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Author Topic: LF haystack  (Read 1374 times)

Kent Clasen

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LF haystack
« on: April 14, 2021, 10:34:30 AM »

Hello all!

When tuning a sound system for a live music venue what do you or your customer/mixer people ~usually~ like to hear for the sub low end haystack relative to mid frequencies? Obviously this is very subjective but wanted to see what other’s experiences have been.

It would seem with an aux feed sub that if you have ~15dB of hay stack that when pushing the system you would run out of headroom in the subs much quicker.
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Russell Ault

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2021, 11:46:26 AM »

Hello all!

When tuning a sound system for a live music venue what do you or your customer/mixer people ~usually~ like to hear for the sub low end haystack relative to mid frequencies? Obviously this is very subjective but wanted to see what other’s experiences have been.

It would seem with an aux feed sub that if you have ~15dB of hay stack that when pushing the system you would run out of headroom in the subs much quicker.

As a BE I (re-)tune for flat ("equal amplitude"), but I know I'm weird.

-Russ
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Brian Jojade

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2021, 12:23:43 PM »

It would seem with an aux feed sub that if you have ~15dB of hay stack that when pushing the system you would run out of headroom in the subs much quicker.

That's only true if you don't bring enough sub for the way you want to operate it.

Personally, I like to tune my system pretty flat and then adjust the individual channels to sound the way I want them to.  If I need more low end on a channel that produces low end, I fix the problem there instead of using the system EQ to do that.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2021, 01:30:11 PM »



Personally, I like to tune my system pretty flat and then adjust the individual channels to sound the way I want them to.  If I need more low end on a channel that produces low end, I fix the problem there instead of using the system EQ to do that.
You would get a better spectral balance on a "board" recording this way as well.
That said, if I am mixing a contemporary pop dance band, I like an aux fed sub so I can push the whole bottom end for different songs.
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2021, 03:52:37 PM »

Another one for flat system. The PA should convey what's coming out of the mixing desk to the audience. The art/science line is (IMO) at the master outputs of the mixing desk.

Chris
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Brian Jojade

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2021, 05:55:29 PM »

You would get a better spectral balance on a "board" recording this way as well.
That said, if I am mixing a contemporary pop dance band, I like an aux fed sub so I can push the whole bottom end for different songs.

I might disagree with you there.  If your goal is both recording AND the live performance, then you need to create the mix in the board to sound good for recording, then tweak the house EQ to make it sound the way that you want in the room.  Sometimes that can be dramatically different.
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Steve-White

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2021, 12:53:31 PM »

I might disagree with you there.  If your goal is both recording AND the live performance, then you need to create the mix in the board to sound good for recording, then tweak the house EQ to make it sound the way that you want in the room.  Sometimes that can be dramatically different.

Recording is adding a twist to what the OP stated - but you're right it changes things.

This caught my attention as I did a system revamp in my den this week followed by full re-tune starting at the DSC. 

I got started in pro audio with a DJ system.  Working my way up the learning curve in time using an RTA for system setup and learning how to tune up a playback system to how I liked it.  Nowhere near flat.  However, for a reinforcement system I like to pretty much "flat line" the tuneup and do it all on the console.  But for a playback system flat doesn't sound good at all.  I was going to start up a thread on this topic and was considering how not to start a war in the process.

To expand on the OP's point and yours regarding creating a recording.  At the other end of the chain is playback.  Virtually any playback media for music I'm familiar with sounds pretty dull and lifeless on a system tuned flat, whereas for a reinforcement system I like to start flat or what I consider a clean slate and paint the picture at the console.

Interesting to see other views on this:  Reinforcement -vs- playback system setup tuning.
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Kent Clasen

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2021, 04:26:34 PM »

Recording is adding a twist to what the OP stated - but you're right it changes things.

This caught my attention as I did a system revamp in my den this week followed by full re-tune starting at the DSC. 

I got started in pro audio with a DJ system.  Working my way up the learning curve in time using an RTA for system setup and learning how to tune up a playback system to how I liked it.  Nowhere near flat.  However, for a reinforcement system I like to pretty much "flat line" the tuneup and do it all on the console.  But for a playback system flat doesn't sound good at all.  I was going to start up a thread on this topic and was considering how not to start a war in the process.

To expand on the OP's point and yours regarding creating a recording.  At the other end of the chain is playback.  Virtually any playback media for music I'm familiar with sounds pretty dull and lifeless on a system tuned flat, whereas for a reinforcement system I like to start flat or what I consider a clean slate and paint the picture at the console.

Interesting to see other views on this:  Reinforcement -vs- playback system setup tuning.

I agree with playback and LF haystack sounds better. I do more system setup/design/tuning than mixing. So I tend to give the mixer person what they want/like.

So a few thoughts/questions:

-Most BEs seems to come into a new room and play a track. Do they complain if the system is “flat’?

- What about a venue like the one I am currently working on tuning that 50% of their shows are hip hop or DJs vs live bands? Flat or haystack?

I am a little surprised by the “flat” responses. I assumed it would be more of a mix or lean towards haystack.

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Steve-White

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2021, 07:48:56 PM »

I've done a lot of DJ shows as "the sound guy" bringing in the PA, multiple DJ's playing sets, for low rider car shows, hip hop, public dance, private dance party's and club installs.

Always pump up the bottom end.

At reinforcement jobs for live acts, when the system is flattened out, I always just add some eq to the source, which is either CD deck or laptop.

And before sound check, when the promoters and band managers are loitering around I put some program on and ring the SOB out - 1) to load/stress the system, 2) remove any doubt on where the problem lies if what's coming off the stage sounds like schitt.
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Helge A Bentsen

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2021, 02:24:57 AM »

Something to consider, a LF haystack isn't just "turning up the subs".
Usually your mains need a LF boost too so they can keep up with raised sub levels, especially on systems with small mains.
That has a impact on your available headroom, but usually makes the sound system sound more "fat" than "boomy".
IME people who enjoy mixing on a "flat" system is more concerned with "boomy" AKA loud subs. Give them a sound system that sounds more "fat" they're usually fine, and the system sounds better for DJ playback and background music.

If possible, I try to make a preset for both and have the one mixing or paying the check decide.
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Luke Geis

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2021, 04:48:32 PM »

I go for flat as well. I prefer the sub-content to sound equal and relative to the mids and highs. I also run subs on an aux.

I do a LOT of board mixes and live recordings where I have to balance the live sound with the recording quality. I prefer taking the board mix hot off the main master. I balance the two worlds by running the PA through a matrix and tuning the PA to match what I hear in my ears. More or less the Dave Rat tuning trick. The prescription is simple. If you have a set of earbuds or headphones you trust, tune the PA to sound like they do. Then what you hear in your ears is nearly the same as what you hear in the room. Doing this I find I can get damn good 2-track board mixes and the room sounds great as well. No complaints so far.

The haystack thing I find is only reserved for music that depends on it ( hip hop, pop et all ) and when realistic recording of the media is not crucial or needed.
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Steve-White

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2021, 05:44:07 PM »

^^^ I do it similar Luke.  Dial it in with the equipment, then the final is tuning is done listening with known program material.

For a club or portable DJ system I tune it up and listen to known well engineered program material of the genre of the system intent.

Once it's dialed in pretty close, crank it up and walk out in front or onto dance floor and close my eyes.  When I can visualize it, it's right.  When I can see the brass shining off of the horns, see the band playing it - done.

When designing system, headroom is the name of the game.  Always have a bit more in the low mids for talk-over with compressors setup for ducking on the DJ mic.  Sounds real clean, clear, articulate and not ear piercing.
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Matthias McCready

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2021, 05:44:59 PM »


It would seem with an aux feed sub that if you have ~15dB of hay stack that when pushing the system you would run out of headroom in the subs much quicker.

If you are not already aware keep in mind when you haystack the subs, that you are moving the physical crossover of the system and your subs.

For example (obviously this is speaker dependent) if your system DSP crossover is set at  60hz, if you had an 18dB haystack your actual crossover frequency could now be 125hz.

--

Personally I prefer flat as well. Let channel processing do its job  ;)

--

As to board mixes it is REALLY nice when you have a fantastic system which is relatively flat, your room is great, and your mix position is in a great place. However as we all know this isn't often the circumstance.

My current house gig has a top brand PA; unfortunately the overall deployment of the rig and the mix position negates a great board mix. For a board mix recording (to examine mix decisions, show execution etc) I usually use a matrix that is getting the same groups as the PA, and I have found for most venues some processing on the record matrix can account for an imperfect system/deployment/room and help things to translate. With recording separated on a Matrix I can mix for the PA/Room and still have a valuable tool for afterwards.
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Luke Geis

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2021, 01:37:03 PM »

Matthias,

    The shift in acoustic crossover points is true, but not true. Once you set the levels, crossovers, and other DSP, you don't mess with the master levels. At unity gain, you are in theory, utilizing the system as it was set up to run. The acoustic crossover point will not change provided you don't change the master send levels.

Now where things differ is the relative send levels of each channel. If you send the kick drum at a very high level to the subs, its acoustic crossover point may be shifted in relation to the mains, but that is kind of the whole idea. However, as with anything, too much of a good thing is still too much. If you send the level to the sub aux too high, you may end up with a very weak and anemic sounding board mix because you allocated the energy too much towards the subs.

The name of the game is balance. I DO NOT like too much low-end; so I strive hard to keep it curtailed and under wraps. This is probably why I like systems that have very little or no haystack subs responses? I also never cared for the idea of boosting a bunch of 50-80hz on the kick drum. To me, it sounds unnatural. This is how you end up with live recordings where the kick drum is just a big fluffy pooooof and walks all over everything. With subs on an aux, you can tune things to sound right in your ears and in the main PA, and then add them to the subs as needed/desired. The subs simply become a way to fill out the rest of the sonic spectrum. If you gain a channel up past unity gain on a send, does the acoustic crossover point change? I purpose NO it doesn't, because the DSP and the rest of the system doesn't know if that sound was supposed to be that way or not. I.E. If the channel needed to be turned up that much to get the desired sound, it was devoid of that media to begin with and if it sounds right when gained up as such, then it is right, and you haven't broken the rules of PA systems design and deployment doing it :)

So once again, it is about balance. The trick I was taught many years ago as it relates to subs on an aux was to tune the channel with its aux send off. Once the channel sounded right in the mains, then you added the subs in to taste. This is where the headphone/earbuds trick really works well if you are doing live recordings. Your headphones give you a full-range response indicative of a full-range speaker system. If it sounds good in your ears, then it should also sound good out of your PA. If that is true, then from the PA with no subs it will sound weak and thin. So as you add in the subs from the channels aux send, it should fill out and sound wonderful again.

There is no rule that says you can't send every channel to the subs either, although objectively the idea is to not. Utilizing subs on an aux can free up LOTS of headroom for live band situations. I have found that with some tricks, you can free up as much as 9db, which may be just enough to take you from not nearly enough to just enough.

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Matthias McCready

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2021, 01:46:13 PM »

Matthias,

    The shift in acoustic crossover points is true, but not true. Once you set the levels, crossovers, and other DSP, you don't mess with the master levels. At unity gain, you are in theory, utilizing the system as it was set up to run. The acoustic crossover point will not change provided you don't change the master send levels.



Yes, this is what I had meant.

I have seen guys set the crossover (tune/tone the PA), and then do their giant haystack. Obviously if the haystack is accounted for when setting the crossover things will be fine.

The trick I was taught many years ago as it relates to subs on an aux was to tune the channel with its aux send off. Once the channel sounded right in the mains, then you added the subs in to taste.


This is also how I run things (when Subs are on Aux, which is most of the time for me).
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2021, 02:23:18 PM »

I like a system that is linear - what comes out of the loudspeaker system accurately reflects the signal from the console.  Other than as a special effect, I'd prefer to shape the LF of my mix *in my mix* because that's the way the artist will listen to the 2 track in the back lounge of the bus.

But there are at least 2 types of FOH mixerpersons - those that put on a track, twist some knobs and then say "I can (or can't) work with this" and those who want to hit "play" and have the rig make them smile, and if it doesn't it may be a long day.

That said, the perception of LF and it's spectral place in a mix has changed a lot over the last 30 years.  In general I think many consumers believe that LF sounds like "car stereo rap tunes" and anything less is not right.  Much of the public expects a good deal more LF/ELF than was customary in most live venues 20 years ago.

The difference between a live band being mixed and DJ performances - the DJ may or may not have the capability to do 'system processing' in the mixer (and I'd really not want that) so if proper performance of the system in the venue requires that DJ shows sound 'right', right out of the box, build in the haystack.  As a live band mixer I can shelve/HPF a post-record L/R feed to send to the system if I don't like it.  I'd rather not, but I think (hope) the BE can deal with that better than a DJ can deal with its absence.
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Art Welter

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Re: LF haystack
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2021, 04:25:55 PM »

I agree with playback and LF haystack sounds better. I do more system setup/design/tuning than mixing. So I tend to give the mixer person what they want/like.

So a few thoughts/questions:

1)-Most BEs seems to come into a new room and play a track. Do they complain if the system is “flat’?
2)- What about a venue like the one I am currently working on tuning that 50% of their shows are hip hop or DJs vs live bands? Flat or haystack?
3)I am a little surprised by the “flat” responses. I assumed it would be more of a mix or lean towards haystack.
Kent,

The "flat vs haystack" or loudness contour discussion has been around since aux fed subs were popularized around 1978, and dual purpose live/DJ systems had to "live together".
1) For the most part, I've encountered no complaints if the system set for flat amplitude response has the LF extension and headroom they desired.
2) Pre-sets for both.
Optimum speaker configurations for DJ/dance use may also be quite different than for live band use.
Some portions of the systems may overlap, while others would be best used independently.
3) Perhaps the "haystack" engineers got jobs on farms during the Covid19 fallout, and not have returned to audio yet ;^).
This is the "Audio Measurement and Testing" section, response from the Lounge, Church Sound, DJ and other forums would have more that want an arbitrarily boosted cartoon version of their mix, and less who desire an accurate representation of the output of their console's main output.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: LF haystack
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2021, 04:25:55 PM »


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