Mic Check at Mifflin


UPDATE (MARCH 4): Ryan Buchert solved the sound system snafu (say that 3 times fast)! More at the end of the article.

When the sound system at Mifflin began to fail a few months ago, Stacey Dello Buono did what anyone who knows Mifflin’s resident dynamo would do — she carried on with one mic, then dug into her own pocket to buy a portable PA system to augment the auditorium’s failing speakers.

She was able to pull it off brilliantly for Mifflin’s Winter Show, but recently the speakers gave up on her completely. Even she couldn’t overcome balky technology (the portable PA system couldn’t possibly fill Mifflin’s grand auditorium on its own). She’s a lot of things, but Ms. Dello Buono is not an electrician.

Who could come to the rescue? Ryan Buchert, founder of East Falls’ tech powerhouse BuLogics, heard the call and kindly offered his help. This past Wednesday, he rolled us his sleeves to lend a hand.

What began as a seemingly easy fix for this electrical whiz, became a search through Mifflin’s 80 year old structure to track speaker wires to their source in the main amplifier.

While he did eventually identify a possible amplifier housing — alas! The box was tantalizingly locked, with no key available at the time. But Ms. Dello Buono’s working on it! Take Two next week, hopefully, meanwhile Ryan found all sorts of neat little nooks and hideaways in this historic building along the way.

Thought we’d share…


Of course, it’ll take more than a lost key (and an over-active imagination) to stop Ryan from mapping Mifflin’s sound system, and bringing it up to speed. Stay tuned for more updates as Ryan tries to get Mifflin mic’ed and the kids a way to make their voices soar!

UPDATE: Ryan returned on March 4 with his multimeter (used to test voltage and troubleshoot electronic equipment, among other things) to track down the trouble in Mifflin’s sound system.

It took him only 5 minutes to identify the culprit — a blown fuse on the amplifier! But it was almost another 40 minutes to truly solve the problem.

Ideally, he would’ve liked to replace the system. “I would’ve donated a sound board but it wouldn’t have worked with the school’s speakers,” he said. “Mifflin’s system doesn’t put out enough power — only 150 watts for the entire thing. Most home speaker systems produce much more than that.”

Not being familiar with school sound systems “which are really different than what I’m used to,” Ryan had to patiently adjust the various inputs on the amp to find the right settings.

And it wasn’t easy with such a finicky system. “Once I got the correct settings I couldn’t touch it again. If you change the settings in any way, the system shuts down. When you turn it back on, the settings have all reverted to their defaults. Strangely, the only way to avoid the automatic reset was to unplug the amplifier entirely, rather than using the power button.”

So what’s the fix? Ryan advised Ms. Dello Buono to use the button on the amplifier’s power strip to turn the system on and off.  “That’s the best way to keep the system working,” he said.

But Ryan’s work isn’t done. Ms. Dello Buono hopes to find a way to connect her portable speaker and wireless microphones into Mifflin’s auditorium system.

Will it throw off the settings? Blow a fuse again? Tune in next time for another installment of Mic Check at Mifflin!


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