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Selective Listening

Hey, if you are thinking of heading to AES in San Francisco, I am the lunch time keynote speaker on Friday Nov 5th

Also I will be on two panels as well:

Fill Speakers in Live Reinforcement where will be discussing aspects of the additional non-main system loudspeakers, placement and such

And Subwoofer Directionality which should be interesting as that has been something I have been doing quite a bit of messing around with in real world large scale applications

Here is the full calendar:

As I think of them, I have been Tweeting SoundTips and have compiled the latest since blog post:

**** Sound ips ****

1) Carry a fml-fml-ml xlr Y & if talkback turned on is forgotten, Y TB mic into lead vox snake line for check & you'll be heard!

2) If you are a FOH eng, work out a hand signal line check plan with backline techs so you don't rely on a talkback mic. Easy, fast & efficient

3) For EQ'ing a system, I 1st set analyzer mic near me to calibrate my ears to what I see, I then move it to audience ear level

4) For dynamic bands, "Y" the drums to both gated and non gated inputs with a VCA for each. Now u can easily slide between open and gated sounds

5) When mixing, listen think, adjust, don't fiddle! Imagine a camera on u & u will be made to justify every knob and fader change

6) Creep some reverb into pre-show music before your band to create the illusion that your show comes up extra clean and tight.

7) In highly reverberant venues using more compression reduces the decay from louder peaks from stepping on the rest of the mix

8) Technology is important and useful but never ever forget that the final judge of the quality of your work is the human ear

9) If you are ever thinking a rock show is too loud, try going to some top fuel drag races or an air show and be humbled.

10) Why mix from a riser? Oh ya, so u can hear what the audience doesn't. I mix from the ground or 1' max whenever possible.

11) When using 2 kick mics, high pass the vent mic with the internal mic full range for a tight sound, do the reverse for a loose sound

12) If sending effects post fader, don't assign the efx return ch to same VCA as the send ch or the efx return level will be magnified 2:1 

13) Never use overeasy/softknee limiters for system protection, all they do is ruin the sound before letting speakers blow anyway.

14) Never mix from 2/3s back in a room with solid back wall. 2/3s is exactly 1/2 way. Sound travels 2/3ds to you, 1/3 to the wall and 1/3 back to you.

15) Mixing is like driving a car, turn off interior lights keep eyes on the road & glance, don't stare at the speedo and gauges

16) I mix with no light so I pull the 2.5K and 250 knobs off my 1/3oct EQ so I can EQ by feel, very 3rd knob is 1/2 or double freq

17) Never tape the grill of Shure SM57 back on by taping around the mic, the gap between grill and body is a sound port & it'll kill lows

18) In the time sound passes thru a digi console with 2.5ms latency sound travels 250miles in copper wire READ #FB

19) Condenser mics have lower mass diaphragms than dynamic mics, are more sensitive to detail, wind & feedback and 'faster'

20) Ever wonder why flown PA sounds better? The steeper angle of incidence allows sound to penetrate the human heat thermal layer and reduces sound blockage by the human heads in front of you

Soundgarden did a gig at a mock CBGB's built on Paramount Studios back lot.

Hanging with Donnie from Ncompass at the bar, It's crazy how the life size club photo's on the wall look in pics. This is us in front of a flat photo.

A combo of real stuff and the wall pictures form the CBGB's production office.

Louise and Robert have lots of old CBGB's stuff and worked there for years.

An old console from the club

CBGB's mix position with Justin

Getting ready to sound check Soundgarden

Sideways mix

May as well dive into the mic'ing I used. This is Chris' rig with 57 on one amp, and a Royer 122 and 57 panned stereo on the other

Same setup for Kim with the panning reversed.

For Ben I ran a Beta98 and and a DI

98 on the toms and HH, all clamps, no stands

98's on the toms and a mic I really like that is beat to crap, an AKG C5600 on underhead.

I am not to picky and like to use a mish mash of mics, I had a U89 so I put it on ride.

Audix D6 in the hole and Beta91 inside

Two MicroWedge 15's and 2 MicroWedge 15's for Matt's drumfill

MicroWedge 12's for frontline wedges

The Show

And went to Muse with my daughter Maddie. Check out MC's mix position! All good, low racks, mixes from the floor and all about being able to see everything with full control. All he need to do is loose the lights. Ha! MC you rock!

All the amps for 1/2 the PA. One rack per side, all the fly cables drop into the top, awesome setup and if it was an L' Acoustics rig, it would be 1/2 the size.

360 degree D&B J Rig

And some gratuitous band pics

OK, ever mix on a 5D? Ever glance to the side and see trails? Ever notice that dose not happen on most other boards or at least not as much? Yamaha, please, please soften the flash rate so your consoles are not so darn annoying!

So I usually try and offer some sort of life observation in my posts to counterbalance audio nerdery and the world of rock, so I'll give it a shot. A happy change in my recent life has been boycotting the corporate news machine. I realized it while in Europe with Blink and it dawned on me that there is a total disconnect between the world I live in and the worlds as presented by the corporations whose survival depends on parasiting human nature's infatuation with train wrecks, car crashes, dire futures and disregard for reality. In the course of trying to be responsible and aware, I was dedicating a portion of each day to staying on top of happenings of the world. While finding that simultaneously their negativity feels like being hooked on a fisherman's line and being methodically towed into the useless illusion.

It's a quandary. On one hand I discovered the world I live in and love by following music with disregard. On the other, things have grown to a point where if I do not embrace the bigger picture, stagnation will set in and those with whom my life is interlocked will pay the price of me not carrying my weight and unraveling my piece of the puzzle. Everything in in life is either growing or dying and since extended periods of motionless is either dead or never alive, to change, grow and thrive is to be alive. While to grow with too much veracity is to become a mindless predator. Balance. Life balance. Personal happiness, family, friends and the enjoyment of the adventures of exploring new ground, new heights.

So how do I be a part of guiding my Rat family upward without embracing the cactus and yet still being aware enough to avoid the pot holes? Hmmm, don't know but am going to start with remembering that controlled exposure is wise, whether I am dealing with the warmth of a campfire, abrupt velocity changes or pretending I am a businessman.

And pondering back to some useful news, this 2001 satire was about the most accurate thing in memory:,464/

And just as the ship was swirled into a whirlpool of greed and violence, the dread I felt back then has now been replaced by positive momentum. This year was better and next looks to be better yet. I smile at the gun shy still grasping life preservers rather than swimming to shore to build a new boat. Timid is boring, smiles are magnetic and pessimists get the outcome they deserve.

Dave Rat


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James Coghlan on :

Hi Dave, Just got a quick question about '14) Never mix from 2/3s back in a room with solid back wall. 2/3s is exactly 1/2 way. Sound travels 2/3ds to you, 1/3 to the wall and 1/3 back to you.' Do you think you could explain why this is such an important thing... I genuinely can't understand why its bad? Also, I think it would be great if you could do like a segment on how you first got into this industry? Like for myself I've just been working in two music/theatre venues for the last 5/6 months and I'm trying to get some touring work but I can't figure out how to go about it! Cheers man, your stuff is a proper inspiration. James

Greg Cameron on :

Some Rat Sound History:

Dave Rat on :

As far as how I got into the industry, Greg's link on Rat Evolution pretty much covers it and it's not maybe a typical path. As far as 2/3s, there is no absolutes and there are many variables but as far as a rule of thumb, think of it this way: All the way back you have a lot of venue between you and the PA but slap off the back wall is short and non cumulative. If need be you can try and address localized reflections and depending on the venue, you are hopefully in a highly populated are where the sound you mix is relevant. 1/2 way back is cool because the sound only travels 1/2 the venue to reach you and has to travel, 1/2 the venue, bounce and travel 1/2 the venue again for the reflection to reach you. This should be sufficient to give you a solid amount of direct sound in relation to reflected. Once you get beyond 1/2 way back it gets trickier and things get worse as the volume levels of direct and reflected sound get closer. At some point you get far enough back to where the back wall reflection becomes more localized and you are out of that central reverberant area of the room and dealing primarily with a more localized back wall slap. So what is the least optimum? My experience has been that it's generally 2/3s. There you are exactly midway between the direct sound traveling 2/3s the venue to reach you and the reflection of the sound that passed you, traveled 1/3 of the venue hits the back wall, bounces, travels another 1/3 and then hits you a 2nd time, I.E. 2/3s as well. This seems to be a favorite spot for standing waves to build up and depending of venue shape, if there is any curvature to the back wall, it can focus the refection increasing its volume. Farther back, that focus would have to be smaller and more localized, up closer, you have direct sound to hopefully overcome it. Alright, I know that's a bit messy of an explanation but hope that makes sense

Marc Carolan on :

And if it was L Acoustics we'd have another 8 Tonnes in the air!!! :-) Great to see you bro!!

Dave Rat on :

Hello MC! Thank you so much for an awesome night, and sounded great but you make all the systems sound good. All ya need to do now is step up to a full size PA!

Michael on :

U89 on a ride? That's kinda expencive for a ride mix) Also- why are you always micing every single cymball, even in a pretty small looking venues? Why not just use a couple of OH's (xy or spaced) and a hhat mic?

Dave Rat on :

I carry a very small set of mics with me when I mix shows and in that set is a U89. Though I would not spec it, it was the best mic I had on hand for the application. As far as OH mics, as far as I am concerned, overhead Mics are "room mics that are positioned over the drum set in such a way as to look terrible, block sight lines and are based on studio recording" If I need room mics, I typically wont position them over the drum set. I prefer to have more control over the left, center and right cymbal volumes and prefer the improved control over stereo image I get with closer mic'ing underhead style

Michael on :

Sorry for bothering you again, but do you generally gate the cymball mics?

Dave Rat on :

I never gate cymbal mics. The natural decay is an asset and helps mask the gated sounds of any drums. I typically want cymbals to 'wash and splash' and drums to impact and fade relatively quickly.

Sam Razr on :

Very nice club! Are the mic stands for the amps custom made? Or can you buy them somewhere?

Greg Cameron on :

Greg Cameron on :

BTW, you can order them from John Karr or Daniella at Rat Sound

Fred De Vries on :

November 3rd,1979...At my First AES Convention at the Waldorf Astoria, turned 21 that night at CBGB's OMFUG! What a night! :) What a trip!

Steve Pirouet on :

Love "the onion" article. That will be sent on to a few friends of mine tonight, along we me spending a little while trawling it to see what else I can find.

MM on :

The news is a joke, I pick an choose...too much sensationalism upon others misfortune or scandal or mudslinging crap where politicians are concerned. Wise choice to limit how much of it you listen to. Love Muse...I want a shiny outfit like his. That looks like a new hat and new hair color? Hope you enjoyed my heckling. Cya

Matt on :

Hi Dave, great little piece of the micing setup. I'm always intrigued by how everyone does it a bit different. Just curious are the vocal mics Sennheisers? e835, e840 or e845? Thanks

Dave Rat on :


james on :

tip no. 6. sneaky. i like it.

John Reeve on :

Hi Dave, I really enjoy reading your blog (I think I've read all of it over the last couple of months). The technical stuff is neat, and who doesn't like to hear about big-time music production? But the more useful stuff I have found are your observations on things outside of technical production stuff. For instance, lately I have been often operating on the idea that most of the bad stuff people do (including things I have done which I don't like in retrospect) is out of insecurity. While I can't put my finger on it exactly, I think I came to that conclusion while reading through your archive, and it has been very helpful. I would like to share that several years ago I more-or-less stopped following things in the tv/print media (other than a few blogs written by people I like and a movie every now and then). Largely, I felt that there was only minor differences between "the legitimate news media" and the insane talk radio (which is most of what you can get out here in Texas). It is good to feel responsible and aware, but the more I focus on the people around me directly, what they think about the world, the music that they play, and trying to figure out why the like what they like, the closer I feel to "carrying my weight and unraveling my piece of the puzzle". So I encourage you not to worry much about what the larger media would portray as "the bigger picture", as the better versions of that picture are often very similar to whatever small bits we are privileged to see. Thank you for sharing so many interesting stories through your blog.

Dave Rat on :

Thank you John! I have been really happy with the "do not let the voices of faces of knuckleheads into my house or car" plan I have been following. I am ok with reading the paper at the coffee shop or watching a bit of news in the airport, I just do not invite those that make their money by selling shock value media into my personal spaces.

Jay Holland on :

Hey Dave! Getting ready for voodoo in N.O. News generates conflict to garner interest. Personally I like the N.Y. Times and The minutemen men (Mike Watt) said "waiting for news in the history books". Ever see those guys duke it out over Central America? You, Dave, are smart to limit "news" watching and your family is going to benefit if only by becoming aware that the TV news is "entertainment". I'm putting reverb on the walk in music right now!

Niko Laasonen on :

"17) Never tape the grill of Shure SM57 back on by taping around the mic, the gap between grill and body is a sound port & it'll kill lows" This is true, but I think the reason why isn't true.. It's killing the lows because it's becoming more omnidirectional (smaller proximity effect). But killing the lows is the smaller problem I think.

CaptainLee on :

Hey Dave. Are you still alive? I know you get super busy but I just wanted to say that I've been reading this blog since day 1 and have really enjoyed it. I've even purchased things like testers and mic stuff from rat sound because of you. Any new things happening in your life? I'd love to hear about them. Take care

Dave Rat on :

Yep, still alive. All is good. I have been immersed in the business side of Rat as well as family life. I have been doing some updates via twitter and facebook. There are links to both and a general overall status of my world on I try and keep the blog loosely centered around the sound mixing and touring parts of my life, soon I will get back on it as it looks like I have some cool tours coming up!

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