I just attended a Dave Matthews concert last night at a large outdoor venue (very good show). The sound level was incredible, the bass was chest thumping. I'm wondering what type of amplification is used at something like this, ie, number of amps, type of amps, number of watts, that type of thing. Anyone have any experience with this stuff? I kinda like trivial knowlegde of this sort. Thanks.
Can't answer your question directly, but i remember reading somewhere that all the speakers used to broadcast the Molson Indy in Toronto a couple years ago were all run off a single crown amp...800watts i think, with a huge damping factor... also the highest concert level ever recorded was at a Who concert, the speakers were run off a numer of Phase Linear amps.
I just happen to have an old issue of Pro Sound News at work and one of the monthly contents for sound reinforcement is Live Sound Showcase and Top 10 Tours Of The Month which gives you the Act/Sound Co.,venue, crew, and equipment (not quantity).
For The Dave Matthews Band Ultra Sound/Pro Media Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga,NY house amp: Crest 8001, 7001, 6001 monitor amp: Crest 7001 house speakers: Meyer MSL-10, 650-R2, MSL-3, MSL-4, UM-1 front fills monitor speakers: Meyer USM-1 personel monitor system: Shure PSM600 with Sensaphonics 2X buds.
other breakdown of equipment used from FOH & Monitor Consoles, Hardwire Mics, to rack equipment
Swampwalker...so true...they always seemed to have their sound dialed in perfectly...and I didn't get to see them until 1987 for my first time...I can only imagine what they were running then as the wall of sound was from the early 70's.
I remember doing shows with as little as 1000 watts, and that's including the monitors !!! Most "good sized" venues will be running somewhere between 2500 - 6000 watts rms of amplification. On a big tour of big halls, 10K is nothing at all. Most all of it sounds like crap though because the guys working the boards are clueless and so are the guys designing the PA cabinets. When you start playing outdoors and want to generate "thunder" you've got to have REALLY big power.
As far as the Grateful Dead sound system being discussed here, John Curl designed much of that. They used Macintosh amps the system was too costly to transport due to size and weight, so it didn't last as long as most of the fans would have wanted it to.
Part of the reason why this sounded as good as it did was that they actually used midrange drivers. Most PA systems are built around large woofers crossing over to horns. Trying to get natural sounding mids / upper mids out of a large woofer is ridiculous to say the least. Cone break up and dispersion are facts of life that we have to deal with, yet most PA designers / operators aren't aware of the laws of physics or that things could sound a WHOLE lot better. Sean >
Its been a long time, but if I recall correctly The Who was running 76,000 Watts when they set the Guiness Record as the World's Loudest Band at a stadium venue, maybe Shea in NY. AC/DC was running 45,000 Watts on the For Those About To Rock Tour. I saw them indoors at the Meadowlands in NJ, the place used to be called the Brendan Byrne Arena.
I am glad you brought that up, Ehoehn. Spinal Tap is often overlooked when it comes to these discussions. I wonder what ever happened to that amp?
The point I ALWAYS make to audiophiles is, one venture to see live music will totally make you question the "reality" or "liveness" of a system being played at low to mid volumes. Even unamplified instruments play extremely loudly.
I don't doubt that there are bands that are playing louder than the Who did way back when, but whether or not they make it into Guiness is another story. I also have to question how the spl measurements were taken, the distance from the stage, the size of the venue involved and the amount of bodies in attendance. All of these things will drastically alter the results of any type of measurement. Sean >
Well, I never heard the Who in an indoor venue, but for my money, the loudest I ever heard (made me leave, the only time that ever happened) was Mahavishnu Orchestra ca. 1971 in CT. My ears hurt even now, thinking about it (and my brain cries out, "why o why did you stay for even 10 minutes?"
Well i heard some loud concerts in my day. But in 95 i was working for pro audio and i was a record holder for that year a us auto sound compition in kansas city. Our van produced 191 dbs which was a record you could her it a 2 1/2 miles away. That was 22000 watts. But as for concerts. ive worked as a sound tech and on average 30,000 or more depends on what kind of music. Ive worked with groups like Alabama and the use 40,000 watts but look at pantera who used 25,000 watts, but you have to mention a group like scorpions 60,000 watts but remember we are talking about bands that could rock 20,000 crazy fans and still could be louder. A b1 bomber her tubines can produce well over 250 dbs at half throtle witch could damage or even kill.so sound all you have to remember that 1000 watts with no obstuctions can carry to the horizon
I saw The Who and AC/DC, but my loudest show was The Ramones in L.A. in the 90's. I can't remember the venue, but the room was all cement, the sound bouncing off the walls from every direction forever. I got SUCH a headache.
It's a different world today. I don't think they even use separate amplifiers today, but rather Class D amps built into the speakers with DSP and equalization controlled through a computer network. Paul McCartney which I recently saw a few years ago was louder than any of the concerts I saw 25-30 years ago. Yes, these are horn loaded compression drivers with very high efficiency.
Live set-up at Red Hat Amphitheater has 80kW per each side of total power for most of the rock concerts. Live set-up at Town Hall NYC had 22kW per each side during King Crimson performance Cro-Bar night club NYC has 30kW per channel if all amps are on.
I ran sound at at few shows in Chicago back in the 70's. You'd see a mix of amps, with Crown being the dominant brand back then. You might see an occisional Phase Linear 700. I remember when Journey toured in the late 70's they ran stacks of Peavey 400's which sounded surprisingly good. (Not a peavey fan) I never heard the famous Dead Mac setup. I would have loved it I'm sure.
Using Crown amps at the old Sox park we ran ten DC300's per side for the bass cabinets and 5 DC300's per side for the mids and highs. Speakers were mostly JBL and everything was horn loaded so it didn't take as much power as you would think. I believe it was under 3000 watts total to average around 110db sound pressure levels mid field. That includes running the stage monitors. But then life was simpler. =)
Attending live shows at large venues today the sound seems cleaner, and way more powerful. I would love to know what amplification is dominating sound reinforcement today. Is Crown still a player?
More trivia: the Meyer Sound company that made many of the speakers in at the OP's SPAC show was founded by Stanley "Bear" Owsley, who produced much of the LSD that engendered the west coast psychedelic scene... and was the subject Steely Dan's song Kid Charlemagne.
In the late 60s it was fashionable to use a pile of Altec A7s driven by whatever…Altec amps maybe, Macs…and the sound was friendly and sort of warm. (My bands in the early 70s to mid 80s dragged a pair of A7s around, albeit with heavy duty bass drivers). A corner was turned in the 70s to things like JBL loaded boxes from Tycobrahe and Clair Brothers with maybe Phase Linear amps, and the new normal was REAL LOUD and somewhat less warm and friendly. I'm currently a live sound mixer for smallish shows (jazz and folkie stuff mostly) and use both powered and passive speakers that sound modern and clear, careful application of powered 18s for subs, etc., and can actually get a warmish sound…but I do miss the A7 days.
Ah yes, the A7. The band house I lived in back in ’71 had a pair of them (the bands PA, of course) in the living room as a hi-fi, powered by a Fender Showman head. Had to be careful with the volume control---the A7 was so efficient, the 65 watts of the Showman could drive them to insane SPL at the flick of a wrist. Those A7’s plus a particularly nasty Fender Twin Reverb (with a pair of JBL D120 drivers) really did some damage to my poor ears.
I could (and sometimes did) hook my trust A7s to my KLH Model 20 (the one without the tuner) compact system that had a mighty 24 watts or so per side, and it sounded great. For years we used a biamp thing made by Kustom (a non tuck and roll item) that had 200 watts for the bass bins and 100 for the horns…worked great and certainly shredded some ear balls.