The Grateful Dead Concert

Grateful Dead vocal microphone

The Wall of Sound was an enormous public address system designed specifically for the Grateful Dead's live performances by audio engineer Owsley "Bear" Stanley. Used in 1974, the Wall of Sound fulfilled the band's desire for a distortion-free sound system that could also serve as its own monitoring system. The Wall of Sound was the largest concert sound system built at that time. As Stanley described it,

"The Wall of Sound is the name some people gave to a super powerful, extremely accurate PA system that I designed and supervised the building of in 1973 for the Grateful Dead. It was a massive wall of speaker arrays set behind the musicians, which they themselves controlled without a front of house mixer. It did not need any delay towers to reach a distance of half a mile from the stage without degradation."

History[edit]

After Stanley got out of prison in late 1972, he, Dan Healy and Mark Raizene of the Grateful Dead's sound crew, in collaboration with Ron Wickersham, Rick Turner, and John Curl of Alembic combined six independent sound systems using eleven separate channels, in an effort to deliver high-quality sound to audiences. Vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and piano each had their own channel and set of speakers. Phil Lesh's bass was piped through a quadraphonic encoder that sent signals from each of the four strings to a separate channel and set of speakers for each string. Another channel amplified the bass drum, and two more channels carried the snares, tom-toms, and cymbals. Because each speaker carried just one instrument or vocalist, the sound was exceptionally clear and free of intermodulation distortion.

Several setups have been reported for The Wall of Sound:

  1. 89 300-watt solid-state and three 350-watt vacuum tube amplifiers generating a total of 26, 400 watts of audio power. 604 speakers total. [1]
  2. 586 JBL speakers and 54 Electrovoice tweeters powered by 48 McIntosh 2300 Amps (48 X 600 = 28, 800 Watts of continuous (RMS) power).[2] [3]

Some good advice, but try to keep it simple

by hawkfan

If you're not getting a good sound from a singer using a single mic, things like fx and double-tracking aren't going to be able to make a bad track sound good.
I'm not sure how much you need in terms of "basic" advice, but some of the most important things are not directly related to the vocal signal chain.
When recording singers with little studio experience, I find that I always need to put down tape on the floor to show where their feet should be placed ... sometimes they even need to be threatened with physical harm to keep them from swaying side-to-side or (worse) back-and-forth

Think I've finally figured it out. It will

by mrdesign2

Top my final assembly. The question became which song would define if the stereo was working properly. Basically a simple song, a complex song aurally, a song live with talent, and a song that could tell if each instrument comes through like from the best seat in the house. Now mind you, this was recorded outdoors, and I don't know how the microphones were placed in relation to the stage, but seems on the most scrutinizing playback system, to be a pretty good rendition of what people can do. Being all my CD's are locked up in the CD and DVD changers now, it is available on YouTube submitted by the seeker23 on 1/18/08 of the Who, Young Man Blues (Live at Leeds)

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Popular Q&A

avatar
Are there any Grateful Dead songs with no vocals? I love their sound!?

I've been looking forever for a good song with no vocals. I'm a huge Led Zeppelin fan and they put a lot of emphasis on instrumentals with songs like Moby Dick and Bron-Yr-Aur. I see a lot of similarities between Jerry and Jimmy.

"The Eleven" on Live Dead is a great instrumental with awesome drumming rhythm provided by Mickey Hart. It has eleven beats per sequence, hence the name. There was a song on Terrapin Station called "Passenger" that was a good rock song. The title song from Terrapin Station has a long guitar solo and instrumental section.

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