Aug 312012

Remember when everyone switched to digital consoles?  You won’t need to carry those racks of gear anymore.  No more outboard eq, comps, gates, effects etc.  Less truck space equals fuel savings and less money for trucking.  Fewer seats taken up means more money for the promoter.  Everyone wins!

Uh, yeah.  Maybe not so much.  Even now that I’m often on shows with the best digital consoles in the world, guest engineers are still carrying outboard gear.  Hardware preamps, compressors, effects.  Sometimes a laptop full of plugins and an analog i/o interface.  And now it seems that the Waves Live package is gaining ground.  With platform specific and generic interface options, Waves Live can provide a plethora of plugins for your digital console.  But, what do you need to make it work?  A Sound Grid Server, Host computer, Interface cards for your console or a generic i/o, plus all the relevant software and plugins.  So here we are once more, buying more gear to add to our supposedly self contained consoles.

Truly, everything old is new again.

 August 31, 2012  Posted by at 9:23 pm Tagged with: , , , ,
Sep 132011

I was just reading an article by a pretty well known production designer. Talked about his choice in consoles, pre visualization tools, integrating video and lighting elements, trying to balance current tours with designing for upcoming events etc. I’m sure the fellow is good at his job. Better in fact, than I could ever be. My ideal concert lighting design pretty much stops at 180K of conventionals and some random goodies. In audio land, I regularly mix on highly sophisticated digital consoles in situations where a simple analog console would do fine. I-mag seemed like a nice idea when guys like Springsteen started playing stadiums. Now, one venue I work uses it in a 2500 seat room.
So the question on my mind today is why? Do we really need or want all this? Did folks come to hear a concert or to see a flashy multimedia show? To see a live performer or to look at his face on a big screen?
Guys like George Burns played soft seaters with thousands of seats with no PA, no I-Mag, and crap for lights.
Burns was a star.

 September 13, 2011  Posted by at 10:42 pm Tagged with: , , , , ,
Jul 202011

Been a busy summer so far.  I’ve had a bunch of local shows including Daughtry, Tonic, The WailersOh What A Night and a great show with Dave Mason.

Local poet/artist Eric Johnt was in the Frugal Studio with some video editing for his exhibit at the Arts Enrichment Center.

Zeo Brothers had me along for the Momentum Conference in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Spent the week mixing monitors and doubling as system tech.  Aaron Keyes was the worship artist for most of the week.  Had the full compliment of EV XW12 wedges to supplement in ears on stage and the EV XLd rig flying out front.  Gotta say I really like the XLd PA.  Compact, easily handled by one or two guys and it sounds great right out of the box.  Felt a little old loading out staging alongside 25 year olds though!

Aaron Keyes

Aaron Keyes

Jun 082011

Much has gone on here this spring.   In the Frugal Studio, completed recording and editing an audio book for a local company earlier in the spring.  More on that when it goes public.

On the live front a whole bunch of shows have come through the local venue.  Kenny Wayne Shepherd,  Ricky Skaggs, Leo Kottke, War, The Tubes, Edwin McCain, Crosby & Nash, Gary Lewis, Judy Collins, The Wailers, Aretha Franklin, and Patti Austin to name just some of them.

I’ve had much more time both mixing and servicing the XL8 and Pro3 systems lately.  Will post a complete review in the future.

Looking forward to more great gigs throughout the summer!

Feb 022011

Well, fortunately it hasn’t been too slow a winter for the Frugal Audio Guy.  Completed installation and testing of the Midas Pro3 consoles in the small room at the local venue.  Followed by two New Year’s Eve shows with Eddie Money and a New Year’s Day show with Little Feat.  Still sussing out a gain structure issue when feeding the Crown I-Tech amp rack from the Midas desk via digital.  Adjusting the digital input trim on the Crowns seems to have it licked but we shall see over time.

Shot some video of a great seminar with friend and Buffalo legend Jim Wynne not too long ago.  Hoping to get that edited an online soon.  Part of that process is a storage upgrade to the main computer in the Frugal Studio.  2TB RAID10 array is initializing right now.    Also worked a crew call for repeat client Break The Floor Productions.    Thanks to them for the repeat business and to the easy going crew of Nuvo.

Looks like I have a couple of good events booked for the coming year.  But, I’d love to fill the calendar out with more touring and convention work.  If you need a Frugal hand, please drop me a line.

 February 2, 2011  Posted by at 7:13 pm Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Dec 222010

Been pretty busy locally.  A billiard tournament, show with Paula Cole, and seven shows with Frankie Avalon.  Now in the big push to get things ready in the small room before New Years Eve.  Floor stripped and painted, new Midas consoles.  Details and pictures soon.

 December 22, 2010  Posted by at 12:05 am Tagged with: , , , , ,
Nov 192010

Frugal is back in the building…

Returned from St. Louis earlier this week after a long but fruitful event with COGIC and my old friends at Zeo Brothers.  We hung a bunch of XLc.  Including a rig in the dome where the Rams play.  I spent most of my time on the day shift in the main hall of the convention center with seats set for about 10,000.  Had a good long time to get used to mixing on the Venue platform.  I have to confess, it sounds pretty good.  I’m not a Digidesign fan, I’ve always hated ProTools and really resent being told I must use a particular platform.  But, with their live consoles, I think Avid has a solid product on their hands.  Given my choice I’d still rather mix analog but I was out of date when I was born and this just isn’t that world anymore.  More specifically regarding the SC48– it’s kind of a small surface to handle 48 or more inputs and out of the box it’s a little limited in i/o at FOH.  Mostly “i” as there’s plenty of “o” for most folks.  It looks like Avid has put out an option card that would remedy that in most situations.  The Venue IO16 card looks like it would add a good dose of general purpose analog and digital ins/outs to the console.  Having spent most of this year mixing on an XL8 and previously lots of time on PM5Ds the Venue still feels a little foreign to me.  Some of that I’m sure is particular to the SC48 where a lot was crammed into a small surface.  Hopefully I’ll get some time on a Profile soon for comparison.  I like the “spill” feature on the VCAs but, having to double tap select to get into “spill” mode seems silly to me.  I would prefer to have the option to make selected VCAs automatically spill whenever selected as they do on an XL8. Having the option to add TDM plugins is nice, but for a mostly one-off guy like me doesn’t do much.  Unless I was touring with Venue regularly I’d have a tough time justifying the cost of a bunch of plugins.  Since half (if not most)of the consoles on the market don’t support 3rd party plugins at all and none are cross platform that I’m aware of, it would be a waste of my money.  It baffles me that Yamaha, who now own Steinberg, has not created an option to use VSTs with either the PM5D or the M7.

Tomorrow I’m off to Rochester for a day of old school funk.  Then Monday it’s back to the local venue for more install work in preparation for a winter of shows in the smaller room.

Grateful to be working when so many folks aren’t.

It wants to be a grown up console one day...

XLcs, Projection and Xn sidefills

 November 19, 2010  Posted by at 11:16 pm Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Oct 292010

So the local venue has kept me pretty busy of late.  I’ve been working full time on an install project in the small room.  Basically installing more permanent cabling and patch points for audio (analog & digital), com, lighting control, and data.  This along with some acoustic treatment, new soft goods,  and a dimmer rewire project all in preparation for a gear upgrade.  Right now the room gets a Midas XL8 and a Crest X-Monitor for most shows.  The upgrade (if it comes through) will include new FOH & Monitor consoles and a whole new monitor rig.

I’ve been working this room a lot.  Usually at FOH but occasionally I drift back into monitor land for a show.  Though most acts come through with their own FOH guys (no gals yet;-)  I’ve mixed a few myself.  Among them Joan Osborne and Jon Anderson.

At the XL8 in the small room

Rhythm Devils in the small room.

Hiroshima in the small room.

 October 29, 2010  Posted by at 11:08 pm Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Oct 102010

So while things were slower than usual in the past year or so there have been some interesting things happening in Frugal Land.

At Frugal Control I’ve had a few projects come through.  Late in ’09 I did some interesting dialog cleanup for a documentary on 9/11.  I also provided mastering services for the second album from  Kamikaze LTD, After Radio.  I mixed a track on this one too.  Bonus points to anyone who figures out which one.  Kamikaze is made up of friends and alumni I know from both City Honors and Binghamton University, as well as noted buffalo Bassist Jim Wynne.  I’ve functioned as something of a technical adviser since they began.

That was followed with a release concert for After Radio held at Buffalo’s Alt Theatre.  I handled lighting along with shooting some still and moving pictures.  Also did some authoring work to prep Jim Siniscalchi’s video for projection.

Summer of 2010 also included my 9th annual trip trip to work the COGIC AIM Convention, this year in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Then after a lot of bureaucratic hassle I signed on as part of the crew at a local venue.  I’ve decide not to name the venue here for a host of reasons but I’ll talk about some of the shows as I go along.  Many of the artists are great (some not so much).  The crew is decent and there’s some great gear too.

 October 10, 2010  Posted by at 1:03 am Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Sep 222010

Scrolling down you can see that posts from the old tour blog stopped more than a year ago.  So what’s happened since?  Most obviously I haven’t been touring with John Michael Talbot.  But, JMT fans rest assured.  John Michael is still out there and going strong.  He is now doing full time what we did only occasionally in the past.  In the past we called it “itinerant ministry”.  John Michael is out there singing and teaching.  Leading retreats.  Even spending several days at a time in one parish.  But, he’s doing it with no tour bus, very little if any sound or lighting gear, and no Frugal Audio Guy.  Partly this came about because of financial pressure brought on by the monastery fire and a plunging economy.  But, for JMT I think it also marks a return to the basics.    You can check up on him at his website or on facebook.  The Brothers & Sisters of Charity are going strong too.  The new chapel and common center are finished enough to be occupied and they are busy as ever.  Be sure to check them out at their website and on facebook too.

I’ll be following up with another post or two on Frugal Audio endeavors in the past year or so.

 September 22, 2010  Posted by at 10:21 pm Tagged with: , , ,