NP Live 2009 – Day 3/4: Boom Boom Boom
So the night of the recording went well, and while I can’t say that the day leading up the night was one of the finest, the week leading up to it was awesome. Plus most folks seemed like they had a good time for the night so overall I would say the whole thing was a success.
As I mentioned earlier, we once again brought in subs to see how they would play in our room. We brought in 12 Meyer 700HP’s in May to use for the Drive Conference, but this time we opted for 10 Meyer M3D subs. I was really happy with the 700’s at Drive, and the first photo here shows a heat plot for 11 700HP’s roughly in the configuration we had for Drive. Once again, the number of subs has nothing to do with power. It’s all about pattern control. By wrapping around the stage, we get very even coverage across the room. Once you add in wall reflections, what we had at Drive even filled in those cooler sections on the front sides. People can be very finicky about low end, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much better things have been received by using this configuration.
However, one thing you’ll notice with this setup is how much low frequency energy there is on stage. It wasn’t the end of the world for the band when we had these setup at Drive. However, in our typical operation this poses a problem. Our two auditoriums have their stages back to back so on the wall directly behind the stage is another stage, and unfortunately all that energy carries over onto that other stage and into the audience listening area. With two auditoriums running simultaneously ever Sunday, this isn’t an optimal setup. Reports from the west during Drive was they were getting a good workout.
Thankfully there is a potential solution to this: cardioid subs. While traditional subs tend to radiate energy in an almost omni-directional pattern, cardioid subs are configured to cancel in the rear. This is usually achieved by facing a sub in the opposite direction and using the reversed polarity to achieve cancellation. While it is possible to array traditional subs in a fashion that will create a cardioid coverage pattern, it is unfortunately not feasible for us in our current space so the only thing we can really do is look at single enclosures that do the same thing. For the CD Project, we opted to try directional subs to compare against the 700HP’s.
The M3D sub is basically 2 subs in one. There are 2 forward firing 18’s with 2 rear-firing 15’s, and when you try and lift one you really get a sense of everything that’s in the box. They are incredibly heavy weighing just shy of 400 lbs. Load-in was….fun….
The second photo here shows the same prediction as the first with the M3D subs in the configuration we had for the CD Project. Again, you can see how even the coverage pattern is, but the main thing to note is the decreased energy on the stage. In practice this was true along with greatly reduced energy in our west auditorium which was a win. The reduction on stage also didn’t seem to bother the band.
Now, in my personal opinion, I preferred the 700HP’s. The 700’s just seemed like they were a little punchier. Going with the M3D subs, however, was barely a compromise. In fact, I received several comments from folks who preferred the M3D’s to the 700’s. Everyone has different tastes, I guess. The output of the M3D subs was also less than the 700’s, but there was still plenty for the room, and I do think the coverage was a little bit more even with only 10 of the M3D subs. If we were going to do something permanent, the lesson learned from the test is that we will definitely need to go with directional subs to make our Sunday programming work.
One last thing to note is once again the sound of our tops was greatly improved with the substitution of the Meyer subs for our current ones. The nice thing about using them this time is I had them right from the beginning of rehearsal where the Drive subs came in the night before. Having them from day one probably made also had an impact in the final mix result since I had 3 days on them instead of less than 24 hours. It was once again sad to them go.