Improving background music through 100V horns

As followers on Twitter may be aware, we have a large number of systems out for various Christmas markets around the country at the moment. Some of which are using 100v line horn systems to cover wide areas as public address/emergency evacuation systems but also to carry background music.

The nature and physics of the traditional 100v horn dictates that the musical bandwidth of the horn speaker is limited and although there are better 2-way horn speakers now available which stand up to the challenge of a full-range sounding speaker, budgets dictated otherwise.

So to provide a system more suited to background music in conjunction with the horn speaker system, I incorporated several 100v or "constant voltage" 2 way speakers into the system design. These would be located closer to head height than the horn system, in areas around the market where people congregate such as near Gluehwein, coffee or Hot-Dog stalls.

The speakers we used were older (and yes, quite cheap) 6.5" speakers that had done their time and already provided a good financial return. The speaker terminals were protected to a degree from the elements using a cut-out PVC junction box glued to the cabinet using Sikaflex adhesive/sealant which was a substance I use in repairing the motorhome.

By selecting a low watt tapping, we were able to integrate them into the horns located nearby. The horns provide the mid cut or "bark" with the 2 way speakers adding bass and some treble fizz. Now it's not hi-fi by any means but the combination is certainly easier to listen to than horn speakers alone.

6.5" 2 way 100v speaker rigged below a pair of traditional 100v horns. The 6.5" speakers aren't hi-fi but make background music at this Christmas Market sound a bit better around hot-dog and mulled-wine stands.


Audio Solutions: Support Bands

It's not easy being the support act. Generally you get the bare minimum of stage space and soundcheck is whatever time is left before the house crew wants to go for food and so on. So after a bit of thought over the past six months, I think I've come up with a few ways that a support act can maximise it's sound check time and get the best out of its alotted stage time.

1. Type out a channel list and draw a stage plan with power and monitor requirements. Word and Excel are fine for this. Try and keep it all on one page. Now send it to the promoter, the band you are supporting and the house sound crew or the PA provider.

2. Be on time. That means too early.

3. Think about providing some of the following items to make the sound crew's life easier. They will like you for this and may be inclined to go that little bit further to make sure your set goes well.
  1. Latin Percussion Mic Claws for the Kick, snare top and maybe also for your under-mic-ed hats and under-mic-ed overheads with some Sennheiser 604's or Shure B98s for your toms. Less mic stands means less stuff to move on and off stage. This means that when you build your kit off-stage, it's mic'ed and ready to be plugged up onstage. Even better, also provide a working, labelled pre-made mic loom for the drum kit. A sound crew will love you for this.
  2. Z mic bars or the Audix CabGrabber for your combos. Again less mic stands to be schlepped onstage.
  3. If you use a lot of DI's for a keyboard or hard-disc set-up consider bringing a rack-mounted DI rack with some XLR cable pre-loomed and labelled. There are some reasonable quality units that don't cost the earth. They may not sound the absolute greatest, but the goal here is to get as much time onstage as you can. Better still, get a small sub-mixer to mix your multiple synth channels down to 2 channels

4. Try and have your gear in a manner that facilitates easy movement. That means the combos should be on wheels and keyboard/midi/laptop setups should be easily pre-wired offstage ready to power up and connect once you are onstage.

We've put together some packages that combine some or all of the above items. If you are interested in discussing your requirements, feel free to
get in touch.


More Than Just PA Hire

I blogged a while back on some things to consider when choosing a PA company, which centred around the level of advice and production values which professional audio hire companies can bring to your event. As the margins on ticketed gigs and other events fall, professional audio hire companies are bringing more to the table than simply providing audio systems and crew.

Outside of my work with Alex Fernie Audio Ltd., I've done a lot of consultancy in a technical management role for events requiring the integration of the various technical aspects to a production. The Irish National Lottery sponsored
Skyfest is one such event requiring the integration of large format PA systems, 100v line horn systems, RF and microwave transmission, large-scale screens and live performance with a fireworks display and the live TV broadcast of a lottery draw. I've also provided stage management services to festival stages, co-ordinating multiple act changeovers whilst ensuring the backstage, performance and viewing areas are safe for artists, crew and audience alike. These are skills I also bring by default when providing a system for a client.

Many professional audio hire companies are now also willing to share the burden of audio production management for festival organisers. Alex Fernie Audio provided systems on a large number of weekend street festivals in 2011 where we not only provided the PA systems for the various outdoor and indoor stages, but also provided and co-ordinated the backline and instrument hire for the client. For the past two years we have provided a similar service to the Kilkenny Arts Festival, taking care of both the PA and the backline/instrument riders for the over 30 acts involved over the ten-day festival.

Some, but not all, professional sound companies in Ireland offer these "added extras" as part of their festival rental packages. So if you are someone who is at the early part of planning for your 2012 events, it may be worth considering what your PA company of choice can bring extra to the table.


The Summer that was: 2011

With the clocks gone back and the evenings closing in, here's a quick run-down of some of the events that we were involved in over the summer of 2011.

June kicked off with the Havana Festival. This 3 day multi-stage event took place on the Bank Holiday weekend around the streets of Galway. The mainstage featured Salsa and Latin-Jazz acts from France, Ireland and the UK. As the stage was located at the bottom of the pedestrian zone and access would be required for delivery vehicles during the day, the entire stage, PA and lighting system had to be built and de-rigged each day. We used a 4 box aside of Nexo S12 in order to get sufficient coverage down the 80m street. As with many street stages, mixing was side-stage via an SC48, though we used a wireless link to be able to have control of the FOH sound from a position in front of the stage. There was also a smaller stage near the Spanish Arch and several smaller gigs in the pubs around Galway's so-called "Latin Quarter". Backline was also supplied - a lot of percussion and keyboards given the nature of the music. Other gigs in June were a small gig in Ballinahinch Castle with Bill Whelan (Riverdance) and the RTE chamber orchestra and the stunning Janelle Monae. Janelle Monae used a large Nexo S12 system with PM5Ds at FOH & MONs which we subhired from Litton Lane.

July opened with a launch of the Galway stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race 2012. Soon, however, we were knee deep in the 2012 Galway Arts Festival with its usual blend of music, theatre, dance and literary readings. I was stage manager also for the Big Top, which had performances from Bell X1, Duke Special, Blondie and De La Soul. PA for the Big Top was a Litton Lane supplied Arcs system. Finally the last week of July was Race Week and we provided a 30 box Nexo S12 line-array system for the mainstage. FOH boards were an SC48 and a Midas H3000. An SC48 took care of monitors. Also in use were Nexo AlphaE side-fills and 8 mixes of SSE MB4 floor monitors. The Stunning and Horslips were some of the headliners over the 4 day festival.

Into August, we had a few days to catch our breath before we loaded a truck bound for Kilkenny's Arts Festival. Ten days, 27 shows. The venues ranged from St Canice's Cathedral, to hotel ballrooms and other smaller church venues. We also supplied backline for all the events. Nexo S12 and PS10R2 were the main boxes used around the various venues, with consoles from Avid and Yamaha. Things were a bit quieter towards the end of August, though we did supply some Nexo S12, NXAMPs and MB4 monitors to Loftsound for Belfast's Mela Festival. September saw "Fever Pitch", a one day indoor festival in Croke Park's Hogan Suite, featuring Royseven, Ryan Sheridan and more. Finally, the Guinness Live festival was a multi-venue event "weekender" which brought Whipping Boy, Jerry Fish and Duke Special to Galway. Consoles, monitors, crew and backline were supplied.


RF transmission: 50 or 75ohm? Does it matter?

This has been a question I've been thinking about for a number of years. All BNC components in the transmission of RF in professional audio (connectors, antennae etc) are 50 ohm - so how much does it matter if we occassionally use 75ohm cable to connect them all together?

I eventually put the question to Henry Cohen, wireless guru at Production Radio Rentals in New York. He replied as follows:

"The reasons the use of 75 ohm coax is not a problem are:
  1. The front end of wireless mic receivers and antenna multicouplers (antenna distribution) are not truly 50 ohms. They're somewhere between 50 and 75 ohms. No RF engineer at any of the manufacturers will tell you their device is exactly 50 ohms over the entire bandsplit.
  2. Antennas are not truly 50 ohms. Remember that antennas are transducers and as such have a variable impedance based on frequency. The relatively wide band antennas used in production wireless can vary anywhere from less than 40 ohms to over 100 ohms depending on frequency and near field (less than 5-6 wavelengths) obstructions.
  3. Your 50 ohm coax is likely no longer 50 ohms given the wear and tear from flexing of the dielectric and connectors.
  4. If one refers to the Smith Chart, a [perfect] 50/75 ohm mismatch results in less than .75dB loss, while the real world presents far greater losses simply be having the talent move around"

LSI May '11: Interview with Jerry Harvey

Clipped this article from this month's Live Sound International, an interview with Jerry Harvey, monitor engineer for Dave Lee Roth and others. IEM innovator and founder of Ultimate Ears. Read....

B.Y.O.C or Bring Your Own Crew or "iDry Hire"

With Irish financial institutions presently unable or unwilling to finance new professional audio equipment, many bands, venues and other AV companies are unable to maintain their equipment upgrade and purchase schedules. If you are an operation that has access to trained sound crew, you may want to consider the dry hire of professional audio equipment for your events and gigs

Dry hire means hiring equipment without any transport or sound crew. At Alex Fernie Audio Ltd, all our Nexo systems, SSE monitor systems and Digidesign consoles are, to the trained and experienced user, simple plug and play. We want our systems to be as reliable and glitch-free as possible for our own shows, so we are happy to stand over our equipment for month long theatre or rock and roll tours.

Druid Theatre did a recent run in Dublin's Gaiety Theatre making use of a Nexo GEO S12 system on dry-hire. In 2010, Druid also took a substantial Nexo PS and S12 system for a three month UK and Ireland tour of "The Silver Tassie"

The Galway Film Fleadh, held every year in early July, minimize their production costs through the dry-hiring of a number of small speaker systems and wireless microphones for the various lectures and Q&A sessions that accompany the many film showings.

The Cuirt Literary Festival also benefit from the dry-hiring of equipment, using in-house technicians in the many venues to use and operate the range of lavalier wireless mics and small PA systems provided by us.

If you think that dry-hire could help your production budget, feel free to contact us via email or call +353 (0) 91 789848

Upgrading input modules (AI16) on an SC48

We noticed a slight noise issue with one of the preamps. Quick phone call to Digidesign and within 2 days they had sent over three entirely new AI16 input modules along with instructions on replacement. We set aside a full morning for the job, and started at 9am....

Remove 26 hex screws on the top panel and the top of the board lifts up on a hinge, revealing the brains.

After undoing the ribbon cable harnesses, you undo 2 thumb screws at the rear of the unit and the four screws on the front of the unit at the back of the board. Use a sharpie to mark the number and orientation of each ribbon cable. Time 9:10am...

Repeat for the other 2 input modules - a socket set is handy for getting into the hard to reach thumb screws lower down. Time 9:30am....

2 modules already fitted, 9:45am

Last module in, refit ribbon cables, following the marks we'd made with the sharpie earlier...

Top and the 26 hex screws replaced. Ready for testing 9:55am....


Full-Time (contract) Sound Engineer Required

Alex Fernie Audio Ltd is a leading Irish specialist in the design, supply and implementation of professional sound reinforcement systems. Located near Galway City, we have a client base that includes major Irish arts festivals, international touring theatre companies, local promoters and major event management companies.

Due to increased business in 2010 and expected contracts in 2011, we are currently seeking a senior sound engineer to work on a full-time contract basis alongside freelance staff.

The ideal candidate will:
  • Have a minimum of 10 years of verifiable employment as a sound engineer.
  • Have a minimum of 8 years of verifiable and varied employment in live sound reinforcement, with a majority of this experience catering to audiences of greater than 1000 people
  • Have an excellent and verifiable track record in providing high quality sound for audiences and artists alike
  • Be comfortable in a variety of roles at FOH, monitors or as system engineer.
  • Be willing and capable of performing minor repairs and/or trouble-shooting in the warehouse or on site if required
  • Be fully conversant with and have actively used at least three of the following digital consoles: Digidesign Venue/Profile/SC48, Yamaha PM5D/M7CL/LS9, Digico SD7/8/9, Soundcraft Vi/Si series, Midas XL/Pro series.
  • Be fully familiar with a variety of analogue equipment from Midas, Allen & Heath, KT, DBX, Yamaha and Lexicon
  • Have configured, rigged, tuned and actively used a modern high performance line-array system by at least two of the following manufacturers: Nexo, d&b, l’Acoustics, Meyer, Martin-Audio, EV.
  • Take an active interest in current and innovative developments in professional audio technology.
  • Be familiar with software-based analysis programmes from Rational Acoustics or Metric-Halo

Also, you will be expected to:
  • Have your own transport and a full, clean European driving licence
  • Have a customer- and/or artist-orientated attitude and focus to all work
  • Be a motivated and dynamic individual with a good sense of humour.
  • Be willing and able to provide advice and quotations to customers in due course and help the company secure sales
  • Be physically fit and capable of long hours and manual handling duties
  • Be capable of organizing and delegating duties to a team when on-site
  • Be aware of all relevant safety legislation and best practice when working on-site
  • Be able to supply own required PPE and essential personal audio tools and equipment

There is no closing date for applications, though we would hope to fill the vacancy before May 2011.

The successful candidate will be required to work 96 hours per month, to a maximum of 1152 hours in a 12-month period. Hours not worked in a given month will be carried forward to subsequent months. Hours worked overtime in a given month will be carried forward to subsequent months or paid at a rate commensurate with salary. A minimum fixed salary will be paid monthly regardless of hours worked.
The successful candidate will be expected to be available for work at all times during the period of contract unless otherwise informed or negotiated with the employer.

Gross salary scale will range from €24,000 to €28,000 per annum, depending on experience.

Interested candidates should send a detailed and relevant CV with reference, together with salary expectations, to info(AT)

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

Technical Riders for Newbie Promoters: Part II

The Technical Rider Continued: Backline, Stage, Risers,
Lighting & Crew

In part I of this series, I discussed elements of a standard sound technical rider. This part deals with the rest of the technical rider.

“Backline” concerns itself with the instruments and amplification of the band. Req uirements for DJs operating in a band environment may also be found here. Most often, bands will carry their own backline. However certain circumstances, such as airline restrictions and schedules, may mean that heavier and bulkier items may need to be supplied by the promoter. Drumkits, keyboards and amplification will be listed in order of preference. Finally, keyboard and guitar stands, drum thrones and other hardware will be listed. Touring bands from the US will often need 220-120v transformers onstage for their own equipment as well as American style 3 pin “edison’ adaptors. European acts may look for “schuko” style 2 pin outlets for the same reason. Reputable backline suppliers will be able to provide anything but the strangest request. Many PA companies will also provide backline as part of their service and will be able to offer PA and backline packages.

Before booking an act for your festival or venue, perhaps the first thing to check is that the band will fit on your stage. A well-written rider will have a minimum stage size specified. Just because a certain 5 piece band fits on your stage, it doesn’t mean that every 5 piece band will. Measuring a stage can be done by anyone and costs nothing but your time. Cramped stages have certain knock on effects. If the singer has to stand right in front of the drumkit, he will need more of his own vocal in his monitors. So the singers monitors are louder, all of a sudden the guitarist can’t hear his guitar amp or his backing vocal in his monitors…well you can guess where this is heading. Ultimately cramped stages end up being louder stages, which ultimately affect the front of house sound which your customers are paying to hear.
Most acts will look for low-level stage sections (risers) for drummers, keyboard or brass sections. Cramped stages often mean that risers can’t be used – so the drummer ends up hidden behind the front line singers and guitarists.

If your stage is too small, enquire about hiring extra stage sections. Again, your local production company will be able to help. If your venue is too small to accommodate the minimum stage size requested by the act, then you better get emailing quickly. DON’T ASSUME THE BAND’S CREW WILL WORK IT OUT ON THE DAY. Generally, if you are upfront with a band on any aspect of a rider, they will come to an agreement or be able to work something out in advance of the show.

As I mentioned in part one, touring theatre shows will have an in depth specification of the lighting fixtures required and will forward on a detailed plan of where they are to be hung in advance of the company’s arrival. Lighting for a theatre show is an integral part of the performance and should be treated as importantly as booking flights and accommodation. Lighting riders for bands are generally less specific and many promoters make the mistake of trying to save money by offering minimal lighting. Effective lighting brings atmosphere and excitement to an act’s performance and will add to the audience’s enjoyment. If you want bands and audiences to return to your venue again, make an effort to contact your local professional lighting company to discuss the bands requirements with them.

Unless you are a qualified professional, DO NOT EVER attempt to hire some lights and hang them yourself over the stage or audience area in order to save money.

Finally, a band may require two or more people as crew to help un-load and load their van. Don’t EVER assume that because you have hired a sound guy and a lighting guy that they will do this. They will have enough to do. If a band requires two people, PAY these two people otherwise they will either not show up for the load out, or they will be drunk at the load out, or they may not show up at all. Nothing makes a roadie cranky like the local crew not showing up sober and on time.

NEXT: More stuff on riders for newbie promoters. How the professionals deal with riders. Why heeding the rider makes business sense for a promoter.

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Why a Rider isn't a "wishlist": Part I

Many people new to promoting events may be bemused by the artist’s accompanying rider. The rider is a document which forms part of the legally binding contract between the promoter and the artist or performer and should not be ignored. An artist’s rider is not simply a “wishlist” to be approximated in the interests of budget or expediency but an integral part of the performance.

It can generally be divided into two sections; a hospitality rider and a technical rider. The hospitality rider deals with accommodation, dressing rooms, food, beverages and security and contain items that are easily organised by most people in a hotel. The technical rider is, to non-production types, often a bewildering array of technical shorthand, model numbers and jargon. If you do not understand a technical rider, don’t sign it until you have consulted with a professional production person.

The quickest way to interpret a technical rider is to pass it on to some reputable sound and lighting companies in your area and ask them to price it – remember, unless you are sure your venue can accommodate the technical rider you will have to pay for any extra equipment. But just so that you have some idea what it’s all about, here’s a quick 101 on artist technical riders.

For music acts, the sound system forms the bulk of the technical rider. Touring theatre companies will concentrate more on the lighting side and will provide a lighting plan which will need to be accommodated by your venue.

FOH or Front of House system is the sound reinforcement system that the audience will hear. Professional engineers will look for reputable, relatively modern brands and designs that they are familiar with and also that there is enough “rig for the gig”. They will most often give a list of suitable systems and need enough of it to provide consistent sound throughout a venue. Professional sound engineers will never simply state that they need “a 4kW PA” or something similar.

FOH console is the mixing desk. The engineer/artist will want one that can accommodate all the individual channels from the stage and again, one that is a reputable, modern design. Most professional sound engineers no longer have a problem with using a digital board – some prefer them to analogue mixing desks. Again a list of acceptable digital boards will be listed. If an engineer explicitly states that she does not want a digital board, then suitable analogue boards will be listed. Do not assume that just because an act only needs 16 channels they are just being smart by asking for a 32 channel desk. Analogue boards will require a certain amount of outboard equipment; again suitable makes and models will be listed. Makes and models not wanted will be explicitly listed.

MONS or Monitor System deals with the speaker system the artist hears onstage and as such is in some ways more important than the FOH system. Do not try to skimp on the monitor system. Similar to the FOH system (see - you’re learning the jargon!), reputable, modern brands and designs will be preferred and listed. Monitor systems for bands will need to provide high sound pressure levels, and often detailed monitor speaker design and processing will be given. For larger venues and acts, an analogue or digital Monitor Console and outboard will be requested in a similar fashion to the FOH console.

Generally these specifications are followed by a
stage plan and a channel list. The channel list will detail what microphones and other equipment is needed such as short or tall mic stands. The stage plan will show where everything goes and will help your venue or house sound engineer get everything ready in advance of the band arriving. The stage plan will also detail where power is needed on the stage.

Finally, you may see some makes and models of equipment listed on the rider as
UNACCEPTABLE. There is generally a good reason for this. Maybe they break down a lot. Maybe they just sound bad to a trained ear. Maybe they are simply useless products. NEVER ASSUME THAT A PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER OR ARTIST IS SIMPLY BEING AWKWARD, STUCK UP OR IGNORANT. If in any doubt, get a professional opinion.

Just like you, the band and their technical crew want the audience to enjoy the show so that no-one dies, we all get paid and we all go home. So remember a technical rider is just that, it’s not a wishlist but it is a list of necessary and minimum items required to do the job.

NEXT: The Backline and Lighting Rider.

AND AFTER THAT: How professionals deal with riders and advancing a show

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Photos March 2010

I’m not a great one for remembering to take photos, but here’s 3 from the last few weeks.


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.