USITT19 Live Sound International Loudspeaker Demo

USITT19 Live Sound International Loudspeaker Demo

One of the common themes for me is consistency. I’ve written in the past about keeping as much on the console as consistent as possible from gig to gig. I’m fussy about my channel naming and coloring conventions, my patching, and my console layout

However, all this routine loses its usefulness when it stops serving the needs of the production. As soon as these techniques become “not the best way to do this,” it’s time to try something else.

Case in point: the recent Live Sound International Loudspeaker Demo at the United States Institute of Theater Technology 2019 expo in Louisville, KY. 

For those unfamiliar with the basic premise, the loudspeaker demo presents a unique opportunity for those in the market for a new PA system to show up and hear a number of systems in the same room, playing the same music in a round robin format.

The trick here is that from a mixing perspective, this show is the opposite of an average event: only two inputs (stereo tracks from PC & RF mic for the MC) that need to be routed to a high number of outputs (seven manufacturers, in this case, each with a flown “compact” system and a “portable” ground stacked system). MUSIC Tribe provided a Midas Pro2 console for the event.

Signal distribution was analog drive to each system, which means fourteen lines total – two to each manufacturer’s booth. The four booths on the console’s side of the room took their feed directly from the analog outs on the console surface, while the three booths on the other side of the room were driven via the outputs of a DL231 mic splitter.

This nifty unit has a true analog split inside, so the 24 input channels can feed two separate consoles (at two sampling rates!) and each console operator can have their own preamp control.

First things first: I configured the system outputs with the flown systems driven by buses 1-7 and the ground systems driven via buses 9-15. These were all post-fader sends taken at unity from the PC and RF input channels.

 

 The flown systems were physically above the portable systems in the room, and so on the console surface as well. 

 

I ended up configuring the console “backwards” of the normal Euro-style layout, with my inputs on the right and my outputs on the left. This is a little odd, but it made sense to me in the context of the event.

I kept the Pro2’s faders banked to the outputs, and since the demo format starts with all the portable systems before moving on to the flown systems, I made two POP groups, BIG and SMALL, to bring just the relevant system feeds to the surface at the proper point in the demo.

Finally, I created a POP group consisting of the PC and RF inputs and set it to unfold to the console’s Area B, allowing me to constantly have those faders available on the rightmost side of the console.

This allowed me to easily grab the show-critical faders while simultaneously operating the playback software on the computer located next to the console.

Before each session, I’d use the desk’s internal oscillator to send pink noise to each system in turn (using the TALK buttons in the output section on the surface) and adjust each bus master to match the output levels in the room, using Rational Acoustics’ 10EaZy level monitoring software as a guide. Demo attendees could watch the SPL data presented in several formats on a large screen located at FOH. Then as the demo progressed I’d simply unmute the proper system as it was introduced by MC Phil Garfinkel and away we’d go.

Since each system was tuned and voiced a bit differently, playback level could vary between systems depending on the spectral content of a particular piece of music. Keeping an eye on 10EaZy’s timeline view allowed me to make sure that all the systems were playing at similar levels throughout the demo. 

Special thanks to Jamie, Johnny and Gavin from Rational Acoustics for supplying and setting up the 10EaZy SPL monitoring rig, and to Jim, Kyle, Joe, and Pete from MUSIC Tribe for coming by and making sure I got the Pro2 up and running smoothly.

 

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