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Professional Rig, equipment

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by stantonsound, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. stantonsound

    stantonsound Active Member

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    Since we talked about compression a little bit in another forum and it's importance with the punk/screamer vocals, let's talk about what every professional rig should have, at a minimum. This is mostly for music/bands, but please add in chorus, orchestra, corporate world, and theater.

    I'll start. A good eq for FOH and a compressors to handle each vocal channel

    EQ must be a 31 band.
     
  2. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    For setup, a good RTA and test mic. Sure, your ears can go so far, but the RTA really gets the sound down. RTA should be 31 band.
     
  3. audioslavematt

    audioslavematt Active Member

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    Enough rig for the gig. Even the fanciest toys you can find are useless if you don't have enough power to get nice, even coverage throughout the venue.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2007
  4. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    I'd say some kind of DSP in the drive rack. I'd rather have everything in one box (with a few KT DN360's for those that still like to play with things). A dbx DriveRack or BSS Omnidrive would work wonderfully.

    Also, GOOD MICROPHONES! Nady and samsung don't count. If I'm behind the console, and you give me a crap signal to start with, it ain't gonna sound any better even if I had an XL8 at FOH and V-Dosc in the air.

    [Edit:] Wow, Andy pretty much said the same thing as me about mic's in the other thread.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2007
  5. BNBSound

    BNBSound Active Member

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    For the money, the Behringer DEQ2496 is the best RTA/Graph/Para/Comp/Limiter you can get this side of $2000. (As for the reliability issues, just buy two and you're still ahead of the game.) It really doesn't matter what piece of gear you usethough, mostly that it fits with the rest of the system. Alesis comps are fine if you mix on a Mackie through Carvins. If you've got a SoundCraft and EAWs I'd reach for at least DBX and probably Drawmer or Rane if the budget was there.

    As for comps on each channel, if you're also handling monitor duties from FOH, compression in the monitor mixes is a downer. It raises the noise floor and makes feedback more likely. Mixing rock shows I've learned to just compress via the group inserts. Some folks on this board don't like the idea for theater but I've done it quite a bit there as well with good results. The key is to make good use of your busses. Typically I'll have a stereo buss for stage edge mics, one for leads wirelesses, one for bit parts, a couple for stuff coming from the pit, and usually try to save one for tricky stuff, like the odd tough case wireless mic.

    In a theatrical situation like that, I can see why some people might think that a comp on each channel is a good idea, untill you have about a dozen or so channels of wireless and a good deal of other stuff that also wants squeezing. My last theatrical run was Thuroughly Modern Millie and I had 16 lavs, 5 fronts, two hangers, a bunch of stuff close miced in the pit and audience mics for the video recording. I did the whole batch, some 35 channels worth with 8 channels of dynamics, one for each buss. Aside from the need to rent a huge rack of comps to get the job done on the channel inserts, there would also be the issue of having three monitor mixes in the pit and one up stage left, any of which would be likely to take off and squeal without any help from an elevated noise floor.

    I won't bore anybody with the specifics unless someone's really interested, but I'll say it again: You have to know gain structure like you know how to breathe. And you don't get that way over night. You have to really murder some stuff before you get the hang of it, so get out there and start turning knobs and making reduction indicators light up!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2007
  6. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    I'll beg to differ with Tom on the issue of EQ. While I agree it's necessary, in most situations (the exception being monitors, where you want to be able to grab a ringing frequency quickly), I'll take a parametric over a 31-band graphic any day. It's more accurate, and allows you to hack the sound up less while getting the control you need over the signal. You can get very high Q, narrow cuts when needed, or nice shallow, wide "scoops", without the interactions between adjacent filters that you get on a graphic.

    It's an enlightening exercise to see what the actual response curve of the EQ is (let alone the phase response!) with a graphic compared to what you'd expect to see based off of the faders!

    Nope, the RTA should be a doorstop :) The measurement device should be one capable of a dual-channel transfer, such as SMAART, SIM, SpectraFoo, MacFOH, or TrooTrace.

    RTA's only show you a part of the picture, and don't discriminate between things like room reflections that an EQ won't fix. The combination of a good measurement system, a good parametric EQ, and, most importantly, an engineer who knows how to use both and has a good set of ears*, will produce the best sounding system.

    That said, an RTA is certainly better than no measurement tool at all, but if the subject is professional tools and "doing it right", I'll take Smaart and a parametric over an RTA and a graphic any day.

    --A

    *-Anybody who answers the question, "Why'd you do X" when tuning a system with, "Because SMAART/SIM/whatever said to," is wrong. These tools are only measurement devices that give you a certain collection of information about the interaction between the system and the room. What you choose to do as a result of that information is up to you, and regardless of what the measurement system tells you, your ears need to be the final determination. If SMAART reads a system as perfectly flat, but it sounds like crap, then trust your ears :grin:
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
  7. audioslavematt

    audioslavematt Active Member

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    Given it's a Saturday night and I have nothing to do, I created some visuuals to represent Andy's points.

    Exhibit A: A standard DJ graphic EQ

    [​IMG]

    Notice how mucked up things get at the extremes.

    Next is a single frequency with a small cut.

    [​IMG]

    And the same frequency with a bigger cut:


    [​IMG]

    Here's something you'll see done on monitor graphics from time to time.

    [​IMG]

    Dumping the ringing frequency and the frequencies around it will dump a lot more than you might think.
     
    Andy_Leviss likes this.
  8. audioslavematt

    audioslavematt Active Member

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    The parametric will let allow you to get a steeper cut (or boost).

    [​IMG]

    This image shows a low Q cut.

    [​IMG]

    And a high Q cut.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I found that the library up here has a set of CD's called "golden ears". They first go through all frequencies, and then through all colors of noise, and then through problems such as phase issues to get you to be able to identify alot of stuff. I'll probably be checking them out after I build the reference sound system for my room (next year for sound design class).

    Yeah, a good set of ears is your best defense.
     
  10. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    That would be Dave Moulton's Golden Ears CD set (and accompanying test booklet). Which reminds me, I ought to go dust my set off for a refresher...

    --A
     
  11. stantonsound

    stantonsound Active Member

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    These are some great responses. These graphs are great and drives home a concept that can be difficult to understand. I completely agree with Andy that a graphic eq is limited in how it cuts (or boosts) a signal, but I still think that there is a place for the graphic. When working live sound, you sound check with an empty house, and then 1000 people walk in the door and everything changes. You have less than 90 seconds to get the band sounding good before you lose your job. Live theatre is a little more flexible, as you can sound check in rehearsals and make small changes each night, slowly dialing it in to perfect as the show goes on. It is much faster and easier to change the graphic rather than messing with a parametric. As far as standing back and listening to the overall sound, there are only a small handful of people that would be able to ever hear the difference if you use could use both well.

    In the end, it doesn't really matter which you use, as long as you know how to use it and use it well. I also agree with Andy about the RTA, but I was going to let it go. Since it is out in the open, I use a dbx driverack in my drive rack (which has a built in parametric eq.....so yes, I use both). It sits back stage in amp world in a road case and gets set for the particular rig for that show and for the house or shed that we are in. I have never purchased the RTA for it, nor do I plan on it. I think that the best tool and engineer has is his/her ears. With training (and there are some great programs, including Golden Ears) you should be able to know exactly what needs to be cut or boosted, where the compressors need to be set, and where to set the crossover. All of these things are fancy gadgets to tell you how to fix a problem that you should know how to fix just by listening to it.


    There is (at least there was) a great program on roadie.net that would present you with a 31band eq and you would hear a feedback frequency. You would pull down the proper frequency and the ringing would stop, and go on to the next. This is especially great for monitors, and best of all....it was free. If anyone finds it, please post it.

    (And to Eboy87, absolutely.....it all starts at the mic)


    And as far as something else that I think is important to have in a professional rig, how about something simple.....good microphone (xlr) cables. There is nothing worse that the lead singer taking the handheld mic off the stand and all you hear is the hiss, crackle, pop of loose solder joints, unshielded cables, and the like. You can buy cables on ebay all day for $3 each, and they are great for things like clothes lines and tying up your dog, but not as xlr cables. I have had pretty good luck with whirlwind, but there are several other good companies out there.
     
  12. soundman1024

    soundman1024 Active Member

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    The single most important thing is someone competent actually using the gear. Any rig could sound terrible.
     
  13. audioslavematt

    audioslavematt Active Member

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    http://sft.sourceforge.net/ It helps if you have a nice set of computer speakers and a sub. Laptop speaker won't cut it.
     
  14. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    That's simply amazing. I've been doing that for the past half hour. Luckily I don't have a roomate, or I'd be dead by now. For a while I wasn't hearing the 16k because my speakers don't produce it that well, but then I was able to pick it up after the second or third time that it came up. Sweet!
     
  15. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    I'd give it a go on better speakers or headphones that can produce the full range better; otherwise you're learning what 16k sounds like distorted through your speakers that can barely reproduce it instead of what it actually sounds like!
     
  16. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    It's actually fairly clean. I have a set of very nice altec lansing speakers with two sattelite speakers and a sub. They have a very clean sound and work well for picking out frequencies.

    I tried running the software using my earbuds on very low volume today before rehearsal. Sounded like crap. I couldn't pick out anything within seven or so faders of where it was supposed to be because the earbuds sounded so bad (I have $10 sony earbuds because I tend to lose or break them/step on them accidentally).
     
  17. stantonsound

    stantonsound Active Member

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    With decent speakers, it is a good program.....and you can't beat the price!!! There are other programs out there that are better, but this is a good place to start or to refresh your ear.

    I wish I could get it to work on my MacBook.
     

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