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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)

Power Distribution
AC power for the Audio Analysts’ sound system and the band’s stage gear was supplied by a distribution panel of the company’s own design and manufacture.

A fairly typical road AC system, it supplies up to 200 amps per leg, three-phase.

A digital voltmeter on each leg is constantly reading voltage, and can be switched over to register current draw in amps. Distribution lines running out to various demand areas are joined to the panel with Hubbellock connectors.

Monitor System
The stage monitor system utilized for the Styx tour was perhaps as complex as any currently in use. Two brand spanking new Soundcraft Series Four mixing consoles were overseen by Mike Cooper, the band’s personal monitor mix engineer for the past five years (Figure 5).

“What l have here is a 40-channel board and an auxiliary 26-channel board, giving me 66 inputs,” Cooper explains. “These really are the first Series Four consoles in use… I have serial numbers #0002 and #0003. The primary board takes the vocal mikes and solo instruments; I’ve loaded extra percussion, auxiliary keyboards, and tape returns from the house on to the 26-input board.”

The two monitor consoles are tied together via bus transfer, and were set up by Soundcraft to be a linked pair; a circuitry modification was incorporated into the units by the factory at Audio Analysts’ request.

As of this writing, 11 of the available 16 mix outputs were in use on the tour, as detailed in the accompanying table. (Cooper did feel that he might add another mix or two as the tour got underway, however.) Five mixes covered the downstage areas; two were used for overhead mixes left and right; and three covered the upstage performance areas. The remaining mix was a feed to one of the EXR Exciter sides, primarily vocals and percussion, which was then brought back into selected primary mixes.

Figure 5

Monitor Signal Processing
Four monitor electronics racks were used to house a host of processing devices: graphic and parametric equalizers, compressor-limiters, EXR Exciters, noise gates, and a real-time analyzer (Figure 6). “Much of my processing is done with individual channel inserts,” Cooper comments.

“I am using a noise gate on every single drum; six individual [Valley People] Kepex IIS. Additionally, I have a side of dbx 160 compression for each of two kick drums, the bass guitar, and the bass pedals. I also use a frequency-triggered noisegate [OmniCraft GT-4] on the top snare drum mike, which really lets me get a crisp snare sound with tons of gain, but very little bleed through of the stage instrument noise.”

Figure 6

Nine sides of EXR Exciter were used as individual channel inserts on each vocal mike, the hi-hat, and overhead cymbals. A tenth side received its own mix, which was then available to be brought up in any monitor mix that needed more definition. “The Exciters give the listeners—in this case the performers themselves—a subjective impression of greater intelligibility,” Cooper explains. “The words are easier to understand, and they are worth using for that reason alone.”

Each monitor mix followed an interesting signal path from the console to its respective amplifier channels, as detailed in Figure 7.

At the Soundcraft console, insertions were made into the mix output summing amp. The signal first hit a dbx three-band parametric equalizer, and then a Phase Linear third-octave graphic, before returning to the console.

“This lets me visually shape a curve, and still have filters left over which I can sweep the program material with to locate feedback rings,’  Cooper says. “I don’t have to use a lot of heavy EQ, but it’s sure there when need it.”

Figure 7

From the mix output on the console, the signal is fed into a John Meyer crossover and signal processor, and finally into QSC amplifier channels that power the low- and high-end components in the monitor cabinets.

When this writer remarked that Cooper’s graphics were depicting an unusually smooth system response, he attributed this to the Meyer Sound Laboratories’ electronics and speaker cabinets.

“The Meyer system offers a speaker system which is very flat to begin with,” he explains, “and their crossover is not just a crossover; it has amplitude and phase-coherency correction, as well as three limiters. There are two broad-band limiters and a peak limiter; the high-frequency limiter is a sort of sliding-type which narrows or widens its effect to take out only the peaks which are altering the system’s correct frequency response. And, it is a very fast circuit, so it works well for pulling out feedback transients.”


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