Meeting Report: Careers in Audio – What’s Your Connection?

Meeting Topic: Careers in Audio: What’s your connection?

Moderator Name: Jay Dill

Speaker Name: Ted Chandler, Markey’s Rental & Staging; Lesley Ann Fogle, AES Columbus Section Chair; Paul Kavicky, Columbus Association for the Performing Arts

Meeting Location: virtual (Zoom)

Summary

This joint virtual meeting of the Indiana and Columbus, OH sections began with introductions from the diverse group of panelist. Paul Kavicky serves as the head of audio-video production at Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA), where he serves as department head for audio at show sites where audio is produced internally. Ted Chandler worked his way through the hierarchy of Markey’s, ranging from driver to on-site audio technician, and most recently as Training and Development Manager. In addition to her work in location sound and audio post production, Lesley Ann Fogle also serves as adjunct faculty at Capital University’s music technology program where she coordinates student internship experiences.

The discussion began with Markey’s internship program, which focuses on immediate hands-on application of audio skills, but quickly expands to other trades such as video and lighting. CAPA’s internship program typically places participants at a smaller (500-seat) theatre where production is handled in-house. Both allow interns to learn the intangibles of work pacing and inter-department coordination. Certain audio skills are assumed, but an intern shines through a strong work ethic, contentiousness, people skills, and a focus on accomplishing the task at hand. For Markey’s having a secondary knowledge in staging, lighting, video, or others can also be a huge asset. All agreed that applying knowledge to new situations and troubleshooting were also important.

Preparation for an internship is critical, as well. Leslie starts students by conducting research about companies before reaching out about an internship. Persistence and proper self-presentation are key components, as well. A well-formed resume and cover letter showing effort are important, and presenting a professional image with appropriate dress and punctuality is critical. For Paul, applicants may be brought on for a single gig to showcase both hard and soft skills.

An intern’s duties vary, as well. For both CAPA and Markey’s, interns not only focus on their production specialty, but will also expand in their range of experience to other disciplines. Hands-on work begins on day one with the expectation that interns both work and observe, and may quickly find themselves serving a role within a production, given the right attitude and skillset.

The session concluded questions from the audience. Questions touched on topics such as unpaid internships, opportunities for military veterans and less client-facing roles within the industry, and ways to make yourself stand out on the job.

Written By: Brett Leonard

Meeting Report: Klipsch Headquarters Tour

Attendees check out the anechoic chamber used for design validation and prototype testing at Klipsch World Headquarters in Indianapolis
Attendees check out the anechoic chamber used for design validation and prototype testing at Klipsch World Headquarters in Indianapolis.

Meeting Topic: Tour of Klipsch World Headquarters

Moderator Name: Jay Dill

Speaker Name: Trevor Gibson, Klipsch; Gary Mielke, Tech Rep; Stan Stivers, Klipsch; Trey Cannon, Klipsch

Other business or activities at the meeting: Notes about upcoming virtual career panel, information about Klipsch internships, and information about AES membership.

Meeting Location: Indianapolis, IN, USA

Summary

The meeting opened with host Trevor Gibson from Klipsch providing some history and evolution of Klipsch, started by Lieutenant Colonel Paul W. Klipsch in 1946 in Hope, Arkansas while stationed at the Southwest Proving Grounds. Klipsch pioneered corner horn loudspeaker design (which is still manufactured today) and developed a reputation for being a design-driven company, with a focus on quality sound. At present, Klipsch boasts its position as the number one selling speaker company in both the US and Canada, with an export market that outpaces domestic sales, and includes a number of commercial partnerships. More recently, Klipsch has rebranded as Premium Audio Company, as they now serve as owner or importer for such brands as Jamo, Integra, Pioneer Elite, and Onkyo.

Following the opening presentation, the attendees split into three groups to rotate through different sections of the facilities. The first of these groups moved to an outdoor courtyard area to view and listen to a three-speaker landscape loudspeaker system produced by Klipsch, featuring a half-buried subwoofer (unburied for the demo) and a network-controlled amplifier and DSP unit with 110° coverage area.

The second station took attendees back in the building for a look inside the prototyping and engineering facilities. The prototyping lab provides engineers with a full array of 3D printing and CNC capabilities for realizing models and testing novel designs in the adjacent testing facilities. The premiere testing room is the in-house anechoic chamber, built from a separate slab and resting on a coil-spring suspension. The room boasts a 24dB C noise floor, despite being mere hundreds of feet from a busy interstate highway. The room also features a unique door design with a corner entry via a four-sided spinning door mounted on an axil. This allows for differing conditions including hard boundary and anechoic conditions, all sealed with inflatable O- and C-rings.

The final station brought attendees to the listening lab where a set of Klipsch Forte three-way loudspeakers powered by tube-based monoblock amps, providing an exciting listening experience to round out the evening.

Written By: Brett Leonard

Meeting Report: Grand Junction Plaza Tour

Indiana Section members discuss the design and construction of the acoustic diffusion designed into the exterior of Grand Junction Plaza’s cafe building with park superintendent Chris McConnell.

Meeting Topic: Technical Tour of Westfield’s Grand Junction Plaza

Moderator Name: Jay Dill

Speaker Name: Russ Hopple, IMEG Corp; David Wright, IMEG Corp; Brian McCullagh, New Era Technologies; Chris McConnell, Westfield Parks & Rec

Other business or activities at the meeting: Brief announcements were made about membership, membership levels (associate vs. full member) and the change in name to the Indiana Section was officially announced.

Meeting Location: Grand Junction Plaza, Westfield, IN, USA

Summary

The Indiana Section toured Grand Junction Plaza, a unique, new six-acre park in Westfield with multiple zone-based audio systems and a number of performance venues, all with integrated wireless control. Russ Hopple and David Wright from the local engineering firm on the project opened our tour with a discussion of the planning and design of the park. The park was envisaged with an ice rink, a smaller amphitheater adjacent to a creek running through the park, a permanent structure for a café, and a large amphitheater with a band shell. The ability to use the park for a variety of events, or consolidate all technical functionality to support a single large concert was considered from the outset, along with maintaining a semblance of acoustic support from the surrounding buildings. In particular, special consideration was taken with the exterior design of the café situated opposite from the main stage, which features a faceted exterior stone wall facing the amphitheater to provide diffusion. Chris McConnell, the park superintendent, joined the discussion and explained that the park opted to purchase all audio systems, with the main stage featuring L-Acoustic line arrays with smaller center hangs and front fills, with Danley and Renkus-Heinz all-weather speakers distributed throughout the park. The system is managed via a Q-SYS platform for day-to-day operation, and Yamaha CL3 connected via Dante serves for larger shows, along with a full complement of analog lines. The FOH position is connected through subterranean conduit terminated in a buried cement electrical vault, which in turn houses a stainless steel outdoor electrical box populated with Neutrik weather-resistant connectors.

The constraints of municipal funding necessitated value engineering during the design phase. The most impactful change was the decision to defer construction of the band shell. The shell included an enclosed area which housed the central machine room for network and audio infrastructure across the park. Brian McCullagh from the audio integrator on the projected described the changes to cable runs, including increased distances, caused by the move of the machine room to the adjacent green room building. Knowing that the rack room may be relocated when the band shell is completed, the installers left cabling to allow wiring to be pulled back to the original location. Likewise, rigging for the center array was converted to a temporary solution due to the band shell change. The tour concluded with listening to the main amphitheater sound system.

Written By: Brett Leonard

Meeting Report: Section Meeting & CEDIA Tour

Central Indiana Audio Engineering Society at CEDIA Headquarters

Meeting Topic: CEDIA Headquarters Tour

Moderator Name: Jay Dill

Speaker Name: Steve Rissi, CEDIA

Other business or activities at the meeting: Brief announcements about membership renewal, bylaws voting, and tentative upcoming events.

Meeting Location: CEDIA Headquarters (Fishers, IN, USA)

Summary

The Central Indiana Section held its first in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic with a tour of CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association) headquarters in Fishers, IN. The event was generously sponsored by CEDIA and AES member Gavin Haverstick. Host Steve Rissi from CEDIA provided some context on the association, its focus on residential technology, and its dedication towards education and industry advancement.

The tour began in CEDIA’s experience center, which showcases cutting edge technology for the home, including advanced video, audio, lighting, power, and automation systems. The first room featured a large pair of Meridian Audio loudspeakers with onboard digital processing, a decoupled mid and high-frequency enclosure, and integrated class D amplifiers. The second room featured an on-wall audio-video installation with miniature line arrays from K-Array. Another highlight of the experience center was the adjacent glass-walled machine room, housing the center’s automation systems, media players, and amplifiers, as well as dedicated power with a massive toroidal isolation transformer.

The crown jewel of the experience center is CEDIA’s bespoke 9-seat home theatre, with a Barco projector and Dolby Atmos audio. The room includes fully isolated exterior shell and a 300-pound cement-core door to provide sufficient mass for acoustic isolation. Likewise, the projector is isolated in a dedicated projector booth and amplifiers, processors, and media players are all housed in the isolated machine room. Steve presented a variety of material from major motion pictures to showcase the audio and video clarity. This extended listening period allowed attendees to move throughout the space, listening to consistency from seat to seat and at the perimeter of the room. The room utilizes a distributed array of four subwoofers to homogenize low frequency response across the listening area, which was very apparent as one moved to the boundaries from the seating area.

The tour ended with walk through of CEDIA’s unique training facilities. Aside from typical classroom and workbench space, CEDIA headquarters features a number of “laboratories” for experimentation with home theatre setup. These rooms allow students to configure screens, loudspeakers, subwoofers, acoustic treatment, and even seating to measure the effects of changes in configuration. Another unique training area featured a variety of typical residential and light commercial construction wall segments for students to practice cable pulling and mounting of any variety of audio, video, or home automation devices.

Written By: Brett Leonard

Meeting Report: Strategies for Personal Monitoring

Meeting Topic: Strategies for Personal Monitoring

Moderator Name: Jay Dill

Speaker Name: Gino Sigismondi

Meeting Location: Online

The Central Indiana Section hosted Shure’s Gino Sigismondi for a presentation on personal or “in-ear” monitoring (IEM) systems.  The presentation began with an overview of IEM systems and a history of the technology.  As early as 1982 Marty Garcia built custom-fit earphones for stage use, and the first wireless IEM system was employed in the late 1980s using a simple FM transmitter.  By the late 90s, custom-built hardware gave way to commercial wireless IEM systems and “universal fit” earphones, greatly increasing IEM adoption.  The 2010s saw further advancement in diversity RF receivers, increased affordably, and personal mixing options.

Early in Gino’s overview of IEM system architecture, the topic of earphones was breached.  Despite seemingly endless earphone options, isolation was presented as the most significant consideration, as it provides the ability to hear a mix while maintaining a reasonable listening levels.  This point was reinforced later in the presentation when discussing the dangers of IEM listening at extreme levels, including issues with users removing one earphone.  Instead, Gino recommended the use of ambient mics or ambient headphone systems to provide audience feedback to IEM wearers.

From this broad system overview, Gino presented options for IEM system configuration, including receivers sharing a mix via a single transmitter, dual monophonic mixes from a single transmitter, and traditional stereo mixes. While stereo mixes provide a more realistic listener experience, both stereo and mono setups require tradeoffs.  Gino then presented a third option where each user receives two separate mono signals which can be balanced at the receiver, giving the user some local control of the mix.  The topic of distributed mixing was also introduced, along with potential pros and cons of such a system.  Case studies of scenarios for use of each of these options were presented, as well as example systems.

The presentation then shifted to the topic of RF management for IEMs.  Gino advocated for the use of inclusion groups, where wireless devices are segregated by type, with each using a different segment of available frequencies.  Similarly, wireless mic and IEMs units, and their antennas, should be physically isolated to reduce RF interference.  Proper antenna selection can also increase system effectiveness, with directional antennas being a significant way to reduce multipath dropouts.  Likewise, antenna combiners can help to reduce intermodulation issues within larger systems.

The presentation concluded with an audience Q&A.

Written by: Brett Leonard