Tuesday, September 29. 2009
So for the past week or so, I have not been doing so hot and hence my bloggery silence. Neck moved wrong and arm went numb followed by crazy painful muscles in my shoulders and arms plaguing my every movement and sleepless nights.
4 Chiropractors, first Chris in San Fran who came out and stayed for the show. Even rocked a third adjustment in the tour bus after the gig.
Then Regan Jung in Irvine who I went to two days in a row
And I found a Chiro in Albuquerque on a sunday!
And though the pain reduced from extreme to tolerable, still not sleeping.
Massages helped as well.
X-rays and a finally a doctor visit that left me with a bag full full of drugs.
Not much into taking pain killers and such but oh if only I could sleep! Hence my bloggery absence as no position was compatible with computing. Ahh, but today I finally am doing well again and have good stretch and home made traction system that is working great. So happy to feel lack of exhaustion and pain! Sooo, Ha! game back on and sorry about the vanish!
So far this tour I have left my Pointy Hat and 'HLBM' shirt in a hotel in Indiana,
my Black Felt Cowboy Hat and shades in a car in Kansas,
my replacement Black Straw Cowboy Hat and new shades in a town car in Oxnard
and my Black Felt Cowboy hat again in a runner car in Dallas! I have been reunited with two of the three via Fedex,
the third awaits me back home and got the felt hat back a second time in Florida. As much as I mourn the loss of each cherished item, the heartwarming offset of refinding and arranging a successful return, more than balances. I am no slouch when it comes to separating myself from my belongings and have developed quite the skill at retrieval of the ones that matter. But playing lost and found is not all that I am good at as I am extremely well versed at breaking things as well. Cell phones, cameras and laptops are so easy to destroy that I won't even bother tying to list the multitudes of successful destructions.
Sound systems, cars and other material items are also no match for my skills, but perhaps one of things I am best a breaking is my own humanly self. So today as I am finally in the upswing of healing from relapses of yet another old injury flaring up, I thought I might share a brief run down of some of the top Drat bash contenders. Now as far as humanly injuries that skateboarders, machinists and competitive motor sport humans receive, I realize all mine add up to barely a scratch, but hey, I am just sound guy! So in no particular order of time:
1) Left hand thumb - While sound proofing a rehearsal space in the Sun Valley Rat Shop, standing on the top rung of a step ladder firing 2 1/2 inch staples overhead with a pneumatic staple gun, I found my thumb somehow became firmly attached to the 2x4 ceiling. Alone, hand overhead, unable to dismount the ladder I had no option but to pause for a ponder. Hmmm the possible results of dropping the safety-bypassed staplgun, knowing my luck would leave me with a second staple through my body. Aha! I lowered the gun via air hose and proceeded to use my other now free hand to pry thumb and staple from the ceiling which was no easy feat. Wandering around the shop I found pliers useless and it was not till I located a small pair of Vice Grips and firmly clipped them onto the thump piercing staple that I felt I could pull the ting out. So I pull and the thumb just bends so I used a speaker box to stop my thumb from moving and pulled the staple out from. my thumb bone. I then went on to finish sound proofing.
2) Right Hand pointer finger - Sun Valley Rat Shop, no coffee, living in the Rat Shop and the 6 am 'good morning' is the sound of the table saw. Time to make some Rat Subs! All is going well, I have the plans in my head and while cutting some port supports, I feel a strange vibration in my finger. Ooooh, this cant be good. No pain but the look of a saw blade width 1/2" deep notch in my pointer is a bit disturbing. Toilet paper and gaff tape bandages sure do leak a lot! There are some rat subs somewhere that looked like a slaughterhouse before they got carpeted. That one really hurt, sleeping was a bummer that night. Never did get around to visiting a doc on that one either.
3) Left Elbow - Big Bear, CA Flying down the hill and up the side wall on my snowboard, spinning right in the air I attempt a blind side aerial 270 (I am goofy foot) and lost some traction. Half way through, mid air, elbow meet tree, tree meet elbow. I am not sure how far around the wrong way it went but I instantly became mush ball sliding. I did go to a doc for this one where he put some electrical wires on me, told me to come back 3 times a week, charged the insurance a bunch of cash, sold me some drugs and said the hyper extension was so severe I would never have full extension again. Never went back, spent the next few months painfully sleeping with my arm under me twisted in such a way as to straighten it out and it healed up just fine, full extension and all.
4) Right Shoulder - World Theater Chicago. You ever have those days where everything goes horribly wrong? Ever have three in a row? I had guests, issues back at home that needed dealing with, it's raining, cell batteries dying, cell service issues pressure from all directions and finally, cell gets wet and dies. Got a new cell, but Nextel could not activate outside my home area. Really? Send fedex cell home to activate and send back? So I get a new #. But now I can't check old voicemail because you put my new number on my account. Need to fly to LA to activate? Now completely isolated, no phone #'s no one can reach me and meltdowns in every direction, Rat issues, personal family issues and oh, that's right friends coming to the show. On the 3rd day, I had things under control. Got someone to get a new phone on my old # back home and auto forward to my new #, like a ton of bricks off my back relieved. Everything is a timeless blur and all I know is that tonight I will finally sleep. I take a moment, a celebration of success and hop on my Suzuki DR200SEX (yep, really, that is the model #!) that lived in a road case in the sound truck and off I go. Off I go exactly as I had when I headed into town to deal with phone nightmares earlier. Fourth loading bay down, veer right and down the loading ramp except..... Uh oh! Earlier, how much earlier? Yikes, that was yesterday and we are not where we were yesterday. And instead somehow in the spacetime continuum the ramp has vanisher. Too late and mid turn I find myself flying through the air before the motorcycle slams down on top of me. Laying slow motion in a hospital bed with a Demerol shot in my ass I am told I have a separated shoulder. I ended up bribing the doctor to release me with Peppers shirts just in time to get back and stumble with assistance to the sound board as the band walked on stage. Never miss a gig! But oh boy, was pass out avoidance an pain making a hard show to mix. Thank you Grandpa!
5) Lower Back - Why I was hanging upside down from a wire by my foot is a good question. Why I did not take off my belt pack is a better question. But regardless, when I reached up to free myself and the wire snapped and I landed flat on my back on a concrete slab with a mini-maglite between the floor and my spine, that sent an electric shock through me that I will never forget. Ow ow and super ow! The doc said he can't do much till the swelling is down, it took me damn near 1/2 hour to baby step my way from the bus to the sound board each day. I refused to relinquish my top bus bunk, which was easily another 1/2 hour adventure of pain to escape each morning.
6) Right Foot - They cut the ropes! X Games in Big Bear and they cut the ropes and let the public on the competition snowboard courses, awesome! A forty feet lip to landing jump and another jump about 25 feet but with more height both following a really cool aggressive 'S' Boardercross course. It took a few runs before I was clearing both jumps with 50-50 and tail grabs, I never did get the big air 360's wired. One more run as I feel myself getting bit worn but I am going to hit them big. Easily cleared the 40 footer and charged the 25. For big jumps I pick out a tree for a marker and go full speed from there, that way I hit the jump at the proper speed. Wait, which tree was the charge marker? Oh no! Looking down watching the landing area fall away while still rising is not a good feeling. Thankfully I did land it and came down full force onto the flatland from maybe 25 or 30 feet up easily 20 feet past the landing. Not so thankfully my knees hit my chest and the hard pack snow gave way sinking my board a foot deep, instantly stopping. That's when front knee hit the front of the board While my foot remained strapped in sideways ripping all the muscles and leaving me hobbling around for months. For the next two snowboard seasons I had to ride switch stance.
7) Face #1 - Exuberant I bolted out the front door full speed leaping off the 3 steps and headed out to meet my friends. Lifeless I lay in a pool of blood as mid air the open garage door had not allowed my head to travel at the same speed as the rest of my body laying me out horizontal mid air. Concussion, broken nose and lots o stitches.
8) Face #2 - I almost made it to her house. I was dating a girl named Beverly Hills, with whom I am still friends and it was she and I who came up with the name Rat Sound one morning while watching my pet snake feed on a rat. Anyway, just a block away and a wrong turn found my exhausted delirious self breaking the windshield of my Datsun B210 with my face as I collided with a parked Mercedes. I remember my eyebrows were still in the windshield. Broken nose, lots of stitches, whiplash and I was pulling glass from my forehead for months afterwards. My car was totaled.
9) Face #3 - C- Street , Huge day surfing, third session and double overhead plus waves saw my longest ride ever, adrenaline rush and thrill and I go to get out of the water and from behind a wave barrels up and pitches me face down into the gravel. Ha, Broken nose and more stitches, the surfboard was fine.
Cool cool, enough of that. Hey, say hey to Arne and his daughter! I met him when I was 17 years old and working at Mattel toys fixing those little football games.
Well, he was in a band called the Alcoholics (http://ratsound.com/tours/early/flyers/index.htm for more old flyers)
And I did my very first recording ever on a Teac 4 track of his band. I also met Tom Hodder at the same place I did the recording. Tom is the one who taught me to build speaker cabinets. So cool how certain people are instrumental in altering the direction my life takes! One of the best parts about touring is finding those old friends and meeting new ones.
Enough for now. Off to enjoy beautiful Birmingham Alabama. Hey, I was born in this state, my people!
Tuesday, September 8. 2009
Each trade has tool set. The fundamental and most basic item around which that craft is formed. A carpenter's hammer, a logger's ax, a fisherman's rod. The older the craft the more archaic the tools tend to be.
For a chef, it is the knife, Here our head caterer Jeremy's love for these handmade Japanese folded steel knives is so deep it literally brings him to tears as explains their quality and craftsmanship
Speaking of crafts and using tools, here you can see the proper usage of an XL4 as an elevation platform while foot mixing.
Missy is our tour manager Adam's assistant and doing a fine job of making that Rat hoodie look awesome.
Ok, you are at a gig, option 1, head to your seat and watch the show, Option 2 hop into kiddie pool fully clothed with some dudes. Hmmm, tough tough decision.
Fortunately though, someone from the radio station that came up with this brilliant idea relieved us of this unsightly obstacle soon after the show ended buy dumping a torrential waterfall down the seats creating a 3" deep lake for the subs to sit in and the crew to saturate their shoes in during load out.
Check out this mirrored drum head!
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
Ok, link of the day comes from my good friend Jamie Anderson who heads up Rational Acoustics. While I roll with my basakwards low tech and analog ways, Jamie does Smaart training and is all up on the other approach. So when he stumbled upon this gem, he knew where to send it. The ultimate analog delay!
And on to less serious stuff. When I was laying out the initial Vortex designs, I started with what seemed a good place. Take the B sub and place in a conventional manner, then build from there. I really try to break down those barriers and open up to all possibilities but looking back I realize that it had no real logic other than just clinging to something familiar. And that decision made without fully justifying meant that the design was a bit less optimized than it could be.
Below you can see a simplified drawing of what is going on with the summations and cancellations of the Vortex setup. On the left side you see a counterclockwise setup on stage left. On the right side you see a counterclockwise setup stage right. Though the setups are the same, notice how much cleaner the left side is.
Green arrows represent summation, Red represents useful cancellations in the band that we are reproducing and gray is imperfect summation with some cancellation. The arrows are drawn from box center through box center. The arrow lengths are meaningless.
One of the issues we had with the original setup was that I was getting a bit too much sub off to the sides. So I started pondering and realized, hey wait, let's reverse directions of the Vortex and it should move our primary focus to the deep corners of the arena where we want it and paper and sure enough, the real world result matched the pen and paper prediction!
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Ha, meet Juan (lampi), Robert Rat (stage), Josh (carpenter), Jim Rat (foh), Derek (automation - stuff that moves during the show, like Travis), Randy (Famous Stars and Straps promo), Jeremy (food), Me (trouble coordinator), and Justin (automation)
And so ends another terrible day at the office.
Sunday, September 6. 2009
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
I have had quite a few people ask me "how did you come up with the sub layouts?" So, I started thinking about the train of thoughts that is passing by here at the moment. My first experimentation into 'subs pointed the wrong way,' was the Sub Cannon stuff I did with Peppers.
Thought actually they were pointed in the right direction, the setup had one set firing into the back of the next time delayed set. While it worked well, and rear rejection was clearly achieved, cumbersome steering that was realized by adding more or less level to them, so power was wasted if I reduced side coverage. But way before that, all the work I was doing with the MicroWedge designs over a decade ago kept pointing at the assets of physical placements and the importance of versatility. Physical placements, distances and the reducing the sheer physical size of the combined sound sources continue to be a significant challenge in all loudspeaker enclosure/array designs.
For this year's Coachella we did something very similar to the Slotfire setup where it relies on two sub sources 1/3 of a wavelength spaced. But once all the subs were stacked up, what we ended up with is a big wall of subs with a small gap in the middle separating the non delayed versus the delayed. Some delayedÂ 18'sÂ were right next to non delayedÂ 18's while others were 12 or more feet away.
Yet we are using a time delay of just 3 ms. The theoretical design is based on two point sources but the whole sub wall thing, while functional, has trouble getting out of it's own way. What we need is two nice clean point sources. But how do you do that with six double 18 boxes that are nearly two feet high and four feet wide?
From yet another angle there was the MicroSub project designed to use the coolness of actually being able to physically configure the boxes themselves to achieve desired results.
Yes subs are very close to omni directional at low low frequencies and since low frequency wave lengths are long, it may seem that these configuration variations would have little or no effect on the output and coverage. But the reality is that there are significant audible differences and once I actually stacked these things up I found the assets of the configurations are even more pronounced than anticipated. The actual direction a sub is pointing does not matter much till you start getting above 60 0r 80 hz. While the 'on axis' focal point and distance between multiple sub sources rapidly gains importance as the frequency is raised.
**** Mini Offshoot Sound Nerd Speak ****
For example. The MicroSubs are 26" wide and 13" high and hold a single 15" speaker. If you stack two directly on top of each other on the floor like 'The Up Up' configuration,
the source dimensions are about 26" high by 15" wide plus ports so about 26"x24".
That would give us a side view pattern of something like:
As you can see we have we have reduced the vertical coverage, which optimizes for musicians a bit farther away and blows through the legs of closer artists when used as a sidefill.
Now slide the top MicroSub back till it drops into the 'Laid Back' configuration
and we now get something more like this
Where there is an up tilt giving us a nearer focus. Here the nearer artist is in the focus while the sound will tend to go over the heads of musicians father away. Plus, this is with just two MicroSubs. The stacked responses are of course achievable with conventional low profile subs but the additional option to utilize the angled configs with the MicroSubs is unique and can be very effective in tackling a wide variety of applications.
**** End Mini Offshoot Sound Nerd Speak ****
Ok, back to Vortex and Slotfire.
So taking what I learned from Sub Cannon's, MicroWedge, MicroSub lets next add in add in the cool enclosure designs like the dV-Sub http://www.l-acoustics.com/fichestech/dvsubgb.pdf where multiple speakers are pointed at each other to result in a powerful output from a small area.
And then it grew on me to combine it all and gain control over steering by creating a smaller and more manageable sound source dimensions and completely disregard the direction the sub speakers actually point. At that point all the ideas started flooding in as with so many restraints of design removed.
Here is the Slotfire, notice the two 18" wide 'slot' sources that offer distinct control.
And though the Vortex occupies an 8 ft by 8 ft by 5.5 ft high space, it offers a relatively small point source-ish output relative to conventional setups.
Oh, and this was the gig where we learned that the Vortex works best in open space and does not like to be near a wall. The Slotfires though, prefer a wall and shoot too much rear energy in open space. The V Fire:
is the no wall or hollow stage version of the Slotfire but does not quite sound as good.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
So as I mentioned, I adore the new adventure feeling of opening the bus door to a brand new world. And some days you just got to grit your teeth and bear it. Dammit, where in the heck is the parking lot? Is that a gig through yonder forest?
The luxuries for a touring roadie crew are endless, but at least we get our own are to hang out in and relax.
I did it, I finally broke down and labeled my console.
So this Branson guy from Virgin decides to toss a party for 30,000 or so of he best friends, for free. Multiple stages, Blink, Weezer, Jet and lots of other cool bands
And what better way to make an entrance than to sky dive out of a helicopter onto the roof of the main stage at Blossom Amphitheater? None better! A bottle of Champagne
And away we rock. Can I say that this guy rules! And speaking of guys that rule, I am so happy to be touring once again with Craig Overbay! So great to hang with so many friends.
Friday, September 4. 2009
Though Fall Out Boy has left us for a while, thought I would share this shot of Midii desks side by side new school/old school can live in harmony! Say hey to Kyle, FOB's engineer.
Roadies come in a wide variety of species. If you look carefully you may be able to spot one of the rare Beamhugger roadies napping in his natural habitat.
Meet Cadaver (Captain Jack Spare-Ocho), Sweatshop (Ochito), J-Con ( Ocho-Guesto), Satan (Ocho Diablo), Doug (Double 0 Ocho)and Robert (Ocho Libre). Though at first look you may mistake them for bankers on their way to work in business suits, if you look carefully you may take notice that Sweatshop and Robert are tossing out signs of their allegiance to the Ocho. The Ocho is an elite and highly feared group of roadies that travel together on a tour bus that has a little plastic 8 in the window.
A rare glimpse inside the Ocho
One of the most wonderful aspects of touring is the unexpected. The thrill of not knowing what will happen next. And probably the pinnacle of that feeling occurs when you awake on the bus after an overnight drive to step out and look at the brand new world around you. Take a gander at this view while imagining the heart pounding thrill of stepping out into Hartford
This tour like every tour I take on a project or two and do my best to succeed. My primary project for this tour was to try and wear one of two hats everyday. Yes, this may seem daunting but with enough will power, roadies can accomplish nearly anything. What you may not know is why. Why not a baseball cap, why not a Guilligan hat or beany? Well perhaps you are not fully learned on the assets of a properly Dave Rat folded cowboy hat. If I recall correctly, I believe I purchase the mixing tigers at the same truck stop in Florida.
It's not just the Ocho, it's a way of life!
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
Just to take the edge off the heaviness of the blog, I really try an offer some technical sound nerdery. So what today? Lets see, someone asked how audio gets off the spinning drum riser. Well, that was something that we solved in pre production as it was not thought of in the design. There is a 20 channel audio snake and ac cable that feeds through a tube dead center. Since the riser only spins 2 rotations max, the wind up is not bad. The Drum riser actually is two pieces and splits in half and rolls on the truck on a pair of set carts. Of course everything is bolted down and it stays nearly intact with just mics, snare and cymbals getting pulled each day.
Oh, here is something you may find interesting. A little more on the slotfire setup.
The theory here is to create two point sources spaces at 1/3 of a wavelength. Now typically with the wall of sub setup that is common, point sources are just plain out of the question with multi-sub setups but... by pointing them at each other we can significantly reduce the size of the sound sources and now have something we can really work with.
Now by delaying the outside pair 1/6 of a wavelength, we get a 1/6 +1/3 wavelength =1/2 wavelength cancellation on stage an we get a maximum summation angle I am guessing 30 off axis or so. Fair enough, all good works quite well, especially if you have a wall behind them but....
There is another aspect that is really interesting. The distance between the subs that face each other has is useful as well. See, we are creating a compression zone and the amount of compression also effects the way our subs sound. The closer together they are, the more front pressure we put on the cones. Typically the cones ported boxes only see back pressure from the enclosure. This front pressure has a damping effect and can be used to alter the tuning of the speaker/enclosure a bit or in other world as you get closer the sound gets tighter and father is looser. This added dynamic is yet another cool (and free) tool to add to your subwoofer toolbox.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Wednesday, August 26. 2009
Here is another first for me. We use only mics from one company and every mic on Blink's stage is Audix. Typically, I try and stay away from single vendor setups purely for the reason that I like to have freedom to use the best tool for the job rather than select from a small tool box. That said, when I came on board to this gig, Blink was already in rehearsals and was mic 'ed and dialed in. Though Steve Walsh so graciously said I could change anything I want, rather than heavy foot my way around, I started out by doing what I am supposed to do. I listened first to the setup to see how it sounded. And to be perfectly honest, it sounded excellent. Except for one minor issue and one minor addition, I was perfectly happy to roll with the all Audix mic layout. Well, almost all Audix, there actually is one alien mic and direct inputs and such
Curious about the mic list? And just to keep it interesting, this should be enough info for an audio human with some experience to decipher.
K K S SB S2 H R F O O 8 R CB B B G G G G V V
91 D6 I5 I5 MD 1244 1244 MD MD 1244 1244 palmer 1244 avalon avalon palmer palmer palmer palmer om7 om7
The new exciting thing for me is that I really like the Micro D's and M1244a's. I have never used either before enough to form an opinion but they sound quite good. Less 'clinical' than the Beta 98's I usually use and a much nicer warm low mid that really brings the toms out on top with less EQ. Plus the M1244a's are an 'all in one' small format mic which means they do not have that dorky external supply that the Beta 98's and Micro D's have.
As far as the changes I made? Well, Travis is an amazing drummer and really smashes the kit hard. Originally there were SX1's on the HH and cymbals, but it was not to happy with the level and were crunching a bit. Swapping to the 1244's solved it and looks cool to. No mic stands anywhere near that kit, small mics, underhead cymbal mic'ing. Oh, it is a sexy setup.
As far as the addition, well, we all know that you can never have enough cowbell, so even though I love to keep my inputs lean, 20 for Blink, I bit the bullet and let the input # creep to the lofty 21 inputs we are at now.
Meet Robert who handles Mark's bass rig, notice the 'Ocho.' And ya already know Steve who rocks the monitor rig
And the pics keep piling up so may as well thin out the stockpile a bit.
And to end things on a scary note, guess what! I lost some of my things! I know, you are surprised and awed that it took this long for my belonging to stage an escape. But the story gets worse. I not only left my pointy hat that was made in Nepal out of alpaca wool, bit I also left a shirt that was a personal gift that says "I'm hung like a ...." well, you know the rest of the story if you have been joining my adventures for a while. Anyway, after the initial shock faded I decided to see if I could hunt them down.
Now check this out, I mentally retraced my steps back to the only logical place they could have escaped me and low and behold, after a phone call and a chat, I found a lead But one can never be sure. How am I to know that it was nit just any pointy hat and shirt that were what was found? Could it be the wrong ones? Thankfully I was able to persuade Kara from the hotel into helping me positively identify them by sending me a pic. Thank you Kara and Jennifer!
Sunday, August 23. 2009
Any of y'all who have followed my bloggery adventures for a while and I have not bored away, you may recall my FOH techs Nick the Fly and Happi-Lee. Nick started Peppers with me and I like to have out during the design phase early on. Then Lee joined on with his amazing and precise skill set that really locked the PA into an amazing level of consistency. For this Blink tour, Nick once again got me started up but I could not get Lee. Instead I have the fabulous honor to be working with none other than Jim Lockyer, new tour nickname yet to be determined.
I can not stress enough the importance of having a high quality PA tech. Especially for my spacey forgetful self. I heavily rely on my techs for consistency and attention detail as I want to walk into a setup as close to identical as humanly possible everyday. My goal is to purely focus on any venue to venue issue but the system and everything else must be in its proper place.
Now typically I am a calm and easy going individual but when there are issues that involve gross negligence, or complete disregard, I can really ramp up into a frenzy that I highly recommend everyone avoid. So imagine my surprise when I arrived at the sound board to fired up the system and noticed this
I know, it is hard to look at and sorry for putting you through it, but it was too big of an issue to let slide. Yes, the zig zaggy pad edge is missing its outer strip. Frozen in time I felt a full melt down rush over me. JIM, what the fuck kind of ship are you running here? I thought you were pro! You came highly recommended. Sigh, I thought you were my friend :(
Not only was the strip not in its proper position, it was actually sitting on the console for the last few shows. But since I mix in the dark and rarely look there, I had not noticed.
How am I supposed to mix the god damn show if I am limited in my padded roaming room? Can I mix like that? No I can't, no wonder the last two shows sucked ass. This absolutely unacceptable! Aaaargh! I am out of here. I can not work under these conditions but fortunately our head of tour security, Tony the Tiger, captured me as I was running off and convinced me to give Jim another chance.
He assured me it wont happen again and that he will do all posssible to be spot on from now on.. I was relieved to see his dedication renewed and I snapped this photo of Jim tuning the sound system the following day, notice the RTA mic with the orange spiral tape.
Here we can see Jim line checking:
So, far since "The Pad Event" he has held things together very well. Lets just hope that he keeps his wits about and priorities straight. And in case he forgets:
#1) No Lights! No board lights, no rack lights and computer screens must be facing away from me or off during the show.
#2) Carpet and pad setup properly.
#3) Wine glass never empty and make sure I drink plenty of water.
#4) The mixing Stick must be readily accessible at all times.
#5) Make sure most of the PA works and sounds halfway decent most of the time.
For those of you unfamiliar with the mixing stick:
Ok, now that I got that off my chest, enough with the serious stuff.
Hey, can you guess where in the truck the KUDO boxes were after the rainy gig?
I really am enjoying this tour and I really feel loved
And it's is fun! Ha!
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
Finally, as a side note, Notice the modified Slotfire setup we are calling V Fire?
Basically, same theory as Slotfire, but closing the backs up puts a lot less sound under hollow stages. Slotfire does sound a bit better and offers a smaller point source as the V opening needs to be larger to work properly. But, sealing up the back really help. So wall or solid behind, we use Slot, Hollow or open behind, we use V. We even used a combo wit on slot and one V per side when the inside stacks were in front of the hollow stage and the outsides were against concrete.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Next up, well dunno yet but it will be some ramblings about something or other.
Wednesday, August 19. 2009
Now that we have some time under our belts and settled into a good rhythm, I can lay off the nerdery a bit and deal with info sharing at a more leisurely pace. The Ogasmatron (Vortex) and Slotfire setups are fairly easy to replicate and the need for my hands on aspects are greatly diminished. Back into our second to last arena today and the Orgasmatrons are truly refreshing. So how about a little house cleaning of the photos that are collecting in my post folder?
Daniel (Ocho Diablo) rocks the suction machine. Meet Chris Holmes (Ocho Wino) our Bus-Ocho protools wizard that handles the samples and such, like the "west coast shit" during the drum solo.
Tom stands near the flame thrower
Jumping back to audio, here is the centerfill dV-Dosc hang with front and rear motors for a near straight down shot. I avoid stage stacked fill speakers and fully rely on everything flown for coverage. These pretty much see a full mix identical to the mains.
So we headed to Council Bluffs for an outdoor field show. Last of a five gig sprint. Talk about a wonderful mix of fun and misery, wow. So, though I am sure you have heard the news by now, yes, we were at the epicenter of Fly War 2009.
Though this does not do justice to the plentiful fly covered strips dangling everywhere, Jessica celebrates them
Oh, scenes like this were everywhere. On everything. But hey, the good news is at least the dining area was inside a room. The bad news is that so was the most awe inspiring gathering of flies imaginable. Everywhere on everything. At least we could try and clear them out except the only water source was a sink that meant a hose ran out the door to the outside fly area where the caterers battled out a space to cook So we wont be closing that door. Clearly the flies had a well thought out plan.
But our catering is a force to be reckoned with that strikes fear into all that cross their path. Be advised, this next photo is not for the faint hearted so look at your own risk.
That's right, prepare for battle but first we must arm the troops. Meet 'The Claimer' a ruthless weapon that travels at high speeds crushing its victims mercilessly.
It was long and bloody battle, and though no war is truly won, we were able to retake our dining area and in the aftermath there was plenty of room for celebration.
how about a wander into punter world? Bl-ink
Hey, I was gonna wear that, darn it!
Now that's what friends are for. The one gal was actually eating the funnel cake and watching the show.
Yes, I know, just another picture we all see every day out of our office window but can you spot anything out of the ordinary?
Move along folks, nothing to see here.
Got ink? Blink ink? Like signed and came back an hour later fresh ink?
Ocho Diablo getting ready dial in the Travis' drum world, it's a tough gig but it has to be done.
Interesting strategy with, I would assume, a relatively low probability of success.
But when travis spotted her and dove off the stage screaming "Yes Yes" I was proven wrong. Oh wait, maybe not.
And so ends another rough day at the office.
Friday, August 14. 2009
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
Double hung V-Dosc versus Single hung K1?
A little over three years ago I took two full sound systems on Red Hot Chili Peppers tour, hung them side by side and divided vocals and instruments between the two systems.
Though double sound systems that have been done in theater for years, the goal there is to minimize phase issue caused by two mics in close proximity. Someone figured out that if you combine the mics electrically, there are comb filtering issues with sounds that enter both mics. But by giving each mic it's own speaker, those issue were greatly reduced as the acoustic summation of time shifted signals from the same source is way less problematic than the electrical summation of those same signals. But that is not what I was addressing with the double hung system.
Also, there have been many engineers, myself included, that have added on some extra speaker boxes to a system and pushed vocals through them as a way to increase vocal clarity, or reduce stress on the primary sound system. For that matter, we as sound engineers have been bringing in separate subwoofer on an aux systems for years to send a few instruments to in order to improve low end energy and control. I even went so far as tour with tweeters on an aux send as well, to reduce the complexity of the signal sent to them and improve clarity.
The constant quest for more power and clarity is an endless battle. And with each hurdle jumped, the systems sound better and either get louder or smaller. So following that path, my goal was to present a level of clarity and control that was audibly superior to other systems touring on that level and then and present it to a majority of the audience Seek a different PA type? Buy some magical whiz bang gadget? Add more boxes?
I could have looked for a different PA but I am pretty sure I have already mixed on every major large scale system that planet earth had to offer and I like V-Dosc the best, not only for sound quality but for system to system consistency as well as world wide availability.
As far as whiz bang gadget, well, my firm belief is that the speaker systems we use is by far, huge leaps and bounds and massive amounts so giant that all pales in comparison, the weakest link in the sound quality chain. Mics are a distant second. Try doing a listening test between a $50 Mackie, a $50,000 Yamaha $200K Midas. Yes, there is a difference and if you do sound for a living, you hopefully may actually hear that they do not sound the same if you have a fairly hi-fi listening device. Try using a Marshall stack as your listening monitor and hmmm, maybe the boards don't sound different at all. Now go the stereo store and punch all those buttons listening to all the different speakers and any knucklehead off the street can hear they are vastly different. Find two speakers made by two different manufactures and put them side by side. Now turn them up and hear how they sound near maximum volume, then see if you can find a sound engineer that can't hear the difference between the sound of the two and then don't hire them.
So it comes down to more? But I could not add more as I was already at the maximum weight capacity of my preferred system, V-Dosc. They hang 16 deep max or, as most tours carry, 15 deep plus 3 dV-Dosc. Furthermore, even if I could hang more boxes forming a longer array, sight lines are often an issue for sold out arena gigs. Until line arrays took the sound industry by storm in the late 90's, side by side systems with similar coverage were not a feasible option for large scale gigs, as those older systems were physically too wide.
Yes, more but not for volume but rather for clarity. When intentional distortion is not desired, speakers sound 'less good' when driven too hard. Speakers, as they reach mechanical limitations, become less linear. The more complex the signal presented to the speaker, the more difficulty it has reproducing that signal accurately. By using two identical sound systems, with identical coverage patterns set side by side I could divide the instruments between the two and increase clarity and headroom while simultaneously getting around many of the mechanical system limitations.
And it worked. It worked really well. So well in fact that the though of touring without it is kind of a bummer but then came K1. The brand new system is inherently clearer and louder than V-Dosc by no small margin. So what do I do? There is not enough K1 around or budget for that matter, to double up K1, but I could easily double up V-Dosc again. Double V-Dosc though is twice the truck space, twice the motor points and considerably more expensive than single hung K1.
So here I am now, three weeks or so into touring a single hung K1 system. I had 60 V-Dosc last tour and now I have 24 K1 and I must say that I made the right call. This system is as loud, if not louder, I don't even fly the K1 subs in most places due to trim height issues and the clarity rivals or beats the double hung V-Dosc. Setup time is so much faster with a quicker rigging system and less gear. That said, there were a few things about the double hung that still stand above. First is the ability to alter the source location of the instruments. It was really nice and surprisingly audible to hear instruments and vocals coming from separate sources. Different than clarity, it gave a bit more freedom in level. I could turn things down farther in the mix and still have them clearly discernable. Secondly, when I really push the K1, I can hear it begin to blur a bit, though less so than the V-Dosc, with the double hung V-Dosc I could push and blur one system while still having the vocals super clear in the other other system. That freedom from level based interaction is very desirable. Next step? Maybe double hung K1 some day, but for now, I feel I am far enough ahead of the game that I am perfectly happy.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
You want to meet more of the tour humans? First up today, Robert Rat stage pa teching the shit out the K1 rig.
'The Show Must Go On' Adam is the fearless tour leader!
Touring with catering rules! Touring with great catering is the difference between happiness and misery. You can run a crew ragged with multiple shows and longs drives, just make sure they have a safe place to get whatever sleep they can and feed them well and magically most anything is endurable with a smile. Oh, keeping the busses stocked with plenty of alcohol doesn't hurt either. Meet Ali!
And Nate and Billy. Too bad these guys have such a bad attitude and are no fun to hang with.
Our other two caterers, Jeremy and other Nate you will meet as soon I I remember to snap a pic. Another important life support friendly essential is showers. Yes, we are scruffy roadie types but a quick shower every few weeks really does cheer the spirit. That is why a it was so exciting to saunter into this shangrila of a paradise vintage crew room.
Though he looks vicious and scary, don't be afeard, Pete and the Fall Out Boy band and crew are super cool.
Now here is a brilliant concept, how about we attach a tractor to front of house mix area just in case it becomes a good idea to drag the sound and light roadies around the venue during the show.
And it is dinner time and then guess what! I am going to check out Blink 182 tonight as we hit the middle of a 5 in a row show sprint.
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