During the recent Rob Zombie/Slayer tour, system engineer, Andrew Dowling used Metric Halo's SpectraFoo to tune the PA.
HOPEWELL JUNCTION, NEW YORK - AUGUST 2011: Andrew Dowling is charged with an impressive task: make a FOH mix translate to every seat in any random venue. He frequently works for twenty-time Grammy winner and country legend Vince Gill, but Dowling applies his in-demand skills for bands from radically divergent genres as well. For instance, he will be traveling with metal icons Rob Zombie and Slayer on a twelve-stop tour that mix festival PA systems with a hand-picked Adamson system for headlining shows. To get signals in reliably and to analyze them powerfully, Dowling calls on a Metric Halo ULN-8 interface paired with Metric Halo's SpectraFoo Complete analysis software.
Dowling originally became acquainted with Metric Halo through a
colleague, Todd Wines. "Todd had a pair of Metric Halo 2882 interfaces," he said. "I liked how easy they were to work with. The routing capabilities and computer controls are great. When it came time for me to get a new interface, I investigated the Metric Halo product line. Although the 2882 is nice, I was attracted to the front panel controls of the ULN-8. There are a lot of times when you don't want to dive into the computer to make a simple adjustment. In addition, the ULN-8 has AES outputs, which allows me to use it as a high-end, standalone converter."
Dowling tunes a room with a MacBook Pro and an Audix TM1. A long FireWire cable makes it easy to be mobile, and the option for software-based control of the ULN-8 allows him to make adjustments to preamp gain or routing without traveling back to the rack. "At the same time, there are many occasions where someone else on the crew will need to make an adjustment," he said. "With the ULN-8, they can do it without being forced to navigate the windows on my computer. There's a comfort level and a familiarity that makes the ULN-8 accessible and intuitive for any engineer of any age."
Dowling is excited by the universe of analysis possibilities inherent in Metric Halo's SpectraFoo software. "The most important capabilities are the transfer function and the real-time analyzer," he said. "But it can do so much more than that. For example, I can record and compare WAV files, which makes it much easier to deliver a consistent venue." Dowling also commented on the successful implementation of SpectraFoo by friend and colleague Danny Poland. "Danny would often mix shows with a ton of acoustic instruments on stage," he explained. "In the event of feedback, he uses SpectraFoo to identify the frequency, which he can then take out with a precise parametric EQ."
To tune the PA systems in the various venues with Rob Zombie and Slayer, Dowling starts with a philosophy. "As system engineer, it is my job to make sure that the FOH engineer's mix is appreciated by everyone in the venue. There shouldn't be a bad seat in the house." He begins by dialing in and then benchmarking the sweet spot. From there, he works up and down the rows, bringing the frequency response and timing in line to match the benchmark. "It's never an easy job, but the tools in SpectraFoo make it as easy as it can be," he concluded. "You use your ears, but it's important to ground-truth what you're doing with the measurements. That way, you don't drift, and you don't start second-guessing what you're hearing."
ABOUT METRIC HALO Based in New York's Hudson Valley, Metric Halo provides the world with high-resolution metering, analysis, recording and processing solutions with award-winning software and future-proof hardware. www.mhlabs.com