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newton's revenge

The physics of sound often guides or in fact restricts us in what we are hoping to achieve. This is usually most apparent in cases where there's a lack of understanding around stage monitors.

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the magic speaker[a blog by mev]


the lack of technical understanding among musicians is understandable, scary and hilarious

Posted on Saturday 3rd December 2016 at 11:23am

Have your say on the feedback loop


Last night, when sound check was nearly over, the band suddenly realised the drummer needed a monitor.
The lead singer / player had snavelled two for himself, I'd given the weakest backing vocalist two small ones, and the second bv a large one to herself.
"Ok, so someone will have to give up one of their monitors, so you guys decide."
The BV singers decided to give the drummer the large monitor, and just have a small one each. I warned them that they would have less foldback now, and they were unconcerned.
I unplugged the speaker and carried it over to the drummer. They started singing again, and immediately started complaining - "oh, it's not very loud now" (this is during me changing everything over) The most dominant player, the bass player, then said something which cracked me up. She looked down at the drummer's new monitor, which I had not yet plugged in, and said, "oh it's probably the girls vocals really loud in that one now". The lack of understanding in that statement was hilarious, but what made me annoyed was the attitude with which the fool said it. It was an accusatory "you're a fuckwit" tone. But I guess she imagined that somehow the speaker had stored inside itself the girls' vocal foldback, or some stupidity like that.
"Don't be silly!" I cried. "Just wait til I've plugged everything back in and I'll go and make the adjustments."
This put her out (the bass player).
What a fucking knob.

the magic speaker

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Beating Newton[a blog by mev]


With technology, we can beat MACH 1

Posted on Saturday 27th August 2016 at 2:25am

Have your say on the feedback loop


At Camelot, the rearmost speakers are over 8 metres away from the stage.

Since installation, our FoH sound has been victim to around 24ms of delay, so that instead of the sound from each speaker hitting our ears at the same time, it was hitting us at 5 different times.

Since Thursday, we've had installed a new zone processor, with which we have finally beaten MACH 1.

Now the sound from each speaker hits our ears at very very close to the same time.

No more "slapback" delay from stage, which was flattering on things like vocals and horns (for the most part) but extremely unflattering on sounds like kick, snare, cowbell - anything percussive.

The sound has tightened up beautifully, and the clarity is brilliant.

Each speaker is now EQ'd separately, so for instance the left-one speaker, which is against a corner wall, is EQ'd differently to the right-one which has a wall next to it, but not behind. Naturally, they previously sounded completely different even though they are the same speaker box, however with individual EQ applied, they sound very closely matched.

There are still tweaks to be done, but overall I'd rate the improvement so far at 500%.

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When people on stage are reasonable human beings[a blog by mev]


Some musicians just totally get that there's physics at play

Posted on Friday 19th August 2016 at 3:57am

Have your say on the feedback loop


Last night at Camelot Lounge, the amazing Ollie McGill (Cat Empire) brought, as he put it, "an incarnation of the Ollie McGill Trio" along for an intimate jazz show.
At sound check, he sat down at the piano which I had mic'd up and polished, and I knew by the way he listened that it was going to be a good night.
As he felt his way into the dynamics and the character of the old Yamaha, I returned to the console and gently dialled in a bit of foldback for him and the drummer (Miles Thomas). Miles' finger pointed upward, then up came the thumb. Ollie never confirmed the level in his monitor, in fact he never mentioned piano foldback at all. I kept it at a modest level.
When he sang, I tweaked a little at the start, but he never mentioned his monitor level or tone, so I left it at my first guess.
JZ (Jonathan Zwartz) arrived after a while, and I mic'd up his double bass with a Neumann KM185 - the hypercardioid version of the KM184 - using my tried and true method between the strings.
I turned it up loud enough for everyone to get a good taste of how good it sounded - and by itself, it sounded great.
I blended in the DI signal, but when Ollie started talking on mic again, a ring appeared from the bass mic feeding back the vocal from the monitors.
At this point, many bass players, instantly addicted to the gorgeous sound of the 185 - actually the natural sound of the bass itself - would have been weirdly resistant to turning that mic down. Not JZ. "Do what you gotta do, man."
A man with a rock solid grasp of the physics of sound on stage.

Ollie McGill

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