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Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => AC Power and Grounding => Topic started by: Mike Sokol on December 20, 2013, 01:54:13 pm

Title: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 20, 2013, 01:54:13 pm
I've split this topic since it was turning into a list of live sound failures. So post your crazy stuff here. And if you can come up with a few new "Rules", then so much the better. Here's some of my favorite sound rules below. Please feel free to take a number and add your own Rule. I'm claiming these first six, but I'm sure they've also happened to all of you. 

Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rules

#1: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...

#2)   It’s always the Sound Guy’s fault

#3)   Murphy was an optimist… i.e. at a live gig the toast will land butter side down, then burst into flames

#4)   All sound jobs take longer than you quoted

#5)   An artist’s ego is inversely proportional to their actual talent

#6)  You will need X+1 XLR cables for a gig, X being the number of cables you have with you


Mike Sokol (Just a live sound guy)

This is one of those ideas that is so crazy simple it is wonderful.  I will keep it.

I figured this out 25 years ago while doing a small concert with a band from South America. Their road manager wanted to video/record them using the console audio, but when we tried sending line-level signal from the aux output, the pro camera distorted like crazy, even with the on-camera pad in place. When I turned down the console aux send low enough to not distort the camera the S/N went in the toilet and the hiss level was unbearable. I wished that somebody had put it in the tech rider and I would have brought one of my professional press mults. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Then I spied a spare DI box in my road case, knew that it had to work the same as a single-output press mult, plugged it in, and ta da....

I've also used this to break an audio ground loop between two buildings in a church that wanted to send a feed to a break room in another building (and on a different sub panel). Of course, dedicated 600-to-600 ohm audio isolation transformers are the gold standard for this sort of thing. But a good passive DI box is generally available and works just fine for those "gotcha" situations were they don't tell the sound guy what's needed in advance.

Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rule #1: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...

Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Steve M Smith on December 20, 2013, 02:16:56 pm
A couple of years ago, I had to run a feed over about 200' but we couldn't run a cable. They (BBC regional station) had what looked to be half of a radio mic with a connector added in a very home made style.  It still managed to get some hum, though I never did work out where from.  More likely at their end if their receiver was of the same quality as their transmitter.


Steve.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Stephen Swaffer on December 21, 2013, 09:21:17 am
Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rule #1: The Sound Guy is always to last to know...

At least I know its not just me! Last week at rehearsal for our Christmas play, our pastor/choir director looked up at me after the choir song and asked why there was no violin/strings (electric piano) in the mix.  The previous rehearsal we had used a soundtrack for the whole song (played by another sound guy that helps me)-this rehearsal they went back to what we did a year ago transitioning to live  mid-song.  Neither the mic they were trying to use for the violin or the piano were hooked up to anything-you can guess when I learned about the change!
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 21, 2013, 09:59:58 am
Neither the mic they were trying to use for the violin or the piano were hooked up to anything-you can guess when I learned about the change!

Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rule #2: It's always the Sound Guy's fault...
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Frank DeWitt on December 21, 2013, 10:30:51 am
I've also used this to break an audio ground loop between two buildings in a church that wanted to send a feed to a break room in another building (and on a different sub panel). Of course, dedicated 600-to-600 ohm audio isolation transformers are the gold standard for this sort of thing. But a good passive DI box is generally available and works just fine for those "gotcha" situations were they don't tell the sound guy what's needed in advance.

Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rule #1: The Sound Guy is always to last to know...

I have become accustomed to using a DI box or a 1:1 box to solve all sorts of interconnect and hum problems.  I just never thought of jacking a bunch of them together for an ad hock press box.  BTW I custom wired a DI box for balanced line in and unbalanced out plus a pad and placed it right next to a consumer video camera that wanted a very low level unbalanced audio in and  had to have transformer isolation.

Another problem solver I carry is a cheep cable tester rewired to parallel all the connectors on one side and bring then out to binding posts. same with the other side.  With this box I can connect anything to anything even if they are wired wrong.

Frank

 
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 21, 2013, 03:05:25 pm
Another problem solver I carry is a cheep cable tester rewired to parallel all the connectors on one side and bring then out to binding posts. same with the other side.  With this box I can connect anything to anything even if they are wired wrong. 

That's a great idea. I have a dead cable tester in my mic cabinet that's a perfect candidate.  :D
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Tommy Peel on December 21, 2013, 03:45:18 pm
However, states like Texas (with 80 MPH speed limits) said it was unconstitutional to force them to a 55 MPH speed limit.

Driving across Texas at 55mph would suck.... Even at 80+mph it takes forever.  :)

Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rule #1: The Sound Guy is always to last to know...

The church band I mix for is always like oh yeah(5 minutes before we start, no sound check), we're going to use *insert odd instrument* today for 30 seconds during one song.... Is that a problem?

Or my favorite: After getting all the drums, guitar amp, bass, etc.. mic'd up and ready to go they arrive(20 minutes late for practice and right before church) and are like "we're just going to do an acoustic set this week" with cajon, acoustic guitar, and ukulele(and so the hour+ you spent getting everything ready is now null and void).  >:( :-X

</rant>
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 21, 2013, 03:54:17 pm
Or my favorite: After getting all the drums, guitar amp, bass, etc.. mic'd up and ready to go they arrive(20 minutes late for practice and right before church) and are like "we're just going to do an acoustic set this week" with cajon, acoustic guitar, and ukulele(and so the hour+ you spent getting everything ready is now null and void).

As I said... Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rule #1: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...

Anything else could cause a rip in the time/space continuum.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Tommy Peel on December 21, 2013, 03:58:16 pm
As I said... Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rule #1: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...

Anything else could cause a rip in the time/space continuum.

Guaranteed. And rule #1 directly relates to rule #2.  ;D
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 21, 2013, 04:19:30 pm
Guaranteed. And rule #1 directly relates to rule #2.  ;D

Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rule #2: It's always the Sound Guy's fault...

You KNOW it's true. At the little play/musical I did last week my FOH amps lost power sometime during intermission. So going into ACT 2 there was zero sound from the main speakers. Of course I'm running up to the other circuit breaker panel behind stage and find the breaker is off/tripped. A quick flip to ON and the system comes back to life halfway through the fist song. Of course, everyone gave me the stink-eye as I came back to the mix position, and the director had a few choice words with me about how I nearly wrecked his show. However, the next day the show's producer asked me if he had accidentally "powered off" my amps while he was turning off the backstage lights. The mystery of the tripped breaker was solved, but he never did fess up to the director, and everyone in the audience was sure "It was the Sound Guy's Fault". Geesh!!!!  >:(

Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Frank DeWitt on December 21, 2013, 11:38:29 pm
The church band I mix for is always like oh yeah(5 minutes before we start, no sound check), we're going to use *insert odd instrument* today for 30 seconds during one song.... Is that a problem?


We have two rules that are never broken on Sunday morning.  We Pray first.   No new stuff on Sunday morning. EVER.  If you have a new instrument, that's great, I cant wait to see it at next weeks practice.  You will be challenged.  Hook up the new something and if your lucky like I was, it won't work.  One less guitar this morning, We will figure it out at practice.  No problems after that.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Stephen Swaffer on December 22, 2013, 01:14:34 pm
Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rule #2: It's always the Sound Guy's fault...

For our production we usually use 10-15 cordless mics and due to budget they are often shared and there is no way for me to physically manage the mics during the performance so to combat rule number 2 a few years ago I started using a wire label maker and put each vocalists name on the mic and a duplicate label on the mixer-and I tell the vocalists if they walk on stage with a mic without their name on it it will not be on-period.  Last year a young vocalist with just a bit of "I'm the talent" attitude grabbed her and her sister's mics at the last second before a full dress rehearsal.  As you might guess, when she stepped out for her solo part on a song no mic-signal LEDs on the board told me she had the wrong mic on, so when all eyes came my way I simply said she has the wrong mic on.  As she protested and fumbled under her costume for her mic I decided to bring up the mic she had on so rehearsal could continue.  Unfortunately, (fortunately  ;D???) it came up just in time for her to announce to all present, "Oh no, I have (sisters name)'s mic on" .  Confession must be good for the soul because it never happened again!
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Tommy Peel on December 22, 2013, 03:13:10 pm
We have two rules that are never broken on Sunday morning.  We Pray first.   No new stuff on Sunday morning. EVER.  If you have a new instrument, that's great, I cant wait to see it at next weeks practice.  You will be challenged.  Hook up the new something and if your lucky like I was, it won't work.  One less guitar this morning, We will figure it out at practice.  No problems after that.

O how I wish we were that organized.... It should be noted that this is for a Tuesday night youth service and we run between 40 and 100 in attendance. The normal practice is for everyone to show up 6(which tends to mean closer to 6:30...) for a practice before the service which starts at 7:30(people are getting there by or before 7 though). On rare weeks we'll meet on Monday nights and have a longer practice.

For our production we usually use 10-15 cordless mics and due to budget they are often shared and there is no way for me to physically manage the mics during the performance so to combat rule number 2 a few years ago I started using a wire label maker and put each vocalists name on the mic and a duplicate label on the mixer-and I tell the vocalists if they walk on stage with a mic without their name on it it will not be on-period.  Last year a young vocalist with just a bit of "I'm the talent" attitude grabbed her and her sister's mics at the last second before a full dress rehearsal.  As you might guess, when she stepped out for her solo part on a song no mic-signal LEDs on the board told me she had the wrong mic on, so when all eyes came my way I simply said she has the wrong mic on.  As she protested and fumbled under her costume for her mic I decided to bring up the mic she had on so rehearsal could continue.  Unfortunately, (fortunately  ;D???) it came up just in time for her to announce to all present, "Oh no, I have (sisters name)'s mic on" .  Confession must be good for the soul because it never happened again!

LOL!!

I'm glad I don't have that many vocal mics to deal with... We normally have 3 and sometimes have 4. It took a lot of convincing on my part for the band to understand that each person who's singing NEEDS their own mic(we're all Analog and can't just recall the channel/dynamics settings at the push of a button between songs). Sometimes they'll have someone who's not singing harmony sing lead on one song; for a while they'd want to just let him/her use someone else's mic, now they know to tell me so I can setup another mic and channel.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Tommy Peel on December 22, 2013, 03:17:45 pm
Mike Sokol's Live Sound Rules

#1: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...

#2)   It’s always the Sound Guy’s fault

#3)   Murphy was an optimist… i.e. at a live gig the toast will land butter side down, then burst into flames

#4)   All sound jobs take longer than you quoted

#5)   An artist’s ego is inversely proportional to their actual talent

#6)  You will need X+1 XLR cables for a gig, X being the number of cables you have with you


Mike Sokol (Just a live sound guy)

I gotta print this out and attach it to my mixer case somewhere.....
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Lyle Williams on December 22, 2013, 09:31:06 pm
#3)   Murphy was an optimist… i.e. at a live gig the toast will land butter side down, then burst into flames

It is possible to view Murphy's law in a positive light.  You need to design failure out of the system.  If things can be plugged in the wrong way, someday they will be.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on December 22, 2013, 09:38:20 pm
  You need to design failure out of the system. 

So you've found an antidote for entropy???
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Lyle Williams on December 23, 2013, 03:16:47 am
The accelerometers that were the source of murphy's law had a rectangular flange with a bolt hole in each corner.  They all got bolted in back to front, so there was no test data from a critical test.  A different bolt pattern (eg trapezoid) would have prevented the installation error.

The popular version of murphy's law says "ha ha ha, we are soooo screwed."

The better version says "any mechanism for failure that we can imagine can be designed out of the system."

Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Lyle Williams on December 23, 2013, 03:22:56 am
... but not necessarily cost effectively!   :-)
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Frank DeWitt on December 23, 2013, 08:03:44 am
Anything that can go wrong will, at the worst possible moment.
or
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Tim McCulloch on December 23, 2013, 09:47:13 am
Anything that can go wrong will, at the worst possible moment.
or
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Without intending to open a theological debate, I offer up the baptismal electrocutions to support the first premise and negate the second...

Which means that we, as technicians and support staff, have to be on our game 110% where life safety is a concern.  We should never accept "good enough" when "correct" is required.  If the Big Guy wants someone electrocuted I think lightning is the biblical favorite.  Other forms of electrocution are, unfortunately, on US.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Steve M Smith on December 23, 2013, 11:27:07 am
If things can be plugged in the wrong way, someday they will be.

Especially if you own XLR gender changing adaptors. I have never owned any and never had the need to use one but I once saw our local radio station doing an outside broadcast and about half of their cables had gender changers on them.


Steve.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on December 23, 2013, 03:20:23 pm
Especially if you own XLR gender changing adaptors. I have never owned any and never had the need to use one but I once saw our local radio station doing an outside broadcast and about half of their cables had gender changers on them.


Steve.

I was once sent with a handful of XLRM > XLRM and XLRF > XLRF to a satellite room being set up by two "technicians" who had run their cables backwards...
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 23, 2013, 03:28:01 pm
I was once sent with a handful of XLRM > XLRM and XLRF > XLRF to a satellite room being set up by two "technicians" who had run their cables backwards...

I propose this becomes Live Sound rule #7. What do you think?

Live Sound Rule #7: If things can be plugged in the wrong way, someday they will be
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Jeff Carter on December 23, 2013, 04:10:44 pm
I propose this becomes Live Sound rule #7. What do you think?

Live Sound Rule #7: If things can be plugged in the wrong way, someday they will be
Possible corollary to the above:

If two things can't be plugged together, but look like they can be, someday somebody will force them.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Chris Hindle on December 23, 2013, 04:11:22 pm
I propose this becomes Live Sound rule #7. What do you think?

Live Sound Rule #7: If things can be plugged in the wrong way, someday they will be
(to continue)  even if something gets broken in the process.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Jerome Malsack on December 23, 2013, 09:10:34 pm
For our production we usually use 10-15 cordless mics and due to budget they are often shared and there is no way for me to physically manage the mics during the performance so to combat rule number 2 a few years ago I started using a wire label maker and put each vocalists name on the mic and a duplicate label on the mixer-and I tell the vocalists if they walk on stage with a mic without their name on it it will not be on-period.  Last year a young vocalist with just a bit of "I'm the talent" attitude grabbed her and her sister's mics at the last second before a full dress rehearsal.  As you might guess, when she stepped out for her solo part on a song no mic-signal LEDs on the board told me she had the wrong mic on, so when all eyes came my way I simply said she has the wrong mic on.  As she protested and fumbled under her costume for her mic I decided to bring up the mic she had on so rehearsal could continue.  Unfortunately, (fortunately  ;D???) it came up just in time for her to announce to all present, "Oh no, I have (sisters name)'s mic on" .  Confession must be good for the soul because it never happened again!


For the production I finished last month it was Wizard of Oz and the board was marked as the actors.  Dorthy, Scare Crow, Tin Man, Lion, GW, BW, Oz, Oz with power.
Eight mic's  had a number on it and the teacher handed the correct number to the student.  Then they marched past the sound board to test one at a time.   4 shows went well.  1st grade to 8th grade.   

Oz with power, I took the direct out from Oz and jacked into the next channel strip line in, added excess of bass, reverb with delay, and trimmed back the highs.   to give the GREAT and POWERFUL OZ  Oz   Oz  oz  oz      oz  .   

For the other parts we just used the normal Oz.    so blah boring! 
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Jonathan Johnson on December 24, 2013, 12:33:44 am
I propose this becomes Live Sound rule #7. What do you think?

Live Sound Rule #7: If things can be plugged in the wrong way, someday they will be

1/4" phone jack/plug is all I have to say to that.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 24, 2013, 08:21:53 am
1/4" phone jack/plug is all I have to say to that.

+1  :-X
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Jeff Carter on December 24, 2013, 10:58:01 am
1/4" phone jack/plug is all I have to say to that.
Yeah, I had a hellacious buzz during a rehearsal a couple of months ago when the bass player grabbed a monitor cable instead of a patch cord.

So far in my *current* church, I haven't seen the inverse occur--one benefit of having sound techs responsible for all the stage setting and patching.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 24, 2013, 11:28:26 am
Yeah, I had a hellacious buzz during a rehearsal a couple of months ago when the bass player grabbed a monitor cable instead of a patch cord.

Back in the 70's one of my guitar players grabbed and used an instrument/patch cable to connect speakers to his hot-rodded 200-watt Marshall head. An hour into the set the patch cable melted and caught on fire, but the amp's B+ fuse only blew AFTER a 6550 output tube shorted out.

Oh, he then blamed me for the patch cable blowing up his amp... So that's two, maybe three live sound rules at once.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Lyle Williams on December 24, 2013, 02:39:51 pm
Here is another rule:  If you make something foolproof, evolution will work to create a better fool to defeat you.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 24, 2013, 03:25:43 pm
Here is another rule:  If you make something foolproof, evolution will work to create a better fool to defeat you.

Very close to my normal rant of  "No matter how idiot proof I build it, they keep making better idiots".
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mark Cadwallader on December 24, 2013, 04:59:10 pm
Here is another rule:  If you make something foolproof, evolution will work to create a better fool to defeat you.

The best I can hope for is to make my systems idiot-resistant; whether that makes me a cynic or a realist is up for discussion. Mark C.
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Lyle Williams on December 25, 2013, 12:37:23 am
The best I can hope for is to make my systems idiot-resistant; whether that makes me a cynic or a realist is up for discussion. Mark C.

You're not a cynic, you're an optimist with experience.   :-)
Title: Re: The Sound Guy is always the last to know...
Post by: Mike Sokol on December 25, 2013, 03:32:19 pm
You're not a cynic, you're an optimist with experience.   :-)

+1  ;D