Audio Engineering Society

Chicago Section

Meeting Review, January 27, 2009

other meeting reports

1/27/09 Meeting Highlights
by Ryan Scott


John Hatchel presented “Theater Sound with Blue Man Group” to approximately 60 members of

the Chicago AES chapter. With a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri,

John has engineered sound for the Blue Man Group and other industrial performances around the

country for the past 8 years. The The current theater setup includes a Meyer sound system and a

new Digidesign mixing console. The digital board allows the sound engineer to automatically

cross-fade to different mixes as the show progresses from scene to scene. The Blue Man Group

and Digidesign worked together to tweak the programming. So far it has cut down on mistakes

and gives the engineer more time to adjust the mix. Each member of the Blue Man Group now

wears custom Westone in-ear monitors on stage and receives their own mix. John then talked

about the infamous Blue Man Group instruments including the PVC xylophone. About 70

microphone channels are used in the show with Audio-Technica 451’s and 441’s being used on

the PVC instruments. When asked about any disaster stories, John recounted an incident where

the sound board power supply failed just before a show. With minimal delay the sound engineers

were able to run the show using someone’s personal Mackie mixing board and a CD player. John

then emphasized that they have backups in house now. The meeting ended with a tour around

Briar Street Theater. Those in attendance were given a chance to play some of the instruments

and get a look behind stage and the front of house. More than a few of us walked away with a

blue paint on our hands and shoes. The Chicago AES chapter would like to thank John for a very

interesting tour and presentation.