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Ace Baker

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By Ace Baker / April 19, 2015

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

 

Aretha said it best. You either have it or you don’t and these days I see less and less of it. When I’m not on tour I do a lot of work with local sound companies and as such I do a lot of corporate events. One company I work with has an exclusive contract for all the audio needs in a busy Manhattan event space. This particular space, while beautiful and ideal for events, is an acoustic nightmare. It’s an oval shape comprised of concrete-like walls about 40 feet high with a domed ceiling. The RT60 time in there is about… 60.

 

So we all know what a typical corporate event comprises. Usually it’s a lectern with a couple of mics on it and perhaps a lav and/or wireless hand-held(s). We also know it can sometimes (ok, almost always) be difficult to get the speaker to observe proper mic technique and project when they are speaking. That, in combination with the acoustics of the room make it difficult to get the speaker’s voice heard. So where does respect fit into all this? Well, it wouldn’t be so hard to get the speaker’s voice to be audible if the attendees weren’t so DAMN LOUD. I’m more and more often shocked at how loud the audience can be when there’s a speaker on stage trying to communicate. It’s getting worse too… I look out at the audience and see folks showing off pictures on their phone or in some cases they’re ON their phone holding their own little conversation while there’s some CEO or someone up on stage. What the hell people????!?!?!?

 

Before a year or so ago I can’t recall ever wanting to get on a VOG (voice of God) mic and tell them all to shut up but in recent months I’ve wanted to do that at EVERY event I’ve done, and that’s quite a few. Even after a few shhhhhs, clinking of glasses and maybe a quip over the VOG they still keep talking! In fact, some folks try to talk OVER your efforts to quell the din. How dare we interrupt them so we can focus on the presentation at hand? The truly alarming and ultimately disrespectful aspect of all of this is that at many of these events all the folks in the building work together. So the employees of the company are basically dissing their boss while he’s trying to talk to them about whatever the subject of the evening is.

 

I’m literally writing this as I sit backstage during a break for an event benefiting a well-known Long Island Academy. The rudeness of the attendees is utterly shocking. They had a choir of students perform the National Anthem and a rendition of a Foreigner song and they were fantastic. These poor girls were knocking it out of the park (they were very, very good IMHO) and I doubt half the folks in attendance even acknowledged they were there. Even during the hostess’ speeches there were many, many folks leaning in to speak in each other’s ears, completely ignoring her. She even had to pause more than once to try and get everyone to settle down and she was never completely successful.

 

It’s a sad day indeed when you have to contemplate GBF (gain before feedback) not because of a loud stage or overpowering monitors but because of the audience who are there to see the performance and/or view/hear a presentation.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By Ace Baker / April 19, 2015

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

 

Aretha said it best. You either have it or you don’t and these days I see less and less of it. When I’m not on tour I do a lot of work with local sound companies and as such I do a lot of corporate events. One company I work with has an exclusive contract for all the audio needs in a busy Manhattan event space. This particular space, while beautiful and ideal for events, is an acoustic nightmare. It’s an oval shape comprised of concrete-like walls about 40 feet high with a domed ceiling. The RT60 time in there is about… 60.

 

So we all know what a typical corporate event comprises. Usually it’s a lectern with a couple of mics on it and perhaps a lav and/or wireless hand-held(s). We also know it can sometimes (ok, almost always) be difficult to get the speaker to observe proper mic technique and project when they are speaking. That, in combination with the acoustics of the room make it difficult to get the speaker’s voice heard. So where does respect fit into all this? Well, it wouldn’t be so hard to get the speaker’s voice to be audible if the attendees weren’t so DAMN LOUD. I’m more and more often shocked at how loud the audience can be when there’s a speaker on stage trying to communicate. It’s getting worse too… I look out at the audience and see folks showing off pictures on their phone or in some cases they’re ON their phone holding their own little conversation while there’s some CEO or someone up on stage. What the hell people????!?!?!?

 

Before a year or so ago I can’t recall ever wanting to get on a VOG (voice of God) mic and tell them all to shut up but in recent months I’ve wanted to do that at EVERY event I’ve done, and that’s quite a few. Even after a few shhhhhs, clinking of glasses and maybe a quip over the VOG they still keep talking! In fact, some folks try to talk OVER your efforts to quell the din. How dare we interrupt them so we can focus on the presentation at hand? The truly alarming and ultimately disrespectful aspect of all of this is that at many of these events all the folks in the building work together. So the employees of the company are basically dissing their boss while he’s trying to talk to them about whatever the subject of the evening is.

 

I’m literally writing this as I sit backstage during a break for an event benefiting a well-known Long Island Academy. The rudeness of the attendees is utterly shocking. They had a choir of students perform the National Anthem and a rendition of a Foreigner song and they were fantastic. These poor girls were knocking it out of the park (they were very, very good IMHO) and I doubt half the folks in attendance even acknowledged they were there. Even during the hostess’ speeches there were many, many folks leaning in to speak in each other’s ears, completely ignoring her. She even had to pause more than once to try and get everyone to settle down and she was never completely successful.

 

It’s a sad day indeed when you have to contemplate GBF (gain before feedback) not because of a loud stage or overpowering monitors but because of the audience who are there to see the performance and/or view/hear a presentation.

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How to Mic Cymbals

By Ace Baker / February 23, 2015

Cymbals can be a tricky thing to successfully mic to achieve the desired results. They can often sound harsh or “brassy.” But don’t despair, there are a number of ways to mic up cymbals and get a nice sizzle without them overpowering the other elements of your mix.

First, I’m going to illustrate what I feel is the best way to mic cymbals for their most accurate representation. The way I do this is by putting two matched small diaphragm condenser mics in a Blumlein array* about 2 feet above the drummers head. The idea of placing the mics there is that they should pretty closely portray what the drummers themselves hear so if he/she’s balancing themselves properly then the mics should capture that.

The mics are at about a 45 degree angle aimed right at the center of the line created by the cymbals above the drumkit. I usually get lucky and find that they end up pointing right at the main crash cymbals on the right and left. Obviously the left facing mic will pick up a good bit of the hi-hat which is fine and the right mic will also pick up a good bit of the ride. Obviously other elements of the kit will show up in those mics as well and to me, that’s just fine too. In fact, I get a good bit of my overall kit sound from those mics.

I soundcheck the drumkit by first bringing up these two overheads to get a feel for how the kit really sounds. Due to the modern demands of today’s concert audiences I usually end up putting a pretty serious high-pass filter on these mics as well as a strong cut at around 400-460Hz. I then bring in all the other elements one at a time to fill in the kit. Again, hopefully you end up with a close approximation to what the drummer hears which is ideally a nice balance of all the kit’s elements.

The second most common method I use is one I utilize when a drummer may not feel comfortable with a pair of mics above his head and/or it’s not physically possible for some reason. In a case like this I’ll use “under-heads” which are mics placed under the cymbals facing up. It’s almost impossible to use a Blumlein array in a situation like this so I end up placing the mics in a pretty typical L/R outer array with the mics about 8” away from the lowest cymbal.

The one drawback with “underheads” is that you can sometimes get some phase irregularities but a few inches to one side almost always clears that right up. Another reason I’m a fan of “underheads” is that I really dislike the look of two big, ugly tripod boom stands hovering over both sides of a drum kit. To me it just ruins the look of the kit and takes away from the whole vibe. I find that the single stand directly over the drummer is far less intrusive and that “underheads” are practically invisible which is even better!

No discussion of cymbals would be complete without talking about the ride and hi-hat. I’ve found that even though I get a good overall sound from the over or underheads I will often still need to “spot” mic the ride and hat. For the ride I’ll put an SDC (often a Sennheiser e614) facing directly down about halfway between the bell and the rim, about 8” off the cymbal.

My technique for the hi hat is similar though I find I often need to angle the hat mic a good bit off axis to soften the hat’s sound a bit. Facing straight at the hatusually makes for too harsh and brittle a sound.

The one thing to remember when micing cymbals is to simply not get too close. If they’re sounding too bright or metallic try moving the mics back a bit, a few inches make a huge difference. Likewise where you aim the mics is very important so take care to point ‘em where they sound best! Cymbals rarely need high end EQ added to them but as I said earlier I find they often need a good filter and some subtractive EQ but take care not to overdo it, a little goes a long way with EQ for sure.

Again, as usual, try different placements, EQs and methods and see what works for you. There are no rules!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blumlein_Pair

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Winter NAMM 2015–HAS Productions Takes On Anaheim

By Ace Baker / January 30, 2015

As we sifted our way through the stench of nicotine infested skinny jeans (and when I say skinny jeans I mean not appropriately placed on people; like I’m wondering where that belly is gonna go dude) of forty plus something’s of “ ya know I almost had a record deal”, we made our way through NAMM 2015 as a trio. Larry Hall (not HAS), Jay Easley (not Haas), and James Elizondo (not Haüs) scoured the show floor for the next inspiring pieces of technology for our rental inventory. While most of what we saw we had seen before, there were a few standouts that became the favorites of Larry, Jay, and James. 

Larry’s top find is the Vue h-5 fill box. The perfect compliment to our 100+ box Vue inventory. It’s a very versatile loudspeaker. It has several M10 points on it so it can be used as an under balcony fill, it also has rubber pads so it can be laid down as a lip fill without the worry of it sliding around, It has a 120×40 coverage pattern, it’s powered, and it is compatible with the powerful control software SystemVue. All of this basically makes it out spec a K2 🙂

Jay’s top find is the new D.A.S. UX-221 double 21″ subwoofer. It rocks a pair of 4.5″ voice coils, 6800w power handling, 145db peak 21’s. The UX221 pairs perfectly with our DAS Aero40 rig as well as to supplement any system needing bone crunching bottom end.  Our growing EDM client list will enjoy the ‘drop the bass’ power handling. Bring on the brown note. 

  James’ top find is the RCF TTP5-A. The TTP5-A has some serious work put into it, it’s rockin a high powered    15″ woofer and beefy 4″ HF driver. It is of the constant curvature persuasion; with integrated rigging it makes it very easy to array them either vertically or horizontally. 138db output makes it pack quite a punch. When you couple that with 96khz, 32bit processing, and RCF’s RDNet control you have a small loudspeaker that turns into the little engine that could. 

In summary, we still didn’t get the record deal but we did manage see some very cool things our clients will enjoy and was able finally meet a good friend from Korea who flew 17 hours just to come and hang out with his H.A.S. posse. As we depart Anaheim and drive back to Fabulous Las Vegas we are already discussing what next bit of technology will excite us at Infocomm in Orlando this year. We will see you there

The H.A.S. Productions Crew

Viva Las Vegas

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