Hello From Swansea

Hello everyone, I realise its been a while. This summer has been a busy one. More on that soon.

Mister Maker & the Shapes Live

Mister Maker
So a quick update, as of the beginning of September this year I’ve been the sound operator and tech on the Mister Maker & the Shapes LIVE! tour. We’re currently in the Swansea Grand Theatre, and have already been to Northampton, Southend and St Albans.

This job has been great, I’m currently looking after radio microphones and QLab from a Yamaha LS9 16 digital mixing desk. It’s been brilliant seeing all these new venues and their different sound systems. I’ve been using the in house sound systems as well as the in house monitor wedges. For those starting out in the world of audio this something you’ll need to be able to adapt to quickly, is to able to get the mix where you want it in a brand new room and a new system, and doing it quickly. There will inevitably be moments where things happen during a get-in, and you may well be pushed for time.

This tour is running until the beginning of November, where we all take a break to do panto, then jump back on the tour again next year till June. It’s a great show, the cast and crew are all really lovely and it’s a pleasure being involved.

Here’s the promo video to see exactly what we’ve all been doing:

FREE Optical Compressor!!

 

https://www.plugin-alliance.com/en/products/bx_opto_pedal.html

Free plugin from Plugin Alliance usually $49, this offer is running until July 22nd 2015 so grab it while you can. Here’s the overview from the website:

The bx_opto Pedal is a slimmed-down version of the bx_opto. It provides a great way to get that charismatic compression of the bx_opto with a simpler interface, lower price tag, and guitar pedal feel. After meticulously modeling the light-dependent circuits of several optical compressors, the bx_opto has amalgamated into a beastly little dynamics processor, teeming with character and spitting out sounds like no analog optical compressor can do.

In addition to providing tone-laden compression, the bx_opto Pedal doubles as a gain pedal. By dialing-in the Density and Level Trim controls, you can add that little extra taste of gain and color that’s needed.

Most optical compressors are appreciated for their musical, program dependent character produced by the light dependent circuitry of the sidechain. They allow users the ability to adjust the effect of this character by introducing a separate resistance circuit that gives some control over the compression envelope.

Brainworx decided to take a different approach to adjusting this compression envelope when modeling the bx_opto and bx_opto Pedal. The modeled physical constant of the Light Dependent Resistor (LDR) was influenced by those of very real compressors, but there is no separate envelope circuit. Rather, the constant is directly manipulated by the ‘Speed’ parameter of the plugin. This introduces a whole different approach to sonic character that is impossible to replicate with a ‘real-world’ optical compressor.

Articles From The Web – FOH Mixing

Hi guys. I’m in the middle of being the sound #2 at a pantomime in the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury during this winter period and I came across this article from Shure:

http://blog.shure.com/the-front-of-house-gig-touring-vs-resident/

It details the difference between an in- house engineer over a touring engineer and is a great read for those starting out in the world of live sound. I’m currently doing both right now and I agree with all the points there. There’s certainly exciting challenges in both fields as well as some downsides. Which side of the fence do you sit?

Audix D6 Review

[Use headphones or speakers for the audio examples to get an full frequency representation of the signal]

Early last year I picked up a Audix D6 kick drum microphone online after hearing a lot of fellow engineers, both locally and in the online community, rating it pretty highly. I took the plunge after hearing a few audio examples online on YouTube videos and microphone shoot outs on podcasts and here’s what I think about it.

According to the spec sheet from Audix, the D6 is a “dynamic instrument microphone used for stage, studio and broadcast applications. The D6, which is characterized with a cardioid pickup pattern for isolation and feedback control, is equipped with a VLMTM (Very Low Mass) diaphragm for natural, accurate sound reproduction.

The D6 is lightweight, compact and easy to position. With a wide frequency response of 30 Hz – 15 kHz and the ability to handle sound pressure levels in excess of 144 dB, the D6 is an excellent choice for miking instruments requiring extended low-frequency reproduction such as kick drums, large toms and bass cabinets.

The D6 includes a precision machined aluminum body, black anodized finish, laser etched model and serial number, steel mesh grill, Switchcraft® or Audix XLR connector and is supplied with a tension-fit heavy duty nylon mic clip” (www.audixusa.com)

The first thing that struck me was the frequency response:

Audix D6 Frequency Plot

It is marketed as a microphone that sounds big and fat as soon as you turn it on and the frequency response built into the mic seems to suggest that this should happen. The frequency response is very similar to what I would do on a mixing desk anyway. The thing that really stood out for me is how much of a dramatic scoop in the mid-range at 500hz is and also how much of the frequency spectrum is in said scoop. I was initially worried about what the mic would sound like. What if I didn’t want that frequency spectrum cut out in my mix? However, upon using it, I found it to be really responsive. It gives the initial thumping kick drum that I expected and it does sound really nice when you first turn it up, especially when you have some subs involved whilst mixing a live show. It is also very responsive to any EQ you do around it, so if you need to, say, cut some of the 250hz – 400hz region because that’s what is needed in the mix, then it doesn’t sound excessively scooped.

Using it with some relatively heavy compression sounds really nice too. Because of the frequency response boosting at 60hz and 5khz, it helps emphasise the thump and click of the kick drum with a dry un-EQ’d signal.

I’ve used the D6 to record bass guitar too. This impressed me a lot as it had a nice scooped sound of the amp from the microphone, and when blended with a more full range signal from the DI, the D6 really compliments a potentially bland DI signal to give a bass guitar more character. Just remember to time align the 2 signals afterwards if you’re recording.

It’s suits most modern genres: rock, metal, pop etc. I’ve found that if you’re after a more transparent sound for jazz, or possibly stripped back folk, then this may not be the mic for you. However, on the subject of folk, it does sound very nice on the back of a Cajon alongside another mic at the front, be it a condenser or dynamic, both work fine. This allows for the thump to come through adding weight to percussion if the band or act is not using a full drum kit, whilst allowing for the snap to come from the front mic of the Cajon where the snares are.

The only slight thing I have found, having used it for a while now, is that the mic clip sometimes doesn’t quite grip it tightly enough. It holds it really well during a live show or a recording session, don’t get me wrong, but when you go to pick it up, or get it out of the mic pouch, it sometimes falls out because of the weight of the mic itself. Not a major thing but worth noting none the less.

Overall I’m really happy with his mic, I bring it to every gig now and have found it to be really useful for low range instruments ranging from kick drum, bass guitar and even tuba, but also helps to add weight to smaller instruments that need it like cajons and smaller kick drums. But if you’re in the world of jazz and folk, perhaps try it first before committing to purchasing one. You never know, it could work really nicely, but it’s always worth a test drive.

Pros
+ Big kick drum sound from the get go
+ Lots of character
+ Relatively inexpensive

Cons 
— Might not be what you need if you want a transparent sounding mic.
— Sometimes slips out of the mic clip when you pick it up.

 

Digital Mixing Desks Poll

So I’ve been lucky enough to mix on quite a few mixers now. From the small to the mighty. But one thing always intrigues me, and that is how people feel about certain digital mixers. Some truly believe in one brand, whereas someone else wouldn’t go near it.

For whatever your reasons, lets see what the general thoughts are on this matter. Vote below.

 

Have I missed one out of the list that you particularly favour? Leave a comment.

Hello and Welcome

Hi all,

Welcome to my blog on all on my adventures in audio. 

So, let’s begin. Back in May I was in a tour bus driving through France with a Motown function band, and the gig we did that night was in Bordeaux. During that long journey, it really got me thinking about what things to bring to gigs that aren’t immediately obvious. Let me explain..

At the gig we had a relatively standard setup, a HK Audio Actor DX rig FOH (1 top, 2 subs a side) and HK Audio monitor wedges. The desk was a Mackie 1608, their wireless iPad desk, and 4 members of the band were all using in ears. They were playing with a click track, which also featured a drum track as the band didn’t have a drummer for this gig. 

So already a lot to think about. We ended up using a selection of bits and pieces from my toolbox including:

•  Mini jack to phono lead with phono to jack adapters (this was for the playback going into a DI box from a laptop
•  Speakon adapters (to extend the speakon cable between monitor wedges)
•  UK to Euro power adapters (these were obviously needed to run all the PA and the backline)
•  Jack to XLR (this was because the desk has jack outputs and the in-ear monitors had XLR inputs on the receivers as well as XLR inputs for the monitors/amplifier)

So there we are, without these odd little things, the gig wouldn’t have happened. No-one would have been able to hear anything on stage for monitoring, there wouldn’t have been a drummer backing track and the monitors would not have been in the right place. Plus, as we were in the middle of nowhere in France, it wasn’t like I could pop home if I had forgotten something. I remember starting out and getting excited about microphones, speakers and mixing desks. But it’s important to remember the little things too. Here are some more examples of what I take out to shows:

Spare SM58
Extra mic clips
Electrical tape
Gaffa tape
Sharpie
Multi-tool
XLR couplers – both female to female and male to male
Cable tester
Headphone extensions
Batteries – 9v, AA, AAA
Moongel and drum key
Measurement microphone
13a to 16a power adapter
16a to 13a power adapter

Here’s to many more blog posts and I’ll try and blog as many times as I can during these busy times.

Speak soon.