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When is redundancy over the top


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When is too much reduncancy over the top?


When I do sound on a show, if there are radio mic's, I usually hire an extra pair, I have extra cables, an extra DI or 2, couple of extra vocal mics and that is usually it. Lights I carry spare bubbles, gels and DMX leads.





A show I am working on in a few months wants to get in a backup mixer and some backup outboard stuff. Personally I feel it is over the top - it is analogue gear, so chances of crashes are pretty much non-existant. The money they are using for 'emergency supplies' would be better spent on other things (some more lighting gear would be nice, the LD is going to have trouble with the budget he has). I understand that large events need some level of fall back, but when there is an audience size of approx 800, and it is a straight forward job - I am doing both monitor mixes and FOH on a Sound Craft GB4-40, hiring an extra in for a week and a half puts quite a dent in the budget...


So what I want to know: What do you think a REASONABLE level of redundancy is (for any department in different sized shows)?

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If it's hired, you only need enough spare to get you through one show in the event of failure just before or during the show, as your supplier should be able to rush you a replacement by the next day.


A spare sound desk makes very little sense to me - if it fails just before or during a show, you're essentially screwed anyway simply due to the time it takes to repatch in a replacement. The only exception is where you have the extra equipment to failover instantly.


A spare lighting desk varies - it's usually better budgeting to have a cuestore as the spare because those are cheap and desks are too expensive.

Obviously you need several backup disks to put the show on the new desk you were sent by the hire firm.


Spare multitrack for tracked shows is NECESSARY, as the show can usually stumble on for the 30sec to 1 minute it takes to repatch in a spare, especially if the spare is chasing the primary unit.

(Make sure you have the timecodes for the start of each number though in case the secondary halts!)


Radio mics - at least 10%, bare minimum one handheld, and a beltpack if you can manage it.

A beltpack can be swapped out in seconds between numbers, and a handheld can be run onto stage at any time (can't count the number of times I've done that!)


Basically, for hired stuff the spares should be thing you can actually change to in the middle of a show.


If you can't fix it mid-show and your supplier can get it to you by the next one, then there's no point.


For a purchased rig, it depends whether you have a supplier who could hire you one at short notice!

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I agree that a spare desk is over the top in most cases like yours.


I have known a venue (installed gear) run FOH from a monitor board as a last minute job when their FOH board decided not to play.

and a couple of venues run monitors from FOH when a monitor board failed.


I do carry a spare board with me. its only an old spirit live 4 16 channel but in the event of a board failure with enough time the basics can be repatched. vocals, and whatever else I can get on the board. it saves cacelling the show even tho it would be slightly delayed and rather restricted.


my mic box for my A rig includes 8 58's 6 57's a full set of drum mics. 2 om7's for the lucky people. and 4 beyer opus 69's.

I then have 2 stereo sets of condensors and 2 radio mics (I hrie extra wirelsss when I need it)


I carry a great box full of Di's so its unlikely I'll run out of those.. unless I beat my record of 6 keyboards in stereo on stage. plus 2 acoustic. 1 bass. and a dj at the side on top in stereo. that was a lot of DI boxes. my 8 channel di's were out on dry hire too :blink:


I have a number of spare leads of all types. including the speaker leads with specific wiring.


A PLX3402 lives under the passenger seat of the van.


I carry (usually) mor than enough channels of compression and gate in my racks to cover most shows. Same with eq. 99 times out of 100 I can live without a FOH eq in the event of a failure.


Personally I think I carry too much redundant stuff around with me. but its not as if it has to be loaded everyday, the van is mine and it stays loaded in a garage so its only at venue load ins and outs that it has to be shifted. and its all on wheels.



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The basic answer is "do a risk assessment". Have a methodology. Put some numbers on it. Then make a decision.


What is the probability of each individual item failing? What is the business impact of that failure? How could you reduce either the probability of failure, or the impact of that failure? How much would it cost to do this? And, finally, does the reassurance of improved potential "uptime" justify that expense?


For example, if you have a component that is liable to fail regularly (I'm thinking about radio mics, batteries etc), but you have spares on hand, then the business impact of a failure is effectively zero, even though it is commonplace, because you can fix it easily.


Equally, if you have a component that is a "single point of failure" - ie if it fails then you might as well pack up and go home - but that device statistically only fails once every 50 years - then you can argue that it's not a significant business risk.


I work in the IT networking industry, where this sort of risk assessment is fairly commonplace. There is no universal answer. We apply different solutions to different areas of the network - for example, I tend to carry lots of spares of "commodity" items, which cover about 90% of our environment. These units are on paper very reliable - mean time between failure of around 40 years is not uncommon - but since I have several thousand of them deployed, I expect a couple of failures every month. Carrying spares is sensible.


In other areas where I need guaranteed uptime, I would deploy "hot spares" - two parallel systems, with automatic failover. But in this case you need to do the risk assessment carefully. I have seen examples where the additional complexity introduced by the failover equipment actually REDUCES the overall reliability.


For the more specialist (ie expensive) components, I rely on maintenance contracts, which can get spare parts and an engineer to me within a predefined time. This may be 24 hours, or 8, or even 1 hour, depending on the "importance" of the system.


So, do the risk assessment - I'll describe a very simple methodology if you want. If nothing else, it demonstrates that you have given some thought to the process, rather than just saying "this is over the top.."





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A back up power supply, if you can arrange it, is a good idea, as is slightly "over-speccing" the desk so if you lose a channel you have a few spares.


A whole extra desk is pretty pointless though, because, as has been pointed out, the time it would take to repatch would likely not be acceptable anyway (and I can't see any production giving you enough real estate to have two forty channel boards set up at the same time).



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A backup sound desk is way over the top. As you say, the budget could go to better places.

Until, that is, you have one go down!!


We had our Soundcraft Delta go down at 7:28 on the middle Saturday evening panto show a couple of years ago. Tok us an hour IIRC to get back up & running, and we had to get a hire desk in from one of my local contacts.

Mind you - the audience reactions were pretty good after an extra 60 minutes bar time!! :blink:

No-one complained too much - we explained the problem to them, and everyone took it in their stride.



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Having had a sound desk go **** up during a concert (scrounged a spare, got it in during the interval) , we did some back-of-a-fag-packet risk analysis and decided not to go for a spare 20+ way Soundcraft, but for a dead cheap Behringer 6 way. 90% of our shows are theatre with a couple of MDs playing effects. Now we'd still be up the creek on a concert needing all the 20 ways, but they are VERY rare for us.


Having had the scare we also bought a DMX back-up for the LX desk.

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Agreed with spare powersupply for a board (much nicer if it has 2 connections especially for this).


I've never had a power supply fail but always have a redundant supply connected just in case.


Andrew, this seems a better way of doing it for you. 90% of my work is with one show at the moment and theres a chance that it might go up even more. Now I use 24 channels out of 32 on the board I use for this show. I know that when the.............the...fan... I can get away with 10 to 12 channels.

basic kit mic's DI only on bass, keyboards in mono, 2 vocals up front instead of 3 if needs be (dont be alarmed its common that we do this on smaller stages anyway). I can still give 4 monitor mixes from my spare board.


With any other show if a board goes down and you cannot get anything running at all then you have to assume you will not be getting paid. I know one company who had a crossover fail on them and didn't carry a spare. they did a bit of rewiring and got back on in 20 minutes. The bands sound did suffer but the band paid them in full for keeping the show going. no doubt if the band had stopped they wouldn't be getting paid either.




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