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What Do You Use To Tune the PA With?

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by Eboy87, Apr 11, 2008.

  1. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    So, since the topic of EQ has come up quite a bit, and I'm also curious to see what others are using, what do you guys play to tune the PA?

    Here's my list:
    Bink's Audio Test CD which can be found here
    Seven Bridges Road by The Eagles
    A clip I did in Production 1
    Finish The Fight off the Halo 3 Soundtrack
    Vivaldi's The Four Seasons (The first track, Spring something or another)
    One Sweet World by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds
    Bitchin' by The Donnas (Particularly useful in seeing how drums and bass sound)

    That's in addition to talking into a mic to see if it translates well into actual live use.

    Anyone else wanna play?
     
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  2. Raktor

    Raktor Active Member

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    If I may ask, what tracks do you use specifically of Bink's?
     
  3. Marius

    Marius Active Member

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    For overall quality I use the main theme from Star Wars, and for crankability I either use Enter Sandman of You Got Another Thing Coming.
     
  4. Marius

    Marius Active Member

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    That Bink's Audio Test is sweet. Thanks for sharing that. :)
     
  5. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    depending on the show and the time available
    Pink noise w/ RTA if there is time.
    Life is a highway, from the Cars soundtrack for reasonable vocals or a CD from the Rockappela concert a while back if I need to be picky.
    Toss the Feathers by the Corrs from the Forgiven, Not Forgotten. It's got some killer drum tracks.
    There was a track on my Sonia Dada CD that had some awesome piano stuff, can't remember witch one right now.
    Several Boston songs have good rhythm sections.
    Finally, Any other disc I can find that is similar music to the show. It does no good to tune the system with a hard rock CD if you are doing a Jazz Concert.
     
  6. BNBSound

    BNBSound Active Member

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    Something appropriate from the iPod that matches the program material. I listen on the cans and then through the system and tweak FOH as needed. If it's real bad I'll fire up the pink noise and have a look at the RTA, but never touch the auto EQ.
     
  7. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Speaking of EQ - anyone know of a good EQ system? Looking for an auto-eq setup that can send to mains and sub woofer. Price range probably $250-500, cheaper is better.
     
  8. audioslavematt

    audioslavematt Active Member

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    Depends entirely on the show.
    Theatre and any situations where perfect tonality is important: Theme from Apollo 13.
    3 piece band: Rush, Chevelle, RHCP, Godsmack, Dependant on situation
    4+ piece bands: Pink Floyd, Eagles, Atreyu, Metallica
    Battle of the cookie monsters: Slayer, or some other ridiculous thrash metal
    Like many things audio, it depends.
    1. Auto-EQ sucks. It cannot think like a human, therefore uses no logic in its tuning. It's very obvious when listening in a bad room that a processor's auto-EQ was used. Although I have not heard one in use, I suspect the Sabine units may do a better job than others, if they actually have auto-EQ. Most units outside that price point do not have this feature because professionals wouldn't use it because it does such a poor job.
    2. All you'll find in that price range is Behringer, and maybe a few used Driverack PAs and 260s.
     
  9. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    That's what I thought... oh well. I'll have to try to get more money...
     
  10. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    You missed the point of the first part of Matt's post. DON'T waste your money. Learn to EQ, don't rely on a machine to do it. There is no such thing as a good auto-EQ system, at any price point, IMHO. Even using advanced measurement tools like SIM or Smaart or SpectraFoo, a human always needs to be interpreting those results and making decisions based on them.

    --A
     
  11. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    Well said Andy.

    Lieperjp, I've compared the auto-EQ in a DRPA do one that I've done, and there is no comparison. The auto-EQ made so many wild boost and cuts that GBF was nil. And as far as SMAART goes, too many people don't know how to use that program, and royally screw the pooch with their EQ's because "the graph said it's flat."

    Save your money and buy a good EQ. You don't need auto-EQ, but those more expensive ones are more accurate with the filters they do have, and sound better. Auto-EQ should never have been invented.
     
  12. howlingwolf487

    howlingwolf487 Active Member

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    Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn
    Ghost Train - Marc Cohn
    Alone - Catherine Tuttle
    Stand - Denver & The Mile High Orchestra
    Opening Mandelbrot - Blue Man Group
    Jump - Van Halen
    Bring Me Down - Pillar
    Piano Solo, Stereo - Bink's Audio CD
    Pink Noise, 1kHz 0dB, Log Sweep, Sub Sweep - Bink's Audio CD/Website

    For speech reinforcement, I'd like to find A Christmas Carol as read by Patrick Stewart.

    Extras: The Load-out+Stay - Jackson Browne (for strike, etc.)
     
  13. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    There's just something about that song that I love.
     
  14. howlingwolf487

    howlingwolf487 Active Member

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    It's a very well-mixed song that's nicely balanced a great array of vocals and instruments. My boss uses it (has been for many years) and it has kind of trickled down to the rest of us noiseboys on his crew. The other songs span the gamut of musical genre and instrumental assortment. I could use some rap and country, I guess, but these have done me well so far.

    I'll be out on a small weekend tour with my university this weekend, so these'll get used a lot.
     
  15. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Just like everything else, it depends. For installed systems lots of time with Smaart and/or EASERA SysTune to start. Then various sweeps, noise and tones. Finally, whatever source material matches the use. I'm a little old school so often things like Flim and the BBs, Tangerine Dream, Diana Krall, Strength in Numbers, Bela Feck & The Flecktones and The Rippingtons. One night type systems might get little if any analysis and right to listening.

    One critical part of learning to EQ properly that hasn't been mentioned is learning what you can't EQ. The effects of room modes, multiple source interaction, boundary cancellations, surface reflections and so forth can't be compensated with EQ. You can spend all day trying to get rid of a null or peak from combfiltering with an EQ and it won't fix it, the most you can do is maybe reduce the effects. This is one of the problems with many basic auto-EQ systems, they don't know what they can't fix and keep trying.

    It may also help to look at EQ as one part of a much more comprehensive system tuning. From time alignment (which it really isn't) to crossovers to gain structure and levels, there can be a lot of other system tuning aspects that affect a system's frequency response. It's always fun to see someone with a graphic EQ and all the low frequency faders up when you ask them why they didn't just turn up the sub amp or turn down the other amps instead. For me, adjusting relative levels using the amp attenuators are often the first step in EQing a bi/tri/quad-amped system.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2008
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  16. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    I know - I want a good EQ that can be manually adjusted... The current EQ just doesn't work well (it is auto) but for some reason the tech head doesn't want to change - I think he's afraid of people messing with it... but we can get a rack with a lock on it...
     
  17. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    What is it? I don't think that I know of any EQs that have no ability to be manually controlled from either front panels controls or a connected computer. There are security covers for where you want to limit access to rack mounted equipment.
     
  18. TimmyP1955

    TimmyP1955 Active Member

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    It is a fine song, but the fidelity of the entire album is quite poor.
     
  19. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    First of all, many thanks for the link to Bink's Audio Test CD.

    What I tune with depends on the show; if the only sound is SFX, then I'll use one of the SFX tracks. If it's mostly a specific genre or group, then I'll use that. If it's broader than that, these are tracks I use quite a bit...

    If it's bolded, it's because that track is nothing but excellent for calibrating a system.

    Colin Hay - Overkill [Studio acoustic version]
    (This track is nice and dry, if you want to measure reverb on vocals this is a great track to do it on)

    Keaton Simons - Everything
    (Good for testing punchability of the subs, high-end clarity/intelligiblity)

    Ben Folds - Rockin' The Suburbs
    Ben Folds - Heist
    Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape
    Red Hot Chili Peppers - Fortune Faded
    Sting - Desert Rose
    (These tracks cover a wide range on the spectrum, plus they are really clean tracks to test intelligibility with)

    The Cardigans ft. Tom Jones - Burning Down The House
    Semisonic - Who's Stopping You
    Supertramp - It's Raining Again
    Linkin Park - Bleed It Out
    (Test intelligibility, high-mids, highs, but with low punches also)

    Slagsmålsklubben - Smart Drag Mr. Christer
    Slagsmålsklubben - Kom Igen Kommisarien
    Slagsmålsklubben - Övningsköra
    Slagsmålsklubben - Kasten Sten
    (Test tone reproduction, full-spectrum punchability)

    Fuel - Shimmer
    Supertramp - Dreamer
    Supertramp - Lady
    Supertramp - Another Man's Woman (live)
    Chris Cornell - Wave Goodbye
    (General)

    Kamelot - When the Lights Are Down

    Kamelot - The Black Halo
    Goo Goo Dolls - Big Machine
    Creed - What If
    (Crankability, full-spectrum tests, but with emphasis on lows and highs)

    Kamelot - March of Mephisto
    Metallica - Enter Sandman
    Frou Frou - Close Up
    Black Eyed Peas - Pump It
    (Crankability, full spectrum with emphasis on high-end voice intelligibility/clairity)

    Kamelot - Helena's Theme
    Dave Matthews - The Best of What's Around
    Creed - Stand Here With Me
    (Surround-soundedness, full-spectrum)


    Dave Matthews Band - What Would You Say
    Duran Duran - Notorious
    Ocean's Twelve OST - 7.29.04 The Day Of
    (Surround-soundedness, high-mids, highs)



    Now of course I don't use all of them, but I use them when I need them. So long as I have those with me I'm never at lack for good calibration material to combat whatever situations I may need to work in, solve, or be prepared for.
     
  20. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    My situation may be different than most but there can be two different aspects to tuning a house system and it might help to identify which aspect is being addressed.

    The first aspect is tuning a system in general. This often goes well beyond just EQ and includes delays, crossovers, filters, limiting, etc. and is usually done to get a fairly neutral response from the system, although in some cases there may be multiple presets specific to certain types of applications. The point of this tuning is to get a flat or neutral baseline response from the system. Along with analysis (Smaart, EASERA SysTune, Praxis, etc.), you may listen with a wide range of materials, reflecting the wide range of uses the system might see. I always try to have some good examples of male and female vocals, acoustic/electric/synth bass, drums, horns, acoustic guitar, piano, etc. I personally try to avoid heavily compressed or processed pieces here as I want to hear the system and not the processing on the media. In my systems this baseline system tuning is something that is done once and not usually touched unless there are changes to the room or system. Since it includes many adjustments that could potentially readily negatively impact or damage the system, I try to make this system processing inaccessible to the typical user. It's a DSP that is locked out to most, if not all, users.

    The second part of system tuning is that for a particular event. This is much more subjective and usually reflects content representative of the event. This I address with separate, dedicated EQ at FOH either in the console or as a standalone EQ. This is also the EQ many people are referring to.

    This approach is not limited to installed, house systems. There are many pros with portable or touring rigs that have a fixed processing element for the system tuning aspects that can be addressed in advance such as box and array processing and then FOH processing to adjust for each venue and event.

    Of course, tuning monitors is a whole separate issue and has to be done not only per event but likely even per act.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2008

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