When tuning systems it is very imperative to take multiple measurements around the room to ensure even system coverage.
by John D. Mills, Systems Engineer, Kenny Chesney “Going Costal Tour” 2011
With a laptop, a copy of Smaart 7, a FireWire or USB preamplifier with 4 or more inputs, and a handful of measurement mics we can take very accurate LIVE averages of our systems. When tuning systems it is very imperative to take multiple measurements around the room to ensure even system coverage. This is especially important when using line arrays. Multiple measurements, on axis, from front to back of the room are used to not only verify that the system has been deployed as expected from the prediction model, but also to make accurate judgements on overall system EQ in the real world environment.
Multi-channel Software /Hardware solutions for accomplishing this task have been very cost prohibitive for many years. So that has left many of us to moving a single mic around the room taking multiple snapshots of it in different positions. We would then average those traces and add filters to correct the system response. This WAS a very time consuming process. Until the release of Smaart 7 affordable multi-channel measurement was only available in very expensive systems.
So now with a laptop, a copy of Smaart 7, a FireWire or USB preamplifier with 4 or more inputs, and a handful of measurement mics we can take very accurate LIVE averages of our systems.
When I entered this realm of awesomeness, I had an Earthworks, an AUDIX TR-40, and two cheap Behringer measurement mics. I quickly realized having these mics all match was of the essence. So I began budgeting for 5 Earthworks mics, until one day while measuring a system my “helper” dropped my Earthworks mic. The repair bill was almost $400. That situation prompted finding an alternative mic that was more affordable. I thought I would need to sacrifice quality and accuracy for price. That was true until I found the AUDIX TM-1. Priced in-between the entry level mics and the high end mics, I hoped this mic would be close in accuracy to my earthworks.
Not only were they similar, but were completely flat out to 3k and then thry only varied by +/- 1.5 db. Also worth mentioning is that AUDIX and Rational Acoustics now offer calibration curves for the mics that Smaart can import. This effectively makes them completely flat from top to bottom.
This year I have been using five TM-1s across the country on the Kenny Chesney “Going Costal Tour” Having tuned rooms from 7,000 to 70,000 with rave reviews not only to my ears but others I trust and thousands of fans who all agree the end result achieved with my MacBook Pro, Presonus Fire Studio, Lectrosonics wireless, and AUDIX TM-1s are some of the best sounding shows this tour has received.
Figure 1 (left). Note the display on the bottom left of the Smaart window. It shows my four wireless mics and my stationary mic at FOH. Then the next two entries are AVG 1/3 and AVG 1/12. Which are live averages I set up in Smaart to show realtime averages at those different resolutions.
Figure 2 shows all the live traces.
The 1/3 octave average trace is highlighted in light blue. Seeing the individual traces layered with a live average allows me to make educated decisions on not only what is happening
in a certain a section, but also the average of the whole
room or area covered by the mics I currently have deployed. This feature alone has cut tuning time in half while improving accuracy.
After tuning each zone and time aligning all fill zones, I position the mics in a cross section of the venue. Figure 3 (below) shows how I deploy the mics for the show.
I store this average trace before the crowd enters. Then once then concert starts I can compare a live average of my sound check measurements to what changed with the addition of the crowd.
I have done similar things in the past by storing single mic positions, but with the ability, affordability, and accuracy of this type of setup that AUDIX and Smaart have made accessible, I will probably never go back to a single mic setup.