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DiGiCo consoles were on many bands’ riders for Glastonbury 2013


In Search of Sonic Excellence


The quality of live sound found across the performance spectrum from festivals to back-room bars and everywhere in between has improved immeasurably in recent times, Jim Evans sounds out industry views on the state of play.


THE ADVENT of digital, new loudspeaker technologies, wireless, in-ear monitoring, and advanced sound processing techniques have all contributed to the now established high levels of sound reinforcement offered to and expected by the paying public. The punters are accustomed to hearing quality sound in their homes and in their cars and wherever else. Not surprisingly, they expect the same in concert halls or festival fields – especially when they’re paying top dollar for the privilege. A number of factors have


come into play, not least the change in music industry profit centres. Playing live and the associated marketing spin-offs now provide more


24 January 2014


income than record sales and digital downloads. And technologies originally developed for the recording studio are being adapted for the live sector. A prime example of this is the widely reported move of Solid State Logic into live console manufacture.


SSL debuted its Live console (read the full review on page 40) at the 135th AES Convention where the company stated: “The Live combines SSL’s signature audio quality and console ergonomic experience into a unique approach for live performance FOH and stage monitoring sound production, and promises to bring something very special to the live sound arena. Drawing on more than 35


“The quest for the ultimate


loudspeaker driver, waveguide design, and sonic purity is still on-going.” Nicola Beretta


years of industry-leading analogue and digital console innovation, the Live has inherited the DNA from multi-award winning, ground-breaking, and much loved consoles for music, broadcast, and post production that SSL has produced over time.” Leading concert sound


provider Britannia Row was one of the first to endorse the new SSL desk – using them on Peter Gabriel’s 2013 Back to Front tour. Speaking more generally, MD Bryan Grant notes: “I’m sure sound quality has improved, but I couldn’t honestly quantify it in terms of pure audio quality; audio memory is notoriously short and subjective, and I still believe that the talent of the


engineer is the major factor. I do think that audio quality has definitely been more consistent in recent years. “It’s a combination of better components, better designed speaker systems, better drive systems, and more skilful systems technicians using that equipment to deliver a system to the engineer that is tuned to its optimum for the venue. The importance of the systems technician can’t be overstated. “As with all things audio,


there’s no one development that has changed the world. IEMs have generally made the stage environment more manageable, and incremental improvements in speaker design, amplifier design, DSP, etc have made the


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