Year of the System: The Week – Conclusion

Venue Repairs

I’m not a fan of removing our Venue’s FOH rack from the rack where it’s mounted. This is because there is a single, blank rackspace directly below it. That blank space serves a purpose because it leaves room for excess cable to be dressed and hidden underneath the rack, but it’s not so handy when you have to remove the unit and that’s exactly what needed to happen to fix the Venue. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Wednesday morning started off with a video shoot in the auditorium for the message coming up on Sunday. This particular message was part 2 of the Illusions series presented by Jeff Henderson. The message opens up with Jeff on video for the first couple minute followed by the real Jeff coming out from behind the screen to converse with himself. Of course, we needed to shoot the illusion Jeff prior to Sunday and Wednesday morning was the time to do that. So with the system roughed in we ran through the shoot without any major problems.

As soon as the shoot was finished I put the measurement mics back out and started to fine tune the system. For the first time that week, things started to come together with a standard system optimization process. I tweaked and walked around for a couple hours getting as satisfied with the main floor as I could for a first shot at the new speakers which was good because just before lunch the parts for the Venue came in.

After lunch I got started on the Venue and was quickly reminded why I am such a big fan of service loops. The entire FOH Rack needed to come out of our rack to work on it, but thankfully I had enough slack on all the cables that I could leave everything with the exception of power hooked up. The Venue’s CPU assembly is basically the entire lower half of the FOH Rack, but all of the connections are on the upper-half.

I had never torn a Venue apart to this degree before, so in all honesty I was sort of enjoying the idea of performing a CPU transplant. The repairs were pretty straight-forward. Disconnect everything from the CPU assembly to the rest of the FOH rack internally and then pull it out. The hardest part for me was just removing all the screws and making sure I got them all out. In fact, here’s a tip for all you Venue users who are thinking about repairing your own console: make sure you have an electric screwdriver because the thing is made of screws. I once asked about this and the reply was that they cut down on RF interference, and if you read Bob Katz’ Mastering Audio book you’ll know that RF can play with digital conversion so somehow all those screws might a good thing. Although, when you’re taking them all out knowing you have to put them back in, it’s not so much fun.

At any rate, the whole process took me about 2 hours, and if I had to do it again I could knock that down quite a bit. Once the CPU assembly was back in, I fired up the console and set about reinstalling all of our plugins. I left our original hard drive with the old CPU assembly since the new one used a new motherboard and had all the new drivers already installed on the new hard drive. I keep a USB drive with me at all times that contains all of our plugin installers including some custom installers I built for plugins that are missing them. In less than three hours I had the console back up and running.

With the console complete, I started working on our balconies and fills to have everything working for rehearsal that night. By the time 5 o’clock rolled around, everything was working for rehearsal. I spent Thursday doing some more minor tweaks to the system along with the mix.

Now that we’ve been running on the new drivers for a bit, I can honestly say that I’m happier than I’ve ever been with the rig. There is no perfect system and this one still has its quirks, but it plays a lot better than it ever has in my two years on it. Since the changeover, I’ve continued to tweak things here and there as the drivers break in, but I think we’re almost at the point where we can settle in on things for a few months without anything other than a weekly walk around the room to listen. That’s a nice place to be.

David Stagl

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Year of the System: The Week – Conclusion