Friday, January 20, 2006

Murphy runs amok

Sometimes it just doesn't matter how well you plan. Things just happen that mess up your day. I have had a whole week of days that have brought new meaning to the phrase, "the best laid plans of mice and men".

It started on Monday when I had to tune a new sound system I had designed for a rather high profile local theatre. I woke up feeling excited as this is my favourite part of my job as a sound system designer. When you tune one of these bad boys, you spend lots of time listening to pink noise and looking at all sorts of test equipment like spectrum analyzers. But after you get everything adjusted, you listen to music that you know very well to make sure it sounds good. Looking at all the tools in the world with your eyes isn't going to tell you how well it sounds. The tools just get you in the ballpark as they say. The proof is in how does it sound to your ears and more importantly to your client's ears. Let me tell you, the rush of turning a sound system for a 100,000 seat football stadium into your own personal stereo system is a feeling that just can't be described!

Anyways, back to Murphy. On Monday, I arrived at the site and the system was in really good shape meaning I didn't have a lot to do to make it sound good. Just set a few equalizer filters and adjust some levels on amplifiers. This theatre has many different acts in and out all month long and, unless the act has their own front of house sound engineer, the system is run by a group of really dedicated volunteers. So, I wanted to put a hard top limit on how loud the system can play. A safety net so an inexperienced person doesn't blow up anything. Setting this limit involves me turning the system up as far as it can go until lights on things are blinking red then backing it down a bit and telling a limiter this is as far as it can go. Normally this won't do a thing to the speakers as professional loudspeakers are designed to handle this type of use. But, on Monday, something went horribly wrong. All the sudden I had no highs out of my center and right speakers (performing arts theatres typically have a left/right/center speaker just like your home theatre and movie theatres) . To make matters worse, we hadn't even really pushed the system. Not anywhere near what I KNEW the system had the potential to do. Not good. So up in a cherry picker we went to take a look. Yup, I had blown two speakers. Ouch...I haven't done that in 15 years.

Come to find out, it was a pretty easy fix and we figured out that the speakers had a bad componant (it happens even from the best manufacturers btw). Four hours later and some amazing high flying repairs at 60 feet in the air by my fabulous installer, and we had a nice and happy system and a thrilled client.

But I knew Murphy was around and he's been sitting right next to me all week.

Friday Random 10:

You know the drill, put your Ipod on shuffle and write down what comes up. No cheating to make yourself look cool. Links to listen along as usual.

1. Who Will Save Your Soul - Jewel
2. Breaking Us In Two - Joe Jackson
3. My Heart Can't Tell You No - Rod Stewart
4. Paint it Black - The Rolling Stones
5. Fooling Yourself - Styx
6. The Last Stop - Dave Matthews Band
7. Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love - Van Halen
8. It's Enough Now - Mandalay
9. Our Town - Aaron Copeland
10. Red Rain - Peter Gabriel