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amateurs using your kit

Postby geefunk » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:07 pm

Ok, we had the school prom on Friday. I took all the kit down to the venue and set everything up. We had a different DJ this year than normal, and he mentioned that he wanted to come in to have a quick sound check. 'Respect' I thought - don't normally get that with the kind of 'DJ' around nowadays....

So, this young lad turned up with his pregnant girlfriend, looked like he was scoping the place to see what he could rob, and proceeded to do a 'sound check'

this is exactly how it went:

kit was set up, I was playing a CD.
He went to the desk, turned it up as loud as it would go, looked up at his girlfriend and said
'yo, 'dis goes pretty loud yeah! Wicked'

that was it!

my heart sank like a stone. I knew I couldn't stay for the evening, as my wife works and I look after our boy. A colleague who I trust, and who knows what he's doing was staying though, so I thought we'd be fine. I gave the DJ a tour of the kit, told him about the levels, where it needs to stay, etc. etc. He made out like I was telling him stuff he already knew....

later that evening I get a call saying everything had cut out. nothing - no lights on the desk, no power anywhere. My heart sinks lower - how could he have blown everything? I remember my ext leads have cut outs on them - and suggest they check those and reset if need be....it was, and it happened a couple more times that evening

my question. two extension leads, a speaker (powered) in one, and the mixer and speaker in the other - both coming off the mains. Could the constant driving of the desk/speakers at peak volume have caused the extra heat to make the reels cut out - it's never happened before?

thanks

also, what can I do to stop this type of idiot from driving my speakers to these levels - educating him in the first place didn't help!
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Dave Gate » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:20 pm

Put a compressor set at something like 10:1 compression between the desk and the amps. Set the threshold so that the compressor only starts cutting in when the level exceeds what you think is reasonable (or what causes the peak lights to start flickering). Don't put it somewhere where the DJ can get at it. Don't tell the DJ that it's there.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby chris... » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:24 pm

geefunk wrote:my question. two extension leads, a speaker (powered) in one, and the mixer and speaker in the other - both coming off the mains. Could the constant driving of the desk/speakers at peak volume have caused the extra heat to make the reels cut out
How much power do the speakers draw, and what are the mains reels rated for ?

The cutouts on the mains reels may be thermal-related, to try and stop them getting too hot. This might happen if used towards the higher range of their rated capacity, without the wire being fully unwound from the spool.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Chevytraveller » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:24 pm

sounds like a nightmare.. just a couple of things worth checking.. If you don't already, make sure any extension reels are fully unwound as current moving around the coils when wound on the reel can increase heat dramatically.
As far as controlling the output levels go it is very difficult as the vast majority of "DJs" using this kit tend to be ego-hungry idiots who only understand "Louder is better".

You can try putting tape across the last cm or so of fader travel to indicate the effective limits to work within, but for controlling more persistant neanderthals I have seen short self tapping screws or even metal plates fixed to mixers to prevent this level abuse.
Amplifiers can be physically limited in this way also although these should be well out of their reach/control

good luck


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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby seablade » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:31 pm

Dave Gate wrote:Put a compressor set at something like 10:1 compression between the desk and the amps. Set the threshold so that the compressor only starts cutting in when the level exceeds what you think is reasonable (or what causes the peak lights to start flickering). Don't put it somewhere where the DJ can get at it. Don't tell the DJ that it's there.

Put said compressor under lock and key, or get one that you can lock out the front panel controls of(Part of your speaker management system).

And yes this is exactly what you have to do. I am friends with a DJ group over here picking up steam and while I won't have problems with them, they would likely agree with me on this for many DJs.

On the top of heat and flipping breakers on surge strips/reels. Yes that will happen if drawing more current, which your amps will use if you are driving them harder. So yes is is perfectly conceivable that running your kit much harder than normal will require more power and flip those breakers. In fact that is part of why those breakers are there as if they weren't they could start a fire by drawing to much current on copper not large enough to handle it safely and cause excess heat buildup as a result.

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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby geefunk » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:56 pm

chris... wrote:
geefunk wrote:my question. two extension leads, a speaker (powered) in one, and the mixer and speaker in the other - both coming off the mains. Could the constant driving of the desk/speakers at peak volume have caused the extra heat to make the reels cut out
How much power do the speakers draw, and what are the mains reels rated for ?

The cutouts on the mains reels may be thermal-related, to try and stop them getting too hot. This might happen if used towards the higher range of their rated capacity, without the wire being fully unwound from the spool.

Speakers are these:

RCF - Art312A

and the reels have two values on them -
unwound = 3120W
wound = 1200W

thanks
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby geefunk » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:04 pm

Thanks chaps - will look at getting a compressor then, as it's definitely something I will come up against again.

Any recommendations for one geared up for this purpose?

Budget £200 unfortunately

cheers
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:24 pm

I'm not sure that attempts to "lock down" a system ever work very well. And they're incredibly frustrating for users who DO know what they're doing! Does it have to be those pesky "traffic lights" and a cut-out?

In far too many schools, youth clubs etc. there's a pile of gear lying in a corner ranging from "slightly damaged" to "completely blown". Provided on a "use it, break it, we don't care - it's all you're getting" basis.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Bossman » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:47 pm

When I used to do sound for club nights with DJs, one trick we used a lot was to turn the DJ monitors up so loud that the DJ didn't want to turn up the level any further.. worked a treat. Some DJs would even turn the mixer output down!!!

You have to have some seriously loud monitors though.

You might say its a bit cruel for the DJ, but they like it loud, are mostly deaf, and it saves the hearing of everone else, so I think its a good solution.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Dave Gate » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:49 pm

geefunk wrote:Thanks chaps - will look at getting a compressor then, as it's definitely something I will come up against again.

Any recommendations for one geared up for this purpose?

Budget £200 unfortunately

cheers

Although some Behringer gear does get critisised for lack of reliability I found that the basic Composer Compressor did the job adequately, at a reasonable cost.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Dave Gate » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:52 pm

Bossman wrote:When I used to do sound for club nights with DJs, one trick we used a lot was to turn the DJ monitors up so loud that the DJ didn't want to turn up the level any further.. worked a treat. Some DJs would even turn the mixer output down!!!

You have to have some seriously loud monitors though. And use a pair of them, one each side of the DJ!

You might say its a bit cruel for the DJ, but they like it loud, are mostly deaf, and it saves the hearing of everone else, so I think its a good solution.

At my old venue, where we used to do a lot of club nights I had the following DJ monitor system:

2 x Ohm 2x18" subs
4 x Ohm 15" + 1.5" tops

Three way crossover, 2 x Lab Gruppen FP2600 amps (sub and mid), 1 x Lab Gruppen FP1600 amp (top)

Never got any complaints from DJs . . . although some MCs who just got wedges moaned a bit, until I built a second pair of stacks exactly the same and used them as sidefills.

I used to wear serious ear protection working there.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Bossman » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:10 pm

Another option, which is good for installs where no sound engineer is going to be watching the levels, is to use something like this Formula Sound AVC2, which is a limiter, but different from a conventional limiter.. It doesn't affect the dynamics, it just turns down the output signal when the input goes over the internally set threshold.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Richie Royale » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:17 pm

geefunk wrote:
also, what can I do to stop this type of idiot from driving my speakers to these levels

Book me next time.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby grab » Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:38 pm

Dave Gate wrote:
geefunk wrote:Thanks chaps - will look at getting a compressor then, as it's definitely something I will come up against again.

Any recommendations for one geared up for this purpose?

Budget £200 unfortunately

cheers

Although some Behringer gear does get critisised for lack of reliability I found that the basic Composer Compressor did the job adequately, at a reasonable cost.

Fair enough, but if it's going to be locked away somewhere, you do want it to be rock-solid. ISTR someone posting here a while back who was having problems with a house PA system where two XLRs went into a locked box with a compressor and EQ, and something inside the box started to protest in unpleasant ways. That said, the weak points on Behringer gear generally seem to be the controls, connectors and power supplies. So if you've locked it away and allowed adequate cooling, it's probably more likely to survive.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:45 pm

Your speakers already have limiters built in so it might be worth checking that they are working. An extension rated at 1200W should also be fine if all you are doing is running the speakers from it. I wonder if they tried plugging some lighting into the extension without telling you?

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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby turtles » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:04 pm

+1. The 312s should self limit, and are plenty loud enough depending on venue size. At least your drivers should still be intact, which is the main win from all this. Unless you were running eight of them, summat else went in that socket, methinks.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Dave71 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:09 pm

My first answer would be to only hire DJ's who own and use their own kit in future, not that thats going to solve any user errors but is ultimately their problem and offers the ultimate protection to your gear if nothing else. can't break it when its in a cupboard!

Now i did a yr 1 prom on Friday night and used the following

2 x rcf 712 active cabs
1 rcf 905 bass bin
mixer
laptop
cd kit

4 x halogen lamp (250w 12v) spinny shiney disco light things
4 x par 64 led par cans
2 x other led disco lights
1 smoke machine
1 dmx controller

all off one 13A 15m extension lead. Reason being there were no other sockets within 25m available. I was paranoid about overloading something but never had a single problem all night and towards the end of the night we were really pushing the sound rig towards its limits, sensibly may i add!!!.

My extension lead also has a cut out but was fully unwound.

Now my RCF's allegedly have a half decent limiter built in, so i have been told on here, but not sure about the older 3 series. They are however a very good speaker and know a few people who drive them pretty hard on a regular basis without fault.

if i do a dry hire i tape up faders as mentioned above and tell people if they remove it and cause damage then they are liable as stated in my hire schedule. i also have a dbx drive rack which i use as a limiter when sending out some of my cheaper powered cabs who's limiters I'm not sure about.

doesn't stop idiots overloading mixers and making horrible noises though
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:10 pm

I have no experience of dj setups so disregard this if I'm talking rubbish. It strikes me that there must be several points at which the system could be driven into clipping. A compressor or limiter would be more use (I imagine) at an earlier point in the chain than 'post desk'.

I've had conversations with several venues/clients/irate karaoke hopefuls regarding the use of my system by anyone but me. I'm reliably informed it has legal and insurance repercussions. Whether this is relevant to you or not it might afford you a little bargaining purchase with the venue, encouraging them to keep others' sticky digits off your precious knobs.

Just a thought.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Phil Reynolds » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:13 pm

As advice, I'm afraid it's a bit late but - to put it simply - never EVER let a DJ you don't know as well as you know your own feet use your kit unsupervised.

Never.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:05 am

Phil Reynolds wrote:As advice, I'm afraid it's a bit late but - to put it simply - never EVER let a DJ you don't know as well as you know your own feet use your kit unsupervised.

Never.
Quite. I'll do dry-hire to people I've worked with several times already who can demonstrate that they know what they're doing. I do "damp hire" to people I know a bit, but haven't worked with - they can use the kit, but only if I'm present to help set-up and be there throughout the gig. I NEVER let my kit be used by people I don't know if I'm not going to be there.... too many "sorry, but..." episodes in the past when I did do this.

As for mains extension leads... about 5 years ago in the midst of a busy outdoor gig someone I knew asked if I had a spare extension reel they could borrow. I quickly gave them a 13-amp 25 metre reel that was available. About 30 minutes later everything went down - main trip had flipped on the generator. Of course I got the blame... Quick site recce discovered that my extension reel was now a molten blob of goo. Live and neutral had shorted when the insulation melted away. Further investigation revealed that only about 3 metres had been uncoiled and then two tea urns and a kettle had been plugged in! Oh dear. Reel took about 30 mins to cool to a temperature that it could be moved. So now even mains extensions are only lent to others under guidance...
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby tacitus » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:38 am

I've managed to avoid the molten reel situation though I've had extensions cut out in the past as people gaily hang more and more stuff off them. I only carry one extension on a reel now and that's the one that goes from stage to the mixing desk and is therefore the same length as my main snake. All my other mains cables are coiled up lengths of 2.5mm2 3-core and most of those have powercons on one or both ends, thus making them useless to your average under-equipped teenager. Actually, I also have two 50m lengths of mains cable on a drum in case there's no power on stage, but I rarely have to use it.

It's kind of hard when you lend somebody your spare kit and then get the blame when they torch it. The PowerCon wheeze stops that stone dead, though, except when somebody insists it's a speaker cable ... However, in my experience, the kind of person who needs spare speaker cables is usually using 1/4" jacks (often with the most bizarrely unsuitable cables and connectors for speakers).

All ways round I'd rather be thought a miserable cuss for not lending stuff out than to be 'generous' and see my kit trashed. I can wreck it perfectly well myself should I get the urge.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby vinyl_junkie » Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:22 pm

I always liked what Ministry did in the 90's on their Urei mixer, instead of employing limiters they just drilled a bolt through the front panel so the main out knob (house) can't turn past unity gain which is about 7/7 and a half on that mixer.

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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Falconhell » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:54 am

Now THATS what I call a hard limiter! (: That said I used to use an old dbx 160 with VU to keep a reign on Dj's, and ironically they loved the sound when it was hard limiting...<sigh>
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby robare99 » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:12 am

I think the easiest way would be to never rent out the rig without an operator.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby geefunk » Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:40 am

thanks for all your thoughts guys. I must admit, I rarely unspool my ext leads, although I do know I should! But I've had a lot more coming off them than what was set up on Friday, and never had a cut out - ever.

unfortunately being there wasn't an option, as my wife had to work and I couldn't get a baby sitter - but my colleague tried his best to keep the 'dj' in check. it's so hard to do when you have idiots who think they know what they're doing, you have a crowd who look up to said 'dj' like he's a god, and an engineer who seems like an old fart trying to ruin all the fun!

I've had a chat with the person who organises the proms, and let her know it won't happen like this again, which she's totally on board with.

I think the bigger picture is that there is less respect for 'stuff' nowadays, seeing as it's considered replaceable after a year or so - be it a mobile phone or whatever.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Exalted Wombat » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:37 am

geefunk wrote:thanks for all your thoughts guys. I must admit, I rarely unspool my ext leads, although I do know I should! But I've had a lot more coming off them than what was set up on Friday, and never had a cut out - ever.

The lead may have a cut-out at (say) 10 amps. 10 amps may generate considerable heat in a coiled lead. But it's still only 10 amps.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Falconhell » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:11 am

The rig at that setup was pretty grunty too, JBL 2225/4520's with 2X2202 modular mids and 2445 on 90's. Used to create waves on the wooden floor! The DJ spewed the night I didnt give him the usual Phase Linear 700b's-nothing quite like em for solid bottom end.
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby robare99 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:42 am

Next time have the DJ bring his own rig. I hope you were paid handsomely for your efforts. As I rule I stay away from "DJ's".
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby Dave71 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:10 pm

robare99 wrote: As I rule I stay away from "DJ's".

Another nail in the coffin....mind you some of my peers are absolute eeejots. Make him take an IQ test before you let him loose next time. If he gets more than 4 you're onto a winner

Trouble is its not just us. An alleged professional sound engineer for a relatively well known band (several big chart hits) took out an entire set of mid range drivers last june and walked away muttering the gear was crap (Crown,D.A.S,Allen & Heath,XTA)
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Re: amateurs using your kit

Postby robare99 » Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:00 pm

True. I'm just not a dry hire kinda guy. Too busy as it is to risk someone frying a bunch of gear for a few hundred bucks.


Just not worth it to me. Did the band in the second example send out a rider beforehand?
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