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PA backup strategy

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PA backup strategy

Postby rockdoc11 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:13 am

Newbie here, so apologies in advance if this topic has been covered to death. A quick search didn't reveal much discussion.

So at a recent gig, I realized that we had pretty good redundancy in the PA. If a main went out, we could throw one of the monitors on top of the dead main. If a monitor went out, we still had the second. We have back up mics and all sorts of back up cables.

But I realized the one piece of gear that we don't have any sort of back up for is the mixer. How do you folks handle that? Do you keep a small back up mixer in the van?

All of a sudden I've become nervous.
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Re: PA backup strategy

Postby resistorman » Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:51 am

It couldn’t hurt to have one. I usually do. I can’t believe equipment works as well as it does since I’ve fixed plenty, so I’m nervous too. But I’ve seen people out on gigs with equipment that looks like it shouldn’t even work happily playing away without a care in the world. A matter of temperament I suppose.
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Re: PA backup strategy

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Sep 03, 2019 11:34 am

I usually carry a spare mixer of some kind, either a Mackie 1202 or, more recently, Berry XR12 which will get the vocals and kick out there up to my big rig which has an X32 Compact at FOH and a Rack on stage, either one can run the show if the other goes down. Murphy's Law ensures that you'll never need the backup unless you have left it at home. :blush:
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Re: PA backup strategy

Postby AlecSp » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:02 pm

In the end, the situation will depend on the risk analysis.

If it's a simple vocal PA using active speakers with a mic level input, then plugging mic(s) directly into the speaker may suffice. Even if there are more sources going through the PA, backline may suffice. As the likelihood of failure is low, then other contingencies are worth considering.

For me, a benefit of active speakers over passives is that an amp failure takes out only one speaker. And in many situations losing one of two FOH speakers won't kill the show.

I engineer in a 300 cap venue regularly, will fully mic'd bands. There is no spare mixer. In a pinch, I could bring in my XR18 and run a reduced mix, but it wouldn't be an instantaneous replacement. The level of risk has been determined to be acceptable.

Corporates & weddings could well tip the risk profile towards having more redundancy.
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Re: PA backup strategy

Postby pointfive » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:29 pm

We run with no backline. We have an XR18 with active FOH 12"s , a spare active 10" (can use as spare mon or FOH).

I carry an A&H Zed10 as a spare mixer, it's pretty small and we could get by with it. But I often think I'd like to carry a spare XR18 just to ease changeover in an emergency. Maybe if I see one cheap!

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Re: PA backup strategy

Postby Dave B » Tue Sep 03, 2019 3:27 pm

Another one who has a small Mackie 1202 stashed i case of emergency. It means that I can have vocals going to a PA and a monitor - the bare minimum needed. The features of modern mixers are great, but we could live without them.
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Re: PA backup strategy

Postby rockdoc11 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:03 pm

Thanks, folks, for all the thoughtful responses.

I'm convinced a small back up mixer will be in the car at all future gigs.

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Re: PA backup strategy

Postby Mike Monte » Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:48 pm

Since I have several PA's, I always fire-up my rig right before I load it in my truck...
The one that I use most is fairly elaborate; 3-way system, 4 monitors on three mixes, etc.
My systems have always worked well.

For a backup I bring my "ancient" PA powered mixer (from my band in the early 90's):
Crate 8PCMDP
It's got 8 channels. I can patch it into my rack for 8 mics/insts and only one monitor mix. I also bring the 1/4" speaker cables/adaptors so I can use the four monitors as mains/monitors if need be.
If my monitor amp goes down, I can patch into the Crate's two internal power amps for two monitor mixes..

For my passive system a powered mixer makes a great "swiss knife" back up.
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