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Got VENUE? Solve Church Mixing Challenges with VENUE Tech Notes

Whether you’re mixing large vocal groups, faced with acoustically challenging spaces, or looking for timesaving solutions to tackle common mixing tasks, we’ve got answers. Check out our series of VENUE Tech Notes, designed to help house of worship engineers successfully resolve common issues and achieve the best mixes possible, quickly and easily.


 


Mixing Choirs with VENUE. Download PDF.


 




 


 


Mixing Worship Vocal Teams with VENUE. Download PDF.


 




 


 


Using VENUE Events to Streamline Workflows. Download PDF.


 




 



Posted by: Adam Kranitz on Dec 2, 2012 at 9:00:00 pm Live SoundVENUE
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Hello and welcome to the Time Machine


 


This month Rush gears up to head out on the road to finish their Time Machine tour. We’ve loaded into a space for a couple of weeks of expensive hotel-dining, evening hockey-viewing, NCAA bracket-busting, and band rehearsals—otherwise known as “preproduction.”


 


If you’ve poked around the blogs here—and I recommend it—you’ve read wonderful material about how VENUE and Pro Tools work together live. Greg Price’s posts from the Ozzy tour have offered fabulous insight into on-the-road workflow. I’d like to try to emphasize the power of these tools before the tour starts. Loads of valuable work can get done during this time, and the VENUE/Pro Tools combo has tons to offer besides sound checking with cardboard cutouts of the band, as extraordinarily useful as that feature is.


 


Fundamentally, the VENUE/Pro Tools combination offers an opportunity during preproduction that you won’t have for the rest of the tour—the chance to screw up big time without severe repercussions. Personally, once a tour is up and running, I develop a very healthy aversion to taking major risks. Everyone makes mistakes, but mistakes during a show are magnified, and big mistakes during a show are magnified in a big way. This isn’t to say one shouldn’t try new things—just that one might want to try them when one is alone.


 


Preproduction is the perfect place for experimentation that you can’t do on a show day. You can try a new mic or you can try several new mics at once. You can ditch the mics and try a DI. You can set up a truly blind listening test on playback and humiliate yourself by picking the cheapest mic as the best sounding. You can feel your sense of self worth restored when everyone else picks it as well. You can try a plug-in you’ve never tried without fear of retribution when it sounds bad and still take credit when the band says it sounds good! The chance to take chances reaches its height in this environment, and you can never do this again, until the next tour.


 


Furthermore, there’s never a time quite like preproduction to focus on the finer points of the mix. It’s tough putting on a great-sounding show in a hockey rink or convention hall even when it’s well rehearsed and refined. Building that mix from scratch in a preposterously bad sounding environment is orders of magnitude more difficult. You will likely have your hands full making sure the vocal is even audible. In preproduction, you can forget about riding the vocal for a time. Heck, mute the thing! Go work on equalizing the guitar in such a way that you might find a place for the vocal later. Adjust the tom gates. Correctly! When you do get into that echo-dome, you will find your job made easier having properly laid the groundwork.


 


One other significant thing: preproduction is the one chance you’re going to have to sit down with the artist and listen to things together in a controlled environment. This cannot be overstated. Handing the band a CD is simply not the same thing as being together in a room and affecting the mix in real time. Needling issues that are hard to communicate (“I listened to the CD last night, and the guitar still sounds a little blue and glassy”) are suddenly trivial when you can spin the knobs with the artist in the room. I’ve even watched as an engineer politely told the artist to go ahead and EQ it how he wanted it, and he did! The input wasn’t touched for the rest of the tour! Potentially weeks of grief, frustration, and bickering over some little sound that bugged the poor guy evaporated in a minute with no hard feelings! Don’t play down the power of playback in preproduction!


 


Over the next several weeks, I’ll cover the time between loading in to preproduction and the end of the first leg of a tour. Specifically, I hope to consider: setting up a room, the console, and Pro Tools to record and play back, including implementing VENUE Link’s features; tracking the band and some tips for monitoring and playback; listening back to audition mics, presets, and plug-ins; listening back to adjust inputs and plug-ins; listening and communicating directly with the artist; building a preset library and using it on other projects; building snapshots for songs and within songs; recall scope and recall safe dos, don’ts, and maybes; taking a near-field mix to the big PA; tracking a show and tweaking it the next day; and getting off and running for the tour.


 


So wave goodbye to the conductor and disembark the Crazy Train. Step into the Time Machine and let’s go back and explore the weeks leading up to the first call of “house lights, go!”


 


Brad


Hello and welcome to the Time Machine Republished by Adam Kranitz

Posted by: Adam Kranitz on Mar 26, 2011 at 10:00:00 pm Live SoundVENUE
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Robert Scovill On The Audio identity Crisis; Are You An Audio Liberal or Conservative?

 

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Analog or Digital I wonder?

 

Oh man, it’s so good to be home after a long summer of touring. While traveling the US this summer it was great to meet so many new people and be reconnected with many old friends. But ya know what? It drove home to me that the world we currently live in, specifically the United States, has become, a challenging place to have an opinion or a view point. You have to defend it at every turn. With the explosion of the world wide web and the ease of communication that allows the presentation of any and all ideas with the differing opinions that come with them, where we find ourselves living is in a country clearly divided by it’s ideals. The cultural divisions in the US today are pretty stark and there’s no better example of it than in today’s political landscape. 

 

I mean look at the intensity of one of the most basic debates. There are seemingly endless arguments about the intent of our founding fathers with regard to what this country stood for at it’s birth, and what it will stand for in the future. How can it be so mysterious when they composed actual documents that set the course for the country’s future; The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights. How can it be so contentious? Isn’t it written down? I mean, ask the “Red” guys and they will say the fathers meant “one thing”, ask the “Blue” guys and they will surely say they meant “another thing” then ask the “green” guys or even the “tea” colored guys and they say something completely different all together. We even have a supreme court who’s job many times is to interpret it all for us. And if that wasn’t enough, throw in the “fair and impartial” talking heads from the media who love nothing more than to “whack the hive” and you have all the makings of ideological grid lock. I mean, how can this be? How can we possibly expect to know where we are going as a country if we can’t even collectively agree on who we were, who we are now, and what has actually transpired in our past and where we will go as a result?

 

So you’re saying to yourself, “What the heck? … Have I accidentally stumbled on to Ann Coulter’s blog site? Scovill has obviously cracked! …Someone has obviously locked him in a tour bus with 24 hour cable news and he now thinks he’s going be the next Glenn Beck” … I mean, what the …?

 

Okay okay, easy now … I haven’t cracked and I assure you I have NO desire to be the next Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher or any other laughable, cartoon character pundit for that matter. That said, I do love a good metaphor lumped in with a good debate and that’s what today’s blog is all about.

 

Given that we’ve just come off of the mid term elections and also, that I’ve just finished up the annual AES Convention and trade show this week in San Francisco – or “audiogeekapollooza” as I have now titled it - I thought I might just try to tie it all together in one big ole blog!

 

As audio geeks, I guess AES is really kind of our version of a political convention. And for many years now, the audio constituency has been entrenched in the front lines of an ongoing debate about our own identity as audio pros and the ideals that go along with it. i.e. '”are you an analog guy, or a digital guy?” Clearly it’s now analogous to saying “are you a liberal or a conservative?” don’t you think? This debate has been running hot and heavy in professional audio for some time now, primarily in music production. And many wear their audio identity or “party affiliation” as a badge of honor and are in turn staunch, unwavering supporters of one or the other and they vow to never “cross the isle” or the break the party line. Me, I say I’m and audio guy, pro analog and pro digital. Yep, I’m a PC and I’m a Mac as well. I own and operate both PCs and Macs –  and as a matter of fact my new MacBook is also my PC via the miracle of Parallels for Mac! So ya see, I guess that alone clearly makes me a moderate …

 

So as stewards of all that is audio, our challenge moving forward might be; how do we really recognize, understand and most importantly teach what the founding fathers of pro audio had in mind for our future audio quality? I mean, do our current efforts and choices pay homage to them while at the same time serve the listeners we currently aim to please? Are we at times guilty of simply using the romance of our golden analog past to falsely promote our own stature and credibility by conveniently bashing anything that is “new”. Hmmm, that sounds kind of “conservative” doesn’t it? Or conversely, do we blindly embrace anything new, merely because it is new, regardless of whether it actually does service to the standards that those before us set? Well, that sounds kind of “liberal” doesn’t it?

 

Much like the political debates, op-ed abounds on the internet which is chalked full of informed as well as uninformed opinions, powerful lobbies of manufacturers and users, hi profile pundits, endorsers, critics and downright arrogant know it alls. (Clearly our industry could use it’s own Steven Colbert or John Stewart to provide some comedic context don’t you think? Now that would be awesome!) But as opposed to me leaping up to the virtual lectern and spewing my own opinions on which format – analog or digital - I think is “better” (yaaawn … zzz…zzz…zzz) I’d rather submit a few deeper concepts for you to ponder and add to your repertoire when making either the “conservative” or “liberal” argument. 

 

But first, a couple of amendments to the Professional Audio Constitution. PAC Amendment .775; subsection db; paragraph fs states: “Digital equipment will eventually replace Analog equipment”. Look far enough into the future my friends, and it’s going to happen. The proverbial digital genie is out of the bottle and by now she is way too fat to stuff back in - and by the way; yes, that is fat with an “F”, not a “Ph”.

 

But fear not all of you with analog tears in your eyes, because PAC Amendment 1.228v; subsection db; paragraph u states: “With specific regard to music production, analog audio quality and the pleasantries that it presents to the cochlear devices attached to the sides of our pointy little heads should NEVER be forgotten, misplaced or thrown under the bus (I like the pun there) under severe penalty to the enjoyment of said music production”.

 

Now, make sure you read that second rule closely. It does not say Analog audio equipment and the qualities they present.

 

Certainly one of the wonderful things that digital audio has provided for us is a healthy dose of context when measuring it against what we actually love and oft times miss about analog audio. I mean, for music production, more often than not, what we seem to really want is analog audio quality; meaning audio rich with harmonics and subtle (sometimes not so subtle) distortions without all of the hiss/noise, or the need for complex alignment procedures, maintenance, upkeep and performance decline with a slow and protracted, frequently inconvenient mortality rate over time.

 

Ya know what? Digital audio appears to be getting closer to that promise all the time, especially with the scores of analog emulation that continues to be developed by stalwart analog manufacturers. Read some of the reviews of the new HEAT feature that Dave Hill from Crane Song fame has recently designed into the new Pro Tools systems and you’ll get an idea of what I’m hinting at – and it’s only the beginning folks. If it all continues to steam ahead, digital could wind up with a healthy dose of cool if it can become a true chameleon. Meaning; we can coax it into changing colors and have it take on any audio quality we want it to have. As I’ve preached in some of my VENUE seminars I love this idea, especially for live sound,  where I can now take something that is purely digital and with feature rich analog emulation, make it sound more analog than actual analog. i.e . have exaggerated analog qualities that actually wouldn’t be achievable with real analog gear.  Conversely, I can’t really take something purely analog and coax it to produce all of the positive attributes digital audio. No better example of that than being able to use tape saturation emulation with in a live mix now days. Once you hear it, you’ll never go back.

 

This is a beautiful and very important thing for the future of digital, because guess what folks, we don’t only listen to music that was created with the latest technology. No, we regularly experience the entire history of music via the gift of recordings. Obviously with a recorded medium we can experience that music over and over again. We can literally time travel via music. The yummy thing that comes with this is, that as we listen to and study music from our past, we are actually training our ears to hear and sonically interpret instruments and voices in a specific way. We get used to it sounding a certain way. As a result, analog audio quality is deeply imprinted on our hearing DNA and we regularly yearn for it whether we even realize it or not. For example, whether you believe that Ike Turner or Jackie Brenston wrote Rocket 88, (recognized as the first song to use distorted electric guitar), is not important. What is important as an audio geek is that you understand why that distortion worked for both the player, the song and the listener. It makes me wonder sometimes where we'd be right now – or how we would interpret “good sound” - if digital had actually come first? Have you ever tried to explain to someone what “good sound” is and why it sounds “good”? Have ever even considered it? I listened intently to Dave Hill at the Avid booth attempting to explain it to the audience seated before him and I could see that it was challenging even for him and this was a fairly heady crowd. Try explaining it to a novice sometime and you’ll quickly discover where the expression on the RCA dog’s face came from.

 

Consider also, with regard to music, that we live and work in a very romanticized business; music production, and it has some very unique technology desires. I mean, name me one other relatively hi-tech industry where a technology that is 50,60,70 years old is more revered and oft times considered better at it’s “job” than the contemporary version of the same technology? Examples? Tube EQs, tube compressors, tube microphones, tube “what-evers” … and then their are recording and playback mediums, Analog 2” tape, Analog 1/2” tape, vinyl and of course discrete console, pre-amp and mixing circuits from the 60s and 70s and on and on. Why is that? I submit that at least part of the reason is that we are “used” to the sound that they provided because we are regularly reminded of it via recordings, and then strive to re-experience it in our own work. It’s the audio equivalent of why film vs. video, or black and white vs. color reproductions of the exact same image evoke such differing emotional responses when viewed.

 

Now as you can clearly see, I could go on ad-nauseam about the impact that the conversion from analog to digital has had on technology, manufacturing, workflows, music production techniques, sound quality, the now need for less “talent” to complete a production and on and on. But for the sake of time and focus, I’m going to narrow it down to some of it’s impact on live sound which is where I do most of my eating and breathing these days anyway.

 

The migration to digital technology in live sound, with the new workflows and sound qualities that come with it is, compared to our counterparts in the recording disciplines, in it’s infancy. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less important or vital to the success and growth of the live sound discipline and the well being of the industry for that matter. In fact in many way’s it might be more vital to the future and quality of live sound simply because it offers more practicality and value by at least an order of magnitude to it’s analog equivalent in analog technology.

 

What we’ve historically and consistently seemed to strive for in live sound is more “bang for the buck” whether we are talking speakers, microphones, consoles or even the number of acts on the bill for that matter. Digital technology certainly ratchets that “bftb” ratio up. Consider the most recent example; the digital live sound console. Because of digital, you can now travel with a console that is a fraction of the weight of it’s analog equivalent, especially if you consider that you can now have three to four times the input/output capability associated with a physically smaller control surface. And then there’s the processing power that is available via, in the case of VENUE, a rich and robust palette of TDM Plug-in processors that would be unmatched by an actual equipment offering by any sound company. With hi-quality plug in processing, you no longer have a fractional representation of the normal hybrid of analog and digital processing racks, cabling and associated footprint, but an elimination of it. And I don’t solely mean the physical footprint, although it’s considerable. I also mean the carbon footprint as well. Reduce the weight that goes in and out of a semi-truck every night by a couple of thousand pounds, multiply it by the number of total number of shows that happen on a nightly basis around the world throughout the year, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or even Al Gore for that matter to calculate the net positive impact on fuel as well as night to night power consumption. Don’t believe me? I recently read about a famed fighter pilot who was hired by a major airline to analyze their fuel consumption. His first move? Take all the magazine’s off of the planes. Wha? How much impact could that possibly have? It reportedly saved the airline millions of dollars over the course of a year in fuel consumption. It’s pretty simple math folks – somehow it took the airlines until 2010 to figure it out.

 

The wonderful part about of the paradigm shift to digital for live sound is that the physical girth of the technology has, and will continue to decrease dramatically but the processing power and associated sound qualities choices has, is likely to continue to grow and improve exponentially. The challenge for today’s, as well as tomorrow’s engineers, be they recording, live sound engineers or both, is the need to fully understand what is right and good about analog sound quality and in turn how to acquire it and execute it in digital form without simply bailing out and using the analog gear option. The challenge as a manufacturer is for us to respect the need and desire for analog sound quality in our equipment offerings and then effectively produce them for the end user.  Why? See PAC Amendment .775; subsection db; paragraph fs

 

So my fellow inhabitants of the “audiogeekosphere”, just like our friends in the political arena we must continue to strive to achieve a clear and accurate picture in our minds – and our ears – of what good audio quality is, what causes it to be interpreted as such, why good sounds impact us in the way the they do, and who we are as engineers as a result of it all. If we don’t, audio won’t be able to move forward very quickly lest we, like our political counterparts continue to be mired in identity gridlock. It requires a healthy debate by both parties – but with a little concession from time to time. A true bi-partisan effort.

 

Gosh … I feel so … George Will-ish!



Posted by: Adam Kranitz on Nov 12, 2010 at 1:03:07 pm Live SoundVENUE
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Tom Petty, VENUE Technology and The Future of The Concert Experience


 


 


Life today under the big top …


 


As you readers may or may not be aware, this summer has been a particularly tough one for artists who have attempted to go out on tour and sell a lot of tickets. I’m extremely fortunate to be out on a tour where ticket sales are very strong especially in contrast to the tours that are not selling well and are dramatically downscaling their productions or in some cases closing down their tours completely.


 


So this kind of got me thinking – always dangerous as you’ve learned from previous blogs, but not to worry!. A few weeks back, I had my two boys out on tour with me and as I shared my time with them I caught myself pondering their experience – “I wonder what they are really thinking about all of this? How are they actually processing what they see and hear while out here. Do they get it? Or is it me that doesn’t actually get it?”


 



I wonder what he’s thinking right about now?


 


It got me really grinding on the future of not only the music business, but the concert industry as a whole. How will my kids experience live music concerts when they’re older? Will it even be appetizing or meaningful to them? What will promoters and artist be able to offer them that will entice them to participate in the concert experience? Will the fact that the music they love will simply be performed “live” be enough to get them pay up for a ticket? In the corporate world we give the concept the heady title of a “value add” … i.e. what will be the “hook” be to get them to see value in going to a concert as opposed to something else?


 


Consider that the movie theater industry has come through a similarly challenging period where they as an industry had to answer the question “with video, DVD rental and cable TV, how do we entice people to actually want to come to a movie theater?”  While I had the boys out, we had a day off in downtown Kansas City and not far from our hotel was completely renovated old movie theater. While it retained the vintage theater facade, probably established in the heyday of movie going in the 40s and 50s, it was a completely modernized experience on the inside. It offered a huge array of food and drink options; smoothies of ANY variety and flavor, not just popcorn and candy but a complete dinner menu and a beer selection to rival your best brew pub. Inside the theater; cutting edge surround audio with incredibly plush, reserved seating, complete with individual subwoofers attached to each seat for the “max-bass” experience. If all of that was not enough, the movie we watched was in 3D. In the end, all of these are “value adds” meant to make the experience better than sitting at home and watching it on DVD or TV and make you feel okay about plopping down your hard earned money to experience it.  


 


 


The modern movie going experience; plush reserved seating and 3D glasses!


 


So now, compare that to the current concert experience. Where are we going go for our value adds for the future concert experience? Well, given that our little part of the world focuses on the technical aspects, let’s take a look at some of the “value-adds” that have been put in place over the years to elevate the concert experience.


 


Let’s just talk “production hooks”. I’ll admit it, I’m old enough to remember a time in the mid 70s when I heard an advertisement on the radio for an upcoming concert that; with great excitement, pronounced “the sound system will be flown from the ceiling to ensure that every seat experiences the highest fidelity sound”. Wow! I gotta go hear that! Is anybody shelling out money because the sound systems are flown from the ceiling anymore? How about when moving lights became all the rage in the 80s during the first Genesis tour incorporating Vari-lites. I paid to see it, it was incredibly impressive! Anybody really excited about seeing moving lights anymore? (Not to come off like a stick in the mud, but I might actually pay to go see a big show that boasted “no moving lights – par cans only”). And then there’s video! Man think about the impact that video has had on the concert experience. Set aside video as a creative element for a moment and let’s talk just IMAG, can you imagine going to a shed style venue, or any concert for that matter these days, that did not offer video support of the show for the people sitting very far from the stage? There would be a riot!


 


Caution! Caution! A topic digression is about to take place!


 


Speaking of the shed experience, what is up with the current state of support PA systems for the customers seated on the lawn in these venues? As you may or may not be aware, more often than not there is an additional PA system installed in these venues that is responsible for supporting the main PA system provided by the artist. “Mr. & Mrs. concert fan, the quality of your audio experience on the lawn is dependant on the quality and care of this system provided by your local venue.” I have never in my career seen such a poor presentation of technology and lack of competent personnel to handle these systems, as I have witnessed this summer while touring the sheds with Tom. Of course, the irony being that in many cases, more people are seated on the lawn than the reserved seating under the roof. As I was politely told by one of the lawn faithful this summer, “dude the party is on the lawn”


 


Venue owners; (Not VENUE owners) if you’re listening, PLEASE dedicate some resources to upgrading and maintaining these systems. The fans will thank you and they might even come to the shows a little more often. Don’t believe me? Here is an excerpt from a post on a popular live sound chat site regarding the lawn experience during the current Petty tour. “I have to say, I needed that show to sound good. I have been to so many big shows that were very disappointing sound-wise. I swore off big sheds a LONG time ago … The mix was just so right for TP, and the venue … There seemed to be studio like separation in the mix, but yet it all blended just right.”


 



The modern day “shed” style venue 


 


Dare I suggest that good sound quality might just turn out to be a “value add”? It certainly seems to have added value to this person’s experience. If by chance his experience were to go totally viral on the web could it actually drive ticket sales? If someone reading it was on the fence about going to a big show, but discovered via the post that it was a great sounding show, might that sway them to plop down their cash? Could a bad concert experience and a subsequent post be just as damming?


 


We take audio very seriously in Tom Petty land for every show and I’m shocked at how many local venue techs have told us that rarely does a visiting engineer even go out to listen to the lawn during the day to evaluate it let alone adjust it. It’s kind of like we say at Avid regarding the world of VENUE technology “great sound quality is not a feature it comes with every console.”  It should come with every show too … But I digress …


 


Alert! The topic digression has ended! We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.


 


So what might the next big production hook be? Can today’s technology help to add value to the concert going experience and not only draw people in to the “big show” but keep them coming back? What will be our industry’s “Technicolor” or “THX” or “3D”? Will the manufacturers drive the next technological development or will the production companies and creative entities drive it? More importantly will the artist, and in the end the consumer, be willing to pay more money for it? What is keeping fans away from shows today? Is it the quality of the music presentation or the lack of new and interesting production elements? Are all shows starting to look and sound alike? Are there simply too many shows attempting to go out on tour and not enough concert fans to support that number of shows? Or is it just simply down to ticket prices finally hitting some sort of wall?


 


I’m of the mindset that it’s not as simple as just blaming high ticket prices and put it down to artist or promoter greed; although given some of the ticket prices of seen lately, it certainly has to be at least a contributor. For example, I’ve seen one multi-act stadium tour with a top ticket price of $895.00! Are you kidding me? With artist revenues from CD sales way down, the artists are certainly within their rights to look for revenue from other sources such as concert tickets and merchandising. But can that kind of ticket price be good for the industry as a whole? I don’t know the answer to that for certain, but what I will submit to you here is, that the dramatic growth in the size of the touring production might be as big of a contributor to the ticket price escalation as greed. If you consider the shear quantity and quality of the technology combined with the personnel that comes with it for even a relatively modest tour such as Tom Petty, I’m shocked that ticket prices are not even higher. In Tom’s case it’s a testimonial to his loyalty to his fans along with the fact that he’s been an advocate for keeping prices under control for his entire career. I think his fans are in many ways rewarding him for it this summer. From my perspective, and his fan’s apparently, his “value add” appears to be quality and consistency and at a pretty appetizing ticket price.


 



7-8 trucks is considered a moderate tour size in 2010


 


So as you can see, this whole concept of the future of live concerts has me spinning. Gosh, it just dawned on me … I hope live music doesn’t end up where movie production is heading right now with the live music the equivalent of computer generated actors performing on virtual sets. I actually had a conversation the other day with an industry professional who was trying fervently to convince me that even though the animations that we see on screen are computer generated, the animation is created directly from the actor’s movements right down to facial expression, so the animations ARE the actors. And because we see them in the digitally created, lavish backgrounds and sets, we believe the sets are real too. Really? … let me repeat … REALLY?


 



Really? …


 


Well, I actually hope I’m long gone from this world by the time we get to the point of having musicians dressed up in infrared suits, connected to computers that animate them playing their instruments so that we can insert them into digitally created stage set. Wow! Think of it, maybe then they could even do the gig against a green screen in their lavish homes, while a 3D rendering of each band member is transmitted to a distant arena full of people. Or worse yet, maybe you would just be able to watch the band members in your own green screen room at your home, pick the band members and place them in which ever venue you wanted to be in for the show!  Whoa! You might even be able create your own super-group (you guys remember those don’t you?) and even choose their wardrobe and what instruments the play! (starting to sound familiar?) Okay, okay, I know … I lost my virtual head for a second. But wait … we would never let that kind of thing actually happen … right? That will NEVER happen right? … anyone … anyone … Bueller?


 


Uh oh … wait a second … my boys would LOVE that actually …


 


 


 


This is Robert Scovill reporting from the final frontier, boldly going where no man dare go before …


 


 





Posted by: Adam Kranitz on Aug 24, 2010 at 8:26:00 pm Live SoundVENUE, Avid
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Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Robert Scovill and VENUE Get “Intimate” …


 


 


 TKIMG_3442    IMG_3372


Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers playing to huge sold out shows in North America







 


Hello faithful followers of the Tom Petty / Robert Scovill / VENUE / K1 / (fill in blank) blog. Sorry for being away for some time now, but safe to say I have been extremely busy during that time fulfilling my duties for Avid as well leading the double secret life of a touring concert sound dude. I even made my way down to Mexico for some very spirited training and demonstrations of VENUE technology in Mexico City and Guadalajara while on a short break from the tour. While in Mexico City, I was really juiced by how excited our Latin American users are about our technology. They are eating it up and VENUE is growing leaps and bounds down there. I loved sharing my workflows and ideologies with them and look forward to going back, if for no other reason then the incredible tacos at the all night stand we hit on the way back from the gig in Guadalajara. In-freakin-credible tacos and salsa. Okay – okay – I know, this is supposed to be an audio blog, but what I also discovered while in Mexico is that, while concert sound technology is making great technological progress in the world, cell phone technology is still a not totally there – especially for international service, and especially for some carriers with certain phones. I won’t mention any names, but their corporate identity rhymes with the word “Splint” … which is what their customer service rep would have needed after about our sixth conversation without a resolution to my cell phone woes if he would have been within striking distance. But I digress … now we return you to your regularly scheduled blog.


 


SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503   TKIMG_0891


Robert Scovill presents VENUE Technology at events in Mexico City and Guadalajara


 


IMG00057-20100701-2350 IMG00058-20100701-2353 IMG00060-20100701-2355  


Late night taco run in Guadalajara!







 


At risk of jinxing myself, I must say that if you’ve been keeping up with us, then you know that the shows have just been going fantastic. We have done a number of venues that, over the years, have presented some of the biggest challenges for me to achieve high quality mixes at for Tom as well as some other acts. But I must say, this combination of Avid VENUE and LAcoustics K1 speakers is a lethal combination. I’ve walked away feeling like I have literally conquered them all. I think LAcoustics should consider making use of the tag line that Dave Ratt coined the first time he described the K1 to me – “ Dude, it’s just unfair”. I know I’ve used it many times since being out here. I’ve also been making note of some of the post show posts by fans and engineers on some of the more popular chat sites such as ProSoundWeb and am beaming after reading the reviews they’ve posted about the sound quality, even by people who are sitting very far away from the system. Nice … thank you people!


 


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Huge crowds in Milwaukee and the large LAcoustics K1 and Kudo hangs for Milwaukeefest


 






While in Chicago recently my good friends Scott Ragsdale, Matt Wilkerson and Jeff Pelletier from Willow Creek Church attended our show at the enormous United Center in Chicago (I know it’s enormous because it took me nearly an hour to run up and down every step in the building for my AM workout) They noted how the audio was of a size and a quality that it made even the enormity of that arena feel pretty intimate. I couldn’t agree more. It was interesting in that as I was mixing that night I was flashing back to my very first show in the United Center, which was THE first show in the United Center if memory serves me with Tom and The HBs. This was around 1994-5 with a traditionally arrayed PA and while we had a successful show, it was a very very different experience from what transpired this night. During the day, I also caught myself reflecting on a kind of funny story from that day in the 90s. Sam Berkow, the driving force behind SIA Smaart and now SIA Acoustics was just putting the finishing touches on his soon to be released software app and was in town doing some consulting for the United Center. He stopped by the FOH position mid day and said “ Hi, I’m Sam – would you mind if I borrowed your PA for a few minutes?” I didn’t know Sam from Adam and much to my assistant engineer’s chagrin I said, “sure, here ya go … let me know when you’re done.” I’ve been using Smaart pretty exclusively since that day and am now using Smaart V7. Oh … and Sam and I have been very good friends ever since … but frankly, it would cost him a lot of dinners in order for him to borrow my PA these days.


 


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Wilkerson, Pelletier, Scovill and Ragsdale along with Smaart V7 at the United Center in Chicago


 




I carried on some very interesting discussions with Scott, who is a very fine mixer by the way that I have a great deal of respect for, about audio and mixing consoles. I saw his ears kind of perk up as I submitted for his consideration that there is more to the live mixing game than simple input to output sound quality in any console be it digital or analog. Now, while input to output sound quality and the capabilities in terms of head room etc. of the mix busses are vital – which BTW are all great on VENUE products IMO – for us music mixers, the real key to a console’s success is when we combine it with best mixing tools available. As you know for those of us who use VENUE, we are blessed with the best array of tools available. As many of you know, there is a very rich palette of choices for us right at our finger tips in VENUE land. I gave him a few examples during Virtual Soundcheck in the afternoon. He was inquiring into how I actually use the Crane Song Phoenix plug-ins and I think he was a bit surprised in how many places I was using it to great effect. I explained that for the first time really in live sound, we can treat inputs much like we treat them when recording and mixing in analog. For example I use more or less tape saturation emulation on strategic inputs, just exactly as I would do if I was recording to analog tape. Some inputs I drive hard into the emulation, others not so much. Then, just as I would if I were mixing to analog, I use more across my actual mix bus, just as if I were mixing to an analog two track machine. I ran some tracks and by-passed the tape saturation and he looked a bit startled at the impact. At which time I re-emphasized -- “yeah, live music and analog tape emulation, another lethal combination that we’ve never had at our disposal before – good times huh Scott?” I’m pretty sure he visited the Crane Song web site when he got home. :) All in all it was a great day with Scott, Matt and Jeff and I was delighted to have them down for the big hang.


 


Well, we are off to The Palace in Auburn Hills MI tomorrow. As with every day now, I’ve begun to look more and more forward to the virtual sound checks to see how far we can raise the bar today. Take care fellow sound dude-geeks. Stay in touch! Well, unless I’m south of the border, at which time I’ll either be at the all night taco stand, or on hold with “Splint” customer service.


 


Robert Scovill over and out …


 


 





Posted by: Adam Kranitz on Jul 21, 2010 at 6:19:00 am Live SoundVENUE
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Touring Europe on a shoestring…. Crowded House

 

Again I find myself nipping at the heels of the great Robert Scovill as we describe our respective experiences on the road.

Like Robert, I have been using an L’Acoustics line array. However rather than the new K1 system, we are using the still very impressive V’dosc line array that I first used in 1997 on a world tour with Supertramp.

 

After a very successful UK tour we spent the last three weeks in  Europe using varying amounts of our touring rig, depending on where we were. For instance at the Heinekin Music Halle in Amsterdam, which by the way is the best sounding small arena in the world for my money, we put in 12 V-Dosc a side as well as some Arcs as infill on the sides and some DV Doscs as lip fill on the front of the stage. Combined with 6 a side of the SB28 Subs, this ensured a brilliantly even coverage, wherever you were sitting in the arena.

 

 DSC00742 DSC00736

 

 

It is a joy to be able to put up full production for a gig, but on a tour this size it’s not always possible. Indeed the next night in Cologne we were faced with a small club and had to use the house system which was comprised of 4 Turbosound TSM 2’s a side. These 20 something year old boxes were in fairly ordinary condition and as is often the case things were not as they should have been. Let me explain…..

 

We ran the system up and I had a walk around the room.

The first thing that struck me was the bass. As I walked from the side to the middle of the room, the level decreased. Immediate alarm bells. The normal behaviour of sub speakers is to sum in the middle of the room resulting in a perceptible increase in volume. For the opposite to happen means that something is out of phase. After some quick checks, sure enough we found the left side was out of phase.

Well this left me feeling a little nervous about the rest of the system so using a mic I tested the PA by panning left to right as I spoke to see if the 2 sides sounded the same. Surprise, surprise, they did sound different and required that we get into the amp rack to trace where the problem was. It was in fact an incorrectly wired amplifier output that had us thoroughly confused but was finally sorted out. With the addition of a couple of Arc’s a side for infill and 2 DV’s for lip fill we ended up with a presentable system for the show.

At the end of the night the house engineer said he had never heard the system sound so good.

 

Alright, so I can hear you old guys chuckling and nodding sagely as I describe this familiar routine, but it is a situation that often arises, and you need to be able to go in and produce the same product as you do with your own audio production.

 

Soooo, what’s the best, most efficient process to get up and running in an unfamiliar room with someone else’s PA?

 

  1. Look at the position of the PA. Can you make it any better with minimal effort?
  2. Look at the system processing. Is the house EQ on? Is the processor set to factory default for the system in use? Are any Subs or delays properly time aligned to the  main system?
  3. Put some pink through the system and turn each amp up individually to determine how the system is powered and that it is all working.
  4. Again using pink noise, pan between both sides of the system. This is THE best way of quickly hearing if there is any disparity between the 2 sides……… and believe me you WILL hear it!!
  5. When you have established that it all works, run some music through to get a feeling for the balance between the crossover bands, and system headroom and sound quality.
  6. I still use the old technique of ringing out the PA with a microphone and our Lake DLP equaliser, but whatever your preference, the next job is to make the system sound the ‘same’ as every gig you do on every other PA.

 

 

 

  • Now I could wax lyrical about this and bore you to tears, but basically you are trying to create a tonal balance that will give you a consistent result. A simple concept! All PA’s have very different dynamic response’s, that is how they perform under load, as do amplifiers, so there is a limit to how close your sound will be when the audio is cranked up. Nevertheless, it is possible to get pretty close when you know what you are listening for.
  • I always try and start with the crossover levels if the system allows it, to change the ‘weight’ of the different bands. There is no point having a huge amount of say low mids that you then have to notch out with an equaliser. Better to get a good starting balance to minimise the need for system EQ later.
  • After that it is simply a matter of moulding the sound to represent what you are used to hearing.
  • Use all the tools at your disposal. Voice, Pink Noise and music at a variety of levels will give you a very clear idea of what to expect from your system when the band is playing.
  • I use the VENUE Profile with Pro Tools HD in Virtual Soundcheck mode as the ultimate tool for previewing the PA and predicting what I can expect during the show.

 

One more thing….. DON”T try and make the PA do something it can’t do. If it doesn’t physically have the bottom end you’re used to… adjust your tonal balance to allow for this. It’s pointless beating the system to a pulp trying to make it do things it isn’t capable of. Use your ears to produce a sound that is sympathetic to how the band would normally sound through your ‘favourite system’. You’ll be surprised how well this can be achieved.

 

 

Now after Cologne we ended up doing a couple of shows in Spain, which is always interesting. More of the same, but again with really pleasing results. Here are a few shots from the tiny club in Madrid where we were seriously challenged in making it happen at all! Funny thing, as is often the case, it ended up being a brilliant show.

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As luck would have it, our last show was in London in Hyde Park on the new l”Acoustics K1 system. Were on the bill with Elvis Costello, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Paul McCartney, and I can assure you this system needed almost no work at all! 

 

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A wide shot with James my system tech from Adlib Audio on the left and Pabs’ Profile on the right. 30+ degrees in London!! Hot!!!

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What a great way to finish off the UK leg of the tour! Thanks Adlib for a great PA and a top crew!

US here we come……….



Posted by: Adam Kranitz on Jul 15, 2010 at 1:31:38 pm Live SoundVENUE
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Two Nights of Tom Petty with VENUE and LAcoustics K1 at The Gorge

Filmstrip for Blog Final

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Joe Cocker performed to two sold out audiences at The Gorge 

 

Hello blogosphere buddies --

 

Well, the Starbucks here in Calgary may make a few extra bucks this morning as I clank away on my laptop recounting the events of the past few days in glorious George Washington (yes, that is the actual name of the city!) at a gig affectionately and formally known as The Gorge.

 

I’ve been doing shows at The Gorge for many years now and it’s always interesting to watch the growth of a venue over time as more and more shows adopt it. The Gorge is certainly no exception as I’ve watched it go from essentially an open air deck on the side of a cliff to a full blown stadium style concert stage that can handle the production requirements of nearly any act that passes through. But even with those advances in staging etc, there are still challenges that are out of the direct control of the venue etc. For example you’re still sitting on the edge of a cliff, out in the open, exposed to wind, rain and any other element that decides you should  have a bad day. This alone can inhibit you from putting up video screens and other production tools of that nature because at the drop of a hat, if the wind whips up … and the wind will whip up … they could turn into a big sail and be damaged or worse yet, get loose and bonk a group of folks on the head. OUCH!

 

Luckily today, high end speaker technology is well equipped to handle elements such as wind and rain and will, generally speaking, just keep on working regardless of the conditions in which they are placed. We are currently touring with a full compliment of LAcoustics PA products including the new K1 system from our French friends across the pond and luckily the elements did not test us while we were there. Quite the contrary, we had two really beautiful days of whether and shows at this storied local. Now see there, you thought this was going to turn into some big disaster story didn’t you! Clearly you watch too much CNN … or Fox News of course for all of you who reside in the red states. Well, don’t worry there are plenty of outdoor shows to come … so chances are pretty good you’ll get your wish and at least one of these blogs will include the terms “tornado” and or “rain soaked”.

 

Okay, so I gotta say, the new K1 PA system from LAcoustics is really something to get your ears around. I’ve always felt it can be a real test of any PA system when you set it up in open air and apply the pedal. It will generally show you what it is, and is not, capable of doing. From my current vantage point, there is not too much that this PA is not capable of doing. That said, I’m still figuring out K1 operationally and tonally to be sure, but this is to be expected really. As with any PA, but especially with a new system design that requires a shift in mind set from how we have previously set up and driven PA systems in the past, you have to do a show, assess your performance while using it, make adjustments and try again the next night. That very process has come along very fast compared to other tours I have done and we have had such stellar results within the first couple of shows, I can’t imagine where I’ll be with it all in a few weeks.

 

For example, the way K1 handles subs vs. the rest of the PA system is unique compared to the vast majority of other PAs out there. In fairly recent history, the strive (and rightly so) was for high frequency and mid range intelligibility for a bigger portion of the listening space along with being able to service a mix position that was relevant to the rest of the room. IMO, line source arrays were a huge step forward in this regard with special credit given to Christian Heil for having the courage and wherewithal to present the world with the V-DOSC line source. It was clearly a game changer as the response from the entire industry of both users and manufacturers shows. With K1 he’s looking to step up the result one more level with a number of new features none the least of which is a wonderfully effective low frequency shelving concept called “Array Morph”. It allows you to match low frequency signatures between array topologies within the LAcoustics line and is handled entirely with DSP control within the LA8 amplification systems. And while emphasis and detail in the hi and mid frequency of the system is still certainly the focus, that focus also now resides in the bottom half of the frequency spectrum as well. And that focus is well founded as my low frequency experience has been nothing short of phenomenal on this tour.

 

Because of this, it’s not out of line to state that the Tom Petty and The HBs faithful have been experiencing the bass guitar on an entirely new level on this tour. It’s startling at times, because for my money, we’ve lived with quite a quandary in sound reinforcement for a long time in that bass guitar has consistently been one of, if not the hardest instrument to present properly in sound reinforcement. It was primarily because of the way low frequency elements interact in a give system, not only with one another, but with the space within which they are working. Bass guitar is vital to the foundation of both rhythm and melody and is critical to the music listening experience. This has never been more so for the Tom Petty experience than on his latest release “Mojo”. The bass lines on Mojo are both mesmerizing and vital to the feel and flow of music in general. It’s wonderful to be able to do them such justice with the K1 PA system. Producer and engineer Ryan Ulyate put a lot of emphasis on the bass guitar and the bottom end in general within the Mojo production and wanted to ensure we would be able to present the audience with the same experience. He’s made numerous positive comments on the abilities of the PA system to present the vision and spirit of the record to the audience in this regard.

 

Obviously, the other half of doing anything successfully with the PA, is that you have to be able to address sources well at the input stage. This ability is one of the real hallmarks of the VENUE consoles in my opinion. You just have so many tools at your disposal with which to address and attack a specific sound. The whole process is now so analogous to the studio workflow that it is going to present the challenge of learning more and more tools and applying them properly but that’s not a bad problem to have in my opinion. With VENUE there are so many harmonic, compression and EQ tools available that you can go places you might never have even attempted to go in analog. For instance I use the Sansamp amp modeler plug-in for Ron Blair’s bass sound in the front of house mix and recall stored changes on it throughout the performance. It allows me to be so flexible and repeatable night to night. I use it in conjunction with Crane Song Phoenix tape saturation emulation and finish it all off with McDSP MC2000 multiband compression. But frankly the secret is not totally based in the use of Plug-ins. I use the VENUE onboard EQ and the onboard dynamics as well for not only the bass but the majority of other inputs as well. Don’t underestimate them, they are the cornerstone of an incredible sounding input strip with all  VENUE systems.

 

All in all we had a couple of incredible shows at The Gorge, as we did with the Red Rocks shows. Maybe the best I’ve been a part of in either location. All indications are that the fans enjoyed the shows even more than the band and I did. I’ll tell ya what I would enjoy right now though,  a refill on my coffee … 

 

“I have a grande, non-fat vanilla latte for Robert” … oh the challenges of the modern day touring life! 

 

Robert Scovill out --



Posted by: Adam Kranitz on Jun 15, 2010 at 11:58:47 am Live SoundVENUE
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Opening Night for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and VENUE at Red Rocks

Blog #3 Film Strip

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers opening night. Click here for more photos a...

 

Hello VENUE and Tom Petty fans

 

Well, it finally happened last night …

 

No … I’m not talking about Larry King finally getting to interview Lady GaGa  …

 

We, meaning Tom, The Heartbreakers and a bunch of faithful old road dogs pulled into the infamous Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver Colorado for the opening night of the 2010 tour. Now this was no normal first day of a tour for a show this size. Normally in these situations, you would have a load in day, that would allow everyone – including the band – to get their feet wet with a little run through the night before so that you might avoid un-foreseen problems and challenges that might threaten the first show. But did I mention this is Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers? Yeah, that’s not how we roll in the world of The Heartbreakers. In our world you steam right in, straight out of band rehearsals, set it up all, check your lines and levels, just in time for the house lights to go out so that when the band hits the stage you pull the trigger on two hours plus of classic music and bring all your focus and experience to bare. There’s even a chance (read as remote chance) that you might have even been allowed to mix some of the songs once or twice before the first show. Okay wait, I got all delusional for a minute. I remember now, that’s not how The Heartbreakers roll my friends and that’s one of the reasons I love the gig so much. House lights out dang it, it’s time to get’cher mix on! It’s all pretty exciting and I assure you, as the mixer, you’ll wear out the edge of your seat by the end of a tour.

 

If that wasn’t enough for day one, this was our first actual show with the new LAcoustics K1 PA system. Add a brand new PA system to your list of variables to deal with and you’ll end up with a very good night’s sleep at the end of a very long day. Thank goodness for Virtual Soundcheck, although I certainly could have made good use of a little more time with the tracks while tuning the PA system etc. That said, Virtual Soundcheck really is a life saver in these situations. If first impressions of the new PA mean anything, K1 is a very impressive sound system. I can’t imagine any system being able to handle the extreme upward geometry of Red Rocks as easily and seemingly effortlessly as the K1 rigging system. I’m still getting my head around it operationally, but sonically speaking, if last night was any indication, this tour is going to be lots of fun to mix. Now admittedly, I certainly made my share of opening night boo-boos, but confidence is high that I’ll find the groove and it will all come together very quickly and end up another legendary tour for Tom and troupe.

 

On the console end of things, the day turned out to be a bit of a “VENUE love-fest” in that for Tom we’re using 96 input D-Show systems for both FOH and monitor positions along with 48 input Profile systems for Joe Cocker FOH and Monitors. Petty monitor engineer Greg Looper and I both have 128 track Pro Tools HD systems as well for deploying Virtual Soundcheck independently for the house and the stage. All consoles and PA technology for both acts are provided by Sound Image out of Southern California. As it happens, the Sound Image connection turned out to be a big advantage for us because Tom is at Red Rocks June 1st and June 3rd, and as luck would have it Crosby, Stills and Nash are booked in on June 2nd. CSN is a Sound Image account as well, so we offered to leave the LAcoustics K1 system installed for them which they very graciously agreed to. This saved us the VERY laborious load out and then load back in again here at Red Rocks. Pulling off a show here is logistically speaking, a very slow process because all gear gets off loaded from the tour semis at the base of the mountain and then reloaded onto flatbed trucks that are properly geared to transport it up the steep mountain slope to the staging area. It’s a long, slow process that is … et-hem … PERFECT for a first show load in! (he said with sarcasm dripping from his fingers on to the qwerty keyboard) Luckily all of us have been to the Rocks many times over the years and kudo’s go out to the local crew and and the production crews for handling it so well and making the first show a big success. It was a “getter done” day to be sure. Luckily for us the weather held out and it was very nice for the majority of the day. The clouds rolled in late in the day but the rain held off for the show thankfully. We’ll hope for a similar fate, and a little more Virtual Soundcheck time on show number two on Thursday.

I’ll have more techy and geeky stuff to report as the tour carries on, but for now, I’m just happy we are finally under way!

 

Thanks for tuning in!

Scovill out



Posted by: Adam Kranitz on Jun 2, 2010 at 3:40:44 pm Live SoundVENUE
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Robert Scovill on Pro Tools and VENUE TDM Plug-ins for Tom Petty 2010 Tour

Virtual Racks 1234 Plug In Racks

Thinking outside the box resulted in mixing inside the box with virtual processing for Tom’s concert tours

 

Hello friends and followers!

As the weeks of rehearsals for the upcoming Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour comes to a close here in Los Angeles and we pack it all up to head off for our first gigs of the summer, I’m struck by three thoughts:

 

1) This is one great freaking band. Over 30 plus years, these guys have rarely if ever lost sight of who, or what they are and as a result have developed into complete masters of their craft and their domain. They make it look easy my friends. It’s fun to watch it all unfold.

 

2) Digital consoles are already great for live sound. However, they are still very much in their infancy. And like anything that matures over time, be it child, band, country or (fill in blank) no growth is without defining moments, some of them bloody, some of them glorious. Sometimes, it’s not so fun to watch it all unfold.

 

3) And finally, as I sit here typing, in my head I notice that I sound just like Carrie from Sex In The City while she is narrating the lead in/out for the show while sitting in front of her computer. This troubles me. If later in this blog, I say something like “When a relationship dies do we ever really give up the ghost or are we forever haunted by the spirits of relationships past.” you’ll know I’ve gone off the deep end and it’s time for Robert to return home for a while. Wow, wait just a second here. That quote from Carrie could be talking about a live sound engineer’s relationship with analog technology! Boy that Carrie is one smart sex columnist. Be that as it may, for the purposes of this blog, let’s just concentrate primarily on thought #2.

 

As it’s turned out, my tenure in professional audio, particularly live sound, has nearly spanned the entire genesis of digital for professional audio. When I got my start, (at the age of 9 of course if you’re trying to figure out my age) there was little to no digital technology available for live sound or the studio. It was primarily analog mixers, crossovers and eqs, spring reverbs, plates etc. Little did I realize at the time, but I was on the very cusp of “the great transition”.

 

For my money, nothing currently represents this transition, and all the challenges that come with it for live sound, more than digital consoles and the processing that we as mixers need to have associated with them. One of the pressing questions regarding digital console development is; “should processing continue to be developed by 3rd party manufacturers or should the console manufacturer simply take on the roll of designing, building and providing the console AND all of the processing?” Along that line of thinking, by doing so are we as engineers, and we as manufacturers, simply serving convenience over sound quality? – I for one, do not want to follow a trend that leads to where consumer audio has been heading for some time; i.e. convenience over sound quality.

 

Let’s begin by taking a trip back to an earlier time and examine the way we were doing things before digital consoles. Consider this; can you picture in your minds eye, one time, that you ever saw a front of house or monitor position that offered the following: an analog mixing console made by [fill in manufacturers name] sitting next to racks of analog (or digital) dynamics, eq, effects and system processing all manufactured by [the filled in blank]? I can’t think of a single instance. Well here’s the rub, that’s exactly what we’re being asked to accept today in live sound with the current offering of digital consoles, short of the ones in the VENUE line. That is; one manufacturer providing all mixing and processing choices for our front of house and monitor positions. Hmmm … is that really what we want now or in the future?

 

One of the most attractive yet daunting aspects of being able to incorporate third party processing on a digital mixing console is the shear amount of choice in both manufacturers and styles of processing available. These choices provide a means for you to impart your own style and imprint on the audio you are in charge of mixing and presenting. Make no mistake about it, it’s awesome to have this at your finger tips with the VENUE systems.

 

But as great as it is, in it’s current state, it’s not entirely a bed of roses. The shear quantity of choices and the subsequent challenges of obtaining, installing and maintaining authorizations as well as managing versions of plug-in against your current version of operating system is not for the meek, and certainly not for the engineer that is short on time my friends.

 

Also, consider this; for us mixers that strive to be true to our craft and really on top of our game, we’ll feel compelled to explore ALL of the processing possibilities available let alone ones for a given job. We’ll then in turn, have to guard against experiencing what I’ve coined as “choice fatigue”. I can remember experiencing this while auditioning things like microphones or guitar amps or sampled sounds when working on recordings that involved samplers and sequencers with artists. At some point the amount of choices becomes so vast, and making a commitment becomes so all consuming that you run the risk of losing track of what you were actually trying to achieve in the first place. Choice fatigue will be a real challenge moving forward in the digital era for live sound engineers because the amount of processing choices has already grown by an order of magnitude and is no longer governed by what you have in your rack or what the sound company has sitting on it’s shelves. So it can indeed be burdensome, but as I mentioned earlier, digital for live sound is here to stay and is in it’s infancy right now. It calls for a balance of patience and diligence by both mixers and manufacturers if the promise of digital is to be truly realized. If we don’t, we’re at risk of falling into the trap of just “doing what is easiest” as opposed to digging in and doing what is best for the work at hand.

 

Let me give you an example; for my work this year with Tom Petty. I’m working closely with Tom’s recording engineer Ryan Ulyate to port the effects settings he used during the mixing of the record directly into the plug-in processing used in my VENUE system for the tour. (yes, I’m allowed to say “record”, instead of CD because they mastered to vinyl as well. Nice!) The entire record was recorded using VENUE and ICON sharing a single Pro Tools system. Even though the plug-ins that Ryan used on the record such as Sound Toys and Acousticas EMT impulses offer stated compatibility with the Windows XP operating systems, they do not have stated compatibility with VENUE systems nor do they offer VENUE installers. So the process has been a bit cumbersome and tricky and scarey at times in regard to stability and reliability.  Sound Toys and Acousticas, if you’re reading this … please test and optimize your plug-ins for use with VENUE. Please? Pretty please with sugar on top? I and all the other VENUE dudes and dudettes need access to your great sounding plug ins and impulses.

 

Okay well, the long term outlook for the concept of digital for live sound is certainly a topic that is worthy of volumes of discussion, certainly more than I can address in a single blog entry. But if I look far enough out into the future, say my next 30 years in pro audio, (because I’m only 23 years old right now) the world that I dream of is not one with a vast landscape of digital consoles that offer only a singular, narrow processing model and architecture; one that in the end is constricting and stifles creativity. No, it must be a world of open architecture where there exists a rich community of manufacturers that specialize in building the finest processing and in turn make that processing available to ALL digital consoles on the market. A world where presets can be openly and easily shared between recording and live sound workflows regardless of the console that is used to host them. It’s a big dream I know … but hey let’s get real here … I mean could Carrie live in a world that only offered shoes made by one manufacturer … say Manolo Blahnik? Carrie, my wife and Jimmy Choo certainly think not.

 

Later –

Robert Scovill out …



Posted by: Adam Kranitz on May 31, 2010 at 4:04:00 pm Live SoundVENUE
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Crowded House - 'Later with Jools Holland', live at the BBC

 

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Well after a 23 hour flight from Sydney, I arrived a little worse for wear at London Heathrow. A day to recover and then in to the BBC and set up for Later with Jools Holland. (Remember Cool for Cats, UK Squeeze?..... that was Jools on the piano.)

 

Anyway lo and behold, as the day drew on, more and more Venue PROFILES started appearing until there a total of 4 scattered about the studio. With 4 bands playing, this meant that they were all using VENUE. Nice! I had a chance to talk to all the engineers and it was good to hear them talk about how much they enjoyed mixing on the Profile.

Interesting that all the  consoles were being used for Monitors, as the floor mix for the small audience is sent down from the main control room to 4 hangs of EAW NTL720’s.

 

Our monitor man Paul Jeffery, was hidden in a corner and used the house Clair AM12’s with our kit of Earthworks mics. Paul also does double-duty playing keyboards on several songs and so got his 15 minutes on this classic long running BBC show.

DSC00162

 

Here’s Drummer Matt Sherrod during rehearsals, and some of the other consoles, including a shot with Christina Moon, who’s out for 18 months on monitors with LCD Sound Systems! The other bands on the day were The National, Kelis and Tracy Horn.

Matt 'Shredder' Sherrod DSC00209

DSC00168

                                                         DSC00158

 

Here’s a video from the show if you’d like to check it out. Have a look at the end of Weather with You, it’s very funny. Jools held up a card to say they only had 1 min 14 seconds left and Neil thought he meant till the end of the show. In fact it was how much time they had to talk before the last song. Gotta love live TV!!



Posted by: Adam Kranitz on May 13, 2010 at 12:13:06 am Live SoundVENUE
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Crowded House in the UK - Virtual Soundcheck indeed

Hi All, Angus Davidson here with Crowded House. I am just jumping on a plane to head off to the UK to start our tour, so thought I'd get one more quick one in before I go.

I just got through reading Robert's piece on Virtual Soundcheck and found myself nodding enthusiastically as I did so. The changes this technology has brought to the live sound game are profound and provide us with the ability to create truly measurable and repeatable results, as well as making the artist an inclusive part of the process for the first time ever.

Anyway, Robert covered this subject beautifully so I won't try and do it again, but I will mention a couple of things I really enjoy about the process.



The first thing I make sure I have organised after my Pro Tools HD rig is a good set of 'near-field' monitors. With a typical concert setup not seeing the PA in the air until around 1:30 - 2:30pm, and considering I'll go in at around 9:00am to look at the fly points, etc, that leaves 4 to 5 hours of dead time where all I can do is set up the FOH. In the old days when I would tour 1 or 2 XL4's and 5 large racks (and take up enough real estate to set up an Australian Embassy!), this wasn't so much of a problem because with the multi-core runs, local FOH cabling and waiting for 8 crew to be made available to get these beasts out of their cases and setup, much of that time was used up. These days I have my Profile console, Pro Tools rack, Smaart 7, and a pair of KV2 ES10 monitors, so the whole process takes about half an hour!

So, as long as I can get some power at FOH, I now have around 4 hours where I can review the show from last night and do all those cool things that Robert mentioned like tweak snaphots, preview effects and plugins, run off mixes for the band and for upload to the Web, etc.

Now those things I just mentioned are really just the tip of the iceberg. I can have band members come in and listen to a show and work with them in a 'studio' environment to make critical adjustments to levels, or reverbs, or sounds....you get my drift.



A couple of other useful tricks. Delay the monitors back to the PA so that during the show you can PFL a channel with out having to reach for the headphones. You can find the delay encoder on the OPTIONS>BUSSES page in the Solo & Monitor Operations section. It takes some getting used to but is a great way to get a quick reference, and does it in a more relevant context.

You can also take the time to EQ your monitors so they really reflect the sound of the main PA and if you are stuck under a balcony or off to one side, you can bring the mix up so it sits just under the main PA as a reference for your tonal balance, stereo image, etc. I find it really reduces ear fatigue in those kind of gigs, and greatly increases the level of enjoyment when you don't have to mix all night knowing that it sounds great in the main audience but like the horns are turned off at the back of the room under the balcony where you are.



Lastly, we all know how long tours can cause nerves to fray, and relationships to become strained. While it is amazing to listen to a real performance through a system and apply critical changes in a concert environment, to promote long term happiness with all your workmates, it's an equally great skill to know when to turn off the PA and go down to the near-fields.....



Well as you can see from this snap out of the window, I've just taken off from Sydney on a beautiful autumn evening, so cheers all, it's off to Old Blighty and...... Later with Jools Holland.

Angus Davidson

Leaving Sydney, bound for London






Posted by: Adam Kranitz on May 10, 2010 at 12:14:20 pm Live SoundVENUE
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