I was back in session last night. We tracked an upright bass and captured some excellent tones. I heard back from the bassist this morning and he gave me some feedback on his experience: “Thanks again for the opportunity to record in your studio. I was buzzed all the way home with the tone you got from my upright. I could practice in that room all day!” This was a paid session so I always am pleased when session players provide such comments. My own view is that all I needed to do was step back and keep out of his way and make sure, as a recordist, that I captured the essence of the performance.
Bose and the Extinction of the Sound Engineer
I got into a bit of a discussion with a producer last night on the innovative Bose system that is being heavily marketed these days. As you can see from the picture on the left, it is quite the unique looking sound system. The Personalized Amplification System is a speaker system that provides sound for both musicians and their audience. Simultaneously.
Bose claims that this system resolves most of the major challenges associated with live sound. Mix levels, monitor levels, distribution of sound to the listener… but elimination of sound engineers is absent on their site. They also do not seem to be taking the live sound market by storm as there are a few too many extravagant claims without direct experience. But this is hardly surprising coming from the company that promises high fidelity sound through a plastic box “Wave Radio”.
Here is some of the background from the Bose site:
The L1 Cylindrical Radiator loudspeaker is the core of this system. Its unique pole-shaped design projects sound evenly across the stage and into the audience. Since the sound from these speakers diminishes so gradually, volume levels stay much more consistent for musicians and audience members. And its wide dispersion pattern, nearly 180 degrees, means everyone on stage and in the house experiences full, clear sound without unwanted distortion.
The PS1 Power Stand supports the L1 Cylindrical Radiator loudspeaker and houses all electronics and controls, including dozens of presets to help you get the sound you want from your instrument.
The R1 Remote Control puts control back in the hands of the musician. Mount it on a microphone stand, a music stand or wherever it’s most convenient. It includes a master volume control, as well as tone and volume controls for two input channels.
The B1 Bass Module produces deep, punchy bass for instruments with a lot of low end, like bass, keyboards and kick drum. It connects to the PS1 Power Stand with a single cable.
With a single L1 loudspeaker for each musician, there’s no need for monitors, PA speakers, mixing boards or backline amps. You’re free from the problems that go along with the old way of doing things.
An autopilot for musicians? No more sound engineer? I’m not convinced but I would like to hear this system. With all of the hundreds of articles I read on live sound installation I have not come across a major hall committing to this platform. It may be for the small hall/small club scene.
Good Friday Noise
I did live sound this morning at church. I have had a running issue with the noise level of the HVAC in the main sanctuary for a while now. This morning the HVAC was keeping about 67db on the trusty old SPL meter. By way of reference, I often have a challenge to get the wireless mic much above 67db before feedback. The pastor was particularly quiet this morning which meant I was working from a negative position on the noise floor. What was more frustrating? I could not get the HVAC guy to agree to shut the thing down for the 15 minutes or so that the pastor was giving his message. Coupled with the usual chaos of live sound work I found myself missing the warm cocoon of the studio control room. Live sound does provide an adrenaline rush but maybe I am getting too old for all of the stress. Or maybe I shouldn’t care so much about the quality of sound.
I do care very much about the incredible significance of Good Friday and the sacrifice that was made for all of us. I think the service, despite the noise levels and the relative chaos behind the board, was a very powerful witness to this life changing event.