Advanced Systems Design

Live Reverb, Virtual Soundcheck & Re-amping

“Any effects created before 1975 were done with either tape or echo chambers or some kind of acoustic treatment. No magic black boxes!”
 - Alan Parsons


This video demonstrates my Advanced Systems Design project.
The inspiration for this project came from:
· An interview with Phil Collins on Classic Albums
· An article on Lloyd Gilbert (Status Quo’s Guitar Tech)
· The album covers of Definitely Maybe (Oasis) & Reloaded (Tom Jones)
· A personal passion: Re-amping & convolution reverbs


Why?

Like the man said - effects are/were created with echo chambers, acoustic treatment and such…
Modern effects processors aim to emulate said audio artefacts - I wanted to use reverb effects in a gig environment which were not the product of digital processing. To achieve all-natural reverb, I needed to feed a dry signal into a separate reverberant space - and then capture the resultant noise and feed it back into the mixing desk.

The most famous example of this is (probably) the effect on the drum track in Led Zeppelin’s "When The Levee Breaks" - echo is added to the drums by means of a lift shaft.

I also wanted to have a system where I could perform a sound check without a band having to be onstage. Consider this idea the poor man’s DigiDesign VENUE.


How?

I used a DAW & M-Audio Profire 2626 to record a performance and then feed said recorded material into instrument amplifiers onstage to perform a live re-amp.
By using a heavily gated and compressed kik & sn signal, it was possible to re-trigger a drum by placing a speaker onto the drum itself, using only the “attack” of the signal to act as a sonic drumstick hit. I was able to use DI boxes for guitars and synths to keep the signal as clean as possible.

Once the “virtual” or “ghost” instruments were miked up (as per a regular gig), some of the dry signal was piped into a reverberant stairwell. The resulting reverb was recaptured with an array of mics, spaced at various intervals for different wet/dry ratios. This reverb was then piped back into the auditorium and mixed into Quadraphonic surround sound - another passion of mine. This allowed me to “import” the stairwell into the auditorium.


Future Work

Future work would obviously focus on refining the re-amp techniques in order to create a more sonically pleasing performance.
It would also be interesting to develop a way of re-triggering a hihat… i.e.
· Use a DAW plugin to detect the transients of the hihat signal
· Convert the transient to a MIDI tick
· Use the MIDI tick to trigger a drumstick attached to a solenoid
Or something like that.
Remember, you heard it here first. Idea © 2011 Stevie C.

The audio mix is a little rough around the edges, as is the video, but hopefully this is a sufficient demonstration.
Don’t forget to check out my image gallery for the project pictures, including the obligatory health & safety shots.