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:

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: