Thursday, April 14, 2011
Soundcraft & AKG Collaborate To Make Wireless Mic Monitoring In The Mixer A First
VM2 provides real-time visual displays of battery life, RF status, mic muting and internal clipping directly on a channel strip on the Vistonics screen.
Every engineer has been there. The radio mics check out fine on the RF Tech’s laptop, but that’s before the talent walks onto the stage. Reception black spots, drained batteries, accidental mutes—anything can happen once the show gets underway.
Thankfully, Soundcraft and AKG now make the FOH engineer’s life easier. Now it’s possible for the first time to monitor the status of any HiQnet-compatible AKG radio mic directly from the Soundcraft Vi Series console surface, courtesy of VM2 (Vistonics Microphone Monitoring).
VM2 provides real-time visual displays of battery life, RF status, mic muting and internal clipping directly on a channel strip on the Vistonics screen, so it’s possible to see a problem long before you hear it, right there on the relevant channel—with expanded information instantly available just by touching the screen.
System configuration couldn’t be more straightforward, and uses Harman’s proprietary HiQnet network—simply plug in the mics, patch them to the related console channels, and you’re done. You can even identify the relevant mic receiver in the rack by pressing the Locate button, causing the receiver front panel display to flash.
It all adds up to much more efficient workflow and one less thing for the hard-pressed engineer to worry about.
VM2 will be available for all Soundcraft Vi Series consoles in V4.5 software, including Vi1, Vi2, Vi4 and Vi6.
Compatible AKG Wireless mic systems are WMS 4000, WMS 4500 and DMS 700 (optional HUB 4000Q HiQnet Ethernet interface required).
Sound Devices Introduces The CL-WIFI For The 788t Digital Recorder At NAB 2011
An iOS App allows an iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch to control a connected 788T.
Sound Devices will introduce the latest hardware accessory for its 788T Digital Recorders, the new CL-WIFI, at NAB 2011.
The CL-WIFI allows users to control the already powerful 788T from anywhere on set.
The CL-WIFI works together with its companion iOS software app to allow iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches to control a connected 788T.
The CL-WIFI turns an iOS device into a simple, portable control surface that allows a sound mixer to move around on set, away from the sound cart, yet still have extensive control and monitoring of their 788T recording system.
“Sound Devices constantly strives to provide intuitive accessories and firmware updates to help meet the growing needs of our new and existing 7-series recorder customers,” says Jon Tatooles, managing director for Sound Devices.
“The CL-WIFI was created to help sound professionals manage their 788T regardless of their location on set for production applications that require non-tethered audio recording control, such as critical sound-for-picture and music productions that require the sound mixer to record while not directly connected to the dedicated sound cart.”
The hardware CL-WIFI is a Wi-Fi access point, when the iOS device connects to it over Wi-Fi. The CL-WIFI app then uses the Wi-Fi connection to communicate with the 788T.
The iOS app controls metering of 788T input and track levels, time code, file length, frame rate display and record start/stop control input-to-track routing enabling take list and take name editing.
Sound Devices’ 788T digital audio recorder is designed specifically for multi-track, on-location productions and features a significant expansion of input and output capability with eight full-featured microphone inputs and 12 tracks of recording.
In a stainless-steel and aluminum chassis weighing less than four pounds and roughly the size of a hard-covered novel, the 788T accommodates individual controls and connectors for each of its eight inputs, plus numerous additional I/O and data connections.
Sound Devices Website
Staying Focused Is A Key Component In Operating Your Church Sound System
Sometimes it's the simplest things that can trip us up and interfere with the worship experience of everyone.
A big reason to stay focused in our role as church sound system operator is so that we don’t do something really silly during a service.
For example, we generally dim the house lights to a preset value at a couple of strategic moments during our worship services. The dimming system we use has a fader that determines how fast that fade up or fade down is.
On occasion, one of our tech team members will hit the preset without checking to see where that dimming speed fader is positioned, and the lights will snap to the next setting.
Now, that’s going to be obvious to any congregation member. Instead of a slow dimmer move from one setting to another, it’s a sudden change that could be a distraction to some.
If it happens often enough, it could even have some members thinking “There go those idiots in the tech booth again. Why can’t they get that right?” If it distracts even one person from the worship service, it shouldn’t have happened.
My Most Embarrassing Moment
Bet you can’t top this one. Several years ago, we were in the middle of the offertory special music one service when I offered what will hopefully be the worst mistake of my entire mixing career. The choir was singing with a live band.
To improve our chances for gain-before-feedback in those days, we had gotten into the habit of pre-tracking the choir. That gave me a click track on one channel to feed to the band, and all the choir I ever needed on the other channel.
So imagine this. We’re in the middle of the song. The band is playing with the click track fed over their headphones. The choir is singing live. I have mics on the choir, and I’m using the prerecorded choir to fill out the sound and give me some extra choir volume to use as needed.
As this is going on, I’ve allowed myself to get distracted. I’m thinking about the transition from this song into the sermon. And I’m looking around the sound booth, checking for things that I might have overlooked, like forgetting to turn off the CD player that I’d used for walk-in music before the service.
I look over and discover the cassette deck rolling, and I says to myself, “Well, what’s that rolling for?” The moment I hit the stop button I realized what a stupid mistake I’d just made. You guessed it. I stopped the track that the band and choir were singing along with.
Now, fortunately for me, my Bachelor of Music degree and 12 years of making my living as a musician kicked into gear at that moment. I realized that I’d stopped the track on the downbeat of a bar. So I somehow counted four bars and hit the play button on the next downbeat.
I’d be willing to bet that 99 percent of the congregation never knew what happened. Bless their hearts, the band and choir director caught it, and gracefully adjusted for the extra four bars.
But my goodness did I feel stupid. You can bet that I’ve never made that mistake since.
It also taught me to stay focused. In a sense, it taught me to keep from being too focused as well. It may sound odd to say this, but I was trying so hard to be focused that that in itself allowed me to get distracted.
My List of Pet Peeves
Here’s my list of pet peeves regarding stuff that just shouldn’t happen in a worship service. Some of these may seem so silly, so expected, so taken for granted that they’re not worth saying.
But you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen these mistakes made in other churches, or even by my own volunteers.
Don’t miss microphone cues. We can’t afford to not have a mic turned on when it needs to be on.
But if you come to one of my workshops, you’ll hear me talk about keeping the number of open microphones to a minimum. That is to say, if the choir’s not singing, don’t have their mics open.
If the pastor’s not talking, don’t have his mic on. And so on. But we also need to stay focused so that the pastor doesn’t have to say stuff to the congregation like “Is this thing on?” What an embarrassment.
Turn off the mics before they hit the stand. It’s purely unprofessional to let a singer put a mic in the clip on a stand without having first muted that channel. If you don’t, the congregation is going to hear a loud thump over the system, or at least over the monitors.
Hopefully the channel mutes on your console also mute the monitor mixes. That way all you have to do is mute each vocal mic channel, and they’ll be muted both in the house and in the monitors simultaneously.
Mute the guitar channels. Don’t you just hate the loud “bzzzzzt” that goes with a guitar cable being plugged in or unplugged with the channel open? If we can equate the word professional with excellence, then it’s unprofessional to not mute those channels in time to save the congregation from that moment.
It’s a two-way street though. The sound guys aren’t mind readers, nor have they been assimilated and become one with the automation of the console.
All that to say, the guitar and bass player in your worship team should give you a moment to mute their channels before unplugging. It’s just common courtesy, a recognition that we’re a team, that the tech support guys and the musicians are equal members of the worship team.
Teach your backing vocalists where to stand and how to use a microphone. Would someone please tell me why most backing vocalists stand so far away from their stage monitors? I don’t get it.
In one church I used to work at, our vocalists were very compliant and stood where we told them to stand - so they could see down the throat of the high-frequency horn in their stage monitor.
Yet I’ve seen so many vocalists who run away from their monitor. You ask them if it’s too loud and they’ll say no. But they refuse to stand where it will do them the most good.
Those vocalists I used to work with were also careful not to hold their mic to their sides facing down between songs. They simply held it about at their waist, still pointed up.
Think about it. If your vocalists drop the mic to their sides between songs, the zero degrees on-axis point of the mic is going to be aimed at the monitor, which is likely going to make it feedback.
There’s nothing worse than 2001 eyes from the congregation looking at you when you did nothing to cause the problem.
Don’t create a visual distraction during a worship service. Investing your time and God-given talents in the tech support ministry is great. But remember that it’s an unseen, helps ministry. Do your best to keep it that way.
If you need to walk out into the auditorium during a worship service, plan your route to offer the least possible distraction to the congregation. If you need to talk on the intercom, do so quietly so that others around you won’t be distracted.
If you need to get a message to one of the musicians or singers on stage during a worship service, see if there’s a way to talk to them quietly over the monitors rather than sending someone on stage with a note. That’s another perfect reason for headphones instead of monitors.
Tighten up the fittings on boom stands. One day in college, I was helping set up for a jazz concert. As music engineering students, we were responsible both for sound reinforcement and for recording such events at the music school.
And I had been given the responsibility of setting the mic stand with a boom arm and a rather heavy mic on the end of it for a guest saxophone soloist.
At one point during the performance, of course during a saxophone solo, that boom arm started to slowly drop lower and lower. Guess who was sent out to fix the problem!?! (That’s another mistake I’ve not made since.)
Don’t stop mixing between songs. Remember the technique of bringing the worship leader’s fader up between songs so the congregation can hear what’s being said?
Well, if your pianist or keyboardist continues playing between songs, go ahead and pull their faders or submaster down about -20 dB or so. They don’t know how loud they are in the house mix.
Even if they’re playing softer, it may not be soft enough. It’s your job to maintain a great musical mix, even between the songs.
The details matter. If it needs to be miked, then put a mic on it. I once watched a sound guy at a church realize that he had forgotten to put a mic on an instrument on stage, and then decide that it was just too much trouble to bother going all the way back downstairs to add the mic.
Hmm, not worth the bother?
Don’t forget to practice. It’s just amazing to me that musicians and vocalists - people who are used to practicing on their own - have to be reminded of the need to practice as a group. I’ve seen the same scenario repeated countless times around the world.
All of this comes down to one primary point: Stay plugged in! It should be a given, but I’ve seen it happen to too many tech support volunteers - myself included.
This constant commitment to pursue excellence requires vigilance on our part, but it cannot replace our relationship with God. If we get lost in the fun of twiddling knobs and playing with the gear, and in so doing forget why we’re doing this in the first place, then God won’t honor our service.
And try not to work every service. You and your family need time to immerse yourselves in the worship services as well.
Keep Up The Good Work
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always want to bother with the details it takes to deliver excellence in every worship service. But I can’t get away from the fact that we’re called to excellence in this ministry. We don’t have a choice but to give God our best. It honors Him. It’s a way to say we love Him.
It’s not brain surgery, but it’s important. So keep studying.
And keep giving it your best.
Curt Taipale heads up Church Soundcheck, a thriving community dedicated to helping technical worship personnel, and he also provides expert systems design and consulting services with Taipale Media Systems.
Bosch Unveils The Industry’s Largest Exhibit Truck
With the new truck, Bosch is taking the Safe & Sound security and audio tour on the road.
Bosch Security Systems, Inc. has launched the Safe & Sound security and audio tour – the largest, most interactive product exhibit truck in the industry.
Featuring video surveillance, access control, intrusion and fire detection, critical communications, and audio systems, the mobile product display enables dealers, specifiers, and end users to experience Bosch products in dynamic ways.
“Extensive feedback from customers confirms they want the live product interaction available at a trade show without the expense of travel or time away from business activities,” said Jeremy Hockham – president of sales – North America, Bosch Security Systems, Inc.
“With the Bosch Safe & Sound Tour, we’re bringing the ‘show’ to our customers – allowing more people to see our products in action and fully understand the capabilities, performance and quality of our systems.”
Measuring 53-feet long and 25-feet wide when parked, the double expandable trailer features 1,000 square feet of exhibition space. Inside the truck, over eight tons of product display equipment brings the tractor-trailer near the maximum legal weight and allows customers to:
Explore Bosch’s HD video portfolio – including fixed and pan-tilt-zoom cameras, video management software, and recording and storage platforms – as well as infrared and thermal imaging solutions
Grasp the power of our new G Series Control Panels with the fastest processor in the industry
Test the catch performance and false alarm immunity of Bosch intrusion detectors
See live integration of a fire alarm control panel with voice evacuation and video surveillance
Witness the complete facility security achieved when access control and video surveillance join forces
Experience the leading-edge design and award-winning features of Bosch public address systems – new for the Americas
Try the latest intercom and critical communications systems from RTS and Telex – trusted for their performance and reliability around the globe
Demo the latest installed and portable sound systems from Electro-Voice – solutions for venues of all shapes and sizes
The first stop on the Safe & Sound Tour is the ISC West International Security Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas – one of the largest gatherings of security industry professionals.
From Las Vegas, the tour travels North America, making more than 50 stops across the region for a variety of customer demonstration and training events.
Bosch Security Systems, Inc.
Danley Sound Labs Hires Seasoned AV Integrator Chad Edwardson
Edwardson will assist clients with product selection and application details and will assist the Danley R&D team to create products that offer ideal solutions to real-world challenges.
In response to tremendous growth spurred by increased sales of flagship products, such as the SH-50 full-range loudspeaker and TH-212 subwoofer, and new technologies, such as the Jericho Horn and the SM-60, Danley Sound Labs has added Chad Edwardson to its in-house team.
Edwardson joins Danley in the capacity of engineering and system design.
He will assist clients with product selection and application details, and he will assist the Danley R&D team to create products that offer ideal solutions to real-world challenges.
Edwardson found his way into the industry almost two decades ago via a well-traveled and honorable path. “I was the guy in the band that owned the PA,” he laughed.
After honing his knowledge and skills at the head of a successful Michigan-based production company for six years, Edwardson joined Florida’s All Pro Sound. There, he worked in sales and system design for a decade, where he dealt daily with the on-the-ground challenges that test the ingenuity and grit of A/V integrators the world over.
“This is a big year for Danley Sound Labs,” said Mike Hedden, president. “By year’s end you’ll see Jericho and Genesis Horns delivering extreme high-fidelity in a number of pro football and college stadiums and arenas around the country, as well as around the world.”
“In addition, sales of our patented Synergy and Tapped Horn technologies are growing exponentially, as more end-users experience the Danley difference firsthand. We need Chad’s wealth of practical experience to help clients choose and deploy our products for maximum effect and to help guide us in the development of new technologies that solve enduring problems in the industry.”
“In my design work at All Pro Sound, I frequently used Danley Sound Labs products,” said Edwardson. “In taking this new job with Danley, I was attracted both to its pioneering technologies and its pervasive culture of honesty and integrity.”
“I am excited to apply everything that I know to help guide Danley’s growth in the future, and I am also excited to learn from the amazing people here.”
Danley Sound Labs
Hal Leonard Releases The Definitive Guide To Electric Guitar Tone By Dave Hunter
The book and examines how different pieces of equipment contribute to superior or inferior tone.
Hal Leonard Books is pleased to announce the availability of the Tone Manual ($24.99) by guitar author Dave Hunter, who takes on arguably the most discussed topic of gear-obsessed guitarists: tone.
In the Tone Manual, Hunter breaks down the individual components of the electric guitar rig - guitar, amplifier, speakers, cabinets, effects and peripherals - and examines how each piece of equipment contributes to superior or inferior sound.
He offers tips on improving and making the most of the gear you’ve already got – all with reference to interviews with name artists and manufacturers.
In addition, the Tone Manual discusses the evolution of the guitarist’s concept of “good tone”.
It provides an extensive guide to recorded examples of playing generally considered “tonally superior,” citing examples from the early days of electric jazz, blues, country, and rock and roll; from the classic rock, blues rock, and heavy rock heyday of the late 1960s and early ‘70s; and from myriad contemporary artists.
Throughout the Tone Manual, a series of more than 30 “Tone Tips” will offer quick, digestible, practical info bites to help readers improve their sound and better understand their equipment. The Tone Manual also includes helpful diagrams and a cover-mounted CD.
Hal Leonard Books
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Harrison Launches The New 950m Analog Console At NAB 2011
The feature set of the 950m is geared to meet the unique requirements of a DAW-based studio.
After a decade focusing on digital consoles, Harrison is proud to introduce a new pure-analog console for music capture and mixdown: the Harrison 950m Analog Console.
The 950m incorporates nearly 40 years of analog innovations and refinement starting with the 32-Series in 1975 and continuing through the 80s, 90s, and into the 2000’s.
The feature set of the 950m is geared to meet the unique requirements of a DAW-based studio. It provides all the features necessary to link professionals on both sides of the control room window while delivering the “classic sound” so often sought.
The 950m’s analog circuitry draws directly from Harrison’s legendary musical heritage. Built like a Large Format Console, but with a refined featureset for today’s studio, the 950m incorporates a massive linear power supply, robust ground plane design, all balanced connections, gold-plated switches, through-hole components, and high-headroom summing busses.
Two separate mix busses (one Transformer-balanced and one Electronically-balanced) - both with built-in compressors and patch inserts - allow for flexible tone-shaping. For each input strip, a choice of Mono Mic/Line or Stereo Line module is available. Customer-configured modular construction allows the 950m to operate as a tracking studio front-end, or an analog summing platform, or both simultaneously.
Input modules provide an Insert point, Switchable HP/LP filters, 3-band Tone controls, Pan/Balance, Trim, Input switching, 4 Mono Aux sends, Mute, Solo, 104mm Fader, and 4-segment Meter.
Microphone channels also have a 48v phantom-power switch and a post-fader Direct Output. The Mix Master module includes 2 Stereo Mix Bus compressors, Oscillator/Talkback Assignments, Aux Send Masters, and 104mm faders for each of the two stereo Mix Busses.
The Monitor module includes the Oscillator controls (100Hz, 1kHz, 10kHz), Monitor source selection, Monitor Level/Mute/Mono, Talkback, and Headphone jack. The Studio module includes source Selection/Level/Mute/Mono for each of the 2 studio feeds, as well as Talkback assignments. The Output module houses the output transformers and 2 stereo Mix Bus VU output meters.
A quality analog mixing console is a significant long-term investment for any studio, and it is important to choose wisely. Engineers at Harrison picked the most reliable, best sounding analog components from their most successful consoles - many of which are still in daily use decades later.
Accommodation is made for future expansion options via modular construction and fader VCA bus connections.
For today’s DAW studio, Harrison designed a frame providing a deep 2-tiered front bolster to accommodate a keyboard, mouse, and DAW controller.
The straightforward controls on the 950m provide the necessary analog sweetening circuits while remaining easy to recall. The 950m is offered as a stand-alone console or paired with Harrison’s premium console converters, providing a practically unlimited number of I/O - using either MADI or gigabit Ethernet.
Professional-quality modular design
Mono and stereo input modules
HP/LP filters, Tone controls, and 4 Aux Sends
2 separate Mix Buses with built-in compressors
“Red” Transformer-balanced Mix Bus
“Black” Electronically-balanced Mix Bus
2 Studio feeds with Talkback
Separate Linear Power Supply
DAW-friendly desktop frame
The Masters of Bass
A unique audio design for world-class anglers.
The Bassmaster Classic is not about subwoofers, as some readers may be thinking, but rather is a professional bass fishing competition, and in fact, the winner of this annual tournament is widely considered to be the world champion of the sport.
The first classic was first held in 1971 on Lake Meade, NV, and over time it has grown into a compelling spectacle.
Each year in late winter, the top bass anglers converge on a pre-selected U.S. site for three days of fishing, with each day followed by a theatrical presentation of the weigh-ins.
The event is organized by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS), which was acquired in the fall of 2010 by Jerry McKinnis, Jim Copeland, and Don Logan, continuing a long-standing media relationship with ESPN, which provides hours of television coverage.
This year’s contest, held in February on the Louisiana Delta, featured a field of 50 anglers, with the nightly weigh-ins presented at the 19,000-seat New Orleans Arena, adjacent to the Superdome in the city’s central business district.
These festivities were outfitted with complete production, including concert-level sound reinforcement for the entire arena, by Reel Rock Productions and its sister company, Production Support Group (PSG).
The QSC WideLine line array sets – mains and out fills - flown high above the stage.
Founded in 1980 by Larry Schmidt and based in Tallahassee, FL, the companies have steadily grown to provide full production services to a wide variety of clientele throughout the continental U.S.
This was the first time out with the Bassmasters Classic for Reel Rock/PSG, with Schmidt noting that the organizers were seeking a different direction than the past with regard to production.
A bass fisherman himself, Schmidt presented some creative, relevant ideas, and his companies were awarded the project last summer, with planning for this year’s event commencing shortly after for total turnkey production – staging, lighting, video, special effects and sound reinforcement.
“A key aspect to understand with a project of this nature is that it is a TV show first, so you have to treat it that way,” explains Schmidt, who served as the event’s production manager.
“All of the production elements have to take this into account, and with respect to sound, it has to be invisible, because camera sightlines and a clean broadcast picture are paramount.”
However, there is also the matter of providing commensurate concert-level sound reinforcement for the thousands in attendance at the venue each evening, and it was an aspect that garnered considerable attention from the Reel Rock Productions sound team - Dennis Cooper, Ed Vertuno, and Jim Apgar - a veteran group who’s most “junior” member has 25 years of experience.
The highlight of each night’s show had every contestant aboard his boat, towed into the arena to the stage via pickup truck for the weigh-in of his catch that day.
This meant 50 weighins on each of the first two nights, and 25 as the field was narrowed on the final night, each only about two and a half minutes apart.
To streamline this parade, the stage was angled so that upon entering the arena, the trucks had a straight path – but it meant that the stage was angled 45 degrees from a typical “square” placement. The result was a challenging coverage situation.
“There was definitely some unusual geometry, particularly in contrast to a typical concert situation in an arena,” Schmidt notes.
The sound team for the Bassmaster Classic at the Yamaha PM5D house console (left to right): Brian English, Larry Schmidt, Dennis Cooper, Ed Vertuno, and Jim Apgar.
“However, we determined that a left and right flown array configuration was still the correct approach, even though the arrays would have to be placed differently than usual and the delivery times between the two sides would differ greatly.
“In addition, and this comes out very clearly when you look at in drawing form, you see that the stage right array would actually be covering more of the room than the stage left array,” he adds.
The team performed initial plotting of array location and coverage, and then added an out fill array to each side as well to fill any potential gaps, particularly on the extreme sides of the coverage area.
Schmidt also discussed the situation with his long-time colleague and friend Brian English, director of concert system solutions for QSC Audio and a veteran of many unique sound reinforcement situations, to get his input as well.
And in fact, English decided to venture to New Orleans at the outset of the production load-in to collaborate with Schmidt on the system programming and deployment.
CAD drawings helped form the primary layout and positioning well ahead of time, and then once on site, the team did a lot of adjustment and optimization of the arrays to get things just right.
The Rational Acoustics Smaart platform also proved particularly helpful in synchronizing the various time arrivals.
A Real Asset
A staple of the Reel Rock Productions sound inventory is QSC Audio Wide- Line line arrays, which provide very wide 140-degree horizontal dispersion that proved to be a real asset, particularly given the coverage challenges.
Main left and right arrays were each comprised of 16 WideLine-10 modules (dual 10-in, single 1.4-in-exit compression driver), with the bottom portion of each array in a “spiral” configuration to bolster coverage to the very front seats without the need for front fills that would have hampered the stage aesthetic.
The out fill arrays, flown to the sides of the main arrays, were each comprised of eight QSC WideLine-8 modules (dual 8-in, single 1.4-in-exit compression driver).
All of the WideLine models are equipped with a simple 3-point rigging system that allows fast, precise construction of arrays of up to 24 enclosures.
“We keep our WideLines very busy,” Schmidt notes. “They’ve proven to handle all sorts of events quite well. They are perfect for a building block approach – 8 boxes a side, 16 a side, 20 a side, whatever is needed for a given project, and with 140 degrees, you can get a lot done.
Nine racks of QSC PowerLight amplifiers networked via QSControl.net.
It’s very modular, and we tailor the companion amplifier racks to match. It’s quick and clean, fits well within trucks, and it’s all topped by exceptional fidelity.”
This array set was able to cover the entire arena, from top to bottom and side to side, and it was driven by nine racks of amplification that resided behind the stage. The mains were powered by QSC PowerLight PL230 amplifiers, with PL380s amps for the out fills. Everything was driven in bridged mode except the compression drivers. Array height topped out at about 55 feet, well out of sightlines.
The low-frequency portion of the system presented another challenge – there wasn’t a “good” place to put the subwoofers. Schmidt, English, and Cooper implemented a rather novel approach – the system’s eight EAW SB1000 subs (dual 18-in) would be positioned in a stack within a video LED panel at the stage (also driven by PL380 amps).
It was a method they’d utilized on select smaller scale events, and it worked out here as well.
Interestingly, given their positioning at the stage, the subs also served as the system’s “zero point” with respect to timing. In other words, all other loudspeakers were timed in relation to the output of the sub stack, and to further bolster lower frequencies, the main WideLine arrays were run down to 60 Hz.
The end result was truly dynamic output, yet with a high degree of coherence that was free of “rumble.”
The entirely digital signal path from the Yamaha PM5D console at front of house to the backstage racks utilized the QSControl.net networked audio platform. A QSC RAVE 522ua fed nine QSC BASIS 914 and 922 digital processors, with distribution via Cat-5 and overall control with QSC Venue Manager software.
“With the networkable control of the amplifiers, it’s great - all right there, both loudspeaker and overall system processing,” Schmidt says.
“It’s a very powerful package. Take your left and right sends off the desk, put it into RAVE, and then everything is controlled off the network. It’s simple, slick and extremely effective.”
A 360 System Instant Replay machine provided all recorded music tracks for the show, fed directly into the PM5D. Vertuno supplied all vocal mixes, while Cooper handled the music.
Backstage, Apgar stayed very busy as the “mic wrangler,” coordinating the hand-off of Shure UR-4D wireless microphone transmitters to each announcer as the boats approached the stage, in addition to managing more wireless microphones for various MCs and other “talking heads” on stage.
Saturday night presented an added wrinkle, with country performer Randy Montana and his band performing prior to the weigh-in.
They were provided with a hard-wired microphone package and DIs, as well as QSC K10 and K12 self-powered loudspeakers for monitoring and fill, with about three minutes allotted after their performance to clear the stage.
For Reel Rock Productions/PSG, this initial experience with the Bassmaster Classic proved a success, despite it being their first time serving the event combined with the unique challenges.
“One particularly fun moment was when the client first saw the arrays, and asked if they’d be loud enough,” Schmidt concludes. “I pushed up the main fader, the system absolutely filled the room with full and intelligible sound, and all doubts were erased.
“I have high expectations for everything we do, and I feel we hit the mark. The system performed admirably, we have a happy client, and that’s the whole point.”
Keith Clark is editor-in-chief of Live Sound International and ProSoundWeb.
What Is Music Production: Understanding Sessions & Content Creation
An excerpt from Golding and Hepworth-Sawyer's book which takes a look at the creative side of sessions.
This is the first segment in our series by Golding and Hepworth-Sawyer on audio production. Additional segments are available here.
The studio session can be one of the most exciting times in the creation of a project, where the fruits of pre-production can begin to be seen and where musical spontaneity can create a very special result.
The recording session is the stage where everything seems to happen, certainly in a capture sense. Artists, bands, session musicians, engineers, and producers all combine under one roof to create.
It is the point in the project where ideas become a reality and a “product” starts its life. The fact that the ideas and spontaneous moments become “committed to tape” at this stage can be an issue for some and this can often lead to tense and nervous environments in which to try to be creative.
Being able to create and inspire confidence within the recording session is a skill that all producers need to have in one guise or another. Once established in the industry, many producers may take this as a given; however, when first starting out down the rocky road of music production, the topic of creating and inspiring confidence may be a difficult one to grapple with.
So what do we mean by “confident creation”? One of the key factors here is believing in what you are doing. There’s no good in being involved with a project for which you lack enthusiasm and vision, as this will hinder your abilities to steer the project and inspire confidence in others.
It is sometimes surprising how saying nothing can be the loudest form of communication and, in the relative confines of a recording studio, body language can say an awful lot as to the true thoughts and feelings of the individuals involved.
This lack of enthusiasm and vision can occur for a variety of reasons, but many times it can be down to the fact that you simply do not really understand the project and therefore don’t believe in it. When we say “believe” we essentially mean that you are able to see, understand, and agree with the overall artistic vision and musical intentions of the project.
This is where the marriage of artist, project, and producer comes into play and the involvement of the right people for the job is of fundamental importance. Knowing when to accept the invitation to be involved with a recording or not can be a tricky call to make; any doubts need to be ironed out before commencing.
If not, you may find yourself in a very uncomfortable position further down the line when the stakes are considerably higher and you’re performing less confidently.
Your influence needs to be exuded not only to the artist and musicians involved but also to the artist’s management and A&R. It is worth bearing in mind that the artist’s management and A&R from the label are placing a considerable amount of trust in you and your abilities, and in some cases are entrusting their latest talent into your guiding hands.
It is understandable that this can create tension, especially when time, effort, and money are being invested. Therefore, being confident in what you are doing and the decisions you make is important, as many in the process will be looking toward you for a reassuring lead.
The producer’s role in the session can, as ever, be one of many things (as we will discuss later in this chapter).
The role has been described in a number of ways before but we tend to think of a chameleon and the way in which it changes its colors in order to blend in with its surroundings.
Likewise the producer’s role in a session is one that will need to change and adapt in reaction to what is required in order to achieve a successful recording.
The need for adaptability has been a common thread in conversations we have had with various producers while writing this book, and it is obvious that different individuals work in differing ways depending on their background, skills and experience.
However, there are a number of generic points that seem pertinent to remember when considering the producer’s role within the recording session.
Firstly, the need to maintain an objective perspective in the studio is of paramount importance. It is the producer’s job not to become too bogged down in the fine detail or emotion but to maintain the vision of the project as a whole.
It is the producer’s responsibility to know when there is some mileage in an idea or when time is possibly being wasted. Secondly, the artist is the most important person in the room.
This is hopefully common sense to most that will read this; however, it is worth acknowledging that once wrapped up in the moment of a session it can become easy to forget the reason why you are there and what it is you are trying to achieve and why.
It is the artist’s and musician’s session. They are there to perform and record; certainly you will have your views and opinions (that is why you have been hired, after all), but your interaction should always be for the good of the artist.
Producer, arranger, and engineer Haydn Bendell describes the role as one of “a service provider” where the artist/musician should always be made to feel as comfortable and safe as possible.
When discussing the importance of the artist, he gives the example of two records he may produce using exactly the same studio, people, equipment, and techniques.
Yet while one record could go on to win various awards, another could be far less successful.
The variable factor, the artist, is surely the most important cog in the machine. An idea worth considering when examining the way in which we all work, perhaps?
There are many ways in which creativity can be inspired and achieved and we know that many producers have a variety of styles and methods (even if they themselves struggle to explain exactly how they do it).
Of course, some would argue that much of the creativity takes place before the recording sessions occur and that after pre-production there is not always time to be experimental and creative.
However, let’s remember that, despite the careful planning and arrangement achieved via the pre-production stage, the recording sessions are more often than not the place where ideas blossom and develop and where great performances can make a real difference to a song. The producer’s role is integral in steering this creative process.
So how do you create a creative environment or engender creativity within a session? As you have by now realized, you will not find a hard and fast answer to this question, no matter who you ask (believe us, we have!).
However, there are considerations and ideas that may be helpful when tackling this issue. Creativity can come from a variety of different sources, some of which are more obvious than others, but in order for a producer to create a creative environment some basic issues need to be realized.
Firstly, for any person to be creative they need to have a sense of security. Therefore, in the context of the session they need to feel comfortable with the people around them.
In order for this to be the case, the people they are working with need to understand them and what makes them tick; a mutual trust needs to be developed.
This may sound rather deep but a producer really needs to put some time into getting to know the artist and musicians they are working with in order for this to take place.
It may sound trite, but a preliminary meeting over a coffee or beer really could help the creativity of a session further down the road.
Secondly, creativity is a very personal thing and usually comes from some kind of emotion. Therefore, creating an environment that someone can feel relaxed (or safe) enough to be emotive in is essential.
An artist or musician needs to feel sure that whatever they do or say in the studio stays in the studio and that they are essentially able to be themselves.
Therefore, it might be worth considering who is around the studio during recording sessions and the space that is used in order to capture a performance.
If you want an intimate and personal performance and delivery, then the live space of Studio 2 at Abbey Road may not be the best place!
Thirdly, think energy! It is difficult to be creative in an atmosphere that lacks energy. There’s nothing worse than trying to be creative and bounce ideas around when something or someone in the session is bringing the vibe down.
By energy and vibe, we mean a sense of positivity or sense of enjoyment.
Certainly we acknowledge that some great and very creative results can come from a negative situation (just consider the personal relationship issues surrounding the Fleetwood Mac Rumours album, for example).
However, in general the recording session should be an enjoyable, positive, and creative experience. If people are not enjoying the process, then the producer needs to identify why and seek to address the issue.
In many ways the initial vibe for the session is created and set by the producer, something which at a later point the artist and musicians will pick up on and feed off of. The producer really needs to have his finger on the pulse of the session.
An interesting psychological perspective and methodology to consider while discussing this topic comes from that of producer Brian Eno.
The Art of Record Production by Richard James Burgess (2005) describes how Eno developed a set of mood cards for use when artists are seemingly at a creative dead-end. These cards pose statements designed to provoke a response of some kind in order to restart or reroute the creative process.
Allowing time and room to experiment can be a very liberating and fruitful approach for both the artist and producer.
Many anecdotes can be told by seasoned professionals whereby experimentation and serendipity has led to a pleasing result.
However, creativity has inherent dangers if left to run wild, and this is where the producer needs to have control over the session and be able to discern a good idea from a bad one. Being able to perceive and judge how a situation is unfolding and what the possible result will be is an essential skill to have.
This is where industry names such as Brian Eno and Trevor Horn have received much praise from artists they have worked with. Not all experimentation leads to the desired outcome, so the producer has a responsibility for quality control as it were, making sure that whatever is being created still fits the overall aim of the session.
This section could quite easily turn into a lesson in psychology (as could many of the sections within this book) but this is not really our aim here.
Therefore, while contemplating the topic of creativity and confident creation we’d suggest considering the following four simple mindsets or approaches, which may prove useful within the studio session.
We’ll call them director, catalyst, nurturer, and psychologist; of course much depends on the situation you find yourself in and as such these mindsets will become interleaved as the sessions take place. Being flexible is key.
All of the approaches above and discussion as to creating a creative environment are generic to all producer roles or types and apply equally, no matter the skill set, knowledge, and expertise.
However, if as an individual you possess the practical and theoretical musical skills, then your creative input during the session can potentially be quite considerable. Your musical ability to play, compose, and arrange will allow you to be a more tangible part of the creative musical process.
This may be as basic as suggesting a slight alteration to the lyrics or the melody, through to playing or arranging and introducing new parts or tracks to the song to further enhance the production.
The fine details of all of this will depend on the nature of the artist or band you may be working with and the way in which you have agreed to work together.
As ever, knowing when and when not to use these skills is important, as some artists or groups may be more independent in these areas than others.
This is the first segment in our series by Golding and Hepworth-Sawyer on audio production. Additional segments are available here.
To purchase What is Music Production? click on over to the Focal Press website.
Russ Hepworth-Sawyer is a sound engineer and producer with many years’ experience of all things audio and is a member of the Association of Professional Recording Services and the Audio Engineering Society; a Fellow of the Institute For Learning (U.K.); and a Director of the Music Producer’s Guild. Craig Golding is currently Course Leader for the Music Production degree program at Leeds College of Music in the U.K. and also has an active freelance career in sound engineering and production with over a decade’s experience working in the industry.
Evaluating A System Budget For House Of Worship Clients
Success often lies in the smallest of details
How do you establish priorities for your operating budget each year? Do you have a five year plan for your ministry, a solid idea of where you want to be in the future, and a way to stay on task?
Do you find yourself constantly putting out fires, using duct tape and tin foil solutions, and never quite hitting the mark?
In preparing to write this article, I enlisted the help of our ChurchSoundcheck Discussion Group. I found their input especially interesting. Here’s a sampling of their comments:
One thing that always seems to be missing from small to medium and even some larger church budgets is a maintenance / emergency / contingency fund. For example, the new IEM system gets put on hold for another year as soon as a dimmer pack fries or a monitor amp goes!
And when was the last time the church had a pro come in and check/reset gain structure, EQ, and do a component check? It is surprising how often a church has a weak amp or blown component in their cluster and do not even realize it.
There are often complaints about the sound and the MoM/Pastor/Techies start talking about upgrades, when what they really need to do is to repair damaged components such as damaged cables, tape machine maintenance, projector and stage light lamps, lavaliers for wireless packs and non-functioning hearing assistance receivers.
The little things can add up to major dollars over the course of a year. I say protect the money set aside for new stuff by having a large enough maintenance budget to get the equipment functioning and keep it there.
I’ve just started on my items for the next fiscal year. I always submit a decent list of items. I don’t break them down by need. I just give them my list.
“I do however have the items broken down on my list as follows:
1) Equipment I want
2) Equipment we need but could do without
3) Equipment we should have
4) Last, but not least equipment we must have
“Needless to say, by the time the list goes through the review process I usually end up with some of what we must have.
We handle all maintenance with a maintenance fund. Money is put into it every month. The current balance is in the area of $25,000. All maintenance costs are taken from it (audio, video, computers, recorders, heating systems, paint, vehicles, etc).
This way we don’t have to budget for maintenance, unused money is carried over from year to year, and we don’t have to go to the board for money every time something needs to be fixed. It’s been working very well.
I believe the three most important items are:
1) Capital expenditures for new equipment, equipment replacement/upgrades
2) Repair and Maintenance
3) Supplies: cost of disposables such as audio & video tapes, CDs, MDs, batteries, batteries, and more batteries.
One thing that I think we most overlook is the rental of extra gear for special events. I think that is a major item and should be included but I’m not sure if it’s a separate category or included in one of the above.
These folks have hit it on the head, haven’t they? Based on my own experience, the supplies category gets the most attention. Not that it should be first, but it’s the operational fire that needs to be extinguished each week.
For example, do you ever find yourself driving to church for the services one day only to realize in a panic that you’re out of fresh batteries, which of course has you diving into the nearest gas station with a food mart to grab a couple of incredibly high-priced 9-volt batteries?!
You know what happens. You’ve evaluated the supplies issue and ordered the quantities you think you’ll need for the worship center. But then, right before the service, somebody from the youth ministry rushes up to you begging to “borrow” a couple of 9-volt batteries.
Standing in line behind them is someone from the Children’s Ministry asking for a battery and some gaffers tape. A few minutes into the worship service, someone from the Senior Adults Ministry is tapping you on the shoulder asking to for a cassette/DAT tape.
Sound familiar? Of course, that’s never happened to me, but it’s far better to stay on top of the supplies issue. In fact, in an all-volunteer tech support ministry, I think it’s especially helpful to assign one member of the team to simply manage supplies.
If an aspiring audio team member really doesn’t want to mix, but they are exceptional organizers, then hire them! They can maintain an inventory of the supplies, and be responsible for filling out the purchase orders, placing the orders with the usual suppliers (or running to the local store for those supplies), and keeping everything organized.
To minimize costs try buying in bulk whenever possible. The cost of those batteries and cassette tapes will drop to a dull roar if you can buy them in quantities that will get you through a month or two at a time.
Equally important, you’ll have extra supplies on hand when someone walks up to you on Sunday morning with their hand out.
I couldn’t agree more with Keith Thompson’s urging that churches should pay more attention to the ongoing need for maintenance and repairs. I’ve had similar experiences. I’ve been in two different churches in recent years where the high frequency drivers were blown in all of their main loudspeakers, and yet no one realized it.
All they knew is that it didn’t sound as good as it used to. That’s the time to call in a professional either a consultant or a reputable contractor. Recognize if the item is worth repairing, or if it should simply be replaced instead.
A long time ago I had to get over the idea that an inexpensive cassette deck is simply a supply item. If it costs more to fix it than it does to replace it, just toss it out, buy a new one, and get on with life. I know, it doesn’t seem right to throw something you paid $300 for into a dumpster but, unless you’re a trained repair technician, get used to it.
There is wisdom in renting the gear you need just on occasion.
For example, a great many churches find themselves in need of extra wireless mics now and then, especially for those Christmas pageants. Some can’t yet afford to install subwoofers, but want to add some extra weight to their sound for their Easter drama pageant.
Extra stage lighting fixtures and special effects devices are good rental items to consider. And who needs to buy a phone hybrid? I can only recall two times in the last 20-plus years of working with churches that I needed to feed the house system with a live phone conversation between someone on stage holding a mic and a missionary overseas talking on a phone. It just makes no sense to buy something like that.
A well-stocked, reasonably priced rental company provides an excellent service for churches with these kinds of occasional equipment needs. It pays to shop around, though. Several years ago I paid as much as $4,000 to rent a few high quality wireless mic systems for several weeks.
A few years ago, I found a company that would rent me the exact same units for the same time period for about $1,400. As you’re filling out your next annual budget, remember to include a line item for general rental needs.
Usually there is a separate budget for major productions. Renting wireless mics for your Christmas pageant, for example, should come out of the Christmas pageant budget, not your annual operating budget.
This is where you put more expensive gear that you know you’re really going to need in the near future. For example, if the FOH mixing desk is really showing its age, and it’s past due for a replacement, be sure that a reasonable price for a suitable replacement is tagged in the church capital budget.
Try to think well into the future. If you can project that high ticket items under your command such as mixing consoles, video projectors, computers, etc. should be replaced within the next five years, then get those items on the capital budget list now.
Let the senior pastor, administrator and especially the finance officer get used to the idea. Give them time to develop a plan that will ensure that the money is there when you say you’re going to need it. Don’t forget to remind them on occasion, and be sure to ask for it when the time comes.
If you don’t, they just might decide that they want to replace the carpet in the foyer instead of buying your new console! Trust me on this.
At one point, my signing power as the Audio Director of a reasonably large church was $500. A couple of years later, they dropped that to $250. At first, I felt insulted. Later, as I thought about it, I realized my diminished purchase authorization was a blessing in disguise.
This meant that any purchases that I needed to make for the sound systems that were over $250 apiece didn’t come out of my $25,000 operating budget. As such, funds for a desperately needed wireless mic didn’t come out of my supplies budget.
Time Is Priceless
I’d like to add one more item to the list, and that is time. I know very few people who aren’t going through this life racing to meet one deadline or another. Not that it’s right, or even good, but certainly common.
Some of those time goals are self-imposed, while much of that activity is directed toward putting out fires that other people have created for us.
People usually want their problems to be your problems, and some are especially good at delegating. I would consider time to be the most valuable category on the list.
Curt Taipale heads up Church Soundcheck, a thriving community dedicated to helping technical worship personnel, and he also provides expert systems design and consulting services with Taipale Media Systems.
More articles by Curt Taipale on PSW:
Tune Up: Getting The Most From Your Church Sound System
Getting To The Essense Of Effects In Your Church System
Maximizing Your Church Sound Mixing Console With A Logical Approach
Staying Focused - A Path To Excellence In Operating Your Church Sound System
Choosing The Right Console For Your Church Sound System
The Powerful Affect Of Digital Effects In Your System
Who Defines “Good” Sound At Your Church?
Install Your Own Church Sound System? Here Are Some Cautionary Tales
Humor Files: Unintended Amendments To The Laws Of Physics
Church Sound Files: How Do You Know When It’s The Right Time To Upgrade A System?
A question deserving considerable thought and begging a slew of additional questions before making a decision
In this ever evolving world of more, more, more, better, better, better, when is good enough, good enough?
Is it really an absolute necessity to update or upgrade my 15-year-old sound system?
The working life of a sound system can extend well beyond 20 years, and I’ve personally seen systems 30 to 40 years old still in use and functioning quite well.
The question deserves considerable thought, and begs a slew of additional questions:
1. Has your programming changed (added a keyboard, drums, bass……..)?
2. Have you added any additional seating, like additional rows of seats in the front or back?
3. Are you experiencing intermittent problems or shall we say, surprise noises?
4. Has the expectation of your congregation changed?
I not a person who promotes technology for the sake of technology. However, I do enjoy thinking of myself as “hip” and an early adopter.
In fact I owned the original Palm Pilot, one of the first Windows Mobile PDA’s and a Palm Treo Pro phone all purchased right when they were released.
Oh yeah, I forgot the Apple Performa 405 PC I purchased in the early 90’s, the iMac, and now the Macbook pro….. Okay you get it, I love new technology and am not afraid to be one of the early one that jumps in, with some caution.
I am usually not the first, but reside comfortably in the early pack that makes a purchase. I prefer to wait and see the viability and stability of the product.
So what does my personal love of technology have to do with upgrading your sound system? Not much, other than show that I am not an anti-technology kind of guy.
Getting back to the issue at hand. I would like to introduce a fifth question.
5. What is the expectation of people who come and visit your church?
Between 1913 and 1920, Thomas Edison did more than 4000 “blind listening tests” to promote his Phonograph equipment and Diamond disc recordings. Edison would rent theaters and concert halls to do a comparison.
He would hire some of the prominent musicians of the day and have them behind a curtain. The musician would sing a song and then a recording would be played on the Phonograph.
Believe it or not the audience could not distinguish any difference between the two. In other words, they could not decipher if it was live or recorded. If you are like me you have to be saying - Hold on! People had to hear the difference between a scratchy, frequency limited recording and a live person.
I guarantee if we took the exact same equipment and repeated the test today, the majority of people would easily be able to point out what was live and a phonograph recording.
Other than almost 100 years, what is the difference? Reference! What did people in the early 1900’s have with which they could compare the recording?
Okay, by now I think you get the point. There are a number of great reasons to upgrade your audio system however, if it’s still in “working order,” then managing and dealing with the expectations of your congregation (also known as questions #4 and #5) are great reasons to update.
So, how often should a system be updated? Ignoring changes in programming, seating, and any potential issues you may currently be experiencing with your system (do it today if these reasons apply, you are overdue) my answer: if the system is older than your car, it is time to update.
This is my answer primarily because our family drives a 1998 Suburban and two other late 1990s-vintage vehicles. Maybe a better answer is every time the second number in your age repeats (10 years for those not good with numbers and abstract concepts), it’s probably at least time to begin considering upgrading.
Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 25 years.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Factory Direct: A Look At The Powersoft Armonía Pro Audio Suite
Advanced power amplifier control software.
Gone are the days when a so-called dumb, brute force power amplifier was the simple connection between front-of-house electronics and the loudspeaker system.
We’re now in the age of the smart amplifier that is both software and audio driven, creating a close marriage between audio control software and the power amplifier.
In short, the power amplifier has now become a technology platform capable of supplanting many other pieces of gear that were stand-alone units like crossovers and room-tuning EQ units.
To meet the challenges of this union, Powersoft has created PC-based Armonía Pro Audio Suite advanced control software to manage its K, Q, D, Duecanali and QTU1400 Series amplifiers.
Armonía provides unique capabilities that allow system engineers to efficiently maximize the interaction between the amplifier and loudspeaker, while providing programmable control of key features like damping, EQ, limiting and crossover.
The full expression of Armonía is available to Powersoft amplifiers equipped with DSP and AESOP (AES3 and Ethernet Simple Open Protocol) cards.
But to develop Armonía, we needed to consider the real-world aspects of designing, implementing and running a sound system for touring or installation.
Back to Bass-ics
Ask any engineer, artist, show producer or audience member about the sound at an event and the bass response is usually at the forefront of comments.
Delivering tight, well defined bass frequencies is of paramount importance to the sonic success of an event. We have incorporated our patented Active DampingControl feature into Armonía for precise tuning of system damping for loudspeakers reproducing frequencies under 400 Hz.
Active DampingControl for maximizing damping parameters.
The value expressed for damping describes the ability of the amplifier to suppress undesirable movement of a cone near the loudspeaker’s resonant frequency.
A loudspeaker’s diaphragm has mass and the cone rigidity, the combination of which forms a resonant system. A loudspeaker also generates electric current from its electromagnetic voice coil moving within the magnetic field of the natural magnet structure.
When audio frequencies are applied to a loudspeaker, excess motion can be generated at or near the resonant frequency. So, the greater the damping number, the more control.
This complex relationship between amplifier and loudspeaker relative to frequency is not the only problem.
The effect of cable resistance on a high power amplifier’s performance also becomes significant at low frequencies, as the cable resistance can affect the output stage’s damping factor. As each installation requires different cable runs, the damping numbers can vary greatly.
Active DampingControl is a proprietary algorithm which compensates for cable resistance. This means cable parameters may be entered in either Metric or American Imperial units for cable run length and wire gauge.
Armonía then sets the cable resistance value and the algorithm calculates and applies the appropriate correction.
System engineers can now precisely tune each different setup based on the physical realities of a particular installation, yielding consistent sonic results from a particular amplifier/loudspeaker combination used over various events.
Impedance, Alive & Well
The LiveImpedance feature for Armonía provides a graphic display of instantaneous load impedance against frequency for each channel. This gives the engineer a constant update on loudspeaker and system performance over time as a function of power transfer.
The instantaneous impedance is calculated from snapshot measurements of output voltage and current.
Real-world amplifier loads like loudspeakers have a complex impedance relationship against frequency and power, which means that the impedance possesses both resistive and reactive components.
Because the components are in quadrature with each other, typically separated in phase by 90 degrees, the impedance has both magnitude and phase.
Both quantities are calculated and displayed by LiveImpedance for constant monitoring by an engineer.
LiveImpedance shows instantaneous load impedance against frequency.
With the understanding that an amplifier’s output stage might be constrained by filter assignments from handling the entire audio frequency spectrum or the audio program may not contain certain frequencies at the instant of snapshot, the display may not be a complete, full spectrum plot at any given moment in time and setup.
We color coded Armonía’s displays to show the magnitude of the impedance in ohms and the phase angle of the load in degrees. The default impedance scale is from 0 to 100 ohms and the default phase scale is ±90 degrees.
The magnitude and phase buttons open drop-down lists of alternatives where the impedance scale may be reset to 0 to 25 or 0 to 50 ohms, and the phase scale to ±180 degrees. While the default impedance scale is linear, a logarithmic alternative may be selected to improve the resolution in the particularly important 1 to 10 ohms range.
Apart from displaying the complex impedance interaction, the LiveImpedance graphs can also display reference data derived from the amplifier’s normal (non-DSP) output impedance measurements and imported “ideal” impedance plots from speaker manufacturers.
All these different graphic representations make the engineer’s task of monitoring high output levels of multiple amplifiers over long periods very simple and further enhance an engineer’s understanding of the relationship between the power amplifier and a particular loudspeaker at a live event.
A third complicating factor we needed to address with Armonía in the relationship between the power amplifier and loudspeaker is optimizing power transfer to a speaker.
To accomplish this, the TruePower limiter feature yields controlled operation for longer driver life by maintaining safe output power levels referenced to frequency and true load impedance. Armonía’s power limiter section allows the user to select one of two methods of power calculation: TruePower and Equivalent Power at 8 ohms.
TruePower is the preferred setting to choose when the number of loudspeakers connected to the amplifier channel is a known quantity.
TruePower limiting fosters controlled operation for longer loudspeaker driver life.
It is based on averaging real-time measurements of output voltage and current to define the limiter’s intervention point for power limiting in order to stay within a speaker’s safe operational range.
With this information, Armonía is able to estimate the instantaneous power available at the amplifier terminals. TruePower also features a peak limiting section to cover all the signal bases.
Choosing the Equivalent Power at 8 ohms setting will result in all power calculations being based on an arbitrary 8-ohm load.
The output voltage is still measured and from that information the output current and power can be derived. Working essentially as an RMS voltage limiter, this mode is useful when the number of loudspeakers connected to the amplifier terminal is unknown.
Modeling In Fashion
Armonía also offers an amplifier modeling feature that can address amplifier DSP and routing online or offline.
In offline mode, Armonía lets a systems engineer plan out an intended system of any size at the office (or even on a tour bus or plane) using virtual amplifiers for programming before connecting to a network.
This is very useful to the engineer to match amplifiers with appropriate DSP functions like crossover and EQ to loudspeakers before the system is on the truck. This also gives a clear picture of system resources needed for a particular event.
When used in online mode, system information can be sent or retrieved from the synchronized network. From here it is possible to copy an amplifier’s presets to the PC running Armonía and vice versa, including the very useful option of copying a set of presets to multiple amplifiers simultaneously.
All parameters designed in offline mode can be sent to the online actual amplifiers and, when used with the optional Powersoft Ethernet KAESOP board, a system engineer can extend the network to a virtually unlimited number of amplifiers through either auto-addressing with self-assigned IP addresses or end-user configurable IP addresses.
Making The Connection
Armonía is an Ethernet-based software package that offers full control of all amplifier parameters while accommodating AES3 audio on the same cable.
The software has built-in redundancy and extensive logging and alerting features designed to provide worry free operation for the sound engineer.
The platform delivers control and monitoring of all amplifier functions including AC mains current draw, headroom, protections and faults. The software also includes advanced grouping options.
Armonía is also compatible with both the latest offerings and many of our legacy products. Powersoft amplifiers can connect to a PC running Armonía in two ways: through an RS-485 serial connection or via Ethernet.
Amplifiers of the K and Duecanali Series can be equipped with either or both methods of connectivity while earlier remotely-controllable models have only an RS-485 connection. A system can be configured using both connection pathways simultaneously, extending the functional life of older amplifiers.
With an optional Ethernet KAESOP board, a network can be extended to a virtually unlimited number of amplifiers.
The range of network topologies which can be used in wiring a real system varies between the two communications methods. Ethernet provides a slightly greater degree of freedom, as standard IT network switches may be used to create multiple hub-and-spoke systems.
A looped Ethernet topology is also permissible, which will provide redundancy in the event of a network failure. An amplifier system using an RS-485 network can either be daisy-chained throughout or use the Powersoft PowerHub as a local switch.
Further, a wireless access point can be made directly to any Ethernet-enabled Powersoft amplifier, allowing wireless control via laptop or tablet PC.
Powersoft employs the IEEE 802.11n standard that currently yields faster, more reliable connectivity, extended usable range, plus offers an increase in available channels over earlier versions. This makes 802.11n far more suitable for use in fixed and tour sound applications where multiple amplifiers need to be addressed.
Ethernet networking also assures faster data refreshing and data exchange between each amplifier and the host computer, delivering real time monitoring of amplifier status, remote connection, mains presence, current draw, input signal, output voltage, internal temperature, short-circuit protection, clip and fault.
Armonía also offers real time control of amplifier on/ off/stand-by levels, solo, mute, sensitivity, max output voltage, max mains current draw, presets locking and input selection (digital/analog/KAESOP).
The final area of focus in the development of Armonía was in providing the capability to program and implement extensive DSP functions affecting both input and output signals.
For those amplifiers equipped with optional DSP cards, a greater range of features and facilities were made available including input and output equalization, alignment delays and FIR filters.
We developed the features list through the input of top industry engineers and system designers to address the real needs of delivering and implementing a sound system, keeping in mind that the amplifier itself was taking over the role previously held by external pieces of equipment.
Equalization was implemented to cover all aspects of system equalization.
As such, Armonía makes available up to three EQ layers of 32 filters each in the input EQ, as well as 16 EQ filters plus two crossover filters in the output EQ. In addition, DSP control was further enhanced by Armonía’s grouping feature which combines input EQ, input delay and input attenuation DSP parameters within a graphic interface that is easy to use.
Preset protection was assured through a multilevel locking feature with invisibility of parameters. The input EQ was designed to be used as either parametric or graphic, depending on the intended mission of the EQ.
Armonía’s DSP remote control also has the capability of importing frequency response curves as ASCII data from the most popular measuring software for an easy re-design of loudspeaker presets on location.
Armonía’s display and graphical interface can be customized according to individual needs.
While the output EQ has a similar general appearance of the input EQ, it has several important differences.
The output EQ curve the amplifier employs was intended to be created from a speaker manufacturers’ data for the particular loudspeaker cabinets or arrays used in a system. It provides a range of hi-pass and low-pass crossover filters as well as 16 individual peaking filters.
It is also possible to import and export crossover/filter response curves. The available filters for crossover include Butterworth, Bessel, Linkwitz-Riley, FIR and Hybrid FIR filters with the turnover frequency fully adjustable for all types.
The filter slope was made selectable in 6dB/oct increments from 6 dB/oct to 48 dB/oct for Butterworth and Bessel types, and in 12 dB/oct increments from 12 dB/oct to 48 dB/oct for Linkwitz-Riley types. FIR and Hybrid FIR filters have slopes which are defined by the turnover frequency, so dedicated slope adjustment parameters are unavailable.
Signal delay capabilities allow the engineer to precisely tune the correct time delay for side fill, under balcony or any speakers that are set up beyond the main front of house system.
The delay functions can insert a per-channel fixed delay in the output equalizer as well as in the input equalizer. The primary use of delays added here is to time-align individual drivers in multi-way loudspeaker systems.
Delay values can be specified as time, in 0.01 millisecond (mS) increments up to 32 mS, or as distance in 1 millimeter increments up to 35-plus feet (10.9 meters).
The distance units may be changed to feet by selecting Imperial instead of International. The distance/ time conversion is based on a sound velocity value of 1,125 feet per second (343 meters per second) in dry air at 68 degrees F (20 degrees C).
The design challenges in creating an amplifier capable of becoming a technology platform controlled by intuitive, feature laden software were legion.
The result was the integration of real-world issues experienced with large sound systems, coupled with hard science, to yield a comprehensive software package.
Claudio Lastrucci is managing director of Powersoft.
Auralex Introduces Cloth Wrapped Foam Panels At NAB 2011
The company is expanding its customer base with the new SonoLite professional grade foam panels.
Auralex Acoustics, Inc. has announced the introduction of a ground-breaking addition to its line of products at NAB 2011; the new SonoLite fabric wrapped Studiofoam Pro panels, with a price that specifically targets those on limited budgets.
The latest entry-level SonoLite fabric wrapped StudiofoamPro panels, now allow the company to expand its customer base by reaching everyday musicians who want to treat a variety of studio spaces.
“Auralex is thrilled to offer this type of product at such an affordable price to both our loyal customers and to those who may be new to Auralex products,” says Eric Smith, founder and president, Auralex Acoustics.
“Auralex’s SonoLite is an ideal acoustical absorption panel for the home-based musician. SonoLite is an aesthetic and price point blend of Auralex’s StudiofoamPro and ELiTE ProPanels, combining the look of the ELiTE ProPanel with StudiofoamPro’s cost.”
SonoLite is a 2′ x 2′ x 1″ fabric wrapped StudiofoamPro panel, available in black or beige, with squared edges that provides an overall Noise Coefficient Rating (NRC) of 0.75.
The new product will be offered at a retail price of $24.99 per panel.
Auralex Acoustics Website
SSL Brings New Functionality To C10 HD Compact Range With V3 Software Upgrade At NAB 2011
The new feature set demonstrates an ongoing development strategy.
Solid State Logic is proud to announce new V3 Software for the innovative and industry-leading C10 HD Compact Broadcast Console at the 2011 NAB Show.
The new V3 software release introduces a range of new features and options that significantly expand the capability of the C10 HD, demonstrating the company’s ongoing development strategy.
The C10 HD turned the industry upside down by delivering exceptional power at an attractive price point, and the legacy continues with the V3 software.
“The acceptance by the industry of the C10 HD is nothing short of remarkable,” says Piers Plaskitt, CEO of SSL, Inc.
“Sales continue to climb worldwide and, with the addition of the new V3 Software, the C10 is more desirable than ever. The C10 is more powerful and connectable and will continue to lead the industry well into the future.”
The winning formula for C10 is a unique combination of large console power and features delivered in a compact, affordable and extremely intuitive package.
In particular, a range of automated features and simplified controls make the C10 ideal for environments where users of varying skill levels will operate the console.
The new V3 software release includes a range of great new features which significantly expand and enhance the appeal of the product.
Highlights of the new software include ‘C-Play,’ another industry first from SSL, which integrates a professional audio Playout system into the console surface, delivering superior ergonomics for the operator, integrated recall of Playlists with console projects and a competitive price benefit. Compatibility with external studio systems is significantly enhanced.
V3 includes integration with Mosart Medialab Newscast Automation. Mosart is one of the world’s leading production automation systems and adds to existing
support for Sony ELC and Ross Overdrive. Full duplex connectivity with Reidel RockNet Audio Networks (including remote preamp control and compatibility with their Independent Gain System) expands compatibility with installed audio networks.
Audio Follow Video capabilities are also enhanced with independently programmable ramp on/off fade times.
Improving on a class leading set of redundancy capabilities, V3 introduces Loop Redundancy Mode for the SSL MORSE Stagebox and the new Alpha-Link Live-R MADI I/O unit. Building on the success of the Alpha-Link Live low-cost console I/O unit, the new Alpha-Link Live-R unit adds a set of Redundant MADI optical fiber connections to the existing Alpha-Link Live low cost console I/O unit.
The new Loop Redundancy Mode reduces the number of cables required for redundant fibre system installation and doubles the amount of audio signals that can be passed between the C10/C100 and the modular B-RIO I/O Unit.
V3 also brings several surround production additions. The 5.1 Fold-down system adds user adjustable individual center, rear (LS and RS) and LFE gain setting, an overall stereo output level trim and a new M-3 M-6 mono fold-down option. A new 5.1 BLITS Tone Ident generator routes to all 5.1 format PGM, ASG, channel and utility Buses.
Additional significant features include an Automatic Mix Minus Off-air Confidence Cue and Conference Mix option that improves communications in fast paced talk show environments. Gate/Expander and Program Delay options to enhance the C10’s flexibility to precisely re-time audio in applications that introduce video processing delays.
V3 Software for C10 HD is due for release in June 2011.
Solid State Logic
Monday, April 11, 2011
Extron Announces Long Distance HDMI & DVI Extenders At NAB 2011
Extenders can be used as point-to-point solutions or integrated within switching environments to extend inputs or outputs to remote locations.
Extron Electronics has announced the introduction of the DTP HDMI 301 and DTP DVI 301 twisted pair extenders for long distance transmission of HDMI or DVI plus bidirectional RS-232 and IR control signals over a single CAT 5-type cable.
The transmitter and receiver sets are capable of extending 1080p/60 deep color and 1920x1200 up to 330 feet (100 meters).
These features, combined with remote powering capabilities and compact enclosure sizes, make the DTP HDMI 301 and DTP DVI 301 ideal for providing cost effective means to extend digital video, multi-channel audio, and bidirectional control signals in space-challenged environments.
“The DTP HDMI 301 and DTP DVI 301 address our customers’ needs for economical solutions that provide reliable, long distance transmission of HDMI and DVI video plus bidirectional control signals over one twisted pair cable,” says Casey Hall, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Extron.
“These new, high performance extenders enable integrators to take advantage of the benefits of twisted pair over long distances while ensuring high signal quality and integrity.”
The DTP HDMI 301 and DTP DVI 301 extenders support EDID and HDCP transmission, ensuring ongoing communication between the source and display. HDMI 1.3 compatibility enables support for 1080p/60 color depth, 3D formats, and 4K x 2K resolutions.
The DVI transmitter is equipped with a buffered DVI loop-through to support connection of a local monitor. Both models support simultaneous transmission of bidirectional RS-232 and IR signals from a control system, providing remote control to source equipment or remote displays.
The compact DTP HDMI 301 and DTP DVI 301, housed in 1” (2.5 cm) high, quarter rack width metal enclosures, allow for discreet placement. Extenders can be used as point-to-point solutions or integrated within switching environments to extend inputs or outputs to remote locations.
For added flexibility and convenience, separate analog stereo audio signals can be transmitted on a second twisted pair cable. Also, HDMI and DVI transmitters and receivers may be mixed and matched to suit installation requirements.