PA systems

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Postby Tony James » 17 Dec 2007, 22:23

As you say John, at noisy events you need volume and to get it I was thrashing the Coomber batteries, not just occasionally but regularly, and three and four days at a time with some of these big events.

I do wonder if Chris has just been fortunate. I recall my father having to change a bedroom light bulb and he always wrote the date on bulb, in ink on the metal edge. Even he was surprised to find it had been there for over thirty years. Not a lot of bulbs have that sort of life and I don't suppose many sets of batteries last like Chris's either.

I wish mine had!

On the matter of hats, when I was a salesman long ago I used to call on Failsworth Hats in the Manchester and Oldham area. They had a sign outside indicating visitors would not be admitted unless they were wearing a hat. Once inside you were confronted with the usual dark brown misery of a waiting room relieved only by a picture of a man wearing an elegant hat and clearly 'going places' with the slogan:

"If you want to get ahead, get a hat!"

I took the advice on board and it is equally successfully applied today.
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Postby Chris » 17 Dec 2007, 23:01

I really am not sure how you thrash a battery!

Nor can I understand how a Coomber used on a showground by Tony is different to one used by me at a Summer Fayre or on the seafront. You can only turn the gain up so far whatever your location - and with the Coomber that won't be full up anyway for it begins to distort well before maximum.

And Tony's Coomber may have to cope with noise from a fairground organ but that's not much different to my Coomber battling with the Brass Band (Coomber plus swazzle usually win!) or the currently popular chainsaw furniture making demos, and chainsaw log cuuting competitions. (Coomber plus swazzle usualy lose!)

And actually the difference between full and medium volume isn't going to make all that much difference to battery drain, what will make a big difference is if you use the Coomber's built in tape deck. Anything with a motor does eat power. I have always carried a little pocket tape player to plug into the line input of the Coomber - so the Coomber does the amplification but the player motor only drains its own set of dry batteries. Of course these days you can use a mini disk player, or an mp3 player in the same way.

One way to get better sound, more audible sound, without more power is to get good quality big speakers. These are far more important than the amplifier's wattage.

I have a valve amplifier- 2 loudspeaker portable ensemble (still working) which was supplied to ENSA during the 1939-45 war. Countless numbers of singers and comedians etc used these in huge canteens, NAAFI huts, out of doors, and within the sound of battle. The sound was loud, and pretty good quality through the 2 x 15ohm twelve inch speakers, but the amplifier had a low output of around 15 watts.

Interestingly the Amp and two speakers were designed to clip together to form a cube, and the large microphone and all the cables were stowed within. I understand that these were on sale after the war through government surplus stores and several puppet companies bought them. Certainly the Eric Bramall Marionettes and the Stavordale Marionettes toured with them.
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Postby johnstoate » 18 Dec 2007, 16:34

Funny you should say that, Chris. My main amp,(That has famously,And mysteriously) let me down only once in years. Is actually an ex-navy pa unit, originally designed to power voice communication to gun turrets, - It works on either 24v. dc, 240v. ac, or 110dc and gives a maximum 25w. output. I couple it to a pair of ex-tannoy horn speakers, and usually power it with two 12v. 'Leisure' batteries. These are designed to give a longer sustained output, (Unlike car batteries) but charge for a much longer period,(3-4 days from flat) Luckily, I bought a 36v. charger, (Formerly for a mobility scooter) on one of the Steam Fairs so this constitutes no problem :D The main drawback is one of weight and bulk, Hence the desire for a portable, compact alternative.
Last edited by johnstoate on 20 Dec 2007, 15:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Chris » 18 Dec 2007, 23:45

I'm curious to know what ex-Tannoy speakers are John. Surely if Tannoy made them originally then they are still Tannoys - or did they disown them when they knew what you were doing with them?

I bet it wasn't the speakers that let you down.
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Postby johnstoate » 19 Dec 2007, 00:32

Sorry, Chris, As usual I'm not being quite succinct enough. By 'Ex Tannoy' I only meant to suggest ex-factory announcement speakers,(Colloquially 'Tannoys') With the transformers removed, (They were originally 'line out' 100v) bought second-hand for their quality. :D
As for the mysterious let-down, since I never did discover the cause, (Beyond Yorkshire Gremlins) And since it hasn't re-appeared, Your guess is as good as mine!! :?
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Postby Richard Coombs » 25 Apr 2008, 16:45

I have been working far too hard over the winter at the closest thing Ive ever had to a 'desk job' ...doing some computor animating using animatronic performance developed hand controls.

The childrens series has 26 half hour episodes ..so there has been lots of animation to wade through .It has been long hours of sitting at a computor screen, I wont complain as it has kept the bills paid since October.

But it has kept me away from home , and my workshop over the Winter ...and so unable to build all the new puppets I had promised myself , and do refurbishments to some of my current ones.

Consequently I have been experienceing Punch and Judy withdrawal symptoms.

But to counter this I plumped for some 'Retail Therapy' and have just treated myself to a Mipro 707 system ( ahhhh back to Topic at last I hear you cry ! )

All I can say is , it is a thing of beauty and a joy.

All my booths have Adestra amps , same as Les' and two horn speakers.
And as they are 'built in' so to speak I will keep them onbaord as 'belt and braces' if theres ever a problem with the Mipro , or if that system suits the location /venue better ...but boy oh boy the Mipro is good !

I didnt opt for the built in CD or tape player in the back of the unit ..as I like to control my music from inside the booth ( and although I hadnt thought about it this way , as Chris points out , running such a music player as part of the device is an extra drain on the batteries )

I went for the two UHF radio recievers ( mulitichannel) and then two 'body-pack' senders ( the sort of unit that clips on your belt or goes in a pocket ...one to take a tie clip microphone , and the other to connect to an MP3 player via a jack -lead ( supplied by mipro , and more normally used to connect an electric Guitar to the body pack)

RESULT : wireless speech and music to the Mipro speaker Unit outside the booth

The Unit ran yesterday for over 9 hours continuously playing my pre show music in the Hallway downstairs , while the MP3 and bodypack 'Sender' were with me upstairs in my office , quite a distance and two brick walls away from the unit ( so no worries about it transmitting through canvass , or even a wooden booth)

Even the 9v battery in the 'bodypack' only needed changing after 5 hours .... by the end I was sick of hearing my pre-show music going round and round , but it was good to test everything and find that the unit works that long on its internal batteries ( good job Im detatched , or I would have driven the neighbours bonkers too )


It may well have run for longer , but I aborted the test to go to bed :-)

Doubtless I wont be getting as long out of the batteries after a few seasons use ...but these things happen , and spares are easy to get.

I cant wait to try it out , and have a suitable venue next Saturday.

It was expensive , but a good investment .
I heard Mark Andrews show with the same unit last Year ... Music really does so much better than out of horn speakers , and vocals are nice and clear , with a rich warm tone too.

Carl Durbin also swears by Mipro , although I havnt seen his show using his 505 system ..when he comes to covent garden he uses his 12v amp and horn speakers ( as will I for some venues )

Nice to have the option of plenty of power and volume when you need it though.

All the Best Richard
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