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  • Faulty power at event damages gear - who is to blame?

    I did a sound gig on Friday night for a downtown street party in a city population 110,000. The event did not file a requisition for power to the stage, so they ended up running four extension cords 120 feet from a junction box.

    My gear had been hooked up and I was playing music for the crowd that was awaiting the band to play. Then all of a sudden the bass player complained about his amp sonding "like a transistor radio" and then POW! We turned around and saw flames and smoke pouring out of my power amps.

    The City workers came and supposedly fixed the problem. We got a few replacement amps and the show went on as planned with no problems.

    The next day, a different band and a different sound provider had the same problems - four of his power amps blew up. He ended up getting replacement amps and ran a power cable to an upstairs apartment and went on with the show.

    I contacted the event planner and asked him to pay the $1,500 for my two destroyed power amps. He told me to contact the City. I called the City power utility's Risk Manager, and he said that the event planner was to blame for not filing out a requisition to have power available at the stage.

    Who is to blame? What if they don't pay and I lose this band as a client because I cannot afford new amps right now? What if the band cannot find a backup sound provider for this weekend?


  • #2
    I have no idea how this is all gonna shake out. But I'm pretty confident that however it shakes out - it ain't gonna be in time to affect the outcoming of this coming weekend. My bet is that you're on your own as far as repairing or replacing your gear for the time being. If you're lucky maybe you'll convince somebody to pick up the tab down the road - but right now, it's on you.
    The SpaceNorman

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    • #3
      Did you ever figure out why the amps were blowing?

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      • #4
        Sorry to hear of your problems.

        I don't know what your definition of junction box is. Was this a city sanctioned box just sitting there ready to be used? Doesn't seem likely. I'm guessing that if you plugged into something without the city's consent, then they are not on the hook - but a good lawyer might say otherwise.
        EDIT: and cost more than the amps....

        Whether you get reimbursed or not, it's not likely to happen before this weekend. Got anywhere or anyone to rent some power amps from until you get your full rig up and running?

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        • #5
          Were you hired to play and paid? By whom?

          Did you have a contract?
          Thanks,
          Bill Cronheim
          Entertainment Systems Corporation
          Back stage since 1965
          Equipment specialist since 1973

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          • #6
            I can probably rent some amps, but probably not a good match for my mains. I tried using a lower-wattage replacement amp on Friday and fried my high-frequency horns due to underpowering them (the replacement amp was 700 watts channel at 4 ohms and my speakers handle 1000 continuous/2000 program/4000 peak watts). The event was a decent-sized street party with over 700 people.

            I am guessing the cause of the power-outage was a refrigerated beer trailer on the same breaker box that had a short in its power cord and was grounding out (that is what the City electrician said). The City workers that came to the event on Friday at 5:30pm seemed drunk, and they even stole some of my tools. They were dragging their feet for three hours... obviously on overtime and milking it for every dime.

            I opened up the Class D amps and they have scorching on the lid due to whatever fried. One of them actually puts out audio, but the cooling fans will no longer turn. The other amp is toast. They were great amps and I used them for more than a dozen gigs or more since I bought them new in January and they worked perfectly.

            I've done over 100 shows for this band and have never had a problem like this.

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            • #7
              Were you hired to play and paid? By whom?

              Did you have a contract?


              I am basically the sixth member of the band and I get paid just like a singer or guitarist. The drummer has a contract with the event planner, which requires adequate power to be supplied to the stage.

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              • #8
                Sounds like somebody did not verify that the power was in fact good before doing the gig.

                What does your contract say? Who agreed to use the power that was provided. Do you know for sure exactly wat was wrong or are you guessing? Do you have the documentation as to what the VERIFIED fault was?

                When I provide power, I charge for the service and it's done my way only. Nothing else plugged in other than what's contracted for. If there's any verifyable defect with my equipment or tie-in, my insurance covers any of the damages. The problem is that moft folks are willing to place the blame on anybody but themselves and in every case where equipment has been damaged the cause has been due to problems with the connected equipment and not what I have supplied. Things like amps set for 230 volts but run on the 120V supplied, miswired cables and distros (who the f*ck thought that white was a phase conductor and black was a neutral??? INSIDE THEIR DISTRO) missing or loose neutrals, broken connectors, etc.

                Be prepared to back up your claim with some real facts, or they won't go anywhere.
                -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                Former product development engineer: Genz Benz, a KMC Music/FMIC/JAM Industries Company, continuing factory level product support and service for Genz Benz

                Currently product development engineer: Mesa Boogie

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                • #9
                  So sorry to hear about that. I don
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                  • #10
                    I am basically the sixth member of the band and I get paid just like a singer or guitarist. The drummer has a contract with the event planner, which requires adequate power to be supplied to the stage.


                    Well there you go, the band is your boss and the event planner was theirs and responsible for providing adequate power. Even with a contract though, I expect the band will not be very enthused about putting effort into trying to get the event planner to pony up as it might well affect future work for them, but hopefully I'm wrong.

                    Did you meter your power before plugging in to make sure it was right? I wouldn't think low voltage would cause an amp to burst into flames, but 120' is also a pretty long run unless the cords were beefy. I wish you good luck getting it resolved but it might take more work and time than it's worth if everyone just starts pointing fingers at each other.

                    Winston
                    Oh, and no speaker every died from being under powered. But that's another discussion.
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                    • #11
                      Oh, and no speaker every died from being under powered. But that's another discussion.


                      I made the classic mistake of clipping the horns because 700 watts wasn't enough to push a 2000/4000-watt speaker through a half-block of people.

                      It was a replacement amp that was a mismatch with my speakers. I have never blown any of the horns with my 3000-watt per channel amp because I don't have to push it into clipping to cut through a crowd.

                      But like you said, let's not get into that argument. All of this damage was due to the faulty power issue.

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                      • #12
                        I even had power conditioners with spike protectors on the amps, and they didn't blow. That is why I think it was a brown-out due to the shorted wire in the beer trailer cable. If it was a power surge, the spike protector would have been triggered and shut the power off. Also, Class D amps are known to have problems with low voltage. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong... I know you will anyway.

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                        • #13
                          I made the classic mistake of clipping the horns because 700 watts wasn't enough to push a 2000/4000-watt speaker through a half-block of people.

                          It was a replacement amp that was a mismatch with my speakers. I have never blown any of the horns with my 3000-watt per channel amp because I don't have to push it into clipping to cut through a crowd.

                          But like you said, let's not get into that argument. All of this damage was due to the faulty power issue.


                          Well... if you suffer a flat tire because you picked up a nail... who do you sue? The tire manufacture, or the state/county/federal road department, the nail manufacture, General Motors, some contractor that you believe might have dropped that nail on the road but you have no proof, your mom?

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                          • #14
                            Does your power conditioner protect against low voltage sources?

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                            • #15
                              What were the amps that blew?
                              Dillybar 13 july 2008.
                              "I do not expect you to lift one of your lazy fingers to find the proof that I am right."

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