Companies making me happy

Despite how things look to anyone following my blog or Twitter/Facebook updates, there are some things that are going right. Many in fact.

So to help balance things out, I feel it fair that I should give a shout out to the guys at LMC Audio and Allen and Heath, two of the best companies I’ve yet dealt with in their fields.

LMC excelled themselves when we started investigating the possibility of purchasing our digital mixing desk. All their staff have been very helpful, and have consistently gone the extra mile to make sure we and our purchase are happy as can be. Arranging a demo of the kit was very easy, and the way they pulled out the stops to arrange a second demo at the very last minute earlier in the summer was a really good example of how things should work. JP, their head of sales i think, has been wonderful in both his honesty when things don’t go to plan, and his cheerfulness throughout. I’d highly recommend LMC to anyone looking to do the same kind of purchase and installation we’ve just done.

As for Allen & Heath… Not only do they offer great products, but their tech-support team seems very active and this shows both in the firmware updates made so regularly to add or fix features on their iLive series, and in their extremely pro-active and helpful approach to dealing with queries or requests via telephone, email or the iLive discussion boards.

Well there we have it – five gold stars to both. Other companies (regardless of their work) could learn a lot from you guys – I know I have!

Live sound: Fine-tuning channel EQ

I’ve just been unexpectedly covering sound duty for our two morning services, and took some time to really play with the EQ facilities offered by our new desk, particularly during the sermon.  Above is a picture of the EQ section for the radio-mic I was using, and it looks pretty extreme, huh?  Lots of huge cuts if the gain indicators (the red LED’s at the bottom) are anything to go by.

Now, if someone showed me their analogue desk and I saw a channel EQ with quite so much taken out as shown, I’d have taken them back on for more teaching about gain structure and microphone choice/placement among other things. On most analogue desks there’d be nothing left of the original signal. You’d end up with an EQ curve looking a bit like the yellow line shown here:

Extreme EQ, “standard” analogue desk style. Low shelf frequency is around an octave higher here than most analogue desk EQ, and high shelf around two octaves lower. The yellow line goes off the lower scale, it’s so extreme.  You’d need to add at least 12dB of gain to the fader or pre-amp to get the original signal energy level back, assuming you don’t distort the pre-amp or other areas of the desk!

On our iLive system, things are a little different, as shown in the image below. We now have the ability to notch out problem frequencies with much more precision, mostly because we now have the ability to create very narrow (in terms of the frequency range affected) EQ filters. For live sound, this means we can make deep, narrow cuts to problem (resonant) frequencies and leave the rest of the signal alone.  This means that the problem frequency bands can still be attenuated, but without losing anywhere near as much of the overall signal energy.

This allows us to run with less gain at the pre-amp stage, which makes for less background noise and less chance of distorting any audio stage in the desk, whether digital or analogue. Because I’m not having to boost the pre-amp gain, I’m not changing the gain structure in any way, which is a Good Thing™ for too many reasons to detail here.  Because I’m not boosting either overall levels or particular frequency bands, I’m not introducing new potential feedback points to my mix – again a Good Thing™.

Of course, this benefit isn’t unique to the iLive system, but I used it to illustrate the problem as a) I have one and b) I happen to like how it sounds!