Get Smaart

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Lee Dickinson

Sophomore
Jan 11, 2011
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Richmond, VA
www.avp-ric.com
I am kindof loving that no one can snarkily tell me to search the forums. :DGenerating content FTW!



After a couple of very successfull (small) arena events in 2010, we've gotten a number of RFQs for multi-event contracts. I've been having lots of luck with basic time alignment just using ''Invert it, get it quet, then flip it back,'' but I am ready to start applying more science to the process.



I'm about halfway through ''Sound System Design and Optimization;'' I have been watching ''The Complete FOH Engineer'' on Facebook waiting for the next session to be announced.



Is there another class I should be looking at? I know some of the major shows offer classes, but I'm a little intimidated by the potential class size and what I fear might be topical treatment in such a bussling environment. I would really like a detailed several day cours in measurement and alignment.



Or, would you recommend a small shop like mine plunk down for a few days of tutorial from someone like Harry Brill? Maybe a day in the shop and then a day on a gig?



How have YOU guys stepped up your alignment game? What are the essential tools, in your opinion? I think I will build myself a measurement rig for my birthday; computer, multi-channel pre, software?



Did Dave Rat have a blog post about using wireless mics for an arena rig? I can't find it.



Where would you start, and what would you set as your goal, for a company like mine? (20 cabinets of Nexo Alpha, Camcos with 242s, using the onboard EQ and delays in LS9 and M7 consoles)
 
Jan 10, 2011
903
3
18
Abingdon, MD
www.harfordsound.com
Re: Get Smaart

Lee,

I learned SMAART by reading about how to do things, taking a few thousand shitty measurements, figuring out what I did wrong, and trying again. For the more complex things, I flew someone out to teach me how to do everything, and learned in a real world setting. I still took quite a few shitty measurements, but I'm finally getting to the point where I feel like I know what I'm doing. It's only taken 3 years.
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Classes are a good start to learn the theory, but only actually doing it, and fucking up will teach you how to do it.



Evan
 

David Karol

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 10, 2011
2,085
23
38
San Francisco, CA
www.davidkarol.com
Re: Get Smaart

The little I know on the topic has come from working with Bennett. I just got through the ''Summation'' section of ''Sound Systems: Design and Optimization,'' and I'll try to use the software any chance I get to gain experience with it/taking measurements.
 

Tim McCulloch

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
3,047
51
48
Wichita KS USA
Re: Get Smaart

I take some solace in the fact that, unlike when I was learning how to mix monitors, no one will throw anything at me when I take a bad FFT measurement.
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The hell you say! Ask Evan, we lobed several grenades in his general direction.



Learning any dual channel FFT analyzer is an incremental process, it has stages (like grieving); denial, bargaining... acceptance, except for the FFT it's ''valid measurement, decide what to measure for, attempt correction, re-measure and critical listening test, re-correct/re-measure/listen again....''



The analyzer itself is pretty benign. Interpreting what's on the screen in a whole 'nuther matter. Is this measurement valid? If so, why? If not, why? Once you can reliably make valid measurements you're on to the next step.



Perform any significant voicing EQ prior to alignment (get the various sub-systems to sound tonally alike). Decide what you hope to accomplish with your measurement (sub to LF alignment, aligning front fills and mains where they have overlapping coverage, etc) and determine your mic technique and placement. Take your measurements and decide if you want to re-aim speakers, apply delay, change drive levels or do nothing. Apply your correction (or move on, if doing nothing).



Re-measure. Do the various traces look like you expected them to? What does it sound like, both on and off-axis? Lather, rinse, repeat until you like the results or run out of time.



As an exercise, do your polarity-flip acoustic alignment. Store the times in your processor, then reset the delays back to your 'nominal' or out of the box settings. Measure, store phase trace, apply correction, listen & re-measure and store trace(s) until you're happy with the audible results. Save settings. Recall your polarity-flip alignment and take measurements, storing traces. Overlay with the traces from your alignment by measurement. How do they sound different and in what parts of the audience? What is different about them on screen?



Just a few ramblings... but really, it's like this: ''Maestro, how does one get to Carnegie Hall?'' ''PRACTICE!''



Have fun, good luck.



Tim Mc

 
Re: Get Smaart

Lee



I had the pleasure of doing the sim3 and comprehensive system design Meyer run. They compliment each other quite nicely. The comprehensive system design gave me the electrical grounding, the filters and whys of use of different filters, orders, delay offsets etc ...... And the sim3 was the measurement side and looking more at the acoustic side of summation in the room, I found having elecrtical side before hand really helped build the theory quicker because I knew what I was looking at and what would effect it.



I have also done the Rational Acoustics Smaart basics, but it was just that very basic more on the operation and not the actual how to understand it or symptoms / cures for systems. I'm guessing that that would be more in the advanced day.



Other than that I play with smaart when I can. I'm currently in the process of creating crossovers for some sse 12pm wedges. They had no CD horn eq in them and were very honky. So playing before a gig if I have time.



Get a speaker out and smaart and spend an hour tweaking and seeing what changes in the processors actually do. You'll learn fast.



Kim
 

Jay Barracato

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
1,528
3
38
Solomons MD
Re: Get Smaart

Lee,



I am on the learning curve along with you. I can see the sense in what Tim said. We should start taking measurements, posting them, and discussing them. I will share the grenade blasts with you.



I have been looking for a class for a year and a half, and haven't found one I can get too. I am close enough to you that we could probably get together to take some measurements. A couple of months ago, we had briefly talked about doing something local with Evan.



I am sure, his schedule permitting, if we fed him and beered him, he would be happy to work with us.
 

Arthur Skudra

Sophomore
Jan 12, 2011
231
0
0
Hamilton, ON, Canada
Re: Get Smaart

Is there another class I should be looking at? I know some of the major shows offer classes, but I'm a little intimidated by the potential class size and what I fear might be topical treatment in such a bussling environment. I would really like a detailed several day cours in measurement and alignment.

Hi Lee, I'll start out by saying that I'm completely biased in replying here since I do Smaart training here in Canada and work closely with the Rational folk. That said, if you can afford the time and money spent, a 3 day Smaart class is well worth the investment. Likewise, any of the Meyer or SynAudCon workshops are absolutely fantastic. Regardless each presents a unique opportunity and set of knowledge to enhance what you already know, and teach you new concepts. The learning never stops, heck I just attended Jamie Anderson's Smaart class just recently and picked up a bunch of new ideas, and I teach the class!
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Speaking on behalf of the Smaart classes (which all follow the same format more or less), there is definitely a big emphasis on making things very practical and hands-on (you bring your laptop with Smaart loaded up on it), and gives you the background and understanding on how to interpret what you see on the screen. No need to feel intimidated, with my classes I assume everyone is at a very basic level of understanding/knowledge. The only math needed is T=1/f and F=1/T. We limit the size of class to a manageable 24 people (anything larger and it feels like herding cats), but in some of the smaller markets we've had classes as small as 10-12 people.



Or, would you recommend a small shop like mine plunk down for a few days of tutorial from someone like Harry Brill? Maybe a day in the shop and then a day on a gig?
You can do that too, though you miss out on the structure of a class and the shared benefit of hearing other people's Q&A. Nevertheless one on one time with someone who knows what they are doing with the software can prove really useful, and Harry has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make a day or two really worthwhile. Better still, if you know a bunch of people who can benefit in your area, perhaps you will have enough people to do a small class (and make it affordable), a win-win situation for everyone involved.



How have YOU guys stepped up your alignment game? What are the essential tools, in your opinion? I think I will build myself a measurement rig for my birthday; computer, multi-channel pre, software?
Thinking back to when I started out on my own, my first investment was a Smaart rig with laptop computer, USBPre, and an Earthworks M30. Things kinda ballooned from there! Really it depends on how much money you want to spend, I just got myself a Roland Octa-Capture for under $600 (which I'm very pleased with), and along with a bunch of cheapie test mics and one good test mic to compare to, you essentially have a test rig for a reasonable amount of money. You can spend more money on a calibrator, external noise generator, serial to USB adapter, patch cables, folding portable mic stand, but I'd advise getting the basics first, add on as needed. I find all kinds of goodies on eBay and classifieds.



Did Dave Rat have a blog post about using wireless mics for an arena rig? I can't find it.
That would be the Lectrosonics digital wireless rig with plug on transmitters for the mics. Look for the TM400 on their website.



Where would you start, and what would you set as your goal, for a company like mine? (20 cabinets of Nexo Alpha, Camcos with 242s, using the onboard EQ and delays in LS9 and M7 consoles)
I'd get a basic Smaart rig, go through all the tutorials, spend a few days getting as familiar as you can with it on your own, then either get someone with experience and knowledge of the software to help you one-on-one, and/or attend a class when the opportunity presents itself. Of course ask questions here or on the Rational Acoustics forums.
 
Re: Get Smaart

Arthur thank you for the reply.



However do notice that this forum (same as the old one) is also used by people that are out or reach of any seminar or classes. I dont even know anyone within 500 miles of me that even know about smaart.



We need support too and a way to understand the software.

The manual is not very helpful in understanding what the graphs are and what they represent. So a small guidance is very welcomed.



Marjan
 

Jay Barracato

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
1,528
3
38
Solomons MD
Re: Get Smaart

I wonder what it would take to do an online training session.



Even something as basic as describing a setup, asking us for a specific measurement, and then posting and comparing our results and interpretations.
 

Lee Dickinson

Sophomore
Jan 11, 2011
144
0
0
40
Richmond, VA
www.avp-ric.com
Re: Get Smaart

Thanks for all the starting tips, everyone! Consensus seems to be to start by putting together a simple measurement rig, get to playing with it, and then get myself to a class to understand what I'm looking at.



After that, I'll probably get a day from someone smarter than me (have even gotten some offers in PM, which is awesome) to come line up a rig on a show sometime, for that extra level of real-world application.



And then, as Evan said, rinse and repeat.



I love Jay's idea of keeping the thread going as a documentary of the learning process.



I will probably find a decent four-channel pre to get started, and use my existing cheapo measurement mic (A Samson MM01)



Should I jump right to Smaart, or are there more entry level tools I should start with that offer the basic dual FFT feature set? I subscribe to the idea of ''buy once, cry once,'' so am not at all opposed to starting off with the pro grade stuff. I must might like to fiddle while I get the money together for it.
 

Jay Barracato

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
1,528
3
38
Solomons MD
Re: Get Smaart

Lee,



Please let me know if you get something setup for real world experience. If I am not busy, I would love to come down and go through the process with you.



For the record, I have been patching together my rig over the last year.



I have SMAART v.7, a MOTU hybrid, and two TR40 mics. If we can schedule something you are welcome to try before you start buying.
 

Arthur Skudra

Sophomore
Jan 12, 2011
231
0
0
Hamilton, ON, Canada
Re: Get Smaart

Yeah, I realize that some of you are far away from any classes, Rational is trying their best to get to as many places as possible, I know for myself we are trying to hit some of the smaller markets in Canada, and if anyone knows Canada, a good portion of it is really spread out geographically! Nevertheless the response has been excellent here, and the Halifax and Winnipeg classes were really well attended!



With regards to doing something like this online, I'm open to suggestions! I do have a really fast internet connection here (25 meg down, 10 meg up), so maybe something can be done with webex or skype (it needs to be Mac OSX compatible please). I've never done anything like this before, and don't know how effective it would be, this is totally new territory, but as time permits I'm willing to try. I do know that Rational is starting to build up a library of youtube videos that you might find helpful:

http://www.rationalacoustics.com/pages/news-item?r=NKAPF13YOZ
 

Jay Barracato

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
1,528
3
38
Solomons MD
Re: Get Smaart

Thanks for the video links, I had not seen those yet.



Actually, many online education programs use a combination of video with threaded discussions that are almost identical to a forum.



An online format may simply be:

1. Read this

2. Watch this video

3. Set up the measurement and record the traces

4. Post the results and discuss



It is slower than face to face, but it can work. Actually, I earned a masters in Geosciences following basically that pattern.
 

Cummins Mebane

Freshman
Jan 11, 2011
15
0
0
Re: Get Smaart

This is great timing!

I will be ordering SMAART 7 next week and am very interested in learning. As a touring FOH in the early 80s and a technical person by nature and trade, I understand much of basic acoustics. There is however lots of new info over the 25 years since my pro days, especially in the digital domain.



The jump back in at the hobby level (mostly digital home studio) was only possible because of the wealth of info from boards like this. Count me in for any SMAART activities for newbies.
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Arthur Skudra

Sophomore
Jan 12, 2011
231
0
0
Hamilton, ON, Canada
Re: Get Smaart

Thanks for the video links, I had not seen those yet.



Actually, many online education programs use a combination of video with threaded discussions that are almost identical to a forum.



An online format may simply be:

1. Read this

2. Watch this video

3. Set up the measurement and record the traces

4. Post the results and discuss



It is slower than face to face, but it can work. Actually, I earned a masters in Geosciences following basically that pattern.
I guess I was hoping that this is something I could do quick and ''live'' instead of offline, which entails more time and effort preparing materials, setting up a forum, etc.
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The folk at SynAudCon have been spending more than a year putting together their online courses!!! Not sure I have a year to spare doing this!!
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Do you know of any software packages that can facilitate this? The few I checked out were rather spendy and geared more towards large corporations/universities.



As always, I'm open to more ideas/suggestions, and will bring them forward to Rational Acoustics to see what we can do.
 

Jay Barracato

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
1,528
3
38
Solomons MD
Re: Get Smaart

The first big thing is to decide whether the material should be stand alone or with a facilitator. Stand alone is definitely man hour intensive for development. An old roommate of mine working with CSC used to budget 30 man days to develop 1 hour of stand alone instruction.



Using a facilitator cuts that way down, because you can respond to student needs as you go, and the course can grow into what you want it to be, probably like your face to face course did.



The final cog would be deciding how you want handle payment and enrollment. If there is a way to make part of the Rational Forums only available to some members (those who have paid for the course) I think you could do an effective job just within the framework of the forum.



The high end programs that colleges use like Blackboard or WebCT are really just password protected forums that allow you to setup subsections (classes) that only certain people have access to.



If you or others at Rational would seriously consider this, I can help translate your face to face course into online materials. My full time job is high school teacher/college professor. I use online teaching in addition to face to face in both.
 

Brad Weber

Junior
Jan 12, 2011
417
1
0
Marietta, GA
www.museav.com
Re: Get Smaart

I believe that if you don't have that much familiarity with transfer function and phase measurements then one of the Smaart classes with Jamie, Art or Harry or a SysTune class with Doug Fowler or Bruce Olson or a SIM class can be a great investment. And the advanced classes can offer some great insights even to regular users. I find them a lot like SynAudCon in that even if a class is mostly review you pick up something new almost every time that makes it worthwhile.
 
Re: Get Smaart

Do you know of any software packages that can facilitate this?



Check out Moodle at http://moodle.org. Its an open source (free) online learning management system based on PHP. We use it here at Randolph-Macon College (my day job) as our LMS and its really very nice. We run it on Windows, IIS and MySQL but it was developed on Linux with Apache - its pretty easy to get going either way.

If you like it and need any help, Im happy to help. Ive installed it a dozen times and manage several sites here daily.

It has a lot of functionality built in, a ton of user contributed mods and a huge support community.

 
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