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Gear Bag 101: What's in Yours?

Gear bags tend to expand the more times you get burned by a new situation & your paranoia level rises. This is counteracted only by an aging back.

Here are some of the tools I carry for various jobs: (I've left off the obvious like a marker, board tape, smartphone to get gear specs, spare mic, headphones, etc.)

Common:

* Multitool - Screwdrivers, pliers, knife
* Tweaker - small flat screwdriver for taking apart XLR connectors, adjusting gain on wireless mics & some other gear. Also referred to as a "greenie".
* Flashlight - Flashlight apps on your phone burn through the battery in no time.
* Basic Adapters: 1/4" to RCA, RCA barrels, 1/4" barrels, XLR barrels (both ways), XLR Phase Reverse Adapter (for snare up & down), XLR Audio Pads (to prevent overloading your board even at minimum gain), XLR Ground Lift Adapter.
* Cables: stereo 1/8" mini to RCA (computer audio/mp3 players), 1/4" to 1/4", Y cables of all kinds, T/R/S to XLR (both ways)
* AC Cube Tap - To get you more outlets fast
* AC Ground lifter - A less than ideal, but quick way to stop a ground loop hum.
* 1/8" to 1/4" headphone adapter - for when you lose the the one that goes on your headphones at the worst possible moment!
* Multimeter - read AC wall voltage, check for shorts or open wires, test cables, test battery voltages.
* Extra Direct Box - to provide isolated feed to video, house sound systems, etc. Transformers are indeed your friend.
* Deoxit(tm) - Cleans oxidation off of contacts that haven't been used in a while. Oxidation you can't even see can be enough to stop signal flow and leave you high & dry.
* Butterfly mic clip - to accommodate any size mic you might have to deal with in a hurry, such as handheld wireless mics.
* Spare Fuses
* Spare Batteries - For you & possibly others. Great way to make a friend for life.
* Spare IEC Power Cords - The detachable 3 prong types found all over the place in audio. I remember being one short in New York City and running around trying to find one. All I got were "deer in the headlights" looks.
* Spectrum Analyzer App - The one I use on my phone does 1/6 octave, plus it has all sorts of test tones & pink/white noise. Bear in mind the internal mic does have a low end cutoff, but it is entirely usable.
* Spare Keys for your truck - Do this long enough & you will lock yourself out running around in a hurry, and AAA won't come for a truck.

Less common:

* Small subsnakes - Great for when you're running low on regular mic cables, plus they reduce stage clutter too. The ones I have around are 5-6 inputs & about 20 feet long.
* 3 pair mini snake - This is about the size of a regular mic cable, but with 3 XLR plugs at each end. Great for last minute stereo L/R feed requests. Only 1 cable to run, and it comes with a built-in spare.
* Single Channel Mic Splitter - You just never know when you might need to tap into an audio signal. The ones made by Whirlwind are great.
* Basic Tools - Soldering iron, pliers, wire cutter (or use multitool for both), electrical tape, solder. More important the longer you plan to be on the road.

Obscure:

Okay, Radio Shack isn't known for pro audio...or much of any good audio, but they had a few hits.

* Radio shack RCA to RCA transformer isolator - It was made for breaking ground loops in car stereos I believe. Big black cylinder in the middle with wires coming out of each side. Went for around $15. You can't cut the ground on an unbalanced circuit of course, but you can break a ground loop with this.
* Radio Shack XLR to 1/4" transformer adapter - This kind of looks like one of those XLR to T/R/S 1/4" adapters, but it's regular 1/4" with a transformer built-in. No ground lift, but it lets you terminate an XLR signal properly to keep it's interference resisting abilities.
* Radio Shack PZM Mic - Actually made by Crown, so it was a decent hemispherical pattern mic. There is actually an unused transformer in the little box that holds the battery. Cut off the standard 1/4" plug reveals 3 wires ready to solder to an XLR plug.
* Countryman Isomax - Tiny mic about the size of a lav mic, but it has a flat frequency response & a tight hypercardioid pattern. Tape it to things like guitars, pianos, etc to get up & running fast.
* Large Gauge Solid Core Wire - Use it as a big "twist tie" for holding cables in place


About the Owner
photo of Lonnie Bedell of AVlifesavers.com My name is Lonnie Bedell, and I'm the guy behind AVLifesavers. Unlike big companies, I've been doing actual live sound work since 1995, and live recordings since 1985.
It's that kind of real world experience that I feel makes AVLifesavers stand out. It's one thing to examine problems theoretically, it's a whole different thing to deal with frantic last minute changes from an inexperienced client who wants it done yesterday.

Been there, done that, so I've designed products to solve live sound problem fast.

All products are assembled right here in the USA. Living Wages to American workers is and will always be part of the fabric here, despite the temptations.

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