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guitarglenn

WORST SOUND AT A GIG EVER !

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Holy cow, what a wild discussion.

Setting aside the acrimonious tone and personalized insults thrown to and fro, there is a GREAT DEAL of misunderstanding, misinformation, ignorance and assumption in many of the posts here.

The original and subsequent posts by GitGlenn (or whatever the handle is) rightly provoked negative responses because of the writer's unfortunate choice of words. While I cannot endorse GG's methods, it is very common for audience members who have high expectations for a performance, only to be disappointed by the sound at the venue, to be very hostile. And sometimes, rightly so. The idea, however, that he/she/it could "fix the sound in 10 minutes" is so arrogant, uninformed and presumptuous as to be embarrassing.

I should clarify that I do concert sound for a living. I have quite a lot of experience at many different levels within the industry, from engineering to show production, and I am sympathetic to GG's complaint, however poorly presented. Nevertheless, the forum deserves what small clarification I can offer, so I shall try:

First, the system at the O2 was NOT an “EV” line array, nor was Clair cabinets employed. The FOH board was NOT a Digico. The description of digital boards in the earlier post was incorrect on many general and specific technical levels. The short discussion about monitors touched on authentic issues but did so inexactly, as did the one or two posts about mics, etc., etc., etc.

The system design begins with Meyer Sound (USA) MILO and MICA line array systems and 700HP subs with a Midas (UK) XL8 FOH digital console and a Midas Heritage H3000 monitor console. Meyer would have provided the system management electronics and software. Midas and Klark Teknik are located in Kidderminster, near Robert's home. He and Roy Williams - his FOH engineer - have used Meyer and Midas systems for many years now. Meyer Sound is located in California, owned by John and Helen Meyer, true pioneers in concert sound. Most of the rig was rented through Major Tom LTD in the UK.

The system at the O2 was indeed operated by some of the best people in the live concert sound industry. As I mentioned before - and was rightly sited in one of the posts here - both Roy Williams AND Big Mick Hughes (Metallica) mixed at FOH, while Dee Miller mixed monitors. Lars Brogaard (Rolling Stones) as principle in Major Tom LTD also provided his expertise. Both Meyer and Midas provided system engineering by providing their international touring designers.

It is true that Led Zeppelin, and Jimmy Page particularly, greatly influenced both the system design and implementation. Jimmy indeed auditioned systems and interviewed engineers before making certain decisions. Robert would not have worked without Roy looking after all aspects of his vox, simple as that.

The problems encountered at this event were anticipated somewhat as the O2 does have challenging acoustic properties. Many of the biggest acts in the world have played there with mixed results, including Prince and Elton John. Jimmy was quoted prior to the Dec 10th event as being impressed with the system and mix at Elton's show and claimed he would be “speaking to his sound engineers”.

No in-ear monitors were employed. Robert famously dislikes them, as many - but hardly all - older musicians do. Jimmy and JPJ likely reason their monitor preferences the same as Robert. There were, instead, many similarities between the monitor system at the O2, the one normally employed by Robert on his many recent international tours, and the basic designs used by Led Zeppelin dating back as far as 1973: floor wedges, side-fills and BIG cabinets hung above stage left and right. Stage levels would have been LOUD, always a problem for the monitor engineer regardless of how carefully prepared he or she might be.

Speaking directly to the feedback heard primarily at the beginning of the show (although occasionally it reoccurred), this was likely a result of vocals in the monitors that suffered from one or several very errant or "hot" frequencies that have to be hunted down as the performance goes on. This is really fucking hard to do, especially under the gun and with little time to sort out if the issue is acoustic or mechanical or both. It can easily be presumed that the monitor engineer worked as hard and as fast as he could, drawing on many years experience, to eliminate the issue, probably via his many EQ options, and it simply took him longer than anyone - especially him - would have liked. But he did fix it.

Addressing the complaints posted here about house sound, an old axiom from the theater can apply: many times, the "best" seat in the house can be the worst place to see and/or hear a show. Sound systems for large venues especially are designed for the overall size and acoustic properties of the venue, followed closely by the requirements of more specific areas.

Certain compromises are inevitable, and the science and art of sound reinforcement certainly is ongoing. Acoustic properties at venues influence outcomes substantially, of course, and the O2 is one of the most difficult places to design and operate large concert sound reinforcement systems, as we have noted. Where a person stands (sits) also greatly influences their experience and therefore, perception of how successful the engineers were. I can guess that GG could have been at a disadvantage because of close proximity to where the subs were landed, and if so, was victimized by his "great seat".

The engineers would have made every single attempt their education, training and experience would allow to anticipate and solve the enormous mechanical, acoustic, and production issues they faced at this event. It is very true that measurements made in an empty arena would betray how the system would perform once an audience populated the venue, but there are methods that anticipate some of – but not all - these factors. I know from personal experience what it is to take measurements, factor in absorption properties and be completely wrong. I am not saying these guys were wrong; I am saying that I have empathy, to say the least.

It is also true that Led Zeppelin is both notoriously loud and averse to sound checks, something that does not help the sound-types. Add the enormous expectations WORLDWIDE for this event, and you may begin to have a sense for what all the participants were going through as they worked to fulfill everyone's expectations.

The event was recorded by all accounts, either for an album or DVD or both, and it could have been tracked with a ProTools rig at FOH, but for an event of this magnitude this kind of arrangement is doubtful. There would have been an active stage split of some sophisticated variety going to a separate recording system placed separately from the house system. The video record was directed by Dick Carruthers, famous for his work on the Led Zeppelin DVD and consulting on the recent TSRTS DVD reissue.

By most accounts, the event generally and the house sound particularly were successful. There were issues, and audience participants are entitled to their opinions and reactions. Those of us who have been in the monitor or FOH chair literally work day and night to get the best show for the audience and the performers. Sometimes there are issues, but everyone works like hell to solve them. No one deserves to be “shot”.

Please reference the provided links for specifics on the house and monitor system:

http://mixonline.com/news/meyersound-ledze...02arena-122707/

http://prosoundnewseurope.com/index.php?op...5&Itemid=27

http://www.unityaudio.co.uk/article.php?id=50&loc=news

http://www.midasconsoles.com/pressreleases...d-Zeppelin.html

http://www.meyersound.com/news/2007/led_zeppelin/

http://www.wholelottamilo.com/

Yes!! You clarified some point I've understood. Happy to see that finally this topic goes on a good track...A technical one!!!

Thanks a lot!!

Artur

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Sorry Joelmon

Didn't mean to seem a party pooper but why people were so critical instead of just enjoying the day just pisses me off. When the debate began on the 11th I could see some of the points being raised as on a couple of occasions I had to concentrate to gather which song was being played for the first few bars , but when you consider that you are one of the few VERY fortunate 18,000 people to get a ticket as against the millions who wanted to be there then I really don't see why there was so much critisism.

Any way... Let's wait for the DVD and hope the sound is studio quality so that some people can see the concert the way they believe LIVE events should be ;-0

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Many thanks to all for the kind words about my recent post. I am happy if it helped clarify things.

A special professional nod at TeeDee, who was dead-on with that post.

Additional professional cudos to Heavy Baloon. A lighting tech with empathy for the sound-type!! And vise-versa!! Doesn't happen always/a lot, eh?? :rolleyes: harharharhar........

Regarding what should be/is still being discussed, I would hope that the sound and the lighting and the video/media for the event WOULD get considerable, ongoing discussion here and elsewhere. It is both art and science, and you can bet that the musicians are VERY keen on every aspect of these issues. I assure you that there was a great deal of discussion among all participants at the O2 before and after the event. Prolly still is. Hope so. The tech support for this show was quite remarkable in so many respects, and it deserves attention!!

Interesting link here to Kevin (Page-Crowes/Led Zep DVD/HTWWW/TSRTS CD/DVD Reissue) Shirley's review of the O2 event. He is a studio guy, not a live sound engineer, so whilst his opinion has CONSIDERABLE weight, he does come from a very different angle than live-sound-types do, the two disciplines are THAT different:

http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/004061.html

He also thought the mix was mucked-up from the floor level. He certainly isn't the only person that came away thinking this, of course. If I recall correctly, Thread Originator GitGlenn also was on the floor (so to speak) was he not? Shirley mentions that the "engineer found his fingers" eventually :D and things cleaned up as the show progressed. Quite obviously, KS understands what's going on and why, then says so without insulting anyone or making terrorist threats. Well done, KS!!

Here's to hoping that Kevin gets a shot at working on the soundtrack for the DVD that Dick Carruthers shot!

Cheers to all.....

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Love hearing from all you wizards. This has been very interesting.

Thanks for all the informative posts.

Some of you guys do the best you can do with WHAT you've got. Bless you.

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I'm just listening to the Wendy release of the show and then i will get to compare it with the other versions.

Not the worst sound at a gig ever so far. B)

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A little off-topic....but.... BAD SOUND is the scourge of all live shows.

THE WORST for me was Prince, Seattle Key Arena, I cant even remember the year

the sound was so bad...the only intelligable words all night were SEATTLE and Mutherf#cker!

Van Halen in Portland Dec 1 sucked as well...too loud... muddy everything

from the Audio/video clips of the 02 show, you can tell Plants vocals are "hotter' than hell, cuz its way over the top of everything and it sounds (for the most part) like superamplified whispering....I dont want to get into a big thing here about Percy but it is not a matter of opinion but fact, that the surgery on his throat has left him with less than half-power for the last 20 years or more. (please note I am not saying he cant sing, just the VOLUME and STRENGTH of his voice nesccesitates superhot cranking in the mix that may have factored in the feedback and sound problems of the show.

i saw Van Halen on Oct. 24 and the show was amazing. it wasnt muddy at all. I didnt find it that loud either.

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I'm just listening to the Wendy release of the show and then i will get to compare it with the other versions.

Not the worst sound at a gig ever so far. B)

The Wendy version is definitely my favorite.

No Quarter is awesome, and so clear on it!

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Because microphones and recorders aren't subjective..... :D

They have no opinion.

:lol::lol:

And don't loop 'round endlessly... :lol:

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I have read so much about different gigs being the worse ones they did, I guess being a really big fan, it is hard to say, which was bad.

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I thought the sound was pretty good - apart from the first couple of numbers. I was seated at the side of the stage (JPJ's side) quite high up.

Having watched several youtube vids, I am getting a feel for where the sound was the most balanced. Until officially sanctioned footage arrives, it might be fun to analyze the seating chart of the O2 and identify the sections where the sound was the best. Thanks to the tapers and videographers who mentioned where they were sitting. Thanks Rogerthat for extending the boundaries of our technical knowledge.

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