Brandon's Words of Wisdom
For those of you with audio, and particularly audio editing,
if you're trying to sync a long sound effect or a song to a show where you're
trying to get it to end perfectly with the chain of events, here's a quick tip
that I came up with tonight that I thought might help you with your shows.
The problem is that I was doing sound for a wedding, with all the music being from a digital playback source. During the processional they wanted to play Canon in D, a 6 minute song, but it only took them 3:30 to get down the aisle and into place. I really wanted to avoid a cheap fadeout, so I edited the song in Cool Edit Pro so that I had one version that was 3:35 and one that was 3:55 . That way I had one that was supposed to go perfectly with the processional ( 3:35 ) and a backup if something went wrong or people were walking slow.
Now, how do I switch between one or the other at the last moment? I created a new stereo WAV file, and put the 3:35 version on the left channel, and the 3:55 version on the right channel, starting at the same time, and then burned it to a CD. Hooked the CD player up to the board so that the Left channel has it's own fader, and the Right channel has it's own fader.
Now the left and right channels of Canon play at the same time, but I mute the right fader and leave the left fader up so the 3:35 version is playing to the audience via the left channel. If I get to 3:30 and people still have a ways to go, I switch channels while the CD is playing, and voila, nobody ever knows.
This was the plan initially, but I was able to expand on it by installing an 8-output sound card and running 8 different versions of Canon at the same time using computer layback.
Anyway, cheap solution to a simple problem (lesson: hire real musicians), but I figured I'd tell you guys just in case you're in this situation sometime!
Audio Technica microphones have their place - I've used them
for a lot of bands (a couple national) and have been very pleased with their
systems for guitars and vocals, and so have the artists.
Since you have enough experience to say that they aren't good, what was your application? When you used their wireless systems, did you check the frequency compatibility in your area with other wireless services? Did you use a properly distributed antenna system? Did you configure the frequency channels properly? Was the venue a suitable area for radio frequencies to be used?
And furthermore, Audio-Technica's products are used on tours everywhere, with very good results. Their condenser microphones are totally awesome, and they have probably recorded a component of 1/2 the music you listen to daily. And if you know anything about audio at all, you know that a fundamental rule is that you pick the right brand and product for your application, and you try different microphones/brands on the same source to see what sounds good. I can't count how many times I've put 3 microphones in the same kick drum and then mixed them together at the console, using each microphone's characteristics to make a beautiful, in-your-face, shake-the-room, clear, crisp sound.
So, with that said, given Audio-Technica's reputation and my personal experience with them, if you think their products suck, it's because you bought the cheapest thing you could and expected more than you knew it could produce, or you just flat out didn't know how to use audio equipment properly. :)
Sorry if that was a little harsh. I'm just kind of the wrong person to fight with over audio... and in this case, I and 300 other professional audio engineers can pretty much say, with confidence, that you're wrong, and I'm sorry that you had a bad experience. ;)
And, why would you want them? LOL
By the way, to add to the list... To be the ultimate know-it-all techie, you must be able to do the following: (by the way, I also call this my Brandon's Technical Observations on How To Get Chicks In Theater List)
A) Walk into a completely dark theater, go directly to the wall lighting controls, and press the right button (the faster the better)
B) Also with lighting, you need to be able to give that good, blank stare at the set like you're contemplating something philosophical, and you must have the ability to walk up to the back of the light board, and operate the controls quickly and effectively seeing the controls upside down. (This, also, will get you the chicks, depending on how fast you do it!)
C) Pyrotechnics. If you roll up in your steel toed black boots, walk in and start doing some funky things with flash powder, you WILL have a date that night.
D) You must posess knowledge of both sound and lights. However, this is not enough. To "warm up" the systems in front of everyone, you must have a fully prepared kickin' light show to accompany "Lords of Acid - Drink My Honey". When created and executed properly, you WILL be the cheese.
E) You must be able to climb the ladder to the flies with one hand. No excuses. How you figure it out is up to you. ;)
F) If you have the resources, create a "light board alarm". All you need is a MIDI-capable light board, a computer, and a little programming experience. Here's how I configured this little joke:
1 - I set the light board up to output all level changes / buttons through MIDI .
2 - I set the computer up to recieve MIDI .
3 - Programmed computer to have 2 modes ("Armed", "Unarmed")
4 - Connected computer to sound system, at fairly high volume level.
5 - Create 2 cues... 1st cue is all dimmers at full, 2nd cue is all dimmers at 0.
6 - Get a pretty good nuclear submarine alarm sound effect (add voice over if you wish)
7 - Synchronize 2 cues with nuclear submarine alarm sounds.
Now, the inspiration behind this was that people liked to come by the light board and just start pressing buttons to see what they did.
So, if you can imagine, before I walked away from the board, I "armed" the computer. Sure enough some little freshman came up and pressed a button. The scene that follows is kind of like this...
FRESHMAN: Haha, this is fun!
<computer recieves MIDI message>
<computer activates sound effects>
<computer sends MIDI message to run cues 1 and 2, looping>
BUZZZZZZ <all dimmers full> BUZZZZZZ <all dimmers 0> BUZZZZZ <all dimmers full > BUZZZZZ "LIGHTING SYSTEM VIOLATION!" <all dimmers 0> BUZZZZZ "PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE CONSOLE WITH YOUR HANDS UP" <all immers full> BUZZZZ....
(buzzing needs to loop with dimmer effects until you come back and de-arm the system)
By the way, you might want to have an extra set of underwear on hand for that unlucky soul that presses the button...
Express series - excellent choice... Any reason why your school chose the 48/96 over the 24/48 for an 80 channel system? you guys gonna dive into the world of moving lights?
First of all, a particular acronym comes to my mind - RTFM (read the friggin' manual). That will answer a ton of your questions and spark your creativity into what you can really do with that board. (actually, that board can handle almost anything you can dream of if you can spend the time programming it, the only thing you're limited by is the number of channels... and doing incandescent 80 dimmer setups you'll have no problems at all).
If you're looking for the fastest way to make a chase just so you can look at the stage and go "oooh, pretty!", then here it is (assuming I get it right off the top of my head)...
I would like to call this " Brandon 's Beginner Guide to Make Pretty Flickering Things"
1. Start board
2. Turn every little fader down and turn the master up, and the cue faders (A/B and C/D) up all the way.
3. Press [Cue]  [Enter] (this chase will be on cue 100 for the sake of this example)
4. Press [Type] (and it will display a menu in red)  (Effect) [Enter]
5. Slide up a couple faders for the first frame in your chase.
6. Press [Record] [Enter]
(note: this is the quick way, because it automatically fills in the cue number 100 because that's the last cue you were working with - the long way is [Record] [Cue]  [Enter])
7. Now slide some more faders around to get what you want for the second frame of your chase.
8. Press [Record] [Enter]
9. Repeat steps 7 & 8 for as many frames as your heart desires.
10. Now that you're done writing the chase, you'll want to see it, right? (btw - by default, the default fade time for effects is .2 seconds, if you have sensitive lights that don't like this, or you don't want your dimmer system rapidly going FULL, OFF, FULL, OFF for 5 times each second, then edit the effect before you run it, see below) So, press [Cue]  [C/D GO] (C/D Go is the Go button on the right side... A/B is the left one)
11. Now that the teacher and the other members of the class think you are THE mack daddy of lighting, stop the chase by pressing [C/D CLEAR] (it's located to the right of the C/D faders)
12. To edit various aspects of the chase (or see the programmed version of what you have just done) press [Blind] [Cue]  [Enter]
Enjoy! I recommend preheating your instruments at about 10% for 5 minutes prior to executing a chase like this... The higher-wattage bulbs don't like waking up that fast otherwise... (it would be kinda like being in a nice, deep sleep when your bed catapults you 40 ft away to wake you up)
Enjoy! Make some cards for yourself and keep them handy for when the chicks see what you've done and ask for your #. :)
Hey guys, just got back online from the week of heck...
recordings of 4 orchestra groups, 47 tracks mixed, and 529 CDs sold... worked
my lil bootie off and customers are pleased, and nowwww there's enough in the
account to get my long-awaited WholeHog II!!!!! So forgive me if I seem a
little bit bubbly excited :)
Anyway, on to the homemade color scroller -
First I got a Radio Shack project box about the size of a normal scroller, and with a dremel tool, cut a big gel-sized square hole in the middle of it so the light could pass through.
Next I went to the mall and found these miniature cookie-dough wooden roller things (just a wood cylinder) that was just a little bit longer than the box not including the handles. I got two of them, one for the business end of the gel, and one for the other side. I measured and cut the handles off and part of the big cylinder so that they'd fit into the box with a few mm of clearance.
After that I ordered a bipolar stepper motor and it's control card and got it working with basic functionality with the computer.
Now back to the cookie dough rollers - With the dremel I made a long slice down the side of it so that I could stick a piece of gel into it and have it hold (kind of like those really old movie reels where you stuck the film into the little hole and then started turning it) and did the same for the other roller. Then in each of the rollers at the top created a little groove all the way around for a rubber band to go around. The result was that the rubber
band would be what makes both the rollers turn... please see Exhibit A1 for an overhead view...
Exhibit A1... an ASCII representation of this concept ;)
_________ <- rubber band
O________O <- cookie dough roller
I drilled 2 holes on the left side of the color scroller (where the motor would go), drilled really small holes for the motor's chassis to screw on to, and stuck the little rotating motor shaft thingy (yes, it's a technical term) through the hole on the bottom, secured the chassis of the motor to the project box, and then drilled a small hole on the bottom of the cookie dough roller. As far as securing the motor to the roller, the hole I drilled was slightly smaller than the shaft of the motor and it's little nut at the end, so I just forced the roller onto the shaft of the motor and eventually with enough force it stuck (story of my life)...
Next I positioned the rollers to about where I wanted them and then drilled through the box into the rollers, and after praying that the heat from the light wouldn't melt the glue, used a hot glue gun and inserted a dowel through the hole in the project box and into the roller. Repeated this process until the ends of the rollers (except for the one attached to the motor) had dowels and could rotate relatively smoothly in the box.
Then I realized that since the rollers were already in place there was no way I could get the gel in. So, I ripped the dowels off the ends (glue had already cooled by this time) and started the process over again, this time with a big strip of gel attached ;) In my planning I didn't leave room for the circut board so that got gaff taped onto the side of the box ;)
To attach it to the fixture I just used paperclips on the top (spaced far enough apart so that there was enough tension that it wouldn't fall through the gel slot in the fixture) and the bottom.
To control it I went and got another project box, a female RS232 connection, mounted that on the box, and 3 female XLRs on the other end and split the connection into the 3 XLRs at the box so that I could run it through the snake. (This caused a few problems because RS232 doesn't like to run more than 50 ft, but using 3 individual Whirlwind mics cables solved the problem)... for the color scroller end I just made an adapter and taped it
all together. ;)
And there ya have it. Since then it's been scrapped because of 1) the large amount of WD-40 it took to make those things spin around smoothly and 2) reliability issues with bigger shows.... but it sure was fun when it worked for the time being!!
re: Clipping.... I had a couple things I didn't agree with, regarding some of the things I read. The problem was that they blew 2 speakers. It didn't say whether how many of what size drivers the speakers had in them, which drivers blew in which speakers (or maybe if they were old, the cone itself committed suicide)...
Which would cause clipping?
a) Speakers rated at 200 watts and an amp rated at 100 watts.
b) Speakers rated at 100 watts and an amp rated at 200 watts.
In situation A, underpowering a speaker does not necessarily mean that the speaker is going to die no matter what. It all depends on what kind of levels you're sending to the amps. In situation B, driving a 100w speaker with a 200w amp is actually a good power ratio, although in theater and concert applications, you're dealing with speakers that are 300w and up, and therefore should power them with amps that are 1.5 - 2x the RMS rating of the speaker. That way, you can exceed the peak rating of the speaker without
clipping the amp.
>>If you turn up the amp to it's max power, it'll start to clip the signal. If the speakers can handle more power, they'll try to produce that rough jagged edge of the cut off wave and that's what causes them to fry. They just can't move that way.<<
Well, hang on. There are two general groups of sound reinforcement people; Those who think the amps should be turned all the way up, all the time, and those who like to match the amp input gain to the system. Both are a fairly accepted practice, although in theater applications, it's best to match the input gain with the rest of the system, because it gives you a lower noise floor to start out with. It all depends on what kind of signal you're ending to the amp in the first place, and how much headroom you need for the application.
Keep in mind that when you turn up the input on the amp, you're not adjusting how much of the actual amplifier's power is being used. You're just adjusting the level of the signal that's going to that amplifier. Some manufacturers build extensive limiting circuts into their amps for the express purpose of turning them up all the way, giving you the maximum headroom available from that amplifier.
Lets see if I can get this right... here goes...
If you are just sending +24db (a buttload) signal to the amp from the board anyway, what happens is that during the time that a signal is flat-topped, the cones in the loudspeaker are not being moved at all, as it's essentially receiving a DC signal. All this energy goes to heating up the voice coils rather than producing sounds, and therefore is 100% efficient at converting the amplifier power into heat. A tweeter normally converts 75% of it's power to heat. So during clipping, it has to produce 1/4 more of it's power into heat.
A woofer normally converts 97% of it's power to heat, and therefore only has to produce 3% more of the power into heat, so, the more efficient the driver, the worse the problem (the tweeters will heat up faster). In addition, the tweeters have less mass to heat up since they are smaller, so they heat up faster, burning them up faster than woofers.
Someone also said:
>>You guys don't have any limiters?<<
That may or may not solve the problem. It depends where the clipping is occuring in the signal chain. If you have a microphone that is run pretty hot into the preamp of the console, when someone yells, the input clips, and regardless of the fader position, and any other electronic gizmos you have down the line, the signal is clipped, and it will come out sounding like some guy with a great subwoofer inside a loose trunk lid (you've all heard it... the guy that thinks he's going down the road lookin' cool with his loud stereo... but what he doesn't hear is the back of his car about to vibrate violently off it's wheels)...
A limiter CANNOT detect a clipped signal if it occured somewhere along the line before the limiter.
What I do for my system for protection is that I give a generous (7/8) amp input level so that I don't have to send a great deal of signal out of the board and the rest of the DSP chain, and I put a comp/limiter that starts compressing at +4db with a 8:1 ratio, and a VCA-based limiter that engages at +12db, that way I never get too high even in the yellow area, but with the amp input set where it is, the system still has plenty of room. However, I have to make sure that nothing is clipping on the board.
A war story....
I was guest mixing for an opener, and got to talking with the system provider afterwards, so I got to hang around in the FOH area for the rest of the show as an observer. The headline act (with their own band engineer) claimed that they were the loudest band that had ever come to the arena. The system provider said "well, we've put extensive limiters in the amp racks for this show so that they can't blow anything up no matter how hard they try." ha.
haha. There are 2 6x8 arrays flown with 10 subs on the
They get to rockin', and at this point I decide that there's something wrong with mixing a band wearing earplugs while you're wearing earplugs for an audience wearing earplugs... but that's beside the point. About halfway through the show, the board is showing nothing but clip, clip, clip. About 5 min later, something doesn't seem right. The room isn't vibrating as it should. Oh, but wait, there's someone running under the stage with a fire
extinguisher! Ahh! A subwoofer has burst into flames! Followed by.... the high end drivers! And that was the show! The promoter paid for all the blown drivers, as stated in the contract, should it occur. But just goes to show that limiters aren't the end-all solution!
>>Isn't it usually fairly standard practice to have the mic inputs going into your soundboard, and then turn up the "Gain" on the soundboard until your max vocal level on the mic doesn't cause clipping in the soundboard output? Aren't the amps usually placed down the line from the board outputs before hitting the speakers, such that the input to the amps is gauranteed to be non-clipped as long as the people feeding into the mics
don't perform significantly louder than they do in the sound check?<<
It really depends on your sound console; Most consoles have a SOLO (Mackie) or a PFL (Pre fader listen - most other consoles) button on each channel that will engage a LED meter of some kind that will let you see where you're at as far as gain on that particular channel.
I don't care where you are, or what type of show you're doing, the performers, 99.9% of the time, will perform on average 6-10db louder during the performance than they will during sound check. I think it's a law...
Anyway, back in the old days the general practice was to "turn the input up on the channel until the clip light comes on, then back off a little" – no longer is that the case, since we have these fancy devices called METERS! A good practice is to set the level to a little below 0dB during sound check (0dB should typically be marked on your console at about the center or in the top half of the LED meter), so that your performers won't be clipping your inputs during show time (you have headroom).
>>Brandon- where have you learned all this about sound as only a high school student? Got any good resources I should check out?<<
I just started with sound at school, then proceeded to sound at church, which opened up the gateway to work with a few Christian bands, which in turn opened the door to work with some companies in the area for major shows, same with lighting... and recently the video world has started to open up for me... and I've learned from those mentors everything from connecting power to a panel in the middle of a restaraunt kitchen (which by the way I will never use since anybody who needs this service HIRES AN ELECTRICIAN, RIGHT PEOPLE?), to how to build a rack of useless equipment for the express purpose of making a lot of LEDs light up to attract the chicks (it makes you look
like you're doing something more important)... color, rapid movement, and quantity are the key to this idea....
>>By the way, a tip for anyone doing lighting- double check any fixtures wired by other techies who don't know what they're doing... wiring the ground lead into the hot pin doesn't feel very good when you try to turn on the PAR and all the current goes into the bolt you're holding on to!<<
What you're saying is that you should let whoever wired it hold on to it for the first time it's turned on, right? ;-)
Gain Structure Techniques
I'm waiting for a recording to transfer from recorder to
computer through network right now, so might as well add to the discussion...
To be considered a "show" in my opinion it would be something done only by the theater group, where a set is built, floor mics are put on stage, and lights are hung and pre- programmed....
If we included concerts and other departmental shows where the tech crew was just backup (no talking props--er, actors) used, that in itself would be right about 30 shows a year.
We keep track of hours worked in our theater... at the end of the year last year I had about 920 hrs of time (not doing specific things, just the hours that I was physically in the auditorium doing something)... dang, I might as well have moved a bed into the flies and slept there..
just make it work!! ;)
If you're going around renting intelligent lights you probably can come up with the funds to install a few phases of power distribution (read: HAVE A LICENCED ELECTRICIAN install a few phases of power distribution... don't put on a pair of gloves and start patching into your circut panels, otherwise some chinese guy will start coming toward you right when you have live rods exposed and start spraying water all around you... ah, another time, another gig...)... getting things powered properly is what draws the line between "doing it right" and "just making it work"...
Always match your power distribution system with the ratings on the lights with room to spare. If you have 50A of distribution, put 40A worth of lights on it, and use the appropriate gauge cable to do it. If you're just plugging in lights anywhere there's an outlet, and you happen to be pushing the limits of the existing (and maybe old) electrical system, and things are probably heating up somewhere along the line. It's really tough to pay for all those lights and then explain to the judge why you felt the system was adequate after the building has already burned down...
If it came down to it, I'd go with the generator idea when the other alternative is to use outlets that were designed for regular very low-amperage appliances... the power would at least be matched to the ratings of the lights and it would be extremely clean power which keeps the electronics in your lights happy. :)
Not to mention the sound crew will be extremely PO'd if they get all their equipment set up and working perfectly, and then you turn on your dimmers and intelligent lights to find out everything is on the same ground, and that you just turned your 80 ft of triangle truss into a giant radio antenna which is bleeding Radio Disney quite clearly into the sound system (which you can barely hear over the 60Hz hum anyway)... not that I've ever had this happen or anything like that.... O:)
In short, do whatever ya have to do to get the lights on their separate electrical system from the rest of the theater.
Oh, and while any DMX boards can handle moving lights... there becomes a point where you need a board that can handle moving lights WELL... you won't have much of a show if you have to spend your whole time figuring out why that one intelligent light goes into a color and prism spin while everything is fading out...
Rant over.. stepping off the soapbox...
Lighting Questions & Opinions
About trying to program moving lights with the Express --
The moving light support on the board (as far as doing things on the fly and frustration levels) pretty much downright sucks. BUT with a little time and preparation you can come up with some really cool things -
I'm doing a show now that uses 6 moving heads @ 13 ch each... but, I planned it out in advance, made a diagram of the stage, and drew areas on the stage and assigned them a number (which would later be the focus point)... Before the console was even rented I had colors programmed in groups, as well as certain gobos, and had all the cues written with focus points... All I had to do when I got there was put the disk in the drive, configure the moving
lights correctly, and sit for about 30 min programming focus points... after that, all the cues were updated, and I ran the show the first night of rehearsal, all I had to do was change the colors and press Record. :)
Off to bed -
If it's any indication, I used just 2 moving lights for a couple plays that made me end up not using 12 of the Source Four's.
Also made a light show for an orchestra concert out of them (that was fun too!)
Oh, and if something does come into contact with the mirror, one of three things will happen: either a) the mirror will fly off, but you can glue it back on, b) it will knock the mirror out of position and the mirror will be off calibration until the next reset of the fixture, or c) if the fixture has a sensor to correct the mirror then it will resume to it's intended position!
Be careful if you work with a large bank of moving head fixtures though. I made a mistake of ordering 42 of them for a large show/concert (biggest, baddest, and most fun and nervous show I've ever done) and then put them all on hanging electrics. I created a fast cue where all the heads moved in the same direction at once, and I looked up to see $200,000-some worth of intelligent fixtures swiiiiiiiiiiiiiinging back & forth. Needless to say those got secured with some good ol' aircraft cable. It did make a really cool ocean-looking wave effect when 3 electrics were swinging around though! Lesson: Secure truss is good! Mirrors good too, but not as cool. ;)
Putting Microphones on a High School Stage
>>So they placed 6 mics along the stage<<
Well, let's see... NyQuil before you go to bed and DayQuil right as you're getting up.. j/k, don't become an addict of some kind...
For me (in high school) my first class starts at 7:25 in the morning and I have classes all the way till 4:00 with a 15 min break in between for lunch. Then I go to after school rehearsal from 4 to 5:45, then from 5:45 to Community Theater rehearsal from 6 to midnight. I get home around 12:10 and finish homework and go to bed around 2:30-3.
I'll be the first to admit that this is not a healthy schedule and I can feel myself suffering from it. The best advice I've tried to live by is to use that lunch break to it's maximum potential, whether that's a nap, homework, etc and make sure you have Saturdays free enough so that you can sleep till 2-3 in the afternoon.
I also invested in a Palm Pilot and MS Outlook XP for my computer, that's the only way I can remember things, by putting my homework in my Palm "Student Assistant" program along with theater schedules, etc and then whenever I get home, link it to the computer, and it's all right there with what I have to do on Outlook XP. I could never remember everything if it wasn't for that.
Plus, if a hot girl comes over to the light board thinking that it is not just a console, but a shrine of modern technology, a beautiful piece of machinery, and that I'm the man for knowing how it works, if she asks "hey baby, what are you doing Saturday night?", it's just a quick flick of the cover as I whip out the palm pilot and happily proclaim to her that my Saturday is free after 3pm (sleep time) ;) (note: the above scenario has yet to be tested... I just don't get why it hasn't happened yet...)
Hummmm if it was me... here are some things I'd do, some cheesy, some fun.. Designate one side of the stage as the "sound board" and one side as the "microphone"... First one to connect 2 or 3 XLR microphone cables together with correct ends (male to sound board, female to microphone side) wins... First one who coils them up correctly wins. ;) Get an extension cord for everyone out of the closet.... first one to untangle it wins.. For the slower and perfectionist people... The one who cuts the best-fitting gel wins Ask random questions that everyone has an idea about but not a sure answer... i.e... How many outlets are there on a power strip, how many seats are there in this theatre, stuff like that
Some fun little tricks to play... some of our "oldies" during tech orientation a few weeks ago were showing people around then one of them pointed something out and said "Oooh, I'll always remember that fire extinguisher... poor little Tommy.." - then all the newbies go "WHAT?" and they all add a little piece to the story, like "We don't know exactly what he was doing, but he was walking around on stage with a lighter and there was this big explosion..... I'll always remember that trip to the hospital..."They left the meeting with wide eyes... it was great...
Well, looking at the pictures from the gym, that one doesn't appear to be as complicated as the theater installation. The big $$ seems to be in the amps and speakers side of things.
My suggestion, in order in signal path from microphone input to speaker:
Microphone: Shure Beta 58 Wireless Handheld... XLR cables and gyms don'tmix... better to have 1 or 2 great wireless microphones for everything so that 1) don't have to install as many XLR wall plates for inputs and 2) people can't trip over wireless stuff while they're playing basketball ;)
Mixer: Mackie DX8
The DX8 is a digital mixer designed for installed applications such as this... It's an 8 input, 2 output mixer, where most of the processing is set by computer inside, but the basic, basic controls are on the outside (gain, and 2 band EQ). I think anyone who can figure out the self-checkout line at the grocery store can figure this one out. And if for some odd reason you want to add a console later, there are 2 line inputs direct to mix outputs for it.
Processor / DSP: DBX DriveRack 480
99.9% of the driverack can be set by the installer and then password protected. The driverack has infinite configurations, but for this one, can take the input from the Mackie DX8 mixer and then split it into different signal chains (for the different speaker systems in the gym) and then apply individual EQ, dynamics processing, etc on each of the outputs. To switch between speaker systems, there are mute buttons located right below the output meters for each output. Just mute the speaker systems you don't want to use.
Amps: Crest Vs1500
Again, my favorite amp for installations. Self-explanitory. ;) If volume levels don't have to exceed much, then consider a couple Crown CTs 8200 (8 channels in one amp at around ~200w each)
Speakers: For a gym, being a reverberant environment where the echoes come back and hit you from 10 minutes ago, the further away you can get from a central speaker system, the better. Get the speakers as close to the people as possible and distribute as much as possible. But, a center cluster is great for those events that you need it loud and thumpin'.
Sporting event speakers: JBL Control Series
Approx. 3/4 of a buttload of these speakers can be put on the catwalk facing the bleachers around the perimeter of the gym. They can be divided into sections for individual muting purposes on the Driverack. If a center cluster is used in addition to these, then they should be delayed appropriately (no sweat with Driverack on this one)...
Graduation and other ceremonies: Something loud.... up to you! I prefer EAW stuff for vocal reinforcement such as this... but that's me! ;)
Gotta go get ready for the day....
Tales of Electricity, Episode I
Just got in from building this... For your entertainment I thought I'd do a write up... for those of you who don't enjoy breaker panel humor, just skip it...
When: This afternoon
Setting: An old warehouse in central NC, full of sound and lighting cables, odds and ends, etc
Scene I: The promoter's office
Earlier this morning, the multipinning of the effects racks and Whirlwind W-series multi snake was pretty uneventful. That's all good to go.
I sit in the comfortable chair, going down the checklist of items for the new lighting and sound systems that are making their maiden run Saturday.
Brandon: OK, as far as power... Where do I get or pick up the PD from?
Promoter: What's a PD?
Brandon: Power Distribution box/panel... you know, where the electricity comes from that powers all of this stuff...
Promoter: Oh, umm... we don't have one?
Brandon: No, someone was supposed to have it built, weren't they?
Promoter: Hmmm... I guess not... Can we make one?
Brandon: (thinking: CRAP)
When: Later that afternoon
Setting: The old, old basement of an old, old warehouse building in central NC
Scene II: The Panel
I wander around in the dark with no flashlight looking for parts to build a PD panel. Fuses, circut breakers, cable, anything. Suddenly my eyes fall (or maybe it was just me falling over something in the dark) upon a grey, 6 breaker panel with a service disconnect. I say:
Brandon: Hello, my new power panel!
Nobody knows what the circuts go to coming out of the panel. They aren't labeled. The service disconnect is off anyway. Good enough for me! After much breaking of screwdrivers, many band-aids, and other such oddities, the panel was no longer attached to the wall and was headed upstairs under my left arm.
The panel is already set up for 2 legs of 110v using the neutral as ground. Perfect.
When: Even later that afternoon
Setting: Home Depot Connectors Department
Scene III: Using the promoter's credit card
I need two range plugs. One male and one female. That's not so complicated now, is it? One that works in most every range plug installed between 1975 and 1995 across the USA.
Does Home Depot have it? Of course not. They have every freaking weird style of range plug other than the one I'm looking for. However, I happen to find 4 wire twistlock connections that are pretty industrial, that happen to fit the many 4-wire twistlock to Edison breakouts that I saw back at the warehouse.
I'd like 6 female and 3 male of these, please! $15 each, no big deal, not my credit card, and "Build a PD" was not in my job description for today either.
On the way to the cash register, I see a sale on Maglites, $15 for the big kind and a belt mini-mag. Yes, I'll take one of those too, thank you! (I'm sure the promoter wouldn't want me walking around in the dark now would he?)
Setting: Back at the warehouse
Scene IV: Panel Surgery
Brandon: Do you have a pair of heavy wire cutters around here that I could use?
Promoter: Wire cutters?
Brandon: Yeah, okay. Nevermind. Are you going to use that pair of scissors on your desk for the next few hours?
Promoter: Nah, go ahead and take them.
I find 500 feet of 4-conductor 8/4 cable that looks pretty good. I chop three 5 foot pieces off and begin attaching female twistlock to one end, and then punch the holes in the panel for the cable to go through to get to the circut breakers. The pre-punched hole in the breaker panel is not big enough for the cable to go through.
Millions of sparks and 2 dremel bits later, that cable went through in all 3 holes, thankyouverymuch.
I made 100' sections of 4-wire twistlock extensions to go from panel to wherever, using 8/4 cable, WITH A PAIR OF FRIGGIN SCISSORS.
Now the scissors don't cut as well as they used to... and the screw in the middle is kind of falling apart...
When: Late tonight
Setting: The same place
Scene IV: The strain relief
I get everything connected, pick up the panel, and the cable slides in the 3 holes. Of course I didn't have any strain reliefs for them, and even if I did, it wouldn't have fit in the kind of egg/oval-shaped dremel holes in the panel. So my next task is to create a strong strain relief for this stuff.
I start digging around in cases, and I find the solution rather quickly. Three wraps around of Rosco glow tape, followed by a couple wraps of blue gaff tape on the inside of the panel, and that thing is not moving through the hole. Ever again.
And then I go home. Stay tuned tomorrow for EPISODE II: THE LOAD TEST.
Should I take some pics of this stuff throughout my adventures so that you can see the path of this gear, from creation/wiring to concert? And of my new flashlight? ;)
I started writing all this out and then figured it would
be better if you have visuals, so I made it into a web page (I got up to the
amps and then I'm not quite Shure what happened, but anyway, that's where I
stopped so far):
>>Go UHF, VHF is trash...<<
Put the 1604 right next to the Yamaha and go on your way.
One thing to remember with going from the 1604 with 1/4" TRS outputs to a Yamaha line or XLR input is that you have the proper cabling to do what you need to do... There are some issues when going from the main outputs of the Mackie to a channel on the Yamaha, I can't remember the exact solution whether it was balanced or unbalanced, etc, but if you get nothing in the Yamaha when your Mackie says it's outputting outrageous levels, either change the cable configuration or use the subgroup outputs to get your signal to the Yamaha.
Just a little tip that might save you a few hours so you don't have to do what I did an hour before a concert ;)