Back…to the Future

June 26, 2016 by BenStowe

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 few days as I was researching this article I spent time at Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry, the Shure headquarters, and the Electro-Voice headquarters. As owner of NLFX Professional, a major gear retailer and installer, I visit manufacturers often, and most times I am looking forward as we discuss future needs of the industry. I often participate in engineering new products. This time, though, I was certain to look backwards. I warmly reflected on the advancements of the industry in the relatively short span of time from 1991 to 2016.


Speaking of “warm,” I’m immediately reminded of halogen-lamped effect lights. Any DJ store clerk sci-stoweworth his or her salt knew 64514 and 4515 lamp numbers off the top of their head. The 64514 was the staple lamp for lights like the Derby, which employed 2 of the 300 watt lamps, consuming 600 watts and making an Easy Bake Oven look like an amateur effort for using light as a heat source. I recall striking audio first at the end of a gig to give lights time to cool down to avoid getting burned. The heat also presented a real challenge with actually running the lights; the word of the day was “duty cycle.” 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off was the standard mantra. Of course, I preferred to try to use the lights selectively and specifically to enhance an effect, but one still had to be mindful of the duty cycle.

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Filed Under: 2016, Sound