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Heavy Gear

Heavy Gear

So getting ready to tour with Soundgarden and the gear left on trucks today. I cool K1 rig and lots of toys. Jamie and the rest of the shop Rats have spent the last week or so building up the ,complex kluge of gear for the run and it should be cool. Here is snap of the FOH racks as I will start the tour. I have some fun new things going on with subs that I am hoping will pan out as planned. A newer cleaner setup to replace the vortex, though not quite as sexy looking plus some new control features I am pretty psyched about. I am planning on setting up sideways again with the console controlled by my right hand as I face forward towards the band. In front and off to the right will be the racks shown below. The goal is to have a wide open space between the band and I with no gear between while being able to clearly see the RTA, system EQ's and the rack gear. Stepping back will allow a full scan of everything going on with the system.

The Dorroughs meters are new and I am hoping the average versus peak simultaneous metering will do a good job of giving a clear visual on how well the subgroup compression technique I use is working. For more info on that, check out the youtube video I did on the subject.

Cool cool, excited to get out and about have some fun getting this rig dialled in for some epic gigs with a super cool heavy band!

-Dave Rat

Here We Go

Here comes summer sunshine and time to jump back in to making the world a louder place to live in. Red Hot Chili Peppers have a new album coming out at the end of August directly followed by a world tour schedule that keeps rolling through 2013. Bye bye home. well, not really as Peppers tend to travel a 3 week on, 2 week off pattern so I wont totally disconnect from the world I currently live in. Plus with my daughters now 15, I am planning to have them take turns coming out to visit on and get in some travels and adventures. Oh, and the first gig is in Hong Kong, never been so its always cool to go to a new city.

But before all that kicks in, I will be out for all of July mixing Soundgarden for a one month North America run. It just all comes at once. Unfortunately I could not take the upcoming Blink 182 tour as it overlaps both Soundgarden and Peppers, but at least two of the three bands I mix have schedules that fit well enough.

Whenever I head out on the road for a major full production tour, I try and formulate some sort of useful or memorable adventure to attach to the travels. On Rage Against the Machine tour in 1996, I decided I would learn HTML and build a web site, back when it was not a point and click process. Unfortunately "Way Back Machine" did not capture the images of the old Rat Site but here is a link to the archive.

And if you are not familiar with Way Back Machine, it archives the internet so you can see web sites as they were, way back when.

Google beta site 1998

Enron from start to collapse

The very first Twitter Web Page

I find it both interesting and useful. I use it to look up old specification on audio gear that is no longer made and with a bit of digging there is all kinds of seemingly long lost info that is still around.

Speaking of way back, way back in April Rat Sound provided the gear for our 11th Coachella Festival and our 5th year supporting Stagecoach Festival, except this time there were three weekends instead of two and a the Big 4 show with Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth kept us in the desert for three weekends with 7 semi trucks of gear.

Oh, so back to useful and memorable, one tour I learned to weld and had a 200 amp welder shipped to my hotel and made an electric gocart, another tour I learned to scuba dive during a week off in Bali, but mainly I try and focus on the fact that I have a giant sound system at me disposal and try and figure out some sort of new or improved way of presenting large scale audio.

So, for these tours, so far, I have four things on my plate:

1) I have a new sub setup that appears to be an improvement over the Vortex/Orgasmatron configuration

2) I have worked out a sub woofer processing method that should reduce if not eliminate the two primary nulls realized from two spaced sub sources. I did some youtube vids on subs setups and I look forward to testing the new processing.

3) As the sound world clamours deeper into the layered menus of digital control, the amount of information involved with mixing is growing exponentially while the amount of useful information we have access to becomes buried and diluted. Maybe it is all my punk rock anti follow the flow tendencies or perhaps I just want a simple clean controllable environment to mix in. Either way, I am excited about adding big giant VU meters to my setup. http://www.dorrough.com/ There is more to this than just a having a big meters as these provide some valuable insight into the sound being reproduced directly in line with my mixing strategy.

4) And more down that line, I had a great time mixing Paul Van Dyk in the Sahara Tent at Coachella this year. Two inputs, both Left and Right. I made a point of running the audio in a direct super clean path and used some Tonelux Mic pre's, EQ's and went directly into the amps from there. The sound quality difference over the more complex audio path from the normal setup was audible and preferable So, I am going to do some work on cleaning up and reducing the complexity of the audio path to get a cleaner sound to the speakers.

Ok, that's it for now, except one more thing. I officially declare the recession over. Just as it took a year for the realities of the recession to penetrate deeply enough into the depths of our economy for all to agree that it actually existed, the recovery will be denied by those late in the healing process until long after positive momentum is firmly entrenched and and driving the powerful core economic direction in a positive direction. Unfortunately the late healers involve employment figures and housing prices, so bemoan if you wish but the reality is that now, right now is the time that point that 5 years from now you will look back and go "man, I should have blah blah blah'ed back then because the people that did are on top of the world."

Ok, that's it for now, I will try and get some regular pattern for blogging again now that I am getting back into touring mode. In the mean time to fill the spaces between the blog posts that actually require me to sit down at a computer, I will continue doing updates and such via twitter and Facebook as well as posting links to stuff on daverat.com. Cool cool and see ya'all soon!

Dave Rat

The Mighty Headphone Quest Part 2

The Mighty Headphone Quest Well this is really turning into a research project, fun stuff! Ok so here is the plan, not unlike how I design the Orgasmatron's (Vortex), Double Hung PA, processor settings for MicroWedge and most things I do, I will start with trying to form a logical plan, make human observations and get as far as I can without diving into test gear, then try and create a way to measure by using electronics and finally go back and see if the technical measurements align with the human observations . I will do my best to be objective. There are many diverse applications that headphones can be used for ranging from casual listening, utilitarian, striving for perfection, max volume, max low frequency, max isolation and on and on. I even found:

http://www.auditory.org/mhonarc/2004/msg00847.html

where headphones must be completely non magnetic and are optimised to be used to mask the noise and provide music to humans while getting an MRI scan. So like with so many things in life, it is about finding and using the right tool for the job. The primary focus of this evaluation to locate headphones that are optimised to act as a quality reference point for live sound engineers. So my plan is:

#1 - Listen wit my ears. I have big pile of cans and I am listening to music and switching between the various pairs while taking some notes of things I notice. Meanwhile I keep referring back the Sony CD3000's to keep my bearings straight.

#2 - Sort them by ear. I am sorting the headphones based on how close they sound to the reference pair..

#3 - Check credibility with test gear. Then I will try and figure out a way to measure the headphone using and see if what I heard and sorted has correlations with what I measure.

#4 Summarize. I will hopefully have a recommendation for one or more pairs.

So far there I am dealing with steps #1 and #2 and just begriming to plan out step #3. What I am finding is really interesting. The sound of headphones varies so vastly that it is truly incredible that they can even be listed with remotely similar specifications as there is almost no similarity in the way they sound.

As I listen I am sorting into some categories

A) DJ Sound. These all have some sort of big bass boost going on for listeners and DJ's that seek lots of extra low end.

B) Sloping Response. The lows are louder with a gradual slope downward towards the highs. This is actually a very listenable and common response and I like to tune sound systems this way. For example, with the EAW MicroWedge's, the Grey and Red processor settings are sloping responses.

C) Flat Sound. This is what I consider the CD3000's to exhibit though I have yet to test them on an analyzer. By comparison the sound is a bit bright but not lacking in low end. This would be the equivalent of the MicroWedge 'White' processor setting.

**** The Goal ****

The goal of this quest is to find the optimum live sound reference headphone. A portable accurate head worn sound system to act as a constant reference point. More specifically, a headphone that sounds as flat as possible.

Having a perfectly flat audible reference point allows the sound engineer to make informed auditory decisions by comparative reference. Additionally it reduces dependence on test equipment. By using comparative reference you can factor out the natural hearing fluctuations caused by plane flights, illness, age or long term exposure to high volume sound. Studio engineers have finely tuned and calibrated studio monitors in an optimum acoustic environment as a reference point, for us live engineers, a pair of headphones is our best bet.

Ideally you should be able to put on the headphones, listen to a CD, take them off, turn the CD up in the sound system and equalize the sound system to sound exactly like the headphones, therefore the sound system would be equalized to flat. I.E. - copy the sound of the headphones to the PA and have the CD sound as close as possible to the way it sounded in the recording studio.

Same thing with pink noise. Ideally you should be able to listen to pink noise in the headphones, take them off, listen to pink noise in the sound system, EQ the sound system by ear to sound like the headphones and the system should be flat. Then you ideally should be able to use an RTA or other measurement device, measure the pink noise coming from the sound system and confirm the system is truly eq'ed flat.

So that means that any aberration from flat the headphones exhibit will result in system EQ errors. For example: If you use headphones with extra bass, then the CD or pink noise in the headphones would sound low-end heavy. You would then be inspired to add extra low end to the sound system when matching the headphone sound to the PA sound. The low end heavy PA EQ would now cause several issues. When you EQ your mic channels you will tend to cut low end to compensate for the bass heavy PA. Any stereo recordings pulled pre system EQ will now be overly bright sounding. Imagine if recording studio monitors had a huge bass boost. Every recording coming out of that place would be super thin sounding. The goal is to have the console mix be flat before entering the system EQ's.

Note:

The console channel EQ's should make the mic/instrument combo sound correct.

The house system EQ should make the system/venue combo sound correct.

The system processor EQ should make the loudspeaker/enclosure combo sound correct.

Hence we seek a highly specific headphone. Flat flat and flat. Loud is good, wide response is good,low end is good, isolation is good, but first and foremost, flat. There are many amazing headphones out there that have numerous very desirable assets and people that swear by them. I have already begun testing and I am already finding that many of the popular live headphones are not ideal reference points. And also, at least one set of popular headphones make a quite good reference point.

So lets get some of the easier stuff out of the way and thin the herd a bit by starting with some I was considering that are marketed as DJ headphones:

Say Bye Bye to potential contenders:

Stanton DJ Pro-3000 - 50mm, 30 ohms, 106 db/mw, 20-20K

Pioneer HDJ-2000 - $349 List, $250 Street, 50mm, 36 ohms, 107 db/mw, 3500mw, 5-30K

But do not be sad as I am adding some that have been recommended to the list as well:

And due to requests, research and stuff laying around my house, say hello to:

Sennheiser HD 25-1 II - Yes they are 'over the ear' but popularity with sound engineers and numerous requests have inspired me to include them.

Denon AH-D2000 - Another requested headphone and with the over the ear design and large drivers it seemed worth testing

Pickering OA-3 - These are 1975 era open ear phones that I had laying around the house. I will toss them in the test mix just to give an idea of what people used to consider listenable. Oh, you really should check out the Pickering link I used and browse around.

Apple iPod ear buds - These are the standard ear buds that come with iPods. I figure that since these are most likely the most listened to things out there, may as well include them as a reference as well,

Sony MDR-90 - (I think) - I can not read the model # as it has worn off but these are some over the ear headphones that were my favourites before I found the CD3000's. They sounded great and though the mount broke, I still have them so why not add them to the test? I will shoot a epic and maybe someone will recognize them.

Beyer DT770M - Demo requested and it looks like they are coming.

AKG 271 MKII - Demo on it's way.

Equation Audio RP-22X - These are bass boost versions of the RP-21. Though I am not looking for bass boost, I may as well listen as they were kind enough to send me demo's.

Allen & Heath XONE XD-53 - $249 List, $199 Street, 53mm drivers, 36 ohms, 105 db/mw (1K), 350 mw, 5-33K. Very cool. I guess the blog gets around and Allen & Heath are sending me a pair to evaluate.

Ultrasone - HFI-780 - A third pair of ultrasone's have been added.

And finally there are two more on the potential list now

Ultraphones - These are high isolation headphones with Sony 7506 drivers.

David Clark Model 10S-DC - Which are also high isolation headphones.

Lastly for today's installment I want to thank the people and manufacturers that are helping me make this happen. Thank you Daniella and John Karr from Rat for putting up with my endless requests for more product!

Thank you Darlene from Audio Technica for going out of your way to expedite the request.

Thank you to all at Sennheiser as you always take care of us Rats.

Thank you Cynthia, Haley and Phil for spending time chatting with me and arranging the Koss headphones. Oh, check out http://www.koss.com/koss/kossweb.nsf/kmuseum?openform

Thank you Brian and Randy for rocking together the Ultrasone cans.

Thank you Equation Sound for hooking me up.

Thank you Beyer and AKG for sending out the phones.

Thank you Shure for the 840 demo unit.

Some of these companies Rat does quite a bit of business with while others do not know me or Rat well but were gracious warm and more than happy to assist.

Oh and can I tell you how cool it is to be knee deep in a pile awesome headphones! I am so a kid in a candy store!

Dave Rat

Fast, Loud and in Control

The Scooter

Check this sexy machine out! My favorite tour necessity.

As innocent as it looks, this baby cruises at 17 miles per hour has two 21 cell, 25 volt 5000 mAh NiMh battery packs hidden in the belly, each good for 10 miles on flat ground and the brushless motor offers almost zero rolling resistance, folds up and weighs in a mere 28 pounds! The Xootr EX3. Heck, back before 9/11 I used to ride to the airport from old house and carry it and a backpack on the plane for short trips. Unfortunately I am sad to say these are long discontinued. But if you ever can get your hands on one, you will not regret it.

Like everything though, things break. Especially if they are my things.

The most recent repair was a battery issue where a connection between calls broke. It's a bit of a pain to fix but at $175 bucks a pack, it is well worth the effort. By poking small holes in the shrink wrap I located where the bad connection was. Then cut away the shrink and carefully bend out the cell. The issue is trying to resolder the cell back in without dissembling the whole pack. But, since NiMh cells use the outer can as the negative, there is a workaround. If you solder a thin metal tab to the positive of the cell in the pack then slide the cell you bent out, back place:

You can cut away the shrink wrap and solder the tab to the outside of the can. It is a bit hard to see but if you look carefully, its there.

And back on track! And hey, look what I found!

An honor indeed! Thank you Travis, Mark and Tom for inviting me on this incredible adventure.

My Office!

Ok and on to:

**** Sound Nerd Speak ****

Ok, so one of the wonderful realities of our world as traveling sound humans is that everyday is a new adventure. So now that the Vortex (Orgasmatrons), Slotfire and V-Fire setups are running smooth and predictable, we can now start upping the anti a bit. We learned from Jones Beach shows that the Diagonal Vortex was effective for venues that require a narrower coverage. Remember that Vortex was designed to cover up to 135 degrees off axis but in a field or shed that is too wide. So rotating them 45 degrees does well for narrower coverage patterns.

But as anyone who has toured knows, we have to deal with a wide variety of setup spaces, restrictions and issues. So here are a few more setup variations for y'all to ponder.

Vortex two dimensional control. Offers rejection behind the subs and on stage. Needs space around them. Offers very wide coverage. Steerable. Occupies an 8 by 8 footprint.

Slotfire single dimension control. Coverage is symmetrical in front and behind. Works best when against a wall to block rear energy. Steerable width. Offers rejection center stage and somewhat behind. Controllable front compression alters sub tuning/tonality. Requires 13 by 4 footprint.

V-Fire single dimension control. Coverage is focused forward and reduced behind. Does nor require a rear wall. Steerable width. Offers rejection center stage and somewhat behind. The V is less than optimum and slightly downgrades the tonality. Requires 13 by 4 footprint.

But what to do in this venue in Birmingham? We had a fairly open space. The barrier to the right in the photo is audience side and just a blow through scrim. Unfortunately there was not enough room for a vortex without jamming up monitor world . Plus the vortex would have to be diagonal to be aimed right and there was no way. So here is a Smooshed Vortex setup.

The math works well and coverage should be good with excellent rejection behind and on stage. But wait? Really? Am I going to point a 3 stack of double 18"s at our monitor guy?

Well, it made me nervous enough that we setup one side with the middle speakers pointing toward the audience but the math was not a good.

and the other side as the calculations told me would be superior

And we fired it up and sure enough, we spun the other side and ran with double 18"s pointed right at a happy Steve!

And how about one more setup that may com in handy and is super easy. This is basically the setup we used at coachella and works on the same principle as the Slotfire

Two stacks of 6 subs per side. Space at 8.5 feet center to center. Lay in a 3ms delay to the outside stacks and bingo. Simple clean 180 degree 45 hz-ish center frequency cancellation towards center stage and focal points like 20 or 30 degrees off center. Longer delay widens and shorter will narrow. Though the side effect of other delay times is that your cancellation area moves around.

**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****

Two of these belong to me!

And off to watch Fall Out Boy!

Dave Rat

Just Because I Can

Each trade has tool set. The fundamental and most basic item around which that craft is formed. A carpenter's hammer, a logger's ax, a fisherman's rod. The older the craft the more archaic the tools tend to be.

For a chef, it is the knife, Here our head caterer Jeremy's love for these handmade Japanese folded steel knives is so deep it literally brings him to tears as explains their quality and craftsmanship

Speaking of crafts and using tools, here you can see the proper usage of an XL4 as an elevation platform while foot mixing.

Missy is our tour manager Adam's assistant and doing a fine job of making that Rat hoodie look awesome.

Ok, you are at a gig, option 1, head to your seat and watch the show, Option 2 hop into kiddie pool fully clothed with some dudes. Hmmm, tough tough decision.

Fortunately though, someone from the radio station that came up with this brilliant idea relieved us of this unsightly obstacle soon after the show ended buy dumping a torrential waterfall down the seats creating a 3" deep lake for the subs to sit in and the crew to saturate their shoes in during load out.

Check out this mirrored drum head!

**** Sound Nerd Speak ****

Ok, link of the day comes from my good friend Jamie Anderson who heads up Rational Acoustics. While I roll with my basakwards low tech and analog ways, Jamie does Smaart training and is all up on the other approach. So when he stumbled upon this gem, he knew where to send it. The ultimate analog delay!

http://www.uaudio.com/webzine/2005/august/text/content4.html

And on to less serious stuff. When I was laying out the initial Vortex designs, I started with what seemed a good place. Take the B sub and place in a conventional manner, then build from there. I really try to break down those barriers and open up to all possibilities but looking back I realize that it had no real logic other than just clinging to something familiar. And that decision made without fully justifying meant that the design was a bit less optimized than it could be.

Below you can see a simplified drawing of what is going on with the summations and cancellations of the Vortex setup. On the left side you see a counterclockwise setup on stage left. On the right side you see a counterclockwise setup stage right. Though the setups are the same, notice how much cleaner the left side is.

Green arrows represent summation, Red represents useful cancellations in the band that we are reproducing and gray is imperfect summation with some cancellation. The arrows are drawn from box center through box center. The arrow lengths are meaningless.

One of the issues we had with the original setup was that I was getting a bit too much sub off to the sides. So I started pondering and realized, hey wait, let's reverse directions of the Vortex and it should move our primary focus to the deep corners of the arena where we want it and paper and sure enough, the real world result matched the pen and paper prediction!

**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****

Ha, meet Juan (lampi), Robert Rat (stage), Josh (carpenter), Jim Rat (foh), Derek (automation - stuff that moves during the show, like Travis), Randy (Famous Stars and Straps promo), Jeremy (food), Me (trouble coordinator), and Justin (automation)

And so ends another terrible day at the office.

Dave Rat

Doing It Wrong

**** Sound Nerd Speak ****

I have had quite a few people ask me "how did you come up with the sub layouts?" So, I started thinking about the train of thoughts that is passing by here at the moment. My first experimentation into 'subs pointed the wrong way,' was the Sub Cannon stuff I did with Peppers.

Thought actually they were pointed in the right direction, the setup had one set firing into the back of the next time delayed set. While it worked well, and rear rejection was clearly achieved, cumbersome steering that was realized by adding more or less level to them, so power was wasted if I reduced side coverage. But way before that, all the work I was doing with the MicroWedge designs over a decade ago kept pointing at the assets of physical placements and the importance of versatility. Physical placements, distances and the reducing the sheer physical size of the combined sound sources continue to be a significant challenge in all loudspeaker enclosure/array designs.

For this year's Coachella we did something very similar to the Slotfire setup where it relies on two sub sources 1/3 of a wavelength spaced. But once all the subs were stacked up, what we ended up with is a big wall of subs with a small gap in the middle separating the non delayed versus the delayed. Some delayed 18's were right next to non delayed 18's while others were 12 or more feet away.

Yet we are using a time delay of just 3 ms. The theoretical design is based on two point sources but the whole sub wall thing, while functional, has trouble getting out of it's own way. What we need is two nice clean point sources. But how do you do that with six double 18 boxes that are nearly two feet high and four feet wide?

From yet another angle there was the MicroSub project designed to use the coolness of actually being able to physically configure the boxes themselves to achieve desired results.

http://www.eaw.com/info/EAW/Loudspeaker_Product_Info/Current_Loudspeakers/MW_Info/MicroSub_Configs.pdf

Yes subs are very close to omni directional at low low frequencies and since low frequency wave lengths are long, it may seem that these configuration variations would have little or no effect on the output and coverage. But the reality is that there are significant audible differences and once I actually stacked these things up I found the assets of the configurations are even more pronounced than anticipated. The actual direction a sub is pointing does not matter much till you start getting above 60 0r 80 hz. While the 'on axis' focal point and distance between multiple sub sources rapidly gains importance as the frequency is raised.

**** Mini Offshoot Sound Nerd Speak ****

For example. The MicroSubs are 26" wide and 13" high and hold a single 15" speaker. If you stack two directly on top of each other on the floor like 'The Up Up' configuration,

the source dimensions are about 26" high by 15" wide plus ports so about 26"x24".

That would give us a side view pattern of something like:

As you can see we have we have reduced the vertical coverage, which optimizes for musicians a bit farther away and blows through the legs of closer artists when used as a sidefill.

Now slide the top MicroSub back till it drops into the 'Laid Back' configuration

and we now get something more like this

Where there is an up tilt giving us a nearer focus. Here the nearer artist is in the focus while the sound will tend to go over the heads of musicians father away. Plus, this is with just two MicroSubs. The stacked responses are of course achievable with conventional low profile subs but the additional option to utilize the angled configs with the MicroSubs is unique and can be very effective in tackling a wide variety of applications.

**** End Mini Offshoot Sound Nerd Speak ****

Ok, back to Vortex and Slotfire.

 

So taking what I learned from Sub Cannon's, MicroWedge, MicroSub lets next add in add in the cool enclosure designs like the dV-Sub http://www.l-acoustics.com/fichestech/dvsubgb.pdf where multiple speakers are pointed at each other to result in a powerful output from a small area.

And then it grew on me to combine it all and gain control over steering by creating a smaller and more manageable sound source dimensions and completely disregard the direction the sub speakers actually point. At that point all the ideas started flooding in as with so many restraints of design removed.

Here is the Slotfire, notice the two 18" wide 'slot' sources that offer distinct control.

And though the Vortex occupies an 8 ft by 8 ft by 5.5 ft high space, it offers a relatively small point source-ish output relative to conventional setups.

Oh, and this was the gig where we learned that the Vortex works best in open space and does not like to be near a wall. The Slotfires though, prefer a wall and shoot too much rear energy in open space. The V Fire:

is the no wall or hollow stage version of the Slotfire but does not quite sound as good.

**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****

So as I mentioned, I adore the new adventure feeling of opening the bus door to a brand new world. And some days you just got to grit your teeth and bear it. Dammit, where in the heck is the parking lot? Is that a gig through yonder forest?

The luxuries for a touring roadie crew are endless, but at least we get our own are to hang out in and relax.

I did it, I finally broke down and labeled my console.

So this Branson guy from Virgin decides to toss a party for 30,000 or so of he best friends, for free. Multiple stages, Blink, Weezer, Jet and lots of other cool bands

And what better way to make an entrance than to sky dive out of a helicopter onto the roof of the main stage at Blossom Amphitheater? None better! A bottle of Champagne

And away we rock. Can I say that this guy rules! And speaking of guys that rule, I am so happy to be touring once again with Craig Overbay! So great to hang with so many friends.

Dave Rat

 

Cleanup Time

Now that we have some time under our belts and settled into a good rhythm, I can lay off the nerdery a bit and deal with info sharing at a more leisurely pace. The Ogasmatron (Vortex) and Slotfire setups are fairly easy to replicate and the need for my hands on aspects are greatly diminished. Back into our second to last arena today and the Orgasmatrons are truly refreshing. So how about a little house cleaning of the photos that are collecting in my post folder?

Daniel (Ocho Diablo) rocks the suction machine. Meet Chris Holmes (Ocho Wino) our Bus-Ocho protools wizard that handles the samples and such, like the "west coast shit" during the drum solo.

Tom stands near the flame thrower

Jumping back to audio, here is the centerfill dV-Dosc hang with front and rear motors for a near straight down shot. I avoid stage stacked fill speakers and fully rely on everything flown for coverage. These pretty much see a full mix identical to the mains.

So we headed to Council Bluffs for an outdoor field show. Last of a five gig sprint. Talk about a wonderful mix of fun and misery, wow. So, though I am sure you have heard the news by now, yes, we were at the epicenter of Fly War 2009.

Though this does not do justice to the plentiful fly covered strips dangling everywhere, Jessica celebrates them

Oh, scenes like this were everywhere. On everything. But hey, the good news is at least the dining area was inside a room. The bad news is that so was the most awe inspiring gathering of flies imaginable. Everywhere on everything. At least we could try and clear them out except the only water source was a sink that meant a hose ran out the door to the outside fly area where the caterers battled out a space to cook So we wont be closing that door. Clearly the flies had a well thought out plan.

But our catering is a force to be reckoned with that strikes fear into all that cross their path. Be advised, this next photo is not for the faint hearted so look at your own risk.

That's right, prepare for battle but first we must arm the troops. Meet 'The Claimer' a ruthless weapon that travels at high speeds crushing its victims mercilessly.

It was long and bloody battle, and though no war is truly won, we were able to retake our dining area and in the aftermath there was plenty of room for celebration.

how about a wander into punter world? Bl-ink

Hey, I was gonna wear that, darn it!

Now that's what friends are for. The one gal was actually eating the funnel cake and watching the show.

Yes, I know, just another picture we all see every day out of our office window but can you spot anything out of the ordinary?

Move along folks, nothing to see here.

Got ink? Blink ink? Like signed and came back an hour later fresh ink?

Ocho Diablo getting ready dial in the Travis' drum world, it's a tough gig but it has to be done.

Interesting strategy with, I would assume, a relatively low probability of success.

But when travis spotted her and dove off the stage screaming "Yes Yes" I was proven wrong. Oh wait, maybe not.

And so ends another rough day at the office.

Dave Rat

Big Tools

Jones Beach. I remember the first time I ever did a show here was Lollapalooza 1992, the first of two shows went on with out a hitch but for the second show our little friend Hurricane Andrew decided to drop by for a visit and lay a category 5 wind and rainstorm on top of all the wires, speakers, lights and humans. Talk about torrential downpour! I have some old video of it somewhere that have been meaning to post. Pretty intense seeing the lights and PA swinging and mashing into each other. Big chunks of gear blowing over into foot deep puddles flowing in a cascading waterfall off the stage while sideways rain blows away tents and any attempt to protect the not so thirsty gear.

So I have settled into two subwoofer designs and hope to be able to flow one or the other into the rest of the tour gigs. The Vortex or Orgasmatron setup gives me a bit more control over coverage and allows me to disperse low end over a very wide area. Also the Vortex gives me excellent rejection on stage and directly behind the subs. Our other setup which I guess I will call the Slotfire Cannon. It is similar to the Sub Cannons I used to fire to the sides of the arena's on Peppers tour but they take up less depth, are more efficient and offer a bit better control. Being four feet deep and about 14 feet wide, the Slotfire should be able to drop into most sheds fairly easily. The has quite good control over widening coverage but offers very little cancellation behind the arrays. So for venues that have a wall behind the subs, the Slotfire is a good way to go. Conversely the Vortex work best if there is open space behind them.

Perhaps you noticed we spun the Vortex (Orgasmatrons) 45 degrees? Ahh for this gig it gave us better sighlines, so therfore better placement downstage and a bit more control. So here is the basics of the Slotfire setup as done morning of the show;

The theory on the Slotfire is to space two acoustic centers at 1/3 of a wavelength of the desired center frequency. For this I chose 45hz due to the sub design and program material I am sending, so about 8.5 feet or so. Then if I delay the outside acoustic source by 3.6 to 7.2, I gain a tremendous amount of control to steer the low end to the outside. Zero time delay gives me a figure 8 pattern, which I do not need as I want to steer outward and reduce power alley. Here are some simple predictions for one side

A 3.6 ms delay is 1/6 wavelength at 45 hz so if you apply that to the outside subs and add that to the 1/3 wavelength physical spacing, we get that 1/2 wavelength virtual spacing that gives nice cancellation towards the stage and steers low frequencies outward

And as we increase delay further it steers more outward.

So super simply I can control how wide the coverage is while reducing power alley, just by adding delay.

The trick though to get this all to work efficiently is to create two nice LF point sources with the subs. Ahhh, and that is where the super cool part comes. Because to get an 8.5 spacing of acoustic centers with 4 foot wide boxes means the stacks would only be 6" apart. Basically one big wall with some time delay mushing it up, which is lame and boooring! So what I did was to point the subs at each other with 12" spacing. Now I have two very clean 12" wide acoustic centers to work with. And wow! This setup kicks butt!

The sound of this setup is really solid and powerful, more so than the Vortex. But, keep in mind, the Vortex offers more control. If I setup the Slotfire in an arena, poor Steve and everyone else behind the subs would be completely obliterated. Never forget that the key is using the right tool for the right job.

Haa! I got to be the guinea pig for the flying drum riser test drive!

I think this was Montreal

May as well start introducing the awesome Rat crew out here putting up with my antics. Meet Jim, also known as Ice, not sure why but hey, nicknames rule. He is my FOH tech and the one who directly gets my world dialed in. I do put a lot responsibility on my tech, and really appreciate him keeping it together. Oh, Nick the Fly was out here but he went back to home world and was the front end guy that helped me get my wacky designs all dialed in.

This is Robert, he rocks the stage wire world

Scott Sugden (top left) came out for a few days to hang with us and Roz (working with Scott) is our laser room measuring K1 system design guru now that Nick is gone.

Manny is out here too promoting corn chips mainly but I think he does some PA setting up as well.

Re ran the orgasmatrons at Jones Beach. Good news is Mark Hoppus went inside during the show. Bad news is he tripped over the strap that holds them together and fell inside with his bass on mid show. Fortunately he did the party roll and landed on his back and seemed ok.

Hello Me

Jessica is our wonderful production assist and awesome to work with.

May as well toss some show shots in the mix

After the gig, we Blink fans all hang out waiting for the band.

Not really related but some say Pigeons are like flying rats, so I figured I would toss some props out to our flighty friend here.

Okey dokey artichokey. See ya soon for more brain twisting adventures soon.

Dave Rat