Super basic questions about amps, standard hookups, monitors, etc

Uncle Dirtnap

Active Member
Short version:

Do you run the amped signal through the snake?

Long version:


This is all pretty basic, so forgive me. I have run rigs of all shapes and complexities, but I'm a little confused where I should take this.

I'm volunteering at a community theatre that has been in a hundred year old church since the 70s. There are multiple generations of 3rd hand equipment, and no strong technical plans or consistent oversite. No one there really knows what they have or how it was supposed to, or should, work. For the last few years of musicals they have just been renting equipment for simplicity.

They have a Behringer x32 board (how?why?), with the mains going to 2 powered speakers on the stage behind the proscenium. These seem to work fine. There is a back balcony with 2 speakers (aimed 45 degrees to the stage with 2 other powered speakers. There is a rack of amps, some effects, and a big EQ with nothing hooked up that I assume is last generation. There are probably 6 or 8 good size non powered speakers about the place, some on the makeshift grid about stage, some in the organ loft behind the curtain overlooking the rear of the stage, and a more in storage. There is a snake with 8 inputs and 8 outputs stage left, along with a rack newish wireless receivers and microphones in a road case, also not hooked up. These look, if not recent, then at least modern.

I'm getting ready to get ready for their next musical, and I need to figure out what, if anything, we need to rent. In trying to figure things out, I had a few questions - are the outputs on the snake just out of the board, or should they be amped? None of the triangular speakers I associate with monitors are powered, so I'm confused what the outs on stage could effectively be used for.

I'm much better at lighting, I swear :D

-rj
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
I'm not clear on a few things (ask my coworkers)...

First, what Al said... and there ARE snakes that have channels with larger conductors and no shielding for *loudspeaker amplifier* level signals. These were popular back when mixers with built in power amps were more commonly used. I kind of doubt the ones in your theater are like this, but anything (any donation) is/was possible.

As for line level or mic level, a snake channel should function with either; a snake "pair" is a mic cable without a fancy black jacket for each channel. Unless damaged or defective a snake channel should be the equal of a mic cable.

I understand how the rat's nest develops and that community theater is seldom in the position of declining any donation. What your theater needs is you, I think, to help sort the mess, wire it up in a way that makes sense for 80% of what happens in the venue, and then evaluate, organize, and tactfully re-home the things unlikely to be used or needed.

Good luck and keep us in the loop.
 

Uncle Dirtnap

Active Member
Thank you! That makes perfect sense. Now I just need to figure out what makes sense. I don't know if there is any way to make the house sound better - putting any kind of monitors in the organ loft just seems like a bad idea. It doesn't sound bad now, just a little flat.

So why isn't there an amp backstage? Also, wouldn't the wireless mic reception be better out front? (house is essentially square, with 2 balconies on the side and one in the back we use for a small amount of seating. Sound is on one side, about 16 feet up and 15 feet away from the stage, vs behind the proscenium on one side. I'm tempted to being an amp or 2 down there for monitors and moved the receivers up top....

Another dumb question - a million 1/4 phono cables to the monitors, but no way to join/extend them. Is there a reason not to do this, or is there a box of female to female couplers I haven't found yet?
 

Crisp image

Well-Known Member
Good Moring. I am going to have a crack at this one with my limited audio knowledge so if I get it wrong please let me know so I can learn as well.
In our theatre we have a Midas r32 (very much the same as the X32). For your area (and I will guess a little because I can't see it) the X32 will work for FOH and then on a matrix the balcony speakers may need to be on a delay to sync the sound. we are talking milliseconds here not much.
All processing can be done by the X32 so the EQ is not needed nor are the other effects in the rack. All you need to run this system is the mixer, amps and speakers (or powered speakers) if you need inputs and outputs on stage a s32 stage box with a cat 5 cable to the desk or you can run direct to the desk with your wireless rack but then your outputs to stage need to be run from desk to stage (and balcony) You will need amps to feed the passive speakers. Each of the foldbacks/monitors can be sent on mix outs that can be controlled separately for different areas.
Just this week we have been using our R32 outdoors and have it located at the back of stage so all cables are running from there to QSC K12 powered speakers for FOH and monitors and a small snake around the stage to keep it neat. All controlled by an iPad app for ease of set up and operation.

I hope this makes sense to you like it does for me. I look forward to your feedback (the good type not the bad one that hurts my ears)

Regards
Geoff
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Good Moring. I am going to have a crack at this one with my limited audio knowledge so if I get it wrong please let me know so I can learn as well.
In our theatre we have a Midas r32 (very much the same as the X32). For your area (and I will guess a little because I can't see it) the X32 will work for FOH and then on a matrix the balcony speakers may need to be on a delay to sync the sound. we are talking milliseconds here not much.
All processing can be done by the X32 so the EQ is not needed nor are the other effects in the rack. All you need to run this system is the mixer, amps and speakers (or powered speakers) if you need inputs and outputs on stage a s32 stage box with a cat 5 cable to the desk or you can run direct to the desk with your wireless rack but then your outputs to stage need to be run from desk to stage (and balcony) You will need amps to feed the passive speakers. Each of the foldbacks/monitors can be sent on mix outs that can be controlled separately for different areas.
Just this week we have been using our R32 outdoors and have it located at the back of stage so all cables are running from there to QSC K12 powered speakers for FOH and monitors and a small snake around the stage to keep it neat. All controlled by an iPad app for ease of set up and operation.

I hope this makes sense to you like it does for me. I look forward to your feedback (the good type not the bad one that hurts my ears)

Regards
Geoff
Amplifiers and powered speakers: Last to be powered up / first to be powered down ALWAYS. Your amplifiers, speaker cones, horn drivers + performers, crew. and patron's ears will thank you + your speakers will last longer.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

JD

Well-Known Member
Regarding running speakers (amp output) back through the snake: Yes, there are snakes built with heavier gauge lines for this purpose, but I still wouldn't do it. In some applications, the output lines will induce enough signal (trough magnetic induction) that you can end up with ultrasonic feedback. Often, the only sign that this is happening is that everything pegs out and smoke follows. Modern equipment is less likely to fall victim as circuits are designed to reject frequencies above the conventional hearing range, but there are no sure things. Keep the snake free of anything above line level and you will be far less likely to have these issues.
 

David Ashton

Well-Known Member
I really think you would be best served to hire a competent audio guy to guide you through all this, basically this is a complex system. Youtube has many good clips on the various components but an overview of the system you need is quite complex and cannot be learned on site such as this. It's one of those situations where the more you know the more you realize what you don't know.
 

Ben Stiegler

Well-Known Member
Thank you! That makes perfect sense. Now I just need to figure out what makes sense. I don't know if there is any way to make the house sound better - putting any kind of monitors in the organ loft just seems like a bad idea. It doesn't sound bad now, just a little flat.

So why isn't there an amp backstage? Also, wouldn't the wireless mic reception be better out front? (house is essentially square, with 2 balconies on the side and one in the back we use for a small amount of seating. Sound is on one side, about 16 feet up and 15 feet away from the stage, vs behind the proscenium on one side. I'm tempted to being an amp or 2 down there for monitors and moved the receivers up top....

Another dumb question - a million 1/4 phono cables to the monitors, but no way to join/extend them. Is there a reason not to do this, or is there a box of female to female couplers I haven't found yet?
please take and post a lot of pictures, draw a space plan, and mark where all these speakers and things are ... then we can better help
 

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