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Articles May-June 2021

Pursuing the Pro Audio Trail

In conversation with Caroline Moss and Sue Gould

PT got in touch with the Pro AVL Asia magazine core team of Editor - Caroline Moss and Sales Director - Sue Gould, who between them boast of over three decades of experience in the pro audio industry..... read more

NJSM Marks a Milestone in the Business of Sound

From Rental Company to manufacturer and innovator, Nixon Johnny has guided and grown NJSM from a two-person company to a fifty-person company, continuing to expand into virtual events with NJSM Virtual Studio..... read more

Tech Savvy Environment for T-Systems

Eyte Technologies installs high-tech AV Solution at T-System’s Experience Center facilitating brand value and delivering superior customer experience..... read more

Conversations with SudeepAudio

Sudeep Audio, one of India’s first pro audio web store selling studio software and equipment online commenced its YouTube Channel, ConverSAtions, in 2011 to share the journey of Indian Sound Engineers..... read more

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Loose Connections

As you have leafed through this magazine, bet every one of you has stopped and marvelled at some amazing new technology you wish you had.

Every day tools appear that make our lives easier and assist us in producing super work.

Now. Allow me to both, vent and preach on one aspect that I was tearing my hair out on when I started and sadly continue to be pulling my hair out even today.

‘Connections’. Not the connections that got you the job. The connections through which all our signals and electricity flow, that enable the lighting rig to actually produce what you programmed. Disclaimer. My issues are usually with the live Lighting Rigs. But I have seen enough sound guys and video dudes expressing the same frustration I feel. So here goes...

It’s usually not the quality of the equipment. Hey ! You get what you pay for. Usually - The more money you spend - the quicker the connection process AND the longer lasting. BUT, not always.

Let’s work through the issues. Just to figure out the weak links.

We are setting up very sensitive networks in some inhospitable environments. It’s Hot. Its dusty and there is never enough time. Usually the cabling is laid down by the junior most and least experienced guys on the team. I think half our problems begin and end there.

Let’s look at equipment. Our country does not have any standard mains cable connectors. So even the most sensitive equipment is powered by a mains cable screwed into a metal box. 1917’s systems powering 2017’s latest technologies. Think about it. If it works - why tinker with it. The Answer is - ‘Yes it does work - Until it does not! No heads up. No fail safe.

Now follow that mains cable down the line as it branches out and is distributed around the network. On dusty ground, wet ground, carpeted ballrooms, tiled backstage arenas. Rarely will you find a connector. Just some wires twisted together. Rarer still is a box that meters or monitors the power supply. I have definitely seen more Deity’s pictures than Amp meters in a temporary electrical grid. But Hey - It works.

Next Step. From Dimmer racks to the actual light fitting. Improving. Now we definitely see a lot of connectors. Which is why fault finding is usually restricted to faulty fixtures. Great!

Then, perhaps most critical - the signal cable. Here all of us worship at the altar of the mighty XLR God. Most used and perhaps least understood of all connectors. Perhaps that is by its inclusive design. It’s used for everything from lead singers mikes to guitar amps, to dmx cables to smoke machines and intercoms. That’s the good part. The problems arise when our guys on the ground think they are infallible and interchangeable. In my opinion the graveyard of all networks. Rarely have I been through a show where everything works the First time. No Time for fault finding - chuck back in the box and replace. Where it may probably lie...

Now the Cat 6 cable has appeared. Designed to be used in Air-conditioned spaces. Its multi cores tightly wound to make as small an imprint as possible. Suited for a network Box. Very badly suited for a concert arena. I am not aware of any effort to make a sturdier connector.

Coming back to the first point. All connections usually set up by a junior member and usually unmarked. So fault finding is always going to be tough.

In your estimate - How many man hours have you lost in figuring your way around the network? And usually at crisis times when it may have impacted your ability to deliver everything that was designed around the show.

Is there a fix ? I know of only one. Like in a diet (that I find impossible to follow) the only way is to - 1. Plan 2. Execute as per plan 3. Pray

Now let’s think Ideal World.

It starts with the purchase manager, who generously gives you budgets to buy good quality cables and connectors. Then given to a super technician who will tin and securely solder each connector.

Each XLR colour coded as per use. Black for DMX lines. Blue for smoke machines. Orange for intercoms. All DMX networks TERMINATED adequately. A special box on each show into which EVERY faulty cable is deposited and isolated.

On the Mains side - Cee Form Connectors all around. To a power box that measures all capacities and lifts all earth loops. Where cables cross open ground - Rubber cable Trays

On the Lighting Grid - only identical fixtures on each network connected up to a Good quality Splitters. All fed down a protected and double lined cable down to the Desk. Where a merger will feed two boards.

On a Cat 6 grid. At least a 4 cabled armoured cable fed into a hold box that clamps onto your unit and holds the Cat 6 firmly in place.

And every connector marked - where it comes from and where it feeds into.

Think about how easy this is. How much longer will set up take? Maybe half hour. Now think about the stress you will eliminate. Worth It Na ?

Oh. The most important - a dedicated work bench with gleaming tools, solder irons and test boxes devoted to cable testing and repair. Cables tested every 10 shows max.

That’s my Dream of ‘Achhe Din’.