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Sound Advice

Achieving Consistent Live Sound by Bruce Drysdale

May 18th, 2002

“One way to solve extreme volume and equalization problems concerning P.A. systems is to disperse the volume in the building more evenly by trimming the volume on each amplifier for individual loudspeaker cabinets.

Each cabinet should have its components – horn, mid, bass – adjusted concerning volume, and aimed/positioned (possibly rigged from ceiling) to suit the audience in that specific direction. For example, if you have a stack of 3 cabinets, the lowest cabinet closest to the audience would be trimmed in volume, the next cabinet higher would be louder so that the audience further back could hear the sound equally like the closer cabinet volume effect on the closer audience, etc… One way to adjust this kind of set-up would be to walk around the arena while a CD or cassette is playing, adjusting the system accordingly.

Please keep in mind that the overall volume could change once the audience is in place. (one way to refine adjustments during the show is to ask the P.A. company assistant to walk around the building confirming earlier adjustments and to relay any changes that may be needed.)

The above process of trimming amplifiers for individual cabinets should be done in combination with mixing and adjusting the E.Q. on instruments. The goal that is achieved in this process is to make the sound consistent at the console (mix position) as it is in the rest of the room, and for the audience.”

Bruce Drysdale – Drysdale Production Services, live sound engineer for Anne Murray and Roberta Flack.

Miking Pianos by George Semkiw

April 18th, 2002

“When I mic a piano I use omnidirectional mics (Neumann KM56) and place them in the middle of the keyboard (1st mic closer to the bass strings, 2nd mic 1 1/2 feet away towards the higher strings; you may have to put some sponge around the mic stand to absorb vibrations after closing the lid and close the lid totally. This gives me a very present piano sound which is not muddy – usually associated with cardioid microphones. When the lid is closed, it helps me keep the leakage (incoming leakage from other instruments) down to a minimum and still allows me to get a full present piano sound. If the piano has soft actioned hammers, place mics closer to hammers; if the piano has a hard actioned hammer sesponse, place mics further away from hammers.

Placement of mics should be with individual taste in mind and how the piano actually sounds.”

George Semkiw – producer/engineer, Lou Reed, Harry Belafonte, Johnnie Lovesin, The Satallites.

Recording Toms by Earl Torono

April 18th, 2002

“In the recording of toms I try to achieve the aural impression of three dimensionality. This is created by the use of double miking each individual tom (one on the top skin, the other mic placed by the lower skin). Note: Lower mic on skin should be switched to out-of-phase position on the console. To make each pair of mics react as one, the two mics per tom are fed into two channels of a stereo gate with both channels keyed externally via a contact mic taped to the shell of the corresponding tom. In this way you will have a larger, fuller and three dimensional sounding tom.”

Earl Torono – senior engineer for Winfield Sound Recording Studio.

Roll Tape by Peter Cardinali

April 18th, 2002

“When I’m working with a live band I always roll tape as soon as they start running the song down. Spontaneity is important in music and is often lost due to repetition or excessive rehearsal. You’re there to capture the great moments and tape is practically the cheapest component in the chain…so roll tape.”

Peter Cardinali – producer of Hugh Marsh and Rick James.

Miking Snares by Hugh A. Cooper

April 18th, 2002

“When miking snares I always use Shure SM57s. I use one on the top and the other one on the bottom to give me a full top and bottom response. Always check phasing when assigning both mics to one track. (Note: One of the mics should be set out of phase from the console. This will ensure that when you assign both mics to one track the snare signal will be in phase.)”

Hugh A. Cooper – engineer/producer, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Dan Hill, Myles Hunter, The Jitters.

Miking Vocals by Terry Brown

April 18th, 2002

“Choosing the right vocal mic is the key to good lead vocal results. I record vocals flat (no EQ) into a compressor at 2.5 to 1 ratio (a dbx 160X is handy – there are only two knobs), then from the compressor straight into the machine. Each mic will behave differently in subtle ways. My current choices are the Sanken CU41 and the B&K 4000 series omnidirectional mic.”

Terry Brown – producer (Rush, Cuttung Crew, Blue Rodeo, among others).

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