In the following article the author through a very intimate and personal text shared with a friend his day as a sound engineer in touring rock bands, an office in the face daily challenges from the technical.
By: Brad Johnson
Well, I was very busy with Whitesnake tour and return home only for a short time before returning to take way. I have many stories to tell about managing sound for this band when we were outside the United States. I met really beautiful places, but you know that the fans are the same worldwide: just ask loud sound and rock music.
I do not know or do not know, but the installation of a show depends on the capacity that you count on tour. What I mean is, or bring the whole machine (and I mean all because you must bring your own energy company) or simply watching you stay behind the scenes. At least, that's what usually happens. Outside the United States I found it was easy although not to bring your own equipment and simply were leaving local suppliers in each country will furnish the necessary equipment. With this any headache related to electrical compatibility problems are eliminated.
It's always different
With Whitesnake, sometimes the scenario is a little different. When we bring our machinery, simply we bring three quarters of it and essentially local suppliers we provide a PA system and lighting equipment. Therefore, the installation of monitors, FOH (front of house) And backstage equipment we bring require voltages handled in the United States, while teams who supply us do not. So I end up having a strange hybrid voltage requirements and I have to adapt the equipment of the United States to make everything work.
The way that local people face this problem is always different from country to country and are usually completely ignored. I bet you wonder how do I deal with this. The first thing I do when it comes to facilities for a show is to look off the main power and determine the voltage with a meter. Then I have to look at how to unite all the pieces. You can spend half a day simply by specifying energy. For the front team I have had luck. All energy passes through a voltage regulator Furman AR-PRO. Really, my only concern here is the type of plug I need to supply local suppliers. In general, it takes me five minutes to do the installation.
Well, back with the tour. We started in Australia and New Zealand and although we did not bring our own equipment, electrical problems were presented. Then we traveled to South America and were in most countries for a month or so, making about 15 shows. Here yes we had our own equipment and we find a different electrical conditions in each country, but things were relatively mild. The first show was in Brazil and I really was crazy. We were 36oC and 89% moisture before they appeared viewers. Then it was unpleasant everywhere.
In the lighting part I had no problems, but real problems may have arisen. The "rider" technician sent to promoters specifies that "can not be located less than two falls 120V power and capacity 20A in the position of mixing the front of the stage".
In this concert, the "rider" was quickly ignored. What we provided was a single drop 20A and 220V with an American-style plug. This could have been a big deal if I had not had the AR-PRO to make the conversion. The manufacturer announced a significant improvement for the AR-PRO.
The P-3600 AR G show the true RMS Technology Furman Regulation (using a transformer / autoformardor of torroidal low noise insulation, TRIACs high current distribution and microprocessing control) to increase or decrease the input voltages. The unit also offers proprietary technologies LiFT / SMP / EVS Furman for professional protection and linear AC noise filtration.
These features, along with the ability to output 30A P-3600 ARG and the wide range of capture input voltage, make this a unique solution among the many voltage regulators and conditioners portable power and are a specific reliable alternative applications to increase or decrease transformers. the office of P-3600 AR G for the second quarter is expected 2010.
The next concert was also in Brazil, in a different place, and turned out to be something very easy to do. The local sound company offered a supply of 220V in an American outlet three-terminal was in the front. Plug the AR-PRO to this source and was not required to make any adjustments. The input voltage was fixed at approximately 214 V and 218V at rest and the output of AR-PRO was 120V solid.
The only bad thing was the suffocating heat we felt: 36 oC and 93% humidity. As a precautionary measure, I placed a fan on the console that holds my Digico amplifier, the AR-PRO and the three PL-PROs from Furman that are used as auxiliary energy to distribute the energy inside the consoles individually. By the end of the night, the AR-PRO was quite hot but the local Digico console was boiling. In the future, I think I will need to add a strong cooling system for this console since I think that the Digico really does make the AR-PRO hotter by proximity.
Def Leppard and Europe
I have nothing more important to note about South America. We took a break and then headed to Europe (where we also carry our own team) to perform a tour with Def Leppard. We were in Europe month and a half, performing between 10 and 15 and offering concerts in each country a "Aryan" or "ania" at the end of them. We went through hell in Europe. We had many problems in every place we stayed.
First, they are the basic problems involving the mere fact of touring in Europe. You are crossing a border every night. In some of them, you can literally have all your papers in order, but language problems can leave you sitting waiting four to six hours Why?
Because border agents are waiting to give them a box with shirts or CDs to allow you to pass. It's basically a bribe, and both sides are sitting there waiting until a manager, or whoever, realize what is happening. In a specifically border, we waited six hours. It was an amazing scene. There were three busloads with fans with nothing to do; a cabin full of liquor and a hole in the floor to go to the bathroom. These good times.
I'm going to tell you a funny story. Our technical "rider" specifies that the local company has to provide a cable system to connect the stage and the front. Basically, it is something very generic that can be asked, considering that our "rider" did not have one. Then, in a particular country, we went out at night before meeting with the people in charge of sound, lighting and stage. These boys came from Germany. It was a four-day trip for them to arrive, so there was no way they would go back to get something they had forgotten. Unfortunately, they forgot the cable system or simply lost it.
We also realized that night that there was no sound companies at about a hundred miles around, so the rent was not a possibility. In addition, the city had blackouts constantly and some sectors had energy during the day and others only at night. He also caught our attention that in order to obtain energy had to bribe the governor of the city. These things made this concert crazy.
Fortunately, there were some boys in the city that belonged to a band and they said they could offer us some equipment. Then we got into his car in the middle of the night and drove through this crazy sector. There were overturned cars and stuff everywhere, which reminded me of Beirut or something and I think that's not a good sign.
We arrived at a warehouse full of scrap metal, which was basically a large concrete bunker where shaving wires and metal cloths were used as doors. There was no electricity, so I had to try to make a wiring from essentially nothing, holding a pen-flashlight in my mouth. Finally, I managed to install something for 24 channels approximately. It basically consisted of cables and cable belts, but it ended up working well. However it is the most pirate and ridiculous thing I have used in my life.
Something really interesting happened at a concert in Romania. For the show we were using a local sound company for PA and lights. I had my equipment ready for Whitesnake, while Leppard had its own installation. The energy was from 220V. I measured the energy, which seemed to be normal, and I connected my 20A decrease transformer that I have had since we were in the UK.
There is something important to note about the transformer. There is a small LED on the front, which turns on if the power changes (hot / neutral). Reversing the phase accidentally is very easy to do here when using the type C plug, so you have to be very careful. And depending on what's coming, the results can be disastrous. If it is an 120 voltage from the United States, nothing will happen. But if it is a voltage of 240 or more, it can destroy everything in a second, depending on what is plugged in.
Some computers may take higher voltages and be safe if they have autoconvertidores energy supplies. However, in the audio world, most things require specific voltages or simply can be changed with a manual switch. The irony is that in other countries local people do not understand this because everything had 240V or more. It is not a problem for them, but is critical when working with high voltages you are trying to reduce. Anyway, everything is an experience in life.
Well, I turned on my equipment and everything was regular. Def Leppard guys were using the same energy and also turned on their computers without any problem. Both bands performed checks of lines and everything was fine, so we went out to dinner.
During dinner, it began to rain. You will not believe it! We were at 44 oC all day, so we did not expect this to happen. I ran to the facility to cover everything and all I found was smoke coming out of the consoles Def Leppard and FOH team frantically pulling the plug. Immediately I put energy into my own team.
To summarize the story, after we went to dinner, the guys from the local sound company needed another outlet in the front. They removed our energy and added a multi-pass block and connected everything again, without making the respective measurements. The energy output block was reversed. I already told you what can happen when something like this happens.
Do not be surprised to know that everything was not operating with a drive on the computer Furman Def Leppard (or did not have a power supply 110-240volt) was destroyed immediately. Really had a Furman PL unit of old technology, which sacrificed himself to save a full audio equipment valuable console. In the end they lost several pieces of equipment that had no protection.
Fortunately, most of those things were not essential, such as recording devices, so the show could be done. As for my team, everything was perfect. Without the AR-PRO, they have not been able to make the concert that night and he was still trying to replace my equipment in Romania.
Well, that was what happened on the last tour. Soon, I will continue my way with Aerosmith and I'm sure I'll have an infinite number of story to tell about it.
* Brad Johnson is the chief engineer of Whitesnake and staff engineer Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Johnson is an expert audio engineer with over 20 years of experience in music tours.