New York (October 28, 2010)—Live sound engineer Doug Lemke recently hit the road with Tears For Fears, FOH engineer JB Blot and Metric Halo SpectraFoo software.
Blot, who typically is a recording engineer, was having troubles on the stacks-and-racks tour getting PAs to approach the aural expectations he’s honed over time, and brought Genelec nearfield monitors as reference points for the tour. Lemke used Metric Halo’s SpectraFoo audio analysis software to tune each disparate system to match the sonic fingerprint of Blot’s monitors.
“JB is a fantastic engineer,” explained Lemke. “He’s got the ‘golden ears’ of a great studio engineer, which is where he spends most of his time. He hears everything, for better or for worse. Tears For Fears were putting on 17 shows on the East Coast and we ran into problems almost immediately. JB uses a stereo pair of Genelecs above the Avid Venue Profile to hear cued instruments for treatment, but when he went back to the house PA, the tone was quite different.”
Lemke’s solution was to effectively mold each PA system they encountered into a giant pair of Genelecs. He used Metric Halo’s SpectraFoo analysis software with an Earthworks M30 microphone to quantify what he was hearing. He captured traces of the Genelecs in SpectraFoo and then used a Lake Contour and Lake Mesa Quad EQ system to dial the house into the Genelecs’ response. “SpectraFoo was invaluable,” he said. “The real-time spectragraph and spectragram are so responsive and intuitive, I was very clearly able to discern what was happening sonically. In addition to shaping the response of the PAs, I also found a lot of technical problems in the form of blown components or misalignments. Fortunately, I detected them early on so we could either implement a fix or a work around in time for the show.”
In addition to the pre-show tune-up, Lemke kept SpectraFoo up during Tears For Fears’ performances to tweak the response as it was altered by the absorption of the fans. “We recorded every show,” he added. “So there was a motivation to really dial in the perfect sound. I again kept my eye on the FFT information, which has plenty of resolution to pick up room modes. Those modes often shifted in a packed house.”