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MARCH 2009 Vol. 7 No.6
LOS ANGELES — It could be a case study in the idea of “choosing your battles,” in a business sense. ATK-Audiotek had their share of tours in years past, but at one point they looked at the market, realized that they were not getting the margins they once were, and made the decision to concentrate their considerable expertise on providing audio for large one-shot events. To say it has worked out well is a bit of an understate- ment.
In February, the busy soundco provided live audio support for both Super Bowl XLIII and the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, staged thousands of miles and just one week apart. Oh yeah, and a couple of weeks later, they had a small gig in L.A. Some- thing called the Oscars.
The Grammy Awards took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where ATK-Au- diotek provide live audio production for Coldplay and Jay-Z; Al Green, Keith Ur- ban, Justin Timberlake and Boyz II Men; the Jonas Brothers and Stevie Wonder; Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus; Paul Mc- Cartney and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl; Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, and oth- ers. (Check out our exclusive interview with Grammy FOH mixer Ron Reaves on page 14).
One week earlier, in Tampa, Fla., ATK provided audio services for the Super Bowl, and as in years past, the compa- ny deployed its custom-designed cart system, which helped them turn the football championships into a stadium- sized concert venue and back again in minutes. The carts each included five JBL VerTec VT4889 full-size line array elements for Faith
Ron Reaves and other FOH crew members rehearse for the 51st Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center. The 2009 show marked the seventh time Reaves had mixed sound at the annual event, and this year’s show had the largest roster of live performers yet. For the inside story on what it’s like to prepare for “Music’s Biggest Night,” turn to FOH’s exclusive interview with Reaves on page 14.
FOH At The Grammy Awards
Road Tests Furman’s PL-PRO DMC power units and EV Tour X speakers
The Digital Edge The merits of converting audio signal to digital at the source.
ATK Rules February…Again
LAS VEGAS — Sure, it was small and a pain to load in and out of, and it only sounded OK, but when it came to a small venue for major acts, the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino had a status that was no less than iconic. Since opening in the mid 1990s, The Eagles, the Rolling Stones, The Beastie Boys, David Bowie, The Strokes, Robert Plant, Stone Temple Pilots, Tom Pet- ty, Metallica, The Who, Steely Dan and Billy Joel could all be counted among
The Joint is Dead, Long Live the (New) Joint
The audio gear for the Mirage casino’s revamped volcano blends in with exotic foliage on islands in the volcano’s three-acre lagoon. But if the gear is discreet, the sound is anything but.
On a street that pairs only slightly- scaled down versions of the Egyptian Sphinx, the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and the rise and fall of the dancing fountains of the Bellagio, the mandate is for all-out spectacle.
Acoustic Dimensions and Technology West Group collaborated with Bellagio fountain creators WET Design, pairing fiery eruptions with a rhythmic soundtrack composed by the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and percussionist Zakir Hussain.
For more, turn to page 16.
Live Nation, Ticketmaster Merger Facing Scrutiny
WASHINGTON, DC — A few years back, concerns were raised about the wisdom of a huge corporation called ClearChannel — which already owned more than 1,200 radio stations and countless billboards and other adver- tising outlets — getting into the live event business. When terms like “mo- nopoly” and “antitrust” began to be regularly bandied about, ClearChan- nel “spun-off” its live event business and a new entity called Live Nation was born.
Live Nation has not exactly been free of controversy as it racked up ownership or operating agreements with hundreds of venues. In the live event business many expected the next step to be the acquisition of pro- duction companies creating a closed loop that included radio, advertising, venues, production and even artist management. continued on page 6
continued on page 8
Powered Subs. You can stack ‘em or fly ‘em with the line array — or you can hang six tons of them directly above the drummer’s head. Your call.
Buyers Guide
h o t
14 FOH Interview It takes a team to put on the Grammys.
16 Installations Audio erupts with the Mirage volcano.
22, 24 Road Tests We check out a Furman power conditioner and some new EV speakers.
25 Theory & Practice Is your impedance matched?
25 On the Digital Edge To pre or not to pre? A look at digital mics.
26 The Biz Who will speak for the live event industry?
4 Editor’s Note 5 News 9 International News 10 New Gear 11 On the Move 12 Showtime
Just read the Feb. 2009 issue — nice interview with Big Mick & Paul of Metallica.
I wanted to point out in the LVIC article (Feb. 2009, page 18) the author mentions using an XTA LMS-D6. Technically, while the LMS-D6 is manufactured by XTA, it is correctly refered to as Turbosound LMS-D6. The XTA unit is DP 226 while the Turbosound unit is the LMS-D6. The hardware is the same, but there are slight differences in software between the units.
—Tony Marra, Thermal Relief Design, Inc., North Las Vegas
LMs-D6, For the Record In the Feb. 2009 issue of FOH, (“In the Trenches,” page 30) we printed Tony S a n d o v a l ’s picture next to a write-up
of Fred Pollice, who is pictured here. (We’ll be covering Tony in an upcoming issue.) FOH regrets the error.
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FOH -At-Large
Make a ton of money or do something you really love? To be or not to be? What’s that smell? And other great universal questions.
28 Fred Pollice
Technical Editor Mark Amundson
[email protected]
Contributing Writers Jerry Cobb, Dan Daley, Floyd Dilman, David John Farinella, Steve LaCerra,
Baker Lee, Jamie Rio
Art Director Garret Petrov
General Manager William Hamilton Vanyo
[email protected]
6000 South Eastern Ave. Suite 14J
Las Vegas, NV 89119 Ph: 702.932.5585
Fax: 702.554.5340
North Hollywood, CA 91615
Front Of House (ISSN 1549-831X) Volume 7 Num- ber 6 is published monthly by Timeless Communica- tions Corp., 6000 South Eastern Ave., Suite 14J, Las Vegas, NV, 89119. Periodicals Postage Paid at Las Vegas, NV and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send ad- dress changes to Front Of House, P.O. Box 16147, North Hollywood, CA 91615-6147. Front Of House is distributed free to qualified individuals in the live sound industry in the United States and Canada. Mailed in Canada under Publica- tions Mail Agreement Number 40033037, 1415 Janette Ave., Windsor, ON N8X 1Z1. Overseas subscriptions are available and can be obtained by calling 702.932.5585. Editorial sub- missions are encouraged, but will not be returned. All Rights Reserved. Duplication, transmission by any method of this publication is strictly prohibited without the permission of Front Of House.
Are We Loud Enough?
In this month’s “The Biz” column on page 26, FOH reader and guest con- tributor Floyd Dilman pens a piece
titled “Who Will Speak For the Live Event Industry?” It’s a good question and one that becomes more crucial to find an an- swer to by the day.
If you do any work at all with corpo- rate events (especially in or around Las Vegas or other “destination” cities), you already know how much impact one ill- considered comment can make on your
business. Case in point: When news re- ports surfaced that a certain bank that had been on the receiving end of the whole bailout thing was proceeding with a planned employee recognition event in Las Vegas, President Obama made a snappy sound-bite-perfect quip about such companies not spending money on “junkets to the Super Bowl and Las Vegas.”
Understood. People are rightfully pissed about the prospect of bailing out banks and financial companies to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars and then see those companies not chang- ing the behavior that many perceive got them in trouble in the first place. And the bank in question cancelled the event. That’s fine as far as it goes except that the fallout went way past that.
Given the current political climate, no corporate CEO or PR type wants to be seen as spending on unnecessary luxu- ries. And when it comes to what qualifies as unnecessary and a luxury, well, percep- tion IS reality. So as a result of that one comment, three other companies—none of whom had taken any bailout money— cancelled large events in Las Vegas. Ac- tually two cancelled and one relocated to a less baggage-laden location.
Chief among the cancellations was
the annual State Farm Insurance cor- porate event. In terms of impact on the local economy, that cancellation alone was a huge blow. It accounted for 11,000 room-nights. To put it in terms for those of us in the live production trades, load- in for the event started a week prior, the event lasted a week and load out was an- other week. Bottom line is that hundreds of live event pros lost thousands of hours of paid work because of one remark at the wrong time.
No one is condoning waste, but an employee recognition event is not a “jun- ket.” A junket is when politicians spend a week in Hawaii or the Bahamas (or even Las Vegas) on the taxpayers’ dime conducting “team building” sessions — something that both major politi- cal parties do regularly including in the
time since the economy started to melt down.
As Dilman points out, these corpo- rate meetings are largely places where real business gets done. And when they are cancelled, the impact on our industry is huge. However, unlike the banking and financial industries and auto makers and certain others, we are not heard because we do not speak in a single voice. We don’t have lobbyists to explain to politicians who care for nothing except their own re-elec- tion how their actions affect our industry. We don’t have a trade organization repre- senting us and our interests. But it might be time to think about starting one.
We got our butts kicked in the wireless debate. Our events have become symbols of corporate excess and how many sound company owners who file taxes as sole pro- prietorships will get bunched in with the “wealthy” because they bring in more than $250K in a year and see their taxes go up substantially despite the fact that they are just scraping by from month to month??
A lot of us do what we do because it was a way to not have to don a suit and tie and become just like everyone else. In some ways our industry is the last refuge for privateers and gunslingers and other mavericks who want to make a living with- out having to really conform. But that non- conformist streak means we speak with individual voices and not as an industry. It will likely not change.
I can’t help thinking about that Jim- my Buffett tune, “A Pirate Looks At 40,” where he sings, “yes, I am a pirate, 200 years too late.” Maybe this is just the price we pay for avoiding that suit and tie and sterile cubicle. Or maybe we need to start thinking about speaking in a sin- gle voice.
As a result of that one “junkets” comment, three other companies—none of whom had taken any bailout money— cancelled large events in Las Vegas.
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PENRYN, U.K. — Allen & Heath ships the first batch of its iLive-T digital mixing systems launched at NAMM 2009, and the British manufacturer said it has been overwhelmed as distributors have placed orders several months in advance.
“The response to iLive-T has been unprecedented and production is now flat out to fulfill orders,” said managing director Glenn Rogers. “In all my years in the pro audio industry I’ve rarely seen a reaction to a new product like this.”
Manufacturing is scheduled to produce 50 systems in February with production cranking up to 100 per month thereafter. All systems are manufactured at Allen & Heath’s factory here.
Part of the company’s iLive digi- tal range, the iLive-T Series houses puts many of the features of the original iLive in a lower-weight, lower-priced package. The T Series comprises the fixed I/O iDR-32 and iDR-48 MixRacks and iLive-T80 and iLive-T112 Surface options, which are connected by a single CAT5 ca- ble using Allen & Heath’s proprietary ACE link. Each rack can be used with either control surface, and all mod- els will be compatible with the exist- ing iLive units.
Allen & Heath Ships First iLive T System
A&H team members with the first iLive T System, from left: ACE interface system designer, Jeff Simpson; mic preamp designer, Simon Trethewey; MD, Glenn Rogers; test engineer, Mark Keatley; production manager, Gary Goss; and test development engineer, Andrew Wearne.
Buckcherry and Avenged Sevenfold Using Meyer MILO
ROSEMONT, IL — When Buckcherry and Avenged Sevenfold united for their co-head- lining world tour, Avenged’s FOH Engineer Nigel Paul and his Buckcherry counterpart Stephen Shaw chose a Meyer Sound system to meet their goal of achieving a combination of power and clarity.
“It’s quite possible to crank it up without being obnoxious, yet also be smooth and linear,” said Paul.
The tour features opening acts Saving Abel, Papa Roach and Shinedown, and has been playing to crowds ranging from 5,500 to 17,000. Taylor, Mich.-based Thunder Audio is providing the sound system based around the MILO line array loudspeaker from Meyer Sound.
“Overall, the decision to use Meyer speak- ers took about five seconds, because of both Nigel’s and my previous experience using the cabinets,” said Shaw. “Both of these bands have a real throwback sound, so the MILO is ideal, given its smooth, flat response.”
The system is based on left and right arrays of 16 MILO line array loudspeakers, with twin arrays of up to eight MICA line array loudspeakers for side hangs, and four UPJ-1P VariO loudspeakers for frontfill. A Galileo loudspeaker management system assists sys- tem processing, with tuning courtesy of the SIM 3 audio analyzer.
“We first used Meyer on the last Avenged tour,” said Paul, “and everybody loved it, espe- cially the band. Meyer really helps me keep every sound onstage clean and distinct. To get a precise mix you need complementary tools. With some systems when you go a bit higher, they get a bit ragged, but Meyer has outstanding response and articulation at any SPL.”
The system lets the touring bands crank it up “without being obnoxious,” according to Avenged’s FOH engineer Nigel Paul.
the major acts who had played the venue. But life (and live production standards) moves
on, and in early February, the club hosted its final show — a very loud blowout featuring Mötley Crüe (I clocked it at 112.3 at the back of the bal- cony). In April, an all new Joint will open, featuring state-of-the-art production capabilities including a new audio rig comprising Digidesign Venue sys- tems and a d&b speaker rig. The first weekend will feature shows by the Killers and Paul McCartney.
The new Joint will hold twice the number of guests as the current one but will also retain the intimate feel with the farthest seat from the stage only 150 feet away. Like many other Vegas venues in recent memory, the new Joint has been de- signed by Canadian company Sceno Plus, which also did the Colosseum at Ceasers Palace, current- ly hosting Bette Midler and Cher.
The company had a tough task in designing what is essentially a high-end theatre that feels like a rock n roll club. “There is one thing about a legendary venue of that kind — his heart is the sound, his blood is the beer and then you have a real rock party in a venue that can meet any tour- ing technical requirements,” said Normand-Pierre Bilodeau, director of technology and specialized equipment at Sceno Plus.
Providing that kind of experience means a real partnership between design and production tech- nology. “The new Joint P.A. has been designed to fulfill the most demanding technical requirements of the permanent and touring sound reinforce- ment trades,” said Simon Leonard, Sceno Plus tech- nology designer. “One of Sceno Plus design inten- tions for the Joint was also to provide peace of mind to touring sound engineers. Dynamic range, sound pressure level, intelligibility, uniformity of frequency response and amplitude were carefully looked at in the design process of the system. Therefore, a high performance, solid state and well renowned system was designed and specified based on d&b audiotechnik range of products.
“The public address sound reinforcement will be achieved by multiple subsystems,” Leon- ard continued. “Some will be hung from the grid, some stacked on stage, while others will be fixed under balconies or mounted on side boxes. A left and right, flown line array systems, tapered with two sub clusters, will provide the essential dynamic range, acoustic pressure and stereo image required for a rock concert.”
“We could not be more pleased with how well closing weekend turned out,” said VP of Entertainment, Paul Davis. “Motley Crue put on two great performances and gave mention of the list of iconic acts that had graced the stage over the years. The designers of the new Joint were very careful about carrying over the look, feel and design elements that made it unique.”
The Joint is Dead, Long Live the (New) Joint continued from cover
Now we can add ticketing to the mix. Maybe.
Under a plan announced earlier this month, Ticketmaster, the nations largest ticket seller, and Live Nation, the nation’s largest concert promoter, hope to com- plete a “merger of equals,” which will form a new entity, Live Nation Entertainment. If approved, Ticketmaster shareholders will receive 1.384 shares of Live Nation com- mon stock for each share of Ticketmaster they own, subject to certain adjustments defined within the agreement. Live Na- tion and Ticketmaster shareholders will
each own approximately 50 percent of the combined company.
But not everyone is cheering the pro- posed merger on. At Senate hearings on the merger on Feb. 24, the atmosphere was less than cozy and the assembled senators ap- peared unconvinced that the merger was a good idea. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that “All of the senators voiced strong skep- ticism about the merger — including tradi- tional foes Orrin Hatch (R-UT, and an ama- teur recording artist) and Charles Schumer (D-NY, and a Bruce Springsteen fan outraged by Ticketmaster’s handling of the upcoming
tour) — and they hurled barbed questions about skyrocketing prices, duplicitous ticket schemes and unfair competition at Ticket- master head Irving Azoff and Live Nation boss Michael Rapino.
The day before the hearing, Ticketmas- ter announced that they had settled with the state of New Jersey over a “glitch.” An unknown number of online ticket buyers for Springsteen shows at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. were redirected from the main Ticketmaster site to a subsidiary called TicketsNow, which offered tickets priced well above the usual face-value rate,
even though plenty of the regularly-priced seats were still available. At the time, N.J. At- torney General Anne Milgram said that the redirect might have been a…