Three Options for Micing a Grand Piano

In this short video, they briefly demonstrate (without comment) three options for mic placement. They let you hear the audio from each setup. Nothing fancy, but sometimes, it's good to see how others do it.

Grand Piano - How to Use Stereo Microphones

_______________________________________
David McLain | Professional Nerd | CCI SOLUTIONS
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PO Box 481
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Are Wireless Mics Ready to Leave 700 MHz?

by Clive Young, for ProSoundNews.

New York--As Congress tries to decide whether to push back the long-planned transition to Digital TV on February 17 [a deadline now extended to June 12, though many stations have switched already – editor], a lesser-known digital move-out will take place the same day...and many of the people it affects are completely unaware of it.

Last year, the FCC reallocated and partially auctioned off the 698 MHz to 806 MHz spectrum, generally referred to as the 700 MHz frequency band. The space, previously used for TV channels 52 through 69, will now be home to public safety and commercial users – which means wireless mic users with gear operating in that spectrum have to vacate the premises by mid-February. Many end-users, however, have no idea that the move is coming.

"Among those who are actually touching the mics and using them--musicians, houses of worship, etcetera--people are pretty much in the dark," said Michael Pettersen, Shure's director of applications engineering.

Many fellow manufacturers concur. "We've gotten a lot of calls in the last month as people learned of it, but considering the number of units that are out in the field, very few people are aware of the situation," said Dave Egenberger, wireless mic product manager, Electro-Voice.

"In general, rental houses and broadcasters have been on top of the issue, as well as many houses of worship, but many independent musicians and video producers only heard about it recently," confirmed Joe Ciaudelli, wireless spokesperson for Sennheiser. Joseph Wagoner, product manager for wireless tour/installed sound at AKG, predicted, "There will be a lot of end users who operate one or two wireless systems who are not going to be aware until they are forced one way or another to confront this issue. I believe most manufacturers have made a great effort to get the word out on this issue to their customers and to the general public."

If end users are unaware of their upcoming legal responsibilities regarding wireless mics, it wouldn't be the first time; Cliff Castle, vice president of sales and marketing at Audix, noted, "My sense is that most end users are not aware of the change, and if they are, they are probably confused about what it means; after all, most users are not aware that they are required by FCC to have a license to operate wireless systems."

The FCC itself is adding to the confusion, having yet to offer definitive rulings on many aspects of the transition, despite the fact that the massive mic migration is only a few weeks away. Notably, there are currently no set parameters on how the move will take place or what happens to users who may unwittingly use the frequency band after February 17 [or June 12].

That said, the FCC has moved forward on a few issues, as Jackie Green, vice president of R&D engineering at Audio-Technica, pointed out, noting, "No further type approvals are being allowed for 700 MHz systems--this means no new product development or importation in this band. However, the FCC has not yet stated how it will handle existing licensed wireless users in the 700 MHz band. We are hoping--and requesting--that if existing users are asked to vacate, the FCC considers a two-year transition period."

That may or may not happen--many wireless microphone manufacturers banded together through the Professional Audio Manufacturers Alliance (PAMA) trade group to file ex parte comments with the FCC on January 5 regarding expected negative effects of a hasty, disruptive transition. For those manufacturers, it's imperative that they make their customers aware of the changes arriving in the coming weeks. Audix's Castle explained, "As a secondary user, you must not interfere with users holding a license to operate. The FCC will hunt you down if, as a low power secondary user, you are causing interference for any of the legal owners of this bandwidth, and you will be asked to shut down your systems, licensed user or not."

Hoping to drive the point home, companies investing in the reallocated 700 MHz spectrum are lobbying the FCC to levy heavy fines against mic users who trespass into the spectrum. Whether any wireless mic users would actually be hit with a fine, however, is another story.

Karl Winkler, director of business development, Lectrosonics, opined, "It is highly unlikely that the FCC will have the resources to police the spectrum, because they can't do it right now in the UHF band in general. They have essentially turned a blind eye to the use of wireless mics over the past several decades, since the use of these products has been largely benign. The only instances where I could see the FCC getting involved is if one of the spectrum owners has reports of interference, and it is tracked down to a wireless mic user--but since UHF wireless mic systems are so low powered, even this is an unlikely scenario."

Even so, wireless mic users who plan to cross their fingers and continue using the 700 MHz band may be looking for trouble. Sennheiser's Ciaudelli offered, "Once the FCC ratifies a deadline prohibiting wireless mic use in that band, heavy fines could be levied on anyone that does not comply. Typically, the FCC reacts to specific complaints, and they are likely to be far more vigilant with complaints of unauthorized use of channels 63-64 (764-776 MHz) and 68-69 (794-806 MHz) which are reserved for emergency communication."

It's worth pointing out, however, that wireless mic users will have other reasons to move on; once the spectrum's new tenants move in, the 700 MHz band will likely remind wireless mic users of Baseball great Yogi Berra's famous quote: "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."

According to Shure's Pettersen, "What will ultimately happen is that users may one day find that they are taking hits and getting interference from new devices using the bandwidth. Instead of transmitting 100 feet, they will only go about 10, and so on. Changes are coming, and we all have to prepare."

For AKG's Wagoner, however, that's something worth welcoming: "I believe it to be a catalyst for change; this is a historic time with the change to all digital television--and with change comes opportunity. At AKG Acoustics USA, we have a great opportunity to present some of the new products."

An influx of new wireless gear into the hands of end-users will do more than benefit the manufacturers; Lectrosonics' Winkler pointed out, "users with low-cost, low-quality wireless mics will have to replace them, and this is not a bad thing for the industry or the users. This change in regulation may provide the impetus for them to go ahead and budget for new systems."

For end users who don't have the financial reserves at the moment, there's hope for them too--at least temporarily, as EV's Egenberger observed: "In the short term, once they turn off the analog TV stations below 700 MHz, there's more spectrum available to us in the short term. Till they open up the whole white space thing--which is a totally separate issue."

Audio-Technica's Jackie Green took perhaps the widest view of the situation, however, and pointed out a critical factor that could be easily overlooked: "We should not forget that one very important reason the FCC is clearing this band is to ensure coordinated safety communications for everyone. That certainly qualifies as a silver lining."

From ProSoundNews [1/20/2009]

_______________________________________
David McLain | Professional Nerd | CCI SOLUTIONS
Be seen. Be heard.

PO Box 481
/ 1247 85th Ave SE
Olympia, WA 98507-0481

Voice: 800/426-8664 x255 / Fax: 800/399-8273
email: dmclain@ccisolutions.com
online: www.ccisolutions.com
blog: www.churchsoundguy.com
facebook: dmclain@ccisolutions.com
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Testing Shure Microphones

Here's one of the ways they test Shure mics. Looks like fun!

If you can't see it on this page, then click here.
_________________________
______________
David McLain | Professional Nerd | CCI SOLUTIONS
Be seen. Be heard.

PO Box 481
/ 1247 85th Ave SE
Olympia, WA 98507-0481

Voice: 800/426-8664 x255 / Fax: 800/399-8273
email: dmclain@ccisolutions.com
online: www.ccisolutions.com
blog: www.churchsoundguy.com
facebook: dmclain@ccisolutions.com
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QSC K Series Loudspeakers, Engineering Preview

by Ron Simonson, PE


I just came back from our private pre-release preview of the new QSC “K” series portable powered loudspeakers, consisting of the K8, K10 and K12. The “K” series sound simply incredible! These speakers are the result of solid engineering principles and innovative design and manufacturing techniques.


An engineer I’ve known and respected for over 20 years, Mark Engebretson, QSC’s VP of R&D, has come up with a winning portable loudspeaker in the “K” series. Mark is a true acoustics engineer who understands the behavior of loudspeakers in the real world and how to apply both physics and digital signal processing to radically improve the standard portable 2-way loudspeaker. Mark started out by making sure that the “K” series speakers would have consistent power response through the crossover frequencies. Consistent power response means these speakers not only sound great when the speaker is aimed right at the listener, but they also sound great off-axis. The “K” series has the sound of a high quality recording studio monitor.


One of the unique design choices that QSC has made in developing this speaker, and the factor that gives it consistent power response, is matching the coverage angle of the high frequency to the size of the low frequency driver. Yes, low frequency drivers actually do have coverage angles. Most manufacturers don’t talk about this, but its simple physics. The larger the low frequency driver, say a 12″ or 15″ LF, the narrower the coverage angle of that speaker will become at the crossover frequency. Matching a 15″ LF driver with the typical 100 degree HF horn results in mis-matched power response through crossover, but that’s exactly the coverage angles will find in a typical 15″, 2-way speaker.


What QSC has done in the “K” series is to perfectly match the size of the LF driver to the coverage pattern of the HF horn. The result? Perfect power response! The benefit? Great sound!


Of course, in order to get low frequency output from a smaller LF driver, other improvements had to be made. Consistent with Mark E’s physics and acoustics expertise, there is no “smoke and mirrors” approach here, just solid engineering.


First, QSC made the box enclosing the speakers stronger and more rigid than competitive loudspeakers. That means greater mechanical efficiency for more output. Second, they beefed up the LF drivers to handle more power and dissipate more heat. That means more acoustical output than similar 2-way systems. Finally, they put in a 1000W amplifier to drive those ”hot rodded” LF drivers to an output level that exceeds other 2-way systems with similar size drivers. In fact, the K12, with a 12″ LF driver exceeds the output capacity of many competitive 15″ 2-way speakers. So now you have the first light weight, compact 12″ 2-way speaker on the market capable of blowing away some competitive 15″ 2-way systems in both sound quality and output! At the listening preview, one of our guys that mixes at his own church was asking where the larger speaker was. He couldn’t believe all of that bass was coming from a K10!


As they say on TV, wait…there’s more. Not content to have just a great sounding, light-weight speaker system, QSC set out to create a new standard in sound quality in the portable loudspeaker segment. Using very advanced Digital Signal Processing (DSP), built into every “K” series loudspeaker, QSC analyzed and corrected scores of small aberrations in phase response that are present in any loudspeaker design. This final step is what gives every “K” series loudspeaker the “studio monitor” sound that produces clear vocals and authentic instrument reinforcement. Not only is this very “techy” stuff, it’s not easy nor cheap. But, believe me, you can hear the difference!


All of these design techniques are based upon fundamental physics which speaker designers have known about for years. Why hasn’t someone else done this before? The answer is that they have! In very expensive and exotic speakers. Here’s the real QSC breakthrough. Bringing this fundamentally sound, high tech method of building speakers into a series of speakers that sells for as little as $650!


Don’t ask me how; QSC has developed a way to build all of this quality and technology into speakers selling between $650 and $799. That’s no more than you would pay for a standard powered 2-way speaker. Of course, the “K” series has the typical high quality handles, angled floor feet and built-in rigging points that other speakers now have in this price range, but QSC offers even more. Take a look at the back panel. You can even hook up a simple remote volume control for installations!” These speakers are packed with features, technology and great sound, but you pay no more than you would for other good 2-way speakers.


I’ve heard these speakers. I can tell you that the “K” series speakers are like having recording studio monitor sound in a lightweight and compact package you can take to any gig or rig to provide an easy to hang permanent system in small and medium size rooms. You can hear them for yourself through our “Try It Free” program. We’ll ship a pair of K12’s to you to use in your own church, youth room or gathering space. Just give us a call at 1.800.426.8664. Or, you may simply want to order them right now. We offer a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, so you’re completely covered if these speakers aren’t exactly what you expected. I’m guessing that these speakers will be very popular and will be hard to get for several months. CCI Solutions has a priority shipment coming in and you can be one of the first on the list to get a pair by just giving us a call today! Learn more about the QSC K Series


Ron Simonson, P.E.

President & CEO

CCI Solutions

Dynamics 101: Compressor Application Notes

Introduction: Rick Naqvi is one of the best people I know to teach on the care and feeding of compressors and limiters, which makes sense, as he works for Presonus, which makes excellent compressors and limiters. He has given us permission to include it here on the ChurchSoundGuy blog. So as to avoid being overwhelming, it will be posted in several installments. You can find them all here.

Thus far, he has covered the basic theory of compression and gates, and the various ways to connect dynamics processors. But all the theory in the world is not meaningful until we can apply the theory. Here are some basic settings for compressors for various applications:

Compressor Application Notes

Vocals

SOFT
- Easy compression. A low ratio setting for ballads allowing a wider dynamic range. Good for ‘live’ use. This setting lets the vocal sit ‘in the track’.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

-8.2dB

1.8:1

.002ms

38mS


MEDIUM
- More limiting than 1 for a narrower dynamic range. It moves the vocal more up front in the mix.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

-3.3dB

2.8:1

.002ms

38mS


SCREAMER
- For loud vocals. Fairly hard compression for a vocalist who is ‘on’ and ‘off’ the microphone a lot. It puts the voice ‘in your face’.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

-1.1dB

3.8:1

.002ms

38mS



Percussion:

SNARE/KICK
- Allows the first transient through and compresses the rest of the signal giving a hard snap up front with a longer release.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

-2.1dB

3.5:1

78mS

300mS


L/R (Stereo) OVERHEAD
- A low ratio and threshold gives a ‘fat’ contour to even out the sound from overhead drum mics. Low end is increased and the overall sound is more present and less ambient. More ‘boom’ less ‘room’.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

-13.7dB

1.3:1

27mS

128mS




Fretted

ELECTRIC BASS
- A fast attack and slow release to tighten up the electric bass and give you control for more consistent level.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

-4.4dB

2.6:1

47.5mS

189mS


ACOUSTIC GUITAR
- This setting accentuates the attack of the acoustic guitar and helps maintain an even signal level keeping the acoustic guitar from disappearing in the track.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

-6.3dB

3.4:1

188mS

400mS


ELECTRIC GUITAR
- A setting for ‘crunch’ electric rhythm guitar. A slow attack helps get the electric rhythm guitar up close and personal and gives punch to your crunch.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

0.1dB

2.4:1

26mS

194mS



Keyboards

PIANO
- A special setting for an even level. Designed to help even up the top and bottom of an acoustic piano. Helps the left hand be heard with the right hand.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

10.8dB

1.9:1

108mS

112mS


SYNTH
- Fast attack and release for synthesizer horn stabs and for bass lines played on a synthesizer.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

11.9dB

1.8:1

.002mS

85mS


ORCHESTRAL
- Use this setting for string ‘pads’ and other types of synthesized orchestra parts. It will decrease the overall dynamic range for easier placement in the mix.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

3.3dB

2.5:1

1.8mS

50mS



Stereo

STEREO LIMITER
- Just as the name implies. A hard limiter setting (brick wall) ideal for controlling level to the 2 track mixdown deck or stereo output.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

5.5dB

7.1:1

.001mS

98mS


CONTOUR
- A contoured setting for use on the stereo output to fatten up the mix.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

-13.4dB

1.2:1

.002mS

182mS



Effects

SQUEEZE
- Dynamic compression for solo work, especially electric guitar. It gives you that glassy ‘tele/strat’ sound. A true classic.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

-4.6dB

2.4:1

7.2mS

93mS


PUMP
- Make the Blue Max ‘pump up the prime’. A setting for making the compressor pump in a
desirable way. This effect is good for snare drum to increase the length of the transient by bringing the signal up after the initial spike. Very contemporary.

Threshold

Ratio

Attack

Release

0dB

1.9:1

1mS

.001mS


Editor’s note: These are the settings on PreSonus’s very competent Blue Max compressor: it used pre-set settings for various applications. These specifications are from those settings. Many entry-level compressors aren’t this precise; you’ll need to use these as approximations and experiment. Or you can use a compressor with presets. Note that the Blue Max has been replaced by the PreSonus COMP16, and its presets are based on these numbers from Blue Max. The COMP16 sells for $129.95, and it sounds wonderful!
_______________________________________
David McLain | Compression Guy | CCI SOLUTIONS
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PO Box 481
/ 1247 85th Ave SE
Olympia, WA 98507-0481

Voice: 800/426-8664 x255 / Fax: 800/399-8273
email: dmclain@ccisolutions.com
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Feedback Control and Room Tuning

An Important Note: Equalization is the last step that should be taken in tuning a sound system. Unless a system is correctly designed and carefully set up, the equalization may not accomplish much, and could actually degrade the sound. Make sure your gain structure is correct before working through this process. There's a podcast on the subject here.

There are three basic approaches to tuning the system:

The easiest method is the use of an automated room equalizer such as the DBX DriveRackPA or the DBX DriveRack260, but you may not always have one of these devices available, nor the several hundred dollars to purchase one. (Let me note in passing that these are wonderful tools for small traveling systems, though they offer significant benefit to installed sound systems as well.)

The most accurate method is to measure the frequency response with a device known as a real-time audio spectrum analyzer, and adjust the equalization to obtain the desired EQ curve for the room. Instruction in the use of spectrum analyzers is beyond the scope of this article, and use of such devices is best left to qualified audio professionals, who will usually charge a substantial “consulting fee”, often as much or more than the automated equalizers.

The third approach is to “ring out” the system, whereby feedback is induced and the equalization is then applied to knock down individual feedback frequencies (nodes). I’ll describe how to ring out a room using a graphic equalizer. (Note that a 30 or 31 band equalizer will give you much better results than a 15 band or smaller equalizer.)

Ringing out a sound system is accomplished as follows: Turn up the overall gain (volume) of the system, while someone speaks into a microphone. Keep turning the volume up until you begin to hear feedback. It typically begins as a slight ringing, and then becomes a loud howl. Feedback will first occur at that frequency (or frequencies) where the system has a peak (it’s better at reproducing this frequency than others) or your room has a standing wave (a particular frequency that seems to resonate between the walls of the room).

Identify the feedback frequency, either by ear or using a spectrum analyzer if you have access to one and know how to use it. Locate the corresponding frequency band on the graphic equalizer and pull that slider down until it stops ringing. If howling commences again, pull the slider down a little more; if it's at a different frequency, pull that slider down.

Eventually, you’ll reach a point where many frequencies all start to howl at once, or where you’ve already adjusted most of the frequencies that begin to howl as you further raise the gain. That's when you can stop the EQ adjustments. You’ve gotten all the gain there available with this.

Finish by backing off the gain by 10 dB or so to leave some headroom (room between the nominal signal level and the peak signal level). When you’re done, you’ll likely find you've obtained from 3 to 15 dB more usable gain from the system than you had before.

It may not be necessary to try to obtain all possible gain before feedback. If you obtain sufficient gain before ringing out every available frequency, stop there. In any case, it’s important that the sound of your system after equalizing still be natural.

Feedback is dependent on the wavelengths of sounds, rather than the frequencies. This means that the frequencies at which feedback nodes occur may change with changes in temperature or humidity (For example, the warmer the air, the faster sound travels: hence a given wavelength will correspond to a higher frequency). Such changes may require that the system be rung out again, especially if very narrow band filters in your EQ are used. The process of “ringing out” should be performed separately for each speaker system – including any stage monitor channels.

There are also some amazing products that have come out in recent years that use a digital process to automatically detect feedback problems and make realtime adjustments with narrow EQ filters to control the feedback. These are best used to correct problems that may arise from time to time after a room has been tuned. They can also be very effective with portable systems, or applications where stage set ups are constantly changing.

By David McLain

David is a church sound and projection system consultant with CCI Solutions in Olympia, WA. He has been working with church AV systems since 1978.
He is also co-podcaster of the Sound Theology Podcast.
__________________________________________________
David McLain | that would be me! | CCI SOLUTIONS
Be seen. Be heard.

PO Box 481
/ 1247 85th Ave SE
Olympia, WA 98507-0481

Voice: 800/426-8664 x255 / Fax: 800/399-8273
email: dmclain@ccisolutions.com
online: www.ccisolutions.com
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