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When Less Is More

Leader
By Paul White

When it comes to new products, manufacturers are always keen to give us even more than we had last time. Sometimes that's welcome, but there are times when it would be nice actually to get less. This is particularly evident in live sound, where the one thing we clearly get far too much of is cabling. Now, I know that wireless mains supplies for high-current devices are not a practical reality, but what about all that other unnecessary spaghetti we have to put up with? Take the simple case of guitar amplifiers — if you just want to plug in and play, that's great, but if you use a pedalboard with on-board power, you have to find a mains supply for that too. Then, if you want to use an effect such as delay or reverb, you have to put it in the effects loop of the amplifier, so that it comes after the preamp distortion has been introduced, and that means two more cables, plus any power supplies needed to feed those devices. Wouldn't it be nice if all the amp designers agreed on a standard in which a single multi-pin DIN could connect to your pedal board carrying pedal power, the input signal and the send and return signals? That way all your in-front and insert effects could be mounted on the same pedalboard and hooked up to the amplifier using a single cable. I know that one or two companies have come up with bespoke solutions along these lines, but come on, isn't it about time all amplifiers had such a feature as standard?

Then there are electronic drums. I love my electronic drum kit in the studio, but plugging and unplugging all those separate pad connection cables every time you take it out to a gig is a real bind. Instead of just giving us more obscure sounds with every new version, why not spend some of that R&D money on developing a quick-release drum-pad clamp that also incorporates the necessary electrical connectors?

Both on stage and in the studio, the thing I'd most like to see abolished is the consumer-style external power supply. Being a practical person, I can see why these are used, but how many pieces of ostensibly professional equipment have you seen rendered non-professional by the inclusion of a two-dollar power supply with a thin, flimsy cable terminating in a tiny plug that's just waiting to either get broken or pulled out of its socket? Even if you're careful and do neither of those things, the continual flexing of the cable next to the moulded plug often leads to the thing eventually going open-circuit. So come on guys, if we must have these miserable external power supplies for cost and regional compatibility reasons, please at least fit them with heavy-duty cable and terminate them with some kind of pro-grade locking connector, such as an XLR. If you don't, whatever is hanging off the end of them can't really be considered professional. Here endeth the whinge for this month!

Paul White Editor In Chief  

Published July 2013