Live sound - Larsen effect

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The Larsen effect is the name given to the resonance of an environment [Environmental acoustics ] at certain frequencies that have an ever-increasing amplitude which triggers in the microphone-mixer-monitor chain. When a frequency enters a microphone, it gets amplified and reaches a monitor. If the frequency has an amplitude which is greater than a certain limit, this triggers a recursive process by which the frequency itself is amplified every time it goes round the chain. Usually the distance of the microphones from the monitors and their directional characteristics ensure that the sounds coming from the monitor are heavily attenuated when picked up by the microphone. The following is an example of a typical stage positioning which should minimize the Larsen effect:

Live sound - Positioning of the monitors in relation to the microphones

Positioning of the monitors in relation to the microphones

As we can see, the cardioid diagram of the microphone [Polar pattern of a microphone ] directs the microphone's sensitivity towards the singer's voice, whereas it minimizes it in the direction of the monitor. If the environmental conditions were to bring about the Larsen effect anyway, we'd have to recur to using equalizers. In this case we can act on the graphic equalizers [Graphic equalizer ] which modify the monitors' responses, as well as the equalizer present on the channel of the mixer to which the microphone that is causing the resonance is connected. This manipulation consists in attenuating the amplitude of the frequency which caused the resonance and bringing it to an amplitude level where the effect doesn't trigger. The technician's ability in this case consists in immediately spotting the source of the effect and the frequency that is being excited. Once the source has been found, for example the singer's microphone, you can choose to modify the response of the singer's monitor by using the graphic equalizer or by intervening directly on the sound coming from the microphone. At this stage it is very important to know exactly which frequency has been excited; let's not forget that in these circumstances we have literally a few seconds to resolve the problem, before a deafening sound will force everybody to block their (precious) ears.

It is a good idea to train oneself to recognize the frequencies present in the audible spectrum, in order to act with self-confidence and skill when confronted with difficult situations. The following are the sounds of certain frequencies which can be taken as reference within the audible spectrum [Audible frequency spectrum ] . We advise you to listen to them lots of times in order to learn to recognise them with your eyes closed; that way you will have the necessary mastery needed to act instinctively yet correctly in situations where quick action is required.

The frequencies used in the examples are typical frequencies from a 20-band graphic equalizer (the last 20 KHz frequency may not be audible if your computer's audio system, or in fact your hearing apparatus, can't pick up such frequencies. It must be noted that even a human ear in perfect conditions isn't always capable of perceiving such high frequencies).

Table 13.1. Reference frequencies within the audible spectrum 

Sinusoid [f=31 Hz]  [Track 47]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=31 Hz] [Track 47]

Sinusoid [f=44 Hz]  [Track 48]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=44 Hz] [Track 48]

Sinusoid [f=62 Hz]  [Track 49]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=62 Hz] [Track 49]

Sinusoid [f=88 Hz]  [Track 50]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=88 Hz] [Track 50]

Sinusoid [f=125 Hz]  [Track 51]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=125 Hz] [Track 51]

Sinusoid [f=176 Hz]  [Track 52]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=176 Hz] [Track 52]

Sinusoid [f=250 Hz]  [Track 53]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=250 Hz] [Track 53]

Sinusoid [f=350 Hz]  [Track 54]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=350 Hz] [Track 54]

Sinusoid [f=500 Hz]  [Track 55]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=500 Hz] [Track 55]

Sinusoid [f=700 Hz]  [Track 56]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=700 Hz] [Track 56]

Sinusoid [f=1 KHz]  [Track 57]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=1 KHz] [Track 57]

Sinusoid [f=1.4 KHz]  [Track 58]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=1.4 KHz] [Track 58]

Sinusoid [f=2 KHz]  [Track 59]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=2 KHz] [Track 59]

Sinusoid [f=2.8 KHz]  [Track 60]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=2.8 KHz] [Track 60]

Sinusoid [f=4 KHz]  [Track 61]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=4 KHz] [Track 61]

Sinusoid [f=5.6 KHz]  [Track 62]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=5.6 KHz] [Track 62]

Sinusoid [f=8 KHz]  [Track 63]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=8 KHz] [Track 63]

Sinusoid [f=11.3 KHz]  [Track 64]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=11.3 KHz] [Track 64]

Sinusoid [f=16 KHz]  [Track 65]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=16 KHz] [Track 65]

Sinusoid [f=20 KHz]  [Track 66]

Live sound - Sinusoid [f=20 KHz] [Track 66]

  • posted on 03-01-2012 01:55
    Great effects

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