Northampton, Massachusetts—March 2016… Veteran tour engineer Jason Raboin has mixed shows for an eclectic range of artists, from Modest Mouse and Cowboy Junkies to Catie Curtis, Erin McKeown, Luna, and Ben Lee. As the owner of Camden Sound, he also engineers for a variety of regional clients in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley. But Raboin is best known for his 13 years of engineering concerts for legendary folk singer Joan Baez.
Clean, pure sound is essential when mixing Baez’s distinctive voice and acoustic instrumentation. Raboin’s search for loudspeakers that could deliver these qualities led him to Fulcrum Acoustic. “I had everything I needed to cover the tours and start a sound company—except speakers,” Raboin recalls. “I had heard of Fulcrum, so I checked them out. Their speakers sounded so good, I started doing shows with them, then started taking them out as Joan’s monitor system. Now I use them for a wide variety of shows.”
Fulcrum’s commitment to purity and linearity gives their speakers finesse and clarity, Raboin insists. “With the Fulcrum system, Joan’s amplified music sounds exactly like Joan, only louder. It’s so transparent, it’s as if the system disappears.” Musicians consistently notice the difference. “Every time I’ve used the Fulcrum system for monitors, at least one musician says it’s the best monitor sound they’ve ever had,” he reports, “and I didn’t have to try hard! I recently mixed six or seven bands in a day, and I didn’t have to touch a graphic EQ on monitors all day. What you put into the Fulcrums is what comes out of them.”
For Baez’ monitor system, Raboin chose Fulcrum Acoustic FA12ac loudspeakers, from the company’s FA Portable series. The FA12ac is 2-way and employs a single 12-inch coaxial loudspeaker with a rotatable horn, 90° x 45° dispersion, an onboard Powersoft Class D amplifier, and 40° and 55° rear angles for stage-monitor use. Back-panel selectable presets tailor the response, while Powersoft’s Armonia Pro Audio Suite™ control software provides access to a full complement of input filters and delays, signal levels, and amplifier status.
Although Roboin uses his Fulcrum Acoustic speakers for monitors with Joan Baez, for other artists he often employs Fulcrum Acoustic FA12ac or FA22ac loudspeakers (or both) for front-of-house, as well. The FA22ac is a 3-way system with two 12-inch coaxial loudspeakers but otherwise offers the same features as the FA12ac.
“In mid-size and smaller halls, you don’t have a lot of space to deal with reflections,” Raboin explains. “The FA22ac’s have great pattern control in a small package, which lets me avoid that issue. And because Fulcrum loudspeakers are so transparent, people aren’t conscious that sound reinforcement is happening; they’re just immersed in the art and the experience. That’s exactly what I was looking for.”
For sub-bass, Raboin favors Fulcrum’s TS215 passive, dual 15-inch, direct-radiating subwoofers. The TS215 can handle up to 3,000W at 4 ohms and generate up to 140 dB SPL, rivaling the output of many conventional dual 18-inch subwoofers, yet it is compact and portable.
In Raboin’s view, Fulcrum Acoustic is about to become much better known. “Fulcrum Acoustic is not a household name yet,” he opines, “but once touring engineers hear the speakers, they’re convinced.”