Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Live Sound Part 2

Well, the movie night came and went, and was a success. Attendance was estimated between 150-200, which is at least double the attendance from last year! Here are a few photos, and then I'll list the setup.

Here's how I set everything up.

Blu-ray player -> mixer -> GEQ -> crossover -> amps -> speakers.

Blu-Ray player: generic consumer model. RCA and HDMI out.
Mixer: Zoom HD16CD (Used for volume control)
Graphic EQ: ART HQ 231 (Very nice tool)
Crossover: BBE DS24 (Not my top pick, but it does what I need, and for $100...)
Sub amp: GTD Audio TN-350 (Nice cheap 1RU amp for subs. A little noisy for tops.)
Mains amp: QSC RMX 1450 (Love this amp, class AB! But it weighs almost 50 lbs...)
Subs: 2 BFM Titan 48's. Great speakers, hitting 105 + dB peaks @ 30 feet, and they were just cruising.
Mains: Gemini 1204's They were mostly adequate. With EQ they sounded pretty good in one spot.
Looking forward to upgrading the Gemini's to DR250's. (I have one, building a second)
The sound quality, efficiency, and horizontal dispersion of the DR250's is astonishing when built with the melded array.

Subwoofer setup. (Makeshift v-plate)

In case you haven't noticed, I like hyperlinks!

Sorry, no photos of it in full action. No video either. I would have liked to get some, but it wasn't really practical for me, and I wasn't really in a position to leave and ask someone either. It was pretty dark anyway, I'm not sure the camera would have gotten much.

Future improvements:

I'm pretty happy with most of how it's set up.
I have a lot of very nice equipment, accumulated bit by bit.
Future upgrade possibilities include:

Second 4U SKB rack case for the EQ and other future gear.

Real screen. A 10' X 20' white tarp is great for the price, but is highly prone to wrinkles. I'd probably look at one of these:

Second DR 250 (currently building)

So, if you know anyone who wants to do an outdoor movie showing, let me know... My rates are usually much cheaper than competing rental companies, and you get someone to run it and do all the setup...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Live sound

This post is a description of my system., and most of the rationale behind it.
It's slightly out of date, but I'll do an update soon.

I've been into live sound for quite a while now. A few years ago I did the audio for the Strawberry and Harvest festivals in the Northern Neck. Last year I showed a movie outdoors to our swim team, and that was a lot of fun for everyone. I also did some sound for the local Bible Bee.

Last year my sound system consisted of a Zoom HD16CD 8 ch recording mixer, two of the cheapest 12" PA mains I could find, a Bose home theater subwoofer, a QSC RMX 1450, and various cables and mics.

I really like the mixer for recording. I got it used for $300, and I haven't seen anything before or after, new or used that rivals it for anywhere near that price. This comes close, but doesn't have an option to use it as a control surface, which is almost a necessity when doing serious recording.

The PA mains were Gemini 1204's. I wasn't expecting hi-fi, which was a good thing. I used a lot of EQ and processing, and eventually managed to get them sounding O.K. with a subwoofer. The subwoofer had trouble keeping up at high volumes, but actually did surprisingly well for what it was (two 6" drivers outside) I'm not really a fan of Bose, they're not usually the best option, but that was what I had available at the time. It was something like this

The amp is a good solid class AB amp, built very strongly. It weighs about 40 lbs. I talked to a number of people, and all the feedback was very positive about these amps. I also found a service manual for it, which I really like.

Anyway, when I did the outdoor movie, I had to turn the amp up all the way, the clip lights were blinking, and I still wished I had a little more volume. (I showed Cars) So, I figured if I wanted to do it again next year (I did!) I should upgrade my sound system. The amp I was using was 280 watts/channel, and the speakers I have are only rated for 100W RMS. I don't like running things like that, especially with the way things are compressed nowdays.
I started looking around, and all the options looked expensive. About the cheapest step up I could find was some Yamaha speakers, and I'd still need a subwoofer to keep up with them. Subwoofers are expensive too, when I was looking, anything that looked plausible was north of $500...
I decided that wasn't happening. Maybe I could build some speakers... I searched around some, and came across this website: http://billfitzmaurice.com/
I looked through all the designs, and specs, and decided that these were much more attractive options.
When going through the used section, I found an ad for 2 T48's and a DR250 'make me an offer'.
So I did. Suffice it to say he just wanted to free up some space, and I was happy to help him out with a total cash flow of a bit under what one of the commercial subs I was looking at would have cost. Win-win!

The subs work great so far, and the DR is very efficient. I have been somewhat disappointed in the bass and mid response of the DR though, it has tended to sound rather shrill on its own. It is a significant improvement over what I had though, especially properly crossed over to the subs. On its own it doesn't sound bad with a little EQ, but it does need the EQ. (I'm still quite happy though, considering the price I paid)

Currently the way I'm thinking I'll get things set up is:
QSC amp for the subs,
GTD audio TN-350 for the tops
DBX Driverack PX, or PA+

The reason I'm looking at the GTD audio amp is that it's the only sub $1000 1RU amplifier that I could find that has enough power to drive my speakers to full capacity.
I'm going for 1RU because I have a 4 space SKB rack case, and I want the system processing and amps to all fit in that.
If I really wanted to have a compact electronics system, this would be very attractive:
It won't bridge into 4 ohms though, and it doesn't quite have enough power to drive my subwoofers to their max. Not that I plan on running them up to the max, but I'd want to be able to, if nothing else, so the amplifier doesn't have to work as hard. (Of course, if I really needed compact, there's also Powersoft, but I'd rather pay for a semester of college for that much money)

Part of the reason I'm working on all this (other than that it's fun) is that I'm hoping to have a rig that I can rent out this summer. Still needs a little work...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Flat Surfaces

Everything in life has a purpose. Flat spaces are for storing things.

No, I'm not posting photos.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rowan Atkinson

The last video posted was of Rowan Atkinson, or Mr. Bean as he seems to be more commonly known.
Here he is performing at the 2012 Olympics.

Invisible drum set

More drums, but comedy this time. Watch for the (invisible) cat at the end!

Top Secret Drum Corps

It's been a long time since I posted anything on here, so I'll soon have several more posts in short succession. Here is the Top Secret Drum Corps.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Honda Ad

This is one of the coolest advertisements I've ever seen:

You can see the motion tracking and compositing is a little weak in places, but even so, it's still pretty amazing.
Also, here's a link to the breakdown: http://vimeo.com/69175471

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Blender sci-fi

While on the topic of blender, here's my latest creation:

It's still a work in progress, the texturing still needs a good bit of work, but I'm pretty happy with the exhaust flames, just a few more tweaks and they'll be pretty good. 

Usually smoke or fire takes a really long time to bake, and then renders pretty fast.
With the adaptive domain, I've been able to compute the smoke pretty fast too; it took less than a minute and a half to compute 200 frames at 128 divisions and high resolution set to 2.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Blender is amazing! Here's their 2013 demo reel which should serve well as inspiration:

Every year it just gets better!