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ironlips

Sound Reinforcement - who balances it best?

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This discussion has been quiet for a while, but continues to be critical. You be the judge.

Whose show has the best "audio transparency", and why?

Please note whether you are judging from a "live" or "streaming"  experience perspective.

My front-runner, based on seeing them live, outdoors in Sacramento (and understanding that things may have changed)...Cavaliers.

Why? They played extremely dynamically (ppp to fff, with fine shaping), scoring for synths and other reinforced instruments was tasteful (including periods of tacet!), and the marriage of acoustic and electronic sounds was very well balanced.

In short, there was clarity.

I recalled standing with Ralph Hardimon the year before amps were introduced, listening to this very corps. "Do you have any problem hearing the keyboards?". he asked. "None at all", I said. "Yeah", he replied. "It's called dynamics."

They're still doing it.

 

So, who's your candidate?

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I don't know about the best but I do know BD uses way too much synth bass

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56 minutes ago, Cappybara said:

I don't know about the best but I do know BD uses way too much synth bass

SCV may have joined that club this year.

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Boston is by far the worst. I think Crown has done a nice job in the past, but this year the two times I’ve seen them live  (Once on the 50, once on side 1 around the 35) the balance left to right has been off kilter. 

I think the Mandarins do a really nice job this year balancing dynamics. And the Bluecoats certainly seem to do more than everyone else with layering and distorting the sound, but in a way that feels authentic. 

As far as the synth bass, there are very few that use it well. Honestly, I don’t know why some corps even bother marching tubas at all if you can’t hear them for the entire show because they’re covered up with goo. 

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Bluecoats are just so good with their sound design - yes - you notice the amplification is there -- but to me it sounds the most natural/transparent - plus for rock music, the amplification enhancements make sense -- it's what you would expect from the music --

Cadets sound design this year is just terrible

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Blue Stars do a really good job with the sound reinforcement of their full hornline, or lack thereof, as they tend to have one of the most natural-sounding hornlines year-in and year-out. I haven't seen them enough this year to know whether that has continued, but I remember how much of a difference it made last year when I saw them live compared to other corps performing before them that sounded much louder than they needed to be.

Edited by Cadevilina Crown
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Of all people to call this question! The original sound genius of drum corps! Maybe a more important question is, “is drum corps moving to a more processed sound?” And in fact, moving totally away from the incredible “State of the Art” recordings of the 80s. With the success of the recent top ensembles (primarily Bluecoats) it would seem the age of audio transparency is gone.

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Bluecoats

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Blue Devils have the best amplification approach.  Since seeing them in action, I have noticed that I cannot hear the finer details in any other corps. 

(Come to think of it, I cannot hear much of anything since then.)

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 Interesting comparisons can be made among outdoor, indoor and streaming experiences involving the same group.

For competitive purposes, corps would prioritize Lucas Oil over Allentown, for instance, yet ignoring the outdoor venue adjustments could be perilous in terms of setting a pattern of relative scoring versus one's nearest competitors.

A huge problem, of course, is the night to night venue changes and the total lack of a proper sound check, unless of course you are among the very fortunate who get to rehearse in that space.

Sound reinforcement is both Art and Science.

Science and calculus are fine, but the proof is in the audience experience. Please let us hear yours, especially the good. We can all easily recognize the bad and the ugly. (Cue the music):

 

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