Sharing a PA!

One of the things that I do when I share a PA with other performers and there’s no official sound person is take a picture of my settings.

This allows me to turn my channels down when I’m not performing. That way I don’t need to worry about something getting on my mic’s wireless channel or my music getting bumped and playing.

Turning down or muting any active channels you’re using is a courtesy for other acts you’re working with. It’s easy to do and if you take a pic, that pic is reliable to reset you audio.

– Louie

Hiding the Flic Button

magic show audio

A bit ago I started using a Flic Button to control the audio for one of the shows that I do. It’s working great!

The Flic Button gives me simple play/pause, play next and play previous options. For this show that I’m using it in, that’s really all that I need it for.

I’m playing with doing a lot of other things using the Flic Button and was trying to figure out a way to hide it. I ended up building one into a Sanada Gimmick!

I took the electronics out of the plastic shell it comes in and this greatly reduced the profile of the button allowing it to comfortably fit on the back of the Sanada Gimmick.

This will help me for applications where I need the button in my hand, but don’t want it “visible”.


Ankle Switch Problem Solving…

For this tour I started using my Media Star remote control that runs my music with the magnet ankle switch. Early on I realized that it was running about 2 shows before it stopped reliably working. Changing batteries every couple of shows solved the problem, but is annoying and I have a feeling that’s not how it’s supposed to work.

In the show I use the ankle (magnet reed switch) in a few spots to make the music play seamlessly, however there’s one spot where I need it as I can’t use my hands. I have someone from the audience playing sound effects from a fake music remote, and I need to trigger them when they push the button. With the ankle switch giving me problems, I needed to think of a way to make the gag work.

I defaulted to the mentalist’s old friend, Dual Reality! I put three different colored dots on my remote control.

I simply say “push the blue dot” or “push the red dot”, which implies to the audience that there are different buttons, when in reality it’s all the same button. I’ve done this for one day (2 shows) and it’s working out well and is a great, simple solution to the problem of the ankle switch not behaving properly.

We’ll see how it works for the three shows today…


Plan Ahead…

One thing that’s important is to be prepared when you go to a gig. Recently I was performing at a fair and hanging out with a sound guy who is my friend at his stage. He was at the community stage and had an act that didn’t bring a converter to get the audio output from his phone to a 1/8 inch jack.

This act was a singer, and sang to a music on his phone, so his only “instrument” was his iPhone. He didn’t bring the adapter dongle to convert the lightning plug to something that the stage’s sound system can plug into. Converters to specific phones aren’t something standard that a sound company normally has. They have audio cables that end in a 1/8 inch audio jack.

This singer spent all of his tech time running around to try to find an adapter, and finally had a friend bring him one from home. He was so frazzled when he started, he had rough show. When your show hinges on a $20 adapter, you should have three of them. One in your glove box, one in trunk of your car and one in your pocket. Honestly, that person should be travelling with a DI box as well, that was there have zero issues when they arrive at the venue.

Looking at little things like carrying an adapter, or audio cord can make your life a lot easier, and shows go a lot more stress free!

Yes, I do understand that there are times and places where you shouldn’t expect to have to bring your own DI box, like in an equity theater, however you should also have noted that you need one on your tech sheet. I should say that I would never expect the venue to provide a phone adapter.

If you need it and it’s possible, bring it!

Move the Monitors!

Normally when I perform on a stage, I have the monitors moved, so the front of the stage is clear. That gives me more real estate to perform on at the front of the stage and it also removes a physical barrier between the audience and me. Last week while performing at a fair I was watching the bands that I shared the stage with and realized how much better the stage looks without the monitors.

Here’s a band with the monitors on stage:

band on stage with monitors

I think audiences are used to seeing monitors onstage. However once you remove them, it looks soo much cleaner!

The two bands without monitors were using “in ears” monitors. I don’t think they are right for most magic acts but using them to eliminate the monitors for a band looks great. It also gives the performer a more powerful position onstage with no physical barriers between them and the audience.

If your stage has monitors, you can ask to have them moved…if you don’t need them.


Turn it up to 11!

Last week while doing my sound check, I had the sound guy ask me to turn up the volume on my handheld mic.

This is a scenario where knowing your gear comes in handy. This was a Shure SM58, which is a very standard microphone and 99% of handheld mics don’t have volume knobs.

I asked the sound guy for clarity, that he was referring to the corded handheld I was holding. He said yes, and repeated that I should turn up the volume on it. I told him I was unaware corded handheld mics had a volume knob and didn’t know how to adjust it, and he’d have to show me. At that point, somehow he magically made the sound go up using only his soundboard.

The whole week ended up being a struggle with this sound company. From them wanting to sound check a band 10 minutes before my show after I had already starting to my “talk up” for crowd building, to them telling me my gear was bad when it ultimately was their snake that had bad inputs.

The moral of the story is to not let anyone push you around, and know your gear, so that you know how it works, why it works and that will usually give you a clue as to why it’s not working when it doesn’t.