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3 hours ago, Fred Windish said:

Really appreciate your effort to continue doing these reviews, Jeff!  I'm glad (sort of) to hear your complaints about the overbearing electronics. I can accept that electronics are here to stay, and most of it does enrich some presentations, but the inability of so many corps to get the right balance is a real turn-off for me. Even on the highly-funded DCI side, several "big boys" can't seem to control these new toys. Or, perhaps they don't want to?

There is something wrong when a drum corps' big hits sound like organ music at a Phillies game. 

If drum corps continues to sound increasingly fake, it will lose the interest of many observers.

DCI has the advantage of every day, and should be keeping copious notes on each venue ( and i know one corps has a bible on pretty much every stadium they've been too).

 

DCA only has the chance to do one gig a week, so I'm willing to be kind in July. Come Big Sounds, no. But, in looking at the rcaps, I'm pretty sure the issues were duly noted by the adjudicators of the evening.

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1 hour ago, msjbass said:

Thanks for your review, Jeff ..... I hope you never stop giving us these reviews.  I really appreciate it  :-)

well.....it's gonna be tough for a year or 3.....Sadie starts attending shows at Big Sounds. she's so wiggly taking notes is not gonna be easy. I even begged off writing that one for DCW since it's the first one.

 

and man did it feel weird pressing "3" on the ticket order that first time LOL

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37 minutes ago, Jeff Ream said:

sorry coulda swore i saw mics. 

 

There are four microphones on stands behind the platform prop on side one. They are active only for the french horn ensemble at the beginning of the show, and the trombone ensemble. They remain muted the rest of the time. The trumpet trio sets up on the platform (with the mics behind them, muted).

We're using mics for those two ensembles so that they can play with the most natural, characteristic french horn and jazz trombone sounds possible. Savvy fans may have noticed that the trombones were originally not mic'd, and were positioned along the front sideline in Wildwood, Clifton and Nazereth. They were moved to their present location behind the prop for the Peckville show (as always intended) so they wouldn't have to blast away, and could achieve the sound we're looking for. Fun stuff to figure out, actually.

Trust me when I say those trumpet cats don't need mics.

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Gotta give a shout-out to the Caballeros' featured French horn soloist.

She is part of my extended family... my brother-in-law's niece... and she is doing a fantastic job!!!

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36 minutes ago, Fran Haring said:

Gotta give a shout-out to the Caballeros' featured French horn soloist.

She is part of my extended family... my brother-in-law's niece... and she is doing a fantastic job!!!

 

Kirsten is a ridiculous french horn player. We've got her on a wireless system that took some experimentation to get just right. French horns are real buggers to amplify if you're not on stage.

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4 hours ago, Kamarag said:

 

There are four microphones on stands behind the platform prop on side one. They are active only for the french horn ensemble at the beginning of the show, and the trombone ensemble. They remain muted the rest of the time. The trumpet trio sets up on the platform (with the mics behind them, muted).

We're using mics for those two ensembles so that they can play with the most natural, characteristic french horn and jazz trombone sounds possible. Savvy fans may have noticed that the trombones were originally not mic'd, and were positioned along the front sideline in Wildwood, Clifton and Nazereth. They were moved to their present location behind the prop for the Peckville show (as always intended) so they wouldn't have to blast away, and could achieve the sound we're looking for. Fun stuff to figure out, actually.

Trust me when I say those trumpet cats don't need mics.

i believe you LOL, but i knew i saw mics

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4 hours ago, Fran Haring said:

Gotta give a shout-out to the Caballeros' featured French horn soloist.

She is part of my extended family... my brother-in-law's niece... and she is doing a fantastic job!!!

she is. my french horn playing wife loved her....and the beginning of Mexicana too...she got all kinds of giddy

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On 8/3/2017 at 7:15 AM, Fred Windish said:

Really appreciate your effort to continue doing these reviews, Jeff!  I'm glad (sort of) to hear your complaints about the overbearing electronics. I can accept that electronics are here to stay, and most of it does enrich some presentations, but the inability of so many corps to get the right balance is a real turn-off for me. Even on the highly-funded DCI side, several "big boys" can't seem to control these new toys. Or, perhaps they don't want to?

There is something wrong when a drum corps' big hits sound like organ music at a Phillies game. 

If drum corps continues to sound increasingly fake, it will lose the interest of many observers.

I'm still struggling with amplification. Last night at the DCI show in Chester (great stadium, by the way), I was sitting at the 25 yd line watching the Blue Coats play at the 50 yd line while hearing the music through a speaker at the 5 yd line.   Something seemed wrong with that picture!   When horn line played backfield, they marched into the corner where there were 2 mics--so no backfield effect.   Much of the show was the same volume.   As a former sousaphone player, I LOVED BC's tuba section--i think there were 16--but I was ticked on the big impacts when the entire section was overpowered by the bass from the keyboard!  And, while I'm nitpicking, there was a tune where I could hear the featured musician, but I couldn't SEE him--couldn't find anyone on the field who was playing it.  With all the electronics, I wondered if that portion was live or was it Memorex.  Maybe the fact that there were two 5-second stretches when the center speaker scratched--like there was a bad speaker wire--was enough to give Crown the win.   Blue has a a GREAT show which, IMO, on this night was a victim of the 12 or so speakers on the field.

Maybe all is honkey-dorey if you're sitting at the 50 where the judges are;  maybe there should be a judge between the goal line and the 25 to hear what those paying ticket holders are hearing.  Then maybe the corps would get the amplification figured out very quickly.  Maybe this will evolve into a caption for "sound techie."

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I've talked to someone who was the Electronics guru for a major DCA unit. (don't know if they're still in that capacity)

 

There's only one 'perfect place' for listening to the show- on the 50 as close to the judging panel as possible, and things are dialed in and tested during the pre-show using a bluetooth tablet.

 

That being said..... there really has been only one perfect place to listen to a show, on the 50 as close to the box as possible even before electronics. Because of how sound propagates, if you're too far left or right from the 50, you'll get the impression the corps if rhythmically tearing itself apart at times when between the 45's, it lines up. 

 

At contest temperatures, the speed of sound is somewhere around 1100 feet per second meaning that from goal line to goal line there's a quarter second delay from goal line to goal line. From backside to front, about .15 second. That's how we get the tears in performances. The human ear can discern that delay.

 

Yeah, I was a Physics major before I went into Music Ed. :blink: Does help though when figuring this stuff out for a group.

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First, Jeff thanks for detailed performance information in your review.  Amazing how much you captured.  I see many reference to the “mic”, so I’ll add (pile on?) on amplification.  There is so much to love about drum corps so I tell myself, don’t get obsessed with the amplification.  Btw, I am investigating, “when has a trend been reversed”.  This one will be difficult.

Important comments <my tag> from above,

>>>sitting at the 25 yd line watching the Blue Coats play at the 50 yd line while hearing the music through a speaker at the 5 yd line.  <BALANCE of Amplification levels>

>>>there were two 5-second stretches when the center speaker scratched   <DISTRACTION>

>>>victim of the 12 or so speakers on the field. <Financial escalation, BALANCE of Amplification levels>

So this is a marker.  Will DCA trend toward DCI, with different constraints in budget and staff time.

A few years back at Clifton, I was with guitarist from my old rock group – he is electronics expert, at least to me as he can fix amplifiers, and he stayed with trend for example to powered speakers vs. power amp in the rack.   He was also a tuba player in HS.  So we enjoyed the show, he was amazed by the corps.  But there was running commentary back and forth on speaker placement, EQ, balance, etc.   My reflection next day, geez very distracting to the experience of watching a show.   <it will take time for me for it be the new normal>

I also think back to a parade when a West Point sound crew (a contractor) did sound for the after parade party.  I think I posted on this prior – that sound board with parametric EQ and all the rest – these guys had a beautiful mix for a rock band playing.  I thought, wow if we could have that sound treatment for a corps – oooh.   I love a great, powerful mix as much as the next guy.   <Financial, skill level>

Also think of recording artists, like say Springsteen taking nearly a year to produce a song.  >>>Springsteen became bogged down in the recording process while striving for a wall of sound production.

Point is that the amplification game is a deep discipline in its own right: recording, small venue, arena.  And it is complex, subject to taste.   Should the bass drum kick your chest, or rattle your lowers <LOL>.

So how much to invest vs. housing, staff, rehearsal space, music rights, equipment, buses?  Goal is to be competitive so it must be and is being factored – it is de facto mandatory.  Maybe most sound gear today are loaners from dedicated staff and friends of corps.

Big Dub, I get your point on physics of sound, and balance with and without amplification.   Key point to me though is difference in the sound experience, with and w/o amplification.  Is the qualitative and quantitative better overall with amps?  Lots of tradeoffs as with any complex decision.    Someone will just tell me don’t worry about it, get over it, enjoy the show - I’ll try tonight.   I may get my best kicks in front of a horn arc, or “inside the arc”.   <g>

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