Category Archives: Entertainment

An Argument for Analog?

An Argument for Analog … 

Why Not! 

Technology has been screaming along in the audio world … Taking full advantage of materials and manufacturing techniques undreamed of when I first started turning knobs … Producing amazing microphones and lighter and lighter loudspeaker systems … And heading in directions I could not have imagined. 

The amount of control available these days is mind boggling! I have tried a few of the digital mixing boards and been impressed with the sound quality and some (but not all) of the bells and whistles available to the modern sound engineer … The clarity is amazing … Leaving me sometimes wondering what is missing!

Neat stuff … But I have decided to not make that Great Leap Forward …. I will continue to do what I have been doing all these years … Listening … And then turning knobs … 
Sometimes lots of knobs!

The amount of brain power I seem to use in listening seems to take full advantage of what the old brain is capable of these days … I am beginning to suspect it does a lot more than I had been aware of. The variables involved in the physics of a musical performance can be approaching the infinite … With different types of sounds coming from different places at different times … And then bouncing around the room to complicate things even more … Talk about mind boggling!

I am currently working on the Boston production of the Urban Nutcracker with a rather straight ahead control system.

The mixing board is a small format analog desk where I am using fifteen input channels to run the show. 

The mixer is “driving” a monaural speaker system and two monitor zones. To do that I have access to 482 knobs and switches on the mixer … And perhaps another 300 or so on the outboard processing rack.

In today’s world it is a bit of a luxury having direct access to all of their functions any time I would like to change something and I find not having to spend time looking for / getting to a particular function invaluable.

There seems to be a perfect time and place for a digital mixing console … I do not get to work on those types of events.

My world seems full of the less than perfect … A lot of unknowns with the occasional surprise being thrown at me during a performance … Analog rules in those situations.

The time spent getting to a particular control page on a digital mixing console to react to the changes happening on stage can be excruciating … And there can be a lot of changes happening on stage!

Being able to efficiently change different things with each hand quickly and fluidly would be a futuristic luxury in the digital world … I have had the tools to do just that for the last 35 years or so … And I am having a hard time finding reasons to give them up.

That said … I do love being able to take an I-Pad out on stage during sound check to fine tune monitor mixes … But sound checks are not always possible … And time … Well … In my world there is never enough! 

Someday there may be a hybrid technology … But until then … If I am going to need to do something quickly … 
                       ANALOG PLEASE!!!

Failure … At last!

Well … It took some doing … But it finally happened.

The power went out!

I had been pushing things, trying to find the limits … So in a way it was what I was looking for … 

But somehow not what I had been hoping for.

Three different events … Three different scenarios … Three different sets of gear … But the end result the same. 

The power went out.
 

Notice how much a solar power outage looks like a utility power outage!

 

One of the failures was pretty simple to figure out, easy to duplicate and explain mathematically.
It turns out if you ask for too much power from an inverter it will shut down … Not unlike what happens when you ask for more than 20 amps of power out of a standard 20 amp wall outlet.

Apparently running my mixing board, an audio processing rack, a couple of wireless systems , a keyboard set up, a bass amplifier, two guitar amplifiers and three QSC MX1500a power amplifiers on stage with the Houston Bernard band for an outdoor festival was asking too much of my 2000 watt sine wave inverter …

Looking back I probably should not have been so surprised!

The only real question for me now was why it had not happened sooner.

A decent inverter will actually produce more power than the wattage it is rated for … For a while. My inverters are capable of handling up to twice their rated output for very short periods of time (a couple of seconds) … Plenty of time to handle the surge current required to turn on some electrical equipment … Easily handling my 1 & 1/2 horsepower compressor for hours on end.

The compressor needs a 20 amp circuit to run … At home it would pop the glass fuse when I forgot and tried plugging it into the 15 amp outlet in the garage … The required fix used to be running a heavy duty 100′ extension cable to the basement to find a 20 amp circuit. These days I just plug the compressor into one of the 2000 watt inverters in the truck with no muss, no fuss … No extension cords required!

The other two failures I have not been able to duplicate … Or been able to explain mathematically … I am beginning to suspect that a loose connection on the 12 volt DC line may have been the “culprit” … I will keep you posted.

Now to figure out the best way to keep the power from going out!
  

This should help … 4,400 watts now … expandable to 8,800 watts! (time to start adding to my 2,000 pounds of batteries).