Saturday, March 31. 2007
I run across humans that choose a way of life of ruthless self perpetuating greed, and also those that choose selflessness to the point that it becomes cripplingly hindering to their own health, livelihood and then all those that have balance somewhere in between with strength in direction moderated by compassion and patience, for people, for the environment, for the critters and forÂ their own selves. As long as I just keep remembering not to forget to stand mid teeter totter, all is good.
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
I went to a few shows and once again was baffled by what I heard so I thought I would share some illusive and amazing secrets of mixing a rock show with any engineers or engineers to be out there:
1) Make it so you can hear all the instruments and vocals.
2) Make the instruments sound somewhat similar to what they actually are.
3) Have some sort of concept of either how loud the audience wants to hear it and how loud the band wants to be presented and try to make the appropriate humans happy.
For some reason, these three basic concepts escape many a sound engineer. So I have compiled a list of helpful hints:
If a high percentage of the audience is holding their ears or leaving, that is usually not so good.
Ok, got, cool!
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Finally I have both had the time and figured out how to convert the old video files I have and actually get them to upload properly. Here is a video of some roadie wanderings back in 2002 on the Pepper's By the Way tour. Random antics and hopefully amusing and interesting enough. This has been up for a while but the video was not working right, now it is!Â At least mostly.Â For some reason the video moves faster than the sound, but hey, I am not a video guy.
Sunshine in Southern California rules!
Wednesday, March 28. 2007
Ooooooh! Life moves in waves, building building and splash as all the built up energy comes to head and releases at once. All good, just mind spiraling swirls of all the adventures simultaneously demanding attention. For one thing, I am moving, bye bye place I live, how about grabbing all my stuff and placing it in an elsewhere and then placing myself there as well? Preparation, packing and all the assorted related complexities that in themselves are each fairly easy but too easy to become washed away in.
Combine that with a wonderful transitional and very important business deal that I can not yet disclose publicly but will soon. Three possible outcomes, none bad but making the right decision, timing and negotiations are all an artful balancing act that require focus and care in order to avoid stepping on a big pile of regret in the form of wishing I had followed a different path. Not to mention re-acclimation from tour's twisted sleep schedule, un-piling the tower of built up procrastination's waiting for me and trying to remember to eat food before I get too dizzy to think straight because for some strange reason, without the scurry of a rock show no signs directing me to catering, time slips by at perplexing rates. Toothpaste, nearly out of toothpaste and a haircut, aaargh I forgot to wash my car, less than a week before I head to Australia.
It will all be ok because I made a list. Or better said 'lists." Lots of lists, so many lists that I need a list of lists. As it all snow flurries around in my mind, still there is an underlying knowledge that nothing I face at the moment is heart breaking or life threatening so even bad poor decisions will not linger in memory long. So to relax my mind I will fast forward to some enjoyable memories in my past of where I will soon be
Back in 1998 I made my third trip to Australia as a favor for a good friend as a sound engineer and my first and last time ever as a drum tech, for a band named Brad (another favorite band of mine) who were opening for this other really cool artist that I had met before but did not know very well named Ben Harper. Talk about amazing magic, pure perfect and goose bumps incredible. Almost instantly I became a huge fan and the unexpected relationship formed on that far away trip still lasts to this day.
Of course it was all work and no play, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and keep your chin up.
As luck would have it, the following year in 1999, Australia once again appeared in the book of life I am handed that predicts my future which some people call an itinerary but this time it was the Peppers. A week long break after Japan was enough time for a bit of a holiday, so of course what else is there to do but head to the reef, the Great Barrier Reef that is. Some adventures are more memorable than others and this one did not suck.
In 2002 Chad and I returned to the GBR to dive again. Some fish are a bit more touchable
than others and then we decided to bump it up a notch and our decision to dive in tank full of sharks was awesome!
So I know not what my future holds but if the past is any indicator, there is a good chance that next week I will be headed somewhere at least a thread above boring. Now I sure hope my cell phone works there, oh, and I must remember to rent one if it doesn't, aargh, I need to do laundry and pack, even though I have yet to finish unpacking, and bring a swimsuit, and where did I put those Australia to US power adaptors?
The taking deep breaths while above water,
Saturday, March 24. 2007
I have been getting a bunch of questions about topics and quite a few of them I have covered in past blog posts. Since the blog has evolved into a monstrosity of hundreds of pages and I realize the locating the info can be quite task. So here are a few tips on getting around the historical blog world.
The best way to find stuff in past post is to go to the Rat Sound site where the Roadies in the Midst blog not only has a search feature but there is also a Google search that you can limit to the Rat Sound site. Also I have assigned a category to most of the posts so if you go to the "Sound Nerd Speak" category, most of the Sound Nerdery posts will show up. Same with "Meet the Roadies," "Ebay Auction" and many other categories.
Here are a few category links if you want to try it out
Also, for those of you who are crazy enough to try and read the blog starting from the beginning, I put up a navigator page that allows you to call up any blog post sequentially listed. Beware though, the blog is giant and it would be a very time consuming endeavor!
Finally, for all y'all that have tech questions or are interested in sound topics or just want to chat about real rat, the critters, there is a message board on the Rat Sound web site that is just about as cool as it gets as far as informative, helpful and friendly humans. None that bum out flaming stuff where people get eaten alive for posting a question and none of that senseless bitch and whine crap either. Just cool, down to earth pro audio and and music enthusiasts helping each other out and sharing thoughts and ideas. There is also some good info in there on how to get started in the sound business as well as a place where Rat posts when we are looking to hire interns or fill other job positions.
And back I go to scrambling catch ups in the world of home,
Wednesday, March 21. 2007
1"As long as expectations don't exceed experiences, everyone has a wonderful time."
Is the thought I was writing in a response and I then I started to ponder various experiences I have had in the past that made me happy or bummed and there is a clear correlation. I started to think and found that my verbal terms for the view angle of open expectation is 'big eyes,' curious and wandering. The mind set of 'anything can happen, hey come on, lets go see what it will be!' versus 'first I want this and second I want this and if this does not happen I will be so bummed.' Dating, rock shows, job interviews, and vacations all so often see humans with less than exuberant views on their outcomes when people involved don't moderate their expectations to leave room for the unexpected to occur. I have found personally that if I do the things I enjoy because I enjoy them, with big eyes and curiosity rather than pre writing the story line, that positive outcomes flow freely. And that is exactly how the blog posts unfold into existence each morning when I scan over the pile of recent thoughts, experiences and photos to see where the words I type will wander hopefully not getting too lost and ending up in the dreaded desolate forest of boring. Good morning!!
How about today we take a look at a Rat Sound analog snake splitter system?
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
Ok for all you non nerds involved in voyeurism of the nerdy ways here is quick run down, while true audio nerds can skip this paragraph. OK, you know how there are mics on stage and they pick up the sound. Also, if you have been hanging around blog world for a while you also know that the Peppers, as most mid to large bands do, have two sound engineers. Our monitor engineer Daniel, is on the side of the stage and mixes the sound that the band hears and the Front of House engineer out front in the audience, me, mixes the sound that the audience hears. In order for the sound from the microphones on stage to get to both places, sound systems have something often called a 'splitter.' Though on the surface all it really is, is a glorified "y" cable, in actuality, they are complex, expensive and if anything goes wrong with it during a show, the outcome is not so good.
Rat Sound is currently based on a 56 channel XLR in, dual W-4 out hardwire splitter system with an external transformer W-4 input and either one or two W-4 outputs depending on the unit. Plus each splitter incorporates a triple 20 channel patchable sub snake array.
The large top box is the XLR input dual W-4 output unit with audio ground lifts on each input. The next unit down with the white blue and violet surrounded connectors allows sub snakes to be connected to the splitter system. You will notice the 60 numbered XLR cables dropped over the top, those are coming from the associated color coded sub snake connector. The cables allow the sub snakes to be patched into the splitter and stay patched over the course of a tour. The bottom box is a Rat built transformer splitter unit. When one of the main splitter W-4's is connected to the input of the transformer splitter, the transformer split provides 2 isolated W-4 outputs also creating a third split that can be used for a recording truck or other need.
The modular design that has evolved over the years with Jon Rat really doing an amazing job in developing the final result. The flexibility and capabilities of this setup makes the complex world of stage wiring fairly easy, reliable and versatile. Oh, and here is the 20 channel stage box
As far as the 6 channel and 12 channel stage boxes, they direct patch via XLR rather than multi pins like the 20 channel boxes.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
I can only hope that my bloggery offerings exceed your expectations. Speaking of that, any bloggery requests? Yes, I know more roadie cards is one I need to do and am hoping to soon, what else? What do ya 'all want?
Monday, March 19. 2007
Today, all I have for you are some random wandering pics from various times on our trip to our weekend off in Japan. Sunday, our whole day off, was spent wandering Tokyo, the rest of our day off was spent on a train trying to get there and back. In our infinite wisdom, the backline three and I decided to buy the $20 train ticket rather than the $60 train ticket. Our logic was that we had nothing but time to kill so what difference does a few train stops make?
Who would of knew?
And finally as the blur came to an end, the last image I remember while being on Japanese non portable ground, hey look it's a bird!
The heading home,
Sunday, March 18. 2007
Arriving to Narita airport,
and we do the usual. Immigration, customs, bag searches, random passport checks while standing around only for people that don't look Japanese. Hey, wait. That is not so usual. Oh, that's right, racial profiling is 'business as usual' here in Japan and being a 'lound eyes,' we are fair game for the special attention. It all comes back to me. The whole 'no humans with tattoos allowed in public swimming pools' and how hotels used to block Japanese female's from going to the hotel room of a male westerner. Japanese dude like fully blocking the elevator and if you try the next elevator over, he dashes over there for a new block, meanwhile chattering a stream of unintelligible words intermixed and surrounding repetitions of the one word I do follow "Noh!" It has been a while since I have tried it but I have little doubt it still hotel policy in many in many of the not so western places to stay. Ha ha, and just like Texas and other places and culture I love Japan and this love comes with an occasional ouch and the ouches are often as interesting as the enjoyment.
Also not so usual is to see a promoter rep waiting there as we exit customs. Actually that is usual except for today as we still have another plane flight before we are supposed to find the locals from promoter reps awaiting. "There has been a change and the tour has been postpo ...." Ah, you all know the next bit of the story as I spilled the beans when I time-slipped a few days ago.
First stop, my palatial hotel suite
Not only was I thrilled to see that I was afforded such a roomy room with room for a sleep over friend to have their own bed, should such a person I meet, I was head over heals with joy when I discovered that in the event two pals both drop by each needing a bed to sleep in, there is yet a third bed in the room that can be conveniently rolled out in the vast openness of spare space available.
Before heading out for to hunt for food, I may as well do a quick check up on the email. As you may or may not know, Japan is on a cell network that ic conveniently compatible with no one else on earth rendering our Blackberry's useless. No tethering my laptop to my cell here for internet so I break down and cry. Actually I breakdown and head to the front desk for the "internet connection package" which consists of an ethernet cable, a phone cable, a DSL modem, a power supply and a set of simple instructions
Even I, a proficient techno nerd, found myself challenged and nearly aborted the mission when I finally realized to ignore the instructions and found the proper place to plug in the phone cable hidden on a cable stuffed in hole behind the desk I had to move. Aha! Of course that is where it would be. I don't know why my jet lag dreary mind didn't spot it sooner.
Ring ring goes the phone and off to dinner with Chris and Tracy,
Friday, March 16. 2007
There are several non-human things with which my life, as I have chosen it, I consistently depend. My laptop, my cell phone, my car (not so much lately) and to some degree, my camera. Avoiding losing these things provides a constant and often humorous challenge and yes, I do lose my car in just about every parking lot. Additionally, since my world of motion is so inter-woven with these items, it brings me great pleasure to assure that the ones with which I chose to interact are optimized for my particular desires. So with that argument built up as a self justification, I set out out and purchased the new sexy Blackberry 8800. Ooooh! Smaller, built in GPS, plays videos and holds a micro SD card so I can send pics from my camera. I may even figure out a way to blog from it now that I can get my camera pics into it. Excited about my new acquisition, I show Dave Lee who immediately invokes a durability test
It is an on going roadie joke that when anyone gets something new and fragile that we try and politely "take a look" followed by pretending to bite, step on, twist, disassemble and in any way possible, cause dismay to the owner. Dave Lee did very well, pay back is a bitch and I deserved every second.
So we are at the airport terminal and take a shuttle to the lounge that is like a mile away in trailer that requires the shuttle bus to traverse several runways. Fortunately for the plane riders, a wise man has placed this useful notice assisting a safer journey for all.
To the plane and yumm! Read this menu,
wow, does that not sound delicious or at least interesting? Well, being the adventurous eater I am, I am all good with giving it a shot. I under estimated the potential. Oh my, and then I remember that I have already learned this last and perhaps every time I fly to Japan.
I love sushi, I love clean simple healthy foods. I do not love slimy gelatinous and rubbery items of unknown origin. I do not love fish goo, and though the pic does not represent it's full glory, I do not understand why such great lengths of complication would be taken to transform what was at one point, perfectly good food into complex fish flavored jelly.
Simple clean healthy foods, how hard can it be?
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
The realization that I have been ignoring my fellow and fellowess sound nerds struck me and brought a sad feeling to my heart so I pondered a bit and came up with this to share.
One of the big issues with subwoofer arrays is that they provide significant sound in front of the stage and considerably reduced sound levels off to the sides. Early in the blog days I describe the method we use on this Pepper's tour to increase side sub coverage and made up the name "Sub Cannons" for them. Well, not ever tour or show has the flexibility to build the stage as part of the sub woofer array sooo.....
Here is a simple method of increasing that horizontal dispersion of sub woofer coverage utilizing the side firing sub cannon method with all the subs are stacked in a straight line. This setup is useful both indoors and out and allows you to easily alter the amount of low frequency energy you provide off axis to the people on the sides. The main subs on send 1 are facing forward and have zero time offset. The side firing subs are pointed outwards at 90 degrees and delayed incrementally such that their acoustic focus is 90 degrees off axis. The delay times listed on the drawing are based on a 2 foot deep subwoofer and a 1 foot spacing between the subs.
In order to envision how the setup works, think of the main subs including the first (non spaced) side firing sub as one system which I have circled in red. Think of the spaced side facing subs as a second system. The main subs form the typical forward facing sub array that is quite common and tends to lack adequate side coverage. The fact that the zero time delay sub on the end is pointed sideways is of little or no consequence. Now think of the the +3 feet delayed subs as waiting for the sound from the subs behind it before it radiates it's sound. Then the +6 feet delayed sub waits for the sound of the combined zero delay and +3 delayed subs before it radiates and finally, the +9 delayed sub waits before radiating as well.
This incremental addition increases the volume for the listeners off to the sides while having a relatively minimal effect on the listeners in front. The setup works quite well and is easily adapted to various venue types. If you increase the side firing sub spacing, increase the delay times accordingly. The delay time in feet of each increment is (cabinet depth in feet) + (spacing in feet). So, if your subs are 2 1/2 feet deep and you space them 18", then you would use 4 feet of delay per increment.
You can alter the ratio of the quantities of forward firing to side firing subs as well as the quantity of side firing spaced stacks to achieve different coverage's and volume levels as well. The real beauty of the setup is that it does not require any complex measurements, it transfers well from venue to venue, you can keep all your settings intact as long as you keep your spacing's on the side firing subs the same and if the sides of the venue need more sub you just turn up sub send #2.
Cool cool, if ya give it try, don't forget to let me know what ya think and how it works for you.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
The not afraid to nerd it up,
Thursday, March 15. 2007
Tomorrow I will board a plane for Japan and though I am blogging my days at home, I am actually sitting in a hotel already there. Unbeknownst to me as I sit here in Japan, soon I will sail through the air to a far away place only to find out .....
**** Special Report ****
Tomorrow we flew into Tokyo and upon arriving and preparing to board our connecting flight to Osaka, the backline three and me were met by a promoter representative informing us that the Japanese Peppers shows have been postponed, Anthony is under doctors orders not to fly and we are booked in an airport hotel. Please await further instructions.
In these situations a variety of responses are available to present. I can bum out and bitch only to become a bitchy bum out to those that have to listen, I can celebrate and that I get to go home, I can look at all the "what if's" or just smile and take a look at the new plan as the powers that be scramble to construct a plan. It is looking like a day off in Japan, a flight home and guess what? Not long ago I was faced with a situation where I had the option to be really bummed that I was going to miss my daughter's birthdays. There was a tour booked right on top but as things are and beyond my control, I smiled and let it go till I get back. As things twist in unusual and unpredictable ways, it looks like I will make it after all to their birthday. Once again, I just never know what will happen next, for the ups or for downs, it just is. As far as the Japanese dates, well, they will reschedule and who knows what that adventure has in store and either way, I am off to LA on monday.
**** End Special Report ****
And so, my days at home are spent scuttling about in preparation, clothes, bills, immediate issues, hugs hello and goodbye within 24 hours of each other and repack all I just unpacked. Off to see what happens next.
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