The Rats go to “Mouse Town” to explore


Why in the heck would Soundies go to the L.D.I. tradeshow? Hellooooo? “Lighting Dimension International”, Oh boy! Come on on sound people, lets go listen to the lights! You must be joking. After the fifth person asked me I began to wonder a bit and finally decided to do some research. Well, actually, I just walked over and asked Jon Rat what the deal was. Turns out that unlike the “real” audio trade shows, these Lampi’s came up with the idea of setting up a round robin of full blown sound systems on actual stages all pointed to a central area. Over the course of three hours, you can hear each of the six stages do a thirty-minute presentation showing why they are the magic solution to all that is sound.

After some internal deliberation, it was decided; Rat would delegate Daniella Rat and Dave Rat on a journey to ‘Mouse Town East’ to see what the real deal is all about. Unfortunately, due to prior audio commitments, Jon would stay back and hold down the Rat’s nest.

Right away, even with the blanket term “Entertainment” plastered on the banners, it was immediately evident that we were entering the depths of Lampiland. This place was packed full of things that make light, smoke, move and none of sounds that you would want to download to your iPod. Maybe we are in over our heads? Is it safe for two sound humans to enter? Thoughts raced through my mind but it was clear that there is no turning back now.

Our mission; seek out the things that make sound and determine if the legend is true. Figuring that the ever clever Lampi’s may be up their old tricks by hiding things from the Soundies again as in: “c’mon man, I know you found it at the last gig after we loaded out, but we really need the console power supply cables and we just don’t have a million dollars and yes, I will buy beers next day off.”

I felt it prudent to be very thorough in the search and listen to everything possible.

And then, there it was, off in the distance, a distinct sound of something musical, like a magnet drawing me nearer, I found a clue. Yes, something made by “our” people, yet still, this empty unsatisfied feeling lingers. Not to make these little guys feel bad but “they are just a bit small.”

Must carry on and then another breakthrough, an artifact from one of the many sound tribes, we must be getting closer.

Now I realize we are clearly on the right path as we come across, a sonic oasis in a desert of lights. At last, something I truly feel at home with, a fishing hole! And so a little R n R was in order.

Yes these are our people and a friendly tribe, but this appears to be merely an outpost; there are rumors of a lost city of sound, with giant towering monoliths built for the sound gods. We are seeking the “SoundHenge” and so our journey carries us deeper into the Dark Chamber of Lights.

Obviously some sort of weapon, the Lampi’s clearly have considerable defenses setup in their lair. I sure hope we are not wearing out our welcome this could get messy if we upset the Lampi natives.

And then I stumble into what I feared most, A Lampi Trap. Aaaaaah! As I had suspected, it true, the Lampi’s tribes do practice in dark arts, I have obviously been spotted and they are trying to disintegrate me.

That was much too dangerous, we must found a way out and then suddenly we came across some cryptic hieroglyphs, could be a guidepost, but what does it mean? And where are we? The questions just keep building, we need some answers and we need them fast.

Aha! There, I see a sign with the names of many tribes with which I am familiar. Are these possibly directions to their lost city? Could it be? But this means re-entering the Dark Chamber of Lights. We must move with haste, Daniella, quickly lets hurry.

Thankfully we made it through without incident and we reach daylight; our path becomes clearer. We shall travel yonder path.

We descend the craggy slope to the unknown depths below with the utmost of care.

And then I spotted in all their magnificence, the Monoliths of the Lost City of Sound. Understandably I was unable to contain my enthusiasm, Daniella watched as I sprinted towards SoundHenge.

Behold! Six magnificent structures, each a dedication to a particular sound god. The first to awake was the structure dedicated to the orange sound god Harmanicus. Notice the cluster of sound worshipers gathering.

Not to be outdone though, the temple dedicated to L’God is preparing to rise from slumber.

I bask in pools of sound from of one of the pillars of “SoundHenge”

The tension builds as an ode to the god Nexoicus releases it rumbling fury. Note the tribal dances of the sound followers as they are moved by the sonic landscape.

And as we see the next beast prepares to blanket us with the unseen powers of sound. Hopefully the sound god Meyericus Micarius will be pleased.

I found something about this shrine particularly interesting to listen to.

The ‘Sound-God of Q’ was paid due respect.

As was the Sound-Goddess Aline

As I stood in the middle of SoundHenge, I realized that I was in a truly rare and unique place. Here, each shrine has been designed and constructed to highlight the assets of that specific sound god, some more successfully than others. Some shrines were flawed in design while others were out of their element and yet others were less than optimally implemented.

So, without risking bringing the wrath of sound gods upon myself, I would like to share some thoughts on the shrines. I will leave it up to you to unravel the mysteries of which entity I refer.

Sub Woofer LF Coverage – The range varied from amazing to pathetic.
Best - One had a truly amazing new idea and while it may run into implementation issues in some venues I see true vision. Another was just solid and smooth and the subs should be.
Worst – Holes so deep in coverage that you could fall in them and end up in Japan.

Sub Woofer Tone – The range was much tighter; at least two manufacturers have a well-damped, low tuned box that lacks that irritating 40-60 hz “bonging” that so many companies love to sell.

Main System high frequency fidelity –I always listen to see if the high hat sounds like sand blocks or like there is actually something metal being hit. Before I walked in, I knew of at least one shrine that will not pass this test. Several shrines did well in this area.

Sonic Implementation - I was stunned when one PA came up sounding like a wet blanket was over it, especially considering I know the system can perform better. One excellent sounding system came up so loud and hard, it sent the worshipers scrambling, while a third had such poor quality input signal sent, that it was hard to hear its flaws. I felt that all in all, two shrines did a fine job and one did a great job with three falling behind. Those gods will surely be displeased.

Main System Coverage – This was one of my favorites and it truly points out the beauty of “robin” forums such as this round one. Though not as drastic as the subs diversity, there were clearly superior and inferior shrines. I was listening for actual coverage width, tonal quality at the fringes and tonal smoothness within the coverage area. I did my best to factor out system size. The field faired pretty well here with most falling well within the window of acceptability. Two of the designs were excellent.

General look of the stage – You can figure that one out on your own from the pictures.

Thoroughness of Presentation – I was surprised to see gorgeous stages and messy mix positions, like they don’t count. Oh, hey, I am going to apply for a job, I will wear a nice suit and no shoes because they wont be looking at my feet. I found it interesting to analyze what the various presenters felt was important. The shrines ranged from sloppy and hodge podge to ¾’s pristine. Not one was thoroughly flawless to the “Car Show Room” level that we should expect from some of these manufacturers, though one was closer.

Biggest Screw Up – No beer, no water, no food, nada! Hello! Let’s see, lure all the Soundies a mile away with lots of PA, as a carrot of temptation, in the hot Florida sun and then try to dehydrate and starve them during a 3 hour sound marathon. It’s an evil Lampi plot I tell ya!

Biggest wish – That each shrine pick a CD track that gets combined into a medley with the tracks from all other shrines that they then all approve. This medley gets played through all of the systems in succession after each round robin, as a grand finally, so we have a fair and common reference point to compare by.

Ok, kidding aside or seriousness aside, whichever you prefer, I must say that the idea of the “sound-off” is brilliant. Finally a way to truly hear and compare large scale systems and an opportunity for manufacturers to step up and be judged on the products they offer in real time. Hell, if they cant set them up to sound good and impress the heck out of us, how can they expect us from the sound engineer tribe to do so? Is there any excuse for anything less than perfection from a manufacturer with total control over every variable to present anything less that a stellar presentation? That being said, this a new concept and developing, manufacturers have shown they are willing and if we as engineers and vendors support it with our interaction. I learned a tremendous amount about multiple systems in an extremely short period of time, I only wish presentations were more refined. And I hope our soundie tribe attendance is strong enough to for manufacturers to press the presentations to new levels. Plus, letting so many Lampi’s congregate without any soundies keeping them in check is never a good idea.

All right! On to the credits and festivities:

Myself and Paul from L’Acoustics working hard.

Buford Jones, a true honor. Enough said!

Robert Scovil, Lee Stein, myself and Paul, another honor, this rules!

Have not seen an old friend Neil in many years and my shout out to QSC

PLSN/FOH crew! Magic!

Dave Shadoan from Sound Image (not an honor, just fun)

Dave Rat and Roy Clair? Wow!

And finally, thank you Daniella Rat for taking all the Photo’s, massive patience, inspiration and changing her holiday plans to investigate this worthy cause of locating SoundHenge!