- by George Petersen
in Editor's Note
All right, now that all this political fuss is over, it’s time to stop posting those silly partisan memes on Facebook and get back to work. Yet despite all those months of backstabbing and mudslinging between all the candidates, I for one am going to miss that drawn out process of primaries and general election frivolities. Well, not the constant barrage of negativity on the television ads and sound bite news journalism, but the massive influx of jobs and gigs it brings to the entire audio industry in terms of providing sound systems for all those rallies, events and fundraisers.
So with Halloween and the political season behind us we, like Walmart, can now focus on the big picture — holiday and New Year’s gigs, because as we all know, things get a little slower after the first of the year. None is this is to imply there’s nothing for sound professionals to do during January. In fact, it’s an ideal time to step back a bit, begin making some equipment purchase plans for the upcoming busy spring/summer gigs and focus some of that slow-month downtime is spent on some maintenance so that you aren’t experiencing any unexpected downtime when those phones start ringing.
Focusing on Consoles
With that in mind, this issue takes a special focus on consoles, between our Buyer’s Guide to large-format mixers — models that are capable of 100 (or so) inputs.
Two decades ago, such things were rarities and now, more and more, 48- and 52-channel boards are representing the middle ground. On the positive side of the ongoing console wars, more and more models are expandable, with the ability to add inputs (and/or control capability) as your needs grow.
At the same time, many modern console designs provide a means of handling an extraordinary number of sources from smaller and smaller work surfaces — or in some cases, no physical controller at all. While many of us would delight in working with a 64-fader surface, there is a wide range of other factor involved that may make that the impossible dream, whether it’s the cost, bulk or real estate involved. And — at least in the case of the latter — this can represent a substantial price. For example, a Broadway show with eight performances/week (six evenings/two matinees) does roughly 400 shows per year. If each orchestra ticket is $100, each additional seat the audio setup requires equates to $40,000/year in revenue and an extra six seats of space bumps that figure out to the quarter-million dollar mark. So as it is with real estate, with audio, location is everything.
Thankfully, we as an industry are not yet reduced to the point of having to mix all our shows on our smartphones. However, at the same time, technology leaps — such as onboard signal processing (as opposed to physical racks of outboard) along with networked audio, CAT-6e and MADI snakes, console automation, offline console editing, mixer setup/storage/loading via USB drives and wireless control/tweaking via WiFi — all contribute the easing the job of the sound pro. I, for one, don’t really miss the exquisite thrill of rolling up a drippy, 150-foot 24-channel copper snake after it’s spent a day run across a muddy football field at the end of an event.
Unfortunately with a lot of possibilities available, the process of choosing just the right console offers many choices, yet that doesn’t make the decision any easier. In his “Sound Sanctuary” column this month, our man in the pews Vince Lepore delves into exactly that topic, complete with a practical checklist. Yet unlike a sound company console purchase — where trained pros will running the gear — the situation in almost every house of worship install also involves lay persons and volunteers operating the system, which adds another dimension into the decision process.
Parnelli Awards Rocked!
I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t mention this month’s cover story on the Parnelli Awards where, on Oct. 22, some 800 industry members came together to celebrate the excellence in the live event industry. And it was definitely a night to remember, from a spectacular job by emcee Adrian Belew. Who would have ever dreamed what an amazing sense of humor he has? And the entire venue filled with emotion when Tom Petty took the stage to deliver a heartfelt tribute to his longtime tour manager Richard Fernandez, who received the 2016 Parnelli Lifetime Achievement award.
As for me, I was thrilled to present the Audio Innovator award to Greg Mackie — a guy who changed all the rules. Congrats to him and all the Parnelli honorees.