Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Month: September 2015 (Page 2 of 2)

CTA First Listen: Bose F1

It’s always fun to check out new gear. Back at InfoComm, we saw the new Bose F1 speaker. Saw being the operative word. Whenever I see a company introduce another pole-mounted speaker in the sub $1,500 price range, I assume it’s no big deal, at least until I hear it. The F1 has some unique features that made me pause, however. 

Now, if you’ve followed any of my adventures with the RoomMatch system, you’ll know one of the things I really like about that system is the ability to precisely tailor the coverage pattern to the room by choosing the right modules. Bose took that concept and instead of applying it horizontally, did so vertically. The result is the F1. 

Variable Vertical Coverage

The HF section of the F1 is made up of 8 drivers in three sections. The drivers are similar to the HF drivers in the RoomMatch system. What’s different here is that the top and bottom sections of the cabinet can be folded up or down to create different vertical coverage patterns. Perhaps it’s best to explain what I mean with illustrations that I stole from the Bose website. 

More than just changing physical position, there is some magic sauce happening in the box that changes the EQ to suit each coverage pattern. Like the RoomMatch, the pattern was pretty well defined. During the demo, we all crouched down about 20’ out from the speaker while it was in straight mode. We were clearly out of the pattern. Then Tony clicked the lower section down and suddenly, we were in the pattern. 

While vertical is variable, horizontal is a fixed 100°.

Favorable Crossover

Another thing I like about the RoomMatch is how low the crossover is (500 Hz). It is well out of the vocal clarity range, which really keeps the weird phase stuff that afflicts most cabinets from happening on vocals. The F1 crosses over at 600 Hz, and the vocals sounded great. 

It was actually interesting listening to the demo, because they used the same music I’ve heard on RoomMatch demos on multiple occasions. The overall sound signature was similar enough that I told Bose I would do the same thing to this that I would do with RoomMatch (cut a bit in the 2-3 KHz range). Other wise, it sounded pretty solid. 

Clever Sub Arrangement

The F1 system also includes a sub which is very clever. Instead of a pole that fits into a socket (and gets dented, bent or lost), there are two sliding arms that come up out of the sub to fly the main box. It even includes cable channels to hide the wires. The sub sounded good, though for a dual 10”, you’re probably not going to do too many EDM parties with it. Still, it was no slouch and unless big bass is a huge need, you’ll be fine. The sub is powered by a Class-D 1000 W amp, as are the full-range boxes (I think; that part is not 100% certain). 

Good Sound

As always, the test is in the listening. I think all of us came away from the demo feeling this is is a really good-sounding speaker system. Certainly, there are a bunch of speakers in this price range that sound good, are portable and affordable. None do the clever vertical aiming thing, however, and that might be the thing that tips the scales. I really do like the package for portable situations, the way the boxes sit on the subs is cool, easy and fast. And the full-range boxes do have fly points on them for permanent installs. 

List on each component is $1,199, which is in the ballpark for similar products. Though you’ll likely be able to find it for less if you ask your favorite seller nicely.

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Know Thy Neighbor

Too often, this is the thinking in churches. Image courtesy of  Wesley Fryer

Too often, this is the thinking in churches. Image courtesy of Wesley Fryer

The other day I was having lunch with a good friend of mine. We got to talking about the TD at a church we both know, and some struggles this guy was having with his facility. My friend asked this TD if he knew that the church that literally shared the parking lot with his had a lift, and would probably let him use it. The TD’s response was—to me anyway—shocking. He said he didn’t know anyone over there, and didn’t know if they had a lift or not. 

Keep in mind, these churches are right next door. And they don’t even know each other.

My brothers, this should not be!

We’re On The Same Team

My friend and I discussed what would cause such a situation. Personally, I don’t understand it at all. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in the church, and have spent most of my career in the business world. In that world, we often made alliances with “competitors” because there were things we couldn’t do. Sometimes they had a piece of equipment we didn’t, and sometimes we could help them out with a job they couldn’t handle. And we never tried to poach another’s clients.

But there’s this weird thing in the church. I see it among pastors sometimes and I think it can trickle down to the staff. They’re afraid to partner with another church because they’re afraid of losing people to the other church. Or maybe it’s because there is a minor doctrinal disagreement. Whatever.

What I love about the technical community is for the most part, we don’t care what church you’re from. You’re a TD, I’m a TD, we all have the same struggles. If I can help you or if you can help me, we both win. And so do our churches. That’s what we should be working towards. 

Know Your Neighbor

If you don’t know any tech guys at churches in your area, stop reading this right now, and go find some. Seriously. And if you share a parking lot with another church, or there’s one across the street, walk over there right now and introduce yourself. There is so much to be gained by having relationships with other tech directors in your community it boggles my mind when I talk to guys that don’t know any. 

When I moved to SoCal 6 years ago, I didn’t know anyone. Within a few months, I had made friends with several churches in the area, and had opportunity to both borrow and lend equipment for different events. If I know the church down the road has something I need for an event, and they’re willing to loan it to me, why on earth would I spend money to rent it? The same goes in reverse. 

You Need Technical Relationships

If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a hundred times; we need to be in relationship with other technical artists. What we do is unique, and most people don’t really understand us. We have problems that don’t really exist in other areas of the church. We need to have someone to talk those issues out; someone who will validate, encourage and support us. 

I believe one of the reasons TDs typically only last a few years at a church is because they try to do it solo. I know for a fact that I stayed at my last church 2-3 years longer than I would have otherwise because I have a close friend who talked me off the ledge every 3-4 months. And I did the same for him. 

Please, please, please, go find yourself another technical artist in your community and become friends with them. I know it’s scary, I know you’re an introvert and you don’t like calling people you don’t know. Get over it. You, your ministry and your church will be better for it. I promise.


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Martin Audio CDD Speakers

For years, Martin Audio has been known as a quality product, a very good sounding product, and an expensive product. Now, when you do a fair comparison with other brands, they are really right in there, but you’re typically talking about the higher end of the market. They have not really had a lower market solution. Until now. 

Bring on the Small Boxes

We first heard the new CDD line at InfoComm, and I’ll tell you, I was not excited about going to another speaker demo. I expected to hear yet another small box that does pretty much the same thing as a dozen other small boxes. But then they fired them up. All our project leads were in the room, and we immediately started looking at each other saying, “Hey, these sound good!” 

Now, there are literally dozens of single 8, 10, 12 and 15” driver speakers on the market. Most employ a single large—8-15”—LF driver and some type of horn. The CDD is different in several ways. First, the design is coaxial. The HF driver is located right in the middle of the LF driver. I’ve always liked this approach as it greatly improves phase coherence. The longer I do sound, and the more I’ve talked with guys like Bob Heil, the more I appreciate how much phase matters. 

The other thing that is unique—well, perhaps not totally unique, but special—is the asymmetrical coverage pattern. By attaching some waveguides to the LF driver, they have figured out how to do two things. First, they have a wider pattern close to the box, and a tighter one further away. Up close, the horizontal coverage is 110°, while in the far field, it’s 70° (vertical is a constant 60°). Second, they’ve “squared off” the coverage pattern (our rep’s words). And indeed, when we model it, the boxes do a better job of getting into the corners of the room without splashing all over the walls. And did I mention, they sound good?

The Shootout

At CCI, we’ve been using the Nexo PS10 for many of our small systems for quite a while. It’s a good-sounding box with a similar asymmetric pattern, which is useful for the longer, narrow rooms we find ourselves doing. So we wondered, how does the CDD compare? Last week, we hung a PS10 with an RS15 sub on the ground next to a CDD10 with a single 12” CDD sub and fired up the tracks. 

The difference was immediately apparent. Now, this is not to say that the Nexo box sounded bad, but it was quite a bit different. I’ve always felt the Nexo products have quite a bit of bite to them, and whenever I tune a Nexo system, I’m always taking out 2-3KHz to soften them up. The downside of that is a slight reduction in clarity. But I have made them sound quite good.

The Martin’s on the other hand, sounded pretty much like I would want them to with no EQ. When we turned them up, both got loud, but the Martin stayed smooth while the Nexo started to sting a bit. Now, I admit I’m an old guy, and I much prefer a hi-fi sound to the edgy, aggressive PA’s that a lot of younger guys seem to prefer. So, like many things, it comes down to what you’re after.

Aggressive Price, Not Sound

Like I said, the CDD line is not an aggressive, in-your-face, slap-your-momma kind of box. It just sounds really good. It is however priced very aggressively. Because the CDD doesn’t require special amps or processing, and because the speakers themselves are quite a bit less expensive than the Nexo boxes, total system cost can be significantly less expensive than Nexo. 

The mains are all flyable and the subs can be ordered in flyable and non-flyable versions. The line is expansive enough that you could cover just about any venue up to 400-500 seats pretty effectively with this line, and do it at a very reasonable price. You could also do ancillary rooms like kids and student venues with the same line and achieve consistent sound quality all over the church. 

Ultimately, I really liked them and have them spec’d into a job I’m installing in the fall. Once I commission them, I’ll be back with a full report on how they sound installed as a system. But I’m pretty sure both I and the church will be happy with them.

Check out the whole line at Martin Audio’s website.

Today’s post is brought to you by Elite Core Audio. Elite Core Audio features a premium USA built 16 channel personal monitor mixing system built for the rigors of the road. For Personal Mixing Systems, Snakes, and Cases, visit Elite Core Audio.

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