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Thread: Live Concert sound

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    Senior Member Akira's Avatar
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    Live Concert sound

    I attended Tina Turner's concert last night and I would have to say the sound was a little disappointing. There was a piercing crunchy sound around 1.8K and a shrill in the 6K range. Even prerecorded music displayed these qualities. I don't know the make of the array system they used since I have been out of the live business for 7 years now. The venue was the Air Canada Center (Toronto) which has reasonably good acoustics. I worked on the Celine Dion tour there with Meyer MSL 5's and the sound was amazing.

    Since all systems are array designs these days, do you find the fidelity any better? Yes the throw is better, and the bass seems to have better impact than in the past but, I have never heard superior hi fidelity enveloping sound. And, I have heard excellent sound even with some of the old S4 systems of 30 years ago. Arrays often sound thin and piercing to me, but again I have no experience working with them.
    How do you find concert sound these days?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akira View Post
    I attended Tina Turner's concert last night and I would have to say the sound was a little disappointing. There was a piercing crunchy sound around 1.8K and a shrill in the 6K range. Even prerecorded music displayed these qualities. I don't know the make of the array system they used since I have been out of the live business for 7 years now. The venue was the Air Canada Center (Toronto) which has reasonably good acoustics. I worked on the Celine Dion tour there with Meyer MSL 5's and the sound was amazing.

    Since all systems are array designs these days, do you find the fidelity any better? Yes the throw is better, and the bass seems to have better impact than in the past but, I have never heard superior hi fidelity enveloping sound. And, I have heard excellent sound even with some of the old S4 systems of 30 years ago. Arrays often sound thin and piercing to me, but again I have no experience working with them.
    How do you find concert sound these days?
    I, too, attended Tina Turner's concert at GM Place in Vancouver, similar to AC Center in Toronto, a few years ago. I had the same impression about their sounds as yours. I guess they brought in their own sound system but the quality of sound was rather disappointing. Harsh HF and MF made me very uncomfortable. No one was complaining though.
    I never attended the live concert before so I thought that is the normal sound at all concerts.
    I decided to buy DVD music videos instead ever since.

    Keith

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    In the majority of cases, the overall sound quality at concerts is probably worse than it was 10 years ago.

    I put it down to the financial drive to make concerts profitable now. Record sales can no longer support a tour that loses money. Promoters want the minimum amount of gear on the road to cover the maximum audience and that means line arrays! It's all about SPL level and coverage....actual fidelity seems to be further down the list than ever! Most mix engineers seek the "smilie face" EQ curve - loads of bass and high for "impact" apparently.

    The days of bands touring with systems with massive amounts of headroom are over. That extra 5dB headroom may mean adding another lorry to the convoy and no one wants to pay for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andyoz View Post
    That extra 5dB headroom ... no one wants to pay for it.
    Often I would like to pay for with reduced max sound pressure level.
    ____________
    Peter

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoerninger View Post
    Often I would like to pay for with reduced max sound pressure level.
    ____________
    Peter
    The point I was trying to make is it is always nicer to listen to a system with headroom even if the mix engineer doesn't use it. At the moment, most touring systems sound harsh on peaks such as snare drum hits, etc. With the current touring systems, the coverage and SPL is calculated and very little "headroom" is left as that costs and it's a competitive industry. Many live systems are being run to within an inch of their limits and that doesn't sound nice....!!!!

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    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    Could be her voice was just ..well past it.

    But seriously,

    There is alot of debate about arrays being better ..because everyone is doing it.

    I think of it as lots of piss arse Bose 801's

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Mackenzie View Post
    There is alot of debate about arrays being better ..because everyone is doing it.
    We see alot of installs that has use line-arrays when the room clearly doesn't suite them. Because "...everyone else is doing it".

    Some of these venues are also changing perfectly good analogue desks, outboard gear, etc and going for half arsed digital equipment that sounds "edgy" at best... If I had the cash, I would be buying some Midas XL4's analogue desks and mothballing them for 5-10 years

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    Senior Member Bob Womack's Avatar
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    To me the line arrays invariably have a pinched midrange and that spiky upper mid that kinda pushes me to the back wall. Once again, it is all about coverage and intelligibility with the least flown weight rather than high-fi. I, for one, miss the mounds of blackwares.

    Bob
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    Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion, The Fellowship of the Ring

    THE MUSICIAN'S ROOM

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    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    The point I was trying to make is it is always nicer to listen to a system with headroom even if the mix engineer doesn't use it.
    Yes I agree, I have been to several live shows recently and have to wonder if it is in fact headroom as the issue. I have seen a couple of bands in 3 venues and it can be hit or miss in 2 of the places, both use linearrays. The third venue has what today is considered ancient. It's basicaly an 80's JBL cinema system. It uses dual 2225 and 2445 on 2360's with 18's as subs. They have always been strict there about SPL levels so when you come out no ringing ears. The sound is usually quite good.

    The other 2 venues can get uncomfortably loud, to where it's just not fun without ear protection. Those systems sound quite good as long as you don't go what I call stupid loud with them. I define stupid loud as taking away from the experience and making you uncomfortable. They can get harsh sounding once you get to a certain point. Beyond that and they seem to crash in the midrange. Bass seems fine though.

    I wonder if it is indeed the speakers or my ears telling me to run for cover.

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

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    All the contractors use the manufacturers prediction software (i.e. L-Acoustics "SoundVision") to work out the minimum no. of boxes they need to cover the venue at the high SPL's promoters want.

    The two worst systems I have heard lately were The Police in Dublin (massive Claire Brothers line array system) and Bruce Springsteen (JBL line-array). The Bruce Springsteen gig was particularly painful and the layout of the line-arrays had me baffled to be honest. In addition to the normal flown arrays, there were line-arrays turned on their sides at low level behind the two side wings of the stage. That meant that Bruce was right in front of an array as he walked out to the side of the stage to interact with the audience. It's the strangest thing I have ever seen and was clearly interacting badly with the main line-arrays. Here's some photos showing what I mean. The second photo shows some smaller "fill" speakers which are normal but you can also see the top half of some rather large line-array boxes turned on there side (would like Bo's opinion on this!!).

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    I was also at an outdoor Neil Young gig with 30-40,000 people and there were no delay stacks so half the crowd were getting seriously compromised sound. The only reason for that is cost...live music is the industries cash-cow now.

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    Senior Member Tom Brennan's Avatar
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    Hell, there were times when Elvis sang through ole Scotty's amp. I doubt anybody complained, I'da loved to seen Elvis sing through Scotty's amp.


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    Senior Member Tom Brennan's Avatar
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    We need a better picture of Bill Black. Before he went to a Fender bass he played acoustic with an Ampeg amp peg through a Fender Bassman.


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    Was watching an interesting show on the Beatles live shows.

    The footage of their Shea Stadium appearances shows several Altec 15" + multicell horns distributed around the baseball pitch and that was it as far as PA for 55,000!

    One of the tour guys said that the modern era of live sound reinforcement was invented about 15mins after The Beatles last shambles of a concert at Shea. No one could hear them play. Check out the way John takes the Micky in the intro to Hard Days Night in this clip

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=C3eBaJY3sKU

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    Actually, just looking back at those Bruce Springsteen photos, it appears that what I thought were mid-high line array boxes are actually subs. The VERTEC subs and mid-high boxes look virtually identical from a distance.

    Mid-Highs
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    Senior Moment Member Oldmics's Avatar
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    I"m gonna start with my belief that proper deployment of a true line array system,that has been tweeked out with a quality speaker processer,operated by a technician that can paint a sound canvas (not a fader pusher) with a hi quality analogue console will produce better sounding results than 10 years ago.

    Now as for the chances of all of those pieces of the puzzle coming together verses the amount of shows out there-pretty slim

    Its not a truck pack ,budget, headroom thing on most major tours.Theres sufficent headroom in the pictured systems (not Elvis"s) to peel the skin off your face if it was operated close to 90% demands.

    Venders would rather supply extra gear at no cost as opposed to cooking the gear from abusive demanding situations.Its cheaper to offer the extra gear as opposed to reconing half of your low frequency boxs.

    Reality is most of the large systems run at about 30%-40% demand.Its not a headroom issue.

    It could be a speaker processer programming issue if your hearing odd things.

    But it is more likely clipping somewhere in the signal chain.

    I feel that live sound has more akin to the fashon business than being a provider of basic gear.If its not Gucci-its not cool!

    I agree with Ians and Andys obsevations that everyone is doing it.

    Well lets let the lemmings follow each other over the cliffs edge.

    It used to be we had to have every new piece of outboard gear to appease the lastest crop of "touring engineers" who had just read about this piece of equipment in the latest live sound wish list magazine.

    Now with the latest crop of digital consoles,outboard effects have been replaced with "plug ins" reducing the F.O.H. footprint.

    We did a shootout of a bunch of consoles early this year.Yamahas PM5D,P.M.5000,XL-4,AHB Mixwizard,Sound Craft Sprit, and an FBT.

    Using just our ears the digital PM5D faired 4th place.Simply put the digital desks sound like shit.

    Due to the nature of the beast I had to retire (sell) my XL-4 which was the best sounding desk in the shootout.It was just getting too glitchy for confident use and had already been rebuilt 4 times.

    Consideration must be given to how hard these tools get used before stocking up on the old ones.

    The vertically placed boxs behind Bruce are Vertec subs.

    All manufacturers of line arrays have componet anomally issues to deal with.This is one of the many reasons why certain boxs produce that edgy,annoying midrange some people are correctly precieving.

    Back to the original question I think the pontential for quality sound is better but theres a lot of things that have to be in order for that to happen in this day and age.

    Oldmics

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