We've been running a small amount of live sound gear coverage in the mag for a few months now. On the whole, it has been very well received, which isn't really surprising, as most musicians cut their teeth by performing live, even if only at the local pub open-mic night. Every time I visit a trade show I see new live sound systems alongside all the latest studio products, but sometimes I get the impression that there are too many 'they make one so we'll make one too' products out there and little that's truly innovative. What's more, when I do see something new, it all too often seems to fall under the 'solution without a problem' category. So, as I still get out to perform live a few days each month, I thought I might use this column to suggest a couple of live sound products that I would actually like to see, and which I'm certain would be particularly attractive to the majority of us who play small pub venues. If you have any thoughts on this, please feel free to express them on the SOS Forum at www.soundonsound.com.
OK, you know those little wooden boxes with mics inside, which solo performers tap their feet on to provide some kind of rhythm? They're fine as far as they go, but I've tried them and my foot gets tired. They also stop me from wandering about as I'm performing. How hard could it be to build something just a bit more sophisticated, with a tap-tempo feature, so that once you've started it up, it will keep going at the rate you last tapped? Add a pause/resume switch off to one side, with a simple way to reset and stop the thing, and life would be so much easier. And while they're at it, maybe a bit of basic DSP modelling to make it sound more like a kick drum and less like somebody kicking a piece of wood?
What else do I need? Well, I already have a very nice little line-array PA that takes up very little space and sounds great, but where do you put the lights and monitors in a typical pub? Miniature monitors of the type made by the likes of Mackie, TC and Wharfdale are probably the best solution to date, but why does nobody build something similar into the back of the main PA speakers, along with some flat-panel LED lighting that chases the music fed to the speakers? The monitors, which would need their own volume and tone control, could be angled inwards to operate as crossfills, and only need be small because they don't need to handle anything below 180Hz or so — you hear enough lows from the main speakers. Not only would this save space, it would also save a lot of setup time and cabling. I hope some manufacturers are taking note, because I'll be looking for these at the next NAMM show!
Paul White Editor In Chief
Please note that we have reissued the Audio Frequency Poster that we gave away with last month's magazine, in order to correct a small production error that crept in. We hope you'll find the revised version even more useful!