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Author Topic: Portable system with untrained users  (Read 3312 times)

Bob Henley

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Portable system with untrained users
« on: September 19, 2010, 03:59:09 pm »

Hey guys,

I am in the position of designing a portable system for a multi-purpose room. There will be an experienced operator (me) for about a year, but then I'll be leaving and other operators with varying degrees will take over, again with a high turnover rate. No one operator will stay more than a couple years.

There's been a system in the room for about five years before I got here and it's been almost completely trashed - everything that's been racked is in good shape, but the mics and cable are almost totally shot and several of the speakers are damaged.

I'm looking at powered speakers and a passive mixer, howeverI'm concerned having an additional gain control on the powered speakers could make things worse. The benefits of built-in processing are too great to ignore, though.

Hopefully new storage solutions will help the problem with microphones, and I'm afraid that cable damage may be unavoidable.

When you guys are designing such systems, what kind of approach do you take? Have you had more success using powered speakers?
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Rob Timmerman

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Re: Portable system with untrained users
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2010, 05:15:54 pm »

What's the intended use of this system?  Bands?  Speech?  DJs?  Some combination?

How much can be permanently installed?

And do you have a budget?
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Bob Henley

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Re: Portable system with untrained users
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2010, 06:41:47 pm »

Rob Timmerman wrote on Sun, 19 September 2010 16:15

What's the intended use of this system?  Bands?  Speech?  DJs?  Some combination?

How much can be permanently installed?

And do you have a budget?


Use is probably 35% speech, 35% DJ, 15% acoustic/soft vocal, 15% bands. Capacity of the space is 261. The system will occasionally be taken outside, but the crowd size will only be 150-200 people.

Nothing can be permanently installed - the layout of the room changes significantly for each event. It's essentially a black box theater. There is a space dedicated for storage of the system.

I'm not sure on the budget, but it sounds like there's money in the coffers if I do a good enough job convincing the higher-ups that we actually have a need. Sorry, vague answer!

Currently, we have:

2x EV Force (original, awful speakers!)
2x Yamaha SM12Vs
2x Yamaha SM12IIIs (again, awful!)

1x Yamaha EMX2000-24

1x Rapco 12x4 100' Snake (possible dead channels)

1x Sennheiser Freeport Wireless (700 Mhz, must be replaced)
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Tom Young

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Re: Portable system with untrained users
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2010, 07:35:13 pm »

Fact of the matter is that whether it's selfpowered speakers or non-powered speakers with amps in racks...... unauthorized and/or simply dumb adjustments will occur.

So I do not see selfpowerd speakers as inherently more at risk.
They may even be at less risk becuase they are set up properly (internally) and (many) have some level of built-in protection.

Seems like you're at the mercy of folks who lack respect for the equipment and where the money came from to buy it. I'm not suggesting that you're responsible for this. But someone is not riding herd over this group.

FWIW
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Tom Young
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
Tel: 203.888.6217
Email: dbspl@earthlink.net
www.dbspl.com

Bob Henley

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Re: Portable system with untrained users
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2010, 08:21:43 pm »

Tom Young wrote on Sun, 19 September 2010 18:35


Seems like you're at the mercy of folks who lack respect for the equipment and where the money came from to buy it. I'm not suggesting that you're responsible for this. But someone is not riding herd over this group.

FWIW


Unfortunately, it's a problem that comes along with the facility and is in fact partially intentional. it's in an educational setting where the users are undergraduate students and the direct managers are grad students. Thus, any manager is there for a maximum of four years. The people who originally knew how the facility worked and how much money was spent are long gone. The permanent upper level management is sympathetic but busy with more pressing issues.

The other issue (which a few trips to the dumpster and scrap yard took care of) was that when the theater was renovated in 2005, all the old equipment- dating to the late 60s- was kept. When I came in, they were using Woodson 3x12 column speakers stacked on top of Klipsch La Scalas because it looked louder than the Yamaha Clubs...

They recently created my position (theater manager) to get things under control, and when I leave they plan to hire somebody else experienced even if they have to go outside the university. Hopefully, I can create some polices to reign in misuse and start a legacy of quality.

That won't stop me from idiot-proofing the system, though. Last night I figured out why the CD player didn't work - someone had "hooked it up" by cramming an 1/8" stereo cable into the left RCA jack...
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Tom Young

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Re: Portable system with untrained users
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2010, 08:36:47 pm »

I wasn't aware this was a higher education environment and somehow thought it was a church. False ASSumption on my part.

I just ran into this sort of (little patience here) idiocy at a prestigious university wherein a junior staff member partially unscrewed and bent the security cover to access a gain control in a portable system I had recently painstakingly set up. Not wanting to get him in trouble, I have not (yet) advised his boss (who is my client and will hold me responsible) out of concern for possible damage to the speaker system should this be done again in the future.

So my next step may be to glue this uneeded volume control or simply cut it off. Or both  Wink

But anyways .... I hear you.

And I wish you all the best in your desire to up improve quality and (hopefully also) respect for the equipment.
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Tom Young
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
Tel: 203.888.6217
Email: dbspl@earthlink.net
www.dbspl.com

Rob Timmerman

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Re: Portable system with untrained users
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2010, 09:13:01 pm »

Self-powered versus externally powered is a choice you'll need to make based on the needed flexibility (although whichever route you go, I'd stick with a single model of speaker for FoH and monitors).  For either option, I'd consider putting in a system processor with no front-panel controls and whatever limiting and gain adjustments you feel are appropriate.  For example, if you go the self-powered route, you might choose a box with only line-level inputs and set up the system processing assuming the gain is all the way up.  

If the budget is there, you might also consider going with 2-3 channels of wireless handhelds, which should cover the smaller events on their own (or with a playback input).  Of course, that introduces *different* failure points.

A small simple mixer in addition to the larger one might make sense for smaller events.  Something like the Rane MLM82 or the Shure SCM268.

Labeled patch panels and proper packaging will also go a long way to making the system more idiot-friendly as well as making the gear last longer.  

If you do need to make knobs tamper-resistant, I've found that hot-melt glue does a good job holding them in place, yet can be peeled off with only moderate effort if needed.
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gordon mcgregor

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Re: Portable system with untrained users
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2010, 09:48:54 am »

If you have a locked down processor say on the outs from the console the other thing you have to do is try and makesure there is no easy way to patch around it, it's probably better to rely on the powered system's own protection and remove/disable any volume controls mic/line switches etc  as soon as you try and get clever in these situations you'll find someone who's stupidity is way way ahead of you. Best answer IMO is simple gear and good procedures, eventualy the procedures should become the way its done and that'll self prpogate down the years.
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Scott Hibbard

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Re: Portable system with untrained users
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2010, 09:57:25 am »

Bob does something like the FBT Amico 900 meet your needs?

ScottH
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