Summer Round-up

The weather is positively autumnal today so I thought it was as good a time as any to round up the summer at Alex Fernie Audio Ltd. Overall, despite the general economic situation, it was a good summer season with some new festival clients added which hopefully we can maintain in the future.

The month of May saw the Inishbofin Arts Festival with a great performance from Mick Flannery. Later that month was the first Festival of the Valleys in Clare. There were a lot of flaws with the organisation of this festival in its first year, but under new management it has promise as an annual event.

June was the Galway Powerboat Festival which lasted for a week. Also on the bank holiday was the Little Havana Festival around the streets of Galway. We were also the audio contractor for the Special Olympics opening in Thomond Park which featured the Cranberries. Litton Lane Audio in Dublin were contracted by us to supply a 24 box Meyer Milo system for the event with Yamaha control at FOH and Monitors.

July was the Film Fleadh in Galway, which required a number of Nexo PS systems as well as featuring a gig by Alabama 3 for the wrap party. Then it was into the Galway Arts Festival. This was our 10th consecutive year working on the festival and there were great shows in our venues from Neil Hannon & Teenage Fanclub. We also supplied the PA for the Hofesh Schechter dance show which was an outstanding success.

Into August and having courted them for a number of years, this year we tendered successfully for the Kilkenny Arts Festival. There were some great world music gigs, the Tindersticks played a great show in what is now my favourite non-venue venue in Ireland - St Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny. We all had a fabulous time in a great city and look forward to doing it again sometime.

Currently, we’re doing a few shows for the Tuam Arts Festival, which is a pleasant, if low key, end to the Summer 2010. As we speak, Druid Theatre are preparing to premiere their production of O’Casey’s “The Silver Tassie” in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre. The show will tour the UK and Ireland over the next few months and is touring, for an Irish production, a comparatively large PA system from us. The touring package includes Nexo S1210s, S1230s, NXAMPs and a Yamaha LS9 for control.

On the inventory side, we rented in a second Venue SC48 for the summer. I’m presently trying to evaluate if we should make the acquistion permanent, however it is difficult to predict how the winter will pan out. Early signs are promising it must be said.

Other smaller acquisitions were additions to microphone stock: KM184s, Shure Beta 98s, Sennheiser 904s, 906s were the main ones. We also added some rigging hardware to offer more options for flying Nexo S12 systems as horizontal arrays.

For those of you using analysis software, I’m finding Spectrafoo a useful addition to the traditional method (ie using your ears). We’ve successfully implemented it as part of our larger PA system setups and, in conjunction with Nexo’s new NS-1 prediction/array design software make implementing multi cabinet PA systems quicker and more accurate.

Finally, we had some Nexo PS10-R2s on sub-hire over the summer. I really liked them and they are certainly a step up from the older PS10.

One other thing, we’re at full capacity with our Sound Support Scheme for the rest of this year. I’ll be releasing details for 2011 in October, and also tweaking the schemes to maintain their appeal for venue owners and gigging bands.

I’ll be disappearing on annual leave over the next few weeks. Thanks to all the engineers, crew, van & truck drivers that worked for us over the summer. Thanks also to our customers, old and new that made Summer 2010 a successful festival season.

Into the Autumn,

Subwoofer arrays, new Nexo RS18 and a letter to Mr. Band Sound Engineer.

Just a short link to an article on building sufwoofer arrays, printed in this months Live Sound International. Quite Meyer specific, but some good info here. Don’t take all of it as gospel, though. There has been some talk over at Prosoundweb about erroneous information going unchecked in the mag, so this is just a disclaimer as I haven’t read this article in detail yet.
Speaking of subs, Nexo are demoing their new RS18 sub in Frankfurt next week. More info
here. Will miss it unfortunately due to the work commitments here

Oh yeah and while I think of it:
Mr band sound engineer, next time you want an extra 3db across your mains and I’m supplying the PA, just ask - I generally oblige. Don’t say all’s cool and you’re happy and then do it on the sly just before your set. Password protection will be making a comeback....

Why you should use a professional audio company

Tighter budgets are an aspect of all economic life these days and the event industry is no exception. Event managers and organisers may be tempted to look at the cheaper audio quotation in an effort to stay within the event budget. Before you put cost before everything in planning your event, consider what a professional audio company can bring to the success of your event.

Correct Advice
Contrary to popular belief, not all sound companies want to hire you equipment you don’t require for your event. Most sound companies will make an effort to discuss your event with you in advance. They will design a sound system based on the size of the room, its audience capacity and the type of performance or event. For larger events, sound companies use highly specialised software in order to accurately predict the sound pressure levels in all areas of a venue.

The loudspeaker system a professional sound company will recommend for your event will give approximately the same audio experience to all members of the audience, no matter where they are positioned in the room. Modern loudspeakers are highly directional, meaning that they can be positioned to minimise acoustic reflections from walls. Loudspeakers are arrayed in such a way that there is a minimal difference in loudness between the front seats of an audience and the seats at the back.

Having a sufficiently large PA system also means that the risk of feedback during your event is minimal. Feedback, and its distinctive the high-pitched whine, most often occurs where a sound engineer is trying to extract maximum level from an insufficiently powerful PA system.

Professional sound companies will also be able to recommend suitable wired and wireless microphones for different applications. Finally, they will be able to advise you on the smooth running of your event in terms of smooth changeovers between different acts and speakers.

The best thing about professional audio companies is that they will willingly give you all this advice for free.

Modern and Sophisicated Sound Equipment
Professional audio equipment has come a long way in the past ten years. Major developments have taken place in loudspeaker and amplifier design. The continuing evolution of digital equipment and digital mixing offer enhanced sound quality for modern event audio.

All professional audio companies have invested to some degree in this new technology which not only gives a superior audio experience to the listener, but also translates into savings on manpower and transport by being better, lighter and more compact than older audio equipment.

To give one example, a modern 48 channel digital console like the Digidesign Venue SC48 offers the same audio control in a package one-quarter the size of a comparable analogue console and processing package from only 5 years ago. The same is true of modern loudspeaker array systems and amplifiers from companies like Nexo, d&b, EV, l’Acoustics and Meyer.

Modern audio equipment is safer. Professional sound companies spend a lot of time and money ensuring that their equipment doesn’t fail on their events. Equipment is regularly tested for electrical safety and rigging equipment is thoroughly overhauled at least twice a year. If equipment should fail during an event, spares will be to hand allowing the event to continue.

Modern audio equipment and systems are more reliable – professional wireless microphone systems from Sennheiser and Shure rarely fail or drop signal these days. Modern audio equipment is more environmentally friendly – it uses less power and costs less to transport. All this makes modern sound companies more efficient and professional in delivering an excellent cost effective service.

Experienced and Qualified Professional Sound Engineers
Professional sound companies value and look after their staff and freelance engineers equally. Even the best sound system can deliver poor results if poorly deployed and operated. So sound companies spend a great deal of time and money ensuring that all employees and freelance staff are fully up to date on their audio systems, health and safety and manual handling procedures.

A full day’s work for a typical sound engineer can often be up to 12 hours. Professional sound companies ensure that their engineers and crews are well paid for work which involves substantial heavy lifting and long periods of intense concentration in noisy and often uncomfortable surroundings. Professional sound companies will schedule breaks and rotate engineers on longer events. Beware of operations that offer “engineers” at minimum wage levels.

Qualified and experienced sound engineers not only ensure the success of an event but also ensure the safety and well-being of audience members and performers alike. Properly laid and dressed cables on stage and throughout the venue are not just neater looking but they also mean that attention has been paid to their safety. Professional sound engineers are aware of the risks posed by excessive exposure to extreme sound pressure levels and will operate sound systems accordingly.

Professional sound companies will be able to produce a health and safety statement and risk assesment checklist on demand for your event. All staff will be fully aware of procedures in the event of a cause for public concern. Professional sound companies carry full public liability insurance and will gladly produce insurance schedules if asked.

And Finally….
Professional audio is a professional business run by professional people. To do it correctly and to maintain the level of investment needed to be successful, it needs to be a 24/365 service. Whilst many part-time or hobby operations can deliver sound, in order to do it consistently well and to meet the needs of artists, performers and the expectations of modern audiences it has to be run as a professional full-time operation by passionate and professional people.

All of us in the professional audio industry look forward to you call.


Using High-Pass Filters

For all you rookies, here’s how to take advantage of the high-pass filter to improve your mixes. Read..

Good News Friday

Media Release

January 22nd, 2010.

New Optimism in Irish Corporate Event and Conference Sector

Galway event sound company, Alex Fernie Audio has reported renewed optimism in the 2010 corporate hospitality and conference sector. “Our website traffic is up 25% and enquiries are up 40% on this time last year” according to business owner and manager, Alex Fernie.

“Irish investment in infrastructure is now paying off. The opening of the new Conference Centre in September puts Ireland on the international map and will have a positive effect for events outside Dublin, as will the new road network”

“The new M6 motorway now allows us to bring audio services nationwide faster and cheaper than before. Also, the M6 means that Dublin head offices are now taking advantage of better value in Galway hotels for their corporate events”

The company, who supplied audio systems for the Volvo Ocean Race Gala Ball in 2009 and Guinness 250, will launch their 2010 Sound Support Scheme today. “This affiliate scheme allows gigging bands and event promoters to fix their audio costs for a year, with savings of up to 40%. Schemes such as this are ultimately great news for the concert-going public as it will allow a reduction in ticket prices”

Along with event audio services to the live music and corporate sector, Alex Fernie Audio provides a range of installed audio systems for the commercial sector. The company also does a range of cost-effective hearing loop systems for companies needing to facilitate staff and customers with hearing difficulties

“We are already planning recruitment for a full-time sound engineer as well as a sales executive to drive the expected growth in installed audio systems”

This message has been sent in the spirit of positivity and as part of Good News Friday – for one day bringing good news back into fashion.


For further information contact Alex Fernie
+353 91 789848.

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2010 Sound Support Scheme

I’ve been working away at this for the past few weeks so it’s great to finally put it out into the world and see what happens.

The idea came to me driving home from a gig one night around Christmas. Wouldn’t it be great if bands, venue owners and promoters could fix their audio costs for a year like they fix any other cost? And spread the payments for the year over a few months? Insurance costs, rent and vehicle costs are fixed for a year, why can’t we do the same with audio hire.

Say your band does 35 gigs a year and you are based in Dublin. You might pay one rate for PA hire and crew in Dublin but once you go elsewhere in the country for gigs, you end up maybe hiring from another local company and paying a bit less. But the gear is different and you aren’t sure what you will end up with on the night. So... you decide to rent from your regular Dublin PA company but they have to charge more than usual to drive to wherever the gig is. So some nights you pay €400 and some nights you pay maybe €600 for PA and crew. But you still get the same fee for playing in Dublin as you do in Kerry. You can see where this is heading....

Or say you have a venue where you put on gigs 20 times a year. You want the same PA system for these of these 20 gigs but you can’t afford to buy it. So you rent it in for each gig. But maybe one or two gigs don’t sell so well and you lose money on the night. What if you could spread the annual payments over 7 months, giving you some cover for shows that don’t do so well on the door and letting you make a killing on the busy nights

Or you run a 3 day festival once a year and a few shows around Ireland for the rest of the year. After a festival everyone wants to get paid. The bands, the lighting and sound companies, the stage company, security, advertising company, the portaloo guy etc etc etc. But you’re waiting on the money from the ticket sales and the concessions to come in and we know how long that takes. What if you could spread the PA cost over 7 months? Would that help?

Sound Support Scheme provides a solution to all these problems.

You get a fixed price for an agreed specification. The crew costs and transport costs to anywhere in Ireland are all included. You pay an upfront fee of 25% and then 6 equal monthly payments.

So if you’re a band playing around the country, you pay the same cost for a gig in Donegal as a gig in Cork. If you start the scheme in say April, by November you’ve paid for the PA. And that means that you pocket all the money from the gigs from December until March but you still have a PA system.

For any more info, have a read of the
Sound Support page on the website or contact me for more information

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