Sunday, November 12, 2006

Getting Ready for the Party

Well, I'm trying to get everything ready for the party next Saturday night. The picture above shows the band setup for the show. I built the sub-woofer cabinets at the bottom of the PA stacks. We call those stacks TOD1 and TOD2. TOD stands for "Tower Of Death" because if one of them falls on you, you're dead. For an idea of scale, you should know that the ceilings in the upstairs of the house there are 11 feet high. So you can see how tall the speakers are.

There is now 3,000 watts of sound coming out the front end of this PA system (two 1500 watt stereo amps) between the two twin 18 subs, and the four twin 15 main cabinets. Then there is also another 350 watts powering the monitor system.

Considering all this equipment plus the three light stands with PARs and special effects lighting, as well as two fog machines, - maybe this is just a touch over-the-top for a house party? Maybe. But we are going to have a helluva time!!
Unfortunately, not everyone will fit upstairs where the band will be playing, so most people will have to listen from downstairs in the greatroom area. So I am considering having a video camera feed to the big screen TV down on the main floor in the greatroom for the folks who want to see but can't fit in the limited space upstairs, etc.

We are running everything through the PA system. Drums are an electronic Roland VDrum kit, the bass goes through a bass POD, the rhythm guitar goes through a guitar POD, and my lead guitar goes through a Line6 Vetta with the speaker sound basically off. So we all have stereo feeds, and we all have direct feeds into the PA. So it makes a very manageable mix for for monitors on stage and for the mains out front.

Actually the sound seems excellent overall, and it is completely adjustable as low or as loud as we want. And with this kind of power and the frequencies capable with those super-subs, if I wanted to, this system could do structural damage!
Actually, it just gives a BIG sound without it necessarily being LOUD. That is, the sound fills all the air and has high fidelity and precision, without blaring. That's the advantage of using large speakers. Making sound is all about moving air. Big speakers can move air very easily, without effort. A wall of speakers can move a wall of air with the slightest push. But small speakers must just be blasting and blaring to move the same amount of air from such a small point. It propagates differently. Imagine trying to make waves in the surface of a lake with a single small oar. Now imagine a giant flat surface 8 feet long and 4 feet wide moving up and down. That's the difference.

Here you can see the subs after I had just finished building the wood cabinets themselves, but had not yet put the carpet exterior finish, or mounted the speakers and hardware. You can see how they are constructed and braced internally, etc. They are extremely sturdy. You can also see the size compared to a normal garage door opening. Then, below is a picture of one of them finished. These are HEAVY. I actually weighed one empty. With just the empty wood cabinet alone and no hardware, it weighed 65 lbs. The speakers themselves are 28 lbs each and there are 2 in each cabinet, so the total with all hardware and coverings, and loaded with the speakers is over 120 lbs. These are HEAVY to lift. Definitely a two man job to move these. Just moving them around getting them set up by myself I could see how hard it would be when we have to play someplace. Two men and a dolly are needed here!

These cabinets do sound great as subs, though. I found a design tool that allowed me to calculate the exact dimensions for the cabinet and the port width and dept of the port tube, etc. based on half a dozen specifications about the speakers themselves. These speaker handle 1000 watts each, so that's 2,000 watts per cabinet. And even with 6 inch ports, they push enough air through them to blow out a match, even at moderate volumes. These cabinets move a lot of air. And they have a natural resonant frequency of 24.5 hz.
I decided that, rather than using a simple crossover to get the subs running on just lows, I would have a separate stereo amp and it's own stereo dual 31-band eq, so that I can choose exactly which frequencies to put through the subs, and which to put through the other mains. This setup works very well and should allow me to be very flexible in shifting the mix point as I need to match different rooms and spaces we might play in.

Here, also, you can see some of my guitars. Most of them on the wall are showing, but there are another 5 out of sight of this particular shot. There are 21 in all if you count the professional ukelele and the mandolin. Obviously, I won't have all those so handy to play elsewhere. I use 6 guitars for this show. Different sounds, different tunings, etc.

Last week we were recording some film footage for a music video. In fact, four music videos. One for each of four songs. Some of the footage was good, but some was not. I had technical problems recording the sound tracks, and also we were making mistakes, etc. so we had our challenges. This will be something to work more on after this week, once we are fully prepared for the performance at the party.

Once we get the practices out of the way - then I'll have to start detailed planning for the food! I'VE GOT A BUNCH OF PEOPLE TO FEED!


At 11/16/2006 3:38 PM, Anonymous Lauren said...

So I saw Toto Wed night. House of Blues Chicago, stood against the stage dead center right in front of Lukather all night. We were so close Bobby Kimball was inches from us singing all night. We couldn't even look up he was so close! Show was wonderful.

At 11/16/2006 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you, Lauren!
I wish they were coming somewhere near me here in Texas. I would go see them for sure.
But it looks like they have a couple shows in Florida, and then that's it. They are off to Europe again. They seem to spend most of their time in Europe in recent years.
GREAT band on every possible level.


At 11/16/2006 4:27 PM, Anonymous lauren said...

They already did the FL shows. They are done for the year.

They're still pretty huge overseas which is good for them...but bad for us here in the US since they're not so big. But the Chicago show was great and the band said they loved the crowd later on online so maybe they'll come back here.

Next year is their 30th anniversary so I hope they do some cool stuff.

Those guys are hilarious.

At 11/19/2006 3:17 PM, Anonymous Amanda said...

Hey there Uncle Val
You've got quite the website...pretty impressive. Just curious wondering how the party went, did it get busted by the cops??? I hear your quite the party animal, keg stands and all!!!


At 11/19/2006 11:27 PM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

LOL Hey Amanda!
No we didn't get busted by the cops. If they rang the doorbell I couldn't hear it because we were too loud!! LOL
The party went well. Everyone had a good time, I think. Or so they said anyway. We ordered a lot more food than we ended up needing though. We ordered for 65 people but only about 40 showed up, I think. Some were sick at the last minute. One had a water heater explode in his house, some just didn't show for whatever reason. But the food was excellent (Italian - catered) No keg stands.
And the music seemed to go very well except we made mistakes on two songs. One we had to start again, so that was a setback, but we laughed about it and the second time through it was great. Then the second set was perfect.
Overall a fun party to remember, I think.
(big smiles)
I hope you are taking care of yourself, and being a good girl! And tell your Mom and Dad I said hi.
Uncle Val


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