Live Sound Mixing book cover


!!!Advisory Warning-this story contains Adult Language!!!

And it doesn't stand for Power Factor Correction

©1998 Duncan Fry



My first venture into the audio business was a rehearsal studio.

Back in the days of Dunk's Disks, the Smoothest Sounds in the South, the shop had way too much space for just selling records and cassettes to its small (and getting smaller) regular clientele.

In a moment of inspiration, I decided to halve the size of it and create an area at the rear of the shop. Initially I was sorely tempted to halve my expenses and live in it, but the fact that the toilet was a short bike ride down the lane, and there was no shower or bathroom, eventually made me change my mind and turn the back space into a rehearsal room.

I enlisted the help of the complete staff of Utopia Sound and Lighting (you can check them out in the AR'X' Files section of the ARX website) to help me build a partition between the shop and the back area. For sound deadening we had the brilliant idea (we thought) of filling in the wall space with expanding polyurethane foam.

At the plastics shop we bought a litre of the stuff, and some hardener, which the salesman assured us would easily fill up the space we wanted and might even overflow, so we had to be careful.

We had no idea what would happen or how much to use, so we emptied the complete contents into a bucket, added the catalyst, stirred it up quickly and tipped the lot into the cavity, then ducked for cover behind the door.

After about five minutes we figured it must have finished so we went back into the room, expecting to see foam pouring out everywhere.

We peered into the wall cavity. There was a small puddle of foam about four inches deep!

Clearly we'd need to rethink our ideas on sound deadening.


Driving home that evening past some offices that were being remodelled, I saw piles and piles of old carpet and underfelt thrown out and waiting to go to the tip.

Beauty, I thought, just what I need. I made about twenty trips back and forth to the shop with great roills of the stuff piled high on the roof of the Yellow Peril - my 1310 Mini Clubman GT. Not the ideal vehicle for transporting large amounts of anything, but it was all that I had.

The next day, in between being bothered by customers wanting to buy things, we set to work with a vengeance, covering everything in multiple layers of underfelt and burnt orange shag pile carpet - the floor, the walls, the doors, the ceiling.

When we were finished it looked like a carpet fetishist's private hideaway or, as one unkind soul commented, 'more like a padded cell!'

And boy did it smell bad! A heady combination of water damaged underfelt, cheap carpet, glue, dust and cat's piss! Actually - just like every other rehearsal room I've been! It didn't seem to bother any of the customers, though.


I put together a rudimentary system comprising various bits and pieces I'd collected - a pair of 4560 type boxes, an amp, a six channel mixer, and three Shure 585 microphones, probably left over from Sunbury!

In this original configuration I ran the 4560's full range - this was before the great piezo experiment of '86 - they were a bit middy but loud enough, despite being left in the garage for a couple of years. The first 'Check 1 - 2' after they were plugged up sent a family of mice scuttling out of one of them, who ran across the carpet and disappeared out the back door!


Everything worked, though, and I was eager to start recouping some of the massive expenditure (about $50 all up!) I had outlaid, so I put an ad in Juke magazine for the place - Rehearsal Room. Southern Suburbs. Cheap Rates, and the phone number.

I had no name for this state of the art pre-production facility, but that problem was soon solved for me by my clients.

The phone rang hot as soon as the ad came out, and the first question all the customers asked was 'how much, mate?'

When I told them it was $10 for three hours, 7 till 10pm (I figured that was all the neighbours would stand before storming the walls) their only comment was 'Shit, that's Pretty Fucking Cheap!'

So PFC it became!

Soon it was a whole lot more profitable than the shop, being booked solid every night even after I jacked it up 50% to $15. I registered the business name (initials only, for some reason the complete name was knocked back!) and opened up a bank account.

As he worked his way through the paperwork, the bank manager asked me what the initials stood for. When I told him I thought he was going to have a heart attack there on the spot! Luckily he didn't, and lived long enough to sign the papers; PFC Music Services was born.


This story first appeared in Connections magazine

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