OT: The Evolution of Concert Sound

Mongrel

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Great article , Frank!

So much for "just a bunch of dope heads jamming for a bunch of freaks...." :roll:

Dead shows ALWAYS sounded killer without blowing out eardrums.....
 

EvEnStEvEn

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"The Dead's innovation culminated in the Wall of Sound: more than 600 speakers, 40 feet high and 70 feet wide across the stage.
McNally said it could create perfectly acceptable sound at a quarter mile away.

"Visualize 440 yards. Being that far back from the stage, and I'm talking about just the speakers on the stage," McNally said. "And a quarter mile away, you could still feel that sound as a powerful and palpable thing. It was extraordinary."


wall-of-sound.jpg


I saw the GD use this system in 1972 or '73 at SF's Winterland Auditorium just after the release of their Wake Of The Flood LP.
 

Tanabata

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"The Dead's innovation culminated in the Wall of Sound: more than 600 speakers, 40 feet high and 70 feet wide across the stage.
McNally said it could create perfectly acceptable sound at a quarter mile away.

"Visualize 440 yards. Being that far back from the stage, and I'm talking about just the speakers on the stage," McNally said. "And a quarter mile away, you could still feel that sound as a powerful and palpable thing. It was extraordinary."


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I saw the GD use this system in 1972 or '73 at SF's Winterland Auditorium just after the release of their Wake Of The Flood LP.
Prime Dead right there! How did you like the show? Probably an official release or sbd/boot somewhere.
 

EvEnStEvEn

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Prime Dead right there! How did you like the show?
It's actually a very fond memory!

I had been a subscriber to the GD newsletter they mailed to fans at the time, so I was aware the band would be playing in SanFrancisco on that particular date. Included in the mailer was a detailed illustration & schematic-style description of the new sound system.
It just so happened I was in town that day for a debate tournament @ SF State University with my HS Speech team. After the day's debate event I snuck out of our hotel room that evening by myself and walked the 10 or 12 blocks to Winterland auditorium, bought a $3 ticket from a scalper and enjoyed about the last 2 hours of the show! I had just purchased their new "WOTF" LP a couple weeks prior, so I was familiar with the songs performed that night. It was also my first concert at Winterland and one of my fondest memories.
 

Nacci

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This revolutionary sound was developed for the Dead by Agustus Owsley Stanley III. Audio Engineer and underground chemist. He was responsible for producing the majority of Synthetic lysergic-acid diethylamide that flooded the scene at the time.

In my research Stanley is a very suspicious character who’s methods closely paralleled Dr. Ewan Cameron’s psychic driving program.
 

tdcrjeff

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It's actually a very fond memory!

I had been a subscriber to the GD newsletter they mailed to fans at the time, so I was aware the band would be playing in SanFrancisco on that particular date. Included in the mailer was a detailed illustration & schematic-style description of the new sound system.
It just so happened I was in town that day for a debate tournament @ SF State University with my HS Speech team. After the day's debate event I snuck out of our hotel room that evening by myself and walked the 10 or 12 blocks to Winterland auditorium, bought a $3 ticket from a scalper and enjoyed about the last 2 hours of the show! I had just purchased their new "WOTF" LP a couple weeks prior, so I was familiar with the songs performed that night. It was also my first concert at Winterland and one of my fondest memories.
Sounds like November 1973. Wake of the Flood was released Oct 15, 1973 and the Dead played at Winterland Nov 9, 10,11 1973. All three shows were released as a box set in 2008:

The sound system you saw was not quite the fully realized "Wall of Sound" that was debuted March 23, 1974 at the Cow Palace. The full Wall of Sound had no conventional side-of-the-stage PA system (and no overall mixing board), all instruments and vocals came from independent systems behind the band, i.e. Jerry Garcia's guitar came through only amps and speakers specifically for him (and controlled by him), the vocals came only through a set of amplifiers and speakers dedicated only for the vocals, etc. The sound system in the fall of 1973 had a large number of speakers behind the band and some of the features of the 'Wall of Sound", but did still include PA stacks on the sides. A good article describing the evolution of the Dead's sound system from 1973 into 1974:


1973 sound system:


1974 sound system "Wall of Sound":


Apologetically brought to you by "Pedantics-R-Us"
 

EvEnStEvEn

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1973 sound system:


1974 sound system "Wall of Sound":
Yes, November of '73 sounds about right, thanks! I was a junior in HS. And yes, using the full system at Winterland would've probably been overkill for that room so I suspect they used a scaled-down version of "The Wall" for those particular shows.
BTW~ these illustrations are the very same ones I referred to in my earlier post, they're from the Deadheads newsletter mailer. I still have a stack of those newsletters somewhere but it's cool to see these again!
 

EvEnStEvEn

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BTW~ That VICE article linked above is by far the most comprehensive I've ever seen about the system, incredible! I bookmarked it for future reference.
 

studrum

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It's actually a very fond memory!

I had been a subscriber to the GD newsletter they mailed to fans at the time, so I was aware the band would be playing in SanFrancisco on that particular date. Included in the mailer was a detailed illustration & schematic-style description of the new sound system.
It just so happened I was in town that day for a debate tournament @ SF State University with my HS Speech team. After the day's debate event I snuck out of our hotel room that evening by myself and walked the 10 or 12 blocks to Winterland auditorium, bought a $3 ticket from a scalper and enjoyed about the last 2 hours of the show! I had just purchased their new "WOTF" LP a couple weeks prior, so I was familiar with the songs performed that night. It was also my first concert at Winterland and one of my fondest memories.

Steven, that's just wonderful: the sort of ingenious, youthful hijinks that produce the sweeter memories.
 

studrum

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And didn't Rolling Stone run a fold-out, detailed spread of the Wall of Sound?
 

kb

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Well, when I saw the title I was thinking of how the orchestral pitch standard has gone up from A440 to A442....

Regarding modern concert sound, it seems to me that if you have to wear earplugs to listen to music, something is seriously wrong.
 

Joe A

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I thought it was about concert pitch, too, and the latent Deadhead side of me is glad it's not! I used to enjoy late night listenings with buddies; all that tape is a real gift, whether or not the renditions have any consistency, but that's besides the point! Some good memories shared here.

I love the bit where Weir (I think) says words to this effect upon a hang-up on stage: "We've a case of broken strings....that isn't to say that we've got a whole case full of them, or...anyway, we've got a broken string. So we're going to fix it!"
 


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