I’ve been spending time thinking about how to make my rig look smaller and more compact. One of the important approaches to that end is cable management. The most prominent cable on the stage is the one that runs from my harp mic–i.e., from the audience’s point of view, from my face–to the ABY box that feeds my amp modelers. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a recent picture:
That mic cable takes up a lot of space even when it’s just laying on the floor, huh? There are three other things I don’t like about mic cables:
1) They break, especially if you move them around a lot, like I do with the harp mic.
2) They’re heavy, and you have to move the cable when you move the harp. I wouldn’t describe it as onerous, exactly, but it does make it a little harder to execute fast, precise movements.
3) They tether you to a certain place on the stage–go too far and the mic suddenly jerks from your hand as you reach the end of the cable. A variation on this problem is stepping on the cable in performance, which pulls the mic right out of your hands.
For all these reasons, I decided to go wireless. I didn’t want to mess around–I just wanted to get something that would work right out of the box–so I went straight to Greg Heumann, who knows how to set stuff up for harp, at Blowsmeaway Productions. Greg recommended a Samson Airline 77 system with CR77 receiver and AX1 transmitter, all for well under $300. I bought it.
The setup arrived today. I plugged the power in. I plugged the transmitter into my Audix Fireball and turned the battery on. I took my mic cable and plugged it into the back of the Samson, then plugged the other end (with an inline transformer on it) into the input of my ABY box. Pretty simple, and it all worked on the first try. I opened up the transmitter a little later to adjust its gain according to Greg’s instructions; it was easy and the setup had more level without noticeable distortion.
I moved stuff around a little on my second pedalboard to make room for the Samson. Here’s what the floor setup looks like now to my Blackberry’s camera in a not-very-well-lit room. Even with this decidedly lo-res image, you can see that taking the harp mic cable out of the setup really makes it look cleaner.
Here’s what the mic looks like with one of Greg’s inline volume controls and the transmitter attached. The Audix Fireball is a pretty lightweight mic, with an aluminum body, and the volume control and transmitter add very little apparent weight. Playing while holding the mic seems to take less effort than it does when the mic is cabled, and of course you never step on the cable when you’re playing with a wireless mic.
A wireless setup is a luxury for some players and an absolute necessity for others. If you want maximum room to move onstage (or offstage), it’s in the latter category. At this point in my performing career, I want the room, the gear does the job, and I’ll pay the freight.