system (AFC), a state-of-the art acoustically adaptable sound environment.
The sound processing technology of AFC can optimize room acoustics to suit the size of a performance, from solo to ensemble, and can recreate authentic acoustic simulations of other performing arts venues.
This past June, the Yamaha Professional Audio Division commercial audio team upgraded the YASI AFC system replacing 12 ceiling loudspeakers with the new VXC8 loudspeakers, replacing the 10 wall loudspeakers with VXS8 loudspeakers, and adding four VX10S subwoofers.
The new loudspeakers are all part of the Commercial Installation Solutions (CIS) group of products. AFC electronics were replaced and the original AFC1 system was upgraded with AFC3 processors (a special build with two FIR cards each). The team added a Ri8-D remote input mic pre-amp, CIS XMV amplifiers (Dante version), and several VXC4 ceiling speakers to the guest holding area for pre-show music or for events that may be played out in the main salon area to be heard.
The Yamaha commercial audio team also installed a new PA system consisting of three NEXO PS8 loudspeakers and an LS400 subwoofer powered by one NXAMP4X1 with NXDT104 Dante controller card. A Yamaha MTX5-D processor was installed to facilitate integration of the PA system with the AFC loudspeakers. The MTX5-D processor has two Shure ULX-D mic channels and inputs from the YASI 5.1 video system as well as tie lines from the NUAGE Advanced Production DAW studio currently under construction. ATK installed an AMX control system that allows the AFC operator to easily select different application configurations.
“Simple applications might involve just the wireless mics and computer video and audio inputs to wall panels,” states Joe Rimstidt, AFC systems applications engineer.
“The signals can be routed to the main PA or to the ceiling speakers of the AFC system. There can also be a background music mode where music is played through all of the AFC speakers for receptions in the piano salon and again, a mic may be used for announcements during certain events.”
Rimstidt said that for more complex shows, Yamaha installed a QL1 digital console with Rio1608-D stage box to allow for more inputs which can be sent to the main NEXO PA for events on the “stage” end of the room, or a pair of Yamaha DSR12 self-powered speakers can be used for events in other areas of the room. There are also setups to allow YASI to easily demo the Remote Live applications with the renowned Disklavier Player Piano in addition to hosting a variety of events in the facility.
“Yamaha Artist Services New York is delighted to be able to partner with our colleagues at the Yamaha Professional Audio Division to provide state-of-the-art audio and acoustic enhancements to our beautiful Piano Salon located in the heart of midtown Manhattan,” states Bonnie Barrett, director, Yamaha Artist Services.
“The upgraded Active Field Control system, together with our new PA system and NUAGE Advanced Production Studio will enable us to provide a suite of services to Yamaha Artists that is simply unparalleled in the music industry. Only at Yamaha could the latest audio technologies be harnessed and seamlessly integrated into high-profile acoustic environment sought after by the most discriminating performing artists in the world.”
The YASI conference room located on a separate floor of the building was equipped with a similar CIS system including an MTX5-D processor and VXC4 ceiling speakers, and VXS10 sub.
For more information on the Yamaha AFC system, QL digital console, NEXO and Yamaha speakers, as well as CIS products, visit Yamaha’s website.
Skylark AV supplies SD8 console and SD-Mini Rack pair for media-savvy house of worship
NORTHchurch, a non-denominational contemporary church that uses the latest technology and media to communicate its message, recently installed a DiGiCo SD8 console and a pair of SD-Mini Racks interconnected by an Optocore fiber optic network.
The front of house console was part of a major audio system redesign at the church’s two-story location in a northern suburb of Oklahoma City together with L-Acoustics loudspeakers, acoustic treatment and other improvements, all provided by Skylark AV, a local audio, video and lighting equipment design, build and installation company.
“It was important to stay within the budget but also get something that is going to be reliable, move us forward, and that would be easy to grasp for our volunteers,” explains NORTHchurch’s production director, Stephen Kramer.
“We are a growing church and are also considering adding a broadcast console and a monitor mixing console in the future. Looking into DiGiCo, we felt that we would have all the opportunity in the world to grow and add functions, and that it would give us everything we wanted.”
NORTHchurch’s DiGiCo SD8 supports 64 inputs and 16 outputs and is fitted with an Aviom card. “We’re running six stereo in-ears and a full Aviom set-up,” says Kramer.
Having been working on a smaller, less powerful digital mixer at the church previously, Kramer reports that he had to relearn mixing and learn new terminology once the SD8 was installed. “It was a new world to learn about ‘recall’ and ‘update,’ ‘session’ and ‘snapshot.’ The snapshots have been a game-changer. It has allowed our volunteers to come in and easily set it up, and for us to have a very consistent sound across all of our experiences.”
Those experiences—there is a service on Thursday night plus three on Sunday morning—are managed by two separate audio teams. “We have an audio guy come in on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday night, he does a soundcheck and gets a mix set with the snapshots. Another guy comes in on Sunday morning, can do a run-through with the band, and is able to reuse the snapshots that have already been built. So it has made it very easy for our volunteers.”
For example, he continues, “Our vocal effects are all snapshot based, and we have snapshots set up where our faders, mutes, and panning are being updated. When a volunteer comes in and hits Next, all of that is switching for them. They don’t have to assign effects or retype the tempo for the delay. It allows the mix engineers to be creative and flow and build dynamics, and not worry about the basic mix for the song.”
“They have absolutely fallen in love with virtual soundcheck,” comments Skylark AV’s Steele Beaty. “The complexity of the snapshot capabilities inside the DiGiCo has revolutionized how they do things. They are now taking the cues associated with the lighting and the immense control they have there and applying those principals to the audio console—and the DiGiCo lets them do that. With the aid of virtual soundcheck they are putting in the time to really hone each song and each transition like I’ve never seen a church do before.”
While doing his due diligence, Kramer compared the onboard effects processing capabilities of his top three console choices and ran the numbers. “We like to run our mix wet; we like a nice, thick, solid sound. But we would have had to spend almost the exact same amount of money to get the other options configured like the DiGiCo with its built-in effects. So we felt it was a no-brainer, and we are extremely happy with our choice.”
Kramer relied on Skylark AV for the PA speaker recommendation. “They ended up with the L-Acoustics ARCS II system—three per side, stereo hung—with four SB28s subwoofers in a central horizontal array below the stage, with six 8XTs for front fills,” says Beaty. The system is driven by one LA4 and three LA8 amplified controllers.
“I had never heard the rig before,” admits Kramer. “We have a very trusting relationship with Steele and the guys at Skylark. They’ve been part of our church for quite a while. They’ve come in and changed the way we view install companies. It’s been really important to us to have that relationship with them. We know that when they say something they either mean it or we can trust that they know what they’re talking about and they’re going to take care of us.”
Kramer is enjoying getting to grips with the new more powerful, more complex audio system. “With the combination of the DiGiCo and the L-Acoustics I literally had to relearn how to mix,” he says. “But we had a conference for students recently where we don’t get too concerned about the dB level and it was incredible—the clarity, even running at the higher volume, and the oomph from the SB28s underneath. It’s been a new lesson to learn.”
Looking to the future, says Beaty, “Their plans are to have a full-on video suite and green screen areas where they can shoot promo videos. The DiGiCo would have worked in its standard coax MADI form, but long-term, when you look at their vision, adding that fiber piece enables them to expand at will and however they need to. When they get their production spaces up and rolling we can add an SD-Rack in there, and they can do live audio mixing and get a finished product in about half the time.”
Shepherd Of The Hills Selects Mackie DL32R (Video)
The West Valley campus operates out of a high school multi-purpose room, requiring the sound system to be compact and portable.
Shepherd of the Hills is a modern church with a bustling congregation at their main campus in Porter Ranch as well as three satellite locations in suburban Los Angeles locations.
The West Valley campus operates out of a high school multi-purpose room in Woodland Hills which now utilizes a Mackie DL32R digital mixer.
For pastor Mike Johnson, part of the challenge is to create an environment that is anything but institutional.
In a matter of hours, the entire room is transformed - draperies, comfortable seating, and a sound system.
“Our desire is, on Sunday morning when someone walks in, there’s kind of an ‘ahh’ factor,” Johnson explains.
With limited access to the venue, the entire setup must be completed in a matter of hours.
“Everything that’s not a high school gymnasium lives out in a trailer on campus,” says front of house engineer Joe Fiorello. “Every Sunday morning, we set it all up, hold two services, and tear it all down.”
The sound system includes a pair of Mackie SRM750 loudspeakers and two SRM2850 subwoofers, all self-powered and cranking out 1600 Watts of power - more than enough to fill the room. Fiorello mixes the band on a Mackie DL32R 32-channel rack mount mixer with iPad control.
“A big plus for me in using the DL32R is that we don’t have to deal with cumbersome snakes, and we don’t have to deal with moving and storing a large console,” Fiorello observes. “Everything fits on a rack on stage, everything is wireless at front of house.”
Monitor engineer Christopher Tom-Hoon agrees. “You’re not tethered down to one spot. You can mix from anywhere in the house. Just to be able to go out into the crowd and make sure everyone is hearing what they should be hearing, that’s a tremendous advantage.”
“I try to get the audience experience, mix from an audience perspective, and my end mix does change based upon wandering around the room,” says Fiorello.
As pastor Johnson observes, “we’ve got the best band, we’ve got the best worship leaders, and of course, we want the best sound. And I believe we have it.”
Christopher Tom-Hoon sums it up: “It’s a game changer.”
If you’re a minister of music, a pastor of programming, a senior pastor, or even a volunteer then one of your responsibilities involves dealing with the technical aspects of worship.
Technical, of course, meaning sound, theatrical lighting, video, props, production.
These areas, when properly applied, can add great dimension to the worship experience.
However these elements misapplied can destroy a worship experience.
Nothing is more distracting than feedback, missed cues or “hokey” production quality.
So how does one put a winning team together to make the technical production happen?
First of all, make sure that the people that you select are “sold out” to the vision and purpose of the church. Then create a “hit list” of potential technical ministers.
Check these folks out. Observe them at church, are they plugged in? Do they seem excited about what is going on?
Do they appear open and teachable? How are their communication skills?
Once this list is set and you have checked the field out, interview them.
Be straightforward and honest with your questions. Get to the heart of the matter. Ask yourself: is this person’s heart, spirit, and attitude the kind that I want on my team? Are they as qualified technically as they are spiritually? If not, are they capable of learning?
If this person is someone you want on your team, clearly lay out the vision for the ministry. Hopefully you have been doing this all along!
If you have no vision, your ministry will go exactly where you lead it- nowhere. Wear and express your vision often. Spell it out on paper!
“The Technical Ministry at ABC Church is a support ministry that facilitates reaching the lost by providing excellence in sound, lighting and video.”
After selling the vision, communicate the expectations. Do it in writing. People appreciate knowing what they are committing to, so have it clearly laid out. Two words of caution here:
1. The technical area burns out more people than perhaps any other ministry.
Build your team big enough so the burden does not become too great.
2. Protect and invest in the people on your team.
Don’t let Bob spend 30 hours in one week volunteering to make a production happen while his family forgets who he is. Also, take an opportunity to invest in Bob. Get to know his family, take him to lunch just for fun.
After your team is recruited, make sure that you keep them in “the loop” as to what is going on. Information is power. Make sure you have a schedule planned out at least one month in advance.
Give the order of worship for the coming Sunday to the technicians no later than Wednesday or Thursday. This gives them time to prepare. Think of it this way, I hope that you would not approach a soloist to sing and them give them the song on Sunday morning.
Provide ample opportunity for your team to grow and learn. Subscribe to all the industry related magazines and make them available to your team. Purchase some technical resources and make them available.
An excellent technical ministry team at your church is waiting to happen. Take the lead, recruit the right people, and spend the majority of your time investing in them. Believe in people and they will amaze you!
Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 30 years.
One Systems Loudspeakers Chosen For Winona Senior High School
Paul Giel Field in Winona, Minnesota installs new press box and sound system featuring three One Systems Cross Field Array-2 loudspeakers.
Paul Giel Field is a multi-purpose athletic field at Winona Senior High School in Winona, Minnesota featureing a football field, a running track and a soccer field and is used by Winona High School as well as nearby Winona State University and Cotter High School.
Recently the school built a new press box above the bleachers and decided to upgrade sound reinforcement for the field at the same time. Sim Sound & Video, also located in Winona, designed and installed the new system featuring three One Systems Cross Field Array-2 (CFA-2) loudspeakers.
“Even though the home and visitors seating is on the same side of the field, the system still needed to blanket the entire field – and even a bit beyond – to cover track and field events,” explains Dean Sim, CEO and system designer.
“They wanted a full range system that would provide vocal intelligibility and exceptional musicality for the dance line performances. The Cross Field Array was perfect for this application.”
The Cross Field Array-2 is a nominal 55 (h) x 30 (v) degree array that features a fully rotatable high frequency horn/waveguide. The high frequency configuration consists of two large format close-spaced compression drivers coupled to a 2-inch constant directivity horn. The low frequency configuration consists of four bandwidth optimized 10-inch woofers in a 2 x 2 array. The CFA-2 is ideally suited for long throw applications like Paul Giel Field. The CFA-2 is also a direct weather design that features three layers of stainless steel grill assembly with an enclosure made of laminated fiberglass – ideal for outdoor applications in Minnesota.
“We were involved while they were constructing the press box and had the contractors weld mounting points to the roof to simplify installation,” adds Sim. “Once the press box was done, the construction crane onsite helped place the loudspeakers on the roof of the press box. I’ll admit, it made it a pretty quick installation.”
Two CFA-2 loudspeakers were mounted on each end of the press box with the third placed in the middle to ensure the seats plus the field and track were blanketed in sound. The Sim Sound & Video team also provided a Symetrix DSP to allow easy access to the system for practices as well as events. The press booth is home to a flight case equipped with a small mixer and wireless microphones for announcement purposes.
“The school was very pleased with the end result,” Sim concludes. “The intelligibility is great, music sounds terrific and the direct weather design means we don’t have to worry about them surviving Minnesota’s weather – you can’t ask for more than that.”
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