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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Everyone. So I have decided to purchase several 5 LED floods and a lightning generator/machine for my haunt this year.
I have not decided between I-Zombie or FireFLy but they seem to be the best of breed. I have def decided I am choosing LED spots and the higher end of either model. I figure the cost between the unit, lights, and numerous extension cords will be $1,000. I accept this.

Where I need all of your help is deciding which speakers would be best to use with the thunder soundtrack that comes with either unit.
I have seen some people recommend and (2) active powered "all in one" 15" PA speaker. I want to utilze the stereo option with the units so I want at least (2) speakers. When I went to guitar center yesterday, they recommended buying a separate, 18" sub and (2) speakers verses trying to get both highs and lows out of the PA. The subs (new) he recommended alone were $600 to $800

I would like to limit myself to spending no more than $800 on 2 or 3 components to accomplish this goal. I will consider new or used as I see these pop up on craigslist or even on consignment at guitar center often.

The reality is these speakers will get used for 2 weeks out of the year however I do want to invest in a setup that will wow my TOT's. I plan to keep haunting until I myself one day will return as a Zombie. :)

My opinion is ambiance (lighting/sound) are the most important elements in a haunt so I want to get it right without spending stupid money.
Thoughts? Opinions?
 

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Note sure if you caught this thread in your search but some of us were hashing out the same thing: http://www.halloweenforum.com/halloween-props/103710-firefly-lightening-machine-help-3.html In that thread is a couple of videos to show how it all sounded. I ended up with the Behringer EuroLive 12" and loved it. It is a single speaker because if you use the soundtrack with the FireFly the stereo soundtrack is split with one side giving the sound input to the lightning and the other to the speaker. So, it's only has a mono signal actually going to your speaker. FireFly also offers the stereo version of the soundtrack. The difference is the in the split version there is a time delay so you get more realistic time delay like with an actual lightning storm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Terra, that is valuable information. You continue to be my favorite person on this forum. Want to do another interview with me! lol.
So what about the I-Zombie? I wonder if it too delivers the signal the same way. I prefer to have the more realistic sound/lighting effect if I had to choose.
 

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While I don't know i zombie or firefly but thunder and lightening should be fairly simple. i. Couldn't you use a color organ? 2 Couldn't you make your own soundtrack and run dtmf tones thru one side to operate relays for the lights? 3. Try vixen to control the lights thru various controllers? I would probably use the vixen method as you can control when the lights come on and at what intensity and there is plenty of hardware it can control even rgb lighting. You can even get RGB floods for a cheap price that would light up the whole yard. Just a thought. If my controllers weren't packed up I would show a quick show on how easy it would be and cheap. Heck. Give me a day or two and I will try and dig them out and take a video.
 

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Don't hate me - but the 501... was a Christmas present :) But to make you feel better - I had never got the dimming channel to work enough where it was that noticeable enough. Probably was operator error but I suggest you don't make that option a heavy consideration.
 

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As far as the speakers go, I can give some input. I did this for my neighborhood up to a few years ago when I moved. Each year I set up 4 1000watt DJ strobe lights daisy chained together stretched across the street on a wire that went from the peak of my roof to a tree on the other side of the road about 20 feet off the ground.

I found that the most realistic way to do it doesn't work as well. I mean having the delay like 'real' lightning. I found that I got a better reaction having the sound and flashing going off at the same time. When I included a delay, people just thought things weren't working right. The startle effect is also bigger if the big sound of the clap of thunder and the flash hit at the same time.

In fact, if the storm were right on top of you, they would happen at about the same time, so it's not necessarily wrong.

Anyway, about the speakers. I was going for complete realism (or the best I could achieve), At the time, I was a mobile DJ and had lots of audio equipment.

I used a total of 4 speakers. 2 Peavey SP3 2 way speakers with a 15" woofer and a mid/high horn, and two 24" subwoofers for deep rumbling bass. I powered them with 2 large A/B power amplifiers, each 900 watts per channel. One for the subs and the other for the Peaveys. I started with smaller amps, but upgraded over the years. The subs were both hidden on the ground, and the main speakers were up high. One in the open second story window of my house and another in a house down the street (2 houses down. I used 250 feet of 16gage wire for the run).

I made the soundtrack so that many of the thunder crashes (most of which I recorded myself from actual storms over the years) were stereo balanced to start more to one channel and slowly 'roll' over to the other channel to give the impression of rolling thunder I used a small audio mixer and fed the same output from the CD player into 2 stereo channel inputs using Y connectors. Using monitor or auxiliary outputs, I fed the stereo output to the amplifiers and a mono version to my home made lightning machine which sensed the audio and flashed the strobes when there was audio present.

You can see what I built here: http://www.halloweenforum.com/tutor...activated-switch-lightning-machine-cheap.html

The result was lightning of realistic brightness aimed at my haunt from over the heads and behind the people. (You can see the setup here: http://halloweenbobshaunt.com/pics2007.html (Scroll down about halfway in the right hand column to see the strobes setup.)

The audio could be heard in the next neighborhood, but the harsh Higher pitched sound were aimed over people's heads so it was both realistic and loud as well as not too harsh on the ears of the people on the ground.

I guess my point is that you want to get the most powerful speakers with the widest range of frequencies that is in your budget range. It would probably be just as effective in mono with only one speaker and one subwoofer if you are using a pre-recorded thunder track. Real thunder has incredibly low bass frequencies, so if you are going for realism, you need to get speakers and an amp capable of the lowest frequencies and the most power that you can afford.

You could also rent speakers and amplifiers from a rental store that handles audio equipment instead of buying it. You may be able to get the most bang for your buck that way, although you would have to rent every year. Strobes can also be rented from places that rent DJ equipment.

I hope that helps somewhat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Don't hate me - but the 501... was a Christmas present :) But to make you feel better - I had never got the dimming channel to work enough where it was that noticeable enough. Probably was operator error but I suggest you don't make that option a heavy consideration.
I'll probably be buying the same one. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hbob, wow thanks for the detailed example of your setup. So just when I was convincing myself that I can get away with one 15" speaker due to the signal coming in as mono because of the other going to the lights!! I guess I will just have to hear the lights alive track in mono and stereo on a few different speaker setups at guitar central to judge for myself. I have a friend that is an audio/video consultant and might be able to get wholesale prices on what I need. What would you suggest if I just wanted one good active speaker on a stand?

I don't have the inclination to build my own lightning controller so I will just buy one. I need that time and mental bandwidth to concentrate on building more props this year. I do like electronics and generally like the DIY approach for everythign but I need to prioritize. I guess I need to accept that spending $1,500 in speakers isn't a wise investment for someone who is not a DJ and will only use these 2 weeks of the year.
 

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Yeah, I hear you HalloweenBob. Been seeing both options and so it's a decision thing. Your set-up sounds incredible and very scary. Mine is more of a backdrop type of set-up. Was terribly nervous of ticking off my neighbors with a really loud display because we are close-up and in a cul de sac so am going the bit more passive approach. It's still very loud and pretty scary so it was a good compromise for what I wanted. But, boy, I bet yours sounds outstanding!
 

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What would you suggest if I just wanted one good active speaker on a stand?
I would still look into the possibility of renting, but if you want something that you own so that you can use it over and over again for years, I would get something with a 15" woofer and as much power as you can get. probably 150 to 200 watts in a self powered speaker at a reasonable price. Having extra headroom is important. If you want the sound to sound as natural as possible and if for example, you want about 100 watts of output, you want a system that can put out 150 watts because they frequently sound compressed or distorted when completely maxed out. You probably don't want the volume controls all the way up, even if they go to 11!

I would recommend getting the speaker high enough to be over the heads of the audience as well. That will make it sound more realistic and less 'directional'. It will sound less like the thunder is coming from one small confined area and will sound more like it is coming from the sky.

I was lucky in that all the neighbors were into it and didn't mind the thunderstorm. I only ran it for 2 or 3 hours on Halloween night, so they all came out to watch the trick or treaters.

These kinds of things are always trade offs. You have your ultimate goal, Which for me was to build a giant 10 story tesla coil that I could hide in fog that looks like thunderclouds, and provide real lightning that I could program to hit wherever I wanted. Then you have to compare that to reality and finances and come up with a compromise. My compromise included really big, loud speakers because I already had them for my work.

You need to get what you can and make that work as well as you can by proper placement and sound files to get the most out of it.
 

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I as well work with pro audio equipment as one if my jobs. I have 4 Jbl 18 subs, 2 Jbl eon 10" full range, and 2 mackie srm450s. I pump a stereo signal through those as well as use an fm transmitter. I have done this for a couple large pro haunts. The transmitter give me the option to send the same thunder track to any room in the haunt. I would then use a small mixer to join the thunder with that rooms audio.

There are inexspensive options you can use for self powered or active speakers.
 

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I am using an i-zombie ST-2401 with a single Pyle-Pro PPHP1299AI - 12'' 1000 watt powered 2 way loud speaker system with built in MP3, USB, & ipod dock. Pyle also has a 15" model. I bought the Pyle speaker last year for around $200. I used 4 - 500 watt photo lights. My setup works great but if I had a bigger front yard I would need two speakers instead of one. My neighbors are very supportive or I would get run out of the neighbor hood.
 

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I have the I-Zombie MC multi-channel device. It is a stereo unit. I consider it one of the best investments for my haunt.

As far as the speakers I don't get too excited. I went to Goodwill and purchased a high power, but older, receiver. I then picked up multiple sets of 100+ watt speakers with good sub woofers. I only had to invest about $150 for the sound system. I have been using this setup for several years and never felt the sound was lacking. I love the system.

Another good resource for equipment is flea markets. I have seen DJ speakers often at our markets.

I do wonder about the use of LEDs. I suppose if you use dimmable LEDs you might be alright, but I don't know if the output of the lightning units is short pulses of full 120 volts, or if it is actually dimming the signal. A standard incandescent bulb does dim in and out and I just don't know if it would look better or worse using LEDs.
 

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I have used quite a few of the T&L machines over the years, and made my own color organ too.
They usually PWM limit current in response to the frequency they are filtering for.
I am glad to hear the strobes worked, often they do not work with T&L machines/color organs.

IMO LEDs are far superior to incandescent bulbs for T&L, they react so quickly.

As far as needing "dimmable" LED bulbs - depends on the model/manufacturer you might want to use.
Our LED bulbs work with the machines I have tested them with, including the LightningFx, ChristmasFx (same thing), LightsAlive, and the PicoStorm.
Ours are designed to dim with PWM controllers, but are not classified as dimmable.

I will be publishing our new waterproof 10, 20 and 50 watt LightningLED fixtures in the next day or so too.
Our bulbs are nice but these are an order of magnitude brighter, plus a self contained fixture it does not rely on stacks or mounts.

Sound wise, check craigslist, the thrift stores, pawn shops or your local freecycle list for sound rigs.
Personally, I use a Marshall amp 400 watt head and 2 monitors from a craigslist ad that was a really great deal.
In my case the sound is for an acre+ since the yards here are that big.
It can be heard in the neighbors yards, and the kids all love it.
If I really want to be insane I could add 4 more monitors (it an control 6)

For the sound file is a 60 minute storm file created on the halloween-L about 6-7 years ago (its on my FTP if anyone wants a copy) on a cheap mp3 player bought off woot years ago for 5 bucks works with most the T&L machines.
The Lights Alive models come with a storm CD, the Picostorm with one on an SD card.

anywho thats my experience
 
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