Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Electrical Safety issue with some products

Don't panic Mr Mainwaring...

We've had an eMail in the last few days from Highlite - we use them for some of the smoke machines we sell and a lot of our audio cables - about a possible issue with some of their products that they feel needs a recall.  It's only a limited number of items that it concerns and to be honest, it only becomes a real danger if you misuse the equipment, it potentially affects some of the other products we sell but so far we've heard nothing from their distributors.

The units immediately affected are the one's below (the date is when they were manufactured and sold) and branded "Antari" or "ShowTec".

Units purchased before this date are not covered by this recall and units later than this have the necessary modification fitted that rectifies the issue.

  • 40129                    Mega Bubble machine        15-07-2004  -  21-08-2013
  • 50356                    Showmaster 48                    05-01-2004  -  02-09-2013 
  • 60611                    Wireless Rem.Contr            30-01-2004  -  15-08-2013
  • 60651/60651UK  Antari F-80z                          30-12-2003  -  04-09-2013

The danger potentially arises if something other than the remote control for the machine is plugged in to the IEC socket or if the Wireless Remote is plugged in to an IEC power outlet (such as on an old PC or an LED fixture). If you're concerned that this might apply to a piece of equipment you own from between those dates, then the manufacturer is happy to take the unit back and fit a modification for you - free of charge.

How do I get my unit sorted?

First of all, contact our sales desk if you bought the equipment from us. If you have the original paperwork (to prove you did buy the unit from us) then so much better, otherwise we'll try and find a record of the sale at our end, we'll then arrange for you to bring the unit to us so we can return it to HighLite. Unfortunately, we're unable to offer loan equipment for your unit whilst it's away and in fairness it could be away for 7-10 working days. We're also unable to action the recall for equipment that you didn't buy from us - you need to talk to the original seller.

If you're unsure that this applies to you and your unit, then give our Sales desk a call and they can talk things over with you. Our greatest concern is that this may affect mostly our Schools customers who bought Antari F80's and from our experience with the "life" of those units many of them will have since been replaced. Please - if you're unsure then give us a call.

New Smoke Machines from Rosco

They don't only do paint and gel...

We've been a Rosco customer for a few years now, we sell an awful lot of their Gel, their Gobo's and an increasing amount of their paints (mostly for UV scenes or for Chroma Key sets in video suites). As a result we get a regular visit from Claire our Account Manager but the mini trade show season over the last few weeks has upset the rythmn of her visits - so last week she sent us an eMail announcing their new smoke machines.

The machines in question are the Vapour Series (if you want to see the whole range then have a look here) and you'll see that it's quite a comprehensive range. Being Rosco, they're nice sturdy workhorse machines with no glitz and glammer - it's a smoke machine and it produces smoke, lots of it!

The Vapour series isn't cheap - the machine above lists at £629 (+VAT) but it's a workhorse, designed to give lots of smoke for most of the day without any complaint and only a top up of fluid. It's also built using parts that can be replaced should they fail, so it should serve you well long after it's Chinese made cousins have given up AND you'll be able to get the Vapour serviced reliably too. If you're going to have to depend on your smoke machine to work for most of the year then the Vapour series should probably be on your list of 'must look at' machines before you buy.

We don't have a demo unit here in Birmingham but they'll have some units at ABTT and once that's over, I think Claire would be more than happy to bring us a demo unit if you wanted to see one here. Give our Sales desk a call if you want to learn more or have a look in our eShop for prices - here.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Do I REALLY need to Fireproof my scenery?

The Directors Cut...

We orginally blogged about this 12 months ago - the idea for the initial post came about after we had a delivery of Firecheck (as the BBC say - there are other fireproofing solutions available - we just happen to stock this one) and one of the containers had leaked in transit.
The supplier rang to check if we needed any more - end of term, summer fetes and pageants were coming up and they thought we might need to restock. We declined - we'd just ordered and whilst we sell Firecheck regularly, given that a lot of schools and colleges are preparing for shows - we don't seem to sell a lot.

As fate seems to mostly take a hand in these things, we've had conversations with a handful of customers over the last week where this very topic has again cropped up. Rather than just eMail everyone with a link, we thought we'd follow the Hollywood trend and revisit the old post (though we don't have any CGI effects or handsome leading men to put their name to this).

Of course, it begs the question - do people bother fireproofing scenery? If not - then why not? I know that over the years I've advised folk building timber scenery to paint all the revealed timber and this will provide a similar level of safety. What do you do with draped fabrics or hanging materials, cutouts made from fibreboard or polystyrene - you can't paint a gauze you want to see through (not unless you're VERY careful)? Some folk may still be mixing their own in a metal bucket - there's enough recipes to be found in old stage management books or on the internet, but are folk doing this in schools - seriously?

As you can see in the picture above, Firecheck comes in two styles of container - a handy pump bottle or a chunky container you can decant in to a garden spray bottle. So it's a no brainer isn't it - to keep a small container handy and as you make scenery - proof it?

Of course - someone will be asking why? Well, we could start with - "You're responsible for the safety of the cast and audience for your show" - burning scenery doesn't fulfil that in all honesty. Anyway, do you really want to lose all your hard work and hours of labour because some lighting techie rigs a lantern too close to your handiwork and sets light to it? Having it fireproofed could mitigate the damage done perhaps by stopping fire spreading? Then there's the stage curtains and the auditorium window curtains  - they're fireproofed too aren't they (or shouldn't we ask?) or did you have them reproofed when you last had them cleaned?

So many questions and so little space, if you're suddenly thinking "Hold on - I need to know more" then give the office a call and we'll talk over options with you. Then again, as Firecheck will fireproof just about any material you're likely to use on stage - you could hop over to our online shop and order some anyway.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Digital Sound mixing for small venues

The Allen & Heath Qu 16

We see our Audio Technica rep fairly regularly and usually he's got news of a new radio mike or an upgraded version of a new product but over the last 6 months he's taken to bringing us 'teasers' - brochures showing pictures of nice mixers from Allen & Heath. He turned up last week with a mixer under his arm (well - not quite but you get the idea) in the shape of the Qu16.

This model of the Qu series has 16 channel of digital control over your sound (they do a larger version - the Qu24 which gives control over 24 channels) with both analogue and digital inputs for the sources, touch screen control of the desk configuration, motorized faders, onboard compressors & gates, EQ and reverb. There's probably some other features tucked away inside the menu's but in a short visit there's only so much you can cover. 

Essentially the faders aren't channel faders in the conventional sense, they're a form of control over a digital signal path that allows you to define how they act. The software allows you to run the desk as "conventional" fader per channel or fader per output/aux send or you can define a mixture of both - so you can have mike inputs alongside aux controls. Because it's a digital desk there's no need for the conventional fader strip containing EQ and aux sends. As a result, the layout of the desk isn't as "scrunched up" as some mixers because there's a set of encoders at the top left of the mixer that can be selected to act on the channel you want.

If you need to make a recording of your show or event, there's a inbuilt USB recorder that can record up to 18 channels of sound on to an external Hard drive, you can then play the recording back in to the mixer to produce a final mix - you don't have to pay any extra for the facility! All in all it looks an impressive piece of kit - the case looks stylish and the Qu16 will rackmount if you need it to. 

The short while I spent with it, some of the features made sense although the mixer doesn't have groups in the MixWizard sense of the word there are defineable Aux sends that may do the job for you. Certainly I think if you're considering replacing a mixer and looking for flexibility, then the Qu16 warrants a closer look and at the price it certainly rings some bells. Oh yes the price, surprisingly it's £1600 (+VAT) list which doesn't put it out of reach of anyone serious about their sound. 

If you want a demo of the Qu16 then give our Sales team a call and if you'd like to see more about it's features then have a look here

To prove that I've written this from seeing the desk and not some leaflet from my eMail and as the saying goes "Pictures or it didn't happen!"...