March 25, 2022
In an ideal world, every stage has everything a musician needs – a nice PA, plenty of space, great mics, a house sound engineer, and green M&M’s. Or at least passable AC power. We all know the former is almost never the case. It turns out even the minimal ask of having enough power to drive a small PA is sometimes too much.
Whether it’s because the stage is outdoors, power’s out, or the venue just isn’t equipped right, it’s helpful if you have a strategy in case there’s just no power.
It may not happen a ton, but first things first when it comes to adjusting to a no-power scenario: check for power before you unload. If you really can’t get powered up, at least you haven’t lugged out all the wrong gear.
If at all possible, find out beforehand and if a gig is outdoors, assume there might not be power and be sure to bring your no power setup.
No power doesn’t have to mean no show. But you may have to change things up quite a bit. If you play guitar, it’s a great idea to have an acoustic handy in case you have to go truly unplugged. This is a great opportunity to make a special, intimate moment. Pull chairs in close and create a small stage environment that doesn’t require great volume.
If you’re a keyboardist, perhaps there’s a real piano around. If not, you may be out of luck unless you’ve prepared alternative versions of songs ahead of time that don’t require keys. That may mean acapella, or if you’re a band, you should work out acoustic guitar versions of keyboard driven songs ahead of time.
For bands, practicing stripped down versions is always smart, and especially drummers should learn to play soft, use smaller kits, and/or use brushes or bundles for intimate or no power situations.
Sometimes you just have to have a PA – say at an outdoor wedding. You need power for a PA, but as it turns out, guitars, drums and mics don’t need power. Amps do, but guitars (and pedals) can go straight to PA (sometimes that preferable).
That’s where Carvin Audio’s S500 Stagemate system comes in. The S500 is a battery powered, 5 channel column array PA system. All you need to do is charge it up (it takes about 3 hours to charge) and you’ve got 5 hours of 400 watts, two preamps, five total channels, and all the bells and whistles. Perfect for an acoustic act or a three-piece band.
Chain together two S500s using Bluetooth and you’ve got a stereo setup. There’s even a USB port so you can keep USB devices up and running – like your phone, which you might use to play recorded music between sets.
It’s never ideal to find out you don’t have power, but if you’ve got a flexible plan and an S500 or two tucked away, you can pretty much play anywhere, any time. No power? No problem!
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"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all of the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp and the voice of the psalm." - Psalm 98:4-5