Blair Marks

BUMS Audio System Workshop

The workshop was held at the Coorparoo Bowls Club on 10 November 2018 from 10:00 am until 12:30 pm, under the guidance of BUMS audio-visual wizard, Blair Marks. The workshop was attended by approximately 20 or so geeky ukulele players keen to be inducted into the magical world of how to make more noise and make it sound nice.

The workshop got off to a entertaining start with Blair demonstrating how to roll a cable without kinks and knots appearing when the said cables were unrolled (or ‘thrown’ as Blair referred to it). It looked very easy when it was demonstrated, but all sorts of strange things happened when the participants were each given a cable to practise with.

The workshop then moved on to microphones with a rundown of the different types including omni, cardioid, hypercardioid and condenser, their sensitivity and the various configurations where they are used.


There was also a quick demonstration of how to setup a microphone stand and the various issues that should be considered including the layout of the cables to minimise occupational health and safety issues and to make it easier for the performer. Sprinkled in amongst this part of the workshop was some basic acoustic theory.

We were then introduced to the world of the mixing desk and its basic operation. The system currently in use at the Cooparoo jam uses an iPad (or similar) based interface to give digital control using a wireless digital mixer.

The particular unit demonstrated was the Mackie Master Fader (the Master Fader App which is available free for Android, Mac and PC control) A number of workshop participants downloaded the app during the workshop. Digital mixing accommodates everything from the most simple mixes to complex applications involving massive processing. One major advantage of digital mixing is that it’s scalable and customisable. 

The balance of the workshop involved putting the system together and trouble-shooting including the control of feedback. The use of effects, such as reverb, were also covered at this stage. When the audio system had finally been assembled, the various cables (whether vocal or instrumental) were clearly labelled and ‘loomed’ together to make future setups less complex.


Finally, it was also decided that a roster would be drawn up with two persons each month being nominated to assist Blair in the set up for the Cooparoo Jam. The aim of this exercise was to ensure that BUMS had a core of members familiar with the set up of the audio system who would be able to step in to ensure it was always available even if Blair was not. If you have sound experience please contact our Gigmeister, John Henderson, to be added to the roster ().

All those attending thanked Blair for his clear explanation of the sometimes complex issues involved in audio system configurations, agreed that it was a very valuable exercise and that a more advanced workshop should be considered along with one addressing video issues.



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