Preview: Dave Rat - Roadies in the Midst
Dave Rat - Roadies in the Midst
Lets' go do some rock shows!
Hey, Lets go Over There!
Ok, it has been 5 1/2 years since I started a blog on Chili Peppers tour in '06. Had no idea where it would go or really even that anyone would read it. To be perfectly honest, I did it to remember. To remember the adventures of travel and to captures snapshots of the details that hopefully would be spontaneous enough that at some future date I could look back and feel a how it felt. I wanted to document the experiments with sound so there was a feeling of progress in my life rather than an endless stream of unfinished projects.
Well, who woulda knew the added dynamics, interactions and adventures it would bring. So fun, so cool and to meet so many people all over.
Anyway, I am going to bring this blog to an end, or at least let it rest. I am not one much for repetition, I love excitement, change and motion. And to put it more simply, it is a real pain in the ass to blog this way. I actually have been writing the posts in Dreamweaver, crushing the pics down in Firefox, uploading pics, then embedding links, then saving and finally copying the HTML code into the blog, posting, testing and done.
So it has been that inconvenience rather than the lack of things to post that has grinded the blog to a crawl
Still in the learning curve, and hoping the wordpress world will bump it up a notch toward smoother and the new Dave Rat blog address is:
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.
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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!
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 comp[...]
Old Bloggery Post
Ok, time to start firing up the rusty bloggery engine as the tour season begins to ramp up. And diving in, look what I found! An old blog entry I forgot to post from back in December. So here it is as it was and will try and do some catch up as well as share some more hopefully interesting or useful pics and info soon.
**** Old Bloggery Post ****
Been pretty busy with time spongey adventures. Mainly business stuff which does not come natural to me. Its a state of mind that tends to be fully impressive with overlays of inter related projects so I have been doing a lot more mini posts on Facebook and Twitter as they are higher on the instant gratification scale.
Oh, looks like Jon Monson and I will be heading to Arizona in January for Tour Link http://tourlinkconference.com/ We have been meaning to go for a few years and with Rat Sound got nominated for an award, that tilted the scales.
The AES speaking gigs seemed to go well, yet I still feel a bit stumbly with public speaking I do enjoy it and my inevitable absent mindedness keeps it fun and challenging. It was very cool that so many people showed up and thank you! Anyway, if you are interested in seeing the slides I showed and/or hearing the audio, here is a link. AES sells the audio portion for $18 and you need to scroll about 3/4 down to find it
10AES-SE02 Friday Lunchtime Keynote - Dave Rat Audio
And if you would like to see pictures I showed, here is a slide show that goes along with the audio
Slide Show to match AES Keynote Audio http://daverat.com/aesframe.html
Also I had the honor of being asked to sit on two panels as well
10AES-L06 Subwoofer Directionality
10AES-L08 Fill Speakers in Live Sound Reinforcement Systems
They are also available for download as well. AES was good fun and especially to see all my audio friends.
After doing the subwoofer panel I started pondering the disparities between sub prediction software and the realities of sub woofer setups. Once I was able to form some clear descriptions I put together some youtube videos so if you are a fan of the intricacies of the bottom end, you may want to take a look. My Youtube channel is
I will try and do one or two more one the subject soon going into more depth on larger setups and offer some more tips on getting better results.
I went out for the third year in a row to speak at Citrus College to Japanese sound students. This year they came to the Rat Shop
Back in october I got to do a cool show for Matador Record's 21st anniversary with some amazing bands. I came in as the FOH assist and mixed Guided by Voices and a few others. Here is the band list:
Belle & Sebastian
Guided By Voices
Yo La Tengo
The New Pornographers
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
Esben & The Witch
and here are a few pics:
**** End Old Bloggery Post ****
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 http://bit.ly/9OoJEm #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.
Home from six weeks away and this time rather than acclimate I am enjoying maintaining the pace. Bring it on, hit the ground running with morning jogs, surfing anything remotely resembling waves and full steam ahead in work world. I finally have wrapped my head around embracing the business side of things by reframing it from a chore to a challenge.
Oh, I just got asked by Jonathan Novick to be a noon time Keynote speaker at AES in San Francisco on friday November 5th as well as to be on a panel with Tom Young discussing fill speakers for live concerts. I have been pondering what to speak about putting together an outline and am thinking I will start with a bit about the allure and challenges of the road life. I want to also cover understanding some fundamental differences between live and recording worlds hopefully from a fresh angle followed by some technical of the live sound challenges that would be beneficial to overcome. Finally talking about how the brilliant AES audio minds could help push live audio to the next level.
Since it is important that I am on track with covering aspects that wants to heard, I though I would ask. If you you are going to be attending AES and have subjects or suggestions you feel would be interesting that may fit, send me message or post a comment and I will try and cover it. Plus this will hopefully give me a better understanding of the direction to take it.
And while we are rocking social networking for the betterment and fun of all involved, it took me a while to find but I stumbled on an angle with twitter that seems to be going well. The random twitter updates without some substance never felt quite right to me so I started intermixing "Sound Tips." What I found was that not only was I getting a positive response but also it acts as a simple 'thought storage space' to hold concepts I feel worth remembering. So here is a consolidation of the Sound Tips so far and if you want further expansion on the concepts, there are some great response threads on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/?ref=mb&sk=messages#!/1drat
**** Sound ips ****
1) Spaced apart subs create a power alley. Use this instead of stacked behind for drumfill to get less lows washing the stage
2) Be sure to actually listen to your reference RTA or smaart mic before trusting it. A lot of those mics distort at higher volumes
3) Find the room resonance and kill it. Typically 200 hz for 2k cap dropping to 125 hz for 20000 cap
4) Ears want to hear a smooth response over time, disregard short term peaks, use 10 seconds averaging minimum on Smaart/RTA
5) For line checks in headphones PFL the L&R, turn all channels on/up to hear post fader actual relative levels rather than solo
6) The closer u mic the more instrument u get & the less background noise. Downside? Extra low end but lows are easy to EQ out!
7) Point the guitar rig on stage slightly outward or upward so it does not blast you at FOH a few inches makes a big difference
8) If you have hum and you can't fix or no time, try polarity reversing some channels like backing vox to force cancel it out
9) The whole 'phantom from foh OR mons is silly. Phantom from both is all good and gives redundancy and won't hurt anything
10) Why use boomy mics on boomy instruments? Try small dia condensers for clear sound, Use boomy Lg dia mics on thin instruments
11) Sound Tip: Engineers that mix with blasting kick are like 'learning to drive drivers.' Gas it on green & slam breaks on reds. Pro's r balanced.
**** End Sound ips ****
Oh, also I have been trying to centralize all the info on http://www.daverat.com which streams my blog, twitter, Rat Forum and has links to many of the articles I have written.
Ok, here are some more pics
Mark Hoppus, Blink 182
Paris from the Eiffel Tower
Mel, Robert, Daniel and I hanging in Vienna. Daniel took us [...]
I love my pockets empty except for a cell phone and the omnipotent brightly colored ID tag dangling from my belt loops. The sensation of pure freedom. A single page road map defines my 'must do' events for the day. So grounded and clear the world becomes. The biggest challenge is to try not to lose any physical object that pretends it is important. But what is expended to drop into this reality of unsustainable wanderlust? This world of tour, pure motion of a bus rolling 60 while home slowly rotates with the spin of the earth. Where to plop myself down mentally and at what balance determines happiness or misery. To stay fully immersed in the world of home while my body jumps through all the extra hoops enduring mishaps and chewing through time in order to drag home a paycheck and some stories? Or chose the perception that everyday is beautiful in every way, regardless of how miserable it may appear. There are no problems, just an endless stream of puzzles to solve as each day a brand new city is delivered to feet. When I first quit my job at Hughes Aircraft to rent out small PA systems with a van, I leaped from that cliff into the ethereal structure less world. I remember taking off my wristwatch and crashing it into the ground as I swore off being chained to concept of time. I remember sitting in Mark Mahoney's tattoo studio as I asked him to keep enlarging the photo copy of the rat intended for my forearm. Bigger, bigger, bigger, I wanted the tail of my first tattoo to be visible even when I wear a long sleeve shirt. I wanted to make sure I would never be able to work for anyone offended by it. I wanted it to remind me to be adventurous, curious and to have the endurance to succeed regardless of the obstacles. I wanted it to remind me never to forget that barriers and strings are only as strong as I allow them to be. I realized I am guided by the failsafe wrench-thrower built into my mind. As if a part of me already knows where I am headed and happiness is only felt when the right decisions are made. Wrong turns down paths un-righted cant help but turn sour into depression, anxiety, anger, frustration and finally destructive wrench-throwing irrational actions that break the pattern and hopefully end up forcing a me to change directions.
Well alrighty now how about a bit of soundnerdery fun?
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
Ok, I have written about grasping a consist ant reference points with headphones, an analyzer and physical settings. I did a video and wrote about my take on what EQ's what in a sound system. Here's something pretty simple that is another piece of the 'get a sound system to sound good' adventure.
There are various ways to EQ a sound system. Voice mic, pink noise, familiar cd, tone sweep, pulse and EQ on the fly. Over the years I have put much thought into the concepts of perception of sound versus tonal balance. Part of the method I use to EQ a system is keeping an eye on tonal balance over time. The tonal balance of a show is constantly changing. Having a readout such as an RTA or spectrograph gives a series of visual snap shot or shots with a history. What is often overlooked and tends to be more relevant is the overall tonal balance averaged of the course of a longer time periods. Our ears are forgiving and enjoy the short time frame tonal diversity yet if certain frequencies are dominate over a longer time frame, it can be undesirable. With short period time averaging of a few seconds or less we see these lines moving around but it is difficult to accurately see the trend of which frequencies are persistently too loud. By using a longer averaging time of 10 seconds or longer, you can tame the readout so it gives a stable read out more similar to what we see when using pink noise. Now with this stable line it becomes much easier to EQ the system with music as a source. Taking this further, if you do some long[...]
Another Terrible Day at the Office
Two hours of sleep and then a bus ride to Pukkelpop in Belgium on the Ocho with Blink. Yes, we are actually on production bus #2 but the core Blink crew refuses to ride on anything but a bus with a #8. Oh and I forgot but I did grab a few shots of the Soundgarden Vic show.
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
So prepping for Blink we soundies get word of an all new ground support drum riser with two spinning axis, being built. Hmmm, end over end flips of a spinning disk, this should make for some interesting cable runs. We have no idea how many flips or spins, just that it is going to need audio and AC power and if the we lose audio during the drum solo with a spinning drummer doing a solo, well, to say the least, that would be really bad.
The plan as presented by the creators of the contraption was "just run audio wireless." Hmmm, where would that put me? Run wireless drum mics the entire show? Yuck. Run hardwired and switch to wireless for the drum solo? Yuck. And what kind of wireless? We need full 48 volt phantom power for half the mics up there. Start swapping out mics? Oh my, this is bit of a mind knot. Figure out a hardwire solution? But what if it does not work? We wont even get to see the riser till three days before I leave for Soundgarden so we can not count on implementing a hardwired solution.
After a bit of pondering and a call to Showrig who was building the contraption, they agreed to have some extra holes drilled, and I think I have a way to route the cable. Thank you Justin! for the updates and taking care of getting things worked out. Then a custom snake and spare snake, 20 ch mult to tinned bare ends was ordered plus a box with terminal strips and a mult. This would allow the cable to be threaded through openings of unknown dimension and attached without soldering. For the next several weeks Steve Walsh and I brain stormed and waited for the various pieces to arrive.
So here she is in all of her 4000 pounds of glory. It was all about getting the audio working with minimal complexity and high reliability with a big pile of unknowns and little time for errors as the whole shebang shipped to Europe 6 days after we get our hands on it.
The two arms lift, the disc flips end over end and spins at the same time. Since and audio failure is a show stopper, it's all about redundancy so after some looking around, decided on the cool Sennheiser SKB2000 plug in wireless transmitters. Full 48 volt phantom, lots o channels and they come in little leather pouches that can clip to the cymbal legs. Unfortunately we needed a minimum of 10 and finding 10 of these matched rarities is both really tough and/or really expensive. So we decided to buy them. Oh, and hey, we will be selling most of them as well as the matching receivers after the tour next month so let Daniella know if you are interested. Basically they just plug onto any mic and make it wireless. http://www.sennheiser.com/sennheiser/home_en.nsf/root/professional_wireless-microphone-systems_plug-on-transmitter_2000-series_021738
Locking in the wireless backup took a pile of weight off. We now had at least something that had a good chance of working assuming we did not get drop outs when the metal riser flips and we don't get crushed by interference in Europe. The AC power backup was easy, just bolt down a UPS unit on the riser and pull power during the solo and let the run off the battery backup for the 6 minute adventure. Here are the 10 wireless transmitters hitting a set of snake tails into the mult of the stage box.
The other parallel mult of the stage box hits a snake and power cable that feeds through the center hole. Turns out we were barely able to fit the 20 channel mult cable after all. It was less than a 1/32 of an inch to spare.
This is the cable drum [...]
First Blink 182, now Soundgarden, hey I am the reunion guy! Oh, if you are in to the sound nerdery stuff, I have been pretty good about getting videos up on youtube about various sound world things. I really try and cover subjects or explanation that are off the beaten path. Check out either http://www.youtube.com/user/www73171 or http://daverat.com/ if you are into that kind of stuff.
Oh and while I am doing shameless plugs, if you need any sound or video gear, give Daniella or John Karr a shout and they will hook you up. Rat keeps low sales margins, will gladly give you real world advice and if you ever have any issue with anything we sell ya, we will take care of it and get you dialed in and happy.
Finally the first batch of Rat NL4 Sniffers are coming in next week and though I have not seen the production final, the photos I've seen are really cool. The web site is still being worked on but to check out the products as they become available take a peek at http://soundtools.com/
OK, time for some ramblings and adventures
**** Back in the Day ****
Rewind twenty years back to the most grueling non Black Flag tour I have traveled. Three of us across on the bench seat of rented bobtail truck, following the band busses and hauling the monitor rig and FOH drive.
Danzig, Soundgarden, Corrosion of Conformity, Warrior Soul after Boston07/27/90 Santa Monica Civic, Los Angeles, CA07/28/90 Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA07/29/90 Wilson Theater, Fresno, CA07/31/90 Horticultural Center, Salt Lake City, UT08/01/90 C.I. Sports Complex, Denver, CO08/03/90 Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL08/04/90 Central Park Ballroom, Milwaukee, WI08/05/90 First Avenue Club, Minneapolis, MN08/07/90 Mississippi Nights, St. Louis, MO08/08/90 Bogart's, Cincinnati, OH08/10/90 Latin Quarter, Detroit, MI08/11/90 Agora, Cleveland, OH08/12/90 Metropol , Pittsburgh, PA08/13/90 Concert Hall, Toronto, Canada (cancelled)08/15/90 Citi/Axis, Boston, MA08/17/90 Beacon Theatre, New York, NY08/18/90 Airport Music Hall, Allentown, PA08/19/90 Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA08/21/90 Ritchie Coliseum, College Park, MD08/22/90 The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA08/24/90 Huger Street Concert Hall, Columbia, SC08/25/90 Center Stage, Atlanta, GA08/27/90 Houston, TX08/28/90 San Antonio, TX08/29/90 Unicorn, Dallas, TX08/31/90 Celebrity Theater, Phoenix, AZ09/01/90 UCSD, San Diego, CA
I was doing monitors and Danzig was easily the worst artist to work with, still to this day, that I have ever encountered. That said, misery in retrospect is always a great story and there were some really memorable times. Us soundies, Brandon, Karrie and I had an ongoing battle with the backline/merch truck. I think Brandon sent me this pic a while back.
I remember threading a bass string through a six pack of empty beer cans and attaching the contraption via another bass string around the exhaust pipe of their truck and then using some gaff tape to hold the cans against the muffler. A few miles out on the freeway at 3 am, the gaff tape melts, the cans drop and drag and bounce and we honk and zoom by with huge smiles.they pull over on a pitch black highway to the mysterious clanging sound.
At another gig they trapped poor Brandon in the back of our truck and sealed the door right after tossing in a brick of firecracker. We heard this banging sound and opened the truck to a huge smoke plume and a human comes coughing out. Tiger balm on their truck seat, an Estes Rocket launcher fuse attached to an M70 attached to the dome light in their truck and on and on the pranks went. Glenn Danzig once took a swing at me mid show, the feisty little fighter he is. And everyday we found endless amusement in the eight foot high drum riser with a giant foam skull that had lights behind the eyes, we called it "Bullwinkle."
Anyway, for as much as Danz[...]
Important Things and Stuff
Well it has been a while since I posted, not for lack of desire but rather lack of focus. Like the stock market or surfable waves, so goes inspirations and distractions. Anyway here's what I got. I did three low tech scruffy youtube videos, this time talking about optimizing mic polarity for monitors and front of house for live shows.
Part 1 covers setting kick polarity as well as the rest of the drum kit to align with the drum fill and increase volume and reduce feedback.
Covers setting polarity of bass mics, DI's and in ear monitors to line up with the monitor wedge system polarity. Also a bit about the effects of delay caused by digital console on in ear setups.
Covering polarity of main PA versus monitors, conventional and cardioid sub and polarity of polar patterns
And now for some less techie stuff, check out this bike. Ooooh! Anyone know who makes these things?
My little pooch Bones is doing well, super pal and jogging partner that I clocked at 20 miles per hour, boy can he run!
Here are what I consider to be my super cool mixing essentials. I brought this in to the Roxy to mix some Chris Cornell solo shows.
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
The secret to the Lexicon PCM60 sound is the analog front end. Basically you can get a nice reverb sound from these but they really light up when you hit them hard and clip the input. What happens is that the clipping adds a bit of distortion to the signal that then gets fed into the reverb causing a rich thicker sound when used on drums. So even though there is only 4 room sizes, 4 reverb time and 2 types, that added dynamic of adding the input crunch, adds a whole new dimension of sounds. Oh, and also, the input distortion is so rich that I actually use the PCM60 as a distortion effect on vocals with the reverb mix knob dialled to direct. And it is the best vocal distortion effect I have found.
The DPR404 is just simple, compact and a very usable compressor unit. The key to a good comp? The meters actually look like what you hear it doing.
The H3500 is awesome because you can around the presets and saved memories in a snap. I just memorize my program #s and punch them in on the keypad. None of this "button hold down crap" to change parameters either, just spin the wheel. Great for vocal thickening, autopanner, long delays, and pretty much all I need for everything vocal (except distortion).
The Denon D2000 headphones are my now go to winner of the Mighty Headphone Quest I blogged about and I don't leave home without them.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Oh, and speaking of super cool, my 14 year old daughters are pure awesome! As you can see their exuberance that I dragged them into Home Depot, they are my pals, part time roommates and best friends all rolled into two.
Hey, so you fire up your PA and much to your dismay you find one of your cone speakers has developed a rip. Aaargh! Need to make it through a gig? Or maybe it was just a wayward screwdriver, either way, here is the glue ya want to fix it. Available at most auto parts stores, this is nearly identical to the glue used when the speaker was assembled. If you can, patch from the back to minimize ugliness. It dries pliable and super strong and very quickly.
MicroSubs are doing great! Pearl Jam and Limp Bizkit both are using them on current tours as drum subs and we are getting rave reviews. Here you can see one of the engineering models with the Rat Cover we made.
I took this a few months back when I mixed Soundgarden at the Showbox in Seattle. I hate saying this but 'you should have been there!' It was goosebump awesome! There are some pretty good youtube videos of the show floating around that are worth checking out.
And speaking of exciting, here is a pic of the inner sanctum of Red Hot Chili Peppers rehearsals. They are[...]
The Miserable Road to Success with a Smile
Rat gets about 2 to 3 inquiries a day from humans looking to work for Rat. That equates to about a 1000 a year. I must say it is one of the most difficult things I deal with and though I try to respond to all the ones that come to me personally, I must admit that when I get busy and I have 20 or so backed up in my in box, more than a few get lost in the mix, for that I apologize. I am truly honored and appreciate the interest in working for Rat. I also fully support the concept of following your dream and doing all you can to get there. So it is really tough to respond to these requests. While I do not want to disregard the inquiries, Rat rarely hires new people except if we meet them and are impressed by their work ethic, skills and we also are in need of adding someone and the person comes highly recommended by someone that already works with us.
So I have been pondering the answer to the question "How do I get in to the pro sound business and get to work for a company such as Rat?" And what I am realizing is that if your plan is to try and get hired by a sound company supplying systems to highly desirable bands and tours, you will first need a stellar skill set, reputation, work ethic and have some highly respected people that are willing to recommend you.
But the quandary is "How do I develop that skill set if I cannot get hired to prove myself?" Excellent point and one that I face myself over and over with each new level not only as a tech and an engineer but also as a sound rental business as well. I did not get here by walking into a killer gig. I did not reach this point by expecting someone to hire me based on my potential. I did not look for 'getting lucky' and in general I avoid the whole lottery success concept.
While those rolling the dice for a shortcut to happiness are plentiful, it is the ones willing to build their happiness that are desirable.
I chose to work very hard for a very long time and definitely grueling beyond anything I would ever expect from someone else. So the answer is simple. "Do your time, earn your credibility, establish yourself as one of the best at what you decide to do." Whether that means digging the trenches in audio boot camp of misery or studying software and specifications and mastering the mental side of in this highly competitive industry, it is those that are most willing to push the hardest that are most likely to come out on top. And by pushing the hardest I am talking about pushing to the point of obsession, borderline insanity and when everyone else throws in the towel for the day, you just getting warmed up. Being willing to forgo the luxuries like nights off and sleep and all the other stuff that so many normal people enjoy. Most people will not gravitate to the top, most people will settle for mediocrity and that's why it is called mediocrity, because that is the realm that the majority reach, and there is nothing wrong with that, it just is not the path that will most likely get to traveling the world with rock bands as a successful sound human.
So when you can answer the questions with confidence and credibility: "what makes you exceptional?" "What have you done that is above and beyond to develop your skills?" "Can you truly say that no matter how bad it gets, that you've already voluntarily been through worse?" It is then that you are at the point where you should be able to pull the gigs that you dream of pulling. Until then, get in those trenches and have a blast kicking ass on the most grueling gigs you can get your hands on. Trust me, it builds character and if nothing else it will make for some great road st[...]
Are we bored yet?
The question is not "whether or not it occurs", but rather "is the occurrence relevant?" Theoretically dropping a single grain of sand upon the ground will shift the earth's path in an equal and opposite direction. This we know and can calculate with extreme levels of perfect prediction, but should we actually concern ourselves with walking so softly for fear of knocking the earth from orbit? Relevance.
Is the battle against global warming relevant? Is it winnable? Is it truly that surprising that humans of power become infatuated with conquests whether they be our president, a golfer or mechanic? Go stop go stop go stop. Heroes and fools and the difference is only whether we agree with the obsession at hand. Does it really matter if we skip a meal or a red light, make our bed or change the oil in our car?
And as perplexing as it seems the common thread remains 'is the occurrence relevant' "to me?" And of course the perspective of ramification must be taken into account.
And speaking of relevance. Lets take a dive into the insignificance of the world of sound and the meaningless focus on one of the few things in life that vanishes when you hit the 'pause' button. Stopping time gives a perfect picture and perfect silence. Sound is and requires time. Sound is serial while vision is parallel. And live sound is just about as serial as it gets. And pondering over the years the many ways to optimize that ever so complex and enjoyable connection between the music as it is created and the the ears immersed in absorption, I have found that my importance is magnified by the less I need to do. The perfect piece of audio gear is so transparent that it's existence is never heard. Hmmmm, I wonder if in the bigger picture I count as a piece of audio gear?
Anyway, regardless of your opinions on those matters, I thought I would share some things I have unraveled that may be helpful in to sound humans piloting audio now that I am increasingly getting my head around around my natural reluctance to be on video. I am finding the visual medium much more effective in communicating certain concepts for the exact reasons that sound is so challenging to explain. So here is a bit about my approach to mixing live shows.
and lately one of my favorite things to do has been working on little projects like the NL4 an NL8 testers as well as a whole bunch more. Here is a bit on the very first in the series:
And since speakers and dynamic mics are exactly the same but just differing sizes, that means just a voltage presented to a speaker makes it move, moving a speaker makes voltage. Here is video showing how to use that aspect to check continuity of a speaker with any piece of metal big enough to reach both terminals
Ha! It is all about boredom avoidance and perhaps maybe a bit about not forgetting the things that are enjoyable to remember.
On some other fronts, Coachella is coming up fast and last I heard Rat has 7 semi's heading to the desert. Heck, I did not know we even had that much gear. I do know I agreed we buy a Midas Pro6
16 more K1, I actually think Rat is the first company worldwide to put in a second order for the Maserati of sound systems. And speaking of sexy rides, check out the new Rat truck
that is 3000 pounds lighter which means we can actually get 10,000 pounds of gear in a bobtail without being over weight, I mean how crazy stupid is the whole box truck thing? 26,000 pound weight limit and 20,000 pound trucks on 32,000 pound capable chassis. So We were like, "Hey, how about we order us up a light weight truck and nearly double the capacity?", Pure rocket science I tell ya, though nowhere near as good as it could be if the truck makers were half as on th[...]
The Quandary of Doubt
A bloggery post about the the seriousness of science and figuring out what is important and while listening to the morning news, I hear:
Light Drinking Might Help Keep Women Slim
and they go on to give their findings of the 19,220 women studied and how a link is found between moderate drinking and not gaining weight. The study's author Dr. Lu Wang, an epidemiologist with the division of preventive medicine at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston states several possible reasons including:
"Among women, those who regularly consume light-to-moderate alcohol usually have a lower energy intake from non-alcohol sources. On the other hand, alcohol intake tends to induce increased energy expenditure beyond energy contents of the consumed alcohol in women. Taken together, regular alcohol consumption in light-to-moderate amount may lead to a net energy loss among women."
Hmmmm, Really? Oh my, what have they discovered? I wonder what kind of increased energy expenditure it could be? Perhaps that explains the plethora of 2am female joggers and crowded ladies night at fitness gyms after the bars close.
So while pondering scientific studies may as well dive back into unraveling more in the wonderful world of sound.
Hey, is anyone interested in an NL4 tester version of the Rat Sniffer? The prototype is done and it is a two ended tester that checks for every fault in NL4 cables. Like the Rat Sniffer, this is a field use product that allows you to test NL4 cables when the cable ends are located at a distance from each other.
These are high quality machined aluminum and based on the same patented circuit utilized in the Rat Sniffer testers and tests for every possible short, open and miss-wire ALL GREEN = CABLE IS GOOD. No on off switch to worry about and they use the same 12 volt replaceable remote key chain alarm battery as the Rat Sniffer as well.. I am trying to gauge how many to make on this first order so if you are interested let me know. I am going to make first production run of US made custom machined units priced at $120 per send receive pair plus a free rat shirt and serial numbered warranty card for helping me get these things rolling. Soon to follow will be an NL8 version an then a Cacom unit as well. Also, if you do buy them and don't love them, send them back and Rat will do a full refund.
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
So I am watching this AES panel video on the perceptions hearing
and as much as I agree with the discrediting of scammers, and the undermining of audio voodoo, I also prickle at the arrogance of assumptions. Especially when what starts out as a clear and believable scientific observation becomes blurred as opinions of perception leak in. I so agree with keeping things in perspective which of course involves first establishing a well grounded and valid viewpoint to start with.
Let me clarify perspectives. On one hand we have the perspective of believers, 'the anything is possible crowd,' where the sky is not the limit, possibilities are endless and whether the concepts are repeatable or provable is not near as important as the fact that they were written, thought or spoken. On the other side we have the perspective of huddling skeptics, the self proclaimed 'investigators of verifiable proof' building the world of science, based on identifying dependable repeatable concepts from which real-world functioning successes can be built.
Both the believers and the skeptics inspire massive rivers of money flowing to support their respective causes. Both construct items of perceived value and usefulness. Both sell or pass freely their thoughts and revelations to attract others [...]
The Unfree Tree
Oh the joys of re realizing the same thing over and over again. I have the attention span of a windshield wiper. As if it is some great revelation I was out surfing this morning and pondering the less than thrilling weight of affairs of many of the projects in which I am immersed and then it dawns upon me. Heck, it is just winter darn it. I know this, I always know this, Winter is slow, sluggish resistive and lackluster for a touring rock n roll human, except for surfing and the snow sports. Anyway, I guess another way to look at it is I can feel the excitement of summer rock shows and general happiness looking and it makes me happy.
Occasionally in life we stumble across things that touch our hearts and bring us great concern. While driving home the other day I was shocked and dismayed to see this:
Yes, Share the Road! What the hell are they thinking? Road sharing is stupid. Oh wait, no, that's was not it. Oh that's right, it's the Unfree Tree! Truly a travestree. Caged and no longer free to roam and hunt it will surely starve to death. What crime could this tree have committed to deserve this? I don't know, but I do know that I had no choice other than to do what I am sure everyone of you is thinking right now. WE MUST HELP FREE THIS TREE!
So with the help of my daughters we started a Free the Tree page on Facebook. http://tinyurl.com/yz4j5nv Though we have no idea how it will help nor a plan or strategy whatsoever, if you feel so inspired, please join to help save the Unfree Tree!
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
In case ya have not noticed, the cold, yes cold! it gets down to the low 50's here sometimes at night, weather has me spending more time indoors protected from those fierce elements. And what better to to do with some shacked up home time than to pull out the video camera and the power tool and spend some quality time undressing a few of the hottest wedge monitors on the market.
And if that is not enough, I had a great time playing Lego blocks with the new final production model EAW MicroSubs that arrived last week.
Hey, check out the mysterious ne L-Acoustics box called KARA
I guess the big debut is going to be at MusikMesse Frankfurt. Is what I see a mini K1 version as dV-Dosc is a mini V-Dosc? oooooh!
Ok, let me ask you this. How many of you know the difference between a 'Free Field' and a 'Random Incidence' measurement microphone?
Ha, some tweaky stuff going on there! And to think that a cheap mic and an old sketchy RTA is more than enough resolution to easily weed out 90% of the headphones I tested.
I thought this was a quite credible and convincing test of doppler versus phase distortion that seemed to coincide with the simple testing I did http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-XPawd5unk
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
Can O Worms
As much as I enjoy new adventures, it is just such a can o worms. So we have been looking for awhile to revamp the Rat Sound web site which is in dire need of a face lift. We actually have started the project twice with two different web designers and I guess a combination of cumbersome and bad luck have us still in limbo. So frustrated as I am I decide "hey, I will just catch up a bit on web site skills and dial in something till we can get her done right." Heck, just deciding what we want is a major challenge.
Anyway, so I buy a few books yesterday and dive into the sore eye screen stare while fumbling pages both paper and web. Wow, I don't know if I am happy stunned happy or just so lost in the ether world that it no longer matters. Either way, I have been using the daverat.com page as a test bed and there is some really cool stuff out there, though I am not sure I really know how a lot of it works.
What I think I know is that I was able to copy bits of code and embed my twitter site using a profile widget so that my last 4 tweets are shown. Using Feedburner's BuzzBoost I was able to embed this blog, and the Rat Sound Message Board such that the most recent posts are shown and automatically updated. I found that I could create a custom Youtube video player that auto updates and drop it into the page as well.
If all works as precariously planned there is a bucket brigade of events all now interlinked where soon after I post this blog, feedburner will grab it and generate a tweet which should be grabbed by myspace and facebook updating my status as well as send off stuff to various unknown locations related to whatever those little check boxes I was having a party clicking upon. Why you wonder, or maybe that is me wondering. I can honestly say I do not really know other than the nerdiness of seeing if it all works. To spend massive amounts of time in order to save barely any. Or perhaps I just like opening big cans of worms just to see where they go.
And I am sure that all this is just elemental kids stuff but none the less, it bends my mind in knots and I am only on day 1 though not sure how long I will last. Oh I so crave the relaxing peaceful sensation of mixing a great big giant rock show.
The Mighty Headphone Quest
Is winding down as I settle in on three so far. I have a few more still coming in but for now the Denon AH-D5000 and Denon AH-D2000
are my favorites. Big, no folding expensive headphones that truly do sound impressive. Ha, isn't that just my luck, figures that the best headphones I can find are in the Denon consumer line that Rat Sound does not even have a dealership for. Oh well, I never would let that bias the testing anyway so it is actually kind of cool. In second slot and a bit more reasonably priced are the The Ultrasone HFI-680's
and they scored really high with clean HF, solid LF and they fold up as well. And darn it, Rat did not sell those either, but the folks at Ultrasone are super cool and we worked it out a to be an Ultrasone dealer now. The Shure SRH-840's came up well as well. Spare earmuffs, removable cable and foldable, they are a bit dark sounding but robustly built and solid.
I also did stumble across something I thought was interesting. If I turn up sound in one ear and leave the other ear off on some headphones I hear some sound in the ear that is of and in other headphones I do not. Furthermore, the sound I do hear, though low volume, it is not great sounding and tends to be distant and resonant. I hope to do a test and measure it. I am thinking possible factors are with whether they use 3 or 4 wires from the connector, wire length and wire thickness used in rel[...]