Support Tutorials

Stories From the Road

By Allen Rowand

June 29, 2008

07: Buffalo, or Make This Sound Like That

Integrating a touring sound system with a house system is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, any speakers the venue already has hung are ones that you don't have to hang (as long as they work for you). On the other hand you then have to make the two systems sound good together, which can be challenging. When we went to the Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, NY I was happy to see that they had proscenium sidefill speakers, speakers for the side box seats and two rows of underbalcony speakers to cover the very deep orchestra seating. From the sound console it was impossible to see the vocal cluster, so the underbalcony systems would be extremely important to the mixer as well. So I put out my test mics; four in the orchestra (sidefill, frontfill, first delay ring, second delay ring) and three in the balcony (front, mid, rear) and got ready to measure.


The venue: The vocal cluster isn't visible in this shot. Or anywhere in the last third of the orchestra!

The first step was to delay our Meyer MM4 frontfill speakers to our vocal cluster. We don't have to EQ them very much to get them to sound good:



So far so good. Next, I delayed the AE-5 house sidefills to align with the MM4s. I took a snapshot of the MM4 transfer function, then adjusted the live AE-5 trace over it until the two matched. This is what it took to get them to sound similar:



Two things to keep in mind:
- This is to match a 12" driver/1" horn loaded cabinet to a 4" single driver.
- The AE-5s are inset in the proscenium architecture, so I'm also fighting reflections and corner loading.

As ugly as it may look, the two systems sounded great together after some level matching. Next up were the delay rings. I delayed the first ring to the vocal cluster, and did the same TF overlay. This is what it took to get the AE-2s to integrate with the Meyer M1Ds:


First delay ring AE-2 EQ

Then I delayed the second ring to the first, and overlaid the two TFs. This is the EQ for the second ring:


Second delay ring EQ

Once again, after the delays and EQs were set we walked the aisles, listening for the "hand off" from one speaker system to the next. With a little tweaking of levels, we made this pretty imperceptible.

It didn't take us long to get the vocal and orchestra clusters dialed in, and all in all we were shocked by how painless the tuning was. If it wasn't for multiple micing and 'Foo, I'd probably stillbe there tweaking…

Until next time,