My Small Sound Reinforcement Business
My primary business for the last 12 years has been motorcycle rallies. Most of these events are effectively outdoor events. The PA requirements are a bit heavier than what is needed for a local band in a local bar. I also do some of the convention work with this same rig. For the events I usually do not carry a dedicated monitor board. I usually run four monitor mixes from the house console. On to the equipment - -
My current front of house console is a Soundcraft GB-8 with 32 channels. There is a four band EQ section with sweeps on the low mid and high mid controls. This allows a good deal of flexibility in the control of the sound. In addition to the 32 mike/line inputs there are four stereo channels with EQ and full features. These can be used with mono or stereo input source material. There are eight auxiliary sends per channel. The board is set up to be easily switchable between a house and monitor console configuration. It even comes with the necessary extra fader knobs so that you can color match the masters to the aux send that it controls.
I purchased this board without physically seeing or hearing it. I read the specs on the Soundcraft site and decided that it would be a good tool for the job. I also considered an MH series board until I read the weight spec. I do much of my event work without a crew, and the MH boards were heavier than I wanted to deal with alone. This board uses the pre-amps that were developed for the MH series boards, so the sound is similar but the feature list is more limited.
I have been very happy with this board. The price is very reasonable for the quality level of the board and the sound that it is capable of producing. I had used a Soundcraft Spirit Live-8 for several seasons. I was happy with the Spirit board but the GB-8 is a significant improvement. My main purpose in buying the new board was to get a few more channels (the Spirit was a 24), but I have been pleasantly surprised with all aspects of the GB-8.
The Rest of the Story
There is an interesting aside to this story, I had timed my order of the new board to have it available for a church convention for which I was booked. I wanted to have the extra channels available because these things often require eight or more vocal channels plus a full band. There have been times when doing an event such as this has been tight on a 24 channel board.
My dealer called to tell me that the board was in, so I went to pick it up. We pulled it out of the box so that everybody could ooh and aah over it and discovered that it was not the board that I had ordered. The only thing that was right about it was the number of channels. The packing list attached to the box was for the board that I had ordered, but it had been attached to the wrong box.
Soundcraft Red Label shipped the correct replacement board from a warehouse in California to my dealer in Florida. Unfortunately, the mistake was discovered the day before my event began and I had to be on the road before the UPS truck arrived, so I did not get to use the board for the convention.
My house processing rack has good mid-line gear. I use my primary rack for both the event rig and concert rig. The differences with the concert rig are primarily the boards and the number of cabinets that I supply.
The house EQ is built by Ashley. I run a stereo rig so I have a dual 31 band Ashley EQ in the rack. The system controller is the BSS Audio Mini-Drive. This is a digital signal processor and has many features for advanced sound system design. My basic system EQ is programmed into the processor. In many outdoor venues the house EQ will run flat and sound good. The system EQ is needed to adjust to variations in the sonic environment.
There are eight channels of compressors and eight channels of noise gate in the rack they are not the fancy concert variety, but they do the job. Most of the comps and gates were built by Behringer Audio.
The house effects consist of three DSP's. There is a Yahama SPX-990, a lower line Lexicon, and a Roland SDE-3000 dedicated delay unit. Three effects units is generally considered to be the minimum complement for a concert sound system.
I also have a Sony consumer CD player/recorder in the rack. It has a 5 drawer changer on one side and a burner on the other. It is very slow as far as a player is concerned, but it is a good compromise for my situation. I generally have to provide continuous background music during band breaks at the events, so the changer keeps things moving.
I have long been a fan of Crown amplification. I started buying MA-3600's and then graduated to MA-5000's. Two years ago I purchased a pair of I-Tech 4000's. That was an eye opening experience. They absolutely blew my 5000's away. Later in the year I bought two more of the 4000's. I had wanted to buy the 6000's, but Crown was out of stock with that model. Then last spring I got four of the 6000's. If business holds up I will probably get more of the 6000's this year, but I have good power on the system with the amplification that I have.
I use all JBL drivers in the cabinets that I have built. The boxes themselves are copies of various JBL designs. My subs are the old concert series double 18 boxes. The mids are 2 X 15 in an adaptation of a cabaret series enclosure. The horns are 2" throat JBL drivers on JBL bells. It is just basic stuff, but it has held up to the rigors of the road. My monitors are copies of an older EAW design, but I run them active and with 2" throat drivers. I use Crown 36 X 12 monitor amps to drive the monitors.
I bought 12 older JBL Concert Series top boxes, some factory and some copy boxes. I have also added four more of the Crown I-Tech 6000's. My most recent addition to the system has been a virtual digital mixing system. If you are interested in more information about the system check out my site Mixer in a Box.
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