3 May 2017

History – 5, 15 and 25 years ago

The archive of Channels, Connections and CX magazines is online (here, free) now. Here are some highlights from five, fifteen and twenty five years ago this month.


The May-June 1992 edition of Channels (#13) ran to 44 pages and included a new studio and broadcast section. In industry news we reported that the U.S. immigration Act was under the spotlight, particularly an aspect that severely curtailed the number of visas for international musicians and crews. This was felt first-hand by Australian Vari*lite operator Paul Kent who, though invited by band Roxette to join their tour was denied a visa under the Act. In his editorial Julius Grafton raised the issue of crew ratios whereby Australian staff were outnumbered by touring staff. Where are we at with this issue today? Do tours to Australia and their crewing ratios limit opportunities for work by talented local technicians? Email us on


And there was high drama in the area of moving lights with Clay Paky accusing High End Systems of copying their lighting technology with the Intellabeam. Clay Paky were also upset about High End placing product in the Italian market-place (and also no doubt about being outsold in the U.S. at the time). For the sake of balance we interviewed staff from both companies as part of our extensive coverage of Rimini earlier in the year – we went there, via Alitalia! To top it all off, Julius Grafton bravely conducted a moving light comparison-review of product from Clay Paky, Coemar and High End Systems.

In production, we profiled the Concert for Life featuring INXS, and Rod Stewart’s Australian tour had wound up with Lars Brogaard at FOH with his personal Midas XL-3 console. Not all were happy with the tour’s sound quality with the promoter Frontier Touring receiving a number of letters of complaint – rare according to Michael Chugg. We postulated tour fatigue or the use of MSL-10s indoors as possible factors if indeed there was a problem with the audio.

In other developments, the ADAT format was news, and we outlined anti-alising filters, often the culprit for ‘harsh’ digital audio rendering which Apogee aimed to fix. Other products released included the SS1 Moving Fader System and Jands’ SR-3000 split-rail power amplifier, supported by a proactive product tour. Jands compared it at full level and clipping with amplifiers from Carver, Australian Monitor and Yamaha and others (through Jands/JBL Sydney 1400 speaker cabinets) with Peter Twartz in the firing line of sound and attendees. And in the ‘Really Smart Ex-Pats’ department we interviewed Shane Morris who designed the bespoke CADD front-line audio console used by U.S. concert production firm Audio Analyists.


In 2002 The May edition of Connections (#98) featured Market Reports on Power Amplifiers, Plasma Displays, and lighting Effects and Consumables (gobos, gels, smoke and other effects).

Connections was edited at this time by John Grimshaw while Julius Grafton focused on running an innovative training program specifically designed for the Australian technical entertainment industry.

In News, we noted the growth of the church sector for the technical industry, with huge sales of CD and DVDs perhaps explaining how it was that a church put in an order for Australia’s first million dollar live digital mixing console.

We toured Bytecraft’s new premises in Melbourne following its recent corporate change. A brand new Kenworth truck and trailer caught our attention, apparently acquired because customer relationships can be jeopardised by less attentive external contractors, they suggested. At this juncture, Duncan Fry’s ‘Trucking in the 80s’ at the end of the magazine provides some contrast…

In features, we covered Sir Elton John’s 2002 tour with interviews with key technical staff such as Lighting Director Kevin ‘Stick’ Bye who operated the Stephen Cowan-designed system on a Vari*lite Virtuoso. Audio for the tour was a Jands Clair Bros i4 line array which sound so clear according to Connections staff that they could hear the ‘harshness’ of the VCAs on the FOH console – an ‘ancient’ Yamaha PM4000 mixed by Clive Franks. The tour also provided the the first sighting of a Yamaha PM1d digital live console, used for monitors (also installed at the Hillsong Church in Sydney that year). A photo of Elton John in 1971 in ‘Daze of Our Lives’ near the end of the issue neatly bookends, or travel to for more 70s production pictures.

Other features included a technical tour of the new NIDA Parade Theatre – all 35 million dollars worth – with NIDA’s Technical Director Tony Youldon. Approximately 284 Selecon lighting fixtures were specified and bought.

We spoke with Lance Steweart who was building world class DMX technology out of Ipswich, and with Michael Orland who explained how to fit an 18000w PA (+light rig) into a small white van (one of his 9000w power amp racks could be carried in one hand…).

Finally we noted the 75th anniversary of EV with a nod to 1980s innovations such as the Tapco Entertainer and the S100, the first plastic moulded speaker on the Australian market. Going back further, the Beatles and Elvis Presley used EV mics.


The cover and lead feature of the May 2012 edition of CX Magazine focussed on the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair that killed 7 and injured 40. This reinforced a number of messages by CX Magazine and from the industry about stage safety, in this case, that venues alone should have the call about when to cancel a show to protect human life. This did not happen in Indiana according to Julius Grafton’s in-depth 11-page report about what went wrong and ramifications for the Australian industry .

Other non-technical issues also raised in this and other issues of CX around this time reflected a growing concern about safety, superannuation, higher business costs, production work occurring at prices lower than cost, and low wages (for e.g. the Victorian Centre for the Arts advertised that year for a senior audio technician for 52K).

Newly formed bodies such as Live Performance Australia and ACETA are around to help, along with with CX. Elsewhere in the issue ACETA summarise of their first year of activity and goals for year two.

In News we discussed the flow-on effects of razing of the Sydney Convention and Entrainment centres; the proposed AVB networking standard for audio/video bridging; and Panasonic’s 20k ANSI projector designed to take on Barco and Christie. In 2012 20k was the upper limit.

In Gearbox we reviewed the Allen & Heath GLD80 Mixing system ($9995), the LSC Redback Patch Bay System (from $560 + GST) and the Panasonic AG-HMX-100E Vision Mixer ($7334).

Technical features included how to select an appropriate motorised chain hoist, by John Mathieson, and the issue of electromagnetic interference from video walls, with advice from author Richard Cadena on ensuring your video installation is compliant. In his Business column, Julius Grafton helpfully suggests that all business plans need a component called Plan to Fail.

Finally, and as an aside, John Maizels in his regular column linked to The Grateful Dead’s ‘Wall of Sound’, a somewhat large PA specification for the Hollywood bowl circa 1975. The link is still active –

Read these and all magazine issues published since 1991 here


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