Archive | October, 2012

Touring Bands & The PreSonus StudioLive

30 Oct

Note: I do not own a PreSonus StudioLive, nor am I endorsed by them in any way.

I’ve noticed a common thread among several touring acts coming through the Gillioz Theatre as of late–the PreSonus StudioLive.  What I would consider a user-friendly, “budget” digital audio console, the StudioLive has a lot of great features that make it a perfect fit for those touring to smaller venues or as support to a bigger act.  Of course, there are other makes and models of small, handy digital audio consoles out there, but I feel the StudioLive is a little more polished and plug-n-play.

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The most common configuration in which acts are using the StudioLive seems to be as a monitor desk packaged with a mic splitter and wireless in-ear monitor transmitters.  If you’re traveling as support on a bigger tour, this makes sense.  You show up, roll your StudioLive rack in, give your FOH sends to the system tech and your ready to go.  Your tour manager/traveling sound tech/good buddy can mix FOH from the house desk or main act’s touring console while the StudioLive is already configured for what should be a perfectly dialed-in IEM mix for the band. When Civil Twilight supported MUTEMATH for their recent show at the Gillioz Theatre, that’s exactly how they rolled.  In the picture below, you can see Paul Thorn Band’s StudioLive sitting stage right during their show October 6th date at the Gilly.

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However, the versatility doesn’t stop there.  Let’s say you pick up a couple dates in smaller venues where you’re the main act and there’s no house console or some old piece of junk or similar less-than-desirable situation.  Well, with your friend Mr. StudioLive, you can drive both monitors and FOH, meaning all you really need to pull of a show is are racks and stacks (house main amps and speakers).  But wait, it just wouldn’t be 2012 if there wasn’t an iPad involved.  If there’s no room to put the console out in the house or snake to stage, once again, the StudioLive has you covered.  Just leave the desk on stage and mix using the PreSonus iPad app.

Let me state I’m in no way endorsed by PreSonus, nor do I own one of these consoles, but with it’s small footprint, ease of use and relatively low cost, I believe the PreSonus StudioLive is the answer for working class, touring musicians.  Ready to move seamlessly from practice space to big venue to small club and back, I feel this desk is a great investment for such acts.

Tracking Again

29 Oct

Those close to me, or at least those who read this blog, should know I consider myself a live sound guy first and recording engineer second.  I’ve got my reasons; the crowd’s contagious energy, working under pressure, the variety of events, earth shaking drums, etc, but as of late I had more or less eliminated multitrack recording from my “things I do” list.  Sure, I record the board mix with a pair of room mics at most shows when I mix front of house for archival purposes, but nothing too complex.

Of course, right around the time I realize this trend, I land three recording gigs in one week.  All live shows to be multitracked for later mixdown and subsequent release.  For two out of three shows I was also mixed FOH, which makes for a rewarding experience upon revisiting the recorded tracks.  It’s almost like a second shot at mixing the show, only this time there’s no audience and I have the stable, predictable acoustic environment of my home studio.  Of course there’s no adding additional channels, messing with mic placement or “do-overs,” but that’s almost freeing in a way–you just have to work with what you’ve got, for better or worse.  Two of the shows are in the bag and I’ve started on mixdown.  Here’s a screenshot of a little prep work on one mix, a local folk band that filled a tiny art gallery stage last Friday:

The third show in this run of gigs goes down this Friday at the Gillioz Theatre as part of a new local music concert series.  The first act in the series is Springfield’s own Delta Sol Revival.  I had the pleasure of mixing the band a month or two ago at an outdoor festival in downtown Springfield, which was my first encounter with their music.  A strong latin/funk/soul vibe left me smiling behind the faders the entire show and I’m excited to not only mix them live this Friday, but also the recording I’ll track simultaneously using the direct outputs on the theatre’s Midas Verona 400 and my Mackie Onyx 1640 for A/D conversion into Logic.

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Stay tuned for samples from the show, and maybe even a few from the others I’ve been working on.  By the way, anyone have suggestions for online sharing/playback of tracks?  Should I pay for unlimited tracks on Soundcloud?  Share your thoughts with me on Twitter.  See you at the show!

Infinity Sterling SS 2003 Bookshelf Speakers

7 Oct

Yesterday I picked up some Infinity Sterling (model SS 2003) bookshelf speakers on Craigslist for $10. They had the rotten foam surrounds typical of nearly all Infinity speakers their age, so would obviously need some work there. The cabinets are quite heavy and very solid, but I don’t really want to pay for an overpriced woofer refoam kit online, nor do I really want to put a bunch of time into this project (I’ve already got plenty of others on the back-burner) but I think there may be another solution.

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It just so happens I had a couple of Dayton Audio RS255-8 8″ woofers I picked up on Parts Express a few years ago for a project that never came to fruition. That was money spent long ago, so in my mind they’re free woofers in this situation. The SS 2003 has a crossover point of 3khz, and these woofers are only “usable” to 2khz, but I’ll let my ears decide if that’s a big issue. Again, woofers I already had sitting around.

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The Daytons dropped right in with no cabinet modification required. They’re slightly bigger regarding basket diameter, so they sit on top of the baffle as apposed the the inset bevel of the original drivers, but a little mounting foam and a few screws later, they were seated nicely.

The woofers are pretty darn inefficient at 86.2 db versus the original Sterling system efficiency of 90 db, so the tweeter outruns the woofer a little bit, but its a pretty good sounding set of boxes for at total investment of $10 and 15 minutes of repair time. Of course the perfectionist in me always wants to restore speakers to their original condition, but there’s something to be said with working with what you already have on hand.

At the end of the day, it’s nice to have saved another set of speakers from the dump.

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Springfield Jazz Festival

6 Oct

About two hours before the 3rd annual Springfield Jazz Festival was supposed to start, I received an unexpected phone call.  The event was supposed to take place on a couple outdoor stages, but the rainy, 45 degree weather was less than accommodating.  “Think we could move this inside the Gillioz?”

Not one to turn down a challenge and the opportunity to mix some bands on a Friday night (this was a rare Friday I originally had to myself), I said “sure, we can make that happen,” and 20 minutes later there were a few dozen jazz players inside the venue.

Apparently they had planned on two stages, and we only really have our main auditorium, so I grabbed the intern and some staging decks and built this little guy in our front lobby. I even gelled a couple 36 degree lekos and lit the place up.  Of course once the house LD arrived, I had him give the seal of approval.

The night went off without a hitch and a multitude of jazz was enjoyed in the comfort of the warm theatre I lovingly call home.

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