Wow, so much to summarize in one post! The days are already flying by, and I would like to keep this blog current, so for the sake of efficiency I will try to .zip these two days into one condensed archive.
Our first show was in Portland, Maine, with the band and crew flights touching down a little over 12 hours before load-in. A brief round of drinks to reunite the team after our 4-day “vacation” between rehearsals and the actual tour, then the majority of us were lights-out before Midnight.
Our bodies are still reeling from the change in time zones, paired with Daylight Savings stealing an hour of our lives just days prior, but everyone manages to make it in time for our Bus call the next morning. Our first time seeing the bus, and she is beautifully laid out with condo bunks (!) for the crew, a nice area to chill in front and back, and fully stocked with food and drink requests made days earlier.
After a short ride we arrive at the State Theater, reminiscent of The Warfield in San Francisco, and greeted by a pleasant house crew eager to help unload the semi truck with all our gear, packed from end to end with millions of dollars worth of crucial equipment. The show went surprisingly well for the first day, with over 1600 fans filling the house with energy. The stage setup, coined The Blade, has finally been unveiled! I can’t post pictures yet but would imagine that you, the crafty GM fanbase, can find the show on Youtube – while it may not do full justice to the set, you will definitely feel the energy and warm reception the crowd shared through the night.
The following day at House of Blues in Boston proved to be even more successful, as the entire show went off flawlessly to a packed house. The venue is beautiful with a seasoned and hard-working crew, a giant standing floor of General Admission tickets, and two levels of mezzanine above. Once the doors open and the floodgates are released, its vibrancy and acoustics transform from cavernous to tight – all in a matter of minutes.
Part of my job is tuning the sound system, and timing the delay between the subwoofers, sidefills, and mains. Regardless of how you tune the system, the show will be irreparably imbalanced if it isn’t aligned down to the millisecond, due to the physics of different parts of the sound system combining. I ensure we are perfectly aligned using phase tools found in SMAART, analyzers in Ableton, pink noise generators and oscillators, and most importantly my ears.
A quick and effective method is to measure the distance between the subs and mains and use that as a starting point for your delay between speakers. Then play a sine wave with a frequency of the crossover point through the subs and one side of the PA. Make sure it is the same relative level coming through both sets of speakers. The sine wave should last about 100ms and loop every second, with a little “snap” on the front and back end (achieved with a -3 sustain envelope and zero release).
Then flip the subs out of phase and adjust the sub delay time until they are at their quietest. After that point, when you flip the subs back into phase they will be at their most constructive and powerful; this is a good time to tweak the delay by samples (fractions of milliseconds) until they match up seamlessly, if you used my recommended envelope they will “snap” simultaneously without sounding like the tone is “stretching”. It’s vital this value is accurate to the millisecond, as one millisecond can make the difference between a terrible sounding show and a great one, the latter being what you are going for!
Today/Yesterday’s Challenge: The difference between mixing a band through a compact sound system vs. a line array is considerable, and takes some getting used to. Fortunately by knowing their songs in and out, the band’s energetic performance, paired with analyzation tools such as RTA mics and SMAART, and my ears, the system was hitting in all the right places, pumping between 105dB and 110dB of A-weighted sound pressure levels (in other words, full-bodied and impactful sound without being uncomfortably loud).
Today/Yesterday’s Highlight: Mixing the band on an Adamson and then Vertec line array with PK Subs were two of the most fun experiences I’ve had behind a console. The energetic feedback of the audience as they sang along to songs from an album released just weeks ago, and witnessing the full-scale production The Glitch Mob conveyed a sight and sound brimming with good omens.
Looking forward to a relaxing day off tomorrow!