The Long Ranger is dead ☠️ Long live the long ranger! As soon as it went away, another brand stepped in to take its place: The Anchor Audio MegaVox. There’s always a love-hate relationship between ensemble directors and these devices. People forget to charge them. Then in an effort to delegate charging responsibility, they get left in cars and then stolen (true story). They get abused! One of the most vulnerable, and critical components is the speaker cone – it’s what makes the MegaVox MEGA.

The cone is molded with three small tabs of plastic. While the cone is recessed behind the front face of the MegaVox, the fabric case is not enough to prevent damage. Anything that sneaks in an hits the code will surely break it off. On any given equipment trailer, there are many opportunities for things to jostle around and break a cone.

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…also marching band, WGI, etc. Well we did it again this year at Minnesota Brass. This season’s problem to solve: harmonicas. The 2023 Minnesota Brass production “Speakeasy” used Billy Joel’s Piano Man as the ballad. I thought it would fun to play a little ditty on harmonica, so I worked with our arranger to put it in.

Playing Harmonica

I had never played harmonica, so I did some research. I wanted to make sure it was achievable, and that whatever I ordered would be suitable. I started with this youtube video and some harmonica note charts:

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I just got done with a fantastic first season with MBI Winds, a new independent hornline that competed in WGI’s Winds class. Our goal was to create an outlet for horn players of all instruments and all ages. We set out to show how hornline culture is cool 😎 And it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

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I wanted to buy a USB audio interface to use at home when working on the backing track for MBI Winds. Our winds group uses a multi-speaker setup (currently 3 channels) that I wanted to be able to easily replicate at home without pulling out 2x 100-pound speakers and a 32 channel mixer πŸ˜…

So many choices!

I started by looking at interfaces on Amazon, starting with the hugely popular Scarlett and the Behringer 4-channel units. I asked around at work because lots of folks like to use USB audio interfaces for podcast mics, or simply to get rid of headphone noise induced by their computer’s main board. After asking my list went from 2 to 6 units.

Then I found myself on Sweetwater looking at their expansive list of USB audio interfaces (over 200 😲).

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Before we get into Mixer Hell I want to talk about what is currently consuming my life: MBI Winds. It’s a brand new WGI Winds ensemble put on by Minnesota Brass – sort of like an indoor marching band, but just the horn line. Our first contest is in one month and we still have open positions for flute, clarinet, saxophone, baritone & tuba. Here’s more about our 2023 program and how to join:

For this new ensemble we have audio equipment (computer, mixer, powered speakers) that are used for our backing track – non-winds sounds and percussion. Since this is a new ensemble with a limited budget, I took the approach to beg & borrow as much equipment as possible.

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