Airport Circle operations director Nik Salvo (left) and office manager Melissa Simmons with damaged Soundcraft FX16 mixer.
On February 8, during a sideshow at the Baltimore Tattoo Convention in Baltimore City, Md.—a three-day expo featuring tattoo artists and live performances—Airport Circle Sound Reinforcement, LLC experienced an unexpected bolt of lightning that discharged from a performer’s Tesla coil, sending 500,000 volts of electricity into a Soundcraft FX16 mixer. After the discharge destroyed the preamps of the mic channels that were attached and all the microphones that were in use, executive engineer Nik Salvo was able to use the remaining channels of the sound console and continue working over two more days.
Performers in "The Enigma" are known to use a 500,000 volt Tesla coil in their performance to direct bolts of lightning through the air to a performer’s body, ultimately lighting up a light bulb in the performer's mouth. The first night took an unexpected turn as the machine discharged when someone mistakenly plugged it in backstage. Lighting bolts immediately shot from the coil to the sound and lighting systems, rendering most of the system inoperable, yet the sound console survived.
“I could not believe that my Soundcraft console worked after such a shock! We had only brought a small 5-channel mixer as a backup and the damaged Soundcraft mixer was still better to use than our backup unit," Salvo says. "I am very impressed that after such a lethal blow to our console we still could go on with the show. It was a true testament to the quality, engineering and ruggedness of the products Soundcraft makes.
“After this event we were disappointed to find that the FX16 was no longer in production, but were told by our vendor that the new FX16ii was now available and without hesitation, we placed the order and are very pleased with the newer version," Salvo adds. "The features of the new Lexicon effects section and the other changes were a great improvement on an already-great product.”