Sunday, March 18, 2012

Back In The Day

There's a really fabulous article that I keep running across about the California Jam concert in 1974.  

My favorite part is where the interviewee states that a typical arena rig is 6000 watts.  That's about what I used to take out on bar gigs.  Even with multiple arena systems combined they were still only pushing a fraction of the quarter million watts that it's common to see in arenas now days.  Not to mention that the biggest outdoor fests can approach a million watts!

I also read some print articles years ago and can't remember where but they were a fantastic glimpse into the audio of the past.  I think they were written by the guy who used to mix FOH for Aerosmith in the early 70's.  He described a custom built 16 channel mixer that was the biggest on tour at the time. 

As I move my own mobile system from a van and trailer full of "racks and stacks" toward smaller self-powered boxes and compact digital mixers the scope of the transformation is truly amazing to me.  The fact that every time I go out to the local bar for some band I'm able to give them the kind of service that only the big boys could have years ago.  In fact a lot of the stuff I do they couldn't even dream about.

In just the last few years digital has finally taken off, and the level of technical expertise involved in teching even a modest sized show is truly staggering.  The question I have is this: how does it compare to where the industry was in decades past.  In an age where not just digital mixing but things like computational analysis are becoming more widely available, is the tech really that advanced.  Read that article I linked to and put yourself in the shoes of some small fry sound guy back then.  It must have seemed like rocket science.  How does that compare to today when everybody and their uncle can buy a digi and get Smaart on their iPad?

It just got me to wondering about the state of the industry and where it's going.  Karl Maciag wrote in a guest post a while ago about being worried about the availability of better and better gear to the masses making the true audio professional irrelevant.  Somehow I don't think there will ever be a lack of need for people who can blend the science of the gear with the art of the music.  Just because you can buy a digi and mix on your mini line array from your iPhone doesn't mean that you should.

Hit the comment section and out with the details from days of yore.  Got links to articles of historic importance? Post em!  We'd also love to hear how your own experiences have changed over the course of your career.

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