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RE/P Files: Styx “Kilroy Was Here” Tour 1983

From the archives of Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine. a tour with several interesting twists

By David Scheirman January 18, 2016

Styx North American Tour 1983 (Credit: All images by David Scheirman)

For the Styx tour, Audio Analysts’ chief sound engineer Albert Leccese had some ideas of his own for modifying the TMS-3 cabinets.

The boxes were shipped from England with only the 1-inch drivers pre-loaded.

Then the box underwent acoustical testing in an anechoic chamber at the Canadian government’s National Research Council. Basing his decision partially on this data, Leccese decided to install 15-inch JBL 2225 units in the low-frequency compartment, and J BL 2445 drivers on the high-frequency horns.

Audio Analysts also is experimenting with additional super-high-frequency units to be used with the TMS-3 cabinets, a new JBL prototype tweeter.

The already sturdy speaker boxes (constructed of 17-ply Finnish birch, butt-jointed, and sealed with marine glue) were then covered over with a super-tough epoxy-bonding paint.

“We discovered this black paint almost by accident,” comments Leccese. “A Canadian chemical manufacturer was throwing this stuff out; it was a byproduct of their regular products. It has turned out to be so good, scuff-resistant and scratch-proof, that we now use it on everything.”

When asked why Audio Analysts had chosen to purchase the Turbosound TMS-3 cabinets for the Styx sound system, Leccese provided a perfect advertising-brochure answer: “It is a very high-Q device . . . a very high directivity factor. The painstaking care that has gone into the research and development really shows. The cabinet acts as a very coherent sound source.” Audio Analysts placed an initial order with Turbosound for 48 TMS-3s, and took delivery of the first 18 for the theater portion of the Styx tour.

Styx engineer Rob Kingsland echoes Leccese’s sentiments about the TMS-3 system: “Wherever you point these things, that’s where the sound goes,” he emphasizes. “I also was particularly drawn to this speaker design due to the very real mid-range reproduction. Right in the vocal range, the most critical area for me, this box is unbelievably smooth.” Kingsland also commented that the Styx system packs more “sound-per-pound,” and thug saves on labor costs, truck space, and get-up time. (Of course, the game could be said for most composite speaker systems.)

TurboSubWoofer Cabinet
Although the TMS-3 speaker system was designed as a self-contained, full-range system, some customers, including Albert Leccese of Audio Analysts, had asked for the development of a subwoofer system to complement the three-way box in the lower register.

A foot or so deeper than the TMS-3, and not quite so tall, the subwoofer cabinet houses a single 24-inch cone driver that loaded into an identical and larger version of the Turbo-based device. A year of R&D by Turbosound engineers Tony Andrews and John Newsham went into the design of the 24-inch speaker. The first run of speakers was hand-made by Andrews and Newsham.

“This speaker has a 4-inch voice coil, and we rate its power-handling capacity at 700 watts,” Newsham says. “It took us months to find just the right paper to use for the cone. We tried everything, and finally settled on a heavy craft paper. We hand-formed the cones, and bonded them initially with quick-set adhesive. We get the baskets cast from one supplier, and the magnets from another.”

Newsham is currently on the road with the Styx tour, overseeing the system, and working as Kingsland’s assistant house mix engineer. According to Alan Wick, president of Turbosound, “The 24-inch speakers are still being made by hand at our plant in England. We can only put out 8 or 10 a month, as it is a very labor intensive process.” Wick also comments that demand for the TSW-124 with its 24-inch cone has been high.”

House System Stacking
For the theater portion of the Styx tour, a stack of two subwoofers and five TMS-3s is positioned on each side of the stage, with the boxes in vertical columns of three and four. Additionally, overhead groups of four TMS-3s are flown from a single hanging point per side with a chain motor hoist.

“Ideally, we would have the overhead speakers positioned in a single center cluster, but it was not possible here because of the plaster sculptures above the proscenium,” Leccese points out. “The single point source would have been better, but this is certainly an acceptable compromise.”

The flying clusters were positioned at approximately the mid-point of the thrust balcony. The lower stacked columns were splayed out from each other slightly, with the back center of the theater being on-axis with the two inside columns (detailed in Figure 2). Audio Analysts’ crew chief Everett Lybolt comments that all 22 cabinets —18 TMS-3 and four TSW-124 subwoofers — could be stacked, hung, and wired within less than one hour . . . a definite plus, he offers.

Power Amplifiers
Prior to the Styx tour, Audio Analysts took possession of 88 of QSC’s new Series Three amplifiers. This new generation unit is capable of developing approximately 550 watts into’ an 4-ohm load. “QSC really underrates the output capabilities of their product,” Leccese says. “These amps really dish it out, and are practically (Leccese claims to have left QSC’s prototype Series Three operating on the test bench with an overloaded input into a dead short for several days with no ill effects, failure, or overheating.)

Figure 4

The Series Three boasts a true dual-mono design configuration, with front panel access modules, and a very comprehensive input-output interface. As well as utilizing passive cooling (no internal fan noise), the amplifiers feature a floating internal connector system to prevent contact damage due to road vibration.

“These amps really do run cool,” Leccese says, referring to a bank of QSC amplifiers loaded four to a rack (Figure 4). “They cut our cooling requirements down to half of what was required for my old [amplifiers].” Each rack develops in excess of 4,400 watts RMS. One complete rack was assigned to the four subwoofer cabinets, left and right channels of each amplifier in that rack being bridged to mono, and the resultant 1,100 watts traveled down a doubled pair of 14-gauge speaker cables to a single 24-inch driver, with the purpose of providing over twice the normal amount of headroom. The nine TMS-3 cabinets per side were powered by the remaining three racks.

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