Archive | August, 2013

Plaid Dragon – “SoND” Live @ Gillioz Theatre

26 Aug

Springfield, MO has an excellent music scene. The Bootheel, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, The Spacetones, Lilly Bee & The Pollinators, Knife Death, Delta Sol Revival, Kids & Chemicals, Speakeasy, Ryan Spilken–I challenge you to find a Midwest college town, or even a larger, more mainstream market, with a music scene as delightfully diverse.

Before leaving Springfield and the Gillioz Theatre, where I hung my hat for many shows, I had the pleasure of working one last concert. Fittingly, the event featured SGF’s own Plaid Dragon playing by themselves, in my favorite “an evening with” fashion.

This show would be the final installation in a series conceived over a few porch beers by Gillioz media czar/talent buyer, Vance Hall, and I aimed at featuring local performing artist known as “First Firday Live.”

I handled the live audio production for the event, mixing FOH and multitrack recording straight to Logic from the Gilly’s Midas Verona 400. I used the direct outputs of each channel of the Verona to feed the line inputs of a Mackie Onyx 1640 for analog-to-digital conversion into Logic over Firewire. After the show I turned the tracks over to Plaid Dragon’s synth/guitar player, Sam Gibson, for a final mixdown.

The show was bittersweet, but 100% Springfield, Missouri live music. I could not have picked a better send-off from the town and venue that will always be “home.” Please enjoy a video featuring Sam’s mix of Plaid Dragon performing “SoND.”

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Home Studio: Make It Happen

25 Aug

The decision to move 1300 miles for a new gig came with a good share of challenges.  MSU wanted me to start work as soon as possible and to expedite the move they offered me the option to rent a readily available, on-campus apartment in family and graduate housing.  The dwelling leaves plenty to be desired.  It’s about half the square footage of the house I moved from, but only a 3 minute bike ride from work, utilities are included and I won’t have to worry about snow removal come Winter (a big, big plus).

I moved in with the notion this would be a temporary fix until I could find a house with more space for my various projects and interests.  Operating under this idea, I avoided getting too comfortable and setting up my home “studio.”  Though the more I live here, the more I realize how much the space works for my current situation.  Time to get comfortable.

Before leaving Springfield, I sold most of my furniture, including the desk that was the center of my creative space.  I don’t really have a vehicle fit for hauling furniture, and do anticipate a move at some point, so for now I’d like to avoid collecting more baggage.  But I can’t go any longer without a place to mix.  Just make it happen.

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Barely an hour of my time in the extra bed/storage room, some spare pieces of garage shelving and I’ve now got a place to mix and work on recording projects.

The motive behind this entry is to encourage anyone else looking for reasons to put-off building their home studio, or other creative workspace, to just go ahead and do it.  Those excuses are just another thing standing between you and dreams.  If you can’t exercise your talent, you’ll never reach your potential.

Sure, my setup leaves a lot to be desired–tiny room, zero acoustic treatment, extremely un-ergonomic desk/chair combo (see camp chair in photo)–but it’s my space.  The more I use it, the more it will improve.  And if you can practice working in less than ideal circumstances, just think of what you can pull off when the odds are in your favor.

Bose 1800 Amplifier aka Carver pm1400

22 Aug

The arena I work out of, the Brick Breeden Field House, has a fairly sizeable Bose (yes, I know) sound system.  I’m not going to get into specifics of the install, because it’s really nothing special.  However, one aspect that did impress me was the amp rack–a stack of ten Bose 1800s.

Image From what I can tell, this amp rack has rarely been powered down since installation.  These babies have been running for a solid 15 years and still function as designed.  Mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been cleaning out our tech storage areas and continue to find all sorts of goodies from previous installs.  In my findings have been several Carver professional amplifiers, including a pair of Carver pm1400s.

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Now look at the above pictures and tell me the Bose 1800 and Carver pm1400 aren’t the same amp with different branding.  Turns out Bose subcontracted their amplifier production out to Carver for their professional systems at the time.  It seems the only real difference is the Bose version has an EQ module installed for use with their Panaray speaker systems, which can allegedly be bypassed for use with other systems.

At 450 watts per channel into 8 ohms, these are not wimpy units, and workhorses to boot.  For this post, I suppose the moral of the story is don’t judge a book by its cover, or in this case hold a prejudice against gear just because of a brand stigma.  Side note: such a prejudice getting lifted can be seen in the case of the Behrigner X32, with so many former haters now finding themselves behind one.

That’s all for now. Maybe I should go clean the fans in those amps.

Community XLT41 & XP502 Woofer Replacement

19 Aug

Once upon a time there was a dealer that loved selling Community loudspeakers to MSU Bozeman.  Long throw, 3-way mid/hi horns, “full-range” weatherproof public address units, portable monitor/utility speakers… the university bought them all.

The latter units still see regular use.  My department owns a pair of XLT41 12″ 2-way boxes and a pair of XP502s, also 12″ 2-way boxes (though I’ve only seen one of them, the other is still exists only in legend).

Both models are very similar, featuring bi-amp capability, NL4 interconnects, black carpet finish, pole-mount sockets and a form factor that allows them to be used as stage wedges.  The main difference upon visual inspection is the HF section.  The XLT41 features a “rotatable” (see also: square) 90×60 degree horn while the XP502’s horn is a rectangular, 90×40 degree.

In my last post, I mentioned my ongoing quest of testing the department’s tech inventory to get a better handle on what we have to work with.  Well, I already knew one of the XLT41 boxes had a non-functioning woofer.  Funny story, during my interview, they staged a small “practical” for me to participate in, which consisted of setting up a portable PA system in a presentation scenario with laptop, microphone and projector.  After completing the task and firing up the system, I noticed the woofer was out and informed those overseeing.

Now that I have the job and the woofer is still not functioning, I pulled it out, took a meter to it and lo and behold I metered nothing–an open circuit.  I took the woofer back to the office and started looking for a recone kit or replacement driver.  After typing in the numbers listed on the magnet, I realized the XLT41 and XP502 share the same woofer–which would explain why their performance is so similar on paper.

Given the XP502 is currently missing its significant other, I opted to pull the working woofer from it and drop it in the XLT to give us a matching, working pair.  Now, one detail confused me a little.  While looking at the spec sheets for each box, the nominal LF impedance was listed as 8 ohms.  However, the sticker on the woofer says 4 ohms.  This was discrepancy consistent between all woofers.

Here are the boxes next to one another, woofers out.  XP502 on left, XLT41 on right.

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While I had the grille off, I figured I’d go ahead and use that “rotatable horn” feature of the XLT41.  The horn had been set up so that the wide dispersion was in the horizontal plane when being used as stage monitor, on its side.  I’d say 95 percent of the time it’s getting used on a speaker stand, so I turned the horn to get that 90 degrees of horizontal dispersion when upright.

By this time, I’d spent enough time with these speakers that they were growing on me.  Yes, they’re cheap boxes in the scheme of things, but they’ve obviously served their purpose over the years, fulfilling the needs of many, many events, all the while holding up to the abuse of tired student workers packing them up after long Friday night shifts.  Though, I will say I discovered a new level of cheap manufacturing when I pulled out that horn.

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Notice the horn doesn’t actually have bolt holes for the driver.  Instead they opted to glue some pieces of fiber board to the horn, staple on a baffle and bolt the horn to it.  The staples were starting to pull loose, so it was only a matter of time before the driver fell off on one of those late-night strikes.  I grabbed some wood screws and secured the baffle back to its counterparts.

The XLT41 now has a working woofer.  Though I should still pull the horn out of the other box and reinforce it, as well.  Now regarding the empty hole in the XP502.  It seems Community no longer has parts for this 11-year-old box, but I do know from the sticker on the magnet the speaker is 4 ohms and was manufactured by Eminence.  Perhaps this replacement will do the trick.  Edit: I had inferred parts were unavailable judging by info from Community dealers on the web, however a quick call to Community support revealed that parts are indeed still obtainable.  A replacement woofer is $141–a bit pricey in my mind, but at least I know I’m getting the real deal.