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Topic: Does your Florida Magic PA system cut out during your program?
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 15, 2006 10:31AM)
I have read a few posts here on the Café' regarding the little system that Florida Magic sells and I have found different points of views from everyone.

My question is this....

How many of you that own this system or have owned it or used it at some point have had problems with it "cutting out" during your program?

I have read posts where some people love the thing and others (more than one) have saod that theirs cuts out every once in awhile.

I owned one of these at one time but ended up selling it because of the "cutting out." I was just curious if anyone else has had the same problem.

Why do I ask?

I get a ton a schools, churches and libraries that ask me about PA systems after my program. I currently use a PORTABLE BUDDY which is made my Amplivox but the price scares them off. I have recommended the Florida Magic system to several schools but wanted to know if I should keep doing so because of the "cutting out" fact.

I had one school that bought one and the counselor called me saying that the one she bought cut out when she was talking.

Would like someone else's input! Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (May 15, 2006 12:49PM)
It sounds like the wireless microphone is having interference issues. I suspect that it's a VHF wireless system, which in some parts of the country is more prone to interference than UHF systems. It depends on the radio and television stations that are broadcasting in the area.

With so many items using radio frequencies now, even UHF can have it's share of problems. That's why the higher end wireless systems all have the option of changing the frequency. (My Sennheiser has 1440 options while my newer Shure has 85 frequencies.)

I'm not a proponent of built-in wireless microphones, especially in the less expensive units. You don't have the option of using the wireless with another PA and, unless you buy a more sound system, they don't usually come with a high quality wireless mic, transmitter and receiver.

Even with the Portable Buddy, I wouldn't recommend using the built-in wireless microphone version.

The best way to keep the cost down is to purchase the best quality, low cost sound system and a corded microphone. It's not as flexible as using wireless but you don't have to worry about interference and you can get excellent microphones for a lot less money!

Michael
Message: Posted by: donsmagic (May 15, 2006 02:10PM)
I just bought one after having a lengthy talk with Dan the owner of Florida Magic. I told him my concern about it cutting out. He said that happens when the 9 volt battery is weak in the headset. I plan on replacing the battery for every show. I already do that with 2 of my Collector's Workshop pieces. So far so good. Three people in my town bought one and are very happy with them.
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (May 15, 2006 02:19PM)
Don,

If that's the case, it would be a lot cheaper to buy a battery tester and test the batteries before each show. The cost of 9-volt batteries is pretty high.

Michael
Message: Posted by: donsmagic (May 15, 2006 02:25PM)
True Michael. I just never wanted the problem to be weak batteries. I own the Collector's Workshop Snakebasket and Sidekick and always replaced the batteries for every show.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (May 15, 2006 03:17PM)
Seems to me that for the florida system (which I owned for a while) you're better
off getting a bigger PA and spend more money. Giving you a PA that would be usable in many more situations.

I cannot imagine one of these being powerful enough for a school show. unless it's just a classroom show. but then you would not need a PA.

The Yamaha stagepas 300 seems like a great pa from what I've read.
Or the Fender PD-150 <--- which I use now (or the PD-250).

About the Yamaha...
The Yamaha comes with some beefy speakers. Can you switch those out for some
smaller, more convienent, less expensive speakers for smaller shows?
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 15, 2006 03:39PM)
Changing the batteries out before each show does make sense which is why I currently do it. Some say you should do it after every 2 shows but I don;t like to take that chance. I'd rather be safe than sorry!

FYI- at cheap at may sound..go to a store called Dollar Tree. They sell 9V batteries made by Panasonic. You get 2 batteries for only $1.00 I use these all of the time withut any problem. Again, change the battery after EVERY show- without fail.

As far as not being able to handle a school audience- I can tell you that the Florida Magic PA will work for large groups. Back when I owned one, I used it for schools with 300-400 kids and it worked just fine. Only thing is that the little thing is VERY sensitive to the point of not being able to turn it up at all without getting feedback.
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (May 15, 2006 04:49PM)
Everything is relative. I'm not satisfied with the sound of the smaller PA systems in larger settings but I'm picky and I use a lot of music. Some people are quite satisfied with the sound that the Florida Magic PA, the Fender P-10 and the Amplivox Portable Buddy put out.

It's not necessarily that anybody's right or wrong. It's just a matter of different tastes. I know musicians who are unimpressed with the sound that my largest PA system puts out and those speakers have 15" woofers!

In the end, everyone has to make their own decisions.

Michael
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 15, 2006 05:01PM)
You are right, Michael!

I think no matter what you use that there is nothing worse than being in the middle of a program and the mic. starts cutting out. This screams "cheap" sound system to the audience!

At the moment I use a portable buddy system without the built in mic. receiver and it NEVER cuts out. However, when I used the one with the built in receiver, it cut out. Maybe it's just me but I have never had any luck with the smaller PA system with built in receivers. It seems like they use cheap receivers!

I am curious- has anyone else used the Florida Magic system in big shows for more than 300 kids at a time? My buddy who lives in New York uses his on a daily basis and loves it. He has used it for 600 kids in a school gym before. A speaker that I know says he has used his for 750 people before. Wow!

I think if you a true "music" nut that a little system like this is not for you. However, if you don't use a lot of music and very low music, it is great. There is just nothing like having a unit that weighs only 4-6 lbs. that pluga in and turns on. Who wants to spend 5 minutes putting their PA system together and making 3 loads to and from the car?
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (May 15, 2006 05:31PM)
I agree Todd, although my Carvin StageMate is as convenient. It just weighs a whole lot more. (I take two trips to my van for all shows. One for the two suitcase tables and one for the cart with my StageMate, balloon bag, wireless mic system, electric fan (I work up a sweat when I perform!) and assorted accessories. Yes, I do that for birthday parties, too! (I could never do 5 shows a day!)

Michael
Message: Posted by: Brian Lehr (May 15, 2006 11:50PM)
[quote]
On 2006-05-15 18:01, todd75 wrote:
A speaker that I know says he has used his for 750 people before.
[/quote]

But there's the rub -- he's a speaker. So in this case, everyone is extremely quiet, waiting to hear what he has to say.

The situation is different of course in a magic show. And, although I changed the batteries frequently, I always had the cutout problem.

When I contacted the supplier about this, they said the reason that it cuts out is that my voice sometimes gets too loud, and it naturally cuts out to prevent the speakers from being blown. I was told that if I kept my speaking on a normal, steady level throughout the show, then it would be fine. I don't know about most kid's shows, but that ain't the way it happens in my show! :)

Also, regarding the wireless mic, while I love the idea, I hated that the belt pack didn't have it's own volume control. As was already mentioned, when the system is approached to increase the volume, feedback abounds!

Brian
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (May 16, 2006 06:30AM)
Hello Brian,

I don't know of any wireless microphone transmitter (belt pack) that has a volume control on it. Some have a gain switch that does affect volume but it's not the same thing and shouldn't be changed randomly.

The manufacturer may be telling the truth about the system cutting out when your voice gets too loud. I have an Audio-Technica wireless mic that will cut out a little rather than give you feedback if you walk in front of a speaker. (It can still feedback but it will cut out first.) None of my other wireless systems do that and a local sound shop said that it was intentional. The key thing is it didn't do that often. Only, when I walked in front of a speaker, which you shouldn't do!

Michael
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 16, 2006 09:32AM)
Hi Guys!

I really appreciate all of your input! It's been helpful and interesting all at the same time.

I've been curious about this little system simply because I am getting fed up with running wires and taking a few minutes to put my PA system up. As mentioned earlier, I am currently using an Amplivox Portable Buddy which I love but I also have to plug in a seperate wireless system to it and then my music. This results in lots of wires! Call me crazy but I like my biggest show to set up quick. So, I had my eye on getting another Florida magic PA so that I can simply plug it in and turn it on and I am all ready.

Brian: you are right! In what we do, we are not mines and kids tend to get excited and loud so we have to have something that will be louder than what they are. I do nothing but elementary age children which get really pupmed up and laughing.

I just love the idea of having something very small (5 lbs.) and not big at all that does it all. However, since this is my living, I am very concerned with having a system that is going to "cut out" during the program. This tells the client that you bought a "cheap" PA system.

Does anyone else know of any other system on the market that is very small (less than 10 lbs.) that has the built in wireless receiver that will not cut out?
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (May 16, 2006 10:16AM)
If you get one with a built-in reciever you're limited to that wireless system.

How about the Crate Limo?

At [url=http://www.musisiciansfriend.com]musisiciansfriend.com[/url] they sell small carts to haul all your stuff in one trip from the car.

I love mine and now don't mind hauling an extra item or a heavier item.

Also, all these systems can be run off battery. I use battery with my Fender PD-150 too.

Lastly, all wireless will cut out. Period. Some less than others but don't think that it won't happen 100% of the time. That is life with a wireless.
Always be prepared. Bring a regular mic and a Gim-Crack just in case. I try to do this all thetime. A Gim-Crack is a must have item.

Keep looking but don't limit yourself at this point. There are a lot of great options out there.

Don't limit yourself to 10 lbs.
Don't limit yourself by requiring built-in wireless.

You might be very happy you didn't.

Just a thought.


Posted: May 16, 2006 11:25am
---------------------------------------------
Here, for example is the Limo.
Add a wireless that's the same or better quality than the FLA PA for cheap
and you've got quite a wonderful sounding system from what I am told for the same price? And it's battery powered right out of the box. That saves you money right there in comparison.

[url=http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Guitar/Amps?sku=487761]musiciansfriend.com[/url]

The Limo, though I've never heard it gets great reviews here at the Café.

Let me know what you think.

And here's the cart I carry things on...
[url=http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/General/Accessories/Casters?sku=699010]musiciansfriend.com[/url]

.. which packs up extremely small in the car.
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 16, 2006 01:32PM)
Frank:

I appreciate your suggestions. However, I am all about quick and easy. I use a simple rule of thumb in ALL of my programs...

If it doesn't fit, it doesn't go in the show!

I am looking for something small around the same size as the Florida Magic system. I have a little MIPRO system that I use for birthday parties and such but it's not all that great for larger shows with 300-500 kids.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (May 16, 2006 02:10PM)
Todd,

Have you tried the SoundTech all in one system for $630? It has everything including built in CD with remote. Wireless is also built in and the way I got around the problem you have (with my small system) is I switched to a wireless handheld. No more problems!

And on the batteries, even better then the dollar store (which I have purchased from also). Pick up rechargeable 9V batteries w/charger from EBAY. Cheap!

Candini Thoughts
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (May 16, 2006 02:19PM)
Understood.

From personal experience, I think you will be very very disapointed if you got a FL system with that many kids in the audience. And probably other systems of the same size. Speaker size DOES make a huge difference. They are not bigger just to look better. They NEED to be bigger to reach out into the audience with any descent quality. It's just physics.

When I listened to my new Fender system the sound quality difference was in the "oh my god" range.

with one little tiny speaker, whoever is going to be the closest to it is going to have a very bad, loud, experience unless it is way up high. People farthest away? It's going to sound just bad. If there are 500 kids, you're looking at covering a lot of ground.

Now for my opinion.
With that many kids, you need to have:
1. descent sized speakers
2. more than one speaker
3. speaker stands
4. proper speaker placement
4. a lav or headset (if it works correctly at that venue)
5. a wireless hand-held (with Gim-Crack) which can be found cheap and good now.
6. a wired handheld mic just in case (with Gim-Crack)
7. a mic stand just in case.

if you're doing shows with 300-500 kids, they deserve to have good sound.
Your rule of thumb is a great idea in theory but not with a sound system.


Does anyone else really think that 500 kids and a system as small as the Florida system would work in ANY situation and sound ok, let alone sound professional?

What if you decide to upgrade the wireless system, add a spectator mic, and use music? Now you need to buy a mixer too.

... just stirring the pot of choices for you :)
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 16, 2006 03:42PM)
Good point! For someone like me who only uses a PA for school Caféteria and an occasional school gym, it works just fine. If I were performing in a huge auditorium, it would be different.

At one point I used a Fender Passport and will confess that it sounded great and more than did the job. The problem was the setting the system up, then the wireless and finally trhe speaker stands. Way too long of a setup if you ask me. I am not saying that is bad but I got tired of my back hurting after every show. And when I started getting so busy I knew I had to make a change.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (May 16, 2006 11:45PM)
I agree, I want something practical and not a lot to carry Todd. I'm already got a full load and recently ditched my backdrop out of my shows (banner looks good enough thanks to Dr Wilson:::) Being professional but practical.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (May 22, 2006 04:52AM)
[quote]
On 2006-05-15 15:19, Michael Messing wrote:
Don,

If that's the case, it would be a lot cheaper to buy a battery tester and test the batteries before each show. The cost of 9-volt batteries is pretty high.

Michael
[/quote]
Now rechargeable 9 volt batteries are made. That can save you a lot of money, especially when it comes to 9 volt. The only question is how long one would last.

[url=http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00000JGN9/002-1702608-7428806?v=glance&n=502394]amazon.com[/url]

[url=http://www.onlybatteries.com/]onlybatteries.com[/url]

[quote]
On 2006-05-16 15:10, Candini wrote:
Todd,

And on the batteries, even better then the dollar store (which I have purchased from also). Pick up rechargeable 9V batteries w/charger from EBAY. Cheap!

Candini Thoughts
[/quote]
Oops. I see Canini already mentioned rechargeable 9 volt batteries.
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (May 22, 2006 05:51AM)
I bought some rechargeable 9V batteries and didn't have any luck with them in my wireless transmitter. It would die unexpectedly even though it still showed a charge when tested. I just assumed that at 8.4 volts, they justed didn't have enough voltage to withstand the power consumption of the transmitter.

The ones I bought do work well for powering my VSM iCue Duo so it wasn't a total loss. I use them all the time now instead of the AC adapter I bought for the iCue.

Michael
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (May 22, 2006 08:23AM)
They might improve the 9 volts. It took time to improve the AA batteries. Now the AA can be charged in 15 minutes with long usage.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (May 28, 2006 12:48AM)
[quote]
On 2006-05-22 09:23, Dynamike wrote:
They might improve the 9 volts. It took time to improve the AA batteries. Now the AA can be charged in 15 minutes with long usage.
[/quote]

Thanks, I may just keep buying the cheap ones for now. School season is over and Im not using the mic as much.
Message: Posted by: todd75 (May 28, 2006 08:37AM)
The 2 for $1.00 Panasonic have never failed me- not even once!
Message: Posted by: Alan Munro (Jun 1, 2006 01:53PM)
I use a Crate Limo and I love it! It will take a low impedence mike, without using an impedence matcher. It's small, light and recharges quickly.

You can still have some radio interference with a corded mike. It happened a few times when I used high impedence mikes. That's why I use a low impedence mike with shielded cables - I've had good luck with that.
Message: Posted by: Brent W (Jun 15, 2006 01:32PM)
I'm the one who bought Todd's Florida magic pa system from him. How nice of him to sell it here on the Café because it was "cutting out", of course WITHOUT ever mentioning that fact when he sold it. Luckily I own a Fender passport system, and just bought a Peavey escort. When I was buying it, he said it worked great, he was just doing bigger shows.

Ethics.


Brent
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Jun 15, 2006 05:23PM)
Brent:

I am confused- I was not aware that I sold you a Florida Magic PA. Is there something that I do not know about? I have one up for sale right now and have talked to several people about the system. I have told all of them that if they are looking for something for larger audiences, this is not the way to go. If they want something for smaller groups, I think it would be excellent.

As I stated above, some people have said that the Florida System cuts out and others say they have never had a problem. I think when I owned mine that it cut out because I was using it in school shows. For b-day parties and smaller venues, there seems to be no problem.

FYI- the one I currently have for sale was something that I traded for.

Sorry if I was misleading. I always want to be upfront and honest!
Message: Posted by: mdspark (Jun 16, 2006 02:04AM)
I use the Florida system..the key for using it for large audiences...300-500 is to have it elevated off the floor. When I do indoor crowds this size ...yes, elementary schools...I elevate my sound system to about head height and it does quite well for voice only. I do not use the mics that it came with..I use a different wirely hand held w/ a gim crack. I have not had any cutting out since using this mic. I did before.

Speaker elevation is the key to getting the most from a small sound system.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 16, 2006 11:04AM)
But with the Fla. system you're also paying for the wireless mic that it comes with.

The sound quality out of the Fla. system compared to a larger system of similar price is simply bad.

I would take Alan's advice and get the Crate Limo, a descent mic and a heavy duty speaker stand you will be miles and miles and miles ahead of the Fla. system. Plus, it will run on battery.
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Jun 16, 2006 03:15PM)
This is great advice! However, some people like myself don't want to run wires, carry something that weighs a lot and requires 5-10 minutes to setup. I agree that a larger system is going to sound better but for someone like myself that likes to get in and out and not take 30 minutes sitting a show up, I don't like the option of carrying heavy sound stuff.

As magicians who work with props, I feel that we already have a lot of other stuff to carry in and set up. I like going the easy route. It's not that I am lazy but when you do as many shows as I do and you do this full time, your back starts to hurt after years of loading and unloading.

Again, I agree with what you said. A more professional system is going to sound better but it's also going to cost you more and weigh more.

I guess there are pro's and con's either direction.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jun 17, 2006 11:06PM)
Yes, it does weigh a lot more. you're right.
Message: Posted by: rickmorse (Jun 25, 2006 05:59AM)
I've searched the Internet high and low for a link to Florida Magic Co. with no luck. I'd be grateful for a link.

Many thanks,

Rick
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Jun 25, 2006 08:29AM)
[url=http://www.floridamagiccompany.com/]floridamagiccompany.com[/url]
Message: Posted by: rickmorse (Jun 25, 2006 10:48AM)
Whoops! An obvious URL, not that I know! Thanks, Todd!
Message: Posted by: afillius (Jun 26, 2006 01:44AM)
I own a company that designs professional audio and lighting for live entertainment (concert, magic, etc...) and permanent installations and we are also dealers for most brands of pro audio gear and here are some tips from a pro:

1) ALWAYS use a fresh set of batteries in your wireless for each show.
2) ONLY use alkaline batteries for your wireless, the best are from Duracell, they have a line called "ProCell" that is what all major pro venues use.
3) Unless you need a system that runs entirely off of batteries, try to stay away from small "all in one" systems (like the Fender) they tend to be low powered and almost always have bad wireless systems
4) If you can afford it stick to UHF wireless mics, and choose one that the frequency can be changed if you have any interference. I recommend the Shure PGX, SLX, or ULXS models, they have all worked great for me on various jobs. I have never experienced drop outs with any of these models even at over 100 ft from the reciever.
5)Use speaker stands. If the sound is absorbed by the 1st 2 rows of audience it does you no good at all. Get the sound up and over the heads of the audience so it can travel to the back rows.
6) I recommend powered speakers for quick and easy setup. Most of us will not have a lot of time for setup and powered speakers make it very easy. Good Quality non powered speakers may be more powerful and sound better but they will be heavier, require more equipment to haul around, and take longer to setup.

Here is a recommended setup:
2 - JBL EON10 G2 speakers (or EON15 G2 for more volume and better low end)
1 - CD player/IPOD or your choice of playback device for music
1 - Shure PGX wireless mic with WL185 lapel mic or WH30 headset mic


You can plug both the CD/IPOD and wireless mic directly into the speaker and control the volume with the volume controls on the speaker.


Hopefully this will help you guys out. If you have any questions feel free to ask
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 26, 2006 11:59PM)
I just received my SOundTech 150 watts AL12 today and the sound quality is excellent. I bought a separate (accessory) wireless handheld mic with it and of course it is also excellent. There are so many options on this unit. THe EQ allows for good midranges. The remote for the built in CD player works like a TV remote. The sound tracks are illuminated and can be seen from a good distance.

Now I just don't know if I want to try out the headset mic ($80) after reading so many horror stories. I had one for my Hisonic and got the feed loss regularly.

The only thing negative so far from this system is the pullout handle for rolling the unit. It seems a bit flimsy.

Here is the link: https://www.audiolinks.com/tek9/tek9.asp?pg=products&specific=jqdokoe4
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jun 28, 2006 12:05AM)
Like Todd, I hate to travel heavy. Unlike TOdd, Im not that concerned about the audience thinking Im using something very cheap. ANy quality sound system is a bear to tote around to show after show. I may break my new system in Thurs but after that, I want to go back to using my portable 35 watt system with hand held wireless. My back aches just thinking about this.
Message: Posted by: Regan (Jun 29, 2006 07:07AM)
Candini,

Enjoy that new Soundtech!

Regan
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jul 3, 2006 03:23AM)
He ain't heavy, hes my brother. Not...it is heavy Regan!
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jul 20, 2006 06:34PM)
At last I found a good headset/lapel mic, my Soundtech mic is here!!!!! Well, no loss of feed or dropouts! I don't really like the headset as much so I attached my other head set from Hisonic and then the lapel mic! Both work! I didn't know you could do this?!

Also it used AA batteries!! I have plenty of rechargables!!
The only real CONS are:

1) the clip for the belt is sort of backwards for some reason. If I attach it like the other units, the controls are to the back. I assume it attaches to the beltloop so I got it fitted to it and it appears it is snug enough to stay.

CONS:

1) The headset mic didn't really fit well but I didn't know any headset mic would work until I tried my old Hisonic headset (and lapel mic)

2) No mute button.

I tell you I get near the AMP and no feedback!!!

So the Headset transmitter cost me under 90 dollars. And the entire PA unit with CD and remote built in was about $630. I have the handheld and the other mics now.
The handheld wireless uses a 9V battery.