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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Question about a remote for my new sound system (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Ron Reid
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Phoenix, Arizona
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Hello:

I recently took MagicMikey's and Andy Leviss' advice they offered here at the Café and bought a sound system. I bought the Carvin Stagemate and Sennheiser Evolution 135 Wireless mic. Carvin arrived a few days ago, and Sennheiser should be here Wednesday. Thanks a bunch, guys!

I've never used music in my show, but am going to start. I'm not ready to invest in anything like the Pollock system or such yet, but want to control music via a small RF remote.

I haven't bought the CD player yet, so what I'd like to know - is there a small Discman-type that can be operated with a RF remote? From what others here say, Infra-red is not the way to go - too unreliable. I also should say that I'm going completely with batteries with my system. No AC dependency at all.

So, is there something I can get short of the expensive mini-disc systems? My needs are really simple right now - I really just want music to play as helpers come and go from the stage, so I really don't need more than a way of pausing and then playing the one disc.

I hope I haven't made this as clear as mud! Any help is appreciated, as always.

Best,

Ron
Lucy
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Dear Ron,

My own needs have to be simple too because I just don't want to deal with big sound systems and expensive equipment. For one little routine I did at the Country Club (to which I don't belong) I just took my little $40.00 WalMart special CD and tape player. I already had the music so that was no problem.

You walk on stage, have a volunteer helper push the button and you're set.

You can get as elaborate as you like and can afford but the best thing is to try the simple stuff first. I highly recommend a video camera to give you a record of your strengths, weaknesses, and progress. There's nothing like watching yourself do something you thought was pretty good... To help you realize that good is still a distant goal.

Music should really help you once you get used to it. It cues you about how far along you are and about what comes next.

As far as a remote is concerned I just don't like to have to handle something else. You can get a tape to tape recorder and put your whole routine on tape, or you can have a friend cut your routine music on a CD for you. Be sure you time yourself well... If you use patter leave exactly enough time for it.

Good Luck

Lucy
glodmagic
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Check to see if your Stagemate has a CD module option.
Hindsight is 20/20 but many units have built in CD players with wireless remotes such as the Excellent
SoundTech which also has many options like a built in wireless receiver for your Mic check this out!:
http://www.soundtech.com/products/systems/al12r.asp

Anchor Audio has this as well (used to have built in CD or cassette and wireless mic receivers).

The new improved Fender PD-250 (digital series) Amplified systems have built in wireless modules and battery packs and it is rumored are about to introduce a MP3 Module with a RF wireless remote. The new systems (PD-150 and PD-250) are HUGE improvement over the prior ones with the speakers made by BOSE and the ability to actually put them Behind you with the digital echo cancellation so you know what you sound like.
http://www.fenderaudio.com/gear/gear.php?node_id=2228

Now to address what you have already purchased:
Adding a battery CD player, iPod, or Minidisc that has IR remote can be controlled by one of the many IR/RF remotes. http://www.smarthome.com/8024.html

they send an RF signal and a small repeater changes the RF to an IR pulse at the player. Many of the converters are little stick on pods to cover the ir window.

BTW, the little NaviPod wireless IR remote is astoundingly reliable on my iPod from across a large area of stage (reviewed elsewhere in this F/X area)

MagicMikey obviously knows his stuff and (from reading his posts)has been down the same road that I have (Never satisfied and Flavor of the month)and I am sure his current recommendation is a good one.
Audio is so darn personal it's like taste in food.
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Michael Messing
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Hello Ron,

I'm back with more advice! There are two methods that work very inexpensively.

The best inexpensive method I've seen is used by Duane Laflin (Laflin Magic.) Duane doesn't feel comfortable with wireless remote systems so he just ran a really long cable from his minidisc player to the PA system.

The player is inside his open top table. The cord runs through the center column of the base and across the floor. I didn't even realize that Duane was controlling the music manually until he mentioned it to me. He steps over to the table to get something and he pushes the correct button.

It's simple, low tech and very hard to screw up! All it takes is choreographing your steps to be at the table at the right time.

The second method worked well for me for years but isn't as versatile. It was recommended by Chris Carey in "Find the Stuff That's You." You use a mechanical button cassette player and a Radio Shack remote on/off switch. This lets you start and stop your music but not move to the next track (unless your music is timed perfectly and then you can put it all on one tape with the appropriate pauses between them.)

The on/off switch is meant to plug a lamp into and then into the wall. With the tape deck, it just turns the power on and off. That's why it has to be a mechanical button tape deck. The electronic soft touch buttons don't stay in the play mode when the power is cut off.

Here's a link to the remote: http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?ca......=61-2667

And to Glod, thanks for the compliment. I've tried so many different things that I'm doing my best to pass on what I've learned.

Michael
MAGICBYTIM
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I have tried many things to make my system remote control. I have used the same thing that Duane Laflin used and it works good but I do a pre recorded drawing board. With this I need to turn it off and on without going to a table. I think it made it look like I was turning on something right before the board started talking. I saw this on a camera like lucy mention above.

I have since decided to invest in the VSM. I have used the VSM 6 and now am getting the VSM 7.5. It will do what I need and I do not have to worry about it. It is an exspesive way of going about it but I felt it was worth it to get a better value in my show.
glodmagic
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Good advice again Michael. Everyone wants wireless but sometimes a simple reliable wire is the way to go. Click on click off tape player is a viable cost effective alternative.
I have been so bad at times running over to the minidisc "fiddling" with it to cue the song. Oh so bad! It ruins the timing.
I got it down better now (did I say I LOVE the iPod?).

I made my own type of Soundman at one time. There is a minidisc "Hack" webpage that gave me the info how the wired remote works on the Sony. It sends the unit different resistance values to do the various functions through the same wire (example 3ohm fades the volume, 1.2ohm changes the track, etc.---not the real values just an example).
I made a simple 4 button remote control with Marcello Contento's inexpensive 4 channel wireless control. I hooked a different resistor to each little reed relay. Not exactly a SoundMan but for about $100. not bad.

Now the iPod (Did I say I LOVE the iPod?) little wireless remote controls volume , cueing, and more for $49. but what I really like is the versatility of changing the playlist on the fly...sooo easy and sounds great through the powered speakers.

So Michael, what are you going to buy next for the audience of 20,000 that you will be doing in 2006 ?(just a prediction) Smile
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Michael Messing
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Knoxville, TN
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Hello Walter,

I'm impressed with the wireless remote you built for your Sony Minidisc. That's pretty neat.

At this time, I don't intend to purchase anything new but you never know. I might have to buy an iPod! (I'm a Mac user, too, so it's only natural. Even my wife wants an iPod, so she probably won't complain about that! She played with one yesterday.)

Ron, as you can tell, there are a lot of different options but they all have one thing in common: it takes a little time to make any of the systems work smoothly and inconspicuously. Knowing what I know about Duane Laflin, he probably spent a lot of time planning how to control his music without it being too obvious.

As I have used three different wireless remote systems (the Radio Shack on/off, CueMaster Pro and Virtual Soundman 7.5), I can tell you that even they look bad if you have to fumble with them or you get you music out of whack!

Let us know which way you decide to go.

Michael
MAGICBYTIM
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I agree about looking bad if your music gets out of whack. Your music has to be just like any other trick you perform in your show. No matter how you decide to control you music it takes practice and lots of it. I saw a show which someone was controlling the show with a showtech and he had several mis cues. He blamed it on the showtech but after his show a friend of mine and I went on stage and my friend used his machine and it worked perfect for him. What it came down to was that he had not practiced with it to know how to use it.

Good luck with what ever system you decide to go with.
Tantrik
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Good description, MagicbyTim!

IMHO, magic is more than just doing tricks, it is performing. That means every aspect of the performance must fit together. If you were a great actor doing Hamlet you'd have a great deal of trouble if the other actors kept missing their cues.

This means magicians need to study how music works with their performance. It means working with the psychology of music as music will induce certain states in listeners. I would also suggest that anyone doing magic should take some courses in acting and stagecraft. Learn how to command the stage rather than just walk out. Learn how a raised eyebrow or pause can cause a close-up audience to gasp. The best magicians, IMO, have it all together. Others just do tricks.
Ron Reid
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Hello All:

Once again, thanks for all the time and advice...much appreciated! The more I get involved in the music aspect of my show, the more I realize how little I know about electronics.

Here's where I stand right now: I just received my Sennheiser Evolution system yesterday, so I'm busy playing with it. My next step is to take Michael's advice and turn it into a battery operated system using the Radio Shack accesories.

I'm really thinking that I'm going to have to bite the bullet and invest in VSM or Mini-tech. I looked through my own copy of Chris Carey's book, and the set up Michael mentions will work, but I just hate the thought of going with cassette tape.

The Show-tech is not an option right now - however, I think the Mini-tech or VSM may be the answer. I'm going to have to look at all the options. Right now, the VSM has my attention due to the cost - the larger remote doesn't really bother me. I plan on keeping it in my pocket and operating like Mark Daniel does in his Book Magic Video.

After spending nearly a grand on the Stagemate and Sennheiser, I guess now is not the time to be cheap. I will keep you all posted.

Michael: I'm guessing you're currently using the VSM 7.5 and are satisfied with it. Is that correct?

Ron
Michael Messing
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Knoxville, TN
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Ron,

Yes, I am using the VSM 7.5 and I am quite pleased with it. I had my reservations at first. I was concerned about the size of the remote, but it does work nicely hooked on my belt. I don't have to fumble with it at all. It just looks like I'm adjusting my vest or pulling up on my pants. (I'm not sure the larger remote would be easy to work in your pocket because of the way the buttons are laid out.) The remote looks like a beeper.

One thing I have found essential is the L.E.D. display. Kelly Duro, builder of the VSM, had a special going on from October through December where he included the L.E.D. display free. (You might see if he'll still do it.) The reason it's important is that the play/pause button of the VSM needs to be held down for a second or two. It can't be a quick push like the remotes for my other systems were. Without the aid of the L.E.D., I wouldn't be able to tell if the VSM got the signal. The L.E.D. display flashes the track number when it's in the pause mode and stays on solid when it's in the play mode. That way, I know if it didn't get my signal.

I'm pretty sure I would have a lot of problems with it if I couldn't see the display. It connects to the VSM with a telephone cord and I bought both a 50' cord and a 100' cord so that I could route the display to edge of the stage. (Since you'll be using it with the StageMate, you won't need much cord because it will be set up out front anyway. I only need the long cords when I'm using my JBL system. By the way, the display works on a pair of 9 volt batteries so you'll still be all battery-operated!)

The key to it, of course, is familiarity. The more you use it, the better it works.

Michael
magicguy22
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There's a new choice for wireless MD controllers all of the cool extra's as well

http://www.stagecue.com
Majiloon
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Magic guy,

This Leskovar fellow is a birthday party magician who apparently hacked one of our systems- Mini Tech, or My VSM- and constructed a unit with his new label on it. He doesn’t have much of anything new under the sun to contribute the industry other than to try to undercut our prices. When in fact it costs over $874 USD including his LED- when the LED comes free with my system, and is still cheaper than his. Unfortunately- he is using another AM operating system to trigger his commands.

This guy even cut and pasted text right off my web site/ brochure and put it on his web site to sell HIS product- if you can believe that- believe it! I caught him – and sent him an e-mail. He did not respond, acknowledge, or apologize- instead he immediately changed his text.

Not a person of much credibility, and certainly not someone I could trust with nearly $1000 of my money- let alone a system I can have confidence in.

I really don't like even giving the appearance of dissing someone on-line like this- it's not professional, I know, but this guy really shocked me-- sorry to bring bad news - but I think it is constructive.
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magicguy22
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Just thinking aloud to help me decide on the best system for me.

I need an LED Track display and I need the ability to trigger special effects (like lights and strobes which are both in my show) The Showtech has both of these but the price is prohibitive. The VSM and Minitech don't have remote control of external devices. The VSM has an LED display the Minitech doesn't. The Stagecue has >both< the LED display and can control a power bar remotely.

The Stagecue is more expensive than the VSM considering that Majiloon throws in an LED to a few customers a month, but, in comparison to the Minitech, the Stagecue is less expensive and you get more...auto-pause between tracks, LED track display option, AC power bar control, small 8 button remote control, etc.

I'm leaning slightly toward StageCue but I'd like to do my research and give everyone a fair shake and judge for myself.

By looking at his website the Stagecue Guy seems to know electronics, also his website says that his unit has a 3-year warranty. That's got to be worth something.

Too much to think about! aHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

*****
P.S. To my last post:

After re-calculating costs,
The stagecue with LED track display is only $75 more expensive than the VSM with the LED thrown in for free and I can upgrade to control a power bar remotely!

Good value, but I'm still researching the VSM/ MiniTech

seeya. magicguy
glodmagic
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Everyone has been selling remotes that change resistor values for MD functions.
Sounds like it's time for a price war. That would settle it.
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magicguy22
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Right on! Still the feature-sets are different between manufacturers

If I knew more about electronics I would build my own!

seeya
glodmagic
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You Can!
I made my own a couple years back. I used garage door remotes (very cheap now with all the multifunction alarm, car starter, key entry, garage remotes).
On the other end use a resistor for each function (stop, volume, etc.). I made mine for less than $100. Here is the Super Secret info:

http://www.esrac.ele.tue.nl/~leon/minidisc/remote/

No offense to Pollack, Majiloon, etc. In fact I Recommend their FINE products! My issue is that given the shareware software for DJs, programmable MP3 players, and more, it's time for someone to make a $99. unit. That would sell in quantity and kill off all the others.
I am sure they will respond with the cost of small quantity (niche') marketing, advertising, support. I do not argue with that, hey, we are small businesses ourselves as magicians. I am only saying:
$99.
If you make it
We will come!
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Majiloon
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Glod- I say go for it.

I wonder if the same oversimplification you just applied to a remote controller- could be employed to sell your show?…

The web page you pulled up for the “resister values” is 7 years old and at least one of them is obsolete and will not work on Walkman CD’s or Mini disks recorders that are 2 years or newer. Thus making it incompatible both upwardly & backwardly. but I will not tell you which one sorry.

As to the other over simplification justifying a price of $99 to “build it so you will come” is almost too ridiculous to justify a response. The niche market only has so much headroom for distribution, therefore will not entice overseas Chinese engineering to pursue mass production of such a device- nor could someone afford to adequately handle the service end of the customer support.

But I could sell you a rubber band a popsicle stick, a retired music box monkey (to automate the normally programmed features), and a few resistors- but if it breaks down- and you need someone to fix it – because your show needs it – the next day- good luck- what did you expect- it was only $99- sorry- but - I’M TOO BUSY FILLING OUT 700 ORDERS FOR OTHER PEOPLE!

Let me ask you- Would you use; a $37 wireless microphone, pants from the Goodwill, a shirt cut from old drapery and purchased from a swap meet, your kid’s Fisher price karaoke machine for a sound system, only public domain music, recycled paper brochures, use your mother to cut your hair, and a ’79 Gremlin to get all this stuff to your next show?
If you do—then do you have the right to complain about your lack of success - and or the lack of dependability?

Do I want to rebuild my own transmission if it breaks down? Some things are best left to the experts- I don’t even change my own oil- I can pay someone else to do it that makes less money than I do- why waste my own time fixing my car-

The fact is- I should have done research to make sure that I bought the most dependable vehicle, service plan from the most knowledgable folks- in order to meet ALL my needs in the first place. Having done that- I have the right to expect that it will take care of me- even when I need it the most. Even when my reputation is riding on it.
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Renaldi
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I have recently read this thread and others of a similar nature.

For my money I prefer the StageCue whether or not it is manufactured by a "birthday party" magician. I feel it is somewhat superior in capabilities to the VSM and that the Show Tech and Mini Tech are great products but too pricey. Joe Leskovar of StageCue is a prince of a fellow to deal with; very helpful, dependable and knowlegeable.

I also have one parting comment and that is about the posts from Majiloon to many of us who are genuinely interested in this topic. Do you really think anyone is impressed by your put-downs? You are only hurting yourself! I would gratuitously suggest you stick to a comparison of your product to your competitors in a business-like fashion. Just my humble opinion.
Majiloon
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I must say- that I didn’t anticipate someone becoming insulted by my last comments-

However much so – I apologize. But that was certainly not my intention, and if you have read my other comments- within the topic stemming from this thread- you will no doubt come to understand that I have been making helpful input.

If you read my comments- from an unemotional standpoint, and in context- - you should see that I constructed it in a way as to be ironic or facetious for the sake of making a wedge into the logic of the comments I was responding to- that’s all. It’s just a common debate tactic- nothing more. Let’s not get side tracked into irrelevance please; I would like to provoke thought- not feelings. If this is not acceptable, then I will refrain from any further comments, with all due respect.

With that in mind- perhaps you can read it again- and find a better understanding,
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