Todd Rundgren uses two Cylindrical Radiator speakers on tour. Recently, his sound engineer Robert Frazza was interviewed by Musician's Friend. That interview is reprinted below.
Sound engineer Robert Frazza knows what it takes to achieve stellar sound, both live and in the studio. During his many years in the industry, Robert has worked with a wide range of artists such as Jim Weider, Vernon Reid, Joe Jackson, and Todd Rundgren. Before embarking on Rundgren's Liars tour in 2004, Frazza found himself facing a new sonic challenge-accommodating Rundgren's aesthetic desire to have virtually no equipment on the stage, and his need for a monitoring system of exceptional quality . . .
Musician's Friend: Robert, how did you first learn about the Bose Cylindrical Radiator® loudspeaker?
Robert Frazza: About three months prior to the Liars tour, we had talked about what Todd wanted to do. It (Liars) was kind of a concept album and Todd wanted to do a flashy thing this time. His concept was to make the stage a bombed-out cathedral. His concern was basically having nothing onstage except the set. We were not using amplifiers or monitor speakers-he didn't want to see any of that stuff. So, I just started doing a lot of research, and I stumbled upon the Bose Cylindrical Radiator speakers on the web.
MF: We've heard you worked with the inventor, Bose engineer Clifford Henricksen. Can you tell us a little about that?
RF: The first thing I did was call Bose directly and Cliff Henricksen got in touch with me. Turned out he was the designer of these speakers, and he invited me up to Bose in Massachusetts, and he had his band come in, set up, and play through the Cylindrical Radiator speakers. It was interesting because I was there for their basic setup, and what was astounding to me was I was on one side of the stage, and was hearing the keyboard player on the other side of the stage as clear as the guitarist who was right next to me. That right there had me sold. Plus the slimline look. We did two weeks of rehearsal in Chicago, and Cliff flew out to just hang with us for a week or so and take care of the system and help us with different options on how to use them.
[B}MF: What are some of the ways you've used the Cylindrical Radiator loudspeakers on Todd's gigs? [/B]
RF: What I did is use them as sidefills on the Liars tour, which was with a full-on rock band. We were working on 20-25 foot stages, so I would put one on each side of the stage. This particular tour, being a rock show, I had Todd using a dynamic wireless system so he could go all over the stage, a lot of movement. The first thing we noticed was that the coverage of the Cylindrical Radiator speakers was so even, no matter where you were. With a conventional monitor, as soon as you get out of the way of it, it's a different sound altogether.
With the last tour-which was an acoustic tour with Todd, Joe Jackson on acoustic piano, and a string quartet called Ethel-we used the Cylindrical Radiator speakers as specific monitors. I had one behind the piano position and one behind the guitar position. And actually, for the guitar position, I ended up laying the speakers down on the floor, pointing up, using four football kicking tees. So it was more like a wedge position. Todd's very into the streamlined look-he doesn't like a lot of stuff on the stage. So the look is very important, but the gear also has to work.
MF: So by just placing one on each end of the stage, he was able to monitor the mix no matter where he was?
MF: How does Todd feel about the Cylindrical Radiator speakers?
RF: Todd loves them. He actually requests them now. We did the Pro Production 2005 convention in California, and Todd was keynote speaker. He told the whole audience about the Bose technology in his keynote address.
MF: Based on your experiences, what are the main benefits of using Cylindrical Radiator loudspeakers for pro gigs?
RF: The dispersion of sound across the stage-no matter where you go it's the same mix. You can move around and not have to worry about being out of the speaker's range. Any other wedge, if you move it three feet to the left, all of a sudden it's a different mix.
MF: Have the Bose systems proven dependable?
RF: By all means. I've dragged them halfway around the world a few times, and they're still working great. Since 2004, we've done the U.S. four times, Europe twice, and Japan once.
MF: Where have you used the Bose systems?
RF: With the larger Todd Rundgren/Joe Jackson and Liars tours, those are anywhere from 1,500-2,000-seat venues. But I've also used them in 300-seat venues, and I've actually used them outdoors from a front-of-the-house perspective.
MF: How did that work out?
RF: That worked perfectly. You don't even notice them-that's what I like about them. I did an outdoor show here in Woodstock, NY, and I just put them up, and no matter where you were in the audience, it was exactly the same sound. Whereas most venues you go to, if you're outside of the speaker range, it's a little darker. And if you're right in front of the speakers, it might be blisteringly loud or high-end.
MF: That's great. It really shows how versatile these speakers are.
MF: What's so special about the Cylindrical Radiator loudspeaker?
RF: Well, for me, the main thing is the evenness. And the portability as well.
MF: What would you say to a musician or sound engineer considering the use of these new loudspeakers?
RF: The fact that I can walk anywhere in a room or stage, and hear the same mix as an engineer. As an audience member, you're not being pounded if you happen to get the wrong seat. The other thing about them, as far as the sidefill scenario-I've got Todd walking around with a dynamic wireless microphone, and he's coming within 12" of these things, and I'm not getting any feedback, which is certainly a positive. With the Liars tour, I was pumping some decibels through these things and they handled it.
MF: Robert, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today and share your insight into this great Bose technology.
RF: Thank you.
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