Dimmer

Yesterday was an interesting morning. I had spent a fair amount of time to resolve the monitor issue at our church. Basically, we now field too many musicians and we do not have adequate equipment to support the larger teams.

I picked up a number of passive and active hot spots and they proved helpful. Stage levels were much lower and the overall sound appeared cleaner to my ears even though I was playing drums that day.

There were requests for more monitor mixes than what the existing equipment can support. The vocalists were all sharing one monitor mix. We spent quite a bit of time trying to resolve relative volume levels within the shared monitor mix. And, some players worked without any monitor. Which can be tough going, particularly if you are playing an instrument like an acoustic guitar.

Despite the reduced volume level on stage, the electric guitar player claimed that he could not hear his instrument very well. Turns out, he had plugged his rig into one of outlets that are controlled by the lighting system. Every time the lighting mixer dimmed that particular lighting channel, his amp volume declined.

Just before the service started, the lighting mixer brought that lighting channel down and the amp was starved of power and failed. Of course, we did not know that the amp was plugged into a lighting channel. We assumed that his amp had a bad power supply or a bad set of power tubes.

I asked my wife to run home and grab another amp for him. And, as we started playing our set, I looked over to his rig and followed his AC connection. Right to the lighting dimmer outlet. Once I plugged his amp into a standard AC outlet, his rig worked just fine.

Reminded me of when I used to teach computer science. To solve a problem is basically a four-step process: identify the problem, isolate the problem, correct the problem, and test the solution. Too often we lock into a mindset where we do not do a full assessment of the problem. As in, did we plug the amp into the right outlet?

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