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In this episode of Sound Design Live I talk with touring FOH mixer and system tech Chase Benedict about the challenges of touring, the benefits of starting out at a sound company, the dangers of relying on a single target EQ curve, and that time a lighting fixture fell on his head from 10ft in the air and he had to mix the show with electrical tape holding his face together.
- In the book Get On Tour in a section called What I hate about touring you write, “There are many things that we take for granted in life and touring can shed a unique light upon them. In that sense, the lessons learned can make one especially grateful for what they have. One might find themselves giving up the most basic of life’s necessities, like showers or decent toilet paper. There was one tour in particular where, over the course of three months I spent more days off on a bus in a Walmart parking lot than I spent at home. I can think of another time when the entire crew had to go four days without showering and then hop on a plane. Our only saving grace was the baby wipes we had on the bus.” What’s it like touring on a bus?
- You have made it it clear in the book that an important step into touring is to work with a sound company that has touring accounts. But we’ve all heard stories about people getting hired straight out of concert venues or Laundromats. Is that still a thing? Why did you choose sound companies?
- Let’s talk about the danger of relying 100% target curves. You write, “One major problem for me was thinking that an FFT could provide qualitative data. For the longest time I had several target curves I would try to achieve when calibrating the PA. While I’ve heard of this technique working well for tours that carry their own system, it doesn’t really hold up when dealing with different makes and models of boxes. Different PAs have different sonic characteristics. For example, let’s say the first leg of the tour was spent with a Meyer Leo system and the second half was spent with a combination of L’Acoustic and VTX. All three are great systems, and while the magnitude traces in Smaart might look the same, they most likely will sound very different. I dug myself into so many holes because of this. It especially becomes a problem with some of the lesser quality rigs out there. Over time I started to paying more attention to he differences in transfer function measurements and began storing individual traces for each make and model of PA. Vertec has a specific magnitude trace, as does Leo, K1, and even some of the smaller trap boxes. Then the next time I encountered one of these boxes, I would listen and EQ, observing how similar the EQ decisions I made resembled my target traces. It’s usually pretty close. This strategy has been working well for me.” First of all, what is a target curve?
- So what’s wrong with using a target curve? If I take a measurement with one system in one room and then take another measurement with another system in another room and make them match, won’t they sound exactly the same?
- If a single target curve solution doesn’t work, what can I do instead?
- There is a lot of confusion about where to place the microphone for level setting and time aligning FFs. Could you talk about how you approach this? How do you find the right mic position?
- What’s in your work bag?
- What is one book that has been helpful to you?
FFTs only provide you with quantitative data not qualitative. You’re seeing an analytical representation of what’s happeningChase Benedict
- All music in this podcast by Deborah Heltzer.
- Chase on Instagram
- Test tracks: Straighten Up and Fly Right, God Is My Friend, Doin’ It Right
- Books: Get On Tour, Sound Systems: Design and Optimization, The Brothers Karamazov, The Stranger
- Foothills Brewery in Winston-Salem, Spotted Cow Lager
- Chase’s workbag: hard hat, safety harness, high vis vest, Behringer Uphoria 404 interface, turn arounds, spare glasses, cold medicine, cable tester, multi meter, wireless CAT5 tester,
- Podcasts: Sound Design Live, Why Oh Why, Where’s my 40 acres?, Business Wars
- Spatial acoustic crossover point: The frequency and/or location where two separate sound sources combine together at equal level.
- Aligning front-fills to mains:
- Estimate spatial acoustic crossover point based on overlapping coverage patterns.
- Measure main solo.
- Measure front-fill solo.
- Use Smaart’s delay locate function to find the time offset (delta delay). Enter time offset into the delay DSP for front-fill.
- Download Chase’s target EQ curves
- Don’t shit on the bus. That’s rule number 1.
- I was sick and tired of working with dodgy gear. I wanted to go work for a place where I knew there was a quality standard.
- I mixed FOH that day for this artist with electrical tape wrapped around my head.
- FFTs only provide you with quantitative data not qualitative. You’re seeing an analytical representation of what’s happening, but it’s not telling you anything about the actual tone or timbre of the sound system you are listening to.