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Author Topic: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre  (Read 6632 times)

Jay Reynolds

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Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« on: February 14, 2011, 06:55:10 pm »

I just got hired as sound designer for a local theatre company and we're loading in today. I need to pink the room and I'd love some tips/best practices.

It's a pretty old room with a balcony and high ceilings. I've got two SA line arrays (the black Artist series boxes) with three highpacks each. There's a 12' mid under those then a couple subs on the floor and a pair of the blue SA champ series boxes for front fill. The house has an ancient cluster that does a pretty good job of blasting 500hz all over the place and sort-of does its job of getting vocals to the back of the balcony. And I've got a couple powered RCFs on stage for foldback. This is a musical, so I'm only going to have the backing tracks in the monitors.

Soooooo...

Tomorrow is my chance to pink the room. I haven't really done that before. I spent a little time today playing some music through the system and getting a ballpark on the balance between the mains vs fronts vs cluster.

Here are my questions/thoughts/plans:

I was going to try to mimic the balance that I'm using for everything else for the test tone (lots o' mains, decent amount of fronts, only as much cluster as necessary). And I was planning on putting the RTA mic between FOH and the stage. I don't know why, but I feel like having the mic at FOH is sort of pointless because I'm set up under the balcony.

Were I to try this right now without spending any money, I'd take the ref mic that the rental company provided, plug it into my MOTU 828, run the signal into Logic Pro and use the Logic spectral analyzer to get a look at the room. But I'm not against spending some money on a better analyzer if anyone has any recommendations.

Lastly, I once saw an engineer ring a room with a RTA mic and with the pink running through a flat channel in the console along side it. I'm using a 32 channel LS9. Is that really necessary?

Thanks in advance!
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Jay Reynolds

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Re: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2011, 06:57:52 pm »

PS - In case it's not painfully obvious, I'm running OSX on my laptop.
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2011, 08:16:03 pm »

Huh...well, let's see where to start.

Tuning a system, what you call "pinking the room" is a fairly complex process. Given that you didn't mention that you are using any kind of dual or multi channel FFT software like Smaart or SpectraFoo, I guess you are just wanting to EQ the system flat to the room. If that's all you want to do, you can use the oscillator function on the LS9 to play pink noise into whatever output channels you want it on and then use your spectral analyzer to show you what's happening in the room.

But without a reference signal you won't have much of an idea of where the  differences are between the actual pink noise and what the room mic is hearing. Also, your method doesn't do anything to help you get your delay timings in line with your main system.

If you get a chance, you might want to go to Rational Acoustics' website and download the 30 day free demo of Smaart. But I suspect that since you are already in the load-in process, that you don't have time to learn a new piece of software and a whole new methodology to tune a system.

You might do better to just play some music that is well recorded and that you know very very well and tune the system by ear. That is, after all, the final arbiter of how good a system sounds.
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Rasmus Rosenberg

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Re: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2011, 10:30:04 am »

Hey Jay,
As Justice also says, I think you will be better off tuneing the system by ear. With out a dedicated plan, for  the speaker design and how to optimize it. And the lack of equiptment and knowledge of how to do it, you will be wasting your time trying. If I was you;  I would see if, I could get a long headphone cable or an IEM system and then use my headphones Eg getting the system to sound like the headphones. With a loooonnng cable or IEM system your can walk around when comparing. If you can get the system to sound "like your" headphones it will proberly help you with mixing from under the balcony.

Basic!! alignment top-> sub could be done with a sine tone. Find the tone where Top and sub are equal level then invert the polarity of the sub and try to add delay until you get the biggest cancelation, then flip the polarity back, so you get addition. If the subs arrive after the tops the delay should be add'et to the tops. Use common sense, the time should be "roughly" the difference in distance between the sources. if its twice or 3 times as much, some thing is proberly wrong. But as always it all depends.... (on the kick drum  :o... how is that for a joke  ::)
mhv
Rasmus



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William R. Conturo

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Re: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2011, 04:31:58 pm »

Ok Jay,
I am a total newbie but figured i'd jump in to make a suggestion. If you have the time, really experiment with the PA and get to know it. Run things individually. See what kind of response you are getting form different speakers with different music. An old theater can be a unusually uncontrolled environment but a really fun one to work in because of this. So bottom line here is, first, understanding what you have. second, figure out what you want. After that you can start changing things. I would try your eq/pink noise plan. Yes, it may not be the most accurate but I have just set up an RTA mic in the middle of the room, running to one channel of Smaart (analyzer) and blasted some pink noise through a PA, eq'ed from there and it made a positive difference. Ok, maybe not that easy. But any how, no mater how accurate your analization methods are of eqing, delaying, phasing, T-paining... the true test is your ears.
Another thing is, you can always go back to what you had from the start, right?

Congrats and good luck with the new Job!!!



Basic!! alignment top-> sub could be done with a sine tone. Find the tone where Top and sub are equal level then invert the polarity of the sub and try to add delay until you get the biggest cancelation, then flip the polarity back, so you get addition. If the subs arrive after the tops the delay should be add'et to the tops. Use common sense, the time should be "roughly" the difference in distance between the sources. if its twice or 3 times as much, some thing is proberly wrong. But as always it all depends....
mhv
Rasmus

I would love more details on this.. Very good method!!!  The thing I don't understand is that unless you have the subs flown with the point or array wouldn't that "biggest cancellation" be completely different everywhere in the room therefore throwing the delay off from different places??? Of course, I am totally aware that time aligning things up is common place, but just a general, off topic question of how this is most commonly dealt with.

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Dave Scarlett

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Re: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2011, 05:12:19 pm »

One of our very knowledgeable members has written a paper on this subject, here's the link:

http://www.bennettprescott.com/downloads/devil_with_rta.pdf

It's a good place to start.

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Bennett Prescott

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Re: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2011, 10:45:48 pm »

Use common sense, the time should be "roughly" the difference in distance between the sources. if its twice or 3 times as much, some thing is proberly wrong. But as always it all depends...
It's probably not going to be much like the physical distance between them, especially since the sub level has been set by ear and will probably be 10dB hot, so the acoustic crossover will be in the mid 100Hz range. The real trick is finding the correct frequency. An even more real trick is to get the phase slopes similar so that your delay is correct over a wider frequency range.
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Rasmus Rosenberg

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Re: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2011, 04:47:54 am »

True true...
I was trying to point out that one can quickly end up a cycle behind. Eg if the sub's needed 7 ms to be aligned but you add 14 ms, you still get addition. So if the distance difference are let's say 3 mtrs it's closer to 7 ms than 14ms so..As I wrote it all depends.

Any was just trying to give some guidelines;  getting the same or better results, than making a random RTA measurement.  8)

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Jasen Jacobsen

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Re: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2011, 06:55:54 am »

Some folks have mentioned Smaart which looks extremely powerful, but it's also $900 (at least direct). Anyone have opinions on FuzzMeasurewhich I'm sure does much less, but is also only $150.

- Jasen.
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Doug Fowler

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Re: Pinking a 2,500 seat theatre
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2011, 12:25:40 pm »

Free, almost full featured version of SysTune that does not expire can be found here:

http://systune.afmg.eu/index.php/st-downloads-en.html

Main differences are

1. Limited to one FFT size
2. Limited to only one average

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