Weekends go by too fast.
For those of you that haven't seen me yet; I cut my hair. Well, Lisa cut my hair. It's not exceptionally short, but about the length it was a year ago when I had it dyed blue. What I learned from that experience was that the bleaching and subsequent color treating really screws up hair, and if you don't have short hair, it makes your hair pretty fragile and prone to tangles. This was resulting in a situation with my hair down that was pretty much unmanageable. I was always having to pull it back. Anyway, I like it at the length it is now.
As most of you know, my band played on Friday. It was a terrific performance. I really felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders for having such a crappy time the last two nights out.
After the show was over, and Lisa and I came home, I found myself sort of wired for the evening. Typically when this happens I end up surfing the internet for whatever is going through my head. What was going through my head was how much different we sounded when we were going through a decent PA system. So I did a considerable amount of reading on the subject, and decided on a couple of things:
Now that I had figured out that stuff, I started searching around to find that stuff. Once I have a problem identified, I'm not content to sit around and not do anything about it, so on Saturday, I made a trip over to American Music in Seattle. I misjudged the time (of course), so I found myself speeding all of the way there. Luckily, I made it with about ten minutes until closing time, and I was able to get the stuff. I picked up a 12x4 snake (12 input channels, 4 returns to the stage) that is 100 feet long. I also picked up a used Peavey dual 15 band equalizer. Then some odds and ends. Microphone cables and such. Finally, I talked to the guy a little bit about amplifier issues (the fact that I was have to really peg the mixing board in order to get the amp to deliver enough power) and he said that my QSC amp was probably a bit underpowered for the application. This is where it gets a little amusing. I was able to pick up a Behringer amp that has more than double the power of the QSC model, but for only $50 more. As I pulled the amp out of the box, what amazed me was that although the front panels didn't look the same, on the business end of the amp (the back), all of the connectors and everything were in exactly the same place as they were on the QSC amp. This pretty much confirms my suspicion that quite a bit of stuff these days is being made in the same factory somewhere in China. So now my amp rack looks like this:
I should have been wise to this; when I worked at Exide making car batteries the summer after high school, we made batteries for absolutely everybody except for maybe Interstate batteries. Napa, Montgomery Ward, Parts Plus, KMart, etc.; they were all the same. The only difference was that the packaging requirements were often different (Napa stuff got its own cardboard box; other stuff was loose), and there were some QA differences as well. Although I finished and shipped all brands, primarily I worked on the Montgomery Ward line, and one thing about that line was that they were the only brand to require "high-rate" testing of their batteries, where a machine actually simulated a car starting with a bank of high power resistors. The battery had to deliver it's rated current for five or ten seconds in order to pass. Overall, it was a good indication that the customer wasn't going to get a lemon. Interestingly, none of the other retailers required it. While I have good faith that most of the batteries that came of f of the line were fine, the fact that I saw some batteries that wouldn't pass the high rate test meant that someone got screwed. Definitely a lesson in business economics. If it's cheaper to deal with a few customers that got lemons than it is to put good QA into action, the business will err on the side of money every time. I don't think that is a particularly good analysis and decision however, because in the long run, customer faith can and will be shaken, even if short term profits don't lapse. Ask the US auto industry about this sometime.....they're still paying for the crap they made from about 1970 to 1990, which was just long enough for Japan to really get a foothold and now a considerable share of the US auto market.
The moral of the story is that not only does it pay to comparison shop, it pays to really take a look at the equipment you're buying. Right now I'm looking at a set of Nady speakers that look remarkably similar to my JBL cabinets at 1/3 the price. It would be fun to tear them both apart and see what lies beneath.
As usual, this has gone on longer than I really wanted to write, so I guess I'll end now. As a corollary to some of this material, Les had some good questions the other day in his blog about PA stuff, and I answered them today. My goals for this week are to get another show for the band this weekend, finish up my book review for poli-sci, and get going on my final Flash project for the quarter...