New NSCA Course: Hardware Applications


The NSCA (National Systems Contractors Association) has created a new regional training course, Audio Hardware Applications, known as AHA.

Designed as a followup to the NSCA's popular TFA, or Technical Fundamentals of Audio, AHA is an addition to the growing regional training courses offered by NSCA throughout the year. "The NSCA is committed to providing audio technicians with superior training that keeps them on the cutting edge of today's technology," said Matt Marth, NSCA education director.

According to Marth, Audio Hardware Applications (AHA) is a two-day training course led by Ted Uzzle and devoted to audio products, including how they are made and work, how to interpret published specifications, and how they may fail. Categories covered in the course include microphones, mixers, signal processing, power amplification, and loudspeakers. Students benefiting from this course could be salespeople, manufacturers' representatives, designers, and installers.

Students should have a basic understanding of audio technology fundamentals. Previous attendance at TFA is not a formal requirement, but a good way to acquire skills in decibel use, basic electrical circuit analysis, the psychology of hearing, and elementary acoustical concepts.

In 2000, AHA will be offered in conjunction with TFA, a course co-sponsored by S&VC magazine. Participants will have the option of taking TFA, AHA, or both.

Following is a schedule of classes and locations: New York City: TFA, May 15-17, AHA, May 18 and 19; Chicago (Columbia College): TFA, June 5-7, AHA, June 8 and 9; Los Angeles (USC): TFA, July 10-12, AHA, July 13 and 14.

To register for AHA, TFA, or both, call NSCA at (800) 446-6722 and request a registration form.

The recent production of the musical Play On at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ, gave me the opportunity to mix on the Soundcraft Broadway console. Though it's a board designed with the trials and challenges of the Broadway musical in mind, its use in the theatre has thus far been limited. Sound designer Eric Talorico decided to take a leap of faith and use it on this production. I served as assistant sound designer/engineer.

I have had a good deal of experience with automated consoles and show control systems, from CADAC to Libra Live, and the Broadway is one of the easiest and most user-friendly consoles I have used. Everything you need is within reach at the touch of a button. The console is very well laid out and responds very quickly. With the new operating system updates, it should be even faster.

The Broadway was a cinch to program and maneuver through the various menus and screens. The touch-screen is a huge advantage once you figure out what angle to hold your finger; you can also use a pencil eraser to navigate more quickly. This came in very handy since for various reasons we did not have a full tech process. However, the dial should be more active; it would save even more time if you could use it to scroll and then click,as opposed to moving to the touch-screen to enter the menu or by using the wheel.

The production, starring Leslie Uggams and Stephanie Mills, included a variety of period costumes, as well as many hats and wigs. This made the EQ cueing very important, to correct for hats-on and hats-off situations within numbers. I was also able to make subtle adjustments on the fly and either update the cue or let the preprogrammed EQ ride out of the cue. The mixing took place mostly on the master surface, which holds the first eight VCA faders, as well as the touch-screen that displays the cue list and the next button. I kept one of the input surfaces on the input screen and one on the VCA screen. This allowed me access to all VCA faders as well as all input channels at the turn of a page, 20 at a time. These elements combined to allow adjustments to any subtle shift in performance from moment to moment.

The Soundcraft Broadway is a valuable tool, and I hope to see it on more theatrical productions.

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