Room Analysis is Crucial for Your Best Mixes

Kevin Glendinning is the head of Business Development for JH Audio, the leading in-ear monitor manufacturer. He has mixed monitors for Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake and Maroon 5 and we sat down to speak with him about building a better mix through room analysis and how live audio ‘system tuning’ practices help make better in-ear monitors. 

Photo by: Isabelle Smith

Did I hear a rumor that Jerry Harvey was one of the pioneers to start using measurement mics in live settings to help dial in his monitor mixes? 

Yeah, and he still does today too! We were both out on a Summer Sanitarium run in ’03. I was on Deftones and he was mixing Linkin Park. It was a split rig of db and ShowCo gear on stage. Jerry was quite meticulous with Smaart correction and aligning the side-fills and floor wedges downstage. Turned a lot of heads when he would lug out that Earthworks Audio M50 RTA mic and 100’ XLR every changeover, pretty sure he got everything dialed and balanced in under the 20min allotment too.  

And did that experience translate into using measurement mics to tune in-ears? Did I hear right — are you using Earthworks measurement mics to tune JH Audio IEMs? 

Absolutely, %100. The live audio ‘system tuning’ practice carried on into the design and developments of JH IEMs. One episode of note was when the JH / L-Acoustics collaborative in-ear was being developed. Both companies wanted this to have the unique sonic signature that is synonymous with L-Acoustics products. 

In the lab we had a pair of 108 nearfields set up in our control room. We had been using these as reference monitors for a few months at that point. By analyzing the sonic signature of the 108s, this captured the exact range that we needed to design the L-Acoustics Contour IEMs.

Wild. Who would have thought that the live audio ‘system tuning’ practice would have such impact. Can you share any tips to upcoming monitor engineers on how to best use a measurement mic system?

Room analysis is crucial. Whether it’s broadcast mixing, stage IEM monitoring, or out front mixing the PA, knowing your RT20 and what reflections you’re dealing with day to day is very important. 

I did a Timberlake in the round tour 06-09. Andy Meyer had 96 PRISM boxes flown 360 degrees. I assure you — I was very aware of what all was spilling back on stage or what the room characteristics were going to be like when the vocal mic was in front of the PA and the audience was at %100. 

It all is relative to proximity and basic physics though. You can’t eliminate issues but you can minimize the damage by utilizing the analytics to the best of their capabilities. I think it’s safe to say —like many others on tour — I have ONLY used Earthworks Audio mics for measurements and analytics. Like any other solid piece of gear, when you have the quality and consistency from a company like Earthworks, you tend not to stray.

This year I got to use Earthworks in a new capacity, well past just measurement and analytics. Paul Hager and I were out mixing Miley Cyrus around The Americas. It was a great tour and a stelar show to mix. Paul brought along a wide variety of Earthworks mics, primarily on the drum kit. The durability and musicality from the live elements was fantastic. (They held up in an Argentinian rainstorm too, always a bonus when the gear is well made!)

Photo by: Isabelle Smith

Kevin Glendinning got his start working for db Sound, now a fractional entity of Clair Global, back in the late 90s. There were some great people there like Harry Witz, Todd Johnson and Kenny Check who really paved a way for him to enter into the touring community. He was sweeping the shop floors and greasing the chain hoist motors in ‘98 and in the Summer of 2000, he was flying PAs and wiring stages for Metallica. That rolled into a global run with AC/DC and transitioned right along into The Rolling Stones’ 40 Licks Tour where he was assisting Christopher “Wevans” Wade-Evans on a handful of Cadac frames — and that’s when Kevin first met Jerry Harvey.

Jerry Harvey was The Rolling Stones’ IEM tour vendor back then. IEMs were still somewhat new to most engineers and to the touring market at large. Kevin had seen Paul Owen use the original Jerry designed UE5 with Metallica but not too in depth — very early stages and with PSM600 transmitters. And he had seen the Garwood units on AC/DC with Niall Slevin and John Roden as well. So what better way to learn the craft than to befriend and gain knowledge from the original developer and pioneer of the IEM right?

That decision proved to be prescient. As the industry evolved from those early days of RF and 2-way passive circuits, Kevin became one of the world’s most sought after in-ear monitor experts. It’s no secret that audio engineers like to talk shop, and Jerry and Kevin’s long-term back and forth led to a deep friendship and mutual respect. Starting in the early 2000’s, Kevin quickly became one of Jerry’s top customers and as JH Audio grew — as other engineers heard about how advanced Jerry’s concepts were and overall product quality —  Kevin came onboard officially. 

JH Audio is staffed by top touring audio mixers and touring professionals like Thomas Reid from JH LA and Charity Lomax in Nashville that understand the nuts and bolts and intricacies of the touring industry. These days Kevin’s role is Business Development as well as assisting road clients in any capacity as a JH staff monitor engineer. 

JH Audio is known for having the best tour support and customer service in the IEM industry — with close to 75 years combined road experience. They know exactly what their clients expect and deserve out there.

Photo by: Isabelle Smith

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