Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Samson XP106w Battery-Powered PA with 2.4 GHz Wireless and Bluetooth

Reach Tom Blair at tb.blair51@gmail.com
Tom Blair, a good friend and client near Baltimore, called asking for some live sound/audio help.

In addition to writing, directing and producing a wide range of theater and video projects for his own clients, Tom spends most of the 4th quarter of every year playing Santa Claus at shopping centers, malls, gatherings and private parties. He may not traverse the globe in a sleigh, but he's become the local "go to guy" for Holiday Cheer.

That's a real beard and his costume is very upscale. 

Tom told me that recently he's been addressing groups of 100-200 people. Some of these venues may not have a full-time media wizard on hand to provide a mic or operate a PA. What Tom wanted was a self-contained system that would allow him to roll in, set up and go, without even using an AC outlet. I had seen some enterprising street musicians with small battery-powered speaker systems, but really hadn't had time to check any of them out.

Samson XP106W System w/Handheld Wireless Mic
I went to the B&H web site and searched for Portable PA System. The Samson XP106w looked promising and as a B&H Affiliate, I had one forwarded here. There were several things that appealed to me. 

It's sparse but also full featured
It weighs only 21 pounds
It has a two-way speaker system
The amp is 100 watts
It has four inputs
It has a 2.4Ghz USB dongle
It has Bluetooth
There's a balanced Aux out

Samson Stage XPD1Headset USB Digital Wireless System
Tom wanted hands free operation so even though the XP106w comes with a wireless hand-held mic, I also ordered the Samson XPD1 2.4 GHz wireless USB headset It's designed to work with the XP106w. 

It's a very simple system. To pair the transmitter with the USB stick receiver, you plug the USB stick into the USB connector at the third input on the back of the amp, power the amp up and push the pair button on the USB stick until it blinks. Then press and hold the on button on the wireless mic pack until the light stops blinking. 

Technophobes Pay Attention: You only need to do the above once. You can turn the system off, take the batteries out of the transmitter and when you put them back in and power up the amp and mic, the connection is restored. When the mic is turned on, it works.

Tom mentioned that he was working on a new character for a one man show. As he envisioned it, he might have some pre-show music and maybe a show starter to announce him before he came on stage. I hadn't really thought about that, but looking at the back of the XP106w, I noticed that the fourth input was for Bluetooth. 

There's a pair button on the top of the amp by the handle. Press the button. It blinks. I started Bluetooth on my MacBook Pro and it found the XP106w. I selected that and in about five seconds the audio from iTunes on the Mac was playing from the XP106w. I had to reduce the output of the laptop a little to get the best sound and to be able to turn the XP106w pot up more than "barely open." I was very impressed that the system operated so easily.

Input 1 has a combo XLR-1/4" connector, no Phantom Power. 
Input 2 has a mini 1/8" TRS jack and a 1/4" jack. 
Input 3 has the USB 2.4 GHz digital input.
Input 4 has the Bluetooth input. 

There's a push button for music/speech. In the speech position some of the low end is rolled off. 

The battery is a rechargeable Lead-Acid battery that claims up to 20 hours of use on a charge. There's a plug in power supply/charger. You can run on AC power or charge the battery but not both at the same time. With the power off, if you plug in the power supply a red LED lights on the back panel to indicate the battery is charging. When the battery is fully charged, the LED goes green. This is not a quick charging system. Plan ahead and you'll be fine. The manual also says, after use, charge the battery fully before you store the XP106w. The battery will slowly discharge, so you will probably want to recharge it again before using it.
Auray SS-4420 Steel Speaker Stand

I suggested to Tom that he get a good support stand. I found a sturdy tripod on the B&H site, the Auray SS-4420 Steel Speaker Stand, that holds up to 100 pounds. Maybe overkill for a 21 pound amp, but I hate wobbly support systems. You're only asking for trouble. The XP106w has a mounting hole in the bottom that slips right over the mast. There's a steel pin that goes through holes drilled in the mast to keep the mast from collapsing into the base.

As I was working with the XP106w, I thought about my imaginary life as a street musician and how much better it would be if I had this rig to be out there busking. Or for impromptu political rallies for the upcoming election. You could easily plug a guitar or any other instrument in and go for it. Wish my original Pignose was so well equipped.

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Reach out to Ty Ford at www.tyford.com

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