Which band do you think has best live PA?

I'm referring to the sound system and PA at concerts. Loudest, cleanest, most dynamic sound you have ever heard at a live show.

My vote goes to Manowar. Joey Demaio the bassist personally tests the PA before every gig with his SPL/spectrum analyzer. The passing mark is 126.5dB at the FOH soundboard. He once threatened to cancel a show (Magic Circle Festival 1) because the PA didn't have enough headroom and the PA company was just using compression and limiters to scrape by.

This ensures they can 'blow your head off in crystal clear high fidelity'.

Hope to hear others' experience!
 
I have a bone to pick about sound levels though. A dB is not a level. It is a measure of gain. Therefore dB does not mean ANYTHING without a reference. A dBm is one dB over a miliwatt and a dBrn is one dB over a femtowatt. But a dB does not mean anything at all without a reference. Therefore 126.5 dB is not a level and does not actually exist. You can have a 126.5 dB gain but it has to be over some sound level. If not it would have to be understood that the reference is 0 watts so therefore any amount of gain would still be zero watts.

Not to mention that even if a dB were a level that level would be different every foot farther you moved away from the source.
 
I was pretty impressed by the quality of sound at a Rolling Stones Bridges to Babylon show a number of years ago in St. Louis. SPLs high enough to rock but not hurt your ears, clear and articulate even in the nosebleed seats. I have limited experience with shows of stadium size however.
 
Ok, apologies if i was not more specific on the dB SPL etc..

I just think that there is a trend to skimp on live sound PA hardware and just use compression to make up for 'loudness' similar to what is happening on the Loudness War on the studio front.

Maiden has pretty good sound too.

Any other bands? How's Metallica? Recently the band has been playing with minimal backlines on stage, in severe contrast with Manowar's massive backlines.
 
How's Metallica? Recently the band has been playing with minimal backlines on stage, in severe contrast with Manowar's massive backlines.


If by backlines you mean those huge stacks of Marshalls I can assure you that the vast majority of those are dummies with no amps or drivers in them.
Back in the '80s I found myself backstage on a number of metal bands (work related, it's not my type of music), all had huge numbers of Marshall stacks onstage but almost all used a single Mesa Boogie head hidden offstage and only one 4x12 Marshall cab per instrument had any drivers in them.
 

soundchaser

Member
Paid Member
2007-10-14 10:15 pm
Kanata
I saw Laurie Anderson at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (great acoustics) around 1990 and she had one of the largest pair of PA speakers (stacks) I have ever seen arranged like a pair of stereo speakes -one at each end of the stage. The sound was VERY loud and if it had not been crystal clear it would have been unbearable but it was absolutely the cleanest, loudest show I have ever seen or heard.
 

Xoc1

Member
2008-11-08 8:25 pm
Devon UK
Without doubt the best PA system I have ever heard is the old Turbosound Flashlight system. The last time I heard this was a Glastonbury festival (UK).
The system there used the single 21" horn cabinets for bass and was a 4 way horn loaded point source system.
Pink Floyd used this system on their Division Bell Tour.
Most PA systems are limited when in use due to sound regulations, but one morning when I was in my tent camping above the main stage it was apparent that the PA was run without any limiters or compression. The PA guy played Pop Culture by Thomas Dolby (Album - Aliens Ate My Buick) and the sound was amazingly dynamic and the ground shook with the bass.
I have been to Glastonbury festival a few times since and have heard Nexo, lacoustics and Martin Audio Line array systems (but unfortunately missed the Funktion One Point source system) None of the line array systems can come close!
Recent systems that have impressed me have included D & B Audiotechnik J series line array (Muse Teignmouth Homecoming Gig), and Turbosound Aspect (Leftfield 2010 UK Tour):cool:
 
The Eagles had one of the best live/sounding shows, when they did the "Hell freezes over" tour. The sound was a beautiful mix, and for being outdoors at a football stadium, it sounded great. The second best was Boston's "Walk on" tour. Both of these bands had a good spectrum of sound, which you could feel the beats, but you did not get "ear fatigue", which makes me feel nauseated, with a dull headache.

On the other side, the loudest one I have been to was AC/DC's "Ball Breaker" tour, and a close second was Extreme's "Take Us Alive" tour. Both of these concerts I wish I had earplugs, after the AC/DC one, I started taking earplugs to every concert. When you can't hear the phone ring, 3 days after a show, you know it was too loud.
 
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Pano

Administrator
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2004-10-07 6:05 am
Panama
In my experience most of the guys in charge of the concert PAs have broken/deaf/damaged hearing

WHAT?? Can you speak up, please?? :p

Sometimes it's not the P.A., it's the tech and the musicians. On the same P.A. (mine) I've heard awful sound and great.

Bela Fleck and Jesse Colin Young come to mind. Both musicians and soundmen care about the sound. Result? Great sound. It really boils down to what you care about and what you want.


FYI, yes, those big Marshal stacks are empty, just for show.
 
not sur

I've seen AC/DC, the Stones, Iron Maden, Scorpions, Rush, Dokken, Rage Against the Machine, Candelbox, Counting Crows, Priest, Dire Straits, Metallica (3 times), Elvis Costello, Genesis, etc.... countless shows in the '80s when all I did was listen to music and try to graduate with a useful degree from school.

None of these shows had very good, clean sound. Everything was always too loud and distorted, I started with the earplugs early. I will say that the loudest show was at my school MUB, and was the Smithereens. A small room and they used a PA designed for a stadium. It was crazy loud. I mean crazy loud. This coming from a guy who loves loud music.

Even circque de soleil has a crappy PA to make their live orchestra sound lousy.
 
It's really easy to blame bad sound on the band engineer, but without standing next to the guy or girl it's impossible to know the why. There are dozens of variables that can ruin the day for sound, and those same variables can work in favor the next night.
It's possible AC/DC doesn't use all the Marshall amps now, but not so long ago they absolutely were active and not just scenery.
Metallica in a roundabout way also owns their pa, which is almost exclusively Meyer. We work with their provider whenever they do the garden or another venue where they need extra cabinets. Lots of extra cabinets. The sub array they and the boys at Meyer came up with for their most recent tour is CRAZY.

The best concert sound I have heard is actually The Met Opera during their summer parks tour. I may be a little biased because it's our pa, but I am usually used in a capacity, along with several other techs, to hear flaws between the main M3D arrays and the 8 or so delay zones of MILO and MICA. Hearing the Met sound like its ten feet in front of you- 500ft from the stage is really quite extraordinary.