JPS Australia

History

Southern Stars 2017

Southern Stars 1

Thousands of performers and spectators converged on the WIN Entertainment Centre last month, as the annual Southern Stars school arena show hit town.

More than 3000 student from primary and high schools in the southern schools region performed with the show also including soloists, a 500 piece choir, and orchestra and an indigenous dance company.

Students came from about 120 public schools as far away as Bourke, and the show was touted as the biggest show so far in Southern Stars’ 17-year history.

Southern Stars 2JPJ Audio provided all things audio with a system designed Bob Daniels and implemented by George Gorga whose biggest challenge was a large orchestra mainly comprising of students!
It takes them a while to get used to being in the arena dealing with headphone monitoring, IEMs and the PA running but there’s a point, usually around dress rehearsal, when it all comes together,” he said. “I’m also dealing with a large number of non-professional vocalists but again, it all comes together in the end. Having said that, the musical standard of these kids is extremely high and during the public shows it’s easy to forget that some of these players and performers are only in primary school.

The stage is set traditionally at one end, albeit a bit bigger than a standard stage, and primarily accommodates the orchestra, whilst the arena floor is the main performance area for soloists and dancers. The choir sit in the seating bank behind the stage.
The PA is a central cluster hung above the floor centre,” explained George. “There are three positions; one facing forward and two straight out to the sides. It looks a bit odd as the centre PA is about two metres behind the side clusters but it works really well and they don’t get in the way of each other. The time alignment is ‘physically’ very close to start with and it’s seamless when you walk around the room.

Jack Richardson, system tech for the event, remarked that this is the best sounding configuration he’s had heard in this venue. George admits he had a bit of an advantage in the fact that he only had to cover the seating from a centrally located PA, but insists a lot of the success was down to Bob Daniels’ design.

Southern Stars 5Of course the L-Acoustics K2 system is amazing too,” George added. “It’s my favourite system at the moment. This is the first time we’ve used the K2 on this event and it was a real leap ahead in quality and impact.
FOH George ran an Avid 96-channel Profile console plus a 48-channel DiGiCo SD11. On the Profile he used just about all of the available effects adding his standard TC Electronics M5000 reverb and a Smart C2 compressor over the mix buss.

I use those pretty much all the time and although I could use a plugin for the C2, I’ve got the real thing and it just holds everything together in the mix,” said George. “In a situation like this show where it can be quite unpredictable, the C2 can be a life saver.

Radio microphones were twenty-six systems of Shure Beta 58 with a couple doubling up as guitar packs and DPA 4088 headset systems. Orchestra microphones were assorted with George favouring dynamic microphones such as Shure 57 and 58’s for brass and woodwind.
In this situation, they’re much easier to deal with when you have kids using them,” said George. “I still get the sound I want without using expensive condenser mics. With the constant turn around, the radio mic tech Bianca Martin and her volunteer student crew are kept very busy!

Monitors were taken care of by Bob Daniels on a DiGiCo SD5 with an Aviom headphone system for the orchestra and lots of Sennheiser IEM systems for the singers.

Gallery – click to enlarge

Icehouse – 40 Years Live

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Photo © Troy Constable

With a career spanning 40 years, iconic Australian band Icehouse has continued to delight millions with their music, well-known and loved by audiences across generations. Icehouse began in 1977 as a Sydney-based pub rock band called Flowers, who were the highest paid unsigned act in Australia at the time.

In 2006, Icehouse was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame, being described as ‘…one of the most successful Australian bands of the 80s and 90s’. Icehouse’s 1987 album Man of Colours remains to this day as the highest-selling album in Australia by an Australian band.

With a history like that, it’s no wonder the band have been selling out their 40 Years Live Tour this year as it travels the country … with more dates just announced!

Touring with an audio package from JPJ Audio, the tour utilized in-house PA systems where available with JPJ supplying speaker systems when required. FOH Engineer Richie Robinson, who has mixed for the band since their return to live shows in 2011, used an Avid Venue S6L saying it is one of the best mixing consoles on the market. He travels with absolutely no extra FOH equipment, which reinforces how good the console sounds on its own.

I had used an Avid Profile since 2007 and always loved working on it,” he remarked. “However, it got to a stage where I thought ‘well that’s the sound of it’ and decided to try some other consoles that had better preamps and a more open sound stage. While I usually liked the sound of them, I didn’t fall in love with their operating systems as much as I did with the Avid Venue gear. When the Venue S6L came along and I tried it out, I was blown away with how good it sounded. It’s a real win for Avid and I think you’re going to see a lot more of them.

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Photo © Troy Constable

When Richie used to mix Icehouse on an Avid Profile, he implemented a combination of Waves plug-ins and outboard reverbs but he’s been happy with the way the onboard fx plugins sound with the new console.

With the combination of the new audio engine in the console running at 96khz and the plug-ins running on the AAX DSP cards, even the Avid reverbs sound a whole lot better to me,” added Richie. “I’ve gone back to using the ReVibe reverb which sounds really good and other than that, I bought a few 3rd party plugins for some other eq, compression and saturation flavors. I miss some of my Waves plug-ins but it’s been cathartic to ditch what you’ve been using for so long and just go ‘wow, that sounds so good just straight out of the console!

One 3rd party plug-in that Richie has used often with Icehouse is the Brainworx bx-console channel strip by Plugin Alliance which he implements over many channels. “There’s a subtle character thing going on with that plug-in that suited this band” said Richie.

Richie uses the Snapshot and Layout features on the console for all the songs – mainly for turning on and off required input channels and for keeping the top fader layer populated with the key input elements for each song. He also found that snapshotting the effects on the Venue S6L was a very handy tool. As Iva Davies wrote and produced so many of Icehouse’s tunes, he can be quite specific with the echoes and delays used on the original recorded versions so Richie decided to snapshot all of the echo effects. That way he doesn’t have to worry about adding the correct tap tempo to each song – when he recalls the snapshot to the next song all of the stored effect parameters are recalled.

Microphones were fairly standard with a selection of Shure wired and radio microphones, a couple of AKG414’s for drum overheads plus Sennheiser and Audio-Technica Australia microphones. “We have a Shure KSM9 for when Iva plays an oboe in Man of Colours and that’s probably the funkiest mic we have.” said Richie. “We’ve tried a few different mics on it but that’s the one we kept coming back to.

Icehouse 40 2

Photo © Troy Constable

Onstage, the band are all on Shure PSM1000 IEM’s with most of them using the Shure SE846 ear buds. In addition, Iva has a couple of d&b audiotechnik M4 wedges in front of him as he occasionally removes one of his IEMs. Sidefills are L-Acoustics Arcs with dv-Subs and the drum sub is a pair of d&b Q-subs. Monitor Engineers for the tour were Paul Kennedy (now out with Midnight Oil) and Matt Debien who both used a Yamaha PM5D with an Apogee Big Ben word clock.

The Wombats

Pete Bartlett

The Wombats are currently celebrating the ten year anniversary of their first album, touring Australia with Groovin’ the Moo and performing a few side shows. For the past five years FOH engineer Pete Bartlett has worked with the band as well as his other main act The Pretenders.

The band members and crew were delighted to play a couple of shows at the Sydney Opera House, performing memorable and joyous shows. Let’s face it, it’s not often you witness six full-grown humans dancing around in wombat suits on stage whilst confetti guns spray over the crowd.

JPJ Audio supplied a control package that included an Avid Profile for FOH and another for monitors. Pete was pleased to get everything he wanted!
I always use an Avid Profile as I have loads of plugins and I’m not a big fan of anything newer,” he remarked. “I’m not a big fan of the new DiGiCo and Midas desks, and the Profile is just more reliable. In fact I’ve stood still for ten years with the Profile but it’s just so easy for me to use, plus you can get them anywhere.

The Wombats 1

Click to enlarge.

Pete explained that he tries to turn his Profile console as much as possible into an SSL console. The reason why is that he admits to being an eighties kid who learnt all of his tricks from being in bands and sitting in studios behind eighties producers.
I stole all my tricks from eighties producers but hey, a lot of it is all cool again!” he laughed. “Effects-wise, I use a complete mix – TC reverbs, Eventide etc, because the reverbs that come with the Profile are pretty poor.

Pete commented that when he first started mixing for The Wombats, they had ten channels of playback so if they lost the tambourine channel, they’ve lost that instrument. He didn’t like that so he went into their studio for a couple of days to mix everything to left / right.
We mixed the tracks really well, just in stereo, so if you lost the left you’ve still got the right,” he added. “It makes life so much easier. They run quite a complicated keyboard set up so it’s all run from Ableton and their keyboards just Midi into the whole thing, so I keep the keyboards separate. Essentially the band are a simple three piece of guitar, bass and drums … but they all sing and all play keyboards too.

During his time in Australia Pete had a variety of PA systems, including L-Acoustics and d&B audiotechnik, but that didn’t faze him.
Whenever I get a new PA to work with, I’ll first ask the system guys what they have done to it,” he explained. “Maybe they’ll show me a Lake EQ, and I’ll ask them to turn it off, as I like to do it myself. The last gig in Australia at Bunbury was fantastic because they had done very little to the system. Often I go into a venue to find the audio guys have hacked the PA to death. I’d rather they leave it flat so I can pull out whatever I don’t like. I don’t need anyone to EQ it, as long as it’s all time aligned and it’s correct, I’ll EQ it.

The Wombats 2

Click to enlarge.

Pete has had a deal with Sennheiser for the past eleven years after he used them with Bloc Party, in fact he is still using many of those original microphones as they’re still going strong.
Basically we don’t have many microphones onstage that cost more than $300, they’re all cheap mics,” he said. “A lot of people listen with their eyes and use something funky and expensive. People wander around backstage saying how clever the mic setup looks, but you go out front and they sound terrible.

Pete commented that the JPJ Audio crew were fantastic and gave a brilliant service, saying that they made his job very easy.

Istoria – The Trance Project

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With the express purpose of uniting the Trance scene, creating memorable experiences and spreading the love of Trance, Istoria made its’ debut at Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena followed by a night at the Sydney Showground Halls.

JPJ Audio supplied the equipment for both events with a d&b audiotechnik PA used in Melbourne and an L-Acoustics PA in Sydney.

Operating both shows was Josh Barker who stated that nice even coverage, with a little bit more bottom end, is always a good starting point.

Dealing with a dance party, it’s obviously about creating a good level on the dance floor without blowing the windows out when you open the doors!” he added. “Also, you don’t want it too fatiguing for those listening to it for eight hours at a time …… and that includes me!

Istoria 2Josh commented that he prefers the older L-Acoustic boxes for dance parties adding that the V-DOSC works very well having two 15’s in the mid high cabinets.

It helps keep the kick drum very punchy and all the bottom end detail doesn’t get blurred out,” he said. “I’ve worked with this PA for years so I know it very well. It is always very important to get your subs right otherwise you will be hearing from the noise police on the hour, every hour. Andrew Rogers looked after the EPA consulting in Melbourne and the Sydney show was handled remotely, via SMS. Maintaining that LEQ average and leaving yourself some breathing space for the main act is vital! Otherwise the later it gets, the quieter it gets. These events sometimes run until 6am.

As for mixing a dance party, Josh describes it as almost like remastering the content coming from stage for a big PA in a room or an outdoor setting.

We are well and truly in the digital era as far as the modern DJ/Producer is concerned. Most of the content has been produced and mastered ‘in the box,’ and sometimes it need some warming up on a large system, especially in the large warehouse style venues. I am making adjustments tailored to each track being mixed in by the DJ. I’m really just taming frequencies and making sure there’s a nice healthy level without hurting anybody’s ears. Being dance music, it can get quite nasty at high volume, most of the synth sounds are based heavily around the square and sawtooth VCO’s and they can really poke out when the PA is at battle-speed.

Josh mixed on an Avid Profile console with a Waves Maxx BCL as a left and right insert, a Puigchild and some Midas XL42’s for some analogue pre amps on the front end. On board, he used a Waves C6 multiband dynamic which keeps everything in check when his hands are busy doing something else.

I use the Maxx BCL as the last point in the chain on the output and that’s got a compressor, bass expander and a limiter all in one,” he added. “It’s really good for keeping the level where I need it, especially if the DB limit is undesirable. It allows me to make it sound big at lower levels and maintain the vibe on the dance floor regardless of the restrictions in place. I use the PuigChild over a group to soften things up when I need to without having to bring the level down. I used this mostly during breakdowns/build-ups when things can get very busy and you generally don’t have a lot of bottom end to round it all off.

Istoria 3All Photos: Jimmy James Denouden

A Day On The Green

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Promoters Michael and Anthea Newton of Roundhouse Entertainment began A Day On The Green in Victoria with the first show on Australia Day 2001. Since then it has grown to become firmly established as one of Australia’s most successful and respected outdoor concert events.

A glittering array of International and Australian stars have performed during the past fifteen years providing unforgettable musical memories. A Day On The Green runs in the summer months from October – March with around thirty concerts per season in the all major wine-growing regions around Australia.

This year kicked off at Bimbadgen Estate with the Monster National Tour featuring an all Australian line up including You Am I, Something For Kate and Spiderbait. As in previous years, JPJ Audio supplied crew and gear for the tour.

FOH Systems Tech Ryan Fallis has done ADOTG for the past eight years and has experienced everything that nature can throw at an outdoor show. The Bimbadgen show was no exception with high winds at midday causing the stage to be shut down for over an hour, just when acts were about to sound check. Added to that was a large bushfire nearby that threatened to have the show cancelled.

There’s been some terrible weather at ADOTG shows over the years,” remarked Ryan. “One year at Sirromet Wines in Queensland we had a lightning storm and we had to evacuate the stage – that was pretty dicey! There’s always some sort of weather event around ADOTG, one year the stage was actually under water but they still managed to get the gig going.

As the ADOTG gigs travel the country the PA system is provided through the three JPJ offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne whilst the FOH package is toured. At Bimbadgen an L-Acoustic K1 rig out of Sydney was used comprising of twenty-four K1 boxes in the air for the mains, eight K1-SB in the air, twelve Kara underneath the mains, twenty four SB-28s on the ground, four Kara infills and for the sides ground stacked V-Dosc.

It’s quite a few boxes but that’s needed to cover a field of that size,” added Ryan. “In Queensland we’ll have their V-Dosc system which sounds really good too. It’s a similar system box wise but we add a couple of rings of delays as well to get some extra coverage. In Melbourne we’ll pick up the d&b audiotechnik rig.

At each ADOTG show engineers request the mixing console they require, in this case there were two Avid Profile consoles with JPJ’s Adrian Roche mixing monitors on a Yamaha PM5d.

Gallery – click images to enlarge.