In this edition of the SVC Podcast, Contributing Editor Bennett Liles talks with Murvin “Danny” Persaud of MD Audio and Raphael Narine of Paramount Events about an urgent Powersoft installation at the Calvary Assembly of God after a thunderstorm zapped their existing power amps. Murvin and Raphael discuss the installation and the technology used to build amps that can operate on a wide range of power.
Links of Interest:
- MD Audio on Facebook
- New York’s Paramount Events on Facebook
- Powersoft Audio
- Sound & Video Contractor’s The Wire on MD Audio and Paramount Events
Download Podcast Here:
This is the SVC Podcast from Sound & Video Contractor Magazine with Murvin Persaud of MD Audio and Rafael Narine of Paramount Events. Show notes and product links for this and other podcasts are at svconline.com.
Amps, speakers and other gear only has a certain lifetime before it wears out and becomes unreliable but new technology stands up to the wear and tear better. Murvin Persaud and Rafael Narine have teamed up their companies to put new technology at the pulpit and on the road. They’re here to tell us about it, coming up on the SVC Podcast.
Murvin and Rafael, it’s good to have you with us on the SVC Podcast from MD Audio and Paramount Events. You teamed up for a couple of projects. The first was the Calgary Assembly of God in Ozone Park, New York, that I think had some urgent problems to be fixed. Before you tell us about that Rafael, tell us about Paramount Events. It sounds like you do quite a bit of just about everything there.
Rafael: Yes. Here at Paramount Events we handle all kinds of events; corporate events, concerts, shows, festivals, meetings, special services, graduations. Everything that really has to do with audio, video, lighting, those kind of deals. And during the slow seasons and off times what we do is, we do a lot of installs and upgrades for churches and schools and try to give them the newest technology to help them achieve what they need to. So that’s pretty much what we do. [Timestamp: 1:41]
And in addition to the nuts and bolts side of it, you have to also do a lot of translating for the non-technical church clients who need to know where their budget is going and why.
Rafael: A lot of times when you use an industry term, whoever is in the industry, they get it. But when you mention something like an equalizer and then you say a 4K plus 6 dB, they’re like, “What does that mean?” You know, they don’t understand what those terms are, but you have to show them and explain to them. And efficiencies, amplifiers, speakers, the way they work, components, a lot of people are not familiar with the terminology. They’re familiar with the stuff they get at home. You plug in a CD player and you turn it on and it works. But they don’t understand what happens behind those knobs and that’s where we come in. How we can integrate technology into what they’re trying to do. [Timestamp: 2:29]
And I know that’s a constant challenge to be able to make clear the benefits of specific sound and video hardware to the people who write the checks. So, Murvin, what’s been going on at MD Audio lately?
Murvin: Well, we’ve been moving a lot of Powersoft amplifiers because a lot of people are trying to get modern equipment. And Powersoft happens to be dominating the market for quite a while. The prices are pretty good. The product is very reliable. And everybody just wants to have a couple of them in their racks, if not may a few dozen. From the small guy to the big guy, now everybody is going after it. [Timestamp: 3:03]
Well, I think in that regard, you made some improvements for Calgary Assembly of God and Rafael, what exactly did your team do for them?
Rafael: What they had was an install that was done years ago. The problem was at the time the budget was – it was significant, but back in the early 2000’s, a significant budget does not mean you get a lot of A-list equipment because technology was at that turning point where it’s all new stuff and everyone knows when the new stuff comes out you pay a premium price for everything. But over the years, the amplifiers, they kind of broke down on themselves and components, they dehydrate. Like for example capacitors. They have something that’s called electrolytic fluid and over time with enough heat, it dries up and then the amplifier becomes inefficient and it burns itself up. So what happens is they start to fail systematically. So we were in talks about doing the upgrades for a few years and eventually they were forced. One night they had a thunderstorm or some sort, and then the next day everything just went out. And there was an emergency repair job. We had to overnight the amp, and we got it done in time for the next service. [Timestamp: 4:14]
I guess that’s always tough when you have a quick fix necessary like that and you’re trying to coordinate shipping, installation work and the church’s schedule. It’s nice when you have the luxury of long-term planning and being able to phase the in the upgrades, but I would think it’s going to be a bigger job to get it right in an emergency.
Rafael: Right. And they have the amps in stock and it wasn’t a problem for them to get it to us fast because I’m friends with Danny for quite a while and I said, “Hey, listen. This is the deal. This is what I’m dealing with and we got to get something done fast.” Danny was exactly what they needed and it fit right in. It took me a couple of hours to get it installed, and after that they heard the difference. And from that point on, it was a no-brainer. Everything from that point, they realized listen, you’ve got to embrace technology. And when I took the old amplifiers out there was a pile almost four feet high with amplifiers versus a single amp that’s only two-space. Then, it’s why haven’t we done this years ago? At the time I explained to them the technology wasn’t quite there as yet and now we start to see that you have the LED fixtures where you can run 13 Lekos and ellipsoidals on a single 20-amp circuit. You told me that 20 years ago I would have laughed at you. “Yeah, sure. Okay.” [Laughs] But now the efficiency is so amazing, you can run an entire PA system on two 20-amp circuits. That’s unheard of. It was an easy sell after they saw the numbers. It made a huge difference. [Timestamp: 5:42]
And Murvin, were you in on that installation or was it equipment support in getting the new amp to Rafael as fast as possible?
Murvin: I supplied equipment for the installation.
And Rafael, I think you’ve had a long history with this church and they keep relying on you so you must be doing something right. This wasn’t your first time around with them.
Rafael: No. We’ve done quite a few other events and installs and repairs and upgrades over the years. And honestly, it’s one of the first churches I attended when I started, so it was dating back in the 90’s. And I used to do a lot of the sound and mixing at all of the private events, the corporate events that they have sometimes, the fundraisers and all of that. I used to be involved in that and then they kind of realized hey, this guy knows what he’s doing and they kind of let me handle a lot of repairs and upgrades and maintenance before Paramount was even in existence. [Timestamp: 6:31]
And Murvin, one of the things about the Powersoft amps that you provide for these projects, some of these places have some very high up-time on the AV gear. Do you think this is more so for churches as opposed to the big event venues or is it the other way around?
Murvin: Well, the big event venues grab a lot more, but there are different classes of Powersoft amps. You’ve got the touring edition and then you have the permanent install edition. So it’s not the same amp you use both in indoor and outdoor. [Timestamp: 6:58]
What was involved on the church installation in getting the old stuff out? Were you able to use the same wiring or did you have to completely start from scratch?
Rafael: As far as the old wiring, they were easy to integrate. The only difference is we were pulling out one set of installs and replacing with just one of the key components – the amp. And that was easy. You didn’t have to rewire, we didn’t have to do anything. Just pretty much unhook the old stuff, reconnect the new stuff and program it all, you know, control the DSD and have all the crossover points, limiters and such in place, and that was pretty much it. Power, we actually had to reduce the amount of power needed in the rack down to a single 20. And they’re looking at it and going, “Wow, all of this.” We removed it all.” [Timestamp: 7:42]
And sometimes in churches especially you never know for sure what you’re going to run into as far as power. I think you’ve gotten into some of these churches and the house voltage isn’t even the right level.
Rafael: You know what? That’s one of the main reasons why the amps went out, the old ones, because they were rated 100-120 volts. The problem is the voltage was actually at 130-plus. So there was no regulation in the entire building. There’s no transformers, there’s nothing. So we don’t know how is it that the volts are over 130. It’s still over 130 and then no one can explain it. I think they have the power company coming in to take a look, but I think it’s happening from the transformers on the streets or something. I don’t know. The Powersoft amps don’t really care. They’ll take from 90 all the way to 260 volts, so I’m not worried about that. [Timestamp: 8:32]
So where have you got the amps located in there? Are they at the position of the front of house mixing or somewhere else?
Rafael: No. There’s a dedicated control room with servers and other equipment. The front of house will have another upgrade going on soon. We’re going to swap out the old Soundcraft K2 and we’re probably going to go with a DiGiCo. I’m not sure yet. [Timestamp: 8:54]
At least with a digital console you can get the trainees back to a starting point after they’ve had their fun with the adjustments but the budget for all but the really big churches is sometimes a little tricky to call on big ticket hardware items. The other point about Powersoft amps where they seem to run a good bit cooler and you can put more of them into a smaller space.
Murvin: Well, Powersoft amps, they run pretty much cooler than the regular amps around. You save on the weight, the rack space. They’re more efficient. The switching power supply in those amps. If you’ve got a little overload, anything over 120, they compensate for that. You don’t have to make a shift on anything on the amp from 110, 240, whatever. This is just plug-and-play.
Rafael: And there’s one more thing you can add to that. The sound quality is phenomenal. It’s like night and day. A lot of people had negative thoughts about switchable power supplies and high frequency, high pass and low passing. They’re kind of skeptical about that. Those are stuff that was going on in the early stages, but in over the years a lot of companies, they realized and they tended to those issues and now you really don’t have a frequency oscillating issue anymore. So that’s done. [Timestamp: 10:04]
And on the Calgary church project, I know it was a hurry-up. How long did it take you to get in and get the amp upgrade done?
Rafael: Of course a few days, because we’re still in the process of doing some more. We had another amp we just realized is actually blown also, so we’re in the process of getting that replaced. So it took a few days, but the original install took quite a few months. We were going from scratch. [Timestamp: 10:27]
Alright, interesting hearing about the new installation at the Calgary Assembly of God and in Part 2 we’re really going to really shift gears and get over to the ECLIPS Music Festival where we’ll talk about that live event.
Until then, it’s been fun having you guys on. Murvin Persaud of MD Audio and Rafael Narine, CEO of Paramount Events in New York and we’ll see you next week.
Murvin: Thank you.
Rafael: Sounds good.
Glad you made it back with us for Murvin Persaud and Rafael Narine. The show notes and links for today’s talk are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at svconline.com. Get with us when Murvin and Rafael tell us about how they did the ECLIPS Music Festival on the next SVC Podcast.