Milsap Reprint Lo Res

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Information about Milsap Reprint Lo Res

Published on November 27, 2008

Author: Ldogprod



Pro Sound News/Ronnie Milsap audio engineers article

prosoundI news [2] Above left: Showtime (viewed through a pair of Shure mics used during the a cappella “Doo Wop” segment). Above right: Ronnie Milsap croons into a Shure Beta 58 while monitoring through Galaxy Audio Hot Spots atop his Yamaha digital grand piano. Below: Milsap stands and sings-the “custom” 2x4 at stage front travels with the band-it lets Milsap locate, and avoid, the edge of the stage. Georgia On My Mind: Ronnie Milsap On The Road By Frank Wells. stage,” says West. He’s become a truck of just band gear and three bus- ATLANTA—Nashville living legend Ron- big fan of line arrays, no longer hav- es. The band, once eight members nie Milsap has just released a new ing to worry about the sound being strong with additional guitar, steel CD, My Life, and continues to add his “five or ten times louder in the front and keyboard players, is now five multi-faceted flair to country music row,” adding that when they are set players plus Milsap (The star says that on stages across the USA. Along with up right, it’s like “front row seating his current band is so good, they can his various ongoing musical projects everywhere-what a joy that you still cover a broad range of styles, and and studio work, Milsap seeks out his know you are mixing for more than only the steel guitar might be missed). fans for some 70-80 live dates a year, one little tiny slice of people.” The Traveling light these days, West occasionally serving as the opening Chastain venue has an L-Acoustic V- has become a fan of digital con- act (including on George Strait’s 2007 Dosc array permanently installed, soles, though his history with au- tour). Milsap always captivates a driven by L-Acoustic, BSS and Dolby tomation stretches back to using a crowd, and even awes the headliners Lake processing feeding L-Acoustic MIDI-based Yamaha controller to like Trace Adkins, who Milsap opened and Crown MacroTech amps. modify external effects before the for when PSN hopped on the tour West began his forays into audio internal processing and snapshot ca- bus for a jaunt to Atlanta for a sum- at the age of 15 when his electrical pabilities of digital desks made carry- mer time gig at the Chastain Park engineer father built an early home ing processing racks unnecessary. A Amphitheater. studio in their home in 1961 (the sen- Yamaha PM5D from Chastain’s At- When FOH engineer and pro- ior West was also a steel guitar player lanta sound provider, Entertainment duction manager Kerry West first and built the first “talk box” in his Design Group (, joined the Milsap crew in August of garage, later seen by Joe Walsh, who was at FOH for this gig. Yamaha dig- 1993, he recalls that Chastain Park, worked with Bob Heil to commercial- ital desks are the most common one of the first gigs, was a “can- ize the concept). On the road, West West encounters, with the PM5D dlelit in the park kind of thing”-a began by driving the bus, his road du- and the M7CL (used on monitors at magical night that produced a great ties eventually evolving to FOH for his Chastain) “pretty universally avail- console tape. Music and technology mom, famed Country artist Dottie able,” though he’s also a fan of have changed a lot over the years West. When West began working DiGiCo consoles (where the native since those early days. “There’s such with Milsap after his mom’s retire- processing is “very well done”) and a greater potential now to show the ment, the tour package was signifi- he’s used Digidesign’s Venue offfer- audience much more closely the dy- cantly more elaborate than today’s ings, with the only complaint being namics that are going on on the single bus and trailer, comprising a 24’ when the compliment of add-on October 2008

EQ settings. “That way, when I recall these scenes, the graphs all recall since everything is placed the same,” he ex- plains. Once the aux master fader is set to accommodate for differences in amps, “everything should fall right in place; it comes back the same, minus some minor differences from room acoustics.” On this day, restrictive hours for soundcheck (the park is in the middle of an upscale resi- dential neighborhood) and a rain delay crimped the time allotted for a Milsap soundcheck-Cottrill says if he’d been on an analog desk, he’d have been hard pressed to be ready for show time (not to mention pre-show catering). Internal pro- cessing in the monitor path is restricted to EQ and dynamics control, the latter being a bit of instrument compression and a hard limit for Milsap’s monitor volume control. A standard Linksys wireless router and Yamaha’s Studio Manager software let Cottrill also work anywhere in the ven- ue from his hybrid Dell laptop/tablet PC. All of the main vocal mics are Shure Beta 58s. “There’s some magical thing about the proximity effect of a 58 that lets Ronnie work the mic like he likes to-not too many artists can work a mic like he FOH engineer Kerry West (left) and monitor engineer Tony Cottrill at the Yamaha M7CL monitor desk. does and get away with it,” says West, adding that he wants the vocalists to work plugs differs from rented desk to desk. graphic EQ on the matrix outputs for cal mic’s null. Milsap controls his own bal- close and he thinks artists using in-ears “The cool thing about these digital most PA adjustments, and the use of ma- ance and master level on the Hot Spots. tend to back off a bit, while wedges keep consoles,” says West, “is that if you’ve trixes for feeds also allows him to set the Cottrill uses user defined keys on the them “up close and personal.” Shure never even seen a desk before, because gain structure on his main two mix out- M7CL to pull to the center section ele- SM58s are used for vocals in the Doo Wop it’s literally just numbers, you can take the puts where he wants them to operate, as ments, like the individual monitor mixes, segment, while SM57s mic guitarist/band literal numbers of a previous template he notes that sound systems typically have the four mic configuration for an a cappel- leader/tour manager Jamie Brantley’s gui- where you know the gain structure, and more gain than necessary. la “Doo Wop” feature of the show, the tar amps. More Shures-a combination of apply that to a console you’ve never seen, On monitors is Belmont university fac- iPod for walk-in music and so on. Bias Peak SM81s, 91s and 98s-handle drums, with and be extremely close.” As well as being ulty member Tony Cottrill. Former Milsap is used on a MacBook to playback loops keys, bass and acoustic guitar fed direct. able to learn a console and configure it monitor engineer, Kirby Julufka, a former used to enhance a few songs, but the Brian Matney, a comedian who warms with offline software, West says he also student of Cottrill’s (when Cottrill taught computer is mainly used for running Metric the crowd for Milsap, uses the only wire- appreciates the predictability of digital-not at SAE), “made me happy,” says Milsap. Halo’s Spectrafoo audio analysis tool-a big less microphone (provided by the venue). having to worry about worn switches or After Julufka moved on, “I went through aid in determining the ringing and feed- For outdoor dates like this, Milsap uses a other problems that can plague an analog a slew of monitor engineers,” Milsap con- back frequencies. “Foo” is driven by a B&K Yamaha digital grand piano (“This is the console. West would still like to see dy- tinues. “I will say that’s probably one of omni fed to the laptop via an MXL Micro- only piano I ever need,” he opines during namics processing improved on digital the hardest jobs out there.” Finally, Milsap phones’ MicMate inline USB preamp and soundcheck), along with a combination of consoles, particularly for the master bus, asked his son to inquire who had taught interface (Cottrill sometimes augments keys including a Yamaha DX7’s mono out but says he’s “finally getting along” with Julufka, resulting in the offer to Cottrill to Spectrafoo with Smaart Live 6 from SIA on fed through a vintage Roland Dimension digital dynamics and “growing to love” join the crew on their primarily weekend the PC). Cotrill says the musicians them- D and processing from TC Electonic, and the Yamaha multiband compressor, espe- jaunts. That was some 17 months ago, selves work as effective “human sweep os- even, for a certain sound, a MIDI-con- cially since Version 2 software is allowing and now it’s Cottrill making Milsap happy, cillators,” singing a rising tone to help him trolled Alesis Nano piano. West says the it to be inserted, along with other internal too, with his current Belmont student, zero in on offensive frequencies. band “inherently” gets a well-balanced effects, on the stereo bus. Nick Abrahamson, filling in when Cottrill Also saved and looped from Peak are blend off the stage “and I just make up For consistency, facing a different con- can’t make a given show. The addition of various test signals from the AES Nashville the difference.” He calls it “old school,” sole and PA on each gig, West says, “I’m the long-tenured Marty MacKeever, key- Section’s test CD. Cottrill says “I always do asking “How many engineers can say a big fan of doing most of my set-up on board tech, gives Milsap what he calls his a polarity check,” using the positive-only that? All you need is one player playing headphones in a given show.” While the “dream team” for technical support. pulse track from the CD to test the too loud off the stage to kind of tie your monitors are being rung out on stage, Through an arrangement that put pro- wedges for absolute polarity, using the re- hands as to what you can do out front [to West gets his basic sounds and his gain moter’s rental funds back into Belmont’s ceiver from a Galaxy Audio Cricket test set get] a good balance.” structure together in the cans, then turn- audio purchasing budget, and gave him to check the signal at each speaker. Al- Milsap calls West their “spiritual ing on the PA “to see how close we’ll be more real world time on the console to ways working with rented amps and leader;” West acknowledges that his job able to translate” to how he knows it translate back to education, Cottrill car- wedges, Cottrill says he often finds a is more than technical (“My job doesn’t should sound, though adding the caveat ried Belmont’s Yamaha M7CL for several wedge or two out of polarity. Another of start with knowing anything about that, “Bass is probably the biggest thing of Milsap’s summer gigs, including Chas- his tricks is to use a wide dispersion laser sound; it’s a people skills business”) and you can’t translate from headphones.” So tain. Stage monitoring for the band is shining from the wedge horn position to says that fostering the confidence Milsap that he can selectively mute and mix and comprised of 11 total mixes-five for Mil- verify that the monitor placement is cor- has in him is something that is a big part match signals he’s monitoring, West says sap alone with his stereo sidefills, different rect to each band member’s head (a tool of his job: “There’s a people skill dimen- “I’m a big fan of using the matrix outputs keyboard and singing positions, and a pair he’s also found helpful doing speaker sion” that comes into play “before you of most consoles to drive any signal that of Galaxy Audio Hot Spots on his piano. placement during church speaker installs). ever plug in the first cable.” Milsap pipes needs to leave the console to go to speak- The Hot Spots are fed by the only out- Most of the combinations of wedges in: “I’ll say one thing, Kerry West: When ers.” This avoids the problem of most board processing in the rig-a Presonus Eu- the crew will encounter over the course of you’re not here, I’m not going to be desks muting the headphone feed when reka feeding a BSS FCS966 graphic EQ the year are programmed into the desk as here-I don’t ever think about it; it’s just a main L-R out is muted. He puts his feeding the monitors, which sit in the vo- presets, with a starting point for graphic total trust.” October 2008

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