Viewer Questions

Viewer question: why so loud?!

A recent highly pertinent question from a viewer in Sweden on my A Brief History of Live Sound Reinforcement video:

Q: One thing I use to react to when listening to small outdoor concerts, is that the aimd sunjective (sic) (me) heard sound is way way madness loud, sometimes we had to step back over 100 meters to stand the sound volume. I do not understand why – so loud – I really liked your video, really informative so don’t get me wrong. I would like to hear more “High Fi” concert, with moderate volume. Thanks for good video. SB. Sweden. (Edited for clarity)

A: Hello SB, I completely agree with you on the volume problem – I have stopped mixing these louder gigs just to look after my hearing 🙄 There are several possible reasons for this – one is the volume of modern acoustic drumkits (can easily be over 100dB SPL in the front row with the PA turned OFF) which means that the PA then needs to be run louder than that in order to balance the band. Another is that modern PA systems have huge amounts of power available, which makes it very tempting for sound engineers to turn things up way too loud! I would suggest a couple of things:

  1. If you have a choice, sit or stand near the mixer position – this is typically where the best sound is, and the most reasonable volume, assuming the sound engineer is responsible.
  2. Buy some musician’s earplugs – I use those from Etymotic (affiliate link) – these provide a moderate amount of protection (rated at 13dB SPL) without attenuating too much of the high frequencies and thus spoiling your appreciation of the music.

Finally, I have found that there are certain types of music that lend themselves to more finesse when it comes to sound reinforcement: musicals, jazz and funk/soul. These genres tend to attract seasoned and professional musicians who are much more concerned with the overall musical experience than blowing the audience out of the back of the venue with sound! All the best, and look after your ears 🙂

Jensen vs. Eclipse transformers in Radial DIs?

Happy New Year everyone! Had an interesting question come in from a viewer recently on one of the DI box videos and thought I’d post my response here as well:

G.M.: Hello Bruno. One question that has been on my mind lately is the difference between comparable units in Radial’s DI lineup between their Pro XX and their JXX (e.g. Pro DI vs. JDI) DIs. I believe the main difference is in the transformers with the Pro series containing Eclipse transformers and the J series including the Jensen transformers. First, would you say that is accurate? Second, are there really any other meaningful differences? and third, what really is the difference in those two transformers? I am not sure if this is something you could cover in a comment response or in another video; but, I really value your experience and opinion on these topics!! Thanks for all the great content on your channel.

GLB Productions: Hello GM, thanks for getting in touch. The first thing to understand is that there is a difference between the active and passive DIs in Radial’s lineup: for example, the J48 and Pro48 have exactly the same circuit and sound identical – the differences between them are in the feature set and also more mundane things like the size of the case and the number of colours in the graphic package.
In the case of the passive DIs, you rightly point out that the difference is in the quality of the transformers used. Radial give details about the differences on their FAQ pages e.g. here and here. Basically, the Jensen transformers are the ‘ultimate’ choice for studio use, whereas the Eclipse work fine for live use. I have found this to be true – in live sound, the frequency response of your loudspeakers is the limiting factor rather than the transformers in your DIs.

For live sound, I use the J- and Pro-series DIs interchangeably, and choose more based on the feature set needed. For example the JDI has a merge to mono feature and can also accept a speaker-level input, the ProAV series are specialist DIs with 3.5mm and RCA inputs that can solve a myriad of problems. Hope that helps!

The video that inspired the question:

Hope everyone is doing well – take care and keep sounding good!