August 22, 2016

9.00 am: A review and prioritisation of the week’s work, and responses to the weekend’s incoming emails. Today I’m a technician. Into the studio, and that rat’s nest of the rack’s back, for a major reconfiguration of the system. This is, now, an annual event. The rack is at the core of the PA and monitoring system in the studio and in performance. Every component needs to justify its continued presence within the system overall. A radical rethink was required:


What am I aiming at? Having, over the past year, scoured the internet for videos of solo sound artists in performance — often in a gallery or a small-auditorium — I’m struck by how poor and unthought through the acoustic representation of the artwork often is. Health and safety apart (all mains devices should be routed through a power conditioner; a domestic plugboard simply won’t do), the equipment should provide the clearest sounding, roundest, and most tweakable mode of amplification and sonic dispersion that either the artist or the curator can afford. I also want to create more, independent modules for amplification, mixing, and conditioning etc — following the example of the pedalboards and handboards. In this way, the modules can be interchanged, and the equipment packaged in portable and a readily assembled way.

The new routing for the rack:


The next requirement (every change effects a further change) was to reroute the PA’s main speakers and sub. Another rat’s nest:


Evening. The rack was reattached to both the mains and the various devices drawing power from the assembly. The PA speakers and sub cables were then reconfigured and plugged into the rack’s primary outputs. All in all, things are looking decidedly neater and, most importantly, more intelligently laid out. A good day’s work.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s activities:

  • If a solution to a problem doesn’t present itself immediately, then wait.  Quite often, we cannot see the way forward because we don’t have access to sufficient information. Answers to other questions may need to be determined first. Therefore, to begin, discern the order in which the difficulties are best dealt with.
  • Go to a trusted teacher or confidant first for advice about, but last for an answer to, a problem. Maturity lies is this: determining the (provisional) answers to your questions yourself, before seeking the confirmation of, or a challenge from, others.
  • Don’t trust your own counsel alone.
  • Strip-down, prune, simplify, get rid of the excrescences, redundancies, incompatibilities, anomalies, and duplications, in order to enhance efficiency, controllability, and serviceability, thereby.
  • Keep it lean. Keep it light. Keep it tight. Keep it safe.
  • Spare nothing.
  • Don’t presuppose outcomes. Test them beforehand, where possible.
  • Understand the tools of your trade, thoroughly.
  • All solutions are temporary and situational, because the context of their operation and application is forever changing.
  • If something appears over complicated then, most likely, it has been ill-conceived.
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