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Stories From the Road

By Allen Rowand

October 20, 2008

10: Atlanta, or Too much, too fast, too fun!

Sometimes the job is easy. You load in, tune the venue and go. This time around, Atlanta was not one of those stops.

We started off by replacing our entire drive system. Yes, replacing all our speaker processing with no additional time for work calls or troubleshooting. We replaced our XTA DP200 speaker managers and Meyer Sound LD-3 array processors with Meyer Galileos. Kai Harada (associate sound designer for Wicked worldwide) came out to oversee the installation. As I did my normal advance load-in on Monday, he prepared the new racks for installation. Monday night we transferred our baseline settings from XTA's Audiocore software to Meyer's Compass, and swapped everything over on Tuesday. First show, Wednesday night…

The best news for me is that the tour purchased a duplicate of my personal test rig- no more hauling my own gear to every venue! We've added a 2882 2d Expanded, 7 test mics and SpectraFoo Complete on the show's MacBook Pro. Here's a shot of the the FOH processing rack:


Michael and Kai, hard at work figuring out the new workflow:


All of this proved to be very helpful for this venue, as the Fox Theater is a huge 4500 seat barn:


We brought 8 extra CQ-1 cabinets, 2 extra subs and put out UPM vocal sidefills as well as tying into the house delay rings:


The last time we played here we felt our normal system was underpowered. This was no surprise, since the theater holds 1000 people more than our usual venues. However, we got no extra time to align and tune the system. It's usually difficult to do this in an hour, and the extra speakers made it even more so. We had to do a top to bottom system check since there were obvious differences between the XTA and Meyer processing rigs, and we also had to confirm that every thing actually worked again. It didn't.

We had started on scheduled maintenance a few months ago, and were swapping out the cable bundles that run between the console and backstage. We had started to have some failures so after 3 years of nonstop touring we finally got to swap out cable. Unfortunately, there were two pairs of lines switched which led to some frantic troubleshooting. When you make so many changes at once it's difficult to find what's gone wrong. A few temporary repatches and we were back in business. Having a 2882 available at all times is going to be very beneficial. As part of the upgrade, Kai decided to re-gainstage the output section of the Cadac. It took no time at all to run signal through each output of the matrix and measure the level with 'Foo; that let us offset the new processors to match the old levels exactly. The show crew will also be able to check the operation of any part of the console, processing or speaker system.

So, one hour to align the vocal cluster, side clusters, side fills, front fills, CQ fills, start EQing them and see how the system interacted with the room. Fun! It went pretty well- I ran 'Foo, and Kai dealt with Compass. We had to do make some sizable changes to our IT infrastructure to make the new system work, but it's worth it; we have control of the system from FOH, backstage, and anywhere in the venue. I had no trouble controlling the Galileos from the last row of the balcony, about 140' away from the stage. With a bit more tweaking we had the house tamed, the system tweaked and a method to attack the next city. Minneapolis… hopefully the sound truck won't arrive six hours late like it did in 2006!

Until next time,