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too_tall;148258 wrote:
Its a very sad but true fact, most live sound engineers are terrible. They get the totally wrong system into the venue ( what should have only a pair of very high quality single 15" + horn speakers has a quartet of twin 15" + horn with dual 18" subs under them, etc ). They like it too loud for the human ear to handle, not only from a hearing damage perspective but also the ability for the ear to hear the music correctly. They often are 1/2 deaf themselves from years of abuse.

 

 

 

I have heard PA's which, when correctly operated, do not detract from a performance. However, I am sad to say, its been a very, very rare find.

 

I wouldn't say most live sound engineers, but yes some still stuck in the 70's

with poor hearing. Also some bands need a PA for vocals no matter what venue they are in. (if you get what I mean):D

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For many rock bands the PA is a necessary part of the sound, of course. But solo female voice with an acoustic guitar - with occasional piano accompaniment? Why does anyone think that needs a massive array of speakers?

 

There was no comparison between the two. Unamplified was much more musically engaging, and you got a much greater sense of the power of her voice and the inflexions in her delivery. I know I am not being terribly practical, as not everyone was sitting as close as we were, but I was very much struck by the experience of hearing Martha through a PA for an hour or two and then hearing her without it.

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This is a very interesting thread, because this scenario simply shouldn't happen any more!

An artiste in Martha's position would travel with her own sound-person, who is "supposed" to be musically sympathetic to her every nuance and specialises in conveying her unique sound wherever in the world she plays. That, pretty much, IS the brief for a touring sound-person.

 

When on tour, they spend the vast proportion of each show-day trying to achieve only that. Typically, they will spend a few hours in the venue running their chosen test music through the PA before Martha arrives, adjusting everything until they are confident of "good" sound, whatever that means to them. In this age of digital desks, they carry the show's settings around on a laptop and input that into the local system. By soundcheck time, it should only be a small matter of a tweak here and there. IMO.

 

Bummer when it misses the mark but in the above scenario, we can only presume that if the soundie's happy, then that's how it's meant to sound, take it or leave it ...:o

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Daddy Dom;148463 wrote:
This is a very interesting thread, because this scenario simply shouldn't happen any more!

 

An artiste in Martha's position would travel with her own sound-person, who is "supposed" to be musically sympathetic to her every nuance and specialises in conveying her unique sound wherever in the world she plays. That, pretty much, IS the brief for a touring sound-person.

 

 

 

When on tour, they spend the vast proportion of each show-day trying to achieve only that. Typically, they will spend a few hours in the venue running their chosen test music through the PA before Martha arrives, adjusting everything until they are confident of "good" sound, whatever that means to them. In this age of digital desks, they carry the show's settings around on a laptop and input that into the local system. By soundcheck time, it should only be a small matter of a tweak here and there. IMO.

 

 

 

Bummer when it misses the mark but in the above scenario, we can only presume that if the soundie's happy, then that's how it's meant to sound, take it or leave it ...
:o

 

These days it's not a laptop but a USB stick plugged into the mixing desk.

Also some venues like the town hall don't need large line arrays (the 'in' thing to have) for an Artist like Martha or similar. The house PA would of been fine for her, and would be manly used to get the sound to reach the back rows and up in the gods. In other words the PA would support her rather than

dominate her.

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a single vocalist in the town hall would easily live with a pair of single 15"+horn or maybe pair 8"+ horn moderately wide dispersion speakers, with probably no more than about 500 total watts per side.

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As a practising live sound engineer unfortunately I have to agree with a lot of the negative comments but would like to remind you that not all of our breed get it wrong every time. A case study of getting it right would have to be the recent Leonard Cohen concert. The Vector Arena has the acoustic qualities of a kerosene tin yet the engineer managed to make it a magical experience for the occupants of most seats in the house. It all comes down to discipline and cooperation amongst the band members. Very often circumstances beyond the engineer's control conspire to make things turn to pus - heavy handed drummers, the "MORE ME" syndrome amongst musos, promoters who ride the engineer for more wally, poxy acoustics, drunken youths who aren't happy unless their brains are pouring out their ears with the bass etc etc. BTW you should hear what audio pros think of audiophools with their overpriced fancy directional cables etc.

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moby;148507 wrote:
As a practising live sound engineer unfortunately I have to agree with a lot of the negative comments but would like to remind you that not all of our breed get it wrong every time. A case study of getting it right would have to be the recent Leonard Cohen concert. The Vector Arena has the acoustic qualities of a kerosene tin yet the engineer managed to make it a magical experience for the occupants of most seats in the house. It all comes down to discipline and cooperation amongst the band members. Very often circumstances beyond the engineer's control conspire to make things turn to pus - heavy handed drummers, the "MORE ME" syndrome amongst musos, promoters who ride the engineer for more wally, poxy acoustics, drunken youths who aren't happy unless their brains are pouring out their ears with the bass etc etc. BTW you should hear what audio pros think of audiophools with their overpriced fancy directional cables etc.

 

LoL - yes, it is not just audio pros that chuff at "overpriced fancy directional cable...." many audiophiles do to.

 

Fair comment above. Recent concerts I've attended including Sting, Tears for Fears, JJ Lin, Tsai Chin, Jimi Hendrix and the Eagles have all had challenges but it would be unfair to lay them all at the feet of the short neck and hairy knuckled sound engineer. (Thanks O)

 

The venue is clearly something the sound engineer can't control and in the case of the indoor stadium where these concerts were held the RT60 seemed like 30 seconds...

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kiwi_1282001;148524 wrote:
Fair comment above. Recent concerts I've attended including Sting, Tears for Fears, JJ Lin, Tsai Chin, Jimi Hendrix and the Eagles ...

 

I'd love to hear about that recent Jimi Hendrix concert :-)

M

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So, a question, how on earth can millions of dollars get spent, or in this case, wasted, on a purpose-built rock arena that sounds like pus? Where is the liaison to ensure acoustic harmony is observed way back at the planning stages?

It must be the most frustrating thing in the world, like a swimming pool that won't hold water.

DD

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Daddy Dom;148529 wrote:
So, a question, how on earth can millions of dollars get spent, or in this case, wasted, on a purpose-built rock arena that sounds like pus? Where is the liaison to ensure acoustic harmony is observed way back at the planning stages?

 

It must be the most frustrating thing in the world, like a swimming pool that won't hold water.

 

DD

 

One of four things happen here :

1 : They dont pay much attention to acoustics at all (Vector, North Shore Arena)

2 : They employ very expensive consultants to cock it up (Aotea ASB Theatre)

3 : They build it prior to PA to good acoustic principles (Auck Town Hall) then PA is used to stuff it up.

4 : It is acoustically evil by design (Logan Concrete Bunker)

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Look guys, they just don't do decent PAs like they used to, eg...

 

 

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Owen Y;148540 wrote:
Look guys, they just don't do decent PAs like they used to, eg...

 

 

 

 

 

Can I supersize that, cos it's just not big enough, man.

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moby;148527 wrote:
I'd love to hear about that recent Jimi Hendrix concert :-)

 

M

 

Would have loved to have heard it too...:o Exchange that for Carlos Santana.

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moby;148507 wrote:
A case study of getting it right would have to be the recent Leonard Cohen concert. .

 

I heard an interview on National radio a couple of months ago with the sound guy who set up that concert (the engineer in Moby's comment above I guess). Very interesting ... they go to an enormous amount of trouble to get the sound right for both the audience and also the performers, Leonard Cohen apparently being very particular about what he hears while performing.

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The thing with Leonard Cohen is he doesn't project his voice; it's more of a wisper. So his mic is ultra "hot" (heaps of gain).

So in this case the soundie has to install the PA so the chance of FOH feedback is minimised hence the use of multiple clusters through the venue (in mono) instead of 2 big clusters, one either side of the stage.

But Cohen is an exceptional case which requires a less then traditional set up but also the right musos behind him; no Marshal quad stacks here! In fact if the drummer did a rim shot near Cohen's mic, it would clip the PA (of course there are limiters to prevent this).

 

The thing wth the Auckland Town Hall is stage volume. Too much volume coming off the stage (either through backline guitar amps/drums/foldback) plays havoc with the front of house "sound quality". One trick I employed (back in the day) was to delay the FOH stacks so the PA was 'time aligned' with the stage sound. So if the PA was 12 feet in front of the middle of the stage then this means an appx 12ms delay. These days with in-ear monitors, stage spill is better managed.

 

In venues that were designed without sound reinforcement in mind can sound awesome until you over load the room with volume.

My favorite room is the Theatre Royal in CHCH. Late 1800's design but my god, what a good sounding room. Even with a 10k PA at full noise.

 

But I agree that too many gigs have a sledge hammer used to crack a walnut when it comes to the actual mix (not the PA).

The most consistent act I've seen to get the best possible sound night after night is Nine Inch Nails. An aural assult for sure but done in the best possible taste (as Kenny Everett used to say).

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IIRC, the Cohen setup had NO strong percussion/drumming, thus minimising such problems.

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Ive just spent two and a half days at Womad in Taranaki. - great gig, but wow - some of the performances were LOUD - especially those with their own sound engineers. Martin Russell mixing his own Afro Celt Sound System got a lovely mix - but loud. By the Sunday night, I found that the volume had become quite uncomfortable - through ear / listening fatigue - to the point that I started next to the sound desk and walked back, and back and back right in to the food stalls to hear the band.

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too_tall;148258 wrote:
Its a very sad but true fact, most live sound engineers are terrible. They get the totally wrong system into the venue ( what should have only a pair of very high quality single 15" + horn speakers has a quartet of twin 15" + horn with dual 18" subs under them, etc ). They like it too loud for the human ear to handle, not only from a hearing damage perspective but also the ability for the ear to hear the music correctly. They often are 1/2 deaf themselves from years of abuse.

 

 

 

I have heard PA's which, when correctly operated, do not detract from a performance. However, I am sad to say, its been a very, very rare find.

 

Harsh comment. I know a lot of professional live sound engineers, most of whom are very good at their jobs. There are a lot of so called "engineers" that don't know the first thing about it and give the rest of us a bad name. As for your comments about the wrong system, the majority of the time we are left with whatever system is either installed in a venue (ie some cheap under-budget piece of turd) or whatever the client has gone with (ie some cheap under-budget piece of turd). It's not the sound engineer's fault that when it comes to a lot of "event coordinators" their budget split is something like 99% for alcohol, and 1% for everything else including stage, sound and lighting.

 

I do agree that it's usually too loud though. PA systems go a lot louder and cleaner these days with massive amounts of power available, but engineers still seem to just run the system to it's limit. I'll be the guy next to the sound desk wearing earmuffs and pointing at the red lights....

 

I remember mixing goldenhorse at the leigh sawmill a couple of years back, and some people pulled up next to my van before the show. I heard one guy say "oh, don't forget your earplugs" to which I said "you won't need those mate, I'm mixing". He found me after the show and said "hey, you were right, I didn't need them, and it sounded great!"

 

This was helped a great deal by having a band that understands that the quieter they are on stage, they better they will sound out front.

 

Too many times I have mixed shows and ended up with only the kick drum and vocals in the pa because everything else is too loud off stage. At that point, the engineer is no longer mixing the show, he is waiting to go home. And who gets blamed for the bad mix? The sound guy.

 

Other comments we often hear/get blamed for:

I'm sitting 100m away and I can't hear it A: MOVE CLOSER

I'm sitting behind the speakers and it sounds bad A: HOW DOES IT SOUND HERE? WELL, MAYBE YOU SHOULD SIT IN FRONT OF THE SPEAKERS?

Can you turn down the guitar? A: IT'S ALREADY TURNED OFF

Can you turn down the bass? A: IT'S ALREADY TURNED OFF

Can you make it sound a bit more xxxx: WHERE DO YOU WORK? CAN I COME TO YOUR WORKPLACE AND STAND BEHIND YOU TELLING YOU HOW TO DO YOUR JOB? WOULD YOU LIKE THAT?

I can't hear the vocals A: GO AND TELL THE SINGER TO SING INTO THE MIC

How do you know what all these knobs do? A: BUY ME A BEER AND I'LL SHOW YOU

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GGG Audio;149138 wrote:
Other comments we often hear/get blamed for:

 

I'm sitting 100m away and I can't hear it A: MOVE CLOSER

 

I'm sitting behind the speakers and it sounds bad A: HOW DOES IT SOUND HERE? WELL, MAYBE YOU SHOULD SIT IN FRONT OF THE SPEAKERS?

 

Can you turn down the guitar? A: IT'S ALREADY TURNED OFF

 

Can you turn down the bass? A: IT'S ALREADY TURNED OFF

 

Can you make it sound a bit more xxxx: WHERE DO YOU WORK? CAN I COME TO YOUR WORKPLACE AND STAND BEHIND YOU TELLING YOU HOW TO DO YOUR JOB? WOULD YOU LIKE THAT?

 

I can't hear the vocals A: GO AND TELL THE SINGER TO SING INTO THE MIC

 

How do you know what all these knobs do? A: BUY ME A BEER AND I'LL SHOW YOU

 

Tee hee :-)

One memorable moment involved an outdoor show for a Mt Eden school

Two middle aged matrons roll up, set out their blanket on the grass, unload their Yogi Bear

style pic-a-nic basket, pour the chardonnay and settle down...2 metres in front of the left

hand PA stack. Band cranks up, MAM#1 steams over to the mixer, full of fury,

"IT'S TOO LOUD - TURN IT DOWN" I politely suggest that her location might not be optimal

for restful afternoon boozing, and she takes offence, and steams off to find SOMEBODY to

sort me out. (What I didn't point out was that I recognised her as the one time leader of NZ's

biggest dance troupe [until her assets headed South] and had many time provided sound

reinforcement for her, events in which she was not backward in coming forward to ask for

MORE MONITOR, this apparently being a necessity for semi erotic dancing).

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