Taking a Mobile PA System on the Road
Touring with a PA system can be a daunting task: there are lots of things to remember, and one simple oversight (like forgetting one cable trunk) can stop the whole production, or turn what should be a relatively routine experience into a nightmare.
If you are on a tour lasting more than a couple of nights, resist the urge to party after every show. Rest your body and your ears, and don't confuse feeling better in the short-term with working better in the long-term (a confusion to which many users of stimulant drugs are prone). ‘I hope I die before I get old’ might sound like sensible advice to a young rock band, but the fact is you will get old a lot more slowly if you treat your mind and body well.
The following things can also improve the experience of touring.
If it only fits in the van in a particular order, try to list the equipment in pack order. That way, anyone using the list can load the van in the right order without having to ask you.
Before you set out, go through the list item by item, only ticking each item off WHEN YOU SEE IT ON THE VAN. At the end of the gig, do the same thing when you leave the venue.
Doing this for your entire life every time you go out will probably cost less time, trouble or money than leaving one amp rack behind in the venue car-park once (especially if you don't notice until you are setting up at the next venue 200 miles away). So you thought it was insured, did you? Read the policy carefully.
If the worst comes to the worst and it is all turning into a last-minute scramble, stay calm! If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would ever get finished.
Power the system up with all the amplifiers switched off, with their volume controls set to minimum (fully counter-clockwise). Switch the amplifiers on one at a time, allowing a few seconds between each switch-on to allow power supply capacitors to charge (otherwise you risk tripping the supply circuit with the combined switch-on current). Send a musical signal from the console, and bring up one amplifier channel's volume control. Check the sound from the speaker(s) it feeds, then return the volume to minimum. Repeat this for each amplifier channel. This enables you to check each amplifier and speaker (if you bring everything up at once, you probably won't even notice if one driver has blown). Finally, bring the subs up one at a time (without returning the previous one to minimum). This acts as a simple polarity check: if bringing up another sub makes it louder, they are in the same polarity. If it gets quieter, they are probably not (in which case check your speaker cables, and if they are OK, check signal cables).