Live sound engineers are constantly thrown curve balls during every show. Bad cables, equipment malfunctions, and unruly bar patrons or musicians must be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Since “The show must go on” any problems must be solved without making it obvious to the audience. Recently I had the opportunity to use an entire PreSonus StudioLive sound system for a show at the Dark Horse Bar and Grill in Boulder, CO. I work with a local band called The Wandering Natives from time to time, and this is one of our favorite shows. Normally this show requires me plus two of the musicians in the band bring all of our sound equipment creating a collective “Frankensystem”. This time it was different. The band brought their backline, I brought mics, cables, mic stands, and the entire sound system. The mixer, main system, and stage monitors were all new products from the PreSonus StudioLive AI series. The entire StudioLive AI series comes with SL Room Control and Virtual StudioLive AI, some free powerful control software that helps you get the most out of your live sound reinforcement system. Check out our video that shows you how the gig went!
PreSonus released their new AI line of products in the fall of last year, and they have definitely changed the game when it comes to live sound reinforcement. With a StudioLive 24.4.2 AI digital mixer at the heart of the system, I connected my laptop and had all the ability to control effects, graphic EQ’s, system tuning, multi-track recording, and even fader levels– all over one firewire cable. I set up two StudioLive 328AI’s for my mains sitting on top of two StudioLive 318s AI subwoofers on each side of the stage. Since there was a small amount of space available to set up, I only had two monitors as well; one on stage right and one on stage left. The band was happy with their mix, and since I was running only two mixes, I was able to separate out the instruments so everyone got what they needed to hear without having to compromise. Too many times have I mixed a show where musicians are sharing a monitor mix, and one player wants exactly the opposite of what the other one wants!
Load In with the PreSonus StudioLive AI Loudspeakers and Console
We arrived at the gig, and quickly began moving tables, chairs, and old beer glasses from the space we were using as our stage. Unfortunately there was a game on all the TV’s at the bar, so there were more people than normal during our load in. It also didn’t help there was a large group that didn’t look like they were planning on leaving until the game was over right in the space we use to set up FOH! Because of this, I had about 20-30 minutes to set up once they left, but I took the extra time waiting to make sure the stage was perfect.
Getting the sound system loaded in and set up was my first priority. The quicker I could get everything set up, the more time the band would have to load in. I showed up about 20 minutes early and by the time I had the speakers set up, the band was just starting to load in their equipment. Usually the band and I are cluttering the stage all at once, loading in all the equipment at the same time.
Once I had all the mics set up, all the lines ran, and a huge input list in my brain, I still had to wait to setup FOH. After the game was over I frantically set up the mixer, plugged in the snake, and connected my computer. The setup time was quick and I was able to run a brief sound check as the band was finishing up rehearsing a few songs, but it definitely wasn’t anything like a normal sound check.
After one or two songs I had my mix dialed in. I looked to the band to give me queues of what they needed in their monitor mix. I started with just the vocals, and slowly added in some guitar or banjo when they asked for it. The sound was great both on stage and out in the audience. It was by far the best sounding show that we’ve had at the Dark Horse. The system was loud on the dancefloor, but you were still able to have an intelligible conversation at the bar or around the sides of the room at the pool tables. With just the two subs and the two 328 AI’s on poles, I was hitting 102-103 dB pretty easily, and I didn’t even have my main output all the way up on the console.
The PreSonus StudioLive AI sound system made that night a huge success. Easy to setup and quick to dial in EQ, compression, gates, FX, and monitor mixes. It was a digital console that felt like an analog console. I wasn’t lost at all, all of the controls were right in front of me. The addition of two more effects sends allowed me to blend a few different kinds of reverbs together, while still having the ability to use a delay and a chorus. This sound system can truly stand up to the craziest of all bar gigs, small venues, outdoor festivals, worship services and even some medium to large sized venues.
Virtual StudioLive AI is the powerful computer software control application that comes free with the StudioLive. Through the application you can name inputs, load scenes, drag and drop effects, and use the Smaart wizard to tune your system. Simply plug in a measurement mic such as the PreSonus PRM1 into the talkback input on the back of the console. Once in the Smaart wizard, you’ll have access to an RTA, real-time waterfall graphs, and tuning controls. This includes delays and EQ’s so you can optimize your sound system.
SL Room Control is the newest addition to the AI family. The entire AI sound system can be controlled wirelessly, and with SL Room Control you can now control the DSP on each speaker. Previously all system tuning was done from the console level, but now there is a whole other level of control. If you have a system with multiple delays or zones, SL room control can help delay everything accurately and correctly. Open up the app and from your iPad, Mac, or PC you can control the parametric EQ, delay, volume, and even group multiple speakers together. Presets are easily saved and can be created for each speaker, each group of speakers, or even an entire system. Re-call your tuning at the touch of a button!
Be sure to check out our video that is the first installment of our StudioLive AI Tales From The Trenches series. Stay tuned for more stories of the new StudioLive AI sound system in action. Also check out some of the StudioLive AI content in our Resource Center online. Let us know what you think, and share your PreSonus StudioLive AI stories with us! As always, add signal and mix well.