Sound consultancy background
Sound Improvement Services
Copyright © 2016 Sound Improvement Services
A sensible approach to sound quality
Spotting a hole in the market, I gave up my “day job” and started working as a freelance consultant.
I worked on a very wide range
of projects from studio consoles (one or two listeners) to consoles for special events like James Brown’s appearance at a free event
in Paris (one million listeners).
I provided technical consultancy and European distributor training for Autograph Sales Limited
during the mid-to-late 1980s. Projects at that time included system design support for artists like Meatloaf, Ultravox and Paul Young
and work with pioneering rental companies like Sound Hire and Wigwam Acoustics. This cooperation led to involvement in the original
Band Aid concert in the Royal Albert Hall.
Sound Improvement Services
After nine years working in the UK manufacturing sector, I wanted to get more involved in
the kind of acoustical analysis projects that are outside the brief for most pro-audio manufacturers.
I had already been
discussing BBC Proms projects with the BBC, training provision with Rational Acoustics, plus stage and auditorium investigations with
Royal Albert Hall etc. so I returned to the world of independent consultancy in 2010 by setting up Sound Improvement Services.
further information on Sound Improvement Services, see here. .
Autograph’s main loudspeaker supplier, Meyer Sound Laboratories, were starting to
develop their Source Independent Measurement (SIM) system at the time. Initially
based on a standard Hewlett-Packard dual channel analyser, the system quickly
developed into a powerful in-show alignment tool.
My involvement with Autograph Sales Limited led to the development of sound system
packages for large scale opera recitals with artists like Luciano Pavarotti, Placido
Domingo, Jose Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
Further popular opera shows in the UK, USA and Europe included the large amplified
productions of Carmen, Aida and Turandot.
I also designed a multi-channel sound system to provide an accurate orchestral soundscape for a Barcelona Opera charitable concert held in the Palau Sant Jordi.
During the 1990s I provided similar services for Meyer Sound Labs Inc., joining Meyer’s team at the Montreux Jazz Festival during its last few years in the Casino and its first few years in the new concert hall.
I worked on an architecturally friendly solution to the problem of producing heavily amplified Rock and Jazz in the new venue. The brand new Stravinsky Auditorium had been designed for orchestral work only and initially had a six second reverberation time plus a lot of fricative confusion when flown sound systems excited the room.
The excessive reverberation needed to be reduced to around one second without
completely covering the halls magnificent architecture.
At the same time, Meyer Sound’s SIM System II had been completely developed
and I kept busy running SIM training workshops across Europe.
I also undertook studio and control room trouble-shooting plus new-build acoustical consultancy for
over twenty five studio complexes over the years. Many of these were private facilities for musicians I had met during my live sound
The growing popularity of large-scale amplified
operas and classical recitals and SIM’s ability to distinguish between direct sound, diffuse reverberation and echoes also led to
a lot of show consultancy and trouble-shooting commissions.
As we’d already seen, many venues, designed for sound sources located
on the stage, perform quite badly when excited by sound systems flown considerably higher.
I was kept busy aligning sound systems and taming troublesome acoustical anomalies
with a combination of lobe minimising, beam steering and diffusive acoustical treatment
without destroying the room’s natural reverberant “tail”; so vital for orchestral and
operatic work. Crude absorption is not always the solution.
I also provided consultancy and alignment services for countless sound production
companies, covering events from rock, pop and orchestral concerts to opera recitals.
This involved artists like Lou Reed, Paul Weller, The Corrs, Anita Baker, Antonello
Venditti and Diana Ross.
Typical projects included sound consultancy for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in
Stratford-upon-Avon and the amplification and re-imaging of Winchester Cathedral
organ. The latter was for an orchestral concert featuring percussionist Evelyn Glennie
that culminated in a rousing performance of Saint-Saëns’ organ symphony.
Other events in the late 1990s included BBC Proms in the Park, Stockhausen & Björk
at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the Three Tenors’ live show in
Paris to mark the climax of the World Cup ’98.
During the late 1990s, I rekindled my links with my old Midas neighbours, Martin Audio Limited
and provided sound system consultation for the Pope’s address to the World’s Youth near Rome in the Year 2000.
The large scale distributed sound system was required to
provide intelligible sound for 2.3 million pilgrims in a single
audience. The furthest listener was one mile from the stage!
This activity culminated in my joining Martin Audio’s projects department on a full time basis.
I worked with Martin Audio from January 2001 to December
2009, initially as Senior Projects Engineer and then as
Product Manager, providing system design and project
support training for Martin Audio’s worldwide users.
Martin Audio returned to the touring sector with a bang
through the 2000s - manufacturing systems that were
used for artists like ZZ Top, Massive Attack, the Killers,
the Ting Tings, Kanye West and Girls Aloud at that time.
Martin Audio systems were also used for eighteen of the
top thirty outdoor festivals in 2009 plus, of course, the
month long iTunes Live with W1 Productions in London's
I have presented guest lectures for Birmingham City university and for
Manchester's School of Sound Recording. SSR provide a fantastic real-world
live sound facility, supported by people like Wigwam Acoustics and a whole
host of pro-audio manufacturers.