Month: February 2015

The Empire Graduation Ceremony

This was the first event that I was doing the sound engineering for in 2014. I was working with a colleague, Duane, from my course.

Duane and I were asked to be the sound engineers for the Leicester College graduation ceremony for Foundation Degree students. The venue was an old church that had been turned into a banqueting and conference hall. This meant that the architecture inside was still the same as a church but the difference was the pews had been removed for chairs and the apse (semi-circular end of the church, where the alter is) had been refurbished. For the event, the seating was placed similar to where there are usually pews as well as extra seating on one side (Picture 1). The attendance was expecting to be around 350 people.

The two main factors in terms of sound for the graduation ceremony were: having a microphone for the host of the ceremony and having background music play for the ceremony.

The Empire Equipment Placing

The equipment that we used were:

  • 2 – Bose L1 Model 1 Loudspeakers
  • 2 – Bose L1 Model 1 Bass Modules
  • 2 – ¼ Inch Jack to XLR cables
  • 2 – SpeakON cables
  • ¼ Inch Jack extension cable (male to female)
  • Four way socket extension lead
  • Masterplug 4 socket reel cable
  • Mic stand
  • 2 – XLR cables
  • 2 – SM58’s
  • Technics SL-PG380A CD player
  • Behringer Eurorack UB802 mixer
  • 5mm Twin Phono to Stereo Jack Cable

The speakers used were a pair of Bose L1 Model 1 Loudspeakers and a pair of Bose L1 Model 1 Bass Modules. The speakers delivered good, clear sound for the event with a maximum SPL of 115dB at 1 metre. The speakers could cope with an audience size of up to 500 people so there was headroom on the mixer.

The venue of event proved to have some issues. The first one was that the placement of the speakers were behind pillars, which meant that the noise level would be quieter for people sitting behind the pillars. Another issue was that of the acoustics of the venue. This had an effect on the noise level projected to the back of the church. As the speakers were placed on the floor the audience at the front could hear clearly but the people at the back could as well. In the event of turning the speakers up to make the sound audible at the back of the church the noise level would be too loud for the audience at the front.

As seen in most churches the sound system had speakers placed in front of each pillar above the audience to provide an equal sound around the whole church.

The set up of the equipment was relatively simple. Duane and I planned where the equipment was going to go, to make it as efficient and safe as possible. We set the speakers up to the side of the audience at the front of the seating.

(When describing placement of equipment and people, it is from the point of view as if facing the audience.)

As there was an area of the audience to the left side, we put the left speaker in-between the centre seated and left side seated audience and faced it to the back wall with no angle. To facilitate what the audience on the right heard we put the right speaker at angle facing the audience from the right front corner of the seating. (Picture 1)

(Right Speaker Placement and behind the right white curtain, where the mixing was done.)

(Right Speaker Placement and behind the right white curtain, where the mixing was done.)

Although it wasn’t the best location to be mixing from, sound checks were done before the event with the music and speech to make sure it was clear and loud enough for the audience at the back. A reason why the mixer had to be positioned to the side of the stage was that the cables could only reach a certain length, so it was the best place to mix from and not be seen as a distraction for the audience.

The Empire Sound System Diagram

Conclusion

To conclude, the sound levels were clear enough for the audience to hear. However, because of the placement of the speakers (being on the floor) the audience at the front had to deal with louder sound coming from the speakers in order for the audience at the back. It didn’t help that the columns of the church were attenuating the sound for those sat behind them. In this situation, it was best, what we did but if the speakers from the church were working it would have provided a better and clearer sound, with an even sound level across the venue.

Looking After the Most Important Tools for Live Sound Engineering

Everyone knows how important listening is in the music industry. Using your ears is what you do every day, whether you’re playing an instrument, mixing in a studio or indeed mixing for a live sound event. What is often forgotten is that your ears need to be looked after.

As anyone would agree, after playing your instrument (especially acoustic drums, which you aren’t able to turn down with a knob or fader), listening to loud music from speakers or going to a loud gig your hearing isn’t the same. What usually happens after dealing with loud exposure to noise is ringing in the ears, which is known as Tinnitus. If you hear ringing in your ears, which can be of any frequencies ranging from low, medium and high than it would be a good idea to so something about it.

“Once you have a little bit of hearing loss, especially noise-induced hearing loss, you are more vulnerable to more noise-induced hearing loss.” – Jovie Havard Strzelecki

(http://www.sounddesignlive.com/noise-induced-hearing-loss-hearing-aids-jovie-havard-strzelecki/?hvid=3iKNAg)

Here are ways of preventing hearing loss or Tinnitus:

  1. When you’re not playing your instrument, mixing in the studio or going to live gigs try to minimise your exposure to loud noise. This can include: not listening to music on the journey home after exposing yourself to high levels of noise and having moments in the day that are quiet or silent. This will give your ears time to recover from the loud noise.
  1. Keep hydrated. Exposure to high noise levels for long periods of time causes fatigue. A good way to minimise fatigue is to drink plenty of water regularly and in small amounts. As well as hydration regular breaks from sound sources helps. This is evident when mixing in a studio for hours as you start hearing sounds, which aren’t there or think something sounds good when in fact it sounds completely different to what you first thought.
  1. Take a hearing test. It’s best to have a check up now so that further damage can be prevented. Going to an audiologist will help pinpoint if your hearing is bad or good and can show which frequencies most affect your ears. This will help when buying ear protection.
  1. If your working as a live sound engineer as a full time job than buying ear protection is invaluable. There are different types of hearing protection from headphones, in-earplugs and ear buds. Having custom moulded in-earplugs is the best way of having a comfortable noise reduction. Furthermore, custom moulded in-earplugs mean that there is more reduction in noise as it covers up the whole ear and not just part of it. For a full time working musician or live sound engineer, it is worth paying £500 for in-earplugs, as it will help in the years to come.

These points were gathered from – http://www.sounddesignlive.com/3-simple-ways-busy-sound-engineers-can-protect-hearing/?hvid=3GFhIO