MobileMan Portable PA
By: Ryan Burger
BC Productions has gotten into doing a lot of quick rentals for other local groups and companies as part of its own push for weekday business. Most of the renters seem to appreciate the availability of all the hardware we stock, as well as being able to get it on short notice and at a reasonable cost. And a few end up needing gear on a regular basis, which then turns into an opportunity for them to purchase the hardware.
When I first saw the VocoPro Mobileman at NAMM this past January, I immediately thought of one of those occasions. The Grimes Community Center and Park and Rec department, located a block away from the BCP/ Mobile Beat offices, has often rented a small sound system from us and had expressed an interest in investing in a small sound system that they can use for their everyday events. They would be in need of being able to plug in microphones, wired and wireless and an iPod or similar device. While most of the events would be happening indoors, there would be selected times when they would be outside and need power run to the speaker system, And that’s where the Mobileman really fits in well.
The Mobileman fit the job perfectly. With 4 input channels with basic EQ on each of them including a wireless microphone built in it has the flexibility to take in in exactly what is needed for a quick PA system anywhere because of it’s built in battery system. The top portion of it additionally has a mount to be put up on a tripod, while the bottom unit would rest on the ground. Personally I would have loved to have been able to mount the entire unit up on a tripod but do understand that it might be rather high at that point of operation of the top mounted mixer, still the placement of such a mount is something that i would have liked. While the MobileMan doesn’t put out sound as strong as a typical 12” or 15” powered cabinet it puts out very nicely for exactly what it is made for and would be great for many types of different events.
VocoPro has put features i would haven’t though of needed in such a unit such as chargability form a 12v DC current (to charge the batteries from a van/car/RV), SD card unit for playback or even recording of the output of the mixer, phantom power for microphones that need such, and an effects system that can modify the sound on your channels. While not needed for the possible types of events that I am thinking of on these extra features, adding such without having a super high price is great for value on the MobileMan. The ice things about such features that VocoPro has engineered into it is that they are features that can just be ignored and not used and don’t complicate the usage of the more common features.
Overall, as a basic system for wedding ceremonies or PA rental for groups of 25 to 100, this is perfect because f it’s battery powered operation and packing of nearly everything needed into one system. Check out more information at VocoPro.com on this unit and make your own judgements. Bang for a buck, this is very nice piece of hardware.
SS-88 Speaker Stand
By: Jake Kelly
In the realm of writing music product reviews, reviewing speaker stands such as VocoPro’s SS-88 model ($59 list, $49 street) is decidingly un-sexy compared to guitars, keyboards and the newest digital gizmo. However, now that most cabinets are no longer mere speaker boxes, but powered PA’s with digital processors with mixing capabilities and often a considerable investment, a new look at what makes a quality speaker stand may be in order.
To keep the weight/strength ratio where the stands are both portable and affordable, the SS-88 uses a combination of aluminum tubing and high impact plastic hardware. The large triangular knobs on both the leg adjustment and height adjustment are comfortable to grip and allows for plenty of torque to tighten either piece easily.
Both of these pieces are designed with the triangular handle’s bolt being attached to a insert within the main tube’s surround to provide the grip when tighten. This is far superior to the “C” design of clamp mechanism where the two ends of the “C” are drawn together to tighten the hold. The C clamps were prone to cracking and breaking when over tightened, where the VocoPro design merely stops turning when fully tightened.
The 1 1/2” center pole of the SS-88 is tapered to 1 3/8” on one end, to accommodate speaker cabinets with either size receptacle. This pole has small holes at five inch intervals drilled through it for the steel pin that functions as a safety against the pole sliding down if not properly tightened. The pin is attached to the height adjustment hardware with a nylon strap so it’s always where it is suppose to be, and has it own receptacle for when the stand is in transit.
Also included with the SS-88 is a molded 4-bolt mounting bracket for speakers that do not have built-in pole receptacles. This mounting bracket can also come in handy for those that would like the SS-88 to hold something other than speakers, such as self fabricated band lighting. Four bolts are included with each stand, but, interestingly, no nuts.
Each leg of the tripod is 28” long allowing for a spread of 4’ between each leg when the stand is extended in its most stable configuration. Most musicians will find that a spread of approximately 3’ should be sufficient for all but the most heavy and/or awkward (or fully extended height) applications. The SS-88 is height adjustable from 42” to 72”. Thick rubber caps on the end of each leg provide plenty of grip while protecting the surface at the same time.
We used the SS-88’s with the Mackie DLM8 powered speakers, and the more hefty (58 lb.) Line 6 L3t powered speakers which it handled readily. The stands performed as expected. The stands may seem to be overkill for the mere 22 lb. weight of the new Mackie DLM8 speakers, but are a necessity in order to place the diminutive speakers at the proper level for sound distribution.
Not all speaker stands are created equal: quality of the stand’s hardware and assembly is going to determine how well it will function and how long it will last. The quality of these VocoPro SS-88s and the attention to design has use believing they’ll be performing their job well into the next decade.
Filed Under: Business, Everything Else, Issue #151, Music, Performing, Sound
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