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  • Well, that was a disaster

    I was hired to do sound for a fund raiser today. In order to keep costs down the band wanted to use some of their sound gear in addition to mine. That's where the trouble started. They brought their mics and mic cables, mic stands, and their FOH powered speakers. I provided every thing else ie: mixer, snake, amp, passive monitors, speaker cables for the monitors, and did the mixing. Got to the venue with 2 hours for setup.

    In short order I had a signal to the monitors, while the owner of the FOH hooked up his speakers to my snake. No signal to the FOH speakers. I spent about 35 minutes looking for a problem in my signal chain and mixer set up; couldn't find any trouble. I finally decided to look at how the FOH speakers had been cabled and found that they were wrong. Not only were they cabled wrong, but the speaker owner did not have the correct cables. His cables have female XRL plugs on both ends. Apparently they normally only feed his speakers from the line out of their amps. Finally got the FOH and the monitors both working. It's now 20 minutes till show time and we have not done a sound check yet. Plus, with both FOH and monitors working we have a low level hum in the FOH.

    I made the executive decision to take down the FOH speakers and put the monitors on the stands, and go with no monitors. Now we have 10 minutes till show time and still no sound check. Completed the sound check and have good signal on all vocal mics and on the instrument direct in's to the mixer. Show starts and one vocal mic goes out; singers adjust and two of them use one mic. At intermission I test the mic and cable that quit working; both test good. I change that mic to a different snake input; we're working again. Two songs into the second set the same mic goes out again. Finally found that by holding up on the XRL at the board input the mic would work. Since I changed the snake input location, but used the same board channel, there must be an intermittent problem in board XRL socket.

    What a boon doggle, no more mixed sound systems for me. I always test my gear before each job and did so this time, but will have to pay special attention to the potentially bad board channel before the next job. I also test my mics and cables to be sure they are good, and make sure I have spares if needed. In this instance, I didn't know if the band provided mics and cables had been tested and made the bad assumption that they knew how to connect their speakers properly. These multiple layers of the unknown meant lots of time wasted with additional levels of trouble shooting.

    Frustration overload, and lesson learned. In the future, I provide all the sound gear on my jobs or I don't take the job.

    Anyone else have a similar experience.


    One_Dude
    I've had enough of folks who don't know what they want, but are very good at knowing what they don't want.

  • #2
    Mixed gear is a "crap shoot" at best. FWIW: I test my rig at my storage unit before I load it in the truck....It's kind of a PITA but it fires up every time. I used to do"walk on" sound gigs...more bad stories than good...people just don't treat cords as I do......

    Comment


    • onelife
      onelife commented
      Editing a comment
      The unkown cable factor is reason enough to avoid the situation.

  • #3
    I have provided racks & stacks many times. For national acts it's rarely a problem, we always have good power (distro and it's all larger venues) ) and I have the ability to transformer isolate the audio lines into the amp rack's processing.

    Where it's problematic is when the act doesn't have their crap together, or are wannabes that show up without what they said they had. Sometimes, I just have to sit back and watch the ants scurry in their attempt to sort things out. It almost always costs them more when they need to supplement to cover for their missing or broken gear.

    Did I even mention the guys who showed up with their effects loaded in a laundry basket... and their dirty laundry was still in the basket. Ugh.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    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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    • #4
      In regards to the "offer to "help" to "save a little money" thing":

      I recall a poster that was common in mechanics shops a few decades ago... it read something like this:

      Regular Shop Rate: $30/hr.
      Shop Rate if you watch: $45/hr.
      Shop Rate if you help: $60/hr.
      Shop Rate if you tried to fix it first and messed it up, and insist on helping & offer advice on how to do it while drinking my beer: $100/hr.

      I expect shop rates have gone up since "then".

      I dunno what the going rate is for: "I insist on helping... I'll bring my crap... you make it work and be in the hot seat."

      But I dealt with this similar thing this past weekend (plenty of empathy here): Lady singer & keyboardist for the warm-up band for our performance... they used my system... I mixed and tech-ed their performance. All went fine after I changed out the other band's lady singer's supplied but dysfunctional microphone, and mic cable, and keyboard cable, and broken mic stand, and supplied an otherwise missing IEEE power cable for her keyboard, and replaced a dead battery in the guitarist's acoustic guitar and supplied him with an instrument cable, and explained to the other vocalist lady that it would be better if she actually sang into the microphone (rather than her being 3 - 4 ft. away from that mic), and some other stuff... I don't remember (likely purposely)... oh yea: I supplied vise-grips for their drummer to tighten (make usable) some broke-off tighener doo-dad on his 30 year old "vintage" sounds like "factory original heads and tuning" drum kit.

      EH? It is what it is.
      Last edited by Audiopile; 04-25-2018, 05:57 PM.
      I need to catch up with those guys, for I am their leader.

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by Audiopile View Post
        In regards to the "offer to "help" to "save a little money" thing":

        I recall a poster that was common in mechanics shops a few decades ago... it read something like this:

        Regular Shop Rate: $30/hr.
        Shop Rate if you watch: $45/hr.
        Shop Rate if you help: $60/hr.
        Shop Rate if you tried to fix it first and messed it up, and insist on helping & offer advice on how to do it while drinking my beer: $100/hr.

        I expect shop rates have gone up since "then".

        I dunno what the going rate is for: "I insist on helping... I'll bring my crap... you make it work and be in the hot seat."

        But I dealt with this similar thing this past weekend (plenty of empathy here): Lady singer & keyboardist for the warm-up band for our performance... they used my system... I mixed and tech-ed their performance. All went fine after I changed out the other band's lady singer's supplied but dysfunctional microphone, and mic cable, and keyboard cable, and broken mic stand, and supplied an otherwise missing IEEE power cable for her keyboard, and replaced a dead battery in the guitarist's acoustic guitar and supplied him with an instrument cable, and explained to the other vocalist lady that it would be better if she actually sang into the microphone (rather than her being 3 - 4 ft. away from that mic), and some other stuff... I don't remember (likely purposely)... oh yea: I supplied vise-grips for their drummer to tighten (make usable) some broke-off tighener doo-dad on his 30 year old "vintage" sounds like "factory original heads and tuning" drum kit.

        EH? It is what it is.
        It is truly amazing the condition of some bands' gear.... I usually carry a few batteries: two 9v's, two AA's, two AAA's... (One of the 9v's is a spare for my active DI)...the others are spares for my two Discman (Discmen?) if I am to provide break tunes....and yes, I gotta upgrade my break tune situation..lol
        I used to carry two shielded guitar cables...but I gave them to my daughter to use with her elec bass.

        Last fall I was tech'ing the stage at a local multi-band gig and one of the guitarists approached me asking if I had a spare cable (he forgot his). I dug into my kit and connected three Peavey 3' shielded patch cables using two female ts connectors.. It looked weird, but it worked... (The dude had the nerve to tell me that it was heavier than his normal cord and it threw off his balance....). Me: "ok, give it back...."

        There are techs that carry spare things; guitar picks, a music stand, etc... I'll try to help someone out in a pinch but there are limits.....

        FWIW: I also play saxophone professionally.... If I went up to a tech on a gig and say: Hey man, I forgot my sax reeds...y'all got a couple Van Doren Java 2.5 reeds lying around...? I wonder what he'd say??

        Comment


        • #6
          I'm sorry but if I'm supplying them with batteries ,strings and gaff, then they'e paying me before they get them.
          Their lack of planning isn't a emergency on my part.
          DON'T BE ALARMED!!! REMAIN CALM!!!!!!!!!
          There's nothing to see here. It's another day in IDAHO!!!

          My bands Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/stiff.richard

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          • #7
            "I was hired to do sound for a fund raiser today. In order to keep costs down the band wanted to use some of their sound gear in addition to mine. That's where the trouble started."



            Exactly where your trouble started................

            Comment


            • #8
              I may have a possible side gig in July. It doesn't pay that well but it's for friends so......... If it happens (I really hope not ), it'll be a cobbled together rig as I'm not really setup to do SR in complete with the gear I have on hand. I may pick up a few pieces of gear to make it work more smoothly but that would make it a financial loss so my feelings are still on the fence about this gig. I told my friend I'd do it so I'm committed. I pray they over spec the cost and don't get hired . I feel your pain brother .
              J.R. Previously jrble

              See my Dog Of The Hair studio at: http://www.dogoth.com/studio/

              Quote from someone: Flat response? Get out the jack and change the tire.
              If you think "power is knowledge", you have it backwards.

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              • #9
                I've been on both sides of this.

                I don't mind doing a "mixed" gig, but I prefer a clear line of demarcation. This situation would have caught me off guard, though....but ordinarily I insist on either supply everything on stage (as a band guy) or console + FOH. Monitors, I can go either way and have ample powered wedges to take up slack. Never leave home without some. I prefer to supply monitors when I am the sound guy; as a band guy, I will only use them to augment what's badly missing from the provider's rig. When that happens, I also bring some XLR turn-arounds, a positive attitude and a big smile.

                I've also been the guy begging for gaff. ONCE. I felt awful. I needed six inches, used six inches, and tried to buy the roll owner a beer. That won't happen again.

                The one thing I won't do if there is any way I can help it is to share crap like cables and mics. If I'm a band guy, I'll leave ALL my cables in the van even though they are labelled. And I'll take a 57, 58, whatever the guy wants to point at our stuff. As long as it doesn't say "Samson" or "Behringer". Luckily that has never happened.
                Do daemons dream of electric sleep()?

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                • #10
                  I stopped doing mixed PA years ago. It just is not worth the aggravation. The band wants to save money? Hire someone else.
                  "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

                  Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'

                  "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

                  Solipsism is the new empiricism. -Alan Burdick

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                  • #11
                    I'd only try something like that if I knew ahead of time exactly what I was working with, which I typically do. I'd only do sound for people I know too so its not like I'd be walking into an unknown situation with gear I've never seen before.

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                    • #12
                      I do about ten gigs a year, where I bring racks, cables, stands, mics, and the venue provides FOH and monitors. It is generally an unpleasant experience - especially considering I'm usually playing on the gig as well, so I don't have much time to trouble shoot.

                      Maybe my biggest pet peeve is lead singers who have gone out and purchased a "special mic" or a wireless mic, but it's the wrong mic for their voice, or style of singing or sometimes venue (like a beta 58 in a room that promotes highs). They insist on using it, and I have to make it happen. Having said that, I just put a tech through that very same thing. Was performing in a big show, needed a wireless but the tech wouldn't provide one because the promoter wouldn't pay. So I brought an e835 and let the tech deal with the "abundant" highs.

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