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How much does speaker polarity matter?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by [email protected], Jan 2, 2008.

  1. The snag with this is you can improve any delay effects at one point in
    the station - but it will actually make it worse elsewhere. It can be
    useful for sound reinforcement from a stage etc where you want to mix the
    acoustic and speaker feeds - but beware if recording such an event the
    effects might be heard in the recording.

    I think the improvements in stations are due to more and better DP
    speakers and from a much higher quality audio chain than used to be the
    norm. I've often thought the old adage that you don't need decent quality
    for mere speech rubbish.
  2. Ron(UK)

    Ron(UK) Guest

    Delays only work where the 'audience' is relatively static. The whole
    problem with highly reflective areas such as railway stations is the
    multitude of reflections from all the hard surfaces bouncing every
    which way. The secret is to use far more speakers at much lower volume
    which is what we are seeing in railway stations these days. The TOA mini
    line arrays seem to be very popular atm.

  3. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    So, since we're talking drums and how to get the proper sound from them, and
    as you are from the other side of the pond to me, can you explain why
    drummers on a live gig seem to get shoved inside a glass cell ? I have seen
    it on a number of occasions in Vegas, and a few minutes ago, I was watching
    a Rod Stewart concert in New York on VH1, and again, the drummer and his
    kit, were in this glass gas chamber looking thingy. Now the last time I
    actually stopped to take notice of one such setup in Vegas, I gotta tell you
    that the drums sounded awful. It was like the guy was playing - well -
    behind glass, really ... Muted, no punch, no zing on the metals, no tap or
    rattle on the snares. Cow bell sounded like it was on one that had fallen
    down a ravine ! You get the picture, I'm sure. So, even if those drums were
    mic'd up and fed to the PA, they still lacked that 'live' sound that no
    matter how good a recording engineer is, and how good your hifi is, is
    practically impossible to reproduce. Is it a health and safety thing perhaps
    ? Are drums considered to be dangerous compared to other instruments,
    because there is a lot of physical thrashing going on, with the potential to
    break sticks ?

  4. It's an attempt to screen off the drum kit acoustically from other stage
  5. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    But to what effect, exactly ? Surely if the sound engineer knows what he's
    doing, such dubious techniques are not required. I can't say that I've ever
    seen it done here in the UK. And if the sound engineer was any kind of
    professional - and I can't believe that in a place like Vegas where the
    production is everything, that he / she would be anything *other* than a
    proper professional - then surely, when he stepped out into the main body of
    the hall, he would have to be thinking that the sound from the drum kit was
    bloody awful, and sounded nothing like percussion should.

    I mean, I am no recording engineer, but I've seen enough bands playing live,
    and listened to enough recorded music, to know that what I heard, didn't
    sound even remotely 'right' ...

  6. That's not the point. A loud instrument can spill onto the mics for quiet
    ones to the point where they drown out the sound from that quiet
    instrument. A favourite example would be strings. In this sort of band
    you'll often see the violins with mics mounted on the bridge in an attempt
    to get the maximum 'clean' signal from them - regardless of it being a
    dreadful place to mic up strings. Same with saxophones, etc.
    It's commonplace.
    Difficult to comment on this individual case, but if that enclosed drum
    kit was properly mic'd up and balanced it should sound ok in the hall.

    The other problem is that the sound engineer doesn't always have the final
    say in the layout of the band. Some sort of set designer often has. And
    may go for a 'look' that isn't sound friendly. Happens all the time in TV.
  7. Ron(UK)

    Ron(UK) Guest

    It`s to keep the sound of the drums out of all the other mikes on stage.
    A heavy handed drummer on a loud kit can appear on every mike channel on
    the desk, particularly where mikes are set at high gains such as strings
    and vocals. Separation is the key to great live sound.

    The screens are made from perspex (plexiglass in leftpondia) which has a
    high sonic density. A sheet of perspex stood in front of a guitar combo
    has a marked effect on it`s apparent loudness, sadly most guitarists
    regard such ploys as evil and not to be encouraged!

    I can't say that I've ever
    Me neither

    And if the sound engineer was any kind of
    Once you remove the room ambience from a drumkit, it`s not easy to put
    it back. From what I`ve heard of US shows, the drums are generally
    processed to hell. Phil Collins has a lot to answer for ;)
  8. Been used with 'in shot' TV orks for over 30 years.
  9. Ron(UK)

    Ron(UK) Guest

    Oh I thought we were talking about live concerts,

  10. They are similar in many ways.

    And yes - I've seem them in use at live concerts - which happened to be
    televised too.
  11. Meat Plow

    Meat Plow Guest

    Yup. Also gives the sound people ultimate control as to how the drums
    appear in everyone's monitor and lessens feedback by isolating several
    mics from the stage mix. Isolation also helps for those who use those
    in-ear monitors where you can't just step back from your floor monitor
    if someone is too loud.
  12. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    Well, I guess that I gotta bow to the superior knowledge of all you guys who
    are into this sort of thing for a living. I just don't rememeber seeing it
    at live concerts featuring such worthies as The Beatles, and the Stones and
    Roxy Music and Dire Straits and The Who and so on. All of whom had loud drum
    kits, but didn't seem to suffer from live sound balance problems. I think
    that there is maybe a touch of 'fad-ism' involved here, and it's just
    becoming the norm, because it's becoming the norm, if you see what I mean.

    Anyway, if it solves one problem, it certainly leaves other new ones, not
    the least of which is crap live sound in each of the instances where I've
    seen it done (in America). Apart from which, it also *looks* bloody stupid,
    and must leave the drummer feeling like he doesn't belong to the rest of the
    band ...

    Oh, and the last one that I saw it done on, during the last visit, was a
    simple 4-piece plus girl singer. No strings or brass or anything fancy.

  13. Ron(UK)

    Ron(UK) Guest

    When I saw the Stones they had 30 watt guitar combos and a 50 watt bass
    amp, and the PA was a glorious 50 watts. I could hear the vocals just
    fine, of course in those days drummers were taught how to play quietly
    yet dynamically!

    One thing has just struck me, maybe the bands you saw were using drum
    screens because... horror of horrors the drummers you were hearing
    were not the drummers you were seeing? It happens a lot on big live
    shows, either the music (or part of it) is on playback and they are
    miming, or the real orchestra/band are elsewhere in the building.

    I remember reading a write up on a show (I think Celine Dion, but I
    could be mistaken), where the real band were backstage while the all
    girl band on stage happily mimed along. It`s not easy to mime playing
    drums without hitting them.

  14. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    I would have to say, Ron, that I don't believe that the drum playing was
    'staged' as such. Unless the drummer was exceptionally skilled at mime, then
    from what I could see, which was only just in front of them, I would have to
    say that he was genuinely beating the living shit out of those skins ...

    I have seen just about all of the shows in Vegas, including Celine Dion at
    Caesars, now ended, and they really are massive productions. Whilst it is
    common for the orchestra to be out of the way, particularly in the case of
    Cirque du Soleil productions, which many of them are, the musicians are
    genuinely playing, and I have never seen any pretence of it being otherwise.
    In a couple of the shows, the orchestra are in 'columns' at either side of
    the stage and, whilst they are not on 'open' display, they are also not
    hidden, and are their enclosures are subtly internally lit such that you can
    see them playing if you care to look, without them being intrusive to the
    main stage action. In Celine's case, the musical director or writer or
    whatever he was, who was also the keyboard player, was out front of the main
    stage, but not *on* the stage, and was gently lit, along with his multiple
    keyboards, so he was a feature, without being a 'feature', if you see what I

    So there doesn't in general seem to be any issue over there with 'fake'
    musicians in the big productions, so I don't see any reason that it should
    be particularly different in the 'open club' type environments that I saw
    the bands in question, playing in.

    Is there really honestly a problem with the 'one at the back, three at the
    front' format that all bands have adopted since the 50's, with the drums
    creating such an issue, that they have to be screened, and then PA'd ? If
    this is the case, would it not be better to stick the singer over one side
    of the stage with their sensitive full-range mic, and put the drum kit at
    the opposite side ? Worst case, you could just stick an acoustic blocking
    screen to the side of the drummer, instead of putting him in a ridiculous
    looking plastic jail ...

  15. Meat Plow

    Meat Plow Guest

    That's also a good point. Never thought about drum syncing. I see it all
    the time in movies though. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. Sound
    effects and Foley artists. Things like watching a Honda 4cyl bike take off
    and hearing the sound of a V twin engine. Watching a car spin its tires in
    dirt and hearing squealing sounds of tires on pavement. I once saw a movie
    where a guy on a Harley jumped over something and the bike changed in mid
    air to a dirt bike then back to a Harley when it landed :)
  16. Meat Plow

    Meat Plow Guest

    I contribute it to the evolution of technology and not being satisfied to
    leave the old school way of doing sound as it was. I like the in-ear
    monitors myself. Anyone who has played as I have on a large stage will
    appreciate not having to get used to the slight delay there is from when
    you pluck a string and when you hear that attack from your amp if
    your amp is far enough away. And it doesn't have to be very far either. 15
    or so feet is enough.
  17. Ron(UK)

    Ron(UK) Guest

    Sadly one of the legacies of the 60`s is exactly that drums in the
    middle and back line either side set up that was the norm back then.

    I often work with young bands, and it`s almost impossible to convince
    them that these days that`s not the best way to set up. After all, the
    Shadows did it that way, why shouldn`t they? Often, the onstage sound
    isn`t what I want the audience to be hearing

    I try to get them to at least angle their amps across the stage so that
    they can all hear each others amp, even better if they would put their
    amps at the front facing backwards as their own personal monitors - I
    don't need to hear their speakers, neither do I want the a narrow
    section of the audience to be blistered by the narrow 'beam' from a
    guitar speaker that`s too damn loud ,(call me a control freak, but
    that`s what I`m paid for)

    Don't get me wrong, I dont like the look of those plexiglass booths
    either, and I`ve never had to work on a show where one has been used.
    Maybe you're right and they are a leftpondian fad, you dont see em on
    'Jules' do you?

    Anyway, I would have thought that the musicians on a Vegas show should
    be sufficiently experienced and professional enough to be able to
    control their playing style, maybe it`s just the production team playing

    at > mime, then from what I could see, which was only just in front of
    shit > out of those skins ...

    Yeah he might have been, (maybe that`s why the acoustic screen was
    there) but you've no guarantee that what he was playing was what you
    were hearing, He`s not miming, he`s playing along to a pre-recorded
    track, almost all show drummers these days play along to at least a
    'click track' Often Bass drum, snare and hi hat are on a playback track
    which is what the rest of the band are hearing.

    Or.. that show might just have had a really crap sound engineer - there
    are a lot more bad ones than good ones you know :)

    Careful now, you don't want to spark off a torrent of drummer jokes!

    or do you?

  18. Ron(UK)

    Ron(UK) Guest

    Meat Plow wrote:
    I once saw a movie
    Damn that`s clever... must be one of the Chinese built Harleys
  19. Ron(UK)

    Ron(UK) Guest

    A lot of Bass guitar players can`t use in-ears for that very reason,
    they are used to the slight delay and can`t cope with the instant
    response in the ears. Some even go to the trouble of having a slight
    delay reintroduced so that it all syncs up properly.

  20. Arfa Daily

    Arfa Daily Guest

    Boy oh boy ! Whatever happened to the good ol' days when I used to go and
    watch bands like Uriah Heep playing in Johnny Walker's local just up the
    road from me ? Makes you wonder how a heavy rock band like that was able to
    set up in a pub concert hall, and just play, without all of this nonsense of
    having to mic up the drums and then put the drummer in a plastic tub. Damn,
    the musicians and roadies must have been good back then ... :)

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