Tulsa and 5

Finally a show with some warmth. This cold wave sweeping though the country has been chilling the cities down below the temps the venues are optimized for. Back in the early 90’s when I first realized that stabilizing venue temperature is critical to stabilizing sound quality, I began working with the production manager of whatever band I was touring with to get venue temps dialed in. The goal is to get the venue environment as close to body temp as feasible without cooking people in the upper levels as well as minimizing air movement.

Unfortunately, these two goals are often in conflict, plus combining that with the massive spaces we are dealing with and time frames involved to induce changes and the puzzle can be quite challenging. Not to mention, different each day depending on outside temps and the type and quality of the venue’s HVAC system.

The plan that seems to work best is to run the HVAC in the desired thermal direction with a bit of overshoot until 30 mins before headliner, then shut it down and let the room temp coast as long as possible. If the venue temp starts to get unreasonably warm or unsoundingly cold at some point during the show, fire up the HVAC to compensate.

By ‘overshoot’ I mean, if it’s cold outside, make the venue a bit extra warm such that the cold air falling from the roof does not overchill before show time. Visa versa for hot outside.

The wind from the air handlers can be an issue as well are depending on their location and direction, may significantly alter the sound of the venue in an undesirable way. 

I don’t recall whether it was Houston or Dallas but one of those shows, these huge gusts of cold air kept sweeping through, screwing up the sound. I finally asked Jim to investigate and turns out it was some local venue employees opening a door on an upper level to go outside and smoke. As soon as the door opens, the frigid gusts swept all the way through to another open bay door behind stage.

All in all, the ideal scenario is motionless air that is all the same temperature. If the audience is warm and cold air is falling from the roof, the upper high frequencies will bend upward and away from the audience creating a dull hash sound.  If the air handlers are shooting streams of hot or cold air around, the sound will tend to swish and the EQ of the venue will keep changing differently in different places. Not so much from the wind itself but more so from the fact that the blown Air is a drastically different temperature. Sonically stabilizing a thermally unstable environment is never a complete success.

So, after this long nerded ramble, back to where I started,finally a show with some warmth! The temp last night was awesome, that warm slightly humid still air that basks the entire audience in a common warm soup of music with mesmerizing sparkling lights.

I’ve been starving for a stable room since we landed state side.

Also notice the smooth transition to the subs I now am able to achieve, rather than the sub bump that I used to think was necessary till I mixed on th SS30s. Still trying to understand  more but here is an older curve from December 6 2016 show

And one from November 17th 2016

Good times.

If you want to see the effect of heat upon sound, I made a simple youtube video

bending sound waves with heat

And another short video I put on instagram

fire and sound

Ok, sound need overload. Moving on. So I made a mistake in my last post and my last show is actually the 21st of jan and I head home the 22nd. 5 more shows!

So so surreal, I keep switching between having a huge weight of feeling trapped lifted and a sobering melancholy as I watch this giant machine lumber into the future without me physically onboard but knowing part of my heart will still be woth.

Here is one way the crew keeps things interesting out here:


Okey dokey and time for me to wander off to enjoy the sights and sounds of Tulsa Oklahoma 31 degree weather and predicted freezing rain coming.

Though it does not looking overly daunting out there yet

Oh, next blog I will share the solution I came up with to stop the band from getting static shocks to their lips when using a brand new marley. 




Author: Dave Rat

Sound consultant, sound system designer, curious human