Keeping Audio Equipment Clean

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Keeping Audio Equipment Clean

Postby sircumsized » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:01 pm

So I am a burning man virgin, however I am going with many veterans. I am bringing some PA speakers, amp, tables and mixer. Being that none of my friends are hardcore audio geeks they have never brought this level of audio equipment to BM before.

My biggest question is does anyone have any good advise for keeping this type of equipment as clean as possible given this type of conditions and environment. Just looking for some tips and pointers.
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Postby Trishntek » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:12 pm

The general rule of thumb is whatever you bring to burningman will probably be ruined during or after the week is over.

Now that your expectations are non-existent, I've found you can mitigate dust with linen fabric wrapped around the equipment. The balance of being able to use the equipment at operational temperatures and protecting it from dust is kind of futile. Just accept your stuff is going to get dust in it and will probably need a thorough cleaning after the burn.
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Postby sircumsized » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:27 pm

[quote]The general rule of thumb is whatever you bring to burningman will probably be ruined during or after the week is over. [/quote]

Yeah I pretty much assumed that. My concern is more for the duration of BM so the equipment doesn't die on us. I'm taking older gear with the expectation that it's the last party it will see.

Linen fabric sounds like a good idea from keeping a decent amount of dust out though. Thanks.
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Postby ibdave » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:50 pm

party pooper alert.....

http://www.burningman.com/on_the_playa/ ... olicy.html

Looks like a good time to start reminding campers... 8) 8) 8)
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Postby sircumsized » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:59 pm



Already read that, but thanks!
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Postby ZenoBoy » Thu Jun 02, 2011 10:36 pm

I've picked up a couple tidbits. The first and only real rule is that the dust will get in you can only try to mitigate it.

Try and get all your gear up off the playa. I have stands for my speakers. If you use stands make sure they are securely anchored against the wind.

In years past with older speakers, when we left camp we would either twist tie thick contractor garbage bags over them or we had travel bags that zipped up around them. Dust storms love to show up when you're out.

For electronics keeping them wrapped up at the very least when they aren't in use. Electronics and playa dust are mad lovers and once they meet they don't part easily.

I have seen people build containers/coffins for their gear to better seal it up plus they can lock the gear up.

In super nasty storms I've packed the gear into a car. That's probably over kill but it sure makes me feel better.

As long as you are comfortable with the idea that the gear is in extremely unfriendly territory and an early demise won't kill your funkiness you should be fine.

Every year I come home alive I give the gear a thorough cleaning and I haven't had any problems yet.
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Postby Clar-i-ty » Thu Jun 02, 2011 10:39 pm

Go to your local Smart & Final or Costco and get a roll of restaurant quality SealWrap Use this to cover the speakers like you would for packing. Be sure not to cover vents for fans. Use muslin for those areas. Do the same for the board.

Cover your equipment prior to arrival on the playa. Take the roll of plastic with you to the playa. If at all possible to get beater equipment, it's a good idea to do so.

Good luck.
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Postby Trishntek » Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:05 pm

For my other electric gadgets, I use a shelf covered with visqueen. Only open it when getting something or putting it away. I also keep a small compressor handy to blow dust out of motors and other inconvenient crevasses.

Definitely cover them up when not in use. My speakers are tucked up against the ceiling, mounted to the rigid frame of the shade structure, under HD quality tarp. They are cheap, but put out some decent sound for our small camp 400W. I have two sets but can get by just fine with one.

My violet wands create their own static which is a magnet for dust. They only come out of their cases in our protected area with multiple walls from direct exposure to the playa,,,,, i.e. tent within a tent plus partitions. In fact, most of our electric stuff will be in there. Unfortunately, the sound controls need to be closer to the bar area for easy access.

Does anybody have a source for a wirless system which a 3mm jack for input and output on the receivers? I can find an FM transmitter, but not dedicated receivers. I guess just a protable FM radio would work huh?
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Postby sircumsized » Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:13 pm

Thanks for all the advice. Much appreciated!
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Postby AntiM » Fri Jun 03, 2011 5:07 am

Cautionary tale: We watched with some interest as a camp set up a bar/dance/DJ area across from Hushville. Big scaffolding covered with camo nets, very open and airy. They tested their sound briefly, and then wandered off to explore. Next was the rain, the unusual and rarely occurring rain. No one in camp to throw anything over the electronics. No sound, no dancing, so sad. I don't think I saw people in the camp more than a few times.

(Hushville is a village with no gennies and no amplified music within the village boundaries. I often wonder at the folks who choose to be our neighbors, LOL)
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:25 am

Leave your electronics at home and bring a banjo and an accordion.
You will be better received, believe it or not. ;)
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Postby BaconHand » Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:26 am

Can you list more specifically the gear you're actually going to bring? It will be easier to give you tips with more info.

This will be our sixth year on the playa with sound (5 years on this http://www.jellyfish12000.com/Home.html); Vinyl, digital, touchscreens, cabs, amps, etc.
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Postby HandJamMasterC » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:30 am

party pooper alert.....

http://www.burningman.com/on_the_playa/ ... olicy.html

Looks like a good time to start reminding campers...


Too bad that policy DOESN'T MEAN SHIT ! At least if you're camped next to the Country Western Saloon. And good luck complaining at 3 am.

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Postby Elorrum » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:04 am

Trishntek wrote:Does anybody have a source for a wirless system which a 3mm jack for input and output on the receivers? I can find an FM transmitter, but not dedicated receivers. I guess just a protable FM radio would work huh?

look up wireless outdoor speakers. several to choose from, with transmitters.
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Postby sircumsized » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:15 am

BaconHand wrote:Can you list more specifically the gear you're actually going to bring? It will be easier to give you tips with more info.

This will be our sixth year on the playa with sound (5 years on this http://www.jellyfish12000.com/Home.html); Vinyl, digital, touchscreens, cabs, amps, etc.


I'm bringing 2 cabinets, a cheap mixing board, xponent, old dell laptop, old ashley amp, possibly my old shure beta 87a mic if anyone in our camp feels we would use it. That's about it I think.
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Postby Magiccannoncat » Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:18 pm

I have been wondering about this too!

this year my camp is bring out a PA system too.

In the past, Ive been part of a camp that brought out sound equipment. everything was kept inside our open mic dome. I wasnt in charge of the equipment then, but the guy who was told me after the burn every year he would just open it up and blow all of the dust out of it, and as far as I know all that stuff still works.

Building something to cover it from the rain is def a must!

This is the first year we are doing a more outdoor open mic thing, But I plan on basicly building a structure to go around our stage with billboard sheets covering both sides, back, and top! hopefully I can get a wide enough sheet to do it with one!

Billboard material is clutch for alot of things out on the playa! its water proof, tear proof (you can stick a knife through it and it wont tear at all), wind proof(if your structure can handle it) and its cheap!
We got a 24-30'x about 100' for I think like 35 dollars!

Good Luck to us both! hahaha
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Postby HandJamMasterC » Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:29 pm

Leave your electronics at home and bring a banjo and an accordion.
You will be better received, believe it or not.


Oh Gawd, I got this vision of Lawrence Welk

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Meets Deliverance ! :shock: :shock: :shock:

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Postby sircumsized » Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:34 pm

[quote="Ugly Dougly"]Leave your electronics at home and bring a banjo and an accordion.
You will be better received, believe it or not. ;)[/quote]

Its actually not my desire to be better received, rather to have a good time. Unfortunately I'm not a big fan of banjo music so that's why I'm bringing electronics. To each their own.
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Postby Dust Becomes You » Fri Jun 03, 2011 12:49 pm

Our camp doesn't go heavy db, but we have a system that is played pretty much all week long and its survived 7 years.

The speakers have been re-coned or replaced several times. The electronics have just started to go and lost half the channels but I'm hoping we can resurrect this summer because I'd hate to have to buy another. Gone thru numerous cables, seems the playa kills them.

The rule "don't bring it unless you're willing to kill it" is number 1. Plan on it getting thrashed and not working when you get home. That should be the first determining factor when deciding to bring or not. If you're relying on a laptop that is your primary source at home/school/work, then you are a dipshit.

You will want to find a separate place for your system, adjacent yet semi-private from the party and the elements. We have a 'booth' in a corner of our canopy. Its walled off from the outdoors and behind an inside booth. This keeps the brunt of dust/wind/and drunken shitbirds from killing the equipment during the burn.

You didn't mention your power source, but assuming generator you'll want a dedicated power line and surge protector.

You also didn't mention your interactivity....will you let a campmate plug in their iphone to rip out a couple tunes? If so having a bunch of adapters and cables is a nice touch. Keeping these clean and under your control is always a fun administration.

After the burn the cleaning stage is important. Break the cases open and use compressed air to blow everything out. Check knobs, buttons, and switches twice. Check input and output levels to make sure you're getting proper voltage.
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Postby BaconHand » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:52 pm

I'm bringing 2 cabinets, a cheap mixing board, xponent, old dell laptop, old ashley amp, possibly my old shure beta 87a mic if anyone in our camp feels we would use it. That's about it I think.


Compressed air is your friend! If you don't have a compressor, at least bring some canned air for the faders/jogs/cooling ports.

cabs:
There's not much you can do about these getting hammered. I assume they're not amped/sealed units (i.e. JBL EON, Mackie SRM) because you're bringing an amp. We've used a set of 15" passive JBL cabs several years and while they get dirty (inside and out), disassembling them for cleaning has done the trick so far. The surrounds failing will be accelerated due to the temperature swings, dirt, and low humidity. Big trash bags work well enough for rain/sun protection.

mixing board / xponent:
If most of your mixing will be done using the xponent, set your levels and seal up as much as you can using plastic wrap, tape, whatever. In my experience mixers probably take the worst beating. Blow out as often as you can. We use a pioneer 4 channel and it needs to be blown out several times during the event and professionally cleaned afterwords. Plan on taking your stuff apart and cleaning it thoroughly.

laptop:
This is another item compressed air can really help with. I actually melted one of my computers out there. Basically, where it was positioned on the car created a little collection zone for playa dust right next to the cooling intake port. I didn't realize how much dirt was actually inside the box until I got home. Even at night when it's pretty cold, if the heatsink/fan is covered in dirt they don't work well?! Lesson here? Keep the fan/cooling areas clean or risk melting a box.

amp:
Keep dry and blown out so it can cool adequately.

Like Dust Becomes You mentioned, bring PLENTY of cables/adapters. Who knows, even if you don't, a neighbor may need something.

And lastly (unfortunately), make sure your shit is tied down in a such a way someone can't just grab it and go. I love burning man, but it's still a city with 50,000 people. Some of those people think they need your shit more than you do.
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Postby sircumsized » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:58 pm

[quote="Dust Becomes You"]Our camp doesn't go heavy db, but we have a system that is played pretty much all week long and its survived 7 years.

The speakers have been re-coned or replaced several times. The electronics have just started to go and lost half the channels but I'm hoping we can resurrect this summer because I'd hate to have to buy another. Gone thru numerous cables, seems the playa kills them.

The rule "don't bring it unless you're willing to kill it" is number 1. Plan on it getting thrashed and not working when you get home. That should be the first determining factor when deciding to bring or not. If you're relying on a laptop that is your primary source at home/school/work, then you are a dipshit.

You will want to find a separate place for your system, adjacent yet semi-private from the party and the elements. We have a 'booth' in a corner of our canopy. Its walled off from the outdoors and behind an inside booth. This keeps the brunt of dust/wind/and drunken shitbirds from killing the equipment during the burn.

You didn't mention your power source, but assuming generator you'll want a dedicated power line and surge protector.

You also didn't mention your interactivity....will you let a campmate plug in their iphone to rip out a couple tunes? If so having a bunch of adapters and cables is a nice touch. Keeping these clean and under your control is always a fun administration.

After the burn the cleaning stage is important. Break the cases open and use compressed air to blow everything out. Check knobs, buttons, and switches twice. Check input and output levels to make sure you're getting proper voltage.[/quote]

All of this stuff I have thought of and I think is pretty much common sense, that is if you have any common sense. I am bringing all old gear for the simple fact that if it dies then the only loss I really have is sentimental and not financial. And I'm not really too sentimental to begin with so no biggie. I'm just really trying to figure out how to make it last while I'm there. I can fix equipment much easier once I get it home. Although I'm thinking I should at the very least bring a soldering iron, wire and some tools with me just in case. I just don't want to be out there for a day and have something crap out that I can't fix while I'm there. That would be a major buzz kill.
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Postby Dust Becomes You » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:57 pm

I think you got it pretty well covered. I guess after doing this for a couple years the only thing I can say is

I've lost as many components to drunken burners trying to 'let me just rip out one song, dude' as I have to the environment.

I remember not having a spare on/off switch and a soldering gun. But the experience of dogrobbing them on the playa was epic! It took 6 hours and a couple bottles of scotch, but I got the system back up!
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Re: Keeping Audio Equipment Clean

Postby Mr.Coffee » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:19 am

If you really want to be dust-free, think positive pressure ventilation and HEPA filtration. I'd also recommend the Crown K1 series of amps. I bought several on clearance a couple of years ago because I liked them for a studio/home theatre application (for which they ended up unused), but the plus side is that they're convection cooled - No internal fans. Out in the desert you'd need airflow across them, but they won't pull dust inside, this could be magic for Playa music.


I remember a post from a couple years back where Figjam made an inflatable tent. that setup is what I would recommend for your dj station. Put the amps and everything in there, and make two airlocks: one for the cables and one for you. I'd make mine out of clear plastic though, so you can see what you're doing. The plus side is less "requests" since you're in a giant bubble!
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Re: Keeping Audio Equipment Clean

Postby inProgress » Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:56 pm

^lots of good stuff up here.

So not to rehash, my only addition is be aware of who else is going to be using the equipment (if anybody) and set clear exceptions. Non-audiofile folks often honestly don't know they're doing something wrong (like an output signal clipping with the PA turned way down...ahhhhhh!!!!). If you accomplish most of your mixing on the controller consider a wrap of cellophane around your keyboard, just not covering your fans. I know it sounds ghetto-tech, but it saved my lappy in some pretty dingy locales.

An xponent is nice as only digital signals are being passed, so your audio quality wont degrade as dust gets in your pots. That said, maybe try remembering to take off that absolutely dust covered fur playa coat when you step up to the decks.

Personally, I'm thinking of just throwing vdj on an old netbook with an old drum pad I don't use and mapping from there :mrgreen:
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