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Sound System Issues

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  • Sound System Issues

    It seems to happen at about every other indoor Powwow I go to in Western Washington. The drumming and singing is balanced when you stand at or near the drum, the singing is beautiful and strong, but when you get to the other side of the arena the PA system sounds absolutely HORRID. I was at the First Nations at the University of Washington Spring Powwow two hours ago, where we had the privilege of hearing the awesome songs of Young Grey Horse. Unfortunately, they were handed three microphones through a sound system up so loud and the treble cranked so high that it hurt to be anywhere facing the right-side loudspeaker (and this is in the large Hec-Edmundson Pavilion where the Husky basketball team plays). Dancing near that end of the arena was severe. Other drum groups present included local groups Wild Rose, White Eagle, Golden Eagle, Dancing Eagle, Spearfish, and two other big out-of-state guests Bad Medicine and Tha Tribe. Most of the miking for these groups was underdone, with smaller groups voices barely audible.

    This is absolutely not a knock on YGH, whose singing was indeed top notch (as we all can expect from Young Grey Horse) or any other drum that was there. This is just one example of a drum's music slightly tainted by the sound systems's lack of tweaking. The funny thing is, with the ultra-directional horn loaded speaker systems, it is nearly impossible to hear how loud you are from behind the unit. Powwow committees pour alot of time and effort into setting up for our gatherings. I would like to see some sound-system conscious people who are willing to volunteer to help get these big PA systems balanced beforehand. I have some sound system experience and I am willing. Fellow sound nerds, join me.

    OK, my rant is over. Thank you!

    :Yell :devil :Yell :devil :Yell :devil :Yell
    "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
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  • #2
    But the problem is when someone offers, as my ex has in the past there is always some hotshot who THINKS they know what they are doing. It's a hassle to bring your own equipment, but it is worth it when the ego's fly.


    • #3
      As someone on a powwow committee, it is difficult (impossible) to get everything to the point where everyone is happy.

      I know that if someone approached me and asked if they could set up the sound system to be better, I would be grateful. Especially seeing I know diddly about sound systems!

      In my limited sound experience, I have found that different drums have different sound needs. Some drums have so much volume, that they overpower the singers. Our committee has limited resources, like many do, and we usually have one microphone that is passed from drum to drum, making the issue of mic placement even more difficult.

      If we had a sound person with experience, I would think this issue would be easier. Powwwow committees are usually strapped for help and time. Go ahead and volunteer assistance. If they say they don't need it, at least you offered.

      Any powwow committee that turns down offers of help is shooting itself in the foot. IMO, committees need as much muscle and know-how as they can get.
      Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.


      • #4
        i think at our fourth of july pow wow every year they contract out to some skinz who have a business for entertainment. i think it would be better if you had someone who has the native dynamic to set up a sound system and may know what you are looking for.


        • #5
          That is the way to go! When the Chinook Winds Pow-Wow had my ex totally run the system everyone sounded as good as possible in a big tent and water coming in soaking everyone's feet. He adjusts according to what sounds good for that particular drum. There were some problems as in many Pow-Wows, but he was able to attend to them much more quickly than someone who doesn't have any experience. I tried to get him to start a business because he has all of the equipment, but then that is why he is my ex-I had to do everything! Going to college, raising 5 kids and working at the same time left little room for anything else. He still is the best around here even though others think they know.


          • #6
            I think y'all got the gist perfectly of what I said. :Thumbs

            I mean, we don't need Dolby 5.1 Surround quality but at least if someone could sit near the volume knob and adjust accordingly, boy wouldn't it be nice sometimes.
            "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
            Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service


            • #7
              For problems totally outside our culture one would have to say that technical difficulties is the biggest with any Native American Event.

              I am totally amazed at how much some powwow committees spend on everything except the sound system. And then they get some idiot who knows absolutley nothing about sound to run an already bad sounding system.

              But I am also amazed at how many awesome drum goups do not take the time and money to buy a good sound system. Some drums make a lot of money and many could easily invest in a good sound system - some drums make tons of money and could invest in a really awesome system.

              There are so many great and incredibly sounding drums out there, yet they end up sounding wierd through some of the aweful sound systmes used at a great deal of powwows. We have all been to an event where the sound system was nothing but some projection tweeter horns (no lows), or nothing but some non-projecting bass bins (no highs and mids). Or what about the event were there was only one mike for all the drums and the MC. Don't forget the event in which the drum with the sound system was running two hours late.

              And of course there is always the opposite. An event as an awesome sound system but a total idiot running it. Sound is not as easy as it seems or even looks. While one does not need to be a recording engineer it does help to have a little bit of knowledge of acoustics.

              I am not saying that you need the professional audio flagship systems made by Mackie, Yamaha, or EV. Many professional audio dealers would make a good deal with a drum group or committee for purchase or rental of more simple sound systems like Peavey.


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