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A Matter of Perspective

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by JohnMCA72, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    I had a gig with a secondary band (for all players, who all have at least 1 other "primary" bands) over the weekend. One of the members recently dropped some serious money on new PA gear: Presonus 1602 mixer, a bunch of powered mains/monitors/subwoofer. Starting to cable everything up, PA owner reveals that he has every cable labelled on each end, which unit/channel/jack to plug into.

    I had never worked on this particular system, but I have a good working understanding of how systems work in general. By the time each cable was identified, run, re-run, swapped for the "correct" cable, etc. I have no doubt that I could have gotten that system set up & running in about 1/3 the time!

    It's one thing to have a convenient "map" to follow, to make sure that everything is connected & "works" right the first time. The trouble is, if you're completely dependent on your map, it's hard to navigate when the "terrain" changes & the map no longer applies - and in my experience, at least, exceptions seem to be more common than "typical" setups.

    My preference is to understand the system as completely as possible & carry a good supply of adapters, cables of varying lengths, etc. that I can make a system work in a variety of venue sizes, configurations, added or deleted gear, etc. Obviously, though, there is at least one other way of doing things.
    Munjibunga likes this.
  2. He is just playing with his new toys. Give him a few gigs to realize the extra hassle of his ways. He probably likes playing around with his label maker and the shiny new labels they make too. :) Let him have his fun, and let him cable up his system, the way he likes while you hang back and relax. He'll likely change up his plan of action later on.
  3. jimc


    Sep 17, 2002
    New Carsmell, CA
    I once had a BL who was so anal that cable runs were tied together with cable ties. For example the 3 singers mic cables were tied together so that the mic stands always had to be set the same distance apart. Mains and monitor cable runs were the same. If we played a stage that was bigger than his cable runs we still had to set up as if we were on a smaller stage! Everything was color coded with electrical tape, I swear it took longer to set up than a regular system.

    This guy also insisted that equipment be brought out to the van in a specific sequence, if you brought something out before he was ready for it, you had to take it back inside!

    I didn't last long in this system but he's still gigging around town and still driving his players nuts no doubt!
  4. With powered speakers you have a mess of xlr cables including some very long ones which you don't want mixing up with the microphone ones. How hard is it to look at the label and put it in the proper hole?
  5. jjk2007

    jjk2007 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Endorsing Artist: DNA
    We went through a learning curve (a short one) when we got all our new gear. We keep all the PA XLR cables and power cords with the individual subs in their cases. Drummer has his own cables for his kit. I have my own for DI out and for my monitor hookup. Guitar does too and band leader as well. Makes setup pretty easy. We can have everything out of the trailer and 100% ready to go PA and monitor wise in about 20 min.
  6. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Remember - At one time everyone thought the Earth was flat too..
    Live & learn
  7. I agree with the original op, however maybe guys he plays with don;t understand the first thing about the gear. In my last band I plugged everything into the rack and had the guys run the cables to where i told them it went. The singer never got the idea of daisy chaning after 2 years, still looked at me odd when I had him ire the 2 subs together,
  8. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I'm one of the guys with a label maker. My racks are hard wired with the i/o clearly identified. I run stereo triamped, FOH, aux fed subs, 5 monitor mixes, 1 of them biamped... and I can spin the wiring out to a stage hand... All I need to do is verify my A & B on each FOH rack to not blow stuff up... I also have to check that the monitor sends are 1 to 1, 2 to 2... 5 to 5, etc so I know whose monitor mix I have going... I need maybe 15 min with a decent tech and they can participate in the details of my setup at a meaningful level.

    Laugh if you want but the two of the defining characteristics of good sound guys are organization and ears...
  9. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i'm getting that the OP was talking about an absurd degree of labeling, as in the XLR cables themselves labeled "center vox mic" vs "SR vox mic" when they were equal length cables, or speaker cables with identical ends labeled as to which end was "amp rack" and which was "cab", that kind of thing.

    labeling and consistency is indeed a good thing where it actually helps.
    that's what i'm used to as well in my bar/club world, where i'm often improvising to make things work; that's one reason i have a soft spot for banana ends on speaker cables, they're so wonderfully flexible: cables too short? not enough jacks for parallel connections? jump two banana ends together! some idiot wired the new driver backwards in one of the subs? flip the plug over! wrong kind of end on the cable? chop it off, strip the two wires, stuff them into the banana binding posts and tighten down!

    speakons are "better", as in they can't get put in wrong, are very reliable, carry lots of current, and can carry more than one speaker signal; we should also have our s**t together as gigging people and have stuff that works right the first time, with the right cables to plug into it; still, for "freestyle improv PA deployment" bananas are hard to beat.

    the right answer is of course to have the system so well-labeled and modular that the bar back could hook it up and to know it well enough to be able to re-design it from scratch.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014
  10. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    That's basically the case. Not looking for solutions to a problem, just thinking out loud about different strategies that people use to do the same job.
  11. Hi

    Here's another one of those guys.

    In that particular order as well if You ask me :).

    Sounds just as a newbie with his first complex system vs. someone with knowledge about them.
    Happens every day in all walks of life, not just on SR.
    IME anyway.

    While any "conventional" SR system looks at least somewhat familiar to anyone who has been in the industry for any number of time, and they most likely can put it together with his/her eyes closed, even the simplest of SR systems can be rather intimidating for someone who does it for the first time and has to rely on the (usually) very poor instruction manuals.

    The logical choice then (to me anyway) is to pre-arrange and label everything, so the set-up time isn't wasted on the "mundane" stuff of wondering and pondering what goes exactly where.
    In this case it backfired some because he probably labeled the cables without a clear thought about how they are/can be routed on stage, and pretty fast run out of the long enough cables so some re-arranging had to be done.

    IMO no big deal, but if after a few gigs the things haven't improved any, then I'd probably give him some pointers.
    Politely ;).

    OTOH, it's his toys = his rules, his methods.

    BTW, IME all the semi-pro and pro equipment I've came across on various venues have had at least some labeling.

    The length of the cable and the number of the cable are really handy to have on a crowded stage and can both be color coded if text and numbers for some reason aren't acceptable.
    Racks and snakes are labeled without an exception, even if multicon's are used.

    I wouldn't have it any other way.

    There's really no other way IMO/IME, unless You want to store the stuff outside in the parking lot, or where ever the load-in /-out area happens to be.

    From the roadies/drivers perspective, nothing is more annoying than incompetence when packing the van/bus.
    Usually 3am, everyone but the driver intoxicated, some of the band members having better things to do than helping, everyone tired, 3 hours of driving ahead to get to the second load out of the morning, etc...

    You really want to spend some extra time playing Tetris with the gear when everything all of a sudden doesn't mysteriously fit in?

    I'm also one of those guys, but the amount of "extra" stuff to be schlepped builds up really fast though.
    Some process of elimination is a literally a back-saver ;).

  12. Functionally there isn't that much difference between a mic cable labelled "#1" or "lead vox". I really don't get the consternation of the OP.
  13. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    No consternation here, just an observation noting different ways of doing a thing. Some minor frustration at the time of the gig setup, knowing (believing?) the job could have been done more efficiently by using a method that's based on understanding a system and its components rather than following a process similar to putting together a piece of Ikea furniture.

    I have a simple philosophy for dealing with sound systems, computers, & any other complex tool: I am the one in charge, and the equipment serves me, not that the equipment is in charge and I serve it.
  14. If the know-alls had merely followed the directions on the cables as intended there would have been no hold-up.
  15. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    We just color code our cables.
    If the BL isn't there to set up most
    of the guys just patch the colors together.

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