Friday, February 24, 2012

Old Gear

I've spent the last couple days trying to prize some secrets out of some old, obsolete, nearly dead gear.  My system at work was originally driven by three boxes from White Engineering.  Digital loudspeaker control but obsolete when they were installed and they had a tendency to act up or shut down at inopportune times.  So after the second one died in the middle of a concert we got them replaced with a 4x20 from Ashly.

When the first one died it was replaced with a 2x6 BSS unit and the other two kept chugging away.  When the second one died and we did the transplant we copied over the setting from the BSS and also were lucky enough to find a hand written transcript of the crossover and EQ settings for the rest of the rig.  One problem, no delay times.  We set the under balcony fills with measurements taken in the room but as for delay on the main hang, nada.

So the last two days, a volunteer and I have been trying to get the three old boxes to power up and talk to the cranky old laptop that has the software on it.  The boxes have to actually talk to the laptop, there don't appear to be any saved files anywhere.  And let me not fail to mention the joys of ransacking the entire sprawling complex for serial cables!  Anyway, we gave it up for a lost cause and decided just to wait until work can buy me Smaart for my lappy and we'll start from scratch.

The point is, there's nothing cooler than old gear that you can figure out and get to work.  Often times it can be an edge for you, something nobody else has that you can work a little magic with, am I right or am I right studio guys?  But there's nothing sadder than old gear that's floating somewhere between door stop and living breathing audio magic box.  It powers up, it appears to pass signal, but I can't get it to do anything or change any of the parameters.  How frustrating.

Not that I have any idea what I'd do with three obsolete, randomly malfunctioning 2 x 8 drive units but it's the principle of the thing.  How many times have you seen a wheezy old box with a bad screen and two missing buttons that could make such beautiful sounds if you could only figure out how to talk to it.  I guess I need to work on being a smarter sort of primate so I can tinker around successfully with the innards of things and bring them back to life.

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