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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,

Venue SC48, Wireless control, Spectrafoo

Getting bored with the grind of office work in the last few days I decided to disappear into the warehouse and play. I’ve been meaning to do a few things with the Venue SC48 but with hire schedules I haven’t had my hands on it for a while.

So loaded the Ecx software onto the console and onto my mac. This allows control via ethernet or wirelessly via a router. All worked first time. For the fun, I downloaded Mocha lite for the i-Phone and was able to view and edit certain setting within the limits of the app. The full version of Mocha gives you a virtual mouse control which is needed to have control over EQ and faders.

20 years of gigs can’t do your hearing any favours and worst is you don’t know if what you are hearing is real or imagined. So I’m biting the bullet and have purchased a copy of spectrafoo. I would love to have the new Smaart 7 but at the level we’re at, the functions available on Spectrafoo standard are standard. I’m presently using the Audix TR40A as the measurement mic.

The great thing about the SC48 is its firewire interface allows you to route the measurement mic and master returns to Spectrafoo via firewire, which saves having to have an extra unit in the rack for FFT duties. Still getting to grips with it so more later.

Please post or tweet with any tips or suggestions

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....

Website, New Products, Audio tips

We’ve added a number of new product lines for the start of 2010. Firstly a range of ceiling and wall-mounted 100V speakers and systems from ADS Worldwide and secondly a range of induction loop systems. More details under the sales link of Alex Fernie Audio.
I’m very excited by the Induction loop kits from Signet, they are easily installed, affordable and offer a solution for businesses and organisations looking to facilitate hearing aid users.
There are an estimated 58000 people in Ireland with a hearing disability - can you afford not to be able to communicate with them?

I’ve just finished giving the website a bit of a sheen for the New Year, a few new photos here and there and some extra information on our product range also.

As a bit of a taster, there was a good article in Live Sound International in December 2009 on Gain Structure which you can download and read
here. A must read if you are starting out in the world of live sound mixing and you would be amazed at the amount of sound engineers I meet in an average year that don’t understand these basic principles, so read up!

SC48 at work

So it’s a been a busy few weeks. Fortunately, the SC48 has been hard at work since its arrival 3 weeks ago. Over the past 2 weeks we’ve had a few shows with the Blizzards, Imelda May, Wallis Bird, the Magnets as well as the inaugural Galway Halloween Aboo Festival. The SC48 continues to impress. Though there is still some resistance to the digital console, the sound quality of the SC48 is really putting the analogue Vs digital debate to bed. though most of its gigs so far are at FOH, I did get to use it myself for monitors for Imelda May last week. Hopefully tomorrow I can spend a bit of time setting up a few events and user profiles to improve workflows as a monitor board.More soon....

Venue SC48 & new monitor system

After 3 years of constant service, my Logic System LM15 monitors have been retired. Although a great box, they weren’t universally liked by visiting engineers and the fact that they were a passive cabinet didn’t always make them very rider friendly. After much searching and listening and costing, I decided on the MB4 monitor made by SSE audio. Though by todays standards they are rather big and heavy, they sound superb and with processing via a KT 9348, require little or no EQ.

Finally, the last purchase for the next 12 months is a Digidesign Venue SC48. Again having costed, used and listened to virtually every digital board in that size, the SC48 was a no brainer. It’s a full 48 in 16 out console. It’s quick, it’s stable, it’s great fun to use and it integrates seamlessly with the other Venue surfaces. The plug-ins that come with the board are very good and the effects are a serious step up from any other board in its price range.

Added to all this, integrates with Protools LE via firewire offering a virtual soundcheck/record function for 18 fully assignable tracks. First gig tomorrow so more on this soon.


The Future?

There’s an interesting topic currently over at prosoundweb called the next big thing. Basically, what’s next for the sound industry. I haven’t chimed in myself yet, but there was one poster who suggested that the future could be bleak for small regional providers, given that the cost of equipment is falling and the quality generally improving in the MI sector. This will increase growth of very small, hobby-ist providers.

Whilst small providers with one small system will always be able to provide budget solutions for small local events, the financial outlay for truly professional systems will keep it a relatively small but highly competitive market. The challenge for regional providers is to be able to match these small operators in price but exceed them enormously in terms of sound quality and service. Small event managers need to be aware of the potential public liability exposure in the event of equipment failure causing injury to artists and audience.

On another note, having said Yes to Lisbon, it’s good to reflect on how the EU has helped the Irish audio industry compete in Europe. The combination of free trade and the Euro has increased the number of potential suppliers available to Irish-based sound companies. Where once Alex Fernie Audio imported most equipment from the UK, now we can add both German and French suppliers to the many UK and Irish suppliers for equipment and consumables. The major challenge facing Irish sound companies at present is competing with the lower labour costs in Northern Ireland and the UK. More on that another time.

As to the website, I’ve added a bit to the media side of things with information on some of the causes we support.

Finally, I’m waiting patiently on an LS9 to add the hire stock. In the short term this will be out constantly with the New De Dannann, but will be available for one off jobs also. More new products are being added throughout October. More on this soon.


New Blog

So I’ve moved my blog from over at blogger to the company website.