We all know that events require careful planning and solid execution. But the reality is that there are always events that are planned at the last minute, ad hoc, or sometimes not planned at all. AV technology managers are expected to be able to show up anywhere on the corporate or school campus and set up a sound system. But you don’t have to sacrifice sound quality and system reliability. Here are some helpful audio setup reminders when the only constant is flux.
1. Portability is king. Have at least one ready-to-go, portable sound system kit on hand at all times. The idea here is to minimize interconnect time, and maximize portability. To minimize interconnections, consider either a powered mixer or powered loudspeakers. A powered mixer system has a slight time saving edge, since you’ll only need to locate one AC power source at the site. Some manufacturers offer systems that attach two loudspeakers to a mixer/amp, creating a single portable unit that can be carried in one hand.
2. Use wheels. Although it’s a variation on the portability theme, it’s worth special consideration. It’s why the wheel was invented; things that roll move more quickly and with less effort than things that must be hand carried. Make sure all of your larger cases have wheels. You can stack things on top of rolling roadcases and move more equipment to the set-up location, thus minimizing trips from the truck or the warehouse. When there are no built-in wheels, keep a hand-truck with your portable kit.
3. Keep the cable. Wireless microphones offer a lot of benefits, especially when the event requires a combination of desktop, lavalier, and hand-held mics. However, when set-up time is limited, cabled mics may still be the best solution. You’ll have to run the cable from the mixer to the mic location, but once that’s done, the only thing standing between silence and sound is connecting both ends. Despite many conveniences—like not having to run cable—there are many more troubleshooting checks involved with wireless mics, which can add up to a lot of wasted time. Top of the list are dead batteries, followed by correct position of the mic’s (or the transmitter’s) on/off switch. And of course, in unfamiliar venues, wireless mics are always susceptible to environmental RF interference. Finding an open channel is much simpler in recent years, but can still consume precious set-up time. Another benefit of cabled mics when there’s little time—the mic is less likely to be “lost.” The connected cable provides a telltale “trail;” we always know that the mic can be found at the end of it. There’s no time spent playing “find the microphone” on the floor, lectern, hidden under someone’s jacket or inside a pocket.