**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
Double hung V-Dosc versus Single hung K1?
A little over three years ago I took two full sound systems on Red Hot Chili Peppers tour, hung them side by side and divided vocals and instruments between the two systems.
Though double sound systems that have been done in theater for years, the goal there is to minimize phase issue caused by two mics in close proximity. Someone figured out that if you combine the mics electrically, there are comb filtering issues with sounds that enter both mics. But by giving each mic it's own speaker, those issue were greatly reduced as the acoustic summation of time shifted signals from the same source is way less problematic than the electrical summation of those same signals. But that is not what I was addressing with the double hung system.
Also, there have been many engineers, myself included, that have added on some extra speaker boxes to a system and pushed vocals through them as a way to increase vocal clarity, or reduce stress on the primary sound system. For that matter, we as sound engineers have been bringing in separate subwoofer on an aux systems for years to send a few instruments to in order to improve low end energy and control. I even went so far as tour with tweeters on an aux send as well, to reduce the complexity of the signal sent to them and improve clarity.
The constant quest for more power and clarity is an endless battle. And with each hurdle jumped, the systems sound better and either get louder or smaller. So following that path, my goal was to present a level of clarity and control that was audibly superior to other systems touring on that level and then and present it to a majority of the audience Seek a different PA type? Buy some magical whiz bang gadget? Add more boxes?
I could have looked for a different PA but I am pretty sure I have already mixed on every major large scale system that planet earth had to offer and I like V-Dosc the best, not only for sound quality but for system to system consistency as well as world wide availability.
As far as whiz bang gadget, well, my firm belief is that the speaker systems we use is by far, huge leaps and bounds and massive amounts so giant that all pales in comparison, the weakest link in the sound quality chain. Mics are a distant second. Try doing a listening test between a $50 Mackie, a $50,000 Yamaha $200K Midas. Yes, there is a difference and if you do sound for a living, you hopefully may actually hear that they do not sound the same if you have a fairly hi-fi listening device. Try using a Marshall stack as your listening monitor and hmmm, maybe the boards don't sound different at all. Now go the stereo store and punch all those buttons listening to all the different speakers and any knucklehead off the street can hear they are vastly different. Find two speakers made by two different manufactures and put them side by side. Now turn them up and hear how they sound near maximum volume, then see if you can find a sound engineer that can't hear the difference between the sound of the two and then don't hire them.
So it comes down to more? But I could not add more as I was already at the maximum weight capacity of my preferred system, V-Dosc. They hang 16 deep max or, as most tours carry, 15 deep plus 3 dV-Dosc. Furthermore, even if I could hang more boxes forming a longer array, sight lines are often an issue for sold out arena gigs. Until line arrays took the sound industry by storm in the late 90's, side by side systems with similar coverage were not a feasible option for large scale gigs, as those older systems were physically too wide.
Yes, more but not for volume but rather for clarity. When intentional distortion is not desired, speakers sound 'less good' when driven too hard. Speakers, as they reach mechanical limitations, become less linear. The more complex the signal presented to the speaker, the more difficulty it has reproducing that signal accurately. By using two identical sound systems, with identical coverage patterns set side by side I could divide the instruments between the two and increase clarity and headroom while simultaneously getting around many of the mechanical system limitations.
And it worked. It worked really well. So well in fact that the though of touring without it is kind of a bummer but then came K1. The brand new system is inherently clearer and louder than V-Dosc by no small margin. So what do I do? There is not enough K1 around or budget for that matter, to double up K1, but I could easily double up V-Dosc again. Double V-Dosc though is twice the truck space, twice the motor points and considerably more expensive than single hung K1.
So here I am now, three weeks or so into touring a single hung K1 system. I had 60 V-Dosc last tour and now I have 24 K1 and I must say that I made the right call. This system is as loud, if not louder, I don't even fly the K1 subs in most places due to trim height issues and the clarity rivals or beats the double hung V-Dosc. Setup time is so much faster with a quicker rigging system and less gear. That said, there were a few things about the double hung that still stand above. First is the ability to alter the source location of the instruments. It was really nice and surprisingly audible to hear instruments and vocals coming from separate sources. Different than clarity, it gave a bit more freedom in level. I could turn things down farther in the mix and still have them clearly discernable. Secondly, when I really push the K1, I can hear it begin to blur a bit, though less so than the V-Dosc, with the double hung V-Dosc I could push and blur one system while still having the vocals super clear in the other other system. That freedom from level based interaction is very desirable. Next step? Maybe double hung K1 some day, but for now, I feel I am far enough ahead of the game that I am perfectly happy.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
You want to meet more of the tour humans? First up today, Robert Rat stage pa teching the shit out the K1 rig.
'The Show Must Go On' Adam is the fearless tour leader!
Touring with catering rules! Touring with great catering is the difference between happiness and misery. You can run a crew ragged with multiple shows and longs drives, just make sure they have a safe place to get whatever sleep they can and feed them well and magically most anything is endurable with a smile. Oh, keeping the busses stocked with plenty of alcohol doesn't hurt either. Meet Ali!
And Nate and Billy. Too bad these guys have such a bad attitude and are no fun to hang with.
Our other two caterers, Jeremy and other Nate you will meet as soon I I remember to snap a pic. Another important life support friendly essential is showers. Yes, we are scruffy roadie types but a quick shower every few weeks really does cheer the spirit. That is why a it was so exciting to saunter into this shangrila of a paradise vintage crew room.
Though he looks vicious and scary, don't be afeard, Pete and the Fall Out Boy band and crew are super cool.
Now here is a brilliant concept, how about we attach a tractor to front of house mix area just in case it becomes a good idea to drag the sound and light roadies around the venue during the show.
And it is dinner time and then guess what! I am going to check out Blink 182 tonight as we hit the middle of a 5 in a row show sprint.