It's a hot August night in Ocean City, MD, with an offshore breeze carrying the clatter of footsteps on the boardwalk.
"Around here it's pretty much off-the-beach-and-into-the-beer," Tom Baker said from his perch atop the purple stage, where he was uncoiling a purple mic cable from Rapco. "Live classic rock provides the soundtrack almost all of the time."
This is the legendary 300-capacity Purple Moose Saloon, a boardwalk joint that has been around longer than anyone can remember, and is currently owned by Gary Walker.
Tom Baker IV is one of the driving forces behind bringing sound to the Purple Moose. Along with his father, Tom Baker III, he runs Sound Machine, a pro audio concern based in Georgetown, DE. Contracted by Walker to give voice to the Purple Moose, the younger Baker assembled a rental rig for the room that effectively blends modern, DSP-based processing with analog-style control.
Starting at the loudspeaker end of Baker's sonic prescription, four self-powered DAS Compact 115 mains are supported at the low-end by four self-powered, 2,000-watt DAS Compact 218 subs. Run in a 3-way, triamplified configuration with a mono subwoofer feed, the arrays rely upon a model DIV-9123 crossover from Inter-M. Chosen in part to help ease the transition between playing the Purple Moose one night and moving to a bigger show the next, the self-powered DAS enclosures are currently deployed in groundstacks. Plans are being laid, however, for them to go airborne next year using their own built-in ATM Flyware.
With a 40 x 8 Allen & Heath ML5000 console standing in at the house mix position, processing is provided by three dual-channel GEQ-2231 digital EQs from Inter-M. The units offer 24-bit A/D conversion, a 64 kHz sampling frequency, and 31 bands of graphic EQ with limiting. Other outboard gear includes Drawmer 241 compressor/gates, as well as a pair of Roland SRV3030 processors, an Alesis Quadraverb, M-One and D-Two units from TC Electronic, and a pair of dual-channel CN-9102 comp/limiters from Inter-M with noise gates.
"I had been using other comp/limiters with gates, but I didn't like all the itty-bitty knobs," Baker said. "I found the CN-9102s could hold their own."
Input is captured on the Purple Moose stage with vocal mics from Audix and venerable Shure SM57s on all instruments. Signals traveling to the FOH console make the trip over a 32 x 8 fiber-optic snake from Light Viper.
Analog Control In A Digital World
If the processing at the Purple Moose Saloon is any indication, you can have your cake and eat it too in terms of control, this thanks to three GEQ-2231 EQs provided for the project from Inter-M Americas.
As DSP-based devices outfitted with analog-style controls, system designer Tom Baker IV views them as the perfect fit to help achieve his desired classic rock sound in the digital realm. "The Inter-M GEQ offers a clarity and cleanliness you simply couldn't find back in the day," Baker pointed out. "They've been perfect for this environment as everyone from a visiting engineer straight out of Full Sail to the geezer who only remembers an EQ from White Instruments can instantly understand them."
One visitor taking the helm recently was Richard Shaeer of Shaeer Media Solutions, the rep firm that helped Baker assemble the rig's components. An accomplished audio engineer in his own right, Shaeer throttled up for Transfusion, a local band he's worked with before. "It was very musical for me," he said after his turn behind the bar's Allen & Heath console. "Nothing was substandard, it all had a quality feel and sound. I walked away with confidence that the rig could easily handle anything demanded of it."