Monday, May 12, 2014

School Sound System Upgrade Proposal

Recently, I was talking with staff at my kid's school about their current, portable rack, sound system and the need for upgrades to the equipment. The principal has informed me that to purchase new gear for the rack system, it will now have to wait until November 2014 of the new school year. Apparently, there will be new budgets set for the school after November.

In the meantime, the school system is in need of a new CD changer to replace the broken one in the rack. I have found the school a used CD changer in excellent shape and I am going to donate it to the school.

The existing mixer/amplifier in the rack is the kind of unit normally used for a paging system full of those ceiling speakers. The unit is setup like a powered mixer with the single, mono split to two speaker jacks for the existing loudspeakers. The mixer/amp unit is very underpowered for the speaker setup and should be replaced with a better setup.

The proposal to replace the mixer/amp unit is to purchase and install: 1 - analog, rackmountable mixing console in the top on the rack case and 1 - two channel power amplifier allowing each speaker to have its own output. With the new mixer and power amp additions, I am proposing that the school purchase 1 - dual, 31 band, graphic EQ for the tonal shaping of the main speakers.

There is an existing dual cassette deck that NEVER gets used so, the proposal is to remove that unit from the rack making more rack space for other gear. The school has expressed an interest in purchasing at least 1 - wireless handheld mic system (and maybe 2 units) to add to the existing rack case.

I have suggested that the school should buy the following items: 2 - wired, vocal microphones to replace aging, broken and lost mics in the system, 1 - passive direct box for connecting the audio output of a computer to the sound system, and 1 - power conditioner/distribution unit to be installed in the rack for powering all the gear.

The school currently owns a rolling rack case with top mount rails for mounting a mixers (10RU rack spaces) and 10RU Rack spaces on the front panel of the rack for mounting of all the other sound gear. The rack also has a custom patch panel installed that would have to be modified a bit to work with the proposed, new system.

The good thing for the school is that I am not charging them for my time spent of this proposed project. Since my kids attend the school, I decided that it would be a nice way to volunteer my time with my kid's school. I also mentioned to the principal that I would be willing to train all the required staff and tech students on how to operate the upgraded system after it is finished. I am also going to volunteer my time for that task.

The only thing the school will have to pay for is the purchase cost of the new gear. The principal also said that used gear is acceptable as long as it is in excellent working order. I have proposed some specific sound gear for the new setup:

1  -Mackie 1402VLZ4 Mixer

1 - QSC GX3 Power Amp

1 - dbx 231s Dual, 31-Band, Graphic Equalizer

1 - Furman M-8Lx Power Conditioner/Light Unit

1 - Radial ProAV1 Multimedia Direct Box

All of this gear would be mounted into the existing Raxxess Converta Rolling rackcase.

Loudspeakers currently consist of 2 - TOA SL-122 12", 2-way speakers rated at 240watt @ 8 ohms.

Loudspeakers - Option #2:

There is another option to swap out the existing TOA SL-122 speakers for a new pair of powered loudspeakers effectively eliminating the QSC GX3 power amp in my proposal. There are numerous brands in the marketplace offering powered loudspeakers in their lineups. I am interested in the Electro-voice Live X series powered loudspeakers.

Specifically the ELX15P 15", 2-way powered loudspeaker:

With using powered speakers, the school could start off with a pair for the mains and then later on purchase a second pair for stage monitors or foldback monitors on their stage. They would also have to purchase more XLR cables for interconnection of the new speakers along with enough AC cables to run power to each speaker.

All this can be done quickly as long as the money gets approved for the purchases. Now I wait and see if the  money gets approved for November of 2014. It takes time for schools to get their wallets out to spend money on those capital expenditures. Wish me luck!

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