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Cody_Mack

Live Concert Sound - Not Impressed

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Not sure where this post would best fit, so I am putting it here.

 

First time to the new Sugarland (TX) venue Smart Financial Centre to see Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald. Heard from a few folks about the awesome sound quality. As usual, I take that comment with a grain of salt until I hear with my own ears. I was disappointed!

 

Our seats were on tenth row, about fifteen-twenty feet left of center. I could obviously see the flown line arrays with the subs behind, on either side. There was the occasional audible hint of units at stage level; if there were, they were behind curtains. Most of the sound I heard came from the left-side line array! I heard virtually no sound from the stage!

 

McDonald played first. I was seated directly in front of his piano, so I heard it directly occasionally. The sax was behind and left of him, and didn’t appear to be miked, so it was prevalent where he was at. The drummer was at far right in the back, and I heard the tink of his large symbols quite often. Other than that, virtually all sound came from the Sound Reinforcement System. The guitar amplifiers were relatively small; this may or may not correspond to the size of the venue; I don’t know. But the whole setup appeared to be “by design”, to send everything to the “SRS”.

 

Boz Scaggs setup was pretty much identical, although his drummer was using a shield; thus no sound directly from his kit! I have seen these shields used in small clubs but never in a concert venue!

 

So, you pro-sound guys, is this the norm for the way it is done now? Is this a mixing problem? I bet it would have sounded a lot better in the back of the venue, but still, why not use the instruments for what they are intended, and use the SRS for just that; reinforcement? For you techies, I found this brief description of the sound system: http://smartfinancialcentre.net/events-and-news/news/2017/02/01/smart-financial-centre-invests-in-l-acoustics

 

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I will go to live concert when out of town on vacations as something to do but, don't leave the concert raving about the music.  They are fun but, most of these venues have to many factors to control to get the kinda sound that we grown use to on our home systems.  They are still fun and one can enjoy the atmosphere.

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20 hours ago, derrickdj1 said:

I will go to live concert when out of town on vacations as something to do but, don't leave the concert raving about the music.  They are fun but, most of these venues have to many factors to control to get the kinda sound that we grown use to on our home systems.  They are still fun and one can enjoy the atmosphere.

 

I go just for the artist and the sound nowadays. I am done with the party concerts. I try to seek out more intimate venues where you can generally enjoy the performance and sound a lot more. Then of course there is always that jerk that has to stand up the entire show, blocking my $100 view! Or those doing the kumbaya clap and sing-along! C'mon, people, I came to see/hear the artist, not you!

 

Interesting your comment about the sound we get on our home systems. It seems we are always striving to reach that "live" sound, but in most cases we will never get there; too many variables and differences. Sure, you can get close to duplicating an intimate, in-house acoustical performance. But a large concert, not so much. And the sound we can experience with our high-end gear at home can be a much more pleasurable experience. I will say, however; I was third row in the pit for the Allman Bros at the Pavillion in Houston and that was the absolute best sound I have ever experienced! Talk about near-field on a grand scale!

 

A few years ago there would be a lot of chatter on this post...lots of pro-audio experience.

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How can you get a live sound from one tweeter when you need 40 tweeters to duplicate the intensity of a live cymbal? Twenty midrange horns? Ten K-horns?

JJK

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Just now, JJkizak said:

How can you get a live sound from one tweeter when you need 40 tweeters to duplicate the intensity of a live cymbal? Twenty midrange horns? Ten K-horns?

JJK

 

And a concert hall...

 

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I want to hear an octobass without amplification. non amplified music is the best!

 

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Live music is about the dynamics for me. If they squash the dynamics at a show like they do on a recording then the sound sucks. With the technology we have nowadays live shows should sound awesome.

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Live sound engineers like to keep the stage volume as low as possible so that most of the sound you hear is going through the PA. When the stage wash is too loud the vocal mics pick up sound from the instruments that have their own mics, causing interference.

 

"Line arrays" seem to be taking over the arena concert sound industry. Two people can hang a 16 box line system in an hour or so and the array prediction software is fairly good these days. The problem I see is that these hangs do not work well if you are sitting up close. Most providers use front fills in that case, which are basically like the smaller PAs used in clubs. If the provider doesn't use front fills, or doesn't do them properly, coverage suffers. Line source performance in the far field is excellent, however, with all of the large line systems I have heard.

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On ‎6‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 11:38 AM, Schu said:

 

I want to hear an octobass without amplification. non amplified music is the best!

 

 

How on earth does that person haul that big bass around town?

JJK

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Over 30 years of concerts it rarily occured to me how important rhe setup was.  Occasionally a horrible setup happened and you knew it.

 

It seems kind of sad that artists dont know or care how their teams reproduce their sound.    What is more important than a good live sound?  (Money as always)

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1 hour ago, robert_kc said:

Just a thought:  Go to a concert where no electronics are involved.

 

That depends entirely on the type of music one enjoys. All popular music today requires sound reinforcement to reach audiences that are much, much too large to be able to hear the singers and players without reinforcement. That's just the way it is. The economics of putting on live shows requires crowds that are too large to be able to hear musicians without reinforcement. By the time the promoter pays the artist and expenses a small acoustic-only space will never show a profit. 

 

I'd love to hear a great jazz show with no sound reinforcement in a room with terrific acoustics (like Disney Hall here in L.A.), but they don't book jazz into that hall — only "serious" music. The next time the L.A. Phil plays Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring" there I'll go see it.

 

(BTW, I wonder how the hall in your photo actually sounds. From the shape it looks like it could be an acoustical nightmare. But it's sure gorgeous looking.)

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21 hours ago, hsosdrummer said:

 

That depends entirely on the type of music one enjoys. All popular music today requires sound reinforcement to reach audiences that are much, much too large to be able to hear the singers and players without reinforcement. That's just the way it is. The economics of putting on live shows requires crowds that are too large to be able to hear musicians without reinforcement. By the time the promoter pays the artist and expenses a small acoustic-only space will never show a profit. 

 

I'd love to hear a great jazz show with no sound reinforcement in a room with terrific acoustics (like Disney Hall here in L.A.), but they don't book jazz into that hall — only "serious" music. The next time the L.A. Phil plays Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring" there I'll go see it.

 

(BTW, I wonder how the hall in your photo actually sounds. From the shape it looks like it could be an acoustical nightmare. But it's sure gorgeous looking.)

 

The 1,600 seat Helzberg Hall (pictured above) sounds fabulous for symphonic music, with no electronic amplification.  The Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875, features 5,548 pipes, and mechanical action (i.e., no electronics).

 

The adjoining 1,800 Muriel Kauffman Theatre sounds fabulous for opera, with no electronic amplification. 

 

We are fortunate to have benefactors who generously support the performing arts.

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I hear you. L.A. was very lucky that Disney Hall was built, since the previous space for symphonic music (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion) is an unmitigated acoustical disaster. It makes music sound like it's coming from next door — totally lacking in immediacy and dynamics. The last time I heard a concert there I felt like I was listening to a loud stereo system that was playing outside in the parking lot.

 

I'd love to know more about Helzberg Hall's acoustical design. Gotta go look that up...

 

Just looked at the floor plan. The photo makes it look ovoid in shape, but it's anything but. A VERY nice looking space. And from the outside the building rocks.

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Disney Hall looks fabulous.  FWIW, I see that Saturday April 21, 2018 the LA Philharmonic is performing Beethoven Symphony 9.  I presume that the LA Philharmonic does not use sound-reinforcement in Disney Hall.   Have you heard Beethoven Symphony 9 heard performed live in a symphony hall?   It's a great opportunity to hear the full power of a large scale symphony and chorus. 

 

For the OP – on May 5, 2018 the Houston Symphony is performing Brahms’ German Requiem.   Another great opportunity to hear the full power of a large scale symphony and chorus performing a beautiful composition. 

 

I respect the fact that different people like different music.  :)   The only point to my posts is that the world's greatest music is available without sound-reinforcement systems to "muck it up" - and I think many people who haven't heard a large scale orchestral (and choral) performance in a high-quality symphony hall might be surprised by the power and beauty of the sound.

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I heard a jazz quartet in a 500 seat hall designed for non amplifed shows & it was amazing, like nothing I've ever heard before. I really do need to get down to our symphony to experience a full orchestra in its intended environment 

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Live concert sound can be great or terrible.  It depends on the artist and his sound engineer.  The last time I saw Beck, he sounded terrible, and this was in the Royal Theatre in Victoria.  Dave Brubeck had sounded just fine in the same room.  Beck's opening act, Band of Horses, sounded pretty good, but when Beck came on, the volume went from pretty loud to stupidly distorting loud, where even the vocals between songs could not be made out.  Ten Years After had a similar setup in a local nightclub, and I went home disappointed with everything I heard that evening.  In both cases, it seemed like the sound system overpowered the air in the room, if that makes any sense.  The air was fairly humming, even when nothing was being played.  Maybe the reflected sound was nearly as loud as the direct sound, so all kinds of out-of-control peaks and nulls were happening, with chaotic results.

 

The best concert sound I've heard is when Dweezil Zappa plays.  On the Zappa Plays Zappa tour that came to Victoria twice, the sound engineer was Glynn Wood, and the sound was close to perfect:  loud enough, not too loud, and every word could be heard in every song.  The first show was at a 700-seat concert hall, and a year later, the band came to the same nightclub where Ten Years After had sounded so bad.

 

After both shows, I found the sound engineer and complimented him on a job well done.

 

Glynn Wood explains about the setup for Dweezil Zappa's Via Zammata tour:   http://www.mixonline.com/news/tours/dweezil-zappa-rehearsals/427162

 

In this 10-minute video, Glynn explains how he uses the Waves Audio plug-ins: 

 

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