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Stories From the Road

By Allen Rowand

September 23, 2008

09: Pittsburgh, or It's better to sound good than to look good

The tour recently went back to the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, a very challenging house. Here's part of the fun:

The proscenium

The first thing to notice is the beautiful and highly reflective proscenium arch around our show header. These arches were originally designed to reflect the orchestra and performers into the balcony, and still do- along with the sound from our speakers. The architecture amplifies the amplification. It's a long way to the back of the balcony (around 130') so the house has a permanent fill system:


House balcony fill

The house is also wide, so we chose to tie into the house's side fill speakers; they're mounted behind the lower cloth grill, with another pair mounted at balcony height:


Sidefill front


Sidefill rear view

And as always, the challenge is to make the sidefill speakers sound good with our 4" frontfills mounted in the showdeck:


After measuring, I came up with these settings to integrate the frontfills and sidefills:

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Frontfill and sidefill EQ (click them to see a larger view)

After walking near the orchestra pit and listening, the settings changed to:

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Frontfill and sidefill EQ (modified)

As you can see, they're pretty different. Why would we need to change the settings if it measured well in SpectraFoo? Because it didn't sound good. While 'Foo let us time align the two systems and get them in the right ballpark very quickly, the ultimate test is to listen. SpectraFoo is the best thing I've found for seeing what I'm hearing, but hearing is still the important part. Learn how to listen, and trust 'Foo to show you what you're hearing- not to tell you what you're supposedto hear.

Until next time,