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Church Sound: Well-Earned Advice On AV System Maintenance
Don't push equipment upkeep to the bottom of the priority list...
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Other equipment that falls into the short life-span category can include microphones and wireless system transmitters (in both cases due to dropping, mishandling, sweaty hands, makeup, dust, dirt, etc.), as well as mic stands, monitor loudspeaker cables, CD players and others.

Back in my “Re’Generation” touring days, we had to send our Neumann KM84 mics in for service and/or repair at least once a year, including replacing the outer metal shells, which regularly deteriorated due to sweat and handling. These are fine microphones and really enhanced our audio production, so the added effort and expense was worth it.

Once at my church, I found some vintage AKG C451/CK1 mics that were not being used because they had become “noisy.” I tightened up the tiny screws around the capsule, and the problem was cured. (I had learned about these tiny screws when touring with “Truth,” since I used these same mics and had to tighten up those little screws every week to keep the mics working at their best.)

And how many wireless system problems could be cured with routine service by a qualified RF bench technician? The point is to keep “care and feeing” of your system firmly in mind and devise common-sense strategies to stop problems before they start.

While we’ve established that some components have a relatively short life span, other components, with reasonable care, can be expected to last 7 to 10 years, especially with the performance of regular maintenance. If equipment has moving parts (such as knobs and faders), lubricate them—suggest a method or someone will go out and spray the entire board with WD-40.

If it has a cooling fan, clean out the filter by washing it in hot water and leaving it out in the open air for 24 hours to thoroughly dry, and if possible, carefully clean out the entire unit with a soft toothbrush and vacuum. 

When was the last time you went to your rack room and vacuumed out the dust in the racks and around the power amplifiers? When was the last time that you checked to make sure that the fan was still operational in your system processors? Broken or failed fans are the number one cause of catastrophic failure on heat producing electronic devices.

Just remember to take your time and be cautious: if you really feel like you could be causing damage to a component, you likely are. And this is the time to seek the services of a professional. Better safe than sorry.

Bill Thrasher, Sr. heads up Thrasher Design Group, based in Kennesaw, Georgia, and he has provided audio services for many Christian tours and organization, including Billy Graham Crusades and the Southern Baptist Convention.

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