No Need for Alarm

This week I’m in Atlanta for work. One of my tasks during these gigs is recording our presentations, which we later sell on audio CD. I use a Fostex MR-8HD multitrack recorderfor this because it can record up to four simultaneous sessions and uses no tape!

Last night I needed to check the Westin’s A/V setup in this ballroom that we’ll be recording in this morning. A guy from A/V was supposed to be available to meet me there around 6:00 pm. I call and I call and I call. No luck. So I sit in my room trying to get in touch with this guy. About 8:00 I finally give up and decide to go down to the ballroom. Fostex under my arm I head down to the tenth floor hoping to catch someone.

Of course the ballroom is locked. I loiter for a while, call the A/V guy once more, and loiter some more. I find a guy with catering who says he’ll try calling A/V, and if he can’t get them he’ll unlock the room for me. Bingo.

Finally he unlocks the room. I’m trying to figure out how to connect our recorder to the audio mixer when this whooping alarm goes off. Strobe lights start flashing and this electronic whooping noise echoes through this empty ballroom. Holy shit… I thought it was a burglar alarm connected to their mixer! WHOOP, WHOOP, WHOOP. There was this garbled digital voice babbling something I couldn’t understand.

Turns out it was the fire alarm. The garbled digital voice was saying something about not using the elevators. A hotel employee walks through the room. “That’s the fire alarm,” he calmly announced as he walked out.

Oh great, I thought, now I leave and I still haven’t tested this rig and/or somebody steals the damn recorder! I ignored the alarm and finished testing my connections. WHOOP, WHOOP, WHOOP. Since I was alone and the stage was about a hundred feet away the alarm came in handy as an impromptu mic test.

Once I was finished I boxed up the recorder and headed down the escalators (they were still running but the elevators were locked down). Fortunately this ballroom was on the 10th floor, which is sort of a huge mezzanine, so I could get downstairs without using the still-locked elevators.

I noticed there wasn’t any panic or rush of people heading downstairs. When I got down to the lobby it was as if nothing had ever happened. WHOOP, WHOOP, WHOOP. There was a long line of people checking in and everyone was ignoring the blinking lights and whooping.

The alarm finally stopped and everyone continued… um, ignoring it.

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