As part of their current U.S. tour, the Scottish group Old Blind Dogs came to my neck of the woods for the last two days. Thanks to my previous "connection" with the sponsoring Green Willow Folk Club through the 2nd Kennett Square Community Music Festival, I was asked to provide some advice and assistance in setting up for these two events (Mon, Jul 31, and Tue, Aug 1).
The first concert was a small "acoustic" performance held in a "special events" room at Costa's in Wilmington, Delaware. As you can see from the photo below, it was a somewhat interesting room to set up in. Seating is for about 50-60 people. This picture was taken from a balcony (NOT used for seating!); there is a bar below the balcony.
The Folk Club has two L1+1B1 Systems and a Mackie 1202VLZ; I brought along with an additional pair of B1's and an A1 (Packlite), since for their second (larger) concert they were not going to have their usual bass amp available.
Knowing that "L1's in a corner" is not usually a good thing, you can see below the initial setup, prior to the band arriving for sound check the next day. The band had requested a total of 16 lines/mics, including 4 vocal mics, all the instruments had pickups, and the drums. The Mackie has only 8 really useable input strips (4 mics, 4 stereo line inputs) ... what to do? Since it was to be a largely "acoustic" setting, the decision was to NOT mic the percussion, and set the levels of everthing else around that.
I recommended we put the 4 vocal mics direct into the PS/1's Channel 1 & 2 using the SM58 presets, then use the Mackie to run all the other inputs into Channel 3 of each PS/1. They had 33' Remote cables, so that worked with putting the Remotes on the table with the little Mackie. I also suggested the electric bass be run directly into Channel 4 of the System to which I added the Packlite+2B1s (giving it a total of 3 B1s). After some hemming & hawing by the sound guy, he did some testing of that arrangement (using his CD player to "test" the arrangement), and it seemed workable. He *was* really pleased with the vocal quality, and I helped him get all the gain staging set up appropriately, so there were no problems with having adequate volume in the room.
Some tips on setup details: After getting the Trim on the PS/1s set for the mics, I set the Channel Level controls on the Remotes to about "1 o'clock", then we brought up the Master to a level which sounded good. In case they needed to have more vocals later, I "tested" by turning up the Channel Levels all the way up (~5 o'clock). That started to cause feedback, so I turned the Master down just a little ( ~1/4 of a marking), and also turned down the High EQ a bit (~1/2 a marking). My thinking was that I wanted the mics to have as much "headroom" as possible ... it was a surprising amount with this arrangement. I then turned the Channel Levels back down to 1 o'clock. We then set up the mixer levels to use with the Master at that setting.
On the Mixer, we decided to use the two AUX Send channels, rather than the mains. That made it easier to visually see which inputs went to which System ... and to allow cross-system input (for the instruments, anyway) if necessary -- which it did NOT turn out to be necessary. (Five more pictures after this ... 4 with the performers ...)
Here is the band, sitting and playing. They decided at the sound check (for which I was not present) to use all the instruments acoustic ... of course, they had the vocal mics, and I watched them move in and out toward the mics to adjust the sound as they played various songs and parts!
They told me that the bass sounded really distorted when plugged in direct, but was good when they routed it through the Mackie -- which, by this time, was really the only thing they were using the mixer for (besides 'break' music from a CD). I had my suspicions -- later confirmed -- that the problem was the bass player had plugged into the INSERT of Channel 2, not the Channel 4 input!
Notice that the two L1's are nearly at right angles to each other; with this arrangement, no one performer was very far from either of the L1's.
In this second photo from the balcony, you can see that Aaron Jones has switched to the electric bass.
Because of the smallness of the room, the sound in the balcony was good ... but not nearly as good as on the main floor!
Having only 2 mics into each L1 provided real nice "openness" ... you could tell where the sound was coming from when a new melodic phrase was introduced by an instrument or a vocalists; your eyes naturally went to where the sound was coming from.
I asked the band members about this first show setup before their show the next night. They said it was a bit different than they were used to, but after a little adjustment period it was fine. I told them they seemed to do well at balancing their instruments by leaning into/away from the mics as needed.
Next day, their concert was at the American Legion Hall in Kennett Square, PA. This is a wood-paneled room with a "dreaded box stage"! They had sold ~145 tickets, and the back half of the room was set up for a buffet dinner.
Because of previous experiences (bad) the Green Willow folks had with this room in using the L1 Systems (on their own), they had already decided to use conventional triple speakers and monitors. Sigh. They only brought one of the L1's, anyway, so we couldn't even have effectively tried another alternative. All they intended the L1 System for was as a bass amp.
So, I just hooked up all 4 B1's to the one L1 (using the Packlite for 2, of course), turning it into an "extended bass" System; you can see that stack at the right on the stage. Ten minutes later, I was helping the rest of the crew set up the rest of the sound and lights -- for the next 2 hours. Of course, I had to reinforce the notion that the L1 *could* fill that room! So I took an unused AUX output (from the large 24 channel Mackie mixer they were using for this venue) into the PS/1 so I could demonstrate an "A/B" comparison between one L1 System and the two large EV triple speakers (using the "break" music being played during the setup). Note also they had 4 15" JBL powered monitors on the stage in front of each vocal mic position and two smaller monitors back by the percussion! There was no question about the L1 getting loud enough -- but they didn't have time to try anything else, so the Bose L1 just served (wonderfully!) as a bass amp. We did take a line-out from Channel 1 back to the main board, but they didn't have to add much more than a tiny bit of the bass through the main board.
I'm glad I don't have to haul all that stuff around each time I perform!
Old Blind Dogs travels with their own sound guy -- he did not run the smaller show the day before, but he did run the board at this larger venue. That's one way to ensure rather consistent sound from show to show...
Here's a photo of the band during the performance. They are good.
(I'll show a couple of pictures of how the "pipes" guy, Rory Campbell, has two of his instruments mic'd in the "Wind Instruments" section of this Bose forum.)
As I listened to this performance, several thoughts crossed my mind:
In this last photo, you can see the bass player, Aaron Jones, grooving to his sound from the extended bass L1 System.
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