Before getting back on the road following a period away from touring, gigging and playing, you should make sure all your equipment is in order. Here are some simple checks you can make to improve your show and could save you hours of frustration (not to mention embarrassing silences!)
1. Check your leads
Over time the insulation and sheathing materials of cables may degrade through being exposed to excessive flexing, mechanical action or to heat, UV light or ozone, not to mention various chemicals or spillages.
It is primarily the condition of the insulation and sheathing materials, how you coil them and store them, rather than the actual conductors, that determine the longevity of the cables. See my video showing how to coil your cables to keep them working!
Accidentally dropping speakers on a cable can break conductors and damage sheathing reducing the lifespan and efficiency of the cable.
With careful use and correct coiling, a speaker cable will last up to 3 years. I keep the prices of BishopSound's professional-grade cables as low as possible to encourage our customers to replace them regularly and avoid problems before they happen.
We've made a quick video to show you how to coil a cable properly to avoid damaging your cable.
2. Tighten all screws and bolts on your cabs. Do the same with all electrical connections.
Over time connections work loose and it only takes one faulty one to ruin your performance! Don't just check speaker connections - make sure that all the bolts and screws on your cabs are tight - check feet and wheels where fitted, too.
3. Remove speaker grilles and tighten all driver bolts
Make sure your drivers are securely fixed into their enclosures. Hand tighten in a cross frame or X pattern like replacing a car wheel or a head gasket on a car engine. DO NOT TIGHTEN in a clock-wise circular fashion as you can warp the driver frame.
Tighten 1/4 turn on each bolt in an X pattern in one pass, then the other 1/4 to 1/2 successive turns in successive passes. This will compress the gasket enough to ensure a proper seal, and without warping the frame. I recommend no more than 1 full turn after the bolt meets the back of the frame, usually 2/3 to 3/4 is good.
If tightening HF units, do it by hand to avoid excessive pressure.
4. Is your rig PAT tested?
It's increasingly the case that venues will insist that any electrical equipment used in them has been PAT tested. This applies to visiting DJs and artists using their own gear. Make sure you don't turn up at a venue only to be rejected because your gear doesn't comply. Local PAT testing can be easily arranged - check on Google for your area.
5. Clean your cabinets
There's no excuse for tatty looking gear and your audience will notice if it is! Matt car black spray paints work well on wood and ply cabinets. Just a light spray in a sweeping motion 18” from the cabinet will cover a multitude of sins. Carpet covered types respond to a shoe brush and traditional shoe polish!
Dings, scratches, and dings can easily be remedied with a thick black permanent marker applied and then dabbed with your finger.
5. Clear out the dust
Blow accumulated dust out of power amps etc with an air compressor or vacuum cleaner. Dust builds up on the heatsinks and temperature sensitive components reducing the cooling of amplifiers and decreases efficiency. In severe cases the amp will overheat and go into protect mode.
Dirt and dust in potentiometers and sliders causing crackles pops and weak connectivity resulting in strange noises coming from the speakers and lifting audience eyebrows.
6. How does it sound?
Don't just assume your system will sound great. Give it a full workout at performance levels and listen for signs of potential trouble. Speaker cone paper and the flexible surround decomposes and wears out over time. Replacement drivers from BishopSound are very cost effective and work in the majority of other makers cabinets saving you time and money!
To keep your sound crisp and your bass tight we strongly advise you change your speakers every 6-8 years. This is especially important if your speakers are stored in a lock up that is not temperature and climate controlled as regular changes moisture in the air and temperature increase the risk of gig driver failure.
Listen for unwanted electrical sounds caused by faulty leads, amps, mixers, mics, turntables, etc. Listen for frequency problems due to worn or failing speakers, crossovers etc.