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FEATURE LIVE PRODUCTION


at an arena or theatre is crazy (and apparently not uncommon) – pay peanuts, get monkeys! So you risk either getting inexperienced or incompetent engineers or the profoundly deaf! My experience at the O2 a year or so ago was a case in point: the engineer was using all the power, all the time, so that even in ‘quiet’ passages the dB meter on my iPhone app was off the scale. At a good gig it hovers around 95. It was painful. Low pay will not attract or retain really talented engineers and shows, however good the performers, don’t mix themselves. “A recent Barry Gibb


concert at the same venue was a delight! The console was an analogue Midas – bliss! To my ears digital consoles rarely sound as good. The PA was from Clair Global. The sound was warm, dynamic, and not over-processed. And the engineer, Randy Lane, knew his craft.”


And the impact of digital?


“From the console onwards digital audio can provide great benefits; digital audio networking (like the Dante protocol adopted by most of the live sound manufacturers now, and employed in the Focusrite RedNet products), enables low latency, lossless distribution of high channel count 24-bit 48 or 96kHz digital audio. The quality of conversion and microphone preamps is essential to the outcome and can offer quality gains over analogue (long analogue multicore cables suffer signal degradation that has been tolerated until today because


How much has the quality of live sound improved in recent years? Live sound has improved a great deal over the past 10 years. Artists have to work live nowadays and not just to promote a new album. It’s often through the live performance that their fan base is built. The emphasis on good live sound is a natural consequence of this.


www.audiomedia.com


of a lack of a better alternative). “An example of no-


compromise studio technology benefitting the live environment, RedNet is now installed in opera houses and is being evaluated by many tour sound companies. (RedNet is fully compatible with other Dante-enabled products, eg consoles). “Certainly since the mid- 70s engineers have brought studio tools to the live venue – gates and compressors, notably, as well as digital reverbs. This now extends to remotely controlled microphone preamps like the RedNet 4, eight-channel pre. RedNet also offers a bridge to Pro Tools [RedNet 5] and MADI [RedNet 6] as well as 8- and 16-channel A-D/D-A converters [RedNet 1, 2].”


LIVE SUCCESS Christian Poulsen, CEO, DPA Microphones, observes: “In recent years it has become harder and harder for artists to make money from just their recorded music, and this has led to an increase in the importance of live music. The feedback we get from our customers is that there are two ways of being successful with live music – either create a really loud sound or create a really good sound. Happily, it seems as though good sound is winning. Creating good sound in most live venues is a challenge – especially for the microphones. DPA’s reputation for delivering high-quality live audio has resulted in a rapid growth in sales for our live microphones. This is especially noticeable across


What particular developments (trends and products) have contributed to this improvement? There have been many technical advances in live sound throughout the audio chain. From a loudspeaker perspective, Coda Audio has developed its patented technology at transducer level, offering high fidelity and low distortion


The Capital Sound team provided kit including an Optocore X6R-FX interface rack for the Nitro Circus Live at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, Sweden


our range of directional live microphones for instruments and vocals. “Better directional


microphones and the recognition from end users that the more difficult the sound environment, the better the microphone has to be. I don’t feel that digital developments have had a lot to do with the improvement in live sound. The sound is not necessarily better because it is digital, but many digital solutions have offered easier use and probably also, in some cases, more reliable products. But the sound quality for live sound is more about speakers and microphones in my view.”


performance, giving great audible improvements. There have also been non- audible improvements as well including more compact, high-power PAs with lighter weight and quicker set-up times, which all contribute to the sound providers’ efficiency and delivery.


Has the further development of recording


Console manufacturer Allen & Heath has contributed much to the development of digital consoles for the live sector. Digital product manager Nicola Beretta declares: “The quality of sound is equally dependent on audio technology and on knowledge/expertise of audio professionals. Luckily both have registered a steady growth from the ’60s onwards. PA systems went from column speakers to modified cinema cabinets to the point source clusters of the ’80s, and eventually line arrays. Meanwhile, the term ‘sound engineering’ was coined, books were written,


CODA AUDIO’S PAUL WARD WEIGHS IN ON RECENT ADVANCEMENTS TO THE LIVE SOUND INDUSTRY


studio techniques and equipment had an influence on live sound? There are a number of FOH engineers who also work in studios so there are definitely influences. Additionally, fans visiting a


live show have come to expect a high standard from a sound perspective, due in part to advances in studio techniques. www.codaaudio.com


January 2014 27


and today we have schools and learning resources available everywhere. Mixing desks followed a similar path and we are now light-years ahead of those early quadrant-faders and valve- based electronics. “Some say there is not


much left to invent in this field but recent progress has proved this wrong – the quest for the ultimate loudspeaker driver, waveguide design, and sonic purity is still on-going.” www.allen-heath.com www.britanniarow.com www.digico.biz www.dpamicrophones.com uk.focusrite.com www.solid-state-logic.com


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