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New Digital Mixer

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
So I treated myself to an early Christmas present. I got a QSC TouchMix 30 digital mixer. This thing is so cool. My normal load on a rock band gig would include a 16 channel Mackie mixer in a big rack case, two six space rack cases filled with equalizers, compressors, effects units, etc., and a 100 foot stage snake. That's about 200 pounds of bulky stuff. The new mixer does all of that and weighs 17.5 pounds (the mil spec case for it actually weighs more than the mixer). It has a tablet control app (iPad or Android) which eliminates the need for the snake, although you could still use it if you wanted a FOH sound man at the console. It also has 14 auxiliary outputs so each band member can have their own personal monitor mix that they can control with their tablet or phone. From the console, I grant permission to their device based on their needs, without surrendering control of the main mix. While it initially seemed a bit confusing, after a couple hours, I had pretty much everything figured out, and created a base "scene" for our band. One of the best things is that once you get everything dialed in, you can save a scene for every venue (up to 99) where you play. Next time you are there, just recall the scene and you are ready to go.

I can't wait to use it on a gig. Now if they could only make lightweight speakers that sound good.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I don't think too many "semi-pro" players are making much money these days. In my heyday in the Chicago area, (late 80's & early 90's) I would usually make between $3,000 and $4,000 per year. Not great, but enough to buy a horn or some PA equipment if I felt like it. Part of that was being in a wedding band that played a lot. We never got less than $100 per person per gig, and often a lot more. Flash forward to 2005 and beyond, and it was hard to land a gig that paid more than $50 per.

I'm playing pretty regularly now in the Knoxville area, but typically making between $50 and $75 per night. This is with a 7 piece band. Our New Year's Eve gig this year pays the whole band $1,000. I can remember playing some NYE gigs at nice hotels and making $500 per person. Those days seem to be long gone.

The very talented 17 piece big band I play with has had two paying jobs in the last three years. We do a lot of free gigs at veteran's or retirement homes and such, but just can't break into the festival / commercial circuit, such as it is. It's mostly for fun, so that's fine, and we do get a lot of appreciation from the older folks.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Everybody needs a hobby.

Most of the bands and choirs I was in/I directed were church groups, so all volunteer and low pay, if any.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I used the mixer on a gig for the first time last night. I love this thing. So easy to use, and we knocked about 15 minutes off our setup and tear down time.

We did have an extended sound check a couple hours before the gig to get everyone dialed in just right. This is a venue where we play frequently, so I saved the scene for future use there. The anti-feedback feature works like a charm. You push the master volume until it starts to squeal, and then tap a button to slice out that specific frequency. Rinse & repeat a few times and no feedback.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
In my continuing quest to downsize and lighten the load, my next step was to find smaller monitors. I have been using two Mackie SRM450s. Powered (400 watts) 12" speakers that weigh about 51 pounds each. I also have a smaller Yamaha MSR100, which has an 8 inch woofer and 100 watts of power that weighs about 25 pounds. The Mackies sound good and you can really push them if necessary. The Yamaha not so much.

I have now upgraded with three new QSC CP8 powered speakers. 1000 watts of power in a 21 pound package. Not as much bass response, but I don't feel the need for lots of bass in a vocal / horn monitor. The sound is really clear, and I have way more power than I need in almost any gig that we would play. Also, since I have a QSC mixer, there is a setting in the mixer to optimize the sound for QSC speakers.

It's pretty amazing what manufacturers have been able to do with adding more power in much smaller and lighter packages. The first power amp I bought back in the early 90's was a Peavey CS-800. It was 200 watts per channel and weighed almost 90 pounds. I used to haul two of those monsters to every gig, plus the big box speakers and monitors.
 
I play in a duo, but we are both multi-instrumentalists. We don't have a FOH sound person. I use a Samson MPL1204 analog mixer. I have a few, because if one breaks, I can swap it out and get it repaired. They don't break often, but I play music for a living and am a "the show must go on" kind of pro.

Usually when one of these things go, it's only one channel. I need 10, use 11. We are both multi instrumentalists, my partner plays synth and guitar, I play sax, flute, guitar, wind synth, and drum controller on stage (I also play bass and keyboards and make my own backing tracks). With two voices, 4 synth modules, two guitars, and two backing track channels, that leaves 2 spares. I use one for a customer mic (we don't like them using our mics - they might have a cold, we might catch it, and that would cheat a future client).

I built a 4 channel passive mix for the synth modules, so if I ever lose more than one channel I can put all the synths on one.

The Samson takes up 4 rack spaces (not bad)

As the Samson is discontinued, and nobody seems to make a low real-estate 12 channel analog mixer anymore (the ones advertised as 12 are really 10 with two channels in stereo) I thought about digital.

Then I looked at the way I use it and one thing stood out. When the client using the mic drifts in front of the speaker to cause feedback (even though we ask them not to - they don't understand and are nervous anyway) I need to get to their gain control knob instantly. My take on digital mixers is that it takes a bit of time for the iPad (or whatever) to warm up, and using a mouse or a finger is never as quick as "reach and twist".

Am I exaggerating this problem? Or imagining a problem that really isn't a problem?

Insights and incites by Notes
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
Quoting myself.
Now if they could only make lightweight speakers that sound good.
One of my Bose L1 towers crapped out on my last gig in December. It refused to power on, so we had to improvise at the last minute with a traditional powered speaker on a pole. The Bose support site says they can't get parts to repair these. It is 15 years old. I found a local electronics repair shop. They say they "may" be able to fix it, but maybe not. Now I'm just waiting for the other one to puke.

Because I'm stupid and not doing this for the money, I bought one of these. Used it last night on a gig and it sounded amazing. Now I have to buy another one. It's not particularly light at 54 pounds, but it all fits into one rolling bag. The Bose is three separate pieces that weigh over 90 pounds. Step by step I am reducing the load that my aching body has to carry to the gig. I'm hoping that overall it will be cheaper than the surgery bills for joint replacement.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I'm hoping that overall it will be cheaper than the surgery bills for joint replacement.
Let's see, a hernia surgery, back spasms, two months of physical therapy, and something permanently bad in my lower back. Yah. Reducing the weight is a good thing.
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
Because I'm stupid and not doing this for the money, I bought one of these. Used it last night on a gig and it sounded amazing. Now I have to buy another one. It's not particularly light at 54 pounds, but it all fits into one rolling bag. The Bose is three separate pieces that weigh over 90 pounds. Step by step I am reducing the load that my aching body has to carry to the gig. I'm hoping that overall it will be cheaper than the surgery bills for joint replacement.
Sweet Jesus that's gorgeous. But that price!!!
 
I have a friend who couldn't get his Bose L1 fixed. I've heard tales of others. So I stay away from them.

I have two EV ZLX-15P speakers at 38 pounds each that sound absolutely fantastic. And EV has a good reputation for service, although I've never needed it.

If anybody buys them, I recommend buying the covers, as the exterior does show scratches.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
Sweet Jesus that's gorgeous. But that price!!!
Actually, it's not bad. The Bose units were about $2,000 each back in 2004. The new ones are still in that price range. It's funny. When Bose came out with these, lots of folks pooh poohed the idea of a stand alone line array speaker system. Now just about everyone has one in their lineup. I seriously considered the Electrovoice version, but they were $1,599 each.
 
I know one person who had trouble with his and Bose refused to fix it. He went to a company I recommended that specializes in repairing pro musical gear. They can't get the parts because Bose won't sell them to anybody.

I've read about others on-line having similar problems, so as far as I'm concerned, they are off-limits. I make my living doing music and nothing but music, so I need reliable gear that can be repaired if it breaks.

If one of my EV's go, I have backups and they shop can fix my EVs, he is an authorized EV shop (among others). He's fixed Samson and Carvin products for me.

Notes
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I can't complain too much about the Bose. 15 years of faithful service with usage between 25 and 40 times per year, sometimes in extreme outdoor heat. My understanding of the parts issue is that Bose wanted to swap out the entire power on / off circuit board and their supplier stopped making them (possibly went out of business?). The only way to fix them now is to find and replace the individual failed component(s) (capacitors, resistors, diodes, etc.), which takes a fair amount of time. I got a call from the repair shop on Friday and they say it is fixed, so I will pick it up tomorrow.
 
I'm glad you got it fixed.

I gig from 2 to 6 one-nighters per week almost all year (August and September get slow). One nighters are hard on the gear, but so far, so good. A few years with the EVs.

Notes
 
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