Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fun day at the shop.

Doug Hart and Steve Francen drove up today from Yale OK to check out the BigE speakers.  Doug is a fellow BFM builder.  Hart Designs LLC does lots of installs and live sound.  They are a couple of very bright guys.  And really nice guys too.  Thanks for the lunch Doug.

We started off inside playing the BigE WT8's.  Mind you, these are not by any stretch optimized.  I just stuck some capacitors I had laying around on the tweeters for protection.  I know one is crossing about 3-4k, no idea where the other is.  Just a 1st order filter to keep from frying the tweets. They're the Faital HF102,   a very small, really nice tweeter.  The main drivers in one cab are the proprietary 8's I had built for evaluation, in the other cab are the coax version of the 8's.  Both boxes are built for the standard 8's, which makes them too shallow in the driver compartment for the coax's with a tweeter.  Duct tape to the rescue, I just taped over the tweeter mount.  Not exactly a high tech arrangement.  We also ran the BigE LilE 12" sub.  I only have one of those, I really need to build another, so they'll vortex load.  (What?  New language for speakers)

I had been playing around with a new 31band DBX eq I bought actually for monitor mixing.  I'd stuck it in the loop to play with eq on the cabs, I'd just always run them flat.  When we started, I was noticing some mindrange noise that had not been there before at volume.  I played with the eq a bit, and couldn't get rid of it.  I pulled the eq out of the loop and it was gone.  So much for dbx.  It's going back.   I'll drop my DEQ in the loop.   Just a mechanical 31 band is so much faster to adjust.  Dangit.

Many styles of music were played.  Steve brought a recording of a band he was in that had been done very simply on simple equipment, but very well done, and really good music.  It's depth, articulation and soundfield were amazing.  Even Steve said he was hearing things he'd never heard on it before.  Doug brought some Maynard Ferguson so we played that.  Maynard was about 10ft tall.  One of the really interesting aspects of these is if it's not a really fine recording, it sounds horrible.  Nothing to do with the speakers, they just expose every flaw.  Overly compressed, overly worked, overly anything and you can hear it.  And I suppose if you'd never been exposed to fine recording and mixing techniques, you'd never notice.  But, this is our business, and we are supposed to hear these things.  I don't remember the recording, but Doug remarked you can hear the gate on the compressor triggering when the vocalist started.

After we came back from lunch, Doug said let's put one outside.  I usually run cabs out the back, there's pretty much nothing for about 3 blocks.  But I didn't want to move all the stuff, so we went out the front.  My shop sits about 50ft from the tracks.  Not much to the east but tracks, the first building is a block away.  To the west about 1/2 block are where the houses start.  In the direction we were playing there is nothing but track for 4 or 5 blocks, and once again houses off axis about 45 degrees, 1/2 block down the street, across the street.   

We started off with some Heart.  I am in love with Ann Wilson's voice.  I ran it up pretty hard.  I have the digmoda amp limited pretty tight, I do not want to blow the drivers, so I don't really know how much power I'm putting out.  It's capable of 500w into 4 ohms, which these cabs are.  It should be a 500 watt cab.  It's crossed at 50hz, 48db slope  Yes, 50hz for a top.  We started walking away and side to side.  These are the long throw cabs, for the top part of an array.  Doug estimated dispersion in the 110-120 degree range.  But even off axis farther than that it was not significantly down.  About 75 ft away was where the event horizon existed (What? New language for speakers).  That's where you could hear it start to drop like a normal cab.  Whats really interesting is the wind was gusting at times pretty hard.  I thought it sounded like a phase shift, Doug remarked that he thought it was disrupting the packet information (What? New language for speakers) from the speakers, and he's right.  When cars would drive by, we were across the street, you would hear it also.  But if the cars were stopped in front of the speakers, (for a train or to turn) the sound did not change at all.

Soooo,  being who we are, we rigged some cables and we brought out the other cab.  Stunned is the word.  Whatever is going on with one, becomes a whole nother world with 2.  I had not done this before.  If you've never had a kick drum thump you in the chest from a top at 150-200 ft away you haven't lived.  We could not find the event horizon.  The cars still disrupted the packets, but not the wind.  The railroad guys drove up and said it was loud and clear at the shops, well over 4 blocks away.  They were good with it as long we played classic rock.  But somebody wasn't.  The local enforcement showed up in about 10-15 minutes, said they'd had 2 calls already, and could we turn it down.  I think it was the Zepplin that did it.  Damn we should have taken a pic.  During this time a at least 1 mile long train had gone by.  We buried it, except for it's horn. 

Next time behind the shop.  The only people I'll piss off there are the shoppers at the grocery store 3 blocks away.  And maybe the old folks condo 6 blocks away and off axis about 60 degrees.
Quote from Doug on my face book page, hope he doesn't mind:
"Had a blast today with Leland, putting the Big E cabs to the test. No hype here folks, these Big E cabs are the real deal. The laws of physics have been broken, the textbook is being re-written."


  1. What a great report. Thanks, Leland. This has pretty much been or experience as well. Big E HQ is next to the railroad as well. Imagine the commotion we caused full power testing a couple of dual 18 (218SLVX) vertex loaded subs and multiple tops. We are zoned M1 for manufacturing and yet the city tried to push us around. Our attorney halted that. However, a neighbor for blocks away cane by and politely commented that we were rattling the doors in this home and the music was almost as loud as his TV. When he explained his wife went to bed early to get up early for work I felt bad. I had no idea the sound would penetrate to that extent. It should not be that powerful at such a distance. (We know better now) We now voluntarily limit our testing hours just to be good neighbors. This Halloween we have been contracted to do sound for the outdoor Thrill-The-World dance. Every piece of Big E gear we have will piled up on Peoria St. for that event. Bouhahahaha.

    1. Please excuse the typos in the above post. The auto-incorrect on my phone is just madding at times.