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A busy start to the month

We're only half-way through, but April has been busy.

To kick it off, we had Isembard's Wheel's launch of Common Ground, their latest album. The album had been long in the making, including five live tracks that we recorded at the University Arms in Sheffield, and then mixed and mastered here at Grimshaw Audio. We're very pleased with how they turned out, and clearly so is the band!

The launch took place at Shakespeares in Sheffield, where we decided to use the full PA setup to deliver maximum impact. A set of three small monitors across the front, one large one for the drummer, and a complement of EV mics gave a great sound both on-stage and off.

The Idolins and Jordan Wrigley also took to the stage in support of the album, playing some excellent music. The low ceiling meant feedback came up occasionally, but overall the event was a huge success, and I'd like to wish Isembard's Wheel all the best touring their new album.

A few days later was the fortnightly open-mic night at the Red Deer, Sheffield, where some familiar faces took to the stage. Open-mics are great fun to work - there's always something interesting happening, whether it's a new instrument to mic, or a strange tech request, it's never a dull moment. One of the more common requests was to have some way of getting a nice distorted guitar tone without needing a guitar amp. While that capability isn't built into the desk, we've been working on incorporating a guitar headphone amplifier and some Aux routing so that any channel (or combination) can be routed through the guitar headphone amplifier. After trying a few different ones, we settled on the original Vox AC30 which gives a great rock-n-roll crunch.

The next day was a fundraiser in Rotherham, raising money for local hospitals. It was to be a heavy metal night, so we went in expecting loud drums and 4x12" guitar cabs. We weren't disappointed - the organisers wanted it loud, so loud it shall be! The bands were great, and very easy to work with. We decided on a vocals-only mix in the monitors, since the amps were already more than enough to be heard on-stage. The 12" monitors had the vocals slamming out with wonderful clarity, so the musicians could get on with what they do best without worrying about hearing themselves.

During one of the sets, I grabbed the SPL meter and walked around a little. Around 6 feet away from one of the speakers, it metered 125dB. A quick look at the amp racks revealed that, actually, the main PA system was only metering -10dB peaks. We were at 1/10th power! I mentioned to the organiser that there was more power if they wanted it, but it was decided that it was loud enough as-is, so the PA system had a fairly easy evening.

The EV N/D967 mics saw use on the vocals, while the N/D478s took care of the amps, and an sE Electronics X1D captured the kick drum.

Finally, there was a wedding that weekend, in Marsden. It's a beautiful drive through the peaks, and the village itself is lovely. I'd recommend a visit. The staff at the Mechanics Institute were very helpful with getting access to the room, and with the size of it, the full PA system was worth using. Handily, there was a back-stage area where all of the amp racks and mixing desk could be stored, so the setup was very clean and tidy.

A pair of small monitors saw duties for the on-stage DJ in the evening, and Audio-Technica ATM710 mics were used for the speeches. We used those for their wonderful clarity and wide pickup pattern, making them great for speeches when the person talking may be unfamiliar with using a mic.

Ollie, the groom, left us this review:

"I would not hesitate to recommend Chris to anybody who needs a reliable, trustworthy soundman for their event. Chris is a highly professional and extremely helpful engineer, who was unfailingly courteous throughout the whole of our wedding. Our DJ also commented on how conscientious Chris was. Thank you so much for all your help!"

On a different note, recently we've been working on repairing old or broken microphones to give them a new lease of life. As a result, there'll be a few new interesting mics to look out for in the future, including an AKG D12 (the legendary mic from the Beatles era), a couple of Beyerdynamic M67s (like an SM57, but bigger and much smoother in the midrange), and even some ribbon mics.

The eagle-eyed reader will notice that the little monitors have changed colour. The old black paint was in need of some work, so I took a sander to them until all the black paint was gone, and finished them in the lovely rosewood stain used with the rest of the PA system.

That's all for now.


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