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Author Topic: Optimization Training Suggestions  (Read 3719 times)

Jason Grooms

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Optimization Training Suggestions
« on: March 02, 2011, 01:02:30 pm »

Hi all - I have been involved in music for quite some time and know my way around the various components of a sound system however I want to take my knowledge to the next level and get into optimizing systems.

My dilemma is this, most of the material I have come across immediately dives into theory of sound and the mathematical formulas as to why the sound is doing what it is doing.  Now don't get me wrong all of that information is vital and required to be an expert in the field of sound system optimization, however, I am not trying to immediately be an expert and find the overload of theory a bit overwhelming and frankly, not that immediately useful.

What I am looking for is kind of a primer geared for the novice in sound system optimization.  Something that says here are the important things you should be doing or consideringand  provide examples of where the most common mistakes are made, screen shots of spectrum analysis displaying what common problems look like (modes, standing waves, etc) and potential ways of dealing with them, etc.  In other words, I want to hit the major opportunities and slowly dig deeper into theory as my experience grows. 

Like I said, it seems most of the material I have seen does the exact opposite and seems to spend page after page on formulas and theory which is a huge investment when you just want to get to the basics and hit the ground running.  I am not tuning a massive line array at Staples Center, I'm dealing with small club systems in crappy rooms, lol, what should I be focusing on?

Hope that makes sense and any feedback would be appreciated.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Optimization Training Suggestions
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2011, 01:25:00 pm »

Like I said, it seems most of the material I have seen does the exact opposite and seems to spend page after page on formulas and theory which is a huge investment when you just want to get to the basics and hit the ground running.  I am not tuning a massive line array at Staples Center, I'm dealing with small club systems in crappy rooms, lol, what should I be focusing on?

Hope that makes sense and any feedback would be appreciated.

The formulas and theory don't change because you're using a small system in a crappy room.  That's why there isn't a "Shitty Club Rig Optimization for Dummies" book.

Meyer has a 2 day basic class on design & optimization, and it's cheap, cheap, cheap for what you can learn.  SynAudCon also has training that is very good indeed.   Neither will let you off the formula and theory hook.

There's nothing wrong, though, with reading things that take you into territory you don't completely understand; just don't make final decisions based on not-understood material.  Don't be afraid to use your ears in all phases of setup and optimization, too.  They are the final judge and it's wise to trust them over a squiggly line on a computer monitor.

Have fun, good luck.

Tim Mc
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Iain.Macdonald

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Re: Optimization Training Suggestions
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2011, 02:49:50 pm »

Jason,

Basic theory is needed, and there is no way to avoid the maths and formulas. This is both a subjective(hearing system) and objective(electro-acoustic measurements) speciality. If you want to avoid the maths, become a lighting operator. Like Tim said, the first thing is to use your hearing system. Keep an eye on this useful aid, and use it to develop your critical listening ability. New version coming soon.

If the music has vocals, make sure the audience can hear the vocals.
Kick drum is part of the music, not the lead instrument.
Loud is not better.
Less is often more.
Monitors are very important, because a happy musician gives a better performance.

Iain.
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Optimization Training Suggestions
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2011, 02:50:38 pm »

If you haven't done it already, you need to purchase and read a couple of books. The two that I always recommend to beginners and entry level people are the following:

Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook

and the Live Sound Reinforcement by Mix magazine.

Both will take you through the basics of equipment, standard set up, and troubleshooting and don't deal with digital consoles, or line arrays. Yes there's math involved, but it's a requirement of working in a science based field.
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Jason Grooms

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Re: Optimization Training Suggestions
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2011, 04:00:37 pm »

Let me be clear, I realize theory is important and am not discounting learning the theory.  However, there are appropriate times to introduce beginning, intermediate and advanced theoretical concepts.  Like I said, most of the material I have seen jumps right in and buries you in formulas without balancing out those formulas with the practical implementation of those theories nor does it give any advice on simply where to start from an optimization point of view.

The other end of the spectrum are books that tell me what a compressor is or what an EQ does - this is the opposite end of the spectrum (no pun intended) and are too basic.  I know what a compressor is, reverb, etc.  Where is the material in the middle?  The material for the person who understands the basics and wants to leverage their investment and push their system to its maximum potential.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Optimization Training Suggestions
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2011, 05:07:56 pm »

Just to get you started-here are a couple of very basic questions:

Do you understand phase (NOT polarity) and what it means?

Do you know how to figure out wavelengths (1/2 1/4 etc) for a given freq?

Do you have the proper tools to do the alignment (NO, an RTA is not going to do you any real good)?

Do you understand how to read a graph?  You would be surprised how many people can't read a simple graph and understand what it means.

Do you know your basic freq ranges-such as what freq does a sub typically cover?  What is the useful lower range of a high freq horn and so forth?

Do you understand impedance and what it means and how to measure it (NO a ohm meter is not the right tool).  This may not be all that important as long as things are working properly, but they are not it is one of the first things to check.

Do you understand dB differences-in power-voltage-distance and so forth?  Do you know how to calculate them?

I'm sure others will add more.  There is no simple "plug it in and get a reading and then fix it" type of thing.

Getting a display on a computer screen is one thing-having one that makes sense and is usable is often quite another.  Is the display real or not-that is one of the first things that you will have to learn.
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Optimization Training Suggestions
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2011, 05:10:34 pm »

Not sure what you are looking for. System tuning is a pretty advanced level of sound reinforcement. It can't really be done without learning the formulas that determine standing waves, delay times, and frequency response.

I guess you could get one of the iPhone RTA apps and start using that to set your EQs.

The bible as far as system tuning is Bob McCarthy's  Sound Systems: Design and Optimization. Even though it's pretty deep in a lot of areas, it's still very accessible. Bob's philosophy is to let the software do the heavy lifting for you (or something to that effect). But you still have to understand the basics and why the software is telling you what it is.

Other than that, check out some of the various articles available for free from Pro Sound Web, or Live Sound International.
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Charlie Zureki

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Re: Optimization Training Suggestions
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2011, 05:40:49 pm »

Let me be clear, I realize theory is important and am not discounting learning the theory.  However, there are appropriate times to introduce beginning, intermediate and advanced theoretical concepts.  Like I said, most of the material I have seen jumps right in and buries you in formulas without balancing out those formulas with the practical implementation of those theories nor does it give any advice on simply where to start from an optimization point of view.

The other end of the spectrum are books that tell me what a compressor is or what an EQ does - this is the opposite end of the spectrum (no pun intended) and are too basic.  I know what a compressor is, reverb, etc.  Where is the material in the middle?  The material for the person who understands the basics and wants to leverage their investment and push their system to its maximum potential.

   Hello,

   Unfortunately, this is one of those subjects that someone either understands the concepts or doesn't.  The information can be better understood by participating in a "hands on" class.
 
  I'd suggest that you take advantage of the next, closest Meyer class, or, save your money, and attend the Syn- Aud- Con class.

  Knowing this information can set apart the aspiring pro vs the weekend hack. 

   Cheers,
   Hammer
  ps.  don't sweat all the details, just read, read and re-read.....while attending a class and seeing how it's done, it'll fall into place.
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Jason Grooms

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Re: Optimization Training Suggestions
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2011, 03:58:25 pm »

Knowing this information can set apart the aspiring pro vs the weekend hack. 

Exactly why I am trying to learn more on this topic.


Thanks to everyone for their feedback.
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