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Old 30th March 2012, 09:03 PM   #1
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Default "honey, i shrunk the ultrasound /meyer sound"

greetings, after various thwarted attempts to contact dan healy, audio guru from grateful dead, whom now gigs around marin county with a small bar band-- i wanted and still want a "workingmans" ultrasound rig. really.
meyer sound labs perportadly used ciare woofers and radian compression drivers in some of their first boxes, till they made their own in house- people say shut up and buy some qsc powered speaks so i go and listen to them and naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..
after reading all that went into the system the dead played through by the 90's, i realize i will never come remotely close due to $$ restraints, yet i do believe the philosophy can carry over to a small club system. working man"s crude stab at linearity from a multi-system-what i hear at small clubs is still harsh and shrill and i DO consider the source- garbage in garbage out and all and personal taste of foh mixer and the like- i still hold that something modular- more units for more square footage- use small drivers for freq's 300 hz and up - boxes with matched drivers/amps/processing with software that you could use on a laptop in lieu of a driverack- i was spoiled by the dead's sound and will not let go of it. it can be done in a living room, why not (yes there are transients and peaks that pre-recorded music does not contain) live music in small clubs? think small. powered 4" drivers as the backbone. one or two drivers per box. so what if they cost $500 per? add more as you go. use to supplement conventional / available speakers till you can afford more.
in the mean time, i'll continue to put together a system using radian compression drivers powered by marantz ma-500 amps, ciare 10" mid bass powered by crown or crest, 15" eminence subs in bass reflex cabs and struggle along with my ears until more wisdom and money come my way.
lots of bar bands out there and if you look at guitar center and sweetwater and musicians friend and sam ash etc-- there IS a market out there. we've come a long way from university horns, then voice of the theaters- but man-- one out of hundred bar experiences that are good is bad !
tom

Last edited by blurkzzz; 1st April 2012 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 15th April 2012, 10:31 PM   #2
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A funny thing happened on the way to the factory.
I wanted to post this as some possible answer's if nothing else.
The art of sound reinforcement for live bands in smaller gigs is something I am highly familiar with. A good friend of mine who played guitar in one of the bands i was in , is also an audiophile / industry salesperson and has been for aprox 30 yrs. Myself I not only play drums but have a electronics engineering technology background and have been building speakers for years.
There are so many things that my friend RM and I agree on i regards to current equipment , that this alone becomes a lengthy conversation . Both good and bad.
Between us we own about 25 k Watts worth of PA in various configurations . Most of it is older (except amps)and has been "highly" modified" .
These days there is a lot of basically good sounding gear out there , but its seams that all of the manufacturers forget some pretty basic things about speakers and PA's in general. I have no idea how many high powered sub's , I've seen wired with 16 ga or 14 ga crappy wire. or 2 way tops with 18ga Its unbelievable . You build a decent high-ply count box , put in decent drivers , somewhat damp the cabinet and still you think cheaping out on wire is a good idea? Well its pretty much the same with most PA and audio gear these days , it seams like there's always something thats been left undone, or that the mgft's don't know about.
The good side these days is that someone actually figured out that mini line arrays are actually much easier to control and sound good that the old style large driver format 3 way systems. The issue I have here is how come all of these company's think they can charge a fortune for some essentially 2 way mid-high cab's with a line array dispersion characteristic designed in .
I'm sure it comes down to "marketing" , something I know a thing or two about.
But really if you want to own a market , just produce a mini array cab that anyone can stack 6 or 8 a side for under a couple of grand.
Next .. the thing I find most interesting at least where I live is how many sound men actuallty have NO idea of what they are doing in front of a system.
It's incredible these days to hear really bad sound coming out of relatively decent systems because the soundman de-jour has no clue of what he or she is doing.
As my friend RM puts it . "If it doesn't sound like the record or better on a good stereo , then your jobs is not done" .
It amazes me how many times i hear the standard "ROck" mix , too much this and that , bad clarity or none , etc,etc,etc.
Yes it always helps to work wtih players who have a clue about things like stage volume , tone and sound quality to begin with. But the amount of crap I hear these days in clubs is unbelievable. And Im amazed at how few SM's know how to get depth and ambiance within thier mix's . must be a lost art ....Nooooot
It can be done but you better start by forgeting eveything you think you know about live sound , this isn't the studio.
The system mentioned above by Blurkzzz sounds like a nice little system , properly done Im sure its probably quite sweet. And is a good example of how the use of even old gear can sound good when properly setup , tuned and put together.
So if you think you can't make older gear sound good , guess again , but first you better start studying on Tweeks and effective mods ,then sound , then stage issues , then microphone issues, then power issues, then driver and cab issues, then connector issues , then a lot of other stuff before you get most of the better answers , and put together something that current out of the store system's tend to still be deficient in. High fidelity !!

Last edited by FFT dude; 15th April 2012 at 10:37 PM.
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Old 16th April 2012, 07:34 PM   #3
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dear fft dude-
thanks for your reply. do you live anywhere near michigan? are you interested in collaborating in desigining and building/marketing mini line arrays- modular/ build and grow as you can afford- i just spent an hour on a post to you and somehow i lost it- flailing fingers on laptop syndrome.
think meyer MILO for bar bands. stackable / riggable to "fly" from a heavy duty tripod- the 4 inch faital and the 6.5" ciare ( both available at ussspeaker.com--specs. also available there.)
love what you said about make it sound like the record or better. a large part of the responsibility lays with the source, of course. arrangements, does the drummer "shelve" hiis drums- lay off the crash and open up the 1 and 2 k freqs. to let the rhythm guitar come through the mix? etc etc.
so, once we have an acceptable source, in a perfect world, in a perfect little bar- how do we make it sound really really great?
i always thought dead shows sounded so great because i intuited with so many speakers involved, we were treated to low pressure clarity. the sound was spread out coming from many sources rather than two laser beams of sound eminating from two narrow source points stage right and left.
remember the electro voice "eliminators"- horrible! woe be to you if you were sitting right in front of one pumping out snares and power chords! hideous and painful.
imagine 6 or 8 -4" faital full range, a compression horn with an L-pad- and a couple subs. 3 way active, maube a drive rack.
needs collaborators!
no budget- just ideas and a woodshop and 30 plus years of cabinetry experience ( in the construction world ) and several bands i'm in that could serve as guinaee (SP) pigs for new speaker systems.
thanks again mr. dude.
peace- tom
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Old 7th May 2012, 03:50 AM   #4
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HI Blurkzzz
Sorry Im not near michigan , I'll send you email is regards to that.
It's funny what your saying about laser beam high's .
Too many manufacturer's think very high compression and resultant efficiency is the way to project sound. At least that's the way it was in the past , but like so many other things we learn over time.
Basically a line array decreases "half-space" loss over distance.
Singlular drivers have to radiate energy in mulitple directions both vertically and horizontally. By placing mulitple driver's in a line , you elliminate a certain percentage
of directional loss, by loading a vertical column wave . Each driver in the line contributes to that wave formation and eliminates wave dispertion loss in the vertical plane. The result is that the vertical wave loses less energy over distance and caries
a more consitant energy level alone the plane or axis of the wave.
Micoline arrays work quite well in smaller venue situations . Due to a much less intense pressure wave at the source will carry further and disperse in a nicely controlled manner.
Usually a line should consist of at least 8 drivers vertically. 4 is kinda like 4 bits in digital microelectronics "Its just a Nibble" and doesn't contribute much.
To be honest stay away from using L-Pads , efficiency matching and output level from a good quality electronic crossover is the way to go.
The rest is fine tuning with Eq's , which should always be minimal if designed right.
I have no Idea where people where taut to put "Happy Faces" on gragh's , but it's invariably always wrong and only a clear indication that "Your sound man knows Nothing!!!"
Other than PA's and Sound men who know nothing , the other biggest issue starts right under your feet when your on stage.
YEP most stages are designed wrong and built even worse !!!
Disclaimer here is that this last statement mostly pertains to smaller venues
in bars / dance halls that someone was contracted to build a stage , and 99% of contractors unfortunately know nothing about standing waves under the stage.
If you ever see bass bins underneath a stage, thats a clear indication that your likely going to have serious problems with the sound.
It's funny you mention "The Dead" , they used an all custom built system powered by walls of beautiful MacIntosh amps . Any sound engineer that go's to that kind of trouble to build a system obviously knows what he's after , which should be nothing short of amazing sound. As I've said before, if it doesn't sound better that a record then you've got some work to do.
The next step in the chain here , is the musicians themselves.
I've played in dozens of bands and I'm constatly amazed at how little most musicians understand about either sound or thier instrument. Guitars players are probably at the head of line in this chorus. I've seen dozens of them that still think the tone is in the amp. (Guess again guys) , its in your fingers , learn how to use them !!!
Sorry its just I've seen so many out there like that .
I often feel like asking people "Did it really sound like that on the record ?"
Cause I have the record and I don't think so !!!
Anyway I digress , Micro line arrays are relatively easy to do right , and you don't have to spend a fortune on very high end drivers. ALthough that does tend to help.
Cheers...Rich

Last edited by FFT dude; 7th May 2012 at 03:53 AM.
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Old 7th May 2012, 04:44 AM   #5
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You folks are a little off track on this WRT the Dead.

The big system was in the early 70s. Some guy on here name Curl had some role in it.

Meyer used Radian drivers NOT first.
Doubt that he builds his own, even today. It is too expensive to do that.

It is a good idea to read up on what people are doing for live sound today.
The new gear is very clean, and very loud.

Also check out what Tom Danley is doing. THAT IS impressive.

There are lots of limitations to large line arrays - even scaled down to "club size". They do not end up small or light weight. Maybe ok for a fixed install... but unless they are like one of the newer line arrays, they will be huge and expensive, and likely not perform as well.

Fortune on drivers? The array is no better than a single driver, so I disagree on that.

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Old 7th May 2012, 07:44 PM   #6
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huge line arrays vs efficient point sources...Tom Danley and I are always on different sides...but either can be done really well...or really poorly. IMHO it's hard to really screw up a stack of sealed boxes, so I'm on the harder-to-screw-up side.

I think I need to buy a building and open a club. I want to control the room acoustics too.

I'm floundering at present. With amps better and cheaper every year, I'm going for inefficient isobaric subs that are small and somewhat portable, very impressive quality and reasonable quantity of output via many many many many (that's 4 times as many) drivers (in the same box space), half of them hidden. Starting with a few small boxes and adding... Problem is that on the road, with EQ they'd need all the power a small venue has...leaving nothing for lights LOL! And I'd probably have two seperate PA's, one for vocals and another for instruments.
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Old 7th May 2012, 11:28 PM   #7
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hey, I love line arrays...

I like lower SPL per surface area over high SPL small sources...

You move those quad driver isobarics... not me!
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Old 8th May 2012, 05:12 PM   #8
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Heavy, yes. But at least they fit in a station wagon or small truck.
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Old 8th May 2012, 05:41 PM   #9
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Meyer has used amoung others Radian, JBL, and Yamaha drivers.

Actually Meyer does make most if not all of thier drivers in house. Now whether they cast the hf driver bodies, lf baskets, and motors I don't know, but a decent cnc machining center could turn the rough casts into finished pieces all day long. They do make the diaphragms and cones. A number of years ago they bought up all the paper stock they would need for a long time and they are constantly developing new diaphragm materials.
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Old 8th May 2012, 11:10 PM   #10
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hey, that's pretty cool that they are making their own! Big investment to make that happen.

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