Saturday, November 19, 2016

Great Engineer Interviews: Martin Frey






















Sound Instruction.net has an interview featuring Audio Engineering Veteran, Martin Frey.
Click the link to read the interview on the web site:
http://www.soundinstruction.net/the-blog/great-engineer-interviews-martin-frey


Back in the mid 90s I was working as the Head Theatre Technician at the Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia, ON. I first met Martin Frey when he came to town with touring artists. Many years had gone by since my VPP days and thanks to Facebook, I was able to connect with Martin Frey once again.

These days I work as a freelance sound tech around my regular day job. I look up to guys like Martin because, I get to tap into their many years of experience and knowledge and a put things to use for my owns gigs. Martin always has the best answers for any professional audio question I have ever asked. Martin has no problem passing on his knowledge to anyone willing to learn and better themselves in the field.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

HOC Dance Club - Sarnia and Forest, Ontario



















Welcome To The HOC Dance Club with two locations in Sarnia, ON. and Forest, ON.

My friend Hana owns and operates this local dance studio which is open to participants ages 2 1/2 to adult.

Group Dance Classes are offered for the following programs:



















At the end of each dance class session, participants get to perform in a ballet/dance recital show that is held at the Sarnia Library Theatre. That is I where I come in. My job is as sound and lighting technician for each recital show. Recital shows are usually held on Sunday afternoons to allow all the parents and grandparents and friends of the students to attend the show. The next ballet/dance recital show is scheduled for Sunday, December 11th. at the Sarnia Library Theatre in downtown Sarnia. I have worked a few, previous shows and I am looking forward to once again helping out my friend Hana with her upcoming show.













Hope to see you all there!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Recording A Live Show - How To Get A Great Gig Recording by Matt Houghton



















I came across this article from November 2011 on Sound On Sound web site. The author is Matt Houghton and he illustrates all the considerations necessary when attempting to Record A Live Show at a gig. Click on link below to read the complete article:


http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/recording-live-show



Friday, September 23, 2016

20 Ways To Make Cash From Your Audio Gear and Skills

Here is a great article from Sound On Sound magazine that was published back in 2007 and the information is still viable. I have been thinking of ways to use my sound tech skills to make a little extra cash and this article has given a number of great ideas.

The article is entitled: "20 Ways To Make Cash From Your Audio Gear & Skills". The article features numerous industry professionals providing us with their input on the subject.
Click here to read the article:




















Within the article, audio professional Mike Thornton provides a point-form list of good practices for all freelancer technicians just like me. See below:
















As for me personally, I have made some extra cash doing freelance sound work on fashions shows. The director of the fashion show wanted someone to handle all the sound related jobs so that she could concentrate of running the show itself. I did music playback for all the fashion sets and I also mixed sound for a solo acoustic artist playing acoustic guitar before the show and during the intermission.

Coming up, I will be mixing sound for a wedding ceremony for some friends who have hired me to be sound technician/DJ for their big day. Along with the music playback, I will also be mixing a vocalist singing one song with backing tracks. With the ceremony, dinner/reception and dance/party happening all inside the same venue, I am going to be busy making sure everything goes off without a hitch.

Cheers from Soundtechguy!



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

DIY Press Mult - A Simple and Inexpensive Design

Here is an article written by Mike Sokol and how he created a DIY Press Mult from a few DI boxes and cables. The idea is genius! Read the following article to see how Mike Sokol came up with the design.

























Monday, August 15, 2016

Russ Freeman and The Rippingtons - Stage Plot - 2016

As a sound technician, I have always been curious about the stage plots for all kinds of bands and artists. So, when I was visiting the updated web site for the band "The Rippingtons" one of my favourite jazz groups, I noticed a link for a downloadable version of the band's 2016 Stage Plot. This stage plot is NOT your typical 4 piece rock band setup! Many more instrument mics and monitor mixes than your typical band. My dream as a sound technician would be to have the opportunity to work on show for a jazz group like The Rippingtons. 

Click on this link to view a PDF version of The Rippingtons 2016 Stage Plot;

The Rippingtons have been a band since 1985 and they have a large discography of great work.














Sunday, August 7, 2016

QSC Amplifier Selector

Which Amplifier Is Best For My Speakers/Subwoofers/Stage Monitors???

QSC Audio has a great resource tool on their web site called "Amplifier Selector". It is great tool to determine which QSC branded power amplifier you would use to power "your brand" of speakers and subwoofers. It is really easy to use.

Step 1: Select your brand of speakers then select your speaker model. Once entered you will see a list of specific QSC model power amps that would work with your particular speakers. I chose Yamaha loudspeakers as my test. Here is a screenshot of the result:




(click on image to enlarge)


Step 2: Select your brand of subwoofers then select your subwoofer model. Once entered you will see a list of specific QSC model power amps that would work with your particular subwoofers. I chose Yamaha subwoofers as my test. Here is a screenshot of the result:



















(click on image to enlarge)



Lets say your speaker brand is not listed in the choices in the drop-down menu. Here is what you do:

Step 3. You can click on the box marked "or Enter the Loudspeaker Specifications". The menu changes and asks you to choose Impedance in (Ohms) and Watts - Continuous (RMS) or Program. There is also a selection for "Two Loudspeakers Per Amp Channel". For my test I chose 8 Ohms, 350 watts (program) and 2 speakers per amp channel. Here is a screenshot of the result:



















(click on image to enlarge)


Step 4: Repeat the same procedure for the subwoofers: I chose 4 Ohm, 1000 Watts (program) and 1 subwoofer per amp channel. Here is a screenshot of the result:

















(click on image to enlarge)


***At the bottom of the web page QSC has a disclaimer stating that the amp selector is only to be used as a guideline to choosing amps for your speaker systems.***

This is great tool that every sound technician should check out on web site. Here is the link to get your there:
http://www.qsc.com/resources/amplifier-selector/


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Improvising With Sound When You Don't Have Enough Inputs

Once again, Mr. Craig Leerman has provided us with yet another excellent article on how be creative with less when working with sound. This article highlights how to maximize mixing console layouts for those time when you don't have enough inputs on a show. Sometimes it happens when you are given tech rider for show and then things are changed on show day and you may not have enough gear to support those changes. That is when you need to improvise and make thing work. Read this great article and find out some solutions to help you out when you are stuck on a show.

http://www.prosoundweb.com/article//in_focus_making_it_work/?dtc=2






















In the article, Craig Leerman talks about always carrying a compact "utility" mixer to every gig which can be put into service as a sub-mixer to the main console, a distribution amplifier for outputs, a press mult, and even an adapter to interface a device to the main mixer.


Personally, I have a BEHRINGER XENYX 1204 USB mixer that sports 4 - XLR mic inputs, one-knob compressors on mic inputs, 2 - stereo inputs, 2 - pairs of main outputs, control room outputs, ALT3/4 outputs and RCA inputs for interfacing an mp3 player, laptop or tablet with a simple y-cable.




















Almost every mixing console manufacturer has a line of compact, utility mixers available. Here are a selection of a some below:

MACKIE ProFX8:

This mixer packs a load of features in a small footprint!
4 -XLR Inputs, 3 - Stereo Inputs, 7-band Graphic built-in, EFX processor built-in, 3-band EQ on every channel, USB Input with level control, RCA inputs and outputs with level control, Monitor Send, EFX Send, Stereo Return Inputs, and Phantom power.




















YORKVILLE SOUND PGM8:

Similar features to the Mackie Pro8FX with the addition of 2 extra XLR inputs with stereo inputs when you need just a couple more mic inputs. Also included is a Hi-Z switch on one of the mono input channels that will allow to you patch in a high impedance instrument without the need for an additional DI box.





















YAMAHA MG12XU:

Similar features to the Mackie, Yorkville, and Behringer mixers above.
Includes 2 in/2 out USB functions for connecting you laptop for audio or recording with included Cubase AI DAW software download version. For those times when you need to make a simple recording of a presentation or other audio feed on on show.




















SOUNDCRAFT SIGNATURE 10:

Soundcraft took the best features from some of the past, analog mixing consoles and designed it into the Signature Series. Even in the the smallest model Signature 10 you get the famous Ghost mic preamps, Sapphire British EQ with sweepable mids, Lexicon branded effects engine, dbx Limiters (High Ratio Compressors on inputs channels, Hi Pass (Low Cut) filters and 48V Phantom Power on all mic channels, 2 in/2 out USB playback and recording, Switchable Hi-Z inputs for guitars, basses and other instruments, and GB Series Audio Routing functions.





















As you can see there is so many features that can be packed into a compact mixer and you should always carry one with you to every show or gig your work. Think of it as your sound safety net that will help out in a pinch when you don't have enough inputs. Happy Mixing!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

That Night In Sarnia - A Celebration of The Tragically Hip - August 20, 2016













I was so happy to hear that the CBC has decided to broadcast the final show of the current Tragically Hip tour from Kingston, ON on August 20, 2016.

I am also happy that K106Fm, The Station Music Hall and Apex I.T. put together this cool event!
Cantara Park in Sarnia, ON. will be packed to watch the live broadcast of the show.

Back in May, thehip.com released a statement that the band’s front man and Canadian music icon Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Shortly after the announcement, The Tragically Hip revealed a Canada wide tour. A true celebration of Gord Downie and over 30 years of Tragically Hip music.

The final show is scheduled for Saturday, August 20th in the Tragically Hip’s hometown of Kingston, Ontario. Many communities throughout Canada will be holding events and broadcasting the concert. Sarnia is doing the same.

K106.3, The Station Music Hall and APEX I.T. Solution is proud to present "That Night In Sarnia". A FREE public event that will begin at 6:00p.m. in Canatara Park 
with Tragically Hip videos and concert footage displayed on two large 30' video screens. At 7:00p.m., local band “The Room” will take the stage and warm up the crowd with an hour of Tragically Hip music. At 8:30p.m., the CBC broadcast will begin. The park will be open for general lawn seating where attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and bug spray. A beer tent and several food vendors will also be onsite; as well, limited edition event t-shirts will be on sale (pre-order yours today for only $20. see below).

Even though this is a FREE event, donations are being accepted and split between the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research and the Bluewater Health Foundation. 100% of the proceeds from the beverage and t-shirts sales and a portion of the food sales will be donated to the charities.

For more information and to order your Limited Edition "That Night In Sarnia" t-shirts, visit k106fm.com

To volunteer, donate or ask questions, email: info@thatnightinsarnia.ca





Click the link here to view the event page on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/628152460682086/

Monday, July 4, 2016

Freelance Sound Technician Looking For A Gig














Finally after a couple of months, I am now getting a some more sound gigs over the summer. I have one booked in July on a river boat cruise and the other is at the local bandshell at the beach park. I am happy to work these gigs however, I wish I could find even more gigs to add to the list.

In my local area of Sarnia, ON. many bands are mixing their own sound for their gigs and either don't require a sound tech or just don't want to pay for one. It likely goes hand in hand with the lack of money most bands get to play the gigs in the first place. Still, I believe that most bands require a competent and experienced sound tech to mix their shows. It is one less thing the band has to worry about during a show.


















For some reason in my city, there seems to be a less cheapness that comes with the idea of hiring a sound tech and renting a PA system for a show. I would guess that every would like to sound their best and would be willing to hire a sound tech to make that happen. In this city, it seems that everyone wants to cheap out on the sound tech guy.... Too bad because, I have been to some events and shows where the sound was lacking and could have used the expertise of a trained sound tech.

In my city, many clients do not want to pay the cost for a rental sound system and an experienced sound technician. Many people don't even include those costs into their show budgets and expect the sound techs to work for very little or for free. In mu opinion, I am worth the cost of hiring me to do the job. I charge a rate per hour with a minimum flat rate if I am only required for a short period of time. Everything I do is by contract so, I have the ability to adjust my rate depending upon the gig.

In my earlier years, I used to work with the local community theatre groups as a theatre technician for free because, those groups are all non-paying shows. Those days are long gone. I don't work theatre shows from free anymore. I always ask for pay if the groups are offering me work. To me it is no longer just a hobby, it is another form of a paid gig. Needless to say, I have worked many theatre gigs for a number of years.



















One-off shows are something that I have been able to work and for those shows I usually set a flat rate for the whole day to make things easier for the client. It works out best for all parties and I have been getting the call to do the same show again the following year or season. Fashion shows and dance recital shows have become part of my portfolio and are guaranteed paid gigs!

With my current presence on the internet with things like Facebook, Linked In, and Blogger, I am starting to get more inquiries about my sound tech services. Word of mouth is also still a viable form of networking. Artists, bands, groups, etc. who I have worked with usually spread the word that I am an available and experienced freelance sound technician looking for work.











http://ronbehro.blogspot.ca/



So, if you are in the Sarnia, Ontario area and require a sound technician for your show or event, please contact me directly for details. Use contact information below:
















Thursday, June 16, 2016

Current Sound System At My Old High School SCI&TS Auditorium

Recently, I was able to go back to my old high school Sarnia Collegiate and Technical School (SCI&TS) to get a look current sound system installed in the auditorium. I arranged to meet up with the Head of the Drama Department, Mr. Dan White. He allowed me to come in so that I could take some pictures of the current sound system to compare it to what used to be there back in the mid 80s when I attended my school.

The auditorium has changed quite a bit since my time there. The gear has also changed drastically.

Back in my school days, we had a pretty basic sound system to use which was located in a small box room that was on the third floor overlooking the balcony level of the auditorium. The gear consisted of a Yamaha 1204 mixing console, a Yamaha dual 31 band EQ, a Yamaha single 31 band EQ, 2x Yamaha power amps, 1 pair of JBL speakers for mains and 1 pair of Yamaha speakers for foldback monitors.
Here are pictures to illustrate:

This is the original Yamaha MC1204 Mixing













This the original rack unit with Yamaha graphic EQs and power amps



Now compare some pics of the current setup at my old high school. 
They relocated the mix area to main floor of auditorium under the balcony at centre line:

They have a new, Presonus digital mixing console:

They have two racks with all the power amps, signal processors, and wireless mic receivers:
(Furman, Shure, Yorkville Sound, Yamaha, DOD, Aphex)

There is a left - right hang of Yorkville Sound loudspeakers:

There is a newly added centre cluster hang of Yamaha loudspeakers:

There is even Yorkville subwoofers mounted underneath the stage! (never had those when I was there!):

Here is a view looking from Front Of House towards the stage:














It was so great to go back to the auditorium where I learned to be a theatre technician and learned how to mix sound on an analog mixing console. I left feeling very nostalgic for the rest of the day...

On a side note: My old high school is actually on the chopping block this year to be closed by the board of education. They want to close it down and send all the students to another high school after it gets renovated and expanded. There are some local people trying to stop it from happening because, SCI&TS high school is the oldest school in our city with the most character and the most amenities. We are all hoping that the school doesn't end up closing down but, the board is still set on their idea. More to follow......

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Key Aspects of the Technical Rider



















Here we have an excellent article written by Mark Frink for Prosoundweb.com and it highlights the key aspects of working with a properly designed "technical rider" for a show. This important document is very helpful to local sound crew of any venue detailing all the important information for a particular show setup.

Click link here to read the full article on the web site:
http://www.prosoundweb.com/article/letting_it_ride/

Friday, May 20, 2016

Working With What You Have At A Gig...

In my previous experience working gigs at a local bar, I always seemed to have a day when I would get there to find the house sound equipment, not working, disconnected, damaged and even missing. It was always a challenge not knowing what to expect when I showed up for band setups and sound check.

For me the biggest issue I always seemed to have is finding the gear I required for a gig was damaged. Specifically, broken speaker jacks on stage monitors and monitors with blown out horns in them. Of course, with no spare parts and no time to fix the problems, the musicians had to deal with the gear that same as I did. The broken speaker jacks were a small problem because, the shaft of the jack was plastic and the nut holding it on the plate was snapped off allowing the connector to fall inside the speaker.

My Solution:
Unscrew the speaker jack plate, pull out the broken jack, plug in the speaker cable on the outside of the box and electrical tape it to at least make it work for the show. Then after the show, I replaced the cable inside the speaker and then left a note for the house technician explaining which speakers needed to be fixed.

One time I was line checking the house system and did a walk around to make sure the mains were all working. The top cabinets were set up in an arrayed fashion with 3 cabinets per side. Besides the slightly annoying ground hum, I realized that the horns on 2 of the 6 cabinets were blown. So, I was getting less highs from both sides of the stage.

My Solution:
Temporarily disconnecting the speaker cables from each cabinet with the blown horns and using less speakers for the gig. The two outside speakers were the blown ones so, I just adjusted the array of the remaining speakers which actually sounded better with less! Sometimes problems are blessing in disguise! Once again I left a detailed note for the house tech explaining the problems with the speakers and what needed to be repaired.

Another time I was line checking the system before the band had arrived and after wiring and setting up drum mics, I turned up the channels and got loads of buzz from each drum channel. I sourced the problem back the rack of compressors and gates inserted on all the drum channels. The previous gig I used the same setup with compressors and gates inserted without any problem. This time something had changed.

My Solution:
For the sound check, I unplugged all the compressors and gates inserted on the drum channels and the buzzing disappeared. I did not have as much control of the dynamics but, my mix still sounded better without all the buzz. After the gig, I replaced the setup to way it was and left a note for the house tech to diagnose the problem.

With the old house system setup at the bar, the house tech had labelled all sorts of things with green painters tape telling us sound techs what things should never be turned off, what level things should not be turned up higher than and what things were not working or being used in the system. Let me tell you there was a load of green tape on everything. Let me leave you with a some sample pictures of the front of house view back in the day....


















Soundtechguy signing off......Cheers!

Friday, May 13, 2016

What Was The First Mixing Console That You Ever Used?

Flashback to my high school days...I joined the drama club in 1986 so that I could work behind the scenes as a theatre technician. Once I discovered the sound and lighting gear in the auditorium, I was hooked on learning how to use all of it. 

The sound system consisted of a Yamaha MC1204 Mixing Console, Yamaha Graphic EQs, Yamaha Power Amplifiers and JBL loudspeakers and JBL foldback monitors. We used Realistic and Shure branded vocal microphones and for music playback usually a dual cassette deck and portable CD player.

We had a small sound/lighting booth on the 3rd floor up above the balcony level of the auditorium. It used to be a janitor's closest and was about 8ft square in size. There was a 4ft x 4ft opening in the concrete wall that served as the only viewing point to the stage from FOH. There was a raised floor pad about 4ft off the ground that elevated the sound and lighting system up to the height of the window opening in the wall. (Sorry no pictures.)

We had no booth monitors and sound check involved sticking your head out the opening in the wall to hear whatever you could. Still we managed to put on some really great drama club productions with the gear we had!

So here you go...The Yamaha MC1204 Mixing Console...the first mixing console I ever used and learned to mix on: (note: the battery powered, portable, mini speakers that we used as monitors!)














Next we have the FOH EQ and Power Rack: (150ft the approximate length of the cables running from the power amps to the loudspeakers)














...And next we have a picture of the lighting console sitting in the window box with a view of the auditorium looking towards the stage..note the speaker mounted straight onto the proscenium wall)














...and finally we have a current day picture of a Yamaha MC2404 that is currently for sale in my city for $600.00 CDN. It was taken out of a church install and appears to be very and excellent shape considering its age...












There is still life in this old mixer! Digital mixers may be the norm now but, analog still rules! This would be a perfect mixer for a smaller theatre, or community hall or band rehearsal space or even a home studio. Here is a link to the Kijiji Classifieds Ad for this console for sale. Check it out.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Miking A Grand Piano - What's Your Best Way?

As a freelance sound technician I don't often get to mike up a real grand piano for a show. When the chance comes around, I have always had limited success with the whole thing. As I learned later on, some microphones are much better suited for this task than others.

Today I found a small article on Prosoundweb.com all about capturing the sound of the"Grand Mother" of all instruments.

What is your best way to mike a grand piano???
I took to the web to find some images of different ways that other sound techs mike the grand piano: