Better AV through marketing – Do I really need what I’m asking for? - October 7, 2013 by Bill Belz

There are two phrases which routinely raise flags at first mention, when I’m initially working with a new client – “powered speaker” and “line array”. Having been in this industry for well over 30 years now, it takes a matter of seconds for me to assess a prospective customer’s level of technical knowledge. How many times, has a dialogue begun with ” I need a pair of powered speakers” or “do you rent line arrays?” Of course my initial response is “yes, yes we do!” After further screening, I often come to find that someone’s brother-in-law made this recommendation, or maybe a given manufacturer’s marketing budget was slanted toward that latest greatest product, in the recent DJ magazine. People are often surprised when I say ” Did you realize that powered speakers typically require MORE cabling than unpowered speakers, and are often more complicated to set up? Or perhaps I might respond ” A line array is NOT the right tool for your event”, because as we all know (wink, wink) line arrays have been around since the dawn of pro audio. To the point – forget what you know when shopping for production, and find a company you can trust to provide proper guidance. At Pleasant Valley Audio, we have a reputation for providing quality counsel to our clients and for not overselling. Remember too, knowledge has value. When you shop for a rental vendor, cheap price sometimes means cheap, or poorly maintained product. To further extrapolate on the myth of best, fastest, and cheapest, don’t expect to get premium service and dependable knowledge from the cheapest vendor. Opinions abound, so be careful who’s you listen to.

Audio legend Paul Klipsch was known for wearing a lapel button, which simply said “bull#$&%” !

In closing, watch out for that glossy advertising, and maybe, just maybe….don’t listen to your brother-in-law.

In Memory of Jack Warlitner 1925-2013 - September 25, 2013 by Bill Belz

When There Were Giants
In Memory of Jack “Jack the Rigger” Warlitner

By Bill Belz

In recent years, we’ve witnessed the passing of a number of industry luminaries and innovators, most of whom have received their due accolades. This is the story of one of the true unsung heroes, and a patriarch to all who came under his tutelage.

As I understand the story, Jack Warlitner began his rigging career in the US Navy, after which he became right-hand man to Bill McManus. Jack was there when the first chain motors were inverted, and when sealed beam lamps were first wrapped in metal cans. As I used to joke, “Jack was once the head rigger at the Parthenon”. He was to Bill McManus, as Kato was to the green lantern. Bill had a vision and Jack Built it. He toured with, I dare say, most of the major acts of the 70’s. I’ll always remember the wide-eyed expressions of numerous aspiring lighting directors, electricians and riggers over a late night cup of coffee or a truck stop meal, and Jack’s tales of the road.


As riggers go, Jack was a cowboy. He was a wiry, agile climber, well into his seventies. I can’t say I recall Jack ever being tied in, no matter how high, and if there were outriggers on a man lift, there weren’t when he was done with it. When Jack was in the air, it was mastery, as if watching a world-class athlete. Every move was deliberate. Every action intentional. But no matter what risks he took personally, he always took responsibility for the safety of his young crew. Despite being an OSHA nightmare, there were NEVER accidents.

And that comes to the heart of the man. Talking with Jack was like stepping right into Appalachia. He had a down-home, backwoods demeanor, not unlike a certain character on a reality TV show about moonshiners. In fact, when I once offered to buy Jack a drink, to which he responded “Aw, hell…I only drink moonshine”. Of course his only vices that I recall, were unfiltered cigarettes and strong black coffee. Jack was close to everyone, and to no one at the same time. On holidays he could often be found making stage drapes at the McManus warehouse. On the job, he was like a father to everyone. When on the road, he would always take a handful of his artfully crafted cordura tool bags, affectionately known as “Jack Bags”, to every venue he went, and distribute them freely to the crew. A true renaissance man, there was little he couldn’t do, and no one with whom he wouldn’t share his vast, practical knowledge.

I won’t say that Jack wasn’t stubborn. He was stubborn like a mule on a hot august day. I will say that Jack’s Heart was as big as Texas. If someone needed to borrow a widget, he wouldn’t just loan the widget, he’d provide a back-up, two alternate solutions, and a thorough explanation of what to do if all else failed. Though small in frame, he was larger than life. A giant among men, who may never receive full recognition for his contributions to his craft.

Whether you knew the man or not, you have likely been impacted by his life. Jack always knew that his place, our place as support crew, was in the background – the silent machine that kept the shows rolling. Even if you’ve never heard is name, you should know about him. Jack would have never talked about himself in these terms, but the thousands of people he’s touched would.

I suppose if he could read these words now, his only response might be “Well, I’ll buy that. I won’t pay much for it though. Hah!” Safe travels Jack, wherever your next tour takes you.

Zen and the Art of Live Sound Mixing - March 1, 2013 by Bill Belz

I often have young sound engineers pose questions and comments such as “How can I get my mix to sound like that?”, “What mic are you using?” or “if I had that mic, console, loudspeaker, etc., then I could do that too!”, as if it were as easy as turning a knob, or changing a mic. Well, to borrow form an old TV commercial, “it’s not the shoes, Morris”. While opinions abound in our industry, the most important, most magical elements of a truly great live sound mix have absolutely nothing to do with the hardware, or a with a handful of crafty tricks.

It was recently suggested to me, in regard to blog posting “Write what you’re passionate about!” So I will. Furthermore, It may take more than one or two posts to espouse my rather heretical ideas on the subject. Stay tuned, and be sure to comment if the subject is near to your heart, as it is mine.

Shure sale at Pleasant Valley Audio - April 2, 2012 by admin

Mention this post and receive an extra 10% off on all Shure wireless microphones purchased through April 31st. In stock or special order. Now through April 31st.

- March 2, 2012 by admin

There are many choices available when it comes to selecting the correct loudspeaker for an event. You may have already been stricken by “line array fever”, but the truth is that these are not always the best device to utilize. The trick is to have knowledge, and an understanding of how and why these devices came to be. For instance, did you know that line array systems have been around for many years? That’s right. The Shure Vocal Master loudspeaker, from the 1960s, was one of the first line array speakers used in concert sound reinforcement. A few years later, the beloved Vocal Master was abandoned for either tight-pack, or spherical loudspeaker arrays. Once again, no single device is always the right choice. In addition to our EAW KF730, and DVA T4/T20 line array systems, PVA also continues to maintain our inventory of JBL HLA horn loaded loudspeakers, and our proprietary JBL direct-radiating devices. With this diverse inventory, you can be sure to always get the right loudspeaker for YOUR event, whatever that might be.

Sound & Lighting Support for Political Campaign Rallies - February 29, 2012 by admin

Technical production for a presidential election candidate can be tricky business. Most people don’t realize the level of complexity required to successfully stage a Presidential campaign appearance. PVA has 25 years of experience, and dozen of Presidential and Vice Presidential appearances in our legacy. We’ll guide you through the process, and ensure that your candidate looks and sounds like a winner.

PVA image gallery - February 13, 2012 by admin

Our image gallery is now live at Select an image number from the slider above, and click the corresponding link below for more information. We’ll soon be adding more information about the photos, and related services

Pleasant Valley Audio is seeking part-time and freelance technicians - February 6, 2012 by admin

Spring is quickly approaching, and we are always looking for new talent. If you are a skilled, motivated technician, We’d like to hear from you.

Charitable Theater Group Survives Devastating Fire – Please Repost - February 6, 2012 by admin

A must-read. This group donates 100% of it’s proceeds to local, less fortunate families and individual. You can read the article here –  Charitable Theater Group survives Fire

The demise of the filament??? - April 21, 2011 by Bill Belz

Is the death of the incandescent lamp  looming? Is LED technology ready to replace  the conventional lamp in stage ligting instruments? What do you think?

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