Now that the world has embraced the world of powered speakers, there seems to be a new myth… that “the speaker you have” happens to have is the one that’s “right for the job”… and this is not always the case!
While It’s true that many speakers are good at many different tasks (such as being a speaker OR a monitor, or can be used on a stand or on the ground) and if you’re playing similar rooms you’ll likely get similar results… you’ll often get thrown a curveball when you step into a new environment, such as what happened with me this past weekend on a corporate function at one of the fancier hotels in Toronto.
This room is notorious for losing intelligibility once you get more than about 20’ from the stage, as the dancefloor is sunken into the ground in front of the stage AND the ceiling is sectioned off into areas about 20’x20’ where sound gets trapped, like each space is it’s own small tent, and when you add to this the large amounts of glass windows on both sides of the room… ouch! This trapping and reflecting creates what are referred to a “multiple arrival times” at the listener’s ear, and the end result is like standing in line in the washrooms at a big stadium rock concert…. All you hear is a messy wash of…. nothing you can make out! This is heightened by the fact that the stage volume for a 10-piece band adds yet another arrival time.
Most “trap” shaped loudspeakers have a hi-frequency horn with a 45-degree vertical horn…. so if you point the speaker straight ahead, HALF of your energy is going up to the ceiling and bouncing around!
I removed the “first” reflection by time-aligning the sound system to the loudest thing on the stage… in this case, adding a 18ms delay to the entire sound system allowed the loudest sound from the stage (in this case, the horn section monitors) to arrive at the average listeners’s ear at the same point in time as the sound system, making everthing much clearer – it makes a very large yet subtle effect on how the “sum of the parts” that make sound (including the sound system, the band on the strage, their instruments and their monitiors) do their job in the given space - it can’t be explained as “louder” or “softer”, but instead as “better in a way that I can’t put my finger on”.
The key to solving the other issues is a to keep the sound AWAY from where we don’t want it… primarily the ceiling and the large glass windows at the side of the venue. By utilizing three of our DB Technologies DVA-T4 compact 3-way line array modules on their mounting fork, I was able to place three speakers per side of the stage on a satellite pole directly above the subwoofer (so I didn’t take up any more valuable real estate) and angle them inward slightly to keep reflections off the window….. and guess what?
Crystal clarity, making vocals and speech intelligible in any area a guest would be in. Had I used any standard “trap” speaker this simply wouldn’t be possible.
…and to add to all this, the house crew came over and complimented us both during soundcheck and during the show… in their words “I don’t know what that PA is or what you’re doing with it, but that’s the best this room has ever sounded”. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside :)
Until next time!
Manager, Professional Services