Friday, July 17. 2009
Oh so many things going on. Probably the most life affecting adventure for me coming up is a 10 week US tour with Blink 182. Ten or so years ago, I was mixing Blink 182 as they grew from clubs to arena's before returning to do a Peppers tour. Here we are a decade later and it is pretty cool to join them again for a North America shed and arena run. We are going to be moving fast and covering lots of ground with over 40 shows.
So what is the plan rubber band? I have been putting some thought into sound, as one in my position would and pondering what if anything outside of the norm I could or should do. The double hung PA worked amazingly well on Peppers and I am a bit remiss to return to a single hung system.
But hey, each band/tour has unique aspects and based on the dynamics at hand, I have different plan this time out. But, while we are speaking of double hung PA's though, check this out!
U2 is doing a stadium tour in the round. Check out that PA, notice anything? There are 3 PA hangs, 2 hangs of Clair full range boxes inside and a hang of Clair subs to the outsides.
Well alright, U2 is touring with a double hung PA, how cool is that! Well actually that would be four double hung PA's. My good friends MC and Paddy who are out with Snow Patrol were kind enough to give me the low down. And yes, it is truly being run the same way as we did on the Peppers with the vocals in one system and the instruments divided between the two systems. That rules, the largest tour in the world right now has a double hung PA! And the desire to shout "see, I am not crazy after all!" while running around doing a naked victory dance is very tempting.
But back from the past, lets look at now and Rat has this cool new L'Acoustics K1 rig that I know is louder and clearer than V-Dosc. Blink is an energetic fun rocking band, so from a sound perspective, I am going to approach it from a clean and simple angle. Nope, no double hung this run. I am excited to take the K1 toy out and see what it can do in a conventional setup before I go getting all wacky with concepts. I am thinking that the new K1 system and it's added clarity and volume, may be able to give the double hung V-Dosc rig a run for it's money.
But I get bored to easy not to do something special so I have been working some sub layout designs, trying to fine tune and improve the sub cannons so if your interested in that sort of stuff, I will post more on later. Also, I have finally put together a little system for measuring venue acoustics in various locations so I can see setups and coverage works as predicted.
In the mean time, the storm before the calm sets in as I realize some sad goodbyes and bearing down upon me. October! , yikes, wont be home till October, that is a rough concept to get my head around, anyway, my little pals that are gals that are going starting high school before I get home.
Meet Taco the little dog pal my daughters have convinced to adopt me and has been hanging tough and keeping my company.
And without looking back cause it hurts my heart, off and away for many days in far away places.
Thursday, June 11. 2009
Well today is my birthday but more about that later, and just by sheer coincidence, it is also the press release day for the the next product in the MicroWedge series!
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
The MicroSub Special Report!
A while back I mentioned that there were some exciting new products in the MicroWedge pipeline, well, here is the next one, the new EAW MicroSub 15. This is the an all new design and the first product I have developed with EAW from the onset.
The EAW MicroWedge 12's and 15's designs started with Radian and then working with EAW we were able to bring them to a new level but with the MicroSub, I was able to approach the project knowing I had EAW's capabilities at my disposal. So, I thought I would share a bit of the background behind the design process for these cool little subs.
If you take a look at the subs currently available, you are always faced with a series of compromises and finding a really cool stage sub is kind of a Holly Grail quest. Larger subs have the volume and allow sidefilles to stack on top but then for gigs with sight-line issues, getting them low enough is not possible. The smaller subs work for sight lines and fit on drum risers but getting some real volume out of them can be illusive. Then you have all the eccentric designs with 3rd and 4th order bandpass chambers, steep roll offs and limited frequency ranges which I wanted to stay away from. Though many of those products have certain assets, they also come with issues, I wanted a solid bass reflex configuration that has that familiar impact and clarity.
We as sound vendors, need to be able to supply the sound engineers with something that would solve the challenge of getting powerful low end to the drummer as well as be an awesome sidefill sub covering venues ranging from clubs to arenas. It had to be compact and punchy yet also reproduce very low frequencies.
There actually have been several MicroSub designs over the years, with some making it all the way to being tested at gigs. I have one prototype in my living room that sounds great but lacked some key aspects. There had to be something new and exciting about the product. The final MicroSub design started to materialize when I realized that multiple enclosure should fit together to create a wide variety of coverage patterns and focus distances. This would allow the engineer to easily optimize the sub setup for the artists. I then had this idea to create a subwoofer that allows the end user to create a horn loaded type setup without carrying dead air of the horn. Most horn loaded designs that are just a speaker with a big huge flare of wasted space in front.
What if this sub was designed such that multiples could be configured to form horn loaded arrays or just as easily configure into conventional subwoofer arrays? What if the arrays could be built like "LEGO's" into various shapes that exhibit differing characteristics. Truly mechanical and actually optimized setups rather than digital beam steering emulations? It had to be low profile and stackable. Some gigs require a stage sub that does not block sight lines while others require a stage sub that can elevate the sidefill tops to head height or above. There are lots of various subs out there but I could not find a single an 'off the shelf sub' that fills the bill.
The sound and tuning of a single box was based proven design that has been successful for over a decade, Rat has been using a double 15 stage sub that works really well. The sound is tight and clean yet it is able to deliver low frequencies down to 35hz and it is about 8 cubic feet. So I modeled the internal tuning after that proven product. It had to be scalable and versatile enough to work as a drum sub, side fill sub or configure to throw lots of power onto large stages. I wanted a sub the will effortlessly transition from a club to an arena and back again.
Also, with the proliferation of in-ears, the need for a versatile high quality low profile stage sub system even more timely that ever. Localized and clean low end to augment the the one thing in-ear systems will never be able to achieve, that 'feel.'
The MicroSub is another cornerstone of the MicroWedge series. The MicroWedge 12, 15 and 8's are just the tip of the iceberg. They are but a few products from an entire series that all work together to form the ultimate stage monitoring and near to mid field coverage system and though I will not get into that now, there are more to come.
So this is the culmination of way too many sleepless nights pondering and 4 AM sketches. Rolling over and over in my mind, "where o where to mount the speaker?" Top side, bottom, they all have their issues, I need a 7th surface. Wait, a 7th surface, that is it, the extra dimension I need. A surface that is neither the front nor side nor bottom but rather EITHER the front or side or bottom. I refuse to waste space by pointing the speaker into an internal wall. I refuse to have a dead internal chamber and that is when it all opened up, it made perfect sense, and it became really fun. The slanted baffle offered numerous unique aspects, of course, just the same as the MicroWedge, except a sub. A 15" speaker that lives in a 13" high enclosure and even more interesting is that it can face any direction without blocking the sound, it just alters the loading and the way it interacts with the other MicroSubs.
So I create sketches and start working with the EAW engineers. I started drawing up the basics and got even more excited, could it truly be this versatile yet so simple? Right away, first generation prototypes to see if they really do couple and load as expected. Ah, but the alignment system is a mind bender. Slowly that unravels and a complex pattern of feet and valleys that fit together is created. Handles that double as alignment holes. Alignment blocks that double as rubber feet.
One of the really cool things about working with EAW is their ability to get transducers developed that are optimized for the task at hand. With the Radian MicroWedge, I used an off the shelf Radian coax, for the 12 and made a few minor changes including the impedance of the 2". For the EAW MicroWedges, every aspect of the coaxes was analyzed and refined. Changes to cone shape, thickness, waterproof cone coating, dome, voice coil material, gap, magnet type and strength and on and on. The options are endless and to have the ability to refine every aspect is phenomenal!
Well, with the MicroSubs we did the same thing. Starting with the latest greatest 15's submitted from five loudspeaker manufacturers, we weeded out the week ones, picked three, asked for upgrades and changes, narrowed down to two, asked for upgrades and changes, narrowed down to one, asked for upgrades and changes and again and again and again. Until the aha moment of "that is what we are looking for" is achieved. Oh, and don't for a second believe that I do not keep them all on their toes with my unconventional test methods!
If I can break it, it aint gonna make it!! Fun stuff and it is such an honor to work with Kenton Forsythe and Jeff Rocha and all the engineers at EAW and other companies I have met through EAW.
So back to the MicroSub.
These things can stack, array, they are small, can be on the floor behind the drum riser.
and have the speakers pointed at the drummer rather than the kick drum.
Here is a photo of 2nd generation prototypes. They can stack behind the drummer, off the drum riser or at the edge of the stage for main PA for a club
Ever have a bass player that wants a lot of low end? How about the dream bass wedge setup where the MicroSub 15 can act as large sub wedge and ego riser.! The same setup makes an awesome stereo bi-amp plus sub drumfill as well.
And it is the same height as a MicroWedge 12.
You can stack two up and have them point at the musician close to the sidefill. Or, if you need subs to sit behind a stairway, the angle is a cool asset.
Focus them farther away to the center of the stage
Or perhaps something in between the two last setups. Here the mechanical focus is far but the speakers are pointed 'near.'
Or perhaps a smooth even coverage for the near stage and center stage is needed
For those limited space situations, here is a slick way to get a powerful dual 15" setup in only 13" of depth
Or a simple near fire sub
Or the same with more coupling to the floor
A nearly omni setup
Or another omni setup that allows you to stack on top.
Check out my crude photoshop skills! Here you can see that larger horns can be formed and with a bit of processing, we can get horn loading and directional control. Extend this progression out to increase output, and directional control
They stack and another MicroSub can be added to the top to make a 4 box horn. Notice the first generation prototype below the 2nd gen proto's.
Face them out, or angle them face forward, the options as a design tool to optimize for your application are nearly endless.
Ha! Like LEGO! and they all have these inter-fitting feet that line the boxes up into and fit together.
Oh, plus there is a pole cup so.......
A MicroWedge will mount on top of one or two MicroSubs when used in with the MicroWedge pole mount adaptor
So a few more shots of the final units:
Oh, for the official info, check out:
And also, the first pair of MicroSub 15's will be at infocom in Orland this week
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
So it is my birthday and so far it has been wonderful! My day started at 5:30 am with a phone call to Brian Rat, a friend since I was 11 years old and the co-founder of Rat. Two surf sessions and chats and smiles about the ups, downs and appreciations of the three and a half decades we have known each other. Thirty five years, whoa and yikes, Rat Sound will be 30 next year! On one hand, it is pretty incredible that us two knucklehead kids got together and started a company that still survives and has done so many cool things. On the other hand, heck, with young whippersnapper multi billion dollar companies like Google pooping up, I guess us little us old Rat's are just an insignificant speck dust in the big scheme of the real world.
But hey, either way you look at it, Brian and I were estimating that this planet Earth gig has only about 12,000 days left for us before the tour ends. Hmmm, lets see, if the Earth tour length for a male human in the US is 77.5 to 80 years and I am an optimist so I will shoot high, but also, hey, I have been no angel, so I won't overshoot, I would say 82 would be reasonable goal. that means I have exactly 12,775 days left to finish this gig.
Perhaps this pondering may strike some as morbid, yet I actually find it a bit invigorating. A goal and a time frame and so now I am off to pack in as many adventures as I can without getting fired!
Speaking of fire, my mom came by last night with the worst tasting vegan cake imaginable. I have no idea why she was inspired to bring the vegan cake anymore that I can explain the dead plant she brought me as a gift. But, ya know, some things do not require explanation.
And what better way to light 47 candle than a propane torch, well, that is the best I could manage.
Rock on and I am off to see what the rest of the day will bring, wish me luck and maybe I will be lucky!!
Wednesday, June 10. 2009
Well hello hello, how about we start off this adventure with a Sound Nerd Speak update.
Back in post http://www.ratsound.com/cblog/archives/326-Seeing-Things-As-They-Really-Are.html I showed some scope pics and took a look at the time clock output of several pieces of gear. Well, as was pointed out to me by Andy and several others, the Yamaha MC7L trace shown on the bottom half was not so pretty because it was not terminated properly.
Aha! An oversight on my part and thanks to help from Yamaha, I actually have an accurate scope picture of a properly terminated Yamaha MC7L, as shown below:
Furthermore, the following highly credible insight has been bestowed upon me and though it does not answer definitively, it does provide some insight:
We have conducted numerous tests using various word clocks and feel that using external word clock can affect sound quality, both positively and negatively. Jitter is often believed to have an influence on sound quality, but we have not been able to pinpoint exactly what it is about external word clocks that may affect sound quality.
In my many years of working at Yamaha, I have heard many opinions from trusted and experienced Sound Engineers ranging from â€œI wonâ€™t use a digital board without an external clockâ€ to â€œI donâ€™t hear any differenceâ€. So like many things in audio, itâ€™s a preference based on oneâ€™s ears/taste (and budget!).
Thank you Marc from Yamaha!!
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
I remember the dented faded red pickup truck loaded up with coolers of beer and my scruffy neighbors. "Dude, hop in, it is going to bitchen, and we got hits!" And instantly teetering on the line of demarcation. Never really hung out with the neighbors. That nervous rush up from my gut as the pickup engine starts, "come on, are you in or not, we got to roll." The I started toward them. No money, I have no money. The allure of being welcomed and I so wanted to go. One of the guys jumps out and dashes back towards the house while another lights up a joint. No one would know where I was. Piles of sleeping bags and assorted haphazard items piled around the 3 guys and two girls. Vanish. To simply vanish. It slowly backs up, an arm out stretched to haul me in and another passing me the joint. One more step and no turning back. The overload short circuit of instinct. Frozen. Frozen in time. What if I got lost? What is lost? Distant, lost in thoughts of what if's. And someone runs by me and into the truck. "Later dude" and sputters an attempt at screeching tires and away they went. Even now, three decades later, I can feel a heart rush wondering where my life would have twisted, had I jumped in the truck, that time.
Sitting in front of my dad's 19" Magnavox TV with a small mess of spliced wires connecting the headphone mini jack of the TV to a Panasonic mono cassette recorder. Maybe you remember, they ran on 6 C cells, had a built in speakers, a handle that slides out the front and big mechanical buttons that crunch down jamming the the tape heads into to place. Ted Nugent had RE20 mics on every rack rack tom. Aerosmith was who I really wanted to see. It was Cal Jam 2 and I watched every moment possible on the grainy color faded set and recorded it all. I could have been there. I was almost there. I was nowhere. I was nowhere near done with my homework. I was living in Hermosa Beach and I was three months away being able to drive.
Looking back, it probably was a better idea not to jump in with no sleeping bag in that pre cell phone era of being a kid with no cash.
54,000 WATTS OF AUDIO POWER
Tycobrahe. My very first exposure to the alien concept that a gypsy life could be led was a couple of Tycobrahe roadies with a house full of sound gear living next to a girl named Sheri. But that story I will save for another day.
Reminiscing about jumping off cliffs,
Wednesday, May 6. 2009
To start with, check this out. Let's say you were wondering "Hey, I wonder how I could find a Youtube of Dave Rat and Scott the Lampi venture to a Japanese bath house" So you then decide to ask Dave Rat "Dave Rat, where would I find a Youtube of Dave Rat and Scott the Lampi venture to a Japanese bath house?"
"Hmmm," I say, "Funny you should ask that question because I can help with that!, here let me help you"
Ha! Thank you Jon for that! Next in the agenda of notes to share, lets all give a shout out to Greg Cameron for helping with the Rat Message board. I have known Greg since the Black Flag days when he was the drummer for a band called SWA. Oh and also to Erock for his help with Roadiepedia. I really appreciate and am honored by the assists.
Next up, just a snippet of the press releases about the new K1 system
And while we are giving shout outs, I would like to send a huge thank you to all the Rat Coachella crew that made it all happen. This is a huge and complex festival with some real heavyweight bands that need precision on every stage on every day
29 Rat Sound Systems Coordinator - All Stages, Jon Monson
Once again an all star crew comes to join us. The crew is a collection top engineers, 'A' class techs, key Rat personnel and loaners from other companies that all come together. Truly wonderful to see all our friend for a few weeks in the desert.
Now, I have a bunch of pictures I will try and chew through bit by by before I get distracted or forget. So lets meet the crew!
Nothing like an arm stretch photo series, Meet Andy Turner who rocked the old school Rat Trap system in the Gobi tent. The toughest part about hanging with Andy is trying to stop laughing.
Bryan Worthen AKA Brian Rat Jr. setting up FOH for the Mojave and a Rat from way back.
The legendary DVO patching Main Stage(who also has a you tube video you can check out if you can find it).
If you look carefully you may be able to see Grandpa getting ready for some dancing in the Sahara Tent, though he is well hidden.
Daniella, who heads up Rat Sound Sales department, was working in the main Goldenvoice office.
Jamie is our awesome Rat Shop Manager and y'all know Nick the Fly
Jim, pulling cable. Hey, go see Chad Smith playing with Chikenfoot and say hey to Jim who is doing monitors. Also down below is George, another old school Rat, and the very hard to capture on film Jon Monson, the head of Rat Sound Rentals and ochestrator of all Coachella sound equipment and crew.
Ha! Lee, also known as Happi-Lee who you should recognize. Lee has an amazing ability to blink with a camera flash and have every pic show up with his eyes closed. Though I foiled that by using the red eye reduction setting. I have like 50 pics of closed eye Lee!
Matt Fox, a newer part time Rat that we are honored to have join us.
Neal, our in house Tequila expert.
Taka is awesome, and you should see him with his new mohawk!
Ronnie to the left who comes joins the Rats when not on tour with Bad Religion. It is good to have Ronnie around if you spill something. Rico is one of the newest Rats and helping us in the tout account aquisition area.
We had a Rat dinner with all that could attend right before Stage Coach. The crew Rats we have not met yet today are Scott Sugden is super brain L'Acoustics human and was the key to getting us dialed on the K1. Jared who I ended up having a great time hanging with way to late that eve slurring stories, is back there standing behind Daniella. Steve Walsh a top notch mon eng and super cool is sitting between Jon and Jim. Milk whom has ventured west and just told me the other day he has wanted to join us Rats for years, welcome Milk we are honored to have you! Finally Paul is more concerned with food than the picture but we love him anyway. He came to join us from L'Acoustics as well and we hold him personally responsible for Rat being broke and having this big new toy. Well, we hold Christian Heil responsible as well for designing the magnificent PA beast.
I should have more crew pics and wish I had been more vigilant in capturing everyone. But hey, there is always next time.
I feel kind of bad for not sharing some technical sound nerdery avalanche upon you so how about I cheat and send you to a thread on Pro Sound Web I feel is important reading for those interested in cardioid sub setups.
And with that bye bye for now. Oh, and I am excited to say that in order to keep my mixing skills, happiness and sanity intact, I have taken a short tour with Juliette Lewis and the Romantiques and will be in doing some club and festival gigs in Spain and the UK starting next week. So if your around, come say hello at a rock show!
Tuesday, April 28. 2009
Hmmm, wondering if the L-Acoustics K1 Coachella system be referred to in the male or the female context. What do ya think? I can think of some big reasons it could go either way. Though I am tending towards pushing the feminine angle and so with that said, how about we take a good look at her bottom end?
**** Begin Un Censored Sound Nerd Speak ****
RATED Triple N (Must be an advanced nerd to read)
Quite a bit of thought was put into the subwoofer setup for Coachella Main Stage. I had the honor to work with Scott Sugden from L'Acoustics on the subwoofer design and it was really fun. The first thing we did was outline the goals to be achieved:
1) The design must be appropriate looks and location wise. By that I am referring to avoiding an awkward sub setup like one that pushes the barricade out too far or those super tall sub stacks that block video screens and look terrible. The goal is for speakers to be heard, not seen and if it is seen, it should look clean and fit into the look of the stage.
2) The design must be repeatable. I wanted to avoid a 'custom Coachella setup' that relies on taking advantage of unique aspects of the event or placement locations. The goal was to design a sub configuration that could be dropped into any field show and archive impressive results.
3) The design must be scalable. This is pretty simple to hit, but important none the less.
4) The design must be simple to implement. I wanted to avoid a setup that requires taking a bunch of complex time consuming measurements and extensive onsite testing that requires blasting subs for an extended time frame. We want simple, easy and very little room for error.
5) The design must have flexible dispersion/coverage capabilities. One of the coolest aspects of the sub cannon setup I used on Peppers tour was that I could easily widen the sub coverage pattern by increasing the level of the side firing boxes. If the arena sold farther around the sides, I could easily increase the coverage to well beyond 180 degrees. For the Peppers field setup with sub cannons, I could widen and narrow the coverage. We wanted to retain that flexibility while improving other aspects.
6) The design must not involve destructive sound. By that I mean that I did not want any boxes that are used to cancel out sound. Out of polarity rear firing speakers used create cardioid patterns are an un acceptable solution. I also wanted to avoid that whole beam steering thing where a whole bunch of graduated delay times are used to electronically focus. One or two delays I am fine with, but beyond that, too scary and my experience with electronic beam steering is it is one of those 'two steps forward and one step back' scenarios where side effects of db loss and complex coverage patterns negate many of the advantages.
7) The system must be able to convert to conventional sub woofer setup without moving speakers. There will be over 30 engineers mixing on the system at these festivals and we need a setup that will make everyone happy, so it needs to be able to switch to a normal-ish sub setup, should any engineer so desire.
8) The subwoofer coverage of the event must be impressive. The big challenge with subwoofers is that you are fighting two main issues. First is that the wider the subwoofer setup is, the narrower the coverage is. Secondly, the reduced horizontal coverage issue can be addressed by stacking the subs into two tall vertical arrays BUT, those vertical arrays cause these huge V shaped cancellation nodes. If you have mixed on a system with vertical subwoofer arrays, I am sure you have noticed those huge holes just to either side of power alley where there is practically no sub lows. To me, that is an unacceptable ramification.
9) The design must utilize the L-Acoustics SB28 sub woofers. Hey, they are part of our new K1 system and we are keeping the whole deal together and matched up and these subs are awesome!
10) The design should minimize low end bleed onto the stage. On a show this size where we are pumping low end over long distances, it is critical that we can deliver the needed energy deep into the audience with out overpowering our musical friends on stage just a few yards away from the subs.
So as the ideas bounced back and forth, it began to evolve in what seems in retrospect to be the obvious path. Lets combine the SB28's cardioid configurations with a version of the sub cannon configuration.
Before I go on, it is important to note that the L-Acoustics cardioid sub setup does not implement out of phase sound to cancel the rear propagation. Rather, it the rear firing sub is set at zero time delay and the front fire subs 'wait' for the sound of the rear sub to wrap around and then augment that sound. That means that in front of the cardioid array, all 4 boxes are in correct time. But as you walk around behind the boxes, the is a time error increases. This causes an effective cancellation behind the boxes while in front of the boxes it is all in time and good, hence 'cardioid.' Basically it is the same concept as the sub cannons except it requires less physical depth.
So the first thing we did was run some analysis on the arena and field sub cannon setups as well as numerous other interesting and cool sub layouts that Scott has implanted and pondered. What we ended up with is a 6 cluster setup. The primary cardioid sub cluster consist of 6 forward facing and 2 rear facing SB28's set at what we will refer to as 'zero time delay.' The next set of clusters had acoustic centers located 1/3 of a 40 hz wavelength to the outside of that. These outside clusters are the 'cannons' and are laid back in time by 1/6th of a wavelength at 40 hz, such that they augment the sub energy radiated 33 degrees off axis and create a cancellation on stage. These outside clusters consisted of 4 SB28's forward with 2 rear facing.
Finally, there are two small 2 box cardioid clusters just to the left and right of center. These serve two purposes. They act as center fill subs to even out the low end hole that created by being off axis to the main subs and also they act allow us to widen power alley and create an extremely smooth subwoofer coverage.
So maybe that sounds complex or maybe not but either way, the result is simple. Turn up the outside clusters and the coverage expands wider, turn them down and it becomes narrower. Turn up the center sub cluster and the power alley effect is reduced, turn them down and power alley increases. All this was achieved with only two very time delay settings and well thought out but simple stacking locations.
Ha! Well hopefully that got your mind spinning!
**** End Un Censored Sound Nerd Speak ****
While were are diving into all kinds of cool and exiting stuff, check out the MicroWedge 12 Case design. What do ya think? A one human operation to open and close the case.
Plus storage inside for cables, tripod mounts and MicroLegs means the case is fully self contained with all you need after the amp.
Here is the bottom storage, there is another compartment up top as well.
I am not through yet, much more to come, like a whole series of arm reach self photos with cool Rat crew and the rock stars of the sound nerdery world. And lastly but not leastly, I would like to mention a new drink that a few of the sound crew has come up with. Vodka straight shots followed quickly with a Vodka straight chaser. Gotta be quick though and hit the chaser before the burn of the shot sets in and be sure to use two different kinds of vodka. Ha! Just kiding or maybe not.
Dave Rat feeling a little mini road fun that I so miss and so happy to be hanging with 'my people.'.
Sunday, April 26. 2009
Ooooh, check out theÂ sexy picture of main system for Coachella:
Here you can see the mains and side hang systems and also the 6 cluster subwoofer setup as well. There are quite a few new implementations of innovative theories in the design of the K1. The actual purpose and importance of the K1 Subs in the array is something that people are having a tough time getting their head around and I must admit that early on I was thinking "Why get any K1 Subs and not just buy more K1's, do we really need a third box type?" That was even further reinforced when I heard how much low end the K1 's can reproduce without any subs.
So what do these dual 15" boxes that are identical in size to K1 bring to the table and why do we need them or want them? Heck, for the most part, they are just K1 boxes with the mids and highs missing and I find their existence very interesting. In the mid 90's V-Dosc was new and the only large-scale line array on the market. Then, over the years nearly every major manufacturer has since staked their claim in the line-array bombardment of products. Each attempting some rehash and to add an asset to set themselves above the fray and to be honest, some really nice systems have come out of it by building upon the perceived starting point set by V-Dosc.
So taking a layman's look a line array theory, it basically says that the higher you stack up speakers the more control you can gain over the vertical coverage. With this vertical coverage control, you can do some interesting things like point more speakers far away and less speakers closer. This is cool because you can make it so that it is nearly the same volume far away as it is up close. Iimproving volume consistency throughout the listening area is a huge asset and we like huge assets.
In fact, a line array can be set up such that the volume level stays the same, even as you get farther away. Ahhh, but like everything in audio and life, obtaining something so desirable comes with a price to pay. Up to now line array designers have been addressing the entire audio spectrum with full range boxes plus subs. But the demands of the lower frequencies in the line array vary drastically from the demands of the higher frequencies. To put it in maybe something easier to visualize, the wavelength of the lowest notes we hear are about as long a one of those big rig tractor tailor trucks, including the motory part where the driver sits. The highest notes we humans hear have a wavelength maybe somewhere around the width of your thumb. Hmmm, how many thumb lengths to a big rig?
Anyway this vast differential in the wavelength creates many challenges. One of these challenges relates to the physical length a line array need to be to gain control over the various frequencies. Higher frequencies with short wavelengths only need a small vertical dimension while lower frequencies need an array of a much longer dimension. This is one of the fundamental reasons for the K1 sub. It allows the lower frequencies to have a longer line array length and and help match the coverage/throw of the lows to the mids and highs. Though this concept is natural and logical to line array design, it has been overlooked completely by all the line array emulations. But if the future follows the past, not for long as I am sure other companies will be soon to scramble to follow as it works way to amazingly well to ignore.
In fact the 'low throw' worked so well that we are rethinking the way we implement delay clusters. The natural absorption of HF by the air means sound will get duller with distance and so far, this means that for huge gigs the need to put up delay cluster is un avoidable, but since the K1 has the ability to present a clean tight controlled low end over much longer distances, the demand upon the delay clusters is reduced to only needing HF and perhaps a bit of mids. Running smaller, less obtrusive delays is a very cool thing cause we all know that setting up delay clusters is a pain, screws with sight lines and running low end into delays gets messy because it is so hard to control directivity. There is also another application for K1 subs as well but that will have to wait for a another day.
In the Sahara dance tent we set up mini sub cannons for the 2 side clusters and 2 rear clusters to get cardioid control and reduce bleed to other stages. This was the first year that we had no complaints about Sahara's sound stepping on the other stages. These are 1/4 wavelength at 50 hz spacing and time aligned for forward projection. Plus there is the added benefit of becoming a wonderful stacking surface for the V-Dosc. Say hey to Ronnie!
Not only was this the largest outlay of K1, ever in the world to this point in time, I also think it was the worlds largest outlay of EAW MicroWedge's with at least 50 or so. MicroWedge's did 4 of the 5 stages flawlessly!
So fun and more to come!
Tuesday, April 21. 2009
Coachella is massive and magical. For sure by now if you follow world of musical news, you have heard at least two things about Coachella 2009. "Paul McCartney played a legendary two and half hour show and the sound was shut off after the Cure went ten minutes over curfew. And surely too, each of these two event descriptions were peppered with some form of journalistic opinions. The heart wrenching moment of Paul's song dedication to his wife on the anniversary of her passing and of The Cure continuing to rock some of their biggest hits to tens of thousands while drenched in a time stopping sonic silence. So being that the there is so much to tell of this weekend's desert adventure, it seems so most logically right to describe it in the wrong direction and start from the end.
Arms in the air eyebrows raised in bewilder, I look at MC, the sound engineer from The Cure and one of the best audio engineers I know. And while his band continues to play, in my normal speaking voice raised above non existent sound I apologize. There was no other option. With the polo field equivalent of house lights on, the band continues to play song and another and another in the surreal time stoppingly endless state we are trapped. "What happened?" Yet the answer we already know, it is the "why" that is still unfolding. Police on the radio's demanding a stop to sound from the massive stage, a promoter trapped in the middle between threats of cancelled future festivals and a crowd of multi thousands and a band playing harder than ever oblivious to the un deniable absence of 350,000 watt PA system pumping their tunes into hungry ears.
"Oh tragic" says the articles, debacle and mishap tossed around as if some huge error was made.
What really did happen? Did the promoter ruthlessly shut of the sound? Was there some behind the scenes conspiracy? Did the band accidentally play past some deadline unaware? Did someone forget to inform someone else or was a mind changed mid stream? Or perhaps, just perhaps, The Cure in their punk rock playfulness, decided to test the limits with a smile just because they can. Just to un bore the masses from their own lives by giving those that wish to say, like me, something to talk about. Mystique, stories and press exploding from the event lifting the notoriety to new levels beyond the quite impressive performance itself.
But as far the putz who threw the bottle at the sound board, come on, don't be so shallow as to miss the enjoyable complexities of the bigger picture, you missed the gear but it was close and hey, you could have hurt someone!
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
Though in the music world, the incredible performances by too many bands to name will keep blogs and articles buzzing, there was something even more significant that occurred at this Coachella, at least from a sound nerdery perspective. I know what you are thinking and yes, it is true. The Coachella Main Stage saw the the unveiling of the largest L-Acoustics K1 system ever assembled. In my honest and true opinion, I now feel it is confirmed thatÂ this PA isÂ trulyÂ the newest, latest, greatest and best sounding large scale sound system in existence. Never before have I heard such an overwhelmingly positive response. Not only from the world class engineers we had the honor to work with but from the promoter and humans in general. I am tempted to try and describe it further but it feels too awkward and since hearing is believing I will stop and leave the opinions to others to create.
I know I have been sluggish at blogging and I will try to get back to the enjoyable patterns I miss and left behind. You see, behind the silence and bloggery smiles, I have been immersed in taking on the most challenging financial project of my life. You know when you watch Texas hold'em poker and they get to the end of the game and there is that "all-in" bet? Well, for Rat Sound to get this K1 system, it was kind of an all-in plus all the futures of all-in's for a while to come like an all-in of allÂ all-in's. And hey, I do my fair share of stupid stuff and the best I can tell IÂ can be so good enough at messing things up that I have it covered for a few other people as well, but then there are things that are clear and there is no doubt in my mind and I know must be done right. Purchasing the K1 system was one of those things. When Jon Rat came to me and told me about it coming out, I was skeptical, when Jon arranged a trip to France to hear it, I was skeptical, when I heard it and what it can do I knew there was no alternative. This is the best and we must have it. The fact that the planet earth was in the largest economic down turn since the great depression was just an annoyance. A really big scary and challenging annoyance. And in a nut shell, that is where my mind has been, in a nut shell.
Anyway, you are looking 8 K1 subs,Â 15 K1's and 3 dV-Dosc per side in the main hangs and 8 K1's plus 3 dV-Dosc per side in the side hangs. On the ground are 32 SB 28's set up as cardioid subs with some Sub Cannon timing (you can't see the 4 subs in the middle). I hope to get into more detail at some point as the setup is super cool with new and refined concepts. The only issue we ran into was that the K1 has such a clean and wide coverage, the side hangs were too wide. I am confident the KUDO would have been a better choice but we used them all in the Mojave tent. Anyway, I hope to dive into all that in the coming weeks.
Oooooh, look at the size of that thing! The whole 'banana' term that is used to refer to line arrays is going to need to be re though. That is one big hang at nearly 40 feet in length
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Okey Dokey. Sleep and stuff and mental preparation for Stage Coach festival next weekend! Ha, I am so happy to be doing gigs. And speaking of gigs, I took a short little tour in the UK and Europe in May.
The finally getting out and about again,
Wednesday, March 25. 2009
I sometimes wonder if perhaps my bloggery ramblings would be better packaged in more compact media-friendly snippets. I realize that compared to the progressively twittery word and the popular one-shot-youtube-jellybeans of the internet, these meandering posts must be trudgingly long to many in this exceedingly e-speedy world. Yet, each time set out to write I find myself less than satisfied with an offering that lacks some substance and diversity and I realize that I truly am writing mainly because I enjoy it and because I enjoy capturing and remembering a snapshot from the scavenger hunt of a world I reside.
So today lets start with with something very important. We are discussing some new Rat artwork, logo's and even the creation of some Rat Sound skateboards. So, I thought I would run the design by y'all to get your opinion. I am not sure if you will catch the difference right away but if you look closely, you may notice that I changed the jaw line and a few other minor details.
Just for reference, here is the normal tail straight rat logo.
And just for good measure, here is an interesting article on our furry little friends:
Next on the agenda, I would like to cover something overwhelmingly technical and trite to all but a few.
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
In the human sound world landscape so ripe with snake oil salesmen and curious minds unassumingly open to seemingly logical and feasible revelations, the opportunity for those less than truthful or those less than knowledgeable to sway finance via false complexity one way or the other is inevitable. The unraveling of those deceptions and misbeliefs is both fun and hopefully welcomed. I guess it could be an audio version of Myth Busters except I will avoid falling prey to using false logic to create the illusion of a definitive truth. But hey, I am not under media pressure to do so for ratings so I have an advantage.
There is a concept floating around the audio world that "if you connect an Apogee Big Ben digital clock to a Yamaha PM5D console, it will sound amazingly and near magically better." What is really interesting about this is that the proponents often come off as borderline mystical in their descriptions, yet the 'why' is always clouded in an ethereal haze of fuzzy-speak. So when this issue came to Rat in the form of supplying Ben Ben clocks for rentals to clients, Jon Monson, the main man at Rat that runs our system rentals, arranged some testing. Yes we will give the clients what they desire and yes, we must know what (if anything) drives those requests. We are all good with ergonomics and personal preferences but when it comes to just adding more hardware to keep other hardware in line and the addition creates more complexity and it offers the engineer no joy or fluidity, perhaps it 'just money to waste and truck space to burn.'
So Jon arranges an Apogee Big Ben and since our PM5D's were all on tour, we grabbed a Yamaha MC7L and with a mic and some tunes we gave a listen to discern a difference, to no avail. Sounds the same on headphones and perhaps a slight variation between Big Ben clocked and not but hey, that's all very subjective so even if we did find a difference, without a repeatable provable measurable difference, nothing changes. Next we grabbed some other gear from the shop, an oscilloscope and and some wires and hey, lets take a look.
I must admit, I expected maybe something slight but no. The top trace is the Big Ben and the bottom is the MC7L internal clock, both at 48K. Looks like a capacitance issue to me. Ideally, they would both be clean square waves. So that peaked our interest and we decided to check some other digi clocks.
Here the top is the Big Ben and the bottom is a generic clock signal from a Digi Design word clock. Hmmm, I wonder. So we pull out the oldest 'least likely to have a decent word clock' piece of gear we can find at the shop, a Tascam DA98 digital recorder
And we slow down the scope a bit an look! the signal shows a bit of ringing but still a fairly clean square wave.
Why the Yamaha console would have such a crappy square wave generator clock baffles me but that said, we have proved nothing because we were not able to prove that the ugly Yamaha MC7L clock signal actually changes the sound for the worse. Plus we are not sure yet that the Yamaha PM5D clock is as odd looking as the MC7L.
What we do feel confident about is that just about any clock is better than the internal clock in an MC7L. So food for thought and maybe adding any external word clock to a Yamaha will help or maybe someone at Apogee saw a marketing opportunity based on a crappy looking square wave and the Yamaha internal clock with spikes and all actually times the board just fine, don't know and if nothing else, don't the o-scope signals always look kind of cool!
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Finally, I would like to say
and double AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHHH!
My laptop has finally reached the end of it's life span, hence my near vanishing to all internet related adventures. Crippled and sad, I finally have a new one coming and will enter the data swap hell soon.
Come join me in my next bloggery post, till then do not forget to turn it up and rock out!
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