December 20th was a busy day for me, I had a Calculus final and a talent show to play in all in just a couple of hours. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of my wonderful girlfriend, Sierra, who drove us from Montclair back to my house so I could grab my instruments in time to fly back to Del Val to get setup.
The show went well, but we didn’t win (again). We don’t care much as we were just looking for a place to rock for a few minutes. I’m sure we’ll try again next time.
We barely got a soundcheck, but I think we sounded decently good.
We were tired after the Friday night Knight’s Challenge, but pushed forward on through the next night. I met up with Ophelie outside Del Val at around 10 in the morning, and we got started getting equipment into the building. Once everything was inside, we had the arduous task of untangling the cables from the night before. This took a while, but we had arrived so early, I really wasn’t worried about anything time wise. The system was a little more in depth than I normally have, as the acoustics of this space are particularly challenging. The first step was to setup and tune the Main PA. This was my standard Yamaha Club V rig (two S115vs and one CW118v). It sounded okay when running through the automatic tuning program in the DriveRack PA2, but when it started to turn the volume up to be loud enough for the measurements at the back of the gym, the reverberations started to become overwhelming. The generated EQ curve of the gym sounded alright once it was applied. Once the automatic tuning was done, I made a couple of adjustments per my preferences, particularly a pretty decent boost at 75 hertz to get a little bit of the kick drums in songs to carry throughout the gym.
After the Yamaha rig was tuned and ready to go, I turned the volume down quite a bit; to the point where announcements and music were at a comfortable listen level for a sporting event about half way down the bleachers. Then we setup the delay speakers. I have a pair of Behringer Eurolive B1520 Pros that were given to me with blown compression drivers. I was able to repair them by replacing the diaphragms and fuses so I now have a second set of PA, which is very convenient in situations like this. I had the Behringer speakers setup half way down the court on the sidelines to cover the back half of the gym. This way I could keep the volume lower than if I had just one set of speakers covering the whole gym and keep the energy on the court as low as possible, to minimize reflections from the gym floor. I don’t have a second DriveRack, but I do have a Behringer DCX 2496, and I was able to punch in all of the required adjustments I felt were necessary. I think I came out with a pretty good sounding rig. I spent about 45 minutes aiming the four speakers and getting my gains set just so that the coverage across the front and back half of both sets of bleachers was as uniform as possible. When I was done, the sound was better than I had ever heard in that gym. A few people even commented on how much better our rig sounded than the gym’s installed PA.
In between setup and the start of the event, there were a couple of people shooting baskets on the far side of the gym, so Ophelie and I had to stay to make sure no rogue balls hit any of our equipment before the show. We were finished after a couple of hours, and still had a few hours to kill before everything got started. I forget what time people were allowed in to start getting seated, but we started playing our walk in music when they did, and wee ready as soon as the event was set to start. There were no major issues other than the audience complaining that the delay speakers were blocking their line of sight. I eventually caved and had Michael and Ophelie take them off the stands, but was mad that I had put all of that time getting the system to sound perfect and uniform for nothing. It’s like moving in next to an airport and complaining that the planes make too much noise. There were plenty of seats that weren’t blocked, but those apparently are less desirable than picking a spot with a bad sight line and then complaining.
Otherwise, the event went well, and we had no major issues. This was a good cause and I am glad that Mystic Rhythms was a part of it.
We were supposed to see the Friday and Saturday night showings of Grease, but due to a nor’easter that blew through on Friday, the Friday show was canceled and rescheduled to Sunday. So finally, on Saturday night, I was able to see our jukebox light up on stage for the first time. It worked flawlessly. I was worried about the lights not being bright enough to outshine the stage lights, but the jukebox ended up being bright enough to color the set pieces despite the stage lights being on at full power… And that was with the white vinyl tubing around the lights. We ended up using a 12 volt 10 amp mains transformer to power everything, but the particular adapter we bought ended up getting fried on closing night. The lights on the jukebox only pulled about 6 amps, but the adapter had trouble powering everything. I think the 10 amp rating was pretty liberal. The fog system that I built with Chaz for Into The Woods looked fantastic as well, and made a huge impact with the moving lights the school rented for the show. Great job to the Delaware Valley Regional High School Theater department!
Right at the end of the Sunday showing, we took some pictures with the jukebox, but there are two problems with the pictures. Not everybody who worked on the project is in the picture, and the lights aren’t on (Because they were fried by this point. We will get that replaced and the jukebox will most likely be loaned out to other area high schools for their theater productions.
It took a lot of work, planning and wiring, but I am very happy with the way this came out. A big shoutout to Dante (wiring, building the red and white button bar, speaker grille, record player, and other trim work, troubleshooting shorted jumpers, and soldering over 1000 connections), Hayleigh (cutting those 1000 jumpers, cutting other wires), Lucy (painting), Ophelie (painting and moral support), Shanice (installing some of the record player cavity light strips), and Mr. Josh Paul (keeping us from doing anything stupid and dangerous, moral support).
Thank you to Mr. Clinton Ambs for giving us this opportunity to learn by doing while building something so fantastic. Without him, I never would have had these opportunities to learn while building systems for the theater department.
Since the beginning of January of this year, I have spent most of my weekends at my High School’s wood shop constructing a jukebox to be used as a set piece for the school’s production of Grease! this March. Continue reading “The Jukebox: The Beginning”
When I was a Freshman in high school, I covered Coldplay’s Clocks on piano for an event called “Coffee House,” which is basically an open mic night. Right before I should have hit the bridge, the piano started to roll away. I was quite angry for the rest of the night, but the audience was amused. Here is the video of that performance. Continue reading “Clocks At Coffee House”