Classic Mics and Blown Up Amps: OCCII’s Sound Equipment

occii mics s

Assembled throughout the years, OCCII’s amps, mixers, microphones, turntables and speakers together are able to produce a great sound. Yet, much of the equipment is aging rapidly. A little insight into OCCII’s precarious sound situation. 

Luc has been a sound volunteer for OCCII for the past 10 years. Much of the equipment he works with he has also known for ten years. On a cold spring day he shows the wide variety of OCCII microphones. Some are more scratched and damaged than others, and Luc carefully points out which ones he likes to use for improv music, which for punk, and which are always on duty. “Some of the older ones I like the best,” he says. “But then again, we don’t have that many new ones.”

These mics are all from different brands and assembled throughout the years. “Especially for miking a drumkit it would be nice to have a set of mics from the same brand and type,” Luc explains. “Also, the ones we have now are just very old, and you never know when they’ll break for good. After they have fallen a hundred times, the membranes and magnets inside the microphones are simply worn.”

Since January Luc has a small workspace in De Binnenpret behind OCCII where he repairs bands’ equipment. If something in OCCII breaks, he will fix it in his new workspace too. Like OCCII’s bass amp. Luc has repaired it countless times, since bass players kept plugging in their tops thinking it was a cabinet. “But it’s not!” Luc says. “It’s a top with a cabinet, and bass players kept plugging their top into the top instead of the cabinet. And well, amping an amp is a bad idea, so I hardwired the output of the amp to the speaker, bypassing the amp’s speaker output jack, so this cannot happen anymore.”

While the bass amp was fixed over and over again, some things in OCCII are getting beyond repair. After a systematic inventory of all the sound equipment earlier this month, Luc got afraid that one day something might break without there being a backup plan. This has already happened with the smaller sound equipment. “For example, during DJ sets cables and plugs disappear,” Luc says. “When DJs leave at the end of the night, they think those cables are theirs, and they take them home. I don’t believe the cables get deliberately stolen, but the next show it’s annoying anyway if there are no spare cables for the next DJ.”

A quick calculation learns that if every OCCII visitor donated €1, OCCII would have enough money in one night to buy replacements for all the missing mic clips and cables. In only two nights OCCII would be able to buy a turntable, and in four to buy a complete set of drum mics.

If the donation box works well and the most urgent smaller things are bought, OCCII will start to save up for a new sound system. Sjoerd, booker at OCCII since 2001, says that he isn’t unhappy with the current sound system, yet its old age might become a problem soon. “OCCII started on a sand floor without any sound system,” he says. “The bands that played here in the nineties had to bring their own sound systems. Sometimes a band or volunteer would donate second hand equipment. OCCII’s sound system become an odd mix of speakers and amplifiers, but it worked, and since many of the sound volunteers were sound people in their day jobs, they knew how to combine the equipment well. Yet, the PA is now 15 years old, and it becomes harder and harder to get it repaired because not all the parts are available anymore. If it breaks, there’s no backup plan.”

So why doesn’t OCCII have a budget for sound equipment? “The money that we make at the door goes almost entirely to the band,” Sjoerd says, “and the bar money goes to electricity, taxes, and maintenance. The past years the OCCII organisation, together with a lot of volunteers, invested time, energy and money in the building. We restored the facade in its original design and colours, we renovated the inside and built an entirely new floor last summer. Now it’s time to give our sound equipment equal love and care.”

There are several ways in which you can donate:
-There’s a donation box on the bar in OCCII
-You can push the ‘donate’ button at occii.org/donate
-You can
make a bank payment to ‘Stichting In It’ NL17 INGB 0006 5471 17 and put the word ‘Donation’ in the comment (If you donate €20 or more you’ll receive an OCCII tote in the mail!)

OCCII will regularly give updates on what was bought from the donations at occii.org/donate and in OCCII’s newsletter (you can subscribe here).