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Travis Hartnett wrote:
"And re: programmable digital EQ's with settings for a given "room": a 
room is never the same acoustic space twice. 
Heck, the difference between soundcheck and the gig is usually 
pronounced due to people coming and going."

Of course this is true,  Travis,  but there are certainly approximations 
of sound absorption that comes from a partially full or full house
(I believe their is a 40% absorption factor, approximately with a room 
full of people and there is a tendency for more
hi mid to hi frequencies being absorbed with more people in the room 
with an attendant roll off of bass frequencies that is less pronounce due
to the large size they are).

Having done professional live sound engineering many times in my life in 
a plethora of different room sizes (from large auditorium to dank clubs to
outdoor venues) and different stylistic kinds of music,  I have a strong 
sense of how a space sounds at soundcheck and how to compensate when the 
room fills up
and getting a feel for this just takes a bit of time with anyone who is 
talented with good ears.

It will never be perfect, as you  point out,  but I've heard live 
loopers have superlative sound coming from the stage. 
Indeed,  the Y2K festival frequently has good sound (not always, because 
we've blown a couple of experiments) and
the sound board has been in between the two stages without a specific 
monitoring engineer.

So,  I actually think that the use of customized presets  (three for 
each room you play in:    soundcheck empty,  lightly attended and packed 
with increasing compensation for diminished mid-his and diminished 
subsonic multiplication----people breaking up standing bass standing waves
actually can be efficacious in a mix.

Even from the stage, whilst using a subwoofer, it's pretty easy to hear 
how much subsonic multiplication  is occurring....................a walk 
to the front
of the speakers (both right in front,  to each side and to the very back 
of the room)  will at least yield what the actual room's acoustic 
(is it a bright reflective room,   a boomy room,   a prounounced slap 
back (predelay), etc.)

I've found that keeping things perflectly flat, response wise,  is 
always a great policy until one gets the hang of sound of any room:   
empty or full
it's not terribly difficult to compensate for a full house.  Usually one 
just raised the over all volume and compensates minimally for
certain frequencies that may have been attenuated with the presence of a 
lot of bodies.

I still think, consequently,  that there is a place for pre-set 
customizeable EQs.    I know Berhinger makes a couple of really 
inexpensive ones.