The Most Important Speaker In The Rig

This post is kinda fitting for an end of the year post.  One of the biggest things i learned this year is which speaker is the most important speaker in the rig.  And often it’s the most overlooked.  Drum rollllllllllllll…… THE FRONT FILL(S).
How many times have we designed a rig, flew the pa, stacked the boxes, only to forget or not give enough attention to the front fills.  Whether your mixing in an HOW environment or touring, i think we can all agree some of the most important seats are the ones closest to the stage.  And it’s even easier to put too small of speaker or no speaker at all!  Then all the Pastor, VIP tix holders, big donor (yeah i said it) hear is drum bleed, muddy guitars, or maybe the backside of a wedge.
I recently decided to make an extra effort in making sure the front row rocked.  And boy did it!  Putting big-ish full range speakers and subs covering every seat was a game changer for me.  All of the sudden i WANTED the VIP peeps to sit up front.  Cause in a few rooms, it was totally the best seat in the house.  It’s amazing what a box with a 8, 10, or even a 12-inch driver can do for the front row.  For me, gone are the days of tiny fill speakers.  I wanna fell the snare drum and by-gosh so should the front row.  Those seats deserve to rock like any other!   All this to say, PLEASE don’t overlook the expensive seats.  It’s well worth it to make sure those seats are just as good as yours!  After all, they’re the ones that are probably paying for it…and paying for it.

Happy New Year and thanks to everyone for reading!

Tour Post 6: O Holy Night Board Mix – SSL Live

LOTS of people have been asking how the SSL sounds.  Well, that’s tough to say until you all get your own hands/ears on it.  But, here’s a board mix from tonight in Cheyenne, WY.  This is untouched, straight from the SSL Live (LR is feeding a dry record matrix).  I love the pre’s on this desk.  The vocal is so stinkin clear and out front cause the pre’s are so stinkin clear and out front.  As you can tell, I have a big fat man-crush on the Lexicon 300L too.

FOH Rig

Tour Post 5-Loop/Video rig, back-ups, & Monitor World.

Ok, the smartest and guys i know are Mike Johns and Aaron Padilla.  Probably the hardest working as well.   I’ve said that a lot, and will continue to do so.  Here’s some pics and explanations of the video/loop/monitor rig.  If you have any questions ask here or hit them up on twitter http://www.twitter.com/aaronpadilla and http://www.twitter.com/mjdrums.  Regardless go follow them they are pro’s.  Mike, our drummer,  is pretty much the brain child of this setup, but Aaron is controlling it and wearing 3 or 4 other hats as well.  Monitor Engineer, Loops/Video tech, Linc’s guitar tech, consumer of all Dr. Peppers and All-meat pizzas.  He’s using a Yamaha CL-5 for the bands ears with Shure PSM900’s.  Linc and Aaron are using Westone UM5’s.  Now, onto the loop beast.

We are using Ableton for loops and video playback.  This gets complicated.  Deep breath… The 2 computers you see below are both running Ableton and the LED wall content.  One is primary, the other is a back-up.  The are tracking each other using midi over Cat5.  For audio, each computer has it’s own dedicated SSD drive for audio playback of a handful of stereo stems (strings, perc, massive shake your pants brown-notes, etc, etc), click tracks, and count-in tracks (so the band and LD can start songs or hit cues with out the dreaded 4 counts of the hi hat).  Each computer is outputting those tracks to their own pair of linked MOTU interfaces, a primary and backup.  Those interfaces BOTH hit 2 Radial SW8’s, each are 16 in and 8 out.  The Radial widget has a set of primary inputs, 8,  and backup inputs,8.  A total of 32 inputs and 16 outputs.  If audio is lost, from the tone input coming from ableton,  from the first set of 16, it will automatically switch to the backup set of inputs coming from the backup ableton rig without any popping or clicking, it’s amazing.

Ableton is also sending midi info for patch changes to Lincoln and Corbin’s guitar pedals for all their patch changes.  NINJA!  In one specific song Ableton sends a couple dozen changes to Corbin’s rig.  They never have to touch their pedals at all.  It also will send and receive tap tempo info based on the bpm of the song.  You can see in the pic behind the grated panel their are 2 midi boxes in charge of the guitar ninja work.

Same setup for video.  Each rig is sending video to a Folsom Image Pro HD, that are sending seperate signals to the LED wall. Again, primary and backup. Seeing a pattern here? If one of those goes down,  Aaron will manually switch the input himself.  The racks are right beside him.

That’s it!  That’s our video rig.  For a show that is VERY video driven, this setup works great for us.  And without video the show would not be what it was designed to be, so we’ve taken some steps to make sure it happens without fail. Again, not for everyone.  Just how we decided to skin the cat.  Oh, and to answer the question that i’m sure you’re asking.  The backups are always worth it, but never until you need them! : )

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Tour Post 4. Crew Roles and Walk-In Music.

You asked for it.  Here’s a breakdown of scope of work for Aaron, Ben, and I  on THIS tour.  Maybe a bit different from what you’ve seen before.  But this works really well for us.

Tour Manager-Lee.  The TM is the boss.  I hired all the crew, brokered rental deals, trucking, bussing, tour budgeting, wrote the rider.  Basically everything that has to happen before a date happens.  I also booked some of the dates on this tour.  When a date is booked it’s my job to make sure everyone is has full belly’s (catering is amazing) and gets a shower, has hotel rooms, etc etc etc.

Production Manager-Ben.  The PM is the boss of the gear and crew.  He is in charge of the show from load-in to load-out.  Where the bus and truck go, making sure we have 16 hands for the in/out, making sure we have power via house disconnects or generators.  And most importantly, making nice with the local church decorating committee and moving flowers off the stage ; )….or purple xmas tree.  Yes that happened already.

Aaron is the 6th member of the band on this tour.  He’s our Road Manager, and does everything the TM does on one-off’s.  Basically the rest of the year, other than xmas, he’s the boss. For this tour he’s doing monitors, but he’s also running all the videos and loops.  I’ll post pics of his rig tomorrow.  It’s siiiick.  Aaron also patches the stage and set’s all the mics up.   He’s also booking flights for Linc and Roman (keys), to get in and out of dates that Linc is able to be home and back out quickly.

Bonus.  Here’s a pic of the eq on walk-in music.  I also may or may not have sent it through the snare verb a bit.  Want the band to sound clean and punchy when they start ; )  I can get away with it being so agressive because it’s Mr. Buble’s crooner xmas record.

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Tour Post 3! PA DSP, Sub Array, and FOH Backup!

Couple people have asked why have a Meyer Sound Galileo in the system when the Nexo NX amps have DSP in them as well.  Well, i’m glad you asked!  To be noted, we are using the NX amps in a traditional bi-amping way.  If i want to do input changes to the LF/HF (which i’ll do before using EQ), that will be done in the amps.  ANY other routing and matrixing is done in the Galileo.  I love the interface and how intuitive it is.  I’m quick on it, i’ve used it for years, i just really like it.  The TruShaping EQ sounds amazing.  I’ll use it for any LR or zone processing.  Delay on outputs is also done in Galileo.  The breakdown you can see below and associate with the picture of the PA.  The PA is in 3 zones.  Our rooms range in size and scale.  Being able to shade the top boxes as they’re blasting the front edges of balcony sections is sometimes a must.  Our backup FOH console is in inputs E/F.  It’s an output from the monitor console directly into the DSP.  Aaron made a mix for the PA in case it hits the fan or a someone saws through the FOH snake. ; )  It’s always running, all i have to do is un mute the inputs. BAM.

For the Sub Array, to do what i want with the subs i need a channel per 2 subs.  The idea on the subs is to digitally create a symmetrical arc around the stage.  For me, this is the best “go to” setup i have found to eliminate as many peaks and valleys in the low frequency range in each room.  They’re can also be a power alley with this setup as the outter pairs will always couple where the meet, in the middle.  So, to even out that alley with rest of the coverage in the room, i’ll heavily shade the outer pairs and continue to bring the output level back up to zero as you move inside the sub array.  Make sense?  See the output volume of the 4 sub channels to see what i mean.  So, basically you have a physical half circle of subs, that are also shaded in output.  I’ve had AMAZING results in rooms of 2500ish and below with this.  Haven’t had many chances to do this in arenas, but i’d rather fly the subs in arena anyway.  AlsoAll for now!  More later on monitor world, loops/videos, and more!

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TOUR DAY 2 – PA AND PATCH SHEET

Pre Production is done as of last night!  Today is show numero uno.  Thought i’d show you the PA setup and patch sheet.  Below is a quick design i made for the main PA we are carrying.   Feel free to fire some questions about what ya see, it’s our hope that you’ll see something that can benefit you or your church.  Or maybe just getting you thinking about things differently!  The PA is 20 boxes of Nexo Geo S12, 8 x RS18 subs, and a few PS10/PS15 fills.  I made this to give to my system tech, Spencer, so he could see how i wanted the PA patched and zoned.  Not every room will require all 10 boxes a side, so it’s zoned in a way that we can decide per show to use the pa in sections if we want.  Same for subs.  Although, i’m guessing i’ll use all 8 subs every time. no no no, not for SPL, for coverage ; ).  The PA is in Acitve mode (HF/LF), wideband (50Hz-20kHz) with 3 and 4 speakers per amp channel.  The RS18’s are in omni, with EACH driver getting it’s own amp channel. Oh yes!  Total of 8 NX amps. I’m super happy with this rig.  Later i’ll show you how/why i’m using the Meyer Sound Galileo in the rig, i’m sure some of you are asking why it’s there.  There’s also some sub ninja work happening to get the big bottom nice and tight through out room(s).  More later….

 
Also here’s the patch sheet for the tour, you can see our mic selection, instrumentation, etc etc.  Aaron Padilla is on the other end of the snake from me, he rules.  He and i work together on what’s happening, but he’s the brains behind the mics and patching!  I’m guessing this will prompt some questions about the loop rig, don’t worry, post is a comin!  Peace out from Silicon Valley! 
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TOUR DAY 1 -THE DUDES, REHEARSALS START TOMORROW

Yo Yo Yo! Or Ho Ho Ho!  We are on the bus headed to load-in at the first venue for 2 days of rehearsals in San Jose, CA.  We were at Bayside the last 2 days for pre-production.  I thought it’d be good to introduce everyone to our crew.  All of these dudes are on staff at Bayside or serve in some way, shape, or form.  Feel free to connect with them and add them to your social networks, they love the local church and love meeting people that do what they do!  This is not your ordinary crew, it’s really our church staff first and foremost, and we/they are fortunate enough that Bayside let’s them take off and do this!  So here ya go!

Me – Tour Manager & FOH
@AaronPadilla – Road Manager/Monitor Engineer
Ben Walton – Production Manager
@SpencerDeYoung – Audio Systems Tech
@AlecTakahashi – Lighting Designer
David Nava @BigNavsNava – LED Tech
Tomorrow ill show some pics/videos of the gear but, for now here’s tease of the SSL and Nexo goodness.  Also, Lincoln the painter…ha.
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https://twitter.com/AaronPadilla