Sunday, September 14, 2014

Up to my ears

The MVW revolution just keeps chugging along.  I've shipped out 6 cabs in the last week, with 11 more to go.  On top of that the Fitzmaurice and Greenboy kits are killin it. We have at least 6 flatpacks to get out the door, along with a crapload of parts.

It's a good thing.  Last winter was a killer business wise.  Experience told me it would take 6 months to catch up, and that was right on the money.  . 

I just got in 3 sheets of Eurolite ply for a specific cab.  At $80 a sheet + $100 shipping. Because MVW cabs are undamped, the plywood the cab is made of makes a difference.  Mike Arnopol builds all the bass cabs from it.  He started using it because of the light weight, and discovered some sonic properties that are interesting.  It damps midrange in these cabs.  In the PA cabs the midrange rise created by the vortex is easily cured with a little eq.  But in home audio and the bass guitar world eq seems to be a dirty word.

I bet a 4x8 sheet of this stuff doesn't weigh more than 40lbs.  It feels like air after carrying around Baltic Birch.  But man, you need dust collection and a mask.  I turned on the big vortex :-) vac for the table saw and made the first cut.  I promptly started sneezing.  That's when I pulled out the dust mask, not one of those cheapie paper things, the real deal.  This stuff smells nasty, and even the small amount coming off the table saw with the vac running was harsh.  As bad or worse than mdf.  But it machines just like BB, smooth and sweet.  

It will never go on the exterior of my PA cabs, it's too soft for the kind of abuse they take.  Mike epoxies the exterior to make it tougher.   But I might start using it inside, at least on the GC25's.  A few pounds here and there couldn't hurt. 

I'll report more on it later after I assemble a cab using it. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Inboard vs outboard

No, not ski boats.  But then again, inboard all the way.

Amplifiers.  The array of amplifier choices today is pretty dizzying.  Digital switching, hybrids, all analog, with dsp, without dsp, networked, whipped cream topping.  Okay not the last one, but it seems that way. 

I for one, am not a big fan of self powered cabs.  They do have some advantages.  The eq correction and crossover is built right into the box. You get a reasonably flat response without doing anything.  Plug n Play.  But it's the plug n play part that bugs me.  Now you have to figure out 110v to every cabinet, along with the line level feeds.  Granted you can daisy chain the inputs, but unless you've got serious outlets and cords, you probably can't daisy chain more than a couple of cabs on the power side. I can see it where a band or dj is just doing speaker on a stick gigs, 2 cabs and a sub or two.  But even then I think it complicates things.  You still need outboard dsp or at least a 31band eq for rooom correction.  Most of the onboard dsp is far to limited.

The excuse of amplifier racks weighing 300 lbs is no longer valid.  Although I am not a huge fan of the new digital switchers, watching Doug Hart of Hart Designs Etc pick up and carry a pair of 2kw behringer amplifiers, mixer board and dsp by himself without much effort was pretty impressive.  I've run the new Crowns, QSC's, and Behringer in the new lightweight amplifiers.  I sell the Crowns. They're all respectable.  The dsp in all of them is pretty limited though, at least in the lower priced models like I and most of you can afford.  It will get you a basic setup that works, that's for sure, or get you by in an emergency.  Combat audio, we've all been there. 

What you get with outboards is flexibility.  If an amp goes down you can always rig somehow to get all your cabs running.  If a self powered goes down, you're screwed.   Less 110v running all over the stage.  One batch of xlr's feeding the amp rack. In my opinion it's just better.  I believe it's simpler in the long run, especially if there's a problem. 

My personal preference is Ashly.  They are a hybrid, part digital, part old school iron.  Yes, you pay a weight penalty. The basic models really have no dsp whatsoever, just basic crossover and limiter settings.  But couple them with the Protea 3x6 and you have some awesome, easy, and utterly transparent horsepower to adjust your system.  Best limiters I've ever heard.  They make MVW cabs sound like no other amplifier we've tried. 

Weigh in.  I know this is a hot topic, and has been for a long time. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to the future

I got my audio chops doing installations in college.  Worked for a fine audio store in Wichita that did custom home, pro and car installs.  I worked the pro and home side.  One of the owners was a speaker genius. Crawling around in attics, on scaffolding, under floors was all part of the job.  I got to work in some pretty sweet houses too.

It's been back to the future recently.  Hart Designs Etc  is a distributor for the MVW lineup.  He had a massive installation in the Marine Creek Church in Ft Worth. They're moving into a new building. Doug called and asked for help.  Sam and I have been down there twice now, and it's been fun.  I hadn't dealt with the typical installation stuff in a long time.  Long wire runs, no conduit, other contractors screwing up your stuff, just typical troubles of any job.  

The amount of video and lights in this place were crazy.  5 projectors, 8 moving head gobos, 16 (IIRC) led pars.  Then there's the audio.  4 GC25E's per side, about 25ft up, a single 218SLVX under the stage.  All powered with Ashley.  I know that does not sound like much in a 400 seat space, but OMG.  125db average cabability.  We were hitting 129db with a kick drum we used to tune the system.  The nails were popping out of the stage, which was built wrong, supposed to be glued and screwed. It's been fixed now. 

At the demo for the praise team after we finished these crazy people were sitting directly in front of the sub.  They do like their bass.  Overall the system was stunning.  Dead even coverage, barely 3db drop front to back of room,  transparent and a huge stereo image bigger than the stage. 

Here's a link to a short video taken after we finished.  It's on fbook, unfortunately. 

Fun, fun.  Sam and I intend to pursue the church business.  They are overpaying and overbuying systems all the time.  I walk into a church and see a 32 channel heath sitting there, and they're using 3 channels.  It's just insane.  We going to bring reasonable systems with outstanding quality to the table.  The philosophy behind Speakerhardware from the git go.   

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ripping it.

I spent most of yesterday cutting full sheets of plywood down to roughly 6x8 pieces.  Fun, fun.  The utility of my saw with the outboard feed table cannot be overstated.  If you have any room at all, make one.  If you're short on room make one that folds up.  I have mine optimized for 5x5 baltic birch, the outfeed table will hold an entire sheet. 

And additional tip is when you get 5x5 bb, ALWAYS check it for square.  Very often it is not square. 4x8 stuff seems to always be on the money, but once in a while I get some BB that's just terrible.  2 sides are always parallel, so you can straighten it out fairly easily with a guide board.  But man, if you rip it up without checking and it's out, your life will be a nightmare when you start construction. 

I'll try to remember to take some pics the next time I need to square a big piece. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Phenomenal Article

If you didn't see this on the SpeakerHardware facebook page, read it now.

It is exactly what we're doing and developing with MVW cabs.  They are incredibly percussive.  Like an electrostat.  No bloom, boom or overhang.  Steve has spent enormous amounts of time running tests, and concluded that square waves/impulse response yields more information about the cab than any other test.  Because music is transients, just as quoted in the article.  Drums sound better through these cabs than anything I've every heard.  If they were a one trick pony, which they're not, that would be it.  They just snap.

Worth a read whether you think we're full of shit with MVW or not.  But it's the approach we're coming from. 

BTW, no longer patent pending.  Patent approval came through yesterday.  YAY!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Done, and done in.

After many months of intense effort, I am semi caught up.  Turnarounds on customer orders is better, inventory controls are getting better, and I get to breathe a bit. It's about time, I was wearing out.

One of the reasons it was so intense was the development work on MVW cabs.  They were so close to what I wanted.  But just not quite.  Now in collaboration with the BigELoudspeakers designers, Duke LeJuene and Mike Arnopol we're there.  I am very happy with every cab in the line.  I'd like to try some different drivers in some of the cabs, but what I have are exceptional.  Other transducers can make improvements, but the cost goes up considerably over the stock model.  I'm going to offer both ways I believe, at least in the bigger cabs.  The GC25 I've found nothing in the 19.5 model that works better than the current Faitals. 

The last show of the season at the Parsons Concert in the Park finally made me happy.  After3 shows which sounded really good, but just not there yet, this one was the ticket for the GC28's .
I had spent a day at least just running a GC28 in every way I could think of.  I really tried to blow one up.  They're rated at 500w according to the driver spec.  I put almost 1000w with a 50hz high pass recorded music through one for an extended period.  It just kept slamming.  I was wearing my 25db muffs and it was still loud.  From that test I changed the recommended xover to 70hz for live.  My engineer's eyes got big when I told him to set the xover at 70.  I said if you blow them, what the hell, it's the last show.  That was the ticket.  These cabs came alive at the concert.  The snare was gorgeous, and the toms sounded like rockets going off.  Almost all coming from the GC28's.

Sadly, the 4 SLVX218's I had at the show just didn't get any work.  Recorded music before the show was simply stunning.  Kick drum to take your breath away.  Live, the drummer had a feather foot. We just couldn't get it.  Towards the end of the show he finally started hitting it a bit, it got better.

So I have a demo rig. Finally.  8 GC28's and 4 SLVX218's.  GC25 demo rig on the way.  If you're interested in hearing it drop me a line.  We'll see what's feasible, I can't swing the cash to travel huge distances, yet.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big Cabs

The last 3 days I've spent building a pair of 218SLVX subwoofers.  Man, building big cabs by yourself is not very much fun.  When just the top takes 2/3 of a sheet of 3/4 BB it gets heavy fast.  I had to get pretty creative with clamps, cleats and contortionism to keep things square. 

I only had one major disaster.  When I pulled one off the bench I lost it and it fell hard.  Broke a side panel loose that I had just glued up.  Had to fix it on the floor, there's no way I can lift one of these back onto the bench.  But it turned out okay, with some judicious use of a big hammer, jorgensen cabinet clamps and blue language.  Pretty sure the language is what fixed it. 

I don't know if any of you hang out on the BFM forum, but there's new stuff at Speakerhardware.
I recently went and toured a CNC shop fairly close and was suitably impressed.  There are now CNC cut and dadoed flat packs for most of the BFM subwoofers.   I've resisted doing flat packs for them for a long time, because of the size and assembly difficulty from a non dado flat pack.  These guys allayed my problems so here we go.  We're still working out the delivery times, the shop works these in between the BIG jobs they do, and I mean big jobs. This shop is no joke.