Ben Stowe, CTS


Ben Stowe, CTS

Ben’s love of electronics and technology led to years of schooling in Electricity, Electronics, Robotics and Lasers. Ben supported himself through school by building and selling strobe lights and other electronic devices. He built his first DJ show largely from scratch and scrap, often repairing broken items others had thrown away because he could not afford to buy new equipment. He holds a Minnesota electrical license, and his AV installs have been featured in almost every major industry trade magazine. His relentless passion for education has led to a number of other certifications and accreditations, including the most widely recognized one in the AV industry, the InfoComm CTS. His love for education inspired him to begin the ProAcademy educational sessions, focused on increasing understanding of AV technologies within the industry. Ben has been involved in a number of technical writings, lectures, presentations, as well as research and development assistance with a number of manufacturers for products, industry wide. He is also a regular contributing author to industry magazines in the United States and Europe. Ben’s presentations have been featured across the world both as a part of industry leading trade shows, and as a presenter for various groups and functions. Some of these events include BPM in the United Kingdom, Mobile Beat, the ADJA National Convention, Wedding MBA, and a national tour as a headlining presenter for an industry magazine. The United States Armed Forces branches have also called upon Ben to provide engineering and training assistance. His highly informational, slightly nerdy and always funny presentation style have made him a favorite at events, while his sincere desire to help people with their application of technology have made him a favorite with them after the event. Ben serves the industry as the President of NLFX Professional, an industry leading supplier of sound, lighting and video systems, a role he has maintained since founding the company in 1993.




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Active or Passive Speakers

May 17, 2017 by Ben Stowe, CTS
Fundamentally the question really is, where do you want your amp? A passive loudspeaker must be connected to an amplifier, whereas an active loudspeaker has an amplifier built into the enclosure of the speaker. Each has it’s pros and cons. You are still carrying an amplifier with an active speaker (it’s just now inside the speaker). Also with an active speaker, you run 2 cables instead of one (audio signal, and another for AC power). So, which is right for you? Well, the convenience of having an amplifier built into the loudspeaker can be really nice. It allows each loudspeaker to be used and placed independently, whereas ... [read more]
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Can you use a mic cable to run a DMX signal? The short, and only correct answer is “no”.

May 3, 2017 by Ben Stowe, CTS
Can you use a mic cable to run a DMX signal? The short, and only correct answer is “no”. Here are the physics. A DMX signal is a digital signal comprised of 1s and 0s being transmitted at a rate of roughly 250,000 per second. Each piece of binary data must remain legible to the receiving end, or the data is no longer useful. 1s must remain 1s and 0s must remain 0s, and they must arrive with the correct timing. Thus, a cable is designed with the electrical characteristics ideal for this type of signal (capacitance and impedance most notably) and it then must be properly protected with appropriate shielding. This does not mean that a DMX cable is superior and should then be used for both DMX and analog audio. Here again, analog audio cables are designed with the best set of electrical characteristics ... [read more]
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The Moving Line in the Sand

August 15, 2016 by Ben Stowe, CTS
We all have a line in the sand, and sometimes we move it around to suit our given position. I’ve noticed a lot of this within the DJ industry lately. On one hand, a DJ might post a picture of a competitor’s set-up on an industry forum, and do so for the purpose of mocking the inferiority of it. Then, in the next post he will take offense when someone recommends doing something superior to what he’s doing with his own setup.172-2627 It’s caused me to think a bit about the qualifier, “just fine.” They say, “I do this and it’ s just fine.” Just fine for whom? Just fine for you? Just fine for your clients? What if what the “inferior” DJ is doing... [read more]
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The DJ of 2025

July 16, 2016 by Ben Stowe, CTS
As I began to research for this article, I thought it would be fun to see how others had fared with predictions of the future. Being a geek, I’ve logged 171-odyssey-stowemy share of time watching sci-fi, and often life imitates art. Star Trek’s PADDs (Personal Access Display Devices) are essentially a reality with today’s iPads and tablets, and with the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, teleportation has taken another step towards reality. Jules Verne’s Nautilus was a big stretch in 1870 when 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was written, yet less than a century lat... [read more]
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Back…to the Future

June 26, 2016 by Ben Stowe, CTS
It was more than 20 years ago that I first set up a sound system with the expectation of a paycheck at the end of the night. In fact, my career very closely mirrors the life of the print edition of Mobile Beat Magazine. As a young, starry-eyed DJ it would have never occurred to me that today I would be writing an article for the last print edition of the magazine. It would have been difficult to stoweunderstand how the emerging internet of the ‘90s would change the way we consume information and effect the existence of magazines. Likewise, it would be difficult to have predicted the evolution of technology that we use as DJs. Ironic, perhaps, that during the past ... [read more]
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Ben Stowe’s DJ Toolbox Essentials

March 31, 2015 by Ben Stowe, CTS
[ The following is an excerpt from the current DJ Toolbox feature in issue #162. For the rest of the DJs' featured, get a copy of MB #162, or check it out online. ] DJToolboxThey say the only tool you will miss is the one you don’t bring. Of course, bringing everything simply isn’t practical, so a reasonable balance must be found to be well equipped, and yet portable. I understand the struggle. I am frequently traveling to places that I am not intimately familiar with to work with a variety of different technologies, and more often than not I am flying there. I... [read more]
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Flexible DMX – By Ben Stowe, CTS

March 14, 2011 by Ben Stowe, CTS
MB 134 - MARCH 2011 - Lighting is experiencing one of the biggest surges among mobile DJs I’ve seen since the first Derby shipped. The surge is likely driven by the rising popularity of event lighting and new-found affordability of LED and intelligent fixtures. Most interesting to me is that the modern movement is fueled by a technology that is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its mainstream acceptance. Hard to believe, but DMX was first introduced in 1986, and was widely adopted by 1991. Updates and mo... [read more]
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Knowledge For Pros by Ben Stowe, CTS

December 7, 2009 by Ben Stowe, CTS
The NLFX Pro Academy provides an unparalleled opportunity to build your technical skills As an individual, I am committed to education, truth and understanding. In my capacity as owner of NLFX Professional, this commitment has led to educational initiatives that were designed to help our customers better understand the technologies at work in our industry and make informed decisions. Most of the initiatives were limited in scope and geographical reach. Driven by the suggestions of customers (where most of the best ideas come from) we developed the concept of a larger-scale technology education platform: The NLFX Pro Academy. In it's first year...presentations covered the physics and technology of audio and lighting in a classroom-style setting. At the inaugural Pro Academy, some sessions were standi... [read more]
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Choosing a Mixer by Ben Stowe, CTS

November 20, 2008 by Ben Stowe, CTS

When choosing a mixer for your system there are two critical factors you should consider. The first is the feature set. If it doesn't do what it needs to, it isn't a good fit. Likewise, if it is overloaded with unnecessary features, you have likely paid more and are carrying more than was prudent. The second factor is the quality of the board. The mixer may have the single greatest impact on the quality of your sound, and it has many moving parts that can become troublesome quickly if they are of poor quality. There are a variety of distinctly different applications mixers are used in; live sound, broadcast, DJ, karaoke, recording and more. This artic... [read more]

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Don’t Smile! DJs and EQs by Ben Stowe

June 27, 2008 by Ben Stowe, CTS
Tips for using equalization to truly improve your soundWhenever I think of an equalizer it brings back fond memories of the Edward Woodward TV show. GOT A PROBLEM? ODDS AGAINST YOU? CALL THE EQUALIZER! In many senses, that inviting collection of sliders in your rack serves much the same purpose. It's job is to eliminate problems and put the odds back in your favor. All Things Being Equal... The primary purpose of an equalizer is to do just that, "equalize." Make things equal. There are a number of things that are "not equal" in sound. When we say equal, we're referring to the reproduction and perception of a full spectrum of sound. For example, if we pass 31 equal bands of pink noise through a system, those 31 frequencies will be reproduced at different levels. Some louder, some quieter. This is due to th... [read more]