Audio Engineering Society User Group Meeting: Challenges
MMI staff and students are well represented in the Wisconsin chapter of the Audio Engineering Society, and a number of us were in attendance at the February 24, 2016 meeting. The meeting was held at the spectacular Deep Space Auditorium at Epic Systems in Verona, which seats 11,400. Needless to say, there was adequate space for our gathering.
Greg Reynolds, Epic’s front of house sound mixer and audio engineer, was kind enough to present to the group on the variety of challenges he faces in running sound for Epic’s yearly User Group Meetings, during which the auditorium is full, and over 60 wireless microphones are in use. This presents difficulties in terms of radio frequency band usage (each mic must have its own RF band) and in the simple logistical challenge of managing so many microphones, not to mention staying on top of the rapid succession of speakers, skits, presentations and Q&A sessions that occur during the event. Greg has a number of handy tools at his disposal, though, not the least of which is a DigiCo SD-7. Well, actually he has two, along with Pro Tools, Sound Devices recorders and a nice array of outboard preamps. The sound system in Deep Space is on par with what you might expect at a concert venue – Clair Brothers flown line arrays and stage monitors, custom Lab Gruppen amps, and as MMI Student George Ramsey noticed – a lot of speaker cable. The three LCD video screens in the venue are huge – the center screen alone is 68 feet wide and 40 feet tall. From out in the hall, it looks razor sharp, but up close, the individual pixels are quite large. In addition to the video screens, above Deep Space there is almost a mile of catwalk, from which all the lighting, speaker arrays, acoustical absorbers, sprinklers and other infrastructure are suspended. If you have never found yourself walking about, 60 feet above the seats below, believe me, it is an exciting but also unnerving experience – Greg’s advice: “Just don’t look down while you’re walking, you’ll be fine.” All in all, it was a fantastic event, and it was great to have a number of students as well as several graduates in attendance. It is pretty amazing to get a chance to look behind the scenes at a facility of this magnitude.